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EmperorWhenua

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  1. IC | Yumiwa Umbraline I couldn’t help but scamper if not dead run away from the datsue Awintour and her “galleria” in an act of unbridled childish glee. I knew these hallways and promenades like the filigree of my armor and charged through them in an exhilarating burst like a spring finally let loose from its box. All I could feeI was the air brush past my face, all I could hear the telltale flutter of my silken clothes, and all I could see the clear pathways ahead of me. Than and Iglia trailed behind me with exasperated laughter and my Hogo guards, hardy warriors that they were, maintained their formation around me with effortless drilled precision, but I could barely register all their footfalls or cries for me to hold up. Because once again, I felt free. It all reminded me of times in my youth when Des, Hana and I would create our own small gang we called—okay, really just Hana…—the Fearsome Threesome. We were young, Des was eager to explore and do anything that wasn’t just being cooped up in her apartment, and we all had that childish curiosity that was socially unabashed and innocently mischievous. We wanted to do it all, see it all, and Zuto Nui help anyone who thought they could stop us. Truth is, we were stopped, more often than not, but the times we could get away with our antics were the stuff of legend. After family breakfast, Dad would go off to the Towers of Knowledge to instruct at the military academy, and Mom chilled with us momentarily before kissing us on the head and moving on to perform the duties of the rora, leaving us under the watchful protection of our chaperone: Master Inokio. “Watchful” was both a strong trait of his and a responsibility we regularly tried to foil, and it would quite often lead to misadventures across the Palace. Breaking away from Inokio’s presence was hard enough, but the man was an unstoppable force who seemed to be as omnipresent as he was omniscient. If we were somehow able to evade his pursuit long enough to make it to the populated throughways we typically could make our way to whatever our destination was, and then we’d get away with exploring the Gardens or ride soko for a while before Inokio would discover us and drag us by our ears back to the royal apartments. Oh the thrills we had, the three of us, committing our petty crimes, evading the guards like some game of hide-and-seek with the whole of the city as our playground, harkened back to a simpler time when we were together and whole. But Awintour was not a relentless pursuer like Inokio. The Hogo were not chasing me down but cloistering me. I hadn't gotten a forehead kiss from my parents, I wasn't a child, and I wasn’t joined by my sister and best friend. It wasn’t the same. Nothing was. My pace slowed to a halt and I was momentarily dazed, my joy drained. We’d made it halfway to the Markets but did not have the vigor to run the rest of the way. “There is a doctor and crafter shop I spied out long ago,” I finally said to my companions. “She has a shop near Soraya’s, by the stonemoss plaza. I noticed her shop’s displays when Inokio took me to the markets my first time and liked them. I want to start there and see what she has nowadays.” “What’s the name of the establishment?” one of the Hogo asked. “We can scope out the path ahead and help find it if we know, Majesty.” I nodded once, thankful. “Bausch and Lomb’s.”
  2. That’s assuming you know everything about the jails and either have the ability to play your own opposition or that the opposition will be played by someone with the time and ability to write quickly with you. The issue is that neither of these are true.
  3. IC | Yumiwa Umbraline The galleria, for what it was worth, had been established in apparent secrecy on one of the hidden esplanades that dipped close to the water. It was technically still in the residential district, evident by the the signage, but it had been transformed into an enclave of the Markets away from the bustle of that district. I instantly realized the intent was to bring the mall to me and keep me from mingling with the other castes in any way. Awintour and her committee had gone to extra lengths to retain the supposed purity of my station and image. Personally, I detested it, but figured there was no arguing with her or anyone about the matter. I missed the simpler days when I could explore Sado unbound, my only tether being to Inokio’s distant but ever-vigilant gaze. The last time I did that was when the Menti Nihi Eiyu gave her speech to the masses gathered in the Markets and attempted to persuade the populace to go to war with the Mata Nuians. It was also, arguably, my first real foray into public policy as I made my identity known then. That stunt caused a lot of backlash, though I hadn’t learned about it until much later. As it happened, the heir to the throne going out in public and entering in civic discourse among saihoko in a district almost every member of the aristocracy disdained to set foot in—and without a full retinue of guards, no less. Inokio and my mom shielded me from the naysaying and the Battlemaster’s status as a living legend fighter and protector alone dispelled most of the squabbling, and what it didn’t my mom put to rest with her words. I learned of this all shortly before I ascended… before my mom was murdered and passed the throne to me. I longed for the simpler days when I was a student first and royalty second. That same nostalgia is what propelled my constant reading; I kept trying to resume the same scholastic pursuits I did for the majority of my life. I missed my mentors. I missed my teachers and parents and sister. Goddess I missed Des. She was the only one left who would understand me the most anymore and it was probably my fault she disappeared. Sometimes I imagined her just coming up again with a tray of foods and chatting about stuff with me. I would treat her so much more kindly than I did, I swore, if only I could just have her back. Have some semblance of my family back. … As I descended the balustrade into the midst of the various ringti and merchants I was greeted with warm welcomes all around. I smiled broadly at each of them, but there was no joy in my responses, only a false, dutiful glee. Yes, I was glad to be there. Yes, of course I was happy to try their wares. Of course, I admired their work. Naturally, I knew of their clan’s history as craftspeople. Duh, they were all playing roles in a game I hadn’t the heart to play that day. But we all had our places on the board, didn’t we? And my role was that of mannequin-in-chief. Awintour steered me to the middle of the galleria and made a quick speech, something about choosing the next “Imperial Spectacles” (I hated that she called them such, they were just my glasses, they were supposed to help me see) and that the best craft would do and all the gathered artisans were representatives of the best which was why they were chosen to contend for the “Imperial Spectacles” contract blah blah blah… And then all eyes were turned to me. What was chilling to me, even though I’d come to expect this very thing, was that they were not looking at me as their revered empress but like some… sofa, wall, some inanimate thing for them to embellish and accessorize. These were not master craftswomen, they were salespeople. I hated how they looked at me. I was led lifelessly to the nearest booth and shown what they had. I tried on half a dozen different frames and lenses before I was ushered to the next, and then the next, and the one after in a dry ritual that was all glitz and no passion. Around me buzzed a crew of dashi, each notating different looks and angles and sketching what they saw. It bothered me. Most of the frames they had me try on squeezed at my temples or were too gaudy even for me. They were shiny, but that’s not all I look for in accessories. Come on now. They had me try on literal dozens of glasses and lenses. But despite the diversity in clan label, designer, and salesperson, I noticed a glaring issue that I brought to light at the very end. “So, majesty,” Awintour said with barely disguised glee. “What are your favorites?” She was certain I liked a majority of them, and I certainly gave that sort of impression along the way. “Well, madam,” I said thoughtfully, “The Guggis are nice, the Pridas are fine, and the Fitanny’s are coollll.” They looked satisfied so far, but the grins were washed away when I went on. “The Muimuis are awful, though. Vulgari is exactly that, and the Chonals are so delicate I’d be scared of breaking them with my concentration. But honestly, did you even think of offering up a single pair of glasses not crafted by Clan Luxxotica?” Aghast silence. I clearly was not meant to go off-script and they were frightened that I was. “I didn’t think so. None of these are my favorite, and if any of them are commissioned they will only find a place in my sock drawer and not on my face. Take these tokens of that traitor clan away,” I commanded, alluding strongly to the clan's loose affiliation with the Dastana faction. “Now, datsue Awintour, I will find my own glasses—with or without your help. I know my place and will determine who gets my grace and favor, not the subcommittee of culture. I am empress and arbiter, symbol of Zuto Nui’s Virtues, and I can and will choose the rims of my own choosing, thank you very much.” I turned and walked right out of the throng. My Hogo retinue and the handmaidens Than and Iglia emerged from the midst like wraiths and surrounded me protectively as I walked purposefully to the only place I wanted to go to: The Markets. And nobody was going to stop me.
  4. IC | Stannis Maru Eisen's prehensile cape was a trick Stannis hadn't expected—somehow that had evaded his attention, and the error would cost him his main weapon. With some effort he could leverage his considerable physical power to wrest his halberd free even one-handed, but he didn't have the opportunity to do so, so he had to release his grip in exchange for freedom of movement; he would have to recover the halberd in a moment. Eisen's large knife held in his left quickly dove to gut him with a second strike, but this time Stannis was too slow to block it and would have to suffer the attack. He managed to duck away just in time to avoid the majority of the blade, but the punch did slice clean through his breastplate and cut a new slash on his chest, not deep enough to strike vital areas but not shallow enough to be shrugged aside either. A flash of pain descended on his face, quickly fading and replaced by his damnable blankness. And in response, fueled with calm fury at the very near miss, his left hand burst to life and brown energy flared from his palm like a lantern unveiled. The halberd, as it was, was not the strongest weapon Stannis had at his disposal; as was the case with all the Toa Maru, that status belonged to his might in elemental power which he was finally bringing to bear. Eisen's focus was peeled to his slight left in aiming his blade's punches at Stannis, giving the Maru leader the chance to create an attack right in Eisen's trajectory. The counterattack took the form of a literal block of stone racing to collide with Eisen head-on. Stannis rolled away deftly, though now with much more pain, and quickly stood up facing Eisen a toa's length away. Blood already seeped through his chest armor, but he was undeterred as he swiftly pulled the Rahkshi staff free of his harness. The weapon was a gift from Sulov Maru from right after they had exited the Keeping Place as newly apotheosized toa and a token of loyalty. It was an ironic choice for a backup toa tool but Stannis kept it both due to the emotional connotation and his habit of having twin polearms on his back. Stannis flourished the weapon in a twirl with both hands and its ends instantly lit up with the same brown glow as his hand. He was sure Eisen would manage to deal with the stone block thrown at him... Mata Nui be my guide. Mata Nui be my protector. Mata Nui be my strength. ... But that was only the start.
  5. For me, I come back because of the RPG forum and the constant compelling storytelling we do there. Over the years I've had hiatuses here and there but, like a moth to a flame, I keep coming back to read and write in return. I also check on COT every once in a while just to see if I need to do my job there. So far I have not, but my work ethic makes me do that much at least. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I'll also add that the community element has always been a big draw for me. I've made great friends from the RP forums and LEGO conventions alike, and while we can't always meet in person like we'd like, this website and its social media outlets provide that familiar unity that sustained my sanity a lot as a teenager and keep me loyal today.
  6. IC | Stannis Maru The match was set, the kindling and starter laid out tidily by then, and all that was left to do was put the flame to the shavings and begin the fast-paced duel both parties had come prepared for. Eisen's chosen response signaled to Stannis that he was overcome with his own zealous brashness and taken the bait offered. The Maru's mind briefly examined the difference between the two warriors and their benefactors. Time slowed to a brief halt to him. He breathed in... and out. He could hear the screeches of birds from without, the sputtering of cannons, and the grunt of exertion from Korero as though the sounds were isolated. Eisen's footfalls clipping on the icy floor sounded like bangs of a drum in his ears. But Stannis was at peace. Defeat. You give me faith, Stannis. I knew you could never kill a God. Perhaps. But your god sows fear and inspires you to appease him; mine merely stands with me and protects me. I am not his slave but He my guide. Eisen barreled at Stannis with the grace of a great cat and the bladed punch threatened to disembowel him on the spot, but Stannis reacted finally and deftly moved a little back and aside of the strike even as it narrowly sliced the air ahead of his abdomen. Instead of attacking with his weapon, he merely slid to the side—to Eisen's left—and dragged his pole arm behind him. It was quickly apparent that he was not trying to deflect or counterattack Eisen but was attempting to catch his feet and topple him instead. The Fe-Toa should, by that point, have tired himself from both his fight with Oreius and the fight with Stannis, meaning he could only keep up a constant melee onslaught for a limited time. All Stannis had to do was ensure an exhaustion outcome, an entirely doable feat considering Eisen's new brazenness and seeming righteous , and by then the attacks would be sloppy and allow Stannis to end the fight swiftly. Time, as usual, flowed differently for the Wanderer and he had taken the opportunities to examine Eisen freely and fill in the blanks about his enemy, with particular attention given to his Kanohi and its application. Stannis knew enough to apply that knowledge against Eisen; meanwhile, he intended to keep his enemy guessing. Come, now. Let us see what fear begets. A slight smile spread across his lips.
  7. OOC: Eisen bits supplied by Alex. IC | Stannis Maru For a moment, Stannis seemed to consider on the offer. Eisen was not surrendering, but he was offering an opportunity to disengage until another time, and it was tantalizing. By the signs, the battle was growing and possibly tipping; Eisen seemed dispirited, at least to the point of not needing to keep fighting. Disengaging would not present a victory to either of them but it also meant neither would lose. That's fine, right? But it still didn't sit well with Stannis. In the past, to onlookers, it seemed as though time was inconsequential to him. Time was a millstone, and whether it turned slowly or quickly it still ground the meal with the same result. But this was not the same Stannis Maru as he was a mere year before, depressed and self-isolated, disdaining the fight. He remembered all the times he dueled with villains, each time stopping just short of defeating them—either out of circumstance or hesitation or lack of will—and he was not proud. He encountered the Piraka and could not defeat them; he fought the Dark Toa Echelon and did not pursue him; he combatted smaller villains, too, and each time spared the blade. But Stannis was not a merciful man. Not really... And he decided that a mutual victory was a mutual defeat, and that it would help Eisen more than him. Parting ways and leaving this unresolved was not an option anymore. Finally, he spoke in a firm tone, akin to a teacher laying out lab instructions clearly to the class. "Do you know how I was christened 'The Wanderer,' Eisen?" "By meandering about the point?" Eisen sardonically retorted. "Do you know where I was first so called?" Stannis pressed. "No." "It was here, in Ko-Koro," he said softly. "In the Sanctum. From the same breath Turaga Nuju anointed me 'Wanderer' and gave the knowledge to defeat your old master. My history is here, Eisen, in the ancient halls of this city, on the walls you desecrated with blood and blasphemy. This is my home just like Po-Koro is, the Massif is, and it is you who are unwelcome. "So, let's know each other until we are like friends," he said menacingly and gestured with an open palm. "Your turn."
  8. IC | Stannis Maru "Welcome, Brother," the toa said in greeting to Korero's arrival without looking at him. His tone was flat and determined with his focus narrowed unwaveringly at Eisen, but there was a slight twist in his lips that betrayed a gleeful smile. He was used to the wiry toa appearing at the best moments, just as that plucky scholar did the first time so long ago in the alps of Ko-Wahi, and every time it was like an old friend came to visit. Another rivulet of blood splattered from his arm onto the cold floor. "Eisen has been a very generous, but unkind, host."
  9. IC | Yumiwa Word got out almost immediately and the rumor mill responded with its own unbased exaggerations soon thereafter. The tabloids on the street were spreading stories about “the blind empress,” a moniker that also played with my perceived isolation from the needs of the empire, but magazines on the streets were nothing compared to the speculations happening within the Palace. It was rare for a Dasaka to have failing eyesight, let alone so early, but it is not unheard of. My mother occasionally needed spectacles, and many ringti need special goggles to see the level of detail needed to maintain their artful perfection, but it’s not usual for a Menti to have sight issues. The reality, though, is that continued eye strain takes its toll on the eyes, “and you’ve been doing a number on them for quite a while,” the court physician said. “Yumiwa, you’re going to need glasses.” Just like my mom, just like a ringti. “That’s fine,” I said back, trying to convince myself it was. And it’s not all that bad; to be real I just need glasses to see things farther away since I can see just fine up close. I can still read, practice my arts, and interact with people just fine. So while it took a few long conversations with my handmaidens and physician, I eventually overcame my worries. It was fine, then. Glasses could be cool. I guess. The next day, just after I came to accept the need for the lenses, I was visited and told by Awintour, a datsue representative of the artisans guild and appointee of a Council subcommittee, that I was to be taken to a galleria erected for the singular purpose of choosing what my new lenses would look like. “A galleria?” I asked, somewhat astonished. I was also shocked at the swiftness this was being handled, especially with almost zero input from me. “Whatever for?” Zafin trailed behind me, and I shot her a quick look to ask what is even going on? but she responded with a quick shake of her head and a shrug. “This exhibition was created for assisting in the perusal of options and ultimate selection of your spectacles,” the elder replied, walking slightly ahead of me and talking with a near disregard for my reservations. I quickly gathered that she just didn’t care. “The committee of culture decided on the best options and organized this event to make a swift choice, fully realizing your need for glasses soon.” “Well that’s nice,” I started. “It is,” she cut in. "You will find our curated selection to be of the best quality, artisans of highest repute, and accessories made of the finest quality. We think you’ll appreciate our choices.” “Your choices?—” I once again attempted to cut in. “Yes, that’s right. Did you expect to choose your own style? Your own maker?” she said. “Well, yes! When I was chōjo I was able to choose who and what I wanted to wear. Why is this any different? These aren’t even a dress, they’re only glasses!” “They are something you will be wearing for quite possibly the rest of your life, young rora, and you are not the chōjo any longer,” she almost scolded. I maintained my composure but bristled within, which Zafin picked up on instantly. “What you say and do holds weight now more than ever. People notice things about you, how you carry yourself, how you handle yourself. I should not have to tell you these things!” “But they’re glasses—a medical need, yes, but an accessory nonethe—!” This was quickly becoming another footnote in the long list of times I felt like an insignificant pawn in a grand game I had no power over despite my position. I also thoroughly hated the prospect of being used as little more than a catwalk model for a panel of judged to not even look at. “As chōjo you were a trendsetter. As rora you are an icon. These are not just trivial spectacles we are choosing, these are the empress’ lenses, and we are treating this with as much gravitas as selecting a part of the crown jewels because, in a very real sense, that’s what we’re doing. And in doing that we have to take into consideration who makes them and what they look like because that choice has political consequence. We are bestowing the rora’s favor on a clan, a craftsman, and a style for possibly centuries, and it would do you best to allow us to perform our sworn duties. We know our place, do you know yours?” I bit my tongue, but I didn’t really need to. I was speechless. Yes, I wanted to say, I know my place. I am empress and arbiter, symbol of Zuto Nui and I can choose the rims of my own choosing, but saying that would only prove my own folly. This datsue had laid my whole crisis out in front of me, and I continued to follow her to the galleria pensively withdrawn. I didn’t want to say anything more and just heard her talk about the virtues of the craftspeople and their creations, the purity of their clan-lineages, their artistic variety, and the occasional avant-garde styles that were on display, all for someone else’s benefit. But I was going to die from lack of breath before I was going to have flattened wine bottles for lenses.
  10. Commencing Onu-Wahi's sinking to the ocean depths in three... two...
  11. IC | Yumiwa Umbraline Hey there! Remember me? I haven't put an entry in here for a while, and I'm sorry. The thing is that there are a lot of things I do besides what I document, and I can get carried away in those things for so long that I forget to write about the rest of life. For that, I apologize, and it was never my intention to abandon you in ignorance. Anyway, I need to tell you of a mistake I made recently that has torn me asunder ever since. I'd spent most of the day at court with all that remained of my privy council discussing policies and issues and around late afternoon I had decided that was enough and called the meeting to a close. Since the nigh-dissolution of the previous cabinet, it's been... hard to get things done, and I've found myself caught in more catch-22s than I'd imagined. People seem to think me both inconsequential and essential, too weak to be effective and yet too important to handle the smaller issues, too young to lead and yet too dedicated to not lead, too much this thing and yet too much this other thing. Some think I was the one to tear this glorious empire in pieces, and yet others assert I was a victim of circumstances and machinations far beyond any Rora’s control and should not bear the guilt myself. And these arguments surround me even when in the company of good people, and good people, I’ve learned, are hard to find and harder to keep. It started with sending the expedition to the land of Mata Nui. Despite the supposed benefits supporters of the expedition purported, it has effectively removed a sizable Menti force from the Archipelago, and with it went both my best friend and confidante and a leading Umbraline military commander and cousin. And then, in the midst of my fraught assertion of authority, Battlemaster Inokio, my chief tutor and captain of my guard, vanished, followed in short order by my beloved sister, Desemona who disappeared so wholly that not even family-hired detectives scouring the streets found no trace of her. (Addendum: Where are you, Des? I hope you’re safe. I know you’re not dead, you simply can’t be—and my Mindarm seances tell me your presence is somewhere. Dang it, I miss you! I miss your little laugh, your smile, your sharp wit that bites at my ego in the right ways. And I need that. I need you. And I’m sorry. Please come back soon.) And even my uncle Rayuke, who typically keeps in the shadows, has not helped. A man who serves to provide clarity and truth in the webs of deceit in Sado has all but done that. He still stays introverted as ever, but now he attends meetings occasionally and overtly tells me that he is doing covert work, telling us that he is doing this and doing that and yet not allowing even me to be aware of his actions. I do not oppose his purpose or reject his wisdom but he is not the calming man I remember from my youth, and when ask for his advice he says nothing. In the place of my guardians and advisers I was forced to accept a new privy council mostly comprised of conniving diplomats, ambitious toroshu, and a few military commanders. Rayuke chose the council members for me, and while he never admitted to it outright his fingerprints were all over the selections. It’s not a bad council, which is why I assented to the appointments, but it is a petty and bickering one and the sway I hold over it varies by the day and by the issue. And without my tutors and mentors and allies, the only real friendships I’ve developed were with my books. Tomes, you see, don’t foment betrayal or make tantrums; they are patient and wise and always give the same sound advice. I’ve been turning to my books more and more in the past years. I was a fully-fledged bookworm as princess, but in recent months my reading has become more of an addiction than a pastime. I try to polish the things I know and learn new strategies with the knowledge in these tomes, but it almost feels like a senseless uphill climb as every time I grasp a new concept ten new different challenges present themselves to me in the empire. Most days I return from court and plant myself on a balcony or in my library to read, and read, and read. And read. Zafin tells me I should get out more—and I do! but only to attain more books. The last time I wandered into the streets of Sado was when I ran out on my own, wrapped in a cowl with tears streaking down my face, to look for my sister. That went on for a fair while until members of the Guard finally caught me, discreetly dragged my butt back to the towers, and hushed any mention of my escapade. That was not all that long ago but it feels like forever ago. Day turns to night, and while the streets of Sado are always bathed with bright light, illumination is more scarce in the cozy nooks of my apartments, which nine times out of ten is where I end up sprawling to read until well past the twelfth bell toll. And in the dim light, out of disdain for moving away from my perch, I’ll keep the books pressed close to my face. This, I suppose, taxes my eyesight. And so, as I said, I had spent the day doing my duties and was on my balcony, relishing in the feeling of the late-afternoon sunlight warming my tight muscles after sitting stiffly in a chilly chamber all day. Zafin had come up behind me and gently rubbed my shoulders, trying her best to unravel the knots I got from hunching so much. We talked quietly for a moment, killing time while servants came and went to drop snacks and tea for me, and then: “Yumi,” she exclaimed and pointed at the sky, “look! The utucans must be migrating back early this year! This is the second time I’ve seen a flock this afternoon.” “Where are they?” I asked in bewilderment. “There!” she said pointing more emphatically, “just passing by the Spire of Knowledge!” “Where!?” I almost cried out. I love seeing utucans and their brightly colored bills and shy little faces and was getting really frustrated that she was toying with me in the moment. They're one of my favorite birds and I was in no shape for such teasing. Behind us, the shocked servant dropped her tray of biscuits in a clamor. Zafin turned to stand almost directly in front of me. “Yumi,” she said in a dead-serious tone. “How do you see me?” “I can see your beautiful face just fine, Zafin. What are you talking—“ “And the flowers on the balustrade? What kinds are they?” “Also just fine. Those are irises and chrysanthemums.” “Okay, now turn around, please. How many books are on the table there?” I turned and looked at her… but I wasn’t sure how many books there were. Not wishing to be made a fool, I just said whatever I thought it was. “Se… ven. Seven.” “Okayyyyy there’s actually a full ten. Now. How many fingers is Tyee holding up? Tyee!?” She said clapping at the named servant for the belayed response to the cue. “Three!” I said in confidence. “No, Yumi. One. One finger. And there was a flock of utucans.” She sounded defeated. I sounded worse. “I couldn’t… see the birds…” I admitted with tears welling again. "I've... been having vision problems for a while. And I'm scared of losing my sight." My mistake was not in reading so long past nightfall, or with my nose shoved in the pages. It was not even admitting this flaw of mine to my handmaiden. No, my mistake was in not quashing this immediately, for not commanding the reticence of the witnesses on the spot until later. As it was, word got out almost immediately, probably through the servants who can’t help but gossip about the things they see us royals do. You know how I mentioned that everyone has an opinion of what I should and should not be doing, having, and saying? Well who in the goddesses blue world would have expected that such fervor and scandal would be sparked over what style and brand of glasses the rora should wear?????
  12. Happens every time; never gets old.
  13. Since the site is back I may as well play as my character finally right? Any helpful directions or hints I can use to that end?
  14. IC | Brykon The kaitiaki smiled broadly then and cast an accusatory finger at Nichou. "So my assumptions were right. You are the mastermind to all the sawing and hammering echoing in the valley!" he exclaimed in jest. He laughed for a second longer, then relaxed. "I'm glad. The refugees have come down in droves and only recently slowed to a trickle. My friends in the other villages tell me Ihu-Koro is the new ground zero in the war effort and the coastal hovels are unable to help beyond the rare transport of handfuls of villagers to other Koro, which leaves us to take people in. We have always been a haven, but good intentions of taking on fleeing refugees only go so far as our resources, and The Massif is in a position of bountiful resources and skilled craftsmen to support that influx. "Many of those refugees have passed their thanks for the work of the quiet carpenter who gave them a place to rest and feel safe in. That's you, I see now. I want to be sure you know of the good your efforts have done."
  15. So, you agree? You think I'm beautiful? <3 Happy to do some storytelling again. I think I may have missed this as much as I missed all y'all.
  16. Sounds fun. I missed it last time, so you bet I'm in this time. Character: Name: Laryna, the Engineer-Witch Species: Vortixx Gender: Female Powers: Technomancy provided by Mask of Biomechanics; A limited ability to mentally interface and control machinery around her, depending on range and complexity of the tech. She cannot affect people’s armor without their consent, nor can she control other vehicles, but she can cause minor malfunctions to some stationary vehicles’ basic systems and augment her control over the Prodigal Goat as she knows her ship so well. Gear: Laryna wears a Kanohi of Biomechanics as a component of her chestplate armor. She carries an assortment of tools on a belt, such as wrenches, a flashlight, and a small plasma torch. For self defense, she keeps a handheld slugthrower blaster at her hip which fires non-explosive projectiles (essentially a revolver). Personal Aircraft: The Prodigal Goat Allegiance/Role: Former Fe airship technician; current freelance engineer based in Tesara. Appearance: Laryna is a fairly ordinary-looking Vortixx specimen with ebony armor, shimmering blue tassels at the back of her head, and brilliant green eyes, but her embellishments and personality make her stick out from the rest. She wears a black leather jacket decorated with multitude of pins and patches with occult and pop cultural references, and modified her chest armor to accept a kanohi. Her tools and gear rattle a bit with her step, and she walks with a slightly provocative strut that belies her inner insecurities in favor of sheer cool factor. Personality: Laryna has become known as an engineer-witch for her technomancy, fascination of creepy things, and sheer technological wizardry, relishing in the mystique of the title and the fear it created in the hearts of the pure and superstitious alike. She typically gestures when using her power, adding to the look of “magical abilities.” Challenges are hard for her to turn down, and she has gotten used to living on the edge; while not exactly brave, she enjoys thrills, and selfishly throws herself in harm’s way on a regular basis. She likes taking things apart and putting them back together, and tinkering with her airbike has been her labor of love. When she needs to think, taking her speeder out for long rides clears her mind. Bio: Once, long ago, Laryna was a repairwoman working in one of Xian’s factories, but the ambition bug bit her just as hard as any female Vortixx and she set out to prove her chops to her bosses. She tried to learn everything she could about the technology she fixed, and even attained status from ascending The Mountain at the expense of those she was with. In the end, however, her world crumbled as it did for everyone else from the Mata Nui Robot, and she had to adapt to life on Bara Magna and became a fairly accomplished engineer in Fe infamous for taking on jobs few others would oil their hands with—and doing it better than those who would. She specialized in fixing and reverse-engineering things, but likes using her problem-solving brain to do some mild mercenary work on the side to pay the bills. While not a violent person, like most Vortixx she can be selfish and cruel, though she will always honor bargains and hard-earned alliances. Aircraft: Name: The Prodigal Goat Model: Rockoh Weaponry: 1) EMP mines: Meant as a defensive armament, these are deployed to the rear of the craft and explode in a burst of nonlethal electromagnetic energy meant to disrupt or even disable a pursuing vehicle for a short time; 2) Forward-facing crystal cannons: A complement of twin guns that fire supercharged crystal bolts. Pulling the trigger shoots two bolts at once, and the guns can keep up to two shots ready to go at any moment; additional shots need to be primed for ten seconds before they can be fired. Customization: 1) Embedded Kanohi Hau: For when the battering ram on the front wasn’t supposed to be used [yet] and other anticipated mishaps, the connected Kanohi, when triggered, creates a shield that protects Laryna and the Goat from physical harm. Like with the normal mask, this does not protect from ambush or unexpected events. 2) HUD-enabled windshield; a transparent protodermis screen with a holographic display that tells Laryna the various metrics of the vehicle, as well as a basic sight/guidance system for the forward guns. Appearance: The Goat is a gunmetal grey and blue Rockoh model with heavy aesthetic modifications. The seat has been made more comfortable with leather and padding, the cockpit has been elongated slightly to accommodate saddlebags and a more relaxed posture, the engine made to purr when idle and roar menacingly when throttled, the sides have been decorated with a myriad of frightening sigils and spikes, and some components are painted to look blood splattered. It gives off the impression of an airbike with many secrets, which Laryna is very proud of. She refers to it sometimes as her “funmobile” for unknown reasons.
  17. IC: Stannis Maru Stannis did not linger or celebrate his glancing blow to Eisen's armor and instead remained in a constant state of motion, refusing to surrender his momentum. He sprang from his ducked position, leaning forward and away from Eisen's rear guard just as his foe flourished his sword and turned to face Stannis anew, but this time Eisen had caught him with his cleverness and tools. Eisen's freshly revealed gauntlet-blade careened undetected to Stannis' flesh, and while it only narrowly missed his face it did catch his left shoulder, in part because Stannis fell straight into its path. Stannis had made first contact, but it was Eisen, to the Maru's dismay, who drew first blood. From a small gash between the armor plates on his scapula blood seeped down his upper arm. The wound was minor but not inconsequential and it forced Stannis to seek an extra pace of distance from Eisen to recover. His recovery was forced, however, and with some effort he pulled himself together and whirled sharply on the balls of his feet to face Eisen again. He twirled his halberd twice in front of him to ward off attacks he expected but that did not come before settling himself into a defensive stance and brandishing his weapon pointedly at Eisen. The stance was familiar, reminiscent to the previous ones Stannis used in the duel, and warned of adaptability Eisen would have to be wary about. A drop of blood fell to the ice cold floor and froze on contact with a wet crackling sound and Stannis, for the first time, visibly winced—from pain or from the sound? Eisen could not be sure—but those damnably grey eyes still drilled into the dark toa with the same haunting blankness as before. "Isn't it clear, Eisen?" he said as he slowly moved to flank Eisen on his shield side. "I'm getting to know you."
  18. IC: Sigrus of the Massif 
 When the chime rang the second time, Sigrus' mind settled its thoughts like silt in still water. 
 Like many of those who lived in the Massif, the camerlengo was a spiritual man and believed that meditation was a type of power. Having spent many of his years in the service to Ga-Koronan seafarers, he had grown close to their ideologies and implemented them into his personal codes. Meditation, to him, was a way to filter and cleanse his mind and gain better understanding of both himself and the world around him. In spending long moments of meditation, he found, he could tackle the issues of the future with greater clarity. His previous occupation of wayfinder and attunement to the spiritual caused some to draw comparisons to his immediate predecessor at the Massif, Stannis, much to Sigrus' annoyance. Though they were both reverent and traveled a lot, the resemblances stopped there, as Stannis was much more of a furtive warrior to Sigrus' reserved scholar persona. Time and time again, while Stannis preferred to approach issued head on with a sort of god-given brash stubbornness that almost always led to fighting, Sigrus would study the matters and seek diplomacy and understanding before all else. Such traits also arguably made him a better village leader than Stannis was. He calmed himself, his breathing first and his heartlight after, and life slowed until time seemed to stretch forever and the walls of his mind fell away. His thoughts drifted to memories of years at sea, and he counted his breaths to the tune of a rocking boat. As he inhaled he imagined the boat tipping left; he exhaled and it tipped right. Creaking tackle and lapping waves soothed him like white noise and his thoughts were open like the broad blue sky. He meditated because, despite appearances, Sigrus was constantly trying to maintain his peace. Much went through his head: The lives of his fellow villagers, the prosperity of the safe haven, the anger of the asylum seekers, the fear of the defenseless, and a frustration that Mata Nui seemed uncaring to all their plights. In times when emotions flared, Sigrus tried to becalm them and find peaceful resolution, because he believed that if peace could not be found then there was no point to the fighting anyway. The waves of Ga-Wahi soothed him, and his thoughts came... and went... The emotions he struggled with were acknowledged... and then he let them go, one... by one... until they all had fluttered away like doves released from a coop and all he could do was stare in wonder at them. He meditated because, though he was content at the Massif, he kept wanting to explore abroad. He was not uncomfortable at home or needed to spread a gospel around, he simply possessed an incurable longing to see what was on the other side of the mountain, to chart out the sea's expanse, to span distances in the name of measurement alone. And he had been at the Massif for a rather long time. It was time to stretch his legs a bit. He also sensed Brykon already knew that. The giant toa coughed and the sound rocked through the chamber, bringing the matoran's focus back to the present all too soon, but by the time they reset and yearned to go back to their serenity it was too late. Brykon wasn't great at meditating—though he did try—and struggled to calm himself anew. In the end, he simply grunted softly and turned around to face Sigrus and Nichou. His voice was sonorous and reserved, fatherly almost, though rough on the edges from years of smoking and violence. "Sigrus Winedark," he greeted, "I apologize for the unruly end, camerlengo." Sigrus bowed his head slightly and smiled wryly. "Apology accepted. Kaitiaki, this is the carpenter I was speaking of to you, yes: Brykon, meet Nichou of Onu-Koro." "A pleasure," Brykon greeted warmly. His eyes twinkled slightly at the mention of the Koro—A relived memory, perhaps?—and then it was gone. "Your skills and presence have certainly been helpful in the village. What sorts of projects have you been working on?" he asked.
  19. I've made it a New Years resolution to attend a full convention this year. Let's see how well I can keep this goal...
  20. Dissenting against the Great Dissenter herself seems rather meta, tbh. I, for one, look forward to seeing her minifig, and wonder which collar they'll have her wear.
  21. IC: Stannis Maru Stannis’ face remained impassive as a statue, but if Eisen we’re looking at it he would have seen what could have been the smallest telltale twitch of a smile... Stannis was onto him. The Maru's focus had been on Eisen almost the whole while, and in that time he had come to a realization. The toa’s Kanohi remained a mystery but so did the mysterious force that somehow protected him, and Stannis had concluded the mysteries were one and the same. The details of this power were still unknown, but he had to assume that Eisen was still only a toa with the same limitations as himself, and if he were deprived of use of his Kanohi he would lose any functional advantage. Whatever the invisible fist that did Eisen's bidding was frustrating, but with every use it became more clearly understood. Eisen’s rebuffing did jolt Stannis, but not in the way he preferred. The Maru was resolute as a mountain with heels firm as though they had granite foundations. He remained steadfast both in his footing and grip on his weapon, and instead of being tossed away—like he might have been had the rebuff targeted his body—he instead used its force as an unexpected source of momentum to spin without barely moving his body. Eisen clearly hasn’t expected that his use of force would have that reaction, and his stab went wide of its mark. Meanwhile, Stannis rotated almost 180° before being stopped by the pommel of his halberd connecting with the small of Eisen’s back, the rough equivalent of batting a tethered ball away only to be immediately slapped by it. As soon as he was halted he changed posture and ducked low, preparing for his next move. Around and below the two duelists the tide of battle was tipping in the villain’s favor, however; the cries of combatants were dying away and moving elsewhere; time was not on his side... but time moved more slowly to Stone. It slipped, yet Stannis seemed just as assured as before. Leah and Sulov had a tenable defensive position, and so long as he held Eisen in check there was still a chance of victory.
  22. IC: Sigrus "I was a wayfinder in my previous life and spent most of my time at sea, and the sea can be bitterly cold in places, so no, it did not take much for me to get used to the chill here. To the elevation, however, and the thinness of the air: Yes, as you know. "Now come, we're almost there." Sigrus led Nichou down the rest of the winding staircase and finally down a short brownstone-floored landing that split into three doorways emblazoned with different sigils. He pushed at the door with the emblem of a candelabra, and as the latch gave the light of a thousand candles radiated into the small space. The innermost chapel of the monastery, the place held sacred to many who worshipped Mata Nui and where tears and blood were shed, was bathed in the warm luminescence of the many candles. It was a hexagonal chamber with a handful of simple pews that faced a shrine of the Three Virtues. The room was not broad, but was high, and the ceiling, a distant roof ornately decorated with a fresco depicting the coming of the First Toa, seemed to be many bio above the matoran's heads. The walls of the space were ringed by even more lamps, fastidiously cared by a couple of silent monks whose only purpose was to ensure the constancy of the flames. Seated in the pews were a few villagers, and, looming larger than life, the Toa-Protector himself. The dark giant Brykon's eyes were shut, but there was no mistaking his state of vigilance—the ancient greatsword that served as the talisman of his office was still strapped to his back even in prayer. The chamber in which they meditated was the same that the former leader Antrim had been murdered in a year prior, and duty, if not caution, was of the utmost importance. Duty was the same virtue that pulled Sigrus and his ward to the monastery then. Sigrus gestured to the benches to indicate they should sit, and a short while later a bell tolled a second time and the other matoran left. A moment later, it was only Sigrus, Nichou, the candle-tending monks, and the still-as-stone Brykon.
  23. IC: "Sigrus," he said, then froze mid-step in thought. The wooden floorboards creaked softly from holding the matoran's weight. "I suppose we haven't actually introduces ourselves, have we? I must have mistaken the village's air of friendliness with familiarity. I know who you are, after all—though that is partly my job, yes. "So, I am Sigrus, camerlengo of the Massif, formerly of Ga-Koro, and you are Nichou, carpenter, formerly of Onu-Koro," he said, and stretched a hand out to shake. "Well met?"
  24. IC: Stannis Eisen's reaction to Stannis' attack may have been influenced and hampered by the attacks from the other heroes in the chamber, but regardless, he fit the expectations Stannis had for the swordsman. Eisen was too clever to use his sword to fully meet the halberd, and such a strategy was doomed anyhow as there was no way he could have resisted the power of such an attack with just his sword. Stannis already recognized that Eisen possessed no incredible strength such as what he had displayed by smashing the throw boulder away; his strength was an act assisted by unnatural means and Stannis was not afraid of it. Eisen, like every other man of the blade, had to rely on quickness and cunning. Stannis apppeared to ignore the sight of the Sentinel, who he thought he recognized as Kale, who was flung back from Eisen seemingly effortlessly. The veteran Maru's focus was on Eisen, and specifically understanding what he was up against before the tides became less muddled and all the advantages Stannis was enjoying fell away. Sooner or later, this fight was to become more singular, he knew. There was no way the resurgent freedom fighters in Ko-Koro could keep their minor foothold. Simultaneous with Kale being thrown back like a doll, Stannis acted. His halberd was a comparatively large weapon, but he handled it deftly. Eisen had directed the tip of the polearm away and pulled his shield up in a protective stance, and in response Stannis simply disengaged from Eisen's sword side, moved a step to the opposite side, and swerved the weapon's blade low on Eisen's shield flank, threatening to slice his unprotected ankles with an effortlessness Eisen couldn't have expected from a toa known for his almost lumbering speed. Determined to gain even the slightest advantage against his foe, Stannis hoped to leverage every opportunity he had to fuly gauge Eisen's abilities. His tellnothing damnably grey eyes still drank Eisen in—his every move, gesture, and strategy—hoping to find something to exploit later, and bored into Eisen’s own eyes. IC: Sigrus, the Camerlengo "Hopefully we made it in time," Nichou said. The bells tolled then, relaying the time of day down to the village and across mio in every direction in a chiming cacophony. The camerlengo inclined his head towards the belltower. "We did," he said with a proud little grin, then went for a side entrance into the brownstone monastery.
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