Snow-642454 640

The South Frontier of Echo, tundras and icy plains are common. The lands of the Negative Spirits, and all sorts of twilight creatures.

Black Land

Shion's travels takes him to the tall mountains that mark the edge of the Southern Frontier, at the same time, the curtain of darkness that spread over the horizon is now a blanket that covers the skies so much so that the blue clear skies further north are dim and pale. The very air Shion breathes is laced with thick negative aura, and occasionally he can hear faint whispers of darker spirits lurking just beyond his ability to sense.

"So this is the south," breathes Shion, observing his surroundings, "It reminds me of home... just a little. The air's a little heavier than I'd like, but... It's like after the Dark Samurai entered the lands..."

Off in the mountain pass leading into the lands, there is heavy snowfilled landscapes, in fact, a snow storm seems to be on its way. After a while, heading through this pass and into the snow, a shape ahead of him appears, a cloaked figure. After a moment, the figure emerges, darker than almost any definition of 'dark' he'd seen before. Barely visible on the figure's back is a flickering image of a scythe, which becomes more visible as Shion gets closer. Shion can absolutely not sense anything standing in the figure's presence, as though his senses regarding aura had completely shut down out of nowhere.

"....Stranger... smell of the ill tempered Lord Endlos. Who are you?"

"A possible ambassador," says Shion, shrugging, "Honestly, I'm just making sure there isn't a brewing conflict, but I'm willing to mediate if I need to."

"My business is my own. The king has soured relations of his own accord. He refuses to believe my explanation regarding a incident with one of my subordinates and insists I had something to do with it. If he chooses to be an infantile brat, that's his business, not yours. Sainan has lost his sanity and is not fit for duty. That is a common occurance amongst the spirits here. It is the king who brews conflict, and I shall only heed diplomacy from a direct official, not a stranger swordsman."

"Eh, imagined as much," shrugs Shion again, "Don't get me wrong though, I'm doing this as a neutral party. I could possibly get him to see your side of the story, though that's neither here nor there. Really I'm just here out of curiosity and partially for possible diplomacy, but that's also here nor there."

"....." The figure leaves without a word, disappearing in a flash of red light that for some reason, makes Shion's neck hair stand up sharply.

"Hmmm..." Shion explores the area.

The area is largely bleak, tiny clusters of houses occasionally hidden deep within tight and obscure valleys. Occasionally a ripple of denser air flows by, and he briefly sees spirits flicker in and out of sight, some of them deformed and malevolent in appearance.

"As if the sword struck and the earth bled its agonizing life onto the world, marring its once beautiful flesh with the scars of pain..." recites Shion.

Shion becomes aware of footsteps nearby, but the source isn't clear.

He reacts slightly, a faint distortion present around his body. "Hopefully, a kindred spirit to whom I can recount many a tale..."

The noise continues, until finally a man in battle worn armor appears as though he had popped out of the snow.

"You shouldn't be out in the open. There are too many ravines where you can be spotted and yet the observer is hidden. I've been watching a while now, stranger."

"Ah," he replies, "Though I do not see a reason to conceal myself, I am willing to take advice. May I ask who you are?"

"A native, names aren't important. The negatives will gladly have you for a snack, if you are not cautious. A master one may be, but even the greatest warrior can die from a simple mistake. Perhaps the common spirits do not frighten you, but I would be wary of traveling in open areas. You haven't been attacked yet, have you?"

"Attacked? No. While I was expecting such a thing to happen at some point, it has yet to happen," Shion explains as his form begins to flicker and appear unstable. His presence, too, begins to flicker, as if he was never there in the first place.

"...Beware the Negative Wind Spirits..."

Shion nods before his form and presence are completely erased, his footsteps up to that point fading from the snow.

The man walks down through the ravine he had come, the ravine lay in such a way only at a specific angle could it be seen.

Shion continues onwards, his steps not marking the snow as he looks around.

Occasionally, he spots a well hidden ravine, and occasional houses, but he finds nothing of major significance.

"..." He silently trudges on.

After a few hours of wandering, Shion eventually becomes aware of a strange hooded being seemingly constantly at the far edge of his vision, always behind him. It maintains its distance, even if Shion approaches, it appears to with great ease, remain firmly an exact distance from him. Whatever it is, it is intent on following him, but equally intent to avoid confrontation.

Shion continues to look around, ready to take action if he needs to, but not putting on any aggressive airs.

"I wonder if there are more people to talk to..."

After a while longer, he takes another look, only to find the being is no longer in its prior position.

"Hmm..." He trudges onwards.

When he turns to continue on, the figure floats ahead in his path, now far closer than ever. A strange rippling of the air emits from it at this distance.

"Non-Existence Denizen or Concept Avatar," Shion asks, his eyes becoming grim as he purses his lips into a thin line.

The only response is an eerie laugh, the figure gains strength in appearance and rusted red chains form around, its limbs, head, torso, the whole body is restrained by chains. Out of thin air, several more chains appear like metallic snakes, audibly rattling. At one place on its chest area, all of the chains wrapping its body appear to meet at once place, in a form of 'X'. The figure itself is a robed being, its hood obscures any hint of a head, the insides of the robes are pure black, darker than any seen elsewhere, as if simply staring into its hood was staring into an abyss.

The chains suddenly lurch at him, growing jagged blades at the end, covered in a red aura.

"Of course, the former," he drones, jumping backwards as six swords materialize around him. He grabs two and crosses them. "Inferno Dance: Malefic Burst." Both weapons glow with black and blue flames before Shion's image flickers and he appears behind the figure, jagged crisscrossing lines of blue flame scoring the ground behind him.

The being warps instantaneously to a location opposite of him, and begins rapid firing bursts of destructive energy, each burst causing significant craters. A massive wall of chains forms around them, sealing the combatants off from the outside area, though the area the wall allows them is massive to say the least.

"Counterforce: Destruction Reverse." The flames on Shion's blades gain an unstable quality them as he dashes between the blasts. "Inferno Extension: Gnashing Hellfire Fangs." He makes two slashes with each sword, each slash followed by a black and blue set of teeth comprised of fire and energy that shreds space itself.

The red chains suddenly turn pure red, and the being suddenly Blinks right into Shion's space, which causes him to be shocked by incredibly raw and pure power, which repels him from its space at blinding speeds into the chain wall where he falls down. A series of red sparks fly from its chains, and the being now merely floats around slowly, circling him. As each spark occurs, less time passes between them.

"Heh, you're serious then," he smirks as a sharp feeling permeates the space. He stands back up and wipes his jaw before his demeanor changes entirely. "Luna Knife, Sol Sword, manifest." In place of the two swords he was once holding, a pale silver dagger with a rounded blade appears in one hand while a gold and orange sword with heavy sun motifs appears in the other. The four swords at his waist are replaced by a pair of oddly shaped blades, one with a mangled brown blade, the other with a blade that flares into the shape of an eight pointed star at the tip. "Crescent Fall, Rising Sun." Shion flickers, then vanishes, reappearing just to release a silvery blue wave of energy in the form of a crescent moon from the knife and let the sword glow radiantly.

"I lok arvd o aaa euy daaaa... Sssssshion... di wv -illia!!" The being lets out a gargled tone as the chains glow again and spiral into a mass of countless blades which launch forward at Shion, slicing through the wave of energy, crackling with a red static as they travel.

"Counterforce: Tilt Reversal." Shion thrusts the knife foreward, creating a rippling craterized crescent moon of energy that bursts into into an innumerable nuber of blue spheres that begin to rotate extremely quickly and spin in place, repelling and tearing at all solid objects that come into contact with them.

The being strangely remains still and lets the attack hit it, though after a minute, it seems to absorb the energy. There is a silent pause, and the being seems to be motionless, the chains surrounding it seem limp for a moment. Then...

The being suddenly makes a powerful earth shaking howl that deafens Shion and at the same time pierces his ears, the howl absolutely otherworldly. It continues to howl, as it glows red, and slowly, in the center of their arena, a red light grows on the ground, slowly spreading outward. Once Shion looks up, he sees that the moon is now glowing violently red, as the light now fills the whole arena space.

"Yare yare daze... I'll have to stop using the dull blades," sighs Shion, shaking his head. "Moon Song, Sun Dance." The weapons in Shion's hands change, the knife elongating into a thin sword with a gently curving blade, hooking sharply at the very end while the sword in his other hand coils and twists into what appears to be a longer, serrated corkscrew blade.

"Ingant! Kasack! Itami! Damasu! Seikatsu! Gyakusū! Can you see it...?"

Sudden a massive blast from the moon is fired upon the whole of the arena, beginning to blow a hole down and beyond the crust.

"Rending Slash: Lunar Eclipse." Shion makes a sudden movement that causes him to blur before a thin line of white splits the blast in half, the line traveling across the sky and parting the clouds, doing something similar to the ground before stopping after a certain distance and inverting all that it touched.

The being floats in place after the light fades. After a minute, it speaks.

"SSSsssssshion... ...this one is indeed strong... ....of course it is... defeated one of them, how could it not? Khehehehehheeheeeee...."

"I wonder if it can see the links."

"The links connected to all..."

"Of course it can't... ...none of them see. They are all blind."

The being seems to be strangling communicating both to him and several other voices, which all seem to be coming from the being itself.

"The Neverending Fate. When shall you see the links and see the truth...?"

Its chains grow longer and begin to whip at him, Nonexistence energy surging through them.

"Rending Slash: Moonbeam." Shion makes a slash beyond the speed of light with the thin sword, the slash appearing as a silvery beam of light seconds after he seemingly teleports through the chains. The beam is actually a multitue of extremely acute slashes from the sword,  covered in a replenishing energy field. "...If a real fight is what you want, I'll give you one." Shion's eyes, become the color of sharpened steel as he looks at the being, an aura akin to a sea of swords erupting from him as countless rectangles of light form behind him.

"Whimsical One... ...The Great Balance... ...The Judge... ....You are all... ...unnecessary..." Its voices hisses.

Red eyes glow beneath the hood, and a rush of energy comes out of the being, and the attack Shion unleashed is snuffed out, and suddenly his weapons feel incredibly heavy.

"As are you," taunts Shion, an eerie darkness creeping into his eyes. "The Sword of a Lost Era- No, the Sword Born of Strife, I am." Shion glows with a static like aura as his eyes darken completely and his skin gains a silvery-grey tint. The swords in his hands lose color and fade to black and silver while the rectangles of light behind him become vortexes of a chilling white mist like energy.

"And that too, is useless. How amusing is your mortal titles, when they so poorly reflect the true meaning... know nothing of pain. Nothing of strife... if you only understood the truth... you would be a sword of destruction." Again, his swords feel unnaturally heavy, to the point he cannot lift them.

"Indeed, I am when I choose to be. I know pain well, 'tis a lifelong companion of all that live," he returns, holding and raising  his swords despite their weight. "The wars of one are the wars of many, small errors growing into grand tragedies, all without meaning. And yet it continues and continues and continues until it becomes the very nature of those who sought to avoid it. I am man and I am blade, my weapon and I are one in the same. I am a weapon, forged to fight and made to sever. And yet I am a person who desires peace and wishes no ill will upon those I encounter. A blatant contradiction in the face of many, but one that accepts itself and its dual nature.

"Your words are empty to me, empty and hollow ringing. The rantings of a nihilist selfishly believing that the only meaning in things is their ultimate return to the origin. If everything is pointless, you haven't truly lived to see anything."

"It is ironic... kesskiadhhagh... that a being like you would preach to me about pain..."

The chains seem to float ominously about the being, no difference in their behavior can be detected, even when one comes close and slices Shion's arm, there is a lack of hostility.

"What's the matter? Why can't you lift your 43445?"

"Is this all there is to the so called, 'Sword of Strife?'"


"Hmm, I guess I could use a bit more power," says Shion, allowing his swords to vanish. A blue and white scabbard appears at his side with no sword within. "I guess I could use the new guy for a bit." He draws the scabbard and creates a makeshift hilt of energy for it before pointing the piece of equipment at the entity. 

The being's fingers begin to spasm wildly, as fireballs begin to erupt out of nowhere at Shion, and it begins to move very erratically and swiftly, making it very difficult to keep track of where the fireblasts are coming through.

Shion closes his eyes and takes a deep breath before swiftly and precisely reflecting each fireball sent at him with the scabbard he holds.

The being begins to laugh sporadically, with an almost childlike tone. Its whole figure heaves with the force of its laughter, and red static begins to violently spark around the arena.

"Ah, you're angry aren't you," he asks putting the scabbard at his side as if readying an iaido technique.

The being's chains begin to glow, starting from where the chains all meet together at its chest, flowing outward to its edges, and then it begins to shriek wildly as they now glow solidly, and suddenly Shion feels a horrible twinge as he realizes it has somehow brought him into Nonexistence, as the scene dissolves into static.

After a moment, the being's robes begin to burn away in the environment...

"Great, this place again..." Shion sighs, gathering energy into himself and condensing it. "Enna, Zei, Alritz, Lyth, Kai, Syn..."

The burned away robes reveals a horned child's skeleton, which lets out a horrid shriek, before dissolving away as well, and from the energy surrounding him, a massive black knight appears.

"I shall show you.... ....THE TRUE SWORD OF STRIFE!" A voice unlike the others echoes darkly, before the being brings down its gargantuan energy sword upon Shion, who is sent slamming down back into the arena, taking massive damage from the strike. The being descends, once again covered in the same chains, and robes.

It makes a less intense laugh, then begins to silently and slowly circle him, making no directly aggressive moves.

"Counter Guard: Avalon Reversal." The force from the strike sent at Shion is redirected at the figure at over seven times its original speed and force imbued with an power akin to infinite expansion and potential, the damage he took having been restored. 

The being seems to idly float and dodge, though some of the floating chains get severed, which dissolve. It looks at the dissolving chains and seems to make a mildly annoyed noise, then the chains regrow.

It continues to circle him.

"Hmm, then my hunch was right. Tidal Dance: Flowing Current." Shion enters a stance with no defensive openings and closes his eyes.

The chains begin to slowly glow again.

A faint flickering quality begins to affect Shion as he maintains his stance.

The chains gain a flickering static and begin to lunge at him, small sharp blades on their ends.

Each chain that nears him is abruptly and clearly severed without Shion appearing to move.

It pulls back the chains, now letting out a more distinct growl of annoyance. The very air itself cracks from the force of the noise, and the immediate space of the being begins to ripple.

Shion shifts his stance to that of a one handed fencing type.

The ripples become bullet like projectiles that begin firing at him from the center of the disturbance, tearing apart anything they touch, even the air.

"How dull," mutters the swordsman as the projectiles are curved away from him then immediately bisected and diced to miniscule pieces.

The figure seems to make a sharp inhaling noise, before a explosion abruptly knocks him off his feet. Its fingers begin to twitch violently, as a red light begins to surround it.

The explosion is abruptly divided into four parts while Shion maintains his stance, even in the air. The sheathe he holds begins to glow with gold and blue light.

The light spreads into a solid dome of red around the being, completely tearing apart the space and time near it. A sickening laugh echoes from the creature.

"Quite done," asks Shion as a multitude of gashes appear on the part of the dome nearest to him. The light manifesting around the sheathe grows brighter and gains an oddly irritating quality.

The gashes appear to have no effect on the shield after a minute, and the being is begining to consolidate energy.

The glow around the sheathe begins to wrap around Shion as well.

Shion's vision begins to violently flicker from normal to red.

"..." Shion tilts the sheathe ever so slightly.

His vision abruptly dies out as a pulse of energy comes from the being.

The being feels an odd disturbance within itself as a more irritating feeling permeates the space.

It automatically cancels out the disturbance. All of his senses abruptly die out.

The irritation only worsens as a radiant light descends from the heavens, the feeling similar to being presented with a distorted reflection of oneself. Shion seems to be completely unaffected by the loss of senses as he points the sheathe and beam upon beam of white pierces through the being, forming corrosive chains of pure white that stagnate and halt what they touch, physical and otherwise.

The light, white beams, and chains all are violently repelled as the being's shield first grows and then explodes, a disruptive wave canceling out all phenomena.

The being glows pure red, then the chains begin to break apart and dissolve, and the cloak beings to burn.

"Ougi: Shirayuki." The heat in the area is rapidly dispelled and the movement of space itself becomes dull and sluggish as a chill older than the origin of life or form permeates the area. The cold is so great that ice is unable to form and that the faintest of breaths results in a flurry of floating ice crystals.

The being continues to fade, ignoring the effects of the technique outright. The last Shion sees is a vague figure of static as the cloak disappears, before it too vanishes, and a summoning rune falls from the center, and crumbles to dust.

The area around Shion is consumed by a powerful blizzard of unnatural cold and the air simply freezes.

"Maybe I put to much into that?" He shrugs and fades back to a near nonexistent state before continuing forward.

For a long time, he discovers little to nothing of interest.

"At least the silence is my company."

Scavengers of the South

Shion continues wandering, few things to see except vast empty snowfields, marred by occasional outcroppings of pure black rock. As he travels though, he comes across a strange location. The black rock continues to appear in frequency, until he sees the first volcanic mountain, spewing forth fire and ash into the sky.

Off in the distance, he sees more such displays in horizon. Scattered at the base of these firey summits are scattered ruins of various degrees of standing, from piles of rubble to recently abandoned. Though if anything actually lives in them, he can't tell.

"Hmm..." Shion flicks a metallic marble into the area.

He gets the sudden feeling that something is present, more specifically that someone is watching, from a nearby mountain overlooking one of the towns.

He flicks several more marbles into the area.

One of the marbles as it flies is suddenly shot by an arrow mere moments after he flicked it, and then an arrow flies dangerously close to his foot.

A marble is shot at the source of the arrow at a much higher speed as Shion exhales deeply. - 73070 bicolored eyes black eyes black hair gothic long hair original red eyes water

Next to a nearby pillar still standing above the snow, a woman with black hair, and a dim grey eye, along with a glowing bright red eye appears. She appears heavily bandaged, wearing simple clothing, and wields a longbow, with an arrow notched at his location, roughly. Her red eye is fixated almost exactly on him, its glow almost daring him to do it again. 

"There are few creatures that can hide from my gaze. Fewer still that cannot be tracked. But there is no being of blood I cannot find. So human, if that's what you truly are, show yourself. I know you're there. Hurry up so I can feast on your blood." She says in a hoarse voice. 

"My kin will certainly rejoice at this blessing the Dark Lord grants us." 

"Alas, that is not on my agenda, Night Child. A traveller such as I isn't in the position to be consumed at this point and certainly isn't going allow themself to be threatened. Drop your weapon, your arrows msy fly fast, but I assure you that my strike will be faster," says Shion tossing a metallic orb into the air, then catching it and positioning it between his thumb and forefinger. "I'd rather not cause unneeded damage, but don't underestimate me." Though he smiles as he says this, the pressure behind his words is nearly palpable.

"...Do you think I can honestly ignore my thirst after so long? No, I am not leaving without my thirst sated..." She rasps.

"As for your agenda, your agenda is pointless here. The only things this land follows its its own. That is how we have survived these long cruel years. While humans enjoy a life of plenty, we remain in shadows and the cold, hungry. To me you are nothing but food. What hunter am I if I let it get away just because it 'inconveniences' it?"

She draws an arrow, her red eye locking onto the marble, independently of her normal eye, which is focused on the bow. Shion notices the eye is not actually standing still, but moving subtly, at first appearing random, but in fact appearing to be mapping out any potential attack preemptively.

"Oh, and a warning to you... arrows and my bow are not my only weapon...'ll find that out soon enough. Enough talk. I have a family to feed."

"You'll regret this decision," he warns, aiming the marble. "You've decided on the wrong prey, 'Hunter'." His smile doesn't fade.

"Say what you will... I would rather die than leave my family to die. Unlike I, they cannot last without blood... ....with this, they will last until the Dark Lord grants us reign over the humans, and then... and then we will never want for food again....!" She rasps.

"...How pitiful. If all you do is hang in the shadows and wait, nothing will be granted to you. If you cannot achieve your goals without another, you have no right to be called a hunter, only a scavenger- a picker of scraps, a simple carrion feeder at best." He fires the marble upwards. "I'll end it thus." 

"Apparently you've never been forced to live impoverished. Living as both the hunter and the hunted. Cast out because you were born different. Scavengers we are, but we have no choice. We are too few now to fight as one, and selfish desires plague our clans. Too weak, too hungry. Can you blame us though? What do you know of my goals in the first place? My only desire is to save my family. You are the pitiful one, for judging those born into their plight from the beginning. You have no right to live." She retorts. 

She strangely does nothing though, aside from putting her hand in her pocket, and pulling out a vial of red liquid. 

"Impoverished? You are correct there, but you clearly know nothing of having to destroy those close to you, living in solitude because you pose too much of a threat to those you are oath bound to protect because of 'shadow' that resides within you.  You claim that being born into plight makes you justified, that only makes you pitiable in the eyes who have experienced hardship and dredged through it. Your circumstance is nothing to one such as I." He casually shifts into a neutral stance.

Something changes in the vampire's red eye, and a red aura comes about her.

"You are not that bright... are you? It is irrelevant, the plight of one is always greater than the plight of others. You will learn that no matter the scale, that pain is pain. Regardless of how or what shape it comes in." She says evenly.

"I am Zinda of the Bloodmist and of the Demonhunter. I hope you pay attention... will need it."

"This skirmish was won before it began. I need not reveal my true hand or name to one who can only detect my presence by smell. It would be best that you pay attention, your enemy is not only me." The passive stance Shion has does not change as he radiates an aura akin to a blade sharpened to perfection and snaps his fingers.

She gives him a bored expression, and she reveals the marble he had launched into the air, which becomes blood in her grasp.

"I don't need to detect you by scent. You revealed yourself in full to me. ...Perhaps I should repeat myself... should really pay attention. You've been out in the open for about ten minutes."

Her red eye shifts again, as Shion becomes personally aware of this fact.

"I am all too aware that you are powerful- -you reek of the Abomination." She says then gestures to the countless ruins around them.

"It is that same creature you fought earlier that laid waste to this region. Though I must say, our hunters have done far better than you fighting it. Did you know it had multiple forms?. You take me as weak, but you don't comprehend quite the extent of my capacity. You didn't even see me grab it from the air, did you? Nor did you even notice my area of affect which dulled your mind. You've been breathing my poison since you walked in here. It shut down your ability, what ever it is, to hide. Right now, you're wide open. You'll have to wait a few hours for the poison to expel from your system.

....Now to buisness... ....give me blood. Or I'll take all of your blood by force. I'm a reasonable woman. Unlike my fellow hunters. Though I doubt they could even notice you."

"Actually, you're quite off. The Abomination you speak of wasn't really challenging, rather I chose to prolong the bout in order to understand it better- I decided I would shatter its chains once I grew bored. The poison you speak of would be vexing were it not for the fact that I had detected long ago and immunized myself to it, being a user of many  poisons myself. Additionally, you seem to think that piling on advantages for yourself helps in the slightest.

"I wonder if you noticed that the quality of the wind has shifted or the metallic tinge to the air or even the shift in density of the ground around you. You claim to have dulled my mind, but you make the mistake of thinking that because something is active it will effect everyone. You also seem to think that I am defenseless without a weapon in hand in this situation and that I rely solely on strength when you clearly haven't fully comprehended the nature of my words... Hmm, it should have reached that point by now...

"Oh and threatening a person whom you don't know is never a good idea, especially when they may be a greater predator than you realize. It's a bad business practice and it leads to many failed agreements and treaties. Still, if that's your way of doing things, so be it." Shion shrugs then straightens his hand.

"Humorous. I believe you are the one who has been threatening me. Since when have I til now actually expressed an intent to kill you? I'm only after blood, swordsman. And also, you're just making baseless assumptions of my character at this point. I never once indicated that I thought that about you. Defenseless or the reliance of strength alone. What I have said, is that you are being incredibly unobservant. And still are. At this rate, the only person who is going to die is you, through sheer stupidity of character. You blindly assume that it is you who have an advantage, not even knowing my power. Tell me something, why would I challenge you? I've already seen your capability while fighting the Abomination. You obviously are more than you seem."

Shion's hand does not respond, in fact both arms are numb.

"But that doesn't change the fact that you underestimated your opponent. As it happens, you aren't even aware of what I've been doing, have you?" Her eye shifts for the third time.

"I told you - pay attention. As a consequence of your arrogance, I'll take your arms now." His arms explode into a fount of blood, pouring all over the ground in waves, leaving only stumps. The blood streams toward Zinda, and she opens the vial, and the blood flows into it, once it has seeped inside, she closes the vial, and a red seal forms on it, and she pockets it.

"Blood Alter." She intones, and her eye shifts for a fourth time, revealing a pentagram, glowing fiercely, and a sensation akin to being boiled alive sets in.

"You really think so?  Unfortunately, my body is not within your range of power, not even my 'blood'." As Shion says this the vial shatters and the blood from his arms flows back into him, cleansed of anything that mixed with it, reforming into the proper shape of him arms. "Oxidation, Titanium Metallurgy, Carbonation, Smelting, Transmutation and Forging. Resultant: Diamond Aventnium." Zinda begins to notice tiny cuts and sear marks on her arms and face.

"Purifying, superheating, cooling, ionizing, restructuring, calcification, crystallization, compression and fold. Resultant: Crystal Dimensium." Shion is no longer affected by the burning sensation, rather it seems to now affect Zinda.

"You can try that again, but I assure you, the result will be entirely different... Hmm, it should be at its apex by now... I'll tell you this: There is a reason I am not drawing my blade." Shion's smile has yet to fade. 

The same time as the tiny smears and cuts form, Shion is affected at the same time. The burning sensation returns a thousand fold to Shion, and the effects seem irreversable. 

"I'd watch what you're doing," She warns.

The effect only magnifies on Zinda as well.

"Likewise to you," he returns, unphased by the heat or cuts. If anything, the cuts have more of an effect than the burning sensation does, but not by much. 

She smiles. "If you're bouncing damage back to me, I'm afraid the only thing we can expect is an endless exponential. You might as well quit." The heat magnifies accordingly. 

"Have you gotten a grasp of my power yet?" 

"Bouncing back? No, try again." The heat on her end increases to match the heat affecting Shion, who is still unbothered by it. 

"...I'll give you a hint..." She says. "Look on your chest." Upon looking down, Shion sees the same symbol that is in Zinda's eye, though it is barely visible. 

"If you have heard of the principle of the voodoo doll, then you should be within the realm of vaguely understanding what it is that has happened. You see, if you were to kill me- -in any manner, shape or form cause a form of 'harm' to me, the effect will unfortunately, be applied to you at the same moment. And also... ...any harm I do to myself...." She slices her neck, and a similar cut opens on Shion's. "Is also done to you. That is the... ...basic idea of this situation. But it's more complicated than that..." 

"Hmm... Magnesium, Benzene, Sulfur, Ammonium Nitrate and Hydrogen." A greenish blue flame appears around Shion. "Pentagram... Hmm... Glory of the Ten Powers, Claimh Solais, Onimaru Kunitsuna and Caledfwlch." A soothing aura envelopes Shion, though it serves as a severe irritant for Zinda.

"Are you.... ...slow?" She asks, as the aura shatters like glass, and Shion is violently ill.

"There is something you aren't getting, and I should clarify it. You cannot win against me. You see, each time my eye has shifted, I have gained a stronger bond with you. First it was your blood..." His blood starts boiling. "Then it was your body..." Paralysis sets in. "Then your soul..." His vision grows dim. "And the nail in the coffin... your existence." This time nothing happens, but the hairs on his neck stand up.

"My power is called Blood Alter. It is a high class combination of life manipulation and blood magic. It works by the 'poison' still circulating inside you. You see, you mentioned you became immune to it, but that's not actually true. The truth is that it behaves like the retrovirus. In other words, even if your body made antibodies, in one second the poison will have made over ten thousand variations since it started. My eye detects this poison in your system and allows me to synchronize with you. As I said, there are four phases of this. The longer the battle, the less likely you can kill me without offing yourself.

I believe that is your weakness above all. You take way too long to carry out your powers. Even if your power is far more formidable than mine initially, you wasted your chance to defeat me. By the second phase, the only hopes of defeating me lie in spiritual and existence powers. But now, I'm basically immune to you. Though it does have a flaw: if you leave the area of effect of this poison, it wears off in three hours, and my eyes lose their progress. In other words, my power resets. However, three hours is plenty of time for me to take my leave after this battle and be long gone.

I am not trying to fight you. You picked the fight with me. If I was serious, both our heads would be rolling on the floor right now. Will you cease your nonsense? I just wanted blood, an ounce at the most. Shion, you're a good fighter in practice, but if your execution is too slow, well, someone else's will get you first. Now... I believe we should reintroduce ourselves..."

She says, then her eyes go blank, and the ill feeling and the immediate effects she had just cast upon him fade. She falls to the ground, and makes a oddly... wooden sound.

From the shadows of the nearest building, the real Zinda appears, looking down at her doll.

"I am the leader of the Bloodmist clan of the vampires of Echo, Zinda. But I told you that already. Shall we start on a more friendly tone, or do I need to play with you some more? Forgive my confrontational behavior, but as I may have mentioned, my family starves, and I am rather desperate for nourishment myself. Continue where we left off if you wish, it will serve you no purpose. Why are you here in these lands?"

"Unfortunately, a retrovirus cannot spread if there is nothing to spread from or to," says Shion, yawning as the aura returns and covers a much larger area. "Your blood magic is also useless. Think back to when I was listing forging terms not to long ago, that wasn't to change the air quality or add an unknown agent to this space, that was only a byproduct of what I did. You see, my forte is changing the battlefield, internally and externally, not swords or assassination or diplomacy, those are just things I prefer. When you first tried to take my arms, I slightly modified myself, when you applied your voodoo I modified myself again and again, making the me from then entirely different from the current me, physically, spiritually and composition wise. Essentially, the me you became immune to is an obsolete existence. Your virus lacks a host to connect to or spread from and blood magic tends to fail when there is no blood to affect. You could try again, but as I said before, it won't work the way you want it to.

"That being said, you are the one who instigated this in the first place. I recognized that someone was here so I used the marbles, precious little thungs they are, to triangulate the location of any possible life, you were the one who fired an arrow, then demanded that I give you something in such a way that it came across as a threat. Then you continued in such a way that I met the challenge set do to your misconstrued words. If you've been paying attention, you'd notice I've purposely moved slowly rather than turning this place into a sea of chaos and swords and that I've chosen reactions over direct attacks. I wonder why that is, it obviously isn't because I'm not really in the mood to fight as opposed to explore- No, that would be too convenient and unreasonable~." Shion chuckles to himself.

"You have nothing to laugh about. You apparently misinterpreted severely what you were just told." She points at him, and over half of his body glows red. She lowers her finger, and the glow disappears.

"Don't get such a swelled head. I knew that's what you're doing. When I said poison, did you really think that was literal? When I said retrovirus, did you think that's what it actually was? Or are you just that damn stupid? If my technique was merely a physiological move, what you described would be effective. But as you have clearly failed to understand, the virus became a part of you. Every time you change yourself? The 'virus' changed to become effective against your changes. Change, change, and change again, it'll just counter you. My magic is not 'voodoo'. I mentioned it as a way to describe the effect I had put on you. That does not make it voodoo. You are obsolete to me."

She turns her back on him. "What you percieve and what is fact are two different things. Do not be so arrogant. You won't live much longer if you do. Hmmph. I was hoping you would be reasonable. I have no interest in killing a fool. Goodbye. I'm sparing your life."

She turns and walks away, the doll disappearing.

If the people of the North have such empty minded people like him, we will win with ease.

Shion laughs again, "I really doubt you understand what I've really done, only the most basic version of it, evolving  'virus' or not. That aside, you cannot kill that which eternal lies and your words are your own enemy, Night Child. Had you asked as opposed to attempted to force, the result would have been different entirely, but most never let that thought cross their mind first. That aside, what I choose to laugh at and when I choose to is up to me, regardless of situation. While you say that you've spared me, you lack the real means to damage me in such a way that I would get serious or choose to go on the offensive. Additionally, you've yet to comprehend my true nature or at least the nature of my current blade, but I don't blame you, I'm the type to make others insult the intelligence of a species when I'm in a jovial mood.

"But seriously, change your approach. Were it my teacher, brother in arms or partner, this place would have been razed or worse. That being said..." He snaps his fingers abd something akin to a small meteorite strikes the ground directly before Zinda. "There, that should sate you for a month or so, assuming you don't gorge yourself feeding. Think of it as an apology for misinterpreting you, I was at fault as well." The object appears to be a torso sized crystal the color of fresh blood. Shion then glides past Zinda, looking for a coastline area.

Mountains, snow, volcanoes, next should be the sea or lack thereof.q

She says nothing of his words, but watches him go. "You won't find much further south. The north land and the south land have never been fully explored. An endless tomb of ice is all that awaits further on past the southern most mountains. Most believe it insidiously bad luck to even attempt to cross the Endless Plain that lies beyond."

She touches the crystal with a hand, closing her eyes.

"So lack thereof then... Well a sea of land is still a sea~." He continues onwards fading away as if he were never there in the first place. Strangely, Zinda can no longer smell him by blood. The crystal mass glows on contact and a faint trickle of deep red liquid comes from it.

Zinda looks over the crystal, then draws forth her magic to summon it to her strong hold in the mountain. She then trudges through the snow up toward a hidden cave.

Shion continues onwards silently. Hmmm, that drive seems to be reacting... Is 'that' ability activating? If so I'm losing what time I have left with her...

He finds little else than rugged wild, scattered shelters, some abandoned, but some locked up. Occasional humanoid prints can be seen.

He only travels onwards.

Endless Ice

As Shion travels, all he encounters is endless ice past the vast barren mountain ranges, though after some time, he can hear the ringing of bells.

"Hmm... Another relapse is eminent." Shion seems to be focusing on something entirely different.

The bells change in their frequency, pitch, and distance continually, but he never sees the source.

"Stability returning, but the drive is active." Shion's skin loses its faint metallic tint.

Shion is gradually able to discern patterns amongst the ringing, too precise to be the result of mere movements.

"All of this chatter is doing a number on my headache..." He sighs and plops down, clearing his mind of his issues. 

After a while further, he feels the presence of a few scattered individuals moving among the near seamless icesheets.

"Ah, finally showing themselves..." He closes his eyes and rests for a bit.

He eventually hears a very soft set of footprints, as one of them comes close to a few feet from him.

"You've business with me?"

A female figure wearing cloth over their whole body emerges from the snow's white haze, crawling on all fours with a faint jingle of a bell. The only characteristic he can make of her is her black hair and glowing blue eyes. She appears taller than an average shapeshifter. On her back is a tachi blade strapped against her form.

"You bare a scent of the La'parsa. The... ...Revered Ones." She seems to have a poor dialect of the common tongue. 

"Ah? Well that has two cannotations." Shion stretches. "Anything else?"

"Why do you travel White Sands?"

"The number of reasons I could give is innumerable, but if I were to choose one it would be boredom and restlessness rolled into one." He shrugs.

The rest of her companions soon accompany her forward, various males and females with similar levels of covering as she.

A male soon speaks. "Are you lost or otherwise in need of shelter?"

"Lost, maybe, probably. In need of shelter, no. The temperature is rather relaxing."

"We can take you to our encampment if you would prefer it. So long as you tell us of how the La'parsa fair."

"I wonder... They could be fairly well off, they could be under assault by elder gods from before sentient mortal life became widespread..." He clutches his head as a violet symbol forms on his forehead. "If the name Caess means anything to you, her curse was lifted. That and the one on her children."

The male pauses. "The name scratches memory, but not instinctively familiar. ...Curse.... We will speak more at camp. Caess is.... ....La'parsa?"

"I'd assume so, but we barely interacted." The symbol pulses faintly, almost like a heartbeat.

The group becomes slightly uneasy. "...Do you fair well?"

"I have a splitting headache and everything is moving at about a thousandth of the normal speed. Can't really say. The drive isn't doing anything unusual."

"..." The male starts off back into the snow, the others regard him unsure.

Shion only lays back.

"Do you wish to accompany us?"

"Is there a place where I would be able to be alone?"


"So long as I am granted a space to be alone, then I guess I could accompany you. Otherwise your best bet would be to clear out of the area within the next ten kilometers."

"Very well." They depart.

"To stay or to go... Eh, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt." Shion picks himself up and follows soundlessly.

The tribe doesn't seem to communicate vocally, merely by the sound of their bells as they travel the featureless snow.

Shion simply follows along. Hmm, maybe I should revert my blood back from Aqua Vitae... Later.

Eventually the group reaches a white cliffface along a range of mountains, about this time, light erupts into being all across the landscape as the sea of blackness rips into nothing.

Ah, he's moving... Too bad fighting is a no until my symptoms stop.

The group continues on, a bit faster than before, until they reach a village carved into the icewall of the cliff, surrounded by smaller igloos all around, a small ice wall serves as the only border, tall enough for the village to use as defense against wildlife, not much else.

Minimalist. Shion glances around briefly.

The soft sound of flutes can be heard as they approach, a soft melody flowing with the cold wind rather than against it. One of the females seems to be leading him to a more remote section of the village with his request in mind. Once they have brought him to the furthest point of the village, the female bows before leaving, allowing him to be alone.

The village itself seems focused on the unusual light in the area, some of their warriors are in defensive positions while others can be seen running off in various directions, toward several different large mountain ranges.