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  1. 16 points
    GM IC: “Lord Rayuke.” “Umbraline Masayoshi.” My boss, one of the foremost Battlemasters in the Empire, a member of my own clan’s nobility, uncle to the Rora, and the Imperial Executioner said with stiff, unusual formality. In my years of service he had never called me by clan unless introducing me, not once since the day I began my watch. Not a good sign. But if that was a poor sign the long, gleaming blade that rested on a bench next to him was worse. “Kneel.” But I knew that before I came here. “Some things have… Happened. Since my time. In contemplation.” “Yes, my Lord.” I knew this would come. Despite the results, my transgressions have to be considered. The world may be coming down around us, but Order has to be maintained. I don’t care about that. Not before, but especially not now. Order could follow the entire Empire to the in which we now reside, but I do understand Rayuke’s anger. It isn’t about the laws I broke. Or about the risks I ran. It’s about the trust I betrayed. I could try to run away, I could escape to the Dastana, or try to flee across the sea, but I… “Explain them to me.” “I abused the powers of your office. Powers that do not belong to me. I issued instructions to the Hogo in your name.” I don’t want to run. I did what I did knowing there would be consequences, and knowing I would face them. And pay them. I was willing to risk my life to bring the Chojo home safely. A fair trade. I held my shoulders back and my head high, facing straight ahead. “I consorted with a hostile power. I enlisted the aid of a traitor. I have fought, and killed, citizens of the Empire with your authority. I slew a Toroshu. I left you unguarded while I did, and in so doing I have betrayed the vows I swore the day you brought me here from the Umbraline estate.” The last bothers me the most. I’ve never spoken of it to him. It wouldn’t have been appropriate. But my position at the estate was killing me slowly, piece by piece. With infinite kindness, consideration, and patience. With every act of compassion they drove another nail in my coffin, reinforced again and again that I was to be treated with gentleness, regarded with deference, but never to be respected. I was there to be cared for, to be shown as a pious example of sacrifice for clan and Empire.I didn’t need their sympathy. I didn’t want it. I needed to get mad, I needed to work to pull myself back to my feet and I needed their help to do it. Maybe it wouldn’t have changed anything. But that was the support I needed, and I didn’t get it… Until Rayuke stopped by the estate. He never questioned if I could do the job. Only if I was the right woman for it. From the day I swore my loyalty he never treated me differently from any other Menti, never tried to shield me from danger. I was his guard and he placed in me his confidence. He trusted me not just with his life but that of his nieces, people he valued more than his own safety. And I took advantage of that trust. “My acts come perilously close to treason.” I drew a deeper breath and tightened my hands on my lap as he remained quiet, silently pressing me to continue. He knew what was coming, just as I did, and I think he wanted to see if I would say it myself. If I could take that last step after walking into my own trial. “I submit myself to your judgement, Lord Rayuke. And if you judge that I have strayed so far, I ask only that I may see the gardens I have spent so long in properly.” And that you forgive me, I added silently to myself. That was more important than anything but I- “You… may not.” He rumbled, and for once he was… Taken aback. I had never seen anything like it. He almost rocked back, an immense reaction from a man so controlled, as though I had struck him with all the power in my frame. I couldn’t see his face- a limitation of my ‘eyes’- but I felt at once like I had misjudged the situation entirely.... And that I had wounded him, unintentionally, with my guess. “”It is… In shambles. Those monsters performed… A bombing run. I have not even begun… To correct the damage.” “Masayoshi… Masa.” He began again, the severity gone from his voice. He sounded gentler than I had ever heard, for once looked every one of his years; as though he had aged a lifetime in mere moments. When he began again it was without the voice that could make him seem so brutish, ‘speaking’ in such a way to properly convey all of the nuance that I could not see. .:You aren’t here for judgement, my guardian. You’ve worked for me so long, I thought…:. He seemed to resettle, shifting to regard me with his full attention. And his respect. .:But then you’ve always worked for me, haven’t you? You’ve never considered me your equal. Nor should you have, I know. I’ve always treated you as my underling. But you’re so much more than that. My sister was, and now my niece is, my Rora. My sister could never be close with me after that. Especially not after I was sent to the mines. I have no children. And I have slain too many to truly have friends. They’re all afraid of me.:. His tone softened, mellowed by an untold sadness, and he cocked his head uncertainly. .:I never would have thought you were. But you would be more than mortal if you weren’t, wouldn’t you? Maybe you went too far. The Dastana are not our enemy. You did not aid Inokio, you required him to aid you. You fought those who set themselves against your Rora. And you brought my niece home safe and sound.:. .:Even if that were not so, do you think I could punish you so casually? Here in my garden, without a trial? Without giving you a chance to appeal to your Rora?:. Rayuke shook his head. .:Masa. You aren’t my servant, or my slave. You have been the closest thing to a friend that I have, and you have been my protege. And I could not be prouder of you.:. “Lord Rayuke, I…” .:Please just listen, Masa. You’re rash. You’re bullheaded. And even now I know there’s so much anger inside of you.:. He stood and turned towards a small writing desk tucked into the office just past his garden, and walked towards it with slow deliberate strides. .:It reminds me so much of how I used to be. But you have never acted with any less integrity than you believe your oath requires, even when you wanted to so badly. You have never even broached with me your accident because you knew that if I were to hear the truth I would have no choice but to see justice done.:. .:It would have been the smallest thing, Masa. Zuto Nui knows I’ve given you the chance to tell me. But you refused to use your position that way. I appreciate it more than you’ll ever know.:. My ward shook his head, a ponderous movement, and picked up a wrapped package and a bottle off of the desk. .:Sit, please.:. I sank onto the cushion in front of his table, onto the one that had over the years come to be mine. The absurdity of the thought, at this moment, in this uncertainty, brought a laugh bubbling to the surface just barely caught before its escape. At the end of an Empire all I can do is make sure that I have my pillow at the right spot near the table. Rayuke knows it, too. The deep rumble of a chuckle proves that. He’s twitted me with endless politeness about my dedication to Order, at least where my pillow is concerned. He insists that he has to tell guests not to use it lest I know that the shape is wrong. I reached for the bottle out of long habit to pour us both a drink and Rayuke pulled it away, pouring instead for the both of us. Which is blatantly, blatantly wrong. By every standard I should pour for him, just like I always have, and it’s making me a whole lot nervous the way he keeps breaking the rules. When I thought I was coming here to be punished everything made sense. Now I don’t know what is going on. So I take my drink, raise it in silent toast, and take a good long sip. .:Better.:. He rumbled, taking a drink of his own. .:Masa. I called you here to release you of your oath.:. “No!” The outburst escapes before I can rein it in, touching upon wounded pride atop the fear that I know he must feel too. Now. He can’t possibly do this now, not when he will need my help more than ever. He will need it, Desdemona will need it. To escape the archipelago will take a miracle, and he wants to- “My Lord, I don’t think this is the-” .:Enough.:. The mental plane cracks with the force of command, and he pours again in the silence. .:I’m going to do something foolish. Lethally so, perhaps. I’m an old fool, Masa, old enough to have earned the right to be a fool. I do not have the right to drag you along with me.:. .:This is my home. All of it.:. He gestured expansively, less I think for my benefit than for his. He knows I can’t see it, but he’s always been one to gesture. It helps him to make his point. Sometimes he can be less sure of his words than he acts, but the eyes can rarely lie. .:The Palace, the Yards, the Gardens, every alley and square and plain between here and the mines in which I labored. This land is what I know. It’s what feels right. I never wanted this job, but my sister needed me. I would have been happier to garden.:. .:There will be no need for an Imperial Executioner on Mata Nui. We will have to adapt, and I will never be able to do so. Nor will our people do so if I am there to watch them. I am a relic now, part of an era that is ending. And I helped to bring this threat about. I helped to unbalance our land.:. His ‘voice’ hardened. .:I will help to end it if I can. My duty now, Masa, is to right the wrongs that I can while I can.:. He’s not going to leave.The thought echoes in my brain, a contradiction of a simple truth that I thought I knew. But it wasn’t so shocking, not when I thought about it. My ward could never leave innocents in danger. Not when he could do something about it. Whoever he might once have been, whatever his job was, that was an inviolable truth of Umbraline Rayuke. And there would be innocents left behind, people in danger. Evacuating everyone was simply impossible. “What will you do?” I asked simply, instead. It wasn’t up for debate. I couldn’t stop him, and it wasn’t my place to. “And have you told the Rora?” .:I’ve told both of my nieces.:. He answered, taking a long drink of his own. .:They weren’t happy. I understand why. But even if we did need an Executioner, my badge of office is gone.:. .:Which is also why I can’t pass it to you.:. “What? To me?” I choked on my sip, coughing and meeting his gaze as best I could. “Me?” .:Someone has to take care of my nieces for me, Masa. They’re the only family I have left. They will need guidance, and our people will need help. I don’t think of you as an Executioner, perhaps… Maybe a Justicar. The term doesn’t matter.:. He tapped the package on the table between us. .:I had this made a short time ago, before all of this. I think it’s more important now than it was then. White and black, not a trace of Umbraline purple to be found. You don’t like it, and it would undermine the message.:. He stopped, tapping the side of his cup gingerly. .:I think Zataka has something of a grudge. Towards me, and those Dashi. Take care of them, too. I swore them safe passage and I won’t be there to uphold it.:. The tall Battlemaster smiled, a warm gesture. .:Not as an order. As a request. From a friend to a friend. Equal to equal.:. “... Of course I will.” .:Thank you. One more thing, actually. Ah…:. He laughed aloud, almost sheepishly. .:On the voyage. Don’t let them eat Kellin’s crab.:. “His… crab?” The man who had been Executioner nodded, chuckling. .:His crab. As much as it galls me, little guy saved my life. Take care of him, too.:. ____________________________________________________________________________ The problem was distance, and to a lesser extent time. The Imperial City simply wasn’t built as a city for war, or if it was hundreds of generations of peace and building made it an awful, Zuto- place to defend. Years and years of expansion until the Palace covered all of Sado destroyed any tactical design that had ever gone into the Residences. No, that isn’t quite fair. The Residences still stand, unbroken if not unafraid. But the rest of Sado is not so fortunate. The other parts of the city expand outwards into a ring and none but the Yards are defended so thoroughly as the Residences. We were lucky for a while. The creatures were slow to come, and as stragglers and refugees reached us we learned why. The monsters scattered as they descended from Mt. Koshiki seeking the most fortified clans first. They did not eradicate… But they did destroy. Walls, crops, supplies, any material goods that might have been of use were destroyed by stave, claw, or teeth. When Menti tried to stop them, they were killed. And they continued until resistance had stopped. Scores dead, ancient lands ravaged, and no knowledge of what had come. This scourge swept over the land for a day, then two, then three, and then it was Sado’s turn. They poured over the walls, through the walls, and deep into the city. Some could pass through barriers like nothing, some could simply chew their way through them. Crystal shattering into dust with nothing more than a touch. And all of them could fly. Only the Residences and the Yards were clear with any certainty; the Wards had been hit hardest, the many apartments an infinite number of hiding places for infiltrators that could pass so easily throughout the city. Keeping two sections clear was quite an accomplishment. The trouble with their defensive plan was that even though they were mostly safe, the only place that they could complete their evacuation from was the Imperial Docks attached to the Yards. To evacuate the Rora and her family a path would have to be cleared from the Residences to the Yards. .:We also serve who sit and read.:. .:Shut up, Nono, I mean it.:. .:Thaaat was what you said. When you told me we should come to Sado, instruct others in the things we’ve learned. Nnnnow look at us.:. .:Nono,:. The taller Menti said, a belt of Eiryu blue with three golden knots about her waist, said to the second just behind her. ‘Nono’s’ belt matched, but tied the other way; a left hand to her Twin’s right. .:If the bugs-:. .:-don’t kill me, you will?:. She finished cheerfully, sparing a grin while her eyes swept their surroundings. Theirs were the only garments in such a color, but they weren’t outnumbered; the variegation in their little band was shocking for anything but the end of the world. Ageru, Umbraline, Roku, Vilda, and even a couple Fursics who had nowhere left to turn when news of their clan’s dissolution came home. Worse than their disunity was their inexperience; their betters had decided to balance the need for experienced warriors to defend the Residences, and the need for experienced warriors to help clear the paths. To uncover the Residences would invite disaster, to fail to clear a path would be a waste of valuable time. Nono understood, but she didn’t like it. Herself and her Twin were both Battlemasters, but the half dozen Menti under their command were not. Some far from it. It wasn’t their fault, she had to admit. There hadn’t been a real armed conflict since the last Fursic uprising, something none of these girls had been alive for. Or, if they had been they were too small to pick up a sword. .:Aina.:. Words weren’t something they needed, not with each other. But to use her name was a tap on the shoulder, a request for particular attention before the flow of thought began. That intricate exchange of impulse and feeling without need for words. She was worried. Her partner Knew, and answered with understanding without condemnation. It wasn’t quite fear that gripped her heart, not for herself alone. A Battlemaster surpassed fear, without it their will could not possibly be so strong. She felt the deeper dread that only one of them might live. That their spirit would be reduced, would be fractured without hope of healing. Soothing compassion whispered across their bond, carrying with it a touch of will. The feeling of victory and the determination of a warrior to bolster her scholarly Twin, the need to be strong. Without them not one of these Menti would come back alive. More than powerful they needed to be confident and commanding, to bolster the spirits of their little unit. Belief was as important as any sword. And unspoken below their communion was the promise that neither would say aloud; that they would both return or neither would. It was the briefest of connections, a blink of the eye their cohort didn’t even notice, and their attention snapped back to the present. They hadn’t encountered one of the insects in the hour since they had set out, and the absence was beginning to make them leery. A beast might avoid them if it were timid enough but nothing about these creatures had been timid. Their aggression had been unmatched, uncanny, so why weren’t they striking? They were around somewhere. Saki had detected at least one with her Mask of Sensory Aptitude barely twenty minutes ago, heard the uneasy sound of claws on crystal to the west. Not even a block off of the route they needed to clear for the party coming up the street forty minutes’ walk behind. But the city block went silent as soon as they altered course, so Saki took the lead to search with the Furic Soulsword backing her up. Still nothing. It worked in the back of Nono’s mind, turned over and over looking for the answer. It felt like a trap, but could these monsters plan like that? Nothing about their movements had suggested strategy, but- Saki never even screamed, only gurgled briefly around the Soulsword that sprouted from her mouth before the wound burned closed. The Fursic’s lips contorted with a snarl of vicious hate as she yanked her blade free, scarcely in time to catch a strike from the shocked Ageru Menti that had been watching her from the beginning. Shimmering energy illuminated her Calix as confusion melted understanding and disgust. “Our clan wasn’t enough, you Umbraline sellout? Had to to finish us off?” She snarled, allowing her Soulsword to dissipate and twisting out of the way of the descending Agery scythe with sinuous grace. The blade reappeared in her other hand at the end of the move, carried cleanly into the Ageru’s hamstring. “You make me sick.” “Me? You killed Saki!” The Ageru gasped, bracing hard on her other leg for balance. “Look at her!” “What? I didn’t-” The words died in her throat as she saw their Roku guide facedown in the dirt, the color draining from her face. “How-” Nono never registered Aina’s warning, she simply spun as an extension of her Twin and stopped the stave plunging towards her spine dead with a telekinetic grip. The gray beast’s face split in vicious, soundless cry and it snapped a kick into her midriff with unholy ferocity. In contrast to its silence the crack of her rib was unmistakable. Freed from her grip its stave rose from below to open her from hip to shoulder stopped just short by a shimmering naginata. The stave did not melt, but crackled violently where the energy touched it as it ducked back from a blistering counter strike. It was a trap, and one that had already reduced their capable number by two. Saki was dead, and a lamed Soulsword was no help at all. Even as the beast with damaged staff stepped back the rest of the trap snapped shut, as two more with varying sickly yellow highlights simply appeared. An illusion. The first must have silenced the others, while one simply hid them from view. And manipulated them into attacking their own. There was no time to think about it, only hope they lived long enough to pass the word. The beasts weren’t just smart, they were coordinated. The Ageru and Fursic Menti- she wasn’t even sure they had ever been introduced- fell first. Wracked by guilt the latter tried to defend the former, striking at the nearest monster’s open faceplate. But to no avail. Her Soulsword struck, struck home, and the creature simply… Bit down. It faded a second later as she went limp with the creature’s claws around her throat. The hobbled Ageru didn’t even do as well, simply stabbed and tossed aside with no way to properly defend herself. In less than a minute the insects had very nearly evened the odds, outnumbered only by two. The silent Rahkshi came in again, low and fast, sensing Nono’s weakness in her labored breath. Her eyes widened, she gasped in pain as she tried to evade and the Rahkshi’s staff drove home entirely without resistance. And then she simply disappeared. The Rahkshi had only a second to see her Twin, standing stock-still just to its left, eyes aglow with power, before the naginata in her hand severed its spine and it saw nothing again. Nono wasn’t idle, however. Her rib was definitely broken, and her breaths were coming shallow and rapid. So she might have perforated a lung, too. In either case moving vigorously wasn’t a good idea, but one of the beasts had disappeared again. Probably the illusionist. Her remaining band of subordinates were trying to fight the one that had killed the Fursic, but every blow they landed seemed to no avail. It wasn’t even scratched and one of its foes was already losing blood from a wound to the shoulder. She had an idea of how to deal with that, maybe, but the illusionist was a bigger problem. It had played their band like a lute, and seemed able to do it again. A master Sighteye could replace reality with an illusion so lifelike as to be indistinguishable. A Soulsword could be dodged, a Mindarm tired, and a Willhammer resisted for their art was one of subtlety. But a Sighteye, even if detected, could not be stopped. How could you find someone that fooled your every sense? You struck faster than they could think. Nono drew as deep a breath as she could, circles the dirt beneath her foot with a raised sole, and tapped the earth. Silt blasted outwards from the impact, nearly aerosolized so fine was the spray. Two meters in every direction blocking out the view from beyond; but caking the unseen form to her right. It vanished half a second later, its owner catching on to her trick, but too late. Ethereal light cleaved its head from its body, and Aina stepped out of the cloud coughing delicately. “Nono, are you alright? Let me help you, we need to get out of here.” The naginata dissipated and she stepped forward quickly, arms outstretched to support her Twin just to stagger when Nono drove the Soul dagger into her heart. Betrayal flickered briefly in her eyes, face contorting into rage and clawed fingers rising again to try and lay hands on her killer just once before she passed. But the Eiyu Battlemaster twisted the dagger, and Aina shuddered once, twice, and sagged. “Clever,” Her voice dripped with hatred as the buckling form melted and gave way to a gray and yellow carapace. “You thought I wouldn’t notice when you stabbed her.” Only Aina’s pained, wordless affirmation of safety (relatively speaking) stilled the sick churning in her stomach. It was fortune, blind luck, that the beast had been as blinded as her Twin when it struck. It couldn’t see her well enough to manage a killing blow. The illusionist must have been hiding that one, one last trick. But the dust was clearing and the last still stood where one of her Menti did not. The creatures clearly could be killed, even if their armor resisted traditional weapons. Soulswords could cut through it if they could get close. But only the head and spine seemed to be of any real vitality. That didn’t matter, what mattered is that this one was different. Its impervious hide wasn’t innate, it was a power like any other. And she could put a stop to that. Green eyes locked on its form, welling with hatred for what these creatures had done to the people she was supposed to lead, and the smell of an old library overwhelmed its senses. Its mind was… Evil. Feral. It grappled, pushed, shrieked at the very touch of her mind but it was not in control. Something bigger, something stronger, plucked at its strings. Bent its savagery to her will, coordinated them with precision towards their kills. It did not reside within the monster but outside it, controlling it from afar. All she need do was halt one of those strings for just a moment, coincide it exactly with the moment one of her Menti went to attack. A moment, two, three, and pluck. The Rahkshi faltered, and in that critical second its power failed. A spear struck into its armor, piercing deeply but not enough to kill. It shrieked with real pain and the other Menti grabbed it, held it in place with her mind while her peer pulled the spear back to finish the job and- Something Else noticed. She had been so far beneath its notice, a pebble before a god, but in that briefest second that its control was interrupted it noticed. Noticed the same way that a pebble under foot felt different from the rest of the ground it trod upon. It noticed and an ugly, petty something inside It hated the interruption and seethed with sick, uncomplicated enjoyment that the pebble was within her reach. It reached out through its puppet yet to die and grabbed her mind with both hands, fingers wrapped like vises around her skull and squeezed and burrowed with incessant pressure. It looked within her and began to pull her apart to the last fiber, reducing her very soul to its base components slowly and painfully to see what made her tick. Someone screamed, and Nono was distantly aware that it was her; and that she had fallen to the ground and broken her nose. Time slowed, the torment seemed to go on forever, and then her Twin was there. A gentle, soothing presence in her mind that even weakened with pain promised support. A bastion of sanity that could not be stripped away, told her that all she had to do was hold on. The spear struck home again and the pressure vanished as though it had never been, leaving her panting and trembling upon the dirt. “Get the Toroshu forward,” She rattled to the Vilda holding her spear, pushing herself to her knees. “The path won’t stay clear for long. Saori, you need to help me with Aina. She can’t walk without help and I can’t carry her. Leave the dead. We can’t help them.” ____________________________________________________________________________ Nono breathed and for the first time in nearly an hour it didn’t hurt. It did nothing to combat her exhaustion and nothing to clean the blood that had dribbled from her nose. But she was whole again. So was Aina, and that was something of a mixed blessing at the moment. The other Eiyu’s mouth was set in a hard, grim line as she walked— stalked, more than anything— up to the Toroshu standing on the docks. Neither of them had ever been here before but this particular dock clearly belonged to a Saihoko fisherwoman, not to any Toroshu. The trawler was worn and grubby, not from disuse but from regular use. It had been someone’s livelihood. Emphasis on the ‘had’, for a handful of bodies had been haphazardly covered up after being shuffled aside. “What in Zuto Nui’s name have you done?” She snarled, forcefully enough to raise the Toroshu’s eyebrows. A guard stiffened, reaching for her blade, but stilled at a graceful gesture from the Toroshu. “What, the Hoko? Calmly, Lady Eiyu. I informed them that I would require their boat. They refused.” “It was their ship!” “And I have need of it.” A note of frost crept into her voice at last, as the Dashi and Menti that bore her colors loaded crates onto the ship. “Order must be enforced by Power, if a Hoko won’t do it for their own honor. A lighter punishment might have been offered in peace, but this is a crisis. In Zuto Nui’s name, as you put it, my family must survive. As must yours, a fact I’m sure your Toroshu would remind you of. In the meantime, mind your tongue.” Aina stiffened, fuming, as the Toroshu continued. “Battlemaster you may be but you are a Menti. Mind your betters.” “My apologies, my lady,” The Eiyu forced out calmly, though Nono felt her simmering under the surface. “But might I politely ask why you’re loading these crates?” “Child, surely you realize that my family’s resources cannot be left for the Dastana to find. The Rora has no power to command me to abandon my clan’s treasures, and neither do you.” The Toroshu turned away in dismissal, beginning her walk onto the ship’s deck. “You have done your duty admirably, Lady Eiyu, and I have instructed my healer to tend to you and your partner as reward. The rest is not your concern. I am sure others are awaiting your aid.” The Eiyu’s gaze moved between the Toroshu’s retreating back, the guard that gazed at her with warning, and the pile by the dock. For a brink, Nono knew, she hovered on the brink of the unthinkable. But she couldn’t let that happen. They had a duty to perform, and slaying all of the people here would not undo what had been done. And done legally. Things were different beyond the Eiyu’s walls, something her Twin knew and accepted once the thought had reached her. It allowed her to step back from the precipice, back towards her Twin. The grim smile they shared acknowledged what both knew the other to think. And acknowledged that no matter what they did here the same thing was happening everywhere. ____________________________________________________________________________ .:Remember the plan, Masa.:. .:I will. Rayuke.:. It felt wrong to say, still, but the command had been without negotiation. Whether he was the Executioner or not he was the Umbraline’s First Son and his command was to be obeyed… Even if it was to treat him like an equal. .:Good luck.:. I’m not a fan of this plan and he knows it. But he’s also right. It’s the best we can do. Behind me are arrayed three parties, each dedicated to the protection of a single cause. Myself, and the Menti at my side, formed around the six Dashi that Rayuke had charged me to care for. Behind me another group gathered around the Rora and behind her around Desdemona. For each the highest priority went to their own charge in hope that most would make it through to the Docks even if some were to fall. Rayuke would be the distraction. The fact, in some oblique way, seemed to amuse him. I can’t fathom why, but his sense of humor was always… Odd. He can’t possibly be as relaxed as he seems but if he isn’t I can’t tell. He’s never been moved easily, not in the time that I’ve served him. And now he has trusted me with his family and his sacred honor. Zuto Nui, you and I haven’t seen eye to eye. Not in the past, and especially not now. But he believes you have a plan. He believes in you. Don’t let him down. ____________________________________________________________________________ There’s no blaming Masayoshi for being worried, he reflected. The man who had been Executioner strode out into the open air, down the courtyard of the Residences and past the haggard defenders. Long, easy strides carried him quickly but without hurry; he might simply have been seeking some fresh air had it not been for the tension in the air. She can’t help but worry because, at the end of the day, Masa had never known him in his youth. She hadn’t even been born. To know his past was one thing. To understand it was impossible, as it was for his own nieces. It didn’t make sense. The man who had borne the heavy burden of justice all their lives, the man who spoke so slowly, the man who spent his leisure carving beautiful statues to fill his garden could not possibly have done what was said. It must have been a misunderstanding, or more likely a coverup. It wouldn’t be the first time. Sometimes niceties had to be preserved even at the cost of one’s reputation. Rayuke knew better. “Zataka…” He rumbled into silence, standing with his feet planted shoulder width apart. His rounded shoulders flexed as he crossed his arms across his chest with the sun catching upon his Rode. “You vengeful harlot.” “You said your Sons would have no mercy for me, so why am I here?” Deep within a flame long controlled was stoked, fed with the injustice of Her actions. Stoked with the intensity of his determination, his dedication, and his bone deep conviction that everything would happen as it was meant to. Freeing this evil, be she Zataka or an impostor, was his doing. It was meant to be. He had to believe that. That there was a reason, in Zuto Nui’s plan, that she had to prevail just this once. Just as he believed that there had to be a reason that he was spared. And in the end, just this once, he was angry. Truly angry. He had learned to control. To temper his anger with compassion and duty, to vent his frustrations into productive pursuits. That his fellow Dasaka were not appropriate targets for the tempers of his youth. But these were not his fellow Dasaka, and to crush them would be very productive. “Perhaps… They are not strong enough. A terrible reflection. I am a Son of Zataka, be you she. Surely one of yours must be my equal.” A low, sibilant hiss came from the dark places around him. The nooks, the crannies, the rubble where once had been beauty. “Here… I am. Unarmed. Alone. One that you failed... To kill. Despite the treachery of your gratitude.” The hiss came again, louder and deeper with the fibrillating undertone of rage. “Pathetic.” Long ago, for Yusanora’s birthday, the Fursics had asked of the Vilda a Rahi. Something big, something powerful, something that could stir a crowd as they had in old. The Vilda knew what would be done. Regretfully they gave to the Fursics the Rahi they asked, and it was raised large and strong. And on the day of the Rora’s birth, as part of the grand spectacle arrayed in the Colosseum to honor her they placed this beast with a single Fursic Menti to goad it into charging. She was permitted no powers, nothing but her wit and her skill. It was barbaric, senseless, and it had filled him with disgust even then. As it had Yusanora, though she had no choice but to applaud the show. Just as the Fursics had intended, of course. But he remembered the dart, that last jab that provoked the creature at last. Just as he did. The first Rahkshi to spring forth slammed into the floor with his pickhammer in its head. The second he bashed against the ground until nothing remained, threw into the fourth, and swung at the fifth. He roared as they shrieked in kind and the battle was joined. With tooth and claw, and staff and Soul, and fist and spirit. Just one he grabbed by the throat, fingers wrapped around its writhing spine, and forced it to meet his gaze with its own. “Do… Better.” His voice rumbled like thunder as raw psychic energy wreathed his fingers, melting through its carapace and burning the kraata within to cinders. Then he turned anew towards his next foe. ____________________________________________________________________________ “Move, move, move!” Why did Dashi have to have such short legs? I didn’t like it but Rayuke’s distraction worked like a charm for the first half hour or so. Maybe longer. Adrenaline does funny things to time. But for a while we weren’t disturbed. It couldn’t last, but the first assault had been… Gruesome. A crystalline shard flew from an elevated position, somewhere, and perfectly pierced through the eye of one of my Menti. Then a second. Then a third. We were in a full run, by then, and the fire at my group stopped soon after. Just as the next group entered the monster’s range, I’m sure. The next wasn’t any better. A lightning bolt struck the lead warrior, filling the air with the smell of scorched flesh, and jumped from her to the next and to the next and to the next until one thought quickly enough— or was lucky enough to have it— and triggered her Haunoru to catch the bolt. It hit the focused shield and dissipated, crackling across its surface as it was halted. But the damage was done and there was no time, not at all, to treat the fallen with respect. It didn’t take long for the pace to become arduous, even for us Dasaka. For the Dashi it was murderous. Keeping pace with us was killing them, and slowing the pace for them was killing us. I growled, unable to contain it, and swatted aside with my mind the next incoming projectile. The Menti with Haus or Haunorus I ordered to the front, to block whatever they could with their very bodies if they had to. And it was working, as far as it went. But this couldn’t last forever. Not with how far we had to go. We had already slowed enough that the other groups, their wards huddled protectively in their middles, were just behind us. Before long we would become encircled. The more they slowed us the longer the creatures had to reach us. Worse, perhaps, were the Menti that simply were yanked away through solid walls. Actually, though, I had to laugh. Between the adrenaline, the stress, and the exhaustion it was just too funny. Huddled inside our group with the Dashi was Inokio, the banished Battlemaster, and he was insensate with rage. His hands were bound, preventing him from doing much himself, but he seemed to have met most of the Menti in our little group at least once. What few he hadn’t, and even some he had, he had very poetic terms for. “Who in Zataka’s—” Lightning cracked. “—trained you?! Group in tighter! If you’re going to draw fire, be alert for it! If you aren’t drawing fire pick targets and hit them!” It was almost enough to make my imminent death worth it. We’d lost almost half our escorts already, and there was no way of telling how many— if any— of the monsters we’d felled. My own breath was starting to come hard, and— “Umbraline.” “You there, keep up the pace!” “Masayoshi.” A deep breath, as deep as I can with my burning lungs. “Masa.” “What?” “This can’t keep going, Masayoshi, you know it. The pace is untenable. And despite it we’re slowing down. They’ll surround us soon, and there’ll be no way through. We’ll all die.” “Thank you, Battlemaster of the obvious,” I snapped, a little more harshly than I really meant to. Just because I was hauling him along, because I insisted on keeping my word, doesn’t mean that I’m happy to hear him point out the obvious. “I’m figuring out where to hold them.” “Anywhere is as good as anywhere with these things, Umbraline. You’re stalling. Looking for another way. Sacrifice a few or kill everyone.” “I know.” And I’ve known for a while. Nui, I hate it. I hate what this fight has probably already cost. I hate what it has cost good people because their duty requires them to get the Rora out. But he’s right. They’re going to need the defenders to keep pushing, and they won’t matter to me anyway. No one that plays rear guard is getting out alive. Mindarms. Soulswords. Willhammers and Sighteyes won’t do me/i] any good, but if someone can carry a couple Sighteyes they can keep the monsters on their toes. Best to— “Inokio, stick close to the Dashi. If they get out, you’ll get out. Watch for—” “Don’t be a moron, Umbraline.” He responded, managing to sound almost insulted. “It will be a cold, cold day before I let a cripple shame me.” The angry retort was on my lips before the carefully metered sting in his tone struck home. It was a slap in the face, and it was meant to be. He was goading me, flicking my pride to force me to think instead of simply react. The same thing he’d been doing to students— and me— for a long time. “We had a deal, Korae. Playing rearguard is just a different death sentence.” “And I’m rejecting the deal. Exile among the Tajaar may have been acceptable, but among barbarians? Never.” His voice softened, almost immeasurably, but it did. “Masa, my empire is dead. I betrayed it for nothing. I have been stripped, rightfully, of my clan name. My titles. Let me die with it.” “Don’t force me to live, not like this. Not at this cost. Let me die facing my enemy with weapon in hand like a Battlemaster.” “And if I don’t trust you?” The Battlemaster rolled his eyes. I can’t see them, but I can track the way his head tilted, the exasperated breath that went with it. And I could see with ease the way, with a little will, psychophysical energy wrathed his hands and simply burned away his shackles. A pretty clear point, I had to admit. He rubbed his wrists, cracked his neck, and surveyed the group. A true tactician, selecting his tools. “If I wanted to sabotage you I could do it. You three. And you.” He pointed, rattling off about a dozen names or simply pointing as needed. “You’re going to stay with me. It’s time to show these monsters how a true Dasaka dies.” “Die well, Battlemaster.” “Live better,” He said slowing to a stop and allowing the evacuees to pass him by. Turning to face his enemy in defense of an Empire already gone, with warriors at his command. “Masa. Take care of them.” Nothing left to say after that, for him or for me. ____________________________________________________________________________ The Docks were never busier, not even when the Ryu was set to sail. Every seaworthy ship was being prepared, every last bit of provisions were being loaded, and of course, Menti kept the peace while evacuees jostled for position. Only one ship was spared that chaos, and that was the Rora’s own vessel. Not that it was being spared anything else. Despite the size of the crew, and staff, it was meant to accommodate everything that wasn’t essential was being thrown out to make room for supplies and bodies. It was nearly ready to go, and that was the only reason that we had made our move. Defenders had been relaying updates to the Residences from the Docks and vice versa over the days since the evacuation was announced, coordinating when they would make their bid for freedom. And now it was time. Fewer than half of their original cohorts made it to the Docks. Inokio’s rearguard, for it could be nothing else, drastically slowed the attacks for some time. Gave us time to catch our breath and keep moving into the arms of the Yards’ outer defense. But even so we lost a handful more in the process before we reached the safety of the Yards. Here we could finally catch a rest, though not let down our guard. There were enough fortifications, enough Menti, for us to rest. Me? I hadn’t meant to sleep. Truly. I didn’t think I could, but after the past week… I was out almost as soon as I sat down, and I did not dream. I only sank into that exhaustion and saw darkness. When I finally awoke the chaos had died down, and someone had covered me with a blanket. One of the Dashi shook me awake, I can’t truthfully say which one. Without the mental plane I have no easy way to tell them apart. “It’s time to board.” “Right. Yes.” I stretch the weariness from my limbs, grimace at the ache, and rise. “Let’s go.” “Ah, Miss Masayoshi?” One asks, sounding a touch concerned. “Is it normal in this land for the sun to set so quickly?” “Pardon?” “It’s gotten pretty dark.” It shouldn’t have. Soraya, the one I do know, knows that too. I can ‘see’ her shaking her head nervously. I probably don’t look very reassuring, either, but it should only be a bit after midday. A little cloudy, perhaps, but there was nothing to suggest rain. .:Miho? What’s going on?:. I asked the Daikura leader of the Yards’ defense, trying to look unconcerned. .:What’s the situation?:. .:I’m not sure yet, Lady Masayoshi. We’re seeing it here, too, but there’s no sign of those insects. The horizon looks normal, too.:. My frown deepened, and that said quite a bit. The past week had thrown a lot of surprises my way specifically, let alone the archipelago. But nothing quite lined up with this. Despite Zataka’s presence we hadn’t seen any unusual darknesses, no unusual weather, nothing to suggest… Something hot landed on my cheek, and almost reflexively I touched it. It gave way easily beneath my finger smearing my cheek with something warm and dry and soft and… Ashy? The monsters filled me with adrenaline. A little fear, yes, but only enough to keep me on my toes. Keep me sharp. A little fear is good, it’s Zuto Nui’s way of letting you know you aren’t dead yet. The bellow that split the heavens did nothing of the sort. It didn’t remind me of my life, or sharpen my mind, it only shouted the imminence of my death and the death of everyone I love. It showered the earth in ash and cinders, startled everyone below into silence and denial. I don’t blame them. Who could have expected this? The first pass, the gout of flame hot enough to melt crystal in an instant and reduce bodies to nothingness, claimed a dozen lives and destroyed a supply cabin. A dock went with it, a smaller craft scorched through and left a listing hulk. It bellowed again, and I ran. I don’t fear death in defense of the people I care about, or the people I swore to protect. Had Inokio not volunteered myself I would already be gone. But this isn’t something I can fight. This isn’t something anyone can fight. This is something we can only run away from. “Get to the ship, get to the ship, get to the ship! Book it midgets!” I snapped, tossing one back onto his crab and hustling the others along. Any slower and I swear to Zuto Nui I’ll just fling them on board. “Get Desdemona, get the Rora, we’re leaving now!” The mature Kanohi Dragon slammed down upon the Docks, and I’ll never know how many died there. Or how many died in those first swipes of its tail, or snaps of its jaws, or that next breath of flame. Menti, brave as they were, attacked it in droves. Defense of the outer Yards was forgotten. If they didn’t somehow stop this then there would be no point. I hurried up the gangplank, hurried my charges, snapping orders half out of my mind and hoarse with intensity. “Infected Kanohi.” One of the Dashi hissed, jabbing a finger at it as I hurried— it would be rude to say shoved— them up the plank. “Look!” Whatever in the name of ‘Taka’s left cheek that means, I don’t know. But it definitely doesn’t sound good. “Go, go, go! Talk about it later! Where’s the Rora, where’s the Chojo?” “The Rora is aboard, the Chojo is coming as fast as she can!” Umbraline Desdemona, I swear to Zuto Nui, I didn’t go through the process of rescuing you for you to die because you can’t sprint! “I’ll get her, get the Dashi!” I snapped, jumping off the plank. I can just[/ii] barely make her out, hurrying towards the ship. I don’t have much of a sprint left in me, so I go for a more direct solution; I grabbed my hapless ward, one of the people Rayuke charged me to protect, telekinetically and yanked her towards me. “Weeee can talk about your exercise later, my lady, let’s get you on the ship!” I said as I grabbed her out of the air, only just not throwing her over my shoulders like a particularly unruly feline. “Come on, come on!” “Masa, we can’t get away if we don’t stop it!” “Aaaand who’s gonna do that? We have to take our chances!” The Chojo thought, long and hard, and I felt the world repeat. She slipped a thought into my head, something I neither fought nor consciously understood. But I trusted her intent. As one we shoved off from the ground with our disciplines, attaining a trajectory that carried us clear onto the deck of the ship just as the sailors aboard prepared to give up on us. And just as a breath of flame scorched the earth where we had stood moments before. “Think I can, Masa.” The Chojo said, and if her voice shook it was also as certain as it had ever been. “I’ve gotta. Get everyone below decks.” “What are you-” The psychic shockwave that hit me isn’t something I can describe, not if I used a thousand words and spent a thousand years. It wasn’t simply physical, though there was enough of that. The rush of air as the projection rushed outwards was enough to bowl me over, but my legs had crumpled from the shock already. I think, were I not already, I would have been blinded. The heat alone scorched my face as it passed. I couldn’t perceive it properly, and at first I thought it might have been because of the psychic whammy my brain just took being so close to the eye of the storm. But it wasn’t. I couldn’t perceive it clearly because its surface was shifting, dripping, and constantly forming itself anew. It was a mass of psychophysical energy the likes of which I have never, not ever in my life, seen and have never heard of. It racked my brain, again and again, being so close. It filled the sky and swept towards the land as the ship set sail as quickly as could be. The Kanohi Dragon roared, beginning to rise into the sky for its prey, before a mass of psychophysical energy in the shape of a massive, winged dragon slammed into it. It didn’t roar, not like its foe, but it bit, and clawed, and the Dragon’s roars of anger quickly turned to pain for nothing it could do would faze it. To bite it or claw it only wounded itself further, and what does fire mean to a projection of psychic plasma? To something that burns all but its creator through mere contact? I can’t describe it properly because there are no words. I’ve never seen anything like it, and I never will again. The Docks were in ruins, the ships that had been boarded fleeing, but the Kanohi Dragon was gone. Simply gone as if it had never existed. The Chojo collapsed, and it was all I could do to catch her. Despite her victory we weren’t out of the woods, not when the monsters could fly. But a cry went up, a shocked announcement, as the captain spotted the Dastana fleet moving in steadily. They were loaded for bear, he said, with decks packed with Dasaka holding stolen staves. I wished I could have seen it. And, while I hurried inside with the Chojo in my arms to find a healer, I wished I could see the island that I doubted I ever would again.
  2. 12 points
    GIMME DA LOOT Thanks to all fort owners for bearing with me for the extra day or two; real life crept up and rolling this stuff required a lot of numbers that made my brain overheat a couple times during the process. But without further ado, I'm super excited to roll out the first batch of weapons available, effective immediately, to all current fort owners: -To the gang of drug cooks, abusers, and illiterates at Khy;Barr (run by Gravity): a Cordak Blaster, a Rhotuka Battle Axe, a Lightstone Rifle, a Devastator Lance, an Eccentric Rock (yum!) and your very own Zamor Gatling! What is THAT? What IS that? -To the short but sweet crew over at Fort Garsi (run by Mel): an Electro Chute Blade, an Energy Extraction Rifle, an Impact Crystal Launcher, and a Sonic Cycle, on the house! -To the Razorfish gang (run by Snelly): a Lightstone Rifle, another Eccentric Rock (great for licking!), a Firework Revolver, and another Cordak Blaster! -To the black magic death cult by the sea, the De-Najin (run by Fanixe): a Rhotuka Battle Axe, a Cordak Blaster, and our second free Sonic Cycle! -To my favorite gang of necromancers (back from the dead, funny enough!) at the Barrowfort (run by NorikSigma): a Cordak Blaster, a Devastator Lance, another Eccentric Rock (seriously, lick it!), a Lightstone Rifle, and the island's first (but not last! ) Exo-Skakdi! This bad boy can fit so much black magic and firepower! This arcane prototype, recently unearthed from the ruins of some old fort or another, is able to channel a Skakdi's elemental power independent of anyone else! It packs armor that can shrug off an entire magazine of Zamor Spheres, comes equipped with a wrist-mounted rocket launcher, a reinforced quartz cockpit akin to the windscreen of a Sonic Cycle, and the HUD will sing to you in French! Hon hon! You can expect more news on mass production of these babies in the months to come, but be honest - why wait til the holidays when you can just kill Norik for his now? I know what I'd do before the Christmas rush! -And last but not least, to the Unmentionable Business Expenses at the Pit (run by Smudge8): a Firework Revolver, an Impact Crystal Launcher, and a Hagah Plasma Cannon, in case anyone starts talking about Fight Club! Thanks to everyone who rolled a fort to start the arc off! I'll be sending each of you a follow-up PM with larger-scale loot that benefits your specific forts, but for the meantime, enjoy your toys - and if you like what you're seeing here and aren't involved with any of these forts, by all means, gather up some friends and make these lucky warlords run their loot! I went by the forts and PCs currently active in the profiles topic that I could find, but if I happened to miss you on this run, or if you want to construct a fort with some friends without the hassle of Blood for the Blood God, PM me and we'll get you fitted out with some tech of your own! I'll be sending out periodic updates and giving fort owners a lot more in the way of goodies, so keep an eye on them and enjoy as what was once a peaceful, docile Industrial Revolution full of telegrams and higher education becomes a hellish age of blood, chrome, and weirdo energy siphoning! -Tyler
  3. 12 points
    IC: "Sure. Or we could start with meeting Joske. The Mark Bearers. Why not start with my childhood?" Dorian rolled his eyes. His restless left leg had begun to shake, foot vibrating against the headrest of Praggos' chair, heel striking the padding where the genius' head had started to wear upon the regal old leather. "After Xa-Koro..." Why didn't you just tell me, Cael? I would have done anything for you. I was the same kind of idiot as him. I was your monster. "I went back to Ta-Koro. Joske found me there and we made plans to follow Echelon." I kissed him. I wanted to kiss him so many times. I wish he would walk through the door right now so I could kiss him again. That was how people usually heralded another downward spiral in his life, wasn't it? Barging through the door uninvited? "I guess he still needed me for whatever he had in mind, but Joske didn't like sharing his plans - or wasn't good at explaining them. But I think he wanted someone else he was sure could handle Echelon. Or maybe he wanted someone to tell him that finishing Echelon himself was the right thing to do. I wasn't worried about it. Echelon wasn't the hardest fight I'd had in my life, and Joske..." I wanted to protect him. He was my hero. "...Joske had other plans. He needed to see Angelus, he needed to restock, so we split up and planned to leave Ta-Koro together. But I got attacked by Grokk, and after Grokk...went down, I tried to link up again with Joske. He'd left without me. So I followed him to Ko-Koro, wondering if he'd stop somewhere, wondering if there was a way we could link up. Idiot. Idiot! It would have been the easiest thing in the world, just use your Kakama and run back, idiot..." The chair vibrated more intensely. The wood creaked mournfully on the Fowadi's deck. "I don't know who got the drop on who," Dorian muttered, hand cradling his chin and fingers curling tightly into a fist beneath his Calix. "Joske, Echelon, whoever. But they were at the Temple of Peace, already fighting. Joske was losing - of course he was losing, why wouldn't he lose, he couldn't even light a match without..." A bloodied, dinted lighter jingled on its chain, a slender silver locket on a neck that had grown painfully tense. Dorian's tendons were tauter than rope. It bobbed, and the lighter jingled again. "I was two snowbanks -- three? -- back from the Temple. I had a clear shot on Echelon. I don't know if that was too far, if he had time to hear, or a, or a, or a Muaka or something, maybe it roared, I don't remember..." Maybe you screamed. Maybe you laughed. Maybe you told a stupid joke. Maybe your own rambling was too loud in your own head. Maybe there was blood, surging in your ears, and your brain shorted out at the thought of losing him. "I fired at Echelon--" The glass trembled in his hands. "--he was magnetic, I should have just remembered--" A shaky breath hissed through his pearl teeth. "--I didn't mean--" Please believe me. I didn't mean to. I would have taken them for you. And the glass slipped through prosthetic fingers that, for the first time in years, the Toa had lost all control of. He gulped in a breath, covering his eyes and temples to hide from the pity of the four Aggressors. "Just ##### hand me the bottle, okay man?" he asked Praggos. "Please?" The Toa of Ice did so, and with his left hand - his trigger finger was still failing to respond - he cupped the decanter and took a long drink. A bourbon-colored tear ran from the corner of his mouth, down his throat, and pooled on the top of the locket. "I buried him there. He's at the Temple of Peace, where nobody could touch him again. Echelon had already taken what he needed and left for the Vault, but I went to Ta-Koro. I wanted to...explain myself." I'm forever ##### explaining myself. "Merror and Agni were both there. I guess by then Utu was dead, huh? How'd it go? Did he suffer?" His throat bobbed again, and his leg was growing so increasingly erratic that the chair was starting to scuff the ground. "I hope not. Guess at least Joske didn't weigh as much as a Kane-Ra soaking wet, right? Probably sucked burying that tall glass of water." I'm sorry I left you too, big guy. You really were my friend. "When I got there, Tuara had--" By now, the tears were running freely, and he wiped them and drank with the same graceless motion. "--taken a hostage by the bridge. Her own brother. Come to find out, the two of them had...chopped a body. Someone one of them had killed, and scattered him across Ta-Koro. My Tuara." His teeth sank into his lip, attempting to cushion what was threatening to become an open, pathetic display of regret. "My Tuara. I keep asking who she could have learned a trick that gross from. It's so obvious, right? It's always been so obvious." My Tuara. You made me want to grow old, firefly. "She asked me to believe in her, but I...I couldn't. The Guard was on one side, she was on the other, and I just...I just wanted to get to the Vault. I tried to explain, but...she didn't even care. Maybe she was beyond caring. After all we've all been through, I don't blame her. Any of you? Blame her?" He gulped down another glass' worth of bourbon in a swallow, beginning to long for the days when this stuff was proving hazardous to his health. "By then, I was starting to worry that Echelon would get to the Vault. He had to be closing in, and I just...there was no time to explain about Joske, or the Vault, any of it. I couldn't even apologize. I wanted to, so so bad. Before someone..." Dug him up and saw the holes. "Heuani," he whispered. "That was the hardest fight of my life. Any of you ever fought something that dominant? Not something stronger than you, not smarter, but...dominant, like you would enjoy the way he beat you. Broke you. You're fighting two killers at the same time. I remember fighting so hard, and I remember really, really thinking how much I didn't want to die. Not there. Not in that cesspool." His right hand had returned to him, and he wrapped both hands numbly around the bottle the way he had wrapped himself over Joske's bleeding form, nurturing it, begging its forgiveness for draining them both dry. "Ever since Mangaia, I've been dreaming that I'm back there. But this time I die. And after that, everyone..." Everyone goes on just fine without me. When else is a good time to die? With you, Joske. That would have been perfect. I wanted to be dead with you. That's the only reason I went. "So I just went to the Vault. Alone. Joske never made it." Two-handed, he lifted the bottle up and tilted his head back with his longest drink yet. Tears ran from the corners of his eyes, and down the ridges of his Calix. "Like I said, Echelon. Not the hardest fight. It's pretty easy when you don't care about your own life, really, you just have to give as good as you get. I put as many bullets into him as I did Joske, I think. I don't really remember t-that much." He was starting to talk around the bottle, words blowing little whirlpools into the alcohol that was keeping him from breaking. "B-But I remember...the Vault...I stabbed him...and when I did it opened the..." His foot was kicking the chair now, like a convulsing body, the way Heuani must have choked the life from Cael - a long, powerful limb in an ungraceful death throe, kicking the chair and dragging marks into the floor. His other foot was twirling around the strap of his canvas bag, the lone anchor and chain between Dorian Shaddix and shooting off into madness. "He was inside," the would-be hero whispered hoarsely, his apology a garbled mouthful of whiskey and tears. "I'm sorry. I'm so ##### sorry." Why did you want it open, Joske? You had to have known. "I j-just wanted to do something right." -Tyler
  4. 12 points
    Hey gang, so in 2019 during some movement in the game again, and after Corv (@Vezok's Friend) and I closed up on Tuara and Agni for the arc, I commissioned him to make this illustration of Tuara:
  5. 12 points
    Congrats, everyone, on an arc well-played— get ready & get hyped for the next phase!
  6. 11 points
    IC: “Halt.” The voice clattered from deeper down the tunnel, before even the sickly green light could be seen in the tunnel’s depths. He hadn’t personally made its acquaintance before. The Piraka had gotten past the guardian and into the Vault, and Echelon’s deal had been with them. It was through that deal that he had acquired his mask. But still he had not yet seen the Vault’s erstwhile guardian. Only for a moment did he wonder how he had been detected so quickly; the automaton’s glow cast the empty sockets of its Arthron into harsh relief. “Identify yourself.” “Eisen.” “Your name—” It chattered. “—was not requested. Identify yourself.” “I am Eisen.” The Toa elaborated approaching the Abettor without haste or hesitation. “I serve the Makuta. As Echelon did.” “Did he?” Its mask rotated, first left, then right, then settling on its Sanok. “Makuta did not think so.” “If Makuta thought not, he didn’t. Echelon fought for Makuta but served only himself. I fought for Echelon but I serve the Makuta.” “Perhaps.” The Abettor considered this, its cylinder rotating smoothly with a click-click-click. The threat of what could happen if it did not like the answer was not elaborated upon, but the crystal forearm halfway to readiness made the point nicely. “But how are we to know?” “How did you know that the Piraka were worthy to enter?” Eisen challenged, facing the machine squarely and without expression. “Or Echelon himself? Clearly, Abettor, your judgement is not infallible if you allowed him through.” At that the forearm came to readiness fully, aimed unerringly at the Toa’s chest. But it did not fire. Click, click. “Perhaps. You worked for the Necromancer. The more reason for us not to allow you.” “I will have an audience with my Lord.” “Only if we allow it.” “Then stop me.” The Toa of Iron spread his arms wide, meeting its empty Sanok steadily. His shield upon his back, without the distance to dodge or duck if even he had the speed. The Abettor was fast, and by his estimate it bore within its body six Kanohi. A Sanok and an Arthron, for certain, and he had seen more. Too quickly to identify them all perhaps but there was no doubt that as he stood it could kill him. “But you haven’t, and I have identified myself already. So make your judgement, Abettor. Shall I pass?” The cylinder rotated, slower this time, and settled upon a Kanohi Rode. “Do you serve Makuta?” “Yes.” “And if we refuse you passage?” “I will fight. And Makuta will have one fewer servant.” A long, fulminating second passed before its mask rotated again to the Arthron and the guardian stepped aside. It did not speak again, seeming almost irritated with its own decision. If a machine could feel such a thing. Eisen nodded to it in acknowledgement and lowered his arms, striding quietly passed it and into the Vault. Ah, Necromancer. It had been a long time, long enough for the stench to come and go. But there still was no doubt about the body’s identity, even maskless and speared upon a blade. He had known Echelon to be dead, of course; else he would have made contact long ago. Knowing what he had intended, whom he would fight, Eisen had known that the Toa of Magnetism had perished mere days after their retreat from Ko-Koro. Only the means had been in question until now. There was an irony in this. The body of the Necromancer left alone and wasted. “Echelon, you fool.” “Fool,” the darkness whispered back. The word rolled not off a tongue, but from the very air around Eisen; it enveloped him, taking his measure, and he felt a mix of tension and fear overtake him. It lasted only a moment, but the alien nature of his dread struck him; he was a veteran mercenary, after all, and knew himself to be far more capable than the dead Toa of Magnetism on the ground. Wasn’t he? “Echelon was a fool,” it mused. “A schemer. A grasper. He chased eternal life into an early grave...but his Legacy--” Eisen got the feeling that the darkness was almost enjoying its wordplay “--lies here for all to see. He has become the lock to my Vault. It may not have been his wish to the letter...but he lies in state here, all the same. A more noble end than Heuani or Ronkshou desired for his petty chase. A chase you followed him on. Was it not, Eisen?” As lesser Toa once quailed before the Abettor, so now did Eisen resist the urge to quail in turn. Steely though his nerves were, he still felt the teeth of his master’s trap. “I did.” There was no point in denying it, even if the feeling in the very pit of his stomach sought desperately for a way to do just that. To distance himself, however far he could, from the deceased Dark Toa. But that was cowardice, and not only cowardice but a lie. And one his master would see through in an instant should he even attempt it. “I did, my Lord. Not for his goal but for how his goal furthered mine.” “And mine, my Lord, has always been to further yours. In your absence I did as I thought best. Have I failed in that aim?” “So dutiful,” the darkness chuckled. The sound reverberated in Eisen’s own throat and chest; even Echelon’s mouth, beset upon by the decay he had spent his life both fleeing and courting, seemed twisted into a ghoulish sneer at his master’s humor. “Breathe easy, Eisen. The conquest of Ko-Koro was shortsighted, as was the handling of Zaktan and his mutts...but you are not here to answer for Echelon’s crimes. He does so himself, here, before your eyes.” Eisen’s gaze finally left his former general’s corpse and trained on the darkness around him. It was deeper and colder than any night Eisen had ever known, but he felt the chill and fear ebbing from him; seemingly at his master’s assurance, his body found comfort in the Void of his master’s presence as he realized his loyalty would not be met with punishment. Still, even though his fealty had been gauged, the shadows in front of him remained too dense for even his trained eyes to pierce. As was the case with many before him, he found himself yearning to know the secrets of the Vault beyond the petty trinkets that adorned Echelon’s grave...but within the gaping maw that had once been the Vault’s featureless door, the shadows only grew more inscrutable. “You are here because, despite his failings, Echelon proved as resourceful as Vidar, as intimidating as Ronkshou, and as...pliable as Heuani. He proved a very individual herald,” the darkness whispered, choosing his compliments carefully for his much-derided servant. “Once, I would have found that trait undesirable in a lieutenant, but it occurs to me now we may all have much to gain from some more individuality.” Eisen did not fail to notice his master’s use of the plural. “Do not tell me the state of the island, for this I know,” it continued. “Tell me what you plan to do about it with what resources remain to you.” He also did not fail to note when the use of the plural had stopped. “Echelon misused the resources at our disposal. The Brotherhood, particularly, may have been heretics but they were useful heretics. And easily kept in line. The former denizens of Xa-Koro who had been embedded in the Sanctum Guard as well are largely gone.” Eisen shrugged, slightly, within the darkness. He breathed a little easier, not relaxed but no longer quite so wary. “I tell you not because you do not know but to reason through my own plans.” “Despite that I have a couple, perhaps more, of Echelon’s former lieutenants still. Individuals of skill and of insight. Agrona, particularly, has been enamored of the Kanohi she took from Oreius Maru.” The Toa of Iron rubbed his chin, then waved his hand slightly. “These are small issues, of course. My point is only that for now— for the moment only— I have fewer warm bodies at my command than I might like. But for that, Ko-Koro remains weak. Another strike there is not necessary nor would it produce useful results.” “The best place to undermine, I think, is Po-Koro. Their last Akiri’s choices are still being felt. For their might, for their expansion, I think there is a commensurate impact in seeing them fail. All the better if we can turn the Koros against each other anew. Dissent is my plan, my Lord. While I rally the believers who still follow your path I will remind the Koros of their hubris.” “Ah, Eisen...Echelon’s thinking has rubbed off on you,” the darkness cooed. “The Matoran will never turn their knives on each other. Already, word of my return disseminates; it whispers on the wind, and in the howls of the Rahi. If their bonds did not break in my absence, they will not break now - and there are those who will hear the ambience for what it is, and return to my fold. If you wish to outlive your predecessors, you must not overreach - and if you must win petty victories, do not obsess over them to the point of missing opportunity.” Eisen recognized, somehow, his master’s own twisted variety of mentorship; it was meant to mock, of course, a cruel pastiche of a Turaga’s wisdom and the fraternity of Toa, but he could also recognize the truth in the darkness’ words. “The Toa Maru will not abandon the trophies of the Keeping Place easily - and they, unlike their charges, have frayed since their hollow victory. Confer with Agrona. Tell her to prepare for them. The Rahkshi will suffice for harrying the Matoran. Target their technology; remind them of the perils of unchecked creation. As for you…” The voice grew quiet, and the shadows around Eisen seemed to roil. He pitied the subject of whoever his master’s next words would involve in his marching orders. “Find Zaktan. Make…” Eisen could feel his skin crawl at his master’s tone, yet he was just capable of rescinding his pity at the thought of the snarling leader of the Piraka. Whatever the darkness had planned for Zaktan, it was more than deserved. “...amends. Go.” Eisen bowed his head and made to depart; four steps in, and he froze in his tracks, as if his body and soul had anticipated his master would call to him again. They were not kept waiting. “Eisen,” the darkness called from behind him, daring him to turn and face it again. He did not do so. “You will never see this Vault again. Henceforth, we will discuss your chores in the cathedral, as Heuani did before you. His old quarters will be yours as well.” The darkness rumbled with laughter again, clearly savoring every word since its sojourn into Nowhere; it had found amusement in almost everything, albeit of a kind foreign to Eisen or anyone he had ever known. Most likely, his master derived pleasure from the idea of the ascetic Toa of Iron attempting to find solace in the room where Heuani had slaked his lusts, surrounded only by the phantoms of all the Shadow Toa’s sins. “Should you desire anything else...you need only say.” “Yes, my Lord,” was all Eisen could say to that as he bowed his head. It was a long march back as he mulled his duties over, but his master’s parting promise tugged at the edges of his mind - and, for what was perhaps the first time in his life, the mercenary began to truly feel temptation. -Tyler
  7. 11 points
    There are some easter eggs in this one. Let's see if you can identify all the unmarked locations. Regions & Features Only | Title Only | Blank Map If anyone wants a version with specific labeling, feel free to message me. Ah yes, can't forget the glow-up:
  8. 10 points
    IC: One arm wrapped around Dorian's shoulders, the other handed him the requested bottle. He'd buy Praggos a new one later, but right now it was going towards a greater cause. It was a lot to unpack. Krayn picked his own glass back up and downed the remainder while he wordlessly offered the best support he could to someone who, not that long ago, had been one of half a dozen or so reasons for the second worst day of his life. But for how long ago that had really been it felt longer. Even if it hadn't it paled, and so did everything else, with the confirmation that Makuta really was back. And with that came anger and a sense of betrayal. Not at Dorian, or at the late Nimil, or even really at the deceased Necromancer. The last was responsible, of course, but there was no use being angry at a dead monster for being what it was. No, his anger was reserved for the people who had decreed, to the word, "Makuta was gone." "I think," He said after a moment. "That kicking the daylights out of a Maru for some answers might make me feel better. Anyone in?"
  9. 10 points
    IC: Gabe the Hatmaster was struck down in Po-Koro. There were witnesses, but the Po-Koro Guard are accepting any other tips. -Tyler
  10. 9 points
    IC: the Necromancer. His ambitions had never been, his allegiances had been only to himself. But in a world after the Makuta’s downfall he had been invaluable. His was a name, a presence, a face to which the island ascribed a certain fear. Without that reputation rallying the disparate remnants of Makuta’s followers would have been nearly impossible. It had been a tremendous commitment of resources to siege, and take, Ko-Koro. Holding it forever had always been unlikely, the need to retreat always a possibility but this… His foibles had ruined them and he wasn’t even around to take the blame he so rightly deserved. Perhaps the megalomaniac had finally gotten himself killed. Eisen began to laugh and choked the sound off as quickly as possible, the stabbing pain in his ribs a pointed reminder of why he was breathing shallowly. Agrone would fix his injuries easily but not until they stopped moving and there was no time for that yet. Karnak, Rorg, and Agrona had all been in Ko and all three were alive. At least the last that he had seen them. Agrona accompanied him now and he was reminded that the affair had not been a total loss; Oreius Maru had been gravely injured, and now the witch had his Kanohi. A small victory, perhaps. But a victory nonetheless. And something had changed. He could no more describe it than he could turn back time to stop Echelon’s more disastrous decisions but he could feel it. There was an energy in the air, a feeling in the ground beneath his feet that whispered of a victory greater than his present defeat. Makuta would rise again, given time. Eisen believed that before all else. And maybe he’d been right. “Watch ahead of us, Agrona,” He said roughly around an interesting contusion in his neck. “I’ll watch behind. They won’t find us yet, but we can’t be followed back.” There was nothing else for her to say. The droplets of blood Eisen was leaving with every limping step may have made for a trail to follow, but never one that would be picked out amidst the crimson already shed in the village. And before long the snow would be covered afresh. No one was too keen to venture into the Darkwalk either way. ____________________________________________________________________________ Sergeant Kan, Ta-Koro Guard, surveyed the village with a certain grim satisfaction. This hadn’t been the most exciting duty he’d ever pulled; training the local forces up in this barren wasteland was pretty unpleasant, all things considered. Though the excitement had shot up pretty significantly when Ko-Koro fell and the refugees started pouring into Ihu-Koro. And when the counterattack began he’d been part of the only detachment of the Guard close enough to assist in capitalizing. And capitalize they had. The Highlanders had taken the lead. He’d called it their final exam, something the lot of them seemed to find pretty funny. They hadn’t ignored the advice of their teachers, though; nor had they gone into battle without asking if they’d be willing to help even the odds a bit. A Ta-Koronan training detachment wasn’t very large but theirs was yet the best trained military on the island; the same reason the Highlanders had wanted a crash course in the first place. So he’d liberally reinterpreted the letter of their orders to support the spirit his Akiri would’ve wanted; go help bash the bad guys’ brains in. They were pretty well bashed, Kan had to admit. The Maru, what looked suspiciously like some former ILF folks, an eclectic assortment of guardsman, and a solid chunk of the Gukko Force had come down on the Village of Ice like Mata Nui’s own fist. Buildings were trashed, though it was hard to tell which had fallen in which siege. Someone had blown the gate down on their way out (or in) and Nui only knew how long it would take to flush out all the rats that might be hiding out in the Koro’s limits. But the brunt, that weren’t dead or maimed, were in full retreat. Their little haven had been retaken and they knew it. Not bad for a day’s work. But it’d probably be a good idea to arrange for his detachment to stay in Ihu-Koro a little longer, keep an eye on how this panned out.
  11. 8 points
    BEAUTIFUL MADNESS AWAITS Hey, you! Yes, you! Been having odd dreams lately? You know the one. The monolith beneath the reef. The voiceless chorus that beckons you B̷̘̀Ë̸͇́Ḻ̸̆Ô̶̼W̶̖͝ , like the gentle tug of a mother upon a wayward child's sleeve. The agonising relief of waking, slick with sweat, sheets sticking like seaweed, to suffocating safety. And then, that terrible joy of realising that you hear still the silent call, the call from B̸͙͔̩̺̺́̇̓͌͝E̶̢̥̫̣̬̖̦͉͑̍̈́̚L̴̝̾͑͑͘͝Ỏ̸̥̳͇̖̳͊̐̈́̚͘W̴̧̱̱͗̆ : That you are w̸̗̺͠ą̴̉̈́n̷̗͂́t̴̔̈́͜e̶̦͌d̶̺̺͒̔ . That you W̵̧̧̼͇͗̍̚͝A̴͚̓N̵̢͙̤̞̥̟͉͎̝͈͐̑͗̋Ť̴̗͎̮̪̬̫̜͕͍͎̬̈́ . That you are n̸̪͇̅ͅe̸̲̗̠͆̂̒e̴͇̙̅̓d̵͖̐̚ë̸̹́̈́d̶̘͔̙̈́͋ . That you Ń̴̢̨͎̻̟̣͐͗͗̏̀̚Ē̷̫̖̹̤̬̑̋͐̎̓̃̾̓͒͐̄̂͆̀͗̈́̿̚̚͘͘͝͠͝Ẽ̴̡̧͓̼̩̼̙̯͉̖͕͕͍̰̠̱̩͑̌̓̏̅̌͜D̷̡̛̛̠̳̥͔̰̯̩̗̺̠͌͗̿́͐̐͆͊͐̾̑̑̀̉͐͗̋̋͂̾̑́̍͘͘͘ͅ . We've been having that dream too. We all have. Come with us. Come B̴̧̡̡̺̪͉͓̙̳̟̦̪̬͙͚̥͎̅̓ͅ ̷̧̰̩̞͈̘̭̜̺͎̮̩͈͉̰̞͇͔͑͌̇̽͛́̀̈͗̿͂́̚̚͝ͅͅȨ̴͖̞̙̹̩̮̦̔͋͊͐̀̏̔͗͜͠ ̴̡̯̻̙̩̣͚̞̤̑̃L̸̛͕͚̙͚̦̩̫͈̲̫̫̮̪̓̈́̍̈́̇͂̿̈͆̏̇͐̐̀̈́̕̚̕ͅ ̶̡͔̙̥͍͕̣̹̗̖͙̠̙͑̀̓̅̈́͂̃̎̀͜Ó̴̭̲̹̟͙͓͚͖̆̍͌̒̓̍̅̋̾͘͠ ̵̨̛͓̱͕̙̹̭͕͖̝̋̊͛̈́̏̈́̎̉̃̈̌̎͂̃͋́̚͜W̵̼̲̽̍̌ . Find your fate. Terms and conditions apply, always ask your parents' permission before going online. Interested parties are advised to contact, here or on discord, myself (Blue), Perp (Perp), or Grav (sunflower). We look forward to having you. B̴e̸a̸u̶t̷i̸f̶u̷l̵ ̷m̴a̵d̴n̶e̸s̸s̷ ̶a̸w̶a̶i̷t̶s̶.̴
  12. 8 points
    IC: -̶̬̲̍͠-̸͓̼̓-̸̹́̉-̷͖̤͛̉-̸͈͐͂-̴͎͔̋-̷̨͎̀-̸͇͈̊-̷̞̊ Hollowed voices springing from nothingness; dripping, seeping from the void though ears and burrowing into the mind. Ice-cold sweat down your back, the salt dissolved within leaving its mark as it corroded all it touched. Falling deeper and deeper and deeper until day turned to dusk to the blackest midnight and the greatest home we’ve ever known embraces us in the tightest grip, squeezing the life from your limp body because it loves you. And you give it your heart in return. I will give and give until I have nothing left and we are all empty but for- T̵H̵E̷̽ ̵̈D̸͠EEP̷̆ C̸A̷L̵̄L̵S̸̒ ̷̾TO̶ ̴͝YO̷͊U̵͛ You awaken upon a shore, the grains of sand biting into your back because they are leeches, not grains of sand. Your mind has not come ashore and has drowned with- I have been here before. You will be here before and after. We call to you, our children, in your most sacred of temples. I have drowned yet still live. Look upon our seal and know that in the Time before the Time before Time it blessed us with its touch. Your touch. Our touch. Tendrils creeping along the periphery of the void, the veins beneath the skin pushing the essence of life into the womb of the world. Bathe in its waters and we shall You are turning around end over end as you struggle for direction. I am breathing. No. I put my hands out and the chilling depths interlock their digits with mine. We are one. The D̸͠EEP̷̆ C̸A̷L̵̄L̵S̸̒ ̷̾TO̶ You awaken upon a shore. The detritus covers you - the dead sea-squall wails in your mind as you pluck the weeds from your body. The coral has consumed your muscles and the beautiful sight of T̷̐H̶EIR̴ GR̵E̷A̴T̶N̷E̷SS towers above you. Colour seeps from the world as the ocean spray flash-freezes midair, framing the monolith in eerie refracted light. The seaweed dissolves to dust and the dust speaks to you. I am all that you are and everything that you will love, you say to yourself. The dust speaks to you: I C̴O̴N̶S̶U̴̇MÊ̷ There is nothing beside you now. Nothing above. Nothing below. Nothing adjacent. Nothing within. Nothing without. Without. Without anything. Without anything there is nothing. To see. Nothing to. Feel. Feeling tendrils ensnare you awaken upon a Can you see it? The grains of sand bite into your fingers for they are not grains of sand but burning bars of steel that ensnare you in the smallest cell that H̵E̴ I̴S Your jailor. The key. Release yourself. I release myself. I have no need of the key NO NEE̴D All I must do is consume of thee TAKE HEED It towers before me DEEP UNDER My eyes were closed but now I see WE HUNGER I they we hunger. WE HUNGER They hunger. You awaken upon a shore. IC: Gorro - Le-Koro He awoke upon his hammock, the coldest sweat he’d ever known coating every inch of his body - so cold that he shivered, drawing the sheets up to his chin and trying to retain whatever heat he could - but the sheets were too thin (Le-Wahi being notoriously humid) and his actions were in vain. He felt dizzy, and blinked his eyes to clear his vision, the dim light of his hut shading out details so that he struggled to get his bearings despite having lived here for the better part of three years. He turned his body over, trying to discern where the doorway was, and his shoulder slipped off the edge of the hammock, threatening to take the rest of his body with it. Nearly falling, he managed to maintain his balance at the last second, bracing his hand against the floor before slowly swinging his legs out of their resting position until they, too, touched the floor. He stood erect and stretched out his back, arms now above his head, in a single motion. It was only after the p-pp-p-p-op of his joints that he realized that his head was pounding, and his vision was blurred. There was no pain in his temples or behind his eyes as per a usual headache - curious - but his head throbbed and buzzed, as if there was a wild creature swimming around in his- THUNK Gorro became confused, a cold, hard pressure pushing against his left side - until he discovered that he had actually fallen over this time. Should he go see a doctor? Maybe some fresh air will help. He sat himself up, gangly limbs knotting their way into a cross-legged, arms akimbo position as he regained his sense of balance. He rubbed his eyes and his vision began to return. The throbbing in his head began to die down. The nightmare was a shattered collection of unconscious images and feelings now, as he had forgotten to remember it. Standing, the Toa of Crystal retrieved his flask, taking a long swig of tea. It tasted strange to his dry tongue, but it was yet another thought filed and shelved before it could even register. His fortitude returning, Gorro donned his cloak and exited into Le-Koro proper. Outside, the sun was high and the air was warm, the chill in his bones dissipating and the last holdouts of his affliction melting away in the sun. He strode through the throngs of locals and tourists, all tangled and intertwined and taking no notice of him, just another vagrant as was common here. Busy as ever. He stood at the precipice of the Koro’s main square. The voice told him: N̵̝͘͜͝Ő̴͓̟̿R̴̻̜͘T̶͚̈́̌H̷̦͚̑
  13. 8 points
    What do you mean he's illiterate what kind of man did I just hire oh god
  14. 8 points
  15. 8 points
    BZPRPG: Arc 3: Girl Boss Summer
  16. 8 points
    IC: Nikarra (Old Po-Koro Apartment) There comes a time in every girl's life where she has to trade in her Dorian Shaddix body pillow for a Dorian Shaddix punching bag. For Nikarra, that time was now. Stupid ##### idiot ##### ######- #####. The perfect dead idiot’s perfect dead face was smeared with red, and another old wanted poster was going to have to be binned. She had no shortage of them, at least; let it never be said that Dor didn’t have a talent for making enemies. Nikarra sighed, and abandoned the beaten, bloodied face of the man she wished she could hate to go grab fresh bandages. Dorian Shaddix. Dorian ##### Shaddix. The man she loved more than anyone in the world. The man who had hurt her more than anyone in the world. The man who picked her back off her feet when she was at her lowest. The man who had put her there. Her best friend. Just like him to go off and ##### die before they had a chance to actually properly talk about any of that #####. He just had to be a hero. Why did he have to be a hero? He certainly wasn’t one when they first met. He very, very literally drained the life out of her. He promised to kill her. Well, you managed that one, #####. He could’ve just been a heartless, beautiful psychopath. He would’ve been bloody good at it. Could’ve been a musician, too. She remembered the time he let her play his guitar, sitting on his bed in The Final Problem. It was an awful bed, it really was, even by the terminally low standards of her cousin’s fine establishment. The whole thing was crooked and it bowed anytime the slightest weight was placed on it, not to mention that the springs were constantly digging into her- assets. It didn’t annoy her too much; she was already hurting, after all, for much the same reason as the bed was hanging together by a thread (oh, to be young, dumb, and full of whatever the Karz it is that a Mark pumps into you), and far too anxious holding A Prized Possession Of Dorian Shaddix to even think about anything else. She still cringed thinking about her visceral fear of somehow snapping the strings, like she’d suddenly never held a guitar in her life. What was it they sang together, again? Mama, take this badge off of me… Ah. It was too late to dismiss the memory now. She felt his chin on her shoulder, his hands on hers, guiding her through the motions… That was what hooked her, really. Not his looks, not his wit, not his infuriating bad boy appeal; it was the softness. He could be so gentle, and he brought the same ease and confidence to that as he did to everything else. In those moments, it never felt like he was restraining himself or being cautious – it was him, fully and completely. Like everything, gentleness came naturally to him, and suddenly it was impossible to so much as imagine that those hands could ever have done harm to anyone. Nikarra took in a deep breath, as if she half-expected to smell him on the air. Nothing. Nothing but sand and blood. The desert stung the insides of her nostrils. Even his scarf only smelled of her now. She felt a strange kind of guilt every time she turned to it for comfort, as if it was a violation of some kind to bury her face for a moment in a dead man’s scarf. Everything still felt so wrong. She was long past denial – she knew the son of a ###### was gone. The world was full of dead heroes, after all. But after all they had been through together, Dor was a part of her, and a world without him felt… uncanny. Nothing had felt real for these past few weeks; the punching bag helped, because the pain at least reminded her she wasn’t dreaming. She was the healthiest she’d been in years, really; exercise kept her mind off things, and the sting of it kept her alive. As she peeled the blood-stained bandage from her knuckles, wincing, she did have to wonder whether ‘healthy’ was, in fact, the right term for this, but either way it kept her going. Running her hands under the tap, she looked past herself in the mirror; the woman with the tear-streaked face and dark bags under her bright green eyes was of little interest to her. But behind her, partially buried under clothes and debris… It hadn’t been tuned in years. Not since she’d last lived here, back when her Shaddix obsession was at its peak – she wasn’t even sure she still had callouses, although a little more pain would hardly hold her back now. She tried each string again and, satisfied with her work, sat down on the floor with her dusty old guitar in hand. "You sing,” he whispered. Knock, knock, knockin’ on-
  17. 8 points
    IC Yumiwa Umbraline & Inokio Korae | Sado Answers... were not quite what awaited me on the other side of that door. I remember swallowing loudly as I stepped through the door into the dim light of the next room over in the apartment. I remember tightly shut blinds, candles burning at the end of their wicks, and the soft scent of wafting incense, and at the center of the floor was the cross-legged shape of the man who my family had once entrusted their entire legacy. Inokio, for that was all he was by then after being stripped of his titles and clan name, seemed serene as he always had in my presence. It took me several long seconds—time had lost its meaning—before I realized his eyes had been open and stared expectantly at me as I stood still by the door. His bright teal eyes patiently waited for my acknowledgement, and for however long as it had been it was as if neither of us were in each other's presence yet. The forceful emotional aura I'd sensed from before struck me like a herd of soko suddenly: Shame, withdrawal, reticence, signature sensations of Inokio's but magnified by his present situation. He knew his life was forfeit, but while that recognition bolstered those dauntless men, there was no boldness in him thence. "Hello, Inokio," I said at last, finally legitimizing his presence before me, and his eyes, the brightest illumination in the room by far, squinted fractionally as he sighed sadly. "Yumiwa," he breathed in another exhale. I turned on my heel slowly and paced in front of him for a few moments as I tried to think of the things to say. Finally, I broke the fresh silence. I started, "All my life I was told that I could trust you. My family, my mother, all believed you were the single sharpest blade in the armory and the standard on which all other swords were to be measured against, but never equalled to. And yet, I have heard there is proof that all those years of loyalty... were a facade." I stopped and looked at him sternly, but the man did not squirm or beg. He was ashamed but still proud. He gave no reply; I'd given no question. "You once slew a saihoko in the Markets in order to prove a point that the mere act of disrespecting royalty was a capital offense. Disloyalty to the Crown was punishable by death. I did not take that lesson to heart when the Dastana seceded to form their federation, and perhaps things had gone differently had I reacted more sternly than I had, but I had still hoped for a peaceful future so that we could mourn the loss of my mother with rivers of tears instead of blood. But time is a cruel teacher, and I see the world differently than before, I see the wisdom in straightforwardness and the constellations in the nighttime sky. So answer me this, then, Inokio—counsel me this one last time, teacher—what should I do to you for your treason?" His voice, soft as silk's whisper, came without hesitation. "You should kill me." It startled me how unshakable his resolve was. This was a man who knew very well the crimes he'd committed and fully embraced his fate, whatever it would be, and had knowingly done his deeds well embracing the possibility of failure and punishment. I wanted to stare at him for hours on end, fascinated by the spirit of this man I considered an honorable stand-in for my father, yet fought that impulse with one to look away in scorn and disgust. "Join me on the floor, Yumiwa, please," he asked, and once I did so he began to speak further. "Time is the cruelest of teachers, indeed. Retrospect is a... terrifying drug. But, truly, even knowing all that I know now and having seeing all that I've seen, if I were given the chance to redo all the past, I would do it all again." "But why?" "Because all paths could only lead to one result: The forging of a future... as I knew it needed to be. Whether that came from my hands directly and the power I'd wield, or by my mind and the tempering of a regnant like you, the future was for me to craft. I have had no delusions that I could truly rest in the world I strive to create, but no price is too high to pay for a prize like that. What I did, I did, and my fate would be the same so why would I do differently?" It was a slap in my face and a pat on my back. Inokio was good at these things, the backhanded compliments that somehow left you both furious and placated, but beyond that deception was an honesty that defied belief. Inokio was speaking truly enough, his truth, and there was no use arguing with him. I hadn't come to argue, anyway. I'd come to understand and, to another degree, mete out judgement. "Yeah... well... about that. The future is not what you wanted it to be," I said at last. "The Empire is under siege by power we cannot match. A darkness came out of the Volcano's depths and has begun to attack everything that lies before it with brutal and sorcerous efficiency. I have ordered the mass evacuation of all Dasaka, Tajaar, and Dastana to Mata Nui as a result." "A 'darkness?'" Inokio said, his eyes widening with alarm. He had not known of this development. "Not Zataka," I quickly added. "Zuto Nui told me so Herself. This is not the sort of darkness you are child of, but—" "Zuto Nui spoke to you?" Inokio blurted in interruption, a misstep I allowed given the context but still frowned at. I nodded a silent yes. I could see his mind whirring as he thought of all manner of questions to follow up with to satisfy a hundred curiosities and concerns, but in the end he focused his razor-edged eyes back on me and smiled broadly in beaming pride. "Then the future still rests in your hands." "Maybe," I said. "I hope to steer us return and fight back another day, but for now, we flee. That includes you, Inokio. I strip you of your ranks of Menti and Battlemaster, you are a Korae son no longer, but I will not sentence you to death here. You chose your fate long ago in the pursuit of Power and Order, now you will suffer with the rest of us into tomorrow's chaotic future." — I wanted to stay as long as we could. My war council was small and mostly focused on delaying the inevitable, buying time for our scholars to gather what we could in books and storage crystals to preserve our culture wherever we went. Dashi and Datsue were being ushered to the Docks first regardless of their castes and clans specifically by my directive—we were saving the Dasaka culture, all of it, not just the more privileged among us—while all available Menti were used for defense and policing. Order was not being sacrificed, we had to work in unison; all this while the reports were growing more dour by the hour. These mechanical lizard people were seizing the islands with breakneck speed, unconcerned with orderliness like we were and rampant with chaotic exuberance. Our meager batteries were falling and the tactics we learned were ineffective against this new foe. Our wars were elegant affairs of glistening battleships and dancing duels, making us a soft target for this not-Zataka and her soldiers. Finally, the dial struck the end of its cycle and it was time to go; the walls of Sado had been breached and we were left with no other options. My handmaiden Zafin had been sent ahead of me to ready my yacht, while the other family members—Desde and Uncle Ray—were already being taken to their evacuation points. We'd decided to split apart to keep at least one of us alive but I had no delusions my uncle was planning to leave Sado. I wished I could have said goodbye to him one last time, but before I could entertain my regrets any more Clan Hogo guards guided me out of the Palace's towers for what we all presumed to be the last time and we fled into the now-dimmed streets with brave faces but no optimism. We were beset by the foul things almost immediately. The fighting was brief but intense whenever it happened. Each time one guard fell another took its place in my perimeter, but it still dwindled. Struggle was rampant about us constantly, and the screeches of pain and anger from the enemy's writhing faces echoed through the narrow causeways like a great wailing. Strange powers filled the battlefield—red beams of destructive light that scorched all they touched—spires that towered for generations were falling like castles of sand—and one retainer was turned to dust right before me. All the while, they still kept their tight wedge formation and shielded me from harm with their very souls while the captain yelled commands constantly. It continued like this for what seemed like forever. I could not look back no matter how much I tried, too afraid that it would be my last sighting of Sado and that I would only remember the destruction and death in our wake. When we emerged from the complexes' streets and into the relatively open and secure Yards on our march to the sea we hoped to breathe a sigh of relief, but there was none. No reinforcements awaited us, no further assistance was being given; the Menti had stood as long as they could before being withered back to the Docks. We bolted as fast as we could, hoping our legs could carry us fast enough before the enemy caught on to us. They were unceremonious and unselective, attacking Menti regardless of station and rank, so to them we were just more Menti to be slaughtered without any prioritization which was, I realized, our only advantage: I was not important to them for merely being me. But then we were caught in a trap just as the Docks and my yacht's tall mast came into view. Crystal shards flew in all directions and more retainers fell in quick succession as enemies seemed to emerge from nothingness and slaughter them with their screeches. And instinctively, I drew my rapier for combat for the first time. I'd never used it to kill before—I'd simply never had to. There were always retainers who delivered justice and protection for me, and the duels I'd partaken in were always either on the playmats or in my head. My sword was a scepter and bauble, no more a part of me than my tunic, hardly a weapon of death, but circumstances had changed and I was being conscripted to my own salvation. "Your Majesty!" the commander gasped, horrified by the idea of his Rora forced to defend herself as a failure of her part, but I paid no heed to her honorable complaint and my sword, delicate as it was, hovered from my gentle hand and floated in the air by my lazy Mindarm focus. "You evil... slug... sausage casings... die!!!" The small sword ripped through the air like an arrow, cleanly piercing through the first enemy's face like a needle in a pincushion before it quickly extricated itself and performed the same lobotomy upon the other enemy. They screeched again and then collapsed lifelessly. With my mind I picked their staves from the ground and flung them like javelins at another distant enemy, missing with the first strike but landing with the second, and with a rousing cry our shrinking retinue forged again ahead, but we didn't get much farther before we met our last obstacle. Smoke and rubble lay everywhere around us as a final line of defense had just fallen as we arrived. Enemies of all kinds prowled just around the corner in every direction and my retinue had shrunk to a tenth it was when we left the palace's halls. The situation was dire, yet we felt we had no choice but to move on as our time grew short. Already the wailings of the enemies that hounded our tails were near again, but just as we cringed in preparation of our final push we heard barks of pain as those wailings were hushed suddenly. Cautiously, we turned the corner to find whatever had happened, and I gasped in surprise. .:Inokio:. — .:You did say today would be chaotic, Majesty, but this is some chaotic unko.:. The branded battlemaster who was Battlemaster in ability alone stood up straight with pride as he tossed the enemy's staff aside lazily. His hands were unencumbered by shackles after he unceremoniously melted them, but there were sores on his wrists from where they had been. In his other hand was a simple tantō, a toy-sized weapon compared to his normal tool but as lethal as any nodachi in the esteemed duelist's possession. Every step he moved was purposeful and each breath he took was measured, and for all the destruction around him he looked as placid as the Gardens in full bloom. His teal linen robes, once ornate and embroidered, swung loosely at his sides like it was a half-donned dressing gown she he was caught just waking up. The telltale nervous tapping was gone and that dastardly scoundrel smile was on his face. This was Inokio at his best in the middle of the worst. The Hogo retainers paid him no heed, meanwhile. They knew what he had done and of his status as a traitor, but they knew better than almost anyone that Inokio was more than able to carve them like a cake if he cared to and there were far worse foes to keep tabs on than the disgraced First Son. For all their disdain for him, they were gladdened to see him again one last time. "There's no use taking the low paths. Take the high pier, to the left. That's where I came from and there aren't any of these things to catch you there. They are fast, though, so they'll be upon you sooner rather than later if you don't keep moving." His words sounded like suggestions from a friendly neighborhood spook but carried the force of law in practice, the same way he carried himself when he was commander of the Rora's guard. "Come with me," the empress pleaded, but Inokio shook his head once as he cleaned the blood from his knife. "I can't. You know that, Yumiwa. I can't live in the world you will make for the Dasaka. This is my birthright and my fate, the chaos of battle and cinder of war are my poetry." He laughed, throwing his head back in a great jolly guffaw as though he recalled some great kneslapper told among the soldiers at peacetime night watch. "I was made for war. I have been looking forward to this for a very looooong time. No, I am not going with you to Mata Nui, but let me die here on Kentoku with my past. Little Yumi, let me suffer by protecting you... one... last time... Now go." "Majesty, we have to go now." The empress stared back at Inokio and met his gaze with equal force. She wanted to forgive him and for a fleeting moment she thought she just might if it meant keeping the scholar warrior with her through one last chapter of life, but before she could express any sentiment and ruin his own salvation he cut it short and turned his back on her. He walked into the darkness of the smokescreen across the Yards and into the oncoming rush of enemies who's beady red eyes seemed to flood from every direction behind them. The last thing Rora Yumiwa saw of her greatest champion (and villain) was his tall silhouette standing proudly, and then a bright beam appearing in his hand as his psychophysical nodachi ignited far above his head in a skyward guard. The enemies never did catch up to them. They could hear the sound of fighting at their backs, though, and with it came the unadulterated howling hysterics of a man of war who was finally at peace. – The Tactical Panda II carried Yumiwa and Zafin Umbraline and their meager retinue out of the Docks with incredible swiftness. Theirs was one of the final boats to cast off, yet the speedy yacht quickly surged to join the flagship Yukanna at the core of the fleeing convoy. In the background was Sado, the jewel of Kentoku now dulled to a smoky dark luster. As the reports of casualties and tally of survivors came in to her one by one, the mournful empress did not know what would become of her people, but she hoped that it would be a future worth living.
  18. 7 points
    The Wahi: Ko-Wahi is the region of Ice on the island of Mata Nui. It encompasses Mount Ihu, the largest mountain of Mata Nui, beginning in the north at the foothills of the mountain by Onu-Wahi and ending where the mountain merges into the Mangai Volcano, separated by the Tren Krom Break. The entire region is covered in ice and snow; the mountain is largely inhospitable, with only a few species of Rahi being able to successfully survive there. Among the more dominant features of Ko-Wahi are two massive glaciers, separated by a sturdy block on which resides Ko-Koro. The Drifts, massive, nearly featureless snowfields that experience almost constant storm, dominate most of the upper part of the mountain. The most hazardous section of the Drifts is known as the Wastes. Local landmarks include: Mount Ihu: A snow-covered mountain in Ko-Wahi, and the largest of several peaks in the region. The Drifts: Also known as the Wastes. A snowy region situated on Mount Ihu. Blinding blizzards come often, causing any who venture here to easily become lost, so Ko-Matoran use red flags to find their way. The North March: A pass on the bordering the Tren Krom Break on the Ko-Wahi side. There is a cable car to travel from the slopes of Mount Ihu to Ta-Wahi. Obsidian Outpost: A building constructed around the Ko-Wahi end of the cable car by a now-defunct mercenary group known as the 'Outsiders'. Previously used by them as a base of operations and means of extracting a toll from travelers, it now lies empty following the group's collapse. The Massif: A small village at the foot of a great stone half dome with a monastery at its top, the Massif is a place of solitude that some Matoran call home. Ihu-Koro: A small highland Koro, this is the main site for mining Rena ore. The Academy and Hospital: A center for learning and aid, this pair of complexes is home to several great scholars and scientists who are happy to give their experience for others. New Toa can go there to become better heroes and the sick and wounded can be healed at the hospital. The complex is located a short walk from Ko-Koro and is also connected to the village by an underground ice passage. The Dark Walk: One of six large tunnels dug by Makuta’s Rahkshi during the final days of his rule. Large enough to encompass a walking legion, it runs directly from the doorstep of the Koro down into Mangaia. Exudes a definite aura of odiousness, and is generally avoided. The Koro: During the days when Ko-Koro was led by Akiri Matoro, the Ko-Matoran built it into a veritable mountain fortress, a far cry from the humble monastic village from the days of Makuta. Tall walls, sprinkled with guard parapets, look out on the icy expanses around and define the village's edge. Massive bridges of ice, many of which are lined with small shops and tourist traps, span over a huge crevasse. These bridges connect the opposite walls of the village, and these walls are holed out for many more shops and living spaces. A central complex on a flat portion of the village, filled with domed huts not unlike those seen elsewhere on the island, serves as the Koro's trade hub. The towering Sanctum, once only a temple, was expanded into be a majestic citadel of ice that houses not only the ancient Wall of Prophesy but also living spaces and armories. The village is fueled by power siphoned from windmills that litter the extreme heights of the stronghold and other peaks of the mountain. These windmills power electric bulbs that light the village’s arches and buildings with white light at night. Wind electricity is also funneled towards powering an aural security system, consisting of a few large, crude microphones at the outskirts of the Koro that can be monitored from within the guard buildings. These allow the operators to hear approaching bodies even over the roar of icy storms. Ko-Koro has suffered more upheaval than any other Koro in recent months. Akiri Matoro was assassinated, and not long thereafter an army of darkness, led by the Dark Toa Echelon, assaulted and overtook the Koro. Their occupation was broken only through the combined efforts of the Toa Maru, military detachments from multiple Koro, and various other heroic forces, and the city still bears the scars from both the original attack and the liberation. A new Akiri, Tarkahn, has since been elected and now pursues an agenda of increased militarisation, vowing to prevent Ko-Koro from falling to invaders ever again. To that end, the city's defences are being steadily increased, and a policy of mandatory military training has been introduced. Trade and collaboration with the other Koros has also been ramped up to support these efforts. Akiri player: @The UltimoScorp
  19. 7 points
    FAN;ARC BALOM SKRI;ARC NO ARCS BUT FOR ARC 3 Makuta has returned. Of course, to the beleaguered remains of the Dasaka Empire, now bifurcated with an endless ocean between its pieces, there was no Makuta to return at all. All the citizens of the once-proud Kentoku Archipelago know is that their islands have been besieged, their clans have been decimated, and their very way of life is under assault by creatures unfathomable even in their darkest tales of demons and phantoms. Clan Umbraline, first mothers and sisters of the Dasakan people, have fled across the waters - seeking refuge on an island they once eyed greedily. As for said island, the return of the darkness is possibly the last thing that can churn their hardy stomachs. The people of Mata Nui, finally recovered from the uncertainty of the Dasaka's arrival and the bloody war to reclaim one of their own villages from Makuta's forces, must now contend with the prospect of their oppressor's reawakening. The petty ambitions of his lieutenants have cost Makuta dearly and bought his adversaries some time; the Akiri, friends as hardened individually by conflict as they were weakened collectively, have finally joined forces as a united government once again, and the Toa Maru, heirs to the First Toa and vanquishers of Makuta, grow restless in pursuit of their destiny. But Makuta will not stay cowed for long. And far to the north of either island, a third - a landscape that revels in the conflicts that weary its counterparts, one torn apart and stitched together a dozen times over - roils in excitement at the thought of more turmoil. Somewhere, beneath its core, Makuta roils too. He is not alone in that. ***** Yeah yeah, you don't need my introduction right now. I'll have a speech planned later - and maybe a BZPRPG podcast? For now, just enjoy. And thank you. -Tyler
  20. 7 points
    GET IN THE EXO, FIRST SPEAKER SHINJI
  21. 7 points
    if you write something with enough implications of cosmic horror, it just happens
  22. 7 points
    IC: Lekua, Ga-Koro Docks If Lekua had learned one thing from his incredible journey across the endless sea to a fantastic foreign world, it was that he hated boats. Wait, he knew that already. Lekua officially learned nothing from his life-changing, destiny-defining quest. Other things Lekua hates, besides boats: ships water oceans rahkshi infected rahi water (again) mysterious Matoran who won’t give you a straight answer having no earthly idea what’s going on, ever (He was used to that last one by now, at least). Things Lekua likes: psychic ladies? the dragons were pretty cool in retrospect finally getting off this spirit-forsaken boat Any minute now. His eyes scanned the sky, but he heard the bird before he saw it. Cyclone landed quite suddenly on the deck behind him with a screech and a flurry of wings, much to the alarm of some of those aforementioned psychic ladies. The kahu nipped at Lekua affectionately, and he grinned widely, patting the bird’s neck in greeting. “I missed you too, buddy. Let’s get out of here, yeah? Some food or something?” He leaped on the kahu’s back and they were off. Far below, he saw Leli and Tarnok disembarking, and he spared them a quick wave. He’d see them again soon enough. Maybe. / “There’s good.” He pointed down at a building labeled THE GREAT TAKEA. “Platform looks kinda crowded though. No need to go all the way.” Cyclone wheeled gently toward the building, at when they were some ten feet off the ground Lekua stood up in the saddle and leaped, somersaulting once, twice, landing in a roll, springing through the door. IC: Iraanus, Great Takea As Rhow and Taoki were caught up in their talk of sea travel, it fell to Iraanus to address the daredevil Le-Matoran who had just fallen from the sky beside them. “You there, welcome to—” Above them, the newcomer’s kahu perched on the Takea’s roof. “Oi! Sorry, but you can’t park your bird—” But the Matoran was already inside. Iraanus rolled his eyes, then directed them at the kahu, firing off a quick warning burst of impact vision. With a cry of alarm, the bird took flight, soaring off above the town. Right. Anyway. He turned back to his coworkers. “As I was gonna say, prob’ly some bad stuff happenin’ back home to make so many of ‘em come all this way.” He frowned for a moment, then grinned. “Either way, though, should be good for business, eh? Might finally be time to expand the buildin’.” OOC: @Vezok's Friend@Palm
  23. 7 points
    I'm Toa Stannis Maru and this is my favorite... fort in Zakaz?
  24. 7 points
    IC: Skyra Daring - Fowadi - Ostia - I gave Praggos a friendly slap on the back. "Nice shot! But yeah, you should probably go get tha...a..aaa...aaaaaa...." I happened to glance towards the docks and saw someone who should not be there. "N-No...that's not..." I rubbed my eyes, it was a trick of the light, dust in my eye, a mirage. Whoever that was just happened to look like him. Calm down Skyra...he's dead, you've accepted that and moved on, when you open your eyes again he won't be- He was right there, there was no mistaking it, why was I seeing him!? "P-Praggos help me...I think...I think I'm starting to hallucinate...I'm seeing a very dead man and I know ghosts aren't real cause #### you Jaron...so the only explanation is I'm having a mental break down or something oh gods why is this happening..." I had dropped my blunderbuss on the deck at some point (thankfully I had not reloaded it), I had my hands on the rails and I think I was hyperventilating. I was prepared for Praggos to tell me I'd finally lost it and needed to see a shrink, there was no way this was real, destiny was not this kind. One thing I'd found I absolutely had in common with Dorian was that we were both really good at cheating death...but you only got lucky so many times right? I finally gathered the courage to look again and finally I just accepted what I saw, it was Dorian Shaddix, in the flesh. Naturally, I had a few things to say. "A letter...A GOD####ED LETTER!" I shouted as I yanked the ear plugs out. "That's all you had to do! It could have just said "Yo b####!" and that would have been fine!" My hands were squeezing the rails so hard I think they were stuck. I felt dizzy, he was going to be the death of me, I knew it.
  25. 7 points
    IC: Trains rock. If someone had told him in his youth that one day, Koros throughout the island would play host to metal juggernauts that carried people and freight across distances even a Kakama user couldn't hope to catch - and he had known a few slick ones - he would have considered it something out of a fairy tale. Ko-Koro, where he'd grown up, had been stagnant and aloof; all his neighbors had been obsessed with finding the meaning in the stars, as if a look in the night sky would dictate the meaning of their lives, too. He had spent a lot of his life looking at night skies, wondering what it was they saw up there. Red stars, spirit stars...they all went over his head after a while. He didn't even know what spirit star was his. But trains were an unstoppable force of progress. Make life easier for everyone at all costs. Stand in front of one and get mowed down. And, if you were a real idiot, stand in front of one and see if you can halt the speed of progress too. Test what you're really made of. He had been tempted a few times, if not for what that sorta thing would do to his body. The other good thing about trains was that usually, unless they were charted by a real moron or someone with a fantastic case of nepotism, they connected vital points along their route. Hubs like Koros, or the outlying villages they relied on for supplies, trade, or military development. He had been on both ends of the moron and nepotism arrangement, and the administrations of Hewkii and his successor smacked of neither; they were built on calculus, baby, ruthless calculus, and there was a pragmatism in it that even he could admire. He'd known some Po-Koro Guardsmen once upon a time, too - they were pretty improvisational people, just like him, but even they'd had a method to their madness. So following these trains would eventually lead him somewhere, closer to his nebulous goal. He just had to believe that. Otherwise he probably woulda tried his luck with the train by now. Instead, now and again he would watch the Iron Mahi chug by - and just like a little kid, every time he heard the thunder along the dunes he couldn't help but grin and cheer. He'd grown to appreciate Po-Wahi a lot over the years. He'd learned to herd Rahi here. That had been the last time he'd bothered visiting the village, though; many routes to Po-Koro were lost, he knew, in case he followed the tracks, and even since Renaka had begun opening the village to the rest of the island it would be years before some of the routes reopened. Even the routes that had become secrets of his trade were hindered in some way, undone by precise cave-ins or calculated goat path removal. So he would follow along the tracks until he reached Po-Koro, or maybe Forsi, with only periodic stops to rehydrate or stare at spirit stars. He wished he'd brought some bourbon from Ga-Koro. But it was still the morning hour, and by now whatever stars were left had faded into the cloudless sky, which meant it was his favorite time of day - pull the rifle from his duffel bag and scan the dunes for any hint of the old man. It was stupid to worry about whether or not he was being pursued, he knew; the cranky old-timer would have easily fit into his bag, right between the Zamor Launcher and the sword he really needed to get around to returning already. But he owed the Turaga a bit too much to stuff him in with all the guns. Maybe he had collapsed in some dune, back near the border, and his little legs had never quite found the strength to trudge another step. Maybe he'd just thirsted himself to death. Sounds like him for sure. That one, at least, would be his own fault. Nothing to feel guilty about there. Whatever the case, he wasn't on any of these dunes, so the Toa followed the path down the bay to wherever his destiny took him. Once, in a definitely-uncharacteristic-for-sure feat of navel-gazing, he looked down at the ground below him, parallel to the right side of the tracks. There are footprints. ... He could be thirsty. He could be a mercenary, too. Or worse. He could be some normal person. The last thing he wanted to do was explain himself to one of them. He could need help. So call a hero. ... He buried his face in his hands, feeling the weight of the duffel bag's strap dig into his right shoulder, and let out a muffled yell of frustration - nay, rage. He missed the old days. Back then he knew what to do with rage. The tracks led him to what could only be Ostia, a desert wind covering both their paths in hi wake, but the first thing he saw at the docks wasn't someone in need of help. Rather, it was all he needed to see to know it was time for him to turn around and hit the Iron Mahi tracks again. It was a boat in name only, an ugly ironclad that been modified and frankensteined again and again. It was the flagship of the most pathetic, oxymoronic 'navy' he would probably ever encounter, and it was a credit to his star-crossed life that he'd never been forced to step foot on it. Hi Fowadi. Bye Fowadi. But something stopped him from taking a step backwards. He could make out a few of the people doing target practice, and in particular, one voice carried. "Don't #### it up Praggos." He knew it was the right thing to do, turning around and leaving them. He wouldn't be able to stick around. They weren't really his friends. His friends were buried in the bottom of the Kumu Sea, or maybe wading across it in search of him at that moment. His friends were righteous and just, and they always found ways to remind him that he wasn't. His friends were good, gentle people who had a habit of grabbing their own arms and falling to their deaths - a real thing that happens to sloths, by the way, but here meaning a metaphor for letting him into their hearts time and time again. I don't want to keep doing this to people. He knew he should turn away, but her voice had dug into his brain like a worm. Absurdly, the wind had picked up again, and sand was blowing into his eyes and making them water. The boat won't take you all the way. You'll have to swim for the next one. ...But the boat might be a start, at least. The Toa shifted the duffel bag comfortably onto his shoulder again before beginning his walk to the docks. Briefly, it occurred to him that he should probably dry his eyes before he got too close to them. He pulled the desert-stained scarf up from the lower half of his face, just for a second, to wipe away his tears. Then he tucked it back into position, so that only his feverish blue eyes remained visible. -Tyler
  26. 7 points
  27. 7 points
    Wow I picked a good time to make my quad-annual BZPRPG visit, holy Slappa-Nui So I'm not saying I'm back, but I seem to remember giving my characters away to a bunch of people. Anyone know if that's a real memory, and if so who has them, and do they still play this game? Anyway you guys are the greatest and I love that this is happening right now <3
  28. 7 points
    Ihu-Koro has been reapproved and as at the top of my profile post! I'll be adding it to the wiki later. Or here.
  29. 7 points
    IC: [Agni - Ko-Wahi, Temple of Peace] The chill wind tore at the well-worn scarf, the ends flapping in the wind, threatening to untangle themselves from where Agni had wrapped the garment around his neck and lower face, to preserve at least a little bit of warmth while in the frigid Wahi. He could feel his elemental reserves dwindling just by maintaining a normal temperature. Normally he’d avoid coming here unless absolutely necessary. Which it unfortunately had been too many times in the recent past. And it was now. It wasn’t a casual visit. The Toa of fire stared at the cairn, piled up a foot from where he was standing, just a little ways away from the entrance to the principle temple of peace. Final resting place of one Joske Nimil. Kolhii champion. Toa of fire. Vanguard of the Maru. Victor over Heuani. His student. His friend. The story went that Joske had gone off alone to fight Echelon, leader of the remaining followers of Makuta. Apparently he’d found him - and paid the price. And nobody had known. Well, there was one. Shaddix. As if all the moral grey in the universe had come together and decided to become a real boy. Redeemed mercenary, killer, mark bearer. And then he chose to become a hero, just like Joske. And just like Joske, he’d confronted Echelon alone and then died. Only difference was that he managed to finish the job. The underground had stopped whispering the dark Toa’s name. He hadn’t said anything either, even when their paths crossed briefly back in Ta-Koro. No, in the end it had been Tuara who got stuck with breaking the news to Agni, like she didn’t have enough on her plate already. That led him to Cael who filled in the bits about Shaddix. She’d told him where to go, too. The rest came from rumors carried on the wind. Haven’t you heard? He blinked. His eyes burned. He wanted to do something, to say something, anything. Drop to his knees and cry. Set the memorial ablaze - the entire mountain. Use his mask to teleport himself over the nearest ledge. But the onslaught of emotions kept him frozen in place. Pain, anger, disappointment, pride, guilt. He’d tried to help them both. And now? “Karz it, kid.” ----- Agni didn’t know how long he lingered, but the sun was setting by the time he’d finally left the temple and cairn to head back home, taking the scenic route. Maybe the long trek would help him sort things out. He doubted it, but there was a non-zero chance. That feeling lasted exactly until cresting the first ridge from which he could see the entire eastern coastline of Mata-Nui. The Toa was certainly no expert on boats, but he knew a fleet when he saw one, especially one that glinted this much in the evening light. Crystal. Equal parts frustrated at the prospect of the island once again being plunged into chaos and thankful for the distraction, he activated his Kualsi, turned towards Mt. Mangai - and was gone. OOC: Agni from Ko-Wahi to Ta-Wahi.
  30. 7 points
  31. 7 points
  32. 7 points
    Chapter III. Ends and Beginnings, Victories and Loss The Chojo, Umbraline Desdemona, disappears from the Imperial City. Lord Rayuke sequesters himself while his aid seeks her whereabouts. Disparate forces begin to infiltrate villain-controlled Ko-Koro, including an effort by Toa Maru Oreius that resulted in a fight between himself and Legacy lieutenant Eisen ending in his defeat and rescue by Korero. Lord Rayuke’s aid Masayoshi travels to the Dastana for information, and learns that they have captured Battlemaster Inokio. Under duress Inokio explains that he is working for the Fursics, and that they were behind Rora Yusanora’s death. Masayoshi forcibly enlists his aid to travel to Kozu A mysterious Matoran gathers five Matoran, Leli, Lepidran, Kellin, Seven, and Tarnok, and one Dashi, Soraya, to Kini-Nui. Joske confronts, and is killed by, the Necromancer Echelon. Echelon uses his Komau to discover what the hero learned in the Legend. Full scale battle results in Ko-Koro after the Toa Maru, less Reordin and Oreius, discover the location of Echelon’s hostages. Independent forces, including those of rallied former Island Liberation Front members headed by Toa Maru Reordin, join the fray. The Chosen Matoran are lead by Takua to the Keeping Place, and transported to Lord Rayuke’s garden in the Archipelago. Dorian, enraged by Joske’s death, makes arrangements to confront Echelon at the Vault. Masayoshi and Inokio storm Kozu, where Desdemona has been captured. Splitting up, Masayoshi confronts and slays the treacherous Fursic Toroshu while Inokio and Desdemona defeat her hired Battlemaster Sheika and return to Sado. Dorian and Echelon have a final confrontation at the Vault. During the battle Echelon is slain, and the crystalline flamberge is inserted into the keyhole. Rayuke and the Chosen Matoran, having deciphered the riddle left at the Vault, travel to the summit of Mt. Koshiki and insert Rayuke’s metal blade into the corresponding lock there. The Portals opened both on Mata Nui and the Kentoku Archipelago, a deal is struck in Nowhere. In exchange for the safety of Rayuke and the Chosen Matoran Makuta escapes from Nowhere onto Kentoku and unleashes his Rahkshi. On Mata Nui, Ko-Koro falls under a sustained assault by the Toa Maru, ILF, Gukko Force, a detachment of Sentinels, and the Ihu-Koran Highlanders supported by a detachment of the Ta-Koro Guard. Eisen and the surviving Legacy leadership retreat from the battle, beaten but alive. Rora Yumiwa orders an evacuation of the Kentoku Archipelago for the Umbralines and their allies, as well as any who would heed her advice. The exodus is brutal and violent, but both Desdemona and Yumiwa make it safely to their ship. Inokio is killed in the fighting and Rayuke stays behind. Assailed by an infected Kanohi Dragon, Desdemona is rendered catatonic by her use of Soulfire to defeat it. Dastana forces sail into the capital for its defense and occupation. Arc III The Dasakan Fleet arrives on Mata Nui, the Chosen Matoran in tow.
  33. 7 points
    some legends never die others do
  34. 6 points
    EW is correct; the Datsue restriction on Kanohi was changed just in the last few days, and obviously people have already picked up on the original Menti weaknesses being removed to allow Sighteyes, Soulswords etc. more room to operate with. As far as the Dashi go, we haven't seen many other psionic forces capable of interfering with the Dasaka to really put their mental shielding to the test. Even if they do have it, they may not even be cognizant of it existing; after all, to Dasaka, the mental plane is a very communal thing. So, Menti disciplines aside, they are a breed of Matoran, just one that had its own distinct societal and evolutionary history separate from most Toa. Dasakan myths hint at heroes who were capable of wielding all four disciplines; those were probably your straightforward Toa of Psionics like Orde. As far as the rest, like EW said, that's just stuff we're tinkering with in the profiles topic and the Dasaka Master Reference Post. When we have a final version settled, we'll be sure to let you know. -Tyler
  35. 6 points
    IC: adenine guanine thymine cytosine adenine guanine thymine cytosine- Amidst the inky sea of esoteric words in her anarchist's cookbook, those four had been tantalizing Deuandra for days - weeks? The thought of their bodies being no more than alchemical constructs, chimeras cobbled together from four mystic substances she could not taste, touch or snort, was unfathomable. Most people were quite attached to their bodies in an abstract sense; they hated the idea of them being damaged or decaying, but if they were to break a limb or sleep wrong on their back, it was their back's fault, their back bothering them, as if they were somehow now a victim of this stupid back they were lugging around. Under those circumstances, they considered their bodies little more prisons for their minds and souls - or, since the world was really the ultimate prison, their bodies were but individual cells. Cells...cells! What a genius name! She would have to write that in the book at a moment when her hands weren't occupied. With her dominant hand, Deuandra was mixing up the draught that Arms had requested from her. Neither she nor her patron were really sure what would happen if they mixed these ingredients together, if truth be told. They both had vague ideas of what certain ingredients did from her residency as chief alchemist of Khy;Barr, but most of her time here had been spent shoring up or modifying recipes her mother had penned when she had the book. One day it would be her turn to create anew, and with every broth she made she wondered if that would be it, the first step towards her own magnificence. Curiously, she took the utensil she was using to mix the potion and took a long sip. Mmm. Deuandra smacked her lips. It was tasty, but...she was hardly even feeling a buzz, let alone strong enough to take her quadruple arms and rip Skakdi apart in a bloody frenzy. It seemed like this one was a failure, too. With her left hand, she was keeping her music player powered, humming along to its beat as she concocted and experimented. It helped break up the monotony; her lab was usually a quiet place, hazy with fumes or Vana's smoke. More than once Deuandra had passed off some substance or another to smoke that she was sure might kill the other Lesterin, but so far it seemed like there was nothing she couldn't soak and smoke in an ovuk-taht. Deuandra kind of admired that, in a way. But she didn't like the way Vana looked at her. Especially when Deuandra herself was under some ill effect or another, and the necromancer appeared to her with a hundred leering eyes like a housefly. No, the lab was best with just her, her humming, and her vocalizing. -wanna- She fired off an imaginary Zamor four times, spinning and humming as she rotated from one end of her messy countertop to the other -wanna take your guanine- PEW PEW PEW PEW Was someone really firing a Zamor in here? What was that noise? It was weird she wasn't feeling any stronger. Arms tended to be pretty patient with her failings, ɟoɹ ɐ ʍɐɹloɹp' ʍɥᴉɔɥ lǝp pǝnɐupɹɐ ʇo snsdǝɔʇ ʇɥɐʇ ɥᴉs qɹnʇᴉsɥ ǝxʇǝɹᴉoɹ ɥᴉp ʇɥǝ ɯᴉup oɟ ɐ sɔᴉǝuʇᴉsʇ˙˙˙ǝʌǝu ᴉɟ ɥǝ ʍɐs ʞᴉup oɟ ɐu ᴉllᴉʇǝɹɐʇǝ ouǝ˙ Wait, huh? Deuandra blinked groggily behind her goggles. Ohhhh... "Hahahahaha." Iʇ ʍɐs sʇɐɹʇᴉuƃ ʇo ʞᴉɔʞ ᴉu' Λɐuɐ¡ Λɐuɐ' ɔoɯǝ sɯoʞǝ ʇɥᴉs¡ Iʇ,ll ʇnɹu ʎon ᴉuʇo ƃnɐuᴉuǝ¡ She hoped ɿɘʜɈɘϱoɈ ##### ɿɘʜ qɘɘʞ oɈ ɘldɒ ɘd blυow ɘʜƨ in front of Arms. PEW PEW PEW PEW They were footsteps; Arms' footsteps! Huhuhuh oh. .ɘmiɈ ƨiʜɈ ɿɘʜɈɘϱoɈ Ɉi qɘɘʞ ɒnnoϱ ƨɒw ɘʜƨ woʜ ɒɘbi on bɒʜ ɒɿbnɒυɘႧ THIS ONE WAS NEW TO THE P A L A T E "Arms?" The Lesterin cleared her throat and repeated: "Arms?" as the footstep-gunshots echoed closer. "I just need a few more minutes!" vana vana take your guanine -Tyler
  36. 6 points
    IC: Montague (The Unfortunate Fikou, Onu-Koro) Dearest Sister, I write to you now with the greatest excitement. I have made my pilgrimage to Onu-Wahi - staying in a delightfully quaint little inn, The Unfortunate Fikou, fret not for my safety - and begun the process of narrowing down possible locations for the site, and I do believe that I have found it at last. I know you have worried about me in these recent weeks; the recent troubles in Ko-Koro certainly took their toll on me, that I will readily admit - I cannot remember the last time I had a proper night’s sleep, troubled as I am by these nightmares. You fear, I know, that I have become obsessed, but I assure you that it is quite the opposite! I seek only to put this behind me, and I fear that the only way to put it to rest is to see this out to its conclusion. With knowledge, I find, comes peace; it is quite impossible to be afraid of that which you have seen and understood, and in this way, I hope to put an end to those terrible dreams. But I digress; I meant to write to you of my discovery! My theory of some psychosomnic phenomenon is all but confirmed, as the dreams have only increased in intensity by proximity, and - and! - I am not the only one having them. This, still, is but a suspicion, but I assure you that it is well-founded. I have made the decision now to go b̶̡̝̱̝̯̳̖̟͌͊̆ͅȩ̷̡̢͍͓̤̱̯̜̫͍̩͂̓̽̈́̏̔̈́̓̆͒͊͗ͅl̸͙̫̖̞̝̫̪̖̉̈̓̍̄͆̓̆̂̈́̒̃̕͝ó̴̧̨̧͉̦͈̲̯͍̦͚̍̓͋̈́̊̈̆͒̓̓͊͂͘̚͜͜ͅw̶̧͕̥̯̗͐̈́̌͐̓̈́̐̉̈́̋͝͝- My word! I’m afraid my pen has begun to leak. I will finish this letter here, sister, as I have much to do, and I will surely make extensive notes during my investigation. I hope to write to you again soon, in possession of terrific knowledge, and an archaeological discovery for the ages. With love, Montague Taking great care, Montague folded the letter, fed it to the envelope and sealed it. Fed it? My, what an odd choice of words; you are rather in strange form today, Montague! To suggest that an envelope could ĥ̵̢u̵̥̔n̸̨̿g̶̣͠e̴̤̕r̷͇͘. Quite absurd, old sport, quite absurd. They had already prepared the poster - and fine it was, too. Without a doubt, it would attract those like Montague themself, those who h̸̢̛̒̋̀͆̈́͐̈́̃ừ̷̰̘̠͖̝̒̉͌͑͝͝ņ̴̥͈̠̫͕͓̮̞͇͛͑͝g̷̰̱͚̻̹̠̫̲̖̅̃͋͊́̓̋͋̃͆́̊͘̚ͅe̶̙̺͚͇͆̆͜r̸̟̱̋ȩ̷̪͉̑̀́͒̑̆͆̕̚̕͝d̸̢̨͚̤̼͚͉̞̱̍͊́̓̈́̇̄̅̚ for knowledge. Montague’s name, and the room and inn in which they were staying, were clearly marked below, so that any inquisitive soul might easily find them. And now, to wait.
  37. 6 points
    IC: Niici – Le-Wahi, southern Fau Swamp, remote area The high-class Toa of Ice trudged through the foliage, around the stagnant ponds that littered the landscape. A royal blue cowl was up over her forehead, casting a shadow over her mask. She did not want to be here. She hated that she was the one making this trek. And yet, if the rumors were true, then the decidedly low-class expedition she was undertaking would be worth it. She was grateful that she at least left her heeled shoes behind, favoring flats that would better serve her through this muddy landscape. Flanking her on both sides were Matoran hired hands. One her right, a Ko-Matoran named Seba. He was Niici’s loyal butler since the days of the Cultured Gentry and he remained loyal to her to this day. On Niici’s left was a newcomer. A shrewd former Xa-Koronan, he called himself Jed and he was quite experienced at communicating with people in... other social classes. Jed was especially eager to know if the rumors were true. At first, Jed’s enthusiasm had concerned Niici and Seba. When Ko-Koro became occupied by Echelon and his allies, Niici moved quickly to serve the winning invaders under the guise of duress. After all, with enough money, she could buy her way out of anything. If the occupiers needed tools, supplies, munitions, she could finance it. In a way, her old way of life had returned. More notably, the Cultured Gentry no longer was interested in her dealings, no matter what they were. The occupation had taken up most of their attention. Niici gladly took advantage of this to raise much needed funds, and set up pipelines to launder the excess in case anyone did decide to take a closer look. Jed presented himself during this time, helping fend off some of the more fanatical Makuta-worshipers so that she could keep strong supply chains going. It crossed Niici’s mind multiple times that Jed himself may be not just a neutral helper, but a Makuta worshipper and servant of Echelon. So far, that didn’t seem to be the case. Niici could only hope that the Matoran’s affiliation (or lack thereof) remained as it was. --- After a treacherous walk, the three finally caught sight of a throng of Matoran, Skakdi, Vortixx, Lesterin, and even some Toa in front of what looked like a fenced off facility lined with multi-colored lightstones. In a systematic manner, each visitor was being let in, inspected by security personnel, and then allowed inside proper. “This must be it,” Seba said with wonder, “The Ringli-Barnuma Fau Extravaganza!” One of the first things Niici noticed was that this attraction looked immensely popular. Possibly, too popular for its own good. As the trio moved closer to the entrance, the disorganized blob of people of all shapes and sizes began to change more into a queue. Within a few minutes, they found themselves at the front. Seba went in first, and then Jed. When Niici passed through the gate, however, a hand was put up by the Skakdi security guard to stop her. This was followed by a motioning gesture for her to retract her cowl. After a moment of inspecting her face, the Skakdi spoke. “Wait here. We need to inspect,” he said flatly. He then whistled for backup. Niici stood there impatiently as a Toa (whose colors implied that they were a Toa of Magnetism) walked over, followed by a female Skakdi with a visor. Niici’s eyes narrowed with righteous indignation. --- The scrutiny did not recede even after Niici had her privacy invaded and after she paid the admission fee for herself and her two Matoran colleagues. Within the fenced-off compound, guards of either Toa, Skakdi, or Lesterin kind patrolled, and all of them shot Niici a pointed glance. Niici’s response was to lower her cowl even more over her head. That’s when Niici realized that she was the only guest in this compound who was a Toa. In a way, that supports the rumors, mused Niici, If they’re going to let Toa inside, then they’re going to ensure that certain Toa stay out. The compound was filled with all sorts of attractions, games, and shops. Before them, a giant red and white tent stood proudly with more security personnel guarding the entrance. Predictably, they all took a longer-than-usual glance at Niici’s direction. “Hey!” Niici blinked, and then look down to Jed, and then to Seba. “Jed and I were trying to get your attention,” Seba said with a hint of bashfulness, “Jed was asking: don’t you think it’s odd that you’re the only Toa-guest here? At least, the only one that we can see” “Oh, I’m sorry,” Niici replied. She then realized that the two Matoran had been talking to each other this entire time, and she had tuned them out entirely. “Yes, it definitely doesn’t look like a place for stereotypical-hero-types. It’s not your imagination,” Niici replied, “I just hope things don’t get too unrefined” They finally went to the main hall and took their seats among the stands under the massive red and white tent, just in time for the show. Niici, Jed, and Seba all found themselves beguiled by the magic tricks, trapeze acts, and musical numbers. Sprinkled between each performance was the occasional oddity, including three-eyed Ruki, rare white Muaka, and prancing ash bears. Niici had to hand it to the showrunners. She was mildly impressed. --- “Alrattee, y’all have waited LONG ENOUGH!” came the jubilant drawl of someone Niici instantly recognized as being from backwoods Ta-Wahi, possibly from the lava farming community, “We’re ALMOST ready!” Niici peered down to the arena. Sure enough, it was a Matoran of Fire, but he had a large silver top hat resting over his dark red Miru, and a blue rubber sphere over where his nose would normally be. “And without further ado,” the Ta-Matoran bellowed, “You’ve heard the stories, you’ve mourned with his victims, you’ve celebrated the defeat of all his friends, and you’ve lied awake at night, wondering how he did all that he did, and how to avoid become his next victim” Niici and the rest of the audience’s attention immediately shifted to the large box-shaped structure being rolled out, a thick tarp resting over it. Two Matoran attendants flanked the sides, while a heavily armored, Calix-wearing Toa in white armor held the rear. In front was a burly-looking Toa of Fire with a bright red Sanok. Niici especially took notice of the rusty hook that had replaced the Ta-Toa's right hand. “Well, the wait is OFFICIALLY over!” the hat-wearer continued, “Ladies, gents, Lesterin, Skakdi, Vortixx, Matoran, Toa! Feast your EYES...” The audience, Niici and her aides included, leaned forward in anticipation. “...On the Terrifying!” the Matoran of Fire bellowed to a rising clamor from the audience, “The Merciless!” And with that, the Matoran and Toa attendants forcefully pulled the tarp from what Niici now knew was a cage. Despite Niici’s best efforts, the let out an audible gasp, along with Jed. Seba yelped in fear. Gasps and cries could be heard all throughout the stands. Eyes were widened, and mouths were agape – including Niici’s. Before them, some incomprehensible mix between a Toa of Air and a Rahkshi grabbed two of the sturdy metal bars of the cage with the aggression of a ravenous lion. On each of its wrists were three scissor blades at least 6 inches in length. It had gunmetal pauldrons, elbow guards, and knee pads. The rest of its armor was a shiny, polished lime green. That, along with a Miru, a lime-green, cracked and chipped helmet in the shape of a Rahkshi’s head, and a very deep scar across the front and right side of his face made the creature recognizable to all. “Dark Toa VIDAAAAR!” the announcer bellowed, left arm outstretched in the creature’s direction. The audience roared, and Vidar, in rote fashion, roared back.
  38. 6 points
    IC: [Leah - Ga-Koro, Docks] Leah tensed slightly. She really wanted to help, but the list in her hand was pretty much all she had to go by, and though extensive, it had been compiled in a hurry and transmitted telepathically between the Ryuu and the incoming ships. She could see Daijuno’s eyes widen. The Toa Maru dropped to one knee to make it easier for the Dashi to see and held up the iStone with the list for her. “Here, look, maybe you or Sinshi can get more out of this than I can. Nothing can be ruled out just yet, not all the ships have even managed to unload their people yet. Maybe she’s yet to disembark? But if she's on this island, we'll find her.” OOC: @Void Emissary @Krayzikk IC: [Ayiwah - Ga-Koro, Akiri Hahli’s Hut] Excerpt from ‘Engagement Rules - Umbraline Rora’: Don’t fire unless fired upon. .:Yumi, the only reason I do this song and dance is so the only people that get to walk over your backside are those massage therapists you like so much.:. OOC: @Caedast
  39. 6 points
    yeah go for it, i still have a few characters i need to post for before i can bring back my guard character. you've languished long enough -Tyler
  40. 6 points
    THIS is an open announcement that my assassin Vortixx from arc 1, Illicia, is all profiled up and available for work. Some may remember her as Onewa's killer. Well, his 'kuka killed him but hey, it's good for her resumé, right? Anyway, if you want anyone or anything murdered, stolen, scared or if you have any other job in mind for a stealth-type character then pop me a DM. Her rates are steep but negotiable. Service charges may apply.
  41. 6 points
    ___________________________________________________________________________________ (Re)introducing The Outsiders The island of Mata Nui is already home to a multitude of characters, villages, and factions. But for the misfits and mercenaries, outcasts and oddballs, it can be hard to find a good place or group to fit in with. That’s where The Outsiders come in. Founded during the last arc, this mercenary band operate out of Obsidian Outpost, maintaining and defending the Ko-Wahi side of the cable car network as part of an official alliance with Ko-Koro. The Outsiders welcome members of all species and skillsets, and take missions all across the island for all kinds of employers. How do I sign up? Recruitment is fairly straightforward: just walk in and ask for a job. Whether your character is a warrior or wanderer, artisan or armourer, sellsword or spy, The Outsiders are sure to find a use for your skills. Members of The Outsiders are considered “contractors” with Ko-Koro, and the local Akiri has expressed a willingness to overlook past actions of characters with criminal backgrounds (within reason) who sign up with the group. If you want to discuss stuff OOC first, feel free to get in touch and I’d be happy to hash something out. If you’d prefer to skip over the recruitment process, I’m also happy to accept characters as being established, pre-existing members of the group whose recruitment occurred off-screen during the timeskip. Outsiders characters from last arc are also welcome to return. In addition, members of the organisation are always on the lookout for other potential recruits, and may approach talented individuals they’ve seen or heard about on their travels. As part of the sign-on process, your character will undergo a challenge of some kind to allow them to showcase their skills (eg. a duel with an existing member of the group, a demonstration of climbing or lock-picking, etc), as a way to introduce your character and get in some interaction with other members of the group. Once part of The Outsiders, characters can choose to take on a codename that embodies their abilities or persona, and will be able to have their say in missions and other decisions. Members will gain a room and storage space to call their own at the outpost, and a share of the food and water supplies. Joining the group will give members greater access to contracts and employment opportunities, and of course, plenty of new comrades to join them on missions. Missions needed. If you want to hire The Outsiders for a job, you can contact them by letter, by sending a messenger, or by visiting their outpost in person. The group will (hopefully) have characters capable of dealing with a wide variety of tasks, such as assassination, theft or infiltration, hunting dangerous rahi, and serving as bodyguards or hired muscle. Prices are negotiable, with widgets, equipment, weaponry, supplies, and information all acceptable commodities depending on the nature of the task. Anyone who’s got some juicy plot hooks or mission ideas they’d like to throw our way is welcome to do so. A fresh start. For those who might not have the fondest memories of the group from last arc, the founding player hasn’t been around for about two years and didn’t inform anyone of their long-term plans for the group, so what I’m going for here is a bit of a soft reboot that will hopefully avoid the mistakes of last time. There won’t be any secretive recruitment rituals, nor harassing of passers-by. Barring an in-game conflict, the outpost’s gates will be open at all times, and travellers will be able to pass freely through the outpost without feeling pressured to acknowledge or interact with the mercs if they don’t want to. At the order of Akiri Tarkahn of Ko-Koro, The Outsiders will be continuing to extract tolls from travellers (with the exception of military personnel), with 40% of profits being diverted directly to Ko-Koro. Other stuff. A maximum of two characters per player are allowed to be members of the organisation. The Outsiders are aimed more towards neutral characters, so lawful good heroes or moustache-twirling puppy-kickers probably aren’t going to be a great fit with the group. Even though they’re a mercenary organisation that sometimes break the law, The Outsiders still have a formal working relationship with one Koro, and aim to maintain a good reputation with other people and groups around the island. This means civilian casualties and collateral damage during missions are very much frowned upon, and there will be consequences for operatives who engage in these sorts of actions. Be creative. Share your ideas for the group, in-character or out. The goal is to create opportunities for fresh, fun interaction, so don’t be afraid to speak up. It’s not required reading, but further information on the group and its history can be found by checking out the wiki pages for the organisation and its base of operations. If you have any questions or suggestions, don’t hesitate to shoot me a PM or message me on Discord.
  42. 6 points
    Too late. You showed up. Your only chance was to stay away, and now... You're here forever
  43. 6 points
    IC: AND YOU MAY FIND YOURSELF LIVING IN A SHOTGUN SHACK… AND YOU MAY FIND YOURSELF IN ANOTHER PART OF THE WORLD… She was okay. At peace with herself. The last month and a bit had been a whirlwind of emotions for her, and truthfully? She almost couldn’t handle it at times. Life had changed in ways she really hadn’t expected, taken turns down avenues she’d never even dreamed of before. And, well, she did a lot of dreaming. During the night… during the day… AND YOU MAY FIND YOURSELF She’d made friends - real friends, not like those- She really didn’t want to think about them. Not right now. She was thinking about her friends. People who genuinely cared about her well being, laughed and joked together… Karz, she just didn’t want this vacation to ever end. Was it even a vacation? BEHIND THE WHEEL OF A LARGE AUTOMOBILE She really didn’t want it to be. If she had it her way, she’d never set foot in Le-Koro ever again. #### that place. She couldn’t stand the sight of that stinking pile of- Focus, Tor. Focus on the here and now. Focus on your friends. Erzu Salvajemono. AND YOU MAY FIND YOURSELF IN A BEAUTIFUL HOUSE Saeva Sareta. WITH A BEAUTIFUL WIFE Redhot. Focus, Tor. Huh. What was she doing again? AND YOU MAY ASK YOURSELF And then the cue ball hit her directly on the nose. “Aaaaaagh!”
  44. 6 points
    IC: Tuara Drigton - Ta-Koro 'Tuara, Destroy this letter, once you've read it. I know you may not understand my behavior, or why I have placed my allegiance with people you've long considered your enemies. But I hope that given enough time and effort, that one day, you'll understand.' Tuara stepped inside the front door of her home and into the living room, closing it behind her with a soft click. Upon entering, she paused, her hand tightly gripping the door-knob as her eyes moved about the room. It was the first time since vacating the place eight weeks ago that she had been home, since it had been officially declared a crime scene, and thoroughly looked over by the Ta-Koro Guard. Eight weeks since she shattered every bottle of alcohol against the wall. Eight weeks since she hid a body for her brother Kitea. Eight weeks since she last spoke with Dorian- Tuara let out a hard exhale, realizing she had been holding her breath since stepping inside. She let go of the door knob, and set her eyes on Dorian's piano in the middle of the living room on the other side of the couch. She felt her hands begin to shake for a moment, as a wellspring of emotion within her began to swell, but she quickly turned away from the instrument and stepped to her right, into the kitchen. 'I wish I hadn't dragged you into this. I stayed away from you all these years because I knew my people were dangerous, and I didn't want you to get caught up in it all. But it seems you went and did that all by yourself anyways. It shouldn't exactly surprise me, but it did. Know this - I only came to you because I had no other choice. Believe me. I know that may be difficult considering I've kept my life a secret from you all these years.' Busying her hands to distract herself, she reached into the cabinet next to the sink and retrieved a glass. It was short and stocky with a crystalline pattern, and had been used countless times before, serving whiskey. The glass against her lips, the glass against his. The pair, watching each other drink. A hand reaching across the couch to rest on his leg. Dorian leaning over- Tuara purged these thoughts as well, and quickly put the glass under the tap, then up to her mouth, gulping down water. She breathed out, suddenly aware that her forehead had become beaded with sweat. These thoughts had not been purged at all, it seemed. The memories of her self-destructive alcoholic behavior had become entirely intertwined with fond memories, special moments throughout her life - even joyful ones. It made having quit eight weeks ago seem like only minutes sometimes. Eight weeks. 'I guess I just wanted to say I'm sorry-' A sound, from the living room. Tuara turned on her heel, heart pounding, her body immediately pumping with adrenaline. However, in the dim light of the home, all she could see was dust in the sunbeams of the small windows. Whatever the noise, it must have come from outside. She wiped the sweat off her forehead, looking down at the coffee table, a bundle of letters tied together with thin twine, and a Ta-Koro Guard seal stamped on the front. More letters from Kitea, written during his trial, now able to read them since his guilty verdict had been reached. 'and that one day, we can be brother and sister again. A family.' Putting Kitea away had become simple once Tuara had turned in his secret hand-written letter apologizing, and alluding to his work with other Makuta loyalists. She didn't regret it. At least, she thought so. But she knew that no matter what decision she had made, somebody was going to get hurt. Kitea had come to her at her lowest point, and when she was weak, manipulated her into... well. Tuara didn't want to think about the horrible crime she had committed. She scowled at the papers, reached down, and picked them up, staring at the lettering on the front, thinking back on what Kitea had written her once before. 'I'm not sure what's going to happen if the Guard finds out what we've done. I'm sure they won't let me see you anymore. I hope that's not true. If anybody can figure this out, it's you. I know it. - Kitea' Tuara's scowl deepened. What would she find inside? More manipulation no doubt. She swore she could still taste Kitea's poisonous words on the tip of her tongue. "God. I really do need a drink."
  45. 6 points
    IC: May she sing with Zuto Nui. That was the Dasakan adage meant to weave threads of comfort into the tapestry of life and death. There was no such thing as finality or the yawning void, and no Dasaka had to contend with the fact that their minds - the minds that gave them power, the minds that allowed them to interlink with lovers and family and hated rivals alike, the minds that were their whole essence and all their power - could just unravel and fade. They were an elegant, beautiful people, with history that extended into Time before Time. Surely death was transitory, a period no different from calling upon one's Toroshu or the Rora before she could be reunited with her loved ones - to sing with Zuto Nui in kind, and mingle and merge her own consciousness into a seamless bliss that made Ideatalk seem as brusque as a shouting match. In the next phase of eternity, she would be with her mother again. Umbraline Desdemona felt as though she had spent most of the boat ride dead. But she did not sing with Zuto Nui, and the thing sharing infinity with her was not her mother. Her sleep was long and dreamless, but she was not altogether oblivious to the comings and goings around them. She could feel the minds of the refugees roiling constantly; the Umbralines and all their courtiers had fled Sado, the jeweled eye of the world, for parts unknown to all but a few Dasaka. There was a lot of turmoil in their ragtag armada over the decision. In her sleep, Des could hear the murmurs of discontent and even the fleeting, unbecoming thoughts of mutiny that tantalized dejected sailors and courtiers in their dreams. Yumi would have had them all killed, dismembered by Inokio for their treachery, but Des could hardly blame them. The Empire, a beacon of civilization for tens of thousands of years, had been rocked to its core, maybe even collapsed - what did they have to be loyal to, its memory? But loyal they stayed, and even if Yumiwa wanted them killed, there would be no one to do it. She couldn't feel Inokio anywhere anymore. Somewhere, in whatever space she occupied, she cried thinking of him. Once, she thought she imagined a tiger, bloodied and limping, lapping at her tears with a roughened tongue...but maybe that was a dream after all, because she had cried out for Inokio until her little chest trembled, cried for him in rage and betrayal and fear and even cried out for a hint of the paternal love he had never, ever reciprocated. But the tiger was too exhausted to dry her tears a second time, and Inokio himself never replied. Yumi didn't answer her, either, or her uncle Rayuke, or even Masayoshi, who was not her sworn sword but would have gladly dropped every title and office in her life to be so. All she had for company was the thing. Her mother had been a beautiful woman. She was old and bent towards the end, with none of Yumi's height or Rayuke's power, but she had been a powerful Menti in her day and had captured the hearts of more men and women than anyone - maybe even her successor. She had marshaled a whole empire against the traitorous Clan Fursic and put an end to their imperial delusions with the same ease and grace she went through her life with. Even at the end, with a Soulsword punched through her chest and bloody spittle flecked along her lips and chin, her corpse had been suspended above the party with grace. Desdemona shook in terror. On the table at the Chojo's bedside, a trinity of crystal spheres trembled and clinked. The thing was pallid and grey, with empty eyes devoid of the love and light her mother brought into the world. It was hunched like the old woman the Rora had been, and whatever sick sculptor had replicated her fatal wound knew his work well; the hole was bored perfectly through her, and Des could peer straight through her body onto the horizon. The thing's insides were empty; her mother had a good and gentle heart, her surviving brother liked to say, much like Desde's herself when they were of an age. The thing had no heart at all. Though, thinking back to Yusanora's body at the party, maybe she hadn't had one either. It was just them in this plane. Desdemona, her brain fried by a psionic surge the likes of which she had never felt before, and this thing wearing what remained of her mother's skin. Since she knew this couldn't be a dream, it stood to reason that all she had to do was wait this out - unless this was the fabled afterlife. "Are you Zuto Nui?" she asked quizzically, but of course a Dasaka should never ask such questions aloud - especially if she was talking to Zuto Nui. Sorry! .:Are you Zuto Nui?:. Still nothing. .:Are you Zataka?:. That definitely didn't seem right, either, although it would make a lot of cults much funnier in retrospect. .:Are you Yusanora?:. Not a twitch. .:Are you...me?:. The thing looked up. Maybe Desde had hit upon an uncomfortable truth - that this was the frailty, the disgusting and hidden truth of her soul that her mother and her family had known to tuck away in a tower. Or maybe she was just so skinny and weird that she had even offended a mockery such as this ghoul. That would make her feel pretty crummy. .:No. You're not me.:. .:I'm a dragon.:. "I'm...dragon...Yumi..." “Suhei, report!” .:Ayiwah?:. She could feel the older Menti recoil at her touch, the way everyone recoiled from Desde's touch. It had made her cry her entire life - but now, after everything, Desde finally felt like she could start singing. .:Ayiwah, you should have seen me!:. she gushed, the same way she had always gushed to the cousin she idolized. Ayiwah had always occupied a space in Desde's pantheon of heroes just a couple rungs below her own Valkyr namesake. She would always come equipped with knowledge of court gossip and things she had done with her Menti abilities, as though that could impress a woman who had seen the things Ayiwah had on the seas, a sailor who could cut down impetuous nobles in her uniform and remain so respected. But Ayiwah had never made her frail little cousin feel any the lamer for the poor stories she offered in exchange for the commodore's exploits. In fact, once she had even shown Desde her navel piercing, dotted with little crystals that could have fit on a nail, and regaled her with the story of how she got it. Yumi might have marched to Inokio or their mom and demanded one, but not Desde. She knew it was their secret. .:There was this thing, this...I don't want to call it a Soulsword, but...yeah~! It was a Soulsword, and it looked like a dragon! I made it!:. She hoped Ayiwah was getting all this; she could feel the commodore's strong will pushing out, testing the limits of their connection, and the crown princess realized that unlike her Ayiwah was still dreaming. .:I saw Yumi getting to her ship, and Masayoshi is with me...I saw Uncle for a minute, but I don't know if Rayuke...I don't know if he made it. The rest of us are coming to you! Isn't that great?:. It was odd. She could hear her own words ringing in her ears, could parse each one she spoke, define it, and string them together to realize that what she was saying was downright apocalyptic...but somehow, she couldn't help but feel good. She felt strong. :Desde!? How is this possible?:. .:Ayiwah? Can you hear me? I said we're coming to you, on Mata Nui! I don't know how many days out we are, but if I can hear you, that's a good sign!:. She had no idea why Ayiwah wasn't as excited as she was. Maybe it was the connection; maybe she was rousing her cousin from a pleasant sleep (ooh, maybe with Tazera beside her???) or maybe Ayiwah was having a harder time coming to terms with the fate of the Empire than she was. The thing certainly didn't seem enthused to hear Desde's briefing. It had started to rattle at her, the stupid ugly ghoul, and as it attempted to stretch towards her its brittle grey skin began to crack like mistreated parchment. She swatted the hand away. .:I'm talking to my cousin. You don't belong here.:. When she blinked again, it was just her and Ayiwah. .:Ayiwah, I think I have to wake up. Something's...happening to me, I think. It isn't safe. But don't worry, Ayiwah. I'm coming.:. The princess smiled shyly, and hoped that the expression carried across the gulf between her and her cousin. .:I love you.:. At the same moment Ayiwah sat up in her bed, drenched in sweat despite the temperate Ga-Koro evening, Umbraline Desde's eyes lolled open lazily. She let out a big yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawn. "Masa?" she groaned, covering the back of her hand to stifled a yawn from growing louder than the first. She sat up in bed and hugged the covers to her bare chest. At some point Masayoshi must have bathed her, or a handmaiden. Perverts. She cracked her neck - always a dangerous proposition with a constitution and build like Desde's, but she let out a happy, contented sigh at the unfamiliar feeling of her joints popping. She did the same with her back, then laced her fingers together and reached her clasped hands to the ceiling of her cabin. "Yumi?" She realized she was making the same mistake as she had in her dream...vision...coma...whatever, and reached out across the armada, scanning everywhere for the telltale scarlet of her sister's Willhammer tell. .:Yumi?:. -Tyler
  46. 6 points
    'Echelon' may be presumed dead, but did Scrimblo Plimbo survive?
  47. 6 points
  48. 6 points
  49. 6 points
    extraneous characters aren't a player issue, they're a service issue -Tyler
  50. 6 points
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