TRP is a post-Great War AU RWBY RP set in Mistral City and Haven Academy with no canons, no rank claims, no maidens, and no god interference. We offer a progression system and site-wide events that change the setting based on player actions.
Post by Kishka Burzanova on Jun 10, 2020 17:37:24 GMT -5
It almost felt bad fighting Aegle like this, honestly.
Funny enough, this wasn't actually the rematch she'd wanted, nor envisioned.
It was too rushed. And the stakes were way too high. Even knowing that she couldn't lose, no matter what she did, bar the blatant disrespect she'd displayed in the exhibition match, she couldn't afford to take any chances.
Which was boring.
And while she did raise a little smile at the irony in her own words, reflected back to her by Aegle, she wouldn't deny that they were true- it wasn't personal. Or at least, it wasn't a grudge match. She couldn't exactly ignore their past, but she could put it aside long enough to win. She'd give Aegle a fight that they both deserved some other day.
And she was itching to kick her ass so hard that her ancestors in Atlas felt it.
But that wasn't this fight. Not while thousands of people watched them- that left less room for a proper conversation than she would prefer, because they did have a lot of shit to say to one another. Not only because Aegle always had a lot to say, but because they had hardly spoken since the exhibitions- the only time she could remember, offhand, was the night she fought Heidi, and that was hardly a proper chat.
And not while her fight with Bel was on the line- much as she'd love to fight Aegle up close and personal, without all the kiting and running away, she couldn't risk it. At least not yet- maybe once the her Aura was low enough, she'd move in close to finish her off. But not yet- Aegle's fists weren't strong, but they hit harder than her own, much as she hated to admit it. And while her umbrella was devastating, especially in close quarters, she was hesitant to trade blows with the significantly sturdier girl. Not yet.
She reached the opposite end of the inner circle easily enough, and waited patiently for Aegle to get within a few meters again, just as she had before. And Aegle was right- strange words to think to herself. Funny enough to bring a grin to her weary face again. She shook her head. "Nah. I guess you're right about that- no reason not to talk during a fight."
There had always been a glimpse of herself in Aegle- she'd seen it since the first time they'd met, and it was something she dwelled on from time to time. And now it was on full display, as she recognized the same feeling Aegle expressed.
Maybe not the long monologues during battle. That was definitely more of an Aegle thing, and whenever Kishka did it, it was largely to humor the girl, and because frankly, there really wasn't a reason not to, just as she'd said. But the idea of wanting to talk to a stronger opponent. Someone you know you can't beat- an insurmountable obstacle. That, she understood.
"I can imagine."
She could do more than imagine- she knew how Aegle felt, because it was how she felt. All the time. Constantly.
For Aegle, it was probably damn near everyone- for Kishka, it was Bel.
This was likely how her fight with Bel would go, in all truth. She wasn't stupid; she knew she didn't have a ghost of a chance, even with her best-laid plans. The odds were nine to one against her. If she couldn't execute her plan flawlessly- if there was one single minor miscalculation, the fight was lost before it could get started.
And she'd end up charging headfirst at an opponent she had no business facing off against.
Probably shouting across the arena to her.
And Bel would dispatch her with calm, calculated, motions. Of the pair of them, she had always been the better strategist, and arguably the more intelligent in general, but that didn't matter much when Bel was gifted with a semblance far stronger than Colton's, and a natural talent for using it.
She could plan all she wanted- Bel's plan was as simple as hers was, against Aegle.
Step one: position herself appropriately. Step two: aim and fire.
That was about it.
She wouldn't even have to move, unlike Kishka- hell, she was well known ever since Sanctum for standing, stationary, through almost all of her fights.
Her grin broadened as Aegle continued speaking. "Scared they might lose, I guess. Maybe they should be- hell, you made it this far, right? You beat me once. For a crooked, crazy, worthless, crippled coward, you've got a decent track record." She laughed to herself; it honestly should have taken more than that to admit that Aegle had beaten her. Even if it wasn't entirely true- she'd beaten herself, more than anything, after all.
But she stopped laughing as she caught Aegle's last comment, as the mohawked girl came a few meters shy of right where Kishka wanted her. She cocked her head to the side, just a bit, a funny expression on her face. "Well, yeah. Why wouldn't I?" She lurched forward again, with startling speed, taking a bit of a risk as she swung at Aegle with her umbrella, aiming to smash the hard steel weapon right into her gut, as she passed, banking on her superior speed and agility to prevent Aegle from getting a hit on her as she whizzed by. And as soon as she was a few meters ahead of Aegle, she fired off another semblance-infused shot, just as easy as breathing, as she continued her train of thought, glancing over her shoulder as she ran back to the other side again, in a strange game of tag.
"I'm just surprised you'd actually still want to talk to me, to be honest. Though I guess with Argent and Seiya out of the fight, I'm the bottom of the barrel, as far as conversational partners go, huh?" She offered another little grin.
Maybe it wasn't the most exciting fight. But she was still having fun. And surprisingly, especially for herself, she hoped Aegle was enjoying herself too, as much as she could, running back and forth like she was.
Notes// D Weap/D MA + E Sem vs C Dura/D Agi. | Aura// 98% | WC// 1030 | TWC// 5883
Commentary did the play by play, and Kishka got into melee range to exchange blows with Aegle before zipping past in order to blast her semblance again from range. Her speed advantage was obvious, and after the exchange so was the destructive one. She slammed the solid steel umbrella right into her opponent’s gut in a direct hit that wiped away a full twenty two percent of her opponent’s aura. In return, she caught a fist to the face that she was able to lean back just enough to avoid catching the brunt of. A centimeter too late and she would have caught the fist directly in her face rather than glancing off of her chin, but the main difference between this time and last time was the fact that Kishka’s aura was much more controlled and thus durable now. Her judgment in rushing in to trade blows with her enemy was suspect, but unless repeatedly done might not make much of a difference due to that huge improvement in aura control.
The semblance attack Kishka took after retreating, however, was predictable at this point. It was less dangerous than her weapon, and followed a largely predictable path that Aegle was able to actually punch to the side so the round embedded itself into the ground next to her and crunched up the stone where it was redirected. She was certainly agile enough to evade hits and durable enough to survive the best Kishka had to offer so far, but her aura was getting chipped over and over by a barrage of attacks that were coming from a much more mobile opponent. An opponent who had the ability, if all else failed, to sprint to a more or less secure location and rest up to recuperate enough energy to be dangerous again due to the wide open area in the middle of the arena. Speed and ranged advantage, when combined and by a large margin were very conducive to winning in an open field like this where there was no cover to speak of and no way to break line of sight.
Post by Aegle Verdant on Jun 13, 2020 19:35:47 GMT -5
Aegle's dogged pursuit was one which she, herself, considered ultimately futile. She knew she would never get close unless Kishka allowed it. Knew that their disparity of speed and strength was such that, even if she were able to use her superior stamina to run her opponent down, that Kishka could simply climb a mountain or run into the geyser fields, and find the time necessary to catch her breath. Yet Aegle had no choice but to keep chasing Kishka, lest she risk losing that much sooner. 'Poignant.' The parallels were inescapable, but then Aegle was seldom not in a morbid state of mind.
However, Kishka did surprise Aegle. Instead of skirmishing, pulling back just as the Aegle drew close, the taller trainee lunged forward with evident conviction. The move caught Aegle off-guard for just how unnecessary it was, but her shock was short lived. Aegle arrested her forward motion with a quick bit of foot work, hopping to the balls of her feet with the air of long practice. She saw at once what Kishka would do. From the lay of her shoulders, the look in her eyes, the angle of her umbrella, and even the foot she lead with, it was like Aegle could feel the attack coming, could sense from where Kishka would strike. It would be a rising cut, Aegle knew, slipped under her guard and across her stomach. 'Clever.' Reflex would have an opponent, so surprised, respond by guarding their head, if they had the presence of mind to guard at all. 'Expertly done.' There wasn't enough time to dodge, Kishka had picked her moment well. With her momentum trying to carry her forward, Aegle could only parry or block. Blocking would be nearly as bad as letting the attack through; With her feet firmly planted and her own momentum carrying her forward, Kishka could throw the weaker Aegle wide without much trouble. With her superior reach and the angle of her attack, Aegle would be left wide open for a follow up.
All this, Aegle knew in the heartbeat it took for her to realize she was being attacked. And she knew how to answer. Knew it, as surely as she knew breathing. Because none of it was conscious. Because it was her muscles and not her mind which knew what Kishka would do, where she would aim, and how best to counter her. It was her arms which flew to Aegle's defense, which knew she could neither dodge nor block the blow and that it must, therefore, be turned aside. With a whir, Aegle dropped her leading hand and cocked back her off hand. That whir became a whine as she picked up speed, as she planted her feet and pivoted her shoulders. It rose in pitch and volume, higher and louder, as her eyes followed Lucky 13, and her muscles sang to keep up...
That was when it went wrong. Aegle had known what she needed to do, as surely as she knew her own name. Her body had known what it needed to do, and had moved without hesitation to do it. They had both reacted more quickly than conscious thought could allow. There was a moment when the mechanical song of Aegle's brace climaxed in a discordant cry, when her whole body seemed to tremble. It was the same moment that Aegle's fist came down on the spot where Lucky 13 had been just a heartbeat before, the moment before Lucky 13 slammed into Aegle's guts.
It drove the wind right out of Aegle in a pained gasp. Feet planted, momentum forward, there was nowhere for the force of the blow to go but into one of the most vulnerable parts of Aegle's body, a part with neither bone nor muscle to take the impact's brunt. Nothing, but the thin layer of aura Aegle allowed herself. Her smile collapsed in on itself, replaced by a look middling between surprise and hurt, as her emerald eyes flooded reflexively from the clenching pain in her guts. Somehow, she kept standing. Somehow, she completed her counter punch, but it was like moving a sea of treacle for how slow her body moved. By the time her first jittering fist connected, all the power had gone out of her punch.
Aegle twisted as Kishka moved past, teeth gritted, nerves alight, and brace still making that torturous shrieking sound. Because she sensed what Kishka would do next, and was proved right when, just beyond Aegle's reach, the Burzanova fired. Aegle's fist was already moving before the trigger was pulled, before gun was even raised, and that was the only reason it hit her hand and not her face. 'Fast enough for a bullet, but not for a club?' That thought brought the smile back to Aegle's blanching face. The mechanical shriek collapsed into the more familiar, rhythmic whine, as Aegle gave chase once more. "Seiya would have told me t'shut up by now." She pointed out, trying to keep her voice level despite the burning in the back of her mouth, despite the pulsing ache which was her whole lower body, "And Argent knows better 'n t'listen t'me, aye?" She tittered, uneven, nauseous, and narrowed her eyes against the fog of her vision, "Seiya did tell me t'shut up, actually. Nobody wants me t'talk t'them. Nobody want's t'listen." She was barely able to think. Didn't want to. If she stopped, and thought, she knew she would give up. She had to keep moving. Keep talking. "Nobody wants t'hear what I gotta say, not even if it's the truth." Aegle grinned, jaw tense, eyes emerald slits, "Especially if its the truth."
Post by Kishka Burzanova on Jun 26, 2020 6:31:44 GMT -5
It was curious.
That Aegle was still going to fight her, even after she'd expressed a desire to give in, even after she'd acknowledged that there was no hope of victory, even after Kishka had shown her the same.
It was odd.
She had no reason to stick it out.
Literally had no horse in this race- she wasn't even SSAJ's team leader, and hell, she'd said herself that she was only even there, in Amity Arena, at all, on account of Solomon. She didn't have a reason to continue to fight.
Maybe she was just enjoying the conversation a little too well?
Frankly, though she never thought she'd say it, even to herself, she was too.
It was oddly comforting, being able to shoot banter back and forth with the little gremlin-like pugilist, between bouts of sprinting and trading blows. And she found it easy enough to dart from one end of the arena to the other, even though it hardly felt sporting, and she was sure the audience would tire of their display pretty quickly.
At least it was more enthralling than the two of them simply standing around, monologuing back and forth.
And Aegle was able to surprise her, if only by a bit- the whisper of a punch hurled her way widened her grin, and Aegle bore witness to a genuine, light, airy, laugh, as the fist danced gently off her escaping shoulder.
It wasn't a wise decision, for a ranged fighter to close into melee range.
But Kishka was hardly a ranged fighter- not to say that she wasn't skilled with her cannon, because she absolutely was. It was a devastating weapon in her skilled hands, but she wasn't at her best in a long-range fight. Plenty of others could outrange her, and many of those could crush her at distance. From the top of her head, she knew that Carmim (begrudgingly, she could admit that), Holly, Argent, Seiya, and Rin (surprisingly, based on her most recent Vytal match) were far better than her at range, and she was, at best, on par with the likes of Alexandros, and Brigit.
But few could say they were stronger than her in close combat.
She excelled at melee range.
Of her peers, she outclassed each and every one of them with her sheer accuracy up close, and her weapon's strength rivaled any other, bar maybe Ruqa. Aegle may have the fortitude to withstand her blows, but nobody could hold out long enough to endure a damage-dealing monster like her.
And she hadn't slouched in her training either- compared to the last time they'd fought, her Aura was tougher, and her reflexes were sharply honed. Aegle's counterattack, sloppy as it was, by her own heavy blow to the other girl's gut, was avoided with a gleeful ease, the damage dealt hardly scratching her any more than her own semblance use could. And she flowed right into her attack, using that semblance, as she whizzed by, landing at the same place she'd begun her part in this fight.
It was freeing.
She'd damn near forgotten how tired she felt, even as her appearance betrayed her to, if not the world, at least her opponent, who knew her well enough to see right through the mask of bravado and showmanship she wore like a second skin, and even past the genuine glimmer in her eyes, and the grin on her face- for once, not a cocky sneer, but a show of excitement.
And maybe a hint of bloodlust.
She cackled loudly as she pivoted on her heel in time to catch Aegle's fist bat away her cannonball like a paper plane.
Now, that was exciting! That was thrilling! This was living.
Hell, she wasn't living as a shadow of her twin right then, for once- this fight had jack-fucking-shit to do with Bel, anymore. Maybe it had, in the beginning, and maybe she'd sincerely meant that Aegle was nothing more than a stepping stone to the light manipulating bitch she aimed to topple from her pedestal.
Moments ago, anyways.
But now, in the heat of battle, in a fiery, passionate, clash of might and resilience, of sleep-deprived delirium, and the chattering of a madwoman, Bel couldn't be further from her mind.
The last time she'd felt like that had been in the forest with Argent.
But this was different.
This was a far different feeling, a far different circumstance, and damn, did she like this. This energy, raw, unfiltered, coursing through her weary, aching, veins, lifting her deadened, sunken, eyelids into a look she was sure seemed as mad as the tittering Atlesian herself.
She felt half-mad, and as gut-bustingly hilarious as that was to her, she supposed it made her just as bad as Aegle.
And she was! She fucking was!
And it had taken her this long to realize it!
What a fucking riot! A joke, shared between the two of them, as if they were friends! The absolute mockery they scorched through that seven-letter word! It was rich! Too rich.
To think that they could ever truly be friends was a laughable notion.
If anything, this fight was simply destiny's way of granting the two of them a peek at what such a friendship would be like.
Tumultuous- exhausting for Kishka, and painful for Aegle. Trading blows with no end, driving them both further and deeper into depths of the abyss that no two people ought ever dwell. And it was funny to her. Funny to both of them.
The two of them were exactly the same.
If Aegle was mad for clinging to whatever tattered threads of hope she could, all to remain at a school that actively punished her for trying to push herself to grow and become some semblance of useful to society, then Kishka was guilty of much the same.
Clamoring desperately for the attention, respect, and renown, that her sister held over her head, dangling like a carrot on a goddamn stick, ever out of reach. Her entire life was dedicated to this tournament- she had no fucking clue what she would do when it was over, whether she walked away victorious, or in failure and disgrace.
And that was so fucking funny to her!
What would Aegle do when she got her license? Like a dog chasing its own tail, neither of them actually wanted to reach their goals.
How could they?
It was an exercise in futility, and even by overcoming every single obstacle in their respective paths, at the end of the day, when they finally caught it, just what the hell were they going to do with it?
Maybe this fight was what she needed the most.
She was delaying the inevitable.
Forcing herself to reach for a goal that was Sisyphean by its very nature, yet somehow drawing nearer and nearer.
And preventing herself from getting there, by stretching out a fight that by all rights should have been over before it began.
Because when the rock finally reached the top of the hill, it would only roll back down again.
She knew it.
Of course she did.
She was far too intelligent to fail to realize the flaws in her plan, myriad as they were. Far too competent and logical to ignore the fact that victory was so unlikely as to be unattainable.
And even if she weren't a genius (which she was certain she was), it wouldn't take one to point out that Icarus could no longer fly without his wings.
"People don't like the truth. I don't like the truth; you don't like the truth." She failed to suppress another fit of laughter.
Maybe she really was just going mad- maybe her encounter with Solomon, and the gravity of her situation was crushing her under-toe. Maybe she'd just been repressing her true feelings for far, far, too long.
"The truth is ugly. It's painful. It's hard. It takes a lot of willpower to hear it, and not let it hold you down. The truth is an ocean; you drown, or you learn to swim, but there's no dry land in sight- there's no reprieve from it. We're just keeping our heads over the water until our arms and legs give out, until our bodies lose the fight, until our lungs collapse and our brains turn off. You get it, Aegle- I know you do."
She grinned, waiting for the smaller girl's approach, as she trudged along, closing in once more. She reached for another cannonball, but simply let it rest in her hand, as she aimed her cannon at Aegle, squaring it with her chest.
"Life is a death sentence."
She moved, with the same speed as earlier, but where her cannonball ought to have flown from her hand at Aegle, it was her umbrella itself that launched itself, a thin and narrow arrow, towards, not Aegle's chest, but her knee, as Kishka followed suit, rushing in for a cannonball-aided uppercut to the chin- ideally,as Aegle dropped to her better-off knee, but she'd settle for a blow to a standing target as well, frankly. Her eyes were wild, like scattered storms, as she beamed back at Aegle in passing. "But you know what's really funny?" She sprinted away, back to her previous location, in the world's most maddening game of red rover.
"You know what I find fucking hilarious?" She hoped Aegle was on the edge of her metaphorical seat, as she took another long pause to catch her breath. "We're both in the same sinking ship, and goddamn are we both too fucking stubborn to drown. We're sinking, and smiling all the fucking while, because none of it fucking matters anyways!"
Another laugh, this time with a bit more of a wheeze than before, as she felt her ragged breath catching up to her. She'd have to end this quicker, but no one was telling her that- no, as far as she was concerned, the crowd wasn't there, the announcers, gone, the fucking world had vanished, and all there was was her, and the tiny ball of uncomfortable metallic groaning and awkward, crooked, dysfunction charging at her, no faster to her than a snail to the emerald-eyed boxer.
It was curious. It was entertaining. It was exciting.
Despite her morbid talk of death, and doom, and the inevitable fate of all living things, she had never felt more alive.
"None of it matters, not me, not you, not Belyy goddamn Burzanova- we're putting on a show, on the grand stage of life, and it's not the the gods, or the boxes that understand- it's not the ones up in the mezzanine, or the loge- sure as hell not the parterre, not the balconies, not the gallery, and certainly not the ones up in house seating! No, Aegle- we get it."
She grinned, her broadest yet, and for a moment in time, she was sure as rain that she was half a head shorter, twice as lopsided, and sporting a mohawk that any artificial cheese product might envy.
"It's all a big play, and we're the actors, writers, and directors. Hell, we built this stage, and we made these props- and now, for the world's entertainment, we're dancing our dance, and saying our lines. Please. By all means, tell me I'm wrong."
Her grin didn't waver, as she reached out to catch her umbrella again, as it twirled back into the crook of her hand.
Please tell me I'm wrong.
Not because she didn't want to believe it- mad as she knew she sounded, in her rambling chatter, she embraced it for what it was, at least then, in that moment. A day later, and maybe she'd disagree. Maybe she'd cast aside these memories, so obviously not hers, of thoughts, and feelings, and words that could never have been her own.
But right then, she knew she was right- she just wanted someone to argue with.
Someone to talk to.
Someone like-minded, and don't dare think the absolute surrealism of that thought could ever escape her.
She was waiting patiently for a rebuttal she knew would come. Hoped would come.
Please don't disappoint, Aegle Verdant.
Notes// E Semblance Attack with her Umbrella (Literally), then D MA/D Weapon attack with a cannonball in her hand. I'm assuming, at least, that the cannonball counts as a weapon on its own, anyways. If not, then a D MA punch that probably isn't very effective lmao. Then she, ofc, sprints back across the arena. | Aura// 97% | WC// 2053 | TWC// 7936
The umbrella managed to hit Aegle and shave off seven percent of her aura, lowering it from fifty-five to forty-eight. The combination of her immense durability and the fact that she was able to partially dodge the blow meant that what might have been strong enough to be a serious threat to most was just a mild annoyance to the Atlesian. Still, the mild annoyances were starting to pile up as her aura finally fell below fifty percent.
From Kishka’s perspective, the cannonball uppercut was executed next to flawlessly. The issue with an uppercut, though, was that when it failed to hit perfectly the follow through obscured the attacker’s vision for a moment. The realization that she didn’t get all of it came too late, and within a second the cannonball was swatted out of her hand and a flurry of blows to the abdomen were rained down from her opponent. They were fast, but not very powerful blows. Kishka’s aura dropped four percent, from ninety-four to ninety as a result of them before she was able to disengage.
Constantly rushing into melee and then back out again has prevented the purple haired trainee from being able to rest, however, and she was reaching the point to where she was starting to breathe heavily and sweat. She would need to take a rest soon, or her skills were going to deteriorate and Aegle’s blows would become more and more powerful relative to her ability to keep her own aura up.
Post by Aegle Verdant on Jun 28, 2020 0:02:03 GMT -5
The truth was ugly, Aegle couldn't deny it. It was an ugly, a twisted, a warped sort of thing. Perhaps that was why so few people could bear to look directly at it, why so many sought to dress it up like flowers on a grave. Was it a willful ignorance then, that made people pretend otherwise? Aegle had always thought she was simply the only one who noticed all the incongruous details and nonsensical morals which, added together, rendered a world so contradictory and absurd, but what if everyone knew, and they were just pretending otherwise.
It was an absurd thought. Even if it was only half the world knowingly living a lie, how did one explain all the things which reinforced it? How many comics had Aegle read, how many movies and television shows had she watch, how many stories had she been told, about a fantasy world wherein the good lived long, productive lives and the bad died gruesomely at the hero's hands? How many, where the world made sense, where there was order to things, where even the seemingly random was meaningful and thematic? How many people were there who, through their guts and determination, had overcome the odds and grown into who the heroes they were meant to be? How many small, normal, irrelevant lives which had overcome tragedy and grown stronger because of it? How many comforting lies written, spoken, and acted out, to make such hideous mockery of a monstrous world, to cover up a terrible truth?
Surely people weren't lying. Surely they weren't acting contrary to a truth they all knew, in the hopes that their pretending could some how defy the unspeakable reality of it all. 'Surely, no one could be so mad.' But didn't she know different? Hadn't she always known better? Had she not played out the same pantomime herself, years after the scales were torn from her eyes, and she saw all those comforting lies for the fabrications they were? 'When you're sad, smile. When you're scared, pretend to be brave.'
Life was a death sentence, the weak were not strong, the sad were not happy, and Aegle had never been brave.
Kishka's umbrella slammed into Aegle's knee but, unlike a cannonball, it did not slow after making contact. She's seen the attack coming, but not nearly as soon as she'd needed to. Her efforts to dodge, to parry, rattled and shrieked like those before, her hands knowing what needed doing but simply unable to do it quickly enough. Aegle let out a gasp, one hand low where she'd tried to punch Kishka's weapon out of the air, leaving her half exposed as her opponent closed in. There was no hope of dodging, not with one leg half numb and half suffused with shooting pain, like a hundred needles under her skin. Aegle could only sink forward, taking her weight with her good leg, and watch what Kishka intended. It was a punch, she saw so readily enough. That little sleight of hand, leading Aegle to expect a cannonball instead of an umbrella, had still left Kishka's hand full with the cannonball in question. A cannonball already charged with the Burzanova's versatile semblance.
Aegle's brace shrieked, agonized mechanical moans, as she lashed up, tilted her head back, and caught Kishka's rising arm just below the elbow. To slow to knock the blow wide, and all her conviction sapped by her uncooperative brace, Aegle succeeded merely in nudging Kishka's fist minutely to one side. Aegle twitched her head painfully to the side, far further than her twisted shoulders cared for, and saved herself from the rising fist. Instead of catching her on the point of her jaw, where Kishka had almost certainly been aiming, she instead raked the side of Aegle's face. Her other hand was in position by then, having rising up from its failed attempt to swat aside the umbrella, and this one caught Kishka in the forearm with the utmost sincerity. 'Better late than never...' Aegle punched the arm wide, faded forward as best she could on a hobbled leg, and got right inside of Kishka's guard. Again, the brace cried, as Aegle tried and failed to land a single punch with any conviction. When Kishka finally brushed by her, Aegle's movements were too jittery to keep up, her leg too clumsy, to give even the semblance of chase.
Sagging around, knee pulsing with pain, her cheek already reddening where Kishka's knuckles had scraped, Aegle found her opponent already well out of reach. Gritting her teeth, she made her leg move, made her knee bend, and lurched into ungainly pursuit once again. Even her steps were marked by the juddering, jerky, autonomous movements which had marked her past two efforts at self defense, as she pushed herself in vain. The scream of her brace did not die away this time, but followed after her with every labored and stubborn step Aegle took.
Of all the people Aegle had thought to agree with, Kishka must have been near the bottom of the list. The two of them couldn't have seemed more different, more disparate, in their twisted views of the world. Yet here she was, and speaking Aegle's language, and saying the one thing which made sense. That it was all meaningless and how they were the only ones who seemed to understand that fact. And, how, despite understanding the futility of it all, here they were, still trying their hardest to beat one another. 'She's right. That is funny.' But where Aegle understood why she wouldn't stop, why she couldn't, no matter how brutally pointless her efforts might appear, she couldn't figure out Kishka's. Kishka had everything Aegle could want. She was rich, and strong, and quick, with a good semblance and a high birth. Aegle knew why she was swimming against the current, why she was punching up and outside of her class. What reason could Kishka have to do the same? The answer, unexpectedly, came right from the Burzanova's own lips. 'Who the bloody damn is Belyy Burzanova?' But, in spite of her confusion, Aegle thought to ask other questions she'd never thought to ask before. Questions like why Kishka, despite being three years older, was in the same year as she was. Hadn't she gone to Sanctum? Wasn't that why she was such a good fighter to begin with? And didn't Sanctum graduate at sixteen? 'Do I know who Belyy Burzanova?' Was that not the name of a Vytal winner?
This recently realized but incomplete picture of Kishka had scarcely the time to form in Aegle's head before her opponent turned a smiling, manic look upon her. She'd stopped backing off, and there was an almost pleading note to the questions she asked. There was a need in her words which Aegle found so achingly familiar it almost brought her to a dead stop. Instead, she slowed enough so as to not be fighting her own body, so as to make her ambling, limping gait that much more apparent.
Aegle knew what answer Kishka wanted. She knew the exact shape, and color, and texture of the revelation her opponent had endured. She knew the need that came with it, to be told the world was something other than the horrible, arbitrary thing they'd imagined it to be. The want for some explanation, some unseen reason, some unknown meaning, to help it all make sense. To return to that blissful time when the world could seem to be a place where things were like they were in the stories and the songs. To be no longer be helpless and afraid and horribly, inescapably alone in a reality nobody else seemed to acknowledge.
Aegle slowed to a crawl, brow beaded thickly in sweat, ears all full up with the hammering of her heart, shoulders rising and falling with breaths ragged on the mere effort of walking on her bruised leg. She could not give Kishka the answer she wanted. Their lives were devoid of meaning and doomed to end. Even if everyone in the world acted otherwise, it was no less true. They both wanted a comfort that could only be a lie, a lie which neither one of them found convincing. 'Smile, and pretend to be brave. Pretend...' What had happened to Kishka to make her stop believing the lie? What insurmountable task had she set herself, to give her pointless life some semblance of meaning? Aegle did not know, and did not know Kishka enough to even guess, but the similarities were too many to ignore.
Aegle stopped. Her whole body shuddered with the breaths she took, and her hands shook worse than ever. She was in pain, bruised and scraped and hurt where no one could see, from her fight with Kishka. A fight she'd known from the very start she could not win. A fight which would only ever bring pain, never victory. Looking at Kishka, Aegle wondered at her opponent's pain, marveled that she could smile in spite of it. "S'all an act," She said, taking a step closer on trembling legs, "S'all pretend." She was so tired, and had been for a very long time. She was in pain, and couldn't remember the last time she hadn't been. She had a distant memory of a time when she had moved without it hurting, without the need for metal and motors. A time when she'd been able to breathe deeply and her heart beat on its own. "If y'scared, pretend t'be brave. If y'sad, then smile. Y'act, and y'make believe, until y'can't remember what a coward y'are, till y'too busy pretendin' t'be happy t'cry." Aegle took another step closer, her body aching where her aura had not kept Kishka's blows from landing. "We act for the world, 'cause it matters more to us how the world sees us than how we feel inside. Because it's easier t'pretend than t'see and t'be looked on with pity and the concern." She wanted to lie down and never get back up. She wanted to stop this farce before she made an even bigger fool of herself before half the bloody damn world. Instead, she smiled, vicious and broad and all full up with too many teeth. "But y'wanna know somethin' funny? Warped and wrong and twisted as it all is, with all its pity and its fear and its sadness and its pain... S'all still a gift, inn'it?" Another step, and Aegle wanted to scream as her weight came down on her bad knee. Instead, she giggled shrilly, eyes flashing with mocking mirth at the very idea of pain. "When every step, every breath, every beat of y'heart might be y'last... When the world's already given ye reasons enough t'give up, and then half again as many more... When things ye can't have possibly seen comin' can tear it all away in a blink of y'eye, for no other reason 'n they're the things what happened and they gotta happen t'someone... When everything is a sick and terrible joke, with a punchline about the horrible, meaningless randomness of it all..."
Aegle shuddered, beaming triumphantly at Kishka, struggling even to stand. "S'all a gift. S'all naught what we deserved, naught what we're entitled to. Every step, every breath, every beat of y'heart... Every smile, every joke, every punch thrown and every punch caught. Everything that ain't that one thing, that last thing, that one final thing we all got comin' to us... S'all of it a gift from a world what couldn't care less if we curled up and died." Stabbing a thumb at her chest, Aegle almost yelled, "I should be dead. We all should be. And every moment I ain't is one moment more 'n I deserve. So fuck the world, and fuck the play, and fuck the stage we've all built to hide from how horribly empty it all is. I'm bloody damned alive, and I can't think of anything funnier than that!"
At that, she shambled into a full on sprint, grinning hugely around her gasping breaths. "The whole world's a joke, Kishka, y'are allowed t'laugh at it!"
Post by Kishka Burzanova on Jul 10, 2020 19:13:45 GMT -5
Okay, she was feeling tired now. It was fun running and gunning at Aegle, but she had to remember, as unpleasant as it felt, that she was not at full strength, nor stamina. She'd have to take it easy for a few seconds, without a doubt. Luckily, she was still much faster than Aegle, and considerably more agile and quick on her feet. It wouldn't be hard to give her the run-around and drag this fight out a little longer.
Which was a shame.
She was actually, much to her surprise, enjoying their little exchanges of blows, little scuffles between long stretches of nothing. Like a dogfight, strafing back and forth and meeting in the middle. It was exciting. Fun. For as much work as she put into training her agility and her accuracy, Kishka loved nothing more than taking and missing blows- it granted the dodged and landed hits meaning. Value. There would be no challenge, no sport, if all of her attacks landed, and all of Aegle's missed.
She relished the glancing scrape of Aegle's fist, barely scratching her aura. And she was giddy with glee as the pugilist anticipated and caught her own blow, throwing it aside.
It was a game, and a welcome distraction from the previous night's trials and tribulations. A distraction she desperately needed, even if it was with Aegle Verdant, and not literally any other fighter.
It was funny, life.
She skirted back into place opposite Aegle, as could be expected, but she simply continued, walking along the edge of the inner ring, to preserve her stamina as best as she could. At any point, if Aegle seemed to be getting too close, she would dart across the circle again, to continue resting up a bit. She didn't want to play the long game, but it was seeming to be her best choice, assuming she wanted to win- which she definitely did.
Once she tore through Aegle, she figured she was slated to take on one of BCSN or HARP's best next, if the brackets were enough to go on. That meant Heidi, or Theia, or Rose. Each would be an imposing challenge, but one she was ready for. She had plans in mind for dealing with each of them- for Heidi, her approach would be hard and fast, maximizing damage, and minimizing losses to her own aura. That way, the larger girl would go down before she got the chance to do anything too devastating, and in a worst case scenario, she could still hang on long enough for the both of them to tire out- while she couldn't win a sustained battle against Theia or Rose, all that great strength couldn't come without a downside, and thus far, she could find none, except the prospect of a timer. It was a gamble, but a calculated gamble, and in any case, she planned on beating her fast anyways.
For Rose, they were nearly matched in speed, but the Vacuoan was far stronger than her, and had far more endurance. If she got into a drawn-out bout with her, the match would be over before it began. But if she could keep her from running, and lay into her from mid-range, pulling off a win wouldn't be too hard. And as for Theia, her semblance was the most glaring obstacle. She would have to win at range, and as far as she could tell, her own range and Theia's electricity were a fairly even match. Honestly, either of HARP's most likely competitors would give her a run for her money.
She also had to account for the less likely match-ups.
Slate, for instance, would likely be the easiest fight for her, assuming BCSN won their next match. They were both melee-heavy attackers, but Kishka had an edge on her in both skill, and speed, so taking the win wouldn't be too hard.
Carmim was a serious concern, assuming they started far apart, or with no vertical terrain. Like it or not, her semblance was brutal, and what she lacked in precision, she made up for in accuracy- it's easy to hit the bullseye every time if your attack demolishes the dart board. But if she could close into melee range, the rest was history- Clover was strong, but no stronger than Lucky 13, and she doubted the redhead could get a hit in on her at all, up close.
Nasrin wasn't a likely choice, since she functioned predominately as Heidi's support, but she had plans for dealing with her too. A fight with her was a lot like fighting a more mobile Aegle, frankly, and she should ideally be better rested for that fight, so the same strategy ought to work against her too.
On the other hand, she could deal with Arrats easily enough- he was a lot like Nasrin, in that he functioned best as support, and he was still a bit of a rookie and overall not a particularly strong fighter. She'd demolish him.
Rin, of course, would be an interesting fight. She had underestimated the redhead entirely, based on her personality, but after watching their last fight, she saw firsthand how absolutely devastating her semblance could be, and more importantly, how deceptively agile and dexterous she was. And she really didn't have a strategy in mind yet, for dealing with her- nothing solid, at least. But it seemed she was as likely to set traps with her semblance as Kishka was, so looking out for those would be important.
Aegle's words jarred her from thoughts of strategy to come, pulling her back down into the fight at hand. Ugh, she needed a nap- it was getting harder to concentrate on much of anything. Hopefully a little cooldown period would help with recovering some steam.
Aegle hadn't disappointed.
She didn't interrupt, only listened, smiling a few times as she spoke; at the coward line, then again at the fuck the stage ramble. It was genuinely interesting, hearing her thoughts on the world. And hearing her own thoughts rattled back at her, every so often, by the person she least expected to understand.
What a world.
She broke into a grin, even and symmetrical in opposition to Aegle's lopsided madness, but with no less lunacy, at the pitter-patter thuds and groans of frail legs making a mad lunge towards her, clockwork braces grinding and whining with every step; the more she paid mind to Aegle's braces, in fact, the more hilarious their very existence seemed to her.
Intended to enable Aegle to move like a normal person again (at least, as far as she could assume, anyways), but they really seemed almost more like shackles and chains, holding her back by a hair's width. Almost like they were crying out, begging her to stop running, as she plodded forward.
It was as inspiring as it was deeply unpleasant.
And she felt compelled to watch, like a bystander witnessing a collision of two trains. Nothing else to do, really- she couldn't fix Aegle's body, any more than she could stop a couple of trains slamming together.
Her eyes tracked Aegle as she sprinted towards her, but her body wouldn't move beyond it's wary, ambling, walk until Aegle was about five meters away or so, at which point, she'd sprint of to the other side again in their seemingly endless game of tag.
It made her wonder why she was dragging this out; both of them knew how it would end, and it almost seemed unfair to toy with Aegle this way, knowing damn well that she had both the advantage in strength, speed, and skill, as well as full control over the pacing of their match.
Aegle was outclassed in every sense of the word, and her only solace, her only out, was taken away when she'd been refused her request to simply forfeit.
But even then, it wasn't as though Kishka had forced her to continue fighting- she couldn't. Aegle was free, at any time, to forfeit, to call the match, and the announcers would acknowledge her forfeit right then.
So why hadn't she?
Maybe she was as much a glutton for punishment as the Sanctum graduate was herself.
"Yeah? I know I'm laughing at it. Laughing my ass off. Fuck it all! None of it means anything anyways- how long's your average huntress live? The ones that don't settle down like Long and Shade, I mean. We've got maybe ten years left in us, if we're lucky, and that's a big fucking if." Her grin spread as she stared down the approaching boxer from her new position.
She leaned on her knees, though, not a moment later, her grin shrinking as she felt the stings of exhaustion whipping at her, even then. Running was a lot easier than fighting, but it wasn't really the same as a full night's sleep, by any stretch. "Hng. Sorry you gotta fight me like this- your pal did a real fucking number on me, and not during our 'fight,' if you could even call it that. Fuck him." She grimaced, remembering that Solomon goddamn bloody Moon was the reason she was struggling so much with this fight. Running on no sleep didn't make things very easy.
"Not that it matters much, yeah? Even half of me can beat you pretty easy. We both know it." Wasn't even a thing to be ashamed of; she was arguably the best fighter at Haven Academy, by a solid stretch, and losing to someone like that wasn't anything to be ashamed of.
She stared at Aegle again, and after a moment or two, spoke again, having given herself time to catch her breath. "Hey, you never really answered my question, a long time ago, Kid. While we got a little time, why don't you take another crack at it." She brushed a hand through her hair idly as she cast a deep violet gaze in Aegle's direction.
Her hair was only one of a handful of signs that she wasn't in her best shape for this fight- she'd planned on touching up her dye the night before, after all, and now, with no time for that, her white roots were peeking through the normally well-maintained lavender. She hadn't even had time to really take a brush to it, and even as she grinned across the battlefield, the bags under his eyes gave away her true condition. She hardly looked, or felt, like herself.
Hopefully Aegle wouldn't mind much.
Her question came plainly, without any malice or sting. It was a simple question, of genuine curiosity.
"Just what the hell are you doing here? At Haven. Being a Huntress. Why?"
Everyone had a reason.
What was Aegle's?
Notes// Kishka does a fat ton of nothing- running/walking away from Aegle as needed, trying to conserve/recover stamina. | Aura// 90% | WC// 1797| TWC// 9733
Post by Aegle Verdant on Jul 18, 2020 15:22:37 GMT -5
And here they were, finally arrived at what such a match up was always fated to be. Aegle had known it would end like this from the very beginning, they both had. It would have been foolish to think Kishka might make the same mistake twice, least of all when Aegle had condemned her bad strategy the first time before the whole first year class. Now, with the stakes so much higher than that first match, Kishka was doing what she always should have done. She was using her superior mobility to neutralize Aegle's endurance. Aegle couldn't even really be mad at her for it. If anything, she was glad that someone, for once, had actually taken her advice and acted upon it. It may even have been a bit poetic, as Aegle could think of few things she deserved more than being beaten by her own advice. She was, after all, her own worst enemy.
None of which stopped Aegle from chasing after Kishka. Even if she would never again get close enough to do any real damage, even if she was just laboring against an inevitable end, she wasn't going to help that end come any faster by just giving up. 'I am my own worst enemy, after all.' And there was something terribly liberating about the whole arrangement, and had been from the very start, and none of that had changed just because the whole world could see how Aegle would lose this fight. When all you could do is fail, there wasn't any need to worry about your choices. When all you could do was fight a losing battle, there were no bad decisions left to make.
And she was really enjoying the banter. This felt like the most honest conversation she'd had in a long time, and that too was quite liberating. Funny how it was a conversation with a woman who hated her, who she was pretty close to hating in return. 'But that's just life, isn't it. My life, anyway, such as it is.'
The thought brought a renewed grin to Aegle's lips as she staggered after Kishka. Her brace labored with each step, and her body scarcely did much better. Beneath her orange hoodie was a network of scars, burns, and recently healed cuts, souvenirs from this fight and the ones which came before it. She hurt all over. Not just the pain of injuries, but that of exertion, of muscles pushed too far, of a heart fit to burst under the strain she'd put it through. If her brace was failing to keep up, then so was the feeble flesh which it supported. All of Aegle wanted to stop, save the warped mind driving the terrible business to its ultimate, utterly pointless conclusion.
Kishka looked exhausted, as well she might be, but Aegle was already well past that point, and had been for a very long time. She couldn't even remember what it meant to not be tired, to not be drained, to not hurt everywhere and nowhere with no relief in sight. She couldn't remember what it was like to wake up rested, nor to get through a whole day without wanting to collapse and never get up again. She couldn't recall a time when the mere act of living hadn't been an effort so meaninglessly masochistic as to beggar belief. Such exhaustion was, after all, the backdrop to the latter half of her life. It was the canvas upon which all her limited experience was painted, adding texture to an existence she couldn't even begin to make sense of.
This was why Aegle fought. These were the things she thought of when the clarity was in her, the clarity which only came when struggling to do what she had no right even attempting. It cast her whole sorry existence in a light so stark that she could make out every crack and fissure, every nook and flaw. It was the closest she ever came to understanding what she was and why she did the things she did.
"Y'really wanna know?" Aegle asked, without breaking stride, emerald eyes seeming to glow in the gaunt hollow's of her pallid face. "Should I tell ye what I tell everyone else? That it's hard, and it's some'what I ain't got any business tryin'? That I wanna be just like my big, strong brother? That I won't let somethin' like bad legs and arms and an even worse heart keep me from my dream?" Something sharp worked it's way into her smile at that, something jagged and sawtoothed, better for tearing than cutting. "Or d'ya want another reason?" Her eyes seemed to flash, "I ain't never told anyone that reason, not the real reason. Y'really wanna be the first?" She shambled closer on legs which should have given out minutes ago, each stride punctuated by the aching groan of uncooperative motors and restrictive steel. She would never again get close enough to actually land a punch, not if Kishka didn't want it, but she struggled on despite that fact, grinning widely all the while.
"There's a tree, back in Devon's Quarry, back where I grew up," With a jarring non-sequitor, Aegle pressed out each word around her labored breaths, "S'no quarry there anymore, just a big hole in the earth n' stone. Fills with ice and snow in the winter, and icy water in the spring, and that tree overlooks it." Aegle could hear her own hear, pounding in her ears. It throbbed like a hammer blow, crashing against the side of her skull, its angry pulses tight and sore from the base of her neck all the way up to the crown of her head. "S'pretty, that tree, that spot. S'where I want t'be buried." She drew close, and all Kishka needed to do was lightly jog to maintain the distance between them. That suited Aegle's mad, seemingly irrelevant monologue just fine. "Told my family so. Told'm I wanted t'spend my final resting watchin' the seasons change, watchin' the ice and snow turn t'water 'n back." She stumbled, staggered, but kept on moving at the same relentless pace. "Was a lie, y'ken; Won't any of us be watchin' nothin', once our final resting comes. We came from mud, aye, and it's t'the mud we all return. Mud ain't watchin' nothin'." Her eyes flickered with emerald mischief, her grin twisted up like a punch ready to land. "I ken that, aye, even when I asked'm t'bury me there." Aegle stumbled again, had to throw a hand out to keep herself from falling. The labored whine of her brace abruptly cut off, replaced by a faint grinding sound each time she moved her leg. She took to favoring her other leg, and the whining from that side grew louder as she worked to keep pace. "S'pretty, that tree, that spot. Somethin' pretty t'look at, for 'em that comes t'visit. I won't be watchin', mud that I am, but them that loved me will." Sweat ran down her face, lending her pale skin an almost eerie glow, making her eyes look all the brighter, lambent as burning jewels in the sunken hollows of her head. She looked half a corpse already, yet her eyes had never been more alive. "Somethin' pretty, t'remember me by, aye? Not the twisted bones. Not the wasted flesh. Not the mad eyes and crooked smile. Just a tree, and a hole in the ground, where y'can swim in summer and skate in winter."
Aegle staggered again, as the shrieking in her other knee suddenly cut off. She caught herself just before falling, fists crunching into the concrete to keep her upright. When she raised them back up, and made herself step towards Kishka again, a few spots of red showed through her wrappings. It didn't matter. The fight was over, and she knew it. It had been over for a very long time. Whether through elimination or disqualification, it made no difference. "What did y'say? Huntresses only live ten years, aye?" Aegle asked with strained effort, as she stepped towards Kishka with shuddering and faltering strides. It was a rhetorical question, Aegle knew exactly how long Huntresses were likely to live; Of course she did, why else would she be at Haven? "S'not all that long, aye? T'die before y'seen thirty five winters? And some of us won't even get that far," Aegle's grin became a smirk, almost conspiratorial, as she added, "Certainly not me."
Despite her difficulties, Aegle had kept her guard up the whole time, hands trembling before her rigid grin. Now, bringing herself one final step closer, legs burning with the effort, Aegle let her fists drop. She left herself open. "Still, that tree, that spot, it sure is pretty t'look at, innit? A pretty place t'be remembered by."
Post by Kishka Burzanova on Jul 29, 2020 17:22:57 GMT -5
"Yeah. It's why I asked you."
A cracked grin, worn just a hair lopsided on a face that longed only for the sweet embrace of her nice, warm, bed, and an airier snicker of laughter than she normally ever let loose was her response to the clearly rhetorical confirmation from Aegle. She was honestly enjoying this too- more than she was willing to admit, and far more than she planned on admitting in days to come.
She always enjoyed herself when she was fighting.
And loathe as she was to admit it, it was never more fun than when she was fighting with Aegle. She had absolutely no idea why. It didn't make sense on paper. Made even less sense in person.
The mention of Aegle's brother brought a quizzical expression to Kishka's face for a moment, as she continued her ambling retreat from Aegle's reach. Big strong brother?
The realization dawned on her, and her eyes suddenly lit up with recognition, and a bubbling laugh rose up from her stomach, through her chest, to come out in a hysterical fit, even as she listened to the rest of Aegle's standard answer.
No fucking way.
Looks like we both have something to prove, eh, Kid?
Aaron motherfucking Verdant.
There was no way in hell someone as obsessive and Vytal-oriented as Kishka wouldn't know that name. She'd never bothered connecting the dots before, though- why would she? How could she? If Aegle was a grain of sand, then Aaron was a mountain. Hell, the whole Vacuoan desert, in comparison. He was a giant. One of her own idols, up there with Cress and Luna Lynn.
The way he just obliterated his opponents... It was something she aspired to. Something she trained for. The sheer speed and pure skill he displayed... Hell, there was a time where her training regimen was just analyzing and emulating his takedowns. He was a living legend. Arguably more famous and renowned than Cressida, even if Cress was objectively stronger, since she wasn't alive to shoot down the claims that her feats were grossly over-exaggerated, and too unbelievable to be true.
And she was talking to his sister.
Fighting his sister.
In the very same Festival where he'd made his name. Where Cress had made hers. Where she was going to make her own.
She wondered if Aegle realized yet that there was no way in hell this Vytal Tournament would end without a Burzanova crowned victorious.
She wondered if Aegle had realized yet that she was squaring off against the winner.
She refused to lose.
Not to Aegle. Not to her next match.
Least of all, not to Bel.
"Try me." Her grin was wide, as the laughter died down a smidge. Confession time with Aaron's little sister, huh? That was still unbelievable. Crazy to think of. She listened as Aegle spoke, but never once did that connection leave the foreground of her mind.
It was an interesting tangent.
Not what she was expecting, frankly. Many would probably just take it for the ramblings of a madwoman, of course. Wouldn't see that it was explicitly an answer to the question she'd given Aegle. Why does she want to be a Huntress so damn bad?
"Well, you see, there's this tree..."
Maybe that was why Kishka was different from people like Colton. Every time they talked strategy, every time they'd discussed their classmates, it was always "on paper," with him. But people didn't exist on paper. That's not how things actually worked. On paper, she should have won this fight by now, but that wasn't accounting for so many factors, like the fact that she was tired as hell, that Argent and Seiya took each other out in the first seconds of the fight, or that in all honesty? She didn't want the fight to end yet, deep down.
And while, on paper, Aegle was just spouting more nonsense, her point was all too clear to Kishka's perceptive mind.
Hell, she couldn't see how anyone who was listening to the shorter girl's words would miss it.
She hadn't said a "tree to be buried by." She'd specified a tree for her parents to bury her by. Looking at her, it wasn't hard to see the way she looked so damn skeletal and half-there. The way she tumbled, catching herself with a mechanical whirring and groaning that was so far from human, it was impossible to miss, even amidst the noise and turmoil of battle.
What a curious creature, she was.
She hadn't realized yet that she'd stopped jogging ahead of her, until Aegle came bounding up to her again, but this time, there wasn't nearly as much fire in her eyes as before. Like a tin soldier, winding down to a halt. "Yeah. Sounds nice."
For once, Kishka was at a loss for words, just a bit, though her expression was about as opaque as ever.
There was a question in her mind, tumbling around. Whether Aegle meant that she was going to die as a Huntress, or whether she was going to die, as a Huntress. She had a feeling it was the latter- between her myriad health issues that were as common knowledge as Colton's fucking semblance to all of Haven, and her constant morbidity and seeming embrace of the idea of death, she was pretty sure Aegle didn't mean that being a Huntress was what would kill her- even though that was by far the most likely outcome.
She was choosing to die on her own terms.
That was something Kishka could at least respect, even if it wasn't something she could comprehend. She didn't plan on dying any time soon, after all.
Post by Aegle Verdant on Jul 30, 2020 1:11:02 GMT -5
Was she supposed to feel something? Aegle had never told anyone what she'd just told Kishka, never so much as spoken her intentions out loud. 'Isn't there supposed to be closure? Isn't some weight supposed to lift from my shoulders?' If anything, the world weighed down more heavily on her than before. She'd never fought this long, this hard, this relentlessly before, and the state of her equipment showed it. Even against Colton, the fight had been over too quickly for her to put her brace through it's paces. Aegle trudged a step closer, dragging her feet with each difficult stride. No, she didn't feel any lighter. 'But then, why should anything ever get easier?' Because even now, she didn't believe Kishka really understood what she had done, nor why she had done it. She could see in the Burzanova's face, that lack of comprehension, of understanding, that always showed whenever Aegle spoke her mind. 'My crooked, cracked, and thoroughly bent mind.' Another step closer, legs burning with the simple effort of moving, her whole body shaking, trembling beneath the immobile brace, serving only to hold her back. A brace which, even in its damaged state, she could not stand without. No, Kishka didn't understand. She couldn't understand. Whatever had driven her to this point, whatever drove her, whatever inadequacy she felt, it was focused inward. 'Still playing for the stage, Kishka? Even now, you can't give up the act.' But Aegle couldn't blame her. She couldn't even judge the mistralian. 'Not when I'm my own actions are so full with dramatic irony.' Kishka didn't understand, because she was doing this for herself. This was all about her beating whomever she had to beat, about showing the world how strong and tough and smart she was. It was all about winning to her, and always had been. She had set herself a goal, one she found so crushing and impossible as to be absurd, and she was fighting hard to achieve it. Aegle's grin twitched, 'Wonder what that's like...' As always, fighting had brought her the insight she so desperately craved. It had shown her something she never might have considered otherwise. That the biggest difference between people like her and people like Kishka was that people like Kishka thought they could win. It wasn't much of a difference, but how much must it color their views of the world? Was it any wonder they did the things they did, when they thought there was even a chance of success? That they would be the one to beat the odds? 'Finally, something that makes sense.'
"How long do you got left?" Kishka asked. For some reason, that question confirmed for Aegle the line of thought which had preceded it. "Now that's the question, init?" The small girl, the weak girl, the twisted and dying girl, said back with a radiant smile. "Can't hardly say the doctors expected the path I'd take with what life I had left." Even with all her effort behind her steps, Aegle was slowed to a crawl, but she never stopped moving closer, not for a moment. "I reckon they had somethin' quiet in mind for me. Somewhere soft and warm, surrounded by them that I love. Them that loves me. Somewhere for me to take my ease, while I wait for my body t'fall apart." Aegle shook her head and chuckled quietly, just as though there were something funny, or something strange, in what she'd just said. "Ain't been easy, y'know, tryin' t'catch up with people like you. I had t'struggle," Aegle raised her fists, her misshapen knuckles lumpen beneath her wraps, "I had t'train hard," her arms trembled with the mere effort of holding up her hands, "I had t'do the kinds of things you would find crazy." her wraps were spotted red with blood, her blood, and she yet had aura to spare. "Y'wouldn't believe how hard I've worked, Kishka. And all that work, not even t'compare with ye, but just enough t'be able t'stand before ye." Aegle tittered, wondering when someone might realize her brace was broken, that her knuckles were bleeding. Wondering when someone might step in and put a stop to this pointless and painful effort. "And I can barely even manage that."
Bringing her guard back up, the crooked girl struggled on, the distance betwixt herself and her foe life times long. "How long do I got?" Aegle mused, as she drew one laborious step closer, "Y'sure y'wanna know?" One more step. Just one more step. "My family didn't wanna know. Y'should've seen the way it beat them up, them that loves me, that I love. Knowing never made 'em any happier. Never made me any easier t'deal with." She was conscious of every movement, for how much effort it took, of every handspan, of every finger's breadth, as she dragged herself ever onward. "I tried t'make it easier. Tried t'be brave. Tried t'smile. Didn't matter what I did though, that knowin' was always there..."
Why was she still rambling on, still struggling forth? Why was she answering the question? After all this time why was she still fighting? Why hadn't she stopped herself? Why couldn't she just give up? Why did she have to go on? They would need to stop her, because she'd never been much good at stopping herself and it was time for her final attack. "D'ya wanna know somethin' funny? What makes somethin' funny? S'the surprise, innit? It's expectin' one thing, only t'have another happen." Aegle's eyes glistened, ". Y'can make anythin' funny, y'can make anyone laugh. It's just surprisin' them the right way, s'all 'bout how y'tell the joke." From the way she said it, that same conspiratorial tone, Kishka should have been able to guess what was coming next.
Raising her head, Aegle almost shouted, "They told me five years, Kishka," 'Sixteen and Five...' "And they told me that two years ago." 'Twenty and one.' Aegle smiled at her, eyes wet and wide, hands trembling with how tightly she'd pulled her fists. "Two years, I've spent strugglin'. Two years, I've spent trainin'. Two years, spent breakin' what little there is of me what ain't already broke, t'just barely scrape by." Her eyes burned, but she didn't blink. She stared Kishka down because she wanted her to know the answer. She wanted someone to know, for someone to understand, for anyone to understand. "I dinnae know how long I have left, and I ain't known since I pulled my first fist." Then Aegle, smiling and trembling, staggered into a run. "One last joke, aye?" She cried, "and with one killer punchline!"
Post by Kishka Burzanova on Nov 2, 2020 21:46:22 GMT -5
It was strange, hearing Aegle speak so freely and nonchalantly of her own impending demise.
Or it would be, if Kishka were, herself, prone to euphemism and avoiding hard conversations. It was what it was, wasn't it? She was dying, she could admit it to herself, and it would be patronizing to the extreme to respond with anything short of frank, blunt, honesty. Tired as she was, she could at least manage that.
"No shit. Can't imagine a doctor that would take a look at you and say, 'there goes a Huntress-to-be.'" She stood, motionless, staring curiously at Aegle, the same contemplative expression across her face as the toy soldier wound down to a whirring slow-motion creep.
How was she going to die?
It felt so close sometimes, it seemed to her that she might greet death as an old friend, someday. But then she'd remember Rochdale... That fear, the anxiety, that set in as they approached the mob surrounding the airship. That urgency, the total panic that struck her the moment she lost control of the situation- the tiny sliver she'd been holding onto, at least.
No, she wouldn't be greeting death like a friend.
And she couldn't relate to Aegle, who very well might be the only person she'd ever met who not only accepted, but embraced, welcomed, her own grave. She could comprehend it, could come as close as anyone might to understanding it, but she couldn't relate to her.
When the time came, she was going to go kicking and screaming. She was going to go out fighting, and on her own terms. She had sworn to never lose that sense of control again, and she refused to go back on her word.
She watched as Aegle raised her pitiful bloodied fists, the red splotches reminding her of the previous night's deception, just as they reminded her of Aegle's exhibition match win.
On the one hand, she thought it was a dirty, sneaky, trick. And it was, in a sense- in any honorable duel, it was a complete disregard for the way a fight between two Huntresses was supposed to go, trading Aura for Aura, and more to the point, it was fucking insane, and borderline suicidal.
But on the other hand, while she considered it despicable when used by the likes of Solomon Moon, who had no need for sneaky tricks, who had no intention of fighting her at all, there was some admiration for Aegle's gutsy use of it. It was crazy, of course- one wrong move, and she could be killed, at full Aura. But there were some merits to taking lighter wounds to preserve her Aura for the larger hits. It was effective resource management, and she'd have realized it sooner if she hadn't been so consumed with rage during their last fight.
A clever strategy, one that betrayed Aegle's bluster about her own lack of intelligence or skill.
"No. I believe you. I've watched you, since you got here. It's a little hard to miss each other in the training facilities all day and all night." A wry grin.
No, she couldn't imagine Aegle's struggles. Having to overcome so much just to avoid dying long enough to graduate.
If Kishka had never trained a day in her life, she'd still be better equipped to be a Huntress than Aegle.
The Atlesian trained as hard and as long as she did; and while she rose to the top of their class, Aegle barely clung to the bottom, with tooth and nail.
But she'd gotten this far.
That refrain stuck itself in Kishka's mind throughout this entire exchange.
She'd gotten this far; made it to the duo round of the Vytal Tournament. That took guts, and it took skill. Even if her last win was cheap as hell, reliant entirely on her utterly indomitable Aura reserves, born from months of beating herself within an inch of her own life, just to get back up and do it again.
She saw the change in Aegle's demeanor; in how she was moving, how she carried herself. She was at, or possibly beyond, her limits.
For the briefest of seconds, she pitied her; so much drive and will to fight, only for her body to give out, even before the sleep-deprived, low stamina, wretch she was attempting to fight. This wasn't a version of Kishka worth winning against; losing to her was sad.
She was sad for Aegle.
But only for a moment.
Because Aegle didn't deserve her pity. She was bold enough to make this stand, here, after all. And as they shared the stage, two actors in a riveting dialogue of clashing steel and fists, there was no pity. Aegle deserved more than that, just this once.
And suddenly, they came back around to the topic of Aegle's death. Like she had opened the floodgates, and now a river of backed up morbid thoughts had come rushing in to sweep them both away from the Vytal Festival entirely.
"Yeah. I wanna know. I imagine it's easier telling me than telling them anyways- I'd hardly think you'd consider me a loved one, right?" Wasn't like she wanted Aegle dead; or that she didn't care that Aegle was dying. But it wasn't like getting upset and crying about it, which she could hardly imagine herself doing anyways, would make anything better.
Dead is dead, is dead, is dead.
And that was that. Aegle had accepted the reality of her situation. It'd be ridiculous if Kishka couldn't do the same.
Her grin spread, and she met Aegle's conspiratorial expression with a twinkle of humor in her eyes, as she smaller girl spoke of yet more philosophies. A definition for humor. And her dramatic reveal, the punchline.
If anybody was good at making light of truly unfunny subjects, it was Aegle Verdant, and for all her talk of surprises, this did not come as one.
Three years left.
That was rough. It was really, truly, rough.
"Was it worth it?" It was an honest question, much quieter than Aegle's visceral shouting, uttered in the space between her little two years speech, and her charge. Two years, of the last five years of her life; that was something she couldn't take back. Time that was spent in a quest for something that might not even be attainable.
She felt herself shudder just slightly, from the base of her spine, at the thought of it.
What a heavy load to bear.
And such small, weak, arms, to bear it.
Aegle came crashing towards her, a broken marionette on worn, weathered, strings, guided by some unseen drunken puppeteer. And Kishka briefly considered taking the punch, giving her at least that final satisfaction. She wasn't winning this match, and they could both see it. Only a fool could miss it; the announcers and the crowd, perhaps, were simply too far away from the action to see the subtler signs that Aegle was nearing her end.
But she couldn't bring herself to do it.
Maybe somewhere else, on some other stage, in another time.
But her victory in the tournament was worth so much more than offering Aegle a pity swing that she would undoubtedly not accept. The odds were infinitesimally small that she would be beaten by this single punch, but she couldn't risk it, regardless.
Aegle came rushing towards her, and her only response was a feinted step backwards, which gave way to a step to the side, as she hooked the handle of her umbrella around Aegle's ankle, letting the girl's momentum, and the laws of gravity, claim her victory for her.
She didn't immediately turn around; she knew Aegle wouldn't be getting back up on her own for a while. There was a little grin in her voice as she spoke, though. "Punchline. That's a good one. I think I ruined your joke. I ruin a lot of things, you know? You know. Better than anyone, probably. I'm pretty terrible. Especially to you. It's not really on purpose, you know."
"I know I'm smart. One of the smartest students here, if not the. But that doesn't stop me from acting like a moron sometimes. I really was wrong about you, Kid. And I'm not just saying that because you're dying. I thought you were weak. And you are, don't get me wrong; doesn't take a genius to see that your fucking body's breaking down, even right now. Dunno what the fuck you were thinking, really. You didn't have to keep going this long. Wasn't a damn thing I could do to stop you from forfeiting, but you didn't. Maybe you did have to keep fighting."
She shrugged. It was funny. She laughed, a little chuckle. Behind her, she could hear the crowd, halfheartedly applauding; they were ready for this fight to be over. Too much talking, not nearly enough action. She'd wrap it up quick.
"Fuck it, I'm rambling on now. You did good, Aegle. Sorry I've been such an asshole to you. But I hope I at least managed to push you just a little further to where you want to be, before you get where you're going. Here,"
She finally turned around, facing Aegle again, as she leaned down, extending a hand to the Atlesian. Hopefully she'd take it. Hopefully she still could; it'd be the wrong kind of funny to give such a rousing speech to a fucking corpse, or someone in the middle of a heart attack. Hopefully ending the fight as quick as she did was enough to spare Aegle the worst of her body giving out on her. Definitely spared her the embarrassment of collapsing on live TV.
"Curtain's closing; let's take a bow, before the spotlight dims. You earned it."
Post by Aegle Verdant on Nov 2, 2020 23:28:29 GMT -5
Kishka was wrong; Aegle hadn't accepted what happened to her and what was happening to her. She'd never been able to accept it, not truly. To think she was given one body and that it would be so much weaker than everyone else's. To think she was given one life, and it would be so much harder than everyone else's. To be given one chance on Remnant to breathe and to think, to feel and to move and that someday, it would all end, that she would end, and when it did that she would never breathe nor move nor feel nor think ever again. To know all that, and know that day was going someday very soon. How did you accept something like that?
Here she was, barely able to stand, with joints that shrieked and hands which shook. Her mouth was full with the taste of her own blood, her ears deafened by the roaring of her heart. Her rictus-smile stretched bone-tight on her ghost-pale face as she shambled forth, with bloodied-fist raised, to take one final swing. Was this what acceptance looked like.
No, Aegle had never been able to accept it. Like so much else, she'd never been all that good at accepting things. If she had been, she might not have put herself through the last five minutes of combat. Would it be worth all the pain and frustration and sadness and tears when the end finally came? Would the last five futile minutes, spent pointlessly flailing at a foe she'd had no hope of beating, have meaning or purpose once the fighting was over? Say five minutes or five years, what's the difference?
Kishka faded back, looking like putting distance betwixt herself and Aegle. It was so utterly unnecessary that Aegle knew it had to be a feint. At her ungainly pace, Kishka hardly needed to back up to avoid Aegle's strike. Sure enough, the fade turned into a slight sidestep. Aegle saw it coming, as inevitable as sun set, the planting of the other girl's feet and the rising hook of her umbrella, but she there was nothing she could do about it. Her momentum was committed, her center of balance thrown forward to put as much force into behind her fist as possible, and there was simply no hope of changing course. She tried to anyway; Of course she did. Say one thing for Aegle Verdant, say she fights the inevitable at every turn.
Aegle tried to turn, tried to plant her foot and halt her onrushing body, tried to twist and turn and put her knuckles into the back of Kishka's head. Instead, as her weight came down and her body started to pivot, there was a faint click, a quiet clack, and a sudden pop. Her knee buckled, Aegle lurched to the side, and the hook about her ankle drew savagely taut. Say one more thing for Aegle Verdant, say she never learns.
The arena swung up to meet her. Aegle tried to brace, to tuck and roll, but her arms were leaden and her leg would not bend, and, though she did get one hand out before her, it could do nothing to stop her fall. There was another click, another clack, another pop, before she landed face first with one arm outstretched and the other pinned beneath her, and with all the force of her futile final charge behind her. And, as she tried to move and found she could not, Aegle knew, in that moment, that the fight was well and truly over. It was over and she had lost, not that it was saying much. After all, winning had never really been an option to begin with.
Aegle waited for something more. She waited on Kishka to follow up with some devastating combination to blast away what aura Aegle had left. In a way, she wanted it, but the coup de grace never came. Instead, Kishka started speaking, and Aegle realized she wasn't of a mind to finish the job. Not that it was a job in need of much finishing.
With trembling effort, Aegle bent her outstretched arm and, little by little, brought it under herself. Then she rolled herself over. She was well practiced at it, so it only took most of the time Kiskha spent speaking to get onto her back. The concrete was cool on her recently shaved scalp, the arena's lights were bright in her eyes.
Had it been worth it for all her effort and all of her fighting to come to this?
Aegle met Kishka's eyes as she turned around, and the barest grin twitched at the corner of her split lip. She was done, and they both knew it. No matter what the numbers on the monitors said, no matter how much aura Aegle had left, she was done. She hated that thought. Hated the reality of it, the inescapable truth of it. She hated that she wanted to go on fighting and knew she would not, that she could not. She hated whatever sick intelligence or callous chaos had arranged things to turn out as they had, to make her as they had, that such a thing should be true. She wanted to throw one more punch, to dodge one more swing, to take one more hit, and knew she would always want those things. She knew that, however this fight ended, however long it took for her inevitable defeat to come around, it would never be enough. The defeat wasn't the hard part, the part she hated most, but that the fight had needed to end at all. That was the hard part, the worst part. That was the cruelest joke that had ever been played, a joke so horribly unfunny that even Aegle found it hard to laugh at it.
But the fight had to end, there was no changing that, and at least she'd gone down swinging.
"Y'are right, y'know?" The tiny Atlesian said, eyeing Kishka wryly. With more effort than she was comfortable showing to an arena full of onlookers, Aegle reached up and took her outstretched hand, "Y'have been a right arsehole."