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EmperorWhenua

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About EmperorWhenua

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    Senior OTC RPG Judge
  • Birthday 07/23/1992

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  1. IC Leklo | Ice Ruins “You said you bring a Great Disk, toa Leklo. If that is true, I am most impressed. How did Destiny arrange for you to come upon such an artifact of power?” "I do," Leklo said and walked forward. He still kept the disc in his satchel, not wanting to spoil the surprise when he finally produced it in that exhilarating moment at the podium. The maze of the Temple ruins were abbreviated and simple by comparison to how Leklo had found them before. The puzzles were still complete and nothing had reset, allowing him free access to chamber after hallway as though he had never left its nebulous confines. "But I do not know how Destiny managed this one. Maybe it was fate, maybe it was pure chance, but I met another friend of mine—not Korruhn, but another—" he said, reflexively defending the mere premise that a former Ko-Matoran could even have more than a single acquaintance, not realizing that the Administrator had no prejudices on the matter, "named Atamai. A battle was fought, and we were the dubious victors, and we split the spoils of the battle, a set of the great discs. My claim was the 429, my quarry once more." He omitted the portions of Korruhn's demise, and of Axonn's brutish opposition, or of the Aspect who showed up in the aftermath. The only thing that mattered to Leklo was achieving the task on his list and honoring his friend, neither of which the Administrator should have bothered to care about or know, and with single-minded devotion to his summons Leklo had carried himself through the ruins with haste. Ultan, a faithful spectre, hovered behind him by a few steps, until finally both of their paces slowed to a halt and they found themselves in the penultimate chamber. Leklo's knees quivered with anticipation and his hands fidgeted with hesitation on the edges of the disc in his satchel. "And so, here I stand."
  2. IC Stannis | Ft Nektann The old Wanderer was only just still coming back to but he could feel the pangs of hunger upon him. "Does that mean... is he speaking... of food?" he asked Barius. "Hi Korruhn." @Burnmad @Crimson Jester
  3. IC Stannis | Fort Nektann “I suppose not.” The Wanderer was smaller than Barius and his wispy body resisted the warlord’s hoisting no more than a pile of sticks would have. Sometimes even the most unassuming things possessed power beyond what was expected. As the world turned bright again around him and his senses burned with an effervescent awareness of everything he did feel... greater than he was before. The therapist Jo was correct: Recognizing himself for who he was indeed was a step towards his quest’s completion. OOC | Stannis/Caedast has unlocked his next Grand Wish level. Oreius and Aurax now possess karats powers at the 5th level, and Stannis/Caedast can also now heal people (with some effort). @Eyru @~Xemnas~
  4. Those will also be ninety-five widgets. If they’re prescription we can bill insurance, otherwise we also take Diner’s Club instead of cash.
  5. Great! So that'll be ninety-five widgets for today's session. Are we billing insurance or paying in cash? For some that name will bring back memories, and for everyone else these are the memories.
  6. IC Stannis | Therapy So how do you intend to help me? That depends. How would you like to be helped? ... Therapy isn't about what I'm trying to accomplish, 'Stannis,' it's about what you need. And what is that? You have so much power, so much knowledge and wisdom... but so little peace. So little understanding about yourself. You won't even speak your own name. There isn't any point in doing so. Anyone who knows it is either long dead or better off not hearing it. Words have power. Names have power. You are not Stannis—he was a noble and good man beloved by others, but what is evoked by the name C— Stop it. You're afraid. Names have power. My name has power, but not to the people who would hear it. My name does nobody any good knowing it now. Is that hat Tuakana still around? He would know it and wouldn't care for it. Miserix wouldn't bat an eye at my name, nor would Tridax or Miserix or Mata-Nui. They do not care about my name because they didn't when I was here last. Then this is what I can help you with. What? Embrace yourself. If your name does not represent power to the others then make it. You are steps away from achieving your Grand Wish! From being a god of soothsaying, from answering the prayers of the scared and directionless! You are not Stannis of the Maru, you are so much more than the shell you inhabit. And unless you realize what you are inside, accept it, and fully embrace your true identity you will always be hindered by the legacy of the corpse you are wearing and constantly patching up with your kraata ability. You are not a toa and Xa is not the place to hide anymore. This is your turf, yours to seize, and the only thing holding you back is the weight on your shoulders. Free yourself from those fetters. Remember your name and speak it with power. Do you understand me? ... ... I do. Yes, good. Tell me more. I am an Aspect of the Makuta. Go on. I am not Toa Stannis Hagah or Maru. This land is my home. And who are you, really? My name is Caedast the Wanderer and let it echo in the minds who hear it like drums in a cathedral. Great! So that'll be ninety-five widgets for today's session. Are we billing insurance or paying in cash? . . . The Wanderer awoke in a position of repose, passionately mumbling conversation with a small pomelo tree in the garden alcove.
  7. IC Leklo + Ultan | Ice Ruins "It's okay, Ultan. The Administrator is a friend," Leklo said, not totally convinced in the term's approximation to the truth but applying it anyway. "I am Ultan," said the other. His mouth moved without sound at first as he struggled to cough up the words from his throat. In the face of the icicle tree and the frigid chamber he wanted to cry in memory for his dark companion, but that wouldn't have benefitted anyone; he finally urged sound out but it came slowly, like a regurgitated frog awkwardly crawling out of the maw one leg at a time. "Something happened to Korruhn and he cannot be with us right now, while Sidra... is walking a different path," he said tactfully. He walked forward, familiar now with the turn of the passages and puzzles, and patted his satchel. "I have returned with a 429. To fulfil my purpose." He sounded hopeful.
  8. IC Stannis | Therapy You say Mata-nui hasn't failed yet. Why is that? Because he hasn't. But he's dead. The Ark is in pieces. His realm is asteroids in the nighttime sky. Is that not true? It is not. His domain is one of death. Do you really think me foolish enough to think death would do him in? Would it not? No. Mata-Nui has always understood death to be a part of life. The other side of the same face. Mata-Nui thrives on worship, pageantry, sycophantry, all parts of a greater whole. Of what do you speak, 'Stannis?' I speak of the one thing that can bring back the dead and instill feelings of awe and terror in the hearts of witnesses. I speak of unshakable strength dwelling in a more virtuous echelon. I speak of Faith. Death is Mata-Nui's domain, but Faith always was his calling. This is how he continues his existence. Even now, the Builders still perform acts in his name! Even now, people such as Korruhn and Atamai loyally work to restore his former powers! Great Spirit-this and Mata Nui-that. They don't know the half of it. His sway is clear, enthralled in his personality as they are. A being only truly dies when their name is not spoken of anymore, and that spirit continues to live on, strong as ever before, Ark or not. His mission is not yet finished, even if his wish was long-ago granted. What separates you from Mata-Nui? ... ... We are different. How so? It seems to me that both of you function in similar fashions. We are different because we are. Every Aspect is their own world. I come from my dreams... and he comes from his. But all dreams come to an end, do they not? That is the cycle of things... yes. But then the wakeful nightmares begin again, and the Builders never cease to perpetuate their own nightmares. IC Leklo | Ice Ruins 3,6 It was another nightfall by the time the two toa slowly rumbled their speeder bikes close to the desolate ziggurat they'd been at a couple days before. Leklo's anticipation materialized as anxiety and he'd been twitching his legs the whole while as he saw the terrain turn familiar again. He and Korruhn had traversed this area by foot originally and things he once surveyed up close had wizzed by with blurred but recognizable focus, like a faraway glance of an old friend in passing. He touched the kanoka constantly by that point, mentally urging Ultan to throttle them farther and faster, but the older toa was far more reserved than Leklo and less inclined to allow his thrillseeking whims to gain the better of his instincts, and so he'd been leading at a regulated and even speed, neither too exhilarating or unhastened, but simply economical. They still hadn't said much. They knew what was at stake and each appreciated the strengths of the other that led them to their present course. Leklo was cherished for his loyalty and drive, whereas Ultan was in turn appreciated for the honesty and wisdom he lent. The former Alpinist found the balance of characteristics comforting, a familiar equilibrium as what he felt with Korruhn, albeit in a somehow reversed fashion. In this dynamic, it was he who was the headstrong adventurer, whereas he had been an insightful foil to his former best friend. The silence of their ride had given him ample opportunity to reflect on his role as a toa, and as a scholar as well as athlete. Every toa-hero had to be both sides of the face at different points in his career, and to excel at being a hero he would have to know how to apply both in the appropriate times. Once again, he considered himself uniquely capable of being great at what he was called to do, equally monastic and social, learned and impulsive, wise and wily. Duality was in his nature, it seemed, a valuable commodity in a world full of contradictions. Leklo's icy blue eyes scanned the dark horizon as Ultan slowed their bikes to a stop by the temple's entrance. He jumped off in an excited hurry and futzed with the pommel of his sword with his thumb as he stood otherwise idly. Things were quiet. A distant cry of a rahi or a local native could be heart echoing from some far-off bluff, but otherwise they only seemed to have the stars and their anxieties for company. "I can wait out here," Ultan said. "No," Leklo quickly asserted. "I asked you to come to be by my side. Come in the temple with me, Ultan. Please." "I will have to secure the bikes, then," was his matter-of-factly response as he maneuvered the two speeders to behind a boulder like they were two soko steeds led to water. He returned a moment later, two keys in hand, and placed one in his cloak's pocket before tossing the other to Leklo. "In case we have to split up." He nodded and placed the other key in his satchel, knowing it was a prepared and wise approach. Neither knew what was going to happen next, or if they would have to flee in a hurry or simply walk out. And then, without standing on any more ceremony, Leklo took his steps towards the void-cave of the ancient ruin, another companion alongside him for this attempt, and a familiar disk at the ready for whatever secrets the chamber held. The elevator ride was unnerving as it was before. Leklo couldn't stop shaking his leg. ... @The Captain @Unreliable Narrator
  9. IC Leklo and Ultan | Region of Ice Wasteland They rode their speeders in silence. Not for want of things to speak about, what with their mutual friend Korruhn's seeming destruction hours earlier and a myriad of matters Ultan was unaware of, but even with the microphones and earpieces that made speech as simple as if they were sitting still neither of the toa wished to say nary a word. They were thinkers, these two, a wise sage and an even more headstrong philosopher, and there was much to think about in their own worlds, each awake or dreaming at any given moment. Their speeders were programmed to follow each other, Ultan's bike trailing Leklo's as if pulled by a tether, which allowed the older toa to rest. He was more worn than Leklo's spirited self, and he required all the respite he could be afforded. The sun kept cresting behind and then above them, all the while Ultan reclined his body on the dash of his speeder, legs firmly latched onto the body of the bike to keep him astride as it buckled and swayed every now and again. He dreamed, mumbling some nothings occasionally, the only chatter Leklo partook in as a silent party, hearing the aged seer's visions as muffled malarkey like the rumblings of thunder far away. The former Alpinist, meanwhile, relived images in his mind. The course of their battle was replayed over and over again like a small theatre behind his eyes; he dreamed, just his nightmares were wakeful. He regretted doing more to help his friends, falling victim to the lull between stages and standing idly before Korruhn dipped below the waves and began a fresh tragedy. He cursed himself for his incapabilities and ineptness of powers, and for better or worse wondered, hoped even, if perhaps at the end of the road he would finally unlock his elemental abilities and become a true toa-hero at the same stroke as the presentation of the NUVA door disc-key. It was a vain thought, he knew—but then again, he could not help but feel vainglorious at his feats in the past, and Leklo wanted more than anything the ability to achieve something from the morass of ill fortunes he'd been in ever since his ascension. Perhaps what was new was a sense of purpose. What a silly joke that would be, he thought, and it was just cruel enough to be true. He retraced his steps from before, going east and south towards the Ice Ruins from whence they came. He bypassed Metru-Koro, choosing to ignore the whole settlement in his singleminded quest for the NUVA door and honoring the legacy of his friend. It was better that way, he told himself, to skip over the heartache and focus instead on his purpose. As the hours passed by the waste landscape turned greyer and more mountainous, all valleys of basalt and fiends of scree runoff from the shunted peaks nearby. When the sun tipped to hovering in front of his eyes they paused to rest, drink water from their botas, and reluctantly switched, with Ultan taking the point bike and Leklo being allowed to rest finally. He refused at first, citing Ultan's ordeal and sapped strength, but Ultan had none of it and asserted his ability to maneuver just fine and Leklo backed down with quiet gratitude. As he straddled the saddle of his vehicle he dipped his hand reassuringly in the satchel slung over his shoulder and felt the reassuring edges of the kanoka disk. And then his eyes closed and he dreamed dreams in darkness. IC Yumiwa | Kunok McGrokk's "The aftermath," I sneered. I was equally aghast and awed by the whole of the destruction and it couldn't be helped that it registered on my tone. "I delivered the furs, and I have the lady of the dunes," I said, gesturing vaguely at Zataka behind me. "I see that in my absence things really turned into poodoo around here, so tell me, in vivid detail, what happened?" Was it the tahtorak? Was it the tahtorak? IC Stannis | ???? "What do you want to do to me?" "It's my job to just help you, as I said. My goal is that by the end of our session you know yourself better. Well, that and charge you a fee." "I knew there was a catch." "..." "You are a charlatan just like myself. I know me well enough already." "You seem to be very assured of yourself." "I am." "Why do you think that is?" "I have been wandering the planes for eons. In my various guises I have seized armies, conquered lands, and claimed heartlights. None, even those who I trusted, knew the truth of what I am, nor should they have, because the truth would have been too hard for them to comprehend. I am eternal, everlasting, and foundational to the Builder's existences, an answer to their dreams and wants and desires. I know me best because I have known me longer than anyone. Why must I need any any more credibility than that?" "Because you are a void, 'Stannis.' You cite yourself as, er, 'foundational,' but would you not also admit that the Builders are foundational for your existence?" "..." "You wear the body of a Builder. You even claimed his name as your own. You supplanted his place in the realms and used his good name and status to advance your own goals. It would seem difficult to have accomplished what you have without the things this toa's body provided you with." "You could say that. But: I am no void. I provide answers where there are none, choice where there is none, clarity where there is none." "Bold claims. But what is it that you would you say you are for the Builders, 'Stannis?'" "I am their salvation." "How is enslavement a salvation? Isn't that what Mata-Nui attempted?" "I am NOT Mata-Nui." "You are not, but you both are much alike. You believe you know what is best for everyone. You tug at strings, treat the stars as insects, and seek to control the flow of all things. Isn't that why you followed him to the Ark? You saw something akin to yourself in Mata-Nui and wanted to learn from his inevitable failure. So, do you think it is possible for you to also fail?" "No. Because Mata-Nui has not failed yet."
  10. IC Stannis | ???? "Hello, welcome! I've been expecting you." "You have?" "Yes, in fact I've been watching your journey for quite some time. I knew you'd come to see me eventually." "Oh? And how did you know that?" "Because I'm a therapist—I help all the broken souls and you, 'Stannis,' are more cracked than a shattered vase." "..." "..." "You lie." "You seem to be having a difficult time coping with that reality. Why do you think that is?" "You don't know me. You are inconsequential. You are a figment of my vast imagination, a conjuration from my subconsciousness. This drug is causing this—" "If that were true, wouldn't it also be true that I'd know you at least as well as you know yourself?" "..." "..." "I don't have to participate in this charade." "You don't have a choice, not really. You're stuck with me here; that's your destiny. And when our session if complete, whether I am successful in helping you sort your emotions or not, you will continue on your path towards whatever endgame awaits you. Why do you think Brykon made this miracle cactus for you? It wasn't to meet me, it was always to meet you. "..." "..." "..." "Now, you sit back. Relax. Breathe deeply—or not—and feel yourself sink deeeeper and deeeeeper into the calmness you're experiencing. And then, when you're ready, we'll embrace eternity."
  11. MIRACLE CACTUS A small, spindly succulent plant that resembles a miniature saguaro cactus that grows in clusters of prime numbers, the miraculum vivificantem, colloquially known as “miracle cactus,” can only be found in truly verdant and pure regions and is cultivated with incredible difficulty. Once a start finds its root, however, it becomes almost impossible to eradicate by natural causes, considered one of the many fantastic properties of the diminutive plant. It grows continually at a terribly slow rate, resulting in a plant of dense flesh and stems that reach only a bio in height. Each stem is covered in razor-sharp bristles, and at the top of each stem is a crown of lush red leaves. The leaves in particular are the reason the plant is cultivated as they possess likewise “miraculous” properties. They can be ground up and used as a poultice, dried and used as an herbal smoking alternative, or taken orally and masticated. The effects in each of these cases are the same, though with varying degrees of intensity: Action: Roll a d8 1, 8 — Everything looks slightly more shiny than it actually is. You feel a pleasant buzz. 2, 7 — The world seems to flow at a different pace around you and you perceive things a split second before they transpire. You cannot be saddened, angered, or made afraid. 3, 6 — You can perceive souls and their alignments relative to yours and can sense malicious intents towards you as their opinions of you shift. Pain means nothing to you and injuries quickly mend themselves. 4, 5 — Nothing and nobody can hurt you, but you can’t hurt anyone. You have a lovely chat with a therapist named Joan or John who explains in meticulous detail how your mind works and assists you in processing your emotions. The stars come alive and befriend you, helping you understand your place in the universe. The world is viewed in ultraviolet and everything tastes like your favorite desserts. You can have any desserts you want. Things are just… they're just... right. All effects last until the next high noon. Aspects of Makuta and any beings with affinity to Antidermis, such as Brutaka's, can roll twice. Desecrated beings feel the effects more potently and vividly.
  12. IC Stannis, Barius, Parnassus, Korruhn, Drukarus (thanks y'all!) | Fort Nektann “That’s unfortunate, but expected,” Stannis replied somberly. He looked around and turned in place, seemingly somewhat dazed by the experience. The Wanderer wasn’t as dazed as he looked, however—instead he was remembering it as it once was. The stones were much higher back then. It was a high canyon, laden with vegetation and life along the tippy tops. Trees jutted out like parapets, and water flowed from the rocks themselves in a lifegiving gush. The fortress itself was wholly natural, all red rock lashed together by brown roots, and the caw of birds echoed throughout the area. Warriors under his old friend Brykon’s tutelage clanged steel on steel over yonder, where the garage was presently, and an arena was off to the other side. Things were smaller back then, but Stannis couldn’t be certain if that was because everything else was comparatively taller. Time had no meaning on Xa, but, he reckoned, time still had its effects. “Things certainly have changed…” Parnassus looked over at the one called Korruhn, this acclaimed Aspect of whom they had never heard. An ostentatious figure, to say the least — all spikes and talons and whatnot. They tried to reach further into Korruhn’s shadow-self, their heart of mist and darkness that had first risen from the pits of Kumu. But the shadows that surrounded him … they were too strange to pierce. Shallow as shade at high noon, and as deep as the blackness between stars. “Korruhn,” Parnassus said, granting their fellow Aspect a sidelong glance. “I don’t know your name. When did you first leave the Islets?” The being of red and gold, gleaming and worn all at once, turned to Korruhn, addressing him directly. Asking of his origins. The Islets. The origin of the Aspects? Ha. The Aspects of Kumu, Stannis excluded, knew nothing of the true darkness, the jet-black flames of wrath that reached into his heart from the Far Shore. “Ha, the old darkness?” Korruhn scoffed at the Aspect. “You call yourself an Aspect, and you know nothing of the true wellspring, the source of truest darkness? I have traveled a lot further than you to get here, comrade.” Parnassus glowered. Korruhn’s words were intriguing, perplexing, disorienting — if they were true. But Parnassus had also grown up in the laboratories and lorerooms of the Islets, and knew that Aspects concealed much, and concealed it often. Their family was, like most families seemed, forever eager to avoid saying anything the straight-forward way. And when they did, like Korruhn, they tended to do so in the most stuck-up way possible. “The true wellspring?” Parnassus repeated. “A darkness blacker than that of the Islets? I’ve heard of antique lands and strange phenomena. I, myself, am named for a mountain which only some believe to exist, upon which an oracle of untold sight resides. But I have never heard of a shadow deeper than the heart of Kumu.” “The heart of Kumu is a drop in the Silver Sea, pale in comparison,” Korruhn replied. The bait seemed to work, at least for now. Parnassus was busy enough in their own self-doubt to pay too much mind to Korruhn’s origin. The unknown is too great a temptation to pull the brain from. “But perhaps, in time, all of our kind will come to know the power of the wellspring.” Parnassus’ glower deepened, the shadows that curled around them now frothing like waves on a moonless night in their simmering frustration. For so long they had told their kin that the secrets to unlocking the Seventh Seal would be found outside the walls of Kumu, that it would be necessary to go and explore the larger world — not to simply rebuild the scrap of ancient years. And now, to be told that such a discovery had been made, and had been made by someone else— “How wonderful,” Parnassus seethed, turning their head away from Korruhn. Between the banter between Korruhn and Parnassus, in the midst of his ancient reminiscing, Stannis rolled his eyes at them. If he had discernable pupils in his eyes they would have been seen rocking to the back of his brain, but since he didn’t, there was not even a telltale shift in his silvery irises. Children, he thought. The wizen warlord Drukarus also shared the Toa priest’s opinion about the interaction between Parnassus and Korruhn, for verbose shows of boast are the same, no matter whether amongst Skakdi or others. Even Toa can grow subject to the need to show off their superiority. But with Parnassus and Korruhn, words can only go so far till example must be made. Barius glanced around at the curious assemblage of beings. The Toa had stopped, seeming to look around the fortress like a tourist. Stannis’ reminiscence was lost on the Skakdi warlord; at best, he took his pausing for an attempt to get his bearings. At worst, he reckoned the ancient wanderer had lost his marbles. Looking around, he addressed the Toa: “I reckon your package isn’t buried underneath the storage shed. What’s the holdup?” “I’m thinking,” Stannis replied, his voice distant and soft. He stood stock-still for a moment suddenly, allowing himself to recollect like an extended slinky, and then suddenly leveled his gaze back at the newly-minted warlord. “You took this crown recently, didn’t you?” The Skak squinted at him for a moment, before grinning broadly. “You’re not wrong. Though, I’m curious how you discerned as much.” “The people here are giving you a wide berth,” Stannis opined. “You’ve committed some action to make them fear you and I don’t believe you merely impressed them with some mere feat of cruelty. You took something, and not just from Nektann Jr. You seized their loyalty, and they’re still not sure how the garments of new fealty feels yet.” The old aspect tilted his head at Barius, gazing at him like some artisan’s bust on a wall, and winked. “An old man knows these things.” The warlord cocked his head as Stannis finished his assessment. “Your intuition is impressive,” he muttered. “I hope it isn’t meant to soften me up for the reveal that you’re here to sell me a bridge, because I’m immune to flattery.” “Oh, no. The only bridge I would sell you is a bridge between the past and present,” Stannis said cryptically. He waited a beat. None laughed. “But no. I am only here to collect what is mine. You, or your wants and needs, are not what I seek to gain from. The groundwork of this was in the making long before you—as I alluded—and will likely continue well after you are just a leaf in the wind.” Barius only sneered in response. Toa and their mystical mutterings, he thought to himself. In turning from Korruhn, Parnassus turned to face Stannis. This man, this demigod of rock and stone, seemed the antithesis of Barius — where the warskak was blunt, straight-forward, with a mind like the edge of a blade, Stannis’ speech meandered, wandered … but always seemed headed towards a destination which not even Parnassus could discern. And, even more than that, there was something about this man … the way that the shadows seemed to cling to him as he passed by torches and lightstones. When Parnassus reached out, they could almost sense a coiled darkness deep within him — but that would be impossible. Wouldn’t it? “You are an interesting individual, Stannis,” Parnassus said. “I know that the Toa are said to be great heroes. Beings of legend, of … myth. Where were you headed before your unfortunately abrupt arrival here?” The old Aspect turned to Parnassus as the young Aspect queried. “Yes… I suppose those are truisms,” he said. He looked the being over, head to toe, in the closest scrutiny he’d given Parnassus yet and began to formulate his opinions on him as well. He looked young from the way he held his nose high and neck straight, giving an air of confidence and pride, traits the young had to compensate for their youthfulness. There was an eagerness in Parnassus’ eyes, a gleam of enthusiasm begotten from the optimism of naivete. On Xa particularly Aspects wielded power, and Parn captured that sense of superiority well enough to add umph to his steps and a quareness to his shoulders. Very young. Very strong. And very, very foolish, Stannis considered. What’s more, Stannis looked at the ground for an instant, trying to discern direction from it. What was normally a directional arrow guiding his progress was little more than a web. All the lines of fate seemed to intersect at two crucial points: Stannis… and Barius. The Wanderer’s own destiny, whatever it was, was tied with the newly minted warlord’s, at least in the immediate sense. He looked knowingly at Barius quickly, then back to Parnassus. Foolishness, he reminded himself, was a trait he too, once. No many times. Time and time again he’d thought himself above a station, a person, a task. Growing old was mandatory, yet growing up was optional. Wisdom was what differed, which Stannis held in droves, wisdom to learn from mistakes and the strength to recover from them. “Believe it or not, I was always headed here. Faith has brought me here.” Faith. “I … understand that,” Parnassus said. They nodded despite themself, nodded without knowing why. It was as though Stannis was a black hole towards which they were being inexorably drawn. “I, too, came here without knowing how. Or perhaps always knowing how. The path of wanderers is, after all, next to the path of gods.” “There are some who called me ‘Prophet,’” Stannis said before turning his attention back to Barius. “Tell me...” he said, looking like he struggled to pull the words from his throat, “where… do you intend to sleep?” Barius couldn’t help but laugh at the suddenness and bizarreness of the question. “Same place my predecessor slept, albeit perhaps with some redecorating--” he began to sneer at the thought of trashing Nektann’s stuff, before he was interrupted. “And his predecessor before that?” Stannis interjected. “Indeed. The royal suite, as it were.” “The master bedroom,” Stannis said in old fashioned awe. Nobody picked up on the racist subtext in the term, however. “Then the longstanding tradition is indeed set.” He alluded to the relatively unknown rule of tradition, where if something happens once it is a random chance; if it happened twice it was a tradition; however if something happened twice and beyond, it was a longstanding tradition. “Take me there.” “So soon?” He joked, before raising an eyebrow as the Toa’s seriousness became apparent. “As you wish. I certainly hope this is all going somewhere.” For your sake. Complying — for now — with Stannis’ request, he led the group towards the ‘master bedroom’. Truthfully, he had never seen the chamber before, though he knew where it was. Boss had never allowed anyone in his room - which was fair, as Barius intended to do the same. Barring this one exception, apparently. The inconsequential chatter of the group continued, blending in with the sounds of the fortress as he led the way through the halls, into the mountain proper. It wasn’t a long walk, but it was long enough for Barius to wonder at the Toa’s audacity. This Stannis was lucky, he thought, that his host was so accommodating. They reached the door; the door which had been, in part, the subject of Barius’ desires for much of his life. It felt quite silly that he was forced to experience this moment of triumph in the presence of others. Nonetheless, he dug into his pockets for the possessions of the late Nektann. Judging by the size and shape of the keyhole, the ‘key’ was the same item that had once activated the E. Street Wagon. He pulled out Boss’ old combat knife and stuck it into the doorknob. “I’ll have the three of you wait outside, now,” Barius said, indicating Korruhn, Parnassus, and Drukarus. It was not a suggestion. He turned the knob and slipped into the room, expectant that only Stannis would follow. “Oh, so you’re including me. Thank you,” he said as he followed bumblingly. His spear-staff clicked on the sandstone floor of the citadel’s apartment section. Stannis followed Barius into the innermost, private most sanctum. Korruhn heeded the direction without indicating so, turning aways halfway through Barius’ statement. He made no mind of Drukarus, who seemed to do the same in his regard, but Korruhn did shoot a little chin-tilt Parnassus’ way, along with a smirk. Something to shake him up a bit more. He began to pace in the immediate vicinity, ensuring not to step out of sight, lest he stir up Barius’ band of rabid dogs. Drukarus allowed a flash of distaste to appear on his face, directed towards the two shadow beings, before simply positioning himself outside of the door to Barius’s new chambers, his hand and claw upon his maul, like some sort of sentry waiting for his master’s little affair to be over with. On the other side of the door awaited a chamber which was practically resplendent, in comparison to the rest of the facility. It was clean and orderly, albeit somewhat spartan. Immediately before the door was a rug made from the hide of some furred creature; the only purely decorative item in the room, and indeed, in Fort Nektann as a whole. Opposite this rug was the bed, which had an actual mattress, as well as blankets made from rahi hides. Tucked into the corner was a rusty, floor-length mirror. Nearby, against the wall, was a dresser, one of the drawers still ajar, an article of clothing hanging out of it. On top of it was another, cleaner mirror, in front of which was positioned a variety of personal effects having belonged to the room’s previous occupant. Among these was a dull tin cup, with a single green plant growing out of the water contained within it. The other side of the room was fairly empty, aside from a recess which seemed to be a fireplace, likely connected to the same network of vents that brought fresh air to the rest of the subterranean portion of the fortress. The inside of the fireplace was littered with ancient ash, long-cold: Firewood was not forthcoming in the desert. “Ah yes, nothing has changed.” Stannis stood in the middle of the room, admiring the chamber lovingly. He spent a moment too long gazing at the bed, however; it could be imagined that he witnessed ancient trysts and acrobatic acts done there, but that was just silly to consider. “Brykon said he would keep what was mine in a place only he would know where to look. I thought he was being unnecessarily cryptic, but thankfully he built his home in a block of rock. And, well…” Stannis quickly patted himself down. He was a toa of stone. He wanted to make that obvious to Barius. “That’s a secret door,” he said and pointed at a wall with a large mirror on it. Barius nodded, seemingly not surprised. The room was nice - much nicer than the accommodations the rest of the Warskaks put up with - but altogether rather mundane. Approaching the wall in question, he began to search the vicinity. Under and behind the bed he searched, before pulling the dresser away from the wall and looking behind it as well. His search having proved fruitless, he moved to the corner where the large, rusty mirror was tucked away. Lifting it away from the wall, he set it down beside the dresser, having revealed a rectangular hole in the wall. He looked down at the knife that was still in his hand. Might as well try it; he slipped it into the hole and jimmied it around until he felt a distinct click! which denoted the activation of a mechanism. Moments later, a soft rumbling could be felt as a previously seamless wall split open, and gave way to a secret passage. “Ah, lovely,” Barius muttered. “Excellent,” Stannis said, recalling his adventures in the Coliseum. “I 'love' secret passageways.” He surged ahead, leaving the lord of the castle in his dust as he hurried forward as fast as his old legs carried him. His great grey cloak billowed after him like a trail of smoke as he fled into the darkness. His feet went plat! plat! plat!, evoking the image of a very eager swan chasing its quarry. “Quick, for an old hermit,” Barius muttered beneath his breath. Following behind the overeager Toa, the pair soon found themselves in a chamber beyond anything they could have conceived of. The room beyond the secret passageway was filled with green things, lined with rows of various types of plant life. A single, bronze spigot, presumably connected directly to the oasis outside the mountain, provided a discrete source of water for the garden. Barius allowed his jaw to hang open, speechless as he looked around at the showcase of his predecessor’s secret passion for horticulture. But his loss for words was only momentary, as he recalled the quest which had brought them here. “Well, Toa, you’ve brought us this far. What now?” Stannis looked around the small enclave with sheer wonder. It was something new, for once! Something new! A section he’d never seen before, never been to before, never anticipated before! And the plants! He looked at each one with adoration, admiring the life that was thriving thence. There were hydrangeas, roses, a set of orchids that looked like dying babies, and even a yucca in the center of the space. The old Aspect was grinning for sheer joy; this was the place started by Brykon, and ever since then maintained by the hands of every castellan of the Lifespring, every being cherishing this private garden as their innermost heart to their operations. He imagined leader after leader using the garden as their thinking space where their demons were conquered. It was a beautiful thing, to him. And to think, Brykon made it for him. “Now, I take what was promised me, and nothing more,” Stannis said. “And… at last. It exists. The miracle cactus.” He approached a small plant, what looked like a miniature succulent of sorts, lo taller than his waist, and somehow conjured a pair of scissors from his cloak which he took to the tops of the plants. They looked like miniature saguaro cacti, all straight lines and elbow joints, prickly as could be and green as the dankest leaves. At their tops were broad flowers, dense roses that almost looked like heads of hair, which Stannis wasted no time in clipping and tossing into a secondary small implement of rock which miraculously materialized in his hand. It was nothing special, just two rocks he employed like a mortar and pestle, and in no time at all he slipped the cut and crushed leaves into his pipe. “Got a light?” he asked. He’d somehow left his own on a lounge table onboard the Ambling Alp. Barius blinked once, before reaching into his pocket. He didn’t smoke — though he was tempted to try, if the Toa left any of this ‘miracle cactus’ behind — but Boss had. Digging around, he found a lighter without much difficulty. “Here,” he said, holding it out to Stannis, seeming almost awestruck. If the Toa had gone to all this difficulty for a handful of plants, then they must have been some pretty good stuff. The old man took the light and quickly struck it to flame. He then placed the lip of fire on the bowl of his pipe, letting the lips of fire gently lap on the delicate leaves, and then ceremoniously sucked. He handed the pipe to Barius, almost in sheer jubilation. “This,” he explained, “is the ‘miracle cactus.’ It’s documented name is miraculum vivificantem, though none on Metru Nui could raise it. It possesses the ability to cure any wounds, heal any injuries, and remold any dislocations. Take it, imbiiiibe in it, let it course in your veins and lungs as it does in mine. You look like you could use it.” Barius looked skeptically down at the pipe, then back up at the Toa’s face, which was decorated with twin streams of smoke exiting his nostrils. He gingerly accepted the wooden instrument, tiny in his hand, and lifted it up to his face. The smell emanating from the bowl was at once sweet and acrid, and slightly heady even without his taking a drag directly. He placed the mouthpiece between his parted lips, pursed them around it, and inhaled; cautiously at first, and then more deeply as the invigorating smoke filled his lungs. And the the whole universe opened up to the two beings... OOC | Stay tuned for more, lmao. Miracle Cactus effects run by and approved by the SK GMs. Full description will be posted to the general discussion soon. For reference, both Stannis and Barius rolled a 5.
  13. IC Stannis | Ft Nektann "I see. Were you in his employ for long?" he asked, then, sensing that inquiring too much without context was a poor recipe, he explained, "I ask because I wonder if you've or anyone has spent enough time here to stumble across any signs of my old friend. His name was Brykon." He said the name with a fondness in his tone; it practically flowed from his tongue-tip like warm milk and honey, sweet and silky. "I know he isn't here anymore, but perhaps...?" He imagined some gruffly hewn graffiti on a stone wall, which was not uncharacteristic for the old grizzly. @Burnmad
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