1301/The Cold Dark

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The Cold Dark
Date of Scene: 09 January 2015
Location: Soul Eater World
Synopsis: Medusa and another witch do their very best to awaken an ancient evil, with the Union doing their best to prevent eternal winter from rising again. D however, has another focus as well...
Cast of Characters: Medusa Gorgon, Lucatiel of Mirrah (Dropped), Frederica, Kagenashi, D (Dropped), Kirika, Defiant, The Copper (Dropped)
Tinyplot: The Great Work

Medusa Gorgon has posed:
    Music for mood: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NBqV771UsTM

    The chill of the winter air whips along the hills and mountains, shrieking against the desolate streets of a lone village. Said village is unnaturally quiet even for this time of evening considering the earlier broadcast stating there was a celebration going on. Sure, the massive bonfire is still burning away and giving some light to the area, though the many torches that were previously lit have been turned to icicles. Stands and tables have been knocked over. with windows and doors closed and people staying inside. At least most of them

    At first glance it might appear as if there are ice sculptures placed around the area, but upon closer inspection even the most oblivious person might notice that there is something off about them. For one, they are strangely detailed, with a look of horror on their faces as if they are recoiling or fleeing from something. Secondly, there are gaping holes in their chests.

    Make no mistake, this is clearly where the distress call came from. It should be even more evident by the destruction of several lanterns, food spilled from various tables around not to mention the ominous stone pillars that rise on a nearby mountain top, as well as an ominous energy that can't be any more obvious to those sensitive to such darkness. Even if the tracks weren't still partially visible despite the snow and wind, it should be easy enough to locate the source of the trouble.

    On top of the nearby mountain top the wind is even harsher, tugging hard on the cloaks of the two figures that seem to be the only living people who are still outside. One of them peers down the steep hillside as she inspects the village below. So far, so good yet how long will it be before reinforcements arrive in some way or the other?

    "How long time will you need?" Medusa asides to the other figure, who is in the process of getting off of her mount; a large polar bear. The grim beast slouches as its rider slides down from its back, and the tall woman rearranges her dark furs and beholds Medusa with a harsh look. Dark, tufty hair is visible underneath her heavy coat, and she rests a gloved hand on the polar bear who seems restless.

    "If your magic is strong enough to support mine, then this should be done relatively quick. It's no easy task to undo what was done centuries ago, you of all witches should know that, Gorgon" The voice of the woman is stern and harsh, lacking the musical tones of the shorter witch who turns back, tucking her cloak tighter around herself. "Of course. But it will be well worth it if we can undo this. And amusing if this very night, meant to celebrate the return of the sun, instead marks the return of the frost..."

    With that both witches turn towards the summit, where a circle of stone pillars rise towards the dark sky above. After raising her arms, Medusa focuses as she calls out in a clear voice: "Arithmetic Magic: Magic Calculation!" Several lines of red magic focuses itself around the stone pillars, and the taller woman steps forward and kneels down in the snow, pulling out a small leather pouch that she upends and empties, several bone pieces falling out and into the snow in front of her before she closes her eyes and starts chanting under her breath.

Kagenashi has posed:
    Someone still living is present near the village, though it may be difficult to make her out without a keen eye. A white fox lies perched in a snow-covered tree, peering out at the landscape to watch for anyone approaching. Her shadow is absent, helping her blend in with the bright white of the snow over the grim landscape as she keeps watch.

    Kagenashi's purpose for being here, now, isn't entirely clear. Helping out a fellow Confederate seems to be a good enough reason, though, and she certainly has the abilities necessary to help survey the landscape in case of reinforcements. Inevitable ones, by now, given the transmission over the broadband. How much longer until the Union arrives?

    She'll be ready, whenever that happens.

D (Dropped) has posed:
    Clopping hooves surge through the empty village like rolling thunder. Eyes blazing like the very heart of the bonfire itself, the cyborg horse responsible for the racket gallops at full speed between the horrible statues and snow-covered lanes without any trouble despite what would have been treacherous footing for any average beast. Steam snorts from its nostrils and mouth in great volcanic plumes, as if the horse is some devil from the underworld made real. On this Earth, such a thing wouldn't be unheard of, but that doesn't mean the horse is anything less than fearsome.

    The youth crouched inside its saddle is somehow more frightening than his steed.

    The wide brim of his black hat rests low, casting impenetrable shadow across his flawless, beautiful countenance. There is no emotion to be found on his face except a deep serenity matched only by the distant mountains too far away and snow-capped to be touched by this village's nightmarish ruin. The black cape streaming from his broad shoulders billows in the wind like a war banner, and his long hair streams back with it, revealing the pointed ends of his inhuman ears. His body is lean -- honed by centuries of trials -- and uniformed in black to match his cape and hat. The only relief to so much darkness is the blue pendant resting against his chest.

    No stranger to this world and the evils of its inhabitants comes the Hunter known only as /D/.

    He slows his horse to wheel once around the bonfire and take stock of his surroundings, before he kicks his spurred heels and sends his horse flying along the trail forged by those monstrous tracks. As the snow deepens, the horse slows, but it still makes better time than any creature like it rightly should.

Defiant has posed:
     It might be a cliche, but to Defiant, it's quiet. Too quiet.

     His footsteps, armored and precise, are heavy in the snow. He has never been to Scandinavia before and some part of him wonders what it is like when it's not so ominous.

     "Six more objects," Dragon says in his ear and the HUD of his helmet indicates each one. "But I don't think they're sculptures, Defiant, I think they're-"

     "People. Or were." Defiant isn't a man given to fear but there's something reassuring about the fact that she is here with him, in spirit if not in body.

     Defiant glances at one of the frozen figures, and then looks away. No time to dwell on what happened. His cybernetic eye roams around the snowy ground and highlights what appears to be tracks leading towards the towards a set of nearby hills. The snow might hide them from some, but Defiant's senses are better than most.

     After all, they were made to be.

     Pulling his spear from his back and settling it into a relaxed two-handed grip, Defiant takes off in the direction that the tracks lead.

Kirika has posed:
    Kirika's steps are light despite her heavy boots. The kitsune runs through the heavy snow, stopping only when she spots Defiant and Dragon up ahead with D. Her sword is in hand, and it's all she needs as she gives the fellow Unionites plus one a nod. "Their deaths will not go unavenged." She says grimly, before she eyes the frozen statues.

    There's no telling how many men, women, and children used to live here. It's sickening, to see a place this big wiped out like this. It brings back memories of her time hunting back home.

    When Defiant takes off to follow the tracks, Kirika does the same, noting the humanlike footprints of one trail, and the bestial paws of the other. Her ears and nose go to work sensing for other traces to follow, but the winter weather might make this a bit more difficult, especially if she's upwind.

Frederica has posed:
    Frederica's approach is not at all hard to spot. The girl is normally not one to make a spectacle of herself... oh yeah right. Of course she is. In this case though, it's because she approaches the village while on fire.

    Salamandra is Frederica's transportation, and the massive elemental simply plows through any snow and ice in her way.

    "I heard you have a problem with ice!" Frederica calls from within the belly of the fire elemental, as she gets close enough to perhaps cause concern to those who don't recognize Salamandra or see Frederica's diminutive form within. She frowns though, and immediately regrets her witticism when she spots the frozen bodies. "Oh... oh dear." she says softly, stepping out of the elemental and drawing the flame into her palm in concentrated form. "I-I could thaw them...?" she asks, knowing in her heart it's too late for that. They seem to be dead. Completely unbreathing and unmoving... there's nothing to thaw out. But she can't do NOTHING, can she?

Medusa Gorgon has posed:
    The alert on the radio from her fellow Condeferate does catch Medusa's attention as she turns and peers down the slope and towards the forest and village below. Of course the Union is bound to interfere before Shibusen itself can bother them. But if they are lucky enough, then the tall woman will finish her chanting in only a matter of minutes.

    The polar bear notices this too, and it lets out an bellowing roar that echoes throughout the area... before it turns and makes its way down the snow to intercept the Unionites as they ride up. While there might be a lot of snow, the huge predator is used to traversing these areas, and it has no problems keeping up a speed that seems almost too fast for something so large.

    "... and let the bones of the lost guide you back to us to grant us your favour...!" the tall woman chants, opening her eyes even as she spreads her arms out to the side, baring her arms and torso. Medusa grits her teeth even as she focuses her magic to help the woman as whatever she is doing seems to progress. There is rumbling coming from underground and within the mountain, which results in some minor avalanches happening here and there on the way up to the summit.

    Back down in the village the ice statues do not react to the flame that Frederica provides. There is no sign of life in them whatsoever, and the rest of the village is silent in the face of the cold threat outside.

Kagenashi has posed:
    Kagenashi notices the approaching Union members easily enough. It's not like they're very difficult to see against the blinding white snow. Now, the only issue is whether or not she can manage to deal with them while Medusa is preparing. For that purpose, she splits into three in her perch, and all three copies of herself leap off from the tree in three different directions.

    First, a small white fox comes to alight on D's shoulder, its landing as soft as falling snow. Its black eyes gleam as it peers over at him, then simply shifts her gaze to the path ahead.

    A moment later, two creatures with purely black fur and gleaming silver eyes burst from the forest to chase after the Unionites following the tracks. One stays on the ground: a black wolf the size of a horse, dashing along the ground at a swift pace, heavy paws crashing through the snow with every bound. With a great snarl, its mouth opens and blasts a bolt of blue lightning in Frederica's direction, before it barrels ahead to catch up with D's horse. With its size, it would certainly be able to ground the horse in a single bound, if it manages to catch up. The white fox on D's shoulder leers back at it, tail lashing threateningly.

    The other creature comes from the air: a black owl equally as large as the wolf, its talons gleaming against the whiteness of the snow. Its screech fills the air as it dives down, claws bared: its path would take it barreling through Kirika to Defiant, with the intention to rake its talons through them both and slam them into the snow. With the avalanches starting to descend, that could certainly be a problem for their advancement if the owl hits.

Kirika has posed:
    This isn't the first time Kirika's gone mountain climbing in the midst of winter. Despite some strain on her, she manages herself well enough as she makes her way up the hills, huffing as she sees an avalanche come. "Well, this will be something of a delay..." She growls under her breath, frost already forming from her words.

    The arrival of the bear, owl, and other irritants definitely causes Kirika to yelp in surprise. Drawing her katana, she attempts to brace herself from the owl's attack before it manages to scratch her, leaving a few tears in her coat. Crying out, she grunts in annoyance when she's dragged through the snow, her sword knocked from her grasp.

    However this isn't that big a deal, as she recalls Kinugiri to her hand immediately. Defiant will be fine alone, she just needs to take care of this owl for now.

    As she picks herself up, she takes a leap towards the owl to slash at the beast, blade blazing with flames as it arcs in her hands.

Frederica has posed:
    Frederica didn't really expect her flame to do much to aid the villagers. She'd hoped, but the hope was weak. She continues even after it's clear that the effort is useless however. Continues up until the mountain starts to shake.

    She shrieks as she staggers, trying to regain her balance. After a moment she does so, calling on her abilities to grant her a sense of balance comparable to a champion fighter. She crouches, looking around and up. She sees the bear, the wolf, the owl. Too late to intercept anything, sadly, and no earlier than anyone else. Her sight's exceptional but not that exceptional. Fortunately, with her senses amped she's also extremely quick to react.

    As the lightning arcs down at her, Frederica dodges easily to the side, suffering only the fringe of the attack. Given that she wears little metal, lightning isn't all that drawn to her. It hurts, but she's suffered worse. Gritting her teeth, Frederica engulfs herself in flame once again. "Pyro Queen! Salamandra!" she cries out, letting the shout take the place of a cry of pain. The fire elemental lets out a silent roar, and the fire beast charges uphill to catch up with the front-runners.

The Copper (Dropped) has posed:
There's sosmething in the sky over the village, not too far up from where Medusa and the other woman are; two distinct shapes wheeling in the sky that look much like dragons. Right now they're not doing a whole lot but circling, as though waiting until called.

The two alternate in their circling, one headed counter-clockwise, one clockwise. For the time being, though, they seem content to wait in reserve.

D (Dropped) has posed:
    If the bear's savage roar wasn't impetus enough, the warning rumbles echoing amid the nearest mountain peaks certainly is: D knows he must hurry. He can feel it; something dark is stirring here, something unnatural. Is it his Hunter's instinct prompting him to rush, or another gift imparted by his strange heritage? Whatever the force, he has lived by its guidance for far too long to ignore it now. Again, his spurs bite into his mount's flanks.

    Though the snow continues to encumber his horse's advance, somehow it finds the wherewithal to accelerate. It shrieks at the sharpness of D's spurs.

    Ahead of the black-draped Hunter, a massive bear is lumbering down the mountain trail, an unstoppable force blasting snow in all directions -- practically an avalance in its own right. Behind him, an equally enormous wolf is slavering at his heels, its black paws skimming the snow's surface with hardly any difficulty. D gives no regard to either: his glinting gaze is fixed on the white fox suddenly perched on his shoulder.

    "Hold on."

    He stands up in his stirrups.

    As the wolf approaches, the darkness around the Hunter seems to deepen, the cold bite to the air seems to sharpen, and the color of his skin -- already marble white -- turns so pale and frigid it becomes like ice. To those behind him, his presence is intensified to a frightening degree. The Hunter becomes something too horrible to name, yet too magnificent to ignore. Crimson burns in his eyes like hellish embers, and his glare turns to fixate its full intensity on the wolf now at his side.

    D springs from his saddle in an act of almost impossible agility and grace. His figure seems to hang in the air for one, frozen instant, his arms outstretched, his cape outflung like wings --

    And then he drops, landing astride the wolf with his fingers tangled into its bristling hackles. "You are mine."

    Ensnared by D's will, the huge wolf suddenly springs to the side, out of the path of the bear's barreling charge, and then begins to lope up the mountain side again, far easier and far quicker than D's horse could alone.

    The children of the night know well their masters.

Defiant has posed:
     With the owl and wolf in the process of being handled, Defiant keeps his eyes on the bear as it charges. He has some time before it hits him and the combat prediction suite in his helmet is constantly adjusting, constantly calculating just how he needs to move in order to intercept the bear and, in the process, do the most damage.

     With a brief thought, Defiant activates the disintergration field in the two-pronged head of his spear. It's barely perceptible - a grey blur around the edges of the blade - but every snowflake that comes into contact with the field vanishes in a puff of smoke, destroyed at the molecular level.

     And so Defiant adjusts his footing, lowers his spear, and lets the point fall to where it should intercept the bear as it charges towards them. An old tactic and still quite an effective one.

Medusa Gorgon has posed:
    The rumbling intensifies up ahead, all until a crack appears in the snow, shooting down the hillside towards the approaching hunter on his mount. The polar bear too notices this, leaving it unsteady as it lets out a grunt of displeasure.

    The howling wind only grows more powerful as well, and the weather conditions are far from ideal up top here on the mountain. Even so, the snake witch and the fur clad woman keep up their task, and the latter's voice is raised to be even heard at this point. "HEAR ME, KULLERVO! HEAR ME AND SEE THEM! UNLEASH YOUR NIGHT UPON THEM! URSUS URSUS KODAK URSUS!" There is no hiding the anger and cold in her words, and the woman slams her hands down into the snow, making it whirl up even as what is undeniably magic is unleashed and sent into the summit itself. Around her, the stone pillar emit a soft glow, and at this point the quaking makes even the two women a bit unsteady on their feet. Yet the tall woman is not without a triumphant look on her face as she rises and lets out a laugh, all while Medusa smirks. "Good job, now it merely needs time..."

    As D approaches it appears that the polar bear does not agree, roaring as it rises up on two legs while the horse and its rider approach. For now it isn't concerned with the wolf that approaches from behind. No, it might seem like D is an easy target when he stands up in the stirrups, but the man proves too quick, too agile, and he manages to avoid the swipe of a massive and deady claw as it swings down right on the poor horse, striking it with fatal force. The poor animal lets out a pained cry as the polar bear crashes down, and the predator lets out another roar when it realizes the rider escaped. However, it can't follow D when another foe appears. Defiant with his spear ready catches its attention, and it stands back up on its hind legs... and lets out a deafening roar that threatens to blow Defiant back unless he watches himself!

    Meanwhile Medusa throws her arm out, and one of her snake familiars grow in size as it slithers out from underneath her cloak, only stopping once its large enough for the witch to ride on. "I will let you and Otso handle the armored gentleman, Louhi~," Medusa informs the other woman with a coy smile, only taking a second to rise up into the air once she has gotten up onto its head. Then it's only a matter of moments before the cloaked witch shoots through the sky towards D, the snake opening its maw with an aggressive hiss and clearly intending to bite down on the hunter!

Defiant has posed:
     In the stance he is in, Defiant would be difficult to move... but he still has to take a moment to steady himself in the face of that deafening roar. Setting his feet again and bracing his spear, Defiant thrusts the polearm towards the bear.

     It seems like he's going to be too short to actually connect, until the spear /extends/, giving him several more feet of weapon to work with! With the bear up on its hind legs, Defiant has a prime target to thrust his spear into, right into the bear's chest!

Kagenashi has posed:
    The great owl finds its path cast aside with Kirika's sudden attack. The screech it gives is a grand one as the flaming blade burns into its stomach and scorches its feathers, sending it tumbling to the ground in its shock. It manages to land unsteadily on its feet, at least, and the black bird quickly turns back to face Kirika, wings spread in a gesture of power and threat. It snaps its beak forward, cracking the air with another bolt of lightning aimed right for Kirika, then beats its powerful wings to take off toward D and his newfound mount.

    The white fox glances back to D when he speaks, and without another gesture, digs its claws into his cloak enough to keep its footing. It keeps its body held low against his shoulder as he undergoes his terrifying transformation, fur prickling against the cold wind that dances around him. The wolf, meanwhile, suddenly finds him landing on its back, and before it can properly react, his fingers are tangled in its black fur and his powerful influence is washing over it.

    Splitting her form also, unfortunately, splits Kagenashi's power. D is already much stronger than she, but as she is now, she's at even more of a disadvantage. At his command, the wolf banks to the side with an intimidated whimper, clearing from the great bear in front of it and loping up the hill again. Still, it struggles: its head lurches up, snapping at D; it snarls like a cornered animal. But still, it proceeds up the hill, even as Medusa sends one of her serpents rushing out at the hunter. Looks like he's going to have to force a demand to get it to move again.

Lucatiel of Mirrah (Dropped) has posed:
Winter. Why did it have to be winter? A call is a call, though, and a Knight of Mirrah does not ignore their word once given. So it is that Lucatiel of Mirrah is here, in the frigid air, arms folded over her chest and approaching Medusa, looking down the mountain as she crunches through the snow. She seems to be finding her way to mountains a lot, lately.

It's hard to tell whether the figure is a man or woman -- the ornamented leather armour does little to reveal anything, nor the rich silk shirt; and heavy gloves cover the hands. The head is hidden by a magnificent leather hat with a black plume in its band, and the face is obscured by a steel mask, forged in the guise of an unsmiling bearded and moustached man.

The mask's rigid expression looks just as displeased as Lucatiel herself probably must be, standing and shivering. "Very well. You called?"

Kirika has posed:
    Kirika growls as the owl strikes with a bolt of lightning. It manages to knock her off her feet once more, but the kitsune teleports to the air in the shower of petals and light, reforming just above the bird of prey. "You will not evade me so easily!"

    Her blade flashes, and she slashes downwards to clip one of the owl's wings, landing in the snow and taking off in a sprint to continue pursuit of the flying hunter.

Frederica has posed:
    A bit reluctant to gang up on any target with her allies, Frederica takes a moment to assess. Interrupting a one-on-one is bad. Partly because it's a distraction, and partly because you don't imply your allies need help unless they actually want it. Besides, with everyone and everything well-engaged, she sees an opportunity up above.

    "I'll put a stop to whatever that ice witch is trying to do!" Frederica claims. Yes, D said he was going on ahead, but he seems to have been intercepted. Using him like a quarterback uses a linebacker, Frederica and her flaming elemental stomp their way upwards. Neither elevation nor snow and ice slow her down much. She's not using muscle power to climb the mountain, only will power. And that, she has plenty of. So yes, there's a fire elemental at LEAST as big as a polar bear charging UP the mountain, heading in a very obvious way for the witch that's invoking some sort of nasty ritual. When it comes to interrupting ice magic, Frederica's a very ... obvious choice.

D (Dropped) has posed:
    D draws his curving longsword in a silvered flash; at the same instant, he compels his cantankerous wolf-steed to come to a sudden halt. The momentum generated in the skidding stop flings D into a leap far higher and longer than any human could manage on his own. No reckless maneuver despite appearances, the leap is perfectly controlled, and its trajectory aimed right for the witch and her serpent.

    It sounds like steel scraping against steel as D's sword meets the serpent's extended fangs. The first snapping bite is deflected in a mighty impact, but the forces propelling D are sufficient to keep him pressing forward in defiance of gravity for a good second or longer. As he hangs there, his crimson glare lifts to fix on Medusa's smirking face, and his frigid serenity is at once disrupted by a baring of his long, hungry fangs as he snarls his hatred.

    Beautiful though she may be, Medusa Gorgon is a duplicitous and dangerous woman who'd worked hard to achieve her vile reputation. One of her more recent victims, the Hunter, D, carries in his heart a deep dislike of the Witch, and all his hatred comes bubbling to the fore in that single chilling /look/.

    He starts to drop from his leap; as he falls, he angles himself in such a way that his feet meet and glide down the giant serpent's smooth belly scales. Halfway down its bulk, he turns, his sword lashing out in a horizontal strike meant to cleanly separate the serpent's head from its body.

    "To me!" he snaps at the black wolf. He will require its mobility if Medusa's snake survives his attack.

Medusa Gorgon has posed:
    Massive and threatening, the polar bear is not about to back down from the human it appears. Not even when the spear is thrust towards it. Perhaps the beast is used to being attacked, and it pulls back just enough to where it thinks it will be safe... but then again, it hasn't encountered extending spears before. The weapon shoots out, and while the bear is moving, it is struck in the side, and it lets out another roar as scarlet red stains its white fur. Further up the hill, a scream fills the air. "OTSO!" The tall woman who was with Medusa advances with fury in her eyes, and she slides down the snow, pulling back her arms as she glares at Defiant. "Ursus ursus...!" Throwing her hand forward, she unleashes a flurry of snow and ice that shoots out at Defiant, a cold that tears at his armor and chills anything it strikes right down to the bone. "ICE ROSE!"

    Perhaps this explains what happened to some of the poor villagers...

    Medusa meanwhile seems far more enthusiastic about the fight, even as D meets her familiar in a clash of swords against fangs. Time might slow down as the two's eyes meet, and while D meets her with pure hatred and contempt, Medusa's serpentine gaze is intense, and she nearly purrs with contentment. "It's been so long, beloved...!"

    Pushed back by the force of the blow, the snake hisses yet again, and it lets out a sound of pain as D's sword slices right through its skin, though considering the snakes born from Medusa's tattoos do not have a proper body per say, decaptiating it is a task not easily done, though the slice seems to at least knock it back and disrupt its actions. Medusa herself leaps off of her snake, so the attack is not witout merit, and the serpentine witch raises her hands in front of her even as she begins familiar chant of her own. "Nake snake, cobra cobubura...!" Around her the dark magic rises in the form of dark arrows that coil themselves around her and slither out from underneath her cloak. It takes time to work up the magic, after all...

    Underneath their feet, the mountain shakes even more violently for a moment as more cracks run through the ground and opens up... then it goes quiet for some seconds. Further down the hill Louhi frowns, finding herself not liking her current position. She is too far away! As it is now, it appears that the mysterious swordsman is the one closest. Not what she had planned! As a matter of fact, Lucatiel might find herself surprised as the ground opens up underneath her as the summit cracks open. Yet she won't fall, as there is more ground underneath her that rises up. It's cold to the touch, yet it appears to be alive. Very much alive, as a large head shoots out of the ground and unleashes not as much a roar as howling wind that blows fiercly down the mountain with the fury of seven winters. More avalances follow as the thing continues tearing itself out from the mountain and rock, revealing a fifty feet tall being that seems to be made of rock and ice, icicles making a heavy beard that makes its bulky form hunch over on its knees... with Lucatiel still on its head as it seems to follow her motions.

Lucatiel of Mirrah (Dropped) has posed:

That's about all Lucatiel has time for before the masked head tips downward to the ground shuddering underfoot. She makes a grab for something solid, whcih happens to be a chunk of ice; which happens to be a chunk of ice rising up as the giant spirit of the mountain rises from the snow.

Now, Lucatiel might be an expert equestrian, but riding giants?

...One has to admit this is pretty cool. Unsheathing her cavalry greatsword, she turns the giant around, surveying the opposition, lips thinning behind the mask.

So, presumably Medusa wants the troublesome Union dealt with. That's doable. She owes them no allegiance; conversely, she owes Medusa a favour, and a knight of Mirrah always settles his debts.

"Well, then, I suppose that settles that." Balancing atop the thing's head, Lucatiel peers down at the battle unfolding below. Good grief, it's tall. Tall is good. Vantage points are good. "The question is, who to choose...?"

Kagenashi has posed:
    The owl doesn't manage to make it into the air for very long. Kirika suddenly appears above it, and her blade cleaves down in a flash that strikes into its wing. Blood spurts from the wound, marking the white snow below with flecks of red, and the great bird of prey releases a pained cry. Its flight falters, and, unable to stay aloft with such an abrupt hit, it tumbles down to crash into the snow.

    Only moments after landing, its body shifts. The owl's form warps and stretches, feathers shrinking into fur, beak extending to a muzzle, fanned tail spreading into two longer tails. When the creature rises to its feet again, it's a two-tailed fox, fur as black as night and eyes gleaming with silver starlight. A gash still crosses its stomach and one foreleg, but it doesn't falter: the nogitsune turns back to Kirika with a snarl, and lashes one tail out at her. From the tip extends a long tendril of something black and purple, a malevolent will given form in the world. It whips over Kirika, not striking her physically, but raking at her spirit if it hits with the powerful will to cause harm and pain. Even then, it seems to be more a distraction than anything: the avalanche that follows should do most of the work, if Kirika is properly stunned, and the fox instead leaps into the air to clear away from it before she also finds herself buried.

    The black wolf, meanwhile, skids to a halt the instant it is ordered to, hurling D into the air against his attacker. Immediately after, it enters into a low crouch, snarling as D and Medusa engage one another. It seems ready to leap at D again when he descends, but that snap ensures it cooperates; ears flattened, still faintly growling, the wolf bounds back to D, ducking so that he can leap onto its back in passing without slowing down.

    The white fox is still clinging to D's shoulder, but it ducks when sword and fang crash against one another, slipping down D's back to hold onto his cloak as he passes. Only when he lands does it move up again, perching on his shoulder and turning back to face the stunned snake. Tail lifted, body lowered in a crouch, the white fox suddenly leaps into the air, flying off after the strange tattoo-serpent. Its landing is aimed to bring it to the creature's throat, claws and fangs latching on and raking into its odd body wherever it can both hold on and find purchase.

Kirika has posed:
    The owl finally is foiled, only for Kirika to suffer a different sort of foe after it dissipates on her. She stares in confusion for a moment as the shadowy fox manifests in all its massive, malevolent glory, before she tightens her grip on her blade. Raising it aloft, she takes off towards the fox with killing intent.

    She is about to swipe at the fox with her blade, but she's hit by whatever spell strike at her very core, causing her body to seize up in pain as nerves. "AAAAAAGH!" In determination, she continues onwards, only to stumble from a shake of the earth.

    Then she realizes why the fox isn't finishing the job, as she's hit head-on by the avalanche with great force. She's practically swallowed up in the process, the stunned kitsune unable to escape her prison for the time being.

Frederica has posed:
    Bounding up the mountain, Salamandra seems a force of unstoppable elemental power. Heat, as they say, rises. The mere might of winter and the mountain can't match the power of the pyro's will.

    A fifty foot ice troll however, that's another story.

    Salamandra staggers to a halt, the elemental and Frederica within both peering up. "W-well." Frederica mutters to herself. "Size isn't everything right?" she says to herself. Unwilling to be intimidated, she draws in her will. "Salamandra!" she cries out, and the fire elemental, a mere fourth the size of the troll, breathes out a torrent of living flame up at it. The lethal power of a focussed will pitted against a mere beast, no matter how overwhelming it might seem.

Defiant has posed:
     Defiant throws all of his strength into the thrust and the spear parts the bear's flesh as easy as if it were air, although it ducked at the last minute with a surprising amount of intelligence or natural agility for a beast of that size. Defiant pulls his spear free and goes to stab again...

     And then it's /cold/. His armor should be entirely sealed, shielding against any extreme environment. But this cold penetrates right through, and he can feel it slow the parts of his body that still remain living flesh. Maybe the sheer amount of cybernetics that he had self-modified his body with negates some of the harm, but he stills feels /slow/.

     Ice frosts along the sleek edges of his armor armor, giving the green and gold a blue-white trim. Defiant turns to face the tall woman, spinning his spear in a lazy arc and settling it behind him, across his back, ready to swing in any direction.

     "Surrender," Defiant remarks to her, his voice masked by some sort of deep mechanical filter, "And your pet won't be harmed any further."

D (Dropped) has posed:
    Wasting no time, D throws himself onto the wolf's back as soon as the beast skids into position. Medusa's incantation already begins to burn his senses. Using his knees to guide the wolf, he directs it in a swift lope toward the Snake Witch, its every stride seeming to mark the mystic syllables pouring through her lips. The shadows wreathing D's visage are lit from within by the burning hue of his eyes. The light cast by his sword's keen edge reflects against the snowy spray kicked up by his borrowed steed's straining limbs.

    Again, he throws himself from the wolf, flying like a bolt flung from Zeus's very hand. The tip of his sword aims itself at Medusa's very heart. It slips between the arrows coalescing around her body in an attempt to deliver a fatal blow.

    Behind and to his side, the avalanche crashes down upon the Hunter's allies; Kirika is crushed beneath a white wave. Above him, erupting from the summit, a far more dangerous threat appears. More than any avalanche, the troll-like giant is like winter's fury given form. Balanced atop its head stands a bold swordswoman, too -- someone D doesn't know is indebted to Medusa Gorgon -- and she, together with the giant, promises to be more than a match for Frederica. D's remaining friend in this battle, Defiant, stands alone against a witch and her bear, his odds better but still grim.

    D spares no thought for any of them. Not for the kitsune girl, not for the hero, not for the fire dancer. He is a predator enraptured by his prey. He is a fool driven by his thirst.

    He will have his revenge.

Medusa Gorgon has posed:
    Lucatiel might find her footing a bit unsteady at times, but the massive frost giant is not about to let her fall just yet as it turns with her, responding to her signals as it surveys the pests scurrying up the mountain like ants. It doesn't seem to consider much besides the threat that is Salamandra however, hissing harshly at the fire elemental as it unleashes the hot fire upon it. The reaction is immediate as the icicles that cover most of the frost giant's body starts to melt, and the colossus inhales a deep breath before it lets loose a chilling frost breath, trying its best to quell the fire!

    Meanwhile Louhi skids down the remaining distance, expertly evading the avalanches that run down the area. Standing before Defiant and in front of her injured mount she gives the Cape a cold glare, her tone equally chilly. "I do not show mercy to those who harm what is mine, mortal," the ice witch states in defiance. Likewise the polar bear roars, and it rises up on its hind legs once more before it comes crashing down again. At the same time Louhi leaps up into the air, kicking up some snow as she does so, and straight towards Defiant. "Ice rain!" she calls, all while the bear roars, its icy breath mixing with the kicked up snow, which turns into sharp ice needles that are aimed straight at Defiant, more chill to hopefully crack and break his armor as the cold spreads.

    Medusa's familiar is having a harder time as the white fox turns on it, and it coils and does its best to shake the fox off. Unfortunately for it it is unable to get to the creature as it is out of reach of its fangs, too close for it to get to. Medusa herself pays attention as D turns the wolf towards her, and the wicked woman narrows her eyes. Such weakness, letting herself be controlled... even as D lunges at her, the witch calls out. "Vector Plate!" Snow whirls up as the black arrow appears underneath Medusa, throwing her to the side and out of the way as the hunter flies past her, and she ducks low as a sinister laugh leaves her. "Too slow~! VECTOR ARROW!" With a gesture of her hand Medusa points towards D, and several of the vector arrows shoot out from behind her back and towards D, threatening to tear into his flesh. It's a deadly dance indeed, and like D, Medusa herself seems a bit occupied with the dhampir.

Kagenashi has posed:
    The black fox lands again only when its footing is assured. Lips curled back in a snarl, silver eyes narrowed, it stares at the spot where Kirika was only a moment before to ensure that she's taken care of. Only when she's certain does the nogitsune move again, quickly veering off and bounding up the mountain path. Louhi is handling Defiant, but it seems she could use a little help: Kagenashi's mouth opens again, and a bolt of lightning is loosed from her throat to help crash into Defiant's freezing armor.

    The white fox, meanwhile, is doing its best to hold off the snake. Even as the tattoo serpent flails and lashes, the fox keeps its fangs and claws lodged in it, raking and biting as much as it possibly can. It's a small creature, though, and its strength is limited: the snake's thrashing finally unseats its hold, forcing it to slide further down the creature's body in a more advantageous position. It manages to hold on, and it struggles to climb back up the serpent's form, but whether it can do so in time...

    The black wolf, meanwhile, is finally loosed from D's hold for the moment. It goes skidding along the snow, kicking up a wave of white powder in its path as it wheels around to where D and Medusa are. Its eyes narrow with a predatory gleam, the only sign of what follows before it bounds off toward the pair again. In mid-flight, its form shifts, shrinking, warping: what ends up leaping for D's back as he lands isn't a wolf, but Kagenashi herself, twin katanas drawn and aimed for a downward stab between his ribs.

Defiant has posed:
     There's nothing more to say. Maybe once, when he had been Armsmaster, but not now.

     Defiant turns his shoulder into the oncoming torrent of ice. The needles bounce or slide off the sloped pauldron there, but one or two manage to find just the right angle to punch right through and into the mechanisms of the cybernetic limb underneath. Better in that arm than buried in his flesh. He can always repair it once he is done here... something he'll need to do given how sluggishly it seems to be responding.

     Turning to place his other side towards Louhi and her bear, even as ice continues to rain down upon him, Defiant brings up his spear and points the twin tips in the direction of his two opponents. The points of the spear slide closer together with a distinct noise and they begin to glow white hot.

     And then blue fire /leaps/ from between the two prongs as Defiant triggers the plasma thrower! Snow evaporates into steam as Defiant tries to counter the ice rain with incredible heat.

     And then, spear held under his arm to maintain his aim, Defiant advances.

     Meanwhile, in Kirika's vicinity, there's the heavy sound of something /big/ setting down. It's a four-legged mech of some sort, designed to resemble an armored dragon, rendered in green, black and gold armor plates. With steam rising from its engines in the cold winter air, the Pendragon lowers its head in the vague direction of Kirika and begins blasting the snow with brief gouts of blue fire, sensors penetrating the snow to calculate when the Elite should be able to free herself.

Kirika has posed:
    Kirika seems about to freeze, her fingers going numb and her ears covered in frost as she lingers under the snow. Shivering and panting, trying to conserve body warmth, the kitsune huddles under the snowbank, trying to heat herself up magically.

    This might be it for her, or maybe not. Pendragon's arrival burns away enough of the snow for Kirika to notice its arrival, and once she registers what she's looking at, the kitsune breathes a heavy sigh, grabbing her sword and sheath as she climbs her way out of the snow. "My thanks, Dragon." She says, coughing as she shakes off the snow from her body, tail and ears included.

    A sauna is going to be a god-send for her, when this is over. But for now, she then heads off to rejoin the fight, this time headed towards the snow golem and its controller...

D (Dropped) has posed:
    Vector Arrows snap at D in a swarm. Carried forward by his leap, he avoids many of their slicing edges and piercing tips, but he does not go far enough to escape the entire mass. More than a few pierce through the outstretched cape he flings outward to confuse their trajectory; more than a few skim his body, tearing bleeding gashes into his unnaturally-pale flesh.

    The Hunter, enhanced by his vampiric powers, doesn't falter on the slick, snow-strewn ground. The turn he takes on his heel is sharp, swift, and precise, but for once, he does not let his fixation on Medusa distract him from another, more pressing danger: Kagenashi. Warned by his senses -- as sharp as the edge of his sword -- he raises his weapon in a horizontal guard meant to repel Kagenashi's surprise attack. He does this singlehandedly, though it takes all his strength.

    At the same time, his left hand snaps outward, his wrist flicking twice to loose a spray of wooden needles in Medusa's direction. These are no more but stinging distractions, but may be enough to prevent the Witch from beginning another incantation, or from moving too far from her current position.

    D continues his spin. With a shout, he attempts to toss Kagenashi aside, so that he might resume his battle with his intended foe.

    The snow between himself and Medusa erupts apart, shattered by the power of a telekinetic burst seemingly released by the widening of D's red eyes. The burst will carry through to drive Medusa down and back.

Lucatiel of Mirrah (Dropped) has posed:
The giant's not a very steady perch, but Lucatiel is an expert rider. Of horses, anyway. This is a bit different, but it helps that the giant's actively trying to keep her from falling. "That way," she calls, pointing straight at Frederica and Salamandra. "Take me over there, and I'll keep that nuisance away from you." There's no telling whether the giant understands or not.

Lucatiel waits until the ice and fire are reasonably clear, before she takes a step back on the giant's head... and then kicks off from it, leaping forward and swinging that cavalry greatsword up, and then down; aiming to come down on Frederica and Salamandra sword-first. It's the kind of thing that looks cool, is usually horribly impractical, and only works if the user is either crazy or Just That Good. Time will tell which of those Lucatiel falls under. And hopefully, it's not too hot up close to the fiery elemental...

Frederica has posed:
    Ice is not entirely Frederica's nemesis. In other cases an ice attack may doom her, but in this case her fire is the superior tool. It responds to her will, not to the natural or supernatural properties of a creature's breath. Fire and ice battle, one pushing against the other, both annihilating the other in a frenzy of steamy destruction, but the ice is finite. Though ice carves into Salamandra's volatile flesh, the flame is renewed so long as Frederica's will remains strong.

    She is less effective, however, against Lucatiel's greatsword. The fire elemental, strangely, doesn't radiate inferno-level heat. Bonfire sure, but it doesn't simply burn things around it by radiant heat. It's contained, and there's a resilience to the creature, a certain mass to its 'flesh'.

    This is a two-edged sword. While the gelid body of Salamandra turns the heavy blade aside so it doesn't pierce Frederica's skull, the mighty weapon carves into Salamandra nonetheless... and it's Frederica who shrieks in agony though her flesh remains unscathed. Salamandra bleeds gouts of flame, and these burning napalm droplets ARE a threat to both the ice troll and the swordswoman. A very small threat however.

    Clutching at the side of her face as if she were the one gouting blood, Frederica narrows her eyes, barely seen within the belly of the fire elemental. The troll is an elemental force, one Salamandra can ward against. That sword however is a major threat. "I just have to swat YOU and IT will go away!" she declares, and there's no small amount of venom in her words. Without her giving any cue, Salamandra reaches out and swats clumsily with a massive arm. Clumsily is relative however. The arm is proportionately huge and broad, more like a tree trunk than a pugilist. And while it's clumsy, it's FAST and there's a lot of mass to block or deflect. The huge hand swats at Lucatiel, and it strikes with far more impact behind the blow than with open flame.

Medusa Gorgon has posed:
    The ice titan lumbers on under Lucatiel's orders, even if it clearly loathes the heat that is obviously not good for it. Luckily it's a huge thing, and even if it melts a little it still won't perish. Not yet! For now it follows Lucatiel's guidance, keeping up the cold and icy breath to make things less heated while the swordsman leaps off of its head to deal with Frederica on a closer level. As Lucatiel's strike hits its mark the massive frost giant lets out a bellowing rumble... only to recoil when Salamandra swats out at Lucatiel, as if afraid it will be struck too.

    The Ice Rain strikes the pauldron of Defiant's armor, and ice roses bloom on it, spreading out along with the chill. "Just how long will you be able to stand the cold?!" Louhi demands, only to blink when the spear is pointed in her direction again. Her eyes widen, and as the blue fire is fired straight in her direction! The polar bear finds the fire too close for comfort as it roars out in pain, and Louhi herself winces as she pulls to the side, escaping with her left arm and side singed. Her mount however seems to have suffered worse burns as it falls back and rolls around in the snow, the smell of burnt flesh and fur filling the nearby air. It's a good thing that Kagenashi is helping out, and Louhi's harsh gaze falls on Defiant even as she holds out her arm to the side. "Ice Lance!" Ice crystals forming out of the cold air... and she then throws an elongated icicle at Defiant.

    After some more struggle with the white fox, it appears that the snake familiar gains the upper hand as it shakes itself loose, coiling up as it beholds the white fox... and then strikes with deadly accuracy and speed, intending to bear down on the creature with its sharp fangs.

    Medusa herself chuckles, her voice echoing on the wind as she feels the Vector Arrows digging into parts of D's flesh. Yet she can't ignore the wooden needles either, and she throws her arms up. "Steam Vector!" Several more of the black arrows shoot up around Medusa from around her feet, deflecting the needles easily enough, though this does serve its intended purpose as the snake witch is unable to move while she casts the defensive spell. This lets him deal with Kagenashi, and the Confederate nurse can't help watch as D's blood stains the snow. When he turns on her again and the telekinetic burst hits her however, she lets out a cry of surprise, finding herself pushed back even as more snow gets thrown up from the sheer force of D's attack. If it wasn't for her magic, she might have been in a very bad position...

    "Vector Plate!"

    More of the black arrows appear on the ground, and one is in the very path that Medusa is pushed in, and she is thrown to the side towards another Vector Plate... and then around, back and forth... until she comes in from D's left side. As she often likes to do, she aims a roundhouse kick straight for the back of his head. Let's see how dizzy she can make him!

Defiant has posed:
     "Long enough to destroy you," Defiant counters, even as ice creeps up his armor, building into the small, flexible parts that he needs to maintain his ability to move. Managing to raise onf his arms, Defiant types out a series of commands into a panel on his forearm armor and, with it, Defiant disables one of the heat regulators of his armor. It'll decrease the amount of heat his armor can dissipate, but it might just counter the ice that is beginning to coat his suit.

     Lightning arcs across his armor as Defiant spins his spear into a two-handed grip. One of the things Dragon had been insistent on in the designs, however, was something to counter an excessive electric shock. Still, it strikes Defiant true and in the back - he steps to steady himself and the ice lance penetrates his abdomen. Sparks fly.

     Defiant brings his elbow down on the ice and shatters it, which might not be the best thing to do when it is buried in your stomach, but it sure is dramatic. And then he charges.

     Defiant blinks out of sight with every footfall, sending up puffs of snow in his wake. He closes the gap and swings his spear in a wide arc, held in one hand, aiming purely at Louhi now that he has dealt with her pet. And as that spin comes around, a /second/ blade hums through the air, also surrounded by that grey nanothorn nimbus, as Defiant slips a gladius into his other hand!

Kirika has posed:
    Kirika closes in after a quick run towards the golem, Frika, and Lucatiel. She takes the high ground, leaping into a teleport as she moves towards Lucatiel. Given the swordswoman attacking Frika while she's currently busy, this could be a problem for the pyro. Kirika reforms onto the golem's shoulder, running towards Luca with sword flourished.

    Her blade slashes to Lucatiel, and Kirika strikes again and again assuming the mysterious fencer parries her first attack.

Kagenashi has posed:
    Kagenashi is sent flying. She has never been one with much physical strength, and resisting D's swing is a feat she can't manage herself. Red fabric billows as she tumbles over the white snow, but her agility spares her from falling too far away. Mid-tumble, she pushes herself up into the air, orienting her next fall to land on her feet in a crouch. Her feet dig furrows in the snow for only a few feet before she's rushing forward again in a sprint aimed straight for D. Scarlet fabric flows behind her, katanas gleam in the light off the snow as she holds them to her side. She ducks, and once she's near D, she swings both blades low in a paired sweep for his right leg. Not a word comes from her; she's determined, pushing her strength toward fighting an opponent that is far stronger than she is right now.

    The white fox is facing a similar situation. Finally dislodged from the serpent, it's sent tumbling back to roll through the snow. Its landing isn't so graceful, but it still stumbles to its feet...just in time for the serpent to lunge, snapping at it with incredible speed and accuracy. Faster than it can even manage to react. Fangs sink into the creature's side, and it cries out in pain as blood is drawn. Even then, however, it struggles. Its flexible body twists, and it snaps the snake's long body in its jaws and digs in with its claws to hold it to the ground. Its vicious attacks become even more so in that moment of desperation, striking with remarkable strength to grasp the snake and yank back in a single ripping stroke, maw tearing and claws raking.

    The black fox, meanwhile, is no less determined. Its blast appears to slow Defiant down for a moment, but not much; he's leaping at Louhi next, and he's sure to reach her. In a moment of desperation, the great fox leaps too, jaws open and claws bared to try and intercept his leap with its own collision. Whether it's going to make it in time before he strikes, however, is another question altogether.

Lucatiel of Mirrah (Dropped) has posed:
Oh look there's another sword. The knight whips around and brings up that cavalry greatsword with respectable agility. It's not fast enough to get away unscathed, as Kirika's blade slips along it and bites into her arm on its way past, but it's enough to keep her head on her shoulders. Right where she likes it, incidentally.

The woman gives no banter or remarks, and as she whirls around to face her new opponent, the motion brings with it a flash of long blonde braid. And perhaps a glint of steel; that huge cavalry greatsword brought up to bat away the more slender blade with agility something that big just shouldn't have.

There's a slight hook to the end of the larger, Mirrah-made sword, and it's that hook that the fencer seems to be trying to manoeuvre the Kasun blade into, to catch and fling it away, but Kirika is fast -- it's a power struggle, no doubt; with Lucatiel trying to fling Kirika's blade away, and Kirika trying to julienne Lucatiel into very tiny pieces.

"It's nothing personal," the woman finally comments, voice oddly hollowed from the mask. The voice is light enough in timbre that it's probably female; but it sounds oddly low, and uncommonly hard for a woman's voice. "I owe the good Miss Gorgon a debt, and she has collected on it." Aiming a kick with one solid, reinforced boot, Lucatiel attempts to thrust her blade straight at Kirika, whether or not she manages to land that kick. "You are in my way."

Kirika has posed:
    The blade only seems to fly from her hands just to disappear into light for a moment, when Kirika feels it hooked and yanked from her grasp.

    Of course, she gets a kick to the chest, knocking her from the golem's shoulder. That said, as she flies through the air, her sword returns to her grasp in another flash of light just in time.

    She plants her sword into the golem's shoulder, trying to hold on for dear life as she's knocked off her feet. The blade bites into her shoulder, well into her back as well as she grits her teeth in pain. At least it's not her head, in any case.

    Propping herself against the golem, she rips the sword out when she grabs her footing once more, and the fight continues as she leaps towards Lucatiel again, her blade dancing in both hands while she and Lucatiel fence away, sparks flying from each blow they exchange.

    Despite the percarious position of the two, Kirika gives a good showing, and she definitely has some admiration of Lucatiel's as well. "All in all, you fight well, mercenary!"

D (Dropped) has posed:
    A gale-force wind erupts around D. His cloak is caught in the fury of it, and as it bellows around him, he seems almost to grow larger and more menacing. The shadows surrounding him deepen further into a pitch blackness so stark not even the indigo eye of his ever-worn pendant can no longer be seen. The silver arc cut by his sword dims before the irrefutable shadows called to embrace him. Kissed by red hues, his face remains visible, but it is not at all recognizable -- it is more like a bloodied mask than anything worth admiring. The Hunter's beauty has been shed in favor of monstrosity.

    He is a void of consuming Darkness given life. His is the Presence stirring fear into the hearts of men. To look at him is to behold Death, and to know the pitiful brevity of Mortality. Son of the Sacred Ancestor, embodiment of all that is Sacred -- D.

    Kagenashi doesn't even /reach/ D; another telekinetic blast and gusting wind slams her aside. The force is so great it strips the snow in the immediate area to the earth beneath, revealing a perfect circle of wilted grasses and hard stone. His baleful stare given only to Medusa, D does not seem to even notice the impact. It is as if Kagenashi is repelled by an instinctual barrier of some kind. His magnificence is untouched by the fox-woman's swords.

    Medusa Gorgon's trickery might as well be placed into the same category as Kagenashi's swords. D is implacable, and his senses at their utmost: no matter where her Vector Plate carries her, he is beyond capable of tracking her movements, and far above the surprise of a mere /kick/. Powerful it might be, the technique relies on surprising one's victim into complacency, and D in that moment is the farthest thing from it.

    Medusa commits herself to her attack.

    D's eyes narrow to hard slits.

    The sharp tip of his sword had dipped almost to the ground as D gathered himself and committed to his reprehensible transformation; now, it lifts. The movement is graceful, and almost slow, and there is such casual heartlessness to it that it is almost as if D means to lift his hand to dismiss a servant, or to flick away a fly. The cold, silver arc is brought to the height of D's chest, and there it awaits Medusa Gorgon, terminating in an unforgiving point once again aimed at her shriveled old heart.

    The force of this seemingly forceless blow sends D's cape and hair billowing behind him in another powerful gust.

Frederica has posed:
    Frederica breathes a bit more easily as Kirika teleports in to her aid. Huge forces of nature, bring them on! She hates going toe to toe with swords however. It's just ... icky. Not to mention the pain the swordswoman gave her was far worse than anything merely frostbite-dangerous.

    The damage done to Salamandra is no longer spewing crimson droplets. Given a moment of focus, it's easy for Frederica to repair the damage. Salamandra is merely a construct of will and imagination after all. The true damage is to her psyche, and that will only heal with rest. Outwardly at least, she's unharmed.

    With the moment of respite, Frederica directs Salamandra. "After it!" she says imperiously, perched within the belly of her fire elemental, lifting one hand to point a finger straight at the troll's belly. Well, more or less at its belly. It's quite high up. And with that, Salamandra begins to stalk the giant troll.

    Salamandra goes after the monster like only an elemental force with no fear can go. Frederica has plenty of fear, but not for a giant monster that cringes away from her when she attacks its allies. Her fury's been roused, and the monster's seeming cowardice only heats her further. As the troll continues to back away, Frederica grins wickedly. "Salamandra! Flame whip!" she cries out.

    The elemental's already-long arm begins to extend, a rope of living plasma burning out from its fist. Salamandra silently roars, lashing out with the whip which extends to strike at the retreating giant ice troll. Ice, rock, metal... doesn't matter. The plasma whip tends to cut through just about anything it hits. It's Frederica's deadliest weapon by far, and wielded with the 'muscle' of Salamandra behind it, it's the closest thing her world has to an unstoppable force.

Medusa Gorgon has posed:
    Damnit human! The ice witch frowns in displeasure as her ice lance does not seem to have the desired effect. It hit him, but he is still advancing? The woman steps back and raises her arms, causing the ice roses already blooming on Defiant's armor to spread. Sure, she is leaving herself open... and she instantly regrets it when the second blade is swung at her. Her eyes widen, and a pained cry can be heard down the mountain side as blood is drawn and scattered across the snow. Luckily she manages to pull back however, pressing a hand to her abdomen as she heaves for breath. What Defiant might not have counted on however is that the polar bear is hurt... but not out of the game. The large predator barrels through the snow and from the Cape's side, threatening to run him over with a mighty roar even as the black fox leaps at the man.

    The snake familiar digs its fangs in, doing its best to tear the white fox's flesh. Though it seems that the fox is not giving up so easily either. It's a vicious sight as the two creatures fight with fangs (and claws in the fox's case), though the snake lets go when the fox tears, pulling back and bleeding before it attempts to strike again!

    Why will not the fire elemental let up? The fact that Frederica commands her minion forward seems to give the much larger frost giant pause, its bear dripping from the unrelenting heat. It tries to roar more icy winds, but the nature of Salamandra's fire seems to make her immune towards the icy winters that the frost giant unleashes, the chill having to give way for the heat. And when the plasma whip lashes out, it tries desperately to block it. But for something that hot that even rock and metal is weak to, what good can ice do? The extended arm is severed, and the plasma whip carries out its strike... going through the frost giant's midsection with a shriek that pierces the cold winter night!

    The feet staggers back, though the upper section of the frost giant has to obey the laws of gravity as it falls back from the force of the whip... and starts falling down the side of the mountain, causing yet another avalanche, but on a much larger scale.

Medusa Gorgon has posed:
    The last time he had been far slower... yet the glint of metal catches Medusa's eye only a moment too late, as well as the predatory nature that takes over the hunter where he stands, unmoving and prepared for what is coming. But is she?

    More dark red splatters on the shimmering snow to join the already spilled blood of D, the fox and the snake, and a strained gasp for breath leaves the witch where she hangs in midair, eyes wide in surprise as she stares ahead as her attack comes to a halt. Her knee rests merely inches from D's head as it slowly lowers again, and the witch lets out a wet cough and raises a quivering hand.

    D's blade coated with slick blood as it protrudes out of her back, and more drops join the ones in the snow.

    Even as the wind howls around them, tugging at her braid and cloak, Medusa seems only to have eyes for the man in front of her, and her bloodied hand slowly and carefully reaches up to caress D's cheek in what one could almost call a tender manner. Even now there is warmth in those snakelike eyes as she beholds the dhampir with a look he should be used to seeing from her. Forget the lumbering frost giant behind them as it falls to its demise, the fiery Salamandra which pulls back her vicious fire whip, as well Frederica, Lucatiel and Kirika lit up in silhouette against the fire elemental. Neither does Louhi and her bear matter, no more than the armored hero and Kagenashi. Nothing else matters this very moment. Rather... nothing matters.

    "... b-beloved..."

    Nothing more is uttered before Medusa's eyes widen, her pupils constricting as she opens her mouth in a silent scream, only for her very being to /explode/ in what appears to be chaotic energy. The spot where she stood is now empty, and D will find himself even more bloodied as dark red arrows rain down along with the white snow that falls all around and dampens the sounds.

    Yet the wind continues carrying the violent sound, as if not allowing it to be completely forgotten.

Defiant has posed:
     Defiant is already moving, placing his feet in such a way so that, when his icy opponent goes to slip away, he's moving with her, spear ready to jab. And he thrusts-

     The spear goes wide, the blade embedding itself in the snow, smoke billowing into the air, as the black fox leaps at him. Defiant goes to swing the gladius around, aiming to bury it squarely in the animal's chest, but then the bear is on top of him, pinning that arm against his chest. Defiant only barely manages to deactivate the nanothorn blade before it cuts him in two. His spear goes flying.

     This is bad.

     Teeth and claws and fangs and paws rain down on Defiant, battering at his armor, drawing sparks where sharp edges catch. With one arm pinned, he's only got one to fight with, but one is all he needs.

     Dragon has always frowned on Defiant's self-modifications, going beyond the augmentation she had done to save his life. He knows this because he knows that she has no choice /but/ to frown on it.

     One of those modifications were the nanothorn projectors he had worked into his cybernetic limbs which would be boosted further by the systems in his power armor. With those systems activated, and his free arm shrouded in that grey nimbus, Defiant goes to strike the bear and fox with his fist and roll free, climbing to his feet.

Lucatiel of Mirrah (Dropped) has posed:
There comes a snort from behind the mask, visible as a puff of fog in the frigid air, even as Lucatiel dances back and away from the flashing sword. Another step takes her out of range, mouth twisting as she shifts her grip on that enormous greatsword. It's a big, broad blade that doesn't look suitable in the least for fencing, but she wields it with surprising agility. Either she's much stronger than she looks, or she's trained with that blade for a very long time.

"Mercenary? Do not insult me. I come from Mirrah, a land of knights. I am no mere mercenary." That seems to be all the exposition she wants to deal with, though, already kicking off from the ground, lunging forward to lash out at the half-kitsune.

She affords one last look at the looming forms of the ice giant and Salamandra, before ultimately ignoring them. The giant seems to have things handled, for the moment, and she wasn't summoned to protect the elemental beastie. That thing was never part of any contract she may have informally agreed to.

So she lashes out with that enormous greatsword, and attempts another kick at Kirika's midsection; followed up by a lunge to close the distance, and an attempt by Lucatiel to hammer the heavy pommel into the half-kitsune's skull.

Kagenashi has posed:
    The telekinetic blast is more than Kagenashi can handle. Her swift forward momentum is jarringly and abruptly reversed. A powerful whiplash strikes her and sends her flying back, and dazed as she is, it's not something she can simply recover from this time. She tumbles across the snow without grace or control, hurtling and bouncing across the white landscape. Her swords fall from her grasp, the first one lodging itself in the snow, then the second. When she does finally come to a halt, sprawled on her back at an awkward angle, she doesn't move; she breathes, slightly, but that blast seems to have been enough to knock her unconscious.

    The black fox, meanwhile, experiences a strange halt in its motion. Its attempted mauling of Defiant is abruptly halted, even before he punches it. The moment Kagenashi is hit, the fox wobbles in a daze, eyes wide for a split second before closing again. Wordlessly, the great creature instantly collapses, falling to the ground in an unconscious slump like its master and freeing Defiant from its clutches.

    The white fox, however, keeps fighting with as much determination as ever. Yes, it bleeds; the snake's fangs bit deep, digging into its pristine fur and marring it with blood. But something in the moments that follow seems to spur it on, filling it with a last burst of strength and speed. It sees the snake rearing, and this time, it's quick enough. A leap to the side spares it from being hooked in the familiar's fangs, and it leaps in without a second wasted. Driven by its focus, the fox lunges at the serpent, digging its fangs into the creature's neck one more time, just behind its head. What follows takes a great effort on the fox's part, but it endures for a few more moments; a few moments to press its claws down into the serpent's body and /yank/ back with its jaws in a single effort to simply finish the job and tear off the snake's vicious head.

Kirika has posed:
    The duel continues on the ground as Lucatiel and Kirika fight. THeir blades clash together repeatedly, the two swordmasters fighting furiously with twisting and leaping. It's clear to the kitsune that Lucatiel is not to be trifled with, and they're not stopping just yet.

    Kirika pauses just as Lucatiel fires back, and it's evident to the kitsune she's made a slight mistake. Another slice from Lucatiel draws blood as Kirika growls, attempting to lunge forth before she's kicked off her feet.

    Stunned, she's smacked square on the head by Lucatiel's strike, leaving her dazed as she attempts to fling a fireball, weak and inaccurate, but aimed in the general direction of her opponent to distract her. Her wounds are healing, yes, but it's clear this has to end soon.

D (Dropped) has posed:
    D endures the chaos in silence, his red eyes squinting against any debris or snow flung into his face. As Medusa's body dissolves into nothingness, and the last of her power exerts herself in the mad shower of crimson arrows, D brings his thumb to his blood-smeared cheek, drags the flat of it through the blood, and takes the blood into his mouth. The tip of his tongue swipes the flat of his callused thumb clean, and D lowers his hand back to his side.

    He flicks the rest of Medusa's blood from his sword before returning the weapon to his scabbard.

    All the menace drains from the Hunter. No hint of his dark power remains, and his Presence is faded. His visage as chilled and emotionless as the snow plains around him, he takes a final look around the battlefield.

    His revenge is satisfied, but no joy warms his heart...

Medusa Gorgon has posed:
    The polar bear roars as it jumps on Defiant, intent on ravaging the man as best as it can, though it seems he isn't about to give up so easily. It's too bad, and as Louhi clutches at her side she beholds the utter chaos on top of the mountain. The frost giant as fallen. The nogitsune is pushed back and clearly unable to stand up to the opposition. The swordsman is alone against two people... and Medusa herself...!

    There is no chance.

    As the polar bear is struck it backs up, and Louhi steps forward with a wince, jumping up onto the beast's back. They are both injured, and for now it's better to admit defeat rather than meet the same sinister fate that befell the other witch. So while Defiant is busy with the fox, Louhi rides off down the mountain side as fast as her injured familiar can carry her, letting the snow carry them.

    Behind it appears that whatever magic fueled the snake is withering, as it seems to loose in speed and strength. Ferocious it might be, but the determination by the white fox is more than enough to give it its necessary power as it lunges one final time. It easily avoids the snapping fangs, and the snake seems to wither slightly before it lets out a death cry as the fox digs its fangs into it... and with little effort required the foul creature explodes in a rain of magic energy that evaporates into thin black wisps of smoke.

    The bloody rain continues falling around D where he stands in his moment of victory. Nothing remains save Medusa's blood, no clothes, no hair, nothing. No trace of the wicked woman who made the dhampir's life so much harder not that many months ago.

    Yet this has only brought emptiness to them both.

Kagenashi has posed:
    The snake dissipates at last. The white fox staggers slightly where it stands, panting heavily as exhaustion begins to settle in after that last burst of energy. Its head is lowered, its beautiful tail droops, blood flecks over its white fur and the disturbed snow below, but it still stands.

    The small creature needs a few minutes to find its strength again, but soon enough, it starts slowly walking over to D. A paw is lifted to gently alight on his boot, but only for a moment; the fox is well aware it needs all four feet to stay up right now. Even then, should D allow, it will walk by his side to the nearest gate, silent save for its heavy, weary breaths. Almost as quiet as the settling snow itself.

D (Dropped) has posed:
    D leaves the field in silence. Blood-stained footsteps mark his trail until the snow cleans his boots. He does not say anything to the fox as he goes, or to Lucatiel, who is sure to join him; he renews his journey wrapped in an isolating blanket of inscrutable thoughts.

Lucatiel of Mirrah (Dropped) has posed:
A swat of that enormous greatsword is enough to dispel the flames in a wash of heat, but the Knight of Mirrah is not unscathed. Various small cuts sully her fine shirt, traces of red against the moonlit white silk. She doesn't seem to pay her wounds much mind, possibly because now just isn't the time.

Half a glance is given in D's direction, and she actually has the audacity to turn her back on the reeling Kirika.

And then she simply walks away, wordlessly joining D as he makes his exit, walking for the nearest warpgate. A flick of her wrist clears the blood from her blade, and she sheathes it over her shoulder once more, walking a little stiffly beside him. Half a glance is cast over her shoulder, only enough to ensure that none of the Union members are pursuing her, and then with a jerk of her head forward again that sets her braid to trailing over her shoulder, she strides ahead, slightly ahead of D.

Apparently she trusts him at his word not to stab her in the back, either, for she walks without any apparent care. Her debs are fulfilled -- and now it's time for her to move on.

Frederica has posed:
    There's nothing left of the ice troll. Nothing worth worrying over at least. Frederica, somewhat worn out and in a great deal of distress from psychic feedback, isn't eager to seek out more trouble. Kirika however came to her aid, and is... is looking in bad shape. Pain and discomfort are significant things, but not as significant as standing up for friends and allies.

    Gathering her will, Frederica pulls Salamandra's flames back into her palm once more, turning the monstrous being into a ball of searing flame resting comfortably upon her palm. And she turns, looking down on Kirika and Lucatiel.

    Frederica isn't a whole lot to look upon, like this. She's just a small girl, frail. She's seemingly unharmed, save for a certain stiffness in her stance suggesting injuries that don't show on the outside. Still, there's something about her. A sense of purpose, perhaps of menace. She holds the fire however, and doesn't attempt to interfere. She just holds it, watching and waiting for the proper moment to either act or withdraw. Or collapse.

    As Lucatiel withdraws, Frederica nods and finally closes her hand, smothering the flame. She heads down to Kirika, offering to help the fox-woman get clear of this cursed place.

Kirika has posed:
    Staggering, Kirika looks up only to see Frederica coming to her aid. Sheathing her sword, the half-kitsune just smiles, holding out a hand to the girl to take. "Thank you..." She says, grasping at her head. THere maaaaay be a fracture in her skull, as she staggers towards the pyro awkwardly.

    A sauna and some time in medical will be a godsend, that's for sure.