459/The Rising Black Sun

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The Rising Black Sun
Date of Scene: 20 August 2014
Location: Azuma
Synopsis: Kagenashi sets out to steal enough power for her fifth tail, but things don't go exactly as planned.
Cast of Characters: 22, 56, 85, 232, 346, 347, 369, 481, 482, 518, Zero Kiryu, Sir Gawain

Kagenashi (85) has posed:
    The region of Suzaku is locked in an eternal summer. The bamboo forests that spread across the lowlands are always warm during the day, as the sun beats down its ever-present heat and the hot springs fueled by the nearby volcano send bubbling steam up into the air. The volcano itself, a dark peak looming over the land, has thankfully been dormant for as long as people can remember; the forests have stretched up along its slopes, and villages and towns have sprouted and grown beneath its shadow, clearly unafraid of any threat the mountain could pose.

    Today, however, the volcano is threatened, and its defender is already in action.

    BGM: http://listenonrepeat.com/watch/?v=tzY8OkU6vpE

    The setting sun casts a red glow over the forest. Between the shadows cast by the bamboo stalks flits a shape of billowing crimson, lacking any shadow of her own. Kagenashi leaps, darts, ducks, whirls; if it weren't for the occasional flash of steel or the whistle and thud of arrow after arrow, it would almost seem like a dance.

    Instead, it is an agile rush to escape her dogged pursuer. The source of the blue-feathered shafts hurtling through the air and burying themselves in green trunks is a kitsune, though she does not seem like one at first sight. No vulpine features are evident, save for the star orb that gleams in the center of her tongue when she opens her mouth. Dark hair tinted with azure flows behind her, and purple eyes fix on Kagenashi with a hunter's gleam. Her torso is covered by a short, violet Chinese dress that falls from a leather and metal armored chestpiece and brace around her neck. Similar plated armor bound by red ropes covers her arms, but leaves her shoulders and legs mostly bare. Another rope of red drapes around her waist, supporting a violet quiver decorated at the base with a snarling dragon's head holding a ring between its fangs. Her hands hold a large, curving longbow of dark wood, as elegantly formed and powerful as its wielder. This must be Konohana, the guardian of Suzaku and protector of its volcano. (http://tinyurl.com/mkqf85a)

    Kagenashi is agile and focused, but so too is her opponent; perhaps even more so. As she flees through the forests up the volcano's side, Konohana follows without missing a step. When Kagenashi leaps, Konohana follows. When Kagenashi vanishes into her spiritual form, Konahana's keen sight ensures she doesn't stay hidden for very long. Every swift arrow loosed by Konohana is one Kagenashi barely avoids or parries, and they come in an almost relentless flurry, notched only a moment before being loosed with incredible precision. One slight misstep could mean a crippling wound for the nogitsune.

Shizune Nakamura (369) has posed:
    These days there is one word - one name - that can draw Shizune out no matter where she is and what she's doing. In this case, it's quite literally in the middle of dinner where her radio alerts her to a certain nogitsune being brought up on the public band. She immediately brings it up to her ear, listens, and confirms for herself that that one name has been spoken - that that one person is on the move.


    With deep, profuse apologies, Shizune excuses herself, taking what remains of her dinner with her. In minutes she's on a shuttle. Minutes more, she's flying over Suzaku, ordering the pilot to bring her around, to get ahead of the chase. To put Shizune on the goal line.

    She hops out near the summit of the dormant volcano, and without hesitating, begins to leap and hop her way down in graceful, gliding movements. Already she's adjusting her glasses as she goes, trying to spot the incoming nogitsune as best she can. She'll put herself right in Kagenashi's path if that's what it takes.

Sir Bedivere (482) has posed:
While a short period of peace had been good, it is inevitable that a knight's duty is to protect the people. As a soldier of the Union and a soldier of time-lost Britain, Sir Bedivere is bound by honour to provide that protection, to be the sword and shield of the defenseless. As much as he inherently dislikes fighting, he is the Left Hand of the King, and he did not earn that position through favour.

Today, the knight crouches low in the saddle of a big grey draft horse, likely borrowed from one of Dun Realtai's farmers -- but the animal is big and heavy, and while not particularly fast, it can get him there all the same. He rides with his sword free of its scabbard, his left hand clutching the reins. He rides with his violet eyes cold as flint, as ice. A longbow rests over his back; a quiver of long, barbed arrows at his hip.

Kagenashi may be a guest within Dun Realtai's walls, but they are no longer within the castle. He is not bound by Brehon Law here; he need not suffer any real or imagined retribution for taking the fight to Suzaku Province.

Any other time, Bedivere might admire the bamboo forests and the beautiful scenery, but right now, he is utterly focused.

The grey horse plunges and snorts, charging through the bamboo forest with the subtlety of a freight train. He bears down on where the kitsune and the nogitsune do battle, raising his sword aloft. Yet he goes right /past/ them, by quite a ways -- turning his steed about in a circle hard enough for the horse to rear, screaming, broad hooves thudding back down in the middle of the path.

He will hold, here -- and he will, hopefully, ensure that Kagenashi goes no further. Shifting his grip on his sword, he then waits.

Kirika (481) has posed:
    Kirika sprints through the bamboo thicket, managing to outpace a racehorse by a good few miles per minute as she takes to the trees themselves. She leaps and runs across the branches, moving on as her new toy is brought out to play for the first time proper. The spear in her hand is no encumberence to the half-kitsune as she tracks for Kagenashi's aura.

    This world is very much familiar to the lands of Yokai in the north of Kasun, where spirits and men live in harmony and myth is more or less fact. Feels justl ike home. If only Mother and the rest of her family could see this land now, were things more peaceful.

    She'll probably remember to take them on a tour at a later time when things die down, at the least they could use a look out at what their half-breed has been off to these days.

    "Ready, Manatto?" she asks her spear, the Abstractum Manattobuki, before she takes another leap to go where the arrows are flying. She's fast enough to evade their fire even as Lady Konohana launches volley after volley, as her eyes look for Kagenashi's hiding spot.

Medusa Gorgon (22) has posed:
    Well, with nothing better to do... why not have some fun?

    After the radio message went out the snake witch was not slow to react, getting ready for combat. And thanks to the warp gates and a speedy broom, it doesn't take long before a dark figure arrives overhead in the brightly coloured sky. Medusa Gorgon isn't exactly slow, and she turns her broom downwards as she swoops down into the forest, doing a roll to avoid hitting any branches or getting caught on one of them. For now her soul is not shielded by magic, there is no Soul Protect in place. So anybody with a supernatural sense might notice that there is something chaotic nearby, an aura basically screaming destruction and evil.

    There is somebody on the broom with her however, somebody who might not appreciate the high speeds and airborne acrobatics... then again, that is what Ariah gets for working under Medusa and wanting a ride on the broom.

    Though Medusa's keen eyes do spot something, and she calls back to the other Confederate at her back. "Prepare to get off, Unionites ahead!"

    And so it might come as a surprise to Bedivere or not when the destructive and chaotic presence is suddenly there on his side, a witch on a broom zooming in, though she quickly hangs onto the broom as she swings herself off and forward, intending to kick Bedivere off of his mount if he's not fast enough. With the speed she's coming in at a kick like this ought to hurt.

Ariah (56) has posed:
     For someone who survived multiple harrowing Allied air drops into enemy territory in World War II, clinging to a broomstick during high speed maneuvers feels somewhat old hat for Ariah. Maybe even something bringing back old memories. But she has no time to lapse into a reverie of the past, Medusa's warning coming as swift as the descending broomstick. "Then this is my stop. Thank you for the ride, Nurse Gorgon."

     Her white cloak fluttering behind her, the witch removes herself from her direct superior's conveyance, clutching her staff in both hands. She has yet to use her Hyperion coupon for a replacement sidearm, and goes without, not that she needs it. The tuck-and-roll landing has her crashing soundly through the bamboo thicket, but she's quickly back on her feet and running the opposite way of the actual fighting. She gives a glance over her shoulder, eyes narrowing, and then pushes herself forward, up the mountain, to the belly of the volcano to meet a bird.

Sir Gawain has posed:
Who needs horses..when you got /motorcycles/?

Heeding the call to battle, as an Union Ally and an honourable protector of the people, Sir Gawain rides upon his motorized steed, Gringalot II. He's already armored up, Excalibur Galatine one handed in his right hand, and his recently acquired Shield Abstractum, Radiant Guardia, in his left, as he ramps up the speed.

Sir Gawain doesn't seem to actually care if he's harming the bamboo or not (what, it's a battlefield!), as he shouts loudly and enthusiastically, beginning to quickly halt his bike in order to leap off it. "You will not succeed here, Lady Kagenashi! Radiant Guardia, I entrust you to my aid!".

Leaping high off his bike, Sir Gawain takes a quick glance to find the blipping Nogitsune, before aiming forward towards her, attempting to strike her in mid-air, if possible.

Saber (346) has posed:
     In contrast to the steed of her marshal, the King of Knights rides her favoured Yamaha V-Max, dressed in the three-piece suit for riding a thing of modernity. As a Saber-class, riding such a thing even in the environment before them was a simple task with her Riding skill, easily steering around -- or even over -- what obstacles necessary.

     Even as she gave chase, however, Excalibur remained immaterial; the Servant could summon it at a moment's notice when necessary, along with her armour. It would hardly be the first time she had leapt from her mechanical steed and landed in full armour.

     Their reluctantly-hosted guest by way of the Laws of Hospitality of ancient Britain was not protected here. And today, she was very much an enemy.

     Already ahead of Bedivere, the knight spun the motobike to an abrupt yet strangely elegant spin, leaping off and landing on her feet...in full armour, with Excalibur -- rendered invisible by the Bounded Field of the Wind King -- already grasped in her gauntleted hands. Dropping into the en garde stance of an armored combatant, Saber -- in contrast to her nephew -- silently awaited the approach and readied a command.

Yuuki Kuran (518) has posed:
    You know what is just fantastic about bamboo forests? The ambience. They're cinematic, they're beautiful, and if you're a fantastical ninja guy-thing or a stunning kitsune guardian...

    When you are a super powered dorky teenager, Bamboo Forests are HARD.

    After the third time she ran her face into a swinging bamboo branch from all the rustling, Yuuki Kuran does an entirely un-princesslike thing. Which is fine! Because she's... TOTALLY not a princess. She's totally normal.

    "This is the worst! Why did the gate-thing have to be back /there/?!" She complains, a bamboo-shaped welt across her face disappearing as she complains, picking herself up off the ground and straightening her long tan coat. She is forced to move more carefully, and thus, TAKES FOREVER to get through the Bamboo Forest without help.

    Finally, she awkwadly breaks through the tall scenic misty foliage at the base of the volcano, as like two people roll past her on motorcycles.

    Yuuki just can't even.

    "Next time, Zero, we're using those." She huffs, pointing at the awesome bikes. She can't even ride a motorcycle, she's just annoyed.

D (232) has posed:
    The volcano's slopes are uneven and treacherous, but for one charging steed, the uncertain terrain is no challenge at all.

    It might as well be half a demon. The stallion's eyes blaze red like fiery coals. Clouds of searing steam snort from its flaring nostrils. A strange, distorted whinnying rises up from its heaving chest, haunting and furious in equal parts. Sharp horns sweep down from its black head in place of bent-back ears, and sparks fly from its hooves wherever their thunderous cadence should fall. From a distance, it looks very well like something infernal, not at all meant for mundane world.

    It is a fitting mount for the man astride it.

    Draped in black from head to toe, a curving sword worn across his back, his cape flaring behind him like leathery wings, the man hurries to join the battle.

    He pursues Kagenashi, or so it would seem; his serene gaze is always forward, fixed on the distant nogitsune, his horse racing along in her wake. Incredibly, the horse keeps pace, its stride far exceeding the capability of any normal creature, and as the Hunter draws closer, it'll be clear, at least to some eyes -- his horse is augmented by cyborg components.

    Black uniform, cyborg horse, curving sword, preternaturally perfected appearance -- this can only be D, the dhampir Hunter.

    Lunging into position not far from Gawain, the Hunter carries on his chase. As Gawain leaps joyfully from his saddle, the cyborg horse plants its forward hooves, bucks it haunches, and thrusts D skyward, too. Gawain comes crashing down at Kagenashi, but D's trajectory puts him there before the knight, and sword in hand he turns -- but not to attack the fox woman.

    His sword meets Gawain's.

Zero Kiryu has posed:
    Bamboo forests are hard for Yuuki, but they aren't hard for Zero. He's been navigating just fine, thank you very much. On the other hand his entire assignment is to make sure that Yuuki doesn't get her dumb ass murdered someplace out in the multiverse, so he's keeping pace with her out of necessity. His expression is predictably cranky, but that's really nothing new. He says to her, "That's just how it is. Quit complaining about it." This is probably the least rude way he could express those opinions just now. As it is, he's been tense for basically the entire time.

    There's something around here that's nagging at the edges of his senses. It's not the spirits wreathed in flesh, though they show up on his supernatural radar too. Faint, but present. They roar past on motorcycles, a much more practical choice of entrance than he was forced to endure. Yuuki remarks on it, and that just makes Zero look at her with an even more irate expression.

    "You're the one with infinite money. If something like that is more convenient for you, then you could've had it by now." He jerks his head in the direction of the bamboo forest. "That should pose no problem to you, either. Next time just do to it what you did to my door. It'll grow back quick enough anyway."

    Zero's senses come alive with alarm. He reaches into his jacket and draws Bloody Rose, but eases up slightly when he recognizes D. But why's he going after one of the strange people who rode in on motorcycles? His grumpy expression gives way to dull confusion.

Abstractum.Net (347) has posed:
    Konoe, presumably active, is busy being bitterly hostile about people daring to mar its User's presence with arrows. It might not actually be here right now, though. That's all offscreen.

    Fraus, meanwhile, is probably disappointed about not getting to get a bit of blood, but keeps restrained with cold brooding.

    Arymes Prydein has, presumably, said something offensive during a bout of particularly severe tricksterism and is, apparently, not be in Saber's loadout today.

    But for the newbies here to debut their Abstractums for the first time, matters are entirely different. "I'm always prepared." Manattobuki, Kirika's spear, says firmly. There's a gruff tone to it. "A soldier has to be ready at all times. Enemy's got a sabotage objective. We can't let them reach it. You're gonna need mobility reduction, area denial, bottlenecking." A firm grumbling noise. "You make sure, if it comes to it, you get to whatever entry she's gonna use into the volcano too."

    "Aaaaaa, wooo!" Radiant Guardia is having a good time. "Not gonna let you down, boss! POWERING STRIFE DRIVES!" There's a brilliant flare of bright red light, and abruptly the bamboo that's devastated by Gawain's approach isn't smacking him so hard. And when he launches, it's as a streak of red fire! "Hooooooyyyeeeaaah! STRIKE DRIVER!" There's a flare of red light as he crashes down... At D! "GAH! Who's this guy!? Ghhh-- Going anyway!" The wide triangular shield's eye, hidden on the inside of the thing, takes an eagerly aggressive stance, bringing Gawain's sword a sudden rocket-like boost in force even after the clash! It's... Relatively minor, actually, since the Abstractum is rookie level, but it's sudden and unexpected!

Kagenashi (85) has posed:
    Reinforcements for both sides continue to arrive, but neither Kagenashi nor Konohana halt their agile confrontation. Kagenashi's twin katanas rush through the air, blocking arrows again and again; Konohana nocks another arrow as soon as the next is loosed. And then there are more than a few Unionites standing in the way, right where Kagenashi is headed.

    This makes things difficult.

    Thankfully, Kagenashi's mind is sharp and quick. Normally these bamboo trees would be difficult to cut with such a thin blade as her katanas, but one of those twin weapons is a high-frequency blade. Therefore, when she comes close to the Union opposition blocking her path to the volcano's peak, she makes use of it, ducking and swirling in a quick flash that cleaves through several trunks at once. Immediately after, darkness consumes her, shifting and shrinking her form into that of a small black fox with four weaving tails. The trees fall, crashing down to make the arrival of those trying to move through the forest a little more difficult. Enough to buy her time to leap, bouncing off trees that are still standing...and moving away from the volcano's peak, rather than trying to push through to the top.

    Konohana is one of the people who ends up being hindered by that distraction, her attention on Kagenashi taken away as she shifts to avoid a crashing tree. The kitsune glares toward Kagenashi's escape, then turns to the assembling Union members. "There she is. She is fleeing the volcano, it seems. This is still our chance to stop her."

    After a few agile bounds, Kagenashi shifts once more mid-leap, returning to her human form before she lands in a crouch on the ground. Immediately she rises and turns, braced for anyone to follow her. The attack, however, doesn't come from the direction she expects, and is heralded only by the roar of a motorcycle swiftly approaching her. The nogitsune whirls around, just in time to see Gawain leaping for her-

    Suddenly, D is there, in a flash of steel and darkness. Kagenashi is stunned for the briefest moment, but quickly offers a nod of gratitude before she turns back to the rest of the Union opposition, swords grasped and held ready. "...it will take some time to get used to this..."

Kagenashi (85) has posed:
    Ariah's approach is remarkably unhindered; it seems everyone is busy with Kagenashi at the moment, and so she should make it to the volcano in good time. Looking over the rim of the volcano's mouth produces a sight few would expect. The magma deep within the volcano appears to be mostly solidified into a black floor, but heat still wafts from the depths of the mountain. It seems to come specifically from the gigantic crow bound and elevated by chains near the bottom of the volcano. The chains themselves are large enough to handle such a great bird, formed from dark metal and extending from the walls of the volcano to wrap around the creature and lock again into the opposite wall. There appear to be nine of these chains, creating eighteen mounting points in the walls, where the chains are held in place by giant fox heads of carved stone grasping the links between their teeth.

    The bird, clearly the legendary Yatagarasu, is an enormous thing easily large enough to have a wingspan of a couple hundred feet, if its wings weren't bound to its sides by the taut chains surrounding it. Even more interesting is the burning, circular glow where its heart should be, roiling like a miniature sun just below its feathers and giving off an incredible heat to the surroundings, even more so than a volcano of this activity should have. Three legs are bound against its body, its talons gleaming faintly almost like obsidian shards.

    For the moment, it seems strangely docile. Its eyes are closed; three of them, with two on the sides of its head and one in its forehead. Its breaths come evenly and calmly, its serrated beak opening now and then to release a gout of blistering heat in a slow sigh. Perhaps it might even be asleep.

Shizune Nakamura (369) has posed:
    Kagenashi's course changes, and Shizune skids to a stop before adjusting likewise. It's a long slide, long enough to cancel the considerable momentum she's built by coming down the slope, but she's able to pull it off in time to veer off, this time running parallel along the slope in an attempt to continue interspersing herself between the nogitsune and her supposed target up the slope. For that matter, if her target isn't really up the slope, she wants to be in position to dive in quickly.

    And of course, she feels compelled to call out to Konohana. "Don't get too aggressive! If you're her real target, following her is exactly what she wants you to do!"

Kirika (481) has posed:
    "Of course." Kirika says, heeding her spear's counsel. It speaks as if it were a soldier, and an experienced one at that. 'Sarge' probably knows what he's talking about, and really Kirika's not in a mood to talk back either. It ain't her nature, after all.

    She bounds through the thicket until she spots Kagenashi, and her eyes go from c.c to +_+ in an instant. Target spotted, time to move in. Once she leaps to the fray, Kirika raises her spear up high, about to lash out with it to the Nogitsune to skewer her.

    Of course, then she sees /D/.

    She's only met him once before, but his skills as a swordsman are never to be underestimated. The dhampir is also not...attacking Kagenashi?

    Part of Kirika's soul sinks to a low pit as it settles in, before she strikes out at the nogitsune in a fit of rage. She'll deal with the traitor later.

    At the least she's got Shizune backing her up for distracting Kage.

Sir Bedivere (482) has posed:
Bedivere spares a brief glance to Saber and Gawain as they pass by, violet eyes hard. /I will remain here. Do not let Kagenashi pass./ Yet, perhaps Arturia might note the way his eyes linger on her, however briefly. /Be careful, you and Gawian both./

Before he has the opportunity to react, there are a pair of boots flying for his chest. His horse rears in alarm, which puts him right in the path of Medusa's vicious kick with exactly the expected results. The knight is flung from the saddle, into a stand of bamboo, and slumps like a stirng-cut puppet, momentarily dazed. He hasn't lost his sword, though, and he recovers quickly. Oddly, he makes a grab for a rock while he's down on ground level.

Pulling himself to his feet, he whirls, hurling the stone straight for the back of Medusa's head. She's too far away for a sweep of the sword, by now, travelling that fast... but maybe that rock can get her attention. She's got his, for sure. His head is ringing like a cathedral bell; he pauses long enough to shake it to clear it as he squints after the Witch.

Sir Gawain has posed:
Sir Gawain was expecting a block, if anything, from Kagenashi. Who the hell is this dude? Boosting forward with Radiant Guardia, the blades meet! The collision sends Gawain back, down to the forest, landing on one knee on a fallen tree, gritting his teeth, as he stares to wherever D currently is.

"Demonic swordsman, presumably of the Confederacy! I will not allow you to continue on..", Gawain shouts in that direction, before speaking to RG. "Radiant Guardia, keep up the excellent work. We will hold against him!". The blonde /grins/, aiming Abstractum high and sword to his side, not striking just yet. "Now, let us battle!"

Saber (346) has posed:
     Saber's jade eyes met Bedivere's as she passed, catching the meaning easily. /And you as well./ It compromised their famed -- and feared -- method of battling silently beside each other and relaying unspoken commands, but the V-Max was far faster. And though she was his Servant, she was more than accustomed to acting independently. Only now, she trusted her Master absolutely.

     It wouldn't be the first time the Knights of the Round Table were ambushed as they had been without a initial order from their king. They were trained warriors, perhaps the best of their generation -- disciplined and skilled -- and understood their roles. Even Gawain, as loud and boisterous as his demeanour projected him to be. She entrusted him to deal with the arrival of the hunter mounted on a strange sort of steed.

     Even as she approached the nogitsune acted quickly, slicing through several tall bamboo and causing the timbers to fall. Saber nimbly dodged, leaping to the side, but they achieved their intended effect of delaying her. She frowned, channelling more magical energy into her legs to catch up with the nogitsune. She was going to need a very large dinner after this, she suspected.

Ariah (56) has posed:
     Thankfully, even if temporarily, Ariah is left to her own devices, the sounds of battle so far away at the rim of the volcano. Her sharp ears still catch the ring of steel on steel, however. She's given a moment, heartbeats to a breath, to consider her position and her task. Moments taken in awe of the great creature before her and the chains binding it. Then she's off.

     Down the rim, towards the nearest wall mount of the chains. The chance of falling worries her less than the chance of falling into a pool of magma, but she's as quick and agile as her allies, steadying her footing on the great links beneath her as she stands beneath one of the large heads holding it in place. And then she sits. She settles, eyes scanning the surface of the metal before her.

     Her staff is secured, her hands removing tools from a fold in her uniform, and she sets to work. Her movements are hurried, her eyes glowing bright as she takes hammer and chisel to the chain. One must imagine her mad, taking such small tools to such a huge monument, but she's not seeking to cut through the metal. No, she's etching shapes, marks, runes. Each one glows faintly as she hammers the symbols in, no time for care, just a quick and dirty demolition rune to unmake the area where the metal is stressed the most. And so she hammers, the sound of her own tools ringing out in the volcano with each strike. TUNK! TUNK! TUNK!

Medusa Gorgon (22) has posed:
    As her feet connect with the knight's chest Medusa can't help but grin, her snakelike eyes following Bedivere's fall from his horse. She herself twists, the kick breaking her speed and making it rather impossible to get back on the broom at this very moment. Instead she focuses on getting away from him, throwing the broom aside and into the bamboo forest somewhere. It's not like she's fleeing anytime soon after all. But just as she lands in a three point landing, Bedivere's stone does hit her in the back of the head, and she winces, even though the leer remains on her face as she does her best to steady herself and ignore the stabbing pain she feels. Oh dear. "... such cowardly methods, sir Knight~!" she coughs a bit, turning to glance over her shoulder... and then she throws out her right arm. "Vector Plate!"

    A black arrow appears underneath Bedivere, pointing to the side towards a tree. If she's lucky he won't be able to evade, and she might buy herself a few seconds for her nect attack!

Yuuki Kuran (518) has posed:
    Yuuki frowns, looking back at Zero. "Hey, just because my /family/ has 'infinite money' doesn't mean I do." She shoots, cross. The sour banter between them was comforting, in its own way. It reminded her that she was still here, that Zero was still here, that things were... Normal.

    Then she sees D come out of bloody nowhere, leaping in to intercept an attack from some knight against some ninja. Yuuki becomes confused.

    D is a friend! She doesn't know the Knight or the Ninja-guy... And since she's not really paying attention to the radio, she twirls a small rod out from her coat, which extends electrically into a huge, organic-looking metal scythe. "Come on, Zero, let's help him out!" She calls, before leaping into battle, bearing her scythe down on...


    Before she even comes close though, she pulls out of her dive, tumbling on the ground. Gawain - she at least recognized that boisterous tone from her radio. What was going on?!

    Tumbled onto her bottom, holding her scythe loosely, she looks up at Gawain, and D on his mecha-horse.

    "W-what's going on? D? Why are you fighting him?"

Abstractum.Net (347) has posed:
    "/Focus/, Kirika." Manattobuki says, firmly. "Battlefield's no place for stressing about why people are on the side they're on. Just know what side they're on and fight. Powering Strife Drives." The spear's holy inscriptions flare with a sudden bright red light, its head burning as it's thrusted at its target: Kirika will be keenly aware that it's now a valid amplifying conduit for her magic! "Strike Driver."

Zero Kiryu has posed:
    "There's no difference. If you ask for something, you know you're going to get it, so don't act like you can't." Zero retorts to Yuuki, with a faint snort. In fact, he's pretty sure if he called up Aido and handed him a laundry list of 'stuff Yuuki requested', he'd have it before the next day. Even if it was something incredibly ludicrous and unreasonable. Stupid vampires and their stupid obscene wealth. For once, it isn't Zero who acts first in this little skirmish. Yuuki jumps to a conclusion and enters combat before the situation has been clarified.

    This is inconvenient, but Yuuki recognizes that something is amiss as soon as she gets in close. Zero isn't far behind her, and though he's wary, he isn't shooting at anybody yet. He reaches down with his spare hand and pulls Yuuki to her feet with as much ease as a cat lifts a kitten.

    "Don't jump into a fight where you don't know what's going on yet." He warns her, though Bloody Rose remains lifted and ready. It isn't aimed at D or Gawain, but it's fairly clear from his speed in closing to range and getting Yuuki back up that he could start firing on either of them (or both of them) without much warning. As it is, HE doesn't understand the situation well enough to be as aggressive as he'd prefer, but...

    It's D that he's the most cautious of, because Zero is a dirty racist. Gawain doesn't feel like a vampire or anything like that.

D (232) has posed:
    The deflecting strike is only D's first move; he does not stay in one place for very long. Kagenashi requires protection, and the opposition she faces is extreme, to say the least. For the Hunter to be at his most useful, he must be at his most mobile, and that means denying anyone the opportunity to pin him down. Even when issued a direct challenge.

    D bounces back from the clash into a three-point crouch, his curving blade held up across his face in a defensive posture. Above the blade's steely arc, his eyes narrow, their gleam not unlike the keen edge sported by his weapon. It is an elegant weapon, his blade, and not meant for brute force struggles, though the Hunter will demand more of it as needed.

    His steed wheels around. D grips the saddle horn as it passes by, and pulls himself into his seat. It would seem his response to Gawain's call to battle is to ride away -- but before he can get very far, his horse rears, its path intercepted by the slight and clumsy figure of one Yuuki Kuran.

    D looks down from his saddle, down the length of his sword, his frigid serenity cracked apart by recognition...and something else. Something dark stirs inside him. There is no mistaking it, the way he looks at Yuuki, not at all like he had at his last visit. The closeness of her washes over his senses, and enflames the hunger he has fought to keep contained all his years.

    Zero will no doubt recognize that /look/.

    For the moment, D is pinned where he is, inactive.

Abstractum.Net (347) has posed:
    "Yeah! That's probably Confederate." Radiant Guardia says, with much of its traditional enthusiasm! The shield flares bright red, and Sir Gawain's blade gets a sudden rush of crimson lightning-like energy to accentuate his posing! His shield's building up extra force and power for his next strike with the blade.

    That shield has yet to block. Hmmm. In any case, Gawain's blade will be humming a fair bit with softly crackling red light that's slowly building up... "You're not going any farther, guy!" RG calls out to D. "The pain train's stopping here!" And then he's... Leaving? "Hey! He said he's not gonna let you continue!" The shield seems indignant about that. When D's intercepted, Gawain gets a brief urging. "C'mon! Let's go get him before he tries to leave again!"

    A call out to Yuuki Kuran and, presumably, Zero with her. "Thanks, guys! I think we can take it from here!" Possibly not really.

Kagenashi (85) has posed:
    Konohana looks to Shizune with a light smirk on her sharp features. "That is exactly why I will not have to come in closer," she replies, nocking three arrows and taking aim further down as she stays where she is.

    Of course, they shift to face her. Kagenashi expected as much, which is why she moved down the mountain in the first place. That gives her a second or two to breathe, especially since D has held up Gawain.

    Shizune is approaching less aggressively, so the girl is filed in to the back of Kagenashi's mind for now. Saber is also still giving chase, and - Kagenashi groans inwardly as she sees her - Yuuki is now heading toward D to confront him. Of all the people to be here now...

    The more immediate threat is Kirika, as the half-kitsune comes rushing in with a spear to run her through. That's new, considering their last battle. Still, no time to ponder it for long, as she has to deal with the spear itself. Thankfully, while she doesn't have Kirika's strength, she does have leverage. She swings her arm, pushing the spear aside with a parry from the bladed sheath on her forearm. Steel sparks, and the spear glances across her shoulder to draw a bleeding cut, but at least it's not as bad as it could be. The momentum of the twist is led into a sudden kick to Kirika's head as she tries to return an earlier favor.

    At the same time, a dark purple force swirls around her opposite blade, pure malevolence manifested into a physical form. When she kicks, Kagenashi also lashes that blade out toward Shizune and Saber, sending bullets of malevolent will at both. It doesn't cause a physical wound, but instead, on impact, rakes at the victim's spirit like agonizing claws. A willingness to harm, to make others suffer for her own cause, given a state where it can affect one's very spirit.

    Konohana's three arrows are suddenly loosed, and Kagenashi is not in a position to avoid them very well. A twist spares her from two, but one digs into her side, drawing out a tense, pained hiss from her. Thankfully D and Medusa are evening the odds somewhat, but there are still too many of them. This must be what she gets for pissing off so many people.

    Ariah, meanwhile, seems to be having some success. Metal clanging into metal echoes through the volcano, clanging again and again as runes are carved into the surface of one great link. It seems to be enough to draw Yatagarasu's attention; slowly, the giant sun crow's three eyes open, two on either side of its head and one on its forehead, all three smoldering red and orange like embers with black slits along the centers. It cocks its head slowly toward Ariah, but makes no motion against her. Seems like it's just curious at the moment.

Abstractum.Net (347) has posed:
    "Watch the face!" Manattobuki calls out harshly and with urgence in the warning. No defense can be summoned up fast enough for that strike from Kagenashi! Oh shit. All the sickle-spear can manage to do is redirect its harsh red glow to one of the reversed-tips! It's a prompting for Kirika to try to reverse the riposte and draw the blade back when she suffers that kick! The concentrated magical amplification's all gathered there for now.

Zero Kiryu has posed:
    When Zero had advised Yuuki to not jump into a fight where what's going on isn't clear, he hadn't known what was going on yet either. It takes him approximately ten seconds to figure out what is going on to react. The last quarter of a second takes place in the middle of a stand-off with D, Gawain, and Yuuki -- though Yuuki had cancelled out of her attack at the last moment. Having sensed no great danger coming from Gawain, D had become his default target simply for the fact of what he IS. Last time they'd met, Zero was under the impression that they are fairly similar kinds of people... and now is no different. The fact that D has succumbed to his nature just now is enough justification to attack.

    The gun that Zero already drew has the appearance of a colt .45. When he levels it at D and starts firing though, the projectiles that come out are... different. Pink light flares out from the muzzle of Bloody Rose, no actual physical projectile leaving its barrel. Instead vaguely cross-shaped bursts of energy charge out from the barrel. They're a lot larger than a bullet, but no slower.

    Ironically, Zero fails to explain the clarified situation to anybody before he does this.

    While he fires, Bloody Rose begins to undergo a transformation. Slithering metal vines inch their way out along Zero's wrist, winding its way up towards his shoulder and latching on powerfully enough to draw blood.

Shizune Nakamura (369) has posed:
    The sudden spiritual attack surprises Shizune enough that all she can do is bring her arm up to defend herself. There is a hiss of pain on impact, but her spirit is strong, and the hiss becomes an exhalation, a push of her ki; she slings her arm to one side and disperses the malevolent power, her resolve growing stern. It's not hard to sense the ill will behind that attack, and it only galvanizes her.

    So, finally, she stops her sidelong run and darts inward. Low to the ground, almost 'pushing herself along' horizontally rather than running, Shizune charges in straight at the nogitsune, and spins herself into a rising straight kick aimed at Kagenashi's side.

Ariah (56) has posed:
     CLANG! CLANG! CLANG! The shapes are made, the words are sealed. Ariah double-checks her handiwork, lips moving as she reads the inscription. It's messy. It's a task she'd rather have hours for instead of minutes. But it's just enough. The markings begin to glow as she infuses them with her energy, taking a slow breath of the hot air and exhaling. Then again she's off.

     She notices the bird's eyes on her as she rushes down the chain towards it, making to use the bindings around the creature to make her way far up enough the next one for the weakened links to be of any actual use with tension, and with a little luck, the bird pulling itself free. But right now, it's just one chain. "We are here to aid you," the vampiress breathes out as she passes over it, and as if to punctuate that statement with truth, there's an explosion behind her. The runes burst in blue-white light, the blast echoing through the caldera and down the hillside. If the clanging didn't draw attention, that might've done it.

     With her augmented speed aiding her, Ariah focuses only on ascending the next chain, staff on her back and her tools in her hands. She reaches a 'good enough' destination down the line and halts, planting herself firmly and starting, once again, to hack runic symbols into the taut, looped curve of the next link. Even as she focuses on hammering the next series of symbols in, she pulls energy from the stifling heat around her, light drawing into her skin through her clothes as tiny threads, framing her in a blue-white aura.

Sir Gawain has posed:
Sir Gawain almost turns to respond to the attack above him..until it halts itself. He seems confused himself, but the person who almost attacked him seems most definitely an ally, so he keeps his stance.

The Hunter's silence makes Sir Gawain frown briefly, before he shouts at him as he proceeds to escape. "Yes, let us do such! CONFEDERATE HUNTER, you dishonourable coward! Do not make me repeat my words! Let us battle!".

Sir Gawain totally loves to battle. Crimson-engulfed sword raised up high, he charges at D with Excalibur Galatine, yelling a battle cry as he makes a horizontal slash at the Vampire Hunter. "Assist the others, we can handle ourselves!", Sir Gawain shouts to the vampires. Yeaaaaah, don't get ahead of yourself, Gawain.

Sir Bedivere (482) has posed:
Bedivere draws himself up, lifting his right arm at the elbow, and taking hold of his sword's hilt with both hands. In spite of his formidable stance, it's a defensive posture, meant to be able to manoeuvre the hilt and block incoming strikes.

"To be cowardly would have been to flee." In spite of the noise, the knight's voice is surprisingly quiet, so gentle it could almost be mistaken for a woman's. The same could be said of his appearance; in spite of his broad shoulders and height, there's a softness to his facial features, and that long hair doesn't hurt that image.

Oh look, there's a black arrow. He doesn't notice the arrow under his feet at first. This is probably bad.

"I am Sir Bedivere of Dun Realtai, and I will die before I flee from the defense of the people." The sword dips incrementally, indicating Medusa. "To whom do I owe the honour this da--"

Bedivere manages a sound very much like 'HURK' as he is suddenly, forcibly jerked off his feet and hurled into a bamboo trunk. Never mind that the bamboo trunks here dwarf most trees. He slams into it with the subtlety of a freight train, slumping to the ground, stunned.

Slowly, the double images of the bamboo forest pieces itself together into one. The knight rises to his feet very slowly; prodding gingerly at the ribs of his right side with his left hand. No? Nothing broken? Not yet? Good.

The knight then lunges forward with speed that may be impressive, considering his plate armour and his apparent lack of supernatural tricks, heavy white cloak flaring behind him. He takes a two-handed grip on his sword, attempting to swing it straight at Medusa's side much as one might swing a baseball bat -- a stroke that relies primarily on momentum.

He looks on Medusa even as he follows through with the stroke, and something in his expression seems... disappointed? "As a knight of the Union, I am bound by duty and honour to stop you. I do not expect that you will listen, but please, put aside your weapons. Let us cease this fighting."

Yuuki Kuran (518) has posed:
    "I knew what was going on!" Yuuki calls back to Zero, as she gets up with the other INTENSELY BISHIE GUY's help, dusting off her coat back as she does. And, as she does, she catches that look in her eyes. "N-no..." She breathes, as Zero goes and becomes what he is always wanting to be.

    The GUNisher. Also, freaky vine man. But mostly guns.

    Yuuki, glancing at Gawain, sets her face into an impassive mask, her mouth a thin line. And her GIANT EYES are filled with sadness. Such incredible soul-rending sadness, darkness and gloom like she had seen the saddest sad that had sadded a sad.

    Just imagine the above but more purple prose-y.

    At Gawain's BOISTEROUS 'hey go help other people, I totes mcgrotes got this', Yuuki shakes her head, bringing up her obscenely obtuse scythe in a two-handed grip. "No. I told him, when we first met, that if he was a danger to others, if he wished for death, then I would give it to him. I won't break that promise!" She announces, before... Well, leaping again. This time the ground kicks up in a shower as her own powers start to key in to the fact that she's fighting.

    Dropping down from above with a flashing sheen of the curved blade, Yuuki tries to sweep D off of his horse. Or, you know, his head from his shoulders.

    She may or may not be crying.

Kirika (481) has posed:
    Kirika seems to heed Manattobuki's words, but she has little time to think further before she strikes a glancing cut on Kagenashi. She tries to stick the landing, before she's smacked right in the head. That said, she seems in synch with the spear enough to take the hint as she reverses the spear. Sticking the landing, Kirika does stumble as she channels her fire magic through the spear and rights herself into a proper stance.

    Once she's on her feet again, Kirika draws the spear back as she charges towards Kagenashi, giving a running leap as she thrusts the spear at her once more with a flaming edge to the spearhead.

    D can wait, given Kagenashi's more pressing objectives needing to be foiled. As she attacks, there is nothing more than killing instinct on Kagenashi. This nogitsune is too dangerous to leave alive, that much is certain.

Saber (346) has posed:
     During the Holy Grail War, Arturia would not have need to do much of anything for an incoming magical attack other than charge through it; magic-based attacks generally had no effect on a Saber-class Servant whatsoever. Even great magicians of the past were forced to rely on other tactics; she'd had so much difficulty with Gilles de Rais from the creatures he could endlessly summon and wear her down. But Saber had learned years ago that how things worked in other worlds might not be the same as in hers. She knew better than to assume her famed Magic Resistance would be any good, and would attempt to dodge.

     Unfortunately, such a thing was not always possible. green eyes flashed as she tried to leap and somersault out of the way, but the attack nevertheless scored her side, scorching her armour. Though her spirit is strong -- strong enough to even resist command seals up to a point -- the despair and self-depreciation keep her frozen for a moment as she struggled internally. She does fight it off, but the attack nevertheless slowed down her advance.

     This time, she swept Excalibur behind her with both hands and released part of the Bounded Field, propelling her like a rocket with a speed too fast for the human eye to follow, lashing out with an overhead strike from Excalibur.

Medusa Gorgon (22) has posed:
    "At least then you would you have had a chance~" Medusa chuckles sinisterly, waiting... and it seems like Bedivere is quite unused to fighting witches by the looks of it. How nice for her!

    There are other people to stop here, after all. There is the matter of D, after all.

    The snake witch rises to her feet as the knight crashes into the bamboo, blinking her eyes as her head stops swimming. Her arms move infront of her, and she begins muttering a mantra over and over under her breath, watching Bedivere as he advances on her. Black snakes, several of them, begin twisting and coiling around themselves as they seemingly appear out of her back, all while she twists and moves her arms in a strange way with seemingly no set pattern. "Nake snake, cobra cobubura..."

    So much armor. That means that he... or she, is not likely to move all that quickly. Which is a point in her favour. Even as Bediverse grips his sword and swings it towards her, the snake witch is already ducking low, kicking off towards him, all while she brings her own right arm back before throwing it out towards the knight.

    "Vector Arrow!"

    Up close, it might be difficult to avoid all the snakes as they are launched forward, attempting to strike Bedivere back and strike at armor as well as unprotected spots.

D (232) has posed:
    Zero's bullets split the air. D pulls back hard on his reins, urging his steed to rise up on its hind legs and form a living barrier. The horse is augmented by cyborg components, and could perhaps take more than one bullet to put down, but all the same, it's a cruel gesture on his part. As the horse beneath him shudders and screams, a bloody froth overtaking its open mouth, D gazes down dispassionately at his assailants, made less caring by their attacks. Until one of the bullets grazes an agonizing gash across his left calf, and another streaks through the meat of his left shoulder.

    The product of a union between vampire and human, a dhampir is recognizable for what he is no matter where he goes. His perfection of form, his supernatural strength, and the otherworldy aura at times surrounding him gives him away as something far more than human. For D, a dhampir whose existence spans four thousand years, his inhuman traits have been exaggerated and multiplied not only by his great age, but by the virtue of his pedigree, too. Though he denies his vampiric instinct as a matter of principle, he is still a figure empowered by dark forces, his beauty a mask for the beast within.

    He falls from his saddle as his horse collapses into its death throes, but the horse's shrieking cannot match his own terrible howl of pain.

    The beast inside him stirs.

    It rises up like a dragon from slumber, unfurling its wings and fangs to howl at world. The icy mantle of apathetic calm surrounding and protecting D is stripped by the frigid gale brought into sudden existence from nowhere and nothing. His aura chills to match the inimitable cold of the grave, and his skin somehow loses all trace of human life. A lurid, red light takes over the uncaring black of his eyes, all trace of compassion and confusion burned out.

    D is on his feet, his sword an extension of his arm and his will. A right-handed swordsman, the injury to his left shoulder has no bearing on his ability. Two strides take him toward Yuuki, whose scythe he deflects above with the kind of screeching clash that sends sparks to the ground in a shower. Turning on his heel, he carries on toward Gawain, attempting a long horizontal feint before twisting his body and trajectory to make it a vertical slash delivered with terrifying speed. At the same moment he presses Gawain, he brings up his left hand, and though his arm is stiffer than he'd like, he flicks a half-dozen wooden needles at Zero in an attempt to keep the gunman off his game.

    Yuuki's tears mean nothing.

Kagenashi (85) has posed:
    Kagenashi is surprisingly good at dealing with multiple targets at once, but there comes a point where even she is too overwhelmed. Kirika thrusts at her just as Shizune flies into a kick to her side (thankfully the side Konohana didn't pierce a moment ago), and she can't manage to evade both at once. She tries to twist, but Kirika's flaming spear cleaves through her kimono just under her arm and digs a burning cut into her flesh just as Shizune's kick sends her tumbling away, forcing her to flip and right herself in a crouch. A pained hiss rises from her, but she refuses to slow down. Slowing down now means death.

    Even then, she doesn't have a moment to breathe. Saber comes in behind her with a downward slash, and Kagenashi only has a second to evade before the strike hits. She rolls to the side as quickly as she can, but the blade cleaves along her calf in the process, drawing another score of blood. Her next landing is not so graceful, but she bounces to her feet again, trying to push away the pain lingering in her leg and sides.

    She only has the briefest moment to consider her options. Konohana is nocking another set of arrows; Saber is nearby, as are Kirika and Shizune. Medusa seems to be handling Bedivere, but D is dealing with three at once.

    Four orbs of greenish-blue fox fire seep from her mask's mouth, weaving around her as she slips closer to Konohana. In the next moment, each one fires off as a bolt of lightning, filling the air with resounding CRACKs: one to Konohana, striking the kitsune in the chest and forcing her to stumble back in pain; one to Shizune; another to Kirika, aimed for her primary weapon hand; and the last to Saber, also focusing on her weapon hand. More bolts of bruise-colored malevolence rush out with another flick, too, but those two are loosed toward Gawain to rake into the Servant's spirit and slow him down.

    Meanwhile, back at the volcano, Ariah successfully breaks one of the links open enough for the chain to be rendered useless. The first of nine plummets down to the bottom of the volcano, rattling as it loosens its hold around Yatagarasu. The severed end smashes into the cooled lava at the bottom, breaking right through and sending up a gout of magma at the point of impact as the chain steadily sinks lower.

    Yatagarasu peers down to the severed chain, then slowly cocks its head toward Ariah. Its eyes begin to burn brighter, glowing almost as bright as beams of the sun itself. Its voice comes in a resplendant rumble, imposing, deep, and powerful. "...so I can see. You are unfamiliar to me, little one, but you must be against the kitsune."

    The great bird shifts. Chains rattle and shake, but only barely. It's a start, but it still doesn't have enough room to move on its own, not yet.

Abstractum.Net (347) has posed:
    "Barrier Driver!" Manattobuki calls out urgently, summoning up a quick red spellcircle-like construct of holy inscription in the air. The bolt strikes against it, crackling against its surface for half a second. "Can't hold--!" The spear starts, before the barrier shatters! Manatto grunts with exertion as the protection is blasted away by the bolt, but it gave a fraction of a second of delay!

Zero Kiryu has posed:
    Zero casts a sharp, disdainful look towards Gawain. Talk of dishonor and cowardice on the battlefield rankles him, especially among allies. There is little purpose on focusing on such things with an enemy like this. If he were strictly human, it is only by playing dirty that he would be able to match the mightiest of vampires... of which D is certainly one. The notion of standing against him in a fair fight is absurd. But that man seems different. That weapon of his had a foul odor to it. It is likely a natural enemy to creatures such as themselves.

    "I am a vampire hunter. That man is my prey. Help if you want. Don't if you don't. I don't care about your honorable fight." He answers Gawain, coldly. This, in the middle of a fight. Speaking of which, D's attack succeeds at getting Zero off his back for a little bit, though perhaps not in the manner expected. He steps into the needles and raises his arms to cover his chest and head as he does so. They sink deep into the flesh of his offhand and arm, bringing forth spurts of blood, but he leaves them in so they don't have the opportunity to do TRUE damage.

    His weapon hand goes largely unscathed by the needles that would have struck it. They CLANG against the metal vines of Bloody Rose. Still, they aren't trivial injuries, and fall away after. Even Yuuki can guess that Zero would need to drink blood to actually heal them in the aftermath of this. The blood pills aren't nearly enough sustenance to deal with such a thing.

    On the other hand, while Zero just sort of tanked those needles with his face, he also isn't exactly deterred. But he chooses to take a defensive action rather than unload on D again. Zero shifts his positioning so that he's right next to Yuuki, and fans the growing thorns of Bloody Rose out to surround them both in them. It would make it terribly risky to approach Yuuki at close range.

    The nature of Bloody Rose also comes more apparent here, to those with the power to sense it or merely hear what it is doing. It is draining Zero's blood. Doubtless, it could drain the blood of another if it got ahold of them. Those thorns are not for show.

Shizune Nakamura (369) has posed:
    Shizune can be fast for a human, and given the chance to react, can do some impressive things with redirecting magic. But she is only human, and 'lightning' is something she's nowhere near fast enough to handle without extensive prior warning. She has no prior warning, and so she takes the bolt on the arm she's raised to protect herself, the jolt hurling her right off her feet.

    She hits with a shuddering cringe, gritting her teeth and trying to gather herself. A jolt like that is enough to scramble even her, and she can only stumble to her feet long enough to back off several paces in hopes that Kagenashi will be too distracted by the other three laying into her to capitalize. Once she's a few steps clear, the girl takes a deep breath, followed by a second, then a third. She forces her ki flow to smooth out, to dull the pain, to put her body back in working order. This isn't a good time to be disabled.

Ariah (56) has posed:
     "I will do what I can to weaken the links, but you may have to break and unravel them yourself. Time is short, my allies are fighting superior numbers as well as the kitsune," Ariah says quickly, her voice cold, distracted but respectful. "I am..." CLANG "...Ariah..." CLANG "...soldier of the Confederacy." CLANG "...and we are here on Kagenashi's behalf." CLANG. Another runic phrase done, another link imbued with magic. She breathes in, then out, using the energy she'd gathered to infuse the symbols with more glowing light. To her feet she rises, giving a brief bow to Yatagarasu before down and towards him she runs.

     Again, behind her, another explosion. Smaller, this time, before a second one follows a moment after. The volatile nature of hurried runewords showing itself but when it comes to blowing things up, it's effective enough for a rush job. Down another length of chain she travels, the voices on the radio giving her even more reason to hurry. The third awaits, another link further up the length of the binding coil, her tools striking metal even before she seats herself fully. The gout of magma rising below makes her wince, able to feel the rising heat even at such a distance.

     Two down...

Kirika (481) has posed:
    Kirika steels herself as she sees the lightning strike coming. Digging in her heels with her wooden shoes, Kirika aims to tank the attack with the delay provided giving her some prep time. It's not much, but it will do. Sadly, it isn't much, as Kirika is sent stumbling back before she makes a backflip to right herself, landing in a crouch.

    She snarls, twirling her spear in hand as she tightens her grip on the spear to right it's holding.

    She's still scrambled, however, as she begins to feel her movements get more sluggish as she begins to charge up a firebolt to fling towards Kagenashi. Her aim suffers, and she tosses it regardless of aim at the nogitsune.

    Best case scenario, it just happens to hit SOMEWHERE near Kagenashi, if not non-fatally hit her. That said, with the wounds taxing her, she's not that good a shot right now which says something.

Sir Gawain has posed:
Sir Gawain just grins and nods at Zero and Yuuki. "Very well! Let us stop him in his tracks!". Sir Gawain prepares a block for his horizontal strike..before D turns out to be a contortionist, forcing Gawain to quickly change up his blocking. He's hit in the arm, skidding back fast, gritting his teeth, as he moves backwards more to get some space. And then is clocked several times with EEEEVIL.

Growling as his spirit is assaulted, Gawain more or less realizes he doesn't have much for this battle. But he's not one to retreat.

"Vampire Hunter D..if you are a traitor of the Union..then I will show you no mercy!"

Already partially weakened by the spirit assault and the first hit from D, Sir Gawain charges forward, blade prepared in an attempt to thrust into D with quite a bit of might, his grin gone and replaced by fierce determination.

Sir Bedivere (482) has posed:
Bedivere's sword swings wide, missing his victim as the witch ducks low. Rather than let his momentum go to waste, he simply wrenches the blade around on the follow-through, baring his teeth in evident pain as he bends his whole body to the stroke. It seems that crash into the bamboo trunk must have cost him, somehow; he moves as though his right side pains him.

He narrows his eyes as she does her witchy dance, but he can't seem to make any sense out of the movements. Before he has a chance to react, the serpents strike. The knight gives a pained yelp as they clatter against his armour, and more of them find their way past the plate, chain, and leather that protects him.

Sir Bedivere claws at his face to rip them away with his left hand, but there are a lot of them. This is kind of miserable. The ones he manages to tear away leave bloody slashes where their fangs are torn out of his skin, all about his face and neck.

In the few seconds of breathing time he buys himself, his eyes flick sideways as he staggers, checking to make sure that Gawain and Arturia are still holding their own. Thus far, they seem to. That's good, at least.

Oh God this is not what Bedivere had in mind for the day when he got out of bed this morning. DO NOT WANT.

Yuuki Kuran (518) has posed:
    Yuuki's drop-attack is deflected by that blade which she can feel is seething anathema to her. Or, at least, she can feel the seething DESIRE within D. It reminds her of someone, though the precise character of that someone is not quite matched. She has a hard time placing it, as she had tried to forget That Man's quest for her.

    Rido Kuran. The man who had a three thousand year murder-eat-boner for her mom that had transferred to her.

    She's getting a similar vibe. As she falls back into the strange, warding vines semi-surrounding her. She is quite careful not to touch them. She knows what they do to vampres... And Zero.

    "We need to stop him..." She breathes, but her hands tremble still with the impact, her starvation making her regeneration way lamer than usual. "He... looks at me like Uncle Rido did." She notes, before just sort of staring at D.

    Rushing out of Zero's protection would just ruin her, so she just Readies An Action to strike at him when he draws close.

    This is probably retarded.

Saber (346) has posed:
     Though her strike doesn't land where she had been aiming, Saber wasn't surprised that the nogitsune was agile enough to dodge a strike that would have killed a human being in an instant. She did, however, catch her on her calf, hopefully slowing her down temporarily.

     Even as the blow landed, Saber sidestepped to ready for another strike, only to be interrupted by a blast of lightning. It was vaguely an element she handled, but it nevertheless stung, making her right hand go numb. But she could ill -afford even the seconds it would take for the numbness to subside.

     Loosening the grip of her right hand, she relied on her left, advancing with a few quick, sliding steps to close the distance again...

     ...Into a barrage of quick, light strikes more expected of a rapier attack than a broadsword as Saber channelled magic energy into her arms to boost her speed rather than strength. It seemed she fully expected the nogitsune -- skilled with blades as well as magic -- to block at least a few, hoping to land at least enough to slow her further.

Medusa Gorgon (22) has posed:
    The snakes wrap themselves around Bedivere, arrow points digging into whatever they can grab onto, and the witch chuckles in sadistic amusement. "I am afraid you wil have to unleash your justice upon me another time, Sir Knight," she purrs, golden eyes studying Bedivere. "All the duty and honour you could ever hope to possess still won't be enough to stop me. VECTOR PLATE!"

    This time more black arrows appear, one of them underneath Medusa as she is thrown forward and around. However she is far more used to these things after several centuries of practice, and she effortlessly twists her body as she is thrown between the bamboo, from arrow to arrow, towards and away from Bedivere. Where is she going? Where will she strike from? Before he can tell, it's too late. Medusa rushes in past him, then from his side as she unleashes yet another attack with her snakes. "VECTOR ARROW!"

    Her goal is simple. Unleash a world of hurt on the one who stands between her and her preferred target. The snake arrows crash into Bedivere, launching him through the bamboo as magic crackles, and Medusa herself skids to a halt. Peering up from underneath her hood, she can't help but leer.

    "Let us dance again another time, Sir Knight~"

    With that she takes a deep breath and turns, rushing through the bamboo forest towards D and his opponents, as swift as her feet and magic can carry her. And once she gets there she makes no secret of her arrival as she crashes through the bamboo, focusing her attention on Yuuki and Zero as she rushes to D's side.

D (232) has posed:
    A traitor to the Union...?

    The accusation stops D in his tracks. Rising from his low stance to his full imposing height, he turns his head slowly to look past his armored shoulder and to consider the righteous Gawain. The hem of his heavy cloak snaps and ripples as the garment settles into place. His blazing red eyes narrow to keen slits, the only aspect of his ghastly countenance not lost to shadow.

    He answers the charge laid at his feet without emotion. His sonorous voice is low, and conveys neither the warmth of friendship nor the heat of anger nor the sourness of open disdain. The only oddity in his voice is a peculiar kind of straining, smothered anguish, either brought about because he has realized his injuries are not closing, or because Yuuki's proximity has affected him to a degree he thought unattainable. "I have no interest in you or your mercy."

    The sword in his hand turns, the edge facing Gawain, an upright gleam the same thirsty red as what shines in his eyes. As Gawain prepares to launch himself, D sweeps the weapon diagonally downward, two-handed now, positioning it near his right calf as if he is some samurai preparing for war.

    Gawain moves. D meets him. Deep in his throat, he snarls like the very beast gnashing inside him.

    D's elegant sword crashes into Gawain's Excalibur with the ferocity of dragonfire. The Hunter's monstrous strength flows through his entire body, from the bend of his knee, hip, and arm, to the flexing of his shoulders, the straightening of his arms. He shouts, and he becomes an unconquerable barrier, his brutality unchecked, his power loosed. If Gawain had any hope of defeating D, it would not be kindled this day -- the vampire is too far in his element to be stopped by one knight alone.

    At least, one without the tricks Zero has up his sleeves.

    Though his left arm buckles and his left leg staggers, he swings back around, his strike against Gawain transforming fluidly into a blow meant for Zero's thorny walls. His eyes find Yuuki again.

Kagenashi (85) has posed:
    Kagenashi's course is taking her toward Konohana. The kitsune is still taking a moment to recover from that bolt of lightning, but still she's setting up another arrow and pulling it back. Her aim is off, though, from the disorientation brought on by that lightning strike; she's not certain how well she can strike at this distance, if Kagenashi is still as agile as ever. The nogitsune charges...

    And Konohana is spared, at least for the moment, as Saber and Kirika strike at Kagenashi. The fire blast crashes down just in front of her, causing her to stumble briefly in her charge to avoid the flames now spreading slowly along the grass. Her injured calf makes that attempt more ungainly than she might be at any other time, and gives Saber plenty of opening to attack.

    Kagenashi whirls around as she hears Saber's approach, and her blades quickly lift to try and parry the attack. Steel flashes and sparks as Kagenashi barely deflects the first blow, but then more come, Saber's speed and strength clearly showing in those attacks. Kagenashi only has speed on her side, and her twin swords are not quite as sturdy as Excalibur's blade must be. She attempts to parry again and again, and she is successful...but only somewhat. It keeps each strike a slice that cuts through her clothes and into her skin, cleaving deeply but not quite lethally. Without such attempts, she would surely be suffering much deeper injuries, but she is well aware that this is not something she should endure for long.

    When Saber strikes again, Kagenashi ducks and spins to sweep Saber's legs out from under her with a kick from her uninjured leg. Another orb of fox fire flies out from her when she rises, hurtling toward Kirika, and at the same time Kagenashi uses the momentum to try and strike Saber in a strong downward kick to the Servant's chest.

    It is, unfortunately, enough time for Konohana to get her bearings. The kitsune looses her arrow, and it strikes Kagenashi in the back of her left shoulder. She cries out in pain, lurching forward from the strike.

    The volcano is certainly heating up. Another chain explodes and tumbles to the bottom, crashing through another segment of cooled magma to send another column of flame up into the air. It licks at the lowest chains as the depths of the volcano begin to rumble and shudder.

    The great crow of the sun shifts, attempting to spread its wings as a second chain of the nine is loosened. The remaining chains rattle, the foundations tugged in their seats; his wings can be spread a little more, but it seems it's still not quite enough. "I am Yatagarasu, the last remaining crow of the sun. If this Kagenashi wishes for my freedom, then I will assist her as she wishes." Three blazing eyes shift to the vampiress, blinking briefly. "Hurry, little one. These chains resist even my flames, but the fewer there are, the easier it will be for me to break free."

    The rumbling of the volcano draws Konohana's attention. She turns toward the peak, frowning in confusion at the smoke beginning to rise from its mouth. Her attention turns back to her companions, a warning shouted out to them with urgency. "...the volcano! Someone must be in there. It should not be erupting!"

Sir Gawain has posed:
PING! Sir Gawain's already weak, and D's playing with all his cards. The strike against him knocks him flying into the air, quite a distance back. He's out of the fight for sure.

Shizune Nakamura (369) has posed:
    When Konohana calls out to her and her allies, the bottom falls out of Shizune's stomach.

    Her realization is instant and total. Kagenashi was the distraction.

    Immediately, adrenaline surging anew, she turns and begins a mad dash up the slope. But whoever's up there has had plenty of time. Even as she runs and leaps, she's already worried they may be too late.

Kirika (481) has posed:
    Kirika seems to run to the same conclusion as Shizune runs off, but she does not take off with the girl. Instead, she holds her ground even as she sees Kagenashi charging up an attack. With a flourish of her spear, Kirika stands to engage the nogitsune, beginning to swing her spear at her feet before she's hit in the chest by that fireball.

    It hits her like a truck, and her soul leaves her howling in pain as she doubles over, using her spear to prop herself up as she tries to shake off the crushing feeling.

    This is getting annoying, REALLY annoying.

    Kirika rushes Kagenashi again, thrusting with her spear to catch the nogitsune with the hook on her spear, pulling it back on her heel like a shepherd's crook to knock her off-balance.

    Then she stabs again with the pointy end after withdrawing her spear.

Sir Bedivere (482) has posed:
Unable to fend off so many of the creatures, Bedivere staggers back, still clawing at his face and his neck where the serpents are most focused. Taken as he is with trying to clear the creatures away from his eyes and mouth, the knight's only response to Medusa's taunting is a strangled sound of pain. He staggers, armour clanking, dropping his sword to try and rake at the things with both hands. He doesn't even try to track Medusa when she uses her arrows to leap back, occupied as he is with trying to rid himself of the serpents.

"Hghh--!" He makes another strangled sound as the next spell sends him crashing into the bamboo trunks one more time, with crushing force. The air is knocked out of him, and the impact comes with several sickening /cracks/. For a moment all Bedivere can do is gasp for breath, curling in on himself and clutching his side and sword-arm.

Bedivere does not move to get up when he sees Medusa take her leave; the only answer he can manage for her is a shuddering breath and a wheezing cough. From his vantage point, he can see Gawain swatted away from the battle, and dimly, he can see Arturia carrying on her fight.

He struggles to rise to his feet, but he can only slump against the bamboo trunk as he bares his teeth in pain, one sabaton digging into the soft earth as he braces himself against the trunk. For the love of God and wee fishes, movement is /agony/. For now, all he can do is watch Arturia's fight, giving another wheezing cough as he struggles to track the multiple opponents involved.

Carefully, he flexes his right hand, wincing. No, no good. Even if he could get to his sword, he couldn't fight...

Zero Kiryu has posed:
    "There is no help that I can offer such a beast." Zero says to Yuuki, coldly. It is a sentiment that echoes from deep within his heart. She saw it directed at himself, long ago now, when he pressed Bloody Rose to his own temple. It is a feeling that he directs towards vampires as a default attitude, and though D once demonstrated himself to be restrained and rational... more so even than Zero, as a matter of fact... it seems no longer to be the case here. There is mercy left in the Vampire Hunter, but it's so dim and distant that even he can't see it anymore.

    The fact that Gawain meets D as powerfully as he does works to Zero's advantage. D attacks and moves on, but the momentum of his strike has been dulled by the might he put into putting down Gawain. Zero is weaker than D, he can see that plainly, but the difference isn't catastrophic, and the simple numerical advantage of having to deal with more than one person is enough to make up the difference.

    And Bloody Rose is not as flimsy as it appears. It is perfectly capable of a fully parry even with just a few of its vines, and Zero has had the opportunity to produce several throughout this defensive action. A few of the thorny appendages are cut through with a shriek of metal and the blade makes contact with Zero's flesh beneath-- but that is all. It is a gash sunk deep into his shoulder, and the vines winding their way around his body act as an armor that prevent it from cutting deeper. It may have reached bone, but the wound won't kill Zero any more than it would kill D.

    Moreover, it is a move that is taken advantage of. The vines burst to life and snake their way around the blade, rushing up towards the arm with which D holds the weapon. If he's not quick, he'll likely end up wreathed in vines the same as Zero is.

    "Bloody Rose... drain him dry."

    Zero murmurs something to Yuuki. He hasn't failed to notice Medusa's approach, but she's not his priority so he doesn't even look her way just now. He is aware however, and prepared to get 'ambushed' if there is a need to react to such. Nevertheless, D gave him an attack of opportunity, and he views it as more valuable than reacting to an additional combatant. If he drains D of his power before she can make her contribution, then the scales are balanced.

Ariah (56) has posed:
     Ariah feels the heat rising further, but she doesn't stop her work. She looks over her shoulder at Yatagarasu, giving the crow a deep bow of her head for but a moment. Even should the chains begin to heat up from the volcano, she works diligently. "I will endeavor to give you more freedom of movement, so you may pull on them more freely. Our time is growing short, yes." CLANG. CLANG. CLANG. Then she frowns as she hears something, "...and I am discovered," she rasps icily.

     Her strikes of hammer on chisel become more hurried, the runewords becoming simpler, more unstable, but more of them as well. She pulls herself to her feet and focuses, pumping mana into the icons, the symbols glowing, the power filling them. And as she's filling them, one bursts far earlier than it should. She winces as small framents of metal pepper her face, but she keeps working on her appointed task. A moment later and she's turning, and rushing. More pops, more bursts, the series of hastily-scrawled runes exploding before she can even reach the crow again.

     A glance up to the rim of the volcano, and then back around as she looks for the next best chain to work on, to give the great bird a chance to thrash and rip the others from their anchors. Another nod of respect and she's moving, dashing to the most optimal coil in her mind. She doesn't even sit and steady, she takes a knee and starts hammering. More reliable runic symbols are pounded into the load-bearing curve, smaller and more hastily drawn ones gouged into the periphery as sweat begins to run down her face.

Saber (346) has posed:
     Saber pressed her advantage, scoring a few successive strikes, though the intention was to wear the nogitsune down. When she ducked and her leg swept out, however, that onslaught was halted as Saber was forced back again with a single handspring back.

     Konohana's yell caught her attention; the Servant cursed under her breath; fortunately Shizune was already on her way up. That left her and the kitsune and half-kitsune to deal with Kagenashi. And unfortunately, that momentary distraction gave Kagenashi a necessary opening.

     Generally, Saber's compact stature served her to great advantage, giving her a litheness and boosting her natural speed. She could easily avoid many blows that taller and stronger opponents would be unable to evade. Yet at that moment, it was something of a disadvantage when a said taller opponent struck her in the chest with a deft axe kick. While not strong enough to harm her through her armour, it was enough to stun her temporarily, forcing her back again.

     On the other hand, that gave her enough room to disengage and follow Shizune, leaping forward with a boost from Wind King. As much as she disliked leaving business unfinished, stopping the volcano was their first priority.

Medusa Gorgon (22) has posed:
    Perhaps D used to aid the Union. But as they have seen today, that is no longer the case. Instead it seems like the witch is acting like a backup to the fierce dhampir. And after some low words are exchanged with him, Medusa turns her attention to the young man, her amber eyes focused on him as she brings her arms up. "I'm afraid you will have to leave, boy," she announces. "Vector Plate!" Four black arrows appear, one of them underneath Zero and pointing away from D and towards another of the black arrows, this one aimed into the bamboo. How will you want to move, willingly or not? Either way, it's clear that Medusa's goal is to get him away from D. For now it's too risky to attack, as she's uncertain of what Yuuki is able to do.

D (232) has posed:
    Had Zero anticipated D's actions? His response is immediate enough and swift enough to suggest he had done so without err. Zero's vines twist into place around D's sword arm and prevent an immediate attempted retreat. D, stepping back on his right heel to put his weight and strength into a reflexive backwards /pull/, succeeds only in dragging the edge of his sword along Zero's bone for another fraction of an inch before it and he both become stuck. If he released the sword, he would stand a better chance at escaping, but the thought doesn't even cross his mind.

    D could never stand to lose his weapon. A weakness of sentimentality, some would call it, or a consequence of his craft, though here and now, the desire to keep it by his side runs much stronger than sentimentality and trained discipline alone. If one could peer into his mind, they would find in him a consuming obsession -- the kind capable of driving a man to extremes for its sake.

    Without freedom an easy option, D has no choice but to submit to the vines. Assuming their control and their hunger is the result of Zero's command, he steps forward, toward the other Vampire Hunter, letting yet more of those gnarled vines creep up his arm to his shoulder. Long, hungry thorns pierce his flesh like the fangs of a hundred starved vampires, and though he immediately suffers an exhaustive wave of torment, he reaches his free hand for the front of Zero's chest. D's fingernails are long, almost like claws; his grip is like ice, and powerful. He seeks to rake past the vines to expose the neck, shoulder, and chest of his quarry beneath. He tears at them even as Medusa's arrows carry them away from Yuuki.

    If D gets close enough, and he might, given the ferocity of strength and willpower inside him, it's his own fangs he'll bring to bear on Zero.

Yuuki Kuran (518) has posed:
    It seems Yuuki's Readied Action goees unused against D, as his attacks are deflected by Zero's use of Bloody Rose. And, as Medusa enters stage right, she draws her scythe up, Zero's viny metal bits tasked with defending her from Zero don't really ward her from Medusa, and furthermore, he seems rather /occupied/ dealing with D.

    And so, as she lays down her vector plate, she leaps into action. "We're trying to stop D! Don't interfere!" She cries, her eyes all soulful-sad and filled with ANGST.

    The bad news is that she is intensely emotional, and thus telegraphing her superhumanly fast scythe swings.

    The good news is that Yuuki Kuran is somehwhat Powered By Angst, and she is so angsty right now.

    "If Zero can't stop him, we'll..." She begins, but she turns to see D try to bite Zero.

    Her attack kind of sucks after that, her attention too much on D and Zero's tussel.


Kagenashi (85) has posed:
    Kirika has a good opportunity to strike, as Kagenashi is still trying to push past the agony of Konohana's arrow through her shoulder. It seems those arrows have a holy property to them, as well, for those wounds steam painfully. Kirika's strike is not much better: the hook digs into the heel of her already-injured leg, drawing out another pained shout as she falls onto her back and snaps the arrows still lodged in her. She coughs, gasping for air against the agony blinding her; thankfully, she has her wits about her enough that she can twist aside from Kirika's thrust, sparing herself as the spear digs into the earth where she was a moment before. Her uninjured leg kicks out to strike Kirika dead in the kneecap, but whether she stuns the half-kitsune or not, she's immediately trying to scramble to her feet again. Konohana is nocking another arrow, aimed for the fallen Kagenashi...

    Another chain bursts, the length rattling and crashing to the bottom of the volcano. More of the floor is opened, trailing smoke into the air as the lake of magma begins to open itself, roiling and bubbling with activity. Searing heat rushes up as Yatagarasu begins to increase his struggles, talons tugging at the chains and wings stretching to strain the lengths even further. Rocks cascade from the walls as the foundations are loosened, steadily tearing themselves free. Just a little more...

    Shizune and Saber reach the peak just as Ariah's last rune is engraved. The fifth chain explodes, and that seems to be enough. The great crow of the sun lets out a resounding cry that echoes from the volcano as if it were an eruption itself, wings stretching free from their bindings and spreading large enough to encompass the entire volcano. "Climb onto my back, little one," Yatagarasu rumbles to Ariah. "At last, I am free from this accursed prison!"

    BGM: http://listenonrepeat.com/watch/?v=JcEqG2oG-8k

    As the sun sets over the horizon, another rises from the earth. Gigantic black wings flap and send heat and smoke rushing from the volcano. Yatagarasu's three legs tear the remaining chains, pulling itself free from them and sending the many giant lengths hurtling down into the magma below. Molten rock spews upward, but the heat and light are little compared to the sun's radiance glowing from Yatagarasu's chest, mouth, and eyes. It lifts itself free from the volcano with wingbeat after wingbeat, casting down gusts of searing hot air over the forest below as black smoke pouring from the volcano is tossed and hurled. Its serrated beak opens in another cry that carries throughout the region. "KONOHANA! For striking down my kin from the sky, for eternally setting the suns that once shone upon Azuma, I shall see vengeance cast upon you!"

    Konohana's violet eyes immediately shift to the gigantic black bird rising out of the volcano. Her eyes widen, and her aim shifts, directed for the blazing heart of Yatagarasu, but the arrow doesn't fly. Kagenashi's swift, desperate leap knocks her into Konohana's side with her bladed sheath held in front of her, cutting into her waist with a gush of blood as both are sent to the ground. Scrambling, desperate, Kagenashi tries to pin Konohana and dig her fingers into the kitsune's mouth. Almost...

Kirika (481) has posed:
    Kirika feels something strike her kneecap, and a POP is heard. It's not quite a broken knee, but Kirika definitely has a limp as she forces herself to continue onwards. She spies the sunbird arising from the volcano, and curses under her breath before she sprints towards the nogitsune as she and Konohana struggle against each other.

    Whatever Kage is reaching for, it can't be good, and Kirika isn'tgoing to let that happen. She uses the focus kagenashi has solely on the other kitsune, before she imbues her spear with ice. With that, she lunges into spearing range before she strikes at Kagenashi's side, aiming to avoid harming Konohana as well in the process with the spearing angle while the half-breed lets out a howl of fury.

    "I will not LET YOU WIN!" She roars, driving the spear in deep should it hit home.

Zero Kiryu has posed:
    By the time Medusa puts a vector underneath Zero, he's already got D in his grasp. So the ejection meant to separate them actually just flings them way the hell over there together, in a tangle of vines, claws, and blood. This is disorienting, but it doesn't actually do a whole hell of a lot to stop them from fighting. The sword digs deeper into Zero's shoulder and finally grinds painfully against bone as D attempts to pull it free. If he wasn't already so used to immense pain, then he would most likely have cried out. As it is, he is as silent as D is.

    By the time they land, D has dug his claws into Zero's chest.

    The landing itself isn't actually a problem. Between the two of them, they are sure to land on their feet, even absorbed as they are in their struggle. The ground craters underneath them and the shock causes some internal damage within Zero's legs. He's not exactly certain what broke, except that something DID break. That's fine.

    As long as he's keeping this guy away from Yuuki, that's acceptable.

    Ripping through the vines is harder than it seems, though D is capable of it. As long as he lets any of them remain on him though, he's getting drained. In the meantime however, Zero is simply not as regenerative as D. Those claws in his chest are a serious danger, so when they land he makes a split second decision.

    The gun portion of Bloody Rose rises in his offhand, distinct in the crowd of thorns. Zero presses it against D's chin as his claws sink dangerously deep into his chest. He does not pull the trigger yet.

    "My life was over a long time ago. If it keeps you from turning around and reaching that girl back there, I'm fine with dying here with you." He looks up towards D, red eyes gleaming bright. His injuries are too severe, and he needs blood desperately now himself.

    "Beasts like us don't keep on living for ourselves. My reason is right back there, but..."

    "I don't see yours here." Zero remarks. It is not quite a question, but the questioning tone of it is clear.

Medusa Gorgon (22) has posed:
    "How amusing," Medusa states, her snake like eyes moving to Yuuki as they narrow and a leer spreads on her face, seeming to break the confines of human anatomy. Why, a black snake even twists from inside her mouth, and her voice lingers with chilling amusement. "I'm trying to stop you~"

    It's too bad that the young girl is too easily distracted. "Steam Vector!" Medusa cries out as she throws her arms up, crossed at her wrists, and in response several vector snakes shoot out of the ground from around her. It's a defensive move as the snakes surround the immediate area around the snake witch, but it's bound to hurt some as well as they tear and slice into anything that comes close. But it will hurt even more when Medusa reaches out, her hand pointed towards Yuuki. There is glee in her eyes, yet no warmth. And there's an underlying chill to her voice as she speaks a single world. "Compress!"

    The snakes around Medusa leap towards Yuuki, seeking to wrap themselves around the vampire and tear more into her and keep her briefly in place. After all, there is something to look at. The Confederate witch raises her gaze to the volcano, and she actually smiles when she sees what's going on. "Oh, how nice~! Seems she was successful after all..." Is it time to retreat for now?

Shizune Nakamura (369) has posed:
    Just in time to be too late.

    Shizune hops and stumbles to a halt, looking upwards as the Yatagarasu rises up over the rim of the caldera. Looking upwards at a bright point of vulnerability that is completely out of her reach. Again, Kagenashi unseals an ally. Again, she's powerless to stop it.

    Quietly, Shizune clenches her fists at her sides.

Saber (346) has posed:
     The King of Knights became but a blue-silver blur as she raced up the side of the volcano. That run falters as she caught Bedivere's weakened voice over her radio, trying to convey his disabled status and imploring her to get to the volcano. As badly as she wanted to turn and assist her marshal and Master, he was right. She could only trust in him as she continued on to finish their objective: stop Yatagarasu. With a soft 'tch' of frustration and worry, Saber pressed on.

     But upon reaching the peak and poised at the rim, she was just in time to see the great sun-crow begin rise from his prison. The brilliance banished the night as the creature shrieked its condemnation at the kitsune guardian. "It would appear that we have but one option," she observed. They were going to have to bring it down.

     Jade eyes quickly observed the lack of obstacles or allies within her path...but she was not about to use Excalibur with Bedivere as weakened as she was. Saber was going to have to do this manually. Fortunately, her Instinct revealed a weak point in the chest. That would do nicely, if she could hit it.

     Smiling tightly, she channelled as much prana as she could into her arms and legs. The sudden complete release of Wind King -- along with a mana-fuelled leap -- was enough to propel her towards the gigantic black bird. With a battle yell, she brought the now-visible Excalibur to bear at the apparent weak point on Yatagarasu's chest.

D (232) has posed:
    Zero's gun thrusts into place beneath D's chin. Even if the barrel's cold kiss was not enough to stop D's assault, Zero's words would have struck him to silent stillness.

    Why does D fight?

    To keep his sword?

    To aid Kagenashi?

    Why is he here...?

    Dizzying shock strikes the dhampir. The lurid light fades from his eyes, and the strength drains from his ravaged body. The thorns have left him torn and bleeding, but it is not these which have sapped him -- it is his own sudden conflict, brought on by the realization he has forgotten his /purpose/. His vision doubles, like he sees through two sets of eyes -- the hateful and hungry stare of a malevolent monster, and the dark and quiet gaze of a man at peace with himself, his identity, his reason. Retracting his clenching grasp from Zero's chest, D brings his hand back to look at it as the claws he bears shrink back to human fingernails.

    "My reason..." D murmurs.

    His eyes return to Zero's; his confusion is apparent, and it runs deep.

    Only the weight of the sword clenched in his hand gives him comfort. D tightens his grip, and, using his left hand to brace his right forearm, attempts to tear his sword free, from vine and flesh and bone alike. The pain is almost welcome.

    When he's free -- and he won't stop pulling or fighting until he is -- he is on his knees gasping for a long moment before he finds the resiliency in himself to stand up.

    His next words come in a flat murmur. "I am a Hunter. That is my purpose. Our next meeting will not go favorably for you."

    At that, D slips away into the bamboo, attempting his retreat.

Yuuki Kuran (518) has posed:
    Let's all be honest here. Yuuki sucks a lot at fighting. Her version of fighting is, largely, 'charge at a thing and swing Artemis around a bunch and hope she hits, yay her!

    This doesn't happen. In fact, she's just torn apart. The compression of the vector snakes tears at her from every direction, and it is a blessing that she is not 'grabbed', and simply 'ravaged'. And ravaged she is, a spray of blood escaping from her with every strike she sustains. Most of the smaller wounds close as they open, and she swings her scythe wildly to escape, before, finally...

    A crashing, overpowering wave of force ripples out from her, unaimed and unbridled power sort of tearing forth from her, as she turns away from Medusa. "I can't... I can't stay! Take what you want, I don't care!" She calls to Medusa, her eyes a lambent crimson and she turns, and leaps away. "Zero! ZERO!"

    Her need calls for her to fly. And so she does, bloody butterfly wings (specifically, HER blood) forms behind her, beating powerfully (and somehow keeping her aloft, freaking vampire magic what do) as she simply flees from Medusa without even trying to stop her. She has Bigger Problems.

    "Stop!" She cries, but... It's over.

    As she touches down, she falls to her knees, panting, as a shower of her own blood falls all around her. She is Really Bad At Being A Weird SuperVampire.

    D retreats, then. Leaving Yuuki crying in a pile of her own blood, in no shape or place to stop the Confederacy. "Z-zero, you're okay, right? I heard... You say words that you shouldn't say."

Ariah (56) has posed:
     Ariah hammers away, a mess of runes, but still ordered just right. Even if they're not built perfectly. They're uniform just enough. Just enough to hold a charge... and just enough to explode, weakening the strained link of metal. It's premature, again, the smaller bursts eating small chunks out of the metal. The bigger one comes moments after, the witch going wide-eyed as she hadn't expected it to go so soon. It's not enough of a lapse to leave her to the pit of lava below.

     As Yatagarasu thrashes and frees itself, the witch takes the offer without question, scaling the length of chain as the structural integrity flags and the link shatters. Onto the great crow's back she holds, securing her tools and pulling her staff free from her back. As the announcement comes and the bird rises, she pulls herself to her feet, standing -on- the ascending avian, feeling her body heating up in a most unpleasant manner. "We must hasten away, our allies are still engaged and this is the signal for them to withdraw," she urges the crow. Then sees the shine of steel on the rim of the volcano.

     Ariah narrows her eyes as she sees Saber's approach, hastened by the power flowing through her. "The fading sun calls forth a new dawn, and you will not halt this rise," she calls out. She draws as much of her remaining power as she can, pulling energy from the heated air around her, filling the runes on her staff and those etched under her skin. Smoke rises from her as she reaches her limit and then it all bursts forth. But it's not a strike. The outpouring of mana flows around Yatagarasu, forming a protective shell around the great bird. The strike of Excalibur is true and strong, and the shell of energy cracks and shudders, fractures racing along the surface of it.

     Ariah herself clutches her staff and drops to her knees, clinging to the bird as the shield breaks, shattering from the force of the blow and everything behind it. Her power is not nearly enough to halt it entirely, but hopefully just enough to spare whom they all came to free. The shards of raw mana scatter into the sky, sparkling and dissolving like a burst of stardust. The witch's flagging strength and the fatigue from the heat is enough to make her consciousness waver.

Medusa Gorgon (22) has posed:
    "Oh...?" Medusa arches an eyebrow as she turns her attention back on Yuuki, chuckling. "I don't want anything from you." Not now, anyway. Yet somehow, she can't help but be fascinated as the girl unleashes what appears to be blood magic. How interesting!

    Let her flee.

    She's moving quickly, and Kagenashi succeeded in her plan. So with that Medusa turns as well, heading to where she threw away her broom. It's time to head back, and there's aftermath to handle too, just to ensure that things are going according to plan...!

Kagenashi (85) has posed:
    Kirika's spear buries itself in Kagenashi's side, digging through deep enough to nearly come through her stomach. A powerful agony shoots through Kagenashi, stiffening her body and making her scream out her pain. Konohana is spared from the stabbing, but Kagenashi's arm yanks back. A shimmering rainbow of colors shines from between her fingers.

    Her instinct, now, is to get away. Her free hand goes back, grabbing the shaft of the spear and doing her best to pull and twist free. It's not a clean exit, not with Kirika shoving the weapon down into her body; there's tearing, and certainly more blood. It's enough to just get her free, however, and let the nogitsune scramble to her feet.

    Behind her, Konohana is consumed in a whirl of black tinted by dark blue. Her form shrinks, not unlike Kagenashi's did earlier. Soon, instead of the female archer, there is only a black fox with bright violet eyes and dark blue fur, lying on her side and panting from her wounds. Kagenashi turns briefly to Kirika, gasping for breath but still able to give one last remark. "...you do not have to let me."

    The nogitsune vanishes as she flees; those with a spiritual sight can make her out as she stumbles her escape through the forest, but normal vision can make out nothing more than a brief, faint ghost that swiftly disappears in the growing night.

    Yatagarasu's rise is suddenly interrupted by the strike of the King of Knights. The blade crashes down toward the blazing sun kept just beneath its chest, but, thankfully, Ariah's shield blunts the impact. The barrier shatters under Excalibur's strength, and the blade strikes toward Yatagarasu's heart. The great crow shrieks as the sword digs into flesh, but not deep enough to be a lethal blow. No blood leaves the wound; instead, what seems to be a miniature solar flare lashes out from where Excalibur cleaved, exploding toward Saber as sunlight begins to seep from the cut. Yatagarasu falters in midair, but still its wings flap, keeping it aloft and sending it higher and higher.

    Three blazing eyes peer down at the scene of the battle before. Yatagarasu sees Konohana fallen and stripped of her power; still alive, yes, but for a kitsune of such age, having her power stolen from her is punishment enough in the sun crow's opinion. The great bird casts its head back to regard Ariah, offering a grateful murmur before it flies off, gliding away from the island and off to safety.

Zero Kiryu has posed:
    It's no good to commit murder-suicide when you have a better way out, so when D retracts his own potentially lethal attack, Zero slowly eases away with Bloody Rose. The vines retract as well, though they do not return the power that they stole. He raises the arm over which D's blade is embedded and horrifyingly actually helps push it out of the bone. The sight and sound of it is absolutely repulsive, and to an ordinary person it could only be unbearable. It's amazing that he's even able to do that. Blood trickles down from his hand where the blade cut him.

    Somehow he finds the strength to stand, but looking dignified is nearly all he has in him. If he took a single step he's sure that his legs would give out and he'd fall. If it came to more of a fight now, it would be very unfortunate. Probably for both of them, but definitely for Zero himself. He's not certain how their healing factors match up, though he suspects that Bloody Rose probably evened the playing field there. A little.

    "... Hmph. You say you are a Hunter, but you've lost sight of your prey. When first you swung your blade, it came to a reap a human soul. It only found me when you turned your hunger on that useless idiot over there. You're stronger than I am, but..."

    "You don't have a right to call yourself a hunter right now." Zero states to D's retreating back, holstering Bloody Rose. His vision swims, but he manages to remain upright. There's blood all over him, everywhere. His left arm has wooden needles buried in it all up and down its length, his chest has been ripped open and stabbed, and the wound that D left on his shoulder has left a great valley in his flesh where it landed.

    By the time Yuuki comes, Zero is fumbling feebly at his pockets for his pills. He has them out once she's next to him, but... he's shaking too bad to actually do anything with them. They spill out over the ground around him, and the packet lands half-empty on the ground.

    He sighs, and looks at the teary girl who followed him all the way over here.

    "I'm fine." Zero says.

    He's lying.

Saber (346) has posed:
     Excalibur struck true, and yet...

     Saber ground her teeth as she encountered an unexpected barrier of mana. It was not enough to completely stop the holy sword, but it was just enough to blunt what would have otherwise been a killing blow, even a creature such as Yatagarasu.

     The sunlight pouring out was blinding, not entirely unlike Excalibur's sister sword, wielded by the (now absent) Gawain. It was almost beautiful but still not something the Servant should probably be anywhere near. Acting quickly, the knight gripped the hilt of Excalibur in her left hand and a handful of feathers above the wound with her right. Thus stabilised, she raised her right foot and kicked off the great crow and away from the volcano rim, somersaulting in midair before deftly landing on the ground. The creature still lived, the guardian stripped of her power...but yet, the land was spared for the moment. But she hardly had the time to mull over the losses and successes.

     There was a particular knight and Master to go rescue, haul to the medical centre, and constantly fuss over once more.

Kirika (481) has posed:
    Kirika's spear struck true as well, impaling Kagenashi right then and there and yet...

    It did no good at all. Konohana is depowered, her gem stolen and her powers gone with it, and the thing imprisoned in the volcano is free to do whatever Kagenashi wishes.

    The half-kitsune kneels over, staring in horror at Konohana's vulpine form as she reaches down to do something, ANYTHING that will ease the depowered kitsune's suffering.

    "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry...I...this is my fault..." She says, eyes welling up in tears and throat lumped up. Kirika just repeats apologies to the kitsune, kneeling over as she drops her spear to the ground. Sorrow isn't enough of a word to describe what she's going through right now. If it weren't for her causing Kagenashi to jerk like that, perhaps KOnohana could have escaped on her own or something...or perhaps someone with more finesse could have stopped the Nogitsune, or something.

    Anything as far as KIrika is concerned would be better than her own contributions. She pretty much helped give Kagenashi her victory today, played like a fiddle.

    She continues to weep in anger and sorrow, angry at herself most of all for pretty much being an acessory to this scheme, and she doesn't seem to go anywhere for now.

Abstractum.Net (347) has posed:
    The spear, Manattobuki, refuses to fall on its side, instead landing spearhead-down, at least partially, when Kirika drops it. With its eye at the pommel, this gives it an authoritative look as it "stands" over Kirika. "Sorrow will bring you /nothing/, as will wallowing in it. If you wish to kill your enemy and stop the evil they commit, take the fires of the trials you undergo, harden your heart with them, learn, and deal with it."

    Somehow the shaft of the Abstractum spear has managed to look like a straight-backed military posture. "You are not some pitiful animal. Show your regrets, stand, and move on. Take the energy you would put into self-pity and burn it like fuel. But do not sit there crying while I know you can do much better. There will be more targets. Will you be strong enough to meet the duty of protecting them and killing her? You won't if you react to your failures like this."

    It almost leans down, with an aggressive look. "Stand up, Kirika. We will go to heal as soon as we can, so that we spend as little time as possible incapacitated. Then you will study, train, and have a better chance at killing her the next time. And if you fail, we will /do it again/, until it works. But first you stand up. You will have enough time to cry while you recover. Take it then, not now."