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Garrolt Taylor
Garrolt Taylor sighed. The slave's baits were obvious. Taylor knew that people expected him to have a loose temper, but he learned very early in life that having no temper is a lot more beneficial to the sale, regardless of what he was trying to sell. The kingpin looked at Noctis, and strode confidently forward towards him. The man walked up with no killing intent, and the only expression on his face was one of disappointment. When he was within arms' reach, Taylor extended his arm towards Noctis, attempting to gently place his hand on the slave's shoulder.

"I deal in people. That's my business. Selling to them, and in your case, just selling them. But it doesn't mean the base of my business isn't people. Where do you think I got my epithet?"

The People's Prince pulled his hand up, turning on heal and putting his back towards the slave, but the aura around him shifted slightly.

"I get it. You have business to conduct. However, so do I, that you have ruined, albeit only by killing a needless front to my operation. I do know that you know you won't win, nor that my associates," he gestured to Gil and Valor, "would even let you get close to doing so. I will give you one last chance to go back or double down. There's really no shame in stepping down on a bad business deal."

The man left his back turned towards Noctis, only giving him the option to retort or attack the back of his opponent. The concept in itself, to someone with any ounce of honor, was cowardly to attack someone with their back turned, stupid to attack someone stronger, or shameful to take back a fight request. Noctis was at a crossroads, and there weren't any words on the matter returned.




~Volume Four: Bloody Skies~

Noctis tapped his left foot on the ground idly as Taylor walked up to place his hand on Noctis' shoulder. His body ached, the pain dull but intense through his entire upper body. The adrenaline running through his body is all that allowed him to move and act with such clarity, but it was clear to everyone that it couldn't last. Even now, as Taylor spoke, Noctis' awareness of his surroundings waned like the tides, leaving briefly before returning in force. Every time the focus in Noctis' eyes returned, to him the world seemed to almost move in slow motion, as if his brain was trying to compensate for what his body could no longer. He seemed to have felt Taylor's grip on his shoulder, even before it actually reached him, and his body flinched instinctively. With every word the kingpin uttered, Noctis couldn't hear anything, yet he understood every word and the intent behind it. Before the People's Prince turned his back, Noctis could 'see' the moment clearly in his mind, and his body prepared to strike at the moment of vulnerability. And as the Prince turned, Noctis struck.

With his right leg, Noctis swung his foot right at Taylor's head, the laces of his shoes aimed for the man's right ear. The harsh sound of wind roared from the kick, coming to a high pitched whistle as the air around Noctis' foot sharpened. To anyone else, this kick would take their head clean off, but Noctis knew better. Even still, he felt he had to do all that he could. Death was no longer a concern and neither was victory. Simply acting to the best of his ability provided all the fulfillment he could ask for in this situation. Yet anger and bitterness germinated deep down within. Noctis wasn't concerned with being cowardly, his fate was already sealed.

"Now, you should know there's nothing more dangerous, more irrational, than a man with nothing to lose." Noctis proclaimed, forcing his stance to that of confidence, even in this disaster.
Skills Used:
Name: Kamikiri
Description: A method of incredibly fast striking, utilizing the speed and precision of the strike to create residual force around the strike to cut the opponent, rather than any strength from direct impact. Identified by the high pitched whine of vicious wind or air pressure in the immediate area around the hands or feet when striking, the force of the air is actually a greater danger than the strike itself, which would be comparable to a standard punch or kick. The slicing force is generated less than an inch away from the strike and extends only six inches from there. The slice itself can cut through objects and results in a non-grievous wound against a human body, and results in minor cuts and scratches against Noctis if his arms or legs are unprotected.
Range: Short (4 1/2 feet for arm reach) (6 1/2 feet for leg reach)
Attribute: Speed & Agility - Tertiary
Rank: Novice

Name: Tengoku Hiyoke Chikyū Hakai Ashige-Ō
Description: Tapping the toes of his foot against the ground, as if knocking the dirt off of his shoes, Noctis builds up power in his long leg, stretching his muscles and storing energy, before unleashing it in a devastating rotational kick. Aimed at seeming "casual" or "discreet", it's a technique equal parts deception and power. For each turn spent tapping, he builds power, which decays a level after two turns spent idle. For each threshold of power, or each turn of tapping, the kick increases in force. At one turn the force of the kick is comparable to that of a standard kick. At three turns, the force of the kick is dangerous to the unprotected, able to damage structures. After five turns spent tapping, he reaches his current maximum level of power, the force of the kick itself able to inflict internal damage.
Range: Short (6 foot leg length)
Attribute: Strength & Power - Tertiary
Rank: Novice
Kenbunshoku Haki Awakening



Garrolt Taylor
Noctis attacked Taylor even as he spoke, ignoring all warning signs trying to prevent the irrational actions. Garrolt was adamant that withdrawing was the smarter option, and may have even been more lenient with the slave if he had the wits about him to take the advice, but the kingpin wasn't a kingpin because he made guesses. Reading people was in the handbook, and he was prepared for Noctis' attack. The only thing he needed to show it was the sound of movement, which Noctis gave in kind with the whistling of his attack.

Noctis leg moved with accuracy and power that a barely conscious man should have. It would have had pin-point accuracy and made contact with Taylor's ear if he weren't prepared for it. Instead of the side of the man's face, Noctis' kick landed against Garrolt Taylor's forearm, with the man not even turning to look at the action. However, what was notable about the defense was even above the prediction, as the kick contacted an arm that closer resembled iron than it did flesh and bone. That was quickly proven though when the sleeve of Taylor's designer suit was torn open with the overflow of the kick's power, revealing an arm completely covered in a black hue.

"Haki," Taylor said. When he did, the black hue grew further, covering the entirety of the man's forearm and hands, including the one that he hadn't used. And when both hands were fully coated, that's when the man turned back to his opponent.

"It doesn't matter how cornered you are. If someone out of your league gives you a deal, you take it!"

Garrolt Taylor's hand moved in a flash, throwing a punch towards Noctis' left shoulder that was true to the man's strength. This time, it wasn't an attack to prove a point, or to make even; it was an attack that was meant to show the true differential in their power.




Volume 4: Bloody Skies

Noctis' vision had just begun to blur again as his foot impacted the Kingpin's forearm, coming to an abrupt halt. A dull pain radiated up Noctis' leg as if he had kicked a steel beam. Noctis focused his vision as best he could to make out the torn sleeve of Taylor, and the blackened arm and fist that had laid beneath. It was unlike anything Noctis had seen previously, and his thoughts started to wander, curious as to what it could be. His question was quickly answered however, as Taylor spoke.


The iron like color of the People's Prince's arm spread through his arm and across his body to consume the other, and as it did, Taylor turned. As if he were angered by Noctis' irrational actions, he thrust his fist forward at the slave's left shoulder, this time with a force that was undeniably stronger. Noctis' sixth sense that he had just moments ago was nowhere to be found, having disappeared as quickly as it came. Unable to move or react in time, the punch hit Noctis dead on. With a sound not unlike that of a man walking on broken glass, the bones in Noctis' shoulder provided little resistance relative to the power the Kingpin used. This time rather than throwing him, the impact from Taylor's attack seemed more focused and directed, causing Noctis to slide on his feet only a foot or so. Yet, the damage it inflicted was far more severe than the previous kick.

Noctis' arm, from his shoulder to his wrist, was mangled as if ran over. The limb dangled limply, bones visibly broken under the skin and the shoulder, or what remained of it, completely out of socket. In the state Noctis was in, the pain was muted. Having sustained as much damage as he had, more wounds was just icing on the cake. He was completely unaware of how close his body was to simply failing on the spot, and so he stepped forward once more...

...Or so he thought. As soon as he pressed his body to move, Noctis simply fell face first. The impact from falling split his head open on the ground, blood flowing over his face and pooling on the ground where he lay. Taking a full fledged blow from the Kingpin in addition to everything else he had done was too much for him to take. Clinging to consciousness Noctis lay motionless on the ground, every cell in his body dedicating itself to making sure he kept himself awake. However, it was because of this dedication that his body was deathlike. His breathing had stopped, his heartbeat slowed, his eyes motionless. The only thing active was Noctis' will to live and fight, but that's all. Left helpless and at the whim of Taylor, Noctis lay defeated.

Words: 491



Garrolt Taylor
The clash was quick, but the punishment dolled out was severe to match every expectation anyone could have had for the fight. Noctis' attempt at attacking Garrolt Taylor was akin to mouse attacking a lion. Even though they were both beasts, one barely registers on the same scale as the other. The only thing someone willfully pursuing a fight like that would receive from his punisher was a sad look of disdain, but even that was above the lack of interest shown by Gil and Valor, neither of which were even looking at him.

"There's no pride lost in refusing a bad deal. Taking it, of which you just did, is shameful though. I'm disappointed. If you had walked away, you could have lived a decent life, especially with the strength you have now. Instead, you're choosing to die here, slowly and in pain, because of a silly thing like pride."

Taylor adjusted his stance, standing up straight once more. He slowly undid the buttons on his suit, taking off the now worn jacket and the button shirt beneath. He was left with a white wife-beater, but he didn't seem to mind all that much. He shoved another cigar into his mouth, promptly being lit by Valor, and reached into the inside of his coat pocket that was now hanging over the nearest chair. From that pocket, of which Noctis would have only a small view of through the blood and from the floor, the kingpin retrieved Dane's remote.

"This is what you wanted. It's silly." Garrolt Taylor held it up in plain sight, and clicked the buttons lining it. It wasn't audible to those in the private room, but the remote had worked as intended, releasing all the slaves that were locked up beneath the estate.

"Dane was dead today. The slaves were to be released today. That's the plan. I'm going to be the new lord of Baltigo, and I shall start by getting rid of any semblance of my former business."

Gil and Valor both had stunned looks on their faces. Although they were trusted associates, neither of them had expected to receive the news that they had just gotten. Garrolt Taylor as lord meant good business, but releasing slaves was the opposite of what they had come expecting. Whether or not it truly meant the end of their partnership was left up in the air, but neither of them could get rid of the feeling that they'd be loyal to him regardless.

"Nothing you did today meant anything. It was all intended to happen. You chose a slow, agonizing death in a situation that would have ended in your complete favor. Die with that shame."




Volume 4: Bloody Skies
Long beyond having the ability to muster up a retort or speak at all, Noctis could only lay face down and listen to the Kingpin. Was pride really something to die for? Was freedom? Despite all of Noctis' earlier protests and vibrado, he was forced to admit that Taylor was right, or at least more justified in his stance than Noctis. Freedom was something far more concrete than he had realized. It wasn't some abstract concept, some ethereal goal always out of reach with no true meaning. It was power. Freedom was something that only came to those with the strength to draw it in. They could take and give it away as they saw fit, and the People's Prince did exactly that. With the press of a button, Taylor rendered Noctis' efforts meaningless. In truth, it hurt far more than the bodily harm he was struggling to stave off.

Dane was already a dead man, and the slaves, his comrades and peers, were set to be free long before Noctis had ever made his move. The ambition of Garrolt Taylor became clear, the powerful force that drove him was now focused on his goal. The Lordship of Baltigo. Gil and Valor, despite their own personal strengths and experience could only bend themselves to Taylor's will, much as if he were lord already. Prior and current allegiances were broken down with a single statement, and regardless of if the pair knew it or not, they were already loyal to the People's Prince and him alone. Their focus was strictly on the Kingpin's declaration, Noctis having ceased to exist in their minds. No thoughts or attention could be spared for a dying slave, after all. As Taylor finished up berating Noctis, he took a large drag from his cigar, the refreshing taste of tobacco relaxing him as he inhaled. Blowing out a large cloud of smoke, Taylor simply walked out of the room, Noctis out of his thoughts just as quickly and easily as the smoke itself. Without even a command or a motion to do so, Gil and Valor both followed him silently, and Noctis was left alone to die.

It seemed like an eternity, Noctis' sense of time and space began to distort as he clung to life. He could make out what he thought was shuffling from somewhere outside, but there was no way to be sure what was real or not in his state. Just as Noctis' was about to drift out of consciousness, the door to the room swung open violently. Had they come to finish him? To make sure that there was no one to bring Taylor's plan to light? Before Noctis could think any further, he felt a touch on his neck. It was warm and gentle. Had he died?

"Oh my god... what happened to you...? Are you even- No. We need to get you out of here. Doce, grab him!"

Just as soon as he began to accept the warm comfort of the person touching him, two large and forceful hands gripped him and hoisted Noctis up. Perhaps he was being taken to hell? It wouldn't be the biggest shock. Noctis eyes could only see red, blood having covered the entirety of his face. Where he was and who he was with were complete mysteries to him, as his companions Three and Doce carried him out of the room. Before the group even reached the elevator down to the ground level of the estate, Noctis had lost consciousness completely. The scene that greeted them being not much prettier than the one Noctis had been in just moments earlier. Guards and slaves lay on the ground dead or dying, the entire population of slaves, both labor and combat, having been released at once just as Noctis and Taylor had planned. None of Dane's staff remained to stop what few stragglers remained in the estate, but losses were even greater for the mostly unarmed servants. To everyone but those in the meeting room, it would appear as if Noctis' plan had worked just as he promised. Yet Taylor had simply used the opportunity to remove himself from Dane, and that included his property and business.

It wasn't long until authorities came in to investigate the chaos and bloodshed, as they surrounded the estate and stadium. Several higher ups and members of nobility stood among the first responders, eager to keep any connection to the slave trade under wraps. Three and Doce carried Noctis out of the back of the property, where slaves had often labored to maintain a spotless appearance on the surface for the general public, and loaded his body onto the back of a cart designed to bring in raw materials for the arena. Hastily covering his body with a blanket, they hauled him out onto the streets to look for whatever help they could. In the moments after, Noctis began to flicker in and out of lucidity, only able to make out the sky from underneath his cover, stained red with blood as if to taunt him with his failure. Defiantly, he closed his eyes, placing himself fully at the mercy of fate itself.

Words: 868
Notes: End GV

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