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Year 13


About Razgriz

  • Birthday 08/25/1996

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    dragging casuals to fridgetanamo
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    freeing joe son

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Tahnok-Kal Attacks!

Tahnok-Kal Attacks! (149/293)

  1. IC: Jolek [Ta-Koro] It had been a while since the lonely wooden halls had seen the activity of the past hour or so. Typically, all they'd beheld was little more than a haggard, worn ghost of silver floating in from the street and into one of the side rooms, to not be seen until the next dawn. If lucky, the kitchen would see use— salad ingredients fished out from a larder and tossed together in one of the ceramic bowls, or a pan given the prestigious duty of searing off fresh game meat. The lava rat from a night ago, for instance, after being dried first against the ambient heat of the mask-maker's forge. It had seen its browning, once cleaned a little more thoroughly, in a pad of butter while the chef busied himself with rolling a few kinks out of his neck. That kind of simplicity and quickness— fittingly hearkening back to the days of having spent all further energy on surviving the hunt and leaving little room to indulge the finer culinary knowledge that lay in the mind. Surviving the day had been enough. Things differed now, as a whirlwind had come to ransack the many shelves, closets, and drawers quietly collecting a film of fine dust every unremarkable evening. A hunter's yes had scanned them, purposeful hands had at times plucked out key contents after wiping away the grey— as if ensuring they could correctly read what they were snatching, before unceremoniously returning everything else to the stillness. A collection of pencils, accompanying blank pages bound in leather. They'd never before been touched by his hands, yet now seemed to call their entangled kin within the recesses of his mind. A bundle of cloth from a stale closet, left for the moths that would never survive the ambient ash. He had hardly bothered with much more than his armor and uniform, but they seemed worth having, spare fabric if nothing else. Off the shelves that the wall of shields had stood silent vigil, a single tome written by an author that meant nothing to his ears— but a favorite tale of Perkahn's, held in esteem for a portrayal of a calm and righteous warrior. A conceit that even made the man doing it scoff. He was no reader. Not even close— but there had always been something to the way it evoked fondness from a man that so often shared his son's rough-around-the-edge nature. His eyes wandered, settling onto a sharpening stone. Keeping knives on one's person was like the training— further than something so wishy-washy as feeling "right". It was a necessity. Not there to be skipped. Such a primal, simple, utilitarian tool for life as it, a thousand uses known and a thousand more to discover, he couldn't imagine not keeping one on his person. It was survival. It needed to be maintained. Across from the stone, they wandered again... And fell upon the promise he had made, at the start of this. Even in the low light, cast in orange upon its razor edges by the faint embers within the fireplace, its blade seemed to gleam in the silent vigil it held. Unmarred even by the stagnation, by the rest against the house, by the slow march of time after its story had, by all accounts, drawn to a dignified close. He wasn't gathering much. Wasn't ever gonna be. The weight on his back would be familiar, plus, if his larger counterparts' words were true, a weapon would be more than handy. You'd be hard pressed to find one more proven. ... A grimace, then a huff as the head shook, scar on the cheek warping as the grimace pulled tight at the corners of his mouth. He couldn't. Wouldn't count. All this was to finally fix the reason he'd put it down in the first place— You don't get to use something to earn the right to hold it. Makes no ****** sense. He'd renege on the promise he'd made. He'd kill the point of making it, be worse than useless. He'd pack light. He'd figure it out. He wouldn't be made into a liar to Rebellion— it had chosen to wait, just as he'd let it. Their day in the Sun together would come when he was ready. No sooner. Promises were important. ... Inevitably, he looked out towards the front door, Ta-koro's incessant bustle along the grids locked away behind the barrier of a home. Separated. Those were the streets he'd pledged to patrol, bereft of anything else. There was where more promises lay. Drinks with Balian, the mask-maker, met only yesterday but pleasant enough. His strength to Angelus, waning and unused in the tension that never wanted to boil over within the fortress city's walls, a friend of similar cloth and concept that was harder and harder to pull out from his own promises to the desk. To Tarex at the gate, to grow, to rematch at the height of their powers and the height of his Self. Older than any. The start of everything he could call his own. ... And now to the newest of them. Dehkaz Khyrilik. Docks before dusk. Another path to fight "the good fight". "Bigger than the islands". Another cause to pledge to? Or the path forward, a road not taken? "Nah," he said after a moment. "I ain't that interesting." He had ignored these things before. Where did that get him? "You ready to play distraction?" Where would going leave them? His teeth grit, his hands folded the ends of the burlap pack in over on themselves in a simple square knot, his mind swam. He rose, contents for travel light as a feather in the tight-knuckled grip of his right hand. He really never did pack much. Nothing to put his name upon. Barely a trace of his passing left upon this home, both his and imperceptibly not. ..."hhh." The gunmetal wraith named Jol Highwind marched off to that same side room as always, setting the bag down upon the floor in that same familiar destination all carry-on items found themselves, and flopped back-first onto the bedding in the same way, arms behind the head and knee leisurely kicked up, staring a hole through the plain ceiling in the undecorated room. His head rolled over to the side. Golden eyes narrowed. The pack sat there, loose around its meager contents, but still undeniably packed. ... I should sleep on it. Mom always says to do that before decisions. They probably did it before deciding to skip town on me. A deep yawn, pulling his jaw wide. A curtain of darkness closing round his vision, as the last of the fatigue left to feel sank him deeper into the cusion. Yeah. Sleep'll be good. I'll know after that. ...One way or the other.
  2. IC: Jolek [Ta-Wahi, Charred Forest] In the wake of that hulk's departure, a silence hung again beneath the intermittent breeze through the ash... Only, eventually, to be punctuated by the soft brush of armor on mask, as a beleaguered groan floated from Highwind's mouth. "...Seriously?"
  3. IC: Jolek [Ta-Wahi, Charred Forest] "Dock before sundown," he repeated, furrowing his brow for a moment before cupping it in the arch between thumb and pointer finger. "Right..." All things said and done; the claims sounded bold. "Bigger than the villages" was one thing, given that their conversation technically hit that mark already, being between two members of differing military forces... However tenuous it might have been on Jolek's end, after admitting to himself how ready he really was to quit. It still met the mark. Anything he offered there counted. ...Yeesh, though. Listen to that. Since when did he care for technicality? If the point was the same either way, that was what mattered— and it was. "Bigger than the island", though? That didn't register. Didn't make sense. The island was their world, right? Their people, and the reach of the threats they consequently meant to face. There wasn't anything of the sort... Unless... Unless this offering of an alternative hadn't come to him directly in the wake of sending two Lesterin bound for their home, this faraway land of "Seprilli", simply by coincidence. A journey the likes of which would take them to parts unknown, as they found more of who they were, once lost beneath the waves... He had already turned an offer down once. Why do that again? ...Hold on, what did that even mean? where'd that thought come from— Mata-Nui, his head was spinning here. First things first, before any decisions. "What... Time is it right now, actually? I wasn't kidding earlier. I've been here all night?"
  4. i think the culmination of the joke here would be to not link this objectively better post after linking the one that was buildup
  5. IC: Jolek [Ta-Wahi, Charred Forest] "What else have I got?" He didn't, to his credit, flinch at his hollow words being thrown back in his face. As the blued giant continued, Jolek realized his suspicions to be true regarding that searching, searing gaze— everything Dehkaz had found, he'd found without much trouble. His simplicity was always gonna make things that way, as it stood— he saved his subterfuge for the craft, where it made sense. Maybe it spoke to that lack of stimulus— the stifling, encaging manner in which the monotony had eaten away at him. A setting this regimented only served to wear what personality he'd forged from before down, a man of the jungle now tamed and homogenized. What was there within that to hide yourself behind? Karz, what was even worth hiding to spare it to begin with? If the world was content to pass him by as he waited (and this Khyrilik figure was effectively correct, 'waiting' was what this boiled down to), then it'd be on him to find a way to start moving. A man couldn't stop the passage of time— he could only move within its flow. He was bending over backwards against the current... for what? A threat that hadn't materialized? Pointless. A duty to the city? He'd done more working yesterday's bounty. A favor to a friend? ... That was the only one. The only one that had any real truth to it. Those Skakdi he wanted to mangle had found themselves troubled enough by a response of half the strength the Guard could muster now. Ta-Koro had been a place he'd called home, squatting in the house of his adoptive family post-reunion... But even they had left it, well ahead of him, on one last adventure. His father had, to hear the man himself tell it, been a persona non grata here for ages beforehand anyway. Were that the tie, it felt every bit as flimsy. No. The only one he cared for was the favor to his "boss", a friend cut from the same cloth and only further locked within the bowels of the machine. Angelus was a good, kind, and strong man. Probably the only one in Ta-Koro who could pierce the firmament of their shared experiences. The only one Jolek knew, on a primal level, how to talk to. A Jungle Boy to the bone... and now as the Guard's head, a caged Muaka. Locked in an office for dozens of hours to administrate and oversee, filing away mountains of paperwork and fending off interior politics and all sorts of nonsense that all the protocol and followups and institution had laid upon his shoulders and— The field work isn't doing me any better. ...We barely see eachother any more, and when we do, I feel sorry for him. Highwind's eyes narrowed, brows drawing together in a disquieted knot. Forget any notion of concealing his thoughts from Dehkaz— it was like the larger Toa wasn't there. ... And there's only more of what he has the longer I stay. At some point, tenure moves me up, and everything gets more formalized and sterile. Would he want that for me? Knowing where we're from? What the Guard stood for, in its ideal vision, was defending the people for evil. If it was that, just that... he'd be fine. He really thought he would. Go out and knock the right skulls, no questions asked? Yeah. Jump into burning buildings to pry old Turaga out of the flames, incident report be carked? Sure. Teach some poor kid getting picked on a solid one-two and a kick to the ribs, instead of passively handing out flyers to the parents? Hundred percent. But that didn't exist here. Not in the mechanics of the force. The formalities had their purpose, he knew that they did, but... Looking at who the people he was supposed to be like felt nothing like who he was. When he barely considered himself anything at all to begin with... No. No, no, no, no, no, no. This was the unexamined life. Every inch of scrutiny was external. It didn't matter who you were or how you thought, because we already know the most effective way to approach these things. It keeps us running smooth. You can get with the program, or leave it. We can't have renegades going around and messing with the systems we have, because that'll make it more of a mess. You don't have to do this. You signed on. ...There were good guys in the guard, that knew how to do the right thing the right way within the right rules and meant it with all their being. Examples of those who you were supposed to be, who thrived in the environment. Often, he'd compared them with the Toa he saw in the mirror, each bleary morning. But that wasn't gonna work. Not here. He had left the jungle to learn who he was, at the core. Grow his strength, hone his art, prepare for a rematch in a ten-thousand strong series of spars, yes... But he would never do so without becoming real. Owning himself, owning his moments as they came, owning every thought and sense and action. Owning a memory. Owning a mark. Owning a story, just like dear old Dad's. He was to move, and move forward. In taking on this image of predetermined discipline, to prepare for an unbrewed siege, in service of a place he'd always meant to leave... He found himself stuck. His mind had screamed it at him for ages. He was walking a path traveled by a thousand loyal soldiers with entire lives behind and ahead of them... a path not his own. All that this supposition of purpose had entailed, that he had foisted onto himself thoughtlessly? It just didn't mix. Jolek had never known who he was... but he couldn't keep ignoring that this was who he wasn't. In letting the mind stick and the body sink, he was killing the meager, meager soul. If he did any more, he was giving up forever.
  6. you see there is a cultural lodestone around here of linking posts you want to draw attention to in n&d, you can ignore these people because denying them the wacky blue hearts at the bottom right of the screen is funny
  7. IC: Jolek [Ta-Wahi, Charred Forest] "It's..." Stagnant Regimented Monochrome Aimless Stifling. "...It has its moments." He finished, lamely appending faint praise to the sentence. "Sometimes I get to use them. Make the most of what I can." He felt stuck just by its' mere mention. Even this trail of thought was an endless, endless circle. Was this the third time in one day? At some juncture, keeping on this well-worn track was going to drive him postal— And yet. Here they were, all the same. Back to this again. He may have thought this a thousand times now. If thinking the same way about the same thing and saying the same words was really set to drive his psyche over the edge, in spite of how rugged he'd always seen himself... What was there to say about the heart of Khyrilik's question? What of taking the same actions in the same scenery, day in, day out? His jaw pulled the edges of his mask up into a ghost of a smile, remembering the churlish air he affected often in freedom, before duty. He didn't feel it behind his eyes. What did he feel? "Besides, I'm buddies with Angelus, so after the bombing, felt like I owed him the help..." And joined the largest uptick in recruitment their shared generation had seen. A figure in the sea of recruits... and processed thoroughly in their midst. One number among many, tasked with keeping the peace of a trained, focused populace. Walking the grid and being there, because he made for no investigator nor bureaucrat nor negotiator. He knew there was a minor dossier on every standing Guard somewhere in the depths of Jaller or Angel's offices, he'd been told as much and told again when he inevitably glossed over the detail until he got his first writeup. He knew they'd evaluated him on a level similar, if less conversational, than the Po-Koroan here was. He knew that it was no accident he'd been on this detail. Whomever had looked him over and figured out the things that made him tick inside, for what little a person there was to work with, had deduced that he was best served on patrol. ... But, really... "Recruitment's been high. Not a lot of moments wanna come and try it. Not supposed to be a bad problem for a Guard to have."
  8. IC: Jolek [Ta-Wahi, Charred Forest] Looked like the man had gotten what he'd wanted out of that answer, however meandering it felt to say. That was about as much as Jolek had hoped for to begin with, so he didn't waste the energy sweating what would come of meeting expectations— as it stood, the more they spoke the more the younger Fa-Toa was realizing, and realizing quickly, how little he truly had left in the tank. As motion's self-perpetuity left the body, the joints finally found time to inflame, the muscles to let their seeds of ache blossom, and the lungs to finally wish for more and cleaner air. The hike back would be a long one. But he wouldn't complain about the consequences of his choices, when they felt so scarce. If the duster-clad senior officer had any of his own, he clearly had them forced down with his shoulders, the tension of first meetings seeming to fade from his gait. Jolek couldn't hear any changes in his voice, but by the time he'd offered his name to bridge that gulf of uncertainty, reading the looser stance told enough of the story. He inwardly breathed his relief, one exhalation a note fuller than those that flanked it. It had never built anywhere close to clashing, but tired as the martial artist was, he knew that he preferred languid to guarded. "Jolek Highwind." he echoed, though the name felt hollow on his tongue by comparison. Another man might've preened at correctly deducing this Dehkaz Khyrilik's familiarity with combatives. Jolek simply nodded, and looked off into the middle distance over the man's shoulder for a moment, peering through the murk in more ways than one. His instincts had always been honed for that sort of thing— and had saved his life. Clocking a friendly visiting officer's prowess was just practice. "Wish I could tell," he breathed, tone now softened. "Far as I remember, the Art's always been with me. Never bothered to learn its' source... Oh," His gaze returned to meet the foreign dignitary's, a thought having sparked within it. "You seem pretty direct, so I'll save you a question." a thumb sprouted out of the fist that had lingered at his hip, jabbing into his heartlight. "Washup."
  9. IC: Jolek {A Chance Meeting} And there they held impasse, for one, two, three long beats. Sizing eachother up, as it were— the energy that dominated the gap between them not quite tense, but thick with more than simply ash. He was playing a close-guarded hand, to borrow an expression from his peers, this monolith. Waiting to see what Jolek would do with the little he'd offered, how he'd reply to having his question thrown back in his face. There was a lively radiance to the violet orbs that had affixed onto him, a spark beyond what came from most people... and this was no artifact of flowery language. If anything, the Toa's contentment to observe behind that taciturn wall of Command (because he was sure of it hearing the man speak, this guy outranked him) ran entirely counter to that charged violet gaze. He was bad with socializing, first to admit it, and had been deceived by unmeant words and deeds before... but for the life of him, he couldn't help but feel that the posture wasn't a disguise. It felt familiar, though, and not too distantly— "It'd make a bad punishment." he countered, placing a palm against the battered trunk but not daring to break eye contact. What was clear was that he was being evaluated. Searched through, like so many filing cabinets once one hit that man's rank. If the eyes were windows to the soul, this behemoth was pointedly looking in. What would he find? "Letting the time sink away while I focus on my craft— I'm actually not sure how long I've been out here, anyway. They'd think I just ditched." Jolek'd be inclined to believe something like "nothing much at all". That was what'd driven him out here to begin with: To get past all of that. He'd rather search back than find out how right he may have been. "No, there are easier ways to punish me. This is just..." He frowned, struggling for the word. He wasn't sure what reasons the Po-Koroan had for doing it, but he knew that there was some deeper test beneath the surface of the question. For that much, Jolek saw no harm in being forthright. It had gotten him this far... Not that it was far at all. "It's how I relax. Done it long before signing on. Gonna do it long after I stop, too." A passing encounter like this... What was the harm in addressing what felt inevitable, when things didn't matter?
  10. IC: Jolek {A Chance Meeting} A line of crimson wetness ran down his leg, long ago smashed numb against trees much like this. He hardly noticed such things anymore because of that same nerve deadening, thousands of hours conditioning the bones to grow dense, durable, and strong. A break in the skin, instead, caused it— in turn not being cause for alarm. As if to drive the point the prose makes home, the wayward young magnetic chucked his hips over again, as the streaking silver and red smashed into the dented trunk of the sapling once more, impact ringing out through the ashen haze unbidden. It had been... a while, now. In truth, the greyed-out scenery that he had surrounded himself in was perpetually "overcast" on its best day. It didn't make for easy tracking of the passage of time, given how sparsely sun and lava floes both penetrated the hanging curtain that smothered the forest. All he really had to measure was the dimming and brightening, however fractional, the burn in his lungs, and the ache in his trunk. Rechambered by the recoil as the leg fell back to earth, his lead hand whipped back around to a hook at jaw level, collision "empty" compared to when he began. It was a natural progression through the time he'd spent in this state of mindless contemplation— at some point, the energy reserves would begin to dry, and necessitate just loosely whipping through the form compared to sitting down on full-powered weight transfer. Closer now to shadowboxing with recoil, to put it one way— another would be letting the technique fill even a tired frame. This was where endless hours of work, in this exact manner, showed itself— all too often, fatigue would lead to the technique itself breaking down, as the practitioner would try and wrench power out of spent, burning muscles that had none left to give. Better, always better, to give up on force in that eventuality. Connections would happen on their own. The bed was made by doing it right so often you could never do it wrong. There was so much else that could be done, anyway. Distancing work, playing with rhythm and cadence, mixing levels of attack along the body— none of this required a full tank of gas. All of it would carry enormous dividends in combat if it could be maintained through exhaustion. Power was a privilege to have, a blessing that came and went with the circumstance. The craft, in all its purity, would never lie and never leave. Even if energy, even if memory, even if consciousness was gone, craft was still there, holding stalwart vigil. Right hand followed, just a half-step off beat. Head dipped further to the side as the guard returned, closed like an oyster's shell, to the brow— slipping outside a right of the imagined opponent by less than an inch. That torsion that moved him off center line then released, as he came back around with a digging shovel hook to somewhere close to the usual liver. It stamped into the soft bark deep, but unlike his shin, the skin had refused to break through the night. Hands carried less weight than legs. Even as power backed off over time, the latter was always going to be rougher on both parties. A subtle shift back heralded the leg going high once more, smacking the tree at that same, distinct point before he rechambered stance fully, taking himself back out to "long" range. He jabbed here, idly, before stepping in low to throw the right to solar plexus. Hips chambered. Finish this, then address the elephant in the room. A lead uppercut brought the jaw high, splitting most guards and raising a posture— then torqued around for a crushing hook across the temple in succession, eschewing traditional loading of weight and cadence for surprise, speed, and exploitation of forced openings. To fall into a standard left-right-left-right-left-right order would bake in predictable habits. Any idiot, given enough exposure, would be able to start reading, evading, and countering an unbroken, staccacto rhythm. You had to know how to play options that strayed from that path, regardless of whether or not you could fully blast your entire weight through them. If you didn't, you'd be the one being surprised when it was broken. Finally, Highwind exhaled, a long, ragged sigh that belied the true state of his lungs, the dryness in his throat, and the sag of his shoulders. He hadn't been going at anything resembling a full clip for ages, but even so, the constant, slow burn of accumulated exertion was waves against his rocky, wearing coast. He wasn't alone. Without much dramatization to the movement, he turned out in the direction of the road, leaving stance and folding his arms across himself, a mirror to the silent observer he'd picked up maybe five, maybe ten minutes ago. The splotch or blur of blue, only just obscured by haze in his constantly moving vision now gained sharpness and detail— Mata Nui, this guy's a horse. Even as his visitor stood at rest, the martial elements of his posture were impossible to miss. It carried through his ramrod spine, the deliberate positioning of his feet at almost exactly shoulder width apart (wide as karz), the thickness of his neck and back that far too many big men his stature lacked. The training was evident, plainly so. The craft didn't lie. Grappling him would be a bad call— too great a strength and weight differential without the Pakari. Even with it, Jolek couldn't shake the feeling he'd still find himself overmatched— his posture screamed out to the smaller Toa that such was this man's craft. You know, aside from the clear aura of command and danger he wore around him, silent and calculating as he watched over his younger kin. He could feel the magnetic field at the edge of his perception— always alien in an indescribable way. His fellow Fa-Toa were relatively common here in Ta-Wahi... but this man was a specialist. He felt different. Maybe not necessarily stronger, but definitely more... precise. The subtle bluing of his armor might have given the element away to others. To one of his own, though, it was a pointless redundancy— half the time it felt like they couldn't even really decide what the karz they were supposed to look like. His muscular frame had no hope of being concealed by the long coat he wore, one that had picked up ends of grey as it trailed along the ash. Instead, he noted a particular insignia emblazoned upon it, almost hidden beneath the massive forearms of this mysterious, violet-eyed visitor. It explained the instinct to pay attention to whatever response he got, the errant guess that this was a man used to giving orders— Gold eyes met purple, as his coarse voice finally filled the silent air between the two. "Long way down from the desert, isn't it?" Spirit. His throat was drier than he thought. "Decide I'd be a good source of entertainment while you take ten?" For what it was worth, the man from Po-Koro's Guard had stuck around doing nothing much for far longer than anyone hostile would manage if they weren't in hiding. It was a genuine question by now.
  11. IC: A̴͕̺͐͝ġ̸̡̖̝͔ë̷̠͎̫̠̈́ṙ̴̖̚u̴̻̅̾̀ ̴͇̻̹̏͊̍̿͜Ś̸̭͛́h̷̘͎̝͆̕i̵͇͓̦̱̓͆̑̀ǩ̸͇́̾̃̓ͅi̷͓̺̖̖̝̕ (F̴̧͇̩͚̦̓̄̿́̂ơ̶͉̎͊̊̕ŗ̴̯͛t̴̘̗̦̜͊̅̈ ̴̤̞̾̄̾͝K̸̨̲̔̿͂i̶͔̞̫͜͝ż̵̡̢͎͙̰̾̎̈́u̴̥͕͇̝̟͗̾͂̓͋n̵̥̗͌o̶̫͈̳̽̿̎『S̵̲̣͒̐̎̍̀̌̈́͝͝h̸̨̥̖͖͈̼̻̰̯̹͎́̒͋̈́̒͂̌̀̒̐͌͝͝į̷̨̻̹͔̠̤͖͍̈̈̆̈́̈́̈́͂́͘ͅ—) I strain. I strain. My mind, body, and will, all far too meager for such a task. Unable to stand against the alien invader, corrupted Night. Unable to stand against even the benevolent roots that firmly dig into the soil of Me that stands beneath me. This is a desperate measure for a desperate time. Ability doesn’t matter— Necessity takes all precedent. “Ngh—“ I strain. I strain… …And feel the link sever. My Toroshu has realized now what my intent is, has realized what our third wheel wants. The earth is rent free as the roots retract, dusting into the maelstrom. The weeping willow, now like a beacon on the shore, disappears behind the storm, behind my skull. One way or another, she made it out. I’ve done what I can, so all that’s left is to reap the whirlwind. Dragging myself to my knees, I feel crushed by contempt from the Force I am now alone with. For a moment, I stare into a yawning abyss. … And then the link rebounds, smacking me dead in the face. It’s like a cord pulled taut until just before the breaking point, then let go at the last moment. I’ve always figured that was more dangerous. The snapping would release some of the tension outward— here, I get hit with the full brunt, and the blackened world goes white and fuzzy. Imagine sleeping on your leg. That tingling, shapeless numbness that always comes when you restrict too much bloodflow— that is what washes over my mind like tsunami. Tingling, tumbling, end over end. There’s no boundary, shape, or solidity to it. A cloudy mess that can only come when your mind is barely working at all, when it needs to redetermine itself… I may yet still be alone with the Goddess of the Abyss, but I won’t know unless she shows up of her own accord. The first thing I feel again instead of a presence… “—ahkshi!” Grass. Soft, cool grass. I’m on my side. How did I end up here? There’s a hint of salt on my… tongue? Nose? I can’t tell. There’s no time— “Uuuuurgh…” a limb moves towards my mask, cupping the brow in a way i can almost feel on either end of the equation. It’s not really in any appreciable pain, not by my standards, but the sensation is probably worse. i can send a message, but reading them is hard. I can’t feel if i can flex my digits right yet. I can tell them to try, though, and my palm can feel grass. if i pull myself, something drags behind me on two tracks, so my legs are both still here. in a great effort, I crane my head forward, off the ground— Past me, other trainees and garrisoned soldiers are rushing ahead in a whirlwind of motion. I see crystalline axes, polearms. Soulswords of all stripes are sparking to life, bands of deadly aquamarine against the deeper blues of late evening. That’s right. Zataka. Rahkshi. Those aren’t rubies bobbing through the tree line. Not for a long time has there been occasion for bon odori. They’re coming for us. They’re coming for us, and I’m defenseless. On the best day, I’m limited as a military asset of any stripe— But right now, if I stay here, as I am? I am liability. It would be so simple for them to march right up and stab me. That’s going to be a concern on all my fellows mounting the defense here. Distracting. Deadly. I can’t do anything to curtail any of their foci— I need to move. So, grimace on my face, I scrabble away. The movement is affecting my vision, which must not be fully back to me. Each scramble sends the picture swimming, but I can’t sit and wait on it. If my fingers are starting to get feeling back, my eyes will surely steady. Reaching wildly as I claw my way off, I feel my hand close around something sturdy and wooden. From the grip alone, I can tell it’s got a fair weight to it… Bokken. A wooden sword is far from much— I don’t believe I ever heard of anyone, even the mighty Kanabo wielders off the coasts of Kozu, clubbing a Rahkshi to death. I grunt and growl, urging myself on a half-cotton tongue upwards as I plant its tip into the earth. If nothing else, it’s a good cane to get me on my feet.
  12. IC: A̴͕̺͐͝ġ̸̡̖̝͔ë̷̠͎̫̠̈́ṙ̴̖̚u̴̻̅̾̀ ̴͇̻̹̏͊̍̿͜Ś̸̭͛́h̷̘͎̝͆̕i̵͇͓̦̱̓͆̑̀ǩ̸͇́̾̃̓ͅi̷͓̺̖̖̝̕ (F̴̧͇̩͚̦̓̄̿́̂ơ̶͉̎͊̊̕ŗ̴̯͛t̴̘̗̦̜͊̅̈ ̴̤̞̾̄̾͝K̸̨̲̔̿͂i̶͔̞̫͜͝ż̵̡̢͎͙̰̾̎̈́u̴̥͕͇̝̟͗̾͂̓͋n̵̥̗͌o̶̫͈̳̽̿̎『S̵̲̣͒̐̎̍̀̌̈́͝͝h̸̨̥̖͖͈̼̻̰̯̹͎́̒͋̈́̒͂̌̀̒̐͌͝͝į̷̨̻̹͔̠̤͖͍̈̈̆̈́̈́̈́͂́͘ͅk̸̼̮̋͆̊͛͘̕i̵̧̖͍͓͕͇̝̱͖̼̳̤̣̾̌̈͐,̸͓͉̭̗̾̔͒̍̔̍̇̕ ̷̫͈͖̦̹͉̞̲̔͗̌̾̑̋͆́͆ͅḐ̷̤͔̪̞͖̭̜̮͖̩̦̫̪́a̵̡̧̭͕̙̺͖̖̻̖͕͛̂̃͛̑̔͘͝u̵͈͓̖͕͇̱̦̣͚̹̓g̸̳̻͚̙̗͇͑͛̆̌͒̈́̓͋̍̿̓̚h̷̜̞̩̬̣̥̅̋̿͛̈́̉̍̓͝͝t̴̖͉͖͋͂̋̊̈́̇͘e̶̛͇̝͗͛͐͆̎̔̈́̋̈́̂̐̂͠r̸̙͙̗̻̉̅̔̉͒̏̽̿̑̐̿̎̚ ̴̡̣̝̝̦͔̆̊̈́͂̕͝ͅͅͅo̷̧̱̬̩̤̬̞̦̹̟͔͈̱̭͙͇͑͂̿̈́̆̿̕̚f̸͕̥̠̱̺̀͛̾̀̆̽̚ͅ ̷̛̪̮̥̥̳͍̼̤͉̺͚̿̐̆̋͂͆̀̐̐̋̕̕͝S̷͙͓͚̫̘̗̣̯͔͋ä̷̡̝̰̮̤̪̩̺̀̋̽̊̈́͌s̵̤̩̳̗̹̪͓̝͍͑̈́͂̊͘̚͠a̴̧̨̼̱̲͚͍̭̝͖̬͈̲̟͈̞͆̅̃͛̊̇̏͛̚k̷͔͇͉̫̣̝̈́̋́̍̌͝ï̵̼̤̦̤͎̱̤͔̦̌̏̔͒͘̕͜』) ———————————————————————————— ———————————————————————————————————— ————————————————————————————————————KKKKHHHH! My breath... I can't— It's the thunder. Each rumble is like a hammer on the brain in my skull, each flash of lightning within a spike through my nerves. The pressure is enormous. I can't think straight, and each time I try and right the ship, the inky darkness that's choking the sun, choking me, topples me over. It pours from the earth, from the lake, from the sky, from the shade of our willow, enveloping all that has become of who I am— "Kahkh—!" Somewhere to my right, in a ring around me around our willow and lake, I feel an unseasonable heat. The corner of my vision is tinged with red. The pain? Blood from the pressure? It's hard to tell. But... A crackle, audible. It's familiar, too familiar. I know what that sound is. But I know no rain is to come and save us. Fire... That was the source. However. :Kila...n...ya...: No matter where I look, the inky shadows are snuffing the light. All light. As it comes from the blaze, as it comes from our eyes, as it comes from the heart... it's all being choked, same as me. A thick, coiling darkness— like smoke, it's blanketing our surroundings until only a dim glow can pierce the haze. A dull crimson line in the distance, errant and sporadic enough to make the smoke dance. Shadows beneath a cracking flame... I can't see her. I can, through my swimming, disoriented mind, make out the patch of blue within the dark, and try to crawl towards it. But I can't see her form, her face, her reaction. The blanket of black continues to expand, and with it, the pressure. I'd already doubled over from seiza in that instant it hit us, but... :...-ren...shi...: It's no use. The weight of the void pounds me flat, threatening to crush my skull to a pulp if I try and force more motion out of my body. I can almost feel it sinking into the firmament, the Earth that Is Me, as my mental self is pressed into the soil. Thoughts erupt, unbidden, with each smidge of dirt uncovered... y̴̫̝͚̟̦̤̫̎̈́̉̈́̈́ǫ̷̡̺̘̠̗̹̝͈̦̟̤͒́̊͜͜u̶̧̧̢͕̱̤͉̖͇̖͚͚̣̜̪̻͑̑̋̄̈́͝a̵̳̩͔̙̜͇͙͔̘̲̎̉̀͋͑̆͆̂̅̂͌̔̀͑̒̚͘ŕ̸̢̛̬͎̙̮͇̺̝͚͍̰̔̾̍̑̾̾͝e̸̤͒͑̒͌b̸͖̺̣͕̭̗̣̾̐̅͌͝ú̷̧̧̡̝̻̬̳͍̥̣̥̮̥̖̻̑̋̐͐̈́̑̅̾̏͛̌͠ͅţ̵̢͎͓͙̼̣̼̯͍̠̭̥̬̞̰͖́̇̂͛̄́̑̐̉̍̈́̚͝a̸̘̿͊͂̈̀͊̓̓͒̒͘̚͝͝ś̵͈̆͗̄̽ḭ̵̹͎̺̞̟̋̌̔̀͂m̵̨̧̠̼̗̬̺̼̰̹̙͙͎͈̬̟̾̾̌̽̾̍̓ͅp̶̢̱̭̰̮͈̦̳̮̖͍̟̳͚͚͗̾̍̋̉l̸̯͌͒̂͌̊̂̆̎̕e̶̡͕̞͓̟̜̍̅̍̈̉̊t̸͇̝͖̱̻͗̐͗̊͑̓̓̔͒͘͠o̴̧͕͓̫̝̭̥̫̮̤̎̅̚o̶̝̙͈̫̿̈̏͐́̈̎͂͑͂̈́͌͝͠ľ̷̜̗̗͖̪̰̯̼̯̤̪̰̋̇̽̅̈̆͝y̸͚̙̌͂̈́̽́͝͠͝o̶̡̧̖̖͚̤̥̮͂̀͐̂̎͗̋͐̈́̍̄̄̑͋̈͝͝ų̴͕̞̻̮̝̭̀̀͛̀̅͆̎̌n̴̙̹̬͖̞̭̹̓̉̍̈́͗͐͒̀̓̄͒͘͠g̶̣̞̯̈͜ṁ̵̡̛̘̪̬̜̠̠͌̓̍̃͊̅͆̊̂͠ì̵̘͇́̔̑̏̏̔͜͝͝s̷͙͋̒̏̎̈́͛͊̀̽̾̍͂̈́̽̏͛t̶͕̔̀̓̂̃̒͋̈̃̑̍̕ͅą̶̨͖̘͇̥̠̳̯̲̬̳̘͎̥̂̅̒͝k̶̡̫̜̹͚̺̠̣̲̦̙̭̉͛̚ȩ̶̡̜̖͓̟̬̯̣̠̪̖̘͇̈̒̆͗̉̓̒̑́̆̈́͛̍̄́ͅn̸̠͔̘̰͉̣̩͇̝̊ͅa̴̡̠̥̱͇̭͙̠͔̪̗̼̠̜̍͒̓̽̽͗̏̆͑̊̿̈͘̚͝u̸͙̜̓̔͐t̵̡̡͍̺̤̥̆̾͑͌͆̃̾̏̑̇͂͂́͐̚ô̸̪̙̘̞͚͔͝m̶̛̛̤̟̯̩̖̩̯̩̰͖͉̗̳͒̎͂́̑̿̍͒̉̑̂̇̚ͅa̸̛̼̝̯̺̮̪̾̔̑́̚͘̚̚͘͠t̴̢͖̳͓̫̼̜͙͉͓̳̺̻̬̹̻̅̈́̈́̽͛̄̐͌̒̿͒͜͠͝o̴̼͇͐͑̽̀͆̍̋̾̎͐͗̊͝n̴̙͍̗͚̰̪̘͇̙̻̥̄̀͜t̸̙̻̳̬͕̣̲̗̯̪̯̫̥̻̬̗͖̃͒͆̄͗́̇̓̾̓h̸̖̫̮͓̜͚̝̼̤͑͝e̵̡̗̽͛̆̅̈́͒̎̄̈̂̋͋͘ṟ̶̇̓̇́̌̓̈̕e̴̡̪͙̺̗͖͙̘̙̙̖̜̩͗̐͋̓̽̽͜͜i̴̳̬̰͇̤̝̱͕̍̾̀̂͊̈͜ͅs̴̢̱̞̪̰͉͇͙̮̀͝ͅṋ̷̢̛̦͎̩̟̪̫̼̬́̊̍̆͒͘͝͠ǫ̴̙̘̟͕̝̝͋̈́͊̇͜ͅs̸̜̫̼̲̰̄e̷̡̢̧̲̖̗̤̯͍͖̞̜̳͎̿̈͆l̵̡͚̲̫̜͓͑ͅf̸̡̨̢̛̛̪̱̠͙̳̼̼̩̭̄̈́̍̌͒̀͑̈̇̑̆̀̕͝b̷͕̣̜̖̘̽̓̄̈͒̔͒͌̿̔͝ͅę̴̱̪̩̮̅̏͑n̶̢̬̹̝̯͖͇͔̘̱̫̺͕͕̱̰̞̈͒̈́̂́̓̐͑̀̿͘͠ȅ̶̘͜͠͝ą̴̠̟̫̼̟̠̲͍̲̙̱̰͚̠̅̉͊͜ṯ̶̢̢̛̪̳͎̮͕͇̰̰̭̒̽́͌͗̎̎̋͒͆̎̾͗̽͘̕ḩ̶̨͉̱̘̳͖̳͖̲̆̊̉̄ÿ̷̨̞̺̗̣̮̬̲̙̞́͒͑ǫ̴̝̟͕͕̤͈̦̼̬͒̓̇ư̷͈̜̫̻̈͂́͂͊̔͒̈́̈́̓̕̕͠͠ṟ̸̡̯̼͔̇̋͋͆̆̐̌̆̆͛̀̌͐̓̚͠m̴̛͕͙̟̠͓̞̟͓͍̦͎̒̓͒̐̉̒̐̿͑̕̕͝͝͝ͅị̶̢̛̗̣͌̐̈̇̒̿͂͜͝ͅn̸̢̼̠͕̥̠͓̮̬̳̳̺̝̱̦̦͉͑͛̓d̷̘̠̳̰͕̞̗̞̹́̀́̈́̆̓͌͌̽̚͝ But I can't decipher them. I don't think I really want to. That's beside the point anyway— I don't really think. I can't manage that. I'm never going to reach my Toroshu. Not like this. It's only through my link with her that I know. I know what this is. I know... ẃ̷̧̩͖͈̺̞̙͍̟͎̭̥͊̌̓̃̐̈́̿̿́̏̿͘̕͠h̸̡̢̟̭͍̮̹̫̦͎̻̠̞̒̀̊͑͗̈́͠͝͠͝ȍ̶̹̠̣̮̲̫̼̥̻̭͎͉̻͉̐̂̂̊́͋̎̐̓̀̅̕͘͝ this is. It wasn't Her problem whether or not I did, but this is my Mind. All that happens here is something I feel. I felt this arrival. I feel its pressure. I feel its weight— and I feel its power. I feel Kilanya through this link, so carefully forged between her. I can feel her fear, her anger, her worry, but most of all... I can feel her knowledge, terrifying in its surety, flowing through me in a way she would never allow if it hadn't become this. The wind is not hers any longer. It buffets like a storm, carrying the smoke into my face into my nose, into the tight throat and lungs I'm clutching at, trying to get the vicegrip off. It doesn't take. Even this effort is clouding my vision further with red. I can feel my heart hammering, a thousand taiko in procession. The curtain of blood slides over my sight, growing thicker and then receding back into formless black with each pulse. It's like a dye spilled into the ocean, melting within the murky depths. My body knows this feeling. Something terrible is watching me. Something I can't escape, no matter how purely my body comprehends the danger. It's meaningless. The threat is within me. What can I do, against a foe that has breached into my Soul? A languid Kanohi Dragon? No. I am a field mouse, caught in the gaze of a lurking viper. I am prey. I don't want to admit it, but I can't do anything. I'm spellbound. Paralyzed. The pain has eclipsed pain, and melted into numbness. Dye in the ocean. Over and over. I am not a sapling. Kilanya is not a willow. We are leaves in the tempest. :::Ageru.::: At once, my blood turns to ice. The Quenching Dark... She speaks with a voice like a landslide above my head. The flickering of the blaze ends. :::Kilanya.::: The flames have not ceased. Their dull, blood-colored glow is constant now. The mind's eye of my Mind's Eye... I imagine them to be as carvings etched into wood. A capsule of a single moment. The heat they brought has frozen too. All they serve to do now is... lengthen the shadows. A hope I know she can rip away, the moment it stops amusing her. Why here? Why like this? :::It's time we spoke, O Rakumetsu Toroshu.::: My muscles are numb. My mind itself is numb. I can feel a dullness that my inner light, however esoteric and faint, has never had to fight through. And still. "——————" My numb lips name her, and I feel every character. She is the Shadow that brings Final Night when we Die. :::Time you became useful.::: Zataka. And I go alight, realizing against my wishes, against my most desperate prayers, what I'm up against. The pressure, the terror, the immense sense of imminent dread that cakes my every thought and action hasn't receded at all. If anything, it's even stronger now. I had previously believed the worst case scenario was in utterly failing my Toroshu as a student— but now, it very well could be that I get her killed instead of disappointed in me. That I can't allow. That I can't abide. That I can't even acknowledge as possible. Her voice may speak the nom de guerre Kilanya has earned for herself as a taunt, yes, like a schoolyard bully sneering a nickname back in your face— but I know all too well what it really means. Every night, those walls I repair have stood firm against this primordial Dark's sons, and every morning, I see to it that they stand firm the next. I know that my fight can't compare to theirs. To the walls. To Kilanya, a hero in the catacylsm our noble empire has suffered, who takes the fight to those enemy demons. She may mock what they do, what they have done— But it's because of them that the threats are held at bay, long enough for people like me, like Yumiri, like the forewoman, like the diaspora of Chand, Long, and countless other people of Odaiba... Long enough for us to see a tomorrow. Even through the dark and cold nights. Those who stayed and fought to protect, guide, and save those of us who could do nothing but stay and fight... :Ngh.: Pushing out of the numbness and back into pain, I grit my teeth as my fingers close around this concept, written on the grass beneath me. I'm still being choked by the thick smoke, still carrying the weight of an entire dominating presence upon my own. But I know the feeling now. It's not a surprise anymore, so I can fight it. —She didn't earn such an unannounced visit out of unimportance. I know that much. My other arm, without nearly the strength to do so, reaches out and grabs the next patch anyway, dragging me along. Like an inchworm I continue, forcing down an urge to vomit from the terror I'm... Am I even ignoring it? No. I can't. That's why I'm moving. I'm terrified of what will happen if I do, but also terrified of what will happen if I don't. She said she would make use of her. If she waited until now... something here was making Kilanya vulnerable. Malleable. A card had fallen from her hand, to be used against her in this moment as opposed to all others. Something that'd have her dance to the darkness's tune. I'm pretty dumb, I know that— But I don't need to be brilliant to figure out why now is different from any other time since Odaiba erupted. I reach my hand forward— and feel it. Gnarled bark, long swept smooth by wind, rain, and water, extending high into the gloom. My undignified dragging on the stomach has finally taken me to the source. I know, deep down, that it's me. I'm the reason this move was made now, after so many weeks of detachment. I'm a bargaining chip... and a bridge into a mind so carefully guarded. It has to be that, right? If that weren't the case, then this kind of attack would have happened far before I entered the picture. But with such a link between us established, that creeping umbra could step through the partition. And while she was stuck projecting here... Kilanya would be unable to properly defend herself. She had too good a heart. I can feel it. The devil would use me... so she could make use of her. Something hot rises up within me again. The red returns to the corners of my vision. An explosion, pushing out on all sides against the heavy blanket of instinctive terror. I can't help myself, even though I know it's foolhardy. :Do not... make me... a hostage... in my own... head!: If it makes me mad, I have to fight it somehow. Stretching myself to the absolute limit, I press my hands against the bark of the willow and push. I know I'm not the important one in this scenario. That's the whole point. It's my Toroshu the twisted darkness wants, I don't matter. So if she can't get her, I've done more for the fight than any training could ever allow me.
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