2020-05-22 - Focus More


Ambrose tries to get a handle on the dual Bane wielding

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Fri May 22 23:03:28 2020
Location: 74-36 62nd Street

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"Try to keep your feet under your shoulders or just wider …" Astryd is saying, as she taps Ambrose's ankles with the flat of her blade. "You want to be able to move quickly, but you need a stable base."

The blonde is dressed most casually in work out gear - yoga pants and a singlet top - with hair pulled up in a pony tail. It's an incongrous look that goes with the confidence she handles that blade.

It's getting on in the afternoon - the sun is starting to dip towards the horizon, but it's still balmy. A gentle breeze moves the leaves of the trees and shrubs that provide a privacy screen around the edges of the Kerensky's backyard.

Lips pulled thin and to one side in a rare state of acting the student rather than the sass, Ambrose frowns down at his offending feet. Bare feet make for better grip in the plush green grass of late spring and somehow better root him mentally. He shifts them to their appropriate placement. A moment to pluck at his t-shirt (a gag-gift from Kent, it says "OKAYEST JACKAL" on it in white lettering upon black) against an itch and he settles again, stretchy grey sweatpants allowing him maximum flexibility.

"Alright, yes, mind the feet…and the hands are here, this much I know. Kent was insistent they never leave the relative 'box' before my chest unless what I am doing requires some grand gesture." The golden ring of invisibility, host to blended Bane and Anti-Bane, is on his finger and not yet set to use. He sighs and slowly allows his own curse, bound to every iota of his being, to slip up beneath his skin.

"Mind your distance then, I intend to attempt to balance the dratted magic," he then warns the Raven.

"Once you have this in bare feet, you'll need to get used to using shoes. It will change your perception. As will other styles of clothing and unfortunately, very few of those who come against us will give us time to remove our footwear or change." There's a subtle humour to Astryd's comment.

"Kent is indeed correct and the thing that you will need to remember most, is that you will be vulnerable as your casting. You will need to trust those around you to keep the heat from you while you get the effects off." It's the bane of being a spellcaster - glass cannons is how they're often described and for good reason.

"Now, try it again and if you get it this time, I'll add some distraction…." Which might just be thwacking his backside with the flat of her blade or it might be a full on battle roar and charge. That should be entertaining.

"I shall have you know that what trust I place in those around me is very carefully placed," grumbles the Jackal, he who very rarely does such a thing beyond within the personages of his immediate family. Still, he sighs and closes his eyes, now fully set in his stance and readied to attempt the command.

He pops one eye open to obliquely consider Astryd, his pupils still lit with the Bane's ruddy glow. "And I refuse to practice in a swimsuit. No one on this green earth is going to attempt the foray to Pangea in one." Faint smirk.

Okay, now he's really going to try it. The ring is turned and he vanishes from sight but for sound. An inhale and he breathes the command in ancient Assyrian, his tone even and willpower manipulating. He remains wiped from reality for a hanging second and then he appears again, limned in the translucent rising heat-mirage and crowned with a Bane-garnet-red aura. The grass around him wilts rapidly for a second before the Jackal reels control back in and shudderingly sighs.

"I believe I have it," he shares in that voice layered through with dry, dusty, almost serpentine undertones. His eyes remain shut, but no doubt they're flooded through with red as seen before.

Astryd just raises a pale brow at the grumble, circling the Jackal as he readies himself. "You'll practice naked if you must …" She says quite seriously. "And I, for one, would like to see you in what Australians term budgie smugglers."

She's being quite serious about that - the term, at least, not so much seeing him in speedo's.

As Ambrose readies himself, she steps back to give him some room … and knows the instant he manages to call the anti-bane. The Maelgrin that has attached itself to her, rears ethereally and digs its claws into the blondes very spirit. It's a struggle for her to maintain her composure - and Ambrose can't help but feel the presence of the void spawn about her.

It's like a blast furnace of heat to the back, how the Maeljin's presence is noticed. How to miss it? Ambrose opens his eyes and then slowly turns, his hands dropping to a more neutral readiness more before his stomach than up at level with his sternum. He frankly stares at the Raven and the sight of the Maeljin riding her with a distaste only barely kept in check — instead, a clinical coldness wherein he's still partially separated from self, but still with a hand on the proverbial wheel.

"I have already practiced naked. You missed your opportunity, my lady." His smile is admittedly toothy, slow to bloom on his face. "It is fascinating," the master-thief admits in the raspy speech, " — how very much this other curse wishes to bring you to the ground and rend that creature from your spirit, results be damned. I know you and this knowing checks it; that, and mine own curse is jealous yet."

Ambrose breaks through the triplicate separation of his attention to add, "And what in the ruddy hell is a 'budgie smuggler'?"

Astryds face is stony by the time Ambrose turns to look at her. He can see the reckless gleam in her eye, the lust for the fight, for the battle … to just let loose and have at. With her sword poised, eyes the colour of a snow storm, the blonde checks her steps as she fights her own nature.

"You will again, I am sure. Practice that is. And I'm not so sure I would call that an opportunity." She's trying to make light of the situation but … it's difficult.

"If you bring me to the ground, Jackal, be ready for what will ensue … " She warns, again trying inject some humour into the already tense situation.

"I fear if you tear this spirit from me, you will take far more than just the spirit and that, I am not ready to do. Not yet…." she finally manages to say.

"Budgie smuggler? Swimwear. Speedo's. Because the male parts, when clothed in such garments look just like …. "

It's a wicked grin she gives gentleman thief.

"I would not wish this, to injure more than necessity might merit," the master-thief agrees quietly, still meeting those pale eyes with the curse-burgeoned fearlessness rather than his usual more human leeriness. Surely the Maeljin feels how the Anti-Bane levels its attention squarely upon the Void-like being.

There's almost a little 'blrt?!' that escapes Ambrose on having the Speedo slang properly explained to him. His dark eyebrows rise and even despite the supernatural glimmering of aura and dread crown of dual-Banes…there, at his ears, a blush.

"…why in the bloody hell did anyone come to the conclusion of naming — no." He then lifts up a hand, briefly turning his face partially away. "No, do not explain, I do not need to know."

Oh the Maeljin feels the attention and it wants to tear and rend - to force Astryd to reckless action, to stir the deeper more negative emotions that it craves. If it weren't for her 3000 years, she might succumb a lot more easily and might yet but not just yet.

Still, the blonde keeps her distance - at least for the moment, smirking evilly at the blush on Ambroses ears. "Are you certain you do not wish to know? I can be quite … descriptive." She's teasing unmercifully and he might not notice as she shifts her stance, raises her sword and tosses at the man - to land, tip in the loamy earth between his feet.

The lifted hand curls but for his pointer finger that he aims dead at Astryd. While he squints, eyes gone incandescently bright and thoroughly red, his smile spreads into view like a spill of blood.

"I hazard my imagination is just as quality as your own, milady."

The blur of the sword has him throwing himself gracefully back a good number of steps. Wide eyes rise from it and to her face before he briefly snarls, his canine teeth that hair longer than simply human. "Do you threaten him?"

Oops, here's a temporary slip: Ambrose subsumed by the dual-Banes. His hands rise into semi-curled gestures in readiness.

"More so, I dare say." Astryd remarks cooly to the question about imagination. Her grey eyes still chilly as she watches Ambrose move. That meets with approval, the way he avoids it. What doesn't is the way the dual banes take control. The blondes lip curls up in a snarl but she still manages to keep her own affliction under control.

"Threaten? No. Test and seek to aid his quest? Yes. Search your memories. Search his. And don't be as foolish as those of the Void." Her sword is several feet in front of her and the blonde is seemingly unarmed and unarmoured.

"Such hypocrisy," hisses the Jackal in a shiver of the Anti-Bane's influence through him. "You host the very refuse you claim to berate." His fingers further move into deliberate gestures and he fluidly shifts his weight, snake-like, back into readiness to strike —

— until a shiver rattles the stance all out of perfect lines and intent. "Ffffffffuck you — I SAID DESIST!" That's absolutely Ambrose, one-hundred percent in pure ire, and he seems to shake himself back into place. A hard sigh and a few blinks as the dual-Banes are back under control again. Rolling his shoulders, he grimaces. "Good ruddy hell, Astryd, surely you must wish that menace removed?" A hand rises and absently moves through a motion or two; glimmering garnet-red magic coruscates around his fingers, there and gone again, the instinctive start of a shield being cast.

"Do NOT speak to me of hypocrisy." Astryd speaks lowly "I do not 'host' such a creature as you would make it sound." She's ready to fight though and will try not hurt Ambrose should it come to it.

But the gentleman thief regains some semblance of control. "Do you wish to be rid of the Bane?" She asks simply. It's not something they've discussed and she suspects the answer is …. complicated.

Her question brings him to narrow his eyes in a sharp squint. There's the barest hint of a sword raised in it before he looks aside, down at his hand, realizing now how it had moved without thought and done…something. His brows meet.

"You are a Valkyrie, Astryd. You know well how I have denied Death more than once. To take my curse from me would hand me into Death's hands with a ribbon atop. Would you cease to exist if that thing was removed from you?" he counters, still raspy and now quiet, looking over at the Valkyrie with his face still somewhat averted and as such, through his lashes. How his eyes gleam still, mongoose-red.

Astryd steps back, leaning a shoulder against a tree as she takes in Ambrose. Letting the man get his bearings as she considers the answer. "I think that maybe I would, Ambrose. If it is not removed with care. It has hooks deep into my psyche and to tear them free … I know what it would do."

"I am still … much myself and have some degree of control yet. Should it worsen, my Lord will know when it is time to act without my consent. Until then, I do not wish to act preemptively."

What would she be like if the core of her very being was torn from her in an attempt to remove the 'rot'?

"Now tell me, how did the banes get control of you just then?"

"Mmm." A short little sound leaves him before he looks away entirely, towards some neutral and nonthreatening sound. This is both empathy and understanding, two things rarely granted to any but friends and family by Ambrose. "Perhaps a form of surgery to remove it then, rather than ripping it rudely as a vine from its rose bush mooring," he wonders even as he turns away from Astryd. Again, he sets himself into a readied stance, side facing the blonde woman, and brings up his hands.

"The presence of the Maeljin was enough to tip the scales. It is like a smear of tar upon a window — a thorn in one's sock — the hitch of a broken rib — very difficult to ignore." A moment is taken to scratch at his jawline and then he sighs, letting his lids half-curtain his eyes. "Even now, it is a spotlight in my side vision. However…"

It's also apparently enough to bring this odd instinctive gesture back into being. Ambrose moves his hands once more and, again, the glimmer of red Anti-Bane-powered magic shows. Tendrils of it briefly begin to rise like smoke and then inter-braid upon themselves, spreading like blood vessels — tree roots — upon the flat plane of reality before him.

"And it is but one spirit of the Void, Ambrose. What happens when you are confronted by its Masters and those stronger than it?" Astryd knows it is annoying, a blight, but she also knows that Ambrose will face worse than what is wrapped about her.

"You *must* be prepared for worse than what I what I present."

Eyes focus on the smoke tendrils as they form, the Valkyr does not move. "If you can not control them with me around, you … will fail at what we must do."

Ambrose continues gesturing in his languid, heavily focused manner. The interweaving builds upon itself until it's at least ten feet side, ten feet high, a perfect circle in an eerie pulsing demonstration thumping in time with the beat of his heart.

He then sets his knees, palms upheld and out as if to shore up the magical shield by physical intent transmuted to reality. His voice rises, quiet, still sibilant: "You are friend. The Void is not. Do not mistake my distraction at your familiarity to me for a lack of prowess. I will not fail." A faint smirk lifts the corners of his lips even if his gaze remains dead ahead rather than slipping to the Valkyrie. "I refuse to believe otherwise."

And therein is the strongest defense he can put up in the end: sheer, cussed human belief.

"I do not, Ambrose. I am, however, aware of the forces that might exerted on one. Which is why you are here practicing." Astryd answers and manages a small smile.

"Retain control of the banes while my affliction is present and you will be assured of success when we meet our foe on the field of battle." The shield is impressive and Astryd does not attempt to suppress her reckless nature - the maeljin coils and twists about her, trying to gain access to the void.

"Of course — a challenge to surmount for the moment." The Jackal's agreement comes even as he then very gingerly makes to shift his weight. It seems he's attempting to bring the shield around to face towards Astryd in particular, perhaps the better to test it against the Maeljin's jumpy, snarly nature. Oh so slowly, carefully, he rotates, soles of his feet never leaving the lawn and palms direction. Sweat shows at the corners of his temples for the necessary vision-blurring intensity of focus required, but finally…

It faces towards the Valkyrie now, still thumping in time with his heart and glowing faintly with each beat. If anything, another more subtle rotation of his wrist brings more tendrils of shield into being, thickening what he has present.

"Yes…!" he breathes, feeling a sense of satisfaction radiate from three points of divided self.

Astryd slowly bends to collect her sword as Ambrose turns, watching the Jackal carefully. As the shield turns towards her, the maeljin rears its head, drawing on the Valkyr and urging her to strike.

Ambrose can see the battle on her face but she holds, sword poised to strike … yet she doesn't.

"Good. Now hold it … " Slowly she starts to move, practicing her forms - never ranging to close to the shield the Jackal has raised but … close enough.

Long-lived as the Jackal is, he can see the struggle through and beyond the web-like shield he holds up before himself. "I shall," he agrees behind the casting and does as such.

The gleam of the silvery sword is bright against the backdrop of the backyard and it brings an additional wash of goosebumps all across Ambrose's body. Chill is followed heat as the fine hairs rise on his body. His own twitches show about the corners of his eyes — the Anti-Bane wants badly to interrupt this entire affair, to be proactive rather than defensive…and thank god for the Bane's purely selfish aid in keeping its host in control.

And thank god for Kent's own simple koans drilled into Ambrose's skull with the cool studiousness of one of Shambhalla's best students.

At one point or another, the shield flares in brighter color, an unconscious alarm at nearing distance.

"This is what we're here for …" Astryd speaks quietly, her movements almost poetry. There's nearly 3000 years of practice in this and it shows.

When the shields flare dims, it's then that she strikes - moving lightning fast to strike at the Jackal once more. It's a controlled movement that stops just shy of the barrier.

And the shield burst into dazzling luminosity! Light in a luridly-red spectrum shines as brightly as new-thrown lava and emits a heat of its own; each pulse brings the intertangled design to sparking white and then back to the neon-red.

Ambrose grunts to bear teeth and his stance shivers; his t-shirt soaked with sweat down his back and in a vee to his front unseen on the dark fabric. Around him, his own aura flickers as if a wind blew upon it and the crown of Bane-glow intensifies. The grass around his bare feet goes abruptly brown in a circle about two feet out before he can reel in the bone-locked curse, but it seems to stabilize him, his seething breathing leveling out into a more predictable panting.

The Valkyr withdraws, putting her sword up in salute.

"Very good. That is enough for this afternoon, I think …" The grass at the Jackals feet gets a look. This has not been without toll on the Valkyrie - she's pale again and there's lines of stress about her eyes.

"Take a moment to recover and then we'll take a drink. We shall do this again, tomorrow."

In far quicker reverse than its initial spread, the eerily glowing shield dissipates. Like a fuse, the end of each veining branch twinkles back upon itself until the very center folds away into the empty air between Ambrose's outstretched hands. He blows a huge sigh and bends at the waist, content to let his head hang and stay upright by the force of locked elbows and sweaty palms on his thighs.

As he stands aright, he reaches to turn the ring to facing stone-up. Away goes the influence of the Anti-Bane and now it's just familiarity of the original Bane, old friend and irritation alike. "Ohhhhhhhhhh…fuck," grouses the Jackal as he reaches to rub at one shoulder, wincing. "I shall need to speak to Kent about the posture and metaphysical weight upon one's spine. Gnngkt." This sound for how he twists and the bones quietly POP in one place. "Better," comes the breath. Sweaty as to be soggy, he still has enough gumption to give Astryd a tired half-smile.

"Indeed, a drink…though not as much as was consumed at the pool hall."

He glances down and notices the dead, Bane-burnt grass. A soft clearing of his throat is sheepishness, but at what? The results of the pool hall imbibing or the grass itself? Who knows.

Astryds sword morphs into the pin of her hairclip and the blonde stretches as Ambrose does. "It's all a muscle, Ambrose. You'll need to exercise it, build it up. Eventually you'll wonder how never did it." She returns the part smile "But better, yes."

"I was thinking we start with water, then move onto to something stronger. I will want to …. fly … later."

With that, the blonde turns and leads the way into her home, maybe Fenris will be home soon and they can all talk.

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