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No title.
(2013-03-12 - 2013-03-13)
No description.
Zargabaath Scarcely 24 hours have passed since Gabranth and Zargabaath had their discussion, and already orders and roster changes have altered the flow of a standard day on the Alexander. The training room has been ordered closed for an indefinite amount of time, necessitating the crew to find alternate means of entertainment for their off-time. Or at least wait. The crew is used to waiting.

However, the training room is not closed for renovations or something like that. No, Judge Magister Zargabaath ordered the facility closed for testing out of safety concerns. Gabranth's information, though helpful, was not enough. If things go wrong, he will not risk endangering his crew.

Once the facility was prepared accordingly, the Judge of Reason issued orders for Riku to meet him in the training room at a specific time. He himself arrives quite early, ensuring everything is indeed ready, and then he too waits--a calm stillness of patience, nothing more.

When Riku arrives, he will see Judge Magister Zargabaath in full armor standing at the center of the main training circle, which is clear of any obstacles. His swords are planted point-first into the ground in front of his feet already shoulder-width apart, his gauntleted hands resting on the pommels without much of a firm grip.
Riku Riku does not look like he has slept well. In fact, ever since the Mirror Master and his little parlor tricks were defeated but not destroyed, the nightmares have been worse than usual. He had grown complacent and it had worse... to be without the ability to help anyone. It was not perhaps as bad as having his arm twisted by 'insurance' to aid in the attacks, which he supposes he is waiting for next.. but the waiting, the ever constant waiting for the other shoe to drop was starting to fray his nerves.

As such Riku appears at the training field slightly out of sorts but as presentable as possible, given the situation. He slams a hand into the tough armored glove, nails scraping and rattling against the metal and shell carapace. He takes in the abandoned nature of the training room, having prevented himself from gawking at the Alexander again by virture of being too sunk into his thoughts to really pay attention.

He takes a small steadying breath, chewing on the side of his cheek as he approaches Zargabaath. He's not sure about anytning anymore. Not after the events of the past few days, even about matters here let another elsewhere in the worlds. So he remains silent as he approaches until he is a reasonable distance away for normal conversation to carry. "Your honor." he inclines his head, bowing slightly as he spasms his hands and slaps one faintly into the curled fist of the other softly in nervous tension.
Zargabaath Judge Magister Zargabaath's keen but hidden gaze falls upon Riku the instant the boy enters the training room, already evaluating and mentally preparing.

The first thing that strikes the Judge of Reason is Riku's current state. He looks absolutely lost, completely adrift in the sea of thoughts and fears. How he carries himself, his appearance, everything about him can be explained just by looking into his eyes--when he can catch them, that is. And not being able to catch another's gaze is a huge indication by itself.

"You are a little early, Judge Riku." Zargabaath's own voice is quiet, but easily amplified by his helm, giving it an almost tinny inflection. "Very good."

He lifts his swords from the sand of the training circle and backs up, the lowest edge of his cape swishing in front of his heels each step. "I have been requested to train you as I trained His Honor Gabranth. However, I must gauge for myself your abilities and your darkness so I know how best to proceed. I know only one way to do so."

He coils into a defensive stance, weapons not quite raised but clearly prepared to meet an attack. "Riku, I am your training dummy from this point on. Attack to the fullest of your ability, and do NOT hold back. I will stop you when it is enough. Am I clear?"
Riku Riku opens his eyes wide with surprise at the judge magisters words. The title hits first and it's perhaps the first time that, being called that, it hits home that this is really happening after all. His hand raises slightly towards his chest and then quickly falls back to his side as he puts his hands behind his back.

He looks at Zargabaath and for a moment the chillingly bloodthirsty smile of his mirror duplicate comes to mind and threathens to break out on his face. Manhattan and Archades and all that he knew and wanted to know falling down. All falling down. Riku looks down at the practice mat, raising a hand to rub at one temple as he desperately tries to regain his mental footing.

Sparring he could do, and even the conflict with Judge Magister Gabranth with the nethecite staff had been dangerous but just slightly fun in a very, very crazy sort of way. A stab of fear and adrenaline made it difficult to think straight as he leaned slightly away from the Judge Magister out of reflex.

"I see." he manages to force out in a voice as flat and humorless as an iron slab. He takes in a small breath to steady himself and unconsciously takes half a step back away from Zargabaath just as he had separated himself from potential attackers in the emperor's throne room. He frowned slightly, calculating now that the emotional shock had run through him.

This was a test. But what was Zargabaath testing for? What was he expecting him to do. Balk and arrogantly assume the judge magister would get hurt? (...and the mental images right there were not very pleasant and another reason he was going to make the Mirror Master eat his cane and tophat on their next meeting). Throw himself forwards against an unknown opponent? That was just as stupid. He knew.. only that Zargabaath was a wall. One that shielded him when he had needed it, and been kind to him.

Riku begins to circle the Judge Magister consideringly, inbetween one moment and the next a long black blade has materialized in his hand. A few streamers of mist leak from it before it solidifies completely.

"Forgive me, your honor. Would you mind if we.. work up to that? I will.." ..what. Refuse? Comply? "..think about what you have asked while we are warming up."
Zargabaath Judge Magister Zargabaath does not move in the long silence that follows his proclamation, and his hidden gaze does not waver on Riku. Still watching, still evaluating.

As the boy begins to circle around the training area, so too does the Judge of Reason--his coiled stance unchanging and still, only his legs moving in perfect step to Riku's movements. Neither extending nor closing the distance between them, showing neither side nor back to the youth.

"Act as you see fit."

Thus is his sole reply to Riku's request. His calm voice betrays none of his thoughts nor any of his intentions.
Riku Riku nods softly to himself. Stop stalling. Either attack or run. The teenager does in fact flick his eyes slightly to the side as he contemplates turning from thie engagement before it could go places he does not want it to go.

Why bother? He asked for it.

It'd be rude not to give a judge magister exactly what he asked for.

He has a sinking feeling about the way those thoughts were going. He also had a pretty clear idea that if he stayed in this conflict he was going to get his ass handed to him. Part of the test? Not? Too little.. far too little information.

Riku takes in a breath and lets it out. He bows slightly to Zargabaath and then continues to circle. He looks away towards the door for a moment and attacks in the same instant, crouching suddenly and lashing out with a foot towards the side of the left leg and then springing up to his feet with two rising upwards slashes towards the shoulders and driving in and downwards with that armored fist towards the upper part of the chestplate.
Zargabaath Judge Magister Zargabaath merely inclines his helm in acknowledgement to Riku's bow, but his guard does not drop. As long as Riku remains in the circle, they will spar--it is as simple as that. The boy hesistates for but a few instants more, attempting focus redirection before he suddenly drops to a crouch.

The smaller of Zargabaath's swords drives downwards into the sand, protecting his left leg from the kick as Riku's foot bounces off of the flat of the blade. He leans back on his feet, twin metallic screeches wailing in the air as shadow blades strike metal plate hidden by his cloak. His right arm rises, resting his long sword against his armored forearm as one would hold a tonfa, and Riku's shielded fist impacts the weapon before the strike could reach his chestplate.

His cape falls from his shoulders, the heavy leather bunching into a pile behind him while the tying knot falls to the ground between them. Only metal locked and grinding against metal echoes through the still hall, the Judge Magister standing firm.

His right arm snaps out, the flat of the long blade shoving aside Riku's fist, and his helm drops forwards and down as if to headbutt Riku. His left arm swings upwards at the same time, the small blade whistling in an upwards slash towards the right, and he spins counter-clockwise once while aiming a kick right towards where Riku's solar-plexus should be.
Zargabaath Riku jerks his head backwards from the closed helm, hands sweeping up to foul the aim of the smaller blade and attempt to lock their arm. His grip slips across the armor as Zargabaath spins and the teenager is anchored a moment too long by the lost moment of opportunity to dodge the kick. The air explodes from his lungs with such force that black and red stars flash across his vision as he goes flying backwards.

He barely has enough sense left to fall properly, rolling backwards onto one should a little too hard and gathering himself up into a wheezing crouch, armored arm clasped across his chest and body bent around it as he forces his wave through a wave of pain. The darkness tried to trigger at the pain but Riku held it back. He was a little angry he didn't see that coming and a little embarassed his grip had failed, but it did not provoke a runaway reaction as had happened before. Riku sucked in air quietly for two or three breaths before raising slowly to his feet. "Oof." he says with an amused but pained smile. "I deserved that, didn't I?" he rolls one shoulder, starting to pace back and forth again a few considering steps.

He steadied himself and drove forwards three charging steps, feet pulling against the sand and then, inbetween one moment and the next, the teenager has vanished. He reappears above and behind the judge magister, driving down hard with the hilt of the shadowblade at the side of their head.
Zargabaath Judge Magister Zargabaath does not pursue Riku as the lad goes flying from the kick, only resettling himself into his coiled defensive stance with his swords once again at the ready. Clearly, he does not press the attack for a reason. He simply isn't making the reason clear yet. And thus, he waits for Riku to recover, patient and immovable.

His helm cants to the side incrementally as Riku rises back to his feet and begins to pace, but he remains immobile. Riku's questioning comment is left unanswered, left as a rhetorical statement even if it was not meant to be. And then, the boy charges.

One step, two, three--gone!

Zargabaath further coils, running on battle-honed instinct and experience to protect his vitals. A spike--intent--behind? He immediately throws up his left arm to protect his helm.

The pommel of Riku's Shadowblade slips between the red-rimmed metal plates and strikes the leather beyond with a muffled CRACK. His left hand spasms, the short sword in its grasp falling from suddenly-numbed fingertips, and the Judge of Reason twists his torso to meet Riku head-on. His left arm swings, trying to shove aside the Shadowblade and the arm holding it, before firing a punch at the airborne boy--his right fist still holding his long sword.
Zargabaath Riku's blade in foiled by the sweep of the armored left but the teenager has still just enough manueverability to not slam with his entire body weight plus momentum into that punch. Instead he thrusts out with a foot, kicking off the Judge of reason with all of his strength. It sends him arcing backwards in a backflip and the mist sword evaporates as he strikes the sand and flips back onto his feet, blade snapping back into existance with another flick of the wrist.

He breathes in and out several times, chest still aching from that brutal kick. He paces again several steps like a caged animal, silently taking in both the judge magister's condition as well as his own. The armored free hand thumps several times with a half curled first against the side of his leg as Riku steadies himself again.

He knew he was holding back but he didn't want the Judge of Reason to ... Riku laughs softly, only a faint huff of noise. If he didn't hold back, then he would have to live with whatever he did. Maybe it really was a stock phrase. Riku couldn't give himself over to it and he didn't want to go further than this, further than just bruises and tricks.

The most recent nightmare had been like this. Sparring, with Uist.. with Sora.. and then the sound of echoing footsteps as the last thing he heard. When he woke up again.. everybody.. and then he had woken up for real, and put the lie to the vivid images. To the sounds he keeps straining to hear. At any time he could be flicked off like a switch. It had been preying on his mind. Why Maleficent had not brought him to heel. Why he had been allowed to live his own life for this long. Maybe they had turned their attention away... or maybe they were simply waiting.

He would have to be stopped if he could not learn to keep that nightmare from coming true. And the only way he would learn.. would be by pushing his limits. Riku takes a very shaky breath in and lets it out. "Alright." he says softly. "I think that's enough of a warmup." as he says this, his normally gold eyes lose definition, the yellow bleeding out until they are blank luminous yellow across the entire surface.

I must learn how to control this..

I won't let fear rule me.

Somehow, I will hold on.

Riku slams the armored fist into the ground, causing a ripple of darkness to spread outwards. A tangle of dark thorns erupts from the sand of the training circle as the darkness sweeps in a wave across the floor. The training circle and the Alexander training hall starts to crumble and fall away like shattered glass, revealing a dark stretch of corridor going into infinity in both directions with only a vaguely pulsing golden light at the far, far end behind Riku. The thorns lash at the judge magister, trying to entrap him and then slam him bodily into the 'walls' of this place where there was no definition to the walls or ceiling or floor. Only more darkness.
Zargabaath Judge Magister Zargabaath turns his body to fully face Riku once more as the boy gracefully backflips away from him, using the momentum of the intended punch to kickstart his retreat. Good.

He flexes his left hand into a fist and relaxes in a slow rhythm, the leather making a faint stretching sound in the process. He gives no indication of pain, almost casually kicking his short sword into the air and catching it in his left hand as if nothing was wrong. Immediately he settles back into his coiled defensive stance for a third time, preparing for Riku's next attack pattern even as the lad paces like a caged beast. At Riku's words, however, his helm dips as his shoulders pull back--unencumbered by the heavy leather cape characteristic of the Judge Magisters.

"So be it."

Riku's face... changes. Not physically, but the air--the feeling--something inexplicable but tangible. The boy's eyes turn solid but blank yellow, the eyes of a Heartless under human eyelids.

And in this moment, everything clicks into place.

The world around them shatters, everything he cares about crumbling and fading into darkness, but Zargabaath does not recoil. Does not lash out. Does not react at all. He has been warned of this, already has seen something similar to this in the past. He pulls his defenses even tighter to protect himself, calling upon inner strength in the face of darkness.

Thorns sprout under his feet, coiling around his legs and holding him fast. The edges of his swords hum with light, the sole indication of his inner strength. The Judge of Reason drives his swords into the darkness below him, seeking purchase to hold himself against the strain of shadowy vines continuing to slither over his armored form. The spines dig against his armor, leather and metal alike, but they do not pierce. The thorns want to move him, to pull him off his feet and into whatever unseen barriers surround such a void, but he will not allow it.

Even bound from neck to foot in shadowy thorny vines, his focus still remains perfectly focused on Riku. Still patient. Still waiting. Still evaluating. Yet, at the same time, not judgmental. A paradox? Not at all.
Zargabaath Riku approaches from down the corridor. He inspects the shadowy vines and the judge magister being held by them from a somewhat safe distance, knowing better than to get within melee range. It would be so easy to just tell the vines to crush this Arcadian tin soldier. He is almost entranced by the idea that it would not work.


He could do so..

But it would not be very fast.

Riku shakes his head slightly to clear it, teeth grit as he forces a shaky breath through his lungs. He almost asks if they were finished but stops himself before he does. The judge magister said he would say when they would be finished and... and he had to start trusting in something. In someone.

There was also a darker impulse to simply walk over there and plunge a hand up to the elbow in the Judge Magister's chest, but he knew where that lead.. and he refused to go there. The hunger gnawed at the edges of his control as he slowly closes a fist, causing the vines to start to contract. He didn't know if he'd be able to stop himself once the vines bit deep enough for blood. But he was not going to stop until he was told to stop... or he was forced to.
Zargabaath Judge Magister Zargabaath slowly straightens to his full height once the thorns stop trying to move him, the spines scratching against metal and tearing at leather but not yet breaching either. That said, he does not pull too hard nor does he attempt to break free. His hands still hold tight to his swords, the edges of which are still glowing, but he does not pull them free from the shadows in which they are anchored.

His hidden gaze is still locked upon Riku, still unwavering. Still waiting. But for what?

The vines constrict, pressing their needle-sharp points against his armor. The metal protects him where it is mounted, but the leather quickly becomes no match and in such areas do the thorns drive into his form. To the credit of the Judge of Reason, he does not allow Riku to see nor sense the pain and effect the thorns are causing. Or the effort it takes to regulate either to the background so he can focus on what is truly important.

"You have your orders, Riku." Zargabaath's voice is quietly calm, but there is a strange, sharp edge to the tone. Not an indication of pain or emotion, but something deeper. An unshakeable certainty in the face of such deep madness. The pillar balancing the scales. "Do not hold back. Attack with the fullest of your ability and power. Unless you mean to indicate that this is the extent of your strength?"
Zargabaath Riku shakes his head, taking a half step back. "Don't.." he starts, but he doesn't finish that sentence. He can't make his throat work properly anymore. The teenager continues to stare at him, the words slapping idly at his increasingly shaky control. Attempting to smash them aside like an armored blow.

He turns his face away for a moment, shoulders trembling. Black has started to seep into his skin and clothes from the surrounding environment, bleeding into them as Riku slowly turns to regard Zargabaath with a narrow eyed smile. Something like panic passes over his face for a moment and he twitches, grunting with exertion as he turns away from Zargabaath with an effort. Streamers of shadow rise up from his silohuettes, wrapping around the armored glove until it is claw like.

"Don't regret that." he murmurs just before striking. Here and gone, in the flicker of an instant. There.. and then here, the vines contracting with a sudden vicious squeeze as he attempts to part metal and leather and flesh with the effortless magical ease the Heartless use to extract the heart from their victims.
Zargabaath Judge Magister Zargabaath watches as the darkness threatens to envelop Riku entirely, stands strong as shadows turn the armored gauntlet into a Heartless claw, indicates nothing as the vines tighten and puncture ever deeper into flesh, leather, and even metal.

Even with all that, the calm--the edge--never leaves the Judge of Reason's voice. "I shall not."

The charge. The blink-and-you'll-miss-it teleportation into melee range. The claw, aimed right for Zargabaath's chestplate--

The Judge Magister's legs buckle, dropping onto one knee and thus to half his height instantly as he supports himself with both swords. The vines loosen from the sudden lack of tension, and in that moment, Zargabaath explodes in a whirlwind of light-encrusted blades. Slicing shadow thorns, freeing himself utterly from the darkness that physically bound him, and even shifting forwards to meet Riku head-on as he begins to surge to his feet--but the claw moves faster than he anticipated.

The scream of metal tearing is far worse than human voice could imitate, the scale-like metal protecting the Judge of Reason's throat ripped apart but the leather holding together if only barely. The slash continues upwards, hooking under the lower jaw of the helm and ripping free the protective and almost animalistic 'metal' plate to expose the undeniably Archadian faceplate beneath.

A faceplate near identical to Gabranth's.

The tearing does not end there, however, as the claws had grabbed hold of the helm's chin itself. The upward aim of the slash continues, ripping free the helm entirely starting with the face backwards, peeling it away in completely the wrong angle, and the claw is even deep enough to leave four deep gouges in Zargabaath's face stretching from chin all the way up his face beyond his hairline. The gashes look deep enough to expose bone but for the blood that flows in the claw's wake.

Zargabaath does not hesitate despite the loss of his helm and such injury, dropping his swords as his gauntleted hands swing forwards. He grabs for both of Riku's wrists, intent on lifting the boy into the air and keeping him from fighting any further as he himself surges back to his feet. Even if he misses, however, he draws in a deep breath all the same.

"ENOUGH!" His voice, now completely unmarred by the helm, peals like thunder in a canyon. "It is enough." His voice quiets, but that edge from earlier is still there. That edge of unshakeable inner strength. "Recenter, calm yourself, reestablish control. It is done, Riku. By my order, this session is over. Do you understand?"
Zargabaath "No." Judge Magister Zargabaath does not move even as he is kicked, still holding Riku off of the floor by the wrists. It is not a tight grasp, but Riku definitely won't be able to wiggle out of it. "I will not release you until I am certain of your state of mind."

His gaze is still unwavering, even with one eye closed due to the gashes across his face and the other rather bloodshot-looking. The leather of his armor is torn and pierced, blood seeping from scratches and stab-like wounds alike. Metal pieces are punctured and twisted, but still relatively whole.

He frowns, nostrils flaring with sharp breaths from the physical exertion up until now. "Calm down. Return to yourself."
Zargabaath Judge Magister Zargabaath's eye narrows slightly even as Riku's form starts heating up through his gloves, threatening to burn his hands--gauntlets or not. But he does not flinch nor relax his grip, simply waiting. Just as he had earlier.

His patience is quickly rewarded as the fire dissipates and the strange shadowy aura altering the boy's face disintegrates just as instantly.

Riku's yellow eyes snuff out and return to his golden human eyes, and the training room flares back into focus around them in almost overwhelming brilliance. But even being returned to what he holds most dear does not avert his attention from the boy in front of him. Does not distract him from what is most important right here. Right now.

"No... No, no, no..." Slowly, with far more care than one probably would expect under the circumstances, Zargabaath lowers Riku back to the sand and releases the boy's wrists only to rest both gauntlets on his shoulders. "That is not true. 'Tis not true /AT ALL/."

The Judge of Reason kneels on one knee, his hands still on Riku's shoulders, and forces his blood-covered eye to open so he can squarely meet the boy's eyes. His voice, which has been calmly firm this entire time, softens to a far more gentle tone. "You have nothing to apologize for, Riku. I gave you the order to attack me with everything you have, to not hold back, and so you did. I told you that I would stop you when it was enough, and it was so." He smiles warmly, his eyes crinkling noticeably at the corners. The warmth in his eyes is honest, his compassion and understanding very much so clear. "Very good."
Zargabaath Judge Magister Zargabaath's compassionate, understanding gaze doesn't waver from Riku's face, still holding the boy's shoulders as a silent measure of support... of forgiveness. Sympathy and regret tinge his gaze as he watches Riku try (and fail) to come to terms with everything that has just happened.

He chuckles wetly as Riku finally just passes out from overexertion both physically and mentally, letting the Judge-in-training lean against him as he pulls Riku into an hug. No differently than a father to a son, or even simply an older brother to his younger sibling.

"...Aye..." His voice wavers for the first time throughout this whole experience, speaking more towards the silence than the boy in his arms. "...I... agree..."

He is barely able to whisper one last order through a linkpearl in his ear before he pitches over to the side, both himself and Riku sprawling unconscious onto the sand in a large puff of dust. Almost immediately, the doors swing wide open to admit the crew, medical staff and concerned soldiers alike, to tend to their fallen comrades.
Riku Riku lets out a scream of anguish and cheated rage that tears his throat. He writhes in the judge magister's grip as if the touch of the armored judge was burning into his flesh. He pounds a foot into the chestplate of the Judge of Reason and struggles.

He does not immediately evaporate and reform out of Zargabaath's grasp. Perhaps it takes precision to do so and there is little of that left in the eyes of the young judge. He screams in such a distorted echo that it sounds barely human. Riku thrashes and struggles, lost to hunger and hatred for being confined. There is an oppressive pressure in the air and a failing of the light in the distant corridor, shapes flickering across it and pushing against the almost plastic darkness of the corridors floor and walls.

Eventually time rather than control wears him down, though sanity does not return to his blank eyes. He hangs limply in the grip of the Judge Magister and glares with hollow unblinking incomprehension. Occasionally there is a flicker of something across his face but it is like a swimmer drawn by an undertow, unable to know even where the surface was anymore.

The expression on his face has calmed to absolute stillness, but it's more that of a hungry predator simply biding their time. "Okay." he murmurs reasonably when it seems that speech has returned to him, his voice hoarse and rasping. "..We're done now. Let me go."
Riku Riku sneers at Zargabaath, eyes narrowing slightly. He spasms in their grasp, a heat mirage baking around his silohuette that starts to turn into ghostly flames. "I would recommend letting go." he says in a pleasant voice. "I really would." It's not soon afterwards that another flash of panic comes across his face and dies again, surging to life as the flames abruptly go out. Riku lets out a pained gasp, looking around as if not even sure of where he was.

He looks at Zargabaath and his mouth opens slightly, then closes.. he looks at the rent armor and blood, and the light goes out of his eyes as if it had been snuffed. The glowing yellow fades as he stares blankly at the Judge of Reason, hanging bonelessly in their grip. The endless corridor fades away with his apparent lack of attention, boiling away in streamers of dark vapor to reveal the training hall again.

Riku looks at the training hall and then up at Zargabaath, murmuring softly. "..I guess I deserved this, didn't I.. I deserved exactly what I was afraid would happen, and I drove right into it." and letting his head hang down against his chest. He makes no move to free himself anymore. "..I'm sorry."
Riku Riku has the impulse to lash. He has had to face down this sudden, uncomprehensible understanding before and he always ran away from it. It was something to fear in Hollow Bastion, where the calm and pleasant words were often more dangerous than a foaming rage (or a duck with a chainsaw). Riku stares at the judge magister in incomprehension. He shakes his head very slightly as if to deny. As if to pull away, but he does not.

His face starts to burn as he draws in calming breaths of air and he blinks rapidly, head turned slightly down so that he does not have to meet the intensity of that gaze with watering eyes. Riku lets out a small gasp and slowly collapses to his knees as exhaustion overtakes him, lashing out a hand around the judge magister's hands as if to anchor himself to reality. His head hangs down limply and he snorts out a small laugh tinged with hysteria.

"You kick like a damn mule, your honor." he says in a shaking voice and pointedly tries to ignore the feeling of wetness sliding down this face. He can't believe. He can't.. "Does decorum say I can pass out now? I'm.. I.." he tries to find the words and fails. He knew this would happen and it did and.. he can't understand being forgiven for it. So he does the only thing that he can think of to get his brain to shut down from spinning in mad endless cycles. He passes out.

This scene contained 21 poses. The players who were present were: Riku, Zargabaath