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On 4/25/2023 at 2:49 AM, The UltimoScorp said:

IC Yuna Koizumi - Oki village:

 

The not-Menti nearly jumped right out of her skin, and more literally jumped to her feet, panic written all over her mask, "Zuto Nui, don't sneak up on a girl like that!"

The Realization quickly set in that if she hadn't heard Ikyazu approach, she might also have not seen her. Which meant.....

"How.... how long were you watching me?"

OOC: uh oh!

@ARROW404@Keeper of Kraata@Click@Lady Takanuva

IC: Ikyazu and Yoka - Oki Village

Yoka gave a nod toward the surf behind Yuna. "Just long enough to see a Rahkshi armor slide under the waves. Good riddance." She squatted down beside the panting Menti. "I would have helped you drag it," she said flatly.

[And maybe smash it up a bit too,] added Ikyazu, privately.

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IC Yuna Koizumi - Oki Village:

Oh no. Nonononononononono. She'd seen. She knew.

Unnatural

I froze, unable to say or do anything while all manner of horrible thoughts ran through my head. She'd surely tell the others. She'd tell Ahri and Mitsuri and.....

Freak

...and she'd tell Raika. I couldn't even guarantee she couldn't by staying near them because they could all talk through ideaspeak and I simply couldn't. She could be telling the others right now and I'd have no way of knowing.

The jig was up.

Clouds rolled in, and small raindrops began falling.

"I-I.... I didn't- I can-" I stammered and fumbled for something, anything to say. And when nothing came out?

I ran.

The rain began in earnest, a sudden and torrential downpour as I ran away from my problems, from the only friends I had, from myself for the umpteenth time in my life.

Coward

 

Edited by The UltimoScorp
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This was a jam between Click and myself! This was a blast to work on, as always~♡

IC: Oki shoreline

Raika paused at this. They looked into Mitsuri's eyes.

.:I understand,:. They said. Then… 

 

They opened their mind to Mitsuri. Not breaking that almost painful eye contact. 

 

An act of trust. The hardest thing they had ever done. It took all their strength to not collapse into a shaking mess

 

Mitsuri’s own one-eyed gaze wavered, struggling to remain present as Raika stared at her face. She took a breath and squeezed Raika’s hand tighter as she pushed into the Menti’s mind.

 

As promised, the frigid wall that had repelled every attempt to see their thoughts had melted away, and as such Mitsuri was instantly caught up in an even stronger hurricane of anxiety and fear. But she was ready for it this time, quickly finding a way to ride that anxiety as she read the feelings and memories that fueled it.

 

The emotions were like chords of music, or waves of water, or grains of crystal that sang as they passed. The feeling of a constant war with feelings of comfort shattered against her as the sound of the desire to remain hidden, unobserved, safe. A shifting sense of self, a desire for a fluidity of presentation.

 

Fear. That was the loudest note in the chorus. It rang out, its sour taste in every note and shard. Fear of trusting these new people after almost a decade of isolation. Fear of the feelings of closeness. Fear of loss. Fear of a draw to Yuna, to trust the freely given comfort that Mitsuri would immediately recognize as her own.

 

Distrust, this one tied to Ahri. There was a crimson link to that one. It led to something…

 

Suddenly something else. A barrier. Not the cold wall of a mental ward. Something foreign.

 

Mutsuri was inside of Raika's mind. But she was not alone there…

 

A single droplet struck Raika's shoulder. Then another. And another.  Their concentration was lost as they shook rain from their visor. And with that, the links, the grains, the waves, the chords, they all slipped away from Mitsuri’s grasp before she could reach their ends. She fought to push her way back in, but she only met the familiar cold wall of Raika’s mind once more.

 

Mitsuri opened her eye, glaring at Raika with an exasperated but understanding disproval. .:You didn’t let me in.:. she sighed over their link. .:We’ll just have to work on it.:.

 

For a moment, something was readable on what little was visible of Raika's face through their visor. In a tightening of the eyes, a shift of the head. 

 

The comment had stung.

 

.:What are you talking about,:. Raika said, looking briefly back into Mitsuri's gaze before shifting away. .:I let you in. I'm not a trained Menti like you, it's all or nothing. Why would you say something like that. What do you want from me? Really? Was free reign of my mind not enough? What more did you want to see?:. 

 

The hurt had calcified into anger. Raika had bared their soul and was being accused of deception. Had she not liked what she'd seen? Had Mitsuri expected some stronger will than what Raika had to offer? 

 

Mitsuri was taken back by Raika’s sudden fire and genuine hurt. Perhaps it was time for a gentler approach. She tried to smile and shrug it off. .:Raika… you said what was in your head… well, that it would make us want to hurt you. What I saw in there, it was normal, surface level stuff!:.

 

Raika forced themself to take a deep breath. Their whole body was shaking with emotion. Vulnerability. They felt like they were struggling to stay in control. Like they were grasping onto consciousness, somehow. But as the panic began to break they were able to reply.

 

.:N-normal?:. they asked, looking into Mitsuri's eyes briefly once again. .: What you saw in there… that was normal?:.

 

.:Hey, everyone is afraid of getting too close. That’s just trust, you have to accept that you might get hurt. And I promise, I won’t tell Yuna.:. Mitsuri tried to wink and grin, but with half her face covered it didn’t look like much.

 

.:I wasn't controlling what you saw:. they stated. .:I just let you in. I… I never got training in shielding my mind. What I learned I figured out myself.:. A pause, then: .:...I wouldn't have let you see the part about Yuna if I'd…:.

 

As they were speaking, their eyes trailed back to the shore. 

 

Yuna was sprinting off towards the treeline. The rain was denser there, as if she was running into the heart of the storm.

 

Mitsuri’s next question died on her lips as something forced its way through their connection. As if manifesting into reality from darkness itself, she could see the silhouette of something rearing above her, pinning her down. A hideous serpent, clad in scarlet metal armor. Scarlet that shone with the sickly sheen of an oil slick. Its faceplate opening, acidic venom dripping from its maw as raw terror flowed like ice through her veins.

 

Of a blade stabbing upwards. Again and again. And again. Again and again until the thing collapsed, until it could never hurt me again. Until we were safe. Until…

 

As the connection stretched and finally broke, Mitsuri found herself on the ground, tears streaming down her face as she struggled to catch her breath. Her eye darted across the shoreline, looking for the one who had endured that memory. “Raika!”

 

Raika was already sprinting down towards the shoreline. Their lithe body and long steps cut a gold and indigo streak as they launched themself after Yuna. She couldn't be there alone. Those things would get her. They'd… they'd…

 

Raika's pulse was pounding harder than they'd ever felt before as fear of loss gripped them unexpectedly. They cursed that they couldn't call out to her. They couldn't signal. All they could do, as rain soaked their scarf and beaded across their kanohi, was run.

 

OOC: @Keeper of Kraata, @The UltimoScorp, @ARROW404

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Whatever mountain you are climbing, you can do this.

                                       BZPRPG character masterpost

20220406_234727.jpg

                      "Just promise me something... don't let me go."

 

 

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IC: [Sado, Imperial Gardens (Hatchi)]

Hatchi chose a large steamed bun from a cart.  It was mostly onions and gravy, with only a bit of meat, but the cook was well versed in her command of spices.    They took it to where Tama had secured a pair of stones, much to Hatchi’s relief.   They had learned to eat standing up in the stalls of the Imperial capital, but zi wouldn’t turn down a seat in the relative peace of the garden.

The two ate in companionable silence for a few minutes, Tama heartily slurping her broth while Hatchi savored each bite of the savory-sweet mixture wrapped in spongy, filling dough.  Hatchi wondered if Tama had a purpose in staying, or if she, like many of the other Ageru, was here because she was a sword on the side of a people too large to be packed in ships.   As good as Hatchi was at reading intent, Tama seemed tired and hungry first and foremost, and the former caravan leader did not want to push her—seeing how much zi layed bare the last time they met.   Zi opted to start with a gentle question.

“What are your plans after this, Tama?   Do you ride under the banner of the Rakumetsu Toroshu?”

Kilanya’s deeds had reached even the rabble—Hatchi conceded it was a great symbolic gesture, and proof that she was willing to die for her people.   No doubt the Ageru General’s skill was great, but arrows had been a lot more effective.


OOC: @Geardirector

Edited by Mel
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There's a dozen selves inside you, trying to be the one to run the dials

[BZPRPG Profiles]

Hatchi - Talli - Ranok - Lucira - FerellisMorie - Fanai - Akiyo - Yukie - Shuuan - Ilykaed - Pradhai - Ipsudir

And some aren't even on your side.

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  • 2 weeks later...

OOC: i am delighted to have had the chance to work on this with @The UltimoScorp!

 

 

IC: Yuna Koizumi and Raika - Oki forest:

 

Rain pelted my mask, clung to my body and clothes as I ran, as I hoped against hope that no one would follow me. 

 

I should have known better, and hearing footsteps behind me sent my mind and body racing even harder, but it was glancing back and seeing that it was Raika following that made my heart drop into my stomach. They'd want to know why I was running and I'd have to tell them and they'd all crawl in my head and find out just how wrong I was. Tears, hot and angry sprang unbidden to my eyes and I turned my attention back to where I was going-

 

I tripped over a raised root, falling hard into the forest floor. My body, exhausted and running on nothing but adrenaline, refused to get up, to do anything but shake and cry and lay there uselessly. 

 

"Please don't…" I whimpered into the soil as the rain continued to pour down around me.

 

Raika came to a stop, losing their own footing and needing to stabilize themself on a tree branch. Their tiny chest was rising and falling rapidly, their scarf and arm wrappings soaked through with mud and water. 

 

Don't? Don't what? Raika wondered, looking at their friend. 

 

They gritted their teeth under their rain-speckled mask. They had no idea if this was going to work, but they felt this wasn't the time to shove their way into Yuna's mind. The experience clearly already distressed her before, and here she was on the verge of panic.

 

Raika slowly walked over, as one might approach a spooked animal. They squatted onto their haunches, in Yuna's line of sight. With their right hand, they made a pointing gesture followed by facing their hand palm-inward, middle and index fingers extended.

 

Are you okay?

 

Through the haze of mud and tears on the visor of my mask, I saw Raika come into view, saw them kneel down and gesture at me, but I couldn't make out what it was clearly. 

 

I tried to sit up, but my body stubbornly refused. "I-I can't…. I can't, I'm sorry…."

 

Heat flared across Raika's face beneath the mask. Their cheeks and chest burned with shame and frustration. Old memories, old taunts. They came flooding in, clouding things, making tears prick the corners of their eyes.

 

She'd have to know sometime. Right?

 

Raika pounded their fist against their thigh in frustration, until the spot was so tender they couldn't bring themself to again. It didn't do much, but it cleared out enough space in their head.

 

Raising their right hand once again, they pointed to the mouth area of their kanohi's visor. They then lifted their chin slightly, pointing to their throat. They then used their hand to pantomime a mouth moving. Then they made a slashing motion across their throat. 

 

It wasn't really signal sign, but they hoped it conveyed the message well. 

 

Can't speak.

 

They paused for a moment, then put both their fists side-by-side, as though grasping a handful of straws. They then angled their hands apart, as though snapping the imaginary bundle. Broken. They then pointed at themself. They were shaking now, wishing they could just slip away and avoid the comments to come.

 

Blinking away tears, I couldn't help but to give a little laugh. They couldn't speak aloud and I couldn't hear Ideatalk. What a pair we made. "I-I'm…..broken, too." I tried again to get up, and to my surprise I was able to at least get my face out of the mud. It wasn't upright, but it was a start, at least.

 

"I…. I never…." Those tears came back, threatening to overwhelm me if I didn't-

 

"I'm wrong, I don't know what's wrong with me but I'm broken and wrong and I'm scared and I don't know what to do and I'm sorry!" 

 

If the truth had to come out….. maybe it was better it come from me, at least…? 

 

Raika felt like they had been slapped when they heard laughter. Like something was being pulled out from inside of them. They fell backwards into the mud. The next words out of Yuna's mouth did nothing to hhelp their panic. 

 

No, no, they'd called themself broken and now Yuna was saying it too what had they done they had messed up they knew they shouldn't have…

 

Raika began slowly fading into the background, the response all but unconcious. 

 

I'm sorry.

 

That snapped them out of the spiral. What? Why was Yuna apologizing? Had Raika not been the one who had to physically hurt her to communicate at all? Yuna at least wasn't a monster. She was kind, and compassionate, and Raika was… Raika was nothing. They were a burden at best and Yuna shouldn't need to… she… shouldn't feel…

 

Raika scrabbled forward towards Yuna, reached to help pull her up… but paused, their hands shaking violently an inch from her arm. They couldn't bring themself to touch her, were scared that if they did they'd hurt her somehow too.

 

Their hands…. They were so close I could feel the faint heat from them on my skin and something in my ached for them to just…. To just touch me.

 

I screwed my eyes shut and it all came out of me.

 

"I'm a broken Menti who can't do anything, all I can do is this weird water stuff I can't ideatalk or make a soulsword or Willhammer anything or Mindarm anything or make Sighteye illusions all I can do is control water and I don't know why or how and whenever I tell anyone they just…. leave or…or make me leave and I'm scared because I don't want you to leave I don't want to be alone anymore I'm sorry I'm so sorry I lied please just don't leave me alone again….!"

 

Please just hold me!

 

Alone.

 

Raika wanted to wrap their arms around Yuna. But they were terrified. All of this… what they were feeling… it was so much. 

 

They seized Yuna's hand and clutched it to their chest. They held her hand there, close. They felt almost giddy. Short of dragging Ahri from the waves, this… this was the first time they'd touched another person in nearly a decade. And… it was Yuna. Yuna, so kind, so gentle, so surprisingly like them yet so much a better person. 

 

Reaching out to Raika. Not knowing they were not worth her time. 

 

Before Yuna could change her mind, Raika had their arms wrapped around Yuna's own trapped limb. They held her arm like a child clinging to a pillow, tears streaming down their face and chest spasming with hoarse sobs.

 

So surprised by the move I was, that I nearly flinched right out of Raika's grasp. A grasp that was soft and warm and-

 

And they were crying?

 

Why? Why were they clinging to me like they had just poured out their darkest secrets? Why…?

 

Slowly, and with much effort, I pulled myself upright, confusion clear on my mask. 

 

"R-Raika…? Why are…. Why are you crying?"

 

Almost instantly I felt guilty for even asking since they couldn't respond.

 

My free hand shakily stretched forward, wanting to cup their face, but settling on their slight shoulder instead.

 

"L-look I know it's not… ideal b-but you can do that…. That Willhammer thing to talk to me. It's okay."

 

My heart skipped a beat at the thought that they might reach further and find how I felt-

 

No, no I can't…. They would never…. They couldn't possibly….

 

But…. What if….?

 

Raika began to open a connection, but paused. Yuna was hurting now, and they knew how uncomfortable the experience was to her. 

 

Raika sat up, still clutching Yuna's hand in both of theirs. They pointed to Yuna, then to themself. They then grasped Yuna's hand tighter and held it to where their scarf lay across their breastplate. Beneath which their heartlight flashed unsteadily.

 

They paused for a moment. Then, this time with all the delicate care their frayed mind could muster, they slipped their thoughts into Yuna's own.


.:I am crying because I am not good like you, but I think I understand. Never felt like I belonged. Not… not with the males. Not with… I… A-and my voice… n-no way for a Firstborn to act.:. Yuna heard a slightly bitter laugh in her head. What were they saying? Like Mitsuri had said: their problems were normal. Small. How dare they compare them to what Yuna had been through.

I felt their words, although this time it was softer somehow. Less of a pressing and more of an easing into my own thoughts. 

 

The words themselves were far more impactful. Good like me? The males? First… wait wait wait what did that mean, was Raika…. Were they…? 

 

"You're….?" The question died on my lips, a wave of shame washing over me. Whatever Raika had been before I met them was none of my business, and all that really mattered was who they were now. 

 

And who they were now was… well I didn't know, really, but I felt safe around them. 

 

I scooted closer and pulled them into a hug, unsure of what to say but knowing I wanted to comfort Raika in some fashion. 

 

Raika held her close, shaking. .:I… I can't even decide which. I'm… I… y-you…:. They paused, then with a shudder they mustered up their focus to continue the exceeding care this process was taking. 

 

.:I'm… not normal. I'm not skilled like Ahri. Or disciplined like Mitsuri. Or… I… I've just… it's just been me. Alone. For maybe ten years… maybe more…:.

 

A lie, technically. There had been the Lighthouse, but that was different. That was theirs.

 

.:I… you… you're so kind. You always push and try so hard and… you aren't a freak any more than I am. You don't freeze up, you don't panic, you don't distrust everyone around you… or maybe you do. I don't know. I… I don't… I…:.


Their concentration unraveled, and Raika lapsed back into mental silence as they huddled close against Yuna. Their cheeks were burning. Because of the emotion of the moment, but also because this was Yuna and Yuna was holding her close and…

 

The infatuation Raika had been feeling for the last days of travel wove in with the feeling of connection they were feeling now. They didn't know why or how yet. But they knew that they were going to savor every moment of this closeness in case it never came again.

 

"I don't know about not panicking, I did just run off because Yoka saw me do water things, after all…" I shook my head, "Look, I don't know what I am, but I do know that you and Ahri and the others are…. All I have. I don't want to let you go."

 

My words were punctuated by a squeeze. 

 

"And um…. D-don't take this the wrong way but I think I might….like you?"

 

Wow hey look at me go I'm getting everything out in the open here hahahahaha Zataka take me now.

 

Raika's head was swimming. Their cheeks were burning magenta so brightly now they were positive it could be seen through their visor.

 

It's not just me? It's… I'm… she's…

 

If they'd tried to ideatalk to Yuna at that time, it would have been like a hammer against her mind. So instead, Raika just hugged Yuna as tight as her arms could manage, nodding furiously while their heartlight strobed in their chest.

 

They held me tighter, and I swore I felt their mask warm. My heartlight was nearly beating out of my chest, but in a much different way than before. It felt like someone had stuck a swim bladder in my chest and filled it with hot air. Hey I'm a fisherwoman don't get on me about my weird analogies. Point being…

 

They agreed. They…. Felt the same way? About someone like me? Absolutely insane. 

 

But in a time like now, what wasn't insane to believe? Just a few days ago Zataka herself had unleashed horrible monsters across our home and people got in ships to flee across the ocean. Everything was different now, and who was to say that my silly Saihoko feelings couldn't be returned by the Menti I had them for?

 

So I didn't say anything either, just…. Held them. Held this moment. 

 

Raika wanted to stay in this moment forever. They hadn't… they'd never been held like this. Hadn't been this close to another Dasaka in so long, emotionally or physically. But at the same time, something in the back of their mind kept screaming that those serpents are here. We need to go. Get to safety. There will be time enough later. No good waiting here if you and Yuna die.

 

Not wanting to let go, Raika gave an extra-strong squeeze before shifting to face Yuna. Reluctantly removing their hands, they started to sign a message. They quickly thought better of it. 

 

Bringing their hands to their mask, they steepled them together and pressed the heels to their mask. They then opened their fingers into four petals, mimicking the faceplates on the serpents that now wandered the island. They then pointed at Yuna and themself, then back the way they had come.

 

We need to get back. Those serpents might be out here.

 

Right. Speaking of those monsters. 

 

I nodded, slowly and shakily standing. I was still exhausted from…. Well from everything. Even so, I held out a hand to Raika. After wiping the mud off of my face… and then my hands.

 

What, no it's not just an excuse to hold their hand how dare you accuse me of such things!

 

"I should…. Probably explain to the others why I ran off, huh?"

 

Raika shyly took her hand and stood. As they did, they felt suddenly dizzy and nearly blacked out. Staggering a little, they collapsed against Yuna for a moment.

 

I guess three hours wasn't enough sleep after three days.

 

Straightening themself as best they could, Raika shakily grabbed their remaining dagger and held it at their side. They looked up to Yuna (they always looked up to her, she could do so many things. Not just combat, but practical too. She was so amazing  and she was here holding Raika's hand. She was holding their hand. Would she keep holding it? Would… would this be the norm now?)...

 

Tears of mixed emotion and exhaustion stung the corners of their eyes as they shakily pointed forward with the amber crystal blade. The message was clear enough: Onward!

 

They pressed against me again for a moment as they stood, and that warm tightness in my chest came back. The rain had stopped, too. A genuine grin slipped into my face, and the two of us, this strange, exhausted pair, began making our way back out of the forest. Together.

 

And I didn't let go of their hand the whole way.

Edited by Lady Takanuva
BZP ate part of the post
  • Like 4

Whatever mountain you are climbing, you can do this.

                                       BZPRPG character masterpost

20220406_234727.jpg

                      "Just promise me something... don't let me go."

 

 

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IC: Ahri - Oki Coastline

Making his way back to the refugee camp, Ahri had gathered a bundle of wider, taller bamboo and hefted it on his shoulder. When he entered the camp, many of the inhabitants stared at him in confusion, bemusement, curiosity, or worse, with nothing in their eyes. The despair had already taken them.

"The village down the coast is safe," Ahri started, resting the bundle on his shoulder. "We found a fishing boat large enough for most of us, but it needs repairs. I see among you Dashi, Ringti, Saihoko. If we're going to get off this island, to Sado, to safety, then we all need to do our part. We need your help; you all have worked this land, have sculpted its bounty, have set off from its beaches, and we need you to do that again, at least one more time."

Some of the refugees stood; not enough. Others were looking desperately around and at the jungle around them.

Ahri shifted his weight; he probably hadn't needed to gather the bamboo yet, but he had wanted his appeal to come off as a fellow servant, rather than a command from a superior. "We need everyone; if people can't work, they can keep watch. If they can't walk, they can count; if they're not awake, then they need to be moved to the village. Everyone has a duty. Let's go."

Spotting a hatchet lying against a makeshift tent, Ahri telekinetically called it to his grasp before turning and walking back. Behind him, the camp was active; everyone was either getting tools or preparing to move the wounded. He led his work team, close to a dozen Dashi, back into the jungle a short time later, after several Ringti and Saihoko had gotten them estimates of what materials they would need. While they might be able to fit everyone onto the ship if the need was dire, it would be close to sinking and absolutely packed; instead, the former fishing ship could serve as the main ship, with a series of rafts and smaller boats trailing behind and carrying any supplies and extra room in case of an emergency. Several smaller trees and a lot of bamboo was necessary, including more fiber to weave lots of rope; tents could be disassembled to fix the sail. Fortunately, in addition to several hatchets, there had been a crystal-toothed fiber saw for felling larger trees.

The work was coming along, with Dashi felling bamboo and lumber and dragging it by skiff back to the village to be cut by teams of Saihoko and Ringti. Several patrolled the work area, keeping counts of who was where. When Ahri heard a bout of cursing, he immediately abandoned the smaller tree he had been working on and rushed to the source, his scavenged wakizashi drawn. "What's wrong?"

The source, one of the stronger Dashi, stood back up off the ground, rubbing her shoulder. "The saw snapped while we were almost halfway through this big one; perfect size and age, but it'll take us most of the rest of the day to get through this with hatchets."

Ahri nodded, understanding the frustration. He knelt to the cut line, running his hand along it. The Dashi continued: "A tree like this, and we'd usually get a friendly soulsword to speed us up. But you're Mindarm only, right? Not to say that it hasn't been useful," the Dashi laborer said, standing back awkwardly.

Squinting in focus, Ahri concentrated on where the tree met his fingers, his thumb on the edge of the cut. A friendly soulsword. Was I just a Mindarm? He exhaled, focusing his will through his body. He imagined a blade; nothing. An axe, nothing. A whip? Still nothing. That would have been useful right now. He pictured the smallest ember he could in the crack where the saw had been pulled out; a small wisp of smoke rose from the bark, but he felt no heat on his hand. He stood, removing his hand from the tree, and a stationary spark, glowing red like the tiniest bit of coal, glowed in the trunk of the tree.

"Apparently I'm more useful than I thought." Ahri pulled his hatchet to his hand and chopped at the spark; the crystal of the small axes head struck the spark and it exploded, sending a wider, longer cut into the tree trunk. He glanced back at the Dashi, who at this point were mostly watching him. He pointed at a few that had been working on felling this tree, tossing the nearest his hatchet. "I'll place the soulsword embers, you all strike them; we'll fell this in no time."

Ahri and the Dashi fell into a rythym, Ahri placing sparks of soulsword and the Dashi striking them, driving directional cuts into the trunk. After several minutes, Ahri held up his hand. The tree's trunk groaned and cracked as it started to fall; Dashi scattered, but the lone Menti planted himself in a solid stance and focused his Mindarm, slowing the tree's descent until it touched the ground. They couldn't risk making more noise than they already were. While the tree settled, there was a moment of silence among the workers as everyone watched the forest, watching for some sign of something watching them. When nothing happened, work resumed; branches were hacked off and Ahri helped lift the timber onto a skiff, and helped pull it, along with the other lumber and bamboo the workers had collected, towards the village.

OOC: @Lady Takanuva @Click @The UltimoScorp @ARROW404

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The times, they are a-changing...

 

 

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IC Yuna Koizumi - Oki village

As Raika and I emerged from the forest, I was expecting several things.

I expected the others to be full of questions, I expected to have to do a lot of uncomfortable explaining right away, I expected a couple of accusations, even.

What I did not expect was to find the refugees all working on repairing the ship, felling trees, and building boats. I glanced at Raika nervously. Explaining to Ahri and the others was one thing, but I definitely wasn't prepared to explain my mystical voodoo water powers to an entire camp of refugees.

Heck, I was barely prepared for explaining it to anyone.

@Click @Lady Takanuva @ARROW404 @Keeper of Kraata

Edited by The UltimoScorp
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OoC: Apologies again for the long wait. I'm in the middle of moving, and still struggling a bit with motivation to RP

IC: Yoka and Ikyazu

Yoka watched Yuna get up and bolt with a look of confusion on her face. She looked at the spot where the Rahkshi had vanished under the water, then back at the receding form of her compatriot, wondering what had been so unusual about the Rahkshi as to provoke such a reaction. Probably something traumatic, given her reaction. Not wanting to possibly make her reaction worse, she got up slowly and started after her at a leisurely pace, a moment before Raika zipped past her.

"Ikyazu," she said quietly, "Mind going to keep an eye on them?"

[Why?] her partner asked impassively.

Yoka frowned and rolled her eyes, then activated her mask, drifting out of their shared body. [Fine, take the body and I'll look.]

Ikyazu's ghostly form shrugged and took over their body, apparently deciding to to follow at the same easy pace Yoka had been. The latter fluttered on invisibly ahead at a quicker pace.

When she arrived, Raika had clearly caught up to Yuna, and the two were just staring at each other. Ideatalking, she imagined. She stayed there a moment, watching, until finally one of them spoke up.

"I don't know about not panicking, I did just run off because Yoka saw me do water things, after all…" she shook her head, "Look, I don't know what I am, but I do know that you and Ahri and the others are…. All I have. I don't want to let you go."

 

Water... things? She thought back to the sight of the Rahkshi dipping beneath the waves. She had really not noticed anything unusual about it at the time. The Rahkshi had gotten pulled in rather powerfully, but she could have attributed that to Mindarm... Had she done something with the-

 

"And um…. D-don't take this the wrong way but I think I might….like you?"

 

If it were possible for a ghost to blush, she would have. Turning about, she zipped back toward Ikyazu and stopped her. [Everything is fine!] she said, putting on her best poker face after what she had accidentally overheard.

 

Whether Ikyazu believed her, or just didn't particularly care, she gave a little shrug, and returned to help with the boat until the two returned.

 

[They're back,] Yoka eventually observed, and Ikyazu put down the hammer she had been working with to approach them.

 

"Everything okay?" She glanced pointedly at their held hands, then back up at them.

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IC: Mitsuri - Oki Village

Mitsuri tasted blood. As she tried to push herself up, a flare of pain worse than any she had felt before struck her face, and she collapsed again gasping for air. No... she had felt this before, but... couldn't quite... remember.

She opened her eyes. Well, tried to, at any rate. Her right eye refused to cooperate, almost as if sealed shut. Her left eye saw something stranger still. She... wasn't home, she was... lying at the base of a tree. She could hear the sounds of waves crashing and industrious workers, but the foliage obscured them from her vision. Her hands felt sore and gritty; from the look of the ground at her feet, she had dragged herself there feverishly.

As she stared blankly at the patterns her escape had created in the sand and foliage, threatening to slip back into whatever nothingness had consumed her for... who knew how long really, there was a soft chitter from the tree above her. Mitsuri's eye snapped upward, catching a flash of scarlet that shone with the sickly sheen of an oil slick. Its faceplate opening, acidic venom dripping from its maw as raw terror flowed like ice through her veins. She screamed, uselessly raising her arms above her head as the thing unfurled enormous wings and plunged toward her...

It perched by her side, gently nuzzling her shoulder with a crystalline beak. Shinku had sensed her partner's distress and was there, as she always was. Mitsuri blinked away frightened tears and tried to steady her breathing as she gently pet Shinku's familiar, feathery head. Relief broke over her, and Mitsuri descended into choked sobs, curling up tight on the forest floor.

It... it may have just been a nightmare, but the memories that inspired it... they were not.

 

OOC: @ARROW404 @Keeper of Kraata @Lady Takanuva @The UltimoScorp

Edited by Click
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IC: Raika

 

Raika barely remembered making it back to camp. Their world was one of red haze and muffled voices. Bones aching, they dragged themself beneath some chaparral scrub and were immediately, finally, unconscious.

 

They had anticipated horrid, lucid nightmares like the last couple days. But instead, they found their nostrils filling with the salt tang of sea air. Looking around, they realized they were in a room with walls of polished glass. Turning around, they saw a large ridged lens rotating in a pool of silver around what appeared to be a truly massive lightstone.

 

They blinked, and looked out the curved window again. The scene was off, like a bad memory, but the coast was familiar enough.

 

It was the Lighthouse.

 

The trapdoor down was exactly where they had remembered it, the staircase glowed with a light slightly more purple than the lightstones had cast in reality. As they descended, the smell of cooked fish and boiling spiced seaweed broth met their nose. Their stomach growled loudly as they slipped out the bottom of the stairwell. They triggered their Volitak and slipped beneath perception so that the old lighthouse keeper wouldn't see them-

 

A woman, one who had never been at the lighthouse in real life, stood at the stove. Her willowy figure was covered by a traveling jacket dripping with dew. As Raika stared, they heard a voice enter their mind.

.:Come on out, little ghost. You're not fooling anyone.:.

 

Raika started at the voice. As the figure turned, their suspicions were suddenly confirmed. The figure wore indigo and gold armor over a curvy frame. Their chest was large enough, Raika noted with mixed emotions, to well fill out the breastplate she wore. The Volitak, separated from the armor by a thick, tattered red scarf, was just as polished as the one Raika themself wore. The eyes beneath glowed intensely as she set down two bowls of hot pot on the table.

 

Raika dropped the cloak. It was silly to try and hide from the Wraith, after all.

 

They ate their soup in silence. Raika lamented that they could smell the soup far more acutely than taste it here. They looked across the table at the woman opposite.

 

Voices in your head. The writings Raika had learned their talents from had warned about the potential side effects of dissociation. It was a crucial part of making oneself unknowable. You had to shift the very concept of yourself into a different plane of comprehension. But to make it work, a …bit of yourself… had to stay behind. An anchor.

Sometimes that part might start to feel like a whole separate person. You just had to ignore the voices.

 

But…

 

Take any sentient being. Place them alone, perhaps more alone than anybody had ever been. Able to see, but never interact.

 

A ghost.

 

You take any companionship you get in a time like that.

 

Raika broke the silence. .:This is new.:.

 

The Wraith looked up. .:Perhaps. We did have quite the shock the other day.:.

 

Raika stared at the mushroom and hotroot floating amongst the green seaweed in their broth. .:The barrier that Mitsuri mentioned…:.

 

.:...was me, yes.:. The Wraith shifted in their seat to look more directly at Raika. It was like being pinned to their chair. .:I think we'll need to discuss… boundaries… if you're letting others in now.:.

 

There was a longer pause. 

.:So what happens now?:. Raika asked.

 

.:A good question.:. The Wraith stood, and walked over. .:You've lost the will to defend yourself. I… haven't. And the thing with these new friends? Unless you want to lose them, you'll need to be able to fight for them when the time comes.:.

 

Raika felt their heart racing. .:I… I can't. Not after-:.

 

.:You slew a monster breaking women's minds to make them her toys. Yes, one of them was blamed, but by all accounts she got the equivalent of a slap on the wrist and was told to not let the sun set on her there. She's probably better off now, even.:.

 

Raika felt tears flowing in tiny rivers down their cheeks. 

 

The Wraith paused. She looked uncertain, but hesitantly reached a hand out and caressed the side of Raika's kanohi.

 

.:If it's too much… you don't have to do it alone. I can take over for a while.:.

 

Raika shook their head violently. The Wraith almost snatchhed her hand back, looking… hurt? Guilt flooded Raika. .:N-n-no. I… I just… they're my friends. I can't…:.

 

The Wraith relaxed. .:You can't abandon them.:.

 

Raika looked up, tears beaded on the inside of their kanohi. They reached out a cloth-wrapped hand.

 

.:Together?:.

 

The tall warrior's eyes softened. They reached out their own bare arm.

 

.:Together.:.

 

Sunlight cut through the leaves of the shrub Raika was beneath. Shaking their head, they slowly rose to their feet. Every part of their body was stiff, but the horrible deathlike ache had gone from them. It had to have been more than twelve hours.

 

The ship was a hive of activity. Dashi and Datsue alike worked tirelessly helping to construct a fleet of seaworthy vessels.

 

Raika's eyes gleamed behind their mask. The memories of the lighthouse had warmed old memories long buried.

 

Boat repair. A night when Ryuji had been so achingly exhausted he had left his little skiff half-finished while he slept. Come morning, it had been fully repaired, tarred and caulked. He had smiled and thanked the ghost he believed haunted his home. From behind the corner of the keeper's hut, a fifteen-year old Raika had beamed with hidden pride at their work.

 

 

At the Oki coastline, many attributed the things they felt or saw to heat and exhaustion. A ringti who needed to pause for breath looked up to see the pitch filling she had been laboring over had been melted in and screed smooth as glass. Boards were cut, rope caulk shoved deep, barnacles scraped off and holes filled with wooden plugs. Those collapsing from exhaustion felt as if there was somebody holding them up, but could not place the face.

 

One figure, his green eyes matching a faint glow beneath the shoulders of his robe, thought for a moment he had seen a pair of magenta eyes looking straight at him. He remembered an old legend his grandmother had once told him. Spirits who wandered unseen across the mountains her ancestors had called home.

 

"Raika," he breathed, and the eyes had suddenly never been. He shook his head, unsure where the thought had come from.

 

OOC: Timeskip time! Take us as far as you need @Keeper of Kraata, @The UltimoScorp, @ARROW404, @Click

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                                       BZPRPG character masterpost

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                      "Just promise me something... don't let me go."

 

 

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IC Yuna Koizumi - Oki Village:

Sleep didn't come easily for me that night, and it sure didn't come easy every night since. Exhaustedly I explained that something I thought I'd done had scared me, which wasn't untrue, and that after some rest I'd explain for fully.

I barely got any rest. My brain obsessed over every little detail of what I would say and how and why and how the others would react, who would jump to throw me out and who would argue for my presence.

Ultimately I just awoke groggy and none too well rested, but having to face the day all the same. That morning I gathered Ahri and Mitsuri and Yoka and Raika and I told them everything I could.

I told them that I'd woken up on a beach here in the archipelago with no memories of how I'd gotten there, where I was or even my own name. I told them how I'd wandered the wilderness and nearly died before I stumbled across a tiny clan's home. How they'd taken me in and nursed me back to health and had even given me a name and a home. A family. I told them about my discovery of my own strange powers over water, and how that elated discovery had quickly been cut down by the horrors of fire and death. I told them how I'd buried the only family that had existed for me, had left that burned home behind with nothing but the sword I carried and memories. I told them how I'd wandered ever since, learning never to stay anywhere for too long, lest my strangeness be discovered. I told them how despite appearing a Menti in stature, I was just a oddity. A strange Saikoko with stranger abilities.

After that I threw my self into the work. Repairing ships was easy, it was familiar, it was..... not enough to keep my mind occupied. I thought about what would happen when we finally got the ships in working order. I thought about what would happen when we reached the capital. I thought about what I'd say to.... I dunno, whatever high and mighties still were hanging around up there. I thought a lot about Raika, too. Or tried to. Every so often it was like they'd just.... Slip out of my mind entirely, like I'd never known them. And then I'd catch a glimpse of them or they'd come over to me and it all came flooding back. It might have been normal if it had just been once but it kept happening. Heck, I'm pretty sure I looked away from patching a hole and when I looked back, it was gone, seamless. And later I noticed Raika glancing at me more than usual. I don't know if that's connected but I was starting to think I was losing it. I planned to work up the courage to ask Mitsuri to make sure my head was on straight once we set off.

Which.... Looked like it was going to be today.

 

Zuto Nui help me.

@Keeper of Kraata@Lady Takanuva@Click@ARROW404

Edited by The UltimoScorp
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IC: Ahri - Oki Village

Halfway through the night, Ahri had taken a break; the use of Mindarm to haul and chop lumber, along with pushing his burgeoning Soulsword abilities, were exhausting. When he awoke, he was sore but refreshed; the good type of sore that came with remembered physicality, like stretching after a long time bound. He walked around the beached ship; the rudder had been repaired and the hole had been patched. Several newly-made ropes stretched out from the fishing vessel to smaller canoes and makeshift rafts; many of the refugees were either resting or moving their few belongings onto the ship.

Ahri found Yuna; he hadn't seen much of her since she started working on the boat, since most of his work had been in the jungle. She looked different somehow. She still had the air of skittishness about her, but she seemed happier somehow, content. He considered asking why, but decided against it. "Yuna, there you are. I think we're almost ready to set off. You know these waters better than most of us, and if anything goes wrong with the boat, we're going to be relying on you."

He withdrew the wakizashi Raika had found for him; where was she? A matter for later. Using the short sword still sheathed, Ahri drew a rough map of Oki, Iki, and Sado, planting the sheathe where the village they stood in lay. "Do you think we should head north or south?" Ahri traced a route along the islands as he spoke. "If we head over the north horn of Iki, it's a shorter trip, but after the strait between Oki and Iki," Ahri pointed to the distant stretch of sea, "I think we hit deep ocean for a bit."

He turned, pointing to the south strait. "Alternatively, we head south and stick to waters deep enough for the boat, curving around the small island south of Sado until we reach Sado's south port. The journey be through shallower coastal waters, but would take about half again as long... almost all of it within sight of anyone."

OOC: @The UltimoScorp @Lady Takanuva @Click @ARROW404

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IC: Mitsuri - Oki Village

It was a fitful night of sleep for Mitsuri. Surely there were more comfortable lodgings than coarse sand and itchy vegetation back in the village, but there were also people there, far too many people, far more than the little clan she had only just started to trust anyway. Those few were more like the animals she had cared for all her life; all broken in their own ways, needing her care... and a useful distraction, especially now. Just as caught up in their own survival and oblivious to her deeper feelings, but unlike those animals, she could not vent her emotions to them without consequence. So she would remain silent and distant. Just the ruined Vilda, a ghost on the fringe.

She awoke early the next morning, taking a moment to peer at the incredible progress that had been wrought by the villagers overnight. It was only then that it started to sink in: they were leaving, and she might never see their home again.

She left before the suns were quite risen, slipping back into the jungle she knew so well, quickly finding the path she had walked countless times. The journey back went much quicker than yesterday; she could feel strength returning to her after weeks of stagnation. And then... she found herself in front of a ruin, and the strength left her. She could not move another step closer. She knew every inch of that ruin, inside and out, and she knew what she would find there, and she wasn't ready to see it again.

OOC: @Keeper of Kraata @The UltimoScorp @ARROW404 @Lady Takanuva

Edited by Click
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IC Yuna Koizumi - Oki Village

I took a look at the crudely drawn map thoughtfully.

"Hmmm, I can navigate either way well enough, open ocean might be a little rough on the smaller boats but not half as rough as those monsters will be if we're spotted from shore. North is probably the safer bet."

It still kind of threw me for a loop that a fully trained male Menti was asking my advice but I suppose that was just another one of those crazy realities right now.

I pointed to a spot along Ahri's chosen northern route. "There's a mean ocean current here, wouldn't be a problem if it was just the fishing trawler but the smaller boats might get caught in it. Nothing dangerous, but it will sweep em out further. I.... I can try and counter it but I'm not exactly an expert with the whole..."

I waggled my fingers at the water

"Y'know."

@Keeper of Kraata@Click@Lady Takanuva@ARROW404

 

 

Edited by The UltimoScorp
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IC: Raika

Mitsuri slipped away, almost unnoticed.

Raika's strength, both physical and mental, had been returning over the course of that day. They were nowhere near as strong as Ahri. Or even Yuna, for all her years of hauling massive nets and sawing at ship's timbers. But the lithe, muaka-like certainty had re-entered their movements.

So when they saw Mitsuri disappear into the treeline, they imperceptibly followed. Not out of nosiness, but rather a sense of duty. Unless you want to lose them, you'll need to be able to fight for them when the time comes. 

 

If something happened to Mitsuri, Raika would be there to make sure she did not face it alone.

Raika found the area familiar. When they saw the hut that Mitsuri had stopped before, they thought they understood. Perhaps she had left something there. Something important-

Then they saw her freeze, and something in the motion cut through to their heart.

They unconsciously grasped at the pocket hidden in their scarf. At the shard of kanohi within. Suddenly, a part of them was back in the mountain village, searching in vain for the closest friend they had ever known. The strongest light in their life.

Shifting back into perception, out of respect, they stepped forward until they were side-by-side with Mitsuri.

.:What can I do…:. they asked softly, looking at what they were increasingly convinced was a tomb before them.

ooc: @Click, @Keeper of Kraata, @ARROW404, @The UltimoScorp

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                      "Just promise me something... don't let me go."

 

 

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IC: Mitsuri - Oki Village

Despite everything that had happened here, Mitsuri was just too numb to be surprised at the sudden appearance of Raika. She just continued staring at the ruined hut without really looking at it. .:There is nothing to be done. This isn't something you can just fix. So why are you here?:.

OOC: @Lady Takanuva

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IC: Raika

The comment hit like a blade to the heartlight.

why are you here

Raika fought back a shiver as shame welled within them. Just everyday problems, they told themself.


They couldn't bring themself to look at Mitsuri. Instead, they reached into their scarf. They found the pocket sewn inside of it  and carefully, delicately, removed something.

It was a shard of gray metal, barely a palm's width in length. Its edges had been blunted by years of sitting in fabric, but nonetheless it seemed something odd to carry so close to one's neck.


Collapsing over the kakama's bloodied shards, sobbing into the dirt that there wasn't even a body to bury. Had they carried her away? She was just an adolescent, what did they do to her… 

It was a solid minute before they spoke.
.:...bring something with you. That way they're never far. You can let the place go… after a while.:.

Liar.

.:...and…:. They paused longer this time, cheeks flushed magenta with shame.

.:...and I'm here because you went off alone and we're… I'm… I'm not…:. 

They were shaking. Trying not to cry. Everyday problems. Just everyday. Look how strong Mitsuri is being. Why can't that be me?

.:...I won't let them get you.:..

Raika's hands tightened on the grips of their daggers. It was the only way to stop the shaking.

They still couldn't meet her eyes.

OOC: @Click

Edited by Lady Takanuva
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Whatever mountain you are climbing, you can do this.

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                      "Just promise me something... don't let me go."

 

 

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IC: Mitsuri - Oki Village Outskirts

As the minute of silence dragged on, it began to set in how harsh she sounded. Her good eye flicked over to Raika to see her holding just a simple shard of protosteel.

.:...bring something with you. That way they're never far. You can let the place go… after a while.:.

The wheels turned for just a moment. Then she winced, feeling guilt like a punch to the gut. .:You've... lost someone too, haven't you?:. 

Mitsuri didn't even realize she was crying until she felt the bitter sting of the tears running into her still-healing wounds. She wished she could brush them away, hide them behind the mask that did so little to cover her broken face.

OOC: @Lady Takanuva

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IC- Raika

The tiny menti looked at Mitsuri, slightly surprised.
:Yes. I thought you saw that.:

They looked down  at the piece of protodermis in their hand. :Like you said then: just everyday stuff, right? We've got to… move on…:

 

Liar.

They had to be strong. Or as strong as they could manage. Mitsuri was hurting, the most they could do was not add to it.

You could give her a hug. Even a hand on the shoulder!

Raika almost started shaking. Touching… contact… they still were not used to it. Yuna was… big on it. But were they? And would Mitsuri respond any other way than batting them back with her stave?

They stood,wondering what they should do. Hiding their emotions, as always, behind mirrored crystal.

OOC: @Click

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Whatever mountain you are climbing, you can do this.

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                      "Just promise me something... don't let me go."

 

 

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IC: Mitsuri - Oki Village Outskirts

"Raika, no." Mitsuri quickly turned and held the smaller Menti by their shoulders, bending down to their eye level. They tried to look Raika sternly in the eyes before a lash of pain made her flinch and look away. Mitsuri stretched her sore jaw and tried again over their mental link.

.:Raika, I would never say such a thing about this. When I was in your mind, I saw... only the last few days, maybe. I saw your thoughts on the others, your fear of trusting us, your feelings for Yuna... but when I pushed further, I hit a wall. You said you opened up everything to me, but this... this was like I ran into your wall all over again. Like you have another mind inside yours that is not as easy to crack. I've never seen anything like it, and I didn't exactly have any time to ask you about it before.:.

She was losing control of her emotions the longer she went on, and feelings of pain and unfocused frustration began to leak over their connection. Mitsuri's head drooped as she tried to take a breath and steady herself again, snatching up all those leaking emotions and pulling them back deep inside her. Raika didn't need that right now.

.:I... don't know what you've been through...:. she sighed tiredly, .:but I'd like to, if you'd let me.:. 

OOC: @Lady Takanuva

Edited by Click
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IC: Raika

At Mitsuri's words, Raika visibly stiffened.

Their hands, half-unconsciously, crept back toward their blades. They had no idea how things would proceed, and did not wish to be caught off guard.

:I see.: they said, shakiness in their words despite their best efforts.  :And… how would you react if that was the case?:

OOC: @Click

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Whatever mountain you are climbing, you can do this.

                                       BZPRPG character masterpost

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                      "Just promise me something... don't let me go."

 

 

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IC: Mitsuri - Oki Village Outskirts

.:If... what was...?:. Mitsuri's exhausted mind was struggling to keep up with Raika, and she didn't even notice them going for their blades. .:Another... mind inside?:. She put a hand to her head. .:Whatever it is, it's fine. It's fine. I just... need a minute.:.

OOC: @Lady Takanuva

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IC: Raika

They nodded. :Take all the time you need. I'll watch your back.:

There was a pause as they turned to step away. To give her some space.

:I… don't know what you were to each other. But… if you want to trust me… then you don't have to suffer this alone.:

With that, Raika faded from perception. Mitsuri would know she was not alone, but the exact reason would escape her grasp unless she thought hard about it.

It was the best Raika could do. Abandoning her in the midst of danger was unthinkable. They… wouldn't lose another.

OOC: @Click

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Whatever mountain you are climbing, you can do this.

                                       BZPRPG character masterpost

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                      "Just promise me something... don't let me go."

 

 

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IC: Sydelia - Sado Restaurant

Sydelia sipped her sake. "I would, since you have me at a disadvantage." The voice was close and from behind the stranger; he wasn't the only one who could speak privately. Her mask had twinged when he had reminded Sydelia of her birth clan. In reality, she tersely picked at her salad.

"You've piqued my interest. Not a Fursic, though not many of us are left. I have the most respect I've ever had; what you hope to tell me to gain my trust must be something."

OOC: @EmperorWhenua

 

IC: Ahri - Oki Village

The Menti smiled. "Don't forget I'm also a mindarm; I'm confident we can work together." Ahri stood, taking a breath; the smell of the sea and the forest was... familiar somehow. He spotted something to the east, squinting to block the rising sun; there was a column of smoke in the distance. He frowned as he glanced back at the map, mentally making measurements. It was beyond the peak of Mount Koshiki, to the north, so it wasn't Sado, thank Zuto Nui. Not south enough to be Kozu, but...

A cold feeling gripped Ahri's gut. He clenched and unclenched his fist as he stared at the distant column of smoke. Somehow, deep down, he knew.

Hanaloi was burning.

OOC: @The UltimoScorp @ARROW404

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The times, they are a-changing...

 

 

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IC: Mitsuri - Oki Village

Finding herself alone, tired, but with an odd sense of security she hadn't felt in this forest since the attack, Mitsuri knelt at what was once the doorstep she shared with... her, and just let the emotions she'd been holding back run their course. They were unfathomably large, an entire universe worth of agony, and her body a tiny conduit to it, a hairline fracture in a massive dam that could only express so much. But still they forced their way through her in the form of stinging tears and whimpering wails as the morning light became golden.

When at last the emotions became bearable again, Mitsuri found herself curled up in the dirt, shuddering, hollow, and tear soaked. After a while longer, she picked herself up and brushed herself off, scoffing bitterly at what little remained of her Vilda pride. It was a few minutes more before she realized she wasn't going back to the beach. She couldn't bring herself to leave now, as if she were tethered to the remains of her former life, to the remains of... her as well. There was this nagging thought that she should bring something with her, but it seemed easier somehow to just let dead things lie. Besides, she had the most precious gifts she had ever received from Heiya, the mask that had preserved her life and would remind her of her love in every reflection, and her tonfas... somewhere. Never let it be said Heiya gave impractical gifts.

Come to think of it, she hadn't seen her blades since one of the others took them yesterday. Yoka, was it? Well, she better have taken care of them, or there would be Karz to pay. And that was the thought that finally urged her to snap that tether and leave everything behind her without looking back. 

OOC: @Lady Takanuva

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IC: Mashtet Ahri - Oki Village

"I don't know." He didn't know at all. If the Mashtet were still there, defending against an onslaught, or if they were already dead. They might have set the blaze themselves to cover a retreat. His head throbbed and arm hurt as he remembered what he did of the secret tunnels beneath the Mashtet estate; the blood and choking heat. "I don't think so. Not anymore."

Ahri exhaled a shuddering sigh, focusing his mind. "If there's any Mashtet left, they'll have regrouped at Sado. So our goal still remains the same; we need to go. Sooner rather than later. I'll let the others know." He glanced once more at Yuna, not meeting her eyes. When they reached Sado, they could figure this out.

.:Mitsuri, Raika, Yoka, the boats are ready as they're going to be, and Yuna has a route for us. I'll have the refugees start packing up and boarding, but we should hurry.:.

OOC: @The UltimoScorp @Lady Takanuva @Click @ARROW404

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The times, they are a-changing...

 

 

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IC- Raika

Raika's figure faded into perception alongside Mitsuri as they walked into camp. In response to Ahri's summons, they turned to look at him…

…and saw the smoke.

Their whole body started shaking. The smell of burnt wood and… other things burning… flared in their memory.

Calm down. It's not here. Those ******s on Hanaloi are probably feeling toasty, though.

Raika felt even sicker.

How can you say that? There's people there, everyday people. Not just royals and high-ups. There's always collateral.

… fine. You have a point.

There was silence for a moment, then Ahri's probably got people there, huh?

Yes. Almost definitely..

…******.

You think he's going to drag us all along there?

I don't know, ghost. Probably not, from what we've seen. But we've been wrong before.

Don't remind me.

Raika took a deep breath. They focused on the sound of waves and smell of seaspray. They centered themself as best they could.

In public ideatalk, they spoke: :Understood.: They turned to the milling refugees. They looked for those who needed the most help, and helped them climb aboard the most completed rafts.

ooc: @Keeper of Kraata, @The UltimoScorp, @ARROW404, @Click

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Whatever mountain you are climbing, you can do this.

                                       BZPRPG character masterpost

20220406_234727.jpg

                      "Just promise me something... don't let me go."

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

IC Yuna Koizumi - Oki Village > Fishing Trawler:

I nodded to Ahri, and noticed Mitsuri walking up as well. I blinked, and Raika was there, too. Had they been there all along?

I shook my head, I had a fleet of refugees to worry about right now, I could figure out my mental weirdness later, once we were underway. Speaking of that fleet, I hurried onto the ship. Our ship, now I supposed. The Waikiru, according to the name across her bow. A Hacchoro style ship, a personal favorite of mine. Eight oars, three sails, and enough space to carry a few dozen people if you really crammed 'em on there.

What? I work with boats and fish I'm allowed to have favorites.

Tied to the aft end of her was a collection of smaller boats, mostly Tosa Wasen and little reed boats like my own.

I took a deep breath in and blew it out before turning and stepping up onto the side.

"Alright, folks, this is it! I need able hands to help with rigging and rowing on the ship! Once that's filled, we'll get the rest of you loaded onto the space we have!"

@Keeper of Kraata@Click@Lady Takanuva@ARROW404

 

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IC: Mitsuri - Oki Village

On hearing Ahri's summons, Mitsuri picked up the pace, jogging back the short distance to the village proper. It felt good to be able to move again, a welcome distraction from the turmoil still running through her head. It had taken everything she had to walk away from that place, and she could still feel the paradoxical draw to return there forever, to bury herself in the dirt, but also the repulsion and fear of everything that had happened there, happy memories shattered into painful crystals at a Serpent's touch. She shook her head and focused on the path, on her breathing, on the feel of her muscles stretching and contracting as they worked with her mechanical components to push her onward.

It seemed she cut her little excursion pretty close, the others were already loading the villagers onto the boats. But for all the people brought into the village, it was no louder than it had been the day before when it was just the five of them. Everyone moved in eerie silence, a tension in the air as they waited for the Serpents to break through the treeline and attack again.

She turned to Raika beside her... and froze, any words dying on her lips. Raika... had not been there a moment ago. But as the Menti faded in beside her, it suddenly clicked that they had followed her all the way through the forest, their footsteps dismissed as just an echo until right at that moment. Before then... Mitsuri wracked her brain to try to think of any other signs of Raika's passing, and came up empty. Last she could remember for sure, Raika had wandered off, promising to watch her back... but of course, she didn't recall that until right at that moment.

Had they watched as she grieved, convinced she was alone?

The experience was unsettling to say the least. But by the time Mitsuri put together enough to question Raika about it, they were gone, wandering off to help the villagers board. After a moment, Mitsuri followed along while lost in thought, finding an open seat on the larger boat.

 

OOC: @Lady Takanuva @Keeper of Kraata @ARROW404 @The UltimoScorp

Edited by Click
Edited for clearer understanding of Raika's abilities
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  • 2 weeks later...
On 7/17/2023 at 3:06 PM, Keeper of Kraata said:

IC: Sydelia - Sado Restaurant

"I would, since you have me at a disadvantage. You've piqued my interest. Not a Fursic, though not many of us are left. I have the most respect I've ever had; what you hope to tell me to gain my trust must be something."

IC Inokio | Sado, izakaya

Interest was good. Interest meant he had a chance to get her help and he'd be morose if this went sideways. He wiped his chin with a cloth, then set his hands on his lap to fidget with the tassels of his obi as the distraction had become a necessary outlet for his anxiety. Sydelia would only be the third person to learn he was not killed in action, let alone still on Sado—the only other two being the late sergeant of the guard and Umbraline Rayuke. 

::Thank you for your consent.

::I am Inokio, formerly of Clan Korae, branded Battlemaster and dismissed Minister of State... and I was in the employ of the Fursic Diplomatic Corps. Those credentials are how I know about the hidden Umbraline botanical caches, but also why I know of you, and that Clan Mashtet still exists.::

He poured another cup from his carafe of sake. ::Soooo. Have I lost you, or do I still have your interest?::

Edited by EmperorWhenua
tyop
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IC: Sydelia - Sado, Izakaya

The adopted Fursic tried very hard to not choke on her sake; her illusory self spasmed and flickered out of existence. She took a moment to compose herself, filling up her cup again as she resumed her Mindeye projection of herself. "Well, that certainly explains why a man with such excellent taste is wearing a ronin's robes," her illusion said, leaning into the conversation.

Why was a disgraced battlemaster, formerly suspected of murdering the previous Rora t(wice-previous, actually, now that she thought about it) paying attention to her? Obviously, if this was his way of telling her, he was deep in hiding. He must need something from her, specifically. But what?

The real Sydelia sank further into a slouch as the illusion leaned back in her chair. "So, Korae Inokio, if you still go by that, you still have my interest. What can I do for you?

OOC:  @EmperorWhenua

The times, they are a-changing...

 

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

 

IC Inokio | Sado, izakaya

::Just Inokio,:: he corrected. He'd lost the right to call himself a Korae when the rora stripped him of honour and privilege. 

::I wish for an audience with the Mashtet and speak of the future—I cannot say more. But I will need assistance in both getting smuggled out of Sado to Hanaloi and unraveling the mystery of the 'lost clan's disappearance. And if you help me, I can promise you riches of plant and herb regardless of my own success.:: 

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  • 4 weeks later...

IC: Sydelia - Sado, Izakaya

A ripple flickered through Sydelia's illusion, as if something had dropped in a reflection. Her mask warped into an ugly smile. "You want... them. The Fursic name may be worth less than dirt right now, but I still use it because people recognize it; the Mashtet crawled up their own ass and disappeared years ago. I can count the survivors on one hand. Mind you, not even my own hand, I mean one that belonged to an idiot who thought she could grab a soul blade."

She planted an elbow on the table, resting her head in her hand. He was just another person using her for her old family. "Last I heard, the last Mashtet Menti and Datsue set off with a Plangori expedition, trying to find wood for the war effort." The illusion shuddered; Sydelia almost said my mother, but the fortunate thing about speaking through an illusion was she had a chance to examine her words before 'speaking' them. "My cousin probably thinks she can claim the old castle, but she's woefully stubborn. The Datsue is a Carver, and might be able to get some supplies to continue her craft, maybe pass it on. Ironic that the Fursic aren't here to capitalize on that."

She poured herself more sake.  "When they get back, I can have you meet them; Mashtet Askha doesn't much care for me, but I'm sure if I vouch for you, Somei will, and if she vouches for you, Askha will tell you anything they found."

It wasn't much, but a small voice told her that the healers needed those herbs. She noted both the fact that he was holding them as bargaining material, and that they were being used to set up a simple meeting.

OOC: @EmperorWhenua

Edited by Keeper of Kraata
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The times, they are a-changing...

 

 

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On 3/8/2023 at 10:35 PM, Nato G said:

IC: Vazaria – Hanaloi

Deep down, though, there was a small, selfish part of her hoped there would be survivors. She wanted the empire to hear whispers of what had happened here, of the night that Zataka's sickly star had streaked across the skies of Hanaloi, slashing its forests asunder with fiery light.

OOC: Apologies for not following this up sooner, I got sidetracked with other things and forgot.

 

IC: Vazaria – Hanaloi

As was so often the case, Vazaria hadn’t thought this through.

She’d thought about the path she would take across the island, the order in which she’d light the fires to ensure she wouldn’t be caught up or cut off by her own flames. She’d thought about what she would do if anyone tried to stop her, or if she spotted survivors fleeing through the forest. And she’d thought long and hard about the devastation she would cause, imagined the plume of smoke so vast and dark it would be seen all across the archipelago when dawn broke.

Now that she’d finished lighting up the last two locations Caana had suggested, Vazaria realised what she hadn’t thought about was the trip back.

Even circling wide to fly over the ocean and follow the shoreline of the island, she couldn’t escape the chaos she’d caused. The harsh glow of firelight was near-blinding in the darkness of the night, limiting how far she could see. The roaring inferno had completely transformed the landscape, utterly erasing what few landmarks she’d learned to recognise in his brief time on the island. The very air shimmered with the haze of heat as smoke and cinders swirled around her, making her eyes sting and her throat burn.

When she thought she’d travelled far enough she veered away from the seaside and cut back across the sizzling treetops in what she hoped was the direction of the fortress. Sweat clung to her like a second skin as the sweltering heat rose and roiled around her. She bobbed haphazardly up and down as she flew, fighting a losing battle against her growing fatigue and faltering focus.

She blinked blearily against the blinding brightness below, coughing on smoke as she searched desperately for familiar shapes amidst the devastation. Shapes shifted and swirled in the flames, mesmerising but meaningless. She should have found the fortress by now, surely? Had she gone too far? Drifted in the wrong direction?

Her leg snagged a sizzling branch as she coasted too low for a moment, and a cry equal parts pain and surprise wrung itself from her as she flew upwards again. She couldn’t keep this up much longer. Maybe she’d be better off turning back and taking her chances in the ocean? Or perhaps-

Fiery light suddenly gave way to blank blackness so swiftly she thought she’d mistakenly closed her eyes mid-flight. She slowed down and circled, rubbing at her eyes and blinking rapidly until her vision adjusted enough for her to recognise the familiar shapes and textures of the fortress below. Breathing a sigh of relief she flew lower over the courtyard, deactivating her mask and dropping down into the well, reactivating it for a moment as she neared the bottom to slow her descent to a safe speed.

She splashed down into the water, not caring in the moment how old and grimy it likely was, caring only for the refreshing chill of the liquid against her skin. It was only the squirming of the kraata on her shoulders – none too appreciative of being suddenly submerged – that stirred her to clamber up out of the water and make her way into the tunnel. The others were likely already down here somewhere, or soon would be.

Come daybreak, the servants of Zataka would be the only beings left living on Hanaloi.

@a goose @Keeper of Kraata @Mel

Edited by Nato G
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Embers - a new Bionicle Epic - Coming 2024 

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  • 1 month later...

IC: Ahri - Oki Village, Wakiru

The last of the Dashi were being loaded; several stragglers, bringing wounded. Those that couldn't move were put in the main boat. Soon, all the Dashi had been loaded, either on the main boat or the rafts. There were a few Saihoko, enough to put one on each raft and a few on the main boat; they weren't sailors by trade, but all of them knew enough about boats to be able to help around. High tide was coming in; Yuna pulled from further in the surf by pulling with the water, while the other Dasaka and several of the refugees from the rafts pushed the fishing boat back onto the water. Loaded down it was an even harder task, even if it was now empty of water. As Ahri pushed against the fishing boat with his back, he spotted a last Dashi at the edge of the woods; he had seen her blue noble Komau several times around the camp and helping in the forest. Apparently, she never talked.

"We still have room, come on!" His hands busy, Ahri cocked his head towards the boat. She ran to them, helping to push the vessel. Ahri heard affirmative cries from the deck as the boat shifted, and the pressure from the sand eased as the Wakiru eased onto open water. The other Dasaka and Dashi pushing onto the boat scrambled back to their rafts or onto the deck, with the old fishing boat groaning. Yuna and Ahri stayed in the water for this part; together, they used their Mindarm to reverse the vessel so its jury-rigged rudder wasn't damaged in the shallow water. As the Wakiru began drifting out to sea, the Saihoko on its deck unfurled its patched sail, and the trawler began moving north. Ahri ran to the side of the boat and started clambering up. A hand helped him crawl over the railing - the Komau-wearing Dashi, the last of the little ones to board. He took her hand, and was surprised when she was sturdy enough to pull him onto the boat. Then again, the Dashi had strength that belied their small size; after all, it was they who worked the fields and felled the trees.

His body was tired with exertion, but still tense. They had taken a huge step, and soon they'd be back in Sado. But Ahri didn't know for certain if that meant safety. And before any of that, they had the journey, which was no small thing. The sun's reflection glittered in the sea as the motley procession of boats sailed north towards the horn of Iki. Ahri settled down on at the front of the boat, watching the horizon. Even with the rising sun, the smoke from Hanaloi was still visible. Before, he had held some faint hope that Hanaloi wasn't burning, but it was from part of Mount Koshiki, but the further north they sailed, the view made it very clear that his adopted island home was the source. He didn't speak of it, instead trying his best to keep a lookout.

OOC: @Lady Takanuva @Click @The UltimoScorp

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The times, they are a-changing...

 

 

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