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Something Smells Fishy [Ikazuchi] [A-Rank]

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#1Jin Takayama † 

Something Smells Fishy [Ikazuchi] [A-Rank] Empty Tue Sep 28, 2021 11:57 am

Jin Takayama †
A scowl appeared across Jin’s face as he once again made his way to Port Astera. This place, unfortunately, brought forth a host of bad memories. Astera was the last place he saw Izumi, the last place time they were together. Being back here reminded him of his own powerlessness. It made him strive to never be that way again.  It was finally time to end things with Yamashiro. All the searching, all the hardships, they all lead to this moment. The moment where Yamashiro would finally get what has been long overdue.

Both Ikazuchi and Jin walked towards an abandon town, the last place Yamashiro was spotted. Both of them had revenge and bad intentions on their minds. Some of the locals in the area had mentioned a severe shortage of fish in the last few days. Jin instantly thought back to the creature he and Izumi faced while they were last here. He wondered if both Yamashiro and Tsukishima were behind this. As they ventured deeper into the town, the smell of rotten flesh became more apparent. “Stay focused and on your toes.” Jin said sharply. Though Ikazuchi could probably hear the comment, it was mainly towards himself. He needed to push back the thoughts of the past for a little bit, just until Yamashiro was dealt with. Suddenly, a loud gurgling sound could be heard towards the back of the town. The sound continued on for what felt like minutes before completely stopping, engulfing the town once again in silence. “It’s him…” Jin mutters as he makes a beeline towards the town’s edge. He gets there within seconds to see a figure standing just off in the distance looking towards the ocean. To Jin, the clothing and body shape was unmistakable. “Yamashiro!” Jin yells as the figure turns towards him.

The frail Yamashiro smiles at the two men in front of him as he begins to take a step forward. “Hello gentlemen. How nice to see you.” In that moment, rage consumes the man’s rational thought. All he wanted was to see him dead. Deciding to not waste another moment, Jin charges towards the man in an attempt to punch his head clean off his shoulders. As he nears, Yamashiro’s eyes glow red as Jin is forcefully flung backwards. The behemoth skids on the ground before crashing shortly to the right of Ikazuchi. “The fuck…” he mutters as he attempts to gather his bearings. Jin attempts to stand up but quickly drops down to a knee, surprisingly winded. Something was wrong here. “Come now young man. I was talking. Allow me to finish before you attempt to protest. I can understand why you are upset. I did trick you a little bit. You’ll have to understand, it was for a good reason. His majesty has plans. You winning or losing didn’t really change that. In all, we hoped that you would deal with our other problem.

His expression darkens as he glances over towards Ikazuchi, a deep and apparent animosity was there. “You, on the other hand, continue to annoy me. The committee has tried to give you every possible out and you continue to defy us. You spit on our attempts of generosity. Your arrogance. Your skills. Someone as strong as you with absolutely no magical capabilities should not exist in this world. His world.” He turns his back towards the duo as his gaze returns towards the ocean with a smile on his face. “Thankfully, his Majesty has bestowed upon me the gift that will finally cleanse the world of your filth.” “Where is she?!” Jin yells as he finally makes his way to his feet. Yamashiro momentarily glances back towards Jin and sighs. He shakes his head, fully directing his gaze back towards the two men. “My, my. You really do have a one track mind don’t you? Don’t fret, the gift is for you as well. I’ll make sure your body is reunited with her once I’ve finished.

A look of surprise spreads across Yamashiro’s face as he doubles over and clutches his stomach. “Oh…it’s starting again. I suppose its fine…the fish were getting bad anyway.” He says through pained gasps. The loud gurgling sound from before escapes his mouth as the man is sent on all fours. Growths sprout all over his back as his form becomes large and disfigured. His clothes are shredded as he grows, his hands and feet become webbed. A sickening crunch sound is heard as his face splits open and reveals a smaller body inside. Eyes sprout along his now mutated body as he now towers over both.

Rejoice that the final thing you see is the gracious gift his majesty has bestowed upon me.” Jin crackles his knuckles as he walks up towards Ikazuchi, a smile spreading across his face. He places his mask across his mouth as the clicking sound from it closing echoes. Jin staggers his feet and charges his magical energy as his hair turns golden and that familiar bioelectrical golden aura radiates from him. “This is fine. While I wouldn’t have minded breaking the bones in your frail body, I prefer you in this form. This way, I can pay you back for giving this asshole the opportunity to beat me.

WC: 879


Something Smells Fishy [Ikazuchi] [A-Rank] Empty Wed Sep 29, 2021 6:27 am

Ikazuchi and Jin had arrived at Astera from Oak quickly. Neither of the men wished to miss Yamashiro due to wasting time, so they had used the least amount of time possible to travel from the Oakland Church to Astera. They had only separated from their mounts on the outskirts of the town in order to not draw attention to themselves. It wasn’t common for wyverns to fly into the middle of the city, so it could easily alert their target if they weren’t careful.

They happened to hear some of the roaming locals mention a fish shortage during the last few days, something that seemed to agitate Jin as the duo proceeded forward. Jin’s quiet reminder was heard by Ikazuchi at the time, but he also felt a growing curiosity about Jin. The change in demeanor after arriving in Astera had been subtle, but the young man was observant enough to notice this.

Ikazuchi eventually intended to mention it as they mostly roamed in silence, but it was at that point that a peculiar noise resounded from the distance. ‘What the fuck?’ Ikazuchi’s gaze naturally focused on the direction that it originated from, curious about what could cause such a spectacle. Jin rushed off after this, apparently incensed due to whatever caused it. ‘Yamashiro?’ This seemed to be the only reason that the demi-human would rush off in this manner. Either way, Ikazuchi would learn the truth soon enough as he had followed after Jin almost immediately.

Ikazuchi was surprised by what he learned during the moment he had finally caught sight of the individual known as Yamashiro. It was to the extent that he didn’t notice the greeting from that...thing. That was the only way that Ikazuchi could see Yamashiro despite his seemingly normal form. Ikazuchi wished to inform Jin, but he knew that he couldn’t speak of the things learned due to his ocular abilities. “Fuck…” Ikazuchi couldn’t help but mutter as he witnessed the brief exchange between Jin and Yamashiro.

Ikazuchi had already hated the man known as Yamashiro, but seeing the individual who was neither human nor beast thoroughly disgusted him. This was reflected on his face as he silently observed Yamashiro, contemplating about how he would handle this thing. He still listened carefully to what Yamashiro said, but Ikazuchi was very aware that this frail looking form was merely a facade. There wouldn’t be any way to avoid combat, so he needed to decide on how he should approach the situation.

Ikazuchi didn’t acknowledge Yamashiro when he spoke directly to him, but it managed to intensify his disgust for such a perspective. ‘After we kill you, your “king” will be next…’ This was the response that Ikazuchi gave internally. The young man finally drew his swords at this point, ready to attack just as Jin had earlier.

Had it not been for Jin’s sudden shout, Ikazuchi would have immediately closed the distance between himself and Yamashiro in order to unleash a flurry of attacks. Ikazuchi restrained himself as he naturally hoped that Jin would obtain news about Izumi as well. Unfortunately, Yamashiro’s answer implied that the worst outcome had already occurred. Ikazuchi couldn’t help but want to look at Jin in order to confirm the man’s current condition.

Unfortunately, the sudden change with Yamashiro wouldn’t allow the young man to do so. Due to his awareness about Yamashiro’s true form, Ikazuchi knew that he couldn’t be distracted for a moment. Especially when Yamashiro was showing signs of changing at this moment. “Disgusting…” Ikazuchi voiced this loud enough that Jin would have heard it without a doubt as he approached.

The situation was rapidly changing, but Ikazuchi was slightly relieved to hear that Jin hadn’t lost his mind due to Yamashiro’s statement about Izumi. He couldn’t help but smile after hearing everything the demi-human had to say. “I’m going first.” Ikazuchi didn’t hesitate to lunge forward at this point as he tried to locate the weaknesses of Yamashiro’s new form.

The large form had multiple small tentacles dancing around it and some noxious liquid was oozing from various places around the new form. Tentacles from the creature rushed at him as he approached, but he simply cut them as he rushed. He had obtained several bits of info about Yamashiro, but it wouldn’t give him a major advantage at this point. Ikazuchi could only resort to the standard strategy of crippling the monstrous form’s mobility first.

He moved to the left and rapidly approached Yamashiro’s right arm that supported his movements after his change. His goal was a passing attack made with both swords intended to cut a chunk out of the arm. His hit landed cleanly, but more tentacles burst out at him from Yamashiro’s body with that acid-like poison dripping from them. ‘Shit!’ Ikazuchi dragged his swords down the body of Yamashiro for as far as he could before ultimately lunging away in order to seek a new opening. He also made a point to locate Jin after retreating far enough away, even if only to confirm that the man would have no issues.

WC: 850

#3Jin Takayama † 

Something Smells Fishy [Ikazuchi] [A-Rank] Empty Wed Sep 29, 2021 2:40 pm

Jin Takayama †
I’m going first.” Before Jin has time to respond, he sees Ikazuchi lunging towards the heavily mutated Yamashiro with swords drawn. With the same impressive display of swordsmanship that he showcased during their original skirmish; Jin watched with begrudging appreciation as he sees the man slice through Yamashiro’s tentacles like butter. Unfortunately, for each tentacle he cut down, another three took its place. “So, he has regenerative capabilities?” Jin mutters as he watches the two exchange blows. Jin glances downward and looks at his recently repaired gauntlets and contemplates. Regardless of how strong he was, his punches would be useless if Yamashiro could just regenerate the damage. Even Ikazuchi’s superior combative skills, the very same strikes that put Jin out of commission, seemed to have little effect. Jin knew that for this fight, he’d have to think outside of the box. Do something that none of them would expect if either of them had any plans on coming out of this fight alive. “Only one thing I can think of… If I don’t make it out of this, I’m sorry Izumi.

For the moment, Yamashiro had completely ignored his presence, opting to direct all of his attention to Ikazuchi. This would give Jin the opportunity he needed to enact his plan. The sound of steel cleanly cutting flesh could be heard as Yamashiro grunts in pain. A large slit appeared along Yamashiro’s right side, revealing the bloodied insides of the beast. The monstrous Yamashiro attempts to swipe at Ikazuchi but finds the man has moved out of the way, Yamashiro in hot pursuit. “I’ll make you proud your Majesty. I won’t waste the gift you’ve given me.” With the right side exposed and slowly beginning to heal, Jin sees this as his opportunity. He begins to run at full speed towards the two, pushing his body as hard as he could. Seeing the slit beginning to close, Jin places his index and middle finger towards his forehead. A gray magical circle appears around his feet as he begins to move even faster. Briefly glancing over towards Ikazuchi’s direction, Jin begins to speak. “If I don’t make it out of this, find her and kill this fuck.” As he nears the creature, Jin rears his fist back and punches straight through the slit. His body is quickly engulfed in blood as he completely disappears within.

Once inside, Jin struggled to move as he felt the entire weight of Yamashiro’s mutated body threatening to crush him. A loud gurgling sound, similar to what he heard shortly before Yamashiro mutated could he heard echoing within. He quickly begins charging his aura, the power released radiating off him. This seemed to cause Yamashiro some pain as the compression he felt eased slightly, granting him limited mobility. This was all that he needed. All that was required to keep going. With a muffled yell behind his mask, Jin begins flailing his limbs wildly, punching and kicking everything around him. With each strike delivered, his golden aura increased in size. The bioelectrical energy crackled as he made his way through the body. His surroundings once again began to tighten around him, signifying Yamashiro’s desperate attempt to stop it. “Stop it! Get out of me!” Jin could barely hear over the increased gurgling sound. “Time to kill this fucker.” Jin says as he cups his hands behind his side.

WC: 562
TWC: 1,441

Last edited by Jin Takayama on Fri Oct 01, 2021 3:14 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Forgot to add Total Word Count)


Something Smells Fishy [Ikazuchi] [A-Rank] Empty Thu Sep 30, 2021 3:00 pm

Ikazuchi's disgust only grew as he fought with the grotesque form of Yamashiro. The seemingly endless tentacles, the disgusting liquid, and the abnormal fleshed made him regret cutting into the abomination’s side. After falling back, Ikazuchi maintained a certain distance and dealt with all of the approaching tentacles with ease and annoyance. ‘Can he just keep making more of these fucking things?’

It was at this moment that he noticed Jin approaching. ‘What’s he doing?’ Ikazuchi couldn’t help but wonder as he saw the magic that he was familiar with. The young man couldn’t comprehend this action, and was even further confused by what Jin said at this moment. Ikazuchi’s body stiffened for a moment at the ominous statement and was coincidentally hit at this moment before he started to circle around Yamashiro.

Hey, wait a sec-!” Ikazuchi couldn’t even finish his sentence before Jin’s figure disappeared into the wound that had been healing. “This crazy bastard!!” Ikazuchi couldn’t help but curse Jin as he started to do his best to fight against Yamashiro. The battle was at somewhat of a stalemate until a shout resounded throughout the area informing Ikazuchi that Jin was doing damage inside that he couldn’t see. ‘Good, make that bastard regret fucking with us!’ He thought this as he took this chance to attack more aggressively and left several large injuries on Yamashiro’s body.

WC: 220
TWC: 1,070

#5Jin Takayama † 

Something Smells Fishy [Ikazuchi] [A-Rank] Empty Fri Oct 01, 2021 4:39 pm

Jin Takayama †
KA…ME…” He mutters behind his mask as he focuses all of his magical energy towards the palms of his hands. Yamashiro’s body moved around violently, a desperate attempt to deal with the attacks on both fronts. His surroundings constricted with even more intensity than the last time. The crushing weight behind it was slowly beginning to wear him down. Jin could faintly see small tears of light appear from the darkened environment before quickly closing up. During this moment, Jin noticed that the constrictions stopped. A faint smile slide across his face as he knew that Ikazuchi was carrying on the fight on his end.

HA…ME…” He continues to move through the body, still violently moving his body around to cause as much discomfort as possible. His ploy seemed to be doing the trick as he could faintly hear more of Yamashiro’s scream. His screams were filled with pain as the orb of energy increased in size. Bioelectrical energy crackled around him at a quickened pace; the smell of burned flesh could be smelled even from the outside. The orb of energy reached its peak, ready to release its destructive energies. Jin contemplated for a moment, attempting to figure out where would be the best place to fire it. If it exited the body, he did not want it to inadvertently hit Ikazuchi though he was sure that he would be able to dodge or deflect it regardless. “Get out of me boy! You are ruining everything! His Majesty will not be pleased!” Hearing the muffled yet irritating screams of Yamashiro had made his decision. He was going to shut him up permanently.

HA!” he yells as he aims the destructive beam of energy upward. The attack rips through Yamashiro’s body before coming out of at the head of the smaller body that was centered in the mouth. A roar of pain escapes from Yamashiro has he lands hard on the ground, causing it and the buildings in the area to shake violently. A large slit appears just above Jin as sunlight peaks inside. Thinking that it was likely Ikazuchi who opened the way, Jin made his way through and back to the outside. His body was covered in blood and a greenish yellow ooze. The smell that emanated from him was enough to make even he gag. As soon as Jin moved away from the now slowly moving Yamashiro, he dropped to a knee and his hair reverted back to its jet-black state. He knew he used too much energy in his gamble but it didn’t matter, it had done its job of crippling the monster. Jin could only watch as Yamashiro slowly attempted to rise up and continue its assault once more. “I did the leg work. You can clean up the rest of this right?” he says to Ikazuchi.

WC: 472
TWC: 1,913


Something Smells Fishy [Ikazuchi] [A-Rank] Empty Sun Oct 17, 2021 5:01 pm

Ikazuchi couldn’t help but notice a faint glow from within the slashes that he made across the monstrous form of Yamashiro. It was something that he couldn’t help but recognize as he had encountered it several times at this point. ‘What kind of crazy bastard jumps into a monster to hurt it?’ Ikazuchi actually smiled a bit as that rhetorical question passed through his mind. He knew that Jin was precisely that kind of person, so he already had the answer to that question. He was just naturally doubtful that someone would actually do such a thing.

The rancid stench that escaped from the various injuries that Ikazuchi inflicted upon Yamashiro informed him that Jin wasn’t just wasting his time. “Why is it that you’re attacking in the most disgusting way?!” Ikazuchi couldn’t help but shout this without any guarantee that Jin would hear him within their opponent. ‘Fuck!’ The young man was hit by a wave of nausea as he increased his speed to the maximum. He held his breath as he approached the area where the stench had the greatest density.

Ikazuchi was very aware of Jin’s role in the fight, but it was only when Yamashiro addressed him while the young swordsman retreated that he understood how much their enemy was distracted by it. “HA!” Ikazuchi managed to hear this particular sound despite being muffled. He didn’t hesitate to dash at his enemy again and unleashed more attacks along the side of Yamashiro’s body. He recognized the sound as Jin’s attack spell, so it was the perfect opportunity to damage their opponent further.

From the side Ikazuchi noticed a beam from the front as Yamashiro collapsed with pained howls. ‘Time to get out of there.’ The young man aimed along the area that Jin entered as he hoped to help his companion to escape. After a few quick slashes, there was a distinct release of the rancid and burnt stench signifying that he had cut deep into his target’s body.

Jin escaped from that opening shortly after, emanating a stench that was several times more intense than before. “You smell like shit.” He couldn’t help but comment as he did his best to control his gagging while moving with Jin in order to defend him for now. It may be unnecessary, but he didn’t want to clean up his companion's body after this experience.

After they were a distance away Jin collapsed to one knee with his transformation fading. It was at this point that Ikazuchi heard Jin’s comment. ‘This fucking guy…’ Ikazuchi couldn’t help but respond in a snarky manner. “You would think I was having a good time out here…” Ikazuchi didn’t directly answer Jin, but he was already walking towards Yamashiro at this point.

At roughly ten meters away Ikazuchi burst forward with extreme speed and arrived next to the injured Yamashiro. The young man took advantage of his momentum to rotate into a spinning back kick that smashed into the monstrous form of his opponent. ‘Fly away…’ For the first time in the fight Ikazuchi channelled the power of his relic into his strike.

The result was naturally surprising as Yamashiro literally flew ten meters away leaving a trail on the ground in the area that he went through. Even Ikazuchi was surprised by the effectiveness, so he could only imagine Jin’s reaction as he followed up with a slight smile. He weaved through the various obstructions and rapidly neared Yamashiro who was attempting to recover.

I’m not in a good mood…” With a few skillful leaps Ikazuchi was able to scale his opponent and kick at the head of the monstrous form. This caused Yamashiro to backflip away and bounce up off of the ground several meters. ‘It’s not over yet…’ Ikazuchi had landed on the ground in the process and lunged in pursuit.

He slid in below the descending massive body as he swung his swords simultaneously upward gouging out a large amount of flesh as Yamashiro’s body flew upward through the air at an arc towards Jin’s direction. It would be impossible for Yamashiro to reach his companion, but he didn’t want to expand the battlefield too far either.

Once more, Ikazuchi lunged at the landing point of his enemy. It had landed on its side, so he simply approached and hacked his two swords at a trick angle causing the beastly arm to separate from Yamashiro’s large form causing it to be unable to get up immediately. The young man ignored everything else as he finally approached the man’s true body that was visible and inserted his swords into the ground. “You better grit those fucking teeth…” Ikazuchi used his right hand to fend off any tentacles that were relevant as he proceeded to punch Yamashiro’s face repeatedly.

Tentacles wrapped around him in multiple places, but their resistance lessened with each punch. His armor has many melted spots due to the liquids spread throughout the battle, but he ignored it. The young man was brutally venting his emotions as he swung his fist into Yamashiro’s face without concern for exactly where he hit. At some point Yamashiro’s struggles had entirely ceased as blood decorated Ikazuchi’s left side particularly. He only stopped because Yamashiro had returned to a human form and would seem dead if it wasn’t for his shallow breathing. Satisfied, Ikazuchi took a step back and took his swords before looking at Jin. “He’s all yours.

WC: 900
TWC: 1,970

#7Jin Takayama † 

Something Smells Fishy [Ikazuchi] [A-Rank] Empty Sat Oct 23, 2021 12:13 pm

Jin Takayama †

Fuck you.” Jin sneered as he heard Ikazuchi’s comment regarding his smell. Exhaustion gave way as Jin eases back and sits on the sand. His eyes grew heavier by the second but he forced them open. He wanted….no needed to see Yamashiro get what was coming to him. Jin begins to watch in awed appreciation of the true depths of Ikazuchi’s skills. His movements were even more of a blur than what they were during their initial confrontation. So graceful yet so overwhelmingly powerful. Each strike was delivered with such an intensity that Jin could truly see the depth between the two men.  In a flash, it was over. Yamashiro, likely due to the immense damage he received, had involuntarily reverted back to his human appearance. His naked form laid on the ground in a fetal position, cowering from the man in front of him. For someone who was once so arrogant and confident in his power, to see him reverted to such a state was humbling.

He’s all yours.” Those words cut through Jin’s thoughts as it snapped him back to reality. Ikazuchi had left Yamashiro clinging to death but declined to deliver the killing blow. This was likely to ensure that Jin would be able to question him regarding Izumi’s whereabouts. Using more strength than he cared to admit, Jin wills himself up and makes his way towards Yamashiro. While his face was one full of vigor and determination, his body’s movements spoke a different tale. A few seconds pass before Jin makes his way towards Yamashiro. He places his hand around the man’s neck and lifts him up. Yamashiro’s body begins to quiver as the man fears for his life. “Where is she?” he mutters, his grip tightening around his neck. At first, Yamashiro attempts to claw his way free from Jin’s grasp but finds himself unable to. He harkened it back to his original meeting with the behemoth. Completely at his mercy. Suddenly, the man stops his futile effort as his arms dangle freely; a fiendish smile spreading across his face. “Young love is a beautiful thing, is it not? Look at all you’ve accomplished. How strong you’ve grown for the love of one woman. Unfortunately, you won’t be reunited with her. Not in this lifetime. She had a higher purpose and as such, she was used as a sacrifice for the master. Remember my words? I wanted to make sure that your body was used in the same manner as hers. Look to your friend if you believe I’m lying. I know he can tell.” A look of horror spreads across Jin’s face as he drops Yamashiro to the ground. He shoots a glance over towards Ikazuchi but quickly turns his head, fearful of the truth staring him in the face. “She was an important stepping stone for his Majesty’s Great Campaign. A pity that I will not be there to usher in his reign. I thank you though… The look on your face, the pain etched in your eyes. That makes it worth it my boy.

Rage consumes Jin as he roars loudly. In that moment, all traces of exhaustion were washed away. All he cared about, all he desired was death. With all of his strength, he punches Yamashiro in the face, his bones breaking and caving in upon impact. In a blind rage, he continues to punch as blood slowly covers the ground. In truth, the first punch had ended his life but he didn’t care. He just needed a body to let this aggression out. He sees a shadow approaching him, assuming it to be Ikazuchi, before he suddenly stops. Jin stands up, not looking at the man behind him. He felt that Ikazuchi wanted to speak but he decided to beat him to the punch. His decision was already made. “She’s gone. I guess I always knew but I wanted to believe otherwise. Cling to some hope that I could find her, use these fists to protect her. I let her down just like I let my family down. I changed my name because I wanted to start over. I wanted to honor my family but I couldn’t even do that. Now, everyone is gone.” Jin takes a deep sigh before he slowly begins to walk forward. He walked as a broken man, an empty man. He gets a few feet away and stops before slightly turning his face towards Ikazuchi. His face was devoid of the same light, the same drive it once had. The light inside had died. The man was nothing more than a shell. “Thank you.” He says sincerely before he continues to walk forward, dropping his mask along the way. Over a decade ago, the world thought that Kazuma Mizushima died along with his family. Perhaps it was finally time for that to come true.

WC: 810
TWC: 2,723


Something Smells Fishy [Ikazuchi] [A-Rank] Empty Sun Oct 24, 2021 11:48 am

Ikazuchi quietly watched the weary Jin approach his target. He felt nothing as he watched his companion lift the near lifeless Yamashiro in one hand. From his perspective, Yamashiro would be a dead man soon enough so Ikazuchi saw him as nothing more than a corpse. If anything, it was Jin’s question that made the young man wince slightly.

He stood a short distance away so he was able to clearly hear a question that he had always known the answer to. His special eyes burdened him with knowledge that he would never be able to share. While he didn’t know how Izumi had passed, he was clearly aware that she had indeed left this world by now. Ever since early on, the young man knew that their goal would be revenge rather than the rescue that Jin hoped for.

It was precisely for that reason that Ikazuchi had always taken the situation seriously despite not being particularly close to Jin. Ikazuchi had lost the people he cared about, so the eventual discovery that would be made prevented the young man from ignoring Jin’s circumstances. Yamashiro’s words caused his guilt to deepen as it was impossible for him to have informed Jin. Even if he could, it would be impossible for him to explain how he knew. Their misunderstandings most likely would have only deepened, but knowing this didn’t lessen the young man’s guilt as Yamashiro directed Jin towards him.

Ikazuchi was able to notice Jin’s instinctive momentary action, but for the first time he found himself avoiding Jin’s gaze. It was a very brief interaction without words, but he believed that Jin could have easily read his body language if he chose to at that moment.

Now released from Jin’s grasp, it seemed that Yamashiro wanted to take the chance to inflict another blow to Jin mentally. Hearing the words spoken, even Ikazuchi felt extreme rage wash over him so Jin’s reaction seemed to be only natural as he snapped.

Time and time again Jin pounded his fist into the head of Yamashiro. The first strike had claimed his life, but Ikazuchi could see the hatred...and pain contained in each strike that followed. Blood flowed and splattered, but it didn’t seem to do anything to appease the raging Jin. Ikazuchi’s mind was racing as he searched for the words that he could say at this moment. He took a few steps closer as he did, hoping to stop Jin’s futile rampage. Ikazuchi’s actions were uncharacteristically hesitant as he was unable to reach out his hand to Jin’s shoulder. His words were caught in his throat as he struggled to think of anything that wouldn’t simply be an empty apology.

It was at this point that Jin suddenly stood up. To Ikazuchi, his back seemed to radiate a feeling of desolation that couldn’t be explained. His hand that had remained slightly outstretched was subconsciously drawn back to his side at this point. He found himself recalling his own experiences at this moment, and felt more confused as he struggled to look at Jin.

In the end, Jin spoke before Ikazuchi could. He explained his desires and circumstances causing Ikazuchi to quietly tighten his fists as he accepted that there wasn’t anything that he could truly say at this moment. While Jin could be considered an acquaintance at this point, they weren’t particularly close either. They simply had a mutual enemy with differing motivations, but Ikazuchi could tell that the driving force for Jin had dissipated.

Even as Jin sighed and started to walk away, Ikazuchi was simply unable to step forward. He felt as if a mountain of pressure had descended upon him even making it difficult to breathe. It was only when Jin paused a few steps away that Ikazuchi was able to look him in the eye as he cast a sidelong glance towards him. Ikazuchi was able to recognize the emptiness in Jin’s gaze as it matched the one that he used to see in the mirror after departing Magnolia. He knew precisely what kind of darkness filled someone with eyes like that.

The feeling of responsibility that came with his burden of knowledge caused regret to surge forth as he stood there frozen as Jin simply thanked him. The silent Ikazuchi could only watch his companions departing back, completely unaware that his inability to speak today would come to be one of his greatest regrets in the future. He remained rooted on the spot for several minutes after Jin’s figure disappeared, simply looking into the distance where he lost sight of the Demi-Human. Eventually, his gaze turned to the fallen mask and he sighed. His mind was a mess, but he didn’t think twice about approaching and grabbing Jin’s mask. “I guess I will return this when I see him again.” He spoke in a tone that was only audible to himself as he finally departed the area in order to find somewhere to sort out his thoughts before eventually going to accept his portion of the reward.

WC: 840
TWC: 2,810

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