Pan Post 92 continues with the third match of the God-Monarchs contest at the God Monarch Middle Ground. Neith Lièrén steps up next to challenge Zhuge, though Imeryn Hypericum asks her not to make it too long a fight knowing that Neith likes to wait and hunt prey. Instantly Zhuge causes all manner of objects to clutter the arena as Neith stalks her prey. He speaks to her quietly, so that the other God-Monarchs couldn't hear, and asks why she colludes with them, recognising that she does not seek the aggrandisement that the rest do. She compares him to Highemperor, arguing that he is not so dissimilar to Highemperor as he thinks. This angers Zhuge who asserts he in nothing akin to Highemperor any longer and attacks Neith. Their movements are fast and it seems both have each other cornered, but the ultimate attack from Zhuge has Neith's life in Zhuge's hands. He calms and releases her and then yields to her.
Zhuge vs Neith
Neith: "If you wish to see a longer game, Imeryn, I can do that... provided my game is up to the challenge."
She looks at Zhuge, who in turn nods.
Imeryn: "Yes, but not too long, please! After all, Neith, I know you're the sort that likes to sit around and...wait for their moment to strike. Hunting can be a dreadfully dull sport, sometimes."
The two walk out onto the arena ground, each always keeping an eye on the other. Neith, short among most of the God-Monarchs, checks her various pouches and pockets to note her inventory, before tightening the red crown-like band around her head. Zhuge, even shorter than Neith, brushes his brown robe and tan feathers alike, as if to show Neith that he only has himself to show. With his Buddhist[Ext 1]-style necklace as his only adornment and his general bird-like appearance, he appears like prime prey for a hunter. The two stand off, facing each other, hints of smiles appearing on both their counternances.
The gong rings.
Just as Imeryn finishes uttering the last syllable, Zhuge dissapears. As he disappears, the rest of the arena ground litters with a jungle of objects, some natural, others man-made, an electic mix filled with titanic trees and terrifying towers, tempting treasures and trivial trash. Neith summons a dark, cat-like creature, which begins to sniff out the surroundings, while Neith herself brandishes a pair of emeici[Ext 2]-like weapons in each hand. She makes a cocking action with each, as if they could each shoot something, before prowling the grounds herself.
Neith: "You've set a wild and confusing stage for our fight, Zhuge."
While Neith can be heard from all, Zhuge's words from the astral plane speak a level of quietness only Neith can hear.
Zhuge: "Thank you, that's the idea. Tell me, why do you collude with these others?"
As Zhuge speaks, Neith listens carefully for where she believes he may be hiding. She begins to speak in a quieter tone, such that the other God-Monarchs presume to better hunt.
Neith: "Same as you, I would think. Same as them all. The Highemperor is a threat, and we band together to bring him down. But I suspect you didn't need to band with others. Why did you agree to join with these others?"
Zhuge: "Same as you, I would think. Despite your claim otherwise, I think you're with them to observe. This NeSiverse may be in danger by a such self-proclaimed Highemperor, and it may be in danger from those that wish to challenge him. We observe, and then we make our step only when the time is right, yes?"
As Zhuge asks his question, Neith stops still. It's a sort of stillness that makes statues look lively. She holds her hand up, and her cat-like familiar stops as well, then she points to the side, and the familiar follows her direction.
Neith: "We wait, yes, and we take note of our target. You, for instance, prefer to hide in unassuming places."
In sync with making her point, Neith strikes at a bird's nest of eggs. The nest anticlimatically breaks in a sad fashion. Neith snarls.
Zhuge: "And you prefer to use your tools to flush your target so that you can deliver the blow yourself. As you say, we take note."
For a moment, Neith stands lost in her self-evaluation of her situation. From the seating, Imeryn calls out.
Imeryn: "I hope one of you two do something already! We have others I think who will put on a much more thrilling show ahead of you."
Inspiration seems to have struck Neith, and she once more directs her familiar to a new direction, while Neith herself stalks in another, flanking fashion.
Neith: "You and I may also be the only ones to have taken note of this Highemperor himself. How he was born on Earth, how he once was a mere mortal, how he ties his power to something he would call a narrative. You know this too, right? You like your stories."
She waits for a response. When she receives none, she allows a smile to creep along her face.
Neith: "It seems in this Highemperor's case, he aimed to control the whole of this NeSiverse, and in his mind, everything within the four corners of Forever and beyond through that, and yet he perceived his master, his "writer", to have set him up for his downfall. Now this Highemperor considers himself a shell of his former self. Sound familiar?"
Again, no response. Neith directs her familiar to surround what appears to be an old book on a stool to the side of a writing desk.
Neith: "I think you and this Highemperor have more in common than you wish to admit. You may think yourself better than him, casting aside your power and hiding yourself away, and yet you still flaunt that which you two share so intimately, that which all gods crave..."
She checks around herself, spying for any traps that may be around the book, before diverting her attention back to it.
Neith: "Attention. Some want it in worship, others, like you, want it in tragic reverence. You want such a story to respect you as the most worthy, and this Highemperor stands before you for all to see. You say he stands for everything you've renounced, and I think you really believe that he stands for everything you respect."
Just then, on the writing desk, where a writing quill sits in an ink well, Zhuge's form spills suddenly to Neith's side. She spins around, raising one arm to block, but Zhuge strikes with furious blows, his fists forming complex signals in the single, smallest frames of time as they connect with Neith, easily pushing her blocking arm in the direction it wanted to go, away from him. Both his palms end on her solar plexus, one high and one low, his eyes staring into hers with a fiery maelstrom of emotion never before seen by the God-Monarchs. In fact, since his back is towards the other God-Monarchs, only Neith sees his fury.
Zhuge: "You've made a mistake. I am not like him."
Neith: "You're right. I'm not like him either."
She looks down, and Zhuge follows her gaze. He can see that she has one of her emeici points poised to his side.
Neith: "So what's your next step?"
While she stares back at Zhuge with admirable confidence, it's also clear that she's struggling for composure as Zhuge literally holds his life in her hands. The raw fury in Zhuge's gaze calms, drawing one of his hands to pat the other, as if to undo whatever ultimate attack he had just performed.
Zhuge: "Observe. My target still has much for me to see."
He draws his hands away from her, then turns to Imeryn and the others.
Zhuge: "I yield to Neith."
Most of the God-Monarchs applaud politely as the arena grounds dissolve into its former, more bare environment. Zhuge and Neith bow to each other before making their way back up to the seating. Imeryn yawns in apparent boredom.
Imeryn: "Long, short, I just ask that the next two show us something worth watching, please."