Thus The Heavens Wept - Ishin vs. Tenjin RPG

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Ishin

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#1  Edited By Ishin

◈◈ Parts Unknown, Japan ◈◈

There were no lush fields in this land. Water did not flow in abundance, and the poor soil grew nothing but weeds and corpses. It was a land as barren as the sky above it, and as dry as the rocky peaks surrounding it. This was a proving ground, for warriors old and new, great and lame. Here, men from all walks of life came to see the whites of their opponent's eyes, and paint the soil red with broad strokes of blood. And in the distance, a warrior marched.

Ishin Keijijo - the Demon King.

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The wind swept through the arid land, and lifted the dust and rock into it's harsh embrace. It whistled a dry tune as it raced from here to there, then vanished as suddenly as it had come. It was to be the last sound this land would know until the starving edge of Ishin's blade met the supple flesh of his foe.

Katsuro Hanzo Yamamoto - the Genshokage.

As much a legend as he was a scourge of the living. He was the pale horse of death. A nightmare from which there was no waking. And Ishin had come to cut him down. Trekking down a rocky mountain path, his hair as black as the shadows from which Katsuro hailed, Ishin felt his blood rush with a warrior's intent.

Minutes stretched into hours, the Sun's heat boiled over him, yet his stride never slowed. And his gaze never wavered, for the featureless slits of white he called eyes had finally caught sight of the monster he had come to slay - or be slain by.

"Heaven is only a death away".

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Accessing Files...

One Moment...

Parts Unknown, Japan...

Not Long Ago...

Amidst the nearly barren landscape, a graveyard of rusted blades and sun-bleached bones, a man half composed of shadow stood amongst the sparse vegetation. Scarlet eyes scanning the strange onyx petals blooming from the remains of warriors slain. It was here, that the Digital Doom and his lot harvested the infamous Black Lotus. The House of Spiders called it the “Garden of the Fallen” and only from blood and a violent death does its roots spread in the pools of gore. It could not be found with maps or technology, it could only found by those who followed “The Way”.

It was here, that these martial practitioners tested themselves against one another in a game of death.

It was the Dark Shangri-La, the Lychgate of glorious carnage.

Tenjin, a man with as many titles as there are ways to die, had sought out Ishin for years. Never meeting or corresponding, only their legends clashed and whispers of their might collide. Their footsteps were all but echoes of one another, the gleam of their swords did not reflect one another’s image; the mirrors of bloody fate that they were.

However, at long last, their swords would cross.

And those swords would drink themselves full.

Katsuro watched as his opponent drew closer, the western winds rolling dust up in spirals and the two warriors' clothing billowed in their wake. Their howl like the distant call of wolves. The smell of rot was in the dry air. Behind his Hannya Mask, he did not grin nor react, only the viper like stare, silent, his heart beating like the slow roll of a war drum. Nanofibers infused his muscles, though they were not tense merely in a state of readiness for the battle to come. His very presence made the air around him and just beyond a blade’s reach made the air far colder. Enough for his breath, pouring from the fanged maw of his mask, to appear like whiffs of a coal-burning furnace, apparent and fading some time as it rose into nothingness.

Ishin’s words carried over as the Renegade Reaper began to move from his position, his armored tabi boots pressing onto buried bones and hardened sand.

Heaven is only a death away” spoken in their native tongue.

Katsuro, whose gauntlet rested on the very edge of his katana, pressing his thumb and index finger against the crossguard, responded.

Thus the Heavens wept...for the road to Hell is paved in the corpses of our past.

After his voice, deeper than the grave, carried itself through the landscape, there was a short pause.

Only then, would the sound of his sword, produced by raising his thumb against the crossguard interrupted this eerie silence.

*Click*

With a burst of devilish speed, the Ninpo Nightmare closed the gap, ripping off his cloak into a sending it forth into the air revealing a futuristic garb akin to a tactical shinobi, his sword producing an audible hiss as it glided out of the scabbard. Utilizing friction, the flat of the blade drawing kinetic potential against the innards of its housing as he summoned it from its lair.

The technique, known as the dragonfly cut, caused the blade to be unleashed with incredible speed. Coupled with his inhuman physique, Tenjin propelled the blade with a single hand in a rising diagonal slash attempting to slice open Ishin’s sternum utilizing only three inches of the blade to maximize his reach while keeping at a safer distance from the phenomenal swordsman. Yet, the Almighty Assassin was not without his treacherous swordplay.

Keeping his left hand on the scabbard during the unsheathing, coupling a timed strike with the first attack reaching halfway to its zenith, Tenjin pulled the scabbard up and out, unleashing it as an improvised melee weapon with a vertical rising strike, attempting to connect the lower portion or pommel with the lead wrist of Ishin and batter the Ulnar Nerve and connective tissue of the Demon King.

Displaying his superhuman reflexes and agility, Katsuro shuffle stepped to his foe’s outside a few paces away. Bringing the scabbard into a reverse grip position and behind his back, the pommel aimed at the sky. Likewise raising his sword to be parallel with his swords and facing its antimetal cutting edge partially towards Ishin’s feet.

Their images captured in the sheen of the blade.

Do you not hear the call to Hell, Demon King...it beckons you back to the Abyss. Allow me to guide you into eternal despair.

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Silence filled the lonely air. Katsuro, shogun of sorrow, drew his blade with a deathly glimmer. And the gods of war above watched as those of death dueled below.

The Genshokage moved, and his blade rode the air with grace and savagery. Soon, whispers of fear echoed, flowing out the rotting throats of the corpses Katsuro had buried in this decrepit land. They were an army once, proud and strong. But against the Genshokage, they were little more than paper tigers watching a storm closing in. On that day, they cried out the color from their eyes, emptied their hearts, and committed to the crippling grip of fear. Yet as the air slowly chilled and Katsuro's blade neared, there was no clamoring heart in Ishin's chest - only a supernatural instinct from a body and mind primed to work as one.

Between the mountains of thought and action lie a valley, a subconscious censor whose duty is in the sequence of perception-evaluation-planning-conscience-reaction that plagues all minds and slows all warriors - all but Ishin, the Demon King. In place of his subconscious censor is a marriage of skill and the supernatural whose vow is to enable one thing; an instinctive and near-instant answer to danger. And so, under a wretched sky, the Beast from the East drew his katana with a quickness envied by lightning. Katsuro's blade rose with a murderous gleam, and found not Ishin's sternum, but the black edge of the Demon King's space-time sword.

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Wrapped in enchanted folds of exotic matter, it shifts the space-time coordinates of all it touches, cutting by separating anything from anything, be it bone, true adamantium, or Katsuro's blade. So with the swiftest of parries, Ishin sought to slice Katsuro's blade in two and slide out the range of his pommel's blow. A bird's tweet sounded above them, but no others answered it's call, for it soared in a land preparing for death. And were it not for his all-cutting blade and subconscious mastery, death would have claimed Ishin by the swing of Katsuro's first strike. Instead, Ishin's speed rose like a tide, and he ghosted in the ticks between seconds.

After-images trailed him like a stream, his blade moving first, and his legs second. His blade moved in ambiguity, tight and controlled, teasing much but revealing little. Was it a cut or a thrust? From this angle or the other? It was a maddening wave of probabilities, too quick for any foe but the Genshokage himself to know what to parry. And like a panther, Ishin pounced. Gliding downwards in a diagonal cut, his blade screamed towards Katsuro's temple. The Demon King however, was no fool. Katsuro was a master of masters, and were his first blade to be left in ruin by Ishin's earlier parry, he'd soon unleash a second sword to do the deed of death.

Aiming for the head, Ishin cut from his wrist and his outside so as not to open himself, but as his blade roared for the Genshokage's head, the Demon King committed his body elsewhere, steering his blade away from Katsuro's head to the outside of his sword-arm's exposed wrist were he to raise a newly drawn blade in defense of his skull. And yet, the second strike - like the first - was but a feint, there to merely drag Katsuro's legendary defense to and fro - from head to wrist - till Ishin caught the faintest glint of an opening.

There.

With a step, the Beast from the East lunged forward like a gale force, his speed scorching the air and tearing it asunder. His feints were guided by the dance of his blade, but the real strike came with a lunging step and steered his blade away from Katsuro's wrist and back to his head. The air shrieked and sparked as Ishin's blade sliced through molecule after molecule - and threatened to cleave right through Katsuro's skull and cut his brain in two.

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Tenjin

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Here, in this shrine of skulls and shattered limbs, the Blood Painter battled one of his greatest adversaries. A man shrouded in myth, not unlike Katsuro and one of the few who could feasibly best him in swordplay. Thus, foregoing his acrobatics and purposeful tempting of death was necessary if he wished to reign triumphant in the Garden of the Fallen. Ishin’s blade could cut him down in a single stroke though the Fatal Phantom remained dauntless and relished in his lust for war.

Fear was foreign. A concept that he could not fathom.

What was to fear if one knew not the permanence of death?

Nothing.

And nothing would stop Katsuro indefinitely.

Like a current in the abyss, Ishin sent up his sword to meet Tenjin’s and the clash was not the sparks of steel but like water meeting water. As Tenjin adopted his aforementioned stance, witnessing as both of his strikes found not the softness of flesh and sinew, his blade was missing a quarter of its original length. The other partial shard gleaming in the light and reflecting the sand where the Beast of the East had once stood.

Bastard. He internalized.

Though, this did not prevent his short monologue from transpiring.

Indeed, while his voice carried through the winds, his cybernetic optics scanned his opponent’s impressive maneuverability. His after images, feints and misdirection were the bane of all swordsman, with spectral speed Ishin began his calculative assessment of vulnerability and psychological warfare. He became a hunter.

But the Genshokage was not prey. Thus it was a battle liken to a panther and a cobra; the panther on the move awaiting to rend and the serpent reared to strike.

Katsuro’s eyes processed information such as trajectory and velocity, geometric patterns and further expanding his field of vision nigh omnidirectional. His auditory amplifications could hear the worms moving through the blood-soaked earth beneath him, the minuscule pebbles scrapping under Ishin’s feet. His enemy’s heart rate...the blood coursing in his veins.

Clad in vile tendrils of shadow, moving unearthly from his massive frame, he would match the Demon King’s ability to move with foreboding locational mastery.

Then the Black Dragon attacked.

He came like a storm, Katsuro already adopting a guard position with his blade parallel with his shoulders and pointing eastward towards the horizon. Tenjin knew his blade could not parry the infernal blade which seemed to claim his head as a prize. His scabbard raised behind him; it would need to be sacrificed so an immediate counter-attack could ensue.

However, a game of feints and masquerade was about to begin between the two swordsmen.

As the first cut of the Demon King’s sword came within range, Katsuro shifted his stance from orthodox to southpaw, sending the scabbard upwards in a reverse grip. Placing his elbow at a high angle and attempted to slam into the side of the flat of the katana. However, cleverly the sword was then brought downward, aiming for his sword hand. With great nimbleness, kinetic pistons were ignited from his chest and his sword-bearing arm, resulting in a jet-like strafe bringing his position some forty degrees in the southeast direction nearly instantly. Yet, the deft dodge seemed to be in vain.

Just as the true strike, powered by a lunge that seemed to tremble the graves around them, rose upwards it should have been the shinobi’s undoing. Yet, Katsuro waiting until the last conceivable moment his inhuman reflexes allowed then manifested a Shadow Clone by proxy, swallowed further by a mass of amorphous darkness. From the umbral visage, as the blade severed the doppelganger’s skull, Tenjin ripped from the shadowy torso in a crouching position and under the arms of Ishin with a dash. Ebon skeletal arms grasping at his black and shoulders as he moved. Further, from such darkness, the Grim Ghost’s hand trailed behind him and summoned his plasma sword, the Lamenting Devil from the shadow’s dark embrace. Utilizing his speed and positioning, he continued out, angling his wrist in an attempt to hack through Ishin’s abdomen with a stream of crimson light.

Turning on his heels and adopting an immediate single arm low guard, using the blade to establish some distance or readiness in case of a fell successive counter by his foe.

Yet, as a ninja, he too was capable of misdirection. From that same shredded shadow husk that he had replaced, another shadow clone was dispatched in the opposite direction, clutching the remnant of his antimetal katana. This clone produced a bit of flair and entered a combat roll to face the opposite direction and landed in simian like stance just after launching a spinning backfist style maneuver as it rolled.

This was a rouse aimed at impaling Ishin through the lower back before dissipating into nothingness like the husk from which it came.

Yet, this was all with a cost.

The Savage Shinobi’s Hannya Mask separated horizontally directly through its massive devilish grin and fell off in two pieces along the cut and tattled like bones at his feet. His shroud retracted in a series of hexagonal formations, revealing a pallid face as white as the deepest winter. Sable hair unfurled from a loose knot and cascaded down well past his shoulders only to be taken by the wind became like a flickering stream of black liquid. Where the mask was cut asunder, a red line formed across his face, below the eyes and across his nose, only to begin to bleed profusely.

Coating the lower portion of his gaunt appearance in blood within but a breath’s length.

Likewise, the wrist of his sword hand began to bleed from the back of his wrist, escaping the carbon nanotube layer and trickling onto the sand beneath. Although Ishin had feinted the second sword swing, it was committed in such a way a micro-movement of Katsuro’s had brought it into contact.

Although not mortal wounds and not unlike the many he had sustained before; he knew well the danger that the Demon King truly was.

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Katsuro was death given soul and blade. A legend whose very name made reeling cowards of armies once thought unstoppable. A legend with whom the Demon King now clashed.

As the restless winds sang songs of shinigami turned samurai, Ishin's blade sliced through a skull turned black mist - a doppelganger born from the darkness at Katsuro's whim. Neither flesh nor blood fed Ishin's sword. And below his arms, a figure flew out the bowels of a shadow. The cold hand of Ishin's supernatural instinct yanked him from offense to defense, and the Demon King circled out the sight of death, but not out the reach of danger. A blade of burning light hissed through his side, rending his flesh and spilling his blood as he circled beyond range. The wound - a cauterized work of art - was deep but not fatal.

The pain soon swarmed hot from his side, like a horde of hornets stinging at every nerve. Ishin winced, but behind his Spartan reserve, his soul grinned as strategy claimed his mind. His senses caught the rising ki of Katsuro's second shadow, and his eye the silver gleam of what remained of the Genshokage's anti-metal sword. Like a panther stalking it's prey, the second shadow pounced, and the Demon King took to the sky with a leap, all but avoiding Katsuro's hope of impalement. Heaven above and Hell below protested his evasion, the barren sky screeching, and the earth rumbling.

His soul had nearly been theirs. Instead, he landed, exaggerating the severity of his wound with a wince and labored growl. The lurid light of Katsuro's blade met his featureless eyes, and the Demon King dropped his arms to assume an uncommon low guard. There, Ishin stood, feigning a loss in technique from the crippling pain of his wound. Sword held low and his upper-body exposed, it was an appeal to Katsuro's killer instinct.

Come get me, the stance dared, seemingly open yet quietly offering a strong defensive posture.

Range and reach hidden, the Demon King'd feint, commit his weight, and move to draw the Genshokage out his black shell for a counter at the first glimpse of an attack. He'd dart like a thunderbolt, the air burning bright from speed never meant for mortal men. Ishin's blade'd rise from low guard to long point, roaring into a thrust destined to intercept Katsuro mid-attack, and stab through his chest and out his back, it's reach dramatically extended by a lunging step so that his blade gore Katsuro's heart before his plasma sword could even glimpse at Ishin's flesh.

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Be the Genshokage countered mid-attack or not, his eyes'd meet the white of Ishin's grin as the sky thundered, and a storm of black flames swirled out the Demon King's mouth to consume the Genshokage in a fire as dark as the shadows his foe calls home. The flames'd crackle, burning far hotter than mortal fire, burning all that dared stand in their path, be they nonflammable and even that which has already been burned. The fires'd lick through Katsuro's armor in search of moisture - the water on his skin, the blood in his veins - to bond into a corrosive soup that'd rend the electrons off Katsuro's molecules, and leave nothing of him behind, nay a corpse, nor a sword.

And through the flowing wall of flames that burned all but their caster and his possessions, Ishin sought the last in a triad of death blows, trusting his flames to hold Katsuro's attention. Free hand on the flat of his blade, he steered it to twice slice through Katsuro's throat, and once stab into his skull before retreating out of range to watch the smoke from Katsuro's pyre stretch to the sky.

Ishin's side'd burn, his wound'd gush, and his blood'd stain the dry soil.