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Lady Takanuva

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  1. IC: Kestrel the vagabond Tournaments often bring large swathes of people. Prime real estate for a trader with useful wares. Especially one who has a supply of daggers and bone swords. Weapons break, after all. Though with this many fighters in town, I'd best pray that my own do not… The streets of Tajun were already bustling. While the grand tournament was still some time away, the populis of the city were already making their preparations. Most prominent was the increase in market stalls. From full wooden stands to tarpaulins suspended above mats of merchandise. Wares from food to fangs, blades to baskets and swords to serpent's venom (it will cure what ails you, sir. On me honor it shall!). The sound of metal grinding on flagstone caused some agori to look up in surprise. A glatorian-sized treadbike haphazardly armored in scraps of bone and plate was snaking its way through the streets. In front of it, with two guide ropes strapped over their wizened shoulders, was a figure swaddled in sun-bleached fabric. Behind it was a caravan wrapped in the same homespun. It was an old wanderer's trick: the fabric kept the sun from directly hitting the sides of the dwelling, and could even be unwrapped and erected as a shade structure in calm weather. When a suitable streetcorner had been found, the hooded agori began making fast. Wood blocks wedged the cart wheels in place. The ramshackle bike was secreted behind the caravan. And, finally, a large flap of fabric on the side was pushed up and away with a pair of long wooden poles. It revealed a two-step doorway with a shelf in the middle. A small set of wooden stairs was dragged into place, covered in strange glyphs and patterns. All this time, the hunched silhouette in the robe was babbling to itself. "Settings up, settings up. Tourney comes and Kestrel comes. Move longpole and longpole, set blockses. Ooooh, yess! Many good wares, good, good wares for good, good peoples yes! Make it like so, so home doesn't runaway bye, hehe!" The agori's hunched back almost seemed to twitch slightly as they climbed laboriously through the side door, and shut it tight behind them. The babbling was silenced by wood as two phosphorescent lamps glowed next to a string of dried thornax hanging next to the hut's door. A sign on the front read, in haphazard agori: kestrils wears nock for servis rare Goods! All for yours! Kestrel the vagabond had come to Tajun. OOC: Kestrel is open for interaction.
  2. Name: Kestrel Species: Zesk Tribe: solitary Gender: female Appearance: Kestrel usually walks hunched beneath a tattered cloak covered in symbols from deep cave ruins. She leans on a staff of twisted wood adirned with bone and metal fragments. Beneath this disguise, however, lies a sturdy physique and the lithe body of a trained fighter. While not a contender for the ring, the desert is no place for an agori who cannot hold their own. Their body is adorned with jewelry crafted from scrap. Their wrist bangles and tail piercing are brass, while her earrings are gold, a gift from her mysterious past. Her foreclaws are filed down, but her footclaws are still razor-sharp. Equipment: Kestrel lives within and works out of a wheeled hut pulled behind an ancient sand bike. The bike itself is disguised to look ramshackle, but is in fact in surprisingly good condirion and capable of high speeds when uncoupled from its load. The hut is usually covered in tattered tarps and cured animal hides. Beneath this layer are hundreds upon hundreds of carefully carved star charts. For weapons, kestrel has several. Her stave is lighter than it appears, and its bangles make for a dangerous flail-head when deployed as a tool of war. At her back she cardies a pair of bone daggers. The blades are infused with a temporary paralytic and sedative coctail made from plant extracts. Her final weapon is her stinger tail. Its barb is razor-sharp, and capable of both deflecting a sword strike and delivering a load of potent neurotoxic zesk venom. For defense, the zesk wears a breastplate of scavenged metal. Kestrel's greatest asset is her extensive knowledge of the desert. The fungi ahe occasionally sells hint at access to water, and the scrap to some secret location or locations. But those who would seek to find this information through threat or deceit may find that the desert is a large, large place with many quiet spots to rot away. Personality: Kestrel shows others exactly what they expect to see. She speaks in a contrived pidgin around most agori and glatorians. But to those she trusts, her speach is quick and erudite. In short, you could describe the almost stereotypical "mad trader" guise she wears as a disguise. Kestrel is naturally curious, and delights in any new knowledge she may be offered. She keeps a hidden library of rare manuscripts in her hut for perusal or reference. She transcribes useful data to add to this collection. She has eve been known to, on rare occasion, trade entire volumes for suitably valuable materials or services. The defining factor in how Kestrel will treat somebody is how they treat her. Those who meet her with respect will receive it in turn. Those who approach with arrogance will find out just how unhelpful a mad agori can be when she wants to. History: Everyone knew to respect the few travelling merchants who occasionally braved the sands and Bara Magna nights to bring strange, exotic (for each settlement) goods to sell at market. Everyone also knew that Zesk were mindless, soulless pests better left dead than alive. But what some knew, or bought knowledge of, or found out, was that what everyone knew wasn't always correct. Or, at the very least, accurate. What if you could take one away. Give them a proper start. Show them there was more to life than the scrabble. Some years ago, in Tesara, there had been an agori who, many would say, was mad. And, in a way he was. He spent his evenings staring at the stars, mapping them as if they weren't always in the same place each time that year. He catalogued different types of sand, sometimes by color, and wrote down what he learned. When they found out what he was keeping in his house, they'd burned it to the ground. They'd stoned the poor man to death, and drove the... thing... back into the desert. But they were too late. Another fire had already been kindled, brighter and more dangerous than any village blaze. But some had remembered. Some had stopped the small, pathetic creature from being killed itself. And brought it water when they found it huddled in a nearby cave. Some even brought food. And one, mad in the right direction this time, brought her a scroll. People saw what they expected in the merchant. They saw a small figure, swaddled in homespun robes hanging with carved bone jewelry. A rickety vehicle, not even agori sized, she probably could barely operate it, dragged a cart hanging with tattered fabrics and more bone and carved scrap metal decor. They saw exactly what they expected to see, and so she never worried them more than what they knew to expect when talking to a mad desert savage who had been taught Agori. What many knew was that the Zesk had a name. Kestrel. What a rare few knew was that Kestrel was curious. In that strange, determined way of people to whom knowledge was a rare gift. And while she would barter for water, herbs, and useful mechanical scrap, she also bartered in knowledge. If you offered her something she did not know, she would smile that strange little smile of hers, and bring you something special. Maybe a fossil she had found and polished of some strange, ancient creature like if a coin had come to life. Or how to fix an ancient battle vehicle that had not run in decades. Or would teach you how to gear down a vehicle's engine so it moved more slowly but towed far more with less wear. That was when they realized all the scrap tacked onto her desert tread bike covered a well-cared-for and smooth-running machine (you couldn't afford breakdowns in a desert, after all). What three people knew was that, if you fed and cared for a Zesk who had nowhere else to go anymore, you got rare treasures and good food once or twice a year, which could be sold or held tight in this clawing world where luxury was rarely ever a consideration. What only Kestrel knew was that, if you spoke to everyone in the way they expected and looked like what they wanted to see, they accepted (or at least tolerated) you more easily. She also knew about why her vehicle never needed new power. It was a secret she had stolen, and would take to her grave. There was only so much you would share with those who destroyed your home and family for the crime of not belonging. And she alone also knew that painted beneath the fabric of her cart was every star in the night sky. Weaknesses: -Solitary. Kestrel has no true alleigences, no clan or village to call her own. She has kept others far enough away that they will never hurt her again. One looking to gain her alleigence will have an uphill battle before them. -Your Kind. Zesk are not welcome in many places. Kestrel faces opposition feom those who see her as simple vermin rather than a thinking being. -Bad Reputation. Kestrel's illusory reputation as a mad trader can sometimes undermine the genuinely useful knowledge or warnings she offers to others.
  3. IC: Raika The small Menti opened their eyes. Sunlight, golden and soft, washed across their face. Stretching, they climbed out of bed and wrapped themself in a simple lavender yukata. Tying the sash clumsily, they pushed the door to their room open. They dashed down the hallway into the kitchen… This was not the kitchen. It was the weathered and pungent insides of the village's tanning hut. Lance butts pounded on the house's door. The sunlight, butter yellow, now flickered and was accompanied by choking smoke and unspeakable burning smells. A single figure braced the door, a glimmering shield of psionic force laid flat against it. The figure turned toward the robed dasaka and called out desperately, "Reiun! Run! Run and don't look back. Run, I'll find you. I'll find you-" Reiun knew what would happen next. A blade punched through the door, blazing with psionic force. They could never recall if the blade had actually speared their dearest friend, the wail had been hers after all. But it always was in The Dream. They ran. They turned, and in cowardly fear sprinted towards the hut's rear door. Towards escape… But when they turned around, the room was gone. They were back in the forest where the serpent had nearly overcome them. The serpent lay before them. Dead. Multiple semi-melted gashes in its armored hide oozed sizzling green-black ichor. There was a sound from behind them. It was as familiar as their own heartbeat. It was the sound of sandstone scraping against crystal. As they turned, they realized their daggers were not strapped at their waist. They were still wearing their lavender yukata, hem now catching on weeds and brambles. Seated cross-legged behind them was a figure. It wore gold and azure armor. A tattered red scarf was wrapped around its neck. Its gaze was fixed on the slender, delicately curved protocrystal dagger it was carefully honing with its whetstone. A flask of water and a strip of greyed but clean linen lay to one side. The figure looked up, its eyes glimmering behind its mask. Like the eyes of a Muaka through a midnight forest. "Best wake up, little Menti," it spoke, its voice like silk across a stiletto's blade. "Plenty enough demons in the waking world." Raika sat bolt upright, gasping. Their heartlight strobed frantically as panic slowly released its hold on their body. Scrabbling onto hands and knees, they dragged their mask from their face and let out several ragged, gagging coughs. Had they any food in their stomach it would have poured onto the ground. As it was, their throat and mouth burned with the acrid taint of bile. Still shaking slightly, Raika forced themself to calm down. Slowly, the room around them came into focus. Surprisingly, for the first time in several days they also felt their heartlight beginning to slow as they calmed down. After a minute or so, the wiry menti lowered themself into a sitting position. Taking a flask from their scavenged satchel, they used a sparingly small swig to rinse the bile from their mouth. After spitting this on the ground they forced themself to take a longer swig to quell the burning in their throat. Calm now. Take stock. Judging from the sun, it seemed they had slept somewhere between three to five hours. Enough that their mind was no longer spinning, or their bones aching feverishly anymore. They looked around their chaparral surroundings. They had been laid down on a bed of soft, silvery leaved plants that smelled very slightly of sage as they warmed in the sun. They idly lifted their mask and, more carefully, placed it once more over their face. Relief, and the usual intoxicating buzz of warmth and confidence from this action, was enough to banish the final demons of her bad dreams. Looking towards the shore, Raika saw their other party members working to repair a ruined seafaring vessel. They bit their lip contemplatively. Well… They had sought out traveling partners in the remaining panic of the serpent's attack. At that time the fear had felt like a living thing, slowly tightening its claws around her throat. Now, they were thinking much more clearly. And realized just how dangerous their situation had become. Karzahni. Ahri, he's heard my voice before. If he remembers… well, he has one of my swords and my staff. I'll have to… …what? Kill him? No, never again. Never. He… he trusts me. Maybe… everything's gone to blazes anyway. Maybe the old alliances won't matter. And besides, they chuckled to themself, who would suspect a spindly little thing like me to be the Wraith? Raika strapped their dagger back to their waist, and slung their pack over one shoulder as they stood up. Pausing a moment to scrape some sand over where they had spit, the tiny menti made their way to the group by the shore. Stepping quietly next to Ahri, they spoke as calmly as they could: .:Good afternoon, Ahri. Are things going well?:. OOC: Still massaging past names, sorry for any inconsistency. @Keeper of Kraata @The UltimoScorp @Click
  4. IC: Karoru, an introduction The large Menti felt her cheeks color slightly at this, and tried not to look at Skyra for reaction. When Azusai staggered, Karoru reached out a steadying hand. Resting on the small navigator's shoulder it looked like an oversized pauldron of crystal. She looked to her new captain, well-meaning determination bright in her eyes. "Captain, I think she will be an asset. Between her navigation and Skyra's ability to scout from the air with Destiny, there's no reason the Ironclad Fowadi ever be lost at sea. We could sail here to Kentoku, or possibly another island entirely if given a proper map." OOC: Sorry for the wait, @Krayzikk @Snelly @otter @sunflower @Click
  5. IC: Raika The exhausted menti stared back as… Mitsuri, that… that was it… gently cupped the side of her Volitak. Once more, she felt the calmness seeping into her mind. Not as aggressively this time. In that moment, half-delirious with exhaustion as the serpent's mental poison was finally driven away, she was back home. Her mother standing over her many years ago. "Ryouta, sweetheart. Rest your head now." And then the anxiety and stress of the day would fade away. Just like this. Half in the past, half in the present, Raika turned her head and pressed in against the hand. Then, for the first time in three days now, she fell into a deep, restful sleep. OOC: @The UltimoScorp@Keeper of Kraata@ARROW404 @Click
  6. IC: Raika The anticipated scorned looks and jeers… did not come. Raika waited for them to descend as they always had done, but… it seemed this group had more on their minds than simple mockery. Relief flooded the menti. No… more than relief. As if her panic had been staving off the exhaustion, all the strength left Raika's body as if the marrow had been sucked from her bones. The past sleepless days caught up with her, demanding payment with interest. Her vision swam, and she had the vague sense of the ground rocking beneath her as she slumped to the ground like a boneless fish. Shakily, she tried to drag herself to her feet, but her vision swam before her and she staggered backward, tripping over an upturned flagstone and folding like ricepaper. .:skoay:. they tried to speak, .:'mfine. 'cn wakl. 'mfine…:. They could hardly rally the strength to send coherent ideatalk. Blearily, they tried to look at… what was her name? Newcomer. All… so blurry… …had she intended… had… Raika couldn't have reached for her dagger if another Tuurahk had been breathing down her mask. The tiny, battered warrior had no choice but to lay there, crumpled, unable to utter even a coherent plea for help. OOC: @The UltimoScorp@Keeper of Kraata@ARROW404 @Click
  7. IC: Raika .:Might we perhaps continue this discussion out loud?:. Raika felt like the ground had been kicked out from under them. Out loud. Say something, quiet one. How hard can it be? Rather than flushing, the color drained from the Menti's cheeks at this. She looked to Yuna, looking a little lost and… well, left out. She'd never met someone who could not understand her ideatalk before. The habit of a lifetime must seem like an act of deliberate exclusion each time she used it. But… what option did she have? Should she tell her… what? That her voice had never been found? That she'd strained for years to make anything more than a harsh groan? The disgust on her Father's face as she'd been taught old field signs so she didn't need to always carry a slate around "polite company?" The raw desperation that had led her to learn ideatalk so she could finally say something? You're too silent when you walk around. You need a bell, little royal pet? Raika began to respond to Ikyazu, but bit themself back. Desperately, she glanced to Ahri. But what could he do? On top of that, her hands were shaking too much to sign. The mocking voices of her childhood ringing in Raika's ears, she lowered her head and prepared to be called out for her silence. @The UltimoScorp@Keeper of Kraata@ARROW404 @Click
  8. IC: Raika Rivulets of calm crept through the panic in Raika's chest, until she could breathe steadily again. There was some anxiety, still, about their new arrival getting inside of her head so easily. But… the calm wormed its way deeper and deeper, until it pushed slowly through the wall that had been holding back all of the Menti's emotion like rain through a fortress wall. Their shaking intensified, now also fuelled by sheer exhaustion as the last two days' events caught up with her. Two meals, an hour's sleep. The days settled on her like snow, bringing a gentle numbness, a relaxation… Ice ran through Raika's veins as she felt the gentle pressure against her mind. Willhammer The barriers around Raika's mind slammed up, iron-hard and frosted with hostility at this unwanted intrusion. Hostility and panic. What would happen if she found out, my brave little warrior? Little boy, who wore another's armor and fled when his village burned? The immediate rush of fury and betrayal was tempered by something half-remembered from childhood. Seeing her mother, holding a sobbing warrior close, the pain draining from her face. The utter, complete calm of that room. The safety. Healing. Mitsuri likely thought she was helping. Shame flowed across their mind for the third time that day, and some of the frost on her barrier walls melted. But barriers they remained. .:...Please… stay out of my mind:. spoke Raika, as steadily as possible. .:I… thank you for your effort, but that is something you need my permission for, Vilda Mitsuri.:. She felt a knot in her stomach even as she said this. Like she was already driving a wedge between them. .:... I am not angry,:. she said, letting some of the tension leave her shoulders, .:just… tired. Perhaps a bit on edge.:. She couldn't stop the almost violent shaking of her body. The cool panic that had kept her going had been thoroughly drained away, to be replaced with bone-melting exhaustion. Through the haze, they spoke .:...my…p-promise… still stands.:. @The UltimoScorp@Keeper of Kraata@ARROW404 @Click
  9. IC: Raika The small figure shifted to try and help Yuna pull the newcomer to safety. But the same arms that had hauled nets so easily were plenty capable of pulling the injured Menti free. Rai felt frustrated helplessness well in their stomach as they gingerly slid a skinny arm beneath the figure's other shoulder. The willhammer began to speak, then doubled over in agony. Raika's grip tightened. Their scarf shifted, caught in their grip, and in that moment their lavender heartlight was revealed, flashing with panic. Then a voice sounded, clear as a bell, in their head. .:Thank you for saving me. I... truly could not escape on my own. I feared no one was coming back here, or worse still... that I was the only one left. Tell me, with ruin as far as the eye can see, where do you plan to go?:. Where DID they plan to go? Raika had not thought that far ahead. They had just seen a gaping, horrifying future where they fought to live on this island, completely alone. And they couldn't bear the thought of it. .:It's okay.:. they said, wincing slightly at how rough their own ideatalk felt in comparison. .:We don't have a clear destination, exactly.:. Raika made an effort to look this new arrival in their one unbandaged eye. .:But I promise we will not leave you. You are not alone now. I promise. I promise…:. To their shame and dismay, they felt their hand shaking like a branch in a gale as they spoke. Worse still, they felt some of their worry over the state of their new arrival leak into their ideatalk. How must this seem to someone so… refined? And they were babbling too… Their shaking hand tightened around Mitsuri's arm. .:I promise you we will not abandon you.:. OOC: @ARROW404 @Keeper of Kraata @The UltimoScorp @Click
  10. IC: Raika Raika was not built for strength. A polite person would call them willowy. A blunt person would call them scrawny. But they were wiry. Their half-wrapped hands scrabbled, hauling boards free and scraping rubble to the side. They worked like a being possessed. After a few minutes, their questing fingers felt something like crystal. Re-invigorated, they started clawing debris away desperately. Dislodging a pair of shattered timbers, they saw a figure hunched in the enclosed space. Their arm wrappings catching and pulling on the shrapnel, they scrabbled the opening wider until a shaft of light struck the face of the trapped individual, refracting into a tiny rainbow through the clear crystal. OOC: @ARROW404 @Keeper of Kraata @The UltimoScorp @Click
  11. IC: Raika Conflicting emotions warred in the menti's brain. A willhammer, and a powerful one at that. Make that two and Raika's only method of defense would be gone. Completely. But what was the option? Leave her fellow Dasaka to die in isolation and fear, with their last gasp of hope gone? Abandon Ahri and Yuna? Prove how much of a piraka they really were? A woman's voice. Sobbing, begging for her love to wake up. In the moment it had almost sounded like her old friend's voice. How she must have felt seeing her home razed. A survivor. Trapped, alone. Fearing for her life. Shame once more filled Raika's throat like bile. Who were they, deciding if this person deserved to live or die based on their own convenience? No. They were a monster, a killer. They could barely look at themself already. They would not subject another to their own torment. Too ashamed to even look up, at risk their racing thoughts might be read through their eyes alone, they focused their mind on the small bird. Struggled to keep their voice as calm as possible. .:You won't die here. I promise.:. Raika was sometimes glad that their voice was entirely mental. It was easier to mask the full-body trembling while communicating than with speech. .:Just keep breathing. We will be there soon.:. OOC: @ARROW404 @Keeper of Kraata @The UltimoScorp @Click
  12. IC: Nara, Cue the Ocean's Eleven ost Nara followed close behind Eita, her diskette launcher held loosely at the ready. She had kept mostly silent on the goings on, mostly because she could not tell if she was more anxious or thrilled at being part of a heist. The projectiles would not be enough to cause permanent damage, but she'd yet to meet someone whose attention would not be substantially diverted by bamboo clocking them in the face. What was worrying her wasn't her own safety, but that of the others. They were not exactly fighters to a matoran (or dashi, come to that) and she was legitimately scared her new friends might come to harm. Well, at least with her there, she could put herself between the less combative members and any danger that could arise. Nara was not in fighting shape by any means, but felt that she packed more than enough determination in her to fight off an attacker if her friends were in danger. OOC: @ARROW404 @Snelly @Rahisaurus @~Xemnas~ @Tarn @BULiK @Umbraline Yumiwa @Mel , @Harvali
  13. IC: Raika, arrivals from all sides .:Help...:. Raika immediately dropped back into a ready stance, head snapping back and forth. By the sliver of an instant they halted their hand before it closed on the hilt of their last dagger. But how to warn the others… all of the others… Focusing their communication on Yuna, they sent out a message in Ideatalk. It would be fainter to the others, but would still be easily discernible here. .:There was a voice, just now. Calling out in Ideatalk.:. Turning to Ikyazu, they resisted the urge to add an interrogative one of your friends? Truth be told, Raika was spiraling a bit. Missing not one, but two people in their sweep. It was a good thing they no longer dealt in espionage. .:I think our conversation may no longer be private.:. OOC: @ARROW404 @Keeper of Kraata @The UltimoScorp @Click
  14. IC: Karoru and Azusai, Ga-Wahi The menti needed some air. A lot, actually. Her head was still swimming from earlier. She felt… strung out, far more so than she had expected. But seeing Leah slowly coming back from the brink made her heart slow down a bit. She wandered a bit, drinking in the sea air and feeling the sea breeze wick the sweat and tension from her body until she was ready to melt into evening fog. Making her way towards the docks, she spotted a wandering yet determined-looking Dashi marching, carrying a small satchel and a paper flyer. The figure was gaunt, clearly having had one of the rougher travels across the sea. Her soft heart concerned for the figure, Karoru strode along until she had pulled even with the traveller. "Hello there, friend," she said, attempting to seem as non-threatening as a seven-foot armored warrior could be. "Are you headed somewhere? You look like you haven't had a bite to eat since you set out from Kentoku." She tried to keep the worry out of her voice. She'd seen too many thin and starved today, and was determined to help if at all possible. Powerlessness did not sit well with her. Azusai jumped a little as she noticed the towering being by her side, but tried to still her rapidly flashing heartlight as she realized it wasn’t one of the strange colorful Dasaka, but a Menti warrior. The splash of familiarity was almost overwhelming to the small Dashi. “Thank Zuto Nui, I found you,” she sniffled, quickly wiping away some relieved tears from her already tear-streaked mask. “I… I worried I’d gotten lost, or I followed the wrong ships, but you’re here!” She moved toward the Menti for a reassuring hug, only to pull herself back. That… wouldn’t be appropriate for a Ringti like herself, would it? She wasn’t sure, the class boundaries had been… fuzzy in her village. Karoru felt a pull in her chest as the small figure scrubbed at her mask. Kneeling down, she wrapped her own salt-crusted, crystal-plated arms around the tiny figure. Her embrace was strong, but not crushing. Firm, like an anchor. "We did. Not all, but many. And most importantly, we are here together now. We can start over fresh here, if need be." Part of what she said was still sinking in. She had followed the ships. She'd been alone, for all those weeks. Probably on starvation rations if that. The poor thing felt like sticks draped in fabric to Karoru. The tears flowed freely as the warrior wrapped her strong arms around Azusai, and she squeezed back as much as her little Dashi arms could. “So… it’s really true then. The whole Archipelago… it’s gone. N-not just…” She couldn’t bring herself to finish her sentence. Karoru shivered a little. Fighting to keep a small sob out of her voice, she nodded and replied "I'm afraid so. Completely overrun. I encountered a fleeing group and helped see them to one of the docks. Stayed to make sure as many as could made it there and aboard safely and…" She trailed off, holding her tiny comrade in pain and loss close to her own heartlight. "...and you sailed here all alone." She shifted to look straight at her fellow refugee. "You're a brave spirit, even if the times were desperate. What is your name, friend dashi?" “Saardma Azusai,” she replied quietly, still secretly fearing that this moment would be taken away by the bad blood between ancestors. "I am Hogo Karoru," she said, self-concious of her aberrant accent which had always made her feel Other among her peers in training. "It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance, friend." “Thank you, Hogo Karoru. You’ve… given me hope that all is not lost… n-not yet.” Despite everything, Karoru’s comment about food still rang in her head and her empty stomach. She had some rations on the ship, but she did not anticipate being adrift for over a month, and it had been a long time since she had a full meal… seated beside her mother, a familiar roof over her head. She hugged Karoru tighter as her body was wracked with sobs, and her stomach growled feebly. Wrapping Azusai close once more, Karoru murmured soothingly "It's okay, little gemstone. You are safe here. There is hope, there is always hope. And-" here her voice took on an edge of determination "While I accompany you I swear on my parents' lives and my own honor that you will come to no harm." HER honor? Oh, what a sick joke, if the tiny figure only knew said the evil part of her mind. Feeling her companion's stomach growl, she said "Miss Azusai, how long has it been since you have eaten?" Azusai nods and sniffles, holding the Menti for a moment longer before shyly admitting, “I… I’m not sure. I… didn’t expect to be on the ocean for so long, and… I didn’t have time to… r-really prepare.” Karoru felt something inside her snap like crystal. She'd had precious little as a guard, not even a stuffed toy from her foggy early childhood. It had always been order and discipline. Yet, her mask and armor had made the voyage with her. From the sound of it, Azusai had lost much. "...I myself do not know where to find food here. I sadly have nothing that would pass for currency on these shores. But Miss Skyra and the Captain might know. If you can tag along with me, I can bring you along and ask them if you like. I'm sure they'd be able to help. Miss Skyra has been very nice since we met. “Skyra… that is a strange name. What is her clan?” Karoru considered this for a moment. "T'be honest… I'm not sure. She's from this island I believe. She called herself a Toa. She can manipulate air, if you can believe that." A moment's pause. Then, in a slightly awed voice "...she can fly. Well, she rides a massive bird like a feathered dragon. It's frankly astounding-" She was cut off by the grumbling of her own stomach. At Karoru's own insistence, she had been on minimal rations to make sure there had been enough to go around, and despite the trials of the day she'd not eaten more than a bite of food since arriving. "...perhaps the stories are best saved to be spoken over a meal though, eh?" she joked, attempting a laugh at her own expense. Azusai just nodded weakly, everything she had gone through in the last several weeks finally starting to catch up to her now that she didn’t feel her life was in jeopardy. And… there was so much to learn about this place which may very well be her new home. Beings who can fly and control the very forces of nature seemed beyond belief, even as she stood in one of their villages built of living plants. But that would have to wait. “I… would appreciate a meal, Hogo Karoru. And perhaps… you can help me find this Ironclad Fowadi.” She holds up the flier she had taken from the bar earlier. “Maybe… maybe they have a place for people like us. I am no Saihoko, but I will do what I can to find my way here.” Karoru looked over the flyer. "Fowadi. Strong name. I-..." Hang on. Ironclad. And the name… A grin spread across Karoru's face. "So. Skyra never got around to telling me the name of that ship. Though ironclad… that it indeed is. A true sight to behold." Standing upright, she turned to face Azusai. A bit of her old confidence bled back into her expression. "You know… Miss Azusai, I think it is indeed time to introduce you to my captain. If my memory for names is right I think you may best pose your questions to him directly." Asuzai looks up hopefully and tries to rise from the Menti’s arms, but finds her strength gone entirely. Reaching down, Karoru delicately scooped Azusai up, ensuring her satchel was nestled atop her torso, and cradled the dashi safe in her arms. "Hold on, Miss Azusai." she said calmly. Gathering the last dregs of her strength, Karoru triggered her Kakama. The crystal portions glowed violet, then gold, then Karoru shot forward, tracing back the way she had come. In a matter of moments, the pair came to a screeching halt at the infirmary, Karoru holding her charge like a precious artifact. "Captain. Miss Skyra. I have brought a recruit." It was a statement, more forceful than Karoru's usual tone. Not breaching the wall of impoliteness, but also brokering no argument. OOC: Jam between Click and I. A joy to write this with you! @Vezok's Friend @otter @Eyru @Krayzikk @sunflower @Snelly
  15. IC: Karoru, a modern Hestia Wood stacked next to the fire. Kindling in a small tray to one side. Feather the wood, feed it in. Watch the flames snap and dance. Try not to feel utterly useless. The Menti kept glancing back at the healers working to bring Leah back from the brink. But whatever poison it was seemed to be almost actively opposing them. Karoru saw the two bent in focus. To her surprise but at this point not amazement, what appeared to be water flowed from a phial carried by one of the attendants, and it soaked across the fevered Toa like a thin salve. Karoru was not particularly adept at empathic connection, but even with her limited sense she could feel the strain from the two. Like they were focusing their everything on the water- Focusing on the water. Pouring their power into it. Shaping it, in a way. It clicked with the solidity of a keystone on a bulwark. There was no conceivable way Karoru would be able to convey the basics of soulsword manipulation to these practitioners. Even had she the time, she doubted she could teach it well enough. And even then, what guarantee was there that the techniques were one-to-one? Focusing on the two, she sent out… focus. She shaped her thoughts with all the care of her blade, and with just as much power sent them forth to them No words. Just… concepts. Focus. Breathe in. Breathe out. The power flows through you. Raw and roiling, like electricity through nerve. But instead of being allowed to simply flow, it is focused. Channeled. But you cannot force it. Flow with it. Flowing like your water. Tease it, suggest it, to flow in the way you wish. The calm, steady focus that filled Karoru every time she summoned her soulsword filled the bones of the two. It wasn't power, not as such. Karoru lent them her discipline, even as her hands, almost autonomously, fed another log into the fire. She did not feather its edges with the hatchet. It lit anyway. Karoru always knew how to stoke a proper fire. IC: @Vezok's Friend @otter @Snelly @Krayzikk @Eyru
  16. IC: Raika, Oki village (not so abandoned) "I was once someone, but the sons of Zataka took that from me." Raika's stance faltered a bit. It was almost definitely projection, but… they had lost everything to the daughters and sons of Clan Hogo. If there was any chance this one had a similar past… …They could be just as dangerous as you. Turning the same focus on their emotions they used when erasing themself from perception, they presented a calm front and took a shallow yet sufficiently polite bow towards Ikyazu. .:I am Raika. A wanderer, though that's probably not as uncommon these recent days.:. They wrestled with themself for a few moments. Should they say something? Try to forge a bond like they had with Ahri? Or would they mess it all up, like with Yuna? .:I ask you stick to speech when talking to us; Yuna is... special. She cannot perceive Idealtalk unless Willhammer is used:. Raika's cheeks burned beneath their mask. Right. No wonder Yuna seemed to dislike them already. It must seem like they had been all but giving her the silent treatment. Right… 'special.' And she's not the only one. The wiry Menti looked back at Yuna for a moment. …and I'd wager, feast to famine, that we both know how 'special' is treated on these islands. OOC: @The UltimoScorp @Keeper of Kraata @ARROW404
  17. IC: Raika, abandoned village (Oki) Ruddy purple crept to Rai's cheeks beneath their visor. So this newcomer had seen… everything. This was why Raika didn't do people, as a rule. It always ended in humiliation. Deciding to pretend that nothing had happened, and imagining they could feel Yuna's gaze drilling into the back of their neck (wondering what she had walked in on, no doubt) Raika forced themself into a less combative position. Levelling their mind as best they could, they spoke. .:So… it wasn't as abandoned as we thought here.:. They looked the new arrival over. She looked like she'd been through as much as, if not more than, the rest of them. Rai noted that while she wore a patchwork of probably scavenged clothing, the oldest and most battered pieces of cloth and armor bore the livery of Clan Eiyu. The Wraith had evaded their patrols enough times to know it on sight. Do not panic. If their intentions are indeed ill, there are three of us to one of them. And you only need a moment's cover to slip a dagger between her ribs. What? No, NO. What am I thinking. I… never again. But… They resisted the urge to glance back at the others. If she tries to hurt Ahri or Yuna, I'll at least make her sorry she ever cast eyes upon us. OOC: @Keeper of Kraata @ARROW404 @The UltimoScorp
  18. IC: Raika, Abandoned Oki village. Raika's heartlight shot into their throat. A Willhammer. Scrap. Their cloaking technique had been honed for many, many years. But to this day, it had one weakness: they had to remain focused on erasing the very concept of themself from the mindscape of any dasaka, dashi, or even datsue in view or earshot. A willhammer already aware of their presence could shatter their focus in an instant. It had been pure luck that none of the royal families had attempted that when The Wraith paid them a visit to negotiate a fee. Though with some, they would not put it past them. Like the Mashtet, they thought, looking nervously at Ahri for a moment. Now hyper aware of how scrawny they were compared to Ahri's toned physique and Yuna's muscle, Raika fell into a defensive stance between Yuna, Ahri, and the nearest, densest group of buildings. It took every last iota of their willpower not to draw their last remaining dagger, if only for the reassurance a weapon would bring. OOC: @ARROW404 @Keeper of Kraata @The UltimoScorp
  19. IC: Karoru- on the brink Karoru, now visibly out of breath after her prodigious exertions, tailed Dehkaz to the specified hut. She… tried not to fret. Not to get in the way. She stared at Leah, watching the Toa fight tooth and claw for her life as the others desperately tried to cleanse her wounds. Karoru gritted her teeth behind her mask. For all her strength, her armor, her skill… there were some dangers she could not be a shield for. Poisons, illness. The thin blade of an assassin. Here, she felt… powerless. She wanted to run over, to grasp this stranger's hand, to… somehow pour some of her fighting spirit into her. To keep her safe. That was who she was. That was what she existed for. …but she was also held still, rooted to the spot by years of screamed orders, countless hours of duty and, shamefully, the trauma still beating against the back of her mind like a metronome. For a time she just stood there, watching the others, until her genuine concern and shaking, all-consuming anxiety overrode her guard's conditioning. "I…i-is there anything I can do?" she asked. There had to be something. Anything was better than this waking nightmare of paralysis and fear. OOC: @Snelly @otter @sunflower @Eyru @Krayzikk @Vezok's Friend
  20. IC: Narah, Ga-Koro Narah, who had been letting the conversation eventuate around her for a while, took notice of Kanohi's discomfort as he wrote. Concern wormed its way into her mind at the way he toyed with a string of beads and shook so hard his intricately-carved armor rattled like stones in an earthquake. Taking a step forward, she softly asked "Is everything all right, friend? If this exchange is troubling you, I do not think anybody here would like to force you past the point of comfort." @ARROW404 @Snelly @Rahisaurus @Harvali @~Xemnas~ @Tarn @BULiK @Umbraline Yumiwa @Mel IC: Karoru The Menti's breath caught in her throat. Her blade began guttering like a candle flame in the wind. The Dasa- no… Toa? The Toa lay there, breath ragged and halting. Suddenly Karoru was not on the beach anymore. She was hundreds of miles away, in the chambers of Her Ladyship. Shaking the willowy Dasaka's shoulders violently, almost physically unable to look back down at the scorched hole punched through her delicate, satin nightgown. At the blood staining the sheets a metallic rose. The hot tears raining down upon her lovely, cooling face. Karoru's response owed itself to a lifetime's regimented training rather than any conscious thought. She had to get back to the ship. Had to bring word. Strong, clear orders. Karoru's flickering sword evaporated in a puff of flame as she launched herself the way they had come, dodging and weaving like a fly across a field of flowers. When she found the figure of Dehkaz, she slammed to a stop before him. "Sir. A Toa, Leah, is down in the harbor. Miss Skyra is taking her to… K-Kael's home. Told me to get you. Orders, sir?" The Menti was shaking, eyes looking almost glazed, but she was still determined that her own emotions would not prevent her from saving a life this time. @otter @sunflower @Snelly
  21. IC: Raika, Abandoned Oki Village Raika was once more grateful for the cover of their visor. Deciding this was safe enough to comment on, they slowly made their way over to their companions. However the entire time they were on high alert, their hand resting on the hilt of their remaining dagger. When they spoke, their ideatalk sounded… for lack of a better word, strained. Almost like someone who had been crying. .:I… that isn't it, Yuna. I'm… well, I'm complicated I guess.:. It felt a little personal to say that they didn't really feel physical attraction except in rare and exceptional cases. And while Ahri had rapidly become a precious friend to them, they clearly felt it was not in this way. But, as much as they liked Yuna, they felt the words catch in their mind like an ant in a spider's web. .:... Any luck with the boat?:. they continued, hoping that if nothing else their increased caution would communicate things to their companion. .:If you need an extra pair of hands, I'm sure I could offer them. Though if there were more than just the three of us that would change things, I'm sure.:. Raika winced slightly. It was becoming rapidly clear that their years of isolation really had eroded their communication skills. OOC: @ARROW404 @Keeper of Kraata @The UltimoScorp
  22. IC: Karoru, Fowadii Allowing herself a small grin at the positivity of Skyra's response, Karoru grasped Skyra's proffered hand firmly in her own sturdy grip and hauled herself aboard. "Get along? Skyra, if even 'alf the crew here is as personable as you I'm excited to make their acquaintance." After barely a day on land, Karoru almost felt more comfortable on the slightly shifting deck. She took in a breath of fresh sea breeze, untainted by the smell of fear and desperation that had seeped into every inch of the evacuee craft. "Ain't half fancy," she said, looking about the deck with a tiny whistle. "You know, back in Kentoku only the super-high-ups had metal armor and such. A ship like this would be a Torusho's ransom." Almost delicately, she patted the side rail. "A whole ship made of metal. Bet there ain't much that could give you lot trouble." A pause, then, "...us lot, come to that. I mean…" She paused, scratching at the back of her neck while looking away embarrassedly, "...if you all will have me." Trying to not let her anxieties get the best of her, Karoru exerted the several tons of mental force required to drag her optics back into eye contact with Skyra's own. "Well… guess there's no point putting it off longer. S-so…" she tried to replace her previous relaxed smile, but ended up looking slightly ill instead. "...l-lead on, Miss. I'll be right behind you." @Snelly
  23. IC: Raika, an anchor The feeling of Ahri's arms wrapped around them cut through Raika's panic like a knife. It did not fully dissipate the emotions, but as before, it was like an eye in the maelstrom of emotions. Raika had not experienced physical contact… at all… for years. More than a decade at least. It was… comfort wasn't the word. It was overpowering. Crushingly emotional. Almost intoxicating. They had felt alone for so long, and yet here in their weakest moment a friend had, rather than pushing them away as weak and useless, held them closer. Believed in them. The tiny Menti shook like a flagpole in a hurricane gale in Ahri's arms. They were grateful for their mask's visor as tears streamed down their hidden face. With one last quaking breath they looked up to meet Ahri's gaze. A curt nod acknowledged the mention of another presence. As subtly as possible, they shakily signed I am looking out. Try to warn Yuna. Yuna. There was an issue there. Until they knew what was going on, Raika couldn't risk communicating with her. Their eyes tightened subtly beneath their kanohi. Great. So their one way to warn the others from a distance was neutered until the situation had been assessed. Under the cover of embarrassment, they turned away from Ahri and Yuna to dry their eyes beneath their mask. They used this time to scan the area (as best as they were able given their condition) for anything out of the ordinary, shifting their position casually so that their remaining dagger was clear to be drawn. It was a terminal last resort, but the heated crystal might be deterrent enough if things broke bad. OOC: @Keeper of Kraata @The UltimoScorp @ARROW404
  24. IC: Karoru, A tale of a fateful trip… Karoru looked in surprise at Skyra for a moment. Then, something clicked in her head. She had been expecting at the very least the regiment of the Kentoku merchant marine. But Skyra treated the whole thing in a far more casual manner. It felt more like she was talking about a wayward friend than a fellow crewmate. As far back as Karoru could remember, she had been expected to fall in line. Obedience and formality overlaying her natural good natured banter. She'd been called many things, from rube to country bumpkin, until she had learned to emulate the clipped accent of the Kentoku elite so effectively that unfamiliar guards sometimes snapped to attention at the sound of her voice. She long ago forgot where she'd picked the accent up, as her family were fairly prominent in Clan Hogo. A few people had said she was adopted, but it must have been so long ago that all memory of it was lost in the haze of infancy. Karoru was rocked back into the present, quite literally, when the landing craft pulled alongside the iron-shod ship. She shook herself a little. Looking back once more to Skyra, she made a decision. The other crew of this ship were an unknown quantity, but Skyra herself seemed unfazed by Karoru's lack of decorum on the boat ride over. In that case, Karoru would try to be her proper, unabashed self around Skyra as much as she felt able. It sent a jolt of intense anxiety through her entire body, but… if she was going to make a friend on this ship, she would prefer the friendship be an honest one. And if she focused on that, she could ignore how pretty and commanding Skyra looked as she steered them alongside the ship. "So… Anything that might be good to know before we climb aboard? That is… are the crew more laid-back? Or do we have a bunch of nobby types who might not take kindly to a sparkly country gal hauling aboard their ship?" OOC: @Snelly
  25. IC: Karoru, Now sit right back, and you'll hear a tale The Menti's Kakama kicked instinctively into overdrive as Skyra shoved their raft away from the shore. Rapidly adjusting and counterbalancing the way only someone accused lifelong of being a clumsy oaf is able, Karoru managed to keep from rocking the boat too severely. "So uh, I'm a Toa of Air if you didn't know. So if you see me making the air do things that's why." Karoru stared at her, mouth agape, as Skyra continued. Her name took on a new meaning in the soulsword's mind. "Anyway, while we're sailing to the Fowadi...feel free to ask me uh...anything. I'm sure you have plenty of questions...about stuff." "Y…you can command the winds?" said Karoru excitedly, eyes wide with excitement and formal accent dropping to reveal her far more rustic casual speaking voice. "I… that… that is incredible! No wonder you're aboard a ship. Zuto Nui, would that we had a couple with your powers on our trip to the island." She sized Skyra up again, bearing this in mind. Her lithe, acrobatic form, the green armor… it made sense the more she thought of it. Perhaps the warrior was lighter than most, and she wore the plethora of artillery to prevent her floating away. She should ask her. She could do that now, in fact! Opening her mouth to continue, Karoru aske- CRACK! CRACK! And thrice, CRACK! Karoru whirled toward the ship at the sound of what seemed to her like weapon fire. The faintest traces of a blocky sword appeared in her hand, accompanied by a whiff of ozone, before Skyra's words cut through. "Don't worry about that, just some chuckler we have aboard the ship. He's great, I'm sure you'll like him." Karoru looked to her, then to the lifeless bodies of seabirds laying across the bow and bobbing pathetically in the water. Her grip tightened around seemingly empty air, as she fought down a swell of anger. "Yea, for sure. Perhaps when we get aboard I can take some time to introduce myself personally." It took a moment for the fact she'd said that out loud to sink in. "...Scrap" groaned the Menti, palming her forehead, "I've blown it with that comment haven't I?" OOC: @Snelly @Vezok's Friend
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