Advanced Notice.

The one thing Raien's parents had always asked for, he had given them. Over a month in advance he had told them about this tournament, reminding them once a week just in case. And yet still, somehow, unbelievably, they had come up with some family event that he *HAD* to attend at the last minute. It boggles his mind. If he was a different kind of person, he would still be upset about it. But at least he's finally here.

Tomoe. Her name echoes in his head, as he descends the stairs to the layer room. He hadn't needed to hold the door open long. Everyone was already inside, for once. And quite a crowd, too. "Huh. I wonder if she's here..." It's not like Raien to talk to himself, but he's had a lot of unusual things happen to him recently, so it's the least of his concerns. Now, if only he can find a match...

After a very quick meal, and some attention to both Chimera and Seraph, Tomoe makes her way back down the stairs. Chimera is, yet again, held partially over her arm and partially in her hand, with her palm turned upwards. She had yet to find the one she was looking for - as it turned out, he wasn't in the cafeteria, either. Still, though, she looks for him, even as she keeps an eye out for another opponent. But then - there he is. An instant smile, but she forces half of it down. And then, she walks over to him. She's not really trying to conceal herself from view, but his back is to her, so he may not notice her approach. "Would you care for a match, Raien . . .?" Her voice is soft, and a bit quiet.

After a very quick meal, and some attention to both Chimera and Seraph, Tomoe makes her way back down the stairs. Chimera is, yet again, held partially over her arm and partially in her hand, with her palm turned upwards. She had yet to find the one she was looking for - as it turned out, he wasn't in the cafeteria, either. Still, though, she looks for him, even as she keeps an eye out for another opponent. But then - there he is. An instant smile, but she forces half of it down. And then, she walks over to him. She's not really trying to conceal herself from view, but his back is to her, so he may not notice her approach. "Would you care for a match, Raien . . .?" Her voice is soft, and a bit quiet.

Quiet as Tomoe's voice is, it takes Raien a half-moment before he stops, but he does. He turns to look towards her, and the instant she comes into view, the corners of his mouth turn up into a smile that he's obviously fighting to keep from devouring his face. Tomoe. "...Most definately." Ordinarily, Raien would dash straight towards the nearest chair and grab a visor, but he doesn't seem to this time, just standing there and smiling for a few moments before realizing what a dunce he looks like. "... Er... Shall we then?" He still doesn't make haste towards the layer, instead just giving a small flourish of a gesture, as if to ask that she go first.

Tomoe bows her head slightly, letting her hair better obscur her face. "Of course." She turns toward the free layer, walking over at a normal pace - not to slow, else another deus snatch it up, but not terribly fast, either. She's smiling now, though it can't be seen clearly through her hair and the angle of her bowed head. She takes a seat in one of the odd layer chairs, moving Chimera to her lap as she sets things up for the match. The headset is placed on as carefully as ever, but the motion reveals that she's not yet managed to force away that smile again.

Raien is quick to match Tomoe's actions, snatching up the opposing headset before another contender can snatch this fight away from him. "...Guess I just have the best luck. Again." With that, he sets the visor on his head before unslinging his knapsack from his shoulder and rummaging around inside it for Karasu. It doesn't take him long, the angel is all he brought today. He keeps watching Tomoe in his peripheral vision until he pulls Karasu out, and then he just stares at her with eyes that may as well be smiling themselves.

Tomoe watches Raien as he sets things up on his end, barely keeping that smile from growing larger. There are many, many people here . . . it's simply not the place for that. "I'd been looking for you for a while. I heard you defeated a guest duelist . . .?" The layer flashes through several random sceneries, before one settles over the layer surface - and towards over it. Tomoe turns her attention to the scenery, and nods briefly. That one is acceptable. Not as suitable as the scene used for Chimera's battle with Seraph, but it's scores better than certain others she'd been forced to use today. To business. "Tonight, it's Karasu. Chimera, fall in." Not her standard entry phrase, but close enough.

Chimera is thrown into the layer with quite a bit more force and aim than usual. As he passes through the barrier, Chimera's wing shoots out sharply, and flaps forcefully to provide the tiny bit of lift needed to ensure that the beast lands on one of those tower disks. The wind is powerful, but it somehow managed to assist Chimera's 'flight,' even preventing his usual pounding landing. The beast crouches a bit, pulling his outter heads back and folding his wing in towards his body. That tripple-split sways slowly back and forth, moving with the wind, then against it..

Raien watches Tomoe send Chimera into the layer and gives a rather bright smile. He knows it's not the place, but he can't help but feel glad of this chance, and a little proud of his match last night. He'd never had to concentrate that much in a match, and it had really paid off. Truth be told, Raien is still a little mentally fatigued from it, but it doesn't show. "It was close." That's all he says. Raien may have accomplished something he was proud of, but he's no braggart.

"Tie-breaker time, Karasu." That smile turns into a subdued grin, which slowly fades from his face as he tries to put that emotionless mask on. It doesn't take. The corners of his mouth twitch, and he looks a little upset for a moment, then sighs and smiles. He'll just smile the whole time. That'll be fine. As long as he can keep it a tiny smile. Which he manages. A toss of his hand, and Karasu is flying through the air...

Karasu sails towards the tower, spreading its arms out and letting the mantle flow around it. It doesn't quite make the starting platform, and Raien gives his head a slight tilt to the side as the angel catches the platform with one hand and swings up and around onto it. Not bad, not bad..

Tomoe splits her attention between the layer and Raien, although, to be honest, a bit more is given to Raien. On the layer, Chimera keeps his eyes - all six of them - on Karasu. He begins to move, a bit slowly, around the perimeter of the disk. The proximity to the edge would be dangerous for a lightweight model . . . but Chimera is no lightweight. Gusts of wind bite at his skin, tossing and pulling at fur and feathers. At this rate, it would take him some time to reach his puppet-like opponent.

Karasu stares at Chimera, its white eyes unblinking. Rising from its crouch, its arms slowly draw out to its sides and up, the hands dangling limply as the whole angel seems to be drawn up in the air like a puppet on strings. Nothing new there.

Raien affords himself a look towards Tomoe after Karasu finishes taking its basic stance, and he notices her looking at him and quickly looks back to the layer, that smile near-imperceptibly bigger. "... Feels a little different this time."

"It does . . . " Tomoe's smile shifts into something half-smile, half-grin. " . . . But don't think that means I'm going easy on you, Raien." She tucks her chin in a bit, but still keeps most of her attention on him. She'd gotten better at controlling Chimera with only partial attention, so, if nothing else, this could be a test of that.
On the layer, Chimera increases his speed. Before circling the entire perimeter of the disc, he turns inwards a bit and then, he charges. The two outer heads remain pulled back, and the center head bows low, bringing those massive spiraling horns into play. The angle is careful - if the strike hits, Karasu should not be pushed over the edge, but along it. More importantly, if Karasu manages to get out of the way, Chimera won't be propelling himself over the edge.

"Wouldn't make me happy if you did, Tomoe." Despite his words, Rain continues smiling. This should be fun. He lowers his head a bit, his own chin pulling inwards, and watches Chimera come in with a small smile on his face. He remembers how tough it was to try to out-last Chimera last time. It had gotten pretty strong. So, he decides that the best approach for now is to counter force with force. As Chimera charges in, Karasu leans back and to the side, then suddenly snaps back and forward, bringing both hands towards the charging head in a hammer-blow of a defense, intending to knock Chimera off to the side as it diverts most of the force away from its body. Still, even with such a defense, Raien can already feel Chimera's strength through the tactile feedback system. Certainly didn't get weaker, that's for certain.

Tomoe's smile/grin widens just slightly before she manages to subdue it. On the layer, the blow strikes squarely against the central head, halting the charge and pushing Chimera just slightly to the side - causing an odd, tilted stance more than moving the beast himself. The cervid head huffs, exhaling a small cloud of frost that hovers around its muzzle, then swings around and down. The move brings the sharp prongs of those massive antlers sweeping towards Karasu's face. The central head merely snarls, and the serpentine head hisses.

Karasu's arms swing out, batting the antlers away with as little damage as the angel can manage, which is still more than other angels tend to penetrate its defense. The arm itself is flung away from the attack, which causes Karasu to turn around and stagger backwards a bit. Of course, this position is not without its merits. Karasu crouches down low, and its Deus gives a light smile. Karasu's body twists slightly to the side, and then snaps back around like a rubber band. The brown mantle flares out wildly, and a left hook kick shoots around towards the side of the central head, followed by... another? Karasu's hip joint rotates and the leg pivots, sending a second hook out towards the same head in rapid succession before Karasu falls to the layer. If you don't have the power to take out all three, just concentrate on one, that's how Raien's thinking right now, for those that are curious.

An interesting attack, indeed. Tomoe's smile widens, and she bites her lower lip lightly. More attention is diverted to the layer, although a fair amount remains on Raien - watching, in part, for his reaction. The central head jerks slightly with each kick, But then, there's a slight popping noise from deep within Chimera's chest. The serpentine head convulses slightly, then its mouth suddenly snaps open, forced wide by the force of the jet of thick black goo pushing up its throat. The corrosive muck shoots out of that mouth and towards Karasu in a quick, sudden burst. Then, Chimera rears, spreading both foreclaw and talon wide, while directing all three heads towards his puppet-like opponent. Suddenly, the beast lunges forward and downward, raking towards Karasu with claws and talons, then plunging all three heads in for bites.

Karasu falls to the floor and is blanketed with corrosive goo, its mantle singing and all but evaporating away, leaving it wearing more of a collar than a mantle. Rolling to face up towards the charging Chimera, Karasu's mouth opens wide, and the angel lets out a harsh rasping sound, an invisible force slamming outwards towards Chimera's charge. The force barely slows Chimera down, and the massive angel just SLAMS down onto Karasu, the angel getting battered and shredded with almost no room for counter-attack. Almost. One of its legs manages to curl up, and Karasu sends it straight up at Chimera's stomach in a thrusting kick, intending to knock the beast off of it.

For Raien's part, the Deus' eyes widen a little, but his smile remains. This time, the wall of force didn't even come close to stopping Chimera. "...Better and better each time I see him." That's all he says though. He wants to look up at Tomoe, but Karasu's in a tight spot, so he doesn't.

Tomoe says nothing, although her smile/grin does manage to widen just a bit. Chimera does not let up on his attack. Karau's kick lands hard on the beast's stomach, but the force merely jostles the beast rather than knocking him off. Chimera intends to continue the maul and, in the midst of it, all three of the mouths open, each belching forth their own fluid. A second wave of goo escapes those serpentine jaws (wasn't there only one shot of each of those . . .?). A blast of biting-cold, frozen air accompanied by a cloud of viciously sharp ice shards escapes the cervid muzzle. A wave of intense, brief flame flows out from between the massive teeth of the central head. At this close of a range, those attacks are even more dangerous.

This time, without the mantle to protect it, Karasu is hit hard by the corrosive muck, and starts singing. The lifebar above shows it losing strength rapidly, and... Raien closes his eyes. They snap open again, and just as Chimera's other heads join in the fun, Karasu's legs snake out and wrap around Chimera's rear legs, then pulling the puppet-like angel out of the way of the rest of the breath-attacks. Instead, Karasu drags itself around behind Chimera and flips up around to deliver a double-fisted hammer blow to spot where the opposing angel's tail meets its hindquarters. NOT exactly a safe place to be in, but Raien didn't have much time to do anything else.

"...Hmm. Got more juice into the 'pup', did you?" Raien realizes he's spent so much time around Tomoe, he's starting to use her words for the angel, and gives a tiny chuckle.

"No. Just reconfigured a few things." Tomoe lets the majority of her attention drift back towards Raien. On the layer, Chimera's cervid and serpentine head follow Karasu's movements closely. Yet the beast does not turn - this prey has not exactly escaped, after all. As the puppet-angel's blow strikes, the beast's tail drifts to one side before snapping sharply back - an attempt to slap strongly against Karasu's form. If it lands, the three separate tips will wrap around Karasu's neck and arms, diggint in deeply to worsen the damage.

Karasu opens its mouth as the tail comes for it, and its arms wrap around the tail in turn, weakening the tail's grip on the angel by exerting a similar grip on the tail. Karasu's eyes widen, and the air around it begins to shimmer. Slowly at first, a low sound fills the layer, and Karasu's mouth opens wider. The air between Karasu and Chimera seems to waver and bend as the low hum grows in volume and strength, obviously coming from Karasu. The strange angel rears its head back for a moment, and then snaps it forward, a wave of invisible force building up inside it, waiting to be unleashed with but a single scream.

A scream that does not come. Karasu's eyes glow back as it struggles with Chimera's tail, and tears of bubbling pitch roll down the carved lines in its face. The wave of force dissipates before it can be unleashed, and Karasu falls silent, hanging from the tail like a ragdoll. Raien stands to his feet, but he's still smiling. Karasu had fared better this time than the last time. It wasn't a win, but it was a start. "... Much more visceral than the last match." He's not /really/ thinking about the match though. It's over, and Tomoe's his main concern now. He's a bit surprised that he didn't have difficulty concentrating on the match. Looks like he's not weakened by these circumstances after all. Just changed.

Tomoe remains quiet as Karasu slowly dies. Once his life meter is emptied, she reaches a hand to her headset, powering it down before carefully pulling it off. Her face is clearly visible for only an extremely brief moment before her hair falls back into place. "Very good match, and several tests passed." She releses a very short laugh, and shakes her head slightly before standing up. Turning her attention away from Raien for a moment, she reaches over the layer to retrieve Chimera, looking him over critically. The little beast had been through a lot recently, yet he was holding up well. Very well. Tomoe nods, then looks back towards Raien. "I need to do some maintenance on the pup. Will you accompany me?" She cants her head slightly, allowing a thin opening to form in the hair over her blue eye.

Raien powers his headset off and nods immediately, reaching in to take Karasu from the layer once Tomoe has removed Chimera. "Whenever possible." With that, he sets the headset down, slips Karasu in the knapsack, and slings it over his shoulder in an almost practiced motion. Well, he is very good with his hands, this one is. Raien moves to follow Tomoe with an even larger smile on his face, if such a thing were possible. He'd defeated one of the high ranking duelists, but he still lost to Tomoe. Somehow... that seems good to him. Right, even.