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BZPRPG - Kentoku Archipelago


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OOC: This was originally going to include a more detailed telling of Kilanya’s response to the Rahkshi invasion, including wrapping up some long-awaited character stuff, but it was getting far too long and self-indulgent so I will post that as a flashback at a later date.

IC (Ageru Kilanya)

It was difficult to find anything that had not changed in the Kentoku Archipelago since the assault of the Rahkshi. Buildings lay in ruins, even within the once-thought-impregnable Imperial Palace itself. Fields of crops on Odaiba were now smouldering wastes of ash and soot. Proud Menti warriors, once bearing the finery of status and rank, lay buried in unmarked graves.

That which was not destroyed had been remade in the crucible of this unprecedented war, transformed to something that resembled the original, but was indelibly changed. Some bore new names: the Dasaka Empire had become the Dasaka Republic, the council chamber had become the War Room, Toroshu Arsix of the Dastana had become Rora Arsix.

Toroshu Kilanya of the Ageru was still Toroshu Kilanya, and yet you would be hard pressed to find a living Dasaka in Kentoku who had changed quite as much as she had. Gone was the elegant stateswoman who had attended the Rora’s parties, who had pondered the balance of right and responsibility in the luxury of peacetime. As a crystalsmith must chip and carve away at their work, stripping away the unneeded crystal splinter by splinter until only the keen-edged blade remains, Toroshu Kilanya had been stripped down to a warrior. 

Her armour, once pristine and polished, bore the wear and scars of repeated battle (as did the skin underneath). No longer was it the elegant ceremonial set that had been her uniform of office: it had become practical, asymmetrical where it had been supplemented with scavenged pieces, and rough where it had been repaired without ceremony or filigree. Her face was grim, her back bent with exhaustion. Her hands lay together on the table as though still gripping her Soulsword. The most striking change of all was the deep scar that ran beneath a matching gash in her Kanohi Haunoru, starting in the middle of her left cheek and running up, through the eye socket, to terminate in her forehead. No gilded eyepatch for the warrior Toroshu: only a simple band of Ageru-green cloth was tied around her head to conceal the missing eye.

For Toroshu Kilanya had not fled the Kentoku Archipelago as her Rora had commanded, despite evacuating as many of her people as she had ships for (barely a third). Nor, in the days that followed the exodus, had she heeded the pleas of her advisors to command the Menti of Clan Ageru from the relative safety of Sado. With the Ageru bearing the brunt of the assault on Odaiba, Kilanya had devoted herself to ensuring the line was held and her people defended, whatever the risk to her own person. The Rahkshi were fearless and relentless enemies, and to combat them, she’d had to become so as well. She knew her troops needed leadership; to allow morale to falter would be to invite disaster. So she stood amongst them every day she was able to, directing them personally when the Rahkshi raids came and fighting alongside them when the defensive lines broke.

The sky-blue brilliance of her Soulsword and Haunoru-shield was the rallying beacon of the Ageru Menti. She had personally slain numerous Rahkshi, including two in the same battle that cost her an eye, when she’d become separated from her personal guard and been forced to fight the pair of monsters single-handed. Plates of the armour covering their curved backs had been cut away and hammered into a pair of sode that now adorned the Toroshu’s shoulders, curved gunmetal rectangles that looked oddly old-fashioned, harking back to the days when warriors wore broad leather plates for protection rather than the compact crystal of the modern era. Such a presence was she on the battlefield that there were now awed whispers among the troops of the Rakumetsu Toroshu: the Rahkslayer Toroshu.

Kilanya was aware of the epithet, but it was cold comfort. It could not soothe her aching muscles, nor ease her wearied mind. It could not balance out the cost of this war. With every attack she lost more of her clan, her people. The death rate had slowed as they’d come to know their enemy, to learn their multitudinous powers and understand their tactics, but the creatures were simply too strong and too numerous for there not to be a steady stream of casualties as the conflict continued.

The Ageru’s main settlement of Mahuika was lost; the home of her ancestors since Gestheru herself lay in ruin. It was simply too close to Koshiki; Kilanya had had no choice but to fall back to the old but defensible Fort Kizuno, near the western coastline and the bridges to Sado. Ageru Dashi farmed as best they could in the limited foothold the Dasaka currently maintained on Odaiba, and Ageru Menti held the line. The other remaining clans had bolstered their ranks, of course, but they were still stretched to breaking point.

So, in a voice made hoarse by shouting orders and battle-cries, Kilanya said what she had been saying since Arsix had first established her war council:

“I need more Menti.”

There was a silence among the council at Kilanya’s words. The Ageru Toroshu’s personal action in the war effort — to the point of recklessness, some argued — was something of an elephant in the room. Her single eye was fixed not on Arsix, but on the projected image of her island home.

“And so, while I am glad to hear this promise of reinforcements on Odaiba,” she continued, “I must ask exactly how soon, and how much of her forces the Rora is able to commit.”

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Odaiba, Almost There 

sometime previous

It was the third day, and Hatchi drifted back and forth between sleeping and waking.   Zi knew that zi should sleep, after three days was when your mind started breaking, and nightmares preyed upon fractured minds.

 

Let me tell you a story now--this is not a story of great heroes or ancient gods.   This is a simple story of an old man and his mukau.

 

The sun was just passed its zenith when they reached the bridge.

Except there was no bridge.

A long time ago in a village much like our own, there was a very old amuka and his favored mukau.  This was an old bull who had fathered many fine calves, but he was past his prime, and the old amuka valued companionship more than he did some tough, old meat.

But these were hard times to be old, for the village was stricken with a time of no rain, for weeks upon weeks.  Yet they persisted, for they still had the river, until the river itself dried up.

The young people were needed, so the old amuka set off with his mukau, up the mountain, to the spring at the river's source.  First, the path lead to a narrow canyon.    “Would that I did not have my horns, so I could fit through the canyon,” said the Mukau.


What had been the sparkling, wide bridge to Sado was now fractured and sunk, and waves pounded against jagged outcroppings of rock and crystal.

Hatchi held back despair, held back tears.   They would do no good, zi had to find another way, zi had to--

 

“Do not regret this, said the old amuka.   For we are both old, you and I, and we cannot change what we are.   We will go around the canyon.”

And so they did.


Next they came to a great gorge cut in the land.    “Would that I had long legs,” said the mukau, “for then I could jump this gorge.”

 

Then Hatchi felt the strange sensation of motion--motion unprompted by zir.  Maki’s hooves hit the outcropping with a jolt, and she neighed fiercely.   The rahi’s muscles flowed under zir as she descended into the water and began swimming for another outcropping, this one much too far to jump.   Behind them, another Soko’s hooves hit the outcropping.

 

“Do not blame yourself, said the old amuka, for we are both old, you and I, and we cannot change we are.   We will go down and up the gorge.”

And so they did.


It was by no means easy--but it was out of zir hands, and zi allowed zirself to cry then, because Maki was only a rahi.  But what a magnificent and wise rahi she was.

Finally, they came to the source of the river, which had been stopped up by a large rockfall, and together they pushed, for the mukau was not swift or agile but he was very strong.   Then they both drank from the water gratefully.

“Would that my back was not so broad,” said the mukau. “For then I could carry you home.”

“There is no need for such talk,” said the old amuka, “for you and I are both very old, and we cannot change.  Besides, your broad back is excellent to rest against.   We will rest here together.”

And so they did.

 

The Menti warrior grabbed Maki’s reins just before the last foal made landfall on Sado.  Her voice wavered in pitch as she nearly yelled at Hatchi.

“What...what is this?   How did you escape the rakshi--is this some sort of trick?”


Hatchi found zir throat dry--the vocal cords once quick to respond with a placation or a formality now rusted from days of speaking to no one but rahi and stars, and raw from crying.  Zi could only focus on the band of green on the Menti’s arm.  Ageru...that was good.


“Tell…tell Kilanya to keep the soko safe.”

And then exhaustion came for zir, like a great smothering blanket, and zi slipped into blessed, warm darkness.


They found the bodies of the old amuka and his mukau, that day when the waters of the river came again flowing.   They mourned, but not more than necessary, for they were both very old, after all.  And they made a cairn in that place where they rested together.   For a time, things returned to the way they were.

Yet, that spring, when the mukau’s calved, they were like no calves anyone had ever seen, for they had no horns, and long legs, and narrow backs that could easily carry even children.   And the people honored that old amuka, and named these new rahi soko, for that was what he called the old mukau.

And the old still cannot change who they are, but they can still wish for a different way, and they can pass those wishes to the young.

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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IC Yuna Koizumi - Oki coast

"Not much further. I'll warn you, it's not exactly the most glamorous of accomodations, really a collection of tents and an abandoned homestead in the forest."

She spared a glance at the two passengers.

"Mostly the old, the stubborn, and the uninformed there. Pretty much everyone else got off the archipelago when the Empress gave the word. Some folks have talked about using the homestead to make a ship but that was shot down pretty fast."

She directed the boat to a dock that looked about ready to fall into the sea, with a path that led up into the forest.

With a practiced ease, she looped a bit of rope around the dock posts, securing her tiny vessel to it. She knelt, secured her sword to her side, then grabbed her collection of fish and stepped onto the dock.

@TL01 NUVA

@Keeper of Kraata

Edited by The UltimoScorp

 

                                                                                                                                                       

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On 9/1/2021 at 5:45 PM, Mel said:

“Those staves,” she said, gesturing to one of the Dastana guards.  “Have you found any way to repurpose them?  They are fine weapons by themselves, but we could use other forms of metal equipment.” Typical of the crafter-family Toroshu to bring it up, but Morie did not care.

On 9/1/2021 at 9:55 PM, Toa Fanixe said:

"Any word from the refugee fleet? I've actually had an idea about possible communication with our people on Mata-Nui" Relisai spoke up to the others in the war room.

On 9/3/2021 at 5:02 PM, Ghosthands said:

“I need more Menti.”

There was a silence among the council at Kilanya’s words. The Ageru Toroshu’s personal action in the war effort — to the point of recklessness, some argued — was something of an elephant in the room. Her single eye was fixed not on Arsix, but on the projected image of her island home.

“And so, while I am glad to hear this promise of reinforcements on Odaiba,” she continued, “I must ask exactly how soon, and how much of her forces the Rora is able to commit.”

On 9/2/2021 at 9:59 AM, Constructelf said:

IC: Ayako - Sado, War Room

IC: Dastana Arsix, Crowned Rora of the Dastana Republic - The War Room

Arsix caught Morie's look from across the table as Relisai spoke up. The Plangori Toroshu had always been a woman that Arsix held some modicum of respect for during the Before days, even if she knew the pair agreed on little. Morie cared about advancing the position of her family, like any good Toroshu did. And even if they didn't always get along, Arsix at least could understand that. The truth was, at this current time, Relisai now held some control over resources the Republic sorely needed. Arsix may not have great trust in her, but there was no changing that, and nobody could say she hadn't put her own life on the line since the fighting began. Arsix would have preferred one of her daughters here, certainly, but there was no changing the facts that Relisai was here, and they were not. For the time being, she would keep Relisai on a short leash, and if she were to step out of line, would quickly receive some undesired attention from the Rora's personal forces.

"First, on the weapons," Arsix began, nodding to Morie, "These staves exhibit power of their own. Some have been marked for research, but I believe most will be made useful being turned on their own allies." Arsix motioned to a guard to step forwards, who promptly handed her the weapon. She held it up, examining it with cool blue eyes, watching the twin edges glint in the light. "We will supply a good deal of this cache to those involved in Odiaba's campaign." Arsix deftly twirled the staff with her wrist, and placed it back in the guard's hand. "Your own researchers are welcome to examine these themselves."

"And there is no word from the fleet." Arsix turned to Toroshu Relisai. "We'll hear your idea, Relisai."

The Rora then turned her attention to the Ageru Toroshu, Kilanya. "Much of my forces are still returning to Sado, but I'm willing to put my own Menti forward to Odaiba again within three days." Arsix began. The less she could commit to, the better, as far as the Dastana family's position was concerned. However, it was a simple fact that all the Dasakan peoples needed Odaiba, and any funny business could easily result in all Dasaka's demise. This was an area Arsix was not interested in playing games with. "How many do you believe you'll need, Toroshu?"

Edited by Palm

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IC: Raika, Yuna's boat

 

The wanderer bit their lip anxiously.

Botched mental surgery from a Willhammer. Some kind of overriding command pounding into the Menti's head. Had it compelled him to throw himself into the sea?

 

Raika felt goose pimples rise on their organic components. If their experience with the Mahstet was typical of that clan's dealings, then the order to break this man's mind may have been given by the same one who had ordered Raika to cross that unspeakable line. 

 

The tiny Menti flinched. They couldn't imagine the tide of mental poison that Ahri's brain was striving to fend off. Their aborted Willhammer training, even including what scraps they'd picked up or figured out over the years, was nothing close to what their… their friend needed. 

 

Raika's cheeks flushed indigo as they thought this. No, they finally had someone who considered them worth their time. Perhaps even the makings of a proper friend. Nobody was going to take their friend from them so soon. They'd promised to have his back, and they wouldn't let him down.

 

They shook their head slightly. No, they were being stupid. They'd only just met Ahri. Raika barely knew the first thing about him. Friendship, proper friendship, was built on trust and time. Besides, what the Menti needed right now wasn't a confidant it was a medic.

 

Once more fighting back their fear of physical contact, they positioned themselves beneath Ahri's shoulder and lifted until they had taken part of the Menti's weight on their own shoulders.

 

Turning to Yuna, a surprisingly determined expression partially visible from behind their mask, Raika reached out as gently as they could with their Willhammer-reinforced ideatalk.

 

.:Yuna, I feel you worry we expect both too much and too little of you. Please know that you offered us all that you feasibly could, and you'll not find me ungrateful once I am in a position to repay you. You probably saved both our lives, for a time at least.:.

.:For now… is there somewhere we can get Ahri to rest for a bit? He may not be up to listening but he'll get himself killed if one of these flashes hits him in battle. I have to find someone who can help him.:.

 

[OOC: @The UltimoScorp
 @Keeper of Kraata]

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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:

"To add to our commitment regarding the monsters' staves," Jasik interjected, circling from one of his twin sister's shoulders to the other, "we've been performing tests on their armor. When repelling attacks on Iki, my Soulswords and I took the opportunity to test their armor for ourselves. A focused Soulsword, projected by any Soulsword here, is more than capable of cutting through their armor, but it seems repellent to most forms of energy or attack otherwise." He leaned over the real-time Sighteye map, patting the space beside one of the Menti's hands in thought. As he stared down at Odaiba, a scar peeked from the edge of his collar, proof that he too had learned the merits of the Rahkshi's defenses up close. 

"Doubtless the Toroshu Kilanya could tell you the same thing," he added with a knowing wink. "What's more, they don't seem to retain the same power as the staves. We've been accumulating a stockpile from Iki, but what tests we've performed indicate it will be hard to reshape." He looked up at Relisai again, then back to Morie; it was on the Plangori Toroshu where his gaze lingered. "If you'd like to put your own clan to work on it, Toroshu, we can see to that."

He quieted to let his sister continue.

-Tyler

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SAY IT ONE MORE TIME 

TELL ME WHAT IS ON YOUR MIND

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[Sado, War Room (Morie)]
“I’m afraid that’s not our area of expertise,” Morie said coolly.   There was clearly a surprising...competence to the first son that had not been evident before.   It did not make her trust him more, whatever their similar feelings on Relisai.

“I am sure the Kinzoku’s assessment is more than accurate.   I will continue to assist with the sighteye and willhamer training, but inform me of any further developments.”

It was frustrating, how little art mattered in the fields of battle, but frustration would not change anything.   She had been right to send most of her clan to Mata Nui, where their work could lift the spirits of a people displaced.  “Myself, I have found the creatures detest works of beauty, and will waste time attacking the illusion of it.  Often, however, they seem to under influence of a higher intelligence, a kind of mass willhammer.”

“I’m sure most people here are aware, but would like to reiterate how much I do not recommend any direct wilhammering of the things without prior training, or the ‘infected rahi’ the Vilda have been informing us of.  I’ve seen more than one menti fall dead on the spot with the fear of Zataka in her eyes.”

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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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IC: Ahri - Oki Survivor's Camp

The apparent Mashtet shakily stepped onto the dock, leaning on Raika. "The... Empress called an evacuation?" A hundred questions burned in Ahri's mind. Emphasis on burned. "I think I need to rest again. Culture shock, memory loss, and news of an apocalypse don't go over well on raw shellfish."

Ahri nodded in appreciation to a few Dashi and Saihoku huddled under one of the tents who made room for him as Raika laid him out. "I just need to meditate for a bit." As he curled up, he decided to skip the meditation and head straight into the nap.

OOC: @The UltimoScorp @TL01 NUVA

IC: Somei, Sydelia - Sado Gardens

It almost broke her heart, seeing the Gardens like this. Not full of people; oh no, if she ever had a snobbish bone in her body, living practically on the run with Askha and Maripi had broken it and ground it into dust; no, it the sight of the dead and dying that affected Somei so. The Mashtet Datsue shuddered as she passed a tarp covering what she could only presume were bodies... or parts. Actually, she herself had preferred to work on Mashtet carvings that had been worn by use. She must make time to see Rayuke at some point, she still owed him a once-over on his own carving.

Scanning the various Ideatalk conversations was a sobering affair, but Somei did it regardless. If she was here, Somei would find her. Several minutes of soul-crushing eavesdropping later, her efforts paid off: someone telling some returning Menti to take their wounded sister to healer who had finished with her current patient. Somei steeled herself, gripping her mashtet token as a means of reassurance.

"What did this?"

The Menti stammered, still obviously shaken from the attack which had left her comrade with a crushed leg. "One of the bugs... it ambushed us, came out of the wall-"

Sydelia made a zipping motion over the Menti's mouth. "I didn't ask that," she stated slowly, quietly, and with forced patience. "I asked what did this," she said, pointing at the Menti's crushed leg. It had been pulverized, as if crushed under a great boulder.

The Menti's mask changed color with nausea. "It... it just stepped on her..."

The healer clapped her hands together. "Perfect! That's what I wanted to know!" She turned to the wounded Menti on her table. The weight didn't match up; Sydelia had studied one of the corpses the Dastana had brought back, and even if it had focused its entire body weight and stomped, it wouldn't leave this level of damage. Perhaps it was carrying something, or it had made itself heavier somehow or enhanced its strength like a Pakari. The leg was going to have to come off, obviously.

"So, do you need... anything else...?" Sydelia didn't turn her head to acknowledge the Menti, only waving her away, before she thought of something.

"Wait! Are you a soulsword?"

The Menti stopped as she turned away. Sydelia saw Plangori clan colors. Sydelia still wore her Fursic sarong, but it had been so stained that she doubted anybody recognized it. Nodding, the Plangori turned back around. The healer leaned over the wounded Menti, grasping her face. She had been able to mentally drown out the whimpering; she was still conscious. "Okay, I have bad news and good news. The bad news is that I can't heal your leg, too much damage." The Menti whimpered.

"The good news is that I can heal a soulsword cut." The wounded Menti's eyes shot open, and she began to struggle.

Sydelia shushed the panicking Menti. "Shhhhh, it's okay. The other good news is that you can keep your knee." Sydelia concentrated, recalling when she had taken powerful painkillers and muscle relaxants from the infirmary years before all this. She concentrated on that numbness, that good sensation, and extended it to the Menti. Her struggling died down and ceased, and she only released a pained sigh. She sounded so tired. Maybe that was some of Sydelia's current situation leaking in. Still keeping up her Sighteye illusion on the Menti, she looked at the crushed leg, and positioned her hand just above where she judged the damage could be healed.

She inhaled, readying herself. "Right below my hand, cut. Make it fast, but it has to cauterize." The Plangori manifested her soulsword, a machete (thank Zuto Nui, not one of those stupid blunt ones), whispered something (probably asking Zuto Nui for forgiveness), and made the cut. The wounded Menti moaned and turned, like she was having a nightmare. Sydelia then activated her mask, focusing on the new wound. The wound stabilized, rapidly healing. Weeks worth of recovery passed in seconds. Her mask deactivated on its own when no more could be done. She also let her Sighteye illusion fade. Sydelia gasped in exertion as she stood up; the one-legged Menti's stretcher was moved away by others. She needed a break after that one. Fursic Sydelia stumbled outside the tent to a bench which, somehow, hadn't been repurposed as a bed. She didn't notice the Datsue sit next to her until she spoke.

"Hello Sydelia."

The Menti's head lolled to one side. Mashtet Somei sat beside her. Great. Perfect. Exactly what she wanted. He let her head loll back. "Hey Mom."

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The times, they are a-changing...

 

 

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IC Yuna Koizumi - Oki

I blinked at the unexpected sincerity, momentarily confused.

Oh.

"I was joking about the accomodations, only a really hoighty toighty sort would expect stellar conditions at a time like this..."

"As for helping your friend here... Well outside of physical healing we ain't got much I'm afraid. You might be the only Willhammer-trained Menti for a dozen kio."

I shrugged apologetically.
 

 

                                                                                                                                                       

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IC: Raika

 

Them, the only trained Willhammer? Raika almost chuckled darkly in ideatalk. Oh, they were in a bad situation. What little Willhammer ability they had wasn't fitted to this task. It'd be like trying to perform heart surgery with a spoon.

 

.:I see. Thank you, Yuna. You are very kind.:.

 

Raika half-turned to their companion as they laid them gently out. As he closed his eyes to rest, and as Raika stood over him, they suddenly flashed back to two similar situations. Neither were reassuring.

 

Crouching next to their friend, Raika then settled into a sitting position. And sat there, despite their burning curiosity. They would guard their friend as long as they were able. They would not let someone else die from their actions.

 

[OOC @Keeper of Kraata
 @ultimoscorp]

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 (Ageru Kilanya)

As she looked up from the projected map to the new Rora, Kilanya's one visible eye narrowed, albeit almost imperceptibly. The Toroshu was no fool, and the vagueness with which Arsix had answered her question did not escape her notice. Arsix hadn't been coy about the Dastana's numbers before the push to retake Iki. Why ask how many were needed — surely she understood the situation on Odaiba well enough to know that the Ageru needed any and all possible reinforcements?

Kilanya's mind was not eased by Jasik's interjection either, as he brought the discussion back to Plangori Morie's interest in Rahkshi materiel before she could respond. The male even seemed to flatter her with a wink and an allusion to her experience.

Were the Dastana twins trying to hide something? Arsix answering with a non-answer, and Jasik deftly steering the conversation to a more comfortable topic?

Kilanya could not help but wonder just how well the campaign for Iki had progressed. She had been strongly opposed to it on the grounds that the Dasaka could not afford to split their remaining forces into a war on two fronts, especially while they were barely holding onto their foothold on Odaiba and its precious farmland (let alone her private bitterness at the Dastana securing their homeland while she fought tooth and nail to hold even a fraction of hers). But the twins would not be dissuaded, assuring her that the enemy presence on Iki was relatively low and the campaign would be over quickly, after which Odaiba would be the focus. But now that it was, Arsix was apparently being evasive.

Were the Dastana hoping to keep a portion of their forces in reserve for some purpose? Or did they simply no longer have the numbers she'd been led to expect?

Or were Kilanya's nerves, frayed as they were from week after week of fighting, getting the better of her?

Whatever the case, it would be best not to jump to any conclusions, nor voice her frustration too directly. How appropriate for the Dasaka that even with demonic hordes at their gates, politics still reigned supreme...

"What Dastana Jasik says is true," Kilanya said levelly, and tapped twice on her new Rahk-metal sode. "It is a formidable metal."

She turned her one-eyed gaze back to Arsix.

"But to give an answer to the Rora's question," she continued, "I can only say that I need as many as can be spared, because I can spare none. Every Rahkshi we kill at the barricades is one that cannot slaughter my people..."

She decided a little directness wouldn't do any harm.

"...as they work in the fields to feed yours."

Edited by Ghosthands
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IC: Somei & Sydelia - Sado Gardens

Sydelia unpacked her pipe from her bag, tapped it to clear out any old ashes, and began filling it. "So how has life been during the apocalypse?"

The Datsue sighed. "Not as bad as it could be. Askha ensures my safety, we make a daily scavenging run, and my Sighteye and her scouting has been enough for that to have kept us afloat. And... how have you been holding up?"

The healer lit up. "I haven't slept more than a handful of hours in several days, I'm strung out, and that wasn't the first time today I've had to amputate a limb from a fresh-from-the-Yards Menti." Sydelia took a deep inhale from her pipe, breathing the smoke out through her nose. "Before I was gang-pressed into being a battlefield medic, the Umbralines left me here because I didn't rate. I'm barely a Fursic, and that pedigree barely means anything these days, and do not try to tell me I can be a Mashtet again."

Somei sighed. "I won't, though... you can. Askha is planning a return to Hanaloi. But I know you had your problems with the clan before they disappeared. It doesn't mean that you have to stop being my daughter." She held out her hand to Sydelia.

Taking a long glance at her mother's hand, Sydelia gingerly reached out to grasp it with her own hand. "Maybe it would be good to return. But I'm needed here." She pulled her pipe from her mouth and gestured grandly at the field hospitals. "My talent is finally appreciated. Who would I be to abandon my legions of loyal fans?"

Smiling, the Mashtet elder squeezed Sydelia's hand. "Honestly... I don't think I could be more proud of you." She continued as Sydelia scoffed: "I mean it. The last time I was this proud of you was when you stood up to Toroshu Kaetyo. I wish it hadn't driven you away... but you were never meant to walk the paths that others lay for you. Today wasn't the first time I looked for you; I know that nobody is forcing you to be a healer, to work long hours keeping people alive. And I know that you are saving lives here."

A bloodcurdling scream broke through the commotion of the Gardens. A Dashi poked her head out of a tent, looking around. "Sydelia! We have another one scared out of her mind, she needs sedation!"

Sydelia stood. "I lost count of how many encores I've been asked to give," she said dryly. "Good luck with your expedition, Mashtet Somei."

Somei nodded. "Stay safe, Sydelia." She watched the skinny Menti run to the tent the screaming was coming from, and sighed. This war... Was it even a war? What were their opponents' goals? Destruction? Domination? The enemy could not be interrogated, could not be infiltrated. So much training according to one of the Virtues; but what had it prepared them for? Sydelia rose from the bench, making her way back to the bolthole she and Askha had been living out of.

OOC: Fursic Sydelia available for healing and interaction in the Sado Gardens.

The times, they are a-changing...

 

 

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IC: Dastana Arsix, Crowned Rora of the Dastana Republic - The War Room

"Odaiba is our greatest priority now, Toroshu, and there is no doubt in my mind that it must be so." Arsix's expression remained unchanged, though her voice had become a bit softer as she turned again to Kilanya. The pointed remark about Kilanya's people and Arsix's people did not go unnoticed, and there may have been a time when a younger Arsix might have made her own jab in defense, suggesting that Kilanya did not answer a Rora's direct question about strategy and press again. But, things had changed. This wasn't a flippant party - although there was a fair share of posturing going around all the same - this was life or death for the people that stayed behind while the old Empire ran. Arsix knew Kilanya had put her life on the line for the Ageru, and would likely die if it meant saving them. For that alone, Arsix could not help but respect the jab. At least it meant that the Toroshu was willing to do what had to be done, for her people to survive.

The Rora's voice softened further as she put one hand back onto the table at her side. "I can expedite some of the battle-ready fleet near and around Iki to arrive in Odaiba within a day, foregoing rest if you believe it is necessary. Three-hundred Menti to bolster the Ageru. After that, two-hundred more within three days. Any more and we'll be risking the security of the some ten-thousand Dasaka who we are currently tasked with protecting within Sado."

If the reports in Odaiba were accurate, then it would nearly double what forces were present on the island. And without directly stating their losses, five-hundred Menti was over half of what the Dastana had before the invasion. It was a significant commitment. Arsix had gone from making up 50% of the Dastana Republic's power, to closer to 30%. Still more than any one clan, but outnumbered when of course combined. Iki was important, yes, but Odaiba required more immediate attention now. The Menti left behind would be minimal in Iki to make up for the push elsewhere.

Arsix pushed up off the table again, pausing, and gazed directly into Kilanya's eyes, "And just to be direct, since I know you prefer to be," she paused, standing entirely still, "The Dastana fleet has its own share of dead Menti, Toroshu. Killed in defense of Sado, and in the campaign on Iki for the benefit of all Dasaka. I wish I could stand here and tell you that I do not know your loss, and that even one clan left behind has been privileged enough to say so. But sadly that is not true. I can respect if you don't feel this way, but in my mind, there is no longer 'my' people and 'your' people, and I do not appreciate the implication that 'mine' have been engorging themselves while yours die needlessly."

She turned away and to the table, addressing the entire war room after a pointed pause, "I believe every Menti loss is ours to share, no matter our personal feelings for one another, and if you do not believe me, Lord Rayuke is welcome to prove you otherwise with his Kanohi." Arsix stepped back as the rest of the room looked to the enormous Dasaka, punctuating her point.

"We'll snatch our fate from Zataka's jaws together, or not at all."

She looked around the room, before nodding to the Sighteyes who dissolved the map before them. "Now, there are matters we all must attend to. If there are any other questions or concerns, I'll hear them afterwards. Otherwise," she gave a curt bow of the head, "until we return."

OOC: @Ghosthands @Mel @Constructelf @Toa Fanixe 

Edited by Palm

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[Sado, War Room (Morie)]
::General Arsix, Lord Rayuke.::   Morie’s ideatalk was clipped and business-like, as usual.  ::I have a somewhat private matter to discuss with you later.    Where would be the proper place?::

OOC: @Haman Karn: A Magical Girl@Palm

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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IC: Aija, the sea. Weeks in the past.

The heavens roar with thundering hatred, hurling down sheets of rain in their torrential fury. The sea churns madly below, tossing the fishing boat wildly across the waves. Lightning streaks across the blackened sky, illuminating the scarlet armor of the hideous serpentine Thing as it alights with a deafening shriek on the deck. Screams fill her ears, the screams of her sisters, cousins, friends, and are cut short in rapid succession by the whirling, slashing, stabbing instrument of death that is the Thing’s staff.

Its eyes lock with hers.

FEAR. Panic. Terror, the like of which she has never known, floods her veins. For a moment she does not, cannot move.

Flee.

She launches herself from the boat as far and as fast as her legs will take her, extends her arms, dives headfirst into the angry sea. Behind her the boat creaks and cracks and shatters, and the storm pounds her home and her livelihood to splinters. She swims fast and she swims deep, and she does not look back for a long, long time.

/

When she has swum long enough and far enough to remember her own name, Aija eases her pace at last.

Breathe.

Her eyes scan the waters from behind her Kaukau. Aija floats in inky blackness, the only illumination the flash of her heartlight, faintly visible through her waterlogged robes. Her right hand drifts toward her neck, feeling for – yes, still there. Then to her left forearm – the dagger is still strapped in place. Fear still grips her, but her relief is enough to draw out a faint surge of courage. Her eyes turn upward.

At the surface the storm strengthens, and Aija is a speck of copper in the roiling sea. She strains to scan the horizon, squinting through the crashing rain, bobbing helplessly amid waves many times her height. A wild, impossible thought of lifting herself above the water flashes through her mind, but such feats are far beyond her. Valiantly, obstinately, Aija fights the waves, coughing and sputtering as she struggles to keep track of whether she’s breathing air or water, her strength slipping away.

And then she sees it, a dark, unmoving mass on the horizon. The waves push her down and she pulls herself up, and the mass is still there.

Oki.

Far, but she can make it. She will make it. She sinks back beneath the surface.

She is not alone.

The terror courses through her anew as she sees the twin yellow orbs, glowing hungrily, and the massive form that lurks behind them. Aija knows that takea are mindless beasts, but in that moment the shark’s eyes flash with unmistakable malice.

The takea rushes toward her and it is all Aija can do to reach out, her power stopping the rahi in its path. She draws her dagger and dives. The takea strains against her control, writhing madly, and she releases it. She needs her strength to swim to shore – though she also needs to be alive.

The takea, freed, bolts forward with the speed of a bullet, rocketing just above Aija’s head. No way to outswim it. No way to keep it at bay.

Only one way to do this. Her heart pounds and her ears ring and the takea surges forward again.

Wait.

She waits too long. By the time she freezes the shark in place, its teeth have already sunken into her leg. She gasps with pain but holds on. The jaws are not clamped shut, and she manages to pull her leg free as she swings and slashes and stabs at every bit of exposed flesh she can find.

When she releases it this time, the wounded beast flees to the depths.

Aija breathes. She cuts a scrap of fabric from her robes and binds her leg.

She swims for home.

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[Sado, Imperial Gardens(Hatchi)]
Hatchi kept a firm hand on the joint lock they had the other menti in as the woman’s soulsword sputtered in and out of existence, and her screaming continued.   These were always the hardest ones--Hatchi could the odd panicked willhammer or sighteye, but since zi had volunteered for the impromptu med corps in the gardens they’d almost lost an arm to a mindarm and their head to a soulsword.

Zi continued to keep up a pleasant drone of placating words, but the fear in the woman’s eyes was wild, unnatural.   It was with great relief they looked up to see the medic come in.


OOC: @Keeper of Kraata

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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IC (Ageru Kilanya)

Kilanya was somewhat mollified by Arsix's answer. Hard numbers were what she needed, and when pressed, the new Rora had given them. Five hundred more troops would make a very significant difference on Odaiba, when added to the six hundred (or thereabouts) currently holding the line against the Rahkshi and Infected beasts. It was still not quite as many as she was expecting, particularly for a campaign to retake the island as Arsix had suggested, but it was a clear commitment and that would have to be good enough for now.

The Dastana Rora's other words were less welcome — not because Kilanya disagreed with them, quite the opposite. Arsix almost could not have stated Kilanya's own views on Dasaka unity more accurately. To be lectured as though she were thinking only of her own clan...it rankled. It seemed especially rich when the Dastana's priority had so obviously been Iki, despite the paramount strategic importance of Odaiba, the island that fed the rest of Kentoku — which was the point she had been making with her previous remark, rather than the implication of "engorging themselves" with which Arsix had (perhaps wilfully?) misinterpreted it.

There was no room for selfishness in this war council — but neither, Kilanya knew, was there room for pride. There was nothing to be gained from dwelling on the Dastana's apparent hypocrisy, much less arguing the point further. In practical terms, this was a satisfactory outcome: she would have the reinforcements she so desperately needed within the next few days. That was what really mattered.

She rose from her seat at the table, and caught Dastana Jasik's eye as she made for the exit. She and the First Son had developed something of an unlikely rapport in recent weeks, despite their differences; he oversaw the defence of Sado much as she did for Odaiba, and he too had been wounded in that defence. Arsix had settled a little too well into the role of Rora; Kilanya found it easier to speak with the brother when she needed to coordinate with the Dastana.

Edited by Ghosthands
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IC: Sydelia - Imperial Gardens

It didn't take a Willhammer to sense the fear emanating off the Menti. Sydelia shifted her sidebag to behind her so she could have free access to her hands. These Rahkshi could inflict fear beyond all but the most skilled Willhammer; she had dealt with these before... though she wasn't sure if this or the grievous, fantastical injuries were worse.

"Everyone get back," Sydelia stated. She probably didn't need to, with the way the Menti was freaking out. Let's see... heavy sedation; euphoria? Possibly not, let's wrap her in something warm and comfy. The Fursic healer recalled a similar dose of painkillers as her last patient, mixed with a feeling of warmth. The hard part was keeping her current condition out of this one: using the weight and warmth to weight down the Menti's limbs, lure her into a slumber, and taking away her muscle aches. As the Menti relaxed, she began drooping to the ground.

"Catch her," Sydelia whispered tersely. "I don't want her to crack her mask on the cobbles and snap out of this!"

OOC: @Mel

The times, they are a-changing...

 

 

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IC Yuna Koizumi - Oki refugee camp:

Zuto Nui, they were pitiful, two fully trained Menti, one of them a male, even, and here they were looking for all the world like poor wet kavinika pups.

I blew out a sigh of frustration. I had an idea. It sure as heck wasn't a good one, but...

"Raika, look... I gotta go drop off these fish, but uh... I might know somewhere that could have someone to help Ahri. Just.... Don't go anywhere for a minute, okay?"

 

                                                                                                                                                       

                                                                                           The Unofficial Guide to TBRPG Combat!

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IC: Raika, Oki Refugee Camp

 

Raika realized that it would be rude not to offer to help. 

 

But that would mean leaving Ahri unattended.

 

Also, Raika got the feeling their rescuer didn't like either of them much. Despite their genuine attempts at politeness, as best as they'd recalled it, the atmosphere on the boat had been downright chilly. It made sense though. Despite their inability to pick up on ideatalk Yuna had said they were a Menti as well. And neither of the two she'd salvaged must have met with her expectations of a pair of fellow warriors. 

 

Ahri had no memories and was barely conscious. And Raika knew they were a weedy, pathetic specimen of a Dasaka. Garbed as they were in durable yet plain armor with a tattered scarf and simple short-range melee weapons, they must really look the vagabond they were.

 

All these thoughts soured the wanderer's mood significantly. So it was without their recently added delicacy that they responded:

 

::Fine. You need any assistance with things? Or shall I just stay here and ornament the place?::

 

They felt some shame at the bitterness in their voice, but pushed the feeling aside. If they had bruised Yuna's pride maybe the Menti would drop the deferential act and lash back. Then at least Raika would be on familiar ground. Either way, this was more social interaction than Raika had experienced in a long time, and their nerves were beginning to feel frayed. Maybe hauling fish would earn them some time to recover.

 

[OOC @Keeper of Kraata
 @ultimoscorp]

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: Aija, Oki. Weeks in the past.

By the time Aija’s feet touch the sand, she can scarcely feel them. The wind howls across the beach and the crashing waves yearn with all their might to rip her back into the sea, and with each step through the surging tide she is sure she will be unable to take another. Yet each time she does.

It seems to Aija that these final yards of wading through the surf take her as long as the entire swim before. But then one foot is out of the water, and then the other, and she is staggering forward on solid ground. Every muscle screams in agony; her wounded leg buckles; her lungs are aflame; hunger gnaws at her stomach; her heart, she is certain, is about to burst. But she is alive, and she intends to stay that way.

She is one of the lucky ones.

The mental plane rings with a silent cry, and Aija restrains herself from collapsing as she seeks its source. She rubs the water from her mask and peers through the rain, and she sees her – a Dasaka, slumped against a jagged rock that looms over the windswept sand. Aija forces her legs to move.

The woman is alive, but only just. Rainwater drips into the hole in her chest, the work of a blade that Aija imagines must have cut through her armor like butter. Just like…

Aija cannot tell whether the woman is consciously aware of her presence. She kneels beside her and touches her cheek, reaching out for her in the mental plane. Their minds touch, and Aija gasps in terror.

She sees only fragments – buildings, homes, and ships destroyed, Dashi and Dasaka and Datsue fighting and fleeing and falling. And at the center of it – the Things – yes, Things, for there are many, many more than the one which…

Aija gasps in terror – but she does not recoil. She sees and she feels, and she sends, as much as she is able, comforting thoughts to the woman, peaceful memories of open seas and open plains, for the woman is a Taajar like herself. Aija cannot save her, but she can ensure that she does not die alone.

The woman’s eyes flicker open and, for a moment, look into her own. They do not open again.

Aija should bury her, but she can scarcely lift her own arms. She stands in the rain, her mind blank.

The woman had been carrying a bag. Aija fights back a wave a nausea and opens it. A heatstone and some rations. A lightstone, too, but shattered. The woman won’t be needing it anymore. Aija’s stomach churns.

She needs a safe place to rest.

Think.

But her mind is just as exhausted as her body. Aija stares up again at the rock. Her vision blurs, and for a moment it looks almost like a dragon.

A dragon.

And suddenly a new burst of adrenaline washes over her, for she knows she has been here before, and she knows where she can go to rest. Aija grits her teeth and turns back toward the water.

///

A few hundred yards away from the dragon-shaped rock, there is a small cave accessible only via a narrow underwater channel. This is where Aija emerges, hauling herself onto the rocky ground with the last remnant of her strength. Her numb fingers fumble with the heatstone, and she shivers as she pulls off her soaking robes in its dull glow. She is asleep before her head touches the ground.

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IC:

Relisai was happy about the short meeting. Leadership that had too many long meetings often didn't get around to actually doing anything.The Rora seemed to have a busy schedule, and was already leaving before Relisai could make her suggestion regarding communication with the refugee fleet.

But, the Vilda Toroshu noticed that Dastana Jasix, as well as Ageru Kilanya, were still in the room though heading out.

"Dastana Jasix, if I may speak to you quickly regarding the refugee fleet. My Vilda and our birds may be able to assist with communication with the refugees in Mata-Nui."

Quiz by TheQuizzery.com

 

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You are strong and kinda smart, but not too much

Which Barraki are you?

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IC: Ayako - Sado, War Room

That was fast. The meeting was already over, and Ayako's Toroshu was already heading for the door. Ayako hadn't actually gotten a chance to say anything. Perhaps it was for the best though; in the brief moment that words had been exchanged, a heavy air of tension had hung over the room. If the meeting had gone any longer, there was a chance that things would have turned ugly. Old rivalries still persisted, and it seemed that Ayako was not along in not having confidence in the new regime. And more importantly, Kilanya spoke for Clan Ageru well enough. There wasn't much point for Ayako to run her mouth and risk contradicting her feudal lord in front of the most important people in Kentoku.

Whatever ideas Ayako had planned to propose to the new Rora, it seemed she'd have to talk them over with Lady Kilanya first. Probably for the best as well; in the brief time that productive discussion had occurred, Ayako had come up short on ideas; or at least, ideas that wouldn't get her laughed out of the room, or worse. The Sado and Iki land reclamation proposal didn't seem like something that Arsix would be able to meaningfully comment on, given the Dastana leader's lack of agricultural knowledge, and that had been Ayako's best idea. Anyhow, all of her ideas had been long-term plans; Kilanya's need for more Menti certainly took precedence.

Ayako rose from her seat, supporting herself with her spear, and followed her Toroshu towards the exit.

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IC Yuna Koizumi - Oki Refugee camp

Huh, she still had some fire in her after all. Maybe they weren't as worn down as I thought. Still, there was no point in needlessly working folks that had just come out of the wilderness after being there.... Zuto Nui knows how long.

In any case I gave her a bemused grin, "I'm hardly about to turn down help around here, if you think he'll be alright. But you guys did just get here. I dunno how long you guys were out on the coast there, but  I know it's been crazy out there. You might wanna get some rest yourself," I said gesturing pointedly at Ahri who had gone out like a light almost immediately.

 

                                                                                                                                                       

                                                                                           The Unofficial Guide to TBRPG Combat!

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IC: Dastana Arsix, Crowned Rora of the Dastana Republic - The War Room

Arsix watched as Kilanya and Ayako began to leave, looking at the Toroshu rather closely. She had said nothing in response to Arsix, and she wondered if she had said the right thing. She returned her attention to Morie, however, having been asked a direct question.

::Of course, Toroshu Morie.:: Arsix began, her thoughts lighting up the mental plane the trio currently shared. ::We can convene in my chambers.::

Arsix made a few motions to some guards. Some, disconnected from the War Room's walls, and began to follow with her. Others, remained behind to watch over Jasik. She shot him a knowing glance as Relisai began to speak with him. There was little trust for Relisai between either of the twins, considering her time in prison, and her strange involvement with Sheika, the Dastana's former battle-master. It had never been solved, if Sheika was somebody in cahoots with Relisai, though it didn't seem likely. But still, Arsix had little love for the woman.

She stepped outside, Rayuke and Morie close behind, and the trio - flanked by guards - made their way down the long hallway.

* * * * *


At the door to Arsix's chambers, an aide stood quietly waiting. As she approached, the aide nodded and stood aside. Arsix stepped inside and gestured for the others to follow. Inside, there were only a few decorations and artifacts - for a Rora, it was spartan. Inside, there were more guards stationed at the balcony entrance, standing watch over the only outside entrance to the room. "Toroshu Morie," Arsix began, using her mind to lift up a small pitcher up from the room's center table, and begin pouring wine into a goblet. Two more goblets appeared from the side of the room, floating forwards. "You have my undivided attention. Wine?"

OOC: @Haman Karn: A Magical Girl @Mel

Edited by Palm

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[Sado, Imperial Gardens(Hatchi)]
Hatchi caught the women’s upper half, glad of the other dashi holding her legs.   Even so, zir bad leg winced in protest.   Zi probably wasn’t the best person to move this menti--zi looked around for someone else.

OOC: @Keeper of Kraata

[Sado, Dastana Private Quarters (Morie)]
“Thank you.”  Normally, Morie wouldn’t have indulged, but never relaxing would drive you to madness as sure as drowning in drink.  She sipped sparingly though; she was going to be negotiating.

“You may recall of Mashtet Askha and her companion, the elder Somei.  Lord Rayuke-” she inclined her head toward the massive figure “-had the grace to support them, after they were unfortunately caught up in Relisai’s...escape.”

“The Plangori clan has long been dedicated to the craft of beauty, as were the Mashtet before their disappearance.   Thus, I find it a matter of my honor that I support these refugees as well.   Before our islands were so cruelly put under siege, I had asked them to go to Hanaloi to retrieve the materials to renew the carvings in my possession.”

She took another drink, this one more substantial.

 

“Unfortunately, circumstances are different now.   Still, Ashka informed me this afternoon that she wishes to go anyway.   I am half-convinced--” the erstwhile Toroshu’s brow furrowed “--that she would go in a canoe if she could.   However, I would very much not like that to happen, and I think you would agree, Commander Arsix.”


“There are more than a few carvings on the table.   Hanaloi still has a great amount of lumber available, of the quality that could contribute to further ship building.   I can cover any potential losses with my own funds, but I do not have access to any watercraft currently.   I suspect that you do, and I would implore you to lend a small one to this scouting expedition, with the promise of further returns later.”

She did not mention the ambiguous “things we don’t show to outsiders;” she doubted Arsix was interested in hypotheticals.

OOC: @Haman Karn: A Magical Girl @Palm

 

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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IC: Raika, Oki refugee camp

 

Truthfully, Raika hadn't slept in two days. Every time they closed their eyes they saw that hideous, plate-ringed maw a fraction from their face, smelled the creature's gas-burner breath, and heard the ear-piercing shriek it had bellowed in their face.

 

Rest? No, not if they could avoid it. 

 

::If you think he's safe here, I'm good for helping haul the catch.::

After a moment, they added grudgingly :you did save us, after all.::

 

 

[OOC @Keeper of Kraata
 @The UltimoScorp]

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: Dastana Arsix, Crowned Rora of the Dastana Republic - Private Chambers

Arsix nodded, taking her own sip of the drink. "The lumber alone is worth it," she began, "and the art represents Dasakan culture, which I imagine would improve the morale of many of our citizens in Sado. I'll ear-mark a ship returning from Iki for you, and Mashtet Ashka for this expedition."

She nodded to an aide, previously unseen standing by the door, who turned on her heel and stepped outside to make such arrangements. "And if there's anything else you think you may need for this, just ask."


OOC: @Mel @Haman Karn: A Magical Girl

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IC:

Two months ago Nihonei's worst day was when she tagged along with Kulrik and had to fight Zataka cultists. Before that her worst day was when Datsue Anori, sitting beside the fire, told the current class of Eiyu Twins the story of the Eiyu who conjured a shinushya and how her screams still sometimes echoed on a still night... And Saritsu screamed in her ear. Nihonei's was a good life. She was proud of her clan, she took care of her people, and in turn they took care of her. Seldom did she have to concern herself with anything worse than misplaced tomes. She might have liked to see her sister more, of course, but there would be time for that. Life was good.

And then monsters worse than any campfire story began slaughtering her clan.

No, that wasn't fair. They had fought too well to call it a slaughter, defended themselves too valiantly. Their losses had been catastrophic all the same. The attack had come almost without warning; only frantic images, a mental commotion, had given them any forewarning of the attack. It was probably the Ageru. The monsters had come from that direction. But there was no way to be sure. She had done the very best that she could, organized an evacuation of her people and stayed long enough to secure the most important of their teachings. 

And Zuto Nui's cherubic smile was that a bad idea. Their escape was cut off, she had been forced to go to ground, and the— relative— safety of Sado (she hoped) seemed painfully far away. 

"Okay," She said softly, almost silently. "You were right, Saritsu. You can say it."

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On this eve, the thirtieth anniversary of that first colony, many are left to wonder; is the world fast approaching a breaking point?

 

 

  Breaking Point: An OTC Mecha RPG

 

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IC: Askha & Somei - Sado

As she made her way through the crowded (but not as much as before) Markets, Askha felt like she was the only person here that was at ease. She didn't feel better about everyone else being miserable, but the Mashtet liked to think that she was coping better than most every other Dasaka in the city. Most people in Sado has lost family, were living on the streets, were questioning society, or all of the above. Askha had already gone through that rigmarole years ago. Sure, the meeting with Rayuke had shifted her perspective; she still had a purpose in the Kentoku islands, a role in society. But she would define that role. Not any Toroshu, not any Rora.

As she climbed the ladder to the attic where she and Somei had been staying since they had been forced to evacuate the apartment the Royal Executioner had given her, Askha let her self-satisfying seditious thoughts die down. Somei was already there, resting. If there was any part of this invasion that made Askha indignant, it was seeing its effect on her aunt. She was crushed by the death and destruction, though she wore it better than many. Maybe it was age, maybe it was her experience as an itinerant artistic vagrant.

.:How did your meeting go?:.

She was obviously tired from the day of scavenging and hiding. "It went well. Plangori Morie said she'd ask the Dastana for a ship. We might have a proper expedition."

Somei smiled, looking out on the ruins of the city. "Good," she whispered.

"And... how did your meeting go?"

"Sydelia is doing well enough. She is bitter at being left behind by the Rora - Yumiwa, I mean - but is handling herself rather well, all things considered. She has embraced her role as healer."

Askha dug out the journal she had started keeping and flipped it open to a new page. "Well, that's positive. Better than what she was doing before. Did you ask her if she wants to join us?"

The Datsue shifted under the blanket that was laid over her. "I asked, she said she was content here. I'm surprised you care."

The Menti shrugged. "I still don't like that she flipped to the Fursics, but there's not much left of the Fursics. She's effectively as adrift in the wind as we were before. Like I said, good she's at least helping people out. Maybe she just wants someplace to belong, even if thats a bloody healer's tent."

"She never did fit in on Hanaloi, did she?" Somei sighed. "Maybe that's my responsibility to bear. But it's been a long day; good night, Askha."

As her aunt curled up onto her bedroll, Askha pulled up the blanket. By Zuto Nui, she was taking it harder than expected. Askha knew that she should get some sleep too, but there were still daylight hours. She found the newest journal page, and wrote down her observations from the day of scavenging and observing. There had to be a pattern. In her time as mercenary, one of the more eclectic items she had retrieved for a Vilda Datsue was a book of Rahi, detailing variations and breeds. These demons, Rahkshi, had wilder powers than anyone on Kentoku could imagine; there had to be a thread of consistency.

Askha spent the daylight with her journal, eventually drifted to sleep. The morning was blessedly quiet; just the shouting of Menti training and moving, rather than the screaming of the wounded and dying and otherworldly screeches. Askha and Somei packed up what belongings they could carry, and left their attic for other refugees to use. The Gardens were, again, busy; however, it was not too long before the two found Plangori Fanai.

"Long time no see, Fanai. How's the apocalypse treating you?"

 

IC: Sydelia - Sado Gardens

Someone who wasn't a healer might have missed the twinge of pain on the Dashi's mask, but it didn't pass by Sydelia. "Shh... shh..." She tried to make soothing sounds as she approached the Soulsword to take her; the exhausted Menti collapsed into her arms. She half-dragged, half-carried her to an empty cot. The last empty cot, her assistants would need to move people out of the urgent care tent soon enough. She eased up on her Sighteye, preparing to layer it on some more if the Soulsword bucked or started shouting again.

OOC: @Mel

 

IC: Ahri - Oki Refugee Camp

"You are Mashtet Ahri now."

He bowed before Kaetyo, the new Toroshu of Clan Mashtet. His old clan, Clan Kiantao, had been influenced by the Umbraline Toroshu to present their secondborn son as a token of goodwill; it would present the clan with a significant boon and strengthen ties between the Mashtet and the clans of Sado, who had been cool as of late. He had been informed as early as a week ago as to his fate; it was his Duty to accept it.

"I was under the impression that a ceremony was required first, Toroshu." Eyes down, but not at the Toroshu's feet.

Ahri had his chin lifted up; he met Mashtet Kaetyo's gaze. She was smiling slightly. "You are correct; but as you shall be residing here, you must unlearn your mainland ways. You will move through the forest like a Mashtet, see the world as we do, and by the end of the year, you will be indistinguishable from one of us by our most skilled enemies. And... Kaetyo will do do. I appreciate proper respect, but should you prove your loyalty and... skill, you will not be my mere consort."

He shivered. It was a defining sensation, something that reverberated through his memories. In the waking world, Ahri's sleeping body shuddered.

OOC: @TL01 NUVA @The UltimoScorp

The times, they are a-changing...

 

 

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IC: Saritsu | Odaiba

:I'll save it until we're back safe in Sado,: came the Ideatalk of Nihonei's sister, a thought-voice hewn as rough as the jagged cliffsides of Iki.

It had only been chance that Saritsu had been with her sister when the creatures had attacked. She had been planning a new expedition into the heart of Oki to try and see if there was any truth to the rumours that Artakha Bulls could be found deep enough in the foliage. But when the ship that had been bringing her fresh supplies was forced to stay at port for a sea-storm from the west, the young Eiyu had gotten bored enough to risk heading back to the family homestead.

It was a good thing she had to, or else her sister might have been--

Since then, the trek across Odaiba had been slow and arduous. Dodging the creatures had been bad enough -- not even Saritsu had been reckless enough to try and face them head-on, not after seeing one render an Eiyu soulswordswoman to viscera with simply a twitch of their spear -- but Odaiba itself seemed more difficult to traverse than it ever had before. It was as though the island itself were fighting their progress -- but, if Saritsu's instincts were correct, they should finally be getting to the shoreline soon.

:But as soon as we get in view of the palace,: she continued, hacking through another patch of thick underbrush, :I will definitely be #####ing you out for risking your life over a couple of dusty old books.:

-Void

 
 
[ BZPRPG ]

 

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IC:

As the meeting broke apart, Rayuke's eyes found Jasik again. Arsix's twin brother was already looking at him, and nodded his assent coyly; Rayuke took that to mean that the two First Sons would still be meeting in accordance with the Ideatalk he'd heard after he awoke. He remembered his last face-to-face conversation with Dastana Jasik, when he had been investigated for the murder of his sister Yusanora. The two Dastana had been thicker than thieves and of one mind, closer than Twin Souls in body language and strategy. They were inscrutable, immature, and caustic, but ultimately honest - an unfortunate juxtaposition that did little to quell the tensions. Often Rayuke wondered if he had mishandled that interrogation somehow, whether a more seasoned diplomat may have managed to retain Dastana fealty to the Empire. Back then, the situation had felt as dire as any Rayuke had ever lived through.

It was a testament to the situation on the Kentoku Archipelago, between the monsters and the new regime, that Rayuke's memories of the days succeeding his sister's murder had become tinted by nostalgia.

The memories of the Umbraline regime were fresh in the minds of all assembled, Dastana loyalists and skeptics alike. Out of that respect, and due to his prodigious size, the small crowd of Menti and Datsue parted for Rayuke to reach Jasik. The First Son was patient enough to wait for them to walk side by side, although he whispered a few words quietly to the Ageru Toroshu before they departed the council chamber. Clearly the two had business together afterward, for as Dasaka began to file from the old council chambers, the two First Sons hung back, close to the doorway. Jasik leaned against the wall casually. He was eyeing the Diamond Throne, as Rayuke had been watching Dasaka do all his life. Few looked upon it with the same scorn as Dastana Jasik. Rayuke wondered what he thought of his twin sister assuming the title of Rora that they had rebelled and rabble-roused so zealously against; was Jasik still committed to the revolution at heart? If so, how was his relationship with his sister?

They were the kinds of questions his nieces might have thrived on. Personally, Rayuke was long past the point of caring.

"Your sister...did well," he began ponderously. Jasik looked away from the throne and up, into Rayuke's welcoming gaze. 

"I believe in her," he said simply. "I always have."

Had he guessed Rayuke's line of questioning? Perhaps it wouldn't do to pry. "I remember...your smile. I have you...to thank...for my life, Jasik."

"I don't know what you're talking about," the First Son said curtly, hiding behind said famous smile. He had done the same when Dastana Yomiken was found murdered in her guest quarters, under this very roof. Jasik shrugged and turned to look at the Diamond Throne again.

"...No?"

"No. But it was a busy night. I killed a lot of Rahkshi and I saved a lot of people."

Rayuke had to laugh at that. He supposed he had the same youthful arrogance once. The deep, rumbling sound seemed to amuse Jasik too, and his shoulders shook quietly. His collar slipped; once again Rayuke could see the wound a Rahkshi staff had so clearly carved into his neck and collarbone, and how it would clearly scar someday, despite the adroit healing he had received.

"I admit...I had not...found you..." For once, words were escaping the artisan. Jasik finished the sentence with wry skepticism.

"Capable?" He drawled. "Many don't. I've always surprised people."

"No doubt. Your wound...is healing...well."

Jasik laughed again.

"It is. Suppose healers can find the Yards after all," he jested under his breath. He looked up again at Rayuke defiantly. "Masayoshi isn't with you. When we announced you had lived, I was sure she would come find you."

Rayuke blinked, surprised. "You were...looking...for Masayoshi?" 

"Is she alive?"

Rayuke blinked again before several things came into focus. He had to smile as his heart welled with the same paternal feeling he received when he watched Yumi drink too much, or Desdemona play a prank - with a bit of the mischief of both his sister's daughters mingled in for good measure. A thing or two about Jasik's continued surliness in the face of nobility had started to make sense now. Masa, Masa, Masa. "When I last...saw Masa, she lived. I trusted her...with Desdemona's life...and they made for...the port. The Yukanna."

"The dragon," murmured Jasik, nodding to himself in thought. "We could see it across the city. We thought it was Zuto Nui."

"It was my niece." For once in his life, Rayuke required no pause to deliberate on his words. With rare, undisguised pride, he felt the sentence barrel out of him. Jasik caught the older man's tone, and his smile tightened with mock admonition. 

"Well, then my question is answered. She--they live. Your nieces too. Unless they all drowned." Jasik shrugged. "In any event, I wanted to tell you I'm glad you're up. You can keep the use of your old quarters. I won't pretend you're one of the Menti under my command, but any assistance or advice you want to give, well..." He trailed off for a moment and shook his head. "We can't afford to ignore good advice again. Lord Rayuke."

With the surprising deign to Rayuke's ancestral title, Jasik nodded his head and made to move around the Umbraline First Son, to rejoin Kilanya elsewhere in the throne room. Rayuke's hand moved with surprising speed for such an enormous man; Jasik visibly jumped, ready to retaliate, before he realized that Rayuke had pulled off his Kanohi Rode. The old man was staring at the Mask of Truth thoughtfully; he had worn the same expression when he first beheld the mask. 

"This was...not...always my mask," Rayuke mused sadly. "In my youth...I wore a...Pakari. Fighting with it...I felt...no matter. When I returned...from Iki...our mother...gifted me with it. She was...proud...of the lessons I had...learned. She and...my sister...said it suited me."

"Rora Yui?" Jasik asked, ever the subtle student of history. He stared at the Rode with curiosity, but with a healthy dose of caution too. Even with Rayuke's strength sapped by lack of Kanohi, Jasik was clearly wondering how much of a physical threat the other First Son might still be. Rayuke confirmed his question with a nod.

"It is...a badge of my office," Rayuke rumbled. "Of the Imperial...Executioner. Of my...role...to my family. My family...has fled. There is...no Empire. I cannot be...the Executioner." The old man held the Kanohi out, offering the Rode as a bridge between the two generations - between the older, wiser artisan and the tempestuous rebel. Jasik was still staring at the mask, unblinking. "You saved...my life...Jasik. Take it. Wear it...in health."

Jasik's eyes finally left the Kanohi. He stared deep into the worn, flat, maskless features of Umbraline Rayuke for five long seconds.

"No." He shook his head and took a step away from the mask, as though the Rahkshi had somehow left traces of their infection upon it. "I'm not an Executioner. Least of all for the Empire." Jasik inclined his head and pulled his collar up, hiding any trace of his wound from the prying eyes of Rayuke or anyone else. The mask sat in Rayuke's hand still, stretched in Jasik's direction even as he retreated further; the attempt by Rayuke to pass on responsibility for the Archipelago to the younger, able generation had been thoroughly rejected by that generation's herald. The herald inclined his head with curt respect, likely the greatest deference Rayuke could have expected under the circumstances. "Lord Rayuke."

One of Jasik's feet was inside the door when he turned back to Rayuke, frozen, staring into the empty eyeholes of the Rode his mother had burdened him with. The Dastana stared at the hunched shoulders of the Executioner for a moment before speaking again.

"They were right," he added, in a voice that contained no traces of his usual choleric temper or youthful venom. "It suits you. My lord."

Jasik walked inside to greet Kilanya wearing his trademark smile. After a moment's reluctance, Rayuke donned the Kanohi Rode again. As he felt the strength ebb back into his old muscles, and the hunch on his shoulders lighten imperceptibly, he made to follow Plangori Morie, who had requested an audience with the new Rora.

As he walked, unbidden, he felt himself smile too.

-Tyler

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SAY IT ONE MORE TIME 

TELL ME WHAT IS ON YOUR MIND

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[Sado, Imperial Gardens(Hatchi)]
Hatchi nodded to the menti in gratitude, before limping off to what passed for zir cane.   This was no carved badge of caravan leader, no this was half of a broken practice spear.  But it did its job.

“If you need a list of who has sufficiently recovered, Lady Menti, have assembled one.”

Hatchi hadn’t really talked to Sydelia much in the past few days, but she hated Imperial formalities, Hatchi wagered.  The rough Taajar half-translated honorific would have to do. 

OOC: @Keeper of Kraata

 

[Sado, Dastana Private Quarters (Morie)]
“I think that will be all.   I will keep you informed on the status of the mission, of course.”

Morie looked at the massive Menti beside her, genuine, if not particularly gentle concern writ on her face.    The Imperial Executioner had been unconscious just a few hours ago, and was clearly showing it.  She couldn’t preoccupy herself with his state now, but it would need to be looked into.

“Unless you have any advice on the matter, Lord Rayuke?”

OOC: @Palm@Haman Karn: A Magical Girl

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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IC (Ageru Kilanya)

Kilanya greeted the approaching First Son with a nod.

"Jasik. I fear your sister and I don't quite see eye to eye."

She allowed herself a small, wry smile, showing that the irony of the phrase given her recent disfigurement was not lost on her.

"I hope you both understand that I ask only what I must, for the sake of all our people, not just the Ageru."

sig_panel_bzprpg.pngsig_panel_profiles.pngsig_panel_flickr.pngsig_panel_steam.pngsig_panel_n7.png

 

 

 

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IC:

"I understand, Kilanya. Everyone needs to eat." Jasik returned her smile, although that was hardly a new expression on the Dastana's face, and sat down upon the council table where Kozu's projection had laid minutes before. "And for what it's worth, she punched me in the back of the head the morning we were born. So, if it helps, you could treat it she's finally learning some diplomacy."

He watched where his twin had stalked off with Plangori Morie; for a moment, he could just see one of Rayuke's enormous shoulders round the corner in the wake of the two Toroshu. He cracked his neck thoughtfully and turned back to the battle-scarred Toroshu of Clan Ageru. In their old lives, truth be told, he had never paid Kilanya any attention. He had more rapport - maybe not mutual rapport, but rapport still - with the First Sons he had attended the Yards with. His peers were Kuno and Kulrik, not Kilanya. There had been some vague rumors about illicit affairs with lower Menti, hastily-attempted and abandoned marriages, but most of what he knew of Kilanya came from jokes made at Kulrik's expense, about another of the Vilda First Son's dream conquests that his oily charm refused to work on.

Briefly, he wondered if Kulrik was still alive. He had been so busy over the last two months he had never really stopped to think about it.

...

Well, no use wasting more energy thinking about it.

"I'm more worried about you. Your orbital looks like it took a pretty strong hit from a staff since the last war council. In my experience with women, the fewer working eyes they have the more they grow cranky."

IC:

Rayuke smiled wanly at Morie's question. It was not like him to be consulted on court matters regularly, even in Yusanora's day; he was an instrument of her will and of justice, little else. Still, the Plangori's own brand of concern had clearly warmed his heart.

"No...advice," he rumbled courteously. "Only...my wish...for you to be well...Toroshu."

It was good for him to see a familiar face from court, amid all these Dastana and young Toroshu, but that part was left unsaid in the presence of a woman who was both."

-Tyler

Edited by Haman Karn: A Magical Girl

SAY IT ONE MORE TIME 

TELL ME WHAT IS ON YOUR MIND

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IC:

.:That sounds fair,:. Nihonei allowed, studiously refraining from voicing 'aloud' her doubts that even Sado was still safe... But she, of all people, knew she couldn't stop her sister from feeling what she meant. To be a Twin Soul was to have nothing secret, not except in the deepest parts of the soul. And her anxiety was too close to the surface to ever hide. .:but we still have an issue. You're the wilderness woman, how are we going to get to Sado from here? I doubt there are any boats left. Or what if the bridge is out?:.

Maybe there'd be someone who could help, someone from another clan, but... That was if anyone was still around. They had yet to see anyone on their trip from the Eiyu manor to the coast.

Alive, at least.

Edited by Krayzikk

fK5oqYf.jpg

 

On this eve, the thirtieth anniversary of that first colony, many are left to wonder; is the world fast approaching a breaking point?

 

 

  Breaking Point: An OTC Mecha RPG

 

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[Sado, Dastana Private Quarters (Morie)]
“I appreciate your goodwill, Lord Rayuke, and I extend my wishes for your speedy recovery.”

She had come very close that time to calling him Executioner.   It was never a title she had shied away from dropping before--it was by no means an easy office, but Order rested on it.   Yet, she’d heard the rumors...the rumor that he had denounced that title.

Even if the empire survived this war...it was clear that it would not be the same empire that went into it.

She took another slow and measured, but very long drink.  “And may your health remain undiminished, Commander Arsix.  Now if you would pardon me, I shall finish this wine and then retire for the night.”

OOC: @Haman Karn: A Magical Girl @Palm

[Sado, Gardens(Fanai)]
“About as well as can be expected.  It will be good to be on a mission with you, Askha--I am not suited to so desperate and open combat.”

The Plagori warrior had traded her purple emblem for a set of undyed traveling clothes covered with an oil cloak.  She held her naginata in one hand, standing straight despite the relaxed nature of the gardens.

OOC: @Keeper of Kraata

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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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IC: Askha & Somei - Sado Gardens

The Mashtet scion grinned; "Then I take it our request with Torushu Morie has been accepted?" Askha tried to keep her voice calm and jovial, to hold the strain from creeping into her demeanor. The prospect of possibly having no support in their return to Hanaloi had only occurred to her this morning, and it had kept her mind spinning. Letting herself move forward would mean coming to terms with this mission.

Somei caught up with the two Menti, also smiling. "Hello, Fanai. It sounds like you have good news?" She adjusted her pack. It was an old friend, from her time travelling the Archipelago restoring and maintaining Mashtet carvings. It was fuller than usual, with extra supplies and carving equipment. Askha had insisted on carrying the bulk of supplies, and the Datsue had only put up a minor fuss; if something were to happen to her, she didn't want her niece to lose anything.

 

IC: Sydelia - Sado Gardens Medical Tents

Nodding, Sydelia slumped onto a stool. "I'll take that list." She absentmindedly pat her satchel, wanting to reach for her pipe, but it wasn't best for the patients. And some of the medical volunteers had complained. Her eyes darted back to Hatchi. "Satisfy my curiosity; what is a Koshi-Zrupgar doing all the way in Sado, in the medical wards?"

OOC: @Mel

The times, they are a-changing...

 

 

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IC: Dastana Arsix, Crowned Rora of the Dastana Republic - Private Chambers

Arsix nodded at Morie politely, "Of course, Toroshu. There's plenty of work to do for myself tonight regardless."

She turned to Rayuke, "I'm sure you've got some questions yourself, Lord Rayuke, unless my brother managed to fill you in on his own." Truth be told, she wanted a chance to speak with the man herself too.

OOC: @Mel @Haman Karn: A Magical Girl

IC: Kura Chand - Odaiba

.: You won't see me again, until I know the truth. :.

I took a long, deep breath, feeling the hot air being drawn into my mouth, and into my lungs. It stung inside my chest, snapping me out of my mental haze. My thoughts had been clouded by my shock, and with this renewed clarity, I willed my body to move.

The creature, which had only moments before, cut down my master and mentor before my very eyes, had advanced on me, sensing my weakness. The shadow, dancing and warping with the flames behind the beast, suddenly cast over me. It rose its staff to the sky, and I watched as my body finally listened to my command, bringing both of my arms up, and covering them in hardened psionic energy. I side-stepped as the spear came down, and twisted, bouncing the weapon off of my deflection so the rest of the staff would slide into the floor. When it did, and the earth was cut into with the force of the attack, the creature simply spun at the hips, and struck me so hard in the ribs, that the only thing which overshadowed my sudden intense pain was the fact that I had been sent flying nearly twenty feet away.

I spun over and over, bouncing on the rocky ground, stopping finally on my back, unable even to cry out in pain. It was there I lay still; shaking, and hardly able to breathe, and I had all but accepted my fate. But, before the sky could turn dark, and all the stars would be snuffed out, I felt deep in my chest, the pounding of hooves growing closer. Then, I realized, I could hear them too. I turned my heard towards the source, and before my blurry tear-filled eyes, Naiana appeared, whinnying and snorting in excitement. I reached up, and as the fire continued to spread around us, and more beasts began to appear, I took hold of the Soko, and forced my broken body onto her back. Without a moment's hesitation, Naiana turned and began dashing away from the screeching creatures, nearly bucking me from her back as she kicked up dust and rock on the mountain face.

All around, the sound of fire, the sound of Long monks and Rahkshi locked in mortal combat, and even the sound of my own breath began to fade - much like my vision. The sky did turn dark, and all the stars had been snuffed out.

.: You don't deserve to know the truth, Kura. :.

* * * * *

.: Then you surely will never see me again. :.

For eight weeks, I ran. Licking my wounds, hiding in the wilderness while Zataka's daughters spread across Odaiba. I trapped and foraged to feed myself, and tried my best to tend to the three broken ribs, which made riding Naiana painful - though fortunately not impossible. I had spent so many sleepless nights in small caves, under the twisted branches of trees, and atop Naiana, fleeing advancing Rahkshi and the death they heralded. It was only my tears, which outnumbered the beasts each night. Scared, and alone, save the Soko, I made my way west, hoping that I could find somebody.


Anybody.

Edited by Palm
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| BZPRPG Profiles |

 

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IC (The Outskirts of Dastana Republic Territory, Odaiba):

They had come from the night.

A young woman, a hatchling with naught but embers within her breast, stared over her shoulder as she and a scant few dozen others trudged through the grasses of Odaiba, looking back up towards the peak of Mount Koshiki. She’d once called the Northern Face home, its high and rocky slopes a comforting eyrie for her people to nestle within— yet now, all she could do was swallow the black bile of dread that welled up in her throat as its shadow loomed high over the plains.

Demons. Oni. Yaoguài.

Tall, hunch-backed and blade-spined things that had crawled from the blackened lake of the caldera and descended as legion, blade-tipped staves catching the light of moon and fire. Their sickening chitters and hisses still echoed in her ears— their split faces opening to reveal writhing things within still haunting her mind’s eye. Her brothers and sisters, men and women so much further along the Way than she, felled in droves by fear that smothered even the fires of their souls, by pestilence that sapped their prodigious strength to a wilted, withered helplessness, by senseless fury that drove their Rage and Teeth against even eachother in the pandaemonium.

What had they done? What Divinity, What Ancestral Spirit, Which Mighty Dragon had they wronged so?

Her eyes grew misty, and the old man leading their march west stopped ahead of her.

“Do not look back.”

Even he had been reduced to ashes. Why?

Thousands of years of peaceful study, of fellowship with their Chand brethren, of dedication to their way of life as the Ancestors ordained… It had all become grey, lifeless ash, no different from the earth they had fled upon beneath their feet. If Koshiki was once a volcano as she’d been told, a fitting home for dragons, was it not supposed to consume them in fire once their clan’s time had come?

Why?

Why, why, why?

Why would it all come to an end like this? Why did they deserve it?

Her gaze fell, even as she turned to face the Datsue steadily approaching her, muttering an unintelligible something under his breath. His once Great Sana, sleek and curved for speed like a dragon’s muzzle, was now merely Noble, twisted up and whiskered grumpily. 

“Did you not hear me, girl?”

She had heard stories of what he’d done in weeks past— how the mountainside shimmered blue like a fallen star while the others escaped— and felt an unbearable lump in her throat as she regarded his form now. Was he not supposed to be the pinnacle? Was he not the man whom she, and other students like her, sought to surpass?

This was no victory, no triumph of self-cultivation, no claiming of the throne as the prized jewel of her hoard of accomplishment. This was only witnessing something great grow old and lame, a reign cut short by tragedy, a worthy idol reduced to practically a tottering geriatri—

“I told you—”

An impact against the back of her right calf knocked it aside and forward, sending her staggering as her base was ripped out from beneath her, a leaf tossed in callous, careless wind. Incredulous as she caught herself, she stared down to the source of her imbalance, who in kind looked upon her with blunt dissatisfaction. Like he stood above her even in this state of his.

“Eyes front. You want to cry about the past forever? Shall I leave you here and strike out on my lonesome, let your knees knock together in fear like a newborn Soko who cannot yet walk?”

..!

This ungrateful little— who did he think he was talking to, someone he stumbled across on his way for a drink from the well?!

They were here for him!

She was outraged! She and their party had come all this way, venturing out into the plains to find stragglers like him even as those split-faced demons still roamed freely throughout the land, only for .:this dumb honored master of an old fart to call her me a coward?! Sure, I'm new to the Art. Sure, I've  yet to master any advanced Traditions. And sure, I felt fear that day— but I'm a warrior, I'm an Initiate, and I've climbed the steps of my own will and proven my courage!:.

If he thought her convictions craven and worthless, then he could go to

.:Good.:.

Huh?

A voice inside her mind. Master— No, Grandmaster Shunkyou’s.

He’d... been listening?

.:Your voice leaks out when you get mad, much like I mutter. Thought I’d tune in. See if I needed to sweep both your legs next before you snapped out of that.:.

She very slowly reexamined his face, now less blindsighted in her furor, and found the Long Datsue smirking. In his pale blue eyes, there was a twinkle of pride— or perhaps mischief. Her face began to flush, her blunder washing away anger with embarrassment and, if one must be honest, more than a little terror at having so thoroughly disrespected a notoriously proud warrior.

Why had she done that..?

.:...Sir, I didn’t mean to sa-:.

.:No, no. That was good. It was very good, hatchling. Nurture that. Fan the sparks in your heart. That was good kindling. Especially calling me an 'old fart'.:.

His voice was warm, in the way that witnessing licking tongues of flame from a few feet back was. Even knowing he was a Datsue now, she felt herself daring not to consider the idea of anyone barging into his thoughts. Lucky for her that he chose mirth over offense like her own.

.:In time, and with practice, you will be able to harness those bursts of heat without need for blinding colors like fury or indignation. Confidence and independence will fuel your furnace, stoke the blaze in your chest. You are a Dragon, you know— just as you put it, you sought the Art by choice, because you sought the Wisdom it cultivates. It’s looking like you’re closer to find the Dragon’s Heart within yourself than you realize, child. Fear less of them, and instead believe you are fearsome.:.

His mask shone momentarily, a bruise on her shin from the trek softening before he turned and began to march Northwest once more. This time, he returned to speaking, assuring that not only their congregation, but the World itself would hear:

 

“"We made our home on the mountain of dragon's breath."
"It was inevitable that our discipline would be consumed in the fire that burns bright within us."
“It was a harsh trial.”
“But one we knew would await us all, on one such day. We could not avoid being tested by the powers that be forever.”
“My Master felt the quivering of fate deep within her flame.”
“We lost our temple, but the Art survives through us, the practitioners, not some building.”
“We lost far fewer than we would, were we less dedicated.”
“A shame and a tragedy are different in that one can create anew what was lost in the former.”
“Now is our time to spread these teachings, and spread the Art.”
“So long as even one ember survives deep within our bellies, Soulfire will never die. Remember, all of you.”

—— Long Shunkyou, 25th Grandmaster of Soulfire.

 

Such were the Fiirst Lessons of the new Era.

They marched on towards the northwest, new horizons in sight.
 

OOC: The Old Wyrm is open for interaction.

Edited by Razgriz
  • Like 4

helo frens

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