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The ruins were winding and often difficult to navigate, especially with the labyrinth-like walls that had blocked him in the moment he'd stepped foot inside, but Nuada had been able to get through it without too much trouble. It may have been something of a challenge, but it wasn't particularly distressing; not when you knew what small, near insignificant signs to look for, at least. And he, without a doubt, did. He'd heard about the location many times before, but never before had he ever met someone who had actually been here, in the endless caverns beneath what appeared to be a rather ordinary graveyard. Needless to say, he had been intrigued; deep within the structure, the gate to the dark realm was said to be located. He'd always been positively fascinated by the dark realm; a chance to see the gate with his own two eyes was all to appealing to pass up, regardless of the dangers. And so, here he was.
The room he found himself in now was large, but not particularly spacious; what wasn't occupied by the large hole in the floor and the mechanisms and gears placed around the room was taken up by furniture and books and all sorts of assorted trinkets. He had found his way into the small room by passing through a very narrow corridor with spikes protruding from the walls on either side, making it very clear that someone didn't want him to be here. But he hadn't let that stop him, even for a second. Aside from the constant clanking and whirring of the gears, straining to work, and the occasional hiss of steam being shot from various pipes around the room, things were eerily silent. The ashen prince found the absence of life to be strange; the room looked quite lived in, as though it had acted as a place of residence not too long ago. For a brief moment, he considered merely moving on through the catacombs, but his curiosity about the room was too great, especially since there were signs of a struggle; some sort of fight had clearly taken place here. He wondered if the inhabitant had won, and if so, where they were at the moment; his fingers practically danced with the anticipation of a fight. It had been so long since he'd found a decent combatant, and frankly, he had been getting rather bored. Closer examination of the room proved rather fruitless; there wasn't much to be seen, after all. Just scattered papers and tipped books and, most oddly, a phonograph that remained in perfect condition in spite of its destroyed surroundings. He was about to give up and move on when, while examining a particularly violent scattering of papers, his foot slipped off the side of the hole in the middle of the floor; he quickly pulled it back onto solid ground, but he happened to look into the gaping hole and noticed something that seemed out of place. Sitting in the middle of the hole, clearly resting on top of something, was a stray gear. He could see exactly where it had been taken from, too, and that lead him to believe that something interesting was to be found beneath the gear. Grabbing a stray pipe from the wall beside him, he lowered it into the hole, carefully maneuvering it around the gear so that he was able to pry it up until it fell off of it's resting place, to rest between the spikes he could now see adorning the floor. He jumped back in surprise when he saw what had been hidden beneath it. Lying there, body pierced through with spikes, was a man. Dressed head to toe in black and adorned with a sharp blade attached to either wrist, every so often Nuada would imagine he saw him twitch or shift, as though not already in the comfortable thralls of death. Maybe it had something to do with the definite lack of blood; instead, around the woulds, grains of sand could be seen sticking to the sleek, black material of his clothing. Or maybe it was the lack of a scent of decay; the only thing he could smell in the air was a thick, chemical aroma, almost painfully industrial. Whatever it was, Nuada felt compelled to kick a loose stone into the hole to ensure that the creature was, in fact, dead. It landed square on his chest and rolled off, into the bottom of the pit of spikes; the black-clad man did not move or even so much as twitch. No, he was surely dead. "Well, no point in staying here, then.” Nuada said loudly to himself, his voice echoing off the gear-adorned walls.
The weight being lifted from his body felt miraculous, almost unearthily satisfying. So satisfying, in fact, that he didn't even bother moving; he just layed there, revelling in the lack of crushing weight pushing down on him, keeping him pinned firmly to the spikes he had been impaled upon. He almost didn't notice the stone bounce off of him, but he did notice the voice. "Well, no point in staying here, then.” The voice was deep, throaty, but sultry in its own matter. He heard it echo off of the misshapen walls above, and heard the retreating footsteps of whoever had spoken, clearly headed deeper into the cavern. The realization that someone else was there instantly snapped Kroenen out of his bliss-induced stupor, and ever so carefully (trying to avoid creating even bigger wounds), he lifted himself off of the spikes, striking his blades into the wall to drag himself up, slowly. It was like mountain climbing, really, though with a much steeper incline. He heard the retreating footsteps stop at the sound of his blades striking true into the wall as he slowly climbed towards the entrance of the hole, the prison he had been kept within for who knew how long, cherishing the fact that he was once again able to move. His joints snapped and popped with every movement, but he relished in the pain the sensations brought. It didn't take him long to emerge from the hole, and the moment he did, there was a sword at his throat.
Nuada has just turned to walk away, his footsteps echoing in the large room, when he heard a horrible noise, like metal striking granite. He practically had to cover his ears as the sound continued, followed each time by an incessant scraping, all the time growing marginally closer. And there was no doubt about it; the sound was coming from the very hole he had lifted the gear from not minutes ago. Carefully, he advanced towards the hole, drawing his sword as he moved forwards; there was no telling what would emerge, although he had a fairly good idea. Needless to say, he was none too surprised when the mask covered head peaked over the side of the hole. In one swift motion, Nuada dropped to a crouch and placed the edge of his sword against the man's throat. "Don't move, human.” he growled. "Or I will kill you.” Not that he was entirely sure this thing was human, or that it could die at all. After all, it had just come back to life after being impaled on spikes. There was always a chance his intimidation tactics would be completely for naught, but if this...creature was going to miraculously come to life and crawl up the side of the hole he had been lying impaled in only moments ago, he should have expected some sort of retaliation.
Kroenen felt the blade against his throat, and inwardly laughed to himself. What, was this supposed to scare him? "Don't move, human.” The man before him was what Kroenen imagined many women's image of perfection to be like. His skin was ashen and his hair was long and pale blonde, both highlighted with splashes of orange. "Or I will kill you.” It was clear, at least to him, that the man was rather uncertain about his threat; having second thoughts, perhaps, about threatening the man who had just risen from the dead. And rightly so, because before the sword-wielder could do anything, Kroenen had flipped himself out of the hole and struck him in the face with a powerful kick before landing, gracefully, on the floor several feet away. The kick, however, did not have nearly as much impact as Kroenen had hoped; either his time trapped beneath the clock gear had severely hindered his skills, or the man had been fast enough to move, mostly, out of the way of the kick. It had merely clipped the edge of his jaw, and within the second, he had jumped to his feet and was holding his sword in a fighting stance. "Oh, looking for a fight, are you? Very well, then.” he said, and rushed at Kroenen, swinging his sword with calculated and deadly precision. Kroenen could barely move out of the way in time, and the tip of the blade cleanly sliced open the front of his outfit. Instantly, he snapped into action, twirling his swords menacingly as he gracefully dodged the attacks from the other man. But the other man would not be deterred so easily; he ducked and weaved and evaded just as well as Kroenen did, the blades missing him each time by scant inches, and Kroenen didn't dare try to get any closer to be able to actually land a blow for fear of getting sliced in two. This was going to be interesting.
Nuada was frankly shocked by the amount of skill his opponent showed. Normally his battles lasted no longer than a minute or so, his opponents always succumbing to his blade, usually within moments; but this man skillfully avoided every slice, every swing, every jab, as though he were some sort of morbid dancer, all the time swinging his own two blades, which always missed him by mere inches. Each time, the blades whistled by his ear, leaving an uncomfortable ringing. Even in the completely obvious danger, Nuada couldn't help but be excited; it had been so long since he had found an opponent who could match his skill with the blade, and now, he had stumbled upon this magnificent fighter merely by chance. Finally, an opponent who could present a fair challenge!
As he danced and weaved through the barrage of attacks, he couldn't help but smirk. What a rush.
The fight lasted all of 30 minutes before Kroenen was forced to leap to the other side of the room to re-wind his gears, and Nuada was so tired he could barely even stand. There was no doubt, the fight had been a perfect draw; every minor injury on one was matched by an injury on the other. "You're a good fighter, my friend.” Nuada conceded between deep inhales, forcing air into his burning lungs. His long blonde hair hung in his eyes, drenched in sweat, the same way his entire body was. He was nearly bent over double, while his opponent seemed none the worst for wear; he merely stood across from him, continuously turning the device in his chest. "What is your name?” At the question, the black-clad man looked up from his work, and nodded towards a group of papers strewn across the floor, clearly having landed there during the primary struggle that had taken place in the room. Nuada reached out and grabbed the first paper his hand reached. Looking at it, he recognized most of the writing as the human language of German; all of it meaningless information. The only thing that caught his eye was the signature scrawled hastily on the bottom of the page; Karl Ruprecht Kroenen. When he looked back up at his worthy opponent, standing straight (although his legs still felt a little weak from the fight), he had gone back to twisting the strange knob in his chest.
"So. Your name is Kroenen?” he asked. The man nodded. He looked up at him and nodded again, although this time not in confirmation; he seemed to be asking the same question. "Me? I am Prince Nuada of the elves.” he replied. "You are the first worthy opponent I've come across in decades. Our battle was very interesting. Perhaps we can do so again one day.” he said. Kroenen finished twisting the knob in his chest, looking up at the handsome elf prince. He nodded in agreement; the fight had certainly been interesting, that was for sure. He'd never come across an opponent who could match his finesse, but Nuada certainly did. Not to mention he had rescued him from the clock gear. He looked at him, cocking his head to the side questioningly, as though to ask what he was going to do next. It took Nuada a moment to pick up on the question, but he did so rather quickly. "I came to this place, wishing to see the gate to the dark realm. I do not intend to leave here until I've laid eyes on it.” Nuada replied. "And you, Kroenen?” he asked. Kroenen looked left and right; the room was a mess, mostly from his fight with Hellboy, although some of the mess could be attributed to his battle with Nuada. Then again, most of the items strewn about were of little importance; aside from his records and his personal books, there wouldn't be much that he really needed to salvage. Hopefully a large bag would be enough to carry all of it; then again, it wouldn't be much of a problem if he had to make a second trip. He had no outstanding engagements. In response to Nuada's question, he merely shrugged. In all honesty, he had little idea of what he was going to do. Rasputin was inevitably dead, considering it was clear that Ragnarok had not come about, and he really didn't have any other purpose in this world. "Well then. Whatever you plan to do, I wish you luck.” Nuada said. Kroenen nodded, returning the wish. And then, in the blink of an eye, Nuada was gone.
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