IC: Jolek Highwind - Ta-Koro
A double-bitted battleaxe of largely standard, but sturdy make.
In looks, it really wasn't anything special. Well-kept, weighty and long, the Stormbringer wasn't one for striking imagery when he could simply strike. He was... like that. He was like that about a lot more than just how he had his weaponry crafted. It ran through his blood. Nothing put to waste. Not one bit more than necessary.
With the quartet of would-be adventurers having long departed in search of some new trouble to get into, Jolek Highwind quickly excused himself from his superior(s) in turn, a haphazard yet exact pile of widgets in his wake. There was a lot about city life he still didn't get, but "not owing things" wasn't amongst the number— that much even a jungle boy knew how to extrapolate easily. Warrant Officer Soter and Private Elly were pretty generous in letting him tag along, sure, but he wasn't ready to have any hard debts to them. The latter was definitely the type to hold it over his head some time down the road, and if "Taku Wash" were any indication...
I'll get taken advantage of for a laugh.
Not my thing.
...It was a much safer investment. A little cash to take the place of a lot more energy and temper.
"I'm gonna head out. You guys have a good one."
He'd heard such values— that frugality and lack of needless frills— were passed down in their family from man to man. Duibhne Highwind. Diarmuid Highwind. Perkahn Highwind. Jolek Highwind. Fathers to sons, keeping their unlucky, unsung clan from getting their heads too big. "As if," the weatered Fe-Toa had said with a sardonic laugh, "life hadn't done it enough."
Jolek felt a hand creep towards the lengthy pommel that peeked over his shoulder as he walked. It was still a very unfamiliar weight upon his back to simply move around with, let alone contemplate. Nothing approaching crushing, not when you'd carried around something resembling a sledgehammer of similar proportions— but it felt weird in comparison. That, he supposed, made it seem far heavier than it should be.
He gripped it firmly for a moment.
Or maybe it's because this thing's family, too.
Perkahn Highwind and Arianna Highwind knew these things— the weight of a good battleaxe, the misfortune of their line, and how to take pride in both. They knew far better than he ever could, if he had to guess. Wherever they were.
His mother and father had left it to him without a word. They'd left... Everything. The house, the axe, the histories of both. That long-sought freedom that they'd built with their own two hands, enduring years of struggle and injustice. Criminal branding. Loss of those loved. Stuff he could scarcely comprehend— their stories were a lot bigger than his. He felt, even now, like an outsider looking in. Just some lunkhead from the humid forest to the south, barely knowing himself.
Let alone the weights they had shouldered.
He traced a familiar path across the flat of the head, where an old fight had once left the scar of warping. The eldest surviving Highwind had removed it himself, after another Toa of Iron (Kree, or some name like that) tried to be cute and turn his cutting edge elastic in a barfight. Perkahn had molded it into a greatsword for the next couple of minutes the tussle lasted. He'd liked telling that story. Always said that it was much more entertaining than the others that had scars still attached. The burns on his right hand, the map of weathering on his Kakama, those didn't have half the funny factor of "My opponent actually thought I yielded when I asked her to. Could you imagine?"
A finger floated up to trace the white line on his cheekbone while he rounded a familiar corner. It made sense in hindsight, but Jolek had never realized just how sharp Rahkshi staffs truly were until one had sliced him open— and gotten its head lopped off for the trouble. Sharp as the wits of their master Makuta, but not sharper than Rebellion.
That was how he'd describe it. If each scar had a story, then he had so many fewer than the man who had once taught him so much— before that siege, his slate had been wiped clean. He'd missed a lot of stories. There were a lot of memories, a lot of weight, a lot of meaning attached to all he'd been left. While he was spending simple days in Le-Wahi, that man had built the house he now stood before himself, piece by piece, wasting nothing. He had rubbed shoulders with warriors, leaders, men of all stripes and creeds. He had fought, raged, cried, and laughed as he wrested his name itself out of the mud, seeking justice. Jolek had gleaned little bits of it over their time together, just enough to know that each mark the years had left upon Perkahn's Kanohi carried a whole lot of hard life with it.
Compared to that, he was just a wisp. A ghostly, uncertain figure within that epic saga. One thin line, right at the end.
The porch was getting a little dusty.
Shields adorned the short hall inward, as they did seemingly every wall in the entire house. He hadn't known any man of the Highwind family to ever use one, actually— not that he was told. Rather, it was just...
"A collection, dear." Arianna Highwind had once told her curious boy, now a young man in his own right. Her voice was so unlike her husband's, soft, gentle, and always thoughtful. He'd always guessed that his ability to teach came more from her than Perkahn. She was a healer who had spent lonely days waiting with faith and grace beyond imagining, helping the village however she could. Even with a husband maligned, even with her flesh and blood missing or dead. "Your Father liked taking the crests, back when we were your age."
The countless months that she had spent tending this place on her own must have been like that too. Surrounded by shields with stories all their own, each a trophy from some victory, combative or otherwise. Tale after tale adorning those spotless, immaculate walls, while she lived out her own. How many were here when they had first built this place? How long did it take for them to begin to truly cover them? How many were won in a fight, how many were looted, how many were bargained for? He didn't doubt that she knew what each one meant.
Karz, he'd seen the woman's skill with her blade and her lightning— he wouldn't even be surprised if a few were hers, pacifist or otherwise. The elegant Vo-Toa lacked the scars Perkahn had, but hers wasn't an easy road either. Jol wasn't a very emotionally smart guy, that much he could freely admit. He was one of a pair of dudes who only really knew eachother when they came to this town, and were more busy making sure they were alive than really learning anything of the soul.
But even he knew that nobody cried like that seeing someone's face unless they had been hurting for a long, long time.
The martial artist dipped his head forward, peeking around a corner to observe the kitchen. Spotless. Untouched. Empty.
It had been for a good while now, hadn't it? Right when he was getting used to coming home from a hunt or trapping spree to a bowl of salad and feta. It had seemed like she was always there, until she just wasn't. Until neither of his parents were.
Given that he didn't have the heart to tell her just how out-of-place he felt sometimes, even in the face of their earnest efforts to welcome their returned son into their life... It was a small blessing that they had decided to go on one more adventure. He felt pretty selfish thinking that. No, he was definitely selfish. Accountability was irreplaceable, so to run from it was foolishness. Jungle Law. Be real.
"...Like I know what's real, huh?"
But that was the problem.
What was real for him? Everything his parents remembered, from the time before some great storm had taken him from them? He couldn't disregard it. Not to them, after they'd worked so hard for his sake, after he had miraculously came back into their lives. Their reality definitely included that, and their memory of him definitely included that too.
But his memory started after he'd coughed up seawater, far away from their home and this family. All he knew then was his name, how to fight, and he was staring at the Jungle before him. That was his world for every part of the childhood he'd lived, everything he could ever recall unclouded by a thick veil of inky fog. To deny that it was the foundation for who he considered himself to be would be more than wrong, more than painful. It'd just be stupid.
A weapon was reserved for somebody with the assuredness to use it. You didn't give dangerous things to those who didn't understand them, that much was really simple stuff anybody with half a brain could get.
Did he have the right, then, to hold Rebellion?
Simply made or not, the battleaxe was more than just a weapon, wasn't it? It wasn't something quite like what he could walk down to a local forge and get made for him within a week, it had a history.
It had a memory.
It had a story.
It had a weight.
One I don't know the half of. I'm sure you meant well, Old Man. I think I know you well enough to say that much.
But I don't think I deserve this yet. Not until I know me well enough to.
The principles of a martial artist. Things one aspired to be for their whole lives. He wasn't perfect at all of them— he probably wasn't even perfect at any of them, truthfully. But he knew that they were the things he had to be during times of real importance. If he wasn't, he'd falter as a man. He would fail his teachings, more than he had already in forgetting who they came from.
This was one of those times, wasn't it?
The fireplace's humble stone, just as the house leaned against the walls of the fortress city, found Rebellion leaning against it once more.
Just as it had been left.
He owed such a sanctified, venerable thing that much, at least.
After all, when Perkahn Highwind returned, he'd want to know where to find that tool for freedom. The weight upon his back that he knew best. Something that had shared the scars, seen him through the memories, and written the tale of his life through fire and blood.
The front door quietly closed, and two stories of wood, iron, stone, and history were once again left in solitude, standing silently vigil over the outskirts of the rebuilding cityscape.
Until that time came, Jolek Highwind would write a few of his own.
He had no doubt in his heart that they were both out there, same as his brother in all but blood from The Jungle.
They were a strong bunch, the people that were important to him. He knew better than to worry about anyone he could feasibly call his kin. Rather than that, a weird little thought struck him.
He'd promised one that they would meet again and compare their growth, once upon a time...
He glanced back over his shoulder—
"...When you see me next, I'll be sure to have a couple stories for you to hear."
—And began to walk forward.
Not one more word was necessary.