The lights in the stadium flare to life, and the crowd seated in the stands goes wild, cheers and yells filling the arena. "Ladies and Gentlemen! Welcome to the 2006 Tokyo Qualifiers! Are you ready for the next match?!?" The crowd's cheering grows even louder, and it could be heard through the walls of the waiting room. However, in the waiting room, the monitor is already on, so the two opposing Deuses can hear everything. The announcer's voice booms across the arena at the crowd's response. "Then let's begin!! Will each Deus please enter the arena!?" The swirling spotlights all focus in on the waiting room's exit, as if to highlight the players as they emerge onto the Arena floor.

Oh boy. Deep breath. Seishiro's first tournament. He'd never done anything like this before, and frankly, it made him really nervous. He still wasn't at all confident in his skill on the Layer, but this could be a fun experience nonetheless. And everyone has to start somewhere, right? Clutching his Angel to his chest, the boy steps out of the waiting room and into the arena. Though he be nervous, he's also very excited, so he wears a broad grin as he emerges into the lights and the roar of the crowd. Waving cheerfully, he makes his way towards his designated seat.

As the crowd roars, Kourei Raien slowly lifts his head up from his rather sleepy and depressed looking position in the waiting room. However, the young man is neither tired, nor depressed, simply patient. As the call for the Deuses comes out, he also emerges from the waiting room, his head down as the lights wash over him. He lets his eyes adjust ever so slightly before he looks up at the crowd. There are a lot of people out there. There's no way he could spot anyone he knew in that crowd, but he knew that his mother was likely in the stands. His father would be at work... ... and ... that one other person... she was probably around too. That thought brings a tiny hint of a smile to his face, and he strides towards his seat with a lot more confidence than one would expect from someone who hates people. The lights are bright, and they give him a bit of pause, but this is just another tournament. Just another tournament. As long as he tells himself that, it doesn't matter if it's Starcraft, or Super Smash Bros., or even Angelic Layer with a national television audience. It's ... just another tournament. He's convincing himself. Mostly.

As each Deus takes a seat and place on their visors, their seats rise up into the air, lifting far above the arena floor and the shimmering layer upon it. The announcer's seat rises just a bit higher, between the two seats, and his voice echoes out into the layer once again. "And here they are, Ladies and Gentlemen! Not much has been heard about either of these two Deuses, but they both look full of potential and fighting spirit!" As the announcer speaks, all the spotlights suddenly focus in upon Seishiro, somehow not quite blinding the young man in spite of their brilliance. "In the west corner... Shiro!" Seishiro's image appears on the screen behind the announcer for a few moments, and there are loud cheers from the crowd. Afterwards, the lights move to focus on Raien, having a similar effect on the young man as his own image appears on the screen. "And in the east corner... Kourei Raien!" The crowd cheers once more, and now Seishiro and Raien's images appear on the screen in split screen, facing each other. The layer shimmers for a moment, before settling down into the image of a field of rye, swaying in a non-existent breeze. "A very simple layer, but sometimes those make for the best fights!" The announcer jams the microphone up towards his mouth, almost threatening to cram it down his throat. "ENTRY ANGEL!"

Seishiro's hands are shaking as he holds Jou aloft, but it doesn't bother him. Everyone gets nervous sometimes. "Let's give it our best, Jou," he mutters to the Angel, the words falling short of anyone else's ears in the dull roar. Then high above the floor, under the bright glare of the stadium lights, he steels himself, closing his eyes. Focus. "Honor guide thy sword," rings out from the Deus, much louder than expected from one normally so soft-spoken, "and thy spirit be indominable! JOU!" he cries, and with a flick of his wrist he casts the tiny samurai towards the Layer. He'd never dueled on a Layer so big before, but at least it was a familiar scenery.

There's a white flash from the interface as the doll passes through it, and he springs to life immediately. Twisting and tumbling through the air, he comes to land in a crouch, his head just barely visible over the top of the rye before he stands. The red-wrapped bundle tucked through his belt is held before him in both hands, and as though of its own volition, the red ribbon unwinds itself and flutters out on an imaginary wind. Tethered as it is to the pommel of the nodachi it hid a moment ago, it coils lazily about its owner. The saya of the great sword is slid back through his sash, and Jou drops into a deep, powerful stance, ready for anything.
Then Seishiro's gaze travels back to the opposition. Your turn.

Raien just blinks for a moment as the seats rise, and he looks out over the layer, towards the floor so far below, before leaning back into his seat. Just another tournament suspended twelve meters in the air. Just another tournament suspended--... Ah who is he kidding? He's nervous as anyone else would be the first time they're in this seat. However, it won't do to let his opponent, or the crowd see that. A sour expression appears on his face as he holds Karasu in one hand, and the other hand moves up to rest upon his face. As the hand slowly slips down, the fingers obscure his trembling eyes, and once they have passed, it is like the young man has wiped off his face, and revealed a new one. One without any visible emotion whatsoever. He holds Karasu up, glancing down at his angel for a moment with what appears to be nothing but cold analysis, and then he speaks.

"Give them a show, Karasu... Fall in." His voice is loud enough for everyone to hear, but hardly shouting. This is the first truly televised tournament Karasu has been in. As such, Raien lets the angel make its own impression. As it falls through the layer barrier, the angel's brown mantle fluttering in the wind, it rights itself in the air, as if moving to make a perfect landing. And then doesn't. It collapses onto the layer in a pile of limbs, a hand and a foot seen being strewn about before they fall beneath the tall ears of rye. The lifebars show no damage, however, and slowly but surely, Karasu draws up from the layer as if pulled up by invisible strings around its wrists. It dangles just above the layer floor, not that anyone can see that very slight float with the ears of rye obscuring it. Its white eyes stare unblinking towards the other angel, no emotions registering on the angel's face anymore than they are registering on its Deus' own..

And so, the two angels have fallen into the layer, and there is cheering from the crowd. After a few moments, the announncer's voice rings out once again, filling the Arena. "What kind of interesting match will these two show us today? There's only one way to find out!" As his final two words echo throughout the Arena, the crowd falls silent, or at least as silent as a crowd of so many people can fall. "ANGELIC... FIGHT-O!"

It's begun. Seishiro's first real tournament match. The excitement is almost overwhelming, but like his opponent, his face does not show it. At this point, he /is/ the tiny warrior crouched amidst the rye; serene, cold. Karasu is certainly an odd angel, but it can't be worse than Zankoku or Chimera. That offers some small comfort, but not much. There's still only a slim chance of winning, in this Deus' mind. Not the ideal mindset with which to enter a duel, but he's grow accustomed to losing. It's still fun nonetheless.

Jou remains perfectly still as the rye around him sways and the ribbon flutters in the breeze that blows across the Layer. He never makes the first move if he can help it, much prefering to gage his opponent's abilities before making his move. And that's what he intends to do, sharp eyes focused on the strange puppet.

And strange, the puppet-like angel is. As Jou stares it down, Karasu stares back, its head tilting slowly to the side in an owlish fashion. In fact, like an owl, it manages to turn completely upside down, before righting itself in a sporadic jerky fashion, a loud click emanating from the angel with each jerk back towards 'normalcy'. Once the head is right-side up once more, the angel slowly drifts towards Jou. Raien isn't one for making the first move, himself, but it wouldn't hurt to let Karasu get a little closer. Perhaps he could bait the opposing Deus into making a mistake. Perhaps. Raien is no longer thinking about the crowds or the tournament as a whole. It's quite simply game time. It's for real, this time, stay focused...

It's not a particularly interesting duel yet, but it's only just gotten started. As his foe draws nearer, Jou begins circling, winding a spiral out from the center to keep a little distance between himself and the puppet. When it does attack, he wants to see it coming. Seishiro frowns in concenctration, not wanting to miss a single detail of, well, anything. As he's learned in previous duels, one mistake can lose the whole the thing for you.

There is promise of action to come, though. The samurai looks ready to spring at the slightest provocation, and that sword isn't just for decoration. But that will be demonstrated all too well. Soon.

Soon, perhaps, but not in reaction to an attack from Karasu. The puppet seems perfectly content to let the samurai circle around it. As Jou does so, Karasu remains floating perfectly still, only its head turning to follow the Samurai. As Jou circles behind Karasu, the head turns 180 degrees to watch him, but cannot turn any further, and suddenly snaps back around like a rubber band reaching its limits, to turn the same amount in the opposite direction, before slowly turning back to a normal position again. Apparently Karasu's head can't rotate a full 360 degrees, but ... that's ok... it's creepy enough as is. Unblinking eyes, Karasu's, and Raien's, watching Jou with seemingly eternal patience.

It would seem that Seishiro is not the only one that prefers to err on the side of caution. Frowning, the Deus considers the situation. While he'd be just fine waiting ten rounds for Raien to make the first move, this is a tournament. He's not just fighting to win, he's also expected to put on a show for the audience. And if nothing else, he is a performer. Nodding to himself, he sends the silent command down to his miniscule partner far below.

Quite abruptly, Jou ceases his careful spiraling and makes a dash towards the center of the Layer and his new foe. A gloved hand clasps the hilt of the nodachi, the samurai bearing down on Karasu as he tramples down the rye between them. Then light flashes off of the blade and steel sings as the sword comes out of the saya. It flows in a wide arc, cleaving down a swath of coppery stalks, and aims to bite into the puppet's side.

As the attack comes in, the puppet, whose head is about 90 degrees turned to the right, spins as its entire body rotates around to even out with the head, staring at Jou. Karasu's mouth snaps open right at the moment of the attack, and a brief flash of sonic force drives Jou back, almost nullifying the attack completely. On the other hand, it looks like Jou took more damage from attacking Karasu, than Karasu took from the attack. That's unfortunate for the Samurai. As Jou is forced backwards, Karasu retaliates, lashing out with a perfectly straight side-kick, aimed right at Jou's head. It's hardly a difficult thing to dodge, but it looks like getting hit by it will hurt.

"OH!" shouts the announcer as he leans forward and pumps his left fist, his right holding the microphone up close to his mouth. "Angel Karasu's stretchy limbs manage to snake around Angel Jou's guard! But both Angels appear to be playing it safe on the defensive front!"

The blonde man adjusts his glasses and smiles over the roar of the crowd. "Neither Angel has made much use of the Layer scenery so far! Will it come into play? Will the beautiful Jou be struck down by the elastic charms of Karasu? All this action in just the opening minute!"

Mistake number one. Seishiro makes a mental tally as Jou is driven back, his attack unsuccessful. He shouldn't have gone in quite so aggressively and left himself open like that. The sonic defense staggers the samurai, and the kick comes in before he's able to properly get his balance back. Karasu's foot catches him square in the chest, and the only thing Jou can do is to throw himself backward and hope to reduce the force of the blow somewhat. It still knocks a few points off his life bar. As soon as his shoulders hit the ground, he rolls, springing back to his feet a few paces away from the puppet.

Immediately his sword is sheathed again; battoujutsu comprises a large percentage of his repertoire. Scowling, he shifts his stance back to something resembling his careful defense from the begining of the match. Once again, he keeps his distance. Though not exactly the approved method, that did give him a decent idea of at least some of his opponent's capabilities. From this small amount of information, he can adjust his tactics to suit. And hopes that maybe he's goaded Raien into showing a little more aggression in return.

As Seishiro hopes for more aggression on Raien's part, he is granted his wish, though perhaps aggression and Raien don't go very well together. A completely blank stare towards Jou from the other Deus, and Karasu lurches forward, an arm flying out from underneath that tattered mantle. Reaching for the side of Jou's head, the blow is more precisely aimed at the samurai's temple. So far, so good. Raien's typical battle plan has worked for him so far. As the fist screams in, the Deus watches impassively, nothing on his face giving his opponent even the slightest hint as to what he's thinking.

"Hmmmm," the announcer calls aout, rubbing his chin. "Angel Jou appears to be biding his time, waiting for something....but Angel Karasu is relentless on the attack! While the worst of these powerful blows is being averted by Jou's skills, how long can he keep defending as the clock and his lifebars go down?"

The announcer leans forward. "One of a thousand, no, a MILLION questions only to be found on the Layer!"

Seishiro does so hate to disappoint, but in this case he's afraid it's entirely necessary. This attack isn't nearly so effective as the last one. When Karasu rushes at him, Jou immediately begins to draw again. They say the best defense is a good offense, and at times that can be very true. As Karasu so kindly demonstrate moments before, there is a brief opening in a person's (or Angel's) defence immediately following an attack, and the samurai and his Deus want to make sure everyone was aying attention for that lesson. His left hand comes free from its grip on the saya and instead catches the punch aimed at his head. The impact still registers, but just barely.

But what can he do with that massive sword at such close range? Now holding the puppet by one wrist, sword already leaving its scabbard, he improvises. The blade isn't the only part of the sword that can do damage. A sharp tug on the captured arm to unbalance his target, and he slams the pommel into Karasu's stomach. or what passes for such, anyway.

Karasu's hand is caught by the Samurai, and after a moment, a sword pommel is brought straight into its stomach. There's a moment of silence, and then slowly, the puppet-like angel cants its head to look downwards at the pommel, as if to confirm that it had, indeed been hit. Indeed, even the lifebars made it pretty hard to tell, only the slightest hint of damage registering. Karasu looks back up towards Jou for a moment, and lowers its hand, assuming the samurai releases it, just staring at its opponent. It looks back down at the pommel again, before looking back to Jou once more, and tilts its head to the side quizzically.

Well that was disappointing. Rather than waste time worrying about it, he continues to move, unlike his opponent. Yes, he releases Karasu's wrist, but only so he can have both hands on the hilt of his nodachi. A quick shove at the puppet's abdomen and a step back provide him the room he needs to fully draw again. Once more the sword arcs around, flashing silver in the bright light from above, and comes down in an overhead slash. He has no doubt that his opponent will block this, too, but damage will still be done and every little bit counts. Besides, it's not in Jou's nature, nor Seishiro's, to be disheartened. The future always holds new possibilities.

"And now the action is HEATING UP on the Layer," the announcer calls out, banging on one of his chair's arms. "Both Angels are exchanging punches in a toe-to-toe match! And while their lifebars are only barely draining, you can see the sparks fly as the BURNING SPIRITS of their Deus collide on the Layer! Let's hear it for them! Cheer out your hearts!"

THE crowd begins to make some noise, encouragements coming for both competitors with a faint 'Go, Go, Go,' int he background.

In the audience, you hear a male voice shouting, "Go, Go, Go!"

Karasu barely moves back at all when Jou shoves it, and when the other angel brings the nodachi down towards Karasu's head, the angel doesn't move at all. It just stands there as the attack collides with its head, once more staring towards its opponent. The strike lands clean on its head, slightly matting the spiked white hair, but nothing happens further for a moment, Karasu just standing there staring. Once more, it slowly tilts its head up, the nodachi sliding down Karasu's forehead as the angel stares up at the blade, cross-eyed as it now rests cleanly on the bridge of Karasu's nose. There's another moment of silence, as Jou's attack, once more, barely seems to have registered with the other angel. Yet, after a moment, a chop is sent out towards the side of Jou's neck from underneath that oversized mantle. Whatever Karasu is, it doesn't seem oblivious to Jou's presence, just to the other angel's strikes.

Jou's scowl turns to a silent snarl as his attack is, once more, ineffective, though his Deus' expression remains composed. There's a strong urge to strike again, but Seishiro supresses it, He's getting nowhere this way, and there's a big difference between persistent and blindly stubborn. The long blade flashes around easily to intercept the incoming strike with a vertical block, and then leaps back away from the puppet.

Karasu's is not an easy defense to break. All of Jou's strikes have been incredibly precise, but even without trying the bizarre marionette has shaken them all off. If he intends to put more than a few scratches on his opponent's hide, the samurai is going to have to fight a lot harder, which means leaving himself open to more attacks. That thought doesn't sit well with the Deus in the west corner, but it's the only path really open to him now. As he contemplates this, the samurai resheathes his sword again and resumes a defensive stance.

As Jou resumes a defensive stance to think once more, something unusual happens. There is the tiniest hint of a smile on Raien's face. It's not visible to Seishiro from across the layer, especially when both Deuses have their attention ON the layer, but it's there, nonetheless. The young boy's words, spoken to himself, are not loud enough to be picked up by anyone else, unless they have some bizarrely superhuman hearing, but they too, are nonetheless there. "... Uwari..." That smile fades, and Karasu just tilts its head and watches its opponent retreat, no longer seeming motivated to move. There's a slight click in the back of Raien's mind, and he visibly relaxes, even though it was hard to tell he was tense until he did so.

Oh man, thinks the announcer. THis is the worst part of his otherwise awesome job. Sometimes duelists like to take their time and think things through....but how are you supposed to announce standing mroe or less still in an exciting tone? What is this? Dragonball Z?



"ANGELIC LAYEEEEEEEEER!" roars the announcer, gesturing forward toward the Layer, eliciting a cheer from the younger members of the audience, at least. Phew. Another bullet dodged.

What to do, what to do? There's always... no, that'll be kept in reserve. To use it now would likely be a waste, and what a shame that would be. No, Seishiro needs a strategy that doesn't involve his ace-in-the-hole. His stance shifts almost imperceptibly as something begins to take form behind his shining eyes, leaning a little more towards the offensive. He can't delay much longer than he already has or he'll lose by default when the timer runs out.

The announcer's attempts to stir up enthusiasm during this lull in the action brings a small smile to Seishiro's lips, and he spares a brief glance for the crowd. It's good to see so many people enjoying the same thing as him, to be able to share this with them. A mental promise is made to the crowd to not disappoint them. Even if he loses, he can at least make sure it's a good show. Now he just needs to wait for Karasu to make the next move, hopefully soon.

Meanwhile, on the layer, Karasu remains still, watching the other angel with impassive, unblinking eyes. Moments pass, and its mouth drifts lazily open, almost as if in a yawn. However, it's somewhat deceptive, as after only a few moments of Karasu's mouth being open, a low hum begins to fill the layer. With the slight amplification of the noise from the layer, for the sake of the crowd, some people in the audience /might/ be able to notice it, but it quickly becomes difficult to ignore, as that low hum builds into a roar that shakes the layer. The air between Karasu and Jou suddenly shimmers, as a rather massive sonic wave crashes towards the Samurai, intent on ripping the other angel up from the inside out. Well, that's certainly a new one.

Raien makes the announcer happy.

"OOOOOOOOOOH!" he booms, clenching his free hand into a fist. Angel Karasu unleashes a monstrous sonic barrage!" The announcer's hands press over his ears, the contortions required to place the mic next to his mouth rather amazing. "This looks like deep trouble for Angel Jou!"

Oh, not good. Not good at all! There's really nothing Jou can do against that. It looks like he delayed a little too long. The wave catches poor Jou full on, the vibrations tearing right through his frame and shaking him to his knees. That /hurt/, and it's left the samurai slightly stunned. Seishiro frowns, openly showing his displeasure now. It's time to stop playing around. It's time to really fight.

Trembling, Jou climbs back to his feet, staring at Karasu the whole time, and something about him is... different. It's nothing specific that anyone could really point out, but he looks, well, resolved. That's the only good word for it. He sets himself, takes hold of his nodachi, and charges in.
This might hurt.

Indeed it might. As Jou charges in towards Karasu, now firm with the resolve to do... whatever it is that powerful angels with powerful swords do to things that get in their way... The puppet-like angel's head cants down a little bit, and Raien's eyes widen ever so slightly. An opening! The puppet drags back away from Jou for just a moment, causing the rye to swish quietly in its wake, then lurches forward with another of those perfectly straight side-kicks, aiming straight for the charging angel's sternum. If it hits, the combination of both angel's momentum is REALLY going to make Jou feel some pain. Definately not an ideal situation for the samurai, but hardly an unavoidable fate.

I don't think so. Jou has seen this move before, and he's not going to fall for it a second time. The corners of his mouth quirked up in a wry grin, Seishiro spares a glance for Raien and mouths a simple "No." In a display of agility beyond what he had previously shown himself to be capable of, the samurai deftly ducks beneath the kick and lunges past Karasu. Immediately he whirls, facing his opponent again, and assumes a stance that only a few people have been witness to.
Feet close together, knees bent, his weight precisely balance and his right hand gripping tightly the hilt of his nodachi. For a moment, he seems surrounded by a faint red glow, and his eyes shine a little brighter. Then all at once he flows forward and the sword flashes out at its target, its prey.

It flashes three times, striking at three points almost simultaneously. And above the noise of the crowd, loud enough for at least his opponent and the announcer to hear, Seishiro cries out, "TSUBAME GAESHI!" The samurai aims for his opponent's joints. This attack is not just meant for raw force, but also to disable, at least temporarily.

"OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOH!" booms he announcer. "A stunning reversal by Angel Jou - Tsubame Gaeshi, a move so powerful it could cleave a bird in mid-flight! This fight is not over yet! Not by a long shot!"

Karasu's attack goes wide, and the angel pivots on the leg that isn't in the air, spinning around ludicrously to face its opponent once more. It brings that leg down, and then lifts the other one up, which spins back around from its now twisted position to look normal once more.

Above, in his seat, Raien raises an eyebrow. "Tsubame Gaeshi, huh?" He actually speaks loud enough for the other Deus to hear now, though the rest of the crowd is largely too busy cheering to hear much of anything, most likely. The young man cricks his neck to the side once, with the tiniest of smiles on his face. "Granted."

The hits strike home, each one easily finding a place upon Karasu's body simeultaneously, but none of them actually manage to do anything more than that tiny flicker of damage that Seishiro has probably become accustomed to seeing on the lifebar. However, it's three strikes at once, so there's three of those tiny little ticks, this time. Well, that has to count for something, right? It looks like it count for a little bit more than initially expected, as Karasu simply crumples to the floor under the triple assault. One thing that noone should ever do, however, is make the mistake of thinking Karasu a weak target just because it's on the ground. It lurches forward underneath the rye, seeking to swipe at Jou's feet.

It doesn't get very far though, falling short, and just laying underneath the swaying ears of rye, twitching. Raien allows a mild eyebrow raise. Ah, it was one of /those/ attacks. He should've known. Should have, but didn't.

It doesn't stop there. As the announcer said, this fight is far from over. They say you should never kick a man while he's down. Apparently this is not a saying Jou is familiar with. He had been worried for a moment when Karasu tried to counter-attack, worried that the Tsubame Gaeshi had not done what it was meant to do. But this is alleviated when the puppet falls limp again. But now, grinning, he raises his sword again.

Where Tsubame Gaeshi is all about speed and precision, this attack is just raw brute strength. Both hands clutching the nodachi, he raises it over his head and swings it down like he were chopping wood with an axe. It's graceless, it's not very showy, but with any luck it'll bring him that much closer to potentially winning this.

The attack comes down mercilessly, which is fine with Raien, because treating an opponent with kid gloves is dis-tasteful, in his opinion. As the chop crashes down towards Karasu, the angel suddenly recovers its alacrity, though a moment too late. It twists and writhes on the ground, curling up into a ball, and ends up with the soles of its tucked in feet taking the brunt of the damage. It's more than the angel had hoped to take, but it's well within manageable levels for one as durable as Karasu. The attack's force spent, Karasu rolls forward and springs to its feet right in front of Jou's face for just a moment before leaning to one side and letting a hooking punch loose towards Jou's head once more. As always, Karasu doesn't seem to strike with much force, but a hit is a hit.

Raien's face returns to that emotionless mask, not that it had taken much a departure. A raised eyebrow and the hint of a smile are enough to let someone know that he's human, and he likes the way things are going, but any more than that is unacceptable right now.

Just what is Karasu made of? Good grief. Seishiro starts to look uncertain as his eyes flicker towards the scoreboard and catch the few points that are taken off of his opponent's lifebar. That should have done a lot more damage. At this point there's very little time for a comeback, and though Jou is fighting well, he's not being particularly effective. He just can't seem to hit hard enough, and that's frustrating.

But there's no time to complain about it. He has to just keep wailing on the other Angel and hope that somehow he manages to break through. Karasu can't maintain that defense forever, can he? However futile it may seem, Jou and Seishiro will not admit defeat until the match is truly over. Anyone that's fought them before knows that.

The puppet's punch is easily batted away with the back of a vambraced forearm, and Jou returns the favor twofold. In the first feat of unarmed combat he's performed during the whole duel, he grabs Karasu's head and brings it down to meet his knee coming up. Defend against /that/.

In the middle of Jou's attack, Karasu just squirms, its head twisting and turning in ways that are both grotesque and humanly impossible, and the head slips out of Jou's grip, the angel flinging its torso backwards so that the knee just /barely/ whiffs through the air. The motion sends Karasu back onto the ground, but after a moment, it's legs bend backwards at the knee joint and move up over its head, coming down behind it like a chicken's legs to stand upon crushed ears of rye. The torso lifts upwards, and Karasu stands straight once more, as the legs slowly return to normal, making a slight 'pop' as they bend back into a more human-like shape. Nothing strange there, no, not at all. It looks towards its opponent, now, and just waits patiently for another attack, those white eyes unblinking.

Raien, for his part, just watches on silently. Really, his lack of emotion is a bit unimpressive, but on the layer, Karasu seems to be doing a fairly decent job of not dying. But... where's the show that Raien asked Karasu to provide? Sure, it's being creepy... but... where's the excitement? Where's the crowd-pleasing?

Okay, apparently Karasu is made out of creepy. Question answered. Seishiro isn't bothered by this, though. He's seen some very bizarre things on the Layer. This is just another Angel. A very frustrating Angel, but still just another one. The timer is almost up, and Jou's running out of momentum. If he doesn't figure out a way past Karasu's defenses soon, he's going to lose without a proper fight. One of them needs to be knocked out before the timer hits zero.

Having run out of eye-catching maneuvers, the samurai settles for a simple diagonal sword-stroke across the puppet's chest. Best he can do now is try to wear him down little by little. Which is essentially what he was doing the whole time anyway.

It's not that there's anything wrong with Seishiro's plan... on the contrary, it's the same plan Raien uses in the reverse. Defeating speed angels relies heavily on wearing them down until they just can't dodge anymore. However, wearing Karasu down is a rather tough task, and it's going to take a little bit more than that. As the attack comes in, Karasu's mouth opens once more, and wave after wave of sonic energy crashes out of the angel and into Jou, slowing the attack as it approaches. Slower, slower, until the attack is barely a tap to Karasu, impacting upon the angel but once more failing to have a particularly powerful effect. The final wave roars out of Karasu as it snaps its arms back, and throws Jou to the ground, rye flattening around him in a circular impression as the unseen wave of force presses down upon the whole area for a moment. And that's it, another opening. Seeing Jou on the floor, as expected, Raien gives a slight nod, and Karasu leaps into the air, spiraling as its brown mantle flares out. Not one, but both legs splay outwards as Karasu's hip joint pivots in the air, and a pair of hook kicks slams down towards Jou. Admittedly, there are far more powerful techniques to use, but with Jou still recovering from the effects of the sonic wall, it's pretty unlikely that the other angel will be able to dodge it, and if he doesn't, it's most likely going to hurt. Of course, Karasu will fall onto the ground afterwards either way, but ... Raien can't be bothered with details right now.

There's no chance. With so little time left, there's no way Jou can score a knockout before the end. The best he can do is keep the show going for the crowd. Unlike Usagi-tan, he doesn't have a desperation attack to pull out at the last minute. And he can't go berserk like Chimera. He's still fairly new at this, and hasn't developed any special techniques beyond the one that he's already shown off.

One thing he is good at is staying alive. Pity his opponent seems to be better at it than him. But as the twin kicks come sailing towards him, he springs up off of the ground. Hands planted behind his head, he does something unexpected. WIndmilling his legs like a breakdance maneuver, he meets each kick with one of his own, knocking them aside, and comes up on his feet.

Now it's his turn to take advantage of the opening. Again. Rushing in once more as the puppet crumples to the ground, his sword arcs through the grain towards his fallen foe. At least one more blow. It probably won't do much, but he has to get in as many shots as he can.

As Seishiro has noticed by now, Karasu is very durable. When the puppet lands on the ground, it rolls onto its side. As the sword comes in, its legs bend freakishly to the side, giving it a slight grip on the layer where it otherwise wouldn't have one. With that surface to push off of, Karasu rears a hand back, and does the unthinkable. Instead of trying to defend against the attack, Karasu merely throws its body to the left, using that twist along with the legs on the ground to drive its fist forward right into the place where the blade stems from the blade guard, slamming the sword back against Jou's hand forcefully, weakening the strike to almost non-existence, and scoring some nice damage at the same time. Of course, it wouldn't be quite as bad, if Karasu didn't follow that by pivoting its hips and torso once more, sending yet another hook kick around towards Jou's arm, intending to follow through.

Unfortunately, it seems there are some tricks that Jou /will/ fall for twice. The strike against his sword is incredibly effective, both stopping the blow and staggering the samurai, almost making him drop the nodachi. But to drop his sword would be to shame himself, and he's not ready to commit seppuku yet. The kick is rather less effective. Jou blocks with the blade of his nodachi, bracing it against one of his vambraces, and all but ignores the blow. This is his last chance to do some damage, but he just doesn't have the strength to do anything major. It's over for him. His last great act of defiance before the buzzer sounds is to level the tip of the sword at Karasu's chest and thrust forward with both hands, leaning into it for a little extra push. There's no way it's going to have a significant effect, but he can't just stand aside and /let/ Raien win. It has to be earned.

As it stands, Raien isn't exactly about to let the match end without Karasu being a little showy, either. His request of Karasu at the beginning of the match would now be granted in full. The angel rolls into a crouch, its joints all snapping back into their correct positions and places, and stands halfway, still partially crouched as Jou makes a final thrust towards it. Despite Seishiro's wish to get some final damage in before the buzzer, Jou's attack is denied such an honor. The layer behind Karasu darkens slightly, as though some thin cloud had drifted over the field of rye behind it, but there are no clouds. The puppet's mouth opens in what looks like a scream, but no sound comes out... Yet, behind Karasu, where its right arm is rearing back, the air begins to shimmer, and suddenly the puppet claws the hand through the hair in an overhead arc, and with it, comes the sound. Like a bomb going off, the roar fills the layer as Karasu's overhand swipe draws all that darkness behind it into the shimmering air, and an arc of darkness and brilliance, the result of the air being bounced around and excited by powerful sonic energy, claws forth into Jou, completely deflecting the attack before it even hits. However, it's not a swipe for the sake of looking scary. The fearsome sonic gale slashes out into Jou, slamming the other angel down into the layer, mucking about with the samurai's internals. It's hardly enough to damage the other angel, but Seishiro's visor should show some temporary malfucntion with Jou's legs. Very unfortunate.

Karasu pauses for just one moment, and then flares its hand back up, shaping it into one last chop at the other angel's throat. It's not nearly as fancy as its last defense, but with the sonic gale still dissipating, people might easily mistake it for slamming the remainder of the sonic force into Jou, and that certainly LOOKS fancy.
As the gale slams outwards, Raien quietly makes a proclaimation, in English, for noone to hear but himself. "...Game over."

At this point, there really /is/ nothing Jou can do. It's over. His attack is stopped by the sonic barrage once more and he's thrown to the ground, where he'd be obscured by the rye had it not been torn apart and trampled down by their fierce combat. Even so, one hand still clutches his sword, though the ribbon drifts away on the wind that shakes the coppery stalks, torn loose by that last assault. With effort, he climbs back to his feet, his Deus scowling in frustration. It's difficult. His legs almost don't want to support his weight, and all the damage has taken its toll on him.

Yet still he stands, defiantly, trying to raise his sword for one more attack. The puppet, having sustained so much less over the course of the duel, moves a little faster. His strike is perfectly aimed, and Jou makes no attempt to defend against it.

It catches him square in the throat, and the rest of his life gage plummets away. All save for one point. Jou is still standing, and for a moment one could swear the his eyes flashed red. He snarls silently and hefts his sword with both hands....
And the buzzer sounds. Game over indeed. "I guess that's that, then."

As the buzzer sounds, there is a moment of near-silence. It's not that there is any debate over who won the match, but rather, the audience had largely been watching the last few seconds in silence. At first, it sounds almost as though the audience had lost interest. And then the announcer's voice penetrates the arena, waking them from their collective reverie. "Karasu.... WIN!!"

The sudden cheer for both of the angels and their respective Deuses is immense, shaking the arena and drowning out any words Raien might have for Seishiro. However, he simply nods his head to the other young man as the seats lower back down to the ground, where the two can step out of them. After removing his visor and placing it on the seat, Raien does so, and closes his eyes for a moment. When he opens them again, he's smiling towards Seishiro. The crowd is still cheering, but it doesn't take someone with superhuman hearing to figure out what he says. "... Good match." He walks over towards the layer, to retrieve Karasu, and then continues on towards the other Deus, intending to shake his hand, and exit the arena with him. After all, it's the courteous thing to do. And while one can't always tell, Raien is definately courteous...

Despite having lost by a considerable margin, Seishiro is smiling when he reaches the floor. Everyone else seemed so happy that even if he'd wanted to be upset about it, he couldn't have stayed that way for long. The visor left in the Deus' seat, he trots over to retrieve Jou from the Layer, handling the battered Angel gently. He returns Raien's nod, and meets him halfway for the handshake. "You weren't half bad," he says with a laugh, keeping pace with the one that was his opponent moments ago as they make their way towards the exit. He can't help but wave to the crowd as he goes, and nudges Raien with an elbow. "You wave too, they're cheering for /you/." Seishiro is also corteous, but more than that he's friendly, and the two don't always coincide, but he does his best.
In the audience, you hear a male voice shouting, "Nice try Seishiro-kun! Good job Raien-han!"

As Raien gets nudged by Seishiro's elbow, he raises an eyebrow and looks up at the cheering crowds. He shakes his head after a moment, neglecting to wave at them, but he does give them a tiny smile, which is more than he would have given a crowd of random people he doesn't know, a few months prior. The changes in his character have been slow and subtle, but they're definately occuring. He speaks quietly to Seishiro as they walk. "For us. It takes two to have a match." With that, he continues walking, a slight glance, with eyes only, towards the crowd as someone in the stands addresses him in a familiar way. Hmm. Of course Sakamoto-san was watching. That tiny smile grows ever so slightly wider, but he says nothing more, and walks with Seishiro the rest of the way in silence.