Duelist League: Kauchemar vs. Uta

Something something beat, something something the dead, something something horse.

Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

One has to wonder how things will change when Carmina Gadelica will become an official Kingdom. Will the Outcasts still have a place to steer free of the larger Kingdom alliances, once more be put to living up to their non-alligned name?

Not that it matters to her, seeing as she spends most of her time in Eas anyways.

But that's not what she's here for today, standing in town with her staff resting on a shoulder. Word got to her that Uta has gotten to working on something, something that had her more interested in dueling again, so she's looking for the slime loving Spriggan to see what's up.
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

"There you are!", exclaims Uta, excitable as usual- no, actually, possibly more than usual. Except with a rather strong edge of seriousness to it.

Notably, today she is not wearing her usual outfit: instead, she has what looks like a fancier, more MMORPG-appropriate fantasy nurse's outfit, with lapels, sophisticated, elegant trimmings, and complete with practical straps to hold an array of syringes. She swipes through her menu with laser-focused obsession, again, something not quite common for her, quickly reaching the menu for inviting people to duels. "I am looking forward to the most painful experience you can deliver. And to deliver the most painful experience I can look forward to. You up to the task?"
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

Kauchemar was just considering if she should try diving Uta's location when the extra energetic voice speaks up behind her. "And there you are." Kauchemar turns partway, only to pause to look Uta over, raising a brow. First at the upgraded outfit. Then at the insistance she bring the pain. "Well, if you insist~" A flick of the rest opens her own menu long enough to accept the Duel. "I would hate to disappoint a fan, and a rival, after all. Let's see what you're up to."

The Nightmare turns fully to the smaller woman, giving the butt of her staff a thump on the ground. Her eyes ignite with supernatural glow, to the point that the psychadelic lavander almost entirely outshines her pupils.

"o/~ It's no time to get theoretical... Best be ware when you face the Oracle.
Come and face me at last... And I will take you to task
Head the words that I've said.. As I get into your head! o/~"

Then she lifts the staff and tilts it forward, conjuring several shards of darkness and sending them hurtling towards Uta in a sort of scatter pattern, expecting a weaker spreadshot to have a better chance of hitting the agile Spriggan.

"o/~ Run, run... but you can't run away! As I cast spells to cast down my enemy!
Divination, Darkness, Deception... You can't change the tides of inception! o/~"
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

"Misdirection!", Uta chimes in, "ebb and flow, everchanging,"
"sempiternal stream of forms rearranging,
no divining, no concealment, no lie
can prevent me from making you cry-"

Uta shifts the melody and rhythm, but in a way that segues naturally from Kauch's theme, in a sort of rhapsody. The new rhythm allows her to unexpectedly dodge an attack specifically designed to target her style, and at each abrupt change of direction, an accent syllable of her song is dropped.

"-or not! That's the point, either used as a symbol
or a literal tip which I jab while so nimble,"

As she says so, she extracts one syringe from her strap, and lunges to jab Kauchemar with it.

"it's my head, want a peek? Be my guest! But I aim,
for an arm, that I seek -- or a leg, that's the same!

And a mane, and a cane, and a brain, and a chain,
you will strain, but in vain: -- I, unslain, will kill pain!"

As she deliver the latest stream of similar sounding words, she also swings multiple blows at the Nightmare.
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

"Well," Kauchemar remarks even as she backsteps and uses her staff to deflect Uta's initial strike with expert timing, "If there is one thing I have learned from our various encounters is not to underestimate you, even if you are a bit of a ditzy goofball." Parry and twist, swatting the smaller Spriggan aside while only having taken minor (but obnoxiously DoT inducing) hits from the exchange getting through her predictive defense. Or maybe that was intentional. Give Uta a little of what she wants...

"And you should know by now not to give me a chance to set up." She raises her staff overhead and a summoning circle briefly appears, opening long enough to expunge a deluge of water down at Uta. Water containing dozens of tiny venomous jellyfish and several jagged shards of cursed coral.
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

"If there is one thing I've learned from our previous encounters," Uta says. "Is that- Oh, jellyfish! Excellent! Are they the poisonous one? I hope they-"

A rain of pain falls mainly on the plain-ly odd Uta. "Oh -yes-! Excellent! EXCELLENT!", she exclaims, squinting in pain as she examines the various bite points and inject different potions at different bite sites. "Let's see how each of them is effective against each- oh, good this one is already feeling better. And this- AUFHGHRGHHHHHHHHHH", she yells, her squint tighening to hard that the tears that stream down might make one think that she's been squeezing her eyes. "THIS ONE IS REJECTED!", she exclaims, and proceeds again, over and over again.

Same with the cursed coral, where, in addition to the mere injection, a musical spell is cast to wrap each syringe in colorful tendrils of light, imbuing the medicine with modulated mana.

"That should do it for now!", exclaims Uta, whose singing continues into her trademark call-response chant; it results in the red/green draining beam shot a Kauchemar, to steal her HP... and rushing over to him, to smack her in the face with wooden goodness. All while singing (but the attempt at the clue-by-four might culminate in a yell -- high C, perfectly on pitch, of course!)
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

Kauchemar tilts her head as she watches Uta's reaction, getting excited about the potential poison, then frustrated when one of her attempts at dealing with it doesn't work. While eccentricity is hardly off-character for Uta, the way she's acting in this particular time has a strikingly familiar vibe to the times she's seen her and other people get ... Oh. An expression of realization, and an extra "OhOOOOOOOH" for dramatic effect.

"I think I see what's going on now, yes." Followed by the sort of smirk one probably doesn't want to see her make. Shadows swell around her despite the daytime hour, and while she can't do much about the unerring nature of the parasitic spell she can use her peripheral side-stepping to avoid the swinging wood at least. Leaving Kauchemar hard to see, but her voice as clear as day.

" o/~ Slowly out of line, and drifting closer in your sights
So play it out, I'm wide awake, it's a scene about me. o/~"

That's when the ripples of darkness consolidate back around the Nightmare filtering back into proper view, already gripping her staff in both hands.

" o/~ There's something in your way, And now someone is gonna pay
And if you can't get what you want... Well! it's all because of me! o/~"

Kauchemar plants the butt of the staff to the ground and leans forward with it, held as a stage performer would their mic stand. It's even positioned so the back of the heavy metal skull is near her face like the mic would be... and when she sings into it opens its mouth to unleash a cascading wave of negative energies amongst the sonic waves produced by her powerful bardic magic.

" o/~ Now dance, bucker, dance! Man, I never had a chance!
And no one even knew, it was really only you!

And now you'll lead the waaaaay
Show the light of daaay
Nice work you did... You're gonna go far kid o/~" A final powerful burst of blackness ends the assault. "Trust, deceived!"
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

The negative energy Kauchemar has directed Uta's way is countered by Uta waving around her staff with a new ominous chant. Collecting around the weapon like cotton candy, in small tendrils that grow to a massive volume, it is eventually sucked in all at once; the staff begins to -vacuum- the dark energies, and the nega-Uta manifests again: a black mass of sheer darkness writhes around the Spriggan, turning her into a terrifying silhouette where only her eyes, of a solid color, peer back malignant. But this time it does not stop there. It goes further, her shape more ethereal, the kind one sees in a sleep paralysis.

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, well, there's much flattery coming Kauchemar's way. She zips around, becoming one with the darkness, harder to see, but even harder to -willingly- look at. While not a Legend-level emotion forcing effect, well, there's something primal in her terrifying shape, in her chilling presence, in her very being. Something that deep into an ancestral brain causes the instinctive reaction of terror known as 'nope nope nope!'.

A terror which contrasts sharply with the bouncy J-pop tune that is started soon later... and whose mood is flipped once again where the voice that sings it is a raspy whisper, to go right back with the night terror theme. A tune which makes monsters that creep in the night slither out of the darkness, and worm their way to Kauchemar.

Some of them aren't even slimes!
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

"I see someone has finally embraced more of their racial Dark side..." Being a bit of a fearmonger herself she's more amused by the defensive deterrence aura than afraid of it. "Though while you're in that state I think I will pass on any treatments thank you."

Kauchemar has a moment to consider her options, though. And while normally a horde of slimes and other monsters (gasp!) would be a problem, being an experienced monster handler herself, she knows how to handle coralling this issue. Literally. She stomps a hoof to the ground, causing it to rumble as glowing cracks appear, out of which emerge both jagged stone spikes to force the monsters to keep their distance, and what appear to be gnarled roots winding amongst them for reinforcement. Of course slimes can probably eat through that sort of defence. Eventually. Even they can't devour it instantly.

While she's got the brief reprive though Kauchemar rests her staff at her side while she swirls her other hand about to form what looks like a bubble in the shape of a jar. And takes a firm gulp from it like it was too, letting the revitalizing mist flow through the rest of her body and disperse that lingering poisonous effect. "Ah. Thank you, Goldenblade." The empty bubble-flask is popped to dispel it. "Now, where was I.. Oh, yes." She snaps her fingers.

Several of the roots rumble up near Uta, forming into a gnarled looking tree-monster, that tries to pummel the Spriggan with it's thick limb-like branches.

"Causing you more Treepidation!"
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

"Treepidation!", the vaguely Uta-shaped tangle of things that go 'squiggle-hiss' in the dark rasp-groans. "Look, my research on anesthetic cannot numb the pain caused by those puns!"

The vines barely leave a scratch on the Spriggan -- mostly because she zips around too quickly to be caught and part because they seem to have some sort of hesitation in attacking her. From the darkness, though, another sharp song emerges, hissed, rasped and out of nowhere, shards of ice fly all around, at Kauchemar.
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

Kauchemar takes a couple of steps back to leap back behind her rock formations, but not without getting pelted by several of the ice shards before she can reposition herself. "Ah. The final tidbit finally comes out." Now she knows what the mood Uta has been going on about is really for. "Well then, if you want to experiment, lets have some real test trials." Then cackles a bit herself as she pulls up part of the earth magic she'd been using in her defense, and combines it with her other preferred natural element.

A rythmeic rumbling can be heard, setting the tempo for a bombardment of ice and rock to come cascading down upon the Spriggan in several staccato bursts syncronized to the beat. "How would you like to try some ICEOLATION next?!"
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

"o/~ Iceolation is not good for me," Uta sings, as the Darkness dissipates around her, and she returns to be her usual self. Her melody empowers her gem to deflect the rocks away from hitting her. "Iceolation -- I don't want to sit on a lemon tree! o/~"

A pause.

"Can you refer to a used tree you buy and turns out to be sick and poor quality as a 'lemon tree'?" she wonders.

A last, missed rock nicks her arm. "Oh, a new one! Sec!", she exclaims, as she pulls out a syringe and jabs herself there, with a wince.

The empty syringe is placed back where it was taken, and she pulls out a fresh, full one, before rushing at Kauchemar and attempting to jab her with some experimental potion before delivering some violence. The glint in the Spriggan's eyes leaves no doubt that she's decided to use her opponent as a guinea pig.
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

It's enough to actually get Kauchemar to put a hand to her temple for the moment. "I see the only way to get you through this state of being is to indulge it. Very well then!" She lowers her hand to retrieve her staff in her full grasp. "I would be a poor rival if I did not assist! Let's see how your healing ventures deal with this!" She taps the staff to the ground once more, drawing from her dark arts and divining powers, then points it towards Uta as she summons several spectral lights to send harrowing after the Spriggan. They don't seem like much at first, but this is one of the techniques she's developed specifically for dealing with these annoying Light users, as the spectral forces don't do physical damage by put a heal-blocking, cooldown-locking curse upon her.

Which doesn't stop Uta from running up to jab Kauchemar with her needle. And the Nightmare screams. She screams bloody murder, without the actual murder part.... But this being Kauchemar and what she is, just that scream is enough to rattle whoever is unfortunate enough to be standing near her and lose their focus. "Oh now you're just being rude! What's this, a test to give people trypanophobia?!" she snaps after regaining her composure, thorny vines wrapping around her staff as she channels Earth elements into it, and swings it like the weapon it can be in an effort to drive the Spriggan back out of her personal space.
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

"It's for the good of the Lander patients!", Uta exclaims, as she leaps back, away from Kauchemar's personal space. "So much pain. So much suffering. Routine procedures hurt so bad it's a torture to carry them through!" She sighs. "And relax, it's just a prick, and we Adventurers have the luxury of a pain dampener, something Landers don't! You should barely-" She looks at the reddish liquid in the fresh syringe she's just pulled out. "Oh, is this chili?", she wonders. She sticks out her tongue, is about to taste it, when-


Eyes turn to the syringe.

...she jabs her own arm with it.

"...OW. OW. OW!", she exclaims, once again, in tears. "IT IS!", and after that, she jabs herself once again in a nearby spot with a different syringe: "Let's see if this- wait." She sniffs the needle. "...smells like... cumin? Uh... well, at least it's thematic- GNHHN..." She clutches at her arm, which, all of a sudden, goes numb. "I... I guess I'll have to keep this simple then," She says, and simply runs towards Kauchemar, one hand clutching her staff to smack the Were Fang in the face, and the other dangling limp behind her.

Yes, she grimaces.
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

Kauchemar ... actually frowns slightly. "You're not in your normal state of mind. Even for you. I'm not even sure if this is an entirely fair fight, even for those noble intentions." Then dismissively waves the thought with one hand. "Well no point in stopping now either way. We will just have to cater to the needs at hand."

Uta runs up and starts swinging... Wait, is Kauchemar even defending herself? No, she really isn't, as Uta's strikes leave several of the big glowing indicators of damage on her form. "But I get it now. Sure, we Adventurers have things like pain dampening and sheer stubborness, but you can't risk 'testing' on Landers even if you want to help them the most."

There's a pause, as she takes a breath. Then the music starts, swelling to life even as she's getting wood worked over.

"o/~ This is a tangled mess... Totally in distress
But not as much as you... will be when I compress.
Your flesh and bones within... the spell of my design...
To bring the end, oooooh.... o/~

Kauchemar slams the end of her staff to the ground, the air turning bitter gold as the spikes of frozen rock and ice erupt outward, continuing to crystallize and jab as they radius away from her, a frigid wave of shredding ice and crushing stone!

Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

"It is not -yet- safe to test on Landers, no. Soon, hopefully," she bursts out.

"Fairness? This is not about winning! This is about -dealing as much pain as possible-", Uta clarifies, a glint in her eyes. "And receiving as much as possible. All the while actually suffering as little as possible. Accumulating experimental data. Seriously, I ran some number, among the activities in the short list I've compiled, a Duelist League match has the highest pain to safety ratio. It was a no brainer."

The frozen rocks crystallize! They erupt! Uta goes wide-eyed, reaches for more syringes, jabs herself all over, and-

Perforated all over, her pierced form is swept up by the incoming shockwave of spikes, skewered up on display. Red jots of different intensity correspond to each skewer. "L...let's rank them in order from the most to least painful...", she winces, while pulling a notebook out of her uniform and scribbling down.

Nothing else.

Wide open for another attack...
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

While Uta is coping with the onslaught that was unleashed upon her and taking notes on how much it hurt (it's good data!), Kauchemar lifts her staff in both hand to resume using it like a stage stand mic. The music shifts as she does so, turning deeper and more ominous in it's sound. The entire situation feels more anxious and forboding, especially in the dark reverb that she resumes singing in.

"o/~ Nothing will prepare you for the Chaos I will bring upon you
You can try to run and hide, but you can't escape the things that I do
Don't even try to look away, it's my world you play in now
Now watch everything you know fade, as I turn your life upside-down! o/~

Then the Nightmare moves, shifting into a blurring motion that true to form makes it difficult to disconcern where she's going or what direction she's coming from. The only real clue is that she's still moving about is that her singing continues.

"o/~ I'm the Spirit of Chaos, the imagine of darkness, don't deny
Gonna turn your world around and then I'll watch you cry
Don't fight it... Just look at the chaos rising everywhere
Game over! I'm plunging your world into everlasting despair! o/~

It's then that shadowy mists rise and she appears RIGHT IN FRONT of Uta, mouth inhumanly wide as she does just before she aims to chomp down on the Spriggan with her powerful monster bite and venomous viper-like fangs. Weaponized Jumpscare!
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

One thing helps Kauchemar's technique: Uta's completely ignoring the Were Fang, focusing instead in removing the skewers from her body (or herself from the skewers, it's a matter of perspective), taking careful note of how much each removal hurts. She experiments with injecting different substances close to some of the glowing spots that had none before.

But not all. One does need a control group.

Well, okay, she is -not- completely ignoring the Were Fang. She does hum along the song the Muse is singing, harmonizing with it. And when the jumpscare happens, well-

For one, she has more experimental points to add to her data! Right on her neck.

For two, as she screams, and modulates her scream into the ominous chant from before, and the writhing darkness evelopses her into a Dark Figure of Terrifying Darkness again, one of her syringes goes flying away, ready to land on Kauchemar, as she attempts a desperate swat at the Nightmare.
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

In such close quarters there isn't a lot Kauchemar can do to stop Uta from taking one of those syringes and stabbing her with it again. That does however get the Nightmare Bard to briefly back off a bit as she hisses in annoyance. "Well, this is what you wanted, right? Shall we try a different infliction?" She is a Muse after all, sometimes you have to inspire others at your own expense. "Besides, it's giving ME a chance to try all these new techniques out on a willing subject too!"

Kauchemar plants herself, and grips her Grindcore Staff in one hand as she once again uses it's capabilities as an aplifier. This time, however, it's not a song being infused. It is one of her death metal nightmare screams, channeled through the skull atop the staff like a megaphone, making it all the more powerful to overwhelm the senses of who hears it as well as its negative energy effects.

And then with her free hand she grabs the syringe to pull it free from her arm. "But really, I think it's time for some turnabout." She charges some of her dark magic into the needle and then hurtles it right back at Uta!
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

The syringe disappears inside the Uta-shaped writhing silhouette of Darkness. It's hard to tell what happened, but it looks like the tentacles closed on it and sucked it in.

Perhaps it wasn't willing. It possibly hurt, given the hiss that emanates from the creature, and how her eye narrow. But it's hard to tell from the outside.

If, that is, one doesn't count the HP being chipped away.

She rushes towards Kauchemar, eyes narrowed even further to brave the metal blasts coming her way, and whipping the tendrils backwards, like hair in a wind tunnel, and slowly dissipating them. But she is unstoppable. She reaches in. She leaps, to attack, as the sound blast washes away the last layer of tendrils...

...is that another syringe?
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

To be fair Uta isn't the only one experimenting with medicinal techniques of a sort, as Kauchemar produces another one of those bubble-flasks and inhales the contents while she has the chance. Aaah, soothing. Now she's ready to deal with Uta again.

And by deal with Uta she means let one of her summons deal with her. Purple ghostly flames cycle in front of her, manifesting into her Binder Shield. Which is still on fire even as it intercepts Uta's attack. One was starting to wonder how long it would be before she started pulling some older more familiar tricks out.

"I think it's time we get the beats going again!" Beats. Beatings. Same thing right now, as Kauchemar steps past the flaming shield to swing her staff at Uta with such momentous force that instead of stopping after the first strike she spins around completely to heave the weapon around a second time. Turns out the horns on that skull are mighty sharp, good for a wide arc to clear out your personal space.
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

The battle drags on for a long time. Both HP bars are drained dangerously close to red. Many blows are exchanged. Much pain is inflicted. Much buffs and debffs are applied. Many potential anesthetics are applied. Very few works.

Not very well.

In the end, with one leg asleep, splotches of various colors on her body where she injected all those suspicious substances, and a list of status effects so cluttered one is wondering how the UI doesn't glitch, Uta shuffle-wobbles towards Kauchemar, dragging herself forward using her staff as a crutch (remember? One leg is asleep...), anddressing the Nightmare who's been the test subject for a large quantity of these syringes, and asks, "Does it hurt if I do... this?", swiping one last poke at the equine.
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

"For the last time, yes, yes it does! Goddesses sake, stop it." Kauchemar, equally beat up but less peculiarly looking about it since she didn't do so much self injecting of questionable things, but leaning on her own staff for support. "Ugh, you're not nearly as much fun when you're obessing like this." The mare wheezes... then goes slightly crosseyed... "Ugh.. I think we've done enough 'experimenting'... I... uuuh..." She holds up a finger. "Pardon me."

She staggers over to the alley between two houses, bracing herself against the wall of one, and.... uh... you don't want a description, just know it sounds really really nasty. Let's just say she's been poisoned and experimentally injected enough times it's overpowered the fact that most equines don't actually have a gag reflex.

Which apprently ticks down the poison counter enough to count her remaining HP as gone, and signal Uta as a winner. "FINALLEEEEH" More indescribable sounds.