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Endless Descent to Supremacy

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He Who Was Born With the First Troll and Shall Perish With the Last

Age : 25 Registration date : 2011-08-16 Number of posts : 106 Location :
Race: Human

PostSubject: Endless Descent to Supremacy   Thu 30 Apr 2015, 05:26

"We may be a small group, but our passion is as great as our numbers are low. We may face many hardships, the odds may be heavily stacked against us, we may make countless enemies, but so long as we believe in one another, ourselves, and our honest pursuit of the Martial Arts, we will always find victory. Together, let us fall into the endless pits of strife, ever aiming for the next lowest edge to grab hold of."

Prize of the Cosmic Trials of Supreme Martial Arts: Limited-time access to the Imperial Regalia of Japan.

Kusanagi no Tsurugi- A mythological blade which symbolizes the Virtue of Valor. Bestows upon its wielder the power to cut through any enemy. In the hands of a particularly valorous individual, this blade can rend even immaterial concepts and entities, thus holding the power to potentially rend reality.
It holds no power, should its potential wielder be a coward or weak.

Yata no Kagami- A mystical mirror which symbolizes the Virtue of Wisdom. Bestows upon its wielder the ability to reveal the truth behind falsehoods, discern facts even with no trail to them, and instill great knowledge upon others. In the hands of a particular wise individual, this mirror can be used to alter the dispositions of entire worlds, including Gods and Celestials, to bring pure enlightenment to masses, or even to remove intelligence, as well as bind objects, individuals and concepts.
It holds no power, should its potential wielder be a fool or narrowminded.

Yasakani no Magatama- A majestic jewel which symbolizes the Virtue of Benevolence. Bestows upon its wielder the right to create miracles. In the hands of a particularly benevolent individual, this jewel can undo tragedies, grant peerless bounty, bring about utopia, and even rewrite set rules of the Universe.
It holds no power, should its potential wielder be malevolent or impure.

When time began to flow, there were three natural domains of reality, perfectly separated. The Human Realm, the Earth, where all lower life forms could be found, namely Humans and animals. Above it was the Sage Realm, home to various mythical creatures, spirits and monsters, once known collectively as Demons. Beyond that was the Heavenly Realm, the most powerful Realm populated by the Gods of the varied Pantheons, set up according to hierarchy. And even further past it all rested a solitary existence, the Supreme God, the being who alone could be called Buddha, Tathagata. It was by his will that order was imposed, that all were restricted to their stations, destined to never mingle. In his eyes, this was the way the world should be, with all leading life in their own separate corners of the world. To ensure that none could rise above their set stations, he imposed a condition known as The Taboo upon All of Creation, which limited the powers and potentials of all that held the naturally chaotic spark of life.

Caught between the Human Realm and the Heavenly Realm, the Demons wanted more. They wished for more. They had resources beyond measure, but lacked the innovation of the Humans, or the luxury and bounty of the Gods. The being who led the Heavenly Realm, the second to Buddha himself, the Jade Emperor. He watched over all, while his master's gaze was ever fixed upon his controlled world. He alone felt frustration with the complacency of the Gods, who wanted for nothing. Felt boredom at the lack of the fresh and new. That is, until he one day noticed something. An odd, subtle distortion, a beacon of sorts, which beckoned forth from the Realm of the Savages. His curiosity piqued, he employed his unique Wisdom to obscure his actions from the Supreme God, following the disturbance to its source in the Sage Realm. It was there, that he first met the being who would ultimately be cursed to suffer more than any other.

Upon arrival, the Jade Emperor was greeted by a couple, a strange couple, the likes of which he'd never seen. Two Dragons, one which embodied the very chaos so restrained by The Taboo, and the other which symbolized the order in place, more thoroughly than even any of the Gods. Yamata no Orochi, a Hydra, a Dragon Serpent with eight heads and eight tails. Alongside him, his mate, Almaria-Ryu. The two were shocked to come face to face with the God, as they never truly believed any would answer their call. The Jade Emperor made no attempt to hide his curiosity toward the two, commending their boldness in daring to make contact with him. The two announced that, since they first touched, they could feel that there was something off about the state of reality as they knew it. The Jade Emperor, knowing exactly what made them feel that way, proceeded to share with them the secrets of The Taboo. How all beneath the Gods were restricted from embracing their true selves, destined to live as Buddha deemed, never growing beyond their stations. The Jade Emperor expected outlash, and he was pleasantly shocked to see that the couple had quickly understood and accepted his admission. Instead of cursing the Gods for looking down upon all others as they had, the two mused on how they might go about overcoming the imposed condition of Buddha's will. Until then, he had never considered such a thing possible, not just rejecting The Taboo, but outright breaking it as the two discussed. He decided to test the resolve of the two, again going against the wishes of his master to send Orochi and Almaria to the Human Realm, where they would live amidst its citizens for a single century, while stripped of their power as Demons.

After a hundred years had passed, the Jade Emperor visited the Human Realm himself, finding a shocking situation. Where he had expected the Dragons to rebuke the Humans for their many flaws, their greed, ambitions and pettiness, he instead found them living alongside them in coexistence. Knowledge of abundant resources of the Sage Realm, brought by the two, had been merged with the innovative creativity of the weakest beings, resulting in an explosive leap in technology and quality of life. Orochi and Almaria, who had both gained Human forms upon being cast down, welcomed the Jade Emperor with open arms, as their old friend. They showed him everything they had accomplished and built alongside the Humans, how the collision of their cultures had resulted in a wondrous society beyond his expectations. How they'd passed on their knowledge of power and, with the Humans, created a new concept known as Martial Arts, which even without power in its rawest form, granted even the weak Humans the ability to grow stronger than they should have, while developing discipline in a number of ways. Overwhelmed by the new discoveries, the Jade Emperor permitted the Dragons to use his name of Okhwang.

Almaria explained how they'd shared with the Humans, what Okhwang had once shared with them. The hierarchy of the Gods set by The Taboo, which determined that they would forever be restricted. Orochi proclaimed the resolve of the Humans, who had pledged to stand alongside he and his beloved, as they strove to overturn the rules of the world. The most promising men and women who had offered their support, served as the representatives of humanity, known as the 32 Dragon Commanders, vowed to do anything for the sake of that goal. Impressed by the strength of their character, Okhwang agreed to become the patron of the group, secretly facilitating the alliance of the Human and Sage Realms, along with the denizens of each, allowing them to mingle and grow together, unbeknownst to Buddha. This resulted in all the Demons attaining Human forms and setting down the path of Martial Arts in their own ways.

By the time the alliance was prepared, the Jade Emperor had been called back to the Heavenly Realm, where he secretly brought back Orochi, Almaria and their allies. During a Summit of the Gods, the Demon-Human Army revealed themselves, announcing their intent to break The Taboo. The Gods drowned in laughter, amused by the hubris of the savages beneath them. Their laughter turned to rage, when Orochi challenged and defeated the Japanese God of Storms, Susanoo. The Gods unleashed their overwhelming might upon the inferior beings, forcing them into submission until Orochi, Almaria and their fellow Demons finally returned to their true forms to repel them. It was then that Buddha himself descended from his throne atop the Universe, striking them all down with invincible force. Serving as a shield against Tathagata himself, Orochi and Almaria covered the retreat of their allies. Pained by the events, Okhwang managed to grant them a cruel mercy by sending them to the Underworld, where the Gods couldn't reach them. His heart ached, as though it was the only place he could send them to without fear of the Gods following, he knew that it was ultimately a death sentence. As the Gods spat at their foes commending their leader on his handling of them, and Tathagata returned to his throne, the Jade Emperor mourned the loss of the only beings he had ever known emotion for.

Contrary to Okhwang's beliefs, the Demon-Human Army overcame the trials of the Underworld together, emerging within the Human Realm on their own power. Shocked, he went to meet them and hear their story. The Underworld was indeed dangerous, but Orochi had Almaria sever his longest tail upon encountering the flames of the netherworld, the two using their powers to forge it into a blade with power beyond anything the Jade Emperor had ever seen, leading him to dub it the Ame no Murakumo Tsurugi. Back and stronger than ever, the army sought new ways to challenge the Heavenly Realm. Okhwang revealed to his friends, that their leaders were most despised by the Gods now, that they wouldn't think clearly if the two surfaced again. Orochi decided he would use himself as bait to lure the Gods down to the Human Realm, where he would slay them on the edge of his blade.

Although many objected, Orochi put his plan into effect, confident in the power he held. Unable to rightly stop him, Okhwang stood watch with his friends as the Gods descended to strike the target which the Hydra had placed upon himself. After a fierce battle, Orochi stood victorious over the corpses of a number of mighty Gods. This enraged the Buddha, who entered the Human Realm for the first time and aimed to finish him. Shielding her husband with her body, Almaria was driven to the brink of death, sparking the rest to pick a fight with the Supreme God. Orochi grieved, fearing for the demise of his wife, whom Okhwang attempted to save with his Wisdom. This invoked the fury of Tathagata, who struck down the army and aimed for the Jade Emperor. It was then that Orochi, empowered his grief and frustration, overcame his limits to run the Ame no Murakumo through the heart of Buddha himself. Tathagata was shocked, as his own blood flowed for the first time. He attempted to repel his archnemesis, but the Jade Emperor, Almaria and all of their allies supported Orochi as he forged on to cut down the Supreme God, breaking The Taboo as the last of his lifeblood drained from the Universe. The Gods, unable to believe what had happened, stood to avenge their Buddha. As they attacked, they were stopped in their tracks in the same moment, when Orochi's bloodlust flooded through all of creation, marking the first time where the Gods would be frozen by fear.

Turning to his dying wife, Orochi shed tears of flowing lava for his beloved. The Humans and Demons, in their pain, unleashed the latent abilities in their blood. The Demons became elevated to stand on the same level as the Gods, while the Humans unlocked the power which would later come to be known as the Dragon Gates. Almaria assured her beloved that all would be well, that they had met their goal after so long, and that he would be okay if everyone remained with him. She beckoned him to look upon the achievements he'd made that day, in their friends. Okhwang lamented that his Wisdom couldn't save his friend from a blow dealt by the Supreme God, but that was also the moment that the first Healer was born. The most beautiful of the Dragon Commanders embraced Almaria, invoking a magnificent power from her palms which closed her wounds, even when none of the Gods could. Upon saving the Dragon, the woman, Hotaru Kiirina, began to fade away with her unimaginable feat. At the request of Almaria, Okhwang used his Wisdom to bind the lives of Almaria and Kiirina together, thus marking the first union between a Human and their superiors. It was then that Buddha's soul broke down and entered the body of Orochi, elevating him to the position of the second Buddha, the new Supreme God. The former Supreme God's corpse transformed into a blade, much like the one which had ended his life. The Gods had no choice but to bow down to his will, then.

In the coming years, there were a great number of changes with the world, as Orochi was instructed by Okhwang on how to fulfill his duty as the Supreme God. The Gods themselves were docile, unable to act against Orochi's desires any longer. Meanwhile, the Human Realm and Sage Realm grew closer than ever, growing rapidly in every way. Martial Arts became widespread throughout all the Realms, as many Gods began to mingle with those whom they once looked down on with condescension. With The Taboo broken, and all boundaries lowered for the first time, the chaos of life sprang forth in a beautiful manner within all Realms. However, along with this came new conflicts between all sides, and untold bloodshed with it. The Dragon Commanders, the personal force of the Celestial Serpent, aimed to teach and spread peace and coexistence, however it seemed to be an unending struggle. Okhwang mused that, perhaps, this was why The Taboo was set in the first place, to minimize the damage wrought by life. Almaria believed that peaceful coexistence was a true possibility, which spurred Orochi to continue holding faith in everyone. But across numerous centuries, though peace would shine through so brilliantly, the flames of war could never be extinguished. Frustrated, Orochi looked into new alternatives on his own, later rejecting the counsel of his wife and his best friend, as he chose his solution. The Celestial Hydra refused to reinstate The Taboo which so many had been sacrificed to break, but he couldn't stand the thought of wars driving all Realms to extinction, the greatest fear of the first Buddha. Instead, he made the bold decision to take upon himself, all the evils and malice of the world, planning to wield his two blades to cut them out of himself and destroy them once all evils were gathered. Almaria pleaded with him not to go through with it, that his decision was unlikely to pan out as he believed it would, but even with her and Okhwang's words, Orochi followed through. The Hydra took upon himself every evil of the Universe, putting an end to war...for a time.

Orochi, in his quest for a peaceful world, failed to understand the truth behind the limitless chaos of life left unordered. War was gone only temporarily, returning later on. Orochi continued to take evil upon himself, over and over, never resting. And each time, more evil surfaced. Kiirina was the one to inform Almaria and Okhwang that all beings in the Universe, likely generated the concept of evil on their own, even without wishing to. They all attempted to stop Orochi from taking more malice, but he had already gone beyond where they could reach him. The second Supreme God snapped under the infinite weight of evils, becoming the very incarnation of terror and nightmares. His once virtuous persona was replaced with that of a being vile beyond measure, his corrupt body giving rise to countless monstrosities which plagued all the Realms. Almaria sobbed, all of creation being drenched by her tears as she blamed herself, stating that she should have forced her husband to allow her to carry half of the weight he'd taken upon himself. Their leader now a wicked villain, the former disciples of the Hydra had no choice but to stand against his new tyranny before everything was brought to an end.

Under the reluctant leadership of Kiirina, the Celestial Vanguards were born to stand against Orochi. With the blessings of Almaria, the Gods and Demons, now referred to as Celestials, banded together alongside the Vanguards. The battle fought was long and hard, even with the power of the Jade Emperor supporting them. After waging a centuries long campaign, they approached the final battle after innumerable harrowing trials, which tested their resolve, bonds and strength. In the end, the one to make the ultimate sacrifice was Almaria. Kiirina had secretly intended to use the Blade of Tathagata to cut the malice out of Orochi and take it upon herself, then having her friends kill her. Okhwang was the one who supported this, but Almaria found out and forced him to support her plan instead. Almaria couldn't allow Kiirina to die, not when she was the reason that she could be with her beloved for so long. In the final moments of the last battle, Almaria took the Blade of Tathagata from Kiirina and stabbed herself alongside Orochi. Cutting the evil from her husband as Okhwang held back Kiirina as her best friend made the sacrifice she wished to make, releasing the Hydra from his pain and returning the malice to whence it came.

As Orochi came back to his senses, he shuddered upon finding the condition of his beloved. Kiirina poured everything she had into healing the Dragon, but it was to no avail, as the combination of the evil and her affliction by the Blade of Tathagata was too much for even the greatest healer to fix. Almaria admitted that she couldn't allow her best friend, the woman she owed everything to, to lose her life. In her final moments, she wished to leave the world and her husband with miracles. To that end, with the aid of Okhwang and Kiirina, Almaria and Orochi united their bloodlines to create a proper family of their own. Thus, was born a Clan that united the chaos of Orochi and the order of Almaria in a single vessel. She prophesied that, one day, maybe lifetimes in the future, a child would be born, one who would carry out the will of herself and her husband. Dubbing this child of prophecy the Divine Emperor, she stated that he would be the one who could right the many wrongs of the world. Orochi tearfully supported her final wish, promising to guide that child when the time would come. The Humans, Celestials and Gods all wept for their Empress, who with her dying breaths, manipulated the bond forged between herself and Kiirina, to serve as her Guardian Spirit forever. Thus, the concept of the Spirit was truly born, and the greatest Healer also became the first true Martial Artist, praised as the Immortal Empress. Okhwang was the first to notice that Almaria's final action changed the relationship between Humans and those beyond them, establishing the Spirit System which would later have all Humans born with Spirits of varying status and power correspondent to their talent and nature. At the same time, Almaria-Ryu faded away forever, leaving the dying Empress to be known as the Holy Dragon, who became the cornerstone of Heaven.

With the death of his wife, Orochi resolved to make amends for his mistakes, and to ensure the fruition of the prophecy she left behind. He relinquished the Ame no Murakumo, renaming it to the Kusanagi no Tsurugi and setting it as one of the Imperial Regalia. He entrusted the Blade of Tathagata to his best friend, Okhwang. He cast off his physical shell, his body breaking down into a cosmic dust which granted all with life increased potential, and the power to make their own futures. He allowed his soul to disintegrate, using it to empower the abilities of his many followers. He left his children with golden eyes, which carried the final traces of his mind and his collective knowledge, leaving them with the knowledge of how to make miracles in a world where there would no longer be a Buddha for others to be bound by; also adding to the prophecy, that he would become the Guardian Spirit of the Divine Emperor. While Okhwang and Kiirina vowed to preside over the Human Realm in honor of their respective best friends, Izanagi and Izanami vowed to guide the Heavenly Realm, and the Celestials chose Nine Kings to govern the Celestial World.

Changing his name, Okhwang became known as The King, founding a religious group known as Nox, which would forever worship and uphold the virtues of Orochi and Almaria. Under The King, the Jade Emperor, would serve Bishops, then Priests, and finally Followers.
The Celestial Vanguards and the Immortal Empress were immortalized as the world's heroes, and Hotaru Kiirina founded the Hotaru Family, while her allies founded their own. The former 32 Dragon Commanders became known as the Phoenix Families, who would stand atop the Martial Arts World with their primary seat in Japan.
The Phoenix Families were disappointed when Kiirina refused to become the Head, leaving it to their good friends of Hiatzu and Takayanagi, who would become the two strongest and most famous families.
The King, the Immortal Empress and their allies established the current Human Realm to live for the two who sacrificed themselves for them.

Of course, this was not the end. As was discovered, malice was eternal, it would always find a way. And so, the concept of tournaments were brought forth. In order to settle disputes, no longer would wars be waged legally. In conflict between families and even entire nations, representatives would be chosen to compete in tournaments for the right to earn the final say in said conflict. Martial Arts would govern the world, and in turn, hopefully prevent needless bloodshed from plaguing the Realms once again. The children of the Celestial Serpent and the Holy Dragon, the **** Clan. Becoming the first Sorcerers of the world, they aided the Immortal Empress and The King in safeguarding the world their ancestors left to them, which was when the event nicknamed the Grand Tourney came about, a direct battle between Gods, Celestials and Humans, fought for any number of reasons, but mostly to prevent the flooding of malice and evil from ever again taking hold.

The **** Clan was taught much by Kiirina and The King, producing many notable Sorcerers and passing on their arts to other families around the Realms. However, Izanagi bore envy in his heart, for the movements which had been inspired by those beyond him, without his contribution. He grew fearful of Humans, notably the ones born of the bloodline of chaos and order united; the prospect of the Divine Emperor in particular. This uncertainty plagued him for a long time, until boiling over during a Summit Solstice of the Heavenly Realm, Celestial Realm and Human Realm. When two unknown Humans came forth to openly challenge he and the Gods. He felt a pit in his stomach with their appearance, and it was questioned why and how the two could be there without authorization. His rage when the two cast Izanami into the Underworld, caused him to curse them in a most brutal and horrific fashion. When he was done with the two, cursing them for all time, he turned to the Humans, accusing them of bringing forth enemies who threatened the status quo they'd all worked so hard to create. The one to answer the accusation was **** Kyoshiro, the then leader of the **** Clan, a brilliant Martial Artist and Sorcerer who had made innumerable strides as a genius unparalleled in all the Realms. Kiirina and The King were shocked, trying to stop him from taking the blame when it clearly wasn't his fault. Kyoshiro told them not to protect him, that he should be made to answer for his foolishness. The true culprit, who'd been too frightened to speak up, was torn up inside as their good friend took the heat for them, instead of outing them. Izanagi cast Kyoshiro and his people from the Heavenly Realm in anger, ending the Summit on the most negative note to date and since, declaring that divine punishment would be cast upon them for their part in Izanami's fate.

With help from The King and the Immortal Empress, Izanagi entered the Underworld to find his wife. Upon returning, he was struck with unfathomable horror and fear, much to the shock of his two close friends. He stated that his wife was dead, and ordered The King to seal the Underworld. He was plagued by nightmares for an entire year, over his time in the Underworld, which ultimately led him to the worst mistake of his life. As he could do nothing more to hurt those who took Izanami from him, he took out his anger on the ones who allegedly allowed Izanami's fall to take place. With an Imperial Mandate made with the authority of the Imperial Regalia, Izanagi committed the gravest sin imaginable, forcing the armies of Gods and Celestials to march upon the Human Realm against their will. With vicious, savage efficiency, the Gods and Celestials waged war upon the **** Clan. The Phoenix Families and Nox instantly rushed to their aid, but Kyoshiro prevented them from getting involved with a majestic barrier. Informing them that he couldn't let this be the trigger which destroyed everything that they'd all worked toward with their ancestors, he promised he'd settle things on his own. On that day, although the actual events are a mystery, the children of the Celestial Serpent and the Holy Dragon were erased from all of creation.

Izanagi showed no remorse after the fact, even as those he forced wept, their hearts broken for the part they'd played in the unspeakably tragic massacre. He quickly saw that everyone would turn against him, and wielded the Regalia once again, this time severing and altering the memories of all. He and his children rewrote the truth of history itself, labeling Yamata no Orochi as the greatest blight to ever exist, that ones with the Spirits of Tiamat and Bahamut were scourges beneath his banner, and that his wicked spawn would have their name vanquished from the annals of time and reality itself. To prevent anyone from coming after him, he implanted the falsehood that the Phoenix Families were threatened by the **** Clan's potential terror as descendants of Orochi, leading a slaughter against them with the help of the entire Human Realm. In this way, Almaria-Ryu was truly forgotten, by all but a handful of exceptions. With history warped to the way it is now, Izanagi suffered under the weight of what he'd done. He planned to commit suicide in secret, but instead used the Regalia one final time, forfeiting all his Heavenly Virtue to alter his own memories to match that of his fabrication. As such, the world goes on...oblivious to the truth of the suffering inflicted upon them by the hands of the Heavenly Realm's leader.

The exceptions...Kiirina, Okhwang and a few others...were forced to live on, unable to do anything about the atrocities which only they remembered.


Izaya's The Boss:

Stomp That Shit!:

Shizu-chan's Seismic Toss:

Chill Izaya/Poor Izaya:

Last edited by Sangios on Tue 26 Jun 2018, 08:00; edited 5 times in total
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Age : 28 Registration date : 2008-09-20 Number of posts : 738 Location : .............
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PostSubject: Re: Endless Descent to Supremacy   Sun 13 May 2018, 04:38

It is said that thousand years or so a Summit Solstice of the gods is preformed, were there heavenly mantle passes to new flesh made divine. During one such Solstice Izanami was said to have died giving birth to Kagutsuchi the incarnation of Fire. This however is a lie that was created by Izanagi to keep the truth from the universe. The truth being Twin mortals invaded the Summit Solstice and challenged the Gods. The divine beings laughed at them but accepted their challenge and which ended with Izanami’s being sealed in the same host and banished to the underworld. Izanagi was filled with such rage that he threw them into ritual pools for the Solstice. Their souls bounced from each other with so much force that their bodies denigrated into the pools turning one pure black with his soul glowing white in the center of the deepest end. And the other pool pristinely white with his dark soul absorbing light in the center of the deepest end. Izanagi then pulled their souls from the pool cursing them with all his might as he cast them to the earth. Declaring “You shall never feel the absolution of the Heavens nor the Damning loss of the underworld! I curse thy spirits to walk forever eternal, to walk each dawn anew and to collapse upon themselves each Dusk!”. He then took then went to the Loom of life and tore their threads from its weave erasing everything about them even their names. “Should your souls ever fade a Calamity shall rise in your ashes” he whispered across the wind”.

Present Day

The time for the next Summit Solstice has come and Izanagi knows that the mortals have deviated from the days of undying loyalty. So they must be distracted for their own good of course. As the gold strewn ivory gates open in the sky he steps out the light of dawn erupts to life behind him. His massive figure casting a shadow over the land as he looks down on all of his creation with a smile. “Rejoice my children for the time has come once more for the Grand Tourney to be held. For this Tourney the champions shall have the honor of holding the Imperial Regalia. What secrets will it reveal to you my child, *he pauses for dramatic effect as he smiles wider*. And for this most special of Tourneys a festival shall be held in the honor of our champions. Where we shall all break our bread as one Gods,Celestials, and Men, and what better way to celebrate this unifying moment. Than to have a performance by a member of each of the Phoenix families! So if the heart of a warrior beat in thy breast then rise up and conquer all that Stand before you!” He whispers, the words echoing across the planet until all of creation has heard his decree. He takes one last glance over the realm of mortals his eyes fixing on a single location. Ushige the city of Decay, his smile fades into a grimace as he watches the infernal blight festering there. His eyes glowering in rage for a second before he returns to the Celestial realm. Leaving behind a glowing timer in the sky that starts to count down towards the date of the Tourney’s start.

It had been 60 years since the last tourney, the easiest thing to compare it to would be the rise of pirates after Gol D. Roger in the Onepiece manga. All looked in the direction of the new leader of the Hiatzu, only to find that he had left on a pilgrimage in search of the last living masters of the Bao-ken style. His wife Ouka being the one to enter them into the tourney, which leads to people far and wide flocking to the manor in hopes of joining his team.

Three days prior to the announcement to the Grand Tourney

Tseng sits at a table beside Meryl as he checks he work for any errors his face is playfully placid making her fidget anxiously. He narrows his gaze for a second, she goes pale and panic and sees he has gone too far. So he cracks a smile and says “Everything’s perfect Meryl what are you worried about?” She falls to a laying position letting out a deep breath as she wipes her face in frustration. “It’s supposed to be about historical figures, but I didn’t write about those dusty old farts.” She says as Tseng gives her that big brother look, “Meryl” he says softly as she sits up aggressively. “What do the old lords have on our big brothers, those phoenix lords are glorified seat warmers. Dji and Dai have done way more and never get any credit for it”, she shouts her voice carrying through the halls. And before Tseng can react a wizened old voice says “She speaks the truth you know Little Tseng”. Tseng spins around into a kneel greeting the voice “Apologizes Madam Gao I wasn’t aware of your arrival”, The old woman chuckles as Meryl runs over to her glomping her softly as she squeals “Granny Gao”. The old woman hugs her with a smile as she says “Oh my little Meryl how you have grown into a such a ray of sunshine, your family must be so proud”.

Meryl looks up at Gao a little teary eyed as she says “They still haven’t come home, I miss them so much even Tseng misses them. Can’t you make them come home Granny Gao everyone listens to you even Mama!” Madam Gao’s eyes soften as she strokes Meryl’s hair as she replies “if I could make the journey you know I would my child”. Tseng walks over and pats Meryl on the shoulder and says “we’ll continue this later Meryl. Right now I need to take Granny Gao to her room ok.” Meryl nods grabbing her assignment before leaving the room, the second she leaves Madam Gao smiles and says “Such a sweet child”.

Tseng nods before looking her in the eye and asking politely “What brings you here Madam Gao I know it’s quite the journey from the mountains”. She waves the concern off to say “I come here for you Lord Tseng to advise you that is”. Tseng frowns and says “Tseng is just fine Madam Gao, and what could you have seen to make you travel down here alone?” Her face is solemn as she places her hand on his shoulder. Saying “I foresee a series of battles ahead that will eventually end in failure unless you are reunited with your twin brothers. But from it a great Calamity shall be born wrought of one man’s pride.” Her eyes grow glossy as she looks away possibly with more to say but unable to speak the words. Tseng stands there in silence absorbing the information and letting it sink in.

In the silence Madam Gao thinks to herself [Shiro my love forgive me for what I have set in motion. I no longer blame your brother for what happened to you both and though I know what comes next means that I will lose you forever. He must pay for his actions, as must I after one last night with you].


Ushigie the city of Decay, at one time it was a jewel to behold but time and politics took its toll upon it. Just being its vicinity felt strange to Tseng, it was like the very air and earth was trying to pull him apart but he continued to push on. Upon reaching the crumbling city gates he was greeted by two young kunoichis of the Mugen Tenshin that kneeled at the sight of him. “Lord Tseng” they chimed in unison as Tseng motioned for them to stand.

“Are my brothers still here?” Tseng asks wearily taking in the crumbling walls and narrow ghetto streets as he spoke.

The senior apprentice nodded and said “yes milord Tseng, they were just yesterday playing soccer with some of the children. They also brought down a large elk for the community to share it was truly a grand gesture”.

Tseng clicked his tongue in slight annoyance, “Thank you”, “Juniper” she chimes before he can ask. He smiles and continues. “Thank you Juniper, but there is no need for the Lord nonsense, after all, we are just people in the end”. Her cheeks start to glow red as she stammers “But”, Tseng raises an eyebrow as she quickly skips the word and says “Tseng”. “Return home my Mugen Tenshin, I need to do the rest on my own”. The two bow and vanish in a swirl of petals.

The second Tseng makes his way through the gate to the city he can feel eyes all focusing on him: and from his peripherals he sees the beady eyes of the inhabitants staring at him in awe. Tseng realizes he is likely the only prince or lord to have entered the city in a thousand years. Sadly, that is not why he is here and so he starts doing his Ki tracing following the path displayed before him. The streets are so narrow and the ground so uneven and covered in rubble that he actually has to take the effort to avoid tripping.

As he continues forward he sees several children kicking around a soldier’s helmet in a caved-in house on his left. Tseng wonders if these were the same kids that his brothers played with, sadly he doesn’t have the time to ask and so he continues on. The further he goes in the more people seem to be enthralled by his presence some of them even starting to celebrate and sing. Such strange folk Tseng thinks to himself, as he weaves through another intersection. Tseng stops when he hears several soft footsteps behind him, he turns to see to whom do they belong and is surprised to see. Mice, house cats and feral cats, dogs, wolves, an assortment of lizards, Monkeys and even to feral tigers. Following him like he is Moses leading them to the ark.

Tseng almost laughs in response when he hears a tink, tink, tink, he quickly turns to his left to see the kids playing soccer again. Realizing what’s going on he closes his eyes deciding to change tactics as he lets the worlds energy flow over him becoming submerged in it all. His body begins to feel the sensation of floating just below the water’s surface, where the light of day can still warm your face. While in this state he could feel motion through the energy and where it was coming from. A trick Daichi and Djinn had taught him. The energy was rough and choppy from two strong forces pulling and pushing it around which could only be two individuals. Tseng makes sure to take the extra second to pinpoint their location, which turns out to be the skyscraper at the center of the whole city.

His eyes snap open as he parkours up the inside of the caved house all the way to the roof and starts running across the curved roofs to the center. It takes him only a few minutes to reach the center of the skyscraper. He crawls inside through one of the windows finding himself on the stairs inside, so he follows them all the way to the top. His heart is pounding but not with something as silly as emotion no a deep instinctual yearning. As he reaches the summit he finds his pace slowing as he walks out onto the rooftop to see the twins sleeping out in the center.

Tseng stops for just a second staring at them, surprised they look the same as they did before they had left.

“Getting slow in your old age little brother, I expected your arrival much sooner” bellows Djinn without even opening his eyes.

“Perhaps he is getting too complacent without us there to compete with him Dji” chimes Daichi with a smile.

“What do you expect when you’re in bumfuck nowhere” chastises Tseng with a smirk forming as he speaks.

“I suppose we should call you Lord Tseng now” Djinn replies.

“Only if you want me to punch you in the throat” Tseng fires back.

“But Lord Little brother sounds so weird when you say it”, Daichi replies snarkily as the two sit up finally.

“You're joining in on this two Dai,” Tseng asks slightly annoyed as Daichi shrugs.
“So we‘re not allowed to show our support of you being appointed the next leader of the Hiatzu family because you don’t like being called Lord.” Barks Djinn more aggressively then he had wanted to. Regardless the two opened their eyes to look at him with neither’s eyes focusing on him as if the two were blind.

Tseng stands there silently unable to think of something to say at this moment. As he looks his brothers over. Noticing that Djinn has four Black Magatama on the ridge of his right ear, and a three on his left ear ridge with the missing one being glaringly obvious. Daichi on the other hand had four white Magatama on each ear ridge.

“Enough of this Dji he isn’t here for congratulations or to have a brotherly squabble we are best known for,” Says Daichi smoothing everything over.

“Your right as always Dai, he wants us to fight beside him in the tourney like we always talked about as kids before we even knew how to throw a proper punch” grunted Djinn

“So will the last remaining Bao-ken masters join me in this endeavor,” asks Tseng.

“But it’s not our promise that has you so interested in winning the tourney is it Tseng” Daichi quips nonchalantly.

“No it’s not” says Tseng solemnly. Thoughts of regret flowing into his mind.

The twins go silent as they get to their feet, dusting off the rubble that clings to them. “Always wasting your time on crumbling old relics like us”, Djinn asks rather coldly.

“Oh I’m sorry, Djinn, some people actually give a shit about your sorry ass!” snaps Tseng quite annoyed at this point.

“Full name drop Djinn you’re in trouble no bro” chuckles Daichi, getting him a narrow eyes from Tseng

“And how long do you think that will last when we aren’t the people you know and love? Got an answer for that oh mighty Tse”, Djinn asks devoid of any emotion making his comment even colder.

Tseng’s eye twitches showing he is fully fed up with the self-dissing, his fists snaps straight for Djinn’s face. Only for him to flicker out of the way at the last possible second, and it is in this moment that Tseng feels the pincer grab. Tseng counters by stepping into Djinn using his pincered arm to palm him back with the momentum. He is caught off guard by the feedback shockwave as Djinn slides back a step or two. It was like striking a 40’ titanium wall, his hand was still singing as he took his stance ready to continue.

In the blink of an eye Djinn is swinging for his face, only to blur before contact before switching to the abdomen. Tseng deflects it just in time only to get caught by a palm to the ribs knocking Tseng back a step. Unfazed Tseng looks into his brother’s eyes and sees the fire burning within them and can’t help but smile. With a crack of his neck Tseng’s aura erupts from his person filling the air with a force similar to gravity.

Tseng and Djinn move in at the same time, Tseng leading with his right and Djinn with his left perfectly countering the other. After this testing blow, Tseng goes into a simple combo most of which Djinn counters with the Tai-chi water stance. The blow Tseng connects with is a spinning back kick to the abdomen. Knocking Djinn back a few steps only to get a side kick to the knee and an elbow to the collarbone. Taking him to a kneel, he instantly retaliates with a forearm strike to Tseng’s thigh tagging him causing him to drop down. Into a forearm to the jaw sending him to the ground.

Tseng effortlessly reverses the tag and rolls to his feet only to find Djinn in his face, the two were so close their right legs were entwined. Stopping both in their tracks as they stared into each other’s eyes waiting for the other to strike when. Tseng’s eyes go wide as he dodges to the side narrowly missing a spear that had been aimed at him. Djinn, however, moves in its path wrapping his fingers around the blade as his left elbow snaps the shaft. And in a blink of an eye, he is on the attacker like a berserker stabbing them in the gut. As he lifts them in the air running forward, and it is in this rage that his spirit is unleashed with such force that the ground collapses beneath him. Sending him and the assailant hurtling down the layers of the Skyscraper.

“Djinn!” shouts Tseng as he runs over to the whole staring down the shaft trying to locate his brother.

Daichi lets out a sigh as he looks at Tseng and says “Damn, you and Meryl have always been his greatest weakness. We better go get him, preferably before he brings the whole building down desecrating the body”.

Tseng stood up and before following Daichi and asks “They had the same Ki signature as you and Djinn”.

“Did you think Fisk stopped project Geedo with us? No, we were just the precursors to his true goal” replied Daichi with a chuckle.

In a Top secret facility in Tokyo

A wiry man with brown hair is smashed into a wall as Vandal Savage Snarls in aggravation. “I thought I was clear the last time we spoke Alistair but allow me to reiterate. Tseng is off-limits, I have spent centuries waiting for this moment. And your feeble mind is starting to become a liability”. States Vandal coldly

“You promised the end of the Phoenix families, yet he we are no closer to the fall of those monsters” spits Alistair only to get slapped to the ground.

“All that you desire will be done when Lord Tseng takes us to the Summit were I will absorb the essence of the gods. Then our new world will be born and only then now go back to the hole you belong”. Shouts Vandal

Nomiz adelphous tous alethinous philous
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He Who Was Born With the First Troll and Shall Perish With the Last

Age : 25 Registration date : 2011-08-16 Number of posts : 106 Location :
Race: Human

PostSubject: Re: Endless Descent to Supremacy   Tue 26 Jun 2018, 00:12

"Following his defeat at the hands of the God of Storms, Susanoo, Yamata no Orochi's severed tail gave way to Kusanagi no Tsurugi, also known as Ame no Murakumo Tsurugi. This was done in defense of Kushinada-hime, whom was set to be offered as a sacrifice to the serpent. In the aftermath of this conflict, with the serpent's demise, the blade was named one of the Imperial Regalia of Japan." Stated the voice of a man.

A child, the recipient of this story, nodded. "Yes, that's the tale which everyone hears. There's more to it than that, isn't there?"

"Indeed...far more. In fact, the story the world circulates is a lie. A simple story, forced upon all to veil the drastically darker, infinitely more complicated truth. A truth which coincides with our own downfall, as well as your future." The man responded calmly, his eyes upon the child with raven black hair. "I understand that this truth is what you most desire to hear. In order to tell you of your present and future, we must share with you our history as it truly unfolded. To explain to you our history, the truth behind the **** Clan, we must share with you the truth of the natural world order, and how things came to be the way they are. Once you begin, know that you will no longer be able to turn back. If you wish to hear...to learn the truth, then you must be sure of your desire. To be perfectly honest, your life will be far easier if you live without accepting this burden. After all, this truth...will reveal to you the unfathomable depths of cruelty and savagery, with which we were eradicated and erased from the Universe. Knowing this, will you still accept such a burden? Even if doing so, will subject you, not to your own desires, but our endless and timeless grudge?"

The raven-haired boy's golden eyes glew as he nodded once more, not so much as a trace of doubt in his countenance. "It isn't just that I want to know, but that I must know. I have always felt pain, every time I've heard the stories passed down around the world, never understanding why. Even if it isolates me, even if it may break my will, I have to know what really happened. Who I really am. I'm more than prepared to bear the burden of truth, no matter how horrible and heavy it may be. There's no way that I can make a decision, otherwise. I owe it to myself, and to him. He and I made a promise, after all."

"You are...strong, child. We see in you a brilliance, a strength the likes of which has been seen only once before, within the heart of the one you made that promise with." The man paused for a time. "Listen, and listen well, child. This is a story which predates the current state of the world, which traces back to the dawn of time, long before Humans gained the ability known as Borrowed Power. When the Heavenly Realm, the Sage Realm and the Human Realm were in uniform balance. When the chaos of life was sternly stifled. This is a tale of how the Sage Realm came to be known as the Celestial Realm, when its King and Queen...your ancestors, did what had to be done, regardless of the costs."

Four days before the decree of the Grand Tourney.

Within the extravagant villa of the Hotaru Family. Out on a garden terrace overlooking a large valley filled with life.

Hotaru Kiirina's legs were crossed as she sat at a table with some old friends, sipping on tea. She closed her eyes as she elegantly and slowly partook of the concoction.

"It's ceaselessly hot to watch you do anything, Kii~" Remarked a spirited voice, belonging to Aelita Zemanova, one of the Celestial Vanguards, titled the Trueshot Marksman due to her sublime skill and accuracy in projectile-based Martial Arts.

Another woman smiled calmly, leaning back in her seat. She was Kushinada Mikumo, another of the Celestial Vanguards, titled the Bewitching Hand due to her gravity defying, magic-like Martial Arts. "Yes, the Immortal Empress is on an entirely different level from us."

The next woman ran a hand through her hair, nodding in agreement. "She's always so alluring~" She was Elena Strauss of the Celestial Vanguards, titled the Golden Flash due to her extreme speed and precision with a rapier.

The last of the women giggled as the Empress's cheeks turned red, "Kiirina's always been my favorite of you Humans~" She was Ajimu Najimi, a mysterious Goddess from the Heavenly Realm, who was extremely skilled in Sorcery.

Clearing her throat as she set her cup down, Kiirina opened her eyes to look at them. "We're not here for you to embarrass me!"

"Sure, but we take pleasure in it anyway." Aelita pointed out with a wink.

"You still can't handle compliments, even after all these years." Mikumo remarked, crossing her arms. "You never change, Kiirina."

Elena laughed a bit, speaking up. "Before Queen Kiirina gets upset... Lady Najimi?"

Najimi giggled in amusement, pulling her knees to her chest as Kii sighed. "Right, right~ Well, I have it on good authority that Izanagi's planning to announce the Grand Tourney four days from now~ Of course, I've already shared this with Kii."

Taking a calm breath, Kiirina nodded as the other three women grew serious. "This one...won't be like the last."

"No, because this time, the Imperial Regalia are the prize." Najimi admitted, motioning to them.

Kii lifted a hand to her chin as her close friends reacted in surprise, "They'll probably be granted to the winner during the Summit Solstice at the end, after all's said and done."

"Izanagi's been preparing for something special," Najimi pointed out. "From what I can tell, he intends to host a wonderful festival this time."

Aelita nodded along, "I see, and surely, all will be looking to our adorable Prince Tseng."

"It's only natural, that Yami will spare no effort to participate." Mikumo commented coolly. "Even should my disciple come up against Tseng-sama, there will be no special consideration. In fact, Saiga and Shizuha may request Linali-sama to return and lead our representatives."

Elena looked to her, "Yes, most likely. Of course, I don't imagine that either would force her if she decides she wants to be on Tseng's team. As for The Syndicate, I'm sure we'll have a rather vigorous argument on who represents us."

Taking a breath, Kiirina spoke next. "It'll likely be the same for the Phoenix Families. Many refuse to support Yuan and Mitsuomi's decision to share power with Tseng. For that matter, many are afraid of what he'll do with his current power over the Hiatzu Clan and the Mugen Tenshin."

"Do you think there's anything to fear from that handsome Demon~?" Najimi inquired with a playful smile. "After all, the man who won your heart couldn't possibly be dangerous, could he~?"

Clearing her throat as the women smiled at her, Kii turned red again. "Tseng...will not allow anyone to stop him from participating. Even if he had to do so alone, he would enter and win at all costs. Especially when he hears what the prize will be..."

"Is there something that he wants so desperately?" The other ladies tilted their heads.

Kii nodded slowly, the image of a certain pair of twin brothers coming to mind. "When he's fighting for the sake of others...for the sake of the people he loves. Tseng is unstoppable. And that...is what scares me. I'm afraid that he'll...go to a place I can no longer reach him, should things go wrong."

She shut her eyes, pulling her hands to her chest. {Tell me, Alma...what should I do? To ensure that Tseng doesn't end up the same way that both of you did...}

Three days before the announcement, following the arrival of Gao.

Within the ancestral manor of the Hiatzu Clan, in the heart of their vast, beautiful lands.

Within the grand shrine of the manor, were two beings of unfathomable wisdom.

"I never tire of this wonderful place~" Admitted The King of Nox, taking a deep breath. "These ancient bones of mine ache with nostalgia, whenever I'm here~ Oro and Alma truly loved this land with all their heart~"

"Yes, I can't quite imagine anyone who wouldn't feel that way~" Hiatzu Dalia quipped, lifting the sleeve of her kimono over her mouth to hide a mischievous smile. "I do wish that I could have met Orochi-sama and Almaria-sama in person~"

"Huhuhuhu..." The King took another breath between his chuckle. "They would have adored you, Untouchable Queen~ By the way, I couldn't help but to notice an old face."

Dalia lowered her hand, her smile shrinking somewhat. "Yes, Gao is likely here to insist upon my baby going out of his way to find my twins."

"I see, you don't sound too pleased about this?" The King raised an eyebrow. "Could it be that you've reservations about that child traveling to a place like Ushigie?"

Tilting her head, Dalia's smile grew sharper at the corners. "So you have also been keeping an eye on those boys, have you?"

"Naturally, it is part of my sworn duty to observe them in some form." The King admitted calmly. "I'm sure you're well aware why."

Closing her eyes, Dalia lowered her head slightly. "Of course, you must feel rather guilty over being unable to prevent their actions so long ago. I could see your anguish through it all...the boundless regret you feel, over allowing that tragedy to take place."

She touched her lower lip thoughtfully, a bitter smile taking hold. "I love all of my children, but Tseng is...special. Although, I'm sure you feel that just as strongly as I do?"

"Yes..." The King confirmed with a soft tone, shifting aside, his old red eyes accurately fixed upon the exact location of the current Hiatzu Leader. "Tell me, Dalia-chan, does he or does he not know the truth? Of who he is. Of what he is. The fate thrust upon him by the Karmic Cycle of the Universe."

Dalia's smile grew even more bitter, as she looked aside to the same spot, her Dragon's Eyes ensuring she could see her son, or anything else, at any time she desired. "I am unsure. I myself am...scared to speak the words aloud. I would like to tell Ken everything, but I can't bring myself to. Tseng...is mysterious...even to me, he's such a strange, unpredictable child, odd as that may sound... His are the only dreams...his mind is the only veil through which I cannot see. Or perhaps, I...don't actually want to see what goes through his mind."

"Hm..." The King looked up at her, smiling softly. "It isn't odd, Dalia-chan. Be you a God, a Celestial, or a Human, affection is a very difficult emotion to handle. A double-edged sword, unlike any other, which is so often more likely to cut you than the recipient of said affection."

Her eyes widening slightly, Dalia lowered her head. "I apologize for my inconsideration, Kami-sama, I know it well. That you have lived with this pain and uncertainty for far, far longer than I... Tseng's birth...it was certainly..."

The King remained smiling as he extended a hand to settle her, "That child's birth was a miracle, Dalia-chan, for both you and I. Regardless of my own feelings toward him, there is no need to show consideration to this old man. You are his mother, after all~ Nobody worries more, than a mother~"

Blushing slightly, Dalia touched her left cheek as she raised her head. "There's little point in attempting to hide the truth before your Wisdom, Kami-sama. It's as you say...Tseng was- is...a miracle above all others. Until I held him in my arms that day, I hadn't...truly grasped how painful it could be to love someone. Especially one whose future is so...unclear. I wish that I could aid him, beyond my role as the Observer...but every time that I've tried to help him, I...have always made things worse. After I nearly lost Ken, Kasumi and Hayate that day, I've been so scared to get involved with him. It's...terrifyingly painful, being blind to that which most concerns you... I truly don't know how others can do it."

"I understand that sentiment, Dalia-chan. More than you could ever comprehend~" The King admitted, reaching out to set a hand upon her shoulder. "But you are extraordinary. Hold on to that fear, never forget it, and never give up. I'm confident that you, of all people, will make great use of it. After all, of all the Observers to date, none have been even half as spectacular as you~"

"You honor me, Okhwang-sensei~" Dalia smiled warmly at him.

"Huhuhuhu~ It's quite nice to hear you call me that again, Dalia-chan~" The King remarked. "You and your sister were the brightest pupils I have ever had the pleasure to raise~"

He chuckled heartily, his eyes drifting outside, to the field graced by the Hiatzu/Natsume Princesses. "Meryl-chan would be beside herself, if she could see with her own eyes, how much they've grown~"

"Yes, she would~" Agreed Dalia, wiping a tear from her eyes. "Would you like to speak with Tseng? Or will you wait until tomorrow?"

The King laughed a bit nervously, "I'm not mentally prepared to meet that child today~ He's a very difficult one to handle, after all~"

"Indeed, he is~" Dalia chirped, clearly with great pride over how her son daunted even the Jade Emperor himself. "But you know, Sensei, perhaps you should try to make it clearer tomorrow, what it is that you want from him."

The King studied his student for a good few minutes as she grew silent, "Yes...perhaps a more direct approach would serve me well."

After showing Madam Gao to her usual room, Tseng stepped outside to find the young women of his household together in the flower fields.

"Over here, Nii-nii!" Kairi cheered loudly, waving to him.

"As if he has trouble spotting us, Kairi." Ouka remarked coolly, looking down at her sister.

Meryl looked up at her brother as he approached, "What did you speak to Gao Obaa-chan about, Onii-chan?"

Tseng gently ruffled her hair, a warm smile on his face. "Nothing worth mentioning right now, my dear~"

Leliana watched his face carefully, "She didn't tell you anything strange, did she?"

"Define strange." Linali requested, raising a hand. "Madam Gao is a very peculiar old lady~ That's what makes her cute, though~"

"True enough," Ouka agreed, glancing over to another girl, quiet and down. "Yarai? She was thinking about them again."

"I see..." Tseng took a calm breath, walking a bit away as the other girls watched. He set a hand upon the head of the last girl, smiling when she looked up at him. "Won't you turn that frown upside down, Honoka-chan? For me?"

With an awkward, nervous jolt, Honoka's cheeks reddened. "Tseng, I..." She trailed off as she saw his face contort in a cartoonish manner, unable to stop herself from laughing at the sight.

"Much better, you're most beautiful when you smile~" Tseng commented, chuckling as she turned redder. "Anyway, why don't we play a game before dinner?"

As the girls all reacted positively, chatting about the game they'd play, he looked over his shoulder to the manor. {Madam Gao and the Old Monster, huh? I can't deny that I should finally go bring those idiot brothers of mine home, but...I wonder what he and Mother are discussing. I'm surprised he managed to come here alone, the Bishops are so annoyingly overprotective of him, even though he's probably stronger than all of them combined. Anything to say, Oro-chan?}

His smile strained a bit, as he was answered with silence. {I know, it's difficult to be so close to the past that scarred you, isn't it? And you don't even know if that Old Monster knows the truth about us or not. Could it be that you want to keep it that way?}

"Tag, Onii-chan, you're it~" Meryl sang lyrically, running away after touching him.

"?" Tseng looked after her as all the girls scattered in different directions. "Ugh...playing tag with Lily and Lina is kinda..."

He sighed as the two girls in question turned to blow kisses to him, "Very well, be prepared for a loser's penalty!"

Two days before the announcement.

On the expansive grounds of Toudou Academy, the most prestigious school in Japan. More specifically, in the middle school branch.

Many had gathered on this day, from different parts of the country, and many even from overseas. Naturally, the middle school students were gathered, joined by their high school seniors, as well as their elementary school juniors. All were assembled on that day, for an event hosted by the Tertiary Head of the Phoenix Families and his Household. A social event, where they would instruct the students on a number of subjects and offer their insight on personal matters and growth.

Peeking outside from a window, Tseng's golden eyes quickly scanned the massive crowds before he withdrew. "Hey, do we really have to do this?"

"As I've said the last 10 times you asked, yes~" Rosalie responded with a bright smile. "The other Family Heads wanted you to do something befitting of your station, and this is the best we could muster in the timeframe~"

She raised a finger, "Besides, you know how much effort Aoi-chan and I put into this, don't you? Everyone's here to see you. And it's not like you're nervous, you love being the center of attention, don't you?"

Tseng reached out to touch her cheek gently, "Not nearly as much as I love you, Rosa~"

Her face now bright red, Rosalie shivered at his touch, quickly grabbing his hand. "S-stop that, Tseng...if someone sees us, they'll-"

"Let them talk, I don't care." Tseng interjected without hesitation, pulling her into his lap.

"Well I do." Kiirina cut in as she approached, pulling her disciple away from him. "Stop victimizing her, Tseng! You know she has no resistance to you!"

"Ojou-sama..." Rosalie looked up at her, quickly holding her hand.

Scratching his head, Tseng shrugged. "That's what makes it so fun to attack her. After all, you've started to raise your defense against me recently, and Rosa lets me touch her as much as I want, whenever I want to."

Clearing her throat as she entered the room, Ouka looked at her fiance. "Does she also allow you to touch her wherever and however you want?"

"Maybe~" Tseng whistled, grinning as her eyes darkened.

Kiirina blushed, stroking Rosalie's hair as the girl flailed in embarrassment.

Holding in a sigh, Ouka remained calm while pushing a finger against his forehead. "Kairi and Meryl are very much looking forward to this, Yarai. You wouldn't do anything to disappoint them, would you?"

"Never, obviously." Tseng confirmed sternly, lowering her finger to his lips to kiss it. Rising to his feet, he shifted her hand into his gently. "Are Jer and the others mentally prepared?"

Aoi smiled when he looked at her, nodding. "Yes, everyone's ready~ You may be surprised to see the full turnout, Tseng-sama."

Ouka nodded in agreement, her cheeks pink as she held her man's hand. "There were more than a few unexpected faces today."

"Sounds like fun." Remarked the Hiatzu Prince, while pulling his woman by the hand. "Let's get this started then."

Aoi laughed a bit, "And please try to pay attention to the friends of your little sisters too, not just them~"

"I'll try, but I can't make any promises." Claimed Tseng with a smirk. "I get carried away when I'm with Meryl and Kairi~"

"We're well aware~" Kii, Rose, Ouka and Aoi noted.

Behind the scenes of the grand stage that had been set up for the event.

Jeral's eyes were on the rear of a girl peeking out of the stage, "Sounds lively out there, huh?"

Honoka scratched her cheek nervously, glancing at him. "Y-yeah, it does. I'm so nervous... If I screw something up and embarrass Tseng, I don't know what I'll do..."

"Don't worry, you'll do fine, Honoka-chan~ We're all here with you." Linali giggled as she took a few steps back, standing up straight. "Anyway, this is gonna be pretty amusing~ You guys'll be surprised to see exactly who turned up for this thing~"

She wore a bright smile, which seemed to radiate light that lit up the atmosphere. "I can't wait to see how Tseng decides to present himself today~"

Jeral and Honoka smiled blankly as they watched her. {Like Tseng, Lina's got zero issues with doing whatever she wants in front of others.}

Tseng approached, his hand intertwined with his fiance's. "You're about as excited as I expected, Lina. That's good, you and I are probably going to be carrying this entire publicity stunt~"

Ouka looked away, her grip of his hand tightening slightly. "You two are uniquely lacking in the awareness of personal space."

"Are we~?" Lina skipped over, leaning in close to her with a seductive smile. "If it were up to me, I'd never give you any space at all, Ouka~"

Aoi laughed a bit as Ouka tried to push Lina away from her, to no avail. "Let's be sure to give this our all~ It's important that the entire world is thoroughly charmed by Tseng-sama today~"

"That shouldn't be an issue, considering how gravitational he is." Kiirina chimed with a smile.

Jeral rubbed his side, taking a breath. "Let's get out there, then. I should show my good and cool side for Hiro-nii and Nui today. And winning some hearts wouldn't be a bad bonus, either~"

"Please don't try to hook up with any of our guests~" Kiirina requested, poking his cheek gently.

Rosalie looked at Jeral with slight disgust, "It's hardwired into his indecent brain to pursue women like a rabid animal of lust, Ojou-sama. Just try not to embarrass Tseng, you horny beast."

Jeral scratched his head, "I don't know if you're insulting me or complimenting me, and I've got to admit, it's sort of getting me hot and bothered here."

Tseng smirked at him, "Right? Some of Rosa's lines are clearly meant to be offensive, but I find myself getting turned on anyway~"

He quickly spoke again, as Rosalie turned red, and before he could be chided. "Anyway, let's get this show on the road! The most important thing is being able to be lovey dovey with Meryl and Kairi with worldwide coverage~"

As the curtains of the stage were drawn and the cornerstones of the event were unveiled, the massive crowd went wild. The majority of the hype came from the fans of Kiirina, followed by Ouka, Linali and Tseng, the sight of the engaged couple together exciting many.

After a brief introduction, Tseng thanked every last individual for taking the time to attend, his regal behavior inspiring and endearing many, particularly when he openly showed his love to his little sisters.

With the event underway, the Hiatzu Household interacted in a personal manner with all of the middle school students assembled, answering a number of questions, lending them academic aid and offering advice and insight into Martial Arts and how to help them improve. With an emphasis on changing gears, the subjects alternated at a quick yet reasonable pace, resulting in a truly dynamic and engaging experience, both for the students and the guests.

At the halfway point in the late afternoon, the event paused for a large lunch barbeque buffet, catered by the chefs of the Hiatzu Clan, whom were all personally trained by the culinary genius of Tseng and Leliana.

In the pristine, sprawling fields which hosted the buffet, a number of people interacted. VIPs met other VIPs, from around the world and of different Realms, with a healthy dose of Celestials and even some Gods present.

Taking a deep breath as he dropped into a seat, Tseng fanned himself off under an awning. "Man, how troublesome~ Everyone was so eager to shake my hand and talk, it's hard to be this popular~"

Meryl jumped into his lap, giggling as she hugged him. "You were amazing, Onii-chan~ Everyone really loves you~"

Kairi moved to his back, wrapping her arms around his neck. "Yeah, Nii-Nii! Our classmates are totally nuts about you~"

Ouka smiled proudly, running a hand through her hair. "Tseng has been the very model of what a prince should be. If he keeps this up, even his staunchest rivals will have no choice but to accept his position and power."

"Yes, my black-hearted King has been most noble on this day~ A voice chimed from above, as a familiar face peeked out.

Jeral gasped, looking up at her. "Nui, where have you been hiding?! Were you stalking Tseng the entire time!?"

"I prefer to think of it as haunting." Replied Nui, clearly with no intent to actually answer the questions. Pushing up and over the awning with her hands, she gracefully swung down to land at her crush's side, kissing his cheek. "You're even more alluring than usual, my love~"

"I appreciate you saying that, and thanks for bothering to show up~" Tseng put an arm around her waist, kissing her on the lips for a few seconds while making some space for her in his chair.

"Hi Nui-nee, I didn't think that you'd come!" Meryl noted, hugging her.

Nui rubbed her lips, patting the girl on the head. "Where your brother goes, I shall follow~"

"Where's my besty?" She asked curiously.

Kairi poked her cheek, "Leliana-nee's overseeing the buffet with Hiyori-nee so Nii-Nii and the others can relax."

"Tseng!" Kiirina called out as she approached. "Look who's here to see you~"

Aelita waved as she walked over with Mikumo, Najimi and Elena. "Hey handsome! It's been a while, hasn't it!"

"Greetings, Prince Tseng." Mikumo bowed her head respectfully.

Elena curtsied politely, "It's a pleasure to see you again, Lord Tseng~"

"You were great out there, Tseng dear~" Najimi blew a kiss to him.

"Thank you for coming, all of you." Tseng got up as Meryl, Kairi and Nui released him. "It means a lot for three of the Celestial Vanguards and an esteemed Goddess to attend such a simple function."

He took a neat bow, "Moreover, for two leaders of Yami and the Syndicate, respectively, to take time out of their busy schedule."

"Hey, drop the formality!" Aelita exclaimed, pulling his head to her chest. "You're cutest when you're casual!"

Kiirina blushed a bit, pulling Tseng from her. "Stop that, Lita."

Tseng chuckled in amusement, having been unfazed by the previous action. "I'm glad you came, though, it really has been a while."

He smiled at Mikumo and Najimi, turning to Elena. "Ellie, have you finished the games I lent you yet?"

"Ah, mostly!" Elena replied with a bright smile. "Playing the entire Souls Series has been rather fulfilling~ I'm working through Bloodborne whenever I have time, and then I'll move on to Dark Souls 3~"

"That's my girl, I knew you'd like them~" Tseng chirped, patting her on the head.

"You two always act the opposite of the way you should." Aelita remarked with a frown.

"You're just jealous that Tseng is closer to Elle than you." Kii pointed out calmly, as all of them greeted one another properly.

Linali skipped over to the group, time dilating in her perception as she laid eyes on one of her father's colleagues. {Why's she here?!}

Shifting her weight mid-skip, she changed her motion from forward to backward, withdrawing a single step while spinning aside and out of sight.

Everyone who had been in sight of her to see, whistled in awe at her swift and beautiful redirection.

Mikumo sighed lightly, glancing over her shoulder. "I've been tracking your presence since I arrived in Japan, Linali, if you wish to hide from me, you'll have to surpass me in masking your Ki."

"...I knew that~" Claimed Linali as she skipped back out into sight. "I was just testing you of course! What brings you here, Aunt Mikumo~?"

"Relax, I'm not here to drag you back to Yami." Responded Mikumo calmly, smiling as the girl sighed in relief. "We're all here to see our favorite Prince in the Human Realm."

"Oh, I see." Lina nodded a few times, before dancing over to Tseng's side to hold his arm. "What's your business, then~?"

"It's private, Lina, sorry~" Elena smiled a bit at her.

"Oh, bummer." Quipped Lina with a shrug.

"Shall we take a walk then?" Suggested Tseng with a smile. "Come along, Reina."

Nodding, Ouka held his hand. "Yes, of course."

"We'll be back, you guys can go ahead and eat." Tseng noted, waving to the others.

Jeral frowned as he watched Tseng leave with Ouka, Kiirina, Najimi, Elena, Mikumo and Aelita. "I'd love to bury my face in those melons...either Aelita or Mikumo, either one works really."

"You're rather far below their standards, Brother." Nui stated coolly, while taking a burger.

Meryl tilted her head, "I wonder what they're talking about."

"It must be important, for those four to have been with Ojou-sama." Rosalie mused. "We'll find out if it's something that Tseng wants to share."

"That's true," Aoi agreed with a nervous smile. "I was hoping to eat with Tseng-sama, though."

"Yeah, me too..." Honoka replied with a sigh.

Along a garden path filled with beautiful flowers.

Dalia sat upon a bench with her master, her legs elegantly crossed. "Right about now, Tseng and Ouka should be with those five, hearing about the Grand Tourney and the special prize this time around."

She set her hands atop her knees calmly, "After their discussion, he'll want some time to himself. That will be the most opportune time for you to speak with him."

"Hm...I see, I see. Thank you very much, Dalia-chan~" The King smiled as he remained seated by her.

Off to the side were a few men and women dressed in blue coats with orange, yellow and black patterns, along with white gloves, red pants and brown boots. The tallest of them was a white haired man, a Bishop of Nox with ranking inferior only to The King himself.

"Is Eskalios aware of what you desire?" Dalia inquired, without looking at the man.

"Hm, no he isn't." The King replied calmly, scratching his head. "None of them are, but Eskalios insisted on escorting me as soon as he found out that I intended to attend this event. He's always been rather wary of your son, after all."

Dalia couldn't help but smile, "Yes, he has. Though I suppose it's only natural, when considering how mindful you are of Tseng."

Along a path perpendicular to the garden.

A nervous expression was worn by Ouka as she walked beside her fiance, the just shared information weighing on her. "Yuan Onii-sama was right, I suppose there's no way that there wouldn't be a Grand Tourney in this decade."

Najimi smiled, speaking from her position behind Tseng. She was effortlessly levitating, her arms wrapped around his neck with her chest pressed against his back with affection. "Isn't that right? Knowing Izanagi, he might have pushed the date up because of the Dark Prince~"

"The battle between Humans, Celestials and Gods, hm?" With a somewhat stern expression, Tseng tapped his chin. "Interesting timing. I assume the announcement will come in short order?"

"Yes, Naji's predicted it to fall within the next two or three days." Kiirina admitted, looking at him.

Aelita grinned at the prince, "You think you're ready~?"

"What kind of silly question is that?" Responded Elena confidently, a smile on her face. "Tseng is always prepared for every eventuality, no? This is the one who happily eats poisoned meals, after all, even knowing that they're dangerous."

Mikumo chuckled lightly, "Indeed, even our best apothecaries in Yami are coming up short in designing a poison or drug that would actually kill our golden child."

"Tseng just has no regard for his own life, he just so happens to be so resilient that he's virtually immune to toxins at the rate they're filtered from his blood." Ouka explained with a sigh, clearly irritated by her fiance's lack of care when engaging his enemies on their terms, rather than his.

A small smile worked onto Tseng's face as he touched Naji's arms gently, "I enjoy being the underdog, so I'm always happy to give my foes a handicap of some kind. Would you ladies mind if I took some time to think on my own?"

"Yes, of course~" Kiirina answered immediately, smiling warmly at him before anyone else could reply.

Ouka watched Najimi release Tseng, who bowed before leaving them down another path. "Kii...to be perfectly honest, I'm hesitant to just let Tseng participate. As things stand, that man would take on all the Warriors of all the Realms, all by himself and without hesitation."

Nodding slowly, Kii took a breath. "Yes...I know. I can't participate directly, but...we'll have to make sure that everyone else is ready to support him, won't we?"

Ouka looked at her and the other ladies, who smiled at her. "Yes, that's what we'll have to do~"

On a vast field filled with accommodations for guests, where the food was being handled and served.

The most famous lady of the Yatogami Clan, Hiyori, served some of the children with a smile, waving after them as they rushed off. "Kids are so cute~"

"Half the time, yeah." Leliana responded with a slight attitude, glancing at her Sister-in-Law.

Turning to her, Hiyori poked her cheek. "Come on, Lily, don't be sour~ You know we have to do whatever we can to help out our little brother~"

"Ah, if it isn't the two sexiest sisters in the world~" Hirohiko called out, waving casually as he walked over to them.

"Whoa, I didn't imagine it, you're actually here." Leliana remarked, blinking at him as she caught Hiyori's finger gently. "Where's your sister? AKA the lovable Kabane?"

"Rude." Quipped Hirohiko, before he pointed over his shoulder randomly, "I'm sure she's glued to Tseng-chan's backside right about now. Haunting him, as she likes to call it."

"As far as stalkers go, I'd say Tseng hit the jackpot with Nui-chan~" Chirped Hiyori with a giggle. "You want some ribs, don't you Hiro-kun~?"

"You know it!" Responded Hiro with a childish grin, causing him to skip over. "By the way, I was disappointed to find your hubby didn't bother to show up for his beloved baby bro's big day~"

"Ah..." Laughing a bit nervously, Hiyori scratched her cheek. "Yuan's actually in the Celestial Realm right now, on special business. He'd be here if he could, though!"

Handing over a plate stacked with juicy ribs, Leliana nodded. "Right, but were you disappointed with the crowd that DID show up?"

"Certainly not!" Exclaimed Hirohiko with a laugh, cleaning a single rib after expertly breaking it, wiping his mouth before continuing. "Five of the Celestial Vanguards, Aunt Dalia, one of the Black Forest Clan's leaders, a tyrant, a bunch of my peers of the Phoenix, esteemed guests from China, Korea, and all over, Gods and Celestials included. And most importantly, The King of Nox and his strongest disciple Bishop~"

He laughed again, "Tseng-chan's got quite the crowd following him!"

Giggling in amusement, Hiyori spoke. "He really does~"

Leliana's eyes widened as she repeated her friend's words to herself, "Wait, FIVE Celestial Vanguards? You're counting Kii and the Elder too? And what tyrant?"

Answering with just a smirk, Hiro glanced over his shoulder.

Within the esteemed halls of Toudou's Middle School Branch.

Vandal Savage strolled alongside an old acquaintance, his hands resting at his back. "I was pleasantly surprised to meet you here, Muramasa."

"I wish I could say the same, Savage~" Muramasa Seimei, the Black King of the Syndicate and one of the Celestial Vanguards, smirked a bit rudely. "You have a habit of showing up everywhere that Tseng turns up~"

He was a tall and well built man, with shoulder length white hair which spiked down at the ends, his eyes a dim yellow.

"Can I be blamed for showing interest in the boy?" Vandal wondered. "And what of you? I hear that you frequently trail after him yourself~ Are you not obsessed with him?"

Seimei nodded, "Sure, I'm openly obsessed, but you're a lot more disgusting. Just a century ago, I'd have killed you for showing your face to me~"

"Would you care to try it now?" Vandal raised an eyebrow to him. "Naturally, I'm still green with envy, at how Kiirina's immortality vastly outstrips my own. Perhaps, this could be your best chance?"

"Anywhere else in the world, I'd be happy to take that challenge~" Seimei admitted, scratching his head. "Kii'll kill us both if we disrupt Tseng's big day~"

Chuckling, Vandal nodded in agreement. "You're right, of course. The Immortal Empress, to this day, remains my most feared adversary~ I'd never jump at the chance to draw her ire."

"A wise decision, to be sure~" Remarked a cheerful voice, belonging to a healthy elderly man, who was approaching from another direction. "Even I would refrain from angering Queen Hotaru~"

He was a man dyed in gray, with short hair and a long and elegant beard, the figure atop the Chinese Martial Arts World, known as-

"Ah, Lord Tenshi." Vandal bowed his head in respect, before the strongest Martial Artist in China, who led the society known as the Tenshifu.

Seimei smirked at him, "It's nice to see you again~ Did you bring the counterpart Prince of China?"

Tenshi stroked his beard, "Hm, I tried to get Reigyoku to accompany me, but he'd rather train. He's well aware that our country is praying for him to defeat Prince Tseng, so he's devoting all his time away from worldly desires."

"How noble of him, I truly look forward to getting to meet him one day." Another man called out as he approached, his movements silent and still enough that his presence was almost unnoticed by the gathered Grandmasters.

The three turned to face the man with neat brown hair, and a thick athletic frame. "Greetings, Three Arts Dragon."

Kang-Sung smiled at them all, extending his hands and clasping them together while bowing. "It's an honor to meet you all here."

"Don't tell me you were sent here by the Chief to steal the Black Heaven and Earth Technique from the Hiatzu~?" Tenshi suggested with a playful tone to match his spry demeanor.

Chuckling lightly, Kang-Sung waved his hands dismissively. "Of course not, even he couldn't be so brash as to challenge the Hiatzu in their home turf. And of course, not when Queen Dalia and Princess Leliana are present. I'm only here because I wish to finally meet Prince Tseng in person."

A youthful man with spiky black hair whistled as he came across the men, the ears atop his head twitching and his wolf tail wagging. Of the Celestial's Inugami, he was the youngest and one of the strongest, who had joined the Black Forest Clan, Kotarou. "I followed my nose and it didn't steer me wrong~ You old bastards are top-tier for sure~"

"Oh, the wolf brat." Seimei quipped blankly. "Of all the guys the BFC could send, they just had to choose you~?"

Kotarou tilted his head, "What's that? I couldn't hear you over the sound of the last time I kicked your ass~"

"Ha! This child thinks he beat me, because I left the fight to take a phone call." Replied Seimei with a haughty chortle. "I'd only need half a second to clean the ears of an uppity brat like you~"

Vandal chuckled, noticing the Inugami twitch. "I was hoping to see the Nine Arts Dragon today~"

"Tch, that asshole didn't want to come." Kota growled. "He said it's too much trouble, because he doesn't want to deal with his little sister and his grandfather."

"Is that so?" Kang-Sung took a calm breath. "Not that I ever expected to meet him in a place like this."

Tenshi observed the Inugami curiously, "How do you feel about Prince Tseng, boy? According to rumor, the Inugami Celestials are quite taken with him."

Kotarou grinned, his tail wagging. "Damn straight, that guy's perfect for our aesthetic! The others all want to support him in different ways, but I just want the chance to fight him myself~ Nine Arts speaks highly of him, too, after all."

"Naturally," Seimei responded, crossing his arms. "Considering this is a pretty atypical gathering, why don't we enjoy the rest of this event together?"

"That suits me just fine," Replied Vandal with a nod. "I'm curious to speak with you all more intimately."

"I'm okay with that as well~" Noted the Tenshi.

"As am I." Agreed Kang-Sung.

Kota scratched at his ears, shrugging. "Whatever, it doesn't matter to me."

On the garden path.

Tseng walked alone, his Ki subtly enveloping the entire academy with frequent pulses which reached out instantaneously. His golden eyes were cast upon the ground, lifting the moment he was in view of the one awaiting him. "..."

"You don't look surprised to see me~" The King suggested, smiling at the boy.

"Should I have been?" Tseng countered, tilting his head. "If it'll make you happy, I'd be okay with resetting this encounter to feign shock."

The King blinked twice at his answer, chuckling heartily. "You always have such interesting things to say~"

Taking a breath, Tseng walked over to him. "Actually, I was intentionally coming to you, the moment I traced you alone. I know you have business with me, related to your meeting with my mother before. As it happens, I now have business with you myself."

"Oh? Is that so?" The King blinked again, genuinely surprised this time. "I must admit, my interest is piqued."

He stroked his chin, "Please, go ahead then."

Shaking his head, Tseng took a theatrical bow. "No, you should state your business first, I insist. I've long been scared of you keeling over before my eyes, after all. I'm the type who defers to the elderly with love and affection~"

"The fact that you can speak such lies without a hint of deceit, is just a portion of the reason I find you so difficult to deal with~" The King whistled, laughing in amusement.

Taking a breath, Tseng stood up straight. "Old Man, this is partially related to my business with you, so I'd appreciate you answering without bullshit."

He looked down at him calmly, "Do you know about my connection to Orochi?"

The King looked up into the boy's eyes, his piercing golden eyes, which felt as if they'd bore through his very soul. "Impressively, that question is in no way irrelevant to my own business with you. You truly are a tough one to deal with, Tseng."

He closed his eyes, turning around. "What do you say to a special event? One between you and I, to shake up this function most spectacularly~"

"What, do you want to play Chess or Shogi with me in front of the world?" Tseng inquired curiously.

"No, I was thinking something more...physical." The King answered coolly and confidently. "I'm sure it'll be mutually beneficial for us both, and I believe that it'll make it much easier for us to come clean to one another."

He raised a finger, "I'll even make one of those wagers you love so much~"

Glancing away for a few seconds as the sound of grunts reverberated through his mind, Tseng looked back to him and nodded. "Very well, I'm always happy to gamble."

"I'm happy to hear that, I'm sure the terms will be most thrilling for you!" The King noted cheerfully.

In the area reserved for the Hiatzu Household.

Takayangi Mitsuomi walked in to the sound of a gasp, tilting his head.

Rosalie's eye twitched as she trembled, "P-please tell me you're joking, Tseng...?"

Aoi nodded quickly, clearly flustered. "Y-yes, this isn't funny, even as a joke!"

"S-seriously, if this is a joke, it's pretty damn out there!" Jeral exclaimed.

"It's no joke, though." Tseng calmly stated.

Mitsuomi approached, clearing his throat to announce himself. "Is something the matter?"

"Oh, Mitsuomi-san!" Rosalie rushed over to him. "You have to talk some sense into Tseng!"

Ouka hurried inside alongside Meryl, Kairi, Kiirina, Elena, Mikumo, Aelita, Najimi, Leliana, Hiyori, Nui and Hirohiko. "What's wrong?"

"Yes, what's this about?" Mitsuomi wondered.

Tseng looked at them as they stared at him, "The Old Monster has challenged me to a fight, of sorts, and I'm accepting. We want to have a bout in front of the world, at the end of this event."

"...Eh?" The newly arrived ones just blinked at him, apart from Hirohiko and Nui, who both whistled in awe.

Honoka shifted nervously, "Tseng's being stubborn about it..."

"I don't see a problem!" Linali exclaimed, her eyes sparkling. "I'd love to see how this goes!"

"W-wait." Mitsuomi held his forehead in pain. "I think I must be hearing things, perhaps I was in the sun for too long."

"Yes...I think so too," Ouka agreed. "After all, there's no way..."

Leliana clenched her fists, "Tseng? Say that again, since we clearly misheard you."

Holding in a sigh, Tseng slid his hands into his pockets casually. "As I said, the Old Monster wants to fight me, and I want to fight him. I don't want to talk about why right now, but this is happening. If it makes it any easier, there's a simple stipulation in my favor. I'd be glad to have your blessings, but even without them, you can hardly stop me from doing this. After all...think of the ratings~"

Najimi giggled giddily, "He's right, you know~? He's already hit a homerun, but this battle would send the ball into orbit~ The King isn't the kind of person to be ignored, either."

"Precisely~" Dalia agreed as she entered behind them. As they all turned to her, she smiled brightly. "I say we support Tseng and let him do as he pleases~"

Tseng blinked once, looking away from her as the rest got quiet in contemplation. "Don't think this means I owe you something, Mother."

"How cold, I'm just being supportive of the love of my life~" Cooed Dalia, skipping over to hug him.

Tseng sweat a bit, trying and failing to push her off him.

Kiirina took a deep breath, calming down. "Tseng, what are the details of this battle, exactly?"

"Like I said..." Tseng began, giving up on fighting his mom. "It's a pretty simple arrangement."

Her body tensing up, Meryl rigidly linked her fingers before her, her eyes fixed upon her brother as a bead of sweat rolled down her cheek.

Extending a finger to gently wipe the sweat away, Tseng smiled at her. "There's nothing to fear, Meryl, I promise. I'll be perfectly fine~"

"Alright..." Meryl responded softly, stepping closer and holding his hand with both of hers.

All eyes observed, as Tseng and Dalia both kissed the youngest Hiatzu on the cheeks.

"Anyway," Tseng kept Meryl by his side as he looked to his allies. "The Old Monster and I will compete one on one. The battle ends one of two ways. With him forcing me to submit to him as the winner, or if I land a clean blow on any part of his body, save for his hair."

He continued immediately, aware of the surprise around the terms. "He's clearly confident that he can win, but I've got a few ideas of my own, so please leave it at that. Besides, there's something more important to me than the actual combat, so I don't particularly care whether I win or lose."

"Yes, of course." Dalia rubbed his arm with a smile. "Everyone has agreed to support you, no?"

"Well...as he said, I doubt we could stop him." Ouka pointed out, holding in a sigh. "Just...be careful, Yarai."

"We'll see." Tseng responded coolly, sending waves of concern through those around him.

Some time later, at the end of the event. While the youths were allowed to demonstrate their abilities, from Borrowed Power to Martial Arts.

Furinji Hayato chuckled, observing with his granddaughter and his old companions. "Little Meryl and Kairi truly are both beacons of blossoming light~"

"Yeah, aren't they adorable~?" Cooed Linali with a bright smile, leaning over a railing as they watched Meryl and Kairi after their demonstration, Meryl having chosen archery while Kairi chose spearmanship.

Mikumo smiled in amusement, "Those young ladies compliment one another most splendidly."

Wearing a proud smile, Ouka watched her little sister take a bow with Meryl as they received cheers. "Meryl is shy and withdrawn, Kairi is bold and outgoing. They're a perfect pair~"

"Don't you think so, Yarai-" She cut off upon looking aside, blinking as she found her fiance was nowhere to be seen. "Where...?"

"You were that caught up in their performance, hm?" Hirohiko snickered lightly, hands behind his head casually. "Tseng-chan went off with Aunt Kiirina a few minutes ago~"

Jeral sighed lightly, "He didn't even watch his little sisters' performance all the way?"

"Oh, I'm sure that he did, actually." Claimed Dalia calmly, her arms linked with Hiyori's and Leliana's.

"That's right, my Tsengy is always watching Meryl and Kairi with his all-seeing eyes~" Suggested Hiyori, a gentle giggle on her lips.

Setting a hand on her hip, Leliana glanced at her with a slight smile. "Ki Tracing is very different from seeing in the physical sense, but you aren't exactly wrong."

Pushing her fingers together, Rosalie looked around at the others. "I wonder what Ojou-sama and Tseng are discussing..."

"Who says they're discussing anything?" Nui inquired, tapping her chin in thought. "I'm inclined to believe that Aunt Kii is helping my love work out some stress before his big moment~"

Gasping, Ouka gave her an irritated look, her face red. "T-t-t-they wouldn't do that! Especially not here and now! T-tseng is...! Kii would never...!"

"Wow, chill out Ouka-chan." Linali remarked in amusement, rubbing the girl's back. "As much as I'd love to actually see those two in the middle of something raunchy, I think they're talking. After all, doesn't Kii know The King better than anyone else does?"

With a calm smile, Elena nodded. "That's right, they were once very close friends."

"Of course, a bunch of shit changed from then to now." Aelita pointed out with a shrug.

"Still," Mikumo interjected, glancing across the fields to their other former ally and his current company as he waved. "Kii knows far more of The King than anybody else does."

"Indeed," Agreed Hayato. "For Kii and The King were together for ages before the Celestial Vanguards assembled to face down Orochi."

Closing her eyes, Dalia wore a mysterious smile, but made no attempt to weigh in on the conversation.

Walking alongside her current company in an empty hall, Kiirina held her hands at her back, rhythmically setting one foot before the other with a graceful tempo. "Truth be told, there are any number of things to keep track of when dealing with that man. When facing him, up may become down, left can become right, and it's almost impossible to adjust to his actions."

She glanced at him, "You see, Okhwang holds the greatest and most coveted power of all the Gods. The power to command Fundamental Forces to absolute mastery. Gravity, Electromagnetism, Strong Nuclear Force, Weak Nuclear Force...the four forces which govern the world itself are his to manipulate. Through them, he can grant himself other existing powers, such as Inertia, Friction, Velocity, Attraction and Repulsion. To make matters worse, he can combine those powers in myriad different ways, to produce spectacularly devastating and effective Techniques. And that isn't all, that's the main crux of his power, represented by the Wisdom of The Sage, his Third Eye. It's also accompanied by his ability to use a hyper-advanced form of Telekinesis, as well as manipulate Ki, or Vital Energy as the Gods refer to it, such that he can selectively govern the life of others to take and give. He can heal others, and even has the power to resurrect the dead..."

As she paused, she stopped walking midstep, her eyes looking toward the sky. "Of course, in his old age, he's rather limited, but even so..."

"He's dangerous, I understand." Tseng finally answered, stopping by her side to look up as well. "Thanks for sharing, Kii. As I said before, I'll figure something out."

"...I know you will, that's what scares me." Admitted Kii, taking a few steps past him without looking back, her eyes now downcast. "Tseng, didn't you...not want to use that power if you could help it? I know that it's always active to some extent, but...this is The King of Nox that we're talking about. The being once considered to be the most powerful of the Gods. Won't you just be harming yourself without reason, if you take this challenge on? You're an enigma to me, still, even after all the time we've spent together. I know that I can't stop you from doing anything if you've resolved to, but...is this truly something you must do? And putting aside the risk to you, didn't you hate the thought of anyone else seeing you in that state? What if-"

She was cut off as she felt arms wrap around her, looking upward in surprise.

Tseng embraced her from behind, his hold warm and strong, his heartbeat very clearly felt by the woman as he laid his head atop hers. "I'm well aware of your concerns, Kii. Thank you for always supporting me, even when you disagree with what I want to do. One day, I think I'll be able to tell you everything. Why this is so important to me, why my future goal...had to be realized at all costs. But this is not that day, unfortunately. There are questions I need answers to, and the Old Monster is the one who holds them. I can't say much more on that topic, but...you don't have to worry. Even if your fears come to pass, I can always write it off through the general lack of understanding behind the Black Heaven and Earth Technique, and the Black Origin Threshold. That isn't terribly far from being the truth, in the first place. After all, while Kourin Insei is unrelated to them at the root, I do make intimate use of them."

"Y-yes..." Whispered Kiirina, closing her eyes as she gently touched his arms, rubbing them. When she felt him still, sensing he was tranquil like a serene pond, she relaxed against him and stayed silent herself.

When Tseng opened his eyes, it was in a domain of light and darkness, chaos mixed with order in unity and harmony. Turning around, he looked up to see two dragons; a black serpent with 8 heads, and a great dragon with a pure white body of light.

With a smile, he spoke. "Hello, Grandma."

The Holy Dragon, Almaria-Ryu, leveled a warm gaze and smile at her descendant. "Tseng...look at you~ You've grown so much since we last met~ Seeing you in person, it's...almost too much~"

"I'm glad that you feel that way..." Tseng answered softly, brushing his bangs from his forehead. His smile grew somewhat, as he noticed the tails of the two intertwined. "I wish that I could give you two more...intimate time together."

Almaria glanced at her husband, who didn't even make a sound, then at their descendant. "This is more than enough Tseng, thank you~ And thank you, for always making Kii so happy~"

"Happy...do I really make her feel that way?" Wondered Tseng, scratching at his head. "Sometimes, I feel like I only hurt her, and she puts up with it because of her personality. Even knowing that she doesn't approve of many of my decisions, I still go through with them, even ignoring her counsel to do so at times."

"Hm..." Alma reached out, gently brushing one of her massive claws against the face of the boy. "This may be something that's difficult for you to imagine, Tseng, but you couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, I reckon that Kii feels so strongly for you, precisely because of the way you carry on with her."

Blinking in surprise, Tseng stared up at her. "You're right, I can't even begin to imagine what you're talking about, Grandma. You're saying she...likes how I hurt her? She isn't a masochist, is she?"

With a scoffing chuckle, Orochi couldn't stop himself from quipping. "To some extent, I'd say she is."

"How rude, Oro." Remarked Alma, as Tseng gave him a blank look. "You may come to understand as you get older, my dear. Kii is drawn to resolution, and yours in the face of all possible odds, is deeply alluring to her. Of course, I won't forgive you if you try to tease her on that~"

"I...don't want you to get mad at me, so I won't." Tseng decided, touching her claw with a smile. "The time is coming, Grandma, Grandpa. I wanted to say this to both of you. To assure you, to promise you...that I won't allow anyone or anything to stand between my goal and I."

Immediately, Almaria became rigid, Orochi placing his palm over hers.

Looking up at the dragons, Tseng's golden eyes seemed to glow in their sockets. "That man, that cretin... Long ago, he allowed his fear and his anger to guide him, and committed the ultimate sin. Stealing the free will of the Gods and Celestials, he forced them to commit genocide, to purge our family from the annals of history and existence. It wasn't enough for him to erase us all, but he even warped ancient history with his children to prevent anyone from coming after him. The False God, Izanagi. His was the gravest of all crimes in the Universe. he tore our people apart without hesitation, he installed himself as the Supreme God, he wiped the name Almaria-Ryu from the minds of all, he labeled Yamata no Orochi a blight to All of Creation, and those born of their love and devotion...were culled. But he made a single mistake, one so small and negligible back then...one which has now grown into the thorn which will pierce his falsehoods and destroy him without mercy. When my father...when Kyoshiro hid his last hope, his wife away in the Celestial Realm, unnoticed by Izanagi, it was the first step to his demise. My mother used Sorcery to preserve my life, and she used her own as sustenance for mine. When I drew my first breath, she drew her last, marking her as the most recent victim of Izanagi's unspeakable cruelty. And after learning the truth myself, I promised her that she would be the last."

As his grandmother's claw withdrew, he balled up his fists, raising them before his eyes. "All this time, Izanagi has traipsed about, receiving praise and worship that doesn't belong to him. Even after the savage acts he performed, he's been riding high for ages. I've bidden my time this whole while, and now the time has come for him to get his just desserts. When I win the Grand Tourney, and enter his Palace in the God Realm...that will be the moment I put an end to the False God, and expose him for what he truly is. What he always has been. Izanagi doesn't deserve to die easily or painlessly...and mark my words, he will NOT. He will face justice for all that's he done."

"Justice...yes..." Alma whispered, lowering her head. "Tseng, you...must keep that word in your mind and heart. Justice. I cannot stop you from seeking vengeance, and I also desire to see Izanagi answer for what he's done, however you can't allow yourself to be consumed. Remember, my child, the why is just as important as the how. Arguably, even moreso. Lose not, your sight on what truly matters. Kii, Meryl, Ouka...all those around you will suffer if you lose yourself. So please...remember...your cause is just. To see justice served, you walk a path, even alone. But you can't just accept it, if it seems you will fall along the way. I...I can't bear the thought of you...of Kii losing you, as well..."

Reaching out, Tseng touched her claw with a smile. "I know, Grandma. Justice is at the heart of all of this, and I have no intention of sacrificing myself, because I have much to live for as well~"

"Tseng...good luck..." Almaria whispered once more, placing a kiss upon his head.

Opening his eyes once more, Tseng felt the Hotaru Queen's warmth against him.

The voice of Orochi entered his ears immediately, "Justice. Alma is correct in that yours is the just path, the righteous one. However, have you changed your mind? Do you really intend to hold back if need be? If vengeance threatens to consume you, will you stay your hand as she hopes?"

{Hehehe...hold back? I shall hold nothing back.} He answered resolutely. {Even should this body of mine be torn asunder, I will carry on by sheer force of will. I...will avenge every last one of you. No matter what happens along the way. There isn't a force in the Universe great enough to stop me from meting out my own brand of justice.}

{There's no 'if', Oro-chan. Vengeance consumed me long ago, the moment I truly conceived Kourin Insei through the inheritance of my ancestor's Sorceries. Yes, I love Kii, Reina, Meryl...I want to stay with them, but...at the same time, I cannot turn away. I would rather die after achieving my perfect vengeance, than live knowing that I failed to do so. For as much as I love and care for them, I hate Izanagi that much more. Even if the entire world does see me as monster worse than you in the end, it makes no difference to me. As long as I can annihilate every last aspect of Izanagi from the Universe's memory...nothing else matters.}

"As expected, you fell into insanity long ago." Remarked Orochi. "While I would like to fulfill my own promise, to guide you to become the Divine Emperor, the man whom Alma sees you to be... I am a part of you, just as you are a part of me. Your vengeance is my own. My vengeance is yours. In spite of everything, my dearest wish aligns with yours. I will see Izanagi punished, even if I have to destroy your body to do so myself."

{And I would devour everything you are, to gain the power to achieve my ambition.} Tseng thought with a dark smile. {What a twisted pair you and I make, Grandpa. You and I are the Yin to Kii and Grandma's Yang. We're the ouroboros, the collective serpent which endlessly devours its own tail.}

"Tseng?" Kiirina called out, a sense of apprehension coming over her.

"Yes~?" Tseng immediately answered with a cheery tone, rubbing his head against hers.

Blushing, Kii smiled as her apprehension passed. "Are you ready? It's just about time."

"After having you all to myself for this time, I'm more than just ready, I'm totally fired up!" Claimed Tseng as he released her, pumping his fists. "I'm gonna sock that Old Monster a good one in the name of our love, just wait~"

"Tseng, you..." Kiirina stared at him in surprise, until she suddenly began to giggle. "I believe you~ Just try not to get too carried away, okay? No matter what happens, I'll always be there to pull you back~"

"I know you will," Tseng confirmed, leaning in to press his lips against hers, without care for anyone who might be watching.


Izaya's The Boss:

Stomp That Shit!:

Shizu-chan's Seismic Toss:

Chill Izaya/Poor Izaya:

Last edited by Sangios on Mon 24 Sep 2018, 22:32; edited 2 times in total
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He Who Was Born With the First Troll and Shall Perish With the Last

Age : 25 Registration date : 2011-08-16 Number of posts : 106 Location :
Race: Human

PostSubject: Re: Endless Descent to Supremacy   Mon 24 Sep 2018, 07:55

As the event drew to its believed conclusion, a stellar hit for all involved, something unexpected happened as two famous individuals took the stage.

Seimei laughed as he saw the two, "Well if it isn't the world's craziest Grandfather-Granddaughter pair!"

Vandal let out a chuckle, observing Linali and Hayato as they passionately addressed the crowd, both almost unsettlingly loud even naturally. "Oh? Is there a bonus spectacle for us to enjoy?"

Kang-Sung wore a pleased smile as he watched the two hype up the crowd for one final event to end things, "Linali is just as bright as ever. The Murim feels rather dark, without her resplendent smile shining within Korea~"

Whistling sharply, Tenshi stroked his beard. "She truly is a stunning young lady~ Were I only a few decades younger, eh?"

Seimei grinned at him, "I get it, but that girl's my niece. Besides, would you dare to invoke Hayato-chan's ire?"

"Hm, fair point." Tenshi replied with a smile.

Kotarou's tail wagged as the two announced the start of an unprecedented spectacle between Japan's most famous Prince and the Human Realm's King. "Whoa, whoa, whoa, are they saying what I think they're saying?! Are they?! Are they!?!?"

Raising an eyebrow, Vandal tapped his chin. {In front of the entire world? A battle between The King and Tseng?}

"Thanks for the hype, Lina, Elder." Tseng called out as he took the field with his companion.

The King casually kept pace at his side, an amused smile on his face. "You two make quite the announcers, don't you? As expected of your granddaughter, Hayato~"

"Of course!" Hayato proclaimed, putting his arm around Lina, who giggled. "None has inherited my passion more readily than my little bird!"

Linali nudged him with her elbow, "Mom always says the very same thing~ Daddy doesn't seem to be too thrilled about the way I take after you, though~"

"Ahahaha!" Letting out a booming laughter, one of his trademark calling cards, the Elder stroked his beard. "Chun-Woo took after Shizuha most fervently, so I'm sure my son is jealous that his treasured daughter took after his father over him!"

"Geez, Elder..." Tseng winced, taking a step back. "You sure jump at the chance to roast that son you barely even see. Uncle Saiga's pretty well justified in how distant he is with you."

The King covered his mouth as the crowd laughed at the interaction, "I'd say you've little room to speak, my child, considering you're much worse~"

Clearing his throat as the laughter picked up, his savageness well documented throughout the world, Tseng set a hand on his hip. "I just call things as they are, even if people don't want to hear it. It's the one thing that I can say I'm glad to have inherited from that Fox in Human Skin that calls herself my mother."

"Ara, ara, how harsh my adorable baby can be~" The voice of Dalia sounded out from the crowd, clearly elated in spite of the words spoken against her. "Shall I spank you a bit for your many fans~?"

Linali smirked at Tseng, whose cheeks turned red as he twitched. "Aunt Dalia really is the best~"

"Isn't she?" The King and Hayato agreed, both nudging at Tseng.

Twitching more, Tseng pushed away from them in irritation. "W-whatever, let's do this already!"

Meryl smiled brightly, standing with her family. "Mommy's the only one who can make Onii-chan behave that way~"

"Yeah, Aunt Dalia has Nii-Nii's number~" Kairi pointed out, holding her hand.

Dalia put her arms around the two girls, "Shall I teach you the way to defeat your brother~?"

"Even if you did, I doubt that anybody but you is capable of so easily pushing Yarai into a corner the way that you do." Ouka suggested, smiling at her second mother.

"Seriously, nothing anyone else does ever even fazes that cutie~" Aelita remarked.

Honoka nodded in agreement, "Y-yeah, Aunt Dalia is Tseng's natural enemy. That's what he always tells me."

"Tseng-sama...often tells me much the same, in a much colder way." Aoi admitted, scratching her cheek.

"He's not wrong." Leliana and Hiyori quipped in unison.

"Ara, you all make it sound as if I enjoy tormenting him." Commented Dalia, tilting her head.

"Don't you?" Nui wondered, smiling at her.

Hirohiko chuckled, "Yeah, you seem to take great delight in making him squirm, Aunt Dalia~"

Kiirina smiled as Dalia just hummed in response, {Hayato, Lina, Tseng and Dalia. Those four are probably the best in the Universe, when it comes to handling others~ Many seemed shocked by the sudden announcement, but that impromptu display settled everyone rather brilliantly. Hayato goes without saying, but Alma really would've loved them~}

"Before our Tseng-chan starts bleeding expletives at his mother, let's get this show on the road!" Elder decided boldly, smacking the Prince's back roughly.

Linali raised a fist, "The rules are simple! The King wins if he can make Tseng submit! Tseng wins if he lands a single clean and direct blow on The King's body, not counting his hair or clothes!"

"It'll be a spectacular showcase of The King of Nox's absolute power against the skill of the famous Black Demon!" She added cheerfully.

Hayato nodded, stroking his beard as the crowd got hyped up. "Lina and I shall commentate in real time, to the best of our ability, and serve as the judges! We're about to see something very special!"

The King chuckled as his devoted followers cheered him on, with the exception of his clearly irritated disciple, who was glaring daggers at the Hiatzu Prince.

Tseng looked directly at the man glaring at him, known as Eskalios Von Ragne within Nox, but Sang Man-Duk beyond it. Their eyes met for a good few seconds, but he didn't make any expression to really acknowledge him, electing to look away without concern. {That guy really does hate me. Does he think I care to have his master's attention the way I do?}

"Huhuhu..." The King began to move away, glancing over his shoulder.

"?" Tseng glanced back upon noticing his gaze, nodding once before following his lead and moving away as well.

"Oh?" Linali held her hand above her eyes as she looked both directions, "They're gonna start that far apart?"

Stroking his beard again, Hayato nodded. "It would seem they intend to test the waters with one another first. That's a perfect distance for The King to quickly estimate how swift Tseng-chan may be. And I'm sure Tseng-chan intends to find out if there's a certain effective range to the abilities of The King."

"I see, I see!" Lina answered enthusiastically, excitedly looking back and forth. "Go for it! Go for it! Begin!"

Tseng immediately tuned out everything but his opponent, taking a calm and serene breath as his Ki began to evenly flow through his body, which assumed the Hiten-Ryu neutral stance. The quality and state of the aura, one where Ki was distributed evenly throughout every part of his frame, was one which typically could only be seen in the greatest of masters. As always, the sheer beauty of his actions immediately went to conflict with the nature of the Ki itself, which was dark, corrupt, a vessel of negativity which brought apprehension even to the few fully aware of its true nature.

"Immediately, Tseng-chan invokes his paradoxical Martial Arts!" Hayato announced with interest. "I'm sure the specialists are all eager to be the first to unravel the secret of his Kourin Insei!"

Chuckling lightly, The King stood still, his cane held in both hands and his two eyes closed as the Third observed the boy. "As always, you are a point of much curiosity. Even seeing it face to face, my Wisdom is unable to pierce the veil beyond that paradox that is Hiatzu Tseng~"

"Maybe you'll see something, if you actually open your eyes." Tseng responded coolly, flickering out of sight and advancing across the distance almost instantly with one of the Dragon Arts. Extending his left hand, he led with a single palm strike toward the temple.

Linali's eyes shot right over, "Tseng opens up with the Dragon Steps of the Murim, nicknamed the Lightning Steps!"

Raising his eyebrow, Hayato continued as he saw the palm stop just before connecting. "The King, without so much as a movement, stops the strike just in time!"

Tseng looked down at the old God, who wore a polite smile. {Gravity- no, Velocity? It was like all my momentum was suddenly snatched from me.}

He pulled his hand back while kicking the ground to zoom backward as he felt something subtle. Just as he landed, the ground tore apart between the two, some debris blowing over him. {Repulsive Force.}

"Hue, hue~" The King whistled in awe. "Even without telegraphing, you managed to dodge that? What a scary boy you are, if you can feel such a negligible shift in the atmosphere~"

Gently brushing the dirt from himself, Tseng assumed a different, more grounded stance while lifting his right leg up similar to a Sumo. Bringing it down into a stomp, his Ki entered the ground to produce mighty tremors felt even within the audience's perches.

The ground rumbled from beneath his stomp outward, cracking and upheaving violently in a forward, circular radius which carried beyond his target.

"There's Tsuchimyaku [Earth Pulse], one of the Inverse Arts!" Linali chirped excitedly, as the violent upheaval overtook the old man. "Strong as ever, how does The King fare!?"

Hayato noticed first, as the God jumped from the dangerous earth and levitated upward out of reach and beyond the dust which raised. "He flees to the sky!"

The King tilted his head, not hearing the commotion of the audience, as he too tuned them out to focus on his opponent. {This is where you wanted me, no? What will you do now, child?}

Tseng's eyes shot upward, though his body remained grounded and relatively still. Calmly, he slid the stomping foot in a half circle, shifting his weight into a calm, practiced low sweep kick with the opposite foot. The sweep gently grazed the ground around him, the upheaved earth shifting and bursting out from its place to rocket into the sky from beneath his foe.

"Oho!" The King extended his left hand, palm facing downward. Just before the jagged pieces of earth struck him, they moved aside, revolving around him in an orbital fashion, reaching their peak above him and slinging downward with even greater force.

{Gravity. I do remember hearing that he used to go around throwing entire planets at people, so this isn't surprising.} Tseng mentally noted, his entire body loosening up instantly as he jumped aside into a beautiful butterfly twist, just as the earth crashed down and kicked up another cloud of dust.

Linali blinked as they felt violent tremors with the counter, "Wow, he just threw it right back! Is Tseng already done for!?"

"Most assuredly not~" Hayato commented, sensing the boy's movements. {What splendid skill...even now, it truly is as if he's directly learned the Furinji Garyuu Style~}

The dust shifted as Tseng emerged from it, a gentle yet firm and powerful sphere of wind flowing around him.

"Oh! Chikara Kaze [Force of Wind], my personal favorite!" Linali announced joyously.

Tseng seemed to fly freely through the air like a bird, shifting into a graceful spin to throw a wide round kick across 180 degrees, the wind projecting forth into a sickle which cut right up into the God.

The King remained smiling, lifting his cane to block the sickle, which broke against it and parted around him, before intensifying in both halfs as they grew roughly three times larger, stronger and faster, looping back around and at his assailant.

Tseng couldn't help but smile as his attack was returned, his wind shifting as he entered a high speed cartwheel, body very narrowly avoiding the razors which cut through the ground below very cleanly. {Friction, then a combination with it and Velocity? It's amazing, he really does command the forces of the world with perfect ease and mastery~ It would sure have been nice to be born with that kind of power~}

"Hmph, such a thing would require the purity to inherit such divinity." The voice of Orochi cut in. "You can't really believe that you're in any way pure?"

{Harsh, I thought you'd be in a good mood after I let you be with Grandma for a little while. Guess you'll always be a grumpy old snakey~} His smile stretching a bit wildly, the Prince spun once again, almost as if bending on the air, throwing a sharp hook kick with the left leg leading and the right following, throwing himself into a high momentum twist toward the ground in the process and releasing two heavy curved blades this time.

The King's eyes widened, the sight of the action setting the hearts of all afloat with how beautiful and clean it was. He quickly got back into his headspace, thrusting his cane to meet the blades, which dissolved on contact. Raising his free hand, the previously ignored pieces of earth tore free forcefully, launching sharply at the boy without any delay.

Just before landing, Tseng was beset by the boulder-shaped projectiles, exhaling strongly as he moved his hands in a circular fashion reminiscent of Chinese Martial Arts, the wind growing violent about him and storming against the boulders, which cracked and were forcibly repelled around to his sides and beyond, crashing down with mighty quakes. Landing just after the quakes, he once again took a strong stance as the wind faded. Sliding his right foot forward, he rolled his left shoulder rigidly upward, dipping it down sharply while making a fist which struck the ground and slid against it forward, flinging upward while tearing right through it.

Following the motion, the earth upheaved in a single position this time, the ground tearing free to produce a single cylindrical pillar which extended like the Monkey King's Staff, slamming directly into the God.

"Tseng-chan once again displays his uncanny ability to switch between the greatest of extremes with inhuman efficiency!" Elder proclaimed proudly, looking after the pillar as it pushed The King through the air diagonally. "The King, unable to dodge, receives the blow head on! Of course, this isn't a direct attack and doesn't account for victory!"

The King chuckled as he came to a stop a few 100 meters into the sky, pushing down with his palm to shatter the pillar all the way down toward its end with the might of Gravity and Inertia. {Splendid! That one made my old bones ache so nostalgically~ My have I truly grown feeble, to have had such trouble with an attack of that level...but of course, the fact that such power comes from a child without a Dragon Gate, or Borrowed Power...it's truly remarkable.}

He descended to the ground, his back straightening up some more as he stretched a bit. "It seems I should take better care of myself~"

"What, did you skip your morning calisthenics today?" Tseng called out with a playful tone, shaking his arms out lightly.

"I did, actually." Admitted The King, to the genuine surprise of the boy, judging by his blink. "Don't feel bad, it's been ages since I've found myself having such fun~"

Smiling a bit darkly, Tseng twitched. "I'm supposed to be proud of that? You're a fossil by any standards, and you didn't even do your daily exercises, and I'm meant to be pleased that I'm only entertaining you at this point? I think you underestimate how competitive I actually am."

"Ah..." This time it was The King's turn to blink. "You're right, that was rather rude of me, wasn't it? Yours is the heart of a real Martial Artist, a true Warrior who runs from no challenge, regardless of the risks. One who embodies the valor seen first in your Oro."

Eyes narrowing in focus, Tseng cracked his knuckles. "Well, that answers my first question rather definitively, though it isn't at all surprising. I'm sure that Third Eye lets you see any number of things."

"Hm...perhaps, but not as much as you believe, I'd wager." Quipped The King with a shrug, releasing his cane which mysteriously remained as it was without influence. "Do you mind? I'll take this as seriously as my age will allow."

Linali whistled, "What a neat party trick, huh~?"

Hayato's eyes narrowed, as did those of the other Celestial Vanguards, Tseng noticing the same thing they did. {No, Lina, this is no trick. Okhwang just casually hinted that, even far from his prime, he's still an immeasurable monster. He's not using his abilities to support his cane, it simply stays there on its own. Because even in that condition, he retains his own senses as a Warrior who fought alongside Orochi. It seems that, weak as he's become, his skills have never once faltered. His sense and control of balance alone is more than enough to keep that unsymmetrical cane upright without issue.}

Kiirina bit her lip as all eyes watched Nox's leader stretch out, {I knew it...his body may be weak, but he himself hasn't lost his edge even remotely. It seemed all this time, as if any of the Vanguards could best him if the need arose, but it wouldn't be so simple, even right now.}

"Geez, what a monster~ No wonder Tseng refers to him that way~" Aelita whistled, sweating a bit.

Elena nodded quickly, "Yes...he's as dangerous as ever."

"Just as I thought~" Sang Najimi with interest.

"Huh? What do you mean?" Jeral, Meryl, Kairi, Aoi, Honoka, Rosalie, Nui and Hiyori wondered.

Hirohiko scratched his cheek, "Welll~ Tseng-chan may just be in over his head here, that's all~"

Leliana tapped her foot to the ground impatiently, "That old bastard is as sly as always, isn't he. He probably let Tseng think he was an easy target, counter to his position. And he knows Tseng will never submit willingly."

Mikumo stroked her chin thoughtfully, "Naturally, however our dear Prince isn't so easily deterred."

Smiling mysteriously, Dalia lifted a sleeve over her mouth.

Ouka crossed her arms, "Of course not, Tseng is always prepared for anything, because he trained himself to expect everything. Surprise is never more than a momentary condition for him."

"Ah, that's right~" Kii agreed, smiling at Ouka.

Sang Man-Duk watched sternly, his arms crossed. {His Majesty seems happy to bend over backwards to accommodate that demon child. How much of his ever limited power does he plan to exhaust on this meaningless farce? Does he really...believe that there's worth in this? Just what does he want, that he keeps from even me?}

The Priests of Nox present, the ones beneath the Bishops, glanced at their superior, sensing impatience from him. Of course, they also observed the Hiatzu Prince with a measure of contempt, jealousy for how their master's thoughts seemed to be consumed by him.

The King smiled at Tseng, who silently stared at him without blinking. "Perhaps I was wrong, and you do show your due diligence for the elderly~"

"...Or, I'm just using you as a measure. To get a read on what I need to be able to bring my own quest to its completion." Answered Tseng calmly, now standing up straight, taking calm and even breaths as his dark Ki cycled through his body and tempered.

The God raised an eyebrow, feeling a slight chill as their eyes met. {Looking him in the eyes now, it reminds me of the day we first met...Oro, Alma.} "And what quest is that, if you don't mind my asking?"

"As if you don't know already." Tseng answered without hesitation.

The King blinked again, looking down as he finished his stretches. "If I'm to take this seriously, I expect you to do the same."

"I'm always serious, though." Claimed Tseng, as he took a deep breath and held it, closing his eyes as he spread his fingers out at his sides. His tempered Ki seemed to elevate within his core, the atmosphere around him altering him in the sight of all, as sparks of electricity surged above and below, seemingly descending from the heavens and rising from the earth. To all but the most perceptive of masters, it truly seemed as if the element was beckoned forth to him at his will and entering through his fingertips, and while that wasn't entirely false, it wasn't the whole truth either. In reality, the force was generated within his nervous system, after absorbing the innate electricity within the atmosphere and the ground. From inward to outward, from the nervous system out, his body electrified as if he was struck by lightning. A dark electric aura, a mixture of blue and black, formed around his frame, sparking both brilliantly and menacingly with the vague form of a dark phoenix.

Linali's eyes sparkled with glee as the audience's hype rose to extreme levels. "And here comes Tseng's signature, most famous Technique! Issei Kenkon [Cry of Heaven and Earth], popularly referred to as Raihou!"

"Indeed, I'm sure this is the skill which everyone was most eager to see in action today!" Hayato cheered loudly.

The King's jaw hung upon as he stared, smiling again after a few moments. "That truly is a marvelous Technique you devised, my child~ This is the first time I've seen it directed at me, but I finally understand how you came up with it. You were inspired by your beloved sister, and the way she effortlessly generates lightning as if she were a Shinto God, holding it within her endlessly if she so desires. You were also moved by Kiirina, adopting the Na Bong-Chim Ryu, the epitome of Ki Circulation Manipulation. You use it to control your Ki Center and your Ki Circulation Points, which allows you to generate and cycle that energy and internally circulate it. You use the same base for all of those Inverse Arts, in fact. Truly...masterful~ Your skill far exceeds your youth, and makes me question whether or not you truly fight without the Dragon Gates and Borrowed Power~"

"Borrowed Power..." Tseng repeated in a whisper, before speaking louder. "In a manner of speaking, I do make use of that."

"?" The King's eyes widened as the boy, as fast as lightning, was directly above him.

"A long time ago, I borrowed the wisdom and knowledge of my ancestors, assimilated it all into my own soul." Explained the Prince, while bringing his left fist down upon the God.

The King guarded with his cane, wincing as he was electrocuted and lifting his hand as electricity sparked within it, wielding Electromagnetism to produce a network of sparks which exploded outward in a dome.

Taking the energy directly, Tseng's own power clashed against it, resulting in a violent, heavenly explosion of static as he flew directly upward into the sky, the earth around his quarry wickedly scorched from the forces. Leaning into a back flip to steady himself, he smirked a bit, vanishing with a bright surge and flash.

Dropping right down with a heavy axe kick, lightning struck down from the heavens in tandem to crash into The King.

Guarding with his cane again, The King blinked as the force from the kick and lightning bolt launched him across the ground, hundreds of meters back in spite of his control with Friction and Inertia. {Remarkable, there shouldn't be more than a thousand Humans capable of facing this Technique directly the way that I am!}

He extended his other hand right before the boy could move, grinning. "Attractive Force~"

"!" Tseng gasped as he was dragged without warning, right over to his foe at insane speed. {Crap!}

The King pushed the same hand out into a palm strike, hitting the boy's core directly. "Repulsive Force~"

Hayato's eyes opened wide as all saw the Hiatzu's current Leader launch like a missile, all the way across the field. There was a brief delay between him hitting the erected walls around the staging area, where the wall crumbled away as if made out of sand, and both the sky and ground ruptured violently as godly wind pressure stormed forth and over them all like a natural disaster. "Attractive Force and then Repulsive Force! One of the most lethal combinations of The King's power! Arguably his most devastating strike!"

Linali's jaw dropped, caught off guard by the sudden intensity as she held her grandfather's arm to keep herself grounded. "Grandpa? Did I see that right? Did he just hit Tseng so hard that a missile wouldn't compare?"

Vandal gripped the railing beneath his hands, hard enough to bend it like a pretzel. "Incredible! Even in that condition, The King retains that supreme, coveted might!" {What I wouldn't give to get my hands on his Wisdom...!}

Seimei winced, "Ugh, intense flashbacks to the times he hit me with that one two combo during sparring..."

Tenshi watched in awe, whistling. "What a perfect blow~ If young Tseng took that head on, without his Raihou, that would be instant death~ Still, that Technique of his truly is stunningly similar to our Kinkoujo Style."

"That's right, his Issei Kenkon gained the nickname Raihou after your own." Kang-Sun pointed out. "How does Tseng's compare to the Kinkoujo's Ingyoukou?"

"It's similar, but still very different." Tenshi admitted. "After all, our Martial Arts are generated by purity and radiance. Reigyoku's Ingyoukou is a white as pure as snow."

Kotarou's tail wagged as he stared, "Sweet mother of fuck, this is something else! So that's why my family's so afraid of Nox! The King is unbelievable, and he's far since fallen from his prime! He must've been invincible back in the day!"

Seimei scratched his head, glancing at Vandal as they spoke together. "The memory of hurled planets comes to mind."

Meryl gripped the railing in fear, her eyes shaky. "Onii-chan!"

Kairi held her arm tightly, pointing in panic. "H-how the hell is that fair?!"

"It's...it's not..." Ouka muttered, holding Kairi's shoulder roughly as she grit her teeth.

Rosalie gasped, looking to her master. "Ojou-sama! We have to heal him! Tseng might-"

Kiirina shook her head sternly, to the surprise of the rest. "I wouldn't say he's okay, but that alone isn't enough to put him down."

"Y-yeah, my Tseng is a lot stronger than that." Leliana agreed nervously.

Nui tilted her head, "'That alone', hm?"

Jeral twitched erratically, {They seriously think Tseng's survived that?}

The sound of coughing filled all ears as the dust surrounding the collapsed wall began to settle.

The King hummed lightly, suddenly entering the dust to find himself standing before the one he'd struck. "Ah, you really did withstand it~"

Tseng was on his ass, against the broken walls, sitting up as he coughed up blood, glancing back to see a wide line of destruction beyond it. "Right as you hit me, I withdrew all my Ki and concentrated the Raihou internally to focus on defense. I used a Ki Transference Technique in Hiten-Ryu, to redistribute the force at the last second, right as I hit the wall, redirecting it to push off the worst of it. If I'd been even slightly slower to react, Kii would be trying to piece me together like Humpty Dumpty..."

Chuckling lightly, The King nodded. "Then my eyes didn't deceive me~ Ahh, I can count with the fingers on one hand, the number of beings who have ever survived that attack, and two of them are right behind me~"

Tseng's eyes shot toward Hayato, then Kiirina, before back to the ancient one. "I can imagine..."

He remained seated as he sat upright, touching his core as the indentation of a hand marred his chest. "You're at least as strong as Onii-chan..."

"As Yuan? You overestimate me~" Claimed The King with a hearty laugh. "Can you continue? Or shall we call it-"

"Get real!" Tseng growled, getting to his knees painfully. He pushed his fingers into his legs, forcing them to work as he began to stand. As he rose, he touched other parts from the waist up, the pain leaving his body entirely as it was replaced by strength. He ended by placing his finger at his right temple, as if sticking a needle through it. "Na Bong-Chim Ryu: Limiter Removal x10."

The King blinked as the boy rose up as if unharmed, cracking his neck casually. "Of course...you begged Kiirina to share her secrets with you, primarily so that you could surpass your limits in this very way, when your body fails you. Dalia-chan was right, it may be better if we never understand the way you think~"

"It just may be," Agreed Tseng, as his Raihou surged forth, throwing a single straight punch.

A stream of massive lightning burst from the wall, carrying to the middle of the field as the dust was blown away by static and wind. At the end, The King lowered his hand, electricity flowing around him.

Tseng was seen on his feet, walking toward him and mysteriously seeming to teleport across short distances on the way, stopping right in front of him without a stance, hands in his pockets now. "You told me to get serious, and I'm willing to throw everything I've got at you. Can you say the same?"

"...Heh~" The King's usual smile turned rather dark and cold, as he stood up straight and raised a hand, dropping his finger as Gravity came down with the same force present on the planet Jupiter, concentrated on the boy alone. "You're the only one in the Universe currently bold enough to treat me with such disrespect. Perhaps it's time that I finally humble you, as intended~ Feel the depths of despair, as you reach your final limits, only to find that it's still not enough~ For nothing you do can allow your triumph~ The quest you pursue, the result you desperately crave? You're simply too weak to meet it...aren't you?"

The ground caved in unrealistically, opening up a giant crater which grew larger and deeper by the second around the Prince.

Linali shook her grandpa's arm. "G-grandpa! Isn't this going too far?! Even for Tseng, this is...! I mean, if he had the Dragon's Aura then sure, but-!"

Hayato touched her hand to settle her, "Fear not, Tseng-chan still has a shot." {I can't hear them, though, even with my ears. Okhwang must have manipulated sound to obscure their conversation. Dalia, I'm sure, can hear them regardless.}

Dalia now wore a serious expression, her Dragon's Eyes fixed upon her master sternly.

"Okay, seriously, I think this is enough!" Aelita shouted.

Najimi sweat nervously, "Y-yeah, actually, I agree. Kingy's starting to act the way he did a thousand years ago. There won't be anything left of our Dark Prince at this rate."

Ouka held Meryl and Kairi's hands, taking a breath. "Tseng won't forgive anyone who interferes. Trust me on that."

"That's right, it's still not over. Not yet." Kiirina insisted, her fists clenched as she looked at Meryl, who was barely breathing.

Within the ever growing crater, Tseng was barely on his feet somehow, struggling to raise his finger to his temple once more and releasing his limiters by significant multiples by the second.

The King looked down condescendingly, "Do you understand now, my child? I know what it is that you want, and you cannot have it. Not on your own, not as you are. Great as you are, you are still but a boy. In a decade, you could grow strong enough to accomplish your goal for certain. But the trial is soon to come, as you know now. You don't have the time, you no longer have the luxury to satisfy your pride. You wish to take the life of Izanagi? I myself am incapable of defeating him in my current condition, so what could you do, when you can't even best a feeble old fossil like myself?"

"Now is the time to let go of your pride, Tseng. Forget the notion that it has to be your own power that carries you! What I want, is the same as what you want! To see Izanagi's demise and downfall in every facet of reality! For him to pay for what he did, not only to Oro and Alma, but to Kii, to the ****! We have the same goal, my child! Let us walk it together from now on!" He continued.

He extended his hand welcomingly, "I would never turn you away, my boy~ Come, take my hand, stand by my side. Together, we shall triumph where either of us alone cannot~ I will raise and groom you, teach you. Show you the way. I will pass my power on to you when you're ready... Think of it...that body of yours, your unrelenting will, your unlimited drive and my power, in one vessel! That is what I want, Tseng! To pass on my power, the most coveted in the Universe, to you! You're the only one deserving! For only the last child of the Celestial Serpent and the Holy Dragon can fulfill this destiny! Take my hand now, let go of your pride and embrace a new self! Be reborn as the Divine Emperor! Tseng, the true King of Humanity...is and always has been you~ With my power and the backing of Nox, there won't be a single obstacle which you can't overcome~"

From x10 to x100, from x100 to x1000, from x1000 to even x10000, blood spilling from his pores as he grit his teeth as hard as he could, until he felt relief. "So that's how it is... That's what you really want then...? Heh...heheheh... Hahaha..Ahahahahahahahaha!"

The King's jaw dropped, "What...is so funny?"

"For all your Wisdom, you can't see me...really see me...for what I truly am~" Announced Tseng, as he slowly stood upright. "Divine...celestial...holy...? I'm anything...but those...and it's about time that you see for yourself...how wrong you are."

Lightning surged from his body explosively, as he shot out of the crater and crashed into his opponent faster than lightning itself.

"!!!!!" The King felt an overwhelming force break right through the immeasurable gravity, the same instant that he raised his cane and arms to guard himself with Strong Force, nuclear energy teeming forth like solar fires.

Through the flare of his own power, he caught a desperate, vicious expression of primal rage and gleeful bloodlust upon his target's face. A completely inhuman face, one which would be seen in the most vivid of nightmares. It was then that he felt something for the first time, not just apprehension, or even fear, but pure and unbridled dread. He felt his entire body tremble as he was overcome by an all-consuming force of corruption which threatened to devour all light and life. And it was then that his Third Eye gazed upon the abyss, an ageless darkness on par with that which had once destroyed his best friends. {So that's it...! This is the reason Dalia-chan is so scared to truly see him...? Oro, Alma...this child...he may be yours, but he is not like you... He...is...pure only in his thirst for destruction. This is a monster which could absolutely decimate the very scales of the Universe... He has embodied the very grudge forced upon his people by Izanagi...he's styled himself as the very terror which that traitorous man had seen in every minuscule shadow back then!}

Suddenly, everything went blank, white. Empty. Some time passed, and then...he heard voices. Crying?

In the Hiatzu Manor, on the day that changed everything.

Heated voices could be heard, from within the Head's study. The voices of Kenshiro, Yuan, Leliana, Darren, Dalia, Kiirina...and he himself?

The King heard his own voice, and he knew exactly what day it was. {This is Meryl's first day of life. When we'd gathered to try our best to help save her life...}

"I'm sorry, I've tried everything...we have to look for another way." Kiirina said weakly. "Even my Dragon's Palm can't save her..."

"All because she was born with both the Dragon's Aura and Dragon's Eyes?" Darren asked hesitantly. "I don't get it...why is that so bad?"

"They are...the two 8th Dragon Gates which relentlessly drain and devour in the most counterpart ways." Yuan answered sternly. "The Dragon's Aura eats everything around it, and if the user loses control, so too will it devour them. The Dragon's Eyes consume its user until burning away everything that comprises them, and will destroy the mind of any user who loses their will within its flow. They're so powerful alone, and take such exorbitant effort to master..."

Leliana gasped, "-that having them in one vessel, much less an infant...is...?"

Dalia spoke through her tears, "I felt something was wrong...I knew something was... Meryl's birth was...so difficult, so painful... But I was afraid to look...to see what I felt in my heart... In all of history, none has ever been born with two 8th Dragon Gates...Meryl is...the only one..."

"And she just happened to inherit the two which are most lethal to their holder." Kenshiro whispered aside his wife.

The King shut his eyes as he heard himself comment that there's likely no way to save the child. {Why? I have never forgotten that day, and...wait.}

His perception moved beyond the study, to the one outside it.

Young Tseng stood with his back against the door, staring forward vacantly as he listened in, unnoticed in the hysteria of those within.

The King blinked, {Tseng should've been asleep with Ouka, Kasumi, Djinn and Daichi at that time...we'd taken our discussion there to avoid alerting them. He heard it all? Wait...the next morning was when the miracle... Could it be...?}

Tseng pushed off the door gently, taking a deep breath as he looked at his hands. Almost as if he was hearing something, he nodded. "Yes, I know it's a bad idea. But when I saw her the first time, when I held her in my arms...something changed. I felt that...it was on me to be the one to protect her, and...so I will."

"Tseng...?" Ouka called out tiredly, rubbing her eyes as she walked over. She'd been there for his little sister's birth, as this was shortly after Kairi's.

"Reina...go back to bed, okay? I have to do something, and I have to do it alone." Tseng explained as he went over to her.

Ouka looked up at him, "Is...this about Meryl...? Is she okay?"

"...She will be." Tseng answered with slight hesitation. "I promise. So...go back to sleep, alright?"

Ouka blushed when he kissed her cheek, but nodded slowly, and as if in a trance, she returned to the den to sleep, where the others were.

Within the room that was going to be Meryl's.

Tseng closed the door behind him as he went over to the crib, looking down at his little sister, covered in sweat and having trouble breathing. Her weak cries grew weaker by the moment, it seemed.

He gently touched her hand, smiling warmly as, even in her distress, her tiny fingers closed over his. "I know it hurts, Meryl...but it won't much longer. Everything that hurts you...I'll take it away, always... I won't ever let anything happen to you, okay? Just trust me...believe in your brother, always, and I...will never, ever leave you~"

Taking a deep breath, a strange Ki flowed from him to her, manifesting a mystic circle beneath her and himself. Lowering his head, he gently pressed his lips upon the infant's head, and a pitch black, primordial darkness came forth, flowing from her...into him.

The next morning, as Dalia and Kiirina, the first to wake up from a long night, went to check on the unfortunate child.

Kiirina was supporting the mother carefully, unsettled by how capable she was of moving, after what was arguably the most trying childbirth of all time. "Dalia, I...know what was said last night, but I want you to know. I'm going to exhaust every single last possible option. For you, for Meryl..."

"Yes...I know, Kii." Dalia smiled weakly at her, her normally amethyst purple eyes dim, rather than projecting the natural beauty and shine she was known for, when the Dragon's Eyes were inactive. "Somehow or another...we will save that baby."

"...That's right, we-" Kii had opened the door to the room, cutting off the moment they looked inside. "Ah..."

Dalia covered her mouth as she laid eyes on her beloved son, laying around the baby, his arms and legs tenderly wrapped around her without harming her, more as if he were providing her with the unnatural warmth of his body. "Tseng..."

"Do you think that he...caught on to something being wrong?" Kiirina wondered, leading the mother over.

Reaching out, Dalia gently rubbed the cheeks of her smallest kids. "Tseng has always been...sharp beyond his years. I'm sure that he was too worried to sleep, so he...came here to protect her... What a sweet boy you are..."

"Yes...he is." Kiirina agreed, smiling warmly as she saw that Meryl's tiny hands were both grasping at her big brothers chest, her breath calm and even...calm.

Her eyes slowly widened, her own breath inadvertently stopping as her senses hyper-focused upon the infant. Where she'd been struggling more and more to breath over time, she was now in line with standard babies. Her heart, which had beat with just enough force to maybe blow a single blade of grass, now beating strongly and clearly. "It can't...be...?"

"Kii?" Dalia looked over, now sitting by the kids.

With a light groan, Tseng's eyes opened, and he sat up while rubbing them. "Mommy...Aunt Kii? What time is it?"

He blinked as his aunt grabbed him without warning, "A-aunt Kii?"

"Kii, what's the matter?!" Dalia demanded, panic coming on as she saw how shocked the woman looked.

"T-tseng, how long have you been here?" Kiirina asked frantically.

Tseng, blinking once more, glanced aside with a nervous smile. "Not...long?"

"I'm serious, Tseng! Did you do something?!" Pushed the Hotaru Queen in disbelief.

Dalia grabbed her wrist, "Kii, settle down! What's-"

Looking to Meryl, Kiirina released Tseng and touched the child's wrist to check her pulse. "Dalia...check her vitals."

"?" Dalia tilted her head, hesitating as she lowered her hand, scared to see the condition of her daughter. Biting her lip, she took the dive and went for the pulse, almost immediately gasping. "How can this...? Is this...? Tseng...?"

Tseng sweat a bit, pulling his knees in as he sat with his legs crossed, his aunt using the Dragon's Palm to scan his little sister. "Um...I don't know, she seemed to be suffering when I came to see her last night. I...cast a spell that I saw in anime, then fell asleep with her."

His cheeks turned red as he looked up at them bashfully, "Am I...in trouble? Was it bad for me to stay with her...?"

"N-no! You...well..." Dalia and Kiirina both blushed as well, their hearts skipping a beat after seeing his reaction. The two exchanged looks, both starting to cry as they kissed him on the head.

"Huh?" Tseng tilted his head, rubbing the spots they kissed as Kii hugged him and Dalia scrambled out of the room.

"K-ken! KEN!" Dalia shouted, her scream almost immediately summoning the entire Hiatzu Household, servants and all.

The King stared in awe, as the scene played out the way he remembered. Kenshiro and Yuan arrived first, followed by his past self, Leliana and Darren, and then Daichi, Djinn, Kasumi and Ouka, who were deeply confused. Having feared the worst, they found pure relief and bliss upon seeing for themselves that the youngest Hiatzu was suddenly the picture of infantile health. All were shocked, especially The King himself, but they cheered and celebrated, quietly deciding not to look a gift horse in the mouth. When asked after his presence, Tseng had claimed that he woke up early to see his sister, his mother and aunt not contradicting him.

The God touched his head in disbelief, taking a step back. "That's...then he...?"

"That's right..." A familiar voice called out, hesitation in his tone.

"Oro?!" The King gasped, looking around. "How- What is-"

Orochi was silent for a few moments, "This is the truth, seen through your Wisdom. Your first thought, was likely not wrong. Consider that the Supernatural Power referred to as the 8th Dragon Gates...came from my final act in life. In that case, the double-edged nature, especially of the Aura and Eyes...should be painfully clear."

Gulping loudly, The King felt, for the first time in ages, nervous. "So that's how it is...the 7 Dragon Gates represent the power of nature in the world. Borrowed Power is the vessel of energy born in contracts between Humans and their Guardian Spirits, be it God, Celestial or even Hero. The 8th Dragon Gates manifested, shadowing the powers you developed in life, and were bestowed upon Humans at your time of death. Unlike the rest, they could potentially be very dangerous to wield for those unprepared or too weak to do so... The reason, is that they carry that which pushed you and Alma to your ends?"

"That's right, old friend." Orochi confirmed, a spectral frame of his Hydra form outlined around and beyond his host in his youth. "Tseng was only three years old, when the Transcendent Will of our children was assimilated by him. When he was five, he realized the truth of it all. Both Kii and Alma wished to die with The Darkness, no? But that didn't pan out, it was released back into the Universe as it should have been. That Cosmic Force materialized at the time of my death."

Covering his mouth, The King felt a cold sweat as he observed the two. "The 8th Dragon Gates are not only fonts of supernatural power, but Cosmic Energy itself. More specifically, The Darkness, which now primarily manifests itself within and through them...?"

He continued as his best friend's eight heads nodded, "Meryl should have died, because she was far too weak to handle the compounded Cosmic Darkness, which must have been immeasurable compared to the burden which others face, by virtue of the two most dangerous Dragon Gates for the user... If Tseng assimilated the Transcendent Will of **** from that age, then all of their miracles, their Sorcery lived on in him even then. The ritual he performed, he took upon himself, that wicked darkness...?"

"That's right. I advised him against it, but he was adamant." Orochi admitted. "Tseng, at the time, believed he would only hold on to it until he could figure out a safe way to trap it where it would never harm another. That...was when he still had a regard for the sanctity of life. The day he mastered the Black Heaven and Earth Technique, when he forfeited his emotions and Meryl became his Anchor. He turned around and decided that it would be a waste to get rid of it. It was hurting him all that time, but he made the choice to embrace it. Kourin Insei is the fruit of his warped labors. He once sought justice against Izanagi, but...well, you can hear that from him. By taking The Darkness upon himself, and allowing it to become a proper part of him, he created an absolute boundary within his own Ki Center. A complex cage system which would make Kyoshiro proud beyond all measure. This one was designed to contain that Cosmic Darkness, endlessly cycling it, much the way he does with those Inverse Arts."

The King's eyes widened in horror, "Then Tseng not only banked, but found a way to PERPETUATE it?! For all intents and purposes, that Darkness is endlessly generated through his very core?!"

"Yes." Orochi answered curtly. "That child found a way to break the scales of the Universe and monopolize the Darkness which frightened us so. Before you ask, no. The process cannot be reversed, for that boy used his entire body as the catalyst to ensure its permanence. By all rights, he should've been the one Alma prophesied, but after losing his emotions, he threw his ideals out the window and embraced something which nearly annihilated us all on his own terms. You can't be blamed, but you were wasting your time on him all along, old friend. Tseng isn't capable of receiving your Divine Power, that most coveted might, unparalleled. For he himself IS the source of all Darkness."

"Why...? Why did he...go so far?" Whispered The King weakly. "Why did he decide on the most extreme of all extremes, without consulting others...? Did you...?"

"I attempted to dissuade him countless times, but my counsel fell on deaf ears...no, he heard me, but...he decided that it was okay if his vengeance burned away everything that makes him Hiatzu Tseng." Orochi whispered back. "All I have left, is his path. I cannot fault him, for it was my weakness which brought this all about in the first place. I will support him through it all, no matter how many atrocities he may ultimately commit. I was the first sinner, and this is my penitence."

{So that's how it is...the very concept of impurity, the definition of corruption itself, is Hiatzu Tseng?} The King's thoughts wandered, his eyes set upon the monster assaulting him. The manifestation of Cosmic Horror, so eldritch that the word failed to do it justice. {You were willing to go this far, and neither Dalia or I were brave enough to see it.}

The Black Demon, in that moment, truly embodied his title. Wicked, pitch black lightning sparked viciously, streaming in various directions as rage-filled fists bore into Humanity's King and God. He bore no concern for his own self, or the cosmic flare burning at him from every side.

A compact supernova flared within the field, obscuring all sight as nuclear energy teemed forth to burn at the force of corruption.

The King's hands and feet, arms and legs moved swiftly, faster than they had in over a thousand years. He parried countless attacks delivered within a single heartbeat, countering whenever he had an opening. Even when he landed a clean blow, it was useless and only served to add fuel to the all-but-literal fire of its existence. He pushed and he pushed, until he could push no more, the burden of his age crippling him at the most crucial moment.

{This...is bad~} Was his last thought, before the first fist struck his cheek, followed by many more in fierce alternation.

"Um...hang in there for a minute, Kingy!" The voice of his dear friend among the Gods called out, grounding him under the terrifying barrage of world-breaking blows.

The King of Nox very narrowly kept his head and his life, clinging to consciousness as he vaguely felt his disciples come to his rescue, alongside others. And suddenly, it all came to an end as he took in a scent which had always set his Immortal heart aflutter.

All was a blur, before he collapsed onto his back, barely able to see the skies above, as the Hiatzu's Queen took him into her arms.

The Black Demon was restrained by myriad forces, from the Bishop and the Priests, from the eldest Hiatzu Princess, the Kabane King, the various representatives, The Invincible Superman and his present comrades, last but certainly far from least...

"Tseng...rest." Kiirina said softly, her voice a gentle chime as she wrapped her arms around the demon, pulling his head to her supple bosom as she hummed a beautiful tune.

Even with his fist through her stomach, she held him and sang. She sang until it became a lullaby to quell his rage and settle him.

Some time later, the Noble Wolf awakened in the infirmary of Toudou Middle.

"Huh...?" Tseng blinked as he saw the familiar ceilings, as he'd practically lived there with the number of people he'd brought there during his middle school years.

He sat up, rubbing his head in confusion. "How did I...? Oh, I see...the last thing I remember was...then did Kii stop me like she said she would?"

"Yes, she did." The King confirmed, sitting by his side.

Tseng looked right at him, only mildly surprised. "...What happened?"

The King sweat slightly, a weak smile on his face. "You became the very definition of evil incarnate and nearly killed me~ If not for my trusty garments here, that may have been my final moment in the Universe~"

He motioned to his robes, raising a finger. "Many came together to restrain you, and yes, Kii did...lull you back."

"Huh..." Tseng kicked the covers off, crossing his legs with a curious smile. "Is that right? The world must be coming together then, to find a way to exterminate what they saw to be the source of all terror~"

The King's smile faded, "You have Najimi to thank, actually. She used one of her Spells to essentially block the memories completely. In all but those who took part in restraining you, the truth is different. For them, you caught me off guard and barely snuck in a single punch to my chin, before passing out with a rather cocky smile~ Officially, I got too excited and my Electromagnetism disabled all technology, preventing the end from being televised~"

Tseng's eyes widened for all of a second, before his smile turned bitter. "Naji manipulated the entire Human Realm's minds, huh? That must've...taken a lot out of her. Don't stop there, please. Who else did I hurt? Beyond you, I mean."

The King closed his eyes, which were seared with the image of the boy piercing the one who brought him back. He opened them after a few seconds, having promised to keep it from him. "Najimi was the one most affected by far, fear not~ You got rather lucky, giving into your wicked nature and coming away with only she and I harmed~"

"Lucky...right..." Tseng looked down at his legs. He knew the man was hiding something important, but also that he couldn't persuade it out of him. "It's not just Naji that I... I'm sorry. I got way carried away, I didn't intend to hurt you... I hoped that I...could control myself just long enough to get the one hit I needed, but... I guess it's to be expected, all things considered. But still, I'm truly sorry..."

Taking a breath, The King cleared his throat. "Regardless of the circumstances, you did win our wager. What was your business with me?"

Blinking a few times, Tseng smiled slightly. After careful thought, he spoke intent and made a request, one granted hesitantly.

After a rather extensive conversation, the Prince stroked his chin in deep consideration and reflection.

"Tseng," The King said sternly, crossing his legs now. "Why? Tell me why you went so far without care or restraint. Did losing your emotions rob you of your common sense?"

Shutting his eyes, Tseng leaned against the bed's dashboard. "I can see why you'd think that, but...no. Orochi must've told you his thoughts, but it's not like I was out of my mind. No, I was thinking clearly. Ever since I learned the truth, I'd thought about how I could avenge everyone justly, righteously. I did take pride, once upon a time, in the fact that I may have been the Divine Emperor."

He paused, feeling his company's eyes burning into him. "But all the while, something stuck with me about the true history. The Darkness...it exists in all things, doesn't it? Get rid of it if you want, but it'll always come back. Even if I'd punished Izanagi properly, and done something to follow in the footsteps of my noble ancestors, what would that do? Even if I became a virtuous being who could bring others into the light, would that get rid of the Darkness? No, it wouldn't, because Darkness exists in the shadows spread by Light. It was coincidence that I lost my emotions right at the time that I'd decided what to do. I hate Izanagi. Waaaaaay more than is healthy, in fact, and that scared me until I changed my mind. I don't fear the Darkness, Old Man. I embrace it. I'll be the first to admit that nothing I have planned for our enemy is even remotely just or good, and that doesn't bother me in the least."

"Do you not care for them? Ouka, Kiirina and those girls...Meryl?" The King inquired. "Does your love not sway you?"

"Oro-chan once asked me the very same thing," Tseng admitted with a light chuckle. "I do love them, you know now, what I put myself through for Meryl's sake. I love them, but not with all my heart. Because my desire for revenge even exceeds my love for them. I don't know what I'll be like by the time I've taken Izanagi down with extreme prejudice, but I know that they don't deserve my half-hearted love. And at the same time, it's because I love them that...I'm actually not as insane as you and Orochi think I am. See, I do think beyond it all, to what comes after. The Darkness can't be destroyed, but...what if it can be tamed? The thought came to me before I entered the Black Origin Threshold for the first time. After all, how could I call myself divine, when the Black Heaven and Earth Technique is what it is? Instead of trying to simulate goodness, why not embrace and embody it?"

He lifted his head, opening his eyes to look at him. "Old Man, assuming that I survive in the end, I do have a dream beyond vengeance, if you can believe that. Yamata no Orochi and Almaria-Ryu, the two most remarkable beings to have ever existed. They failed because they sought to do the impossible. I will become the impossible, I thought. I won't destroy the Darkness, I'll guide it, I'll tame it. I'm going to become its King, even if that leaves me alone for the rest of time eternal. I'm going to bring the peace my wonderful ancestors strove for...by completely becoming everything that they fought to overcome. But I'll stay in control, in the end, I will. One day, the Darkness will be synonymous with me. And on that day, true peace will have been achieved."

The King lifted a hand over his eyes, rubbing his head. "...Unbelievable. I feel like a fool for obsessing so long, over how I could convince you to join me in Nox, and to one day take my place. That's quite the lofty goal you're aiming for."

"Impossible goals are the best kind," Tseng replied, smiling at him. "I don't have a problem admitting that I do in fact get off on breaking others, killing. The sensation of looking into someone's eyes as they realize they're about to die...it really tickles me. But gambling on impossible odds is the most euphoric feeling for me. This is as bad as it gets, so it's only natural that it's the one path I can put everything into."

The King smiled slightly, "You truly are the most difficult, twisted and terrifying individual I ever have or ever will meet, Tseng. I won't waste time trying to dissuade you, instead...I shall make a change of my own. Do you understand, at least a bit?"

"Yes, I won't stop you either." Tseng decided with a nod. "Do what you want, what you feel to be right, because I will as well. If we end up as enemies in the future, then so be it. Nobody will ever get away with standing in my way, so I'll even go right through you if I must. I'm more than willing and able to let go of everything, to keep falling to my destination."

"If nothing else, that resolve of yours...exceeds your ancestors." The King bowed his head, before standing up. "Until we meet again, my child."

"...Take care, Grandpa." Tseng replied with a hint of affection, lowering his head respectfully. "I really am sorry."

The King took a deep breath as he stopped, exhaling as he exited the room. He looked aside, "And there you have it. What will you do now?"

"...I will observe, like always." Dalia replied softly, her eyes closed. "Perhaps...the best I can do is to hope that Tseng will find some small measure of happiness, win or lose. Am I...horrible for desperately praying that he fails so hard his heart breaks?"

Closing his eyes, The King walked past her and away. "Any mother wants what's best for her children. Who could rebuke you for caring? I too, will do whatever it takes, just like him. In my own way, and upon my own path. I do hope that we never meet as enemies, Dalia-chan."

Taking a deep breath, Dalia held it as her master left and the Bishop and Priests fell in behind him, Man-Duk glancing at her, his eyes shining with contempt before they faded from sight. {So do I... Tseng...why did you have to turn out this way? Why do I have to love you so...? Can I really bring myself to just...stand aside and allow you to destroy yourself for everyone around you...? When I would rather sacrifice the world, to be with you forever...?}

She held her hands over her heart, "I truly never imagined...how painful it could be to love another. If you're the Cold Between Stars, then what exactly does that make me?"
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He Who Was Born With the First Troll and Shall Perish With the Last

Age : 25 Registration date : 2011-08-16 Number of posts : 106 Location :
Race: Human

PostSubject: Re: Endless Descent to Supremacy   Tue 25 Sep 2018, 11:59

Soon after, the Prince was visited by his family and allies, each with a different thing to say.

Kairi clung to her brother, "The way you got him was soooo you! We have the coolest brother ever!"

"Yeah~" Meryl agreed with a cute smile, curled up against him.

Tseng couldn't help but smile as he put his arms around the girls, kissing both of them on the head. {It really is a relief...what would I even do, if Meryl and Kairi were scared of me now? If I want to succeed...I must be better. He was right about that, I am still weak.}

Ouka sat aside quietly, listening as Jeral, Nui, Linali, Honoka, Aoi, Rosalie and Hiyori excitedly spoke with Tseng, detailing their favorite parts of his fight with The King. {If it wasn't for Kii...would I have lost Yarai forever? I was so scared...paralyzed with fear. Am I...really the one who should be marrying him...?}

The door opened as the remaining allies entered.

"We gave your regards to everyone, little Tseng-chan~" Hirohiko announced with a smirk. "They were disappointed they couldn't see you themselves~"

Leliana crossed her arms, "But we made them understand."

"Lily was more than a bit forceful, with your most devoted fans~" Dalia explained with a playful tone.

Hayato chuckled heartily, "The event was a resounding, interstellar success, Tseng-chan! You passed with flying colors!"

"Did I?" Tseng's smile faded as he looked at the Goddess.

Najimi tilted her head, smiling brightly at him. "What's the matter, handsome? Have you finally been struck by my feminine charms and wiles~?"

"What if I said I yes?" Tseng wondered, smiling a bit bitterly.

"Ah," Najimi blinked, her cheeks turning pink.

Aelita pushed her aside roughly, "My bosom misses your adorable face-"

Everyone winced as the woman was struck by another, now twitching on the ground.

Kiirina sat by Tseng after hitting her close friend, checking his pulse with a smile. "As always, it's shocking how quickly you recover, but it seems you're healthy as can be~ Be sure to take it easy for the new few days, okay? If you overexert yourself, I might just have to punish you~"

Tseng, where he'd normally respond provocatively to fluster her, instead blushed, to the surprise of the rest. "Kii...somehow, I...feel like... Did you change or something?"

"Oh!" Kiirina looked at herself as everyone else did. "Um, yes, I did! When you barely scraped out that win, everyone went more than a bit crazy~"

Dalia nudged her daughter in law, "My adorable flower got carried away and spilled her drink on our Holy Lady~"

Ouka blinked a few times, her face turning red as her fiance looked at her. "I...w-well...I was just so happy that you...won."

"Sis rarely gets like that~" Kairi sang, rubbing her head against Tseng's chest as she wrapped her arms around her.

"Ouka-nee was the most excited of us, by far, Onii-chan~" Chirped Meryl, her head atop her brother's shoulder.

Tseng stopped himself from saying something, taking a breath and smiling. "Thanks for going crazy for me, Reina~ But I'm sure Kii didn't appreciate being inconvenienced~"

"I...I apo...logized." Ouka answered hesitantly, shaking in frustration as she gave a dire look to the Goddess.

With a cheerful hum to hide her fear, Najimi spun so her back was facing the Tenjouin Princess. "Kii isn't the type to care about such small things~"

"Y-yes, it's perfectly fine~" Kii agreed, scratching her cheek.

Tseng bit the inside of his cheek for a few seconds, looking at his sisters. "I'll be done here shortly, I just need to handle one final thing and we can head home. Do you mind waiting for me outside, like the beautiful angels you are~?"

"Flattery will get you everywhere, Nii-Nii!" Kairi cheered, kissing his cheek.

Meryl blushed, giggling as she kissed his other cheek. "See you outside, Onii-chan~"

Tseng smiled warmly, waving after the two as they left, most of the rest accompanying them. He noticed Leliana and Hirohiko eyeing him suspiciously, before Dalia dragged them away. "..."

He got out of bed, getting on his knees and placing his head to the ground. "Naji, I'm so, so sorry... You must have wasted so much of your power to cover for me... I don't know how I can-"

Najimi immediately got on her knees, pulling his head up to smile at him. "Nothing was wasted, Tseng, I'm pleased I could help you as I did~ It wouldn't do for the world to potentially turn against you~"

She winked at him, "If you really want to repay me, try not to let things go so far again, mmkay?"

"I...yes...I'll do better. I'll be better." Tseng decided, leaning in to hug her tightly. "If you ever need anything, don't hesitate to come to me..."

"I'll...keep that under consideration." Naji replied, putting her arms around him as she blushed.

Kiirina cleared her throat, "Since you seem to grasp how badly this nearly turned out, I won't chastise you too much. Aside from Dalia, everyone outside this room who wasn't affected by Naji's Spell due to their proximity to you, were told that you lost control in the Black Origin Threshold. Ouka, Hayato and I know the truth, but you owe an explanation of Kourin Insei's true nature to them."

She motioned to Najimi, Elena, Aelita and Mikumo. "Do you object?"

"No, I don't." Tseng answered immediately, sitting on the bed and glancing at Ouka, who was still quiet. "...Kourin Insei is actually-"

Sharing the truth with the four ladies, they were shocked, however accepted it after what they'd experienced firsthand. Following this, Tseng informed then that he did get what he wanted from The King, though he didn't share what that was. In the end, with the day drawing to a close, they returned to Hiatzu Manor.

In the Prince's room.

In the middle of changing, Tseng glanced over his shoulder. "Come in."

Kiirina immediately entered, her eyes scanning the wicked scars across his body. "..."

"What's wrong?" He inquired, tilting his head.

Taking a breath, she walked over, touching a particularly gruesome scar, one shaped vaguely like a star. "Tseng, I have to ask you something, and I won't forgive you this time, if you lie."

"That isn't at all ominous." Tseng quipped, staying as they were. "Okay."

She looked up at him, "How far did you go? The complete Kourin Insei was stressful enough, but you clearly removed a number of limiters...how far did you take them?"

Lifting a hand to scratch his cheek, Tseng flashed a rather nervous smile. "Do you promise not to get mad?"

"...Sure." She whispered.

Nodding, he stuck out his tongue playfully, bopping himself atop the head in a cutesy manner. "I went to 10000~"

"YOU WHAT?!" The woman shouted, her eyes flaring with fury as she pushed him against the wall with unsettling force.

Tseng just blinked a few times, making no attempt to resist her. "You said you wouldn't get mad."

"I lied." Kii answered coldly, gritting her teeth as she held him against the wall, her hand over his heart now as she lowered her head.

{I think she'd rip my arms off, if I tried to hug her right now.} Tseng mentally noted, unable to help himself as he smiled. {Even her frustration arouses me.}

He felt her shaking through her hand, immediately putting his over hers. "Kii, I-"

Lifting her head without warning, Kiirina opened her mouth with full intent to yell. Instead, however, a weak and small smile came to her lips. "You promised me back then, that you wouldn't ever do this..."

"I...lied." Tseng admitted as his smile faded.

"I know...I knew it then, too." Kiirina responded softly, her hand on his chest balling up into a fist. "I always knew that you would overdo it, but I taught you anyway...because I just can't seem to ever say no to you...and allow it to stick. Somehow or another, you always convince me to do things that I shouldn't..."

She shut her eyes, "Do you know why I haven't taught Rose yet? It's...because Na Bong-Chim Ryu was a style I created for personal use. After truly discovering what I had become capable of, I decided I'd never teach it to someone else. And I never did, not...until you seduced me into it. Yes, it can be used to help others, but its main purpose is and always has been to make me stronger. The power it can grant...it's a temptation that few could resist, but it comes at a dire price."

"You know how my immortality functions, right?" She paused a moment. "Before, I'd be careful with what I did, because I often hurt even myself when I got carried away. When my body became this way, I realized I had nothing to fear anymore. At least, that's what I thought. In the final battle against Orochi, ages past... Even altogether, our power seemed to fall short of his. I went further then, than ever before and since."

She lifted her other hand, pushing a finger against his temple gently as her eyes opened to look into his. "250000...I exceeded my limits, multiplied my abilities to that extent, and I allowed us to turn the tables."

Tseng kept still, staring into her eyes without blinking. "250000...then even in the past, you were 25 times stronger than I am?"

"That's not how it works, and that's not the point either." Kii responded. "When all had ended, I collapsed. I only came to weeks later, and I felt worse than I ever had before. From my circulation points to my center, everything was more or less fried. It hurt so much, just to breathe, that I was in tears every day. It took 17 years for me to recover enough to begin training again. I'm unable to die, but I sure can suffer forever. Tseng, that power was devised by me, for me, and even I ended up like that with my body being the way it is. Do you understand...how anxious it makes me, knowing that you might make the same choice that I did? You essentially did, all for your desires...in a competition that wasn't even necessary."

She continued before he could speak, "And the part that really gets to me, is that you...really are okay. And that means that you probably think it's fine for you to do that whenever you want-"

"Kii, that's wrong." Tseng interjected, pushing a finger against her lower lip gently. "When I woke up, I felt...quite a bit of what you just described. When the Old Monster left, I meditated. I had to use the Black Heaven and Earth Technique extensively, forcefully widening my Ki Circulation Points and remodeling a good portion of my Ki Center, as well as my internal organs."

He made her hand relax against his chest, "Can't you tell? That my heartbeat is different from before."

He stared at her as she blinked at him, "I'm sorry that I went overboard, I really am. I did learn a lesson...that my actions have consequences. I don't know if my self-repair was enough, or if it's just a temporary stopgap. I know you're mad, but I do get it. I can't keep doing things like that. Cheating that hard takes it toll, even on me. If I go too far again, I could lose my ability to fight altogether..."

"Or worse..." Kiirina added. "That's what bothers me...I know that you don't care whether you live or die, but we do... I do. You stubbornly made your way into my heart, and caused me to feel things that I shouldn't... Can you imagine what it would be like for me, to have to live for the rest of time without you?"

"I can't." Tseng admitted, rubbing her hand gently.

Taking a deep breath, she finally let up her strength, pushing her head against his chest. "That makes us even then...because I can't understand what it is that you feel when you look toward your desires. I know that there are things you don't want to tell me, and I'm okay with that...I can live with it, as long as you do. Tseng, I...will support you no matter what you do. I'll always, always stay by your side, no matter what happens. No matter where you go, I'll bring you back. But...even just a little bit...won't you try to treasure yourself? The way that I...the way that Meryl, Ouka and Dalia, too..."

Taking a deep breath, Tseng put his arms around her. "I can't make any guarantees, but maybe...one day I might. After all is said and done, maybe I can also find it in me to care about myself for once. At the very least, I'll get stronger, better...so you don't have to worry so much."

"That's impossible, because I'll always worry about you..." Whispered Kii, as she relaxed against him.

Later on.

Tseng let out a sigh as he sat in his study, looking past his desk, where his childhood friend and fiance was vacantly staring at the floor. "Reina, I know I messed up, okay? You don't have to give me the silent treatment to guilt trip me. I won't disappoint you again-"

"That's not it!" Ouka cried in frustration, clenching her fists. "I'm the one who disappointed you, Tseng! When I agreed to marry you, I thought that I could support you through anything and everything! I tried, I really did...but I'm no good... When it really counted, I froze...I couldn't do anything to help you...and I left everything to Kii..."

She covered her face with her hands, shaking visibly. "I'm supposed to be your wife, but I can't even...!"

Tseng interrupted her, already by her side with his arms around her. "I could never be disappointed in you, Reina. You're my girl, you know? Always and forever. If anything, I...I'm relieved that you didn't get involved. I know I hurt them all...and I couldn't live, knowing I'd hurt you if I had."

He pushed his head against hers, pulling her closer. "I'd rather die than hurt you, Reina..."

Ouka's eyes widened, filling up with tears as she broke down against him. {Then what would you do, if you knew that you'd hurt Kii...? I hate this... I want to protect you...!}

Tseng stroked her hair as he held her, smiling as she eventually settled down. "I really will do better, Reina...I promise."

"I know you will..." Whispered Ouka, holding onto him with no intention of letting go, as she sat in his lap.

Tseng felt at peace as she leaned on him, running a hand through her hair. {I'm the one who doesn't deserve you, Reina. I don't deserve any of you, really.}

His thoughts wandered, to his two missing brothers, and the times they'd had together. He remained with his love, the two falling asleep in one another's embrace.

A scene from the past, roughly 8 years ago.

Seated on the outer terrace of the Hiatzu Manor, overlooking a serene ravine, was the young prince in meditation. His Ki Tracing, even then always active, detected swift movement from behind.

"Special delivery." Djinn called out.

Daichi chuckled heartily, "This is your destination, little missy~"

"Uh...huh?" Tseng opened his eyes to look at them, as they set their little sister down.

"Onii-chan, Onii-chan, can I ask you something~?" Meryl innocently inquired, running over to him.

"Mm, you can ask me anything, obviously." Tseng answered while setting a hand on her head and letting her drop into his lap. He gave his brothers an odd look, his left eyebrow raising.

"Don't look at us like that, you're the best equipped to answer her." Claimed Djinn, before turning away.

Daichi nodded in agreement, waving to them. "Later, have fun!"

"I feel like they get weirder and weirder every day, what exactly are they learning?" Tseng remarked, looking down at his treasured sibling, whose round eyes were fixed on him eagerly.

"Djii and Dai don't like explaining?" Asked Meryl, tilting her head.

Tseng ruffled her hair lightly, smiling. "It's not that, I'm sure they just wanted to make sure that your question is answered as clearly as possible. That said, what is it?"

With a lyrical giggle, Meryl turned to lean her back against him. "What's Borrowed Power, Onii-chan?"

"Ah, yeah, I guess it's natural that they'd pass on that topic." Tseng suggested, clearing his throat. "Let's look at the basics, Meryl. All things with life contain energy, and that energy exists throughout the world. We're all part of the world, and the world is a part of us. In that way, said energy endlessly cycles over time, never running out. The Gods refer to it as Vital Energy. Celestials like to call it Charyeok. We Humans have a number of varying names, but we use the term Ki."

"Yes, Onii-chan." Meryl replied politely, listening with interest.

Tseng's smile grew a bit, "Martial Arts are the general way which Ki is used, because anyone can do learn them through practice, training. Beyond them are abilities like the Dragon Gates, which are representations of nature. The 8th Dragon Gates, like your Dragon's Aura and Eyes, are unnatural, supernatural. They're abilities which aren't naturally occurring. Somewhere in the gray space between those is Sorcery. I wouldn't call it magic, per se, but that is certainly the closest concept to compare it to. Martial Arts, Dragon Gates, 8th Dragon Gates and Sorcery. Those are the outlets through which we use Ki, depending on the individual. Of course, Gods and Celestials directly wield their own power at will. Alongside all of that is the Borrowed Power, which comes from making a contract with one's Guardian Spirit. Naturally, a Spirit can't give what they don't have. Spirits can be legendary Humans, Celestials or Gods. The type of Spirit determines what they can offer. Human Spirits can grant their hosts access to the skills and abilities they developed while alive. An example of this is Samuel Rosinante-"

"Oh, oh!" Meryl chirped excitedly, holding his hand. "Rosinante-san is the one you beat in that tournament last year!"

"Good memory, my dear~" Tseng praised, stroking her hair. "That rival of mine has a contract with the ancient Demigod hero, Heracles, tracing back to his Greek origins. Heracles was originally a foe whom nearly claimed Orochi's life, which is why the whole world made such a big deal out of us clashing in the finals. Anyway, in their case, the power Heracles held in life, manifests in Rosinante. That's Direct Power Borrowing, and it grants the contractor the power of their Spirit, through the body. It makes them amazingly strong, faster, more durable, and some, like Rosinante, can even summon the armaments of their Spirit."

Beaming brightly, Meryl laughed. "Onii-chan, you broke his bow and his armor, right~?"

"That I did!" Tseng confirmed with a proud grin. "He was strong, but I was a lot stronger!"

He chuckled as her laughter continued, "Anyway, most Human Spirits carry that form of Power Borrowing. Celestials and Gods are different. They can sometimes grant a Direct contract, but they usually tend to offer the Indirect Power Borrowing. The two races are somewhat similar, after all. Gods embody primal forces, Celestials embody concepts. There's gray areas between them, where both sides can bleed, but that's typically how it is. For example, our entire family has Celestials as Guardian Spirits. Onii-chan has Vritra, Dad has Fenrir, Mom as Kitsune, Lily has Raiju, Dare has Ifrit, Dai has Bahamut, and of course, Dji has Tiamat."

"And you have Orochi!" Meryl chimed.

Tseng nodded, "Exactly. Apart from us, Reina has Leviathan, who like Raiju and Ifrit, are examples of Celestials with primal power. Some of them have Indirect Contracts, which allow them to channel the powers of their Spirits. When Lily decides her Dragon Gate isn't enough, she falls back on her contract with Raiju and wields his heavenly lightning. When Dare gets heated, he can summon Ifrit's hellfire. Remember how Reina parted the sea when we went to the beach with her and Kairi last month? That was from her contract with Leviathan."

Meryl nodded quickly, "Ouka-nee saved Kairi and I from drowning~"

"That she did," Tseng answered, kissing her on the side of the head. "An example of a God Spirit is Hirohiko, who has Bishamonten, the Japanese God of War. Gods are the rarest kinds of Spirits, as Gods typically have eternal life. Bishamonten perished in a massive battle long ago. In Hiro's case, he's a Direct Power Borrower, and can summon all of the God's extraordinary weapons and armor. Of course, he doesn't really need to rely on them, since his Dragon Blade is so powerful that he can create weapons and armor that surpass even divine equipment. He is, after all, the rival of our Onii-chan~"

"Mmhm, Hirohiko-nii is reeeeallly strong!" Commented Meryl. "Are you a Power Borrower, Onii-chan?"

"I'm getting to that~" Tseng poked her cheek lightly, "So as you've learned, there's two forms of Power Borrowing, Direct and Indirect. The type depends on the Spirit in question, which also determines what the effects will be. As with all things, there are caveats, special circumstances. Some Spirits are exceptional enough to grant both forms in one. This is the case for Onii-chan, Dad and Mom. And if that's possible, then naturally there are Spirits who either can't or won't make a contract at all, for whatever reason. This means that the host can never be a Power Borrower. Orochi falls under this category, as he doesn't have any power to give me. But then, that's not to say I'm not a Power Borrower, either."

"Ehhh?" Meryl tilted her head. "But if Orochi doesn't give you power, how can you borrow it? Do you steal it from him?"

"Heheh, nothing like that, no." Tseng kissed her on the forehead. "You're the source of allll my power, Meryl. Without you, I'm the weakest in the Universe. Whenever I'm with you, I can borrow an infinite amount of power. In other words, as long as we stick together, I'm invincible, because I have the most adorable and beautiful little sister in the cosmos~"

"I give you power, Onii-chan~? Do I really~?" Meryl's cheeks were bright pink as she pushed against him, her eyes seeming to sparkle with joy.

Tseng nodded, ruffling her hair again. "Of course~ All the power I'll ever need, it comes from you and you alone~ Anyway, do you get it now? Power Borrowing is amazing, but it's not absolute. After all, I beat Heracles's empyrean might with pure Martial Arts! For you see, I use my contract with you to reach fathomless heights in skill and technique!"

"If I don't get to make a contract, can I make one with you, Onii-chan~?" Meryl wondered, hugging him.

"Of course you can~" Answered Tseng with a bright smile, hugging her tightly. "You'll never have to fight though, because I'll always be there to protect you~ Borrowed Power or not~"

One day before the announcement.

In the study of the Hiatzu's leader.

Tseng sat behind his desk calmly, awaiting the arrival of his three most trusted allies. His eyes were closed, until he felt something, opening his eyes to see them.

Kasumi took a knee between the other two, lowering her head. "Tseng-sama, I returned the moment you called for me. I apologize for taking so long."

"Don't, you're perfectly prompt~" Tseng answered with a warm smile, extending a hand. "Come here, Kasumi."

He went over, hugging her as she stood. "I've missed you...thanks for putting up with my selfishness all this time~"

"It's my greatest pleasure to do anything you ask of me..." Kasumi whispered, hugging him tightly, her cheeks pink as she smiled.

The sound of a throat being cleared, caught their attention.

"I didn't mean to leave you out, did you want a hug too?" Tseng wondered, looking at Hayate. "And stand, please~"

Hayate got up, smiling. "It's good to see you again, Lord Tseng. Kasumi often lamented being away from you for so long."

"B-brother!" Kasumi gasped, looking at him in surprise.

Ryu chuckled lightly, "The feeling was clearly mutual, though."

"Ryu-sensei!" Kasumi shouted with fluster.

Tseng laughed in amusement, kissing her on the cheek. "Very much so."

He smiled more as her body jolted with the show of affection, "Thank you for coming, really."

"Your word is our gospel, your commands our wish." Responded Ryu with a bow. "You need only speak, and we shall deign to hasten your will to fruition."

"I appreciate that, I really do." Tseng admitted, taking a deep breath as Hayate and Kasumi bowed as well. "I won't beat around the bush. Of all those around me, you three are and likely always will be my most reliable allies, my treasured and trusted friends. For years, I've promised you that, one day, I would share with you the reasons for many of the things I've asked of you. And even when you harbored doubts, as I know you have from time to time, you never once worked out of my favor. It's time that I finally share with you...my ultimate goal."

As the Prince told the three the tale of his quest, how it fell upon him and how he ultimately took to it, the three Mugen Tenshin Ninja listened in silent awe. Not once did they interrupt their master, knowing how hard it would have been for him to share with them, the secret which had only been spoken between him and his fiance until then.

"So that's how it is..." Hayate said softly.

"That's how it is." Tseng responded calmly, sitting on the desk while facing them. "I may be in the wrong, but even so, I...will carry on. Will you continue to fight for me?"

Ryu crossed his arms, "Need you ask? We are grateful for the care you've demonstrated in revealing the truth when you were under no obligation to. If anything, our faith in you has only grown."

"That's right, Tseng-sama." Kasumi agreed, touching his hand. "Thank you for trusting us with this. Right or wrong doesn't matter, when we wish only to do anything that we can for you. Besides, what Izanagi did...is disgusting."

"Thank you, all of you." Tseng smiled at her and the two men, holding her hand. "Kasumi, you picked something up from Nox at my request, right?"

"Ah, yes!" Kasumi answered, producing a strange, dimly glowing sphere of dark gray crystal.

"Thanks," Tseng ruffled her hair gently, taking it into his hand. "This is what I requested from The King of Nox yesterday. From the moment I heard of the impending announcement, it was my main concern."

"What...is it?" Hayate asked curiously, raising an eyebrow.

Tseng looked down at the sphere, "This is...well, you could call it the one key to the Underworld."

The three Ninja all grew tense with the answer, "The Underworld...? As in...?"

"Yes, the very same one in the stories, the forbidden hellscape that's been sealed off for a few millenia." Tseng noted, rubbing the sphere. "'Know your enemy and know yourself, and you needn't fear the outcome of one hundred battles.'"

"A paraphrased quote from Sun Tzu." The three commented immediately, quickly catching on.

Tseng smiled again as he saw them connect the dots, "That's right, you know what's in the Underworld. Who's been there since before it was sealed. Even before being humbled by The King yesterday, I thought this. That, in order to make Izanagi suffer...in order to truly break him, I have to know him. I need to know everything there possibly is to know about him. What he likes, what he hates, what makes him tick. Sure, Kii, that crazy gramps, The Elder and their other allies can tell me quite a bit, but it's not enough. They don't know him to the extent I desire to. And who better to learn the details from, than his own wife?"

Kasumi bit her lip, "Tseng-sama...I understand, but...this is the Underworld we're talking about. There are countless dangers to face there..."

"I'm aware of the risks, Kasumi." Tseng assured her. "I don't intend to go alone either, I'd like to ask you to accompany me, Ryu."

Ryu bowed his head immediately, "I shall ever quicken to whatever direction you point my blade. I am your sword, my Lord."

Tseng smiled at him, then Kasumi as she frowned. "Don't be like that. I know you want to be the one to protect me there, but I have a job for you. One that only you can accomplish, which I can trust only you with."

He set the sphere down, taking her hand in his. "Izanagi may be my main adversary, but he's far from the only one I have. Kasumi, I'd like you to send a group of our best and brightest, to investigate the children of Izanagi, as well as the Gods he trusts most. I'd have you yourself enter the Celestial Realm and search for the Celestials who were closest to my ancestors. Like Kii, the Old Monster, Elder and the other Vanguards, I'm certain that they would've retained their memory as well. Learn whatever you can from them, on how to best strike at Izanagi."

"As you command." Kasumi accepted, lowering her head to kiss his hand affectionately.

Tseng ran a hand through her hair, looking to her brother. "Hayate, I'd like you to send out feelers across the Human Realm. The Grand Tourney will draw in all kinds, both those who like me, and those who loathe me. I'd never forget my goal with Izanagi, but I do require the Imperial Regalia to free my brothers from the shackles which Izanagi placed upon their original selves so long ago. Please learn as much as you can. All who intend to participate, no matter their affiliation. Their desire in taking part, what they're after. Ascertain the quality and strength of my rivals, even the smallest detail mustn't go unnoticed if you can help it. The more I know, the better I can handle them. And it's also possible that I may persuade some to support me, rather than stand in my way. While I would like to participate earnestly, I can't be picky about my methods. I know that, now."

"Pay extra attention to that shitstain of an eyesore, Fisk." He added, taking note of hostility from the three, which flashed across their faces at the mere mention of the name.

"It shall be done," Hayate responded with a nod. "I'll spare no effort in my investigations."

"Nor will I~" Kasumi assured him.

Tseng stroked her cheek, "I know~ I wish that I could spend more time with you, but I'm unfortunately short on it right now. When you return, I'll be sure to make plenty of time for you, my Sakura."

He leaned in to kiss her on the lips for a few seconds, pulling back. "Take care."

"And you as well, Tseng..." Kasumi replied, blushing as he stood up.

"Ryu, can you make preparations?" Tseng wondered, while making for the door. "We need to move as quickly as possible to manage our time properly. I'd like to meet Izanami before I go to my brothers."

"Consider it done," Ryu replied, flickering out of sight.

"Until we meet again!" Hayate and Kasumi exclaimed, before vanishing with a gale of wind and a shower of sakura petals.

Tseng smiled over his shoulder, before exiting his study to speak to his household.

Present day, Ushigie.

In the aftermath of the failed assassination, the two brothers went after the third, scaling down the skyscraper.

Daichi led the way swiftly, silently stealing glances at his little brother, who was trailing behind him. "...What's wrong? Dji was too preoccupied to notice, but you're off balance, aren't you? Your movements are sluggish, and your senses are dulled. The Tseng I remember would have noticed that attack coming before either of us did."

"Well, it's pleasing to see that you're still observant, Dai. It's nothing to worry about, I'm just a bit drained." Tseng replied calmly while glancing back to him. "I recently participated in an enlightening competition, and I haven't had any time to recover these last few days, between numerous affairs."

"The life of a Prince is a rough one, eh?" Wondered Daichi with a slight grin, while skipping down a set of decrepit stairs.

With a light hum, Tseng slid his hands into his coat pockets as he followed casually, looking right at home in spite of the crumbling status of the structure. "The important things in life are worth struggling for."

"Hmph, I won't even pretend to know what you mean by that." Daichi decided with a shrug.

"Wise decision, dear brother." Quipped Tseng as they heard a loud pounding sound on repeat.

Daichi led the way to the end of the newly created hole, scratching his head upon seeing what awaited them.

Djinn sat atop the assailant, bringing his fists down upon his face repeatedly, the head a bloody and unruly mess.

Stepping forward quickly, Tseng caught his brother's wrist and stopped him before he could throw another punch. "Is he not already dead enough for you?"

As if coming out of a trance, Djinn's head snapped upright as his sight focused. "My bad, did you have questions?"

"Nothing a corpse can answer," Tseng answered blankly, releasing him and stepping back. "I appreciate the rampage, since it was in my honor."

"Only the best for you, yeah?" Replied Djinn, while getting to his feet.

"Flattery will get you nowhere." Sighed Tseng, who knelt by the brutalized assailant and placed a hand over his chest. His Ki emitted from his palm with a visible ripple effect, which ran over the entirety of the body for a few seconds. An extension of the Ki Tracing Technique, which he could employ to determine the condition of both living things and inanimate objects.

Lifting his hand, he slapped it down to send a surge of Ki forth into the no-longer-beating-heart, before he stood up. "I see Fisk still treats his toys harshly. This one must have been a failure, his organs were on the verge of collapse, even before you got your hands on him. There was a bomb in his heart too, it's a good thing I was here to find you guys."

Scoffing, Djinn crossed his arms. "Wouldn't be the worst way to go out."

Clearing his throat, Daichi nudged his twin. "I think our little brother will hit you if you keep talking like that. And thank you for your ever optimal timing, Tse."

"He's not wrong." Tseng confirmed, his eyes narrowing on Djinn for a half second, before directing a smile to Daichi. "And you're welcome, I never grow tired of bailing family out of dangerous situations. More importantly, you two are coming home with me now. Or are you going to make me force you?"

"You came all this way, so it'd be cruel of us to deny you." Daichi answered before Djinn could make a sarcastic response.

Taking a breath in relief, Tseng nodded. "Good, I'd take no pleasure in crippling you and dragging you out of here across these treacherous grounds."

The twins both cringed with his comment, aware it wasn't an idle threat. "You sure do say some messed up things with that princely mouth."

Smiling over his shoulder at them, Tseng chuckled. "All things considered, it's good to see you two again. Let's get out of here before we're buried alive~"

"I feel like every outing we've ever had as brothers, has involved corpses." Djinn mused, rustling out his hair as they made their way for the exit.

"Do you really think so? I can't say that I'd noticed." Tseng claimed in response, tapping at his chin in thought.

Daichi stepped between the two, putting his arms around their necks. "You both have a horrible penchant for murder when you're crossed. It just so happens that we're constantly crossed when we step out together~"

"If you say so, then I guess it's true." Replied Tseng with a whistle, lightly nudging Dai with his elbow.

"Hm." Djinn and Daichi exchanged glances, as their little brother moved a bit ahead of them. {He acts like the Tseng we always knew, but...something about him is different. Off, somehow...wrong, even. Wonder what's been happening with him over the years.}

Tseng felt the two's eyes on him, but made no mention of it. {That's step one out of the way. Step two, although it isn't exactly necessary, is to make them feel worthy of being saved. Of course, I intend to do it whether they want it or not. And if I do end up dying whether it's due to Izanagi, or because I fail to take control of the Darkness, Meryl will need them.}

He slid his hands into his pockets as they emerged from the building, taking in the air of the city. {I wonder. If I succeed where my grandparents failed, what will this place be like in a couple of years, or a decade? It would be nice to see it myself, this place when they spent so much time. Before that pathetic bastard twisted the tapestry of history, consigning this place into a capital of decrepit decadence. So curious, how a few altered lines in the Universe's history can ripple forth to breed such wide, sweeping changes. You thought it was the end when you committed your sin, Izanagi, but it wasn't...no, it was the beginning. To some extent, I may have to thank you. After all, your actions created me and gave me my singular purpose in life.}

He looked up at the gray skies, {Thinking back, all of your actions have produced considerable ripples. What you did to my brothers in their first life, resulted in them standing right where they are now. In allowing your belief that my people would breed a monster to threaten the world, to consume you, you in turn directly facilitated the rise of an abomination far worse than you'd ever anticipated. I often wonder how much you really see, as you style yourself as the Supreme God, in a Universe with no Buddha. Do you think that you better everything you touch? Or do you maybe know, deep down, that your actions had and always will have consequences, that you dug your grave millenia ago? It makes me curious, I admit...but that won't save you. Nothing will. No force, no being. While those aware proclaim my cause to be just and right, I couldn't care less about either of those. I'm coming for you, False God. Because you hurt my people...and because I enjoy hurting others myself. And believe me...nothing I've enjoyed, will ever top the way I tear you apart, cell by cell, atom by atom, until you're nothing more than the worthless, cosmic excrement adrift the callous solar winds. There are fates worse than death, and none will ever embody that idea more perfectly than you.}


Izaya's The Boss:

Stomp That Shit!:

Shizu-chan's Seismic Toss:

Chill Izaya/Poor Izaya:
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