Keiichi had finally aclimated to the crowds, and was now walking about to find opponents to challenge. It had been a long day so far, but he wasn't done yet. He had a lot more left in him, he just hoped there was enough time to get a few more fights in before the whole thing ended. At the moment he was passing by Layer 1, peering about curiously to see if there was anyone about that looked like they might be up for a match.

Time once again finds one Kourei Raien walking down the stairs into the tournament area. His family has, in a rare burst of emotional attachment, been managing to pull him away after only one match each time. Hopefully today will be different. Karasu's a good angel, with the right Deus, and Raien is often anxious to play. In a tournament he's especially anxious. So, the first thing he does, is walk straight to the nearest layer. He sees Keiichi and smiles, pointing at his classmate and flicking his finger towards the layer in non-verbal communication. He heads right over and grabs a visor without waiting for Keiichi to agree. Either he knows Keiichi's waiting for someone to match, or he's impatient. Either way, the result is the same.

The non-verbal challenge was noted and accepted, Keiichi was looking for a match after all and he knew Raien would give him a good one. He makes his way over towards the layer as well, settling down into the seat and sliding the headset over his head with a grin. "Oi, Raien-san. Good luck." He flicks the power on and withdraws Zankoku, inspecting him briefly before things begin. The layer scenery flickered about before the fores clearing with the fountain of youth appears. He's battled her before. It seems he was waiting for Raien to fall in first.

Raien sets his knapsack down and pulls Karasu out rather quickly. One hand reaches up to power his visor on while the other tosses Karasu towards the layer in under-handed fashion. As per usual, though it looks a little more hurried than normal. Such an opportunity to experience different opponents, and Raien had barely utilized any of it. A waste, is what it is. Ah well. There were upsides....

"Get beaten with dignity, Karasu." Not the most inspiring quote ever. It looks like Raien just makes them up as he goes along. Some people just have no respect for tradition. As Karasu flies through the layer barrier, it spreads its arms out wide, flaring the tattered brown mantle out in the wind. Raien had replaced the mantle after his fight with Tomoe yesterday, but decided it looked better tattered, and had set about doing that himself. He's a strange one. Karasu lands on the grass in a perfect crouch, its emotionless white eyes staring ahead, unblinking.

After watching the puppet angel fallin, Keiichi smiles and lifts his own angel up and tosses him in a spiraly motion towards the layer. "Reach beyond the gates of death, Zankoku fall-in!" After passing through the energy barrier, Zankoku springs to life and twists about to flip and come crashing down into the soft grasses below. His landing puts him on one knee with one hand placed palm flat upon the surface. He then stands and crosses his arms over his chest, a small grin forming on his lips. He'd faced Karasu a few times and knew how difficult it was to defeat.

Karasu's eyes stare at the undead angel, and it opens its mouth, as if speaking a greeting to the opponent. It has seen Zankoku enough times that it might as well be an acquaintance, though the bizarre kind of acquaintance that frequently tears your insides apart, Karasu doesn't exactly look like the type to care one way or the other. No words come out, but a series of quiet clicks, and it nods the white-haired head once, before letting its arms drift up into its typical puppet-like pose. The hands dangle limply while the wrists are 'held' by those non-existent strings. It has probably long since lost its creepiness to the opponent, if it held any in the first place, but that's Karasu for you.

Zankoku was given the opening move it seemed, but he was reluctant to take it just yet. He hangs back some and begins what would be a slow circle about the puppet, keeping a decent distance between them. He was sizing Karasu up it seemed, planning out what he intended to do to start things off. For now though there was no attack, only the pacing and watching.

As Zankoku circles around Karasu, the puppet does not turn or even track the undead opponent with its eyes, but simply dangles there on its 'strings'. As Zankoku's circle draws him behind Karasu, it drops to the ground completely in a crouch. Raien gives a brief nod of his head, and then it goes off. Karasu leaps backwards in a flip, sending a foot straight down towards Zankoku's head, however, it missed at the last second, impacting the ground in front of Zankoku. Karasu teeters in its new position, before hurling its torso to the side. The puppet's lone signature move, right off the bat, spins it around as a hook kick lashes out at Zankoku's face, followed by another to the chest, leaving Karasu to fall to the layer afterwards.

As odd as it was, that first kick that missed didn't even meet with any sort of defense or flinch. The actual attacks that came in though, met with an invisible field of energy stopping them nearly cold. Dark bursts of energy spilling away from the impact points, though the second one did break through. The effect was mostly lost however. The dark energies then flare up around the zombie, spillling up into a pillar and pushing the puppet angel away with a great deal of force before settling down into a faint aura.

Karasu is flung back without resistance, landing on its feet for the briefest of moments before it lurches forward towards Zankoku as if pulled by invisible strings. Its right arm shoots out, bending backwards and then snapping back forward to create an unreasonably powerful slap right towards Zankoku's head. Speaking of heads, Karasu's turns around 90 degrees with the slap, as if it were directing it somehow.

That purplish black aura that was surrounding Zankoku's form grew slightly in intensity and then seeped into his body. The punch/slap smashes into his head but it's like hitting a solid rock and it doesn't budge an inch. He only grins at the puppet after the blow, with a flash of red light from deep within his eyes. His foot comes out and slams towards his gut.

"Getting harder to bother Zankoku." Raien speaks to Keiichi, but doesn't look up from the layer. He looks relaxed, but his concentration is on the match. Down below, Karasu takes the kick solidly in the gut, and doesn't move an inch. It just stares at Zankoku, unblinking, as if it didn't even notice. Hmm.

Keiichi chuckles slightly, "Always difficult to bother Karasu," he spoke with a small grin on his features. On the layer, Zankoku slides back a bit and snaps into a quick spin while sending a roundhouse kick towards the puppet's head. He may not be able to do a /lot/ of damage to the thing, but he could at least try to wear him down.

Zankoku's kick strikes home, but it doesn't feel very solid. Karasu's head spins a full 180 degrees around, then rotates all the way back to stare at Zankoku with those unblinking eyes, a loud click coming from its mouth once. It lunges forward and thrusts a flat hand towards Zankoku's throat, just trying to irritate the undead enemy for now.

Raien gives a light shrug. "Karasu's a defense type." He doesn't elaborate further, and really doesn't feel he needs to. It wouldn't be a very GOOD defense type if it was EASY to bother it, now would it?

Keiichi nearly cursed as Karasu's head went a'spinning. He'd forgotten about that, and that was sloppy. Oh well. He grinned a bit after that and nodded, "That he is." On the layer, Zankoku bats aside the offending hand with little damage being inflicted, though something did register. Afterwards he backs off a bit and settles into a defensive posture. He would wait for a moment before renewing his assault.

No further comments come from Karasu's Deus. Likewise, the puppet-like angel simply stands and stares at Zankoku, unblinking as always. It doesn't even adopt its regular stance. All things told, it holds perfectly still, which is a very unusual thing to see Karasu do. It's always moving, ordinarily. Raien looks amused at something, but beyond that, nothing happens. Still, Raien showing any emotion in a match is something unusual.

Ah another lull, Zankoku liked that. Still he wasn't going to let Karasu keep the upperhand with such pauses, and it was time to go back on the offensive. He lurches in swiftly towards the puppet and brings his arm around from a wide swing, and at the last moment the fist came undone and formed into a flattened hand. It went for the neck to pinch at the wiring there, time to disrupt the data flow.

As Zankoku's strike comes in for Karasu's neck, the angel crosses its arms and just stares, not even bothering to defend. The strike all but bounces off, yet it still has its effect. Not that anyone can really tell. Karasu just remains standing perfectly still, almost no visible difference in its stance at all. One would almost think it hadn't worked, but the joints quiver a little as Raien fights to keep control of them. They don't hold still on their own, it seems.

"That's good, you're getting better at that. Shall we test it further?" Keiichi grins a bit as he watches the layer below. Zankoku took a step back and threw his arm out to the side where a flare of dark energy encompassed it and formed into a punchdagger like blade, which was then plunged at Karasu's chest. Since he didn't seem like he was going anywhere, he figured it would probably hit.

Once more, Karasu makes no move to defend or dodge. It looks like Raien's either got Zankoku's moves read and knows there's no point, or is just showing off. Either way, the dagger plunges into the puppet-like angel, but this time it twitches spasmodically, its crosses arms falling to its sides. Raien's left eye twitches a bit. That really hurt, if the life bar is any indication.

"Well, I'm impressed." Keiichi grinned again and leaned forward to prop his chin in the palm of his hand. There was still work to be done on the layer though. The zombie slides back and then twists into a low spin, kicking out towards the puppet's legs. If it manages to succeed, he'll followup with another strike towards his body.

Zankoku's sweep is met with Karasu's foot. The angel tilts it up to catch the sweep like it would a soccer ball, and, while it skids a bit, losing a little balance, it just brings the attack to a dead stop, almost no damage done. Looks like Raien figured out that minimal movement means less concentration required. He's a good kid. Karasu's leg then pulls back, and intends to punt the other angel straight upside the head. The soccer comparisons continue, it seems.

With surprising (maybe) alacrity, Zankoku manages to shift his body to the side and avoid the blow entirely. The zombie smirks a bit as the foot passes by harmlessly and shoves his hand out to the side in an attempt to punch at the puppet's chest.

There are a lot of possible attacks, but such a basic punch is easily stopped by Karasu. The angel's hand snaps up to stop Zankoku's fist with an open palm, making a point of not grabbing the hand while it can. It just lets Zankoku do whatever he wants from this point, standing without moving. Really, Karasu might as well be immobile at this point, for the effort its putting into these defenses.

With Zankoku's fist stopped, he pivots about in a spin and comes around with a kick, aimed for the puppets side. If he wasn't going to move he would be used as a punching and kicking bag. For all the good it would do the zombie that is.

Another straightforward attack, and another minimal defense. Or at least, that's how it appears on the surface. Karasu just shifts an arm to the side to block the kick, but then the wrist rotates a full 180 degrees and catches Zankoku's leg, yanking it in the opposite direction from which it's supposed to bend, intending to cause grievous harm. In the meanwhile, Karasu sends a kick right for Zankoku's solar plexus while he's holding the leg.

Raien just crosses his arms in his seat. He doesn't say a word. Yup. Very interesting, this one is.

Zankoku's leg is twisted in a most uncomfortable manner, and with such force that it actually dislocates! This causes him to stagger a bit as an invisible force veers Karasu's leg off course to make it miss entirely. The zombie really needed a moment to fix his leg, so he thought to buy it with another one of those nerve strikes of his, snapping it quick and in towards the neck before limping off and falling to the ground afterwards. Keiichi lifts a brow, "Well that's a new feeling."

Karasu's leg is thrown off course, and it slides back to the ground at an odd angle, the joint rotating until it is once again normal. Once more, the puppet doesn't move. Raien appears to have a very good grasp of Karasu's limits against Zankoku, as while he doesn't make any motion to dodge, he's obviously not forfeiting the fight or taking damage where he doesn't have to. The angel just stands there once more, stunned in a fashion that wouldn't leave people to believe it's stunned.

"I'm experimenting with minimalism. If it's boring, then sorry... but you'll have to deal with it." That was rather blunt. Raien was never accused of choosing his words that carefully, or softening his blows, though, so it's probably not much of a surprise. As to his new 'style' of combat, he wouldn't be able to use it on anyone but Zankoku, really. Raien feels he's read the way Keiichi plays well enough after as many matches as he's had against his classmate. He might be wrong, but that's how he feels. Raien is pretty confident of his analytical abilities, even if they're only a little above average. Fighting games are his area of expertise, after all.

This new defense strategy would make it difficult for Keiichi and Zankoku to completely take out the other angel's life, but he could still swing a win he believed. Though it was possible that it wouldn't work out that way. "Oh no, it's not boring at all Raien-kun, I rather enjoy facing Karasu. It's a challenge." It was too. On the layer, Zankoku's hands had moved down to his leg while Karasu was stunned and reset his leg with a spark and a snapping sound. It was almost as if he'd broken it, but it seemed to be back in working order. He rolls back to his feet and peers at his opponent through those red glowing eyes, pushing his arm out to the side. If he couldn't do a lot of damage physically, it was time to be underhanded. The dark aura of energy flared up around him, a lot of it coalescing into a aphere within the extended hand. It took on a sickly green hue when it was finally ready, and the zombie grinned. He rushes in once more, pushing the ball at Karasu in a heavy handed palm strike. If it hit, no normal defense would stop the lingering effects of the twisted energy.

Karasu's mouth opens the instant Raien sees the energy, and that low rhasping sound starts to build as the sphere is thrust towards Karasu's chest. Once more, however, it looks like this aspect of Karasu isn't fully under Raien's control yet. The strike pierces through the invisible force that ripples out from Karasu, and its effects are felt. Karasu is pushed backwards a few inches, and then falls to one knee, clutching its chest.

"...Never fails." Raien doesn't say anything more, but starts thinking. He really needs to figure out how to stop that from happening again. But first he'll need to master what he's working on. One step at a time.

Zankoku is relentless as he usually is and closes the distance with the puppet while he's on bended knee. His fist draws up as dark energy crackles along the forearm and into the hand. And then it comes smashing down towards the puppets head with a heavy strike. It looked like he wanted to try to finish the puppet off if it was possible.

Unfortunately for Zankoku, finishing Karasu off is much easier said than done. The angel holds its hand up, and most of the attack's damage is negated, though it still slams Karasu's hand back into the angel's own torso. How terribly minimal once again. Really, Karasu isn't nearly as fun to watch like this. But that's Raien's choice for the moment. He's trying to increase his own control over the angel, rather than make Karasu perform to its maximum potential.

Zankoku continues with the red glow in his eyes growing ever brighter as that dark energy of his swirled about his body in a pillar-like shape. All of that energy towered up high and then was absorbed into his body to power him up. And another attack was taken against the puppet, another energy laden fist coming in for the strike.

This time, Zankoku's attack really finds its mark, and Karasu skids across the terrain, grass and dirt flying everywhere as it bounces and flails, before landing on its side on the layer. It looks like it isn't going to move, but soon enough it draws up into that puppet stance that Raien is so apparently fond of, hanging from the wrists.

"Your win again, Misaka-san." Even as Raien says this, Karasu lurches towards Zankoku in a full-on body slam attempt. Just becase Raien knows he's lost doesn't mean he won't keep going until he's out of cards. Figuratively speaking, of course.

While Zankoku's attack found it's mark it didn't accomplish his goal of total defeat. Oh well, this would suffice he supposed, and the dark energies that powered him finally sputtered out. He didn't have anything left to give on the offensive front, all that was left was to avoid as much damage as possible while the timer still ran down. And avoid he did, side stepping the puppets ram and moving off a little ways before settling into a defensive stance.

As Karasu rockets past Zankoku, it plants its hands down on the 'ground', grasping at it for traction. The lower half of its body flips over the upper torso, and the wrist and arm joints rotate to let Karasu land on its feet in a coiled position. It doesn't hesitate in the slightest, immediately leaping back at Zankoku's new position. Really now, it is rather persistent, if nothing else.

Keiichi tilts his head slightly as he watches Karasu coming in for another attack, and settles back into his seat. He's won already, but that wasn't any reason to end things before the timer was up. A smile came to the boy that slowly shifted into a grin. He might as well do something amusing in the end, since he wasn't going to attack any longer. On the layer, Zankoku slides back and away from the attack, which isn't particularly amusing in and of itself. It's the method of slide that should catch attention, as he was moon walking. He was pretty good at it too! Michael Jackson was still a popular name over here in Japan after all, and why not emulate the almighty King of Pop's most famous move?

Raien just stares at Zankoku on the layer. Yes, it's amusing, even to Raien, who hides the tiny smile that comes to his face. But more importantly, it's a vulnerability. Karasu's leap this time was aimed to land him right on top of Zankoku. When the undead angel dodged, Karasu planted its hands on the layer. Now, it swings around, converting the momentum of the leap into a hook kick aimed right at Zankoku's calves.

"... Funny."

It was the very last moments of his last match for this tournament, and Keiichi wanted to go out on a high note. The moonwalk was fun, but he could do better. Zankoku just stopped and was struck by the blow that Karasu made, flying back a bit and falling upon the ground in a prone heap. He remained there for a moment before he slowly shambles up to his feet, the way a proper zombie should. The clock was winding down to the last seconds, and it was then that he began dancing the Thriller dance. Everyone knows it! Or they should anyway. Keiichi picks up during it, in a quiet voice and a loose translation, "Grizzy ghouls from every tomb, are closing to seal your doom, and though you fight to stay alive, your body starts to shiver, for no mere mortal can reisist, the evil of the thriller. . ." He chuckles a bit afterwards and shakes his head, "Good game, Raien-kun."

Raien allows himself to grin ever so slightly, his game face worn now that the timer has sounded. "...You too, as always, Misaka-san." He reaches in and snags Karasu from the layer, promptly depositing the angel into his knapsack without so much as looking at it. It's not that Karasu isn't important to him, it's just that... well... he isn't overly sentimental about the angel. Still, the knapsack alone is a far cry from carrying the angel in his pocket like he originally did. Investing time into Karasu was slowly increasing its importance to him.

"I'll be in your league soon enough." Raien isn't trying to be a braggart, just stating what he's confident is the truth. Raien doesn't take a long time to get good at anything game-related. This won't be any different, even if the months he's spent playing it are significantly longer than it has ever taken him to master a game.
Raien takes Karasu from Layer 1.

"I don't doubt that Raien-san, you're already a difficult opponent. Don't think I'll be slouching though, I have goals and I'm still not good enough to meet them." Keiichi grins across the layer towards Raien, before slipping the headset off his head and leaning over to pluck Zankoku from the layer. He slips his phone out to check the time and signs, "It looks like there isn't enough time for another match before the official close of the tournament. Oh well, I wonder who will win." He smiles a bit and rises to his feet before stretching a bit.

Indeed, the tournament was over, Raien looks at the time and stares. "... Huh. I wonder if she's here today too." He's not really concerned with the winner of the tournament. It wasn't him, he knows that much, and whoever it was probably deserved it. As long as he advanced his control of Karasu, and he had, he was quite satisfied with this tournament. Even if he would have liked to participate more. Waving to Keiichi, he walks off, looking around him.