Post by Aegle Verdant on Sept 2, 2020 16:37:22 GMT -5
"You ain't comin' in."
The bouncer's voice couldn't have more perfectly matched his appearance. Blunt and brutish, it sounded too much like gravel being tumbled to be real. Harsh and gritty, just like his vicious slab of face and his cold, flinty eyes. Aegle stared up at him with a quizzical grin, heart running riot in her chest. She had to admit, there was something awful intimidating about someone so much bigger and heavier than her, who didn't even hide his displeasure at her presence. It was no lie saying he scared her, and not merely by his cold regard. His tight vest constrained a flabby but none-the-less powerful physique, while leaving his bulging arms brazenly bare to the early evening coolness. It was his hands which really made him frightening though. Huge and brutal, just like the rest of him, they sported telltale signs of wear and purpose which Aegle could not help but recognize. Each knuckle was hard and raised by well tended scars, while the bones between were plainly a bit thicker than they were meant to be. Aegle knew precisely the sort of punishment required to cultivate such signs, and this bouncer wore them like badges of honor.
"I ain't comin' in?" Aegle repeated, grinning wide. Her own, equally scarred hands waited in her pockets, her abnormal knuckles swathed in strides of soft linen. She couldn't keep the fear nor the excitement out of her voice, though she managed to keep both off of her face.
"Says me." The bouncer replied, as irritated by Aegle's defiance as he was confused by it. No doubt he was used to men much bigger than her giving into his commands. That dissonance sparked a hint of wariness behind his flinty eyes. Perhaps even a note of caution. He wasn't an utter fool then. He mistrusted the failure of his efforts to intimidate her. He read that failure, and Aegle's apparent security, as a warning. He hid it well, but Aegle saw his scrutiny clearly. He was trying to guess what she knew that he didn't. Was she secretly armed? Was she not alone? Was she actually a huntress, and therefore well beyond his ability to control, or was she simply cracked in the head, too mad to cower before the obvious physical threat which he represented?
The wise thing to do, when confronted with such uncertainty, would have been to back down. Without knowing precisely why Aegle was so confident, why she showed so little fear at his imposition, the bouncer should have dropped the matter and let her pass. At least, that was what Aegle thought, and the bouncer's failure to do so forced her to rethink things. Instead of backing down, he squared up, drawing half a step closer so that his big bulge of belly was nearly touching her nose; He smelled of dirt and sweat and the cheapest of colognes.
She wanted to ask him why he wasn't given pause, why he was pushing things. She wanted to know why, when confronted with the uncertainty she represented, why he had not caved. It fascinated her, trying to put herself in his shoes, trying to imagine what being so big, strong, and obviously intimidating must do to the way someone thinks. Perhaps he had registered the threat her uncertainty represented, but was merely so self-assured that he hadn't given it a second thought. Perhaps there was something scarier than the unknown keeping him from backing down. Perhaps he was more like her than she suspected, and he was actually hoping Aegle was more than she appeared. Perhaps he wanted her to fight him on this, so that he could put those well trained hands to work.
He must have been thinking something at least, because he didn't look like backing down.
Aegle's grin grew wider. Flexing her fingers, she let her head hang to the side, looking strangely like a puppet with its strings cut.
"Oh aye, and who're ye t'say what I cannae do?"
She was waiting for the twitch, the tell, the sign that he would escalate things. He did not disappoint. With his arms bare, it was easy to see when the muscles in them tensed, in that fractional instant before moving. He began with a shove, raising one meaty hand for her shoulder, intending, so Aegle assumed, to put some distance between them. That was the trouble with squaring up so close, it started things with her already inside his guard. Aegle twitched aside, his grasping hand sliding past her twisting shoulder. That was all she did though.
The bouncer's eyebrows went up, but only slightly, not so much surprise as confirmation. He understood now the game he'd just bought into, and thought he had the measure of his opponent. Aegle just went in smiling, in that fractional instant before his next move.
His boot came down hard on her instep; Aegle saw no warning, only felt the pain as his heavy sole ground down on her boot shod foot. It was a shockingly shrewd move, one which caught her completely offguard. Her smile flickered and, as the wince was working its way up her body, from her bending knees to her hunching shoulders, his fist clobbered her in the cheek.
It was a good punch, hard as a hammer blow for how close he'd been forced to make it. With her standing so near, he'd hardly been allowed any wind up, and had needed the brief distraction of her stamped foot to have much hope of hitting. Aegle staggered back, the weight on her foot suddenly released, the punch to her face still ringing in her ears. She brought up one arm in a half guard, reflexively protecting her wounded cheek, and hardened her aura just in time to take a follow up punch to the gut. It still drove the wind out of her, and sent her staggering back another half step. Legs weak, Aegle flopped onto her rump with a harsh wheeze, white spots popping before her goggling eyes.
"Get outa here, kid," The bouncer growled, "Run back to your academy, ya aint welcome here."
Aegle, face aching, forced a pained grin. The fact that she was still conscious must have confirmed what he'd already suspected.
"Oh aye, I'll get right to that." Aegle said, leering at him from the grimy street. The irony of her statement was not lost on the bouncer, whose eyebrows knit in mingled concern and annoyance.
'So he isn't entirely confident he could handle a Haven student?'
Aegle felt bad for thinking less of him. That caution was good, if expertly hidden. A strong student was more than a match for even the hardest of hired hands, and he would do well to be worried. Aegle wasn't a strong student however. She wasn't even a mediocre student. In truth, she was probably the worst student Haven had to offer.
"Don't start somethin' you can't finish, kid. It ain't worth it."
Aegle tittered, "Funny thing 'bout that, aye? I'm all about finished already."
She sprang forward. Being knocked down wasn't new to Aegle, and she rose as fluidly as her familiarity would imply, getting her feet under her and bringing her fists to bare in one smooth movement. Her first swing caught the bouncer's sizeable gut, she had correctly guessed he would not bring his hands up fast enough. It had been meant to bow him forward, to bring his face closer, and thereby make her follow up uppercut to his chin a little easier. It did nothing of the sort. Instead of letting himself be drawn in for a second punch, the bouncer actually stepped back. With one hand guarding his midsection, he lashed out with a beefy forearm, trying to backhand the advancing boxer. Rather than try to block the slap, which was as sure to send her staggering as any blow from a mace or hammer, Aegle hooked it up with her guarding arm, parrying it past her ear and harmlessly over her head. Her next punch crunched into the inside of his knee, and resulted in a grunt of pain.
'No aura, then.' Aegle thought, grinning. She actually stood a chance.
He grabbed her, one hand locking her wrist as she recovered from her punch and the other grabbing a handful of her hair. This was hardly a surprise. Confronted with her agility, the next best thing would be to use his size against her. It worked alarmingly well. Aegle was not heavy, not even fully clothed and wearing her brace, and he hauled her off her feet without issue. It did let her score a hook to his jaw, but it wasn't enough. Uprooted, it was a simple matter to turn her over and slam her bodily to the ground. Aegle saw it coming, but there was nothing she could do about it. Hardening her aura, she did her best to break her fall.
The ground rushed up, and the air was driven from her lungs for the second time in as many seconds.
Aegle was just barely aware of the bouncer's cursing, turning the night air blue, as she tried to get back to her feet. She caught a heel in the side of her head for her effort, and was sent sprawling. There was nothing she could have done about that either. Winded and on hands and knees, she was utterly at the bouncer's mercy, and her punch to his face had done for what mercy he might have had.
"Stay." The bouncer grunted, the pointed tip of his boot hitting her square in the kidney, "Down."
Aegle slumped to her side, then rolled to avoid a heel aimed for her shoulder. He wasn't holding back. Having figured out she had aura, he knew he didn't have to.
He chased her half a stride before hooking her arm out of the way and stamping on her ribs. Aegle punched him in the knee for it, but she took more than she gave, and felt something creak in her chest.
The next thirty seconds were a rain of blows, a blur of movement, with Aegle fending off what she could while trying vainly to get back to her feet. Finally, she got it square in the nose, she didn't even see with what, and spent the next few moments getting kicked in the side and head. It was no more than she deserved, but boy did it hurt.
"Ya done?!" The bouncer snarled, pinning her down with his filth smeared heel, almost all his weight crushing down on her chest. Aegle still had some aura to spare, but he'd seen her blood and made the not-unreasonable assumption that she was all tapped out. After all, what kind of madwoman bleeds when she still has some aura left?
Aegle grinned up at him, arms feebly trying to force up his foot, "Reckon I am, thanks f'askin'..."
Her flippancy didn't please him much. Wiping a bit of blood from his lips, the bouncer crushed down harder, making Aegle wheeze.
"You're all the same. Get yourself a little power and think you're indestructible." The bouncer growled, obviously intending to cow as well as beat her, "Take it away, and ya fold like bad cards."
Aegle couldn't help it. She gurgled laughter back at him, and the next kick filled her head with stars. By the time her vision cleared, the bouncer was hoisting her up by the front of her hoodie.
"Hey, watch the..." She tried to say, right before he tossed her as far down the alley as he could, about five strides. Aegle landed in a heap, wheezing and chuckling and gasping for breath, her face planted in the muck.
"Get outta here while ya still have some teeth." The bouncer growled.
Aegle tried to do as he said. She got her arms underneath herself and, still softly giggling, swayed unsteadily to her feet. She tasted blood, and her nose was blocked. Part of her wanted to turn back to the bouncer, to get a few more good swings in. She still had aura to spare, she could make his night interesting, but it was hard to see the point. Why make his night more difficult, just because she wanted something to hit? Standing there, bloodied and bruised, it suddenly didn't seem all that fair, making him an accomplice to her self-destruction.
"Right y'are." She said instead, giving the bouncer a small wave, "Thanks for the memories."
And, with that puzzling statement, she staggered off, turned the nearest corner, and collapsed with her back to the wall and every single part of her burning like fire.
'Give the world some time t'stop spinnin', and we'll see what the next bar says...'
Aura - 100% || Words - 2,121 || Total - 2,121