The break between round two and round three was just about over, and it seemed Misaka Keiichi would be facing Mizuno Anzai in the first match of the round. He was sitting at the end of the bench near the hallway that exits out into the arena, where he was peering down at Zankoku in his hands. One and one, not too bad, not quite what he'd been hoping for though. Still the point was to have fun he supposed, and with that thought a faint smile came to him. "Well then, let's keep at it eh?" He looked up from his angel and peered about the waiting room after taking a deep breath. Now all there was to do was wait to be called out, right?

Mizuno Anzai is troubled.

His match with Mikage went poorly - worse than poorly. In the old days he remembered, he and Rayse ould stand toe-to-toe with Mikage and Rei for what seemed like hours. And now, she brushes him away like so much dust.

It is an uncomfortable feeling.

He makes his way toward the door, waiing for his turn to be called, or for his opponent to arrive. After a long moment, he pulls his grey-haired Angel from his pocket and stares down at it. "What happened?" he asks quietly. "Were we holding back, or....have they really surpassed us by that much?"
It doesn't take long for Keiichi to notice Anzai, afterall he knew the young man for a while prior to this whole thing going down. He watches him for a moment, then looks towards Zankoku, before taking a deep breath and standing up. He'd steadied himself enough to walk out into the crowd again, so now it was time to say hello and maybe distract the troubled looking Anzai from his worries. At least enough to ensure a good fight. He grins a bit as he approaches and offers a wave, "Yosh, Anzai-san."

Anzai blinks and looks up, offering Keiichi a quick, but subdued grin. "Ohayoo," he says quietly, shoving Rayse back into his pocket. "Gomen ne," he says quietly. "I didn't notice you. I have a lot on my mind." The young man shakes his head. "The match with Mikage-san....well, it didn't go well."

The young man frowns and folds his arms over his chest, thinking about what to say. "I tend to....hold back a little in matches," he confides. "I always have. It's's a game to me, and I know people take it seriously. And I want to win, I just..." Rayse frowns.

"I don't want to make people feel like she made me feel," he says with a nod. Anzai glances over at the younger boy. "What do you think? Should we always do everything we can to win int he Layer?"

Keiichi smiles again with the greeting, and then nods a bit as Anzai speaks. "That's okay, I know how that can be." He slips Zankoku away and slides his hands into his pockets before leaning back on his heels a bit, rocking somewhat. "That's a deep question you have there, and a difficult one to answer." Gray eyes shift towards the wall monitor for a moment, watching the spotlights dance around the arena and area where the crowds would gather. There is a small shrug of his shoulders afterwards while he looks back towards Anzai, "I think you should play the game how you want to play it, however you most enjoy it. I hold back too sometimes you know, depending on who I'm playing with." The boy's brows furrow a bit as he looks out towards the hallway, "But Anzai-san. However you end up going about things, you shouldn't hold back in this next match. I won't be satisfied unless you give it your all, win or lose. In a tournament setting, I think no matter who the opponent is, they won't be satisfied if they feel you held back on them. The battle won't feel. . . complete."

Anzai nods as he listens to Keiichi's remarks, and then grins widely at the end. "That's direct enough for even me to understand," he says, then nods once more. "So ka, Keiichi-san," Anzai says, reaching out to jab the other boy lightly in the arm. "I give you my word....I'll go all the way out tonight. If you beat me, well, you'll earn it."

The arena doors open, and Anzai takes a deep breath, then squares his shoulders. "Arigatou....gambatte, Keiichi-san," he offers before striding purposefully down the hall.

Keiichi smiles and nods, "Hai, we'll do our best. Gambatte, Anzai-san." With that he takes another deep breath and closes his eyes, steeling his resolve to walk out into the spotlight one more time. He really hated crowds, but he liked this game enough to face them. With that he lets the breath out and moves along to follow Anzai out towards the Arena. Game time.

Anzai makes his way out toward the Layer, his shoulders square and a determined look on his face. The talk with Keiichi did him good - he closes his eyes as he marches forward and focuses on his fears, his worries, his anxiety over the results of his last match with Mikage. Keiichi was right - in a tournament you have to give it all. Focus everything on your opponent. Forget the past forget anything else. Fight to win.

"Focus," Anzai mutters as he waves to his family in the crowd, then drops into his Layer chair, sliding the headset into place. "Focus," he whispers as he brings his console to life, hands working through the familiar patterns, rearragning the displays on his visor, breathing in and out slowly. It's just another match.

Focus. Fight to win.

"His eyes are upon us," Anzai says, drawing his Angel from his pocket. "So let's make them shine! IKE! RAYSE!" Anzai's hand snaps forward, and the little Angel spirals into the Layer field, energy rippling outward from the point of contact as he passes into the scntre of the Layer.


Rayse drops down toward the white disc of the Layer field, tucks his legs up under him and lands in a hard three-point crouch. The little Angel straightens, dusts off his pantaloons, and waits.

Anzai's right hand slowly reaches toward his shirt pocket, hand over his heart.

"I won't disappoint you, Keiichi-san," he says, his eyes hard.

Keiichi's words helped brace himself as well, he'd lost pretty badly to Ranmaru and he only just barely clung to life throughout the duration of his last match wtih Fukata and only luck won him that one. He had to focus as well, and his eyes closed to help him do so. When they open, his gaze shifts towards the crowds for the first time during this tournament, and he actually offers a faint smile and a bit of a wave their way while sliding into his seat. Hands move about to get the controls situated and the headset secured before his attention shifts towards the layer.

The boy's arm draws back and tosses Zankoku in, "Wreak the vengeance of the dead upon the living, Zankoku!" With the entry phrase called, the zombie-angel goes tumbling towards the layer and passes into the energy barrier before snapping into motion. He flips down towards the layer's surface and lands with a loud thump, both knees upon the ground as well as one fist. The large billowy cloak he wears holds in the air for a bit and then comes down slowly to rest around his form before he rises to his feet. A small nod offered towards Rayse before arms cross over his chest to await the scenery change and the timer to start.

Keiichi's eyes move to Anzai, a smile on his face as he does so. "We won't disappoint you either, Anzai-san."
Anzai lets out a breath as the Layer scenery flares to life, the close confines of a Edo-era peasant village coming to life. The young man smiles. "Where you and I first fought, isn't it, Keiichi-san?" Anzai says. "As I recall, my Rayse won....but your Zankoku did a week or so ago." Anzai sets his shoulders. "Third time is the charm, then..." A flicker of determination passes over Anzai's features. "And I /will/ keep my promise to you!"

Mizuno Anzai's right hand draws a small plastic card from his front pocket and whips his hand across his body to his right, the magnetic edge gleaming in the harsh lights of the stadium. This may be a gamble, but....he owes it to Keiichi. He demanded Anzai's best.

"IKU ZO!" Anzai roars. "Kaa-do SLASH!" His right hand flickers forward, sliding the card into the front of his console. a soft chime echoing out.

"Lion virtue.....ACTIVATE!"
As the Virtue is activated, a smokey image of a lion appears in the sky high above the layer. Swirling like mist, the spirit flows down to stand next to the one which called it to life. A roar echos over the landscape, causing everything to shudder for a moment, and then settle once more.

Keiichi watches Anzai's actions quietly, momentarily confused until the swirling misty lion appears and moves to stand next to Rayse. The loud roar echos across the layer and gives Zankoku reason to drop his arms into a more defensive posture. This was something new, something he hadn't seen before. This was a good reason to be cautious. The boy smiles across the layer towards Anzai and nods, "Impressive, Anzai-san." The zombie-angel remains where he is though, not ready to chance an attack just yet, not until that lion thing is figured out.
Anzai grins and winks across the Layer. "You asked for my best," he says fiercely. "And that's what you're going to get!" Anzai leans forward over his console, his hands gripping the sides of his chair. "Rayse!" he shouts.

The little Angel slams his hands together, mouth opening as an aura of power begins to flicker into being around him. Angel, Deus and lions spirit issue a three-layered roar, metal, flesh and vapor rising in symphony as the cobbles shatter under Rayse's feet.

"Kachu!" Anzai snaps, and Rayse charges across the distance between him and his opponent, right hand leading in a red streak. More punches come, the red energy building as the powerful blows rain down toward Zankoku. "Tenshin!" Anzai calls out, the hands picking up speed even more. Rayse finally breaks off and leans back, clenching his fists and roaring again, the lion's spirit surging through him as he straightens and drives both palms forward.

Keiichi grins back and nods, his attention moving back to the layer at that point. The battle has begun now it was time to focus on it. "Let's go Zankoku. Show him what we've got." The roar issues across the layer and the zombie-angel braces himself a bit, and when Rayse charges forward he doesn't seem to move at all. The impressive attack surges into his cloak and tears it to tatters, but Zankoku had vacated it in time to avoid the blow. Using a level of speed he'd never actually shown before he reappears some distance away, though it had taken its toll on him. He settles back into a defensive posture there, waiting yet again. What was he doing? He couldn't win by waiting.

Anzai grins fiercely as Zankoku slides away from the barrage of punches - he /knew/ Keiichi was right, knew his opponent was good enough that he didn't have to hold back. "Madda madda!" Anzai calls out, Rayse flickering forward with another burst of speed, heading toward a thatch-roofed hut...

There is a faint flicker of light, and then a tremendous roar blasts the cottage to pieces, the energy that consumed Rayse vanishing....but much of the debris headed Zankoku's way.

On the layer, Zankoku clenches his fists at his side and crouches down a bit with a little twist of his hips. Dark energies surged along the ground and sprung up into a shield of the substance. This blocked and hindered most of the debris, allowing only bits and pieces of it to scratch the zombie-angel's body and tattered rags a bit. Those eyes glow a dull red, and a grin crawls its way onto his features. This was going to be a good fight. He remains there, charging for a moment longer with his hand out to the side before springing forth and darting towards his foe. The energies that had gathered about him crackled and danced, forming into a sphere within his right hand, a sphere which he attempts to slam into Rayse's form with a heavy palm strike.

On the layer, Rayse clenches his fists as the lion's spirit fades away into the air, chunks of stone and charred thatch falling to the ground all around him. The little Angel raises his left hand, falling into a combat stance as his opponent comes back, faint wisps of dark energy trickling towar Rayse.

"Ugoke," Anzai breathes, and his little Angel obeys.

As Zankoku thrusts a palm forward, Rayse fades to his right, the necrotic energy rippling the grey-haired angel's vest as it passes by. Rayse carries on with the momentum, charging in and leaping upward, right fist arcing for Zankoku's chin in a powerful uppercut.

On the layer, Zankoku fades back in an instant after his strike misses, and tilts his head back and to the side. This causes the uppercut to glance off his chin without doing too horribly much harm. He continues to fall back, ducking into a low spin in an attempt to sweep out at Rayse's legs to try and take him off his feet. He was also carefully aiming to clock Rayse's head against one of the cobbled stones on the path to make it more effective. Keiichi's eyes are focused on the match below, steeled resolve showing deep within them.
On the layer, Rayse rolls away from the incoming sweep, but not in time, and Zankoku's leg takes the little Angel out at the ankles.

This does not, however, make him any less dangerous.

Rayse flips in mid-air, right and left palms planting against the ground as his body curls together, knees nearly touching his chin as he gathers himself. "Furai!" Anzai calls out as Rayse uncoils, both feet driving upward toward the point of Zankoku's chin.

On the layer, Zankoku is no slouch either, and he doesn't discount Rayse's ability to quickly recover. He'd turned about from his spin in time to bring both arms up to try and deflect the attack to the side, just barely managing to do so at the cost of the impact to his arms. He slides along the side of the leg and comes in towards his opponent's neck with his hand, harded into a chopping position. He sends a swift attack at the other angel's neck, hoping to catch him a little offguard.
On the layer, Rayse comes back to his feet just in time to catch a glancing blow on the shoulder from Zankoku's attack - the little Angel quickly flips away from the necrotic one as his Deus works to restore the damaged systems.

"Nice one," Anzai mutters, his hands working quickly.

Keiichi nods, "Thanks, we're not done yet though." He grins a bit as Zankoku continues pursuit, arm drawing back as dark energy charges through it. When he closes the distance he snaps it forward in a heavy punch towards Rayse's chest, with a surge of power coarsing through it just before it would impact.
On the layer, Rayse steps away from Zankoku as the necrotic Angel prepares to strike, and Anzai's grin slides back onto his face. "I'm not done either," he says pleasantly as Zankoku's fist drives in, and Rayse flows away from the strike, his vest rippling against the side of his opponent's fist.
"Honk," Anzai says, Rayse reaching out to press Zankoku's nose with one finger before he flips away.
On the layer, Zankoku blinks as he misses, and then his nose is honked before Rayse moves away. A brief moment of confusion is present on Keiichi's face, but it wasn't enough to distract him from his offense. Zankoku moves in and twists his hips into a roundhouse kick at the Rayse, attempting to catch him just after he lands. He probably wasn't going to be fast enough to do that though, so he just hopes to catch him period.
Keiichi chuckles and looks over towards Anzai with a nod, "Nice."
Anzai shrugs and grins, and then is back on his toes, considering several options as Zankoku charges back in. The temporary boost from the Virtue was pretty - and flashy - but is spent and gone now, and Anzai deperately needs to gamble if he's going to stand a chance of winning this thing.
"Here we go," Anzai mutters, Rayse planting his feet.
The little Angel opens his arms and accepts the kick full-on, damage draining a considerable chunk from his lifebar. Rayse jerks his body and tried to firm up his hold on Zankoku's leg, lashing out with a pair of kicks toward the Angel's groin.
On the layer, Zankoku isn't able to do much as Rayse grabs onto his leg, dark energies ripple along his body reinforcing him somewhat as the kicks come in, but they hit none-the-less.
Keiichi winces slightly at the sight, it looks far more painful than it is truely, but still. Well, if we were going to fight that way. . .
Zankoku jerks his leg free and comes about in a spin. Once he is fully around his hand sweeps across, attempting to scratch at Rayse's eyes with his little clawed fingernails.
Desperation can be a powerful force, and Anzai is desperate - he's barely made a dent in Zankoku's lifebar. The undead Angel has grown much as Mikage has, and the punishment Rayse has absorbed is phenomenal.
"Ugoke," he whispers fiercely, and Rayse responds once more.
The little Angel steps in toward the attack, catching the raking hand in both of his own and continuing the momentum, trying to drag Zankoku along for the ride, his right hand flashing out in four quick strikes for the other Angel's shoulder.
"FUUIN!" Anzai barks.
Keiichi's eyes widen a bit and he bites his lip, knowing that he has to get Zankoku out of this. "Move, Zankoku!"
On the layer, Zankoku shoves his shoulder into the first strike to try and throw the attack off balance, and then he jerks away with as much speed and force as he can muster. The result causes him to fall on his back, though he swiftly rolls away to gain some distance. That was dangerous.
Anzai takes a deep breath. It's now or never.
That Zankoku backs off is a boon to the beleaguered duelist, because Anzai needs the time to prepare for a move he's thought out, planned and simulated....but never actually used before. He slowly lets out a breath and dives within himself. He breathes out his emotions, his fears, his anxieties, his desperate, desperate need to win, lets it all flow out of his mind, leaving a beautiful stillness.

Within the emptiness, Anzai pictures a shining ruby, glistening in the darkness, its mere existence more than the stillness can bear. The perfect purity Anzai envisions drains away into the gem, filling it, the void flowing down every strate, filling every edge. And on the Layer, Rayse's right hand clicks open, the knuckles hissing and lifting upward, the left and right halves of his palm sliding to either side....revealing a perfect, gleaming red ruby.
And then things start to happen.
"HISSATSU!" Anzai shouts suddenly, the stillness in his mind duplicating itself on the Layer, a long, pure D note echoing outward as Rayse's hand closes into a fist, the gem glowing with a darkness that is somehow light, his little legs charging forward as he rushes toward Zankoku. "Garandou no /ougi/!" Anzai shouts as Rayse's right hand drives toward Zankoku's belly.
Keiichi takes note of that look Anzai has and nods, it was coming down to the wire really. He expected a big attack, because in the end, when desperation is reaching out, that's what usually comes. The boy's eyes focus on Rayse, watching carefully every little movement.
On the layer, Zankoku isn't slacking off here either. The ground below him is a swirl of purplish black energy, pulsing and thumping. While Rayse's hand opens to reveal the gem, shades slip up from the ground with red glowy eyes. A dull moan reverberates throughout the village as the ghosts of the dead rise and swirl about in a vortex about the zombie-angel who summoned them. Energy crackles and hisses and when his opponent is finally moving in to attack him everything is sucked into Zankoku's form with a wailing cry. This would use up most of his remaining energy, so he had to make it count. His speed is increased just enough to allow him to shift his body to the side and step back, causing that ruby to pass by just barely missing. His right arm pulls back in the movement and then snaps forward with energy flowing through it in an attempt to smash the arm into the his opponent's neck. Everything seemed to be moving in slow motion at the moment, but in reality the movements of the two angels were probably almost too fast to see with all the interfering energies.
On the layer, Rayse cannot recover in time from the failed attack - he overextends by a hair, and is left wide open for the counterattack by Zankoku. Rayse whirls and brings his arms up defensively, but the momentum of the kick drives the little Angel off the Layer and out.
Anzai groans and leans back in his chair, saying a very naughty word as the lifebar flicks to 'RING OUT.'
Keiichi's eyes are wide open, watching as carefully as he can the result of that last exchange of blows. Zankoku was just barely fast enough to get the strike in, and send his foe flying out. He blinks a few times, eyes somewhat dry from the experience as Zankoku just falls back, barely any energy left to spare really. The fight couldn't have dragged on much longer than it did, quite obviously. He takes a deep breath and then exhales, nodding over towards Anzai.