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#1 The Graveyard of Empires (Training Thread) on Sun Nov 08, 2015 4:47 pm

Saelien

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It was rare that a soul could have a nemesis but no enemy. It was rare that a single individual could claim to be locked in a private war, invisible to the greater conflicts of the desert and yet it held true for Saelien. He participated in the great conflicts, of course, and he knew which way the wind was blowing, who would win this new war on the horizon. Their lives were not lives he cared for, and it didn't matter who won. Saelien would make the best of the situation regardless. It would not impact his private matters, and it would not impact his own conflict.

His nemesis had revealed himself close to one hundred years ago, when the name of the Cold Lord was one to be feared, but the truth was, Saelien had been in conflict with him for over one thousand years. He simply had not been aware until then - the one known as Fjorsak, a powerful arrancar that had sent Saelien down the path of immortality, had been but a pawn of something greater. Something secret. Something that had set itself up as a true obstacle in Saelien's life, but as such a immovable constant that Saelien considered it closer to a friend than an enemy. Something, Saelien knew, that had been responsible for his slumber.

He would know the truth.

His time on Earth had told him much about the world. It had revealed his own weakness. It was...unacceptable. So now he stood once again in the Hueco Mundo, one hand sweeping over years of dust accumulated on a great stone structure - the entrance to what appeared to be a tomb, heavy doors sealed tight. There were a few of these throughout the Hueco Mundo. They emitted no reiatsu, no trace of power - a blank spot in any burst of pesquisa. There had to be Deathstone in the construction of the structures.

Saelien knew the location of three of them. He had never visited one personally, but he had sent soldiers to investigate before, playfully. Never a full scale attack, just as the lord of these graves sent his minions to Tessilith. Saelien did not dally - he pressed against the doors and pushed them open, stepping into the darkness within.
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#2 Re: The Graveyard of Empires (Training Thread) on Sun Nov 08, 2015 5:09 pm

Saelien

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Whilst it could detect nothing outside, once within Saelien's pesquisa now acted as his eyes, piercing the dark to search for anything that lay within. The doors ground shut behind Saelien as he walked forward, boots stepping on ancient ground. This place had been built to resemble a tomb, certainly, but there was far more to it than that. Although he could not see the walls, Saelien knew what to look for - fingers brushed lightly over stone until finally they found something different, something unusual. Saelien allowed a spark of reiatsu to flow into the device, and wisps of blue light filled the air, revealing the surroundings.

There were no sarcophagi, but there were certainly skeletons. The partial remains of arrancar were roughly scattered around the room, suggesting that they had not been brought here respectfully, but instead strewn around - a view supported by missing chunks of bone and the teeth marks gnawed on to many of them. Invaders, curious investigators...it mattered not what they were, only that they had opened the doors into this place and had been met with death. This, again, was as expected. The only sounds for now were Saelien's footsteps and gentle breaths, and he felt no sign of danger yet. The bones were a deliberate warning sign - nothing ever died here, only when they moved deeper, moving further down the gentle slope into the black beyond.

If Saelien was correct - and he knew he was - then this particular place once belonged to, and might well still belong to, one of the Lieutenants of an old and terrible arrancar called Seach. A great deal of blood had been shed before Saelien had managed to find that name. The subordinate in question went by the name of Nafliri Vallas, a so called daughter of Seach and an old and powerful being in her own right. Such were all the followers of Seach - just like Fjorsak. When Saelien had killed Fjorsak, he had begun the conflict between himself and Seach, and it would only end when Seach and all who followed him were dead.

The only problem was, it had been terrible fun letting it last. Now, however, he felt it was time to start bringing an end to their game.

Eventually the Cold Lord found a set of spiral stairs, and in the depths below he could see a hint of much clearer light. He began his descent, now smiling. When would the first attack come? When would the denizens of this lair realise there was an intruder? Or would he perhaps be allowed to walk as he pleased right into the heart of the base, welcomed as a guest? It was possible, he knew, but unlikely. His followers in a time before might have been welcomed as a cruel joke, served food at the table before they were soon served, but he was Saelien, and his arrival would be treated with more caution.

He made it to the bottom without any mishaps, and down here, there were lights aplenty, synthetic, devised by a hand well versed in the science of the afterlife, clearly inspired by Las Noches.

And so came the first attack.
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#3 Re: The Graveyard of Empires (Training Thread) on Sun Nov 08, 2015 8:31 pm

Saelien

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It was clumsy, to say the least. It was never particularly clever to send a warrior to assassinate a master assassin, and never more was there more proof of such than what transpired here. Saelien heard heavy footsteps, and a burst of pesquisa told him that a large figure was moving from behind the staircase, where there were still some lingering shadows, untouched by the light in the corridor ahead. He heard a scrape of steel on stone as the brute unsheathed it's blade then found it touch against the nearby wall, and as such he turned almost lazily to meet his opponent. It was somewhat impressive that a brute of this size - close to seven feet in height - had managed to remain unseen. A guard posted, then, to challenge any lesser groups that might enter the tomb.

Saelien might have appeared lesser, an appearance enhanced by his power as the Cold Lord, but...well, as they said, looks could be deceiving.

There were no words exchanged between the two. One party did try, though. The brute opened his mouth to speak, like fools always did on the field of battle, and Saelien struck. He didn't reach for the icy blades at his side, but instead a single movement of one arm snatching a cold dagger from his belt, raising it up and throwing it towards the throat of the brute. Credit to the brute, he shut his mouth and moved with surprising speed, avoiding the fatal blow and instead receiving a red line along the side of his neck that only barely missed vital vessels.

An opponent of some small skill, then, to avoid instant death. He looked into the copper eyes of his foe, smiled, and drew one blade from his side. Although that was an understatement of what actually happened, for now the brute was minus one arm and one foot in the grave. Saelien's hand reached the hilt of his blade, allowing reiatsu to flow into the sword and pool in the edge of the blade. There were members amongst the humans and shinigami that practiced the art of Iaijutsu, and could draw their blades with impressive swiftness. Saelien had studied the technique in the past...but he could draw faster still, for his cold blade had no true draw. With reiatsu in the blade, it passed through the sheath like air, swinging up to pass through the arm of his opponent with equal ease.

It took only an instant for the shock to register, but by then it was too late. The giant stumbled back, still gripping his sword tightly with his remaining hand, avoiding death a second time as Saelien's second strike merely opened his stomach and spilled his guts, rather than parting him in two. Opening his mouth, the giant didn't even complete the first syllable of a desperate release before Saelien's blade struck a third and final time, entering at one side of the head, just above the upper jaw, and emerging at the other side.

That was when Saelien heard more footsteps. He wiped the blood off his blade on the jacket of the fallen arrancar, and drew his other sword normally, striding away from the first corpse to make more.
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#4 Re: The Graveyard of Empires (Training Thread) on Sun Nov 08, 2015 9:22 pm

Saelien

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Saelien walked at a steady pace - no need to rush things, and he was as unconcerned about what came next as he appeared. He had already let loose an echo of pesquisa, and it told him that there was nothing to be concerned about with the newcomers.

The doorman was dead, and now the eager few who wished to check on the surely slain intruders were coming to see what carnage had unfolded. It would not be what they were expecting - and there they were, three arrancar in the shape of young men, dressed in full black uniforms, full of confidence, filled with the invincibility of youth. They didn't even have their blades drawn, but as they saw the figure in black and white with two blades of ice in hand, the demeanor shattered, the illusion faded, and they knew a fight was ahead.

They drew their swords in unison, and one stepped forward - a figure with blonde hair and a mildly handsome face - taking authority and command of the situation.

'Is old Rurik dead?'

Saelien did not respond, nor did he slow down. The distance between him and the new arrivals was shrinking, and he could see doubt worming it's way into their minds. They didn't stand with confidence, and one went as far as to look behind him, clearly judging his chances on going back. Next came the inevitable question - one that would once have been a sin to ask.

'Who the hell are you? Stop now or die.'

A light smile graced Saelien's face again, and this time he stopped, holding his swords at his sides. The blonde arrancar obviously felt like some control was restored to the situation, and like the brute Rurik before him, he continued to try and speak with Death. As more words poured from his mouth, Saelien activated the ability of Dreadstep, a wave of cold leaving frost over the ground and walls, and the blonde haired man fell silent as a blue glow surrounded Saelien.

But he did not act, and as such, to the eyes of him and his companions, Saelien vanished. They spread apart the moment they realised, scanning the corridor ahead for signs of the Cold Lord, and one of them turned to check behind them...and their last sight was frost-covered walls, for they did not turn quite in time to see the cold edge of one of Saelien's swords catch them in the neck and part their head from their body.

One of the others swung their sword at Saelien - the best sign of resistance so far! Saelien casually parried it with one blade, the other flicking across the throat of the soldier, sending a spray of blood into the air. The air was stained with a red hue, not all of it blood, and Saelien spun to the familiar sight of a cero being charged in the hand of the blonde haired man. Triumph and fear in equal parts shone in the eyes of the last member of the group standing, one dead and the other now bleeding out on the ground.

The triumph was short lasting.

Perhaps he thought Saelien would be concerned by the charging cero, or would try to defend against it. Such was not the way of the Cold Lord. Saelien struck once more with his sword, a moment before the cero could fire, cutting through the coalescing orb of the cero and splitting the arm of the blonde man in two. The arrancar let loose an unearthly scream, falling back to collapse against a wall.

Such was the result when a soul did not know who the Cold Lord was. Arrancar always believed that hierro would protect them against harm, certainly against swords, but when faced with the blades of Saelien, hierro was little more than skin. Saelien looked down the corridor, and saw that no one else was coming to investigate. They would be waiting for him, then.

Saelien's attention snapped back to the crying arrancar, who was reaching out for a dropped sword, still displaying a hint of resistance. Fine bravery, but bravery such as this was simply foolishness. Such was most valour. Saelien let the arrancar find his sword and rise to his feet, and he let him take one last desperate swing. Rather than bother to parry it, Saelien met it, blade against blade, and his cold sword cut through the Zanpakuto like it wasn't even there. The severed blade spun, clattering to the ground, and the blonde haired man was silent for a moment, too shocked to speak.

'My name is Saelien. You have the honour of having crossed blades with a legend.'

He gave the arrancar a quick death. Painless. And then he moved on, continuing his journey deeper into this place.
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#5 Re: The Graveyard of Empires (Training Thread) on Mon Nov 09, 2015 4:09 am

Saelien

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No scout had ever managed to probe the depths of one of Seach's lairs and returned to tell the tales to Saelien. All he knew is that they had an underground element - and that was obvious. The rest was in the dark - their purpose, their numbers, the kind of arrancar they housed...all a mystery, and yet Saelien was here fully intending to kill every last arrancar within the base if he had to. Nafliri was the main objective, however. He expected that she would have secrets and truths that Saelien needed to hear, and more, he believed that a fight with another of Seach's minions would be an excellent way to start scraping away his rust.

He would lose this body if they were as strong as Fjorsak, of course. He was not ready for an encounter like that now. He did not believe that would be the case, however. If Seach had many arrancar in his service with the strength of Fjorsak, he would never have needed to work from the shadows. After all this time, Saelien still didn't know enough about Seach. His objectives were as masked to Saelien as Saelien's were to the rest of the world, and that was both thrilling and troublesome.

Saelien came to a stop. Now he had more choices to make - the corridor was no longer empty, but instead had doors now, to either side. Saelien was a man gifted in planning and both tactical and strategic decisions. Here, however, there was little thought needed. He let loose a burst of pesquisa, and sensed life on the other side of one of those doors. Ten presences, if he wasn't mistaken.

And to the woe of the arrancar in the room beyond, the walls were not nearly thick enough. One of the presences was resting against the wall, and Saelien wasted no time in piercing one of his blades through, hearing muffled cries from the room moments later that were in turn interrupted by a pale blue cero, fired from one finger uncurled from it's grip on an icy sword, which blasted through the wall and took another soul with it.

Subtlety gone in only five kills. Now that was a surer sign of a decline than anything else.

Still wearing that mildly amused smile, Saelien strode through the hole he had created.
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#6 Re: The Graveyard of Empires (Training Thread) on Mon Nov 09, 2015 4:27 am

Saelien

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What a sight! What kind of bastion placed a living area so close to the entrance? They clearly placed far too much faith on the corpse that was once called Rurik. At least this explained how three untrained fools had been the first on the scene. There was no skill in killing the likes of these - half the arrancar were scrambling for weapons, and the other half had backed away to the far end of the room, clearly terrified. Saelien had assumed that Seach would only have hardened veterans under his command. Clearly not. A second glance around the room gave Saelien a second thought. Much like the three he had dispatched previously, every soul in the room - male or female - was attractive enough, and yes, far more timid than any normal arrancar would ever have been.

He now knew more about Nafliri than he had a few moments ago. He potentially knew more about this entire particular den.

The souls in this room were of no direct threat. But Saelien could not leave hostiles behind as he moved forward. Without waiting for the foolish words this time, he launched himself into the fray, cold swords creating their ancient art. The resistance was pitiful - the three from before were obviously the only battle ready souls from this room. Their cries fell on deaf ears, even those that refused to pick up their weapon.

Distasteful work, but necessary. By now, Saelien suspected his presence was well known.

As he continued his path, the momentary diversion finished with, Saelien idly inspected his blades. They had crossed nothing of worth here, but they were always fragile things, prone to unexpected damage. Once, centuries ago, they had snapped on Saelien during the most menial conflict, and he had suffered a terrible wound as a result. He would never make the same mistake twice, glancing for damage and satisfied that all was well.

There were several other similar rooms, filled with pretty faces and poor luck in equal measure as Saelien continued that bloody path. He left no survivors in his wake - and he made sure of that. It seemed that this place had been created to house and perhaps train the weakest of Seach's people - arrancar civilians did exist and were a necessary gear in the machine.

At last, Saelien came to another staircase, leading deeper underground...but this time, he finally expected some opposition.

A lone figure stood guarding it - no ambushes, no tricks - their katana already drawn.
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#7 Re: The Graveyard of Empires (Training Thread) on Mon Nov 09, 2015 4:52 am

Saelien

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Saelien stopped.  He knew this figure.  They were not dressed in the black that Seach's people wore as their uniform, but instead wore dulled silver armour that had once shone brightly.  They were slender, of a build similar to Saelien's own, but far more feminine - for this was the body of a woman.  Their hair was pale grey, cut short, their eyes were paler still, and their face was once beautiful but had been marred by an ugly scar.  Warriors often complemented scars, calling them enhancements.  Saelien disagreed, but then his stance on scars had always been clear.

'You serve a new master, but still wear the old armour?  Conflicting loyalties, Caryth?'

Caryth smiled back, but with far less amusement.

'It was here or the Army of the Blood.  And I can see the way the wind blows too.  You taught us all that.  The Army of the Blood will be just blood soon enough, no?'

True words.  Saelien had taught those he had worked with, who had served him in the past, his own philosophies, a portion of his own skill and insight.  It was perhaps only reasonable that Caryth end up here, with her talents and drive.  She had always sought to impress the strong.

'That does not answer why you stand here, now.  Are you tired of this life, Caryth?  Is this how you ask me to end it for you?  I will, if you stay there.'

His words did not truly reach Caryth.  The Cold Lord might have etched those words on her soul with a breath and made her believe beyond all doubt, but Saelien could not.  He did not doubt he could kill Caryth, if she forced him to.  He also fully believed that she would make him work for it - she was skilled enough, and strong too.  In his current state, there even existed the possibility, however slim, that she could win this duel.

She would die either way.

'Turn back, Saelien.  You - we - lost this war already.  I can see how far you have fallen.  And I know what you are thinking.  Can you imagine leaving this place even weaker than you already are?'

Those words...interesting.  It almost sounded as if Caryth knew the truth.  And that was impossible.

'Your speciality was always swordsmanship, Caryth.  Shall we see how you fare against the best?'

The two had no more words to say, both closing the distance in a flash.
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#8 Re: The Graveyard of Empires (Training Thread) on Wed Dec 30, 2015 6:07 pm

Saelien

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In the mortal realm, there was always a consequence to wielding two blades at once. You lacked the precision, the control and the strength behind your blows that someone wielding only one blade might have. The same principle carried through to the spiritual realms in most cases - having two swords was not strictly superior to one. Saelien had always subverted the general rule, however. Certainly, if he carried two swords similar to the blade that Caryth was using against him, he might have experienced some of the disadvantages of the style. But his swords were light as a feather and sharper than any other. They parted flesh and bone as easily as the air they travelled through. They brought their own disadvantages, sure enough, but to face Saelien with a single blade was a risky scenario, no matter how accomplished the swordsmaster.

But Caryth was doing well. Their first few exchanges had been testing the waters - they had an understanding of how skilled each other were from three years ago, to a degree. Saelien had watched Caryth training with her peers in Tessilith, and Caryth had seen first hand how Saelien could dismantle other arrancar in combat. A touch of mutual respect in those first few strikes, but it soon faded as the two understood their position. Both could see advantages and threats. For Caryth, she saw that Saelien lacked some of his old grace, and certainly lacked the speed and strength he once had. But for Saelien, he saw the truth - for all his weaknesses here, Caryth was still lacking.

The Cold Lord was the first to increase the tempo of the fight. With one sword, he parried and deflected attacks from Caryth, using the other to strike at her - blows aimed at limbs and body alike. She was able to react to some with a shift of her blade, and others by moving back, but she was steadily pushed back until she adapted her style, putting more force behind her blows. The intention was clear, and as a fragment of ice chipped away from one of Saelien's blades after blocking a strike, he immediately changed his method of attack, now also choosing to avoid Caryth's blows rather than parry them.

On Saelien's second step back, Caryth dashed forward, having waited for the moment, striking decisively. Saelien stepped to the side, one sword striking back at Caryth, who ducked under, leaving no room to swing her sword but choosing instead to strike at Saelien with an armoured fist, hammering a blow into his lower ribs. It was a trade that did not end in her favour, as Saelien's other blade snaked out, catching her in the shouler as she leapt back, parting the armour and flesh below. She had moved back enough to prevent the arm from being severed, but it hung now by sinew at best, blood gushing over Caryth and the ground.

Saelien showed no sign of injury, but they both knew her blow had been a solid one - ribs had cracked under the force of the attack, and he was in pain.

He had not felt pain for some time.
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#9 Re: The Graveyard of Empires (Training Thread) on Wed Dec 30, 2015 6:34 pm

Saelien

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Hesitation was death. Pain would not delay a strike from Saelien, and necessity now forced Caryth's hand. She could not continue to fight with one arm. As Saelien advanced, Caryth said the words that he had been expecting - words he had suspected one as pragmatic as Caryth would say the moment she received any damage from Saelien.

"Rend, Filo."

Caryth's release transformation was fast and smooth, without any of the flash that usually accompanied releases. Now she stood before him in her own, more lustrous silver armour, sleek and form-fitting for it was closer to skin that true armour, face masked in a chrome skull. In each hand she held a blade that glowed a bright magenta, and from her back she now wore an equally vivid cape of reiatsu. He had seen this release more than once, and whilst it did not do anything particularly strange or incredible, it did enhance the abilities of Caryth that mattered. Additionally, the wound he had delivered was now healed by the act of releasing, the scar on her shoulder visible like a deep scratch on steel.

And more, they now stood on even ground, twin swords against twin swords.

Saelien did not wait for any dramatic speech - there was none to be had here. He should have expected Caryth to go for an unfavourable trade, for she did not expect him to release in kind and heal his own injury. Wise, to seize every advantage there was available. In their first few blows, Caryth had also seen a truth - Saelien did not intend to kill her here, now. Not unless he had to, and if he had to then it would be a failing on his part and a victory on hers. He doubted she wanted to die, but it was clear that she would give this conflict all that she had.

It wasn't every day that one had a chance to defeat the Living Death, after all.

Once again, the pair of arrancar found themselves rushing at each other, blade meeting blade.
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#10 Re: The Graveyard of Empires (Training Thread) on Sun Jan 31, 2016 6:52 pm

Saelien

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Caryth's release was a simple one - nothing compared to Saelien's own - but it brought speed, grace and lethality to the table, and in a clash between two swordmasters, that was plenty. She was as fast, perhaps even faster than Saelien now, despite Ephemeralis making Saelien greater than most in that regard. Her swords were just as dangerous as his - a single blow could end this fight, placed well - but she also had the advantage that Saelien could no longer risk blocking them. The purple blades would slice the cold swords that Saelien held to pieces without much resistance. And yet, for all that...Caryth was not able to claim the flow of the battle.

It was evident with every step they took. Saelien had treated Caryth with respect from the beginning, but since she had managed to strike him once, he had quickly reassessed her competence and acted accordingly. Each swing of those magenta blades came close to striking Saelien, but each strike missed just slightly, cutting the air where Saelien had been. Caryth, to her credit, was managing more or less the same against Saelien - except her movements were more exaggerated, less refined. She knew it, too - a creeping realisation that her stamina would never last, that her power was bleeding away.

Clashes between powerful arrancar and shinigami could last for some time as they threw their weight around, lashing out with great blasts of power. Few fights were ever pure contests of swordplay, and when one mistake could cost a life...fights did not last for long, even if a minute felt like a lifetime. The Cold Lord acted with intense focus, his swords having moved from seeking fatal strikes and instead taking what they could - grazing Caryth as she dodged, and even against her armoured form they could cut deep. Caryth didn't stop to check any damage she took, but blood began to seep from one, then two, then half a dozen small wounds across her arms and body.

But she didn't lose focus or determination. She had no tricks - she swung those lethal blades, and eventually revealed the other techniques of her release, such as the deadliness of that purple cape, capable of sending small daggers of reiatsu flying with a swing, and as mighty as any armour against a strike. Saelien knew it was coming, but with Caryth's speed it changed the battle into something far more intense - avoiding swords and air filled with death. Daggers pierced the walls, sending pebbles of shattered stone flying in all directions, and then Caryth used the full power of her release, sending blades out from her swords edges as well.

Saelien was good - far better than good, even. He was used to dodging all that came his way, and it was a rare foe that could challenge him in close combat. However, here he was pressed, and the thought of releasing crossed his mind in a moment of weakness as one energy blade finally caught him, slicing across his side and splattering blood across the ground. Two more followed - he blocked one, but the other caught his leg and bit deep, and victory flashed in Caryth's eyes. A confidence enhanced as she parried one of Saelien's strikes on her cape, shattering the blade.

Impressive.

But Saelien did not need to release.
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