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BZPRPG - Ko-Wahi


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#681 Offline EmpressYumiwa

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Posted Apr 19 2014 - 02:35 AM

Ic:

 

Zurec, Ardor, I would have the two of you go down into the village below. Knock on the door of the keep within, and when a giant toa answers your call, tell him the Akiri of Ko-Koro is in the monastery and would like to see him.

 

Lord Hand! Zurec objected with alarm, With all do respect, you are not the akiri.

 

True as that may be, Ambages almost lamented, if you tell him that the Hand of the Akiri awaits him he will beg for answers and you will be forced to reveal that Matoro is dead. That will only make him less agreeable for the discussion I intend to have with him and that, as with any distracting element, cannot be allowed. Please, I beg of you, say what Ive instructed and nothing more.

 

The two guards looked at each other incredulously.

 

Theyre not buying it…”

 

They will.

 

Finally Ardor, being the senior guard, gave the affirmative nod, perhaps understanding that, despite all doubts harbored the first day they trekked together, he should trust Ambages instinctsafter all, they hadnt failed yet. Zurec relented. Alright, Ambages Well do it.

 

I told you.

 

So you did.

 

Thank you, Ambages said and clasped his hands together in a show of gratitude. I will see you again shortly. With that, he turned and navigated his speeder across the emerald fields gentle slope towards the monasterys sanctified doors.

 

...

 

Zurec and Ardor strode with cool confidence into The Massif after parking their speeders outside the gate. Sanctum Guards hadnt been seen in the villages walls in years, not since Turaga Nujus death for sure, and their sudden arrival properly drew stares from the denizens. Koro-forged weaponry and machines were objects of curiosity, as were the uniforms and icy calm of a soldier. People on the streets paused their activities to admire the guards and people in their houses poked their heads out windows to inspect the newcomers and greet them just the same.

 

It was an inviting scene for them. After being little more than arms of the law in their city being greeted as heroes of legend in the tiny town was endearing to their hearts; Zurec even returned firm waves to the folk, and Ardor remained more casual though less reactive.

 

They stepped up to the keeps door and knocked the banger twice, then waited. The careful amble of a large man could be discerned from within, then, just as Ambages predicted, the door opened and revealed a massive toa with a broad grin. I watched your approach with interest, gentlemen. Please: Come inside, the toa said and stepped aside to allow the two soldiers entry.

 

He moved with surprising swiftness toads the hearth and stroked the fire with a poker. I dont believe weve ever met. My name is Antrim Vakitano, Some call me lord, others a baron, some even call me an abbot or high priest, but theres only one title I care for. Im the toa-protector of this village and the chapel on the massif this land is named after.

 

Im Zurec. This is Ardor. For titles, Im a guard; hes a sergeant. Ardors keen sense of detected noted another toa in the dark stairwell, thin and clearly of fire. The toa did not move, nor did he get introduced. Neither guard mentioned him.

 

What can I do for you, Zurec and Ardor? Antrim said with a wide smile. What brings you two into this march of Ko-Wahis?

 

Weve come to inform you that the Akiri of Ko-Wahi is in your monastery, paying his respects at the shrine, and would like to see you there, Zurec announced heartily. He felt his manner gave nothing away.

 

I seeeee, Antrim said and collected his hands at his back as he stood pensively. Then I will not keep the akiri waiting. Please, do make yourselves comfortable here. There is food in the pantry and chairs throughout. Rest. Ill be right back.

 

Antrim went to the staircase with a subtle sense of unease in his wake. The Visitor followed behind him to the next story up; the creaks of wooden steps confirmed it.

 

Brother, the Visitor said in a hushed, worried tone and gently put his hand on Antrims thigh, remember what I said.

 

I remember, Antrim said. His brows were tightened together and eyes perplexed as though he was confronted with an enigmatic puzzle. They stood together in silence for what seemed like a short eternity before Antrim placed his larger palm over the Visitors. In reference to his friends warning of impending death, he added, Not if I can help it.

 

Youll be taking Rain?

 

Antrim nodded. Its as much my tool as it is my token of office. Im seeing the akiri, apparently. Matoro likes ceremony and theatricality.

 

But—“

 

Antrim assured his friend by name, then said, you of all people should know Destiny cannot be changed. Whatever awaits me up there, Ill be ready.

 

“… I want to go with you.

 

No, Antrim adamantly held and withdrew his massive greatsword from its wall mount and slid it into its scabbard. The Visitor helped him mount it to his waist. No, whatever is there is for me alone. You stay here. Keep the fires going for when I will return, he said.

 

I pray that you will, the Visitor worriedly said and leaned up to give one last passionate kiss.

 

...

 

The candles flickered low as Ambages entered the sacred center of the monastery as though some pure spirit within the walls had been defiled by the dark masters presence. His pink eyes scanned the flames maliciously, raping Mata Nuis holiness as he did.

 

He stepped up to the carefully laid out shrine to the Great Spirit and inspected it with abject curiosity. Reverence to Him always confused the architect. Mata Nui was a distant god, one people seemed to feel, as they called it, even though there was no sensation attributed to the guy in the stars. His so-called will was revered as Destiny by the Matoran, but it was nothing but superstition. They were gullible fodder who thought their god could be seen in nature, tasted in the waters, smelled in the wind and heard in the desert, but all they ever knew was what they chose to see without proof. Mata Nui was unpredictable, unkind and cold, but MatoranMatoran was assured and true to itself. It deserved a better god than Mata Nui.

 

Ambages reached out and touched a candelabrum and felt the urge to clobber the charms and talismans until they were dust but restrained himself. That was not the time for raw emotion. This was a delicately set table and he would not let himself down. He took several steps back and knelt before the altar irreligiously. Thus and there he would wait.

 

...

 

Antrim Vakitano entered his chapel and sniffed the air. Something wasnt right.

 

...

 

Ambages ponderously admired the chandeliers. They were so expertly crafted out of bronze and silver. What are these great arts doing in a humble church? he wondered.

 

...

 

The toa-protector stepped with faithful authority through the narrow, reverberating hallways to the heart of the holy compound. The guards said the akiri was waiting for him and Matoro was a welcomed soul. Why then did the very stones upon which he tread scream at him to leave without regret?

 

...

 

The Visitor sat quietly by the hearth, breathing life in the ebbing coals to reinvigorate the fire. The two guards ate at a nearby table, sipping tea from ceramic cups and partaking from the meager bounty of the Massifs agrarian stock.

 

You havent introduced yourself like Antrim, Zurec pried. Why not share your name with us?

 

The Visitor did but the matoran lost the name like wind in a cage. Antrim and I were comrades-at-arms together eons ago. More than than, even. We were much more

 

Ardor picked up the telltale emotion and asked, You say were as though he is in the past. Why?

 

Because I fear for Antrim, the Visitor confessed but kept his eyes glued on the fire. The fire Antrim asked him to guard. The fire Antrim wished to greet him on his return. But there would be no return. He teleported to the monastery, Im sure. If you leave now you can be up there soon enough.

 

Why do you want us to go up? Zurec asked, befuddled.

 

Because whatever happens in the monastery should be witnessed. One or both of you: Go. Now." He gazed into the bright embers with a rapt sadness. "I will stay... and tend to the fires.


Edited by Jenny Quantum, Apr 19 2014 - 02:40 AM.

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#682 Offline Geardirector

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Posted Apr 19 2014 - 11:18 AM

IC: Tuli and Khervos (Ko-Koro)

 

Khervos, Tuli and Noka arrived in Ko-Koro at nightfall, it was quickly decided they’d find a place to sleep, and then look for a trace of Ferron or Rhea. Khervos already knew full well that they’d have to seek the help of someone who knew the drifts better than them if they were to venture into them again. They soon found a small inn and rented two rooms for the night.

 

As he heard the latch click into place, Khervos breathed a sigh of relief. Looking around the small room was a familiar scene to be sure. How many times before had he not rented seedy, cramped little rooms like this one in a seedy motel or inn while out on an investigation, trailing someone, scoping out their home or hideout across the street, or setting up a provisory base of operations for a lengthy investigation away from his office?

 

The smell was familiar too, the dry smell of moldy furniture and moth-infested curtains, and as an added bonus a thin film of frost coating every surface, courtesy of Ko-Koro’s cold evening.

 

The only thing that stood out was the woman currently leaning out the window, staring into the cold night sky even whilst shuddering; the cold night breeze snaking around her and throwing her hot-blooded manner for a loop.

 

Khervos almost rolled his eyes, either this was an incredibly obvious prompt, or his girlfriend simply refused to admit she was cold, Khervos could believe either.

 

Regardless of this or that, Tuli soon felt a ragged, stingy blanket wrap around her as a familiar set of red eyes appeared to peer into her own. The blanket was no luxury, but it was warm.

 

“You looked cold” The Private Eye muttered blankly as he remained with her to look up at the blinking skies.

 

“How gallant of you, Big Boy” Tuli teased with a smile, though she really did appreciate the gesture.

 

“I thought I said I’d pass on that nickname” Khervos responded with a stern frown. Tuli frowned back.

 

“Thanks for ruining the mood, Brainstrain”, she pouted.

 

He almost snapped back, but kept a leash on himself, talking with Tuli was in a lot of ways like holding a bomb close to your chest, given how liable she was to “blow up” at the slightest provocation. He decided to disarm the situation and asked a more pragmatic question.

 

“How are you feeling?”

 

“Worried,” she said, looking into the starlit sky, “I’m worried about Ferron”

 

“I can imagine” Khervos supplemented, Tuli nodded.

 

“I just feel so… so”

 

“Helpless?”

 

“Yes, and like I wanna…”

 

“Break something?”

 

“Yes, and...”

 

“Scream?”

 

Tuli almost went off on Khervos right then and there, but restrained herself, talking with Khervos was in a lot of ways like going under the knife, that way he just cut right into her psyche and dragged out everything she was feeling on a neat and easy-to-read list. She’d prefer to avoid more of that, and decided to switch to a more dull topic.

 

“How are you planning on moving your practice to Onu-Koro?”

 

Khervos raised an eyebrow for a second or two at the sudden change in the conversation, but he quickly understood the reason, and decided to humor her.

 

“Mostly paperwork, really, but I do want to find a locale near your hut; I wouldn’t exactly mind being Ferron’s neighbor”

 

“I think he’d be more than happy to have you, and maybe you could have him inspect murder weapons for you” Tuli replied excitedly. To think, they could be living happily together.

 

Khervos nodded, noticing Tuli’s attempt to make him sold on the idea. It wasn’t like he minded, and he had to give Tuli props for a rare moment of subtlety, unintentional though it may have been.

 

“I think that sounds like an excellent idea” the Ba-Matoran Private Eye replied and put an arm around the Ta-Matoran forge assistant.

 

“We should get some sleep, tomorrow will bring lots of work”

 

Khervos and Tuli turned in silently, both restlessly dreaming about demonic De-Toa, Tarakava and Smiths on the warpath.


Edited by Geardirector, Apr 19 2014 - 03:56 PM.

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#683 Offline EmpressYumiwa

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Posted Apr 19 2014 - 12:22 PM

Ic:

 

What are you going to do when he comes? Clades inquired. He sounded nervous as he tinkered with one of the idols.  If he had the ability to knock them all down he probably would, though thankfully he remained a only proverbial being.

 

If I didnt know better Id think you are worrying for me.

 

Someone has to. I like living, I like imagining, I like killing. Thinking about your safety is like a requirement for me continued existence so I can do those things.

 

You are a manifestation in my mind, Ambages asserted.

 

And yet I think, therefor I am. I live here now; theres no getting rid of me.

 

Shhhh I think here he is.

 

I know. Ive got this.

 

Forceful steps that heralded Antrims looming arrival grew louder and then halted abruptly in the doorjamb behind Ambages. The priest himself was finally there. Hello, Lord Antrim, Ambages said as he turned his head to give the toa his facial profile. Good to meet youand how loooong weve waited for this moment.

 

The giant toa took the sharp step down from the hallway onto the altars floor and paced the back wall behind the matoran. I was told the akiri would be here, he scowled. Instead I find you. Why am I not surprised?

 

Sorry. Did they say Matoro' was here, or just the akiri?  I reckon it was the latter," he teased. "They might have forgotten part of my title. In full, its the Hand of the Akiri of Ko-Koro. A minor mistake, Im sure. Ambages rose to his feet and slowly revolved his body to show himself fully to Antrim. Unfortunately, Akiri Matoro is dead. Im in command until a new leader is elected.

 

Antrim fumed. Matoro was a scholar and prophet; the toa respected the former translator as much as he did Turaga Nuju. His death was as much an insult as the dark ones presence in the holy center. No doubt by your scheming, Ambages, he spat.

 

Honestly…” Ambages shrugged, no. Not even I know who was behind it. I realize you have no reason to believe me, but since we will never see each other again you should know that whatever I say is nothing but the truth. The Hand frowned almost sadly at his adversary. I owe you that much.

 

Wow, how gracious of you. Actually telling the truth to your enemies now? Very bold, too, Clades observed.

 

I told you, Ive got this. There is no way Antrim will leave this place alive.

 

Its not him Im worried about, Ambages, its you. And your boldness. Youre not one to take risks.

 

Sometimes you have to risk to get a payoutsurely you found that lesson from what little time youve spent digging in my memories.

 

Im not questioning your plan, only criticizing it as we go. Thats what you made me for, you know.

 

I know.

 

Antrim prowled at the edges of the room as though inspecting Ambages as either prey or a foreigner in a strange land and Ambages was seen as both so the toas demeanor was expected. He remained silent, judging, for a while. Then he said, You didnt come here, to this holy place, just to tell me Matoro is dead, too.

 

Quite right. I came here to do two things: First, to commend you. He clapped his hands slowly in rocking, mocking applause. See, youve always been a thorn in my side and my most fierce opponent, and youve come soooooo close to beating me!

 

Youre a legend to me, really, and your strategy of making disciples who fight for you while you, I dont know, pray here is unnervingly effective. Lets see, Ambages said as he counted off with the fingers of his left hand. His tone was low, menacing and mocking. First, Stannis, the Wanderer and Chosen One. I hear hes already as wise and faithful as you are, though without the knowledge about yours truly. And then turning the Shaddix prince against me! What a master stroke. My fellow Peers are in fear of him and his son now, all thanks to your meddling. He clicked his tongue twice. Those Shaddixes and their temper And you severed the connection I had with Hiemalis, didn't you? Antrim slowly nodded. I thought so. Like I said, I truly do commend you for your work so far.

 

But, how long have you been working against us, anyway?

 

Ive been watching your cabal for five hundred years, Ambages, Antrim glowered. I will not stop until youre all dead and gone.

 

Err, thats not very Code-like—” the matoran started to admonish.

 

Exceptions can be made for those who are beyond salvation. The great hero seized the grip of his sword with deceptive laziness. And Im prepared to make that exception.

 

Ah, Ambages said without seeming threatened in the least, now comes my second ulterior motive: To tell you that everything you thought was true about me, is. I was the one behind the destruction of Pala-Koro and the ILF. The Kumu Islets were ravaged and sunk by Aurelia and Lothar by my will. I was the mastermind of the turagas assassinations. The House of Shaddix was dismantled by Aurelia with my permission. And yes, I climbed the rungs of power in Ko-Koro so that I will soon lay claim to its throne. As it is, Im juuuust about there, he said and produced the Seal of Kopaka to show it off. In time, Ko-Koro will be the seat of power over all the island, the veritable crown of Mata Nui with me as its wearer. The question is after accomplishing alllll thaaaaat why should I be content looking down on the treetops when I desire to touch the stars? he said and animatedly reached up at the flames on the chandeliers above him as though he imagined stroking their licking tongues.

 

"You speak of the realm of kings.

 

No, Ambages said with utter calm in his voice as he returned to the present. His words spewed like amber oil spilling from a fountain, soft but toxic. No, I speak of the realm of gods. Mata Nui will bend to my image and there is nothing you can so to stop it.

 

I will stop this! Antrim thundered and stepped forward firmly, casting the scabbard aside and letting it peel away from the sword to reveal the full length of Rain. With one sweep of my blade I can end you and your devilry. He menacingly stretched the colossal weapon out at Ambages.

 

Clades stepped up and touched the blade, feeling its edge and fuller. Uh-oh, he does mean business. This was part of your plan all along, right?

 

His anger is his detriment.

 

Right. I just hope it isnt be yours, too. Honestly, Im a little worried.

 

The architect looked down the long and wide blade with curiosity, as if he was more interested in the creation of the sword rather than the fact that it was being used against him. You can, but you wont, he riddled, because if you swing that sword to kill me youll be dead before it clatters on the floor. Your life, like the fate of this island, lies in the dance of my fingertips.

 

The huge toa-hero had had enough. Uttering a stream of curses at the architect he hefted Rain over his shoulder with both hands and prepared to cut the villain down.

 

Ambages stood still as he watched and took Antrims castigation with patience. Time slowed down for him when the blade began its descent. He could see the spit boil from Antrims mouth and the fearful quivering of the candle flames in the backdrop.

 

Oh. Now I understand. Im gonna love this.

 

Without pause, Antrims weapon cleaved through the air, accented with the boom of his voice that seemed to rattle off whole prayers at a time. Half-paladin, half-priest, Antrims eyes flared bright like molten gold out of pure, seething anathema towards the hapless matoran.

 

And yet Ambages remained still save for the now rising hand that reached out tenderly like he intended to gently caress Antrims face. And yet there was nothing kind about the extension.

 

Behind the cascade of castigations, Antrim knew something wasnt right.

 

Anytime now, Ambages.

 

The mirky fingers danced.

 

He had been deceived by the darkness feigned weakness.

 

Now.

 

Two needle-thin shafts of Shadow flashed from the fingertips into Antrims eyes, throwing his skull into midnight darkness.

 

This was his Destiny as it had been foretold. So it was meant to be.

 

With his death, Antrims ivory knuckles loosened their grip on the weighty sword just as it came up on the crux of its swing to Ambages and by the force of inertia Rain flew out of the toas icy hands and tumbled midair before rattling on the floor on the far left from the architect. Antrims heart halted and his eyes glow faded to nothing. He fell to his knees but even they gave him no respite; he fell on his face and the glass of his eyes dumped out like little shards of topaz.

 

The hapless matoran towered over the hero.

 

Heres when I say that I never doubted you for a second.

 

It was true enough. Ambages never doubted himself.

...
 

Zurec had chosen to scramble up the mountain to the monastery while Ardor remained with the Visitor in part to learn about him but also to assure him. He urged his speeder up the gradual slopes onto the massive loaf of granite and it left a tail of pebbles and grass as it charged forward. The Visitors cryptic warning left much to be desired, though Zurec was used to the obscure being taken as fact. When he was a seer, such passages were studied for years at a time but always ended up being more fact than fiction.

 

The Massif was like a Shangri La, a mystic and deeply spiritual domain where peace and longevity were the norm. It was any wonder why people tended to make their pilgrimage there seeking a sojourn from the wiles of regular lives. He wished he could remain there to learn more about the place, though the mission with Ambages remained his top priority.

 

Ambages, the noble Hand who saved his life, the assistant to Matoro who fervently shared the former akiris principleswhat about that man troubled the Visitor so much? It was almost as though the toa knew all along that there was no akiri waiting in the chapel, that it was all a lie to ease Antrims tensions. What was Ambages up to, anyway?

 

Those questions and more plagued his other half while he concentrated on piloting the speeder without incident. Nevertheless, he erred as he sped around a corner of the trail that turned onto the top of the massif and over the emerald pasture to the monastery. He yelped as the speeder careened to the side and flipped. Through either sheer luck or destinys hand he extricated himself from his seat and hit the ground as the speeder flew narrowly above him and crashed to pieces by him. Gears and treads and divots erupted around him, but there was no time to survey the damages. He got up and ran as swiftly as he could across the gently sloping field towards the monasterys doors.

 

He was used to standing at attention for days, traversing mountain passes for hours and scaling cliffs with hooks and rope, but running, sprinting in particular, was not his forté. He was built for strength, not aerobics, and it showed. He panted and wheezed in desperation as he urged his bones to the door and leaned dramatically to catch his breath on the pillars of the small patios roof.

 

Then he heard the guttural bellowing inside and all hope for rest vanished like snow in the Mangai. He charged in with his iceaxe drawn and face fierce, fearing the worst, but what he saw when he rounded the last corner and looked into the chapel what he saw astonished him.

 

There stood Ambages, icy and reserved with a vigil candle in either hand, while the body of Antrim Vakitano was stretched out before him like a shadow at dusk. Zurec stepped down onto the chapel floor with the same aghast caution as Antrim had before and remained by the wall to the back. Lord Hand I came as fast as I could. My speeder wrecked and I ran the rest of the way andWhat the ########### happened????

 

The toa-protector didnt believe me when I said Matoro has been assassinated, Ambages explained. He then proceeded to blame me for the crime, accusing me of treason and then blasphemy against Mata Nui. He attempted to execute me for the perceived crimes but with a body so old and big and a heart overcome with grief theres only so much strain his heart could take. And so he collapsed, dead before he hit the ground.

 

Ambages, Im conflicted, Zurec stated flatly, his heart and minds clashing in consternation.

 

Well, this can be interesting. You must have left a stone unturned, Ambages.

 

What troubles you?

 

“… This is the second village leader to die with you being intimately involved. By all sensibilities I must be doubtful in this circumstance. What if you are involved in this?
 

Clades sat on the floor absentmindedly playing footsies with the toas corpse though it was obvious his full attention was directed at Ambages next sentence. 

Zurec, Ambages pleaded, look at us. We are matoran, and neither of us are assassins. Before me is the body a legendary toa-hero and warrior. Tell me, if, say, Reordin Maru were to take his anger out on you is there anything you could do to not only avoid death but also slay him with nary a scratch on your body?

 

Zurec thought a moment before shaking his head. “… No. I suppose not.

 

You know, you think of the slyest things.

 

Acting is an art, Clades. I strive to become everyones advisor so that they will believe whatever I say.

 

I wont argue with you there.

 

Then there is your proof that I am not have been at fault here. Antrim answered my words with disbelief and rage, and he paid the toll in full. Would I have handled this situation differently had I known how he would react? Yes. I dont know. But whats done is done, so here, take a candle and join me in a litany for the passed.

 

Zurec stood still for a while, pondering he veracity of Ambages explanation with his other mind, before finally sheathing his weapon and accepting the candle.

Ambages led the prayer, not from heart by by memory, having read the prayer not five minutes before on the back of a charm on the altar, though Zurec was none the wiser. O, Great Spirit Mata Nui, bless this body as it lies, bless this soul as it pervades, bless this life as it fades. In your name, this I pray. And then they blew out the candles.

 

They stood in silence, meditating for a while, before Ambages turned to address Zurec. Unfortunatelyand I apologize if it seems brusquebusiness never rests. Im making you Ko-Koros official ambassador to the Massif. You should remain here in the village. Represent the koro in the funeral and see to it that respects are paid. Ardor and I will continue on. When things settle here, seek me out in reverse order until we meet again. Will you do this for me?

 

Lord Hand, I understand youre doing what seems best, but as I am a member of the Guard you have no authority over my mission—“

 

Indeed. But as Ive named you as a representative of the akiris office I can command you as the chief of state. Considering the situation, your time as a seer should ably assist you in diplomacy. Im entrusting you with this duty so please dont take it lightly.

 

“… Yes, Lord Hand.

 

Thank you, Ambages said and clasped his hands together in gratitude once again. I cannot go into the village. People will be suspicious of me and only cause trouble; I can only imagine how they will react to me if they find that I am the only witness to their lords death. So, well go down together, and then you should fetch Ardor so that he and I can take the remaining speeders to Le-Koro since you destroyed the third. Dont worry about thatits just a machine and can be replacedbut for now we need to take action. Are you with me? Ambages said and placed his hand on Zurecs shoulder.

 

The guard swallowed and inhaled deeply before nodding and accepting the responsibility. Im with you.

 

Then lets leave this place.

Ooc: Ambages and Ardor to Le-Wahi.

 


Edited by Jenny Quantum, Apr 19 2014 - 12:28 PM.

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#684 Offline BULiK

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Posted Apr 20 2014 - 11:31 AM

IC:

 

Nichou stood at the edge of a rock outcropping as he inhaled the refreshing air.  The air flowed throughout the Onu-matoran's lungs in deep breaths.  It felt like ambrosia after all his years in the stuffy tunnels of Onu-Wahi.  The change of pace was satisfying.  The air around him was crisp - not the freezing cold, but the kind of slight chill that nips at your skin to keep you awake.  Warm currents from the part of Le-wahi he was overlooking would occasionally drift in his direction.  It was perfect weather, by his definition.  

 

Nichou was happy.

 

But deep in his mind there were many troubling things nonetheless.  He had heard about Ko-Koro's lockdown through his letter correspondence with Kyhra.  At least he got out of there before his vacation became a forced one.  The death of Matoro was saddening.  Nichou was outside the Sanctum when Nuju was kidnapped by Makuta during the final year of the war.  Matoro had ruled wisely in his place then and after the assassination a few months later.

 

Even more troubling on his mind than the death of a respected leader, was the chafing wait to find some sort of meeting with Stannis.  Nichou had yet to meet his friend after the matoran of plasma became a Toa Maru.  And he was very confused as to why there wasn't 'Aurax Maru' or "Lepridan Maru' in the newspapers.  Nichou had been wanting to find Stannis for a while now, first going to Po-Koro, then going to Ko after news the Maru leader would be there.  He even went to the man's place of inspiration, where he is right now, and had been for a week or so, if not more.  Time seemed to flow differently here.

 

This place was a real sanctuary.  Peaceful and quiet, there really was no reason for most people to lock doors.  The frugal lifestyle of this hamlet on the rock was very interesting, and allowed for lots more time to ponder life's persisting questions.  Nichou had visited the monastery often, taking into detail the craftsmanship of the chandeliers, sculptures, and relief carvings that adorned the chambers, made to proclaim the glory of this island's almost unanimous religion.  Of course, Nichou would sometimes pray there, although he wasn't as pious as others who came here.

 

The sun was slumping towards the horizon, illuminating the sky and it's clouds with a brilliant orange and some shades of purple.  The final rays of sunlight washed warmth on Nichou, before he started to walk back to the Massif's center.


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#685 Offline Norik Of Celtania

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Posted Apr 21 2014 - 05:01 AM

IC: Greisk/Cyrena

Greisk felt a constant, tingling sensation at the base of his skull as he exited the village.

Cyrena if you're excitement continues like this I may have more than just a mild headache.


Sorry, it's just that after a week in that dour hospital with nothing but your boring, empty mind to explore... I can't wait to see the island!

Greisk couldn't help but smile a little. He was feeling a little excited too. But he mostly felt apprehension and caution.

He looked down at the obsidian a covered wall of the tunnel. It was situated in the open drifts but he couldn't see a single patch of snow inside. As he stepped inside he realised why. A warm draft blew out, and it was quite warm inside.

Cyrena?

His vision changed, affected by his mask's power.

I can't see anything. It's like the Akaku is blocked,the Anxilia said.

Greisk took a deep breath.

"Let's hope I don't regeret this," he muttered and drew his weapons as he entered the Dark Walk.


OOC: Greisk and Cyrena to Kini.

Edited by Just Norik, Apr 21 2014 - 05:03 AM.

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#686 Offline Shadowhawk

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Posted Apr 21 2014 - 06:39 PM

OOC:

Jam with Geardirector.

As per extended inactivity on the part of Wotsiznaim (Alex Turner), currently roleplaying Kuhrin ('the deranged murderer') and Desuka ('the werewolf minion'), a brief timeskip has been hereby instigated by those of us involved in this subplot who do remain. Namely, Geardirector and myself.

Fair warning given; for purposes of reference, the last post in the chain may be found here.
 
IC: [ Rhea / Ferron ] - Ko-Wahi / Drifts

Light.

In the blackness, the swirling grey at the edge of an infinite void, a lone mind shifted and neurons fired, cold and emotionless against the nothing... somewhere, out there, something glowed, at the edge of the dark horizon a splash of flaming crimson, dancing orange.

Heat.

First it came, the scorching caress of a fire's ragged kiss against her armor, the seeping warmth radiating inwards and downwards to her very core and she-- the female, the Su-Toa, the white-clad bounty hunter-- stirred and sighed as she felt its touch, instinctively basking in its presence. Slowly, the sane flush of reality began trickling through her veins, first the merest of fractions and then the hazy dream-state and then, in a breaking flood of brutal awareness, of knowing, two emerald eyes slid open and a quick, puzzled gaze stabbed at her surroundings.

She was alive. She was Rhea. Rhea Heartsflame.

Pain.

The rough, ice-sheathed inner surface of a granite cavern... a crackling huddle of half-dried wood, smoking dismally in the shadows... a looming, broad-shouldered silhouette that could only be the forgemaster, his back turned towards her, his face leveled at the flames.

Pain... oh, ye gods. Ye gods.

She moaned softly, snuggling her cheek, her mask, tighter against the coarse woolen blanket beneath her, seeking something, anything, even the slightest of releases from the wracking agony that pounded in her skull. In the back of her mind, a memory stirred, and she remembered... Kuhrin's voice, the lashing snow, Ferron's fury breaking with the storm. Greyness. An empty void.

"Fer... Ferron. What?"

 
A drop of condensed frostwater dripped from Ferron's forehead and evaporated in the roaring fire he was looming over. The orange glow of the fire creating a vivid sheen on his armor.
 
The Fe-Toa had been in a partial haze until he heard Rhea's voice. The last clear memory he could make out was Kuhrin's poisonous eyes leering through the Pakari, Ferron's Pakari, as he used his powers to blind Ferron with a blast of ice and frost.
 
After that, everything melded together. Picking up Rhea, finding shelter, struggling against the howling winds again and again and again...
 
He sighed, wearily, his anger over the failure for now mellowed, he'd already let his frustrations loose earlier while Rhea was still unconscious.
 
But he returned his attention to the material world as he turned to Rhea with a concerned frown.
 
"You've were out for at least a couple of hours, how are you feeling?"

Two... hours.

It was too long. Far too long. Perhaps it was to be expected; she was a trained and hardened warrior, after all; she'd faced a thousand different foes on a hundred different battlefields, and she knew the risks. But if Ferron had not been there, if she'd been hunting alone as was her wont... if Kuhrin hadn't outright killed her in her defeat as he had killed so many others, he would have no doubt left her alone for dead... the savage chill of the eternal empty Drifts would have done the job instead, then, and with equal ruthless efficiency--
 
But no. No, they wouldn't have. For of course, there was Nero.

Her green eyes slid shut, a muscle twitched gently in her cheek, and she sighed deeply, wearily in her chest. A shuddering sound, born half of pain, born half of puzzled emptiness.

Nero.

A half-second later, the eyes snapped open again, wide and alert, and she spoke. Her voice was clear, but distinctly hesitant, tentative, as if she was listening closely to herself and not at all enjoying what she heard... or didn't hear.

"Not well. Not well at all. Purely wretched, in fact. I think... I think something's broken. Somewhere. Sounds aren't coming in... like they should."

 

"Hmm" Ferron grunted in concern, shifting to face Rhea, the glow of the fireplace etching his body in sharp relief.

 

"I'd be lying if I said I didn't halfway expect it. Tangling with Kuhrin tends to have that effect"

 

He didn't need to say any more. Just meet Rhea's eyes with his own as he got closer.

 

"Look, Rhea" he began, tapping his metal finger against his mask.

 

"I'm not a healer, but Tari... her, she was" he said, correcting himself before naming his former teammate, as if letting Rhea know would break some unspoken conduct. The Forgemaster's moral quandaries remained an enigma for the moment as he continued.

 

"Point is, I know a lot about the effects of the Mask of Healing, and as you can imagine my powers have given me a good insight into our anatomy. If you want, I could try and heal your injuries"

 

Something deep in Rhea's gaze crackled momentarily, sparked in flame, faded just as quickly back to the cool, level emerald it had been.

"And what could be hurt by an attempt, Ferron?" she asked softly. "The least it can do... is nothing."

Grimacing, she pushed herself painfully up on one arm in a reclining position, facing the Toa of Iron. It was the slightest of movements, really, but it left her face ashen and her breath coming in ragged, tortured gasps.

"Do it. Try."

 

It wasn't just Rhea's ears that were in less than stellar condition, the cold seemed to have had adverse effect on her.

 

That would have to come later, Ferron calmly reached out, and cradled Rhea's head gently in his hands, sparing a moment to look at her before he closed his eyes, wracking his face in concentration. Feeling a sting of chill insecurity rush through him.

 

"Can't make anything worse, right?" Ferron told himself, that was a lie.

 

For the very first time, he called upon his new mask power, feeling a rejuvenating energy flow through his body and directed where he wanted it to go. It was a sensation he recognized oh so well, and he almost stopped right there from the painful stings of sorrow, but he pressed on.

 

"Heal" he commanded, unsure of what else to say, he could only hope it would be enough. The energy flowed through his fingertips as his mask was surrounded in a glowing aura of a similar color to his eyes.

 

Ferron did know one thing about the healing process, though; Rhea's injuries were comparatively minor to most of the ones he himself had been healed of with the mask. He only needed to release a moderate amount of power.

 

He stopped, looking at Rhea with concern in his metallic eyes.

 

"How do you feel?"

 

The Su-Toa blinked back at him, her gaze unfocused. Carefully, not speaking, she lifted her hand and gently touched the skin where fading pain still lingered in the nerves; long slim fingers tentatively caressing her forehead, tapping against her reconstructed audio receptors, sliding across the relaxing muscles at the base of her skull.
 
And then she spoke, slowly and with a crystal grace that belonged more to the polished halls of imperial assemblies than to the wind-hewn chamber of ice-locked stone, her face tilted slightly to one side as she looked up and smiled at the broad-shouldered forgemaster. The dancing firelight cast his features in brooding shadow, but her quick eyes noted the telltale lines of etched consternation, half-hidden beneath the Mask of Healing, and she felt an unexpected rush of warmth sparkle through her core.
 
"Thank you."

 

Rhea's voice was gracious, and her thanks also gave Ferron a warm rush as he stepped away with his eyes closed.

 

Before his inner eye, he could see her face before him, and he could pretend like the warmth came from seeing that face... rather than the one that was right behind him now.

 

He spoke, without looking at Rhea, it made it easier to talk.

 

"You found Kuhrin," he said gravelly, omitting to mention that technically Kuhrin had ambushed her, "you have completed your service to me and earned your reward."

 

He silenced for a bit as he stirred the fire before looking at Rhea again with steely resolve.

 

"Name it, and if I can give it to you it'll be yours"

 

Rhea met his gaze briefly, cautiously. Almost shyly, if such a thing was possible.

"You are very generous. Especially considering my relative lack of usefulness."

Rippling easily into a sitting position, she drew her blankets tight around her shoulders like a cloak and sidled closer to the fire. Not so close to Ferron as to make him particularly uncomfortable, but certainly closer than the roomy confines of the cavern warranted.

"Forget about it for now. Do me a favor sometime, or never. What is debt? Nothing at all... if you don't mind owing me."

She smiled again, faintly, her green eyes locked on the crackling red-black embers that burned before them in the darkness.

"I don't mind you owing me."

 

A smile formed in the weatherbitten face, a calming grunt issuing forth.

 

"Let me tell you something" he said, stirring the fire a little again before reaching out, letting his prosthetic hand flicker in the light of the fireplace.

 

"Iron," he began "is the element of reliability. Iron, metal, is what we work with, what me make our tools and weapons out of. With Iron, you know what you're getting, that's something you can always be sure of, you can always trust it to do what you expect it to"

 

Ferron's unfeeling metal hand plunged into the fire, rooting about until it emerged with a still glowing piece of firewood in its grasp, the steam of his breath tangling with the wood smoke.

 

"What kind of Toa of Iron, or smith, would I be if I didn't try to hold to that ideal?"

 

He tossed the stick back into the fire where it broke in two, the smoldering remains of the firewood disappearing in the flames. He looked at Rhea again.

 

"Besides if I remember rightly I technically owe you a favor from our little... talk, under the cliff face last night"

 

A quick sidelong glance, level and calculating.

"Mm-hmm, I suppose you do. Technically speaking."

 

Ferron nodded.

 

"In any event, you're welcome to call in a favor at my forge anytime"

 

One issue remained in Ferron's mind, present in the embers of his gaze. What about him and Rhea?

 

Given that her assignment was complete, Ferron could reasonably expect her to call it a day and head off, off on new hunts and travels, away from here, away from him.

 

And he wasn't sure whether or not he was okay with that.

 

His teammates were dead, his best friends were dead, the memories all stained with the pain of loss and the agony of severed roots. His desperate heart cried out for someone who could understand his pain, someone who could bring comfort and calm the raging inferno within. Rhea had shown she could, and she had shown herself to suit his hardworking ways.

 

But of course, it could never be, she was young, with her whole life ahead of her, and him? He was just an old dog who was almost out of tricks. Her morality was too dark, she valued riches and power, he was a working man who valued honesty and self-sacrifice.

 

But then again, opposites attract, right?

 

He sighed in resignation, that was just him making excuses to himself again.

 

"What are you planning to do now?"

 

Another quick sidelong glance, this one lingering longer... just a trifle longer, on the Toa beside her. Firelight danced across the rugged, muscular lines of his aging body, mirrored in the wearied steel of his deep ember-orange eyes, and she felt the weight of the question hanging silent in the cavern's air between them.

She was not naive. She was not a fool. And she held no illusions; for all his strength and his vengeful purpose, he was a simple man at heart, asking little of life and receiving less and yet holding on for the next trial by torture with foe with and foe without, and ever intuitive, ever the schemer, she guessed his path of thought with a female's instinctive ease.

The faintest hint of a blush faded delicately across her cheekbones.

For all her free spirit's style of step and command, beyond the devil-may-care rhythms that beat a theme song to her path, well-nigh as deep and as true as the rebel heat that burned within her core, she had never been a wanton girl as regarded romance. In all things, the arrogant beauty that was Rhea Heartsflame had eyes only for the best, and the best was rarely found, if ever.

And in Ferron, Toa Ferron of deep Onu-Koro, the meticulous craftsman of fire and steel, the battered warrior with a thousand burdens that he would carry to the end, and keep moving despite the weight, any weight, and who would never surrender, for to surrender and fall was to admit defeat to those he had known and those he had loved... in him, in this scarred and lonely and hunted man, this aging vessel with a hero's heart, she had found a shard, a diamond rough, of all that was right and best in mortal life beneath the brilliant sun.

In her own way, she loved it... loved him. And tomorrow, she would be gone with the wind and she would walk the wastes of the empty lands, and she would walk alone, for such was her way, and such had it ever been. Where the storms rolled black, where the tides broke cold, where blades flashed silver in the dimness of a dungeon's sultry depths, there would she be, and she would be there. Tomorrow, tomorrow...

Ah, yes... tomorrow.

She looked up at him for a moment that was a breathless eternity, and then carefully, the bounty hunter took his strong right hand in her own and laced her fingers through his, every movement light and deliberate.

Her voice was soft, steady; strangely sober, inexplicably sad.

"Do me a favor now, Ferron. For now, just for now, forget all you lost... all that once you loved and that haunts you still. You loved her, and I know it, and I am not so blind but that I know, also, that deeply and truly you love her still... but now, here, right now-- she sleeps and is lost, but I... Ferron, I live. I live!"

Her green eyes burned.

 

To forget.

 

Ah, wasn't that a pleasant prospect?

 

Ferron wondered for a second if fate was working against him, as he saw, rather than felt, Rhea lock her hand with his prosthetic appendage, barring him from feeling the sensation of her touch, like cosmic events foretold that this was a union doomed to ruin.

 

But he really would like to forget, to shed all his concerns and worries, put down his burdens and, even it if was temporary, just let it all go away. Such bliss had been given to him by that extra pint of beer after a long day many a time, he knew what it meant to forget for just one night, it'd kept him going before.

 

In the back of his mind, he swore he could see Deccon frown, but he was caring less and less as he continued to meet Rhea's gaze. He reached out with his left hand, his actually feeling, sensing hand, and caught Rhea's as he got closer.

 

He didn't say anything, just grappled with Rhea's gaze as his eyes leveled with hers, his heart pounding till all else drowned out, the sparks flying between then.

 

Fire and Steel, Plasma and Iron. Rhea... and Ferron.

 

He leaned forward, and kissed the Bounty Hunter.

 

Told you. Forget it. It's killing you, forgemaster, and you're too strong, too good a man to die like that. Fall in battle, fade in your sleep... but never, never like that.

Her eyes slid lazily shut as their lips met, and she lived the moment and was not ashamed in it, and at last they drew slightly apart and she gasped for breath and laughed, clear and exultant.

Let it go, you haggard old fool.

With a easy flick of her wrist, she flung his metallic hand from her, and slipped her now-free right arm around his neck and tilted his face down to hers and kissed him again, fiercely and with all the unchained heat of her rebel's heart burning around them.

Let. It. Go.

The smoldering embers of the forgotten fire beside them exploded into full crimson flame, shredding the darkness, and the chill and the ice and the Drifts without and the pain within splintered and dissolved on the crackling brimstone tide, and all that was and all that wasn't was the same, and there was nothing at all in all the world but Ferron and Rhea, alone and together with time breaking down and the universe in flux about them through the haze.

Two hearts. One beat.

And for a long, long while, not a word was spoken.


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#687 Offline Vezok's Friend

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Posted Apr 24 2014 - 04:58 PM

IC (Leah):

 

The Toa Maru of water didn't show it in her expression, but she was slowly starting to become impatient. Korero had been gone to fetch Oreius and Stannis, the two of their number still missing - and he was taking longer than she was used to. Maybe it was the unexpected delay that had come from saving the Matoran patrol or maybe just her own thoughts going in circles, but she was feeling on edge. And that her brother was now gone for about a quarter of an hour on a task that at the most would have taken him five minutes usually did not help that feeling. 

 

In her mind, the battle vs. Makuta was playing out, his aura nonexistent, a swirling mass of blackness against which she and five others stood, her brethren pulsing green in her vision before the darkness. Ambages had registered just like Makuta - namely not at all - for the Ruhaku. It wasn't so much Ambages himself that were unsettling to her, but the implications of that phenomenon and what it meant in the big picture. 

 

She shifted her weight from one leg to the other, pushing out her hip slightly and looked at Reordin, trying to read his expression.


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#688 Offline EmpressYumiwa

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Posted Apr 29 2014 - 01:31 PM

Ic: He came to the Massif to find comfort but he could tell there was none to be found there.

 

The bells tolled as he approached the village.

 

But bells hadn't tolled for him since his wedding.

 

...

 

It was late in the afternoon and Brykon was weary from his long journey. His shining armour had been smeared with muck and grass stains given him by Le-Wahi and he longed for a waterfall to just stand under; only the trademark gentle breezes that swept over the alpine traverses gave his body a respite and cooled his muscles as he entered the village under the Massif. Still, his blood boiled.

 

The villagers were on edge as though a meteor had fallen into the monastery and destroyed the shrine. They weren't scurrying around like they would in an emergency but rather ashen-faced; whatever happened had left them on a fatalist path, and one Ko-Matoran who stood and spoke in front of the Keep's steps was not helping calm things down. So the Koro is involved in this? he thought.

 

His face wasn't particularly known in the village. He was there only for a few months, and even then mostly lived, worked and studied on the great rock that loomed above the village, though a few of the matoran who rotated service at the monastery recognized him despite the differences since when he left a year prior. Two of them ran up to him almost instantly and he couldn't help but smile politely at their energy at seeing him again.

 

"Brykon! Brykon!" they called, matching the rhythm of the bells high in the sky. "It's Lord Antrim!"

 

The toa-protector and the prodigal prince were almost always together for the latter's benefit. Every day had a lesson in life, every conversation a nugget of wisdom to resurface in his brain, and so Antrim kept him close by to supervise his growth directly. Something happened to Antrim? But what? It was almost inconceivable that the great warrior and priest could even suffer from a paper cut.

 

"He's dead!"

 

Dead? But how could—what?

 

Instantly the colour drained from Brykon's face, too. Even his Shangri La was now tainted by depression. Was nothing sacred anymore? With eyes wide he approached the group that listened to the Ko-Matoran, who now Brykon understood was a Sanctum Guard and one of two that stopped by. "Yes, and not long after Antrim went to the monastery this one charged up after him," the other of the two friends explained further to Antrim. "It's all very... suspicious."

 

"You think maybe he had something to do with it?" he asked.

 

"It's obvious, isn't it?"

 

Maybe, but maybe not. Brykon had gone through enough in life to understand the causation/correlation fallacy. Either way, he didn't have much time to think about it; a stealthy hand tapped his shoulder and he spun to face a pretty-looking toa of fire who jerked his head to the side to invite Brykon into the Keep.

 

...

 

"It was an assassination. I'm absolutely sure of it," the little toa said, sitting across the rustic wooden table, staring at Brykon with eyes wide with... fear? awe? shock? Brykon couldn't tell.

 

"I'm sorry," Brykon said and merely fidgeted with the handle of the water pitcher he was using as a cup as he tried to process the whirlstorm of thoughts that flitted behind his Kanohi, "but I don't even know who you are and I've never seen you before. Why are we having this conversation?"

 

"Mhm, but I know a quite a lot about you, Prince Brykon Shaddix," the Visitor said.

 

"Nobody's called me by that title in over two centuries."

 

"But it's what you are, isn't it? I knew you would return, and I only wish Antrim was able to witness it. He was very fond of you, you know."

 

"You still haven't told me who you are," Brykon replied evenly. "Or anything."

 

"Just call me The Visitor. I'm not from here and my name tends to get lost in memories, so there's no need for it, sorry. Antrim and I were close, both as warriors and friends and more, but I hadn't seen him in ages." He chewed the insides of his cheeks before continuing, "I-I begged him not to go to the chapel. I knew something was going on as soon as those two guards came in here and ate from Antrim's hospitality where we sit right now. They said the 'akiri of Ko-Koro' was waiting for Antrim, but Matoro hasn't been mentioned by name at all. This all smells thick of lies."

 

"Have you seen the baron's body?" Brykon asked.

 

"Yes. The monks laid him in state in the chapel—you can see him if you'd like. I'm no coroner but the only thing wrong I could see is that both his eyes are shattered and gone. Whatever killed him must have entered through there, but I found nothing remaining, not even blood. It's as if he just... died. But he and I talked about you a lot before he died, Brykon. I'm going to finish the job he started and tech you about the family legacy you continue."

 

"Oh?"

 

"It's time you know the truth... about everything."

 

All Brykon could say was a jarring quip: "I know how babies are made."

 

"..."


Edited by Jenny Quantum, Apr 29 2014 - 01:33 PM.

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#689 Offline delilah

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Posted Apr 29 2014 - 02:56 PM

OOC Korero, Oreius, and Stannis from Onu-Wahi.

 

IC (Oreius, Inu)

 

The three Toa appeared without fanfare, without bursts of sound, light or smoke. One moment, there was only air; the next, there were three Maru.

 

Oreius blinked back the vague nausea that accompanied teleportation, and smiled grimly to see his brothers and sister waiting for them. On another occasion, he might have smiled and greeted them all, Inu echoing his thoughts with the warmth of the sun and the almost-tangible sense of friendship. But his thoughts had blackened in the darkness of Onu-Koro, and even the sight of his friends couldn't shake the sense of unease gnawing at his sternum.

 

"Brothers. Sister," he said. "It's been too long, but I get the feeling we're not here for a reunion. What's happened?"


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#690 Offline Parks and Rekt

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Posted Apr 29 2014 - 03:30 PM

IC:

 

"Well, for one, you missed my target," Reordin Maru muttered, pointing a disgruntled finger at a block of thick ice in a bullseye shape; Korero stood about seven feet in front of it, Oreius and Stannis by his sides. "Matoro's dead, and some bureaucrat who was close to him has Leah's mask cockblocked like a Gukko Force officer at a military bash."

 

-Tyler


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#691 Offline Twelfth Ghosthands

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Posted Apr 29 2014 - 03:32 PM

IC (Korero)

 

Having emerged from the Jump, Korero released his grip on Stannis and Oreius. While they moved forward to greet the other Maru, he winced, pressing the thumb and fingers of one hand against his temples. He looked up, and seeing Leah's look of concern, he shook his head in dismissal.

 

"I'm fine," he said. "It's just the Hiko. Lots of weighted Jumps, short space of time. Gives me migraines sometimes. It'll pass."

 

Korero was well-practiced in the use of his mask alone, but the added concentration required for transporting mass besides his own (a 'weighted' Jump) still put a stress on his mind.

 

"Migraines which are not helped," he continued, raising his voice in friendly mockery, "by the whining noise coming out of your mouth, Reordin."


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#692 Offline Parks and Rekt

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Posted Apr 29 2014 - 03:35 PM

IC:

 

"Hey, Korero. Remember when everyone else in the world felt the same way about you, once upon a time? AKA: last week?"

 

-Tyler


Edited by LONG LIVE TYLER, Apr 29 2014 - 03:35 PM.

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PROUD CO-CAPTAIN OF TEAM DASTANA

 

 

"What's ours is theirs - but it is ours."

 

 

LIBERATION OR DEATH

 


#693 Offline Twelfth Ghosthands

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Posted Apr 29 2014 - 03:44 PM

IC (Korero)

 

"Implying that that is no longer the case."

 

Korero smirked.

 

"Shot yourself in the foot a little there, Brother.


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#694 Offline Vezok's Friend

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Posted Apr 29 2014 - 04:02 PM

IC:

 

Leah snapped her fingers, audibly, getting the attention of the Toa of air and ice. "Focus, please." she said, not amused; then she turned to face Stannis. 

 

"Reordin pretty much summed it up. Akiri Matoro lies dead, assassinated. They found his scribe at the scene of the crime, but he is innocent. We went to see him in custody with the Akiri's hand and I confirmed his story myself. But it is the hand, architect Ambages, who has me concerned. I did not notice it immediately, but he registers on the Ruhaku as much as Makuta did. Namely not at all. There is only one other being we encountered so far who was able to elude the mask."


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#695 Offline Twelfth Ghosthands

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Posted Apr 29 2014 - 04:36 PM

IC (Korero)

 

Korero gave Reordin one last raised eyebrow before, as Leah so forcefully suggested, focusing back on the matter at hand. That wasn't difficult - the anxiety he'd felt earlier over the situation rose again in his chest almost immediately.

 

"And none of us have forgotten him," he continued Leah's explanation grimly. "I sincerely doubt that this is a coincidence, and this alone should make us wonder whether Ambages is as he appears. However."

 

He lowered his voice.

 

"We have more reason than that to suspect the Architect. I was privy to a conversation between the Akiri Kongu and Jaller shortly after they heard of Matoro's death. Both of them believed, based on the intelligence available to them, that Ambages was not to be trusted. He built the walls of Pala-Koro - walls that exploded just a little too well, or so I'm told. And his name was among those mentioned by Dorian Shaddix during his public breakdown in Le-Koro. He's ideally placed to take Akiridom of Ko-Koro."

 

Korero looked around at his teammates, searching their faces for signs of agreement or skepticism.

 

"Alone, these could easily be coincidences. But together, one begins to see a pattern, don't you think? And isn't it convenient that the minute we begin to see that pattern, Ambages just disappears?"


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#696 Offline delilah

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Posted Apr 29 2014 - 05:16 PM

IC (Oreius, Inu)

 

"Let's bring him to justice, then," Oreius said gruffly. Inu perked up with the taste of blood, eager to hunt. "Sulov, do you have a trace on him? If not, we'll hunt him down ourselves."


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#697 Offline Parks and Rekt

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Posted Apr 29 2014 - 05:23 PM

IC:

 

"You've spent too much time around cops, beefcake," Reordin sighed, rolling his eyes. "I, on the other hand, have been a hostage in this court for months. The court doesn't trust Ambages - but out of respect for Matoro, it won't turn on him." The others were staring at him now.

 

"Look, okay, you know if anyone on this team is ready and willing to toss a politician or two into the void, it's me. But Pala-Koro? Eavesdropping on other Akiri? A known terrorist who kills people if he doesn't like the way their curtains match their wall color? If we bring this kind of proof against Ambages and try to bring him down, it's going to flop. And then he'll know we know, and he'll come up with some counterplan that involves us dying one by one, or something boring and villainous as all that. Or, worse, he'll find a way to destroy us in the eyes of the people."

 

-Tyler


Edited by LONG LIVE TYLER, Apr 29 2014 - 05:25 PM.

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"What's ours is theirs - but it is ours."

 

 

LIBERATION OR DEATH

 


#698 Offline delilah

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Posted Apr 29 2014 - 05:31 PM

IC (Oreius, Inu)

 

"It's true that I've spent as little time as possible dealing with politics," Oreius replied. "You don't kill Rahkshi with words, and you don't deal with terrorists by speaking nicely. But I think you underestimate the power of a Toa Maru, Reordin: if the six of us voice our concerns, the island will listen."


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#699 Offline Twelfth Ghosthands

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Posted Apr 29 2014 - 05:32 PM

IC (Korero)

 

"One - Kongu requested my presence, I did not eavesdrop," Korero told Reordin coldly. The day's events had not left him with a long temper. "Two - I am not suggesting we try to hunt him down all guns blazing. We still don't know for sure that he's up to something. I suggest we investigate this carefully."

 

He turned to Oreius.

 

"Brother, I appreciate your valour, but we can't just charge into this. Guilty or not, Ambages is clever. As for a trace, well, we tried...but we were delayed, and he slipped away."


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#700 Offline delilah

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Posted Apr 29 2014 - 05:39 PM

IC (Oreius, Inu)

 

"Acknowledged. Then our first move should be to speak to those in power, like Captain Korzaa. Does anyone know her feelings towards Ambages? I doubt all the authority of Ko-Koro has landed squarely in an architect's lap because of one man's death."


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#701 Offline Vezok's Friend

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Posted Apr 29 2014 - 05:44 PM

IC:

 

"He is not from these parts." Leah said, contemplative. "I have a feeling that the Ko-Matoran do not trust him completely, no matter what, purely based on the fact that he is not one of them..."


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#702 Offline EmpressYumiwa

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Posted Apr 29 2014 - 06:19 PM

Ic: Stannis, like Sulov beside him, stood still and processed everything as the other four toa chatted. "Stop," he chided like a father to an estranged family at a reunion. "This is not the place to talk this over so freely. Reo, let's go to your place and continue there."

 

...

 

Reordin's apartment was spartan and clean, filled with only the necessities of being a guard plus a handful of small comforts to befit his higher status. It barely qualified as a two-room pad; the other room didn't even have a door to separate them, instead letting air flow freely between it and the relatively spacious main room with a round table, some small cabinets and a couple chairs. Stannis conjured more chairs out of stone to match the high number of occupants without requiring the others to freeze their asses off.

 

Finally, settled down and ready, the other Maru respectfully turned to their leader for his voice. "I've heard of Ambages before, first in Po-Koro and then from several others across the island. He doesn't promote himself but he does get around, so I think it's more than fair to say the events lining up aren't happenstance. He's probably extremely dangerous, so Reo is right: If we respond in force, this Ambages will only work that much harder to thwart our justice. But we still have to take action, and in that respect Korero's suggestion of caution is necessary.

 

"The thing is, Ambages is just one threat or item of interest on an island still full of dangers we have to address. There are powerful Skakdi amok—Oreius, I think you had a run-in with them—there's something called the Abettor at the Vault which I have no knowledge of, and the dark Toa Echelon remains at large. We're going to have to handle each of them decisively if we're going to win this. Once we know what's on the table, we'll talk strategy.

 

"And if you have met something I haven't mentioned, bring it up. Oreo, you go first." This was the first time in a long while the team reunited; Stannis wanted to make sure the meeting served well to alert the team to the collective dangers out there.


Edited by Jenny Quantum, Apr 29 2014 - 06:19 PM.

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#703 Offline delilah

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Posted Apr 29 2014 - 06:54 PM

IC (Oreius, Inu)

 

Oreius cleared his throat. "I don't know about these Skakdi you're talking about, Stannis. I've heard reports of a gang of them on the coast of Ta-Wahi, calling themselves Piraka, but they've caused us no trouble. All bluster, as far as their name's concerned.

 

"A few months ago, a terrorist attacked Ta-Koro's monorail. I tracked him here, to Ko, but the tech he was using..."

 

His instinct was to obey Jaller's orders and keep the final half of that sentence for himself, but these were his brothers and sisters. If he couldn't trust them, they were already doomed. Unbidden, Sulov's words -spoken over a game of chess- rang in his ears.

 

"The Maru's Duty is solely to fight the darkness. Keep it that way."

 

"The tech he was using was radio-based. Po tech."


Edited by Justin Bieber, Apr 29 2014 - 06:54 PM.

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#704 Offline EmpressYumiwa

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Posted Apr 29 2014 - 07:48 PM

Ic: "Po- tech?" Stannis asked surprisingly evenly. "Do you have any more insight on the matter? The origin of the technology only goes so far and could mean it was stolen from Po-Koro—or even Onu-Koro."


Edited by Jenny Quantum, Apr 29 2014 - 07:49 PM.

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#705 Offline delilah

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Posted Apr 29 2014 - 07:53 PM

IC (Oreius, Inu)

 

"We managed to get him to tell us where he got the tech from: an unknown source in Onu-Koro. But we haven't found anything else, to my knowledge. The peace that we've had since the Summit is largely due to Ta-Koro's decision not to press it; at one point, we considered taking the matter directly to Hewkii, on the tips of our spears."


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#706 Offline EmpressYumiwa

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Posted Apr 29 2014 - 09:07 PM

Ic: " Thank Mata Nui this has been peaceful so far, " Stannis sighed. "Let's hope it stays this way until the matter is settled." The toa added the investigation to his memory ba nk as yet another threat to the island. "Does anyone else have something to mention? Or does anyone know about any of the previously mentioned dangers?" he asked.


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#707 Offline Vezok's Friend

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Posted Apr 30 2014 - 04:13 AM

IC:

 

Leah spoke up. "I had a chance encounter with Ketan - or Greed, as he is known - just before the news of Matoro's death reached Le-Wahi. Seems his failure to take over Ga-Koro in the wake of Nokama's death along with his posse was a blow he did not recover from. I chased him off without much fighting." 

 

She shrugged slightly. "I don't believe the remains of the Daedra pose much of a threat anymore - but they are still out there."


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#708 Offline Twelfth Ghosthands

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Posted Apr 30 2014 - 12:21 PM

IC (Korero)

 

"Le-Koro's been pretty peaceful," Korero added. "The last trouble we had was just before the Akiri summit - a strange Toa of Air attacked us and tried to poison the water supply. He failed, of course, and I think - or hope - it was an isolated incident, but he babbled something about a 'Company'..."

 

The Le-Toa frowned at the memory of Aurora's uncooperativeness.

 

"As for the threats you've mentioned, I've heard very little. I've heard of this 'Abettor', but not of the Skakdi. As for Echelon, I haven't had any news of him since Joske and his friends went off to confront him."


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#709 Offline EmpressYumiwa

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Posted Apr 30 2014 - 01:07 PM

Ic: "Well, I have," Stannis said. "A toa named Sucogu approached me in Onu-Koro and said Echelon has spoken with the Abettor and gained new information and is 'planning something.' I also know for a fact that Joske's team failed to defeat Echelon, so he remains at large. Given the uncertainty of the information I got it's fair to say Echelon, with any level of empowerment, is a threat that should be dealt with deciceively. He is the last active member of the Makuta's inner circle, and so long as he lives a niggling remnant of darkness remains." He flashed an upset expression before adding, "The possibility of other shadows notwithstanding."


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#710 Offline Geardirector

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Posted Apr 30 2014 - 01:12 PM

OOC: Jam with Shadowhawk, chapter 2 of 3

IC: Ferron and Rhea (Drifts)

 

Blazing passion, raw emotion.

 

"Do me a favor now, Ferron. For now, just for now, forget all you lost... all that once you loved and that haunts you still.

 

He heard, and he did. All that was was him and Rhea... together.

 

...

 

When Ferron once again spoke, it was to the woman just now slipping into the last of her attire, and all that went unsaid was good and beautiful.

 

What he did say, on the other hand, wasn't.

 

"I guess... I guess this is goodbye"

 

Rhea Heartsflame knelt to lace up her hunting boots, the sane grey light of breaking alpine dawn filtering cold across the cavern floor. Wind stirred a haunting rhythm in the drifts without; the dying embers of last night's fire smoked idly in the creeping chill.

Things looked different in the daylight. Cooler. Controlled. But no less clear.

Her fingers flashed, rippling over the final knot with militaristic precision, and then she was on her feet, lithe and strong and with all the lethal grace of a warrior princess burning in her easy ranger's stance. Ferron was sitting, and she turned and offered him her chain-mailed right hand as if condescending to bestow upon him the greatest of honors. Her green eyes glowed softly, gently in the shadows and yet behind them, still deeper and truer in the emerald depths, the flames danced and sparkled with an untamed light of pure sweet madness.


"Rise, forgemaster. What is good-bye, but an empty promise of return? Kiss me, Fer-ron..."

She drawled the name with seductive relish, letting it smolder an instant in the air.

"Bid thy lady farewell with all due chivalry, and I'll tell you something important before I go."

 

The calm of the gray slate in front of them simulated in some ways Ferron's now resting turmoil. It was there, still feeding his hunt for closure, for comfort, but for now it had mellowed, all thanks to Rhea.

 

He took her hand, hearing once again her affectionate nickname for him, "Forgemaster". He'd decided he liked that nickname.

 

He got to his feet, catching Rhea in an embrace as he did as she asked, and kissed her again, feeling her ferocious passion grapple with his rough power.

 

They parted after another eternity, as Ferron looked within the depths of her eyes, his voice a low, calm rumble.

 

"I'm all yours, Rhea"

 

There, now.

She took a deep breath, not daring to meet his gaze, desperately hating to break the shining moment, and shifted her weight forward into his encircling arms and let her forehead slide gently to rest against the toned muscle of his broad shoulder. "Ferron... Ferron, you're killing yourself from the inside out."

Alright.


"And I'm afraid for you. To cherish memories is well and good, as it should be, and vengeance for the fallen is right and needful... but when that's all you have, and when it consumes you... oh, Ferron. Ferron."

And just like that, she was dead serious, her whole slim body trembling against his, her voice an agonized murmur in his ear. She might have cried, if she'd known how, but she never cried, ever, and she didn't want to learn, but she had to tell him, she had to--

He's not your type. But he is. He never was. But you love him anyway... if love indeed is what you think it is.

"Promise me. Promise me, when you go from here, that you will walk now and then, just to walk, and look up and around and see the stars above, and the sun-parched crags, and the rolling ocean, and just... just let it touch you. Heal you. These things matter. This is your world, and it's here you belong, for to hold the past and let it break you... is that honor? Is it courage?"

Steady, girl. Steady. For better or worse, make the words count.

"I don't know if you can; I only know you must. Maybe it's too much to ask, even of you. You live, Ferron... but I don't think you love it anymore; I think if you could die right now you'd be the happier for it, and--"

She paused, the sentence dying on her lips.

No, no. That's not right. He can't be that far gone, he can't... and no, he's not. He's at rest now, but for how long?

"Please, if only for the sake of my memory, just try to laugh a little more. You never laugh. You're like a dead man walking, running on what-might-have-been, and you're too good, too strong, too valuable to be like that. You've got years left in you, I know it, but it's the joy of living that keeps one alive."

She drew back a bit, tilting her head to watch his face, and her eyes were wide and deep and alert.

"Your past, Ferron. I'm a hunter, and I know what it is to you. Keep it near if you must, remember it at times... but let it go. It's a binding chain from the depths of what's dark, and steel is your business. Cut it, drop it, one link at a time... let it go."

A few long moments, and she listened to the deep rumble of his heartbeat, only inches from her own... and slowly, anxiously, she tried to smile.

"That's all I ask. That you really, truly try your hardest. That what I showed you, that what I gamble to say that you see in me, isn't wasted. I'm alive, always have been. Last night, we both were. And so help me gods of righteous anger, if you go back to that wretched hole in the ground, and sit there and drink and weep until some day you hang yourself, I am going to come and dig up your corpse with my own two hands and dump it in the bay for the gulls to scavenge. And you will deserve it. Do you hear me?"

 

Ferron remained silent as his own ragged breath mingled with Rhea’s, and once again the requisite lonely tear ran down his cheek to drop off his chin and disappear into the snowcapped ground beneath their feet.

 

She was calling for him, begging for him to hear her, she saw his end imminent, and the Brimstone Princess was not about to let her Forgemaster go that easily.

 

“You can’t keep lying to yourself, Ferron, this will only go away once you’re ready to be honest with yourself”

 

Deccon’s words rang clear in his mind, and he wept silently. How had not seen until now?

 

“Rhea,” he began, “the state you’ve had to see me in until last night isn’t a first for me. I’ve been down here before, but I made it out.”

 

His voice was superficially calm and strong, but a shaky undertone was present, he didn’t want to let go, not just yet, but he had to, for Rhea, for Krell and Zuriana, and for his team.

 

“I’ve fallen before, and I’ve gotten back up, but to fall again, to reach that pit a second time… sometimes I don’t know what the point is anymore”

 

“I don’t want to let anyone down, not you, not Zuriana, not anyone.”

 

Ferron had long since understood that he was standing at the edge of a chasm, mere inches from falling over and descending to his darkest depths, from which there was no escape. Rhea had cast out a lifeline to him, not one that could truly save him, but it would buy him time.

 

“So yes… I promise. I will try, I will try to find the will to live a third time, I’ll try, for your sake, and for my own.”

 

He stepped away, sliding out of Rhea’s embrace and back into the mouth of the cave, the scarce sunlight casting a brooding shadow over his face and torso.

 

He didn't know if he loved her or not, but he knew he cared. She'd been so good to him, at every turn had she made him stronger, and now she was trying her hardest to make her positive influence on him last. He couldn't give up now.

 

"What is good-bye, but an empty promise of return?

 

“Then I won’t say goodbye”

 

“Until we meet again”

 

"Likewise." she murmured, and then she too stepped back, vanishing outwards into the sunlit lashing drifts, and she cast one last lingering glance over the Toa of Iron and her eyes were quiet, concerned, worried still but ever hopeful.

It's a start, girl. A start. And if he makes it, well and good; and if he doesn't, he was never what you saw in him.

And then her shoulders squared and her lungs drew breath and she spun on her heel and was gone and away, gone with the wind in a whirl of cloak and a nimble step running and a quick flashing smile under emerald eyes.


You always did know how to make an exit.

In her wake, two neat bootprints in the frost, filling rapidly with snow.


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#711 Offline Shadowhawk

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Posted Apr 30 2014 - 01:50 PM

OOC:

More and final jam with Geardirector; part 3/3.

IC: [ Ferron / Nero ] - Ko-Wahi / Drifts
 
The cold breeze that brushed past him brought with it a chill sting of pain as he saw Rhea disappear on the horizon, and with her the calm before the storm had passed.
 
Her attempt to mend his broken heart and will had left its mark, but he knew that within he had yet to find a way to heel his deepest wounds, like the revelation Deccon had come to him with.
 
"You also blame yourself", he had said, and with it shook Ferron's perception of himself to its very core. Once he was he the veteran hero of an ultimately noble standing. Failed, perhaps, but not something anyone could fault him for, it was, in the end, a legacy to be proud of.
 
Now, he was just a failure, a failure in love as well as in life multiple times over.
 
He moped, looking at his uneven hands. One of them a cold, lifeless construct of welded steel, the other a product of flesh and blood, and even with as weathered and beaten as it was, it was alive.
 
Rhea had challenged the life he lead, and he could naught but meet it, his steadfast, unyielding demeanor wouldn't permit otherwise. The choice presented itself before him, as her words rang in his mind.
 
Give up, go away to the great beyond and reunite with all his loved ones, to fight no more, to strive no more, to suffer no more... but also to no longer feel, to love. Complete, utter peace.
 
"Ah, peace"
 
Or... try again. Even with the many times before life had dashed his hopes and dreams to the ground, and his past had come back to torment him no matter how much he tried to console himself with it. Try once again to find himself a place in this harsh and unforgiving world where he could live and be happy.
 
Rhea would want him to... and so would Tarika, wouldn't she?
 
He could see the healer's face before him, serene and beautiful in its gentle and calming aura, not at all like the arrogant, passionate beauty that was Rhea Heartsflame. Tarika had always been their team's healer, in any sense of the word...
 
Yes, she would want it, too, and if there was one person in all the world, dead or living, that Ferron wouldn't want to let down more than Rhea, it was her.
 
Deccon had asked him to face himself, Barok had warned him of the pit he was heading for, Marinna had reminded him of his identity, Tarika's memory now showed him what he needed to do if he ever wanted to call himself Ferron Marok ever again.
 
First, Kuhrin, and then... he didn't know, all he knew was that he wasn't going to take this lying down.
 
He gathered his belongings from the cave, noting that his cloak still carried a hint of Rhea's scent as he pulled it on. He took a ragged, deep breath and looked out on the horizon from where he stood at the mouth of the cave...
 
So.

Twenty feet up, on the ice-lashed labyrinth wall, heavy leather gloves grated briefly on stone, and then a looming black shadow dropped from nowhere, twisted mid-fall with simian ease, hit the ground lightly as an enormous tomcat.

The gaze of Nero the Axe was flat and hard, and he looked straight into the eyes of the lone metalsmith, and his voice was deceptively even, eerily calm.

"Good morning, Ferron."


The third member of their group seemed to also be on his calmer side today, if his voice was any indication, and Ferron studied him with the practiced scrutiny of a hardened veteran.
 
The rangy, bestial Le-Toa, Rhea's bodyguard, had more than likely assured himself that Rhea was on the right track since he now came to Ferron. If he'd gotten Nero pegged right, his first priority was Rhea, under any circumstance... including her whereabouts last night.
 
Ferron was wary, he'd always been when it came to Nero, for he had a strong inkling that the mantra of savage brutality and silent stalking that he wore was at least in part an act, there was more going on behind the misshapen mask than one could tell at first glance.
 
He gave Nero a disarming wave with his hand, his right hand, incidentally, although whether or not that was deliberate no one could tell.
 
"The same to you, Nero," he said "I'm going to assume that the reason you're not with your employer is to point me the way out of the wilderness, no?"
 
The Axe said nothing.

His eyes said less.

Without a word, moving silently, he stepped past Ferron into the shadowed cavern beyond, and his gaze flicked once around the interior and he nodded thoughtfully to himself. The gesture was slight, deliberate; nearly imperceptible.

An abrupt draft slithered coldly through the air, faded and was gone.
 
With the heel of his boot, the bodyguard of the hunter Rhea kicked apart the smoking ashes of the fire, grinding them out against the weathered stone, and then he turned and walked back, and this time he spoke.

"You seek the Ice Village. You do not know the path. Without it, you will freeze and die..."

His voice shifted, low and hard against the piercing wail of the wind without, and there rang a primal chord of challenge in its depths.

"And what are you, O wielder of the mace, that I should guide you?"


If there hadn’t been anything predatory in Nero’s movements before, there definitely was now.
 
His loping gait, his challenging tone, he was waiting for Ferron to expose a weakness, he was challenging the Toa of Iron of to prove his worth.
 
"I don’t expect you to do this out of the goodness of your heart, Nero. I’m only asking you because I feel there is no other reason why you would be here, when Rhea is now on her way out of the drifts, now that our business is concluded. I was her client, she has fulfilled her services to me and I am now indebted to her. I strongly doubt Rhea’s going to have any use for another corpse”
 
"You wouldn’t want to hurt your lady’s business, would you?"
 
Even as he said it, he could see the truth in Nero's eyes. He knew, and he had more than enough to say about it, and in this moment... Ferron was at his mercy.
 
Nero's eyes glittered without humor.

"You are cunning. Strong. My equal... my rival. I do not like you, Ferron, and but for the whims of her, I would kill you. Here. Now."

He stalked abruptly out, one long hunter's stride taking him straight into the drifts of the tangled mountain wastes beyond, and he did not look back, but the wind carried his words.

"Come."


"I wouldn't expect anything less, Nero"
 
Nero followed the law of the jungle, that much had always been clear, and the only code he followed aside from that was his unquestioning loyalty to Rhea.
 
Ferron went after him, pondering the implications of his words. He had outright threatened to kill him, stating as his only reason for not doing so being not the wishes of his employer, but her whim. Ferron's forehead furrowed in contemplation, this went beyond mere loyalty of Duty, there was something larger at work.
 
Nero saw him as his rival? Could it mean... oh.
 
Of course it had to, there was no other explanation.
 
Ferron felt an unexpected rush of fierce determination rush through him, then, as he begrudgingly realized what Nero just had done. In so few words he'd established exactly what the stakes were, and where the two of them stood in the game. Both of them held Rhea close to their hearts, and neither was interested in letting it go anytime soon.
 
"But if he loves her, does she love him back... or did she choose me over him?"
 
"Oh, Rhea, the sacrifices you're making"
 
"Your employer matters greatly to you, doesn't she?"
 
Nero grunted coldly.

It might not have been an actual word, but it got his point across just fine.

Yes.

 
Nero was a man of few words, and to a lesser degree so was Ferron, and where the Axe was waiting for a reason to bring what  was unsaid to attention, Ferron was waiting for an excuse.
 
He decided to meet Nero halfway.
 
He planted his feet, folded his arms and let his eyes pierce into the back of The Axe's head.
 
"You have something to say to me, Nero, or would you rather let it out some other way?"
 
The scarred Le-Toa hunter swung abruptly about to face the metalsmith, heavy muscles rippling ominously in his shoulders, acrid green eyes glowing strangely through the whirling snow.
 
For an instant, he looked almost baffled... wary, bitter, and with a barely-contained anger rumbling through his nervous system, but baffled nonetheless. Puzzled. Vaguely hesitant, as if unsure how best to circumnavigate the sapient interaction he so detested.

"What... do you not understand?"


Nero's spoken language had nothing on his body language. Ferron could tell, he was craving a reason to charge forward, and deep within the orange-armored titan a similar fire rose and boiled.
 
No, he shouldn't be doing this, but he was.
 
"I understand perfectly, Nero The Axe" Ferron replied, his voice like a thunderous rumble.
 
"There's something you need to understand" he said, his steel hard gaze boring into Nero's.
 
"Rhea is not my lover, I hold no illusions of such companionship from her, but she gave me something beautiful, far beyond mere pleasure."
 
"She is alive, Nero, and I gather so are you," He said, taking one deliberate step towards the surly brute that towered over normal men, but was on even ground with Ferron.
 
He'd been walking between life and death for too long. Here, right now, in the aftermath of Rhea's words and meeting Nero's gaze, he swore he felt something that he thought was lost to him, even though this as well was only temporary.
 
"I want to live again, and it starts with not letting anyone get in my way."
 
Another step.
 
"Are you going to be in my way?"
 
The Axe didn't back down, didn't flinch. His gaze remained alert, cold... ready.

"If it's Rhea wants you, I can say nothing."

His voice was dangerously soft, the momentary explosive fury it had held fading abruptly back into an emotionless chill.

"But if it's you who wants Rhea, I have every objection possible."

 
"I would never dream of doing such a thing, Nero" Ferron replied, almost disgusted at what Nero had implied.
 
"Rhea's choice in the matter is hers to make and hers alone. Truth be told I'm not yet sure I'd go with her if she asked. I just know I want the best for her, and I think she wants the same for me. I just want that, nothing more"
 
"But no longer anything less"
 
"I will not stand in your way, Nero, I have no desire to take anything that matters to Rhea away from her."
 
"I just want to finish this hunt... I just want to be done with it all"
 
The mind of the rangy Le-Toa barbarian was a strange thing, at once dark in its wildness but honorable in its ruthless creed, ever savage but sometimes staggeringly poetic, and it walked its oft-confusing paths with a complex intensity. Even in his most unpredictable moments, he reasoned and judged and plotted movement merely as his soul and essence dictated; he never wondered what or how or why, he simply was, and acted accordingly.

And so when Ferron spoke, Nero listened, heavy simian skull half-bowed in thought. Carefully, with absolute single-minded focus, and for a moment, for two moments, for as long and as deeply as the words came clear from the Toa of Iron, the listener caught and weighed them in the balance all guardians use in the service of the ones they hold as dear.

To kill, or not to kill; to live and let live or to go down fighting, this is ever the question. To do what's best, not for oneself but for the one a man is sworn to protect.

And the weights were tested and the words were tried... and against all odds, they balanced clean and true.

And slowly, almost incredulously, Nero the Axe lifted his head, and his narrowed eyes, eyes where fury now ebbed and anger now cooled, searched Ferron's, and found no falsehood there. And the hunter said nothing.

But when he held out his right hand to shake, the age-old gesture of truce and respect and reluctant kinship said it all.

 
Ferron shook Nero's hand willingly, pure, primal life meeting stained, veteran life.
 
"For Rhea" he said, and nothing more needed to be said.
 
Likewise. For Rhea.

And nothing more was said.

...

The rest of the morning's brutally strenuous journey, set at a tendon-wrenching pace over cliff and dale and deep-packed snowfield, through miles of drifts to fabled Ko-Koro, was finished in silence. A relatively companionable silence, to be sure, but dead and utter silence nonetheless.

Even at the best of times, such was all one could hope for from Nero the Axe.

And at length, as the two tall and battle-scarred warriors, respective weathered titans of the wild and the steel, emerged at last from the final tangle of labyrinthine ice formations, and watched the white noonday sun gleam on the Village of Ice, the chapter was finished. The ways had parted, to his own quarter each, and one, to hers, and now the last thread severed.

The stage was clear; the script, full played.

Restless wind stirred the crystal frost, echoing with it Nero's final words.

"Good hunting, Ferron... fare ye well."

And as a passing shadow, he faded in the breath of cold Mount Ihu and was gone.


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#712 Offline Own Personal Quixote

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Posted May 01 2014 - 10:01 PM

IC: Everybody agrees, nodding. Silence. Comfortable, but dark. Like the shadow of the volcano. I hunch and think regarding Oreius' revelation.

There are four questions about it. The 'what' and 'where' are solved. But how and why did we enter "terrorism" territory?

(Politics.)

...Incisive.

As the gazes of the others filling my vision. I put the consideration away and return to Stannis' questions. Everything mentioned so far is a threat, but I don't know of any other problems I can't deal with. Nothing to add.

I shake my head.

 

OOC: E: clarified.


Edited by Xenophilic Zeno, May 02 2014 - 07:50 AM.

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#713 Offline Hanako Herupa

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Posted May 02 2014 - 12:20 AM

IC (Zadron)

 

Zadron inclined his head, giving a short and humourless laugh.

 

"I should've known," he said. "You're with the Company, aren't you?"

 

 

IC:(Braen)

 

"Who are the Company? Haven't had any dealings with any group that goes by the Company. So no, I am not with the "Company," Braen's eyes narrowed in annoyance. "No, I'm looking for him for my own reasons. I want results, on an island with so many mercenaries you'd think you'd find competent ones. I want something who can work alongside me, and I have no doubt in my mind that they will complete their task. That requires someone whose is skilled, intelligent, and deadly. I'd prefer it though, to have a team of people who are competent, people who aren't ones to botch delicate planning. That is why I called you here, not only for him, but because I know you are a man who is good at his job. I'm asking you to relay a message, payment will follow, as will future employment if you wish." Braen leaned back, and sipped his tea. Awaiting a response from the assassin.


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#714 Offline Vezok's Friend

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Posted May 02 2014 - 07:42 AM

IC:

 

Leah's lips were firmly pressed together. Despite what Sulov might think, she did not agree entirely. Part of her was still the Lieutenant of the Gukko Force. And that part of her refused to focus on just Echelon. He was, despite the danger he posed, a known quantity for the time being. And Stannis himself had said: Joske's allies had tried to stop him. The Maru were not the only ones aware of him and trying to do something about it. But if they were going to concentrate all efforts to find the dark Toa, Ambages and other possible threats were roaming unchecked. And unlike Echelon, the architect was still something of an enigma. If they turned their backs now, they might be able to vanquish one shadow - but she feared that another might rise behind them. 

 

"You mentioned empowerment and danger. If there is something foul about the current de-facto leader of Ko-Koro, then the same applies to him. So if Echelon takes absolute priority then we should act fast - because we can not afford to ignore the other threats."


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#715 Offline Twelfth Ghosthands

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Posted May 02 2014 - 01:55 PM

 
IC:(Braen)
 
"Who are the Company? Haven't had any dealings with any group that goes by the Company. So no, I am not with the "Company," Braen's eyes narrowed in annoyance. "No, I'm looking for him for my own reasons. I want results, on an island with so many mercenaries you'd think you'd find competent ones. I want something who can work alongside me, and I have no doubt in my mind that they will complete their task. That requires someone whose is skilled, intelligent, and deadly. I'd prefer it though, to have a team of people who are competent, people who aren't ones to botch delicate planning. That is why I called you here, not only for him, but because I know you are a man who is good at his job. I'm asking you to relay a message, payment will follow, as will future employment if you wish." Braen leaned back, and sipped his tea. Awaiting a response from the assassin.


IC (Zadron)

Zadron watched Braen closely as he spoke. Eventually, the assassin's paranoia relented. Either Braen really had no idea who the Company were, or he was a better liar than Zadron could contend with.

"All right," he said. "I'm interested. Both in setting up a meeting, and in the possibility of further work. But because of said Company, I need to lay low for a while, especially while I'm in Ko-Wahi."

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#716 Offline Geardirector

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Posted May 02 2014 - 04:01 PM

IC: [ Ferron / Nero ] - Ko-Wahi / Drifts

"Good hunting, Ferron... fare ye well."

And as a passing shadow, he faded in the breath of cold Mount Ihu and was gone.

 

IC: Ferron (Ko-Koro)

 

Nero disappeared in the drifts, and with him, did Ferron's last link to the flame he now nurtured in his heart. This flame was nothing like the raging infernos that had swallowed his being until now, this was comforting in its life-giving waves.

 

And it was growing ever weaker by the second.

 

Ferron threw one lingering, almost longing glance back at the white haze before he walked into the City of Ko-Koro.


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#717 Offline Vezok's Friend

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Posted May 03 2014 - 03:36 PM

OOC: Flashback jam, thanks to the much-appreciated help of EW =)

 

IC:

 

As Ferron entered the village of ice, the first people he spotted were several Sanctum guards, steadfast and thin-lipped. Snowflakes caught on the edges of their masks, but were ignored by the wearers. The bothered them none. There was another figure however, who passed him on his way in. A dark Toa, hooded and cloaked was heading out into the snowy drifts beyond the Koro's perimeters. The traveler moved with a certain confidence that seemed unlike the usual outsiders, his footfalls were secure, unlike the usual trudge of those not used to walking in the treacherous terrain. Their eyes met briefly and for some reason, the other Toa shot Ferron a quick wink and smile, then he was gone. 

 

Widgets kept moving at a steady pace. After all, he had to reach the massif before nightfall and it was quite the walk there. He had only paused near the inn to leave Taleen a note. Even if he did not get a chance to say goodbye in person, he at least had to let her know that he was going out of time and that there was no point in waiting around for him. What a darned shame... he thought to himself. Taleen had been something else alright. Still, he didn't want to drag her into this and so he had left out details of his new employment. 

 

His new employment... he paused in his tracks. He was about the same distance away from the Koro by now as he had been when he'd been dropped off outside the village. He looked at the spot. Of course, the snow was pristine again, not soaked in red. But he remembered it quite well. Things had worked out quite well for him considering the circumstances and risk involved. A small smirk crept onto his face as studied the drifts. 

 

"Here we go again..." he said softly. It was time to follow his new employer.

 

 

 

(A few days earlier...)

 

 

The traveler had quietly and carefully closed the door behind him, making sure to make no noise more audible than the soft howling of the wind playing around the mountain peeks and bringing a constant light snowfall. With the softest of thuds, the door closed again in its frame, any trace of the dark Toa’s break-in gone with it, since there was no damage to the lock.

He turned and activated his Volitak. Before his eyes, his hands began to shimmer, before turning almost perfectly transparent. He felt a slight shift in his hearing as the mask concealing powers reduced the sounds of his movement to nearly nothing. Stealthed like this, he moved down the hallway in front of him. It was very plain and unadorned, with the most exciting feature being that after about a dozen feet, it turned left. The traveler felt that the temperature of the air was increasing, so he was nearing occupied quarters of sorts.

Soon enough, the Toa found himself standing in a larger hallway that was leading further around and to the right. At the far end of the latter direction he spotted a more open room and beyond another door, which after his scouting trip earlier that day told him, had to be the front door to Ambages surprisingly humble abode. It was far from what one would assume the home of one of the richest Matoran on the island to look like. Then again, appearances were, as always, deceiving. And while the furniture and art the traveler saw while moving around the flat was simple and tasteful, he could tell the craftsmanship and quality of them were above what the average villager could afford.

As he moved into the lounge area, complete with inviting, comfortable sofas and a hearty fire burning in the fireplace, the dark Toa heard somebody at work in the kitchen.He rounded the corner at the end of the room and saw a large dining table and bar. At the far end of that room, the door to what had to be the kitchen was ajar and upon closer inspection he could hear food being prepared. This had to be Ambages housekeeper. Widgets couldn’t help but feel a hint of satisfaction that his survey of the architects home had been rather accurate. He quietly retreated back into the lounge area, leaving the Matoran to preparing his meal. It meant he would have a few more minutes of exploring the apartment without interruption.

He backtracked the way he had come in for a few steps and opened the only door leading to the left, closing it quietly behind him again and following the short hallway behind it to another door. The room beyond turned out to be the office. Everything was organized and tidy, but showed signs of constant work. design sketches were laid out on a desk, ideas scribbled on them. Full shelves were lining the walls. The Toa looked over the contents, but examined them no further than that. He had not come here to go through Ambages stuff, no, far from it. And even if he had, from what he had learned in his time in the village of ice, the hand of the Akiri was not the type to leave critical information to be easily found.

All that was left to do now, was wait. So wait he did, still invisible, sitting down in one of the chairs in front of the fireplace, picking up the copy of the Mata Nui Daily lying on a coffee table to the side. So far, he could not complain about Ambages hospitality. He was curious if he would still be welcome once his host became aware of his guest when he returned.



The minutes and hours ticked by in the study. Nothing changed except the slowly fading smolder in the fireplace that crackled and smoked incessantly until it died completely, leaving the traveler in abject silence. A lantern lamp on a wall to the side was the only illumination he had in the room, but it was enough to light his reading through a tabletop reader called Hard as a Rock: How Some Sensual Carvings Became a Po-Wahi Tourist Hotspot. The architect’s valet came in at one point and restarted the fire to warm the room, and the action alerted the traveler to the Hand’s looming arrival to the abode.

About half an hour later Ambages entered his apartment. The dulled footsteps from beyond the doors gave ample warning and allowed the traveler to track his host’s progress.

Ambages sounded stressed, a symptom of spending half the day sorting papers, signing documents and receiving several seers, acolytes, astronomers and underscribes. Playing akiri was hard work, even for someone as skilled at organization as Ambages, and he was looking forward to breaking away and going out of town. Wearily, he accepted an offering of appetizers his valet produced from the kitchen and nodded when told his lunch would be ready shortly. Plucking the finger food as he went, he rummaged through his bedroom and packed several things into a rucksack before taking it back out to the sitting room and hanging it on a rack before retiring to his study for some last-minute pondering before his lunch and exodus.

Immediately after entering the study he felt something was amiss, like an alien smell or an acrid odor of unfamiliar breath lingered in the confines of his office room. Shutting the door behind him he paused to cautiously sniff the air but didn’t act upon his suspicions yet. Instead, he stepped to his desk, collected a notebook from a drawer and retreated to one of the maroon scroll wing leather armchair, sitting opposite from the traveler. He scribbled into the book without looking up, then said, “The Volitak hide your visage and sound but it still leaves a shadow.” Finally, he faced the other chair and pointed with his pen. His words seemed friendly, though likely only for the purpose of cordiality and finesse and not a sense of genuine kindness, and his tone turned sharp and direct as he continued. “The flames are fresh and bright—I can see you. You’re obviously not an assassin for me since I’m still alive, but then why are you here?”



A hint of a smile played across the still-concealed traveler’s face. “And who is to say that I am not an assassin?” he asked. He deactivated his mask, revealing himself to Ambages. He was sitting, leaned back and superficially relaxed. He still had his hood drawn up, however, keeping his face mostly in the shadows, safe for the occasional flickering illumination of the dancing flames in the fireplace.

“But you are right, I am not here to remove you from this world—quite the contrary, really. I came to repay a debt.”



“Interesting,” Ambages said dispassionately and closed his notebook before sliding it onto the tiny table beside his chair. He pulled out a cigar and sniffed it intimately, savouring its fine aromas as he considered the visitor’s business. “But what confounds me is what sort of debt you could have that requires you to steal into my abode and lie I wait for me.” It wasn’t a question, per se, though it was meant to be answered as one.



“A life debt,” the traveler replied. “You found me in the drifts, closer to death than to life. You called in the Sanctum guard to take me to the hospital.” In his mind the scene played out again. Blood seeping into pristine white snow like ink into paper. “I’m sure you remember.”


The corners of Ambages’ lips curled slightly infinitesimally into an insidious knowing grin. He remembered, and now the victim has come back to repay the good samaritan. But this wasn’t cut-and-dry yet—there were so many uncertain cards left to play. “You look better now than back then. Take off your hood. I don’t like talking to pretend-phantoms,” he said, gesturing at the cloak. “And tell me how you play to repay the debt.”



The dark Toa slightly tilted his head to the side, reached up and casually pulled back the black hood, revealing the skull-like features of his Volitak. His expression somewhat mirrored that of the architect. A sly smile, slightly narrowed eyes who’s look hinted at something more than he had revealed so far, but at the same time elusive enough that Ambages could not put his finger on it.

 

“I have had quite a bit of time to do some research. You are a man with big plans;” the Toa said, then added: “And which have surprisingly little to do with architecture.”

 

“And it just so happens that I am somebody who’s skill have very little to do with architecture as well. Simply put, I will work for you in whatever capacity I can until the debt is repaid.”

 

“I have something new for you: You’re not the first person to walk into my apartment uninvited and tell me they know I’m up to something sinister,” Ambages said, behaving disinterested as though he had heard such claims ten too many times already. “The last time that happened, it was an entire group of vigilantes. They left in disgrace. And i assure you, everything i do has everything to do with architecture. So,” he said and nonchalantly poured himself a snifter of brandy, “let’s rephrase your position.

“You’re sitting here with me. I saved your life and now you want to—I don’t know?—do business with me. Apt, I suppose, but if we’re to do business I’m not going to endure clever word games. Now, you’re going to tell me what you think you know, how you got to think it and why business with you helps me. Otherwise…” he smirked as he held his glass up to his nose in a half-baked cheer, “we won’t do business.”

 

“Ah, yes. The infamous island liberation front. I heard a story or two about that little ordeal. An embarrassingly amateurish move on their part. I can assure you that I have done my homework.” His voice got a lot colder as he spoke.

“And to re-rephrase my position: This is not a business meeting. You saved my life, now I owe you a life-debt until—”

 

“—Anything that deals with profit and exchange is business, sir,” Ambages interrupted. “And that’s what you’re here to do. Thus: Business.”

 

“Call it what you will then. It is not business for me. Where I come from there is a way of doing things, that’s about it. But profit is all you care about, then profit you shall have.”

 

“I only ask for straight speaking, sir,” Ambages again interrupted. “As you know since you’ve ‘done your research,’ I lead a busy life. If you want to repay my grace, you can start by following my rules in my halls.” He sipped his drink.

 

The Traveler stood up. Not enraged, but determined and closed the distance between the two before Ambages could speak more . He unceremoniously grabbed the Matoran’s hand. The Matoran resisted at first but the other’s grip was too firm to yank out of. Small tendrils of darkness  floated around their fingers for a few seconds, then the dark Toa dropped the hand again, the shadows fading away once more.

 

“I know your dirty little secret.” he said sharply, staring the architect down with cold eyes. “I sensed it. And I’m not the only one who can. Hire me or don’t. If you do I will aid you. If you don’t you have a liability on your hands you will not get rid of easily no matter how tight you have spun your spiderweb.”

 

He stood up again, looking down at the still seated Matoran. “I gain nothing from this. But it just might save your life.”

 

Interesting, Ambages considered. It was obviously possible for others to have powers similar to himself, though he naturally hadn’t met one outside of the Shadow Toa of Heuani’s ilk. This… visitor’s demonstration would have troubled him on a deeper level if he cared to, but as it stood as an opportunity he gave it the careful consideration of any businessman’s sort.

 

“People of our disposition don’t typically take to honouring… honour,” he observed and gave a mild shrugging frown. “I don’t hire mercenaries. They tend to be without scruples and wit. but you…” He pointed at the visitor. “You’re not a mercenary.”

 

Only on wednesdays, the visitor joked in the privacy of his mind. “Astutely observed.”

 

“A warrior of some kind, probably used to be part of something structured to give you respect for honour, but maybe you were condemned and ostracised for your affinity,” Ambages went on. “You’re not from here, as you said, so anything can be possible.” He finished his brandy and placed the glass on the table next to the notepad.

 

“You’ve put me in a tight spot, sir. I don’t like loose ends but you’re an end I’d rather keep handy. So, we’re going to have lunch and talk about this… let’s go for ‘partnership,’ that we have.” The architect got up and motioned for his guest to follow him. Ambages had no fear of the man, not out of overconfidence but self-assuredness. He could be touched, but it wouldn’t be from someone like that. They were far too unique to truly threaten one another, and that was the premise he was banking on. If he was wrong then he wouldn’t be around to witness the aftermath, either.

 

The Matoran in the kitchen showed signs of surprise as Ambages entered with the stranger following. After all, he had not bade anybody enter. But with the usual professionalism, he prepared their places and pulled back their seats. As the Toa sat, down, Ambages spoke again.

 

“I did not catch your name.”

 

“I did not give one.”

 

“I want it.”

 

“A name has the pesky side-effect of being recognizable. That is not something I can easily afford.” the Toa said and shrugged. “I do not have one. Your doctor called me Widgets.  But you may call by a different Moniker if you like.”

 

“Widgets? That is an awful name. How did you get it?” Ambages asked as he nodded to the valet as he set the lunch—a hearty beef stew—before him and gestured for the toa to be served as well.

 

“As I said, one of the hospital’s doctors - Riaril - chose the name. I was unconscious when the decision was made and woke up that nametag stuck to my bed. A joke of hers.” the traveler explained. He leaned slightly back as the valet placed the meal in front of him as well. The Toa was casual but carefully kept track of every single movement the valet made out of the corner of his eye. It wasn’t even a conscious action, merely a habit developed over the centuries. It had served him well in the past. He picked up his spoon and slightly stirred the stew, waiting for the architect to begin eating as to not appear impolite.

 

“I’m a cautious and wealthy man. I’ll keep my widgets close to me,” Ambages riddled. “You’ll keep the name and follow me, never too far but never by my side. Serve me by being an alarm and a bodyguard; I think that would fit your debt nicely.”

 

A small smirk crept onto the traveler’s face at the architect’s quip. He nodded once.

“I concur.”


Edited by Smaug the Terrible, May 07 2014 - 07:15 AM.

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#718 Offline Geardirector

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Posted May 03 2014 - 04:12 PM

IC: Ferron (Ko-Koro)

 

The Forgemaster stood still for a few seconds as he looked after the cloaked figure that made its way into the drifts, but rather than contemplate the meaning of the stranger's acknowledgement of him, Ferron turned back the way he'd been walking and entered the City of Ice.

 

Last time Ferron had spent any length of time here, the village had still been under Turaga Nuju's rule, and the fall of the First Toa still a wound that stung deeply. It was here he had met Deccon, newly transformed like himself, and in search of purpose, already in the company of Marinna as well. Together they had aided in fighting off a Rahi assault, and pledged to take up the mantle of the First Toa.

 

Ferron didn't smile at the memory, but he didn't weep either.

 

He wasn't going to make his stay in Ko-Koro long. What he needed was someone who could point him in the right direction. Kuhrin's evasion only left Ferron more puzzled about where the murderer would run to next, tracking down the evildoers had never been his job as part of the Toa Marok.

 

He sighed, wearily as he continued through twisted streets.


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#719 Offline Shadowhawk

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Posted May 04 2014 - 10:17 PM

IC: [ Rhea / Nero ] - Ko-Wahi / Drifts

Elsewhere, as perceived from wherever elsewhere isn't, two moving figures hazed in the mist and no longer did the chill drifts whisper of their passage. It would be a long journey before them, and dangerous, but the crimson flames of Rhea's homeland beckoned, and there was nothing in the white realm of ice that held her any longer, any more. Ever restless, free as the wind, the Su-Toa bounty hunter went... but not alone, never alone. For where his lady wandered, so too did the Axe. Because just in case.

And whatever the future held, it was sure to be epic. As well as, no doubt... exceedingly profitable.

She grinned, green eyes dancing in the shadow of her cloak hood.

A chapter closed... a new one began. It was high time to get started.


*lights fade to black; curtain drop; dramatic journeying music UP*

OOC:

...blah blah blah I don't even know why I wrote that because it only served to introduce the following:

Said characters, to Ta-Wahi by way of Mount Ihu and western inland Ga-Wahi.


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#720 Offline EmpressYumiwa

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Posted May 07 2014 - 12:01 AM

Ic:

Leah's lips were firmly pressed together. [...]

 

"You mentioned empowerment and danger. If there is something foul about the current de facto leader of Ko-Koro, then the same applies to him. So if Echelon takes absolute priority then we should act fast - because we can not afford to ignore the other threats."

Stannis shook his head solemnly. "None of the threats take absolute priority over the other but each should be dealt with; as you said, we can't afford to overlook anything." He counted three things: Echelon was one, the Abettor was a wild card that needed to be looked at and Ambages was the new unknown. The Abettor, however, was not confirmed hostile and, as the reports said, remained in one place, so he could look at it after the dangers were handled.

 

"With two potential large things to deal with posthaste we should divide and conquer as units. Korero, Reordin and Oreius should go and defeat Echelon and bring an end to the menace of the Makuta's high servants. Sulov, Leah and I will track and find this Ambages and find his true colours. Whatever the result is, we'll have a trace put on him to be sure."

 

No sooner had those words escaped the elder Maru's lips that a solid rap at the door snagged everyone's attention. Stannis' first thought was it was yet another fan who saw the whole team enter the apartment and wanted to grab an autograph, but when Reordin stepped to the door with swagger and opened it it turned out to be no less than the Sanctum Guard. "Toa Maru!" he said and saluted the group within. "Guardsman Pakastaa here with a speedy message from Ta-Koro via the radio." He handed a note to Reordin who read it as he walked back to the table then handed it to Stannis with an ashen face.

 

Stannis took one glance at it then looked to Oreius sternly. "It seems your Piraka aren't so harmless after all. They're attacking our city, no holds barred. Jaller is calling on us. Everything else is on hold," he said and stood up, joined by the other four.

 

"Radio back to Jaller and tell him we're on our way," Reordin quickly told Pakastaa and the guard scampered away immediately.

 

All eyes fell on Korero, or rather his Kanohi. The wiry toa rolled his eyes—he should have known better than to expect a rest.

 

"Oreius, do you remember any weaknesses in the Piraka your mask might have shared with you?"


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