588/Hunting the Princessu

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Hunting the Princessu
Date of Scene: 23 September 2014
Location: Scene Box
Synopsis: D goes hunting for vampire princess superblood. Zero doesn't like that very much. Yuuki is a popsicle.
Cast of Characters: 232, 518, Zero Kiryu

Yuuki Kuran (518) has posed:

    The Vampire Princess, Yuuki Kuran, storms out of his apartment and into the small village in the foothills below Cross Academy, her coat and intense amount of hair billowing behind her in the lightly snowy air. It is Anime Winter, which creates ambience without all the muss and fuss. A light frosting of snow crunches under her fluffy boots as light tears fall down her face. They probably got in a fight! It was probably over something silly. Yuuki is probably overreacting, as she wanders out of the city and into the snowy forests surrounding the township.

    She just wanted to be alone for a bit. Not smelling all the humans in the city, and their hot, tas-...

    No! She had blood, plenty of it. She didn't need any of that! She was... She was fine.

D (232) has posed:
    "You are distressed, Miss Kuran."

    The low voice is no more than a gentle murmur, but it cuts across the distance like a thrown dagger all the same. Cold, as cold as the snowy wind blowing through the trees, and almost as lifeless, its timbre is nevertheless familiar. Yuuki has heard the voice before. As soon as recognition sets in, she'll see him, standing among the white fields dressed all in black:


    How had he come to find her way out here? Had he followed her from the village, or had he already been here, waiting for her arrival? No explanation is given, but then again, it might not matter very much. Yuuki's very well aware of how dangerous D had become in recent times. His being here now could only mean one thing.

    The shadow cast by his wide-brimmed hat creates a stark black stripe of shadow across his pale face. From inside that shadow, his eyes gleam, as terrible to behold as the intent which brought him here. Bloodthirst radiates from him, no doubt about it -- Yuuki has sensed it a hundred times before tonight. The next wind gusts in his cloak, causing the hem to flare out and snap behind him almost like great wings.

Yuuki Kuran (518) has posed:
    Distressed... Would probably be an understatement. The Kuran Princess turns her head, whipping her anime-length long hair left and right as she looks around the source of the voice within the calm, snow-dappled forest.

    Her hands tremble, as she brushes her hair out of her face, memories of snow-mittened hands over a decade ago in a place much like this leaping to the forefront of her mind. It is, in many ways, much like that time.

    Trees, an open plain, billowing snow, and a 'Bad Vampire'. One that had come for her blood.

    "D." She replies, quietly, her voice carrying without emphasis, like she was simply noting the word as if read from a book. She doens't ask why he is before her, or what his intentions are. She knows, in an animal sense, what the dynamic here is. Many days, she feels like a predator, but tonight she feels like the prey.

    "I want to help you, but I can't let you consume me." She calls out, trying to set her face into a mask of determinations he doesn't feel, tries to convince herself that she has to do /something/, when all she really wants to do is flee, pell-mell, through the trees.

    For... someone... to save her, to sweep away the bad vampire in front of her.

    For someone like Ka...
    For someone like Zero to save her.

D (232) has posed:
    Yuuki's fear buffets him. All around, the forest becomes quiet and still and as tense as a nerve about to break. The gentle snowfall becomes an audible whisper in the ghastly silence, the only other noise coming from Yuuki's frantic heartbeat.

    D is not about to grant mercy. Forsaking his principles and his past identity, he has become the very monster he'd spent centuries hunting. The unending desire to consume and possess motivates him now. Hunger gnaws at his insides like a ferocious animal. His submission to predatory instinct hardens his heart against any self-recrimination and guilt. Yuuki had showed kindness and generosity to D on first meeting him, and had later provided tablets to him after he first vanished into Castlevania, but it seems not even her considerable compassion and optimism will be enough to stop him tonight.

    The crimson light igniting inside D's eyes bathes his face in a lurid glow. Without so much as acknowledging her plea, he lunges toward her like a black shadow at the same instant his fangs extend from his upper teeth to be bared in a snarl. His beauty turns savage, and the air around him so frigid it could shatter like glass. His pallor becomes deathly, and his grasping hands almost like claws. In striking at Yuuki he holds back almost nothing, showing to her what it means to be a Noble of his world and his prestige.

    He has come here to hunt. He has come for her blood. The distance between them shrinks dramatically, D's single lunge making a joke of the forest's span. The spread of his cloak darkens the shadows surrounding him.

    He reaches for Yuuki without any care for who she is, or what she has done for him in the past.

    He wants only her blood.

Zero Kiryu has posed:
    A few moments ago...

    Zero Kiriyu sits on his couch, reclined and staring at the ceiling. It's not that he speaks out of an intent to hurt. It's easy to tell when that's actually the case. A man who is already quite coarse can speak with a razor's edge at the drop of a hat, but he hasn't done so recently. Or today. It had been something small and stupid. A request to sleep during morning hours more often, to drink blood a little more. A break in his patterns, a disruption of the careful facade that he's set up to present himself as a human. He hadn't liked it, and his response had been harsh.

    It would have been harsh to Yuuki, when she was still a human. To the Yuuki who has become a vampire, he may as well have brandished a whip against her. He had no interest in presenting himself as a vampire. Or, in other words -- though he had not said as much directly -- he considered her natural living patterns so personally repulsive that it made him angry to consider it.

    Maybe if he wasn't so tired from not doing like Yuuki asked, Zero would have considered his words a little better. But he's not, and didn't. The rattle of a bottle breaks the silence of his apartment as he consumes the meager offerings of the blood tablets. The bottle rolls off the edge of the couch as it is carelessly discarded, and issues a hollow rattle as it strikes the floor.

    The fact that the Vampire Hunter didn't GO with Yuuki doesn't mean he's not aware of her movements, or the entry of something unwelcome encroaching on his territory. As a vampire, he can sense other vampires. As a vampire hunter, he can sense vampires quite sharply. As a combination of the two, shored up by the blood of vampire royalty... well. Suffice to say that if he's paying attention, it's hard to take him off-guard.

    There is no smell of blood. Just a ping on his radar.

    Zero reaches over to the endtable and plucks up the telephone, almost lazily. It's an older rotary telephone, left behind in the apartment by Kaien Cross quite some time ago. It whirrs and clicks as a number is entered. He catches the sound of the phone being picked up, and doesn't give the guy on the other end a chance to speak.

    "Hanabusa. Meet my outside my place in two minutes. Have one of your maids phone Chairman Cross and inform him of a dangerous intruder in town. Be prepared to modify the memories of nearly everyone in town afterwards. The enemy is a greater threat than Rido Kuran." Zero doesn't give the person on the other end time to answer, either. He makes an unreasonable request, hangs up, and rises. Wearing his shoulder harness, an open shirt, and a pair of slacks with a belt, he isn't dressed for battle. No point worrying about it. It'll have to do.

    Zero enters his bedroom and frowns, finding it... unused? The bed is exactly as it was the last time he was here. That's not right. He doesn't dwell on it, opening up a trunk at the foot of the bed and retrieving two weapons. A single sword is secured on his right hip -- it has a twin, but there's no sense bringing it. A length of garrotte wire is wound around the hilt of the sword and tied off. These are the only two anti-vampire weapons that get along with Zero, other than Bloody Rose.

    Blood calls to blood, and his blood used these weapons before. There's a katana here, too, but it's not the weapon he wants to use. This short sword will do. The last weapon that Zero retrieves is a well-cared for carbine. It hasn't come out often, and in and of itself is not an anti-vampire weapon. The magazine sparks and fights against his hand as he takes it up, securing it in front of the trigger guard and chambering the first round. It is, without ambiguity, a cheating work-around. But it'll do.

    One more thing.

Zero Kiryu has posed:
    Zero carries his armaments into the small kitchen and props it up next to the fridge. The freezer hisses opened, and he pulls three of the blood bags stored there out. One of them, he eats with all due haste. It's discarded with a look of utter revulsion. What's to come is even worse. He breathes deeply through his mouth, trying to ignore the scent of it all as he bursts both bags and smears the blood all over himself, soaking it thoroughly into what WAS a white button-down. Some on bare skin, some on his trousers. All ruined, but it doesn't matter.

    The scent of Zero Kiriyu is snuffed out, overwhelmed by the disorienting scent of multiple blood donors. If it weren't for the fact that he just ate one of them, his eyes would start acting up, and so would his stomach. It would have to serve.

    Zero marches out of the front door of his apartment, rifle in hand, smeared in blood. He expects to find Aido waiting for him out there.

Yuuki Kuran (518) has posed:
    There is the rushing form of D, pallid and pale, that happens in SLOW MOTION! With a freeze frame!

    Cut to HANABUSA AIDO, prettyboy supreme who had been hanging out at the Kuran mansion as a tutor for Yuuki under orders from Kaname Kuran. Which... Actually was kind of annoying for him, because A CERTAIN SOMEONE ABDUCTED HER, LIKE, A FEW WEEKS AGO. SO NOW HE HAS HAD NOTHING TO DO!

    Well, he had been holding his court in the Kuran Mansion, dealing with his businesses over the phone and through meetings off-site. Now, though, he gets an odd phonecall.

    From the Abductor of the Kuran Princess.

    His response is almost entirely spluttering becuase the call is so short. He does, however, set out in his car immediately. The Kuran Mansion isn't terribly far! Especially taking the front, nonsecret exit.

    He arrives onsite after driving RATHER RECKLESSLY down the mountain, immediately recoiling as soon as he opens the door.

    "Zero Kiriyu, w-what are you DOING?!" He cries, smelling ALL THAT BLOOD. His perfect, beautiful bishounen hair is driven by snow, and a car, and his normally blue eyes are a lambent glowing red. "WHAT IS GOING ON!?!" He calls, his prettyboy voice and easygoing personality lost as there is a MAN SLATHERED WITH BLOOD AND STUDDED WITH WEAPONS stalking into the forest.


    She throws her hands up, wanton bouts of kinetic force and pure, unrestrained power... Going all over the place. Unfortunately for Yuuki, she never actually practiced using her powers, and so her efforts are instinctual. There is a blast of force, as she freaks out, her own eyes glowing brightly as she turns and tries to run. She gets about a step away before D is on her, falling into the snow and flailing, kinetic force crackling the ground and powdering snow all over.

    Yuuki never really was all that good at... Doing... Things.

    She is kind of a Distressed Damsel.

D (232) has posed:
    The power flung from Yuuki's outstretched hands is no joke. One of the trees D rushes past shakes from root to crown as a kinetic blast dents its trunk into splintered ruin. Clumps of snow and dislodged, dead branches rain down from above, but by the time any reach the ground, D is long gone. If Yuuki wasn't too panicked to aim, she might stand a good chance of repelling him. The glancing blows alone alter his course; what might a direct hit do to him?

    Despite the pounding force pushing him left and right, D is able to reach Yuuki almost unchallenged. The scarlet in his eyes blazes brighter the moment his hand closes around her slender wrist like an iron vice. No other emotion disrupts his frozen countenance. The girl's helpless fall does not rekindle any compassion inside his ice block of a heart.

    Kneeling over her prone figure for the purpose he has in mind should be sickening to him. Instead, triumph wells up from the dark primordial corners of his soul, so strongly felt he actually appears to smile on pulling her head back by the hair. His other hand wrenches her body from the snow-covered ground, and into an unrelenting embrace somehow more chilling.

    His fangs gleam in the faint light, tipped in reflected red.

    The curse has ripped his identity to shreds, and with that, his principles. Any appeal she makes falls on deaf ears. This close, he can smell the richness of her blood. What was a smoldering burn of hunger swells to the destructive heights of a rampaging wildfire. The look on his face -- no, it's better not to look on it at all. He is unrecognizable.

    There is no hot breath felt on her neck, or any breath at all. No warning is uttered, and no attempt made to reassure, seduce, or otherwise calm Yuuki's horror. Lacking all care for the girl, D strikes, intending to bite and to feed like the monsters he once lived to cull.

Zero Kiryu has posed:
    "Tell you on the way. There's something I need to do, first. Hold still." Zero says to Aido, right before hugging him. There's a look of utter revulsion on his face, and it's clear that the contact isn't desired. He moves away as soon as he's satisfied that he's smeared Aido with enough of this blood to make for a satisfactory decoy to the sense of smell. Fortunately, being a vampire himself, he knows well enough what that constitutes. He nods towards Aido and jerks his head in the general direction of Yuuki and D. Then he begins to move, but his restraint is minimal.

    Aido will have to actually try to keep up. Zero is using his abilities as a vampire without any kind of pretense right now, which speaks enough as to how seriously he's taking the situation.

    At the speed that he's going, he'll be in range in no time.

    The explanation that he gives to Aido along the way is simple: "There is a vampire from another world here. He's strong, and as you can smell by now, is preying on Yuuki. I'm going to kill him, and you're going to help. Your role is simple -- use those powers of yours to turn the environment into an icy hell. It shouldn't be hard. It's already cold out. If you get a chance to kill him yourself, feel free to take it, but I doubt you will. Don't let him get near you. He'll kill you about as fast as I could. Maybe fractionally faster."

    "Don't bother to adjust the terrain so I can move around easier. I have a way to deal with it." Which is to say, Zero has considered how he would go about fighting Aido if he had to. This is absolutely not reassuring at all, but it's probably not nearly as disturbing as bloodhugs.

Yuuki Kuran (518) has posed:
    Aido gives Zero and incredulous look, his big blue eyes squinting lightly at the Hunter as he is smeared in blood, managing to keep his gorge down on the simple fact that maybe another person is covered in cold, disgusting blood, but...

    It's Zero Kiriyu, and he has more restraint than THAT.

    And then, as if time was a giggling japanese schoolgirl who ships crackpairs on the internet in her spare time, the moment seems to pause, as Zero performs all of the motions of a hug. It was not really a hug. Hanabusa Aido stands there stark still, as a look of pure horror brokenly flickers upon his face. The lower lid of his right eye twitches, as his breath catches in his throat.

    His eyes turn a bright crimson. As Zero pulls away, he stands there for a few moments, before remembering to breathe, coughing and doubling over.

    "I'm going to be sick..." He groans, but manages to keep up while going all out.

    He may have to kill Zero, when this is all over... But Kaname would for sure kill BOTH of them if they failed. So he runs, as fast as his legs can carry him.

    For Yuuki, things are different. Things are... Worse. She struggles, physically, but even with her enhanced strength, she refuses to tap into the rich wellsprings of power simply allowing herself to act as a predator would. Her inner vampire screams and rages, promising that she would be saved, that she would TRIUMPH, if she would just let go of her petty desire to still feel like a human. That a princess - a queen - should not, could not, be brought so low.

    And then the fangs sink into her neck, a feeling she had felt now countless times before, but this was far more terrifying.

    "N-NO!" comes her strangled voice, as she balls up and forces her power outward, all around her. She stopped discriminating, she gave up on gentleness, and just pushed outward, like a scared little girl flailing in the dark. Kaname wasn't there. Zero wasn't there.

    She wanted the Bad Vampire to go away, and her power answered her call in a wave of destruction.

D (232) has posed:
    Satisfaction reduces the predator's eyes to gleaming slits. Red light continues to seep out from between D's lashes like fresh blood leaking from a wound, but the hue is darkened, almost faded -- calmed. Yes, D clutches at Yuuki without any change in either tenacity or strength, and the light still burns, indicating his violent, vile intentions for her have not changed in the least, but the moment her blood gushes into his mouth is the moment he feels relief, and a relief this deep must be overwhelming. It makes sense for him to put aside his frenzy, for the time being. He has what he wants; he doesn't need to continue fighting, does he?

    For a moment, he feeds in comfort. He enjoys what he's won. His hunger starts to ebb. It stops gnawing on his frayed nerves and consuming his mind. Each swallow Yuuki's shock permits him to take coats the constant hunger in soothing heat. D lapses so far into his trance he closes his eyes and relaxes his hold. Strength floods his body; his essence is renewed; what does he have to fear from a girl like Yuuki Kuran?

    Never ask such stupid questions. The answer is seldom pleasant.

    The first tree his body strikes fails to catch him. It bursts apart at impact, the trunk snapping in half, splinters and sawdust scattering in all directions like a cloud. D's eyes are open again, blazing hot enough for fading light trails to follow his body's completed arc into the ground. He tears up snow and sod for as long as he goes skidding. Fresh earth is churned up in a furrow at least ten feet long that ends at the base of a second tree. D sprawls between the roots for a stunned few seconds, trying to make sense of what's occurred.

    Yuuki's blood runs down his chin in a thin line. Above it, D's lips are pressed together into something like a frown. He rises to face down Yuuki with no remorse tainting his countenance, only a terrible and obvious greed for what she can provide to him.

    "I should have been pulverized, but instead I'm on my feet. I don't think that would have been possible if I hadn't fed from you. I see now why you are so valuable, Miss Kuran."

    D lays his hand on his sword hilt.

Zero Kiryu has posed:
    "Be sick later. There's no time for it now. Begin doing your job. Make the terrain between us impossible. Shield her with your power -- it can't possibly kill her." Zero advises Aido, and then he breaks off. Two not-quite-identical clouds of disparate smells, like a small horde of villagers on the loose. It is the closest thing to camo that he could whip up against a high-ranking vampire on such short notice, but he suspects that it will be effective enough. It would certainly be so for him. The maximum range of his carbine is approximately two hundred and seventy meters. It's a challenge to find a position to shoot from that actually has space opened, but the destructive force of Yuuki throwing D around like a ragdoll is enough to pinpoint where he needs to stand, however improbable that location should be.

    The circumstances are even ideal, with Yuuki having established significant distance between D and herself. Zero offers no witty one-liners or words of warning. The gunfire rings out through the trees abruptly and repeatedly, the acoustics of the environment aiding in masking where the bullets came from -- though there's only so many directions that somebody could fire at D from at that range. Knowing D's speed, he doesn't trouble himself with targetting the man himself first.

    The first bullet targets the sword. Zero is certain that he has the speed and strength to parry gunfire, so the first shot is simply there to disrupt the movement of his blade. It is no direct danger, though the vampire hunter is curious what effect an anti-vampire round will have on the weapon. However, that is only the first shot. The fifteen-round (now fourteen round) magazine is emptied in the immediate aftermath, targetting D in a careful pattern woven to exploit the large and cumbersome shape of D's blade.

    There's only so many ways one can swing that thing at a time.

    Consequentially, Zero's bullets have no particular mark like, 'Heart', or 'Head'. Rather, simply landing as many bullets as possible is his goal. The carbine is discarded the instant that it runs out of ammunition, and Zero draws out Bloody Rose and a sword with a length of wire strung between them. Neither is out in time to be used anything but defensively, although the signature metallic vines of the pistol appear to have already been snaking out across his shoulder while still holstered.

Yuuki Kuran (518) has posed:
    Yuuki sure does throw D around like a ragdoll, though the broken, blasted ground beneath her free of everything but a thin trickle of water from melted snow runs crimson with her fallen blood. She rolls onto her back, clutching a hand to her neck as her torn skin mends itself and more of that rich Kuran vitae stains her fingers. Her eyes, glowing crimson dinnerplates, stare out towards the monster that had taken things from her. Her blood, the currency of her soul, pillaged from her neck and consumed against her will.

    She was scared, and hurt, and felt violated in a way she had never dreamed in a a thousand years she would ever experience. This... This was the world of Vampires. This was the fate of Purebloods. And if she would have to live like this for the rest of forever, then her first order of business was to destroy this beast that dared hurt her. If a lesser beast would not understand to keep at a distance from its betters, than it should be put d-...

    Yuuki does not get to finish that thought, as her lightly blowing hair frames a face devoid of all sympathy, empathy, or humanity. The monster that wrapped itself in the shell of a brown-haired girl. A pureblood.

    This is because she suddenly, and without warning, is encased in a thick block of ice, as Hanabusa Aido follows through on his orders without question, as Zero closes with D, knowng that 'not letting the enemy drink from the pureblood' was a high priority. Her blood was, literally, power.

    "You know, for just a short moment, Kiriyu, I thought you were joking. That you were just trying to mortify me for some sick, disgusting Hunter joke. That you would be so stupid as to leave Mistress Kuran alone to get attacked, but..."

    His prettyboy gaze turns hard, as he looks at D, drawing himself up from maintaining his ice-encasement to rest a hand on his hips, the other hand low as he keeps his distance. This is not some act, too - the Vampire Noble is entirely focused on two things - D, and protecting his sworn Lord.


D (232) has posed:
    The curving blade grasped in D's hand forms a blacker shadow amid the darkened forest. Sharp-edged and lean, the form is as graceful and dangerous as its wielder, if more repellent to the gut. Zero had felt it as an obvious malicious presence on the day D drew the weapon against him, but even to Yuuki, whose sense for these things is much more limited, the sword is somehow repugnant. One glance is enough to put up the small hairs on the back of her neck. It's a sword forged for evil, and nothing else.

    Moonlight flashes across its surface in a bright ripple as D abruptly whirls. His cloak flares around his figure, spreading out like immense leathery wings, and the shining pendant at his breast winks out a blue-tinted glimmer. Neither the moonlight nor the pendant is half as bright as the sparks bursting into the air at the first chiming impact. The sound goes on and on, echoing through the forest with a ringing purity more beautiful than the popping gunfire spat out by Zero's carbine. The first ringing note is followed by a second and a third as D flows and bends to deflect whatever bullets he can. Zero is expecting the sword to be cumbersome, but in D's hand, it all but dances, defying physical boundaries to intercept more rounds than should be possible.

    The rest either go whizzing past D's body, or sink into the darkness surrounding him. Whether his cloak absorbs the rounds or his flesh is hard to gauge from Zero's distant position. Yuuki is close enough to see the blood raining hot on the increasing snow. She is close enough to hear the sharpness in D's breath, and to see him buckle in brief submission to agony.

    What those bullets do to the sword is also hard to gauge at range. Scorches are left across its surface, and filament-thin cracks which trail smoke in the same way D's wounds do.

    The dhampir picks up his head. He rolls to the side, disappearing behind a broad tree trunk, and listens for the dying echoes pointing back to the gunman's location. As his body shudders, slowed by the anti-vampire power radiating from the bullets still inside his flesh, he mentally traces back the trajectory, to find the one spot where the gunman could possibly be.

    His eyes are watching Aido the entire time he tries to figure out from where the second source of blood emanates.

    "I do not know who you are," D murmurs, his voice like steel, "but I have no intention of letting you stand in my way. If you value your life, you will stand down."

    D rises. Standing up to his full height, his sword cocked down and to his right, he radiates a terrible Presence, the likes of which could instantly curdle human hearts. Like Yuuki before she was encased in ice, he embraces the fullness of his nature, and all the ghastly power his Noble lineage has given him. The air around him grows cold as the grave. An ominous willpower buffets Aido, who is subjected to the fullness of D's abominable aura.

    Now, does he go after Aido, or does he seek the unknown gunman masked in strange blood?

    D whips around the tree trunk and is gone in pursuit of the gunman he has yet to discover is Zero. Aido isn't threat enough to delay that engagement.

    His wounds are not regenerating.

Zero Kiryu has posed:

    Zero attempts to interrupt, but Aido keeps talking.



    "Hanabusa, /I'm/ going to kill you if you don't get it together and coat the surroundings in ice like I told you to." Zero whips his right arm abruptly to the left, not waiting for visual or other confirmation that D has moved. An extended metal vine hooks around a nearby tree and the relocates himself with a mighty kick and swing. Where the vines had been running on his body are revealed momentarily -- they've been snaking down the length of his barely-worn shirt and his legs onto his feet. They're visible on the bottoms of his feet, spikes embedded both in his feet and running along the outside. It would let him take firm, if bloody steps on the ice.

    In the present circumstances, they're just making him bloody and sore to no purpose.

    The spot where Zero had been firing the carbine is empty of anybody except Aido himself at this point. What remains there is the carbine, the evidence of the gunman but not the gunman himself. Now, here's the question. Is Yuuki conscious in there? If she is, then she should be able to act as artillery support for him if he slips into her visual range.

    If she's not, he'd be out in the open with nowhere to go in short order, and Aido is flaking out on him just now. It doesn't bother him too badly to leave Aido exposed, because he's no slouch. He couldn't win against D, but Zero knows Aido's capabilities well enough to know that he can't fight the both of them simultaneously without tilting odds that should be in his favor, back in Zero's. A part of him is tempted to gamble on simply using Aido as bait.

    But, Aido is one of the few vampires he knows for a fact to be harmless. An irritating asshole, but harmless nevertheless. To use Aido as such would be far too Kaname-like for his tastes. So Zero decides to cut the crap and go all-in. If it comes down to it, knowing that your opponent is coming for you is better than playing cat-and-mouse in the woods and not choosing the terms of the battle. He swings himself around, pushes against off of the trunk of his tree and lands within Yuuki's assumed visual field.

    "Ordinarily I would say, 'I don't value my life.', but it's that kind of talk that caused useless over there to run off in a huff." Zero casts a sharp look towards the frozen Yuuki. "Shall I boast to you instead? Come, lone wolf. Even if you spill my blood, some other monster will come to eat you up soon enough. You've no time to waste."

Yuuki Kuran (518) has posed:
    Hanabusa Aido cuts a very dashing figure, standing there protecting, literally, his princess. Well, not HIS princess in the possessive sense, but his princess in the sense that she is a princess and he is one of her technical subjects both by bloodline and by affiliation.

    Then Zero brings him back into reality. This is not some fight with a trivial Level E or some rogue Hunter from their world, this was essentially fighting Zero - the Strongest of the Association - who has gone evil, and also just recently drunk pureblood blood. He snaps out of his little state as Zero barks at him, spreading both arms out as a thick coat of ice spreads from his feet and the air hangs still around him, his cyrokinetic power and noble blood making such a thing trivial. At least, for now. He's not flaking on Zero, though, as he moves closer to the Yuuki-Popsicle, which rattles lightly, the trapped occupant's eyes still glowing, leaving the blue ice around their face purple with the cast off glow. Unfortunately - for nobody in specific - Aido is too busy NOW doing what Zero asked him to do (make the area entirely shit to navigate in like a goddamn Super Mario 64 Ice Level stage with angled slopes) that he didn't think to check on his charge.

    As Zero said. She'd survive.

    To the air, he looks up, his eyes dead. Inside, like a whipped dog, he cowers and fears, but there's a spectre that looms over him like Death Itself.

    "I can't run." He offers, making the terrain yet more shitty.

    "I'll bet myself on Kiriyu's skill to protect this girl than on myself evading the Vampire King if I failed." He offers deadpan, looking...

    Well looking like he'd rather be literally anywhere else, doing literally any other thing, and possibly needing a hot shower, tea, and a change of pants and undergarments.

    He's fairly useless in a straight-up fight offensively, but his fear of Kaname is yet greater than his fear of D, even as the thumbscrews are applied.

    If there is one thing Hanabusa Aido is, it's loyal.

D (232) has posed:
    "So it's you again." No inflection introduces emotion to the low murmur sliding through D's lips in an impatient sigh.

    The stench in the area can be traced back to the sticky, coagulated fluid coating Zero and Aido head to toe. No wonder D hadn't recognized his assailant right away! He'd expected Zero's interference anyway, regarding the Hunter as a given addition to any scenario involving Yuuki Kuran, but the camouflage had enabled Zero to approach without warning. The burning emanating from D's wounds and refuting his regenerative power is not unlike what he'd felt the last time he'd dueled Zero. He sees now it must be something unique to Zero's weaponry, and not, as he'd guessed, a more general ammunition accessible to all humanity.

    "You must have something in mind, coming to me in that state." The gesture flicked from his left hand's fingertips seems to encompass all the thorns and vines wrapping Zero. As he speaks, a dried flake of Yuuki's blood breaks away from his lip to drift toward the ground in macabre mimicry of the snow still falling. Any hope Zero might have had for Yuuki's safety should be dashed by the sight of that spatter across D's chin, and the rusty red around his mouth. "I hope I do not leave you feeling too disappointed in your unorthodox strategy."

    Both parties having exchanged their boasts, it seems the battle is about to break out in earnest, but first, Aido must intervene and make his belated contribution. If D was the sporting type, he would give Aido a chance to complete his, but any interest he has in playing fair is discarded for the greater benefits ruthless pragmatism can confer. In a situation like this one, it's best not to rely too much on your enemy's honor, or you're likely to end up dead. Aido steps forward and spreads his arms. The sweeping, grandiose movement triggers D's forward leap. The forest passes by him in a white-streaked blur as he races for Zero like a demon trying to outrun hell.

    His attempt to invalidate the distance before the ice can spread out enough to interfere is only halfway successful. Anything like viable footing diminishes quickly, and the pre-existing snow works to mask the ice's progression, leaving D almost slipping on more than one occasion. Even grace and speed at the magnitude D possesses can't make light of Aido's power. It requires all his effort to make the charge successful, but by the time he aims a savage downstroke at Zero, his attack is so telegraphed it'd be pure luck to hit Zero at all. His final bound ends in an out-of-control slide across the slippery, ice-carpeted terrain, his boots -- and then his knees -- finding no traction whatsoever.

    D can stop his slide by using his claw-like nails to rake into a passing tree trunk and swing himself around, and he attempts it, knowing he is left almost defenseless in the moment.

    He looks at Aido like he is contemplating the cryomancer's demise.

Zero Kiryu has posed:
    "Betting on my skill, Hanabusa? My strategy was to establish two possible targets, either of which could take him out of the fight if he focused on the other. My bullets are already in him. If you kill him, he'll be just as done as if I do." Zero asides to Aido, so he doesn't get the wrong idea. Unfortunately, Aido isn't picking up on the layout of the battlefield. He's turtling around Yuuki like a nerd, instead of approaching things from the high-stakes offensive battle that Zero is treating it at. What a pain in the ass this is. Next time he's going to find somebody with more intuition about the battlefield to play the part of his partner.

    Even Yuuki is better than this nonsense.

    Surprisingly, Zero seems unconcerned with Yuuki's blood on D. He's already aware that it's happened, and in fact could smell it from miles off. It wasn't the first time he came barreling in out of nowhere, with a precise idea of what was going on despite great distance. The same thing happened all of the other times. Yuuki's blood was shed, so he had an even better idea of where she was than he might have otherwise.

    Aido acts too late, and D approaches in earnest. But he approaches in a haphazard charge. It's telegraphed and obvious where it's going to go, but of the two D is the quicker -- even if he is a lot clumsier in these circumstances. Still, this is not to say that Zero doesn't have time to lay a trap in the intervening heartbeats.

    That sword that Zero is wielding is thrust into the ice a few feet away, the spool of garrotte wire still secured around it. The other end is connected to Zero's gun. Rather than defending himself he draws Bloody Rose to the side, well beneath the telegraphed charging slash. Enough that the sword won't catch the wire, but that the attack still passes over the top of it. The wicked sword bites into Zero's flesh, but --

    The Garrote Wire is ALSO an anti-vampire weapon, and D's charge necessitates that he pass through it on the way by. There may be enough slack in it that D can slow himself down and slip out of it before it's a danger, but if not it'll be like riding a bike head-first into a sharpened clothesline.

    Zero turns his head to glare over his shoulder as the great gash opened by D's sword bleeds profusely. His eyes gleam a brilliant red, not to telegraph his hunger (though with the blood loss that will come), but to telegraph sheer aggression. Today's events have struck enough of a nerve that he's willing to consciously use his vampiric attributes without shame, evidently.

Yuuki Kuran (518) has posed:
    Aido is turtling, it's true, but it's mostly because he is also scared out of his wits. In some cases, animal self preservation overrides good reason and sense. And right now he is a scared beta wolf, who is strong in his own right but is surrounded by apex predators, and so simply backs into a convenient corner and bares his teeth as best he can.

    He's not really a fighter, he's a thinker and a dork. Aido being a huge nerd and not really effective as a direct fighter is because almost all of his problems before were either dealt with through excessive force being applied, or by the supplication of either side if there was a clear better established. His life was one of an easy hierarchy. He can fight, but he's not a fighter.

    This really boils down into 'not being situationally aware', which comes back around to bite the cyromancer.


    The ice block Yuuki is in simply turns to a fine powder as a blast of air and ablated force surges outward, Hanabusa being born down by a ferally growling Yuuki as she goes for the Noble's neck, drinking for only a brief moment before pulling herself up, her mouth stained with the now-unconscious Aido's blood, her tan coat smeared with cold blood from having pressed herself against him in a desperate fury.

    She doesn't bother to wipe her lips, growling at D and bearing her fangs, as she draws forth Artemis from a coat pocket, the small baton extending into a organic-looking metallic scythe with a crackle of electricity.

    She looks pissed as all hell. "Hold him." She breathes, and it is not a suggestion, to Zero, all pretense of the Distressed Damsel gone.

    She will emotionally pay for this later, but for now...

D (232) has posed:
    The garotte could be a problem.

    Either grabbing it or running into it would produce the same painful result, yet there doesn't seem to be much room for escape. D is mid-leap whenever the jagged gleam interposes itself across his vision, and he has next to no chance at stopping himself; his momentum is far too extreme. In committing to his wild attack, he leaves himself perfectly open to the garotte. He can feel its purpose like a thing waiting in the dark, repugnant and powerful.

    Telekinetic power erupts from D in a sudden crushing wave. Not unlike the energy used against him by Yuuki, the invisible, intangible force bears down on the surrounding area without restraint. It dents the ice D's feet are headed toward, introducing countless rough fragments into the air, and also serves to briefly slow his descent and to rattle Bloody Rose so that D's meeting it isn't as devastating as it could be. Thorns and metal together lacerate and bind his body, and it takes supreme effort to wrench himself loose. Of course, the ice makes this tricky, and D falls into a graceless tangle before he can escape. Bloody Rose remains grasping at his long cape; D has to unlatch the garment from his shoulders in order to get truly loose.

    Doing so flaunts the extent of his injury. It's no wonder his breathing is ragged, and fresh blood on his lips. Two deep rents have been opened across his chest and stomach, with lesser wounds scraping at his arms. The white flesh smokes at its glistening red edges. D, his eyes shining the same hateful glow sparked inside Zero's eyes, bends over his sword and his wounds.

    At the same moment he's caught by the garotte, the icy prison surrounding Yuuki erupts, and the growling Princess emerges to take down her first victim. The imperious chill in her voice doesn't belong to any frightened girl. As if Aido's popsicle had been a sort of transformative coccoon, Yuuki has taken on a whole new form and nature, all her fear replaced by spite and iron. D has only heard a voice like Yuuki's on a few occasions, and none had ended well for him.

    But, for all that her new manner is quelling and dreadful, she remains wreathed in the same intoxicating aroma which had stayed so strong in his memory. If not for her blood, he wouldn't have come here at all, and now that she is free again, he stands a chance at getting more of what he wants. All he has to do is cast aside Zero.

    Starvation can make any man courageous beyond good sense.

    His left hand flicks; six wooden needles whistle on their way to Zero's location. D, driving the tip of his sword into the ice, uses this single point of traction to swing himself into another slide, this one only slightly more controlled. The momentum is all he needs to spring himself into another high leap. Rather than aim himself directly at Zero, he flings himself at a nearby tree, and cleaves a huge branch from its trunk -- bringing it down at about where Zero should be.

    It's hardly more than a hassle, but it does offer a distraction from D's next downward plunge. Twisting mid-air in abrupt and almost impossible resistance of his forward leap, he falls just behind the branch, his sword a dark but silent companion in his quest to silence Zero.

Zero Kiryu has posed:
    Zero clicks his tongue in annoyance at how easily Aido is dispatched. All of the Night Class had pretty significant combat potential, but it's like none of them actually learned how to use it meaningfully. The fact that he gets surprise attacked by Yuuki of all people is a boon and an annoyance at the same time. As long as he doesn't die because of it, the hunter really doesn't care. If she's swinging seriously, Yuuki is the more powerful partner than Aido is. The problem is, she's not trained either, and her ability to manipulate the environment is significantly different from Aido's.

    The best-laid plans.

    Under different circumstances, the Vampire Hunter might have prioritized calming Yuuki down. In fact, if not for the swift action that D is taking, he might have done so anyway. As things stand however, he doesn't have the time or the attention, and... the truth is, if D comes to a messy end here because Yuuki tore him apart, Zero thinks he would be getting what he had coming to him.

    The wooden needles again. They come so fast that Zero has hardly the time to react as they embed themselves throughout his body. He defends only what he strictly needs to -- head and heart. A couple of the needles ping off of metal vines moving to a defensive position, but the rest embed themselves here and there. One in the leg, a couple in the stomach, another in an arm. The stomach wounds are going to be painful to deal with, while the others limit his mobility uncomfortably.

    Zero jerks at the garrote wire HARSHLY. It cuts into his hands and fingers as the sword on the other end pulls free from the ice. He ignores the great branch that is cut free over his head, allowing it to strike him without resistance. It is not a weapon that he has to worry about, even if it is heavy and falling with force. It is, in essence, something that he can "take" as a vampire, even though it strikes him in the skull and disorients him wildly. What comes after is what he has to worry about.

    The wire is close enough that Zero can JERK the sword into hand, and so he does -- but D has already closed to range and cut into Zero's back on the follow up. A great bloody valley is cut into his back, with gaps where Bloody Rose has been wrapped around him like armor. Even so, at a glance it is possible to see bone and spine and organ underneath.

    But Zero Kiriyu is not a man who stops when he should. Even with such fantastic grievous energies he turns, and he meets the great longsword with his own shortsword. It is not a contest of strength. In a contest of pure strength, he falls short of D by far. If that was not the case, then he would not carry Bloody Rose.

    But there is a reason he brought only a single short blade.

    A contest of swords is not merely a contest of strength. D has already stepped in to attack Zero, and Zero has already received his attack and been injured terribly. But if further moves should be made, the shortness of Zero's blade compensates for his lack of strength with fine control. Advance and retreat is possible only with difficulty for the both of them.

    And in the other hand...

    Zero holds Bloody Rose. Ordinarily it would not be a factor in the melee, but fired from the hip while using the short sword to control the situation with the blades is a powerful combination.

    This is a defensive game. Zero doesn't attack -- he doesn't have the time. It all comes down to how D reacts to the rules of engagement Zero just brought into play, and how Yuuki interferes with it.

Yuuki Kuran (518) has posed:
    There is a whirlwind of blades and cutting force, of attacks that whistle and flick through the air, wooden stakes and cursed blades meeting flesh and heart-forged steel. Yuuki, with a slight hunch to her back, watches the proceedings with a predatory detachment, absentmindedly licking thin streams of blood off each of her fingers before replacing them on the haft of Artemis. It is not until Zero blade-locks D and checks his actions with Bloody Rose's muzzle, and ostensibly thorny vines, that she springs into action with a wild burst of speed, hooking Artemis out butt-end forward. She, amusingly, doesn't seem to want to kill D with her scythe!

    She simply wanted him held, after all.

    She had been blessedly ignored, as D sought to slay or incapacitate her protector, and then prey upon her. Now, Yuuki Kuran the Pureblood Princess seeks recompense for her lost vitae. Her hooking weapon is used as a crude bar as she approaches from behind, seeking to pin D for a moment or three as she bears her mouth's own pure-white daggers against D's pale skin near his neck or shoulder, to take back what she had lost the most direct way.

    This is, unfortunately, rather retarded, as it would place her body in the firing arc of Bloody Rose, but... Yuuki isn't thinking rationally, or really thinking at all. She wishes to take what she had lost back by force, like a simple beast. Be bitten, and bite back. Be drunk from, and drink. An eye for an eye, and an arterial spray for an arterial spray, and all that.

    Some small, rational, screaming, crying part of her locked inside the birdcage of her mind that had traded places with the horrible midnight creature she now was also wished to taste the fears, the problems, the memories of D, to find some way to help him.

    If he survived.

    That war inside her own head made her attacks shallow and lack substance, opting for this revenge attack rather than simply trying to take his head or bisect the Vampire Hunter D.

    Also, yet another reason for Zero to never ever let Yuuki fight for herself. Because she's an impulsive idiot.

D (232) has posed:
    "Well done," D murmurs. His bloodstained lips hardly move to expel the quiet compliment.

    The two swords produced a horrible shriek at their clashing. Immense strength bears down behind the dark blade clutched in D's right hand. Sparks burst from its steely bite like spat curses, until at last it meets and is checked by Zero's crossguard. Once there, D exerts his might, the energy and strength contained in the embrace enough to fragment a few hot shards from his own weapon's keen edge. The red light shining from his eyes and Zero's reflects in the joined blades as a scarlet shimmer somehow conveying a malicious sentience, as if the sword D wields is imbued with a consciousness and desire to destroy Zero wholly separate from his own.

    Perhaps it's Zero's will lending character to Bloody Rose, but for a moment, D imagines a similar entity possesses the gun aimed at his kidney.

    Blood runs from D's in gruesome, sluggish rivers. His half-human heart pushes out the vital fluid in swift, rhythmic pulses showing no sign of weakening or relenting. D has been checked, but the battle rages on inside his mind, fueling his determination to find a favorable end. Beneath him, his toes balance on unsteady footing, the icy branches not giving him anything near what he hoped for in stability. He is separated from Zero by mere inches, Bloody Rose cocked and prepared to deliver a fatal point-blank shot. Though Yuuki's blood has given him power and resilience beyond his formiddable standard, he has already had much of the boon stripped away by his injury. What possible strategy remains? Is there anything the infamous D could do to escape his predicament?

    Enter Yuuki Kuran.

    The girl's furious charge gives D the only chance he has. As she lunges in from behind him, he turns, bringing up his left arm before it can be pinned by the scythe's handle slammed into his back. The impact rocks him, and his awkward footing is nearly upset, but in the end, he has his miracle.

    D is left twisted half away from Zero, Yuuki's pearly little fangs buried into the meat of his hand, now thrust into her mouth so he might put a crushing grip on her face in the rudest moment of 'shut up, Yuuki' imaginable. Pain takes him in another vise, but the pain from torn muscles, ripped-open wounds, and the feel of her bite isn't half what it could be. It's better than what he'll experience if Zero pulls the trigger.

    D's claw-like nails bite down into Yuuki's cheeks. His arm holds her aloft, though still well within Bloody Rose's firing trajectory. More blood is spilled, but this time, it's Yuuki who drinks. Lips pulled back in a snarl, he slants his glare toward Zero, and speaks with surprising calm.

    "Step away."

    The threat is obvious.

    Less obvious is the sorrow seeping into Yuuki's senses, the self-loathing, the destructive levels of detestation for D's own violence and hunger. If she is a caged bird, he is a shackled beast, imprisoned by forces he can sense but cannot fight. Memories cross her mind, fragmented and distorted as if viewed through thick, dark glass. A laboratory. The open road. The hunt, and the empty thrill of victory. The crushing sense of purpose and of fate. The obliterating acceptance of the monstrous forces guiding him toward that fate far before he ever should have faced it. One figure is central to it all, towering and shadowed, and bent before the figure a woman as beautiful and frail as a flower. It all slides off him without purchase or meaning, leaving him an automaton powered by darkness and motivated by hunger.

Zero Kiryu has posed:

    Zero Kiriyu is barely holding together. Strictly speaking, his body is at the limits of the damage it can take and bounce back from. Practically speaking, he'll need some of Yuuki's blood to pull together in what would be described as good time. His eyes dart towards the sword that D is wielding, a sudden pulse of perception distracting him. Surely their weapons are not alike. The sword that D had wielded in their apartment didn't feel like an entity to itself. Or is it merely a trick of the imagination, hallucinations settling in as he screams towards dust and oblivion?

    The gamble doesn't pay off as nicely as expected. Yuuki does not use her great powers at range, instead relying on a weapon that she doesn't know how to properly use. A scythe is a farmer's tool, not a practical weapon. It is used as a spear by those too poor to fashion their own, but even there it is a poor substitute. Returning Artemis to its staff form would be preferable by far.

    Zero considers D's claws and Yuuki's head. He takes a hostage, makes a threat. Immediately, it seems that Zero has acquiesced to D's demand. He drops Bloody Rose, the vines going out from his body, relinquishing both armor and weapon. There is movement, perhaps to step away as instructed but -- no, that's not it. The flash of movement comes from two different sources. The first is at his fingertips, nails elongating into great lethal claws.

    The Vampire Hunter punches straight through Yuuki's back and plunges his claws into whatever of D is available on the other side.

    The weapon that Zero dropped could have slain Yuuki, just as it could have slain D. But D is already filled with slugs inhibiting his ability to regenerate, and Yuuki is presently spared such an affliction. Even if Zero Kiriyu took her head in his hands and crushed it, she would not perish.

    So he goes through her to get at D.

Yuuki Kuran (518) has posed:
    Yuuki barely notices her plight, even as she is shut up, Artemis proving once again to be FUNCTIONALLY WORTHLESS EXCEPT TO LOOK COOL AND EDGY, WHY WAS SHE EVER GIVEN THIS WEAPON WHAT A HORRIBLE IDEA.

    She does bulldog onto that hand though, her teeth sinking where they find purchase and sticking there, as she hangs on for dear life, and drinks.

    The fragmentary memories she recieves are confusing, and humanizing, though they're not enough of a shock to the system to slow her down or turn her attention away. She has her jaws locked onto her prey, who is not bearing down upon her with a bane weapon - thus, she is in the position of 'power'.

    That selfsame position is being used 'against' Zero, but... Zero finds a away around it, abandoning his bane weapon in favor of a more natural approach.

    It is when she is struck /through/, that her body is used as a simple vector through which victory can be grasped, that her eyes open, in shock and betrayal.

    She cannot respond though, only to sharply exhale, as her blood pools on her shirt, runs down Zero's arm, and stains the ice below.

    She doesn't really struggle, just stare at Zero, hurt emotionally more than physically.

    He hit her.

    Zero caused her pain.

    That predator is gone, replaced with a hurt girl, drinking in dark and fragmented misery, with a sucking chest wound.

    And the man she...

    ... has the hand through her gut.

D (232) has posed:
    Zero is a match for D in all regards. Tenacity, skill, strength, and pragmatism define both Hunters in equal measure. Zero may be more prone to showing emotion, and D more prone to misplacing his compassion, but each man is dedicated to his own purpose without fail. Is it any wonder that a duel between the two would end in destruction?

    Of course, tonight might have delivered another conclusion had D been himself. Motivated by desperation, hunger, and a darkness outside his control, he is a reckless and savage warrior. Raw strength and dedication to his objective are his greatest assets, as well as an incredible resilience outside most anything Zero's encountered in his world, but his strategy and skill suffer as a result. Zero's tactics far exceed D's current ability to predict, adapt, and outpace; furthermore, Zero's pragmatism is the kind designed for victory at all costs, putting him on a tier above D, whose own pragmatism is short-sighted. Blood hazes his vision at every turn, and his desperation is palpable -- an easy enough thing for Zero to exploit.

    As he does now. Zero's claws erupt through Yuuki's chest and thrust into D's torso on the other side. Each one is like a hot knife. Agony erupts again along D's nerves, burning and fierce, and as he feels his lungs shred and his ribs crack, as he feels his heart bleed and his wounds gush, D can't contain the tormented howl surging up his throat. His fangs bared to the wintry sky, his eyes glaring and scarlet, he roars his pain and wrenches backwards. Another burst of telekinetic power erupts around him like a gale-force wind, ripping debris and icy fragments from the ground, but mostly driving Yuuki and Zero back a good distance.

    By the time the wind is still again, D is limping into the shadows, dragging himself away with what strength he has left. All that's left behind is the black tangle of his heavy cape and the spatters of red marking where his blood has been spilled in great quantity.

    And, of course, the chunk of flesh still gripped in Yuuki's teeth.

Zero Kiryu has posed:
    It ends abruptly, and by the time it does Zero is blown away from his weapon. They strike a tree, and Zero suffers most of the impact. His arm is still protruding through Yuuki's chest, and it is only this fact that allows him the energy to act. He sits up, Yuuki drawn into a macabre embrace as he moves to draw his arm free of her. But he doesn't move her away. He moves her closer and leans back against the tree. Bone scrapes against bark. These injuries are horrendous, and if he were a lesser being he couldn't imagine doing anything but sitting here screaming in agony.

    His eyes flit towards Aido. Still unconscious, as far as he can tell. Hopefully it won't last. Zero isn't going to be moving from here under his own power. Maybe Yuuki will. He's not certain. It doesn't seem that he realizes the pain that he caused her, perhaps expecting her to understand that he had done it to preserve her safety. If it were him, he would surely understand. Wouldn't he?

    His vision dims, and Zero's eyes flit towards the retreating D. Can't kill him, can't go after him. Can barely move. In his pain and incoherence, he finds himself reaching into a pocket. A folded paper packet of pills are thrown towards the retreating Dhampir. Blood tablets. Maybe they'll keep him the hell away. Maybe he won't notice them. It's not really a friendly gesture, even. If he could reach his gun he'd communicate his feelings towards D with abrupt death.

    Peripheral vision is gone.

    Zero looks towards Yuuki. She'll be healing by now, in a way that he can't. Still, her condition is partially his fault. He raises a bloody hand to her mouth. It's already bleeding from pulling forcefully on the garrote wire.

    "Drink." He commands her.

    Zero loses awareness soon after, slipping into a state of partial consciousness and partial sleep. The kind that you only do when the pain is too much to process, and too much to actually stay unconscious from. It's enough to keep his hand raised, but there's no responsiveness there.