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Chronicles of Cre' Est

Chronicles of Cre' Est

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The continent of Cre' Est has come a long way since the day of its founding. This RP is an experiment in chronicling some of the major historical events which helped shape how the continent and five nations came to be.

6,636 readers have visited Chronicles of Cre' Est since KumoriRyuu created it.

Introduction

Chronicles of Cre' Est


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Welcome to Chronicles of Cre' Est!

My story, Assassin's Pledge, has grown a lot in the last couple years. And for the purpose of enjoying "what came before" the story, I figured it'd be fun to create a role-play on it covering a series of historical events and important historical figures.

Examples of who we'll see in this RP include (but are not limited to):

1) The original founding of the continent of Cre' Est by the Mar' Valoan settlers
2) The various splits between Cre' Itians and those who would later found the other four nations
3) The monks who would later evolve into the Assassin organization known as Te'i Sai
4) The origin of the various cults and how they found ways of getting glimpses into the Nether Realm to summon malevolent spirits to this world
5) The first Industrial Revolution, courtesy of Cre' Est
6) The second Industrial Revolution, courtesy of Veilbrand
7) The cultural development of Shaharan

This RP idea was largely inspired by recent real-world events which have sparked a demand for major social and political change the world over. However, that's about as far as we'll get with real-world politics here.

This RP is going to be all about the social and political history of Assassin's Pledge. Each section of this RP will feature a different central historical figure which will be portrayed by yours truly. Everyone around these figures who help shape their life experiences, their social and political views and the inner workings of their hearts will be played by YOU!

So while my characters are the central pivot point, you are the ones driving the direction and intensity of said pivot. Make sense?

Hopefully that made sense. I'm not exactly known for my awesome communication skills.

Anyway! If this idea appeals to you, please feel free to drop me a message in the threads or a private message! I'll be happy to discuss the RP, the history of Assassin's Pledge (which will also be laid out in the threads once I get around to writing them), and how you can expect to create a character based around the figures I provide for each section of the RP.

Also, if you would like to negotiate portraying a central historical figure rather than a different and more custom character, I am open to such negotiations. Please wait to talk to me about this until I have created the threads which detail who these central figures are. It may help you to determine if you really want to take that role.

Thank you so much for visiting! And I hope to see you inside!

~ Kumori

Toggle Rules

1) Please introduce yourself before throwing a character at this RP. A little courtesy goes a long way with me. And if you just throw a character at me without at least saying "Hi" in the General Discussion thread or in a PM about the RP, I won't accept the character. I consider silent character drop-ins to be very rude and disrespectful. So please don't give me that impression of you. Thanks!

2) No God-Modding, Meta Gaming, or Power Playing.

God-Modding - Cheating your character into an un-killable, or even un-damageable position where nothing can hurt them and they seem to preternaturally ignore and/or avoid any danger without ever being caught in a vulnerable position. A single violation will get you a one-way ticket out of the RP.

Meta Gaming - Using your real-world knowledge about what's going to happen in the RP to determine how your character reacts instead of letting them react dynamically. This will be a 1 warning infraction. Twice gets you ejected from the RP.

Power Playing - Writing actions or words for player-controlled characters that don't belong to you and without the permission of the character's owner. This is another single violation and you're out of the RP.

3) Disrespectful behavior will not be tolerated. If you engage in any kind of toxic arguments or verbal assaults on another player, you'll find yourself out of the RP and reported to the Moderators/Admins of this website before you even realize I was watching the event unfold. I take the comfort and emotional safety and health of all those who join my RP's very seriously.

Do not cross me on this.

The Story So Far... Write a Post » as written by 4 authors

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Korrin Arzan Character Portrait: Captain Armedus Lohran Character Portrait: Cretas Estallamos Character Portrait: Tora Lithenmiir Character Portrait: Lemnia Estallamos Character Portrait: Collen Merah
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Twilight.

The sea painted orange-yellow with the fading sun on the horizon.

One lonely cloud already dissipating to make way for a clear night sky.

Cretas sat with Lemnia in her lap below deck chatting with her about her misadventures with Collen while Tora leaned against the wall nearby in a seemingly meditative state.

"Is that so? You almost ran into someone's house?"

"Uh huh!"

"My, my. The poor boy." Cretas giggled.

I'll have to thank him for watching her later. She thought.

As the sun disappeared giving way to night, Cretas put Lemnia down for the night and lay in the cot beside her stroking her hair while the little angel clung to the pillow in a contented sleep.

Time marched ever onward, and the dreaded hour was drawing near. And as Cretas began hearing more and more of the crew beginning to gather on deck, she knew her time was running out. Looking down at Lemnia, Cretas' mind became a whirlwind of memories good and bad. And as she closed her eyes and leaned down to kiss Lemnia's forehead, she stood from the cot and swallowed a lump in her throat.

As she stood, Tora's eyes slid open and locked onto hers as they shared a silent moment before he too stood up and walked up beside her.

"Are you ready?"

She shook her head, and he placed a hand on her shoulder with a soft grip.

"If anything goes wrong, scream."

She nodded and patted his hand before walking quietly to the stairs leading up onto the deck. Opening the door cautiously, she looked back to make sure Lemnia was still asleep along with the other newcomers to the crew, numbering only three or four, who were being left out of Lohran's activity. She took a deep breath as she looked up at the beautiful star-filled skies and walked out onto the deck shutting the door softly behind herself.

Inside, Tora stood on the last step with one hand on his blade.

Captain Lohran and what remained of his original crew were all present on deck gathered in a circle around a lantern. Lohran himself stood in the center of the circle with a large, calm smile on his face.

"There ye are, miss Cretas. We've been waitin' for ye."

"Surely you don't need to talk like that anymore, Captain?"

Lohran chuckled.

"I suppose ye be right 'bout that, miss. But I be a pirate through n' through. An' me crew 'preciates it when we talk like pirates do."

"I see. So you're folding to the whims of the many."

Lohran's smile disappeared as Cretas stopped her advance at the edge of the circle.

"I be bowin' ta nothin', miss. And I advise ye ta watch yer-"

"How many times has it been, Captain?"

"... Wut?"

"How many times have you spoken with your crew over the years as if you grew up without an education or a sense for verbal articulation? How many times have you thought about just talking like yourself, and shied away?"

Lohran's face darkened even against the light of the lantern, and the crew all began to slowly glance his way with rapidly paling faces.

"Ye be threadin' mighty thin ice, miss. And I advise ye ta watch yer tone."

"You articulate like a noble with me, yet you choose to speak like a common sea urchin with them," she said while gesturing to the crew. "Why is that? Is it because you think they're too stupid to understand your full vocabulary? Or maybe you think they're too ornery to appreciate your natural eloquence?"

Lohran walked forward and stopped a single step shy of bumping into her, glaring into her eyes with that icy stare he was so famous for.

"One more word and we'll be draggin' the little missy on deck with ye."

"Good luck with that, Captain. Don't forget who's below deck with her."

"Ye think the swordsman can protect her from us?"

"I know he can. After all, you've had every opportunity to get rid of him along this journey so far. Yet you refrain. Why is that?"

"Contrary ta the popular opinion, I don't be killin' just anyone fer-"

"You're scared of him."

Lohran's mouth snapped shut.

"You know who he is. And you know what he does... And you're scared of him."

A hand shot out and gripped Cretas' lapels and yanked her in close, practically nose to nose with the Captain.

"Care ta repeat that one more time, missy?"

"You... Are... Scared... Of... Him." She repeated with a confident smile.

Cretas was thrown to the ground in the middle of the circle knocking the lantern over, but thankfully not breaking it.

... The handle on the doors leading below deck slowly and quietly turned as Cretas chuckled and started to get up with Lohran approaching slowly.

"Throw me around all you like, Captain. Your rage simply proves my point. And your crew knows it, don't you lads?" She asked giving them all a glance around the circle.

All of them were still as stone and trembling like leaves in a storm as the Captain walked into the middle of the circle with her.

"I honestly can't say I've ever been pushed so far for so little." He growled.

Cretas' smile widened.

"See? Talking like yourself wasn't so-"

The back of the Captain's hand arced through the air and slammed into the side of her head knocking her back several steps and into one of the crew who caught her and held her up. With her head swimming Cretas coughed and rubbed the impact site while blinking to restore her blurred vision as the Captain stalked closer.

"I thought we had an agreement, miss Cretas. You'd come out here and give us our due time to enjoy what's been deprived from us for so long, and in return we'd leave the brat alone. But you truly don't seem to comprehend the situation you're in now." He looked to the one helping hold her up and gave a nod with a scowl, and the man nodded back feverishly as he pushed her towards the Captain.

Catching her in an iron-clad grip, he swept her legs out from under her and slammed her down onto the deck once more knocking the wind from her lungs.

... The handle on the doors leading below deck turned.

Back in the circle, the Captain knelt down over Cretas.

"I wanted this to be a simple affair where we'd all be able to relax a little, even if all parties were in disagreement as to the why behind all this. But now you've gone and pissed me the fuck off, miss Cretas. And you're going to pay the price for it. You and your little brat."

Cretas gathered herself enough against her gasps for breath to glare up at him.

"But don't worry, the brat won't be getting what's coming to her until morning. For now..."

His hand moved towards her lapels in preparation to tear her clothing away when a blade rested itself on his shoulder.

"That's quite enough."

"This doesn't concern you, boy."

"Actually, it does. Not that you care, but I swore an oath long ago to protect the innocents of this world from people like you. And I've no plans to break that oath anytime soon."

"The lady agreed to this, boy. Have you no honor for such a bargain struck between two consenting adults?"

"Not when that bargain came at the cost of the dignity and safety of the innocent party."

The blade slid closer to the Captain's neck, the edge gently touching his skin.

"Rise."

Lohran slowly let go of Cretas and stood up, the blade never moving from its spot against his neck.

"Turn around slowly."

Lohran did as told, facing Tora with an eerily calm and empty stare.

"You really think you can stop this, boy?"

"Your crew is just trying to be a good crew for their Captain. I can't fault them for that. But if they make a single move to help you then I won't hesitate to cut them down with you."

Lohran's lips curled into a smile.

"You really think swinging your little sword around is going to be the end-all here?"

"A blade is merely a tool, Captain. An extension of a warrior's body. The skill and will to cut you all down to protect the innocent lives on board this vessel lie within my body and mind. Not a piece of metal I carry with me. Even without it, you and your skeleton of a crew are no match for me and the young man downstairs."

Lohran burst into laughter.

"You think that temperamental oaf is a threat to us?"

"Far more than you give him credit for."

"Well, I'll leave you to that little delusion. For now, would you kindly remove your blade from my neck? It's getting itchy."

Tora's relaxed frown deepened as the blade was pressed harder against the Captain's skin and draw back until it was free of his shoulder. It wasn't enough to draw blood. But it did get a subtle twitch of pain from the Captain's cheek.

The blade, however, remained pointed directly at the Captain's stomach.

"You and I will now make a bargain."

"Oh?"

"If you're so lustful for female company, find it in a brothel. I'm sure you know of a few locations nearby we could visit after the ship's repairs are complete. But consider miss Estallamos and her daughter to be firmly under my protection. You make one move towards either of them, and your life will end."

The tip of the blade came up and touched underneath Lohran's jaw.

"Bargain?"

Lohran held his icy stare.

"It's not just about the female company, boy. It's about the who in the female company. And miss Cretas is everything I'd ever want or ask for in such a lustful endeavor."

Lohran's right knee was suddenly struck by a powerful blow causing it to collapse as he went down onto said knee and popped himself up with both hands.

Cretas then walked around to stand beside Tora with a deep scowl on her face.

"You want me? Too fucking bad! I had my share of horrible experiences with my ex husband. And you're not going to give me new nightmares!" She growled.

Lohran chuckled.

"Oh, trust me miss Cretas. We wouldn't give you any nightmares. If anything, you'd be dreaming of joining us for such an experience again." He said as he looked up hungrily at her.

"You couldn't make me believe that even if you got me stupidly drunk to the point of being near death, Captain."

Lohran stood up somewhat shakily on the now injured leg.

"Well. Can't say I didn't give you a fair chance now, can we?"

"Enough. This entire debacle ends now. You and your crew will either find your satisfaction at a brothel, or you'll all kiss my blade as it sends you to eternal sleep the next time you make any such attempts on miss Cretas' body and well being, or that of her daughter. This is your only warning, Lohran."

Lohran's smile vanished.

"You forgot to say Captain."

"The term Captain is one that implies respect. And you don't have mine."

Tora lowered his blade and backed away with an arm extended to urge Cretas to back up with him. Together they made it back to the doors leading below deck and shut the door behind them with Lohran glowering at them the entire way. Once below deck, Tora finally sheathed his sword and glanced at Cretas who was still staring intently at the doors just over his shoulder.

"You should try to get some sleep, miss Estallamos."

Cretas' eyes slid to meet his, and she took a deep breath.

"So much for my name then, huh?"

"Hm?"

"Back there, near the end of the... conversation, you called me Cretas. Although I suppose there was the miss in front of it. But still."

"Oh!" Tora said with a blush in his cheeks as he gave a hasty bow. "My sincerest apologies!" He whispered forcefully.

Cretas giggles.

"It's fine. I actually prefer it if you call me by my first name. It sounds nice coming from you."

Tora rose and cleared his throat quietly.

"You do have a beautiful name, miss Estalla-"

He was silenced by Cretas' index finger coming to rest on his lips, and the blush returned to his cheeks when she gave him a playful wink and a smile.

"Ah, ah. That's miss Cretas from now on." She whispered.

Cretas then leaned up and kissed Tora's cheek, much to his shock and confusion. Giving him a playful pat on the chest she turned around and spotted Collen asleep on his own cot, which earned a smile as she walked past and to the cot where Lemnia was still sound asleep clinging to her pillow and laid down next to her. It was indeed time for her to get some much needed sleep. And there was no better spot to do so than right here next to her beloved little angel. Drool on the pillow and all.

Tora, meanwhile, swallowed a lump in his throat and tried to shake his head to rid himself of this odd sensation. Was this what it was supposed to feel like when a woman was flirting? That was what this was, right? Or was it simply her being grateful and expressing it in a way he hadn't experienced before? But if it was so, then-... Agh!! So many questions!

"Women are complicated." He whispered to himself.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Captain Armedus Lohran Character Portrait: Collen Merah
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Collen was unaware of the night's events as he was starting his day at the ship. As he was getting Captain's meal the crew was a bit more quiet than usual but the boy shrugged it off as a night of drinking at the shore. He definitely knew how much his father hated loud noises on certain mornings.

"Your breakfast Captain!" He knocked on Lohran's quarters door, waiting.

A muffled voice replied from within.

"The door's unlocked, boy. Get in here."

Collen opened the door quickly and placed the tray of food on his table.

Lohran was eerily silent, seated in his chair facing the window at the back of the cabin.

"You're a bit later than usual, boy. What kept you?"

Collen blinked. He didn't think he had been late, and if he was it had to be mere minutes. "I'm sorry Captain. I came as soon as I got your meal from the cook."

Lohran slowly spun in the chair and slammed his fist into his desk.

"Don't let it happen again, boy! You hear me?!" He screamed.

Collen instinctively took two steps back towards the door. "Y-yes Captain. I'm, I'm sorry Captain!" He swallowed.

Lohran's eyes opened a bit wider and he leaned back and took a deep breath.

"Ah... No, no lad." He sighed while pinching the bridge of his nose.

He stood up and walked to the window, placing his hands behind his back.

"If this is what a lack of sleep usually means, I want no part of it." He mumbled, fingers idly rolling behind him as one hand gripped the other more tightly.

"Return to your duties, lad." He said more calmly.

Collen swallowed again and nodded. As he was at the door, he stopped. His hand clenched and slowly he turned around. He couldn't allow himself to be scsred. He wasn't going to let the one deal with him slip away.

"Captain? We reached the shore, the ship's being prepared. When can you teach me fight?"

Lohran remained silent for a time. Fingers again idly rolling behind his back as he took in another deep breath.

"Apologies, lad. But I won't be teaching you how to fight. There's a lot going on right now that you don't need to know about. But suffice to say, it's more important."

He turns his head and glanced at Collen out of the corner of his eye with a cold stare.

"Return to your duties, boy."

Collen didn't say a word as he answered the gaze of his own before leaving the room and closing it behind him.

"Tch."

Setting

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Character Portrait: Korrin Arzan
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The night passed like a dream to Korrin, who was unaware of the midnight excursions. He didn’t ask then, he didn’t ask the next morning when he felt the leftover tension in the air. He did however, make a note to ask Tora what exactly happened later. Instead, he gathered his things, and left the ship again, eager to keep his promise to A’hana to join her for another hunt, per her request.

He never gave a thought as to why he was accepting the invitation. Instead, Korrin Arzan was giving thought as to why she decided to invite him when, even with the ship the way it was, it was uncertain to him when he would leave to continue for the New World. He then wondered for a moment why he’d want to spend the time with her?

Korrin thus sighed. I am at a loss. Maybe Teacher was right, despite being one herself, in that I’ll never fully understand women. She also said something about the heart but I never fully paid attention to that. He thought to himself as he moved through the town, eager to get to the outskirts, and the house on the hill. It came closer with every step. Before he knew it, he was there.

Well here we are Korrin. Should I knock on her door or should I wait...? he pondered, and so he simply stood near the house, Pondering on how to present himself.

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Character Portrait: Korrin Arzan
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Sounds were coming from inside the house for several long seconds before someone finally answered the door. It was an older woman, portly, yet with a kind smile one would expect from a calm and wizened elder.

"Oi there, boy. You here for A'hana? She said some young feller would be-"

The old woman was suddenly pulled back a step and A'hana stepped around her carrying a large net folded several times over her shoulder.

"Thanks Ga'pta! I'll be going now!"

She shut the door behind her quickly and sighed to herself as she gave Korrin a smile.

"So, ready to head out?!"

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Character Portrait: Korrin Arzan
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Korrin blinked at the old woman and barely said, ”Yes.” Before A’hana made her presence known by pulling the old woman aside and coming out the door with a net folded round her shoulder.

Korrin blinked as she acted like nothing happened. ”Yes I’m ready when you are Miss A’hana.” he replied as he allowed her to lead him. He didn’t ask about what they would be hunting, as the net made it rather obvious. So instead, Korrin decided to try and get to know her a bit better.

”The Elder in your house seemed like a nice person. Out of curiosity what was that name you called her?” He asked. Never had he heard an Elder be called Ga’pta, so he was genuinely wondering if that was a name or some sort of honorary title. Of course, the last time he tried to give someone an Honorary title or name, Teacher put him in a bit of a headlock. It took him quite awhile to get out of the hold.

He mentally shuddered at the sheer strength of the headlock. But he silently walked and waited for an answer.

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Character Portrait: Korrin Arzan
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A'hana looked over her shoulder.

"Hm? Oh, you mean Ga'pta?"

She paused mid-stride and put a finger to her chin.

"Uhh... Ugh, what did they call it? Um..."

She closed her eyes and furrowed her brow.

"Mmmmmmmm!... Agh, it's on the tip of my tongue... What did they..."

Eventually she sighed and looked at him with an apologetic smile.

"I'm sorry, Korrin. I can't remember what the term is on the mainland. But she's my mother's mother. If that made sense?"

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Character Portrait: Korrin Arzan
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”Mother’s....mother. Oh! ‘Grandmother’. Or Granny as I heard some kids say whenever I helped any villagers with local hunts or something on the mainland.” Korrin replied to A’hana’s question before he started to muse aloud. ”Never really met either side of my grandparents, just had mother, sis, and... Ahem! So, uh what’s the big net for? We after a whole bunch of fish today?”

That was a close one in his mind. His mind almost wandered too far into memories he dared not tread in front of her. His fast growing friendship with the Local hunter was evident in his mind if he felt comfortable talking of his family. Or it’s the influence of Tora, Ms. Cretas and Lemnia making me feel more at ease talking to people. What did conversing with them do to me?! he thought, wondering where the Flame was when his mind wandered. Usually it started to crawl around but for some reason it was, quiet this moment. Observant, even. Was it curious about Korrin’s interactions with A’hana as much as he himself was?

Still, his curiosity was still seeking to fulfill its purpose to know exactly what sort of fish they’d be catching today. In fact, the flame seemed to lick it’s chops at the thought of fresh fish.

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Character Portrait: Korrin Arzan
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"Ah." She replied to the word "grandmother."

As Korrin paused after talking of his mother and sister, she A'hana couldn't help but tilt her head slightly before he cleared his throat and asked about what they were hunting.

"I decided to challenge myself today to capture an entire school of small fish called Teethi. They're little needle-like fish, so our nets have to be really tightly woven, as you can see." She said, gesturing to the net over her shoulder.

"Providing we can catch the school in one go, we'll have enough food the Sahriel family without the need for more hunts later. Normally I like to do multiple hunts. But today's a bit special. So I'd like to try and get it done a bit quicker. So let's head out!"

A'hana adjusted the net on her shoulder and took off in a light jog down the road. On the way, she glanced back and couldn't help but think...

"You know, my Ga'pta's the sweetest woman on the island. Bar none. I can't really imagine how I'd have turned out if it weren't for her."

She spun around and jogged backwards so she could look him in the eyes.

"Do you have anyone like that, Korrin?"

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Character Portrait: Korrin Arzan
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Korrin was jogging and keeping pace alongside her when she talked of her grandmother. But when she got ahead and began jogging backwards to ask him the next question his heart almost stopped. Part of him didn’t want to open up that fast but there was something about A’hana’s gaze into his eyes that felt, calming. The flame wanted to surge to stop him from experiencing the pain of the memories but it shrunk under the gaze.

Korrin smiled however, knowing the best answer was who impacted his life the most. Whilst his Mother and his sister were relatives he treasured, and his father was a piece of dung, one person’s kindness and patience gave the most impact. ”My Teacher. She took me in, taught me how to hunt, how to fight. How to read, how to write, and how to speak.” he began. ”Without Teacher’s kindness and strength, I wouldn’t be Korrin, the Hunter and Fighter. I’d have been just another kid... lost to the wild.”

He heaved a sigh, his smile giving a sad one and continued keeping pace with A’hana, as he began humming a song that he recalled Teacher singing to him to calm him in the first few months in her care. As he grew, he slowly began to understand that somewhere, there was a piece of him in that song, seeking to find his way home. But not the home he left.

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Character Portrait: Korrin Arzan
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A'hana smiled.

"She sounds like an amazing woman."

She turned around and jogged forward just in time as they came upon a sharp turn down the hillside leading to a zig zagging path. Down and down they went until they reached the water's edge down below. All the while, every time they came upon a sharp turn, A'hana stole a glance back wondering just who he was going to talk about before that pause.

As they reached the water, A'hana tossed the net down and adjusted her outfit for the water as she'd done yesterday.

"All right. These little guys spook really easily. So since there's two of us, we're using it to our advantage. Out past the reef, there's a small cave that's just large enough for me to fit inside and wait with the net. If you can herd the little guys over to me, I'll do the rest."

She hoisted the net back up onto her shoulder and glanced back.

"Ready?"

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Character Portrait: Collen Merah
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Once the door has closed behind him, there was an annoyed "Tsk." as Collen's hand clenched. He wasn't surprised, in fact he should have known better. "I can become shark meat For all he cares." He huffed again under his breath as he headed towards under the deck. He was just another easily replaced crewmate.

He kicked a barrel on his way down. There was no way he could ask anyone else to teach him. Not if he didn't want to anger the Captain any more than he already had. Collen gritted his teeth, he hated this ship. He hated the Captain. He took his knife and looked at it for a few seconds before slamming the blade on top of the barrel. He felt useless.

He sat down on his bed, just staying there for a moment.

"Return to your duties, boy."

Lohran's words echoed in his mind. His duties. Cleaning, fishing, delivering the meals... Each and every one of his tasks just as easily replaced as any other. Collen looked at his knife. The only thing he could even consider his own on this ship. Everything else belonged to Lohran. Himself included. As long as there was debt to be paid, he had no way to escape. Even if he wanted to leave the ship and stay at the shore right now, he couldn't. Someone would find him and he'd just be in more trouble.

The boy got up and pulled off the dagger. "Happy birthday to me." He whispered sarcastically, as he went to get a fishing pole. With everything gathered, he walked off the ship and sat down at the docks. Casting the line once more he sat there in silence.

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Character Portrait: Korrin Arzan
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Korrin nodded, and pulled off his cloak and wrapped his sword and bow with it and replied “I was born ready!” with a large grin on his face that almost looked ready for a brand new adventure. And to his mind, spooking fish without worrying about the fish coming to a fishing pole?

Sounds like a really really fun and hilarious time to cause mischief to animals.

A'hana nodded.

"All right. Then follow me. Oh, and be sure to stay close. We'll be passing through some really thick kelp, and it's easy to get disoriented in there."

She waded out into waist-deep water and took a few deep breaths. On the third, she inhaled and held before pushing down and sliding smoothly into the water. Once beneath the waves, the beautiful bright blue ocean opened up before her. Lines of coral reef to the left and right in almost too-neat rows. Beautiful bio-luminescent plants and clumps of seaweed lined the ocean floor. And dozens of species of fish littered the locale and scattered as she approached.

Swimming out ahead and into more open waters beyond the coral reef, the kelp she spoke of came into view from out of the haze. Turning around to Korrin, she pointed up and surfaced to take in a big breath and wait for him to surface with her.

Korrin followed her into the water shortly after, swimming through the bright blue world underneath the waves, and he couldn’t help but admire the things that existed there. The reefs, the plants, and the fish that fled in wake of the pair’s swimming. It was as if he was in another plane of existence entirely.

Then he saw the kelp coming ahead. His eyes widened as he saw it, barely catching A’hana’s instruction to surface and followed shortly after and take a breath. ”’Thick’ Kelp? Looks more like a forest of the stuff!” he proclaimed, whilst fighting to make certain he didn’t loose the deep breath he took in.

Just how would they be navigating through that?

A'hana nodded.

"That's a fairly apt description." She giggled.

Swimming towards him, she held onto his wrist.

"We'll stay together like this, okay? Just try to make sure you relax and move with me. The path is really precise if we don't want to spook the Teethi since they nest just on the other side of it all."

Korrin gave a small chuckle as he scratched his head, before she grasped onto his wrist as she said the next step. A light pink dusting formed around his cheeks, as well as at the back of his mind, the Flame let slip several memories of others holding his hand like this. His Sister guiding him someplace he remembered not what, and his teacher guiding his hand on a swordsmanship instruction.

They quickly were banished when Korrin nodded. ”Alright. Together then.” he said with a nod and a look of determination, as well as a small hint of the Flame to further fuel said determination.

She nodded once more.

"Good. When I give the signal, swim out wide to the left and lead them to the little cave you see me swim into. We'll only have one chance to get as many as we can into the net. So let's make this count."

She took a few deep breaths, and descended with Korrin into the gloom.

Keeping hold of his wrist, she guided him into the kelp forest as leaves brushed up against them to either side by the dozen as they moved. The visibility was basically zero. But A'hana kept a careful watch on their course by looking down towards the sea floor where the leaves weren't as large or dense. And before long, the kelp forest came to a rather sudden halt and opened back up into the open ocean.

A'hana let go of his wrist and pointed towards a large mass of thin needle-like fish swimming in a massive school. She pointed to the right to a tiny cave, and then pointed left where a coral reef that neatly and conveniently hooked around like a 'C' to the exact spot he needed to be served as a guide for him.

She swam off to the right, keeping low to the ocean floor, and huddled into her cave with the net now open and ready to throw.

Korrin swam to where A’hana showed him, and followed the reef’s hook, there he began to pick up speed to swim towards the mass of needle fish. Then, drawing into the Flame, he swam full tilt and unleashed something he usually kept reserved until the last moment in a hunt against prey, in hopes to bring fear to it. His glare of killer intent.

His teacher’s words rang out to him. ”Every hunter must have at least one ounce of killer’s intent in their eyes. For if you do not, the deer will not sense it’s end, but a clumsy hunter about to miss. A Boar will see an easy target to gore, and even if it senses your intentions, will attack out of fear. Make your prey fear you my little cub.”

So he did. The Mass began to react to his glare from what he could tell. He just had to drive them towards the Cave, which he tried to swim towards. Oh Desmiel, let this be a good feast we bring! he prayed as he swam.

A'hana watched carefully as Korrin circled around and startled the Teethi. But as she did so, she noticed a change in his eyes. Something... Dark. Something primal. She couldn't quite put her finger on it. But at some level it...

No time. The Teethi rapidly approached her hiding spot. Waiting for just the right moment, as she'd done hundreds, if not thousands of times before, she launched the net with both hands out into their path while keeping hold of a single string at the end. The Teethi struck the net and raced forward even faster in a desperate bid to escape. But it was no use.

The net folded around a hefty chunk of the school and A'hana wasted no time grabbing each end of the net and pulled them together before twisting them tight to prevent any chance of escaping through a gap. With the Teethi secured, she gestured for Korrin to come help drag the catch to the surface so they could get some much-needed air. She didn't know about Korrin, but her lungs were about to burst.

Korrin swam towards A’hana and grasped the net the moment she tied it off, the killer intent gone as fast as he had used it. He nodded at what she was signaling and pulled and swam up towards the surface. By Desmiel! he thought, I might’ve overdone it with the spooking. That’s a lot of fish. he shrugged mentally as he helped haul the net up to the surface.

The moment they breached the surface, Korrin took in a huge gulp of air. ”Gosh, I hope I did it right, I never tried spooking a fish before.” he gasped out, giving a small chuckle to hide the grimace of the fact the fish net was heavy with... well. Fish. It took a good amount of his focus to hang into the net.

A'hana breached the surface and took in a huge gulp of air and panted softly as she worked her lungs and tested the weight of the net by giving it a few light tugs.

"You did well! We got a... A nice big haul." She said breathlessly.

"Let's get these babies back to shore."

A'hana began swimming slowly back towards the shore, keeping a grip on the net, and keeping Korrin in her peripherals.

That look that was in his eyes earlier. She couldn't unsee it. That primal darkness. She'd never seen anyone look like that before. Even her father, who was quite known for his temper, had never looked at anyone or anything like that.

She was tempted to ask about it, but...

"... Korrin..." She said as she slowed down and came to a stop to tread water. "... We've got company." She said as her eyes tracked a shadow in the water not far away to the right from the direction of the kelp forest

Korrin stopped when she said they got company, and took a look at the shadow in the water. ”That, isn’t a good thing I take it?” He asked hesitatingly his free hand reaching once again instinctively, for a sword that was not there. He mentally cursed himself but he knew that the saltwater would more then likely rust the blade.

”What is it A’hana?”

She kept her eyes locked on the shadow as it moved back and forth in the kelp forest.

"It's not... Bad, exactly. But it is a massive nuisance. If it reaches the net, it's going to tear it open without a fight and we'll lose our catch."

She shifted over so she and Korrin were both between it and the net.

"It doesn't scare easy. If it looks like it's fleeing, it'll be back. But do you think you can drive it away?"

With what? My fists? Korrin thought to himself but he heaved a sigh. If he had to improvise a weapon with what’s around him it wouldn’t be the first time. He had to make arrows by himself when he ran low of ammo at one point in his life.

”I’ll do my best. Will you be okay if I did give it a go?” he asked hesitatingly, not wanting to leave her dragging the catch by herself if he was chasing off something in the water.

A'hana nodded.

"It's not particularly aggressive, but it's dangerous. The top of its head and its front fins are ridged with sharp scales that'll open your skin like a knife opens a chicken. So be careful, okay? I'm going to try to get this net to shore while you keep its attention. I'll call when I'm clear."

Korrin nodded and took several deep breaths ”Desmiel watch over us.” he prayed aloud as he took in one more deep breath and began swimming under the water, his hunter instinct keeping an eye out for the shadow as he swam away from A’hana to distract whatever it was.

He took another breath as he briefly dived underwater to have a look in the direction the shadow fled to. He didn’t want any unexpected surprises. However, he was unarmed, and despite having training in combat, if A’hana was right, an attempt at assault would injure him. And Cretas and Tora would ask questions if he came back with an injury.

Which would make them worry about him instead of worrying about whatever it was that had the former’s mood so quiet. Shaking his head mentally his instincts were on high alert.

A'hana kept an eye out for Korrin as he moved out to distract their new friend. And as he dove under the water, she slowly began slipping down beneath the waves herself keeping a strong grip on the net as the fish within struggled to shake free.

From the kelp forest sprung a massive fish with a dense, yet relatively flat body and a shovel-shaped head. The top of its head had a single ridge from nose to the base of the skull, and its front flippers were equally as sharp and reflected the sunlight.

The creature paused momentarily and stared at Korrin before circling back into the kelp forest.

A'hana, meanwhile, took that as her cue to start swimming to shore which, admittedly was a bit of a struggle given the amount of fish in the net. It would be easier with Korrin to help. But he was preoccupied. So A'hana grit her teeth and dug deep to drag those fighting little buggers back to shore.

The intruder burst from the kelp forest towards Korrin, head lined up with his torso.

Korrin eyed the animal as it moved back and then began it’s charge. Korrin in reaction to the danger, began to swim to the right as if to avoid the running log in the story he told Lemnia. As he swam, he felt the Flame react to the danger and begin it’s crawl up his head, feeding on the rushing feeling that Korrin felt at being in danger from this creature.

He hoped A’hana would be fine as he swam, keeping a sharp eye on the intruder. You’re a nasty little bugger aren’t you? So am I on a good day! he thought as he kept at swimming. He was certain he’d have to dodge again if charging was in this fish’s strategy.

The intruder circled around and dove into the kelp forest once again disappearing from view. And for several seconds it remained hidden until at last it poked its head out once more from an angle slightly to the left.

It swam a bit slower this time as it came around Korrin's left side, its large shimmering blue eye seemingly locked on his own. Its maw opened and closed revealing a small row of needle like teeth perfect for capturing smaller fish and never letting go.

As it moved in closer a stream of bubbles emerged from tiny nostril-like openings towards the front of its nose obscuring Korrin's view.

She didn’t warn me about the teeth! he thought as he swam cautiously trying his best to widen the distance as the flame began to take over much of his body in aid of doing it. Was he going to have to react and dodge an incoming attack? Was he going to have to just keep swimming for the shore?

I am not prey! I am the Hunter, much like you. Is what he wanted to vocalize had he the means to speak underwater. As he saw the stream of bubbles emerge to obscure his view the Flame made him shoot backwards and swim backwards in a zig zag fashion. He had to move! He had to keep moving!!

The intruder suddenly darted off to the side away from Lonan and towards A'hana and the net.

Korrin’s eyes widened in alarm as he realized the ruse and swam after the intruder. No You don’t! Get away from her you Bastard! he mentally shouted as he allowed the Flame to take over his mind. He had one shot to get it’s attention back on him, or to deter it entirely from pursuing him and A’hana any further, before going up for air.

It wanted to mess with Korrin? It was gonna get Korrin. One solid punch’s worth of it. He sped towards it’s left side and readied his left fist, hoping to hit at it’s side behind it’s front fins.

Begone! He mentally raged as he swung his fist, unleashing his fury with the punch.

The fish reacted to the punch by jerking its body away from it and swimming around back towards the kelp forest.

A'hana, meanwhile, had reached the shallows and was able to set her feet on the sandy ocean floor while using one hand to smack the water's surface. She had forgotten to tell him that was the signal. So she hoped he'd realize what it meant sooner than later.

Korrin surfaced to take in a deep breath and dipped back down, looking back at A’hana and then towards the kelp forest. When he saw her smack the water’s surface, he cocked his head curiously. The flame was still Raging and wanted more then a punch in but Korrin still swam towards the shore as fast as he could, emerging and panting as he was visibly shaking from the adrenaline and the residual fury of the flame in his mind.

”I’m still here. I did something good.” he muttered in his panting, trying to use his coping techniques to calm the flame down. ”I’m still... proving your wrong Father... if you even still think yourself, my father.”

He rubbed his right arm subconsciously as he muttered this, not realizing he said some of it out loud. He was just focusing on his breathing, and calming down from the near scare the intruder caused him. ”Crafty little bugger, what do you call that thing?” he asked A’hana, using his other hand to try and ring out the water in his hair.

A'hana watched in silence as Korrin approached and began muttering to himself. But she heard almost everything.

"We call it Sipra. Local legends say it's the reincarnation of a troubled spirit which holds a grudge against someone who yet lives."

Her voice was soft and calm, matching the expression on her face as she took a step towards him and reached out to touch his right arm.

"Do you... Also hold a grudge?" She asked quietly.

Korrin watched her approach him as she spoke of Sipra, and listened to the legend. ”It’s probably gonna hold one on me for keeping it off you.” he said with a small chuckle, but the chuckle died as he watched her reach out to touch him as she asked if he held one. He looked down, realizing now what he said, what he usually kept locked away in his mind.

”Yes.” he stated sadly, knowing he had to tell his tale, ”On a man who held no love for his son, and deemed his life worth nothing. So much so he sent him out in the world unready for life’s sorrows, and kept the door to Home closed tight so that his presence would not trouble him. His Mother and Sister, however, resented this action, and kept contact with the boy however they could. His teacher became like a second parent he never could find in the man he once called ‘Father’.”

He took in a deep, shivering breath, fighting against the wave of sadness the Flame tried to suppress. ”The boy learned how to live and thrive without his Father’s guidance, and swore to prove him wrong and to prove to Desmiel his life mattered, and then...when he had a family of his own, love all of his children equally as a final jab at him. But it will never heal the scar he left in my mind, so why? Why didn’t he want me A’hana? Why didn’t I have more people like your grandmother, my mother, and anyone else?”

A'hana listened intently and her face sank further with every word until her head was bowed fully by the end as Korrin asked his questions. All she could do was subtly shake her head.

And after a moment, a drip was heard.

One drop. Then two. Then four.

She was crying.

The net of fish had been secured and sat by her hip in the shallows while her other hand covered her mouth as her bangs hid her face from view.

"Tipah." She sniffled while wiping her eyes with the back of her forearm.

She stood up straight and met his gaze with tear-filled eyes.

"Tipah means "father."" She sniffled, again wiping her eyes.

"For a Tipah to treat their child with such... Indifference. It's unspeakable. Such an act would have him driven from the village never to return."

A'hana slowly came forward through the water, let go of the net, and wrapped her arms around Korrin.

"I'm sorry, Korrin." She whispered.

Korrin heard the drips and turned to look at her, expecting maybe she was just cleaning her face from the water and he just didn’t hear a splash on her face. But when he saw her crying, his eyes widened. Did he make her cry from his tale? But then she explained how it was practically a cardinal sin to her people, and he felt as if a weight pulled off is mind, and the flame shifting in his mind. It was as if it didn’t want to crawl anymore.

But before Korrin could figure out what it was doing A’hana wrapped her arms around him, letting go of the net in the process and apologized to him. His heart was banging on his chest due to both the embrace and the apology, he took a shaking breath. ”H-Hey, please don’t cry. Not for something so far in the past.” He whispered to her, stuttering as he slowly moved his arms and returned the hug with one of his own, softly rubbing her back reassuringly, like he recalled his Teacher’s calming gestures.

”It’s alright A’hana. It’s alright. He expected me to fall down. I got up. Heh, if anything, maybe this Sipra was manifesting His grudge. Cause I gave it a good wallop to scare it off.”

A'hana let slip a single chuckle before slowly pulling back. But she didn't end the embrace. Instead she let her hands rest on his shoulders.

"I'm sorry. I get emotional about family matters quite easily." She sniffled, wiping her eyes again.

”I understand. You must love your family very much.” Korrin said, smiling, despite the tears freely flowing down his face. It wasn’t tears of pain, they were of joy. He found in A’hana someone new to connect with, much like Tora’s friendship. For a what felt like an eternity, but was more then a second he stood with A’hana in their mutual embrace, looking into her eyes with the small smile he always wore when he was happy.

Then his eyes turn to the net, and cleared his throat. ”Speaking of Family, we should deliver that Net that’s chock full of teethi to the family that needs it.” he suggested, his smile turning to a lopsided grin as he marveled at the fish in the net. ”So many little fish.”

A'hana smiled warmly with a "You're right," and stepped back to grab the net while hoisting part of it over her shoulder to get the fish at least halfway out of the water.

"The Sahriel family is waiting for their meal. So let's not delay any longer." She chirped as her tears finally began to run dry.

Korrin pulled his cloak back on as he put his weapons back where they were supposed to be. But he kept the hood down, as he wiped his tears clean and heaved the biggest, heartiest breath of air he ever took. He wanted to let the sun shine on his face for a little while longer today.

”By your lead, A’hana.” he said, gesturing her to show him the way to the Sahriel Family to deliver their catch, silently wondering if he was to help pick up another part of the net.

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Character Portrait: Tora Lithenmiir Character Portrait: Collen Merah
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Tora sat on the mast, as per usual, watching the shore and the people milling about. Observing them go about their day-to-day reminded him a lot of the mainland. Obviously there were differences such as the emphasis on fishing which was clear in how many people were doing exactly that along the docks and on small cliffs near the shore. But overall it was similar enough that he felt a twinge of homesickness in his stomach as he thought about some of his favorite meals of old.

A short time after his mulling, he happened to catch a glance at Collen as he began his own fishing adventure for the day. And if the expression on his face was anything to go by, he was in less than a pleasant mood. Still, Tora couldn't exactly leave it alone. So, hopping off the mast, he walked over to the boy and sat down next to him on the deck.

"Any luck so far?" He asked, gesturing to the rod.

Collen, keeping his eyes on the rod, shook his head. "I just started."

Tora nodded in response.

"Not to pry, but you seem a bit out of sorts today."

The boy was silent for a moment, unsure of his response. Tora wasn't wrong but Collen feared revealing too much would cause him trouble later. Eventually he shrugged, "I guess. Something I was looking forward to got cancelled."

Tora's eyes flickered with understanding.

"Ah."

He considered saying something more, but chose to remain silent for the time being and instead just watched Collen focus on his fishing task.

Collen stayed silent as the fish bit and with an immediate reaction, he started to reel the fish in. Without even realizing it, every move he made was calculated, the way he shifted his weight had a purpose. The fish blopped on the deck, as the boy quickly put one knee on it to hold it down and pulled out his knife. Just like many times before the fish was soon lifeless.

To Collen, all of it was just muscle memory.

Tora observed the catch in silence taking note of the movement and automatic nature of Collen's reactions to the fish's struggling. And by the time the fish was dead, he nodded slowly.

"Impressive." He said calmly. "Quite good with that knife, aren't you?"

He turned to face Tora. "I am?"

Tora nodded with a smile.

"Indeed. Your movements mimic those of a fighter. Smooth. Calculated. Practiced. And the swift dispatching of the fish showed a certain level of knowledge and skill as well."

He stood up and patted Collen on the shoulder.

"Not many your age can move like that." He said as he moved down a ways and sat on the rails.

Collen watched him and then glanced at his knife. No one had ever compared him to a fighter, nor called him knowledgeable. His hand took a tighter grip from the handle. He didn't remember a lot from that night. Only his desperation to survive. His desperation to protect.

He looked back at Tora and walked over to him. He glanced around, making sure no one was too close to hear as he spoke quietly. "That... Thing I was looking forward to... Capt'n was supposed to teach me to fight."

He faced Tora with determination in his eyes. "I want to learn how."

Tora listened quietly. And as Collen finished stating his desire to learn, Tora's eyes closed.

"Hm."

He opened his eyes and looked up towards the skies deep in thought. Every so often he'd make another "Hm" sound, and finally took a deep breath and looked at Collen, speaking quietly.

"Do you intend to use anything you learn to deliberately harm anyone else?"

Collen waited for his answer, finding himself to be slightly anxious. As he finally got his answer, he blinked and then shook his head.

"No. It would be for self defense. Last time I got lucky but..." He paused and looked at him. Collen knew Tora, like everyone else on the ship would have heard of the events. "I got lucky I was able to protect them."

Tora's lips curled in a smile and he reached out and patted Collen's shoulder again.

"I understand."

He stood up and rolled his shoulders.

"Very well. Then I'll teach you. But I have a feeling, given the Captain's demeanor and how he addresses you, that it would be best to train discretely. So, if it's all the same with you, come find me tonight over behind that house," he said, pointing to a lone house on a hill just overlooking the city.

"I'll wait for you there, and we'll find a nice quiet spot to go over some basics of self defense together."

Collen grinned, for the first time in a long time. "Deal." His voice was full of determination as he headed back to fishing, his mind already focused on the night.

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Character Portrait: Tora Lithenmiir Character Portrait: Collen Merah
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Collen had been excited all day knowing Tora had promised to teach him, and wasn't going to back down from his word like the Captain. The boy had been making sure to still do all his work efficiently as not to raise any suspicion.

As the night fell, he went to lay down with the rest of the crew as usual. He kept his eyes closed, listening closely, waiting for them to fall asleep. He couldn't afford anyone seeing him leave the ship. Even with eyes closed he didn't worry about falling asleep himself, he was simply too excited to do that.

Eventually he rose quietly and headed up the deck. He was moving as silently as he knew but the old ship boards creaked under his weight.

Collen froze as the creak sounded like a cannon going off in his ears. And one of the crew nearest him stirred with a few groans. Collen slowly looked over towards the now surely roused crewman with some of the color draining from his face. But, against all odds, the man simply rolled over and adjusted himself on his cot much to Collen's relief.

The boy stood still for a moment longer before continuing his slow sneaking. There was moment of relief as he made it up the deck and felt the salty night air on his skin. Luckily for him, Lohran didn't have anyone to be in guard duty during night times at shore but Collen still kept his eyes open for any movement as he quickly but silently made his way to the beach.

Once he felt the solid ground under his feet, he took off running, making his way towards the lone house on the hill.

Tora, having made his way to this location some time ago, was leaning against a tree next to the house as Collen made his way up the hill. As the boy approached he kept an eye out behind the lad to make sure nobody saw or followed him.

Once Collen arrived, Tora gave him a smile.

"Ready?"

"Yes." He said with an excited, determined smile.

Tora nodded and stood up straight.

"All right. Follow me."

Tora led him around the back side of the house and towards a more wooded area where they would be safe to practice in private. Entering the tree line and stepping through, over, and around the brush and undergrowth, they came to a small clearing with just enough space to move around. Collen struggled a little bit to keep up with Tora as he wasn't used to moving in a forest and definitely wasn't silent doing so.

"Okay." Tora began as he stood near the edge of the open space.

"Stand in the center, there." He instructed, pointing to the middle of the clearing.

"Do you have your knife with you?"

He did as he instructed and nodded.

"Yup." He pulled his knife from its hold on his belt.

Tora nodded again.

"Good. Now," he began as he walked forward stood side by side with Collen.

"The first step to defending yourself comes from your stance. The way you position yourself relative to your opponent can make all the difference between a successful strike versus a failed one. And the same is true of your ability to actually defend against incoming strikes."

Tora put his right foot forward and his left foot back, keeping his feet about shoulder width apart. His right hand rested at elbow level with the hand open, and his left hand mimicked holding a knife right in front of the middle of his chest.

"Try to mirror my stance. Keep your left foot forward, right foot back, and hold the knife like so." He said, gesturing to his own hand mimicking a knife.

Collen listened the advice closely as he didn't want to disappoint Tora. He nodded and tried to mimic the stance, having little bit of a trouble to figure out the proper way to hold the knife as it felt different than the way he was used to while handling fish.

"Good."

Tora turned towards him and adjusted his hand slightly, straightening the wrist and lifting his elbow just a tiny bit.

"There. Try to remember how this feels."

Tora drew his sword and held it in the same way as if preparing a stab out in front of them.

"All power from a stab comes from the feet first. So dig your heels into the ground and push forward while keeping your wrist as straight as possible like so," he said as he stabbed forward with the sword, holding it out so Collen could see the position of his wrist and such.

Once again the boy nodded and mimicked his movements. His first attempts felt clumsy but he didn't let it bother him. He went over the steps in his mind again and retried the move few more times, each time focusing on the feel of the knife. Despite the familiarity of the handle, the motion was hard to grasp correctly.

He glanced at Tora after a couple more tries. "Am I doing it right?"

Tora nodded.

"Yes. You're doing fine. It's a new motion for your body to go through, so if it feels awkward don't worry. That's normal."

Tora watched Collen repeat the motion a few more times before calling for him to stop.

"The next step of defending yourself is learning how to react instinctively to how your opponent is moving. Whenever they take a step, you should have a response prepared. If they lunge, you have a response. If they retreat, you have a response. So..."

Tora walked around and stood in front of Collen and took a stance as if he were preparing to strike at him with his fists, having since sheathed his sword.

"Keep your eyes on my face, and let your peripheral vision handle what my body is doing. When I move, I want you to take move in whatever way you think it would be best to be able to stab me. Understood?"

As Tora mentioned stabbing him, Collen froze for a short moment as the night's events played in his head. He quickly shook himself out if it. That was exactly why he was doing this. He needed to learn how to defend himself. He would learn how to.

Without realizing it, his grasp tightened around the handle as he corrected his stance better. Collen looked at Tora in the eyes, keeping his words sharp in his mind. "I'm ready."

Tora slowly shook his head.

"Relax. Your grip on the knife need not be that tight. Stay loose. You move slower when you're tense." He urged calmly.

"Ah" Collen sounded surprised realizing it and corrected himself. "Stay loose, right."

"Good. Now, keep your breathing steady. As your brain anticipates conflict, your heart rate will get faster. Push it out of your mind and stay focused on me."

Tora slowly began stepping left and right, feet shuffling so as never to cross themselves. He kept his eyes on Collen. No facial expression. No more advice. No hints. Just silence.

Suddenly, he lunged at Collen.

Collen tried to follow his instructions about the breathing and keep close eye on his movements. But as Tora lunged forward, he took a step back instinctively before remembering he was supposed to find a spot to attack. He had noticed earlier that Tora had hold his weapon on his right hand just like he did. With that in focus Collen quickly moved on Tora's left side instead.

Tora's eyes remained glued on Collen during the lunge. And as Tora came to a halt with Collen's movement, Tora looked down.

"You hesitated." He said calmly.

Looking down, Tora's left hand was partially extended with his fist having paused just an inch shy of Collen's stomach.

Tora stood up and smiled.

"Not a bad first effort. Your movement was correct. But whatever made you hesitate stood in the way of a successful defense. Let's reset and try again."

He backed up to his spot and retook the same stance.

Collen was frozen for a moment as he saw Tora's fist and heard his words. He felt something stuck in his throat. He had already failed. He was about to apologize when his teacher smiled and to his surprise, actually complimented him.

"Okay!" The boy relaxed and returned to his starting position, once again taking his time to find the stance and hold of his knife. As he was done he looked up at Tora with a questioning look as if asking if he did it correct.

Tora gave Collen a nod.

"Just like before, I won't tell you when I'm lunging for you. Just stay relaxed and move as quickly as you can."

Tora began making tiny steps to the left and right. Shuffling this way and that to keep Collen mentally on edge. There was no danger of a physical strike landing. But the simulation of a real-life conflict was still a heart-thumping experience for those not used to it.

Tora himself recalled briefly that it took him weeks to adjust to this kind of training when he was a child. And while there was a fairly significant age gap between when Tora trained as a child and Collen being fourteen, the principle was the same. Time would bring adjustment.

Nevertheless, he was already smiling a little to himself as he watched Collen's eyes track him as he moved about. And finally, he lunged at Collen once again while extending his right arm in the direction of Collen's chest.

The boy tried to focus on Tora and only Tora. The more he started to focus, the more he felt adrenaline building in his body.

This time when Tora lunged, Collen managed to dodge to his right. But did so too hastily as he stumbled to find his balance again. The boy let out an annoyed groan knowing in real life stumbling like that was as good as being dead.
Tora smiled and nodded a few times.

"A good effort." He said simply as he gave Collen a pat on the shoulder.

"Your face tells me you know what that meant if it were a real fight. So there's no need to repeat it. Instead, let's move on to something else."

Tora walked Collen to the center of the clearing.

"We're going to practice a different kind of awareness. The first type that we were just practicing is what my Master called Active Awareness. It's where you're focusing on actions and movements such as when an opponent is moving and how they're moving."

Tora walked over to a tree stump and sat down while gesturing to Collen to close his eyes.

"Now, we'll move to Passive Awareness. I want you to relax your body and use only your your ears to listen to the sounds coming from the forest around us. The birds. The animals. The wind and the rustling of the leaves. And whenever you hear an animal of any kind, I want you to point towards where you think you hear the sound coming from.

Collen listened as Tora explained the next practice. The concept of it seemed harder to grasp, but none of the less he nodded. "I'll try."

At first it was hard. The sounds seemed to come all around him and the rustling leaves seemed to cover other sounds under them. He frowned, closing his eyes to try focus harder.

He waited.

And waited.

But finally. "There!" He pointed directly behind Tora and opened his eyes.

Tora glanced over his shoulder and saw a small gathering of birds on one of the branches which made him smile.

"Very good."

Tora looked back at Collen and gestured to close his eyes again.

"All right Collen. Let's do the same thing once more. But this time I want you to focus in on a sound that's not coming from the birds or small creatures. There's another sound in this cacophony somewhere that's a potential threat. So let's see if you can find it. If not, don't worry about it because I'm tracking it as we speak. So focus in and see if you can pick it out."

Collen looked slightly worried as he was uncertain in the threat was real, or if Tora was trying to create tension. In any case the boy nodded, closing his eyes focusing on the sounds around him.

He was uncertain what he was looking for. Something a threat would make? Something that would seem different from a normal forest? He quickly shook his head, noticing his thoughts were distracting him.

Instinctively he shuffled around slightly, mimicking the stance Tora had taught him earlier. Then, he stood still, letting his ears focus on the sounds around him.

Slowly he started to pick them apart better, wind rustling the leaves on right, birds occasionally chirping on his left. Occasionally he thought he could hear Tora taking a deeper breath in the quiet night.

Still he couldn't find the threat. He frowned, trying to find it but eventually gave up shaking his head as he opened his eyes and looked at Tora.

Tora's smile never wavered and he gave Collen a slow and subtle nod.

"It's okay, Collen. The sound I'm listening for is the sound of the bushes rustling which is near identical to the sound of leaves in the wind. But if you can learn to pick out such subtle differences..."

He pointed to his own eye and then pointed off to Collen's right while also looking that direction. When Collen's eyes followed Tora's finger it took a moment for the light to reveal it, but a tuft of dark fur poked out above one of the bushes with the yellow shine of a pair of predatory eyes peered through the gaps of leaves in the bushes.

"... You can find any threat even in the most chaotic of situations."

Tora stood up and walked over to stand beside Collen as they both looked at the animal in the bushes which quickly disappeared and ran off into the woods to search for easier prey.

"I think that's enough for tonight. Tomorrow while you're doing your chores and tasks for the Captain be sure to think about what we've gone over. Mental practice is still practice, after all. Tomorrow evening we'll meet behind that house again and we'll review what we learned tonight and begin covering some basic combat maneuvers. Deal?"

Collen was amazed how easily Tora could have found such a quiet sound and seeing the wild animal itself gave the boy a bit of childish joy.

He smiled wide at Tora. "Deal."

Tora patted him on the back.

"Then let's get back to the ship."

As they walked back towards the ship, the boy suddenly gave a quick hug to him. "Thanks." He whispered, letting go as soon as it happened.

And with that they returned to the Silver Moon with Tora taking up a spot on the mast as usual and Collen returning below deck.

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Character Portrait: Korrin Arzan
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Korrin felt strangely giddy after helping A’hana yesterday. It was affecting him even as morning came for him and he was well underway of stretching and doing the rest of his morning routine. He gazed out into the town and further still to her house. When his gaze fell to the house, his smile widened into a daydream like grin. The grin lasted for, one minute, two minutes before he snapped out of it. Calm down buddy, it was just a hug. But then again, no one’s hugged me like that, save for Mother. He thought, trying to make sense of it all. A’hana you truly are something if you got me confused even in my own head.

As he thought this, he gazed at the town. ”Maybe I should actually give the town an actual look around?” he mused aloud to himself. He wanted to also talk to Cretas about A’hana, and figure out just what it was about her that made him feel funny and the Flame feel off and retreat into the recesses his mind. He wished to talk to Tora also for his insight on the matter, but he was unsure how to approach either party on what was the matter.

Eventually, he shrugged, and said ”I guess I’ll look around then, no need for me to be here while they fix up the ship.” he muttered to himself, ”Maybe look at those clothes and see if I can imagine myself in them? Sounds like fun.” With that, he got his gear together, and walked off the ship to explore the town.

And maybe visit A’hana if time permitted.

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Character Portrait: Korrin Arzan
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Despite a rather diminutive size compared to towns on the mainland, this coastal village offered plenty of variety and things to do in the heart of it all.

On the docks were all manner of small fishing canoes and one or two small sailing ships for larger voyages or transporting people and goods to and from the island to other locations. There were also numerous fishing outposts where one could opt to join the local fisherman and split the haul.

To say the local culture was on full display would probably be an understatement. Along the road next to the docks were numerous small shops for clothing, jewelry, food, nick knacks, shoes, raw materials, refined materials, musical instruments, and more. And not far from each of these were usually some kind of street performer or someone holding up samples of the wares for one to inspect and try out if it took your fancy.

As Korrin wandered the area in search of something to do or look at, a young girl walked up to him and held up a basket of berries towards him with a smile.

Korrin stops when the young girl held up her basket towards him and looked at the berries within. He recalled some villages on the mainland having people do the same thing and he knew this vendor at her age would not let him go until he had at least one of those delicious berries.

So he gave a small smile and took a berry, popped it into his mouth and his smile almost broadened at the taste of it. He savored the taste before allowing it to travel down his stomach. "It was a good berry young one. Thank you."

The little girl's smile widened and she gave him a toothy grin, minus one tooth near the left which had fallen out and was being slowly replaced by an adult tooth. The girl then looked at another passerby and offered them a berry as well.

Meanwhile, a beautiful female street dancer dressed in traditional clothing consisting of an outfit similar to the Hunter's garb of the mainland made her way over to Korrin.

"Greetings, stranger." She said in a calm, somewhat sultry tone as she continued her dance beside him.

"Care to join me?" She asked with a wink.

Korrin watched the child leave before taking another step down the street when it seems someone else decided to interrupt his wanderings. It appeared to be a street performer in garb he had seen several people in the mainland wear. He blinked visibly and turned red slightly when she greeted him and asked him to join her. The wink was the signal that his mind, still flustered over A’hana, meant that this was flirting.

He didn’t know how to handle flirting women!

”Uhhh, N-not sure if I have the time Miss.” He stuttered, his voice giving away the fact he was indeed flustered. ”I-I was more or less just wanting to browse around the Local shops to see what there was to see...”

At the back of his mind, he hoped A’hana didn’t see him and got the wrong idea, or worse yet Tora or Cretas. He was unsure what their reactions might be!

The dancer gave him a smile and a tilt of her head.

"Oh, that's quite all right. Dancing isn't for everyone." She said while giving him a little hip bump before smoothly making her way back to her performance carpet.

Meanwhile, a tap on his other hip from the back revealed another child, thing one even younger, four perhaps, looking up at him and hesitating before handing him a little wooden carving of a flower.

Korrin reddened at the hip bump from the dancer before turning to look at who was poking him from behind, before seeing the young child handing him a wooden flower. He looked at the carving with eyes filled with wonder. It was a child's carving but nontheless he was amazed at it.

"Did you carve this yourself? It looks lovely young one." he remarked as he looked at her with a gentle smile.

The girl smiled and ran off up the road.

The activity around Korrin seemed to have calmed of people wanting to approach and offer him things. Nevertheless the activity as a whole did not die away in the slightest. If anything, as the minutes passed things seemingly grew more hectic. Especially at the docks where people were competing for fishing space or canoe launch points.

Still, the daily festivities were all in full swing.
By Desmiel things are going crazy. he thought before clearing his throat. Oh Well. Hopefully now I can get to my browsing the shops without any one sneaking up and surprising me.

With that, Korrin began to do just that, placing the wooden flower in his pocket with a smile on his face as he started his browsing for the day, wondering if he'll find anything interesting in any of the places he browsed, like the clothing and various other things. He hoped he could be able to afford it all!!

He walked into a tent that sold clothing first, to have a look around. Looking about the shop he was in, he hesitated momentarily. He didn’t know the first thing about clothing beyond what pants and shirts were! ”Uh...huh. Which clothes are for men?” he wondered aloud.

A man around Tora's age, maybe a bit older, wearing no shirt, an old fashioned loin around his waist, sandals, and arm bands around his biceps, sat up from his chair.

"Ah, a mainlander, eh?" He said walking forward and giving Korrin a once over from top to bottom.

"Aren't you the one who was running around with A'hana the other day? Coulda sworn I saw you two going on a fishing trip."

”Huh? Oh, Yes. Korrin’s the name. Korrin Arzan. Hunter, and Fighter. A’hana’s been more then happy to show me how hunting is done here.” he responded, looking at the man and blinking at the once over he was getting. ”I was just exploring the town a bit and thought I’d poke around the shops to see if there was anything of interest to me.”

He gave a small nervous chuckle. Who wouldn’t be nervous? Someone new to meet and also someone who knew A’hana! Which meant they already had some impression of him! Which means the impression was either some insane mainlander with a Boar’s cloak and hood, or just an insane young man with a boar cloak and hood. He assumed that was the vibe people in the mainland gave him as he passed through small towns and villages.

The man chuckled.

"Well, that certainly sounds like something she'd do. Just be sure to watch yourself. She's quite popular here."

He walked to the side and gestured to one of the nearby outfits which had a similar, though far more masculine flare, to A'hana's original outfit from their fishing trip.

"I think this'd be a good fit for you. Wanna give it a try?"

Korrin nodded at the word of warning, or so he could assume it was. But then he looked at the outfit thr shopkeeper was showing him, and he gave it a once over for himself, before giving a nod.

"Sure, I'll give it a try. Is there a changing area somewhere?" he asked. He had to admit, he was rather excited to see how the fishing attire would look on him.

"Yep. Just around back of the tent there's a little hut you can change in."

Korrin nodded and walked to the hut. He went in and remained in there for several minutes, changing into the attire given to him. As he did he looked at the coloring and the overall look of it. He looked at himself all around with a critical eye.

When he was satisfied that he more then likely put on the fishing attire the right way, Korrin headed back to the tent to see if the shopkeeper approved or not.

Maybe this'll be a fun surprise for A'hana if I can afford it! Korrin thought to himself.

As Korrin arrived back in the tent, the shop keeper smiled and gave him a once over. However, after a moment, his brow furrowed in a mixture of critical analysis and deep thought accompanied by his hand coming up to his chin.

"Hm... On second thought. Let's change the top. I think I have just the thing."

He went over to a nearby selection of tops for the attire and sifted through them, mumbling something under his breath the whole time, before finally pulling one free.

It had a similar color and texture to it as Korrin's personal garb. Fine fur woven into the fabric and seemingly almost perfectly sized for him from the onset.

"I think this'll work better. Why not try it on?"

Korrin blinked at the look of the top and looked it over and almost marveled how it almost looked perfectly sized for him. As if it was waiting for him to come around. The young hunter/fighter gave a nod before returning to the changing hut and changed clothing.

Swapping tops he decided to return with his cloak draped over his shoulders with the new top on. ”How’s this?” He asked the shopkeeper.

The man nodded.

"Mm. Much better." He said, taking the other one back and hanging it up.

With his back to Korrin, he gave the first option a bit of a cold stare for a brief moment before turning back around to face the young man.

"So, what do you think? You want to buy it?"

Korrin gave the matter serious thought. He then checked how much he had in the pants he came in with. ”Depends sir, how much are we asking and is this enough?” as he asked the second he pulled out several currency bills of varying numbers.

He didn’t have time to look at them and so he hoped what he had was the proper amount to buy the clothing and then have some for any other browsing he might do.

The man checked the bills and pulled two of them.

"This'll be enough to cover it. Let me get your change."

He took a moment to save the bills in a small safe box under his chair and brought out two smaller bills to hand to him.

"There we are. Enjoy. But just remember to watch yourself around A'hana. When I said she was popular, I meant it."

Korrin took the change and gave a small nod. “Thank you sir. For the clothing and the advice.” Korrin said as he gathered his things, got his weaponry and walked out of the shop in his new attire, boar cloak draped around his shoulders as he continued to look around.

He wondered what the shopkeeper meant by popular. Popular with the village? Popular with men? What was A’hana popular with? Korrin took a breath. Having a crush was severely difficult. Teacher was popular in some villages too. Did she have people crushing on her too?? he wondered to himself as he continued on his browsing.


Out in the village proper, there seemed to be a gathering of sorts. Dozens of people had congregated around a small stage. And on the stage was A'hana, accompanied by several other young women all dressed in matching outfits.

They wore wrappings over their chests, around their biceps, and around their thighs. Covering their lower region was a traditional loin not unlike those used by monks on the mainland when they meditated under waterfalls. No shoes. No headwear.

The musicians seemed to have gathered as well and were playing a gentle, smoothly flowing rhythm while the women on stage danced and sang a local folk song about the Gods of the moon and rain. Gathered around the stage were mostly men, though there were a few women here and there as well. And although the women on stage were all beautiful. All eyes were on A'hana who was front and center for the performance.

And one young man in particular, probably Tora's age and a bit bigger by raw musculature, stood at the center of the foot of the stage with eyes glued on A'hana. The other men around him seemed to give him a respectful distance too, standing about arm's length away from him while being elbow-to-elbow with each other.

Korrin wandered for a time and spotted the scene, and kept a respectable distance as he observed with a hunter’s eye. He observed the show, the song, as well as A’hana at the center of it all. He also spotted the man at the center of the stage as the other men gave him a respectable distance. He blinked once. Twice.

He had seen others give other women that kind of look. He frowned a bit before giving a small smile. A’hana probably hadn’t picked who to court yet, or better yet, no one had the courage to ask her or the big lug at the center didn’t do it yet.

I’ll have to ask her later. For now, let’s just enjoy the story they’re telling in song. he thought, still watching from his spot. He felt the Flame tickling the back of his mind, but he tried to ignore it. Nothing worth getting angry over.

Time ticked on, and the performance came to an end. A'hana and the others bowed fully at the waist with hands overlapped in front of their stomachs. After departing the stage, the man standing front and center walked around to the side and struck up a conversation with A'hana. A few other men glanced nervously and then walked away.

The conversation seemed calm and friendly. But every time someone came over to join in, they'd get a "kind" smile from the man and nervously leave almost immediately.

Korrin watched the performance from his spot with a small smile on his face, all the way to the end. When he saw her depart the stage he wanted to go say hello but he noticed the man beating him to it, and also giving any passerby a smile that drove them off. It was not the kind of smile he expected. He'd seen smiles before.

That wasn't a friendly smile. That was a 'kindly leave or else' smile. He fought back a small growl of annoyance. Did this man think he was A'hana's intended? She never mentioned him! But on the other hand he didn't know a lot about A'hana whilst he spilled his guts out about his no-good father!

He huffed quietly at the Man's unfriendliness, and simply decided to do what a Hunter does best when at a distance. Observe the conversation and judge for himself. He didn't want to jump to conclusions but the way the man drove off the men...

Was this what the shopkeeper warned him of?

A'hana's smile slowly shifted in appearance from one of genuine pleasure to one of mild irritation. Her left eyebrow slightly coming down and furrowing was a pretty nice indicator as well to her displeasure with how this conversation was turning.

"Thanks a lot for the compliments Ot'ke. I need to be going though."

"But I haven't heard about your latest fishing haul. Did it go well?"

"Yes. It went fine."

"I heard you were going alone. But someone else said they saw someone with you."

"Yeah. It was a new friend."

"Oh? Care to introduce us?"

"Not really. I've got work to do. So can I-"

"Come on, A'hana. I wanna meet this friend of yours."

"Another time, perhaps. I need to go."

She tried to walk away and he walked around and cut her off.

"I'm asking nicely, A'hana." He said with a calm, dark smile.

Her eyes remained as calm as possible. But there was a tiny tremor in her eyebrow as well as a subtle parting of her lips which she quickly closed with a swallow and a subtle clearing of her throat.

"And I'm telling you that I have to get to work. If I don't leave in the next few minutes the fish won't be at my hunting grounds anymore."

"And that'd be a shame. But I'm just asking to meet your friend."

"Ok'te. I need to go."

She tried walking around again, but his hand reached out and blocked her way.

"Not until I meet your friend, A'hana."

Her lips were tight and she refused to make eye contact. But her jaw, set tight, and the looks of worry from others around her made it clear what kind of situation she was in. Nobody dared interfere.

"She has other places to be she said." Korrin growled out. "And as a fellow hunter, I won't let you torment her when she obviously has places to be."

His hand was resting on his sword as he walked, his eyes held a calm, yet wild emotion mixed with a small hint of courage. "You shame yourself. If you wanted to meet said new friend, one who Punched a Siprah to defend her, Ask nicely."

Ok'te glanced over at Korrin as A'hana's eyes widened nervously with her lips tightening even more until they had practically folded in on one another.

"Hm?" Ok'te mumbled as he gave Korrin a once over.

"Reaching for a blade on an unarmed opponent, but you're saying I shame myself. Ha! Is that the logic of mainlanders?"

"I am simply resting my hand on the pommel. I find the touch of it keeps me calm." Korrin said with a deathly calm. "If I wanted to use it to poke a hole in a windbag, I'd have done so already. Do not mistake my resting on it for cowardice. Neither of us have made any challenges."

He looked at Ok'te in the eyes. "I make my request again. Are you going to ask Nicely?"

Ok'te walked over and towered above Korrin, looking down his nose at him with hands on his hips.

"I only ask things nicely of people I respect."

He tilted his head down slightly.

"There's nothing to respect about you. So go ahead and be her friend. I've nothing to fear from you." He said with a sneer as he turned his back to Korrin and began walking away.

A'hana, meanwhile, released a breath she'd been holding since Korrin's arrival.

"Yet." He said quietly under his breath as he took a deep breath and looked A'hana with a grin and a wave.

"Hello A'hana. Look at what I bought this morning! The shopkeeper made it match perfectly with my cloak!" he greeted with the same happy grin.

A'hana smiled weakly.

"It looks nice." She replied, but her voice lacked her usual genuine enthusiasm.

She half turned away and gave a little bow of her head.

"Sorry Korrin, but I really do need to go. I promised my father I'd fish with him today, and thanks to Ok'te I'm already running late."

With that she dashed off down the road, never once looking back. But a friendly old lady walked up beside Korrin with a soft chuckle.

"She's her father's daughter all right." She chirped.

"Much as she'd obviously like to invite you, familial duty comes first."

The old lady gave Korrin a brief once over.

"So you're the new friend, mm? What's your name, young man?"

Korrin was about to say goodbye when she hurried off. He took in a small sigh. Then he heard the Old Lady talk to him and he gave a nod.

"I understand. My mother and my teacher were the same." He said as he looked at the old lady when she questioned him.

"I'm Korrin. Korrin Arzan." he introduced himself. "I usually add in Hunter and Fighter but I guess it's my day off."

He finished the addition with a chuckle. Then paused. Why did he answer the old lady!? Clearing his throat he decided to ask. "And What might your name be?"

She chuckled.

"I'm A'hola. A'hana's Ga'pta. Pleasure." She said with a short bow.

"Oh! You're her Grandmother!" He said in realization. "It is nice to meet you as well."

"Is that what mainlanders call a mother's mother? An interesting phrase. Oh ho ho ho." She laughed.

"Hm. Your outfit suits you. And you said the shop keeper changed it to look like this?"

Korrin flushed red with embarrassment. "Well, yes. I suppose it is interesting." He replied with a grin, "Yeah, i was trying one of the others on and he tossed this one to me reccommending this one was more my fit. Why? Does he normally not do that?"

She gave his outfit a quick glance.

"Not usually. He has a good eye for things that compliment someone. But if he shied away from his first choice, it must mean he saw something about it that either didn't fit you, or didn't fit with something else." She said as she glanced towards where Ok'te had gone.

"I don't suppose the first one he chose happened to look anything like what Ok'te was wearing, did it?"

"You know, it did look awfully similar style wise." He remarked before recalling what the shopkeeper said.

"Oh right. He also warned me to watch out for myself being A'hana's friend. Is this Ok'te one reason for such? Who is he to A'hana, if I may ask?" he asked curiously. He realized he probably let the flame trickle out a bit in his confrontation with the man.

Which usually meant he probably landed himself in a heap of trouble. Oh Korrin! he thought to himself scoldingly.

The old woman chuckled.

"I bet he changed it exactly for the reason that it resembled Ok'te's usual garb. Most wouldn't want to dress like him. His father's the leader of our community. And he knows and is too comfortable in the power that brings."

She sighed.

"Anyway. Don't worry about him. For my Se'ri, he's nothing. Just a nuisance who won't take a hint. Being the village leader's son doesn't mean he can have whomever he wants. And he'll learn that in time. But probably not soon enough."

She gave him a pat on the shoulder.

"Keep your head clean of that one, Korrin Arzura. It'll do nobody any good if you see him as anything but the distraction he is."

With that, the old woman started to depart the area towards the hill where A'hana's house lay.
Korrin listened to her explanation of who Ok’te was as he blinked when she said Se’ri but he assumed it probably meant ‘granddaughter.’ Then he felt A’hola pat his shoulder and told him not to worry too much about the bully the other man was. He sighed ever so slightly in relief.

”I’ll keep that in mind. Thank you.” He said to her as she began to leave. Korrin looked at the direction A’hana left in and hoped she was okay and that her Father would understand her delay. He didn’t know what kind of relationship she had with him. The only ‘father-figure’ he had kicked him out of his home. He had Tora, but he was more a brother-figure.

Just one of those conundrums I’ll have to ask about if she and I ever bump into each other again. He mused, as he too began leaving the area. He had more of the town to explore. Well, of course, maybe after he offered to help A’hana’s Gap’ta head to her home. His teacher would kick his arse seven ways to Reilas if he didn’t offer to help the elderly every once in awhile!

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Character Portrait: Cretas Estallamos Character Portrait: Lemnia Estallamos
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"Momma, look!"

"Love! Come down from there this instant!"

Lemnia stood on one foot balancing on a beam between two homes near the docks with her mother standing beneath her with both arms partially extended.

"Love!"

"It's okay momma! I'm good at standing!" She chirped as she stepped forward to the other foot.

"I know you're good at standing, love. But please come down this instant!"

"But I wanna see the chickies."

"What?"

"The chickies. They're in the nest."

Cretas looked at the roof she was trying to walk towards but couldn't see anything.

"I don't see a nest, love."

"I do! I see the chickies' heads too! They're so cute! I wanna hug them!"

"Love, please! What if the momma doesn't want you playing with her babies and pecks at you?"

"It's okay momma. I'm friends with all aminals."

Lem finished crossing and walked over to and leaned down next to the nest.

"Hi chickies."

The three little heads with gaping beaks chirped loudly towards her.

"You hungry? I have food!"

She reached into her pocked and brought out a handful of worms she'd plucked from the dirt earlier this morning. The chirping got louder as the worms were lowered down to the snapping beaks of the chicks. As the first worm wriggled into range one of the little heads shot up and snapped it into its gaping maw and guzzled it down ravenously. A second worm found its way into the belly of a second chic, and another into the belly of the third.

"Hee hee. Still hungry?"

She had a few more worms which she was happy to feed to them. But the chirping still didn't stop and their little beaks continued to go snap snap snap!

"Aw. Sorry chickies. I don't have any more."

Lem stood up and had just turned towards the beam leading to the other roof when she saw a mass of feathers flapping down in front of her. Rising her arms to shield herself she could hear and feel the beak of an angry seagull pecking at her arms.

"Lem! Jump down!"

Lemnia panicked and ran blindly ahead which caused her to slip and fall off the edge. Thankfully Cretas was right beneath her and scooped her up into her arms while raising a hand to swat at the bird when it came down after them. One good smack to its belly sent it reeling and flying away to check on its young while Cretas walked away with Lem huddled up against her chest.

"Love? Did we learn anything from that?"

Lem was quiet and shaking slightly.

"Haa... Love, this is why we don't feed wild baby animals. Okay?"

"I just... Wanted to not be hungry."

"I know, love. But remember that's why they have parents. Mommy was probably out finding worms to feed them already and got scared thinking that you were a monster trying to eat her babies."

"But why? Lem's not a monster." She sniffled.

"I know, my love. But the bird doesn't know that. Remember they're a lot smaller than you. So they see a giant girl crouched over their babies and they get scared that something bad will happen."

Lem nodded and smooshed her face into her mother's chest while Cretas stroked her hair.

Together they sat on a bench on the docks near the water. Lem cried it out and Cretas just held her gently to herself while continuing to stroke her hair and back while humming a little tune from back home.

"I miss Derf." Lem suddenly squeaked.

"Aw, my love. I miss him too. But don't worry. We'll go back for him once we find the new world together. Then he can come live with us again."

"Promise?"

"Of course. Our family's not complete without him."

Lem nodded and wiped her face while Cretas kissed her nose and helped clean the tear stains off her cheeks.

"Why don't you go play in the water for a bit? It's nice and cool. And there's lots of neat things to find out there."

Lem's eyes brightened.

"Really?"

"Oh yes. The ocean waves hide a lot of adorable and amazing creatures. Why don't you go see if you can find me a seashell? They're really pretty. And we can keep it with us and make it part of our home in the new world."

Lem's face lit up with a big smile as she hopped off her mother's lap and dashed towards the water.

"Wait, love! Let's go down to the-"

Excited as she was, Lem didn't look before she leaped and hopped off the edge of the docks into the water below with a yelp of surprise.

"Lem!"

Cretas jumped into the water immediately and swam over to her daughter who was flailing wildly to stay afloat.

"Come here, love. I've got you."

Hoisting Lem onto her back Cretas calmly swam towards the sandy beach nearby and sat down patting Lem's back so she could cough out the water she'd swallowed.

"You really need to learn some patience, love." She chuckled while stroking her face. "You never learned how to swim. So jumping into deep water is dangerous. Okay?"

Lem nodded through her coughing and gagging.

"The water... It's bad."

"Yes, it is. It's really salty. So you should never drink it."

"Can I still find a sea shell?"

"Of course. Just be careful and don't go too far into the water okay? There should be lots of shells around."

"Kay!"

Lem stood up and walked out towards the water. As the waves approached, she paused and ran away from them staying just out of reach.

"It's okay, love. The water won't hurt you as long as you stay nearby." Cretas called.

Lem looked back nervously and walked out a ways. Another wave came rushing up towards her and she froze and closed her eyes. The water gently washed over her feet and up to her ankle, and then receded as quickly as it had arrived. Lem opened her eyes and looked down with a smile.

"Momma! I'm still here!"

Cretas smiled and laughed a little to herself while Lem dashed about scanning the water and the sand for any signs of sea shells.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Tora Lithenmiir Character Portrait: Collen Merah
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With the moon high above the clearing in the forest not far from A'hana's family home, Tora stood across from Collen with his arms resting at his sides.

"Okay Collen. We've reviewed the physical aspects of awareness from our previous lesson. So let's move on to the mental. Close your eyes."

Collen had and would be focusing extra hard to his training that night as the previous night had been unsuccessful. Just as Collen had gotten on the deck after sunset, one of the crew returned to the boat having spent the evening on shore. One who was rather drunk and decided to share stories about his luck with women to Collen. Having no way out of way of the situation without seeming suspicious, Collen had been forced to stay on deck, claiming he was unable to sleep and was just catching some fresh air.

Now he closed his eyes and took a deep breath.

Tora nodded and backed up to sit down on a small boulder.

"There are three birds and one woodland creature around us right now. Listen carefully, and point to where they are one by one."

Collen nodded and listened quietly. As the first bird chirped quietly, he pointed towards it's general direction. Next one was harder. He had to listen for several minutes before he was able to point towards, what he assumed was a woodpecker.

Keeping his eyes closed he tried to hear any more sounds. Something that he could pick out of the rustling of leaves in the wind. He thought he heard a small snap of a branch towards the left side and pointed, hoping it was the woodland creature Tora mentioned.

But, despite listening for another several minutes, Collen couldn't hear the last bird. He shook his head and opened his eyes, only to see a tiny bird hopping near Tora in search of food.

Tora smiled.

"Well done."

The bird flew away the moment he spoke, and Tora stood up and approached Collen.

"I believe you're ready to begin learning some basics of combat strategy. So, draw your knife and assume your stance."

Collen, trying to not look too eager and excited, nodded and took his knife. He took the stance Tora had taught him, looking at him waiting his orders.

Tora walked forward and knelt down so he sat up straight on his knees at around the same height as Collen.

"There are several things to keep in mind during combat. But we'll just focus on three tonight."

He made an "X" in front of his torso with both arms.

"The natural position of your arms makes for slashing along this X ideal. So, try it out. Practice slashing along both lines of the X from neck to hip. And make sure that you go all the way through. If you stop early, your attacks will lack power."

Collen listened his instructions closely. "Okay." He made sure his grip of the knife was firm as he made the first few slashes in the air, but struggled to have power by the end of them. He frowned, knowing he must be doing something wrong and looked at Tora. "Can you show me?"

Tora nodded and scooted forward a little so he could reach out to Collen.

"Your arms moving is one thing. But if you want power, you need to turn your hips into the strike."

Using one hand to gently take Collen's wrist, and the other on Collen's hip, he helped Collen practice the motion while helping him rotate his hips.

"Relying on your arms alone isn't enough. As soon as the attack begins you want to start rotating your hips. Doing so puts all of your body weight behind the strike, like so."

He helped Collen go through the motion slowly twice on each side, then backed up and crossed his arms again.

"Try it yourself now. As soon as the strike reaches the neck twist your hips into the remainder until it exits at the hip."

"Okay. I'll try." Collen took a minute to mentally go over the motion Tora was teaching him and struck. While the movement was still somewhat clumsy, he was able to get the power all the way through.

"It feels better", he told him and tried the movement again before doing the same on the other side. After a few more repetitions to get feel for the movement he looked at Tora for any more corrections.

Tora nodded.

"Good."

Tora then stood up.

"The chances of fighting someone your own age are slim. So it's important you understand how to apply that X attack region to an opponent larger than you are."

Tora took a somewhat less professional stance similar to the ones the pirates usually took.

"When they stand this way, blade forward and body facing you, they're showing you another target along the X I made with my arms. Right in the center."

Tora pointed to his belly, just above the belly button area.

"This is a vulnerable area to stab. So when they raise their arm to slash like this," Tora raised his front arm as if raising a sword, "You lunge in and stab that center point on the X as fast as you can."

He lowered his arm and started moving subtly about.

"Wait for my attack, then counter with a stab towards that center point."

Collen was listening his instructions closely and swallowed slightly as the image of the night flashed in his mind. The night when in the desperation he had been stabbing the man over and over again with his knife. But he had to push it out of his mind and focus on Tora's teaching. If a night like that happened again, he had to be more prepared.

The boy gave a small nod, corrected his stance and watched as Tora moved around. As Tora raised his arm, Collen lunged forward. But he was too late as Tora blocked it.

"Good."

Tora reset his position.

"Your movement was correct. But your hesitation slowed you down. Try once more. And this time try your best to relax, observe, and react. Don't worry or think about anything else."

"Okay." Collen said taking a deep breath. He took the position again, focusing his mind on Tora and his movements. As he raised his arm again, Collen rushed forward. And to his surprise, "stabbed" Tora.

Tora gripped Collen's wrist to prevent a true stab from reaching him, but the blade tip was but a millimeter from his shirt.

"Well done."

Tora backed away a half step and stood up straight.

"We've covered the natural flow of motion for your slashes, and we've covered the weakness of the body's center line during an attack. We've one more thing to cover."

Tora backed away another step and drew his sword.

"Fear."

He took his real stance with the blade primed and ready, aimed directly at Collen's neck.

"Fear is the most debilitating enemy of all. It can cause the body to freeze which is a certain death sentence in real combat. So the final part of this lesson is learning to overcome the fear of death as it stares you down."

Tora prepared to strike.

"Prepare yourself, Collen. I won't be holding back this time."

With the sword pointed at his neck, Collen swallowed instinctively. But he had made a decision of not letting the Captain scare him, so why let anyone else? He took his stance, holding his knife and nodded at Tora signaling he was ready.

Tora's calm expression faded to one of emptiness and neutrality.

He stood perfectly still for a long, long time. Every now and then he would blink. But other than that, it almost looked more like he was posing for a painted portrait than preparing for an attack.

Every second which ticked by felt like an eternity. Tora's body remained still as stone, eyes locked on Collen's, and blade lined up with Collen's neck.

"What are you thinking about right now?"

Collen was waiting, trying his best to keep his breathing steady as he watched Tora and the blade aimed at his neck. His whole body was tensing up to prepare for that second he was going to attack. The second that seemed to never come. It made him nervous. Nervous but he didn't let the fear take over him. Instead he grabbed the knife tighter.

"Why are you not attacking", he replied as that was the main question is his mind right now.

Tora's eyes narrowed.

"I already am." He said quietly.

"You're nervous. So I've already successfully attacked you. Whether or not you even realize or accept the reality, I've frightened you. And now you've become tense because you're anticipating an attack which-"

Tora lunged forward and set his blade beside Collen's neck, using the flat to gently tap his shoulder.

"Came when you were at your most vulnerable."

Collen froze and swallowed as Tora lunged at him, barely even able to lift his dagger hand in time to try to counter attack. Feeling the tap on his shoulder he looked away, gritting his teeth. He felt extremely annoyed at himself. Without realizing it, he was gripping the knife so hard that his knuckles were turning white. He wasn't just annoyed. He was angry at himself. He had done the one thing he was not supposed to do and in a real situation, he would have been dead.

"Tora? What do you think about the Captain?" He asked all of sudden still looking away from him and towards the forest.

Tora sheathed his sword and placed a hand on Collen's shoulder.

"I think the Captain is a man who knows how to use fear to his advantage."

He knelt down and placed his other hand on Collen's other shoulder and made the boy face him.

"Collen. Your presence and how you carry yourself into battle is both your first line of defense, and your first attack. If you can project an aura of confidence that puts your opponent on edge, you've already won the opening bout. After that it's just a matter of following through."

He let go of the boy's shoulders and offered him a calm smile.

"Are you afraid of the Captain?"

The boy thought for a while. "Sometimes." He admitted. "You can never know what mood he is in. And it can change as quickly as a storm wind." He glanced down for a moment, but then looked at Tora again. "But I'm used to it. It's not too different from my life before joining the crew." He shrugged.

Indeed there was a lot of similarity in Lohran and Collen's father. Their temper, the way they only cared about themselves and not the others. Collen glanced back down. "There's only one reason he even keeps me at the ship to begin with." He shrugged again.

Tora's smile remained, but no longer reached his eyes.

"I cannot pretend to know how you feel. But I can promise that if you keep training with me and learn to subdue your fear, the Captain will no longer frighten you."

He stood up and placed a hand on Collen's shoulder.

"A man who loses the fear he relies on to control others is nothing more than a snake without fangs. It can hiss and mimic a bite. But it can do no harm... Do you understand?"

"I think so", he nodded. "Thanks."

Tora nodded.

"Then reset your stance and let's continue."

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View All » Add Character » 9 Characters to follow in this universe

Character Portrait: Captain Armedus Lohran
Character Portrait: Cretas Estallamos
Character Portrait: Lemnia Estallamos
Character Portrait: Tora Lithenmiir
Character Portrait: Korrin Arzan
Character Portrait: Collen Merah

Newest

Character Portrait: Collen Merah
Collen Merah

Fisherman's son

Character Portrait: Korrin Arzan
Korrin Arzan

I hunt, you eat. It’s easiest thing to remember!

Character Portrait: Tora Lithenmiir
Tora Lithenmiir

"My blade is justice that the rest of the world refuses to enact."

Character Portrait: Lemnia Estallamos
Lemnia Estallamos

Mommy likes to explore, and I like to too! Do you wanna explore with me?

Character Portrait: Cretas Estallamos
Cretas Estallamos

I know it's true! There's a new world beyond the horizon! Untamed and unclaimed! Let it be ours!

Character Portrait: Captain Armedus Lohran
Captain Armedus Lohran

I sail with purpose, and tame the un-tamable. Nature's wrath bends to my whims.

Trending

Character Portrait: Cretas Estallamos
Cretas Estallamos

I know it's true! There's a new world beyond the horizon! Untamed and unclaimed! Let it be ours!

Character Portrait: Collen Merah
Collen Merah

Fisherman's son

Character Portrait: Captain Armedus Lohran
Captain Armedus Lohran

I sail with purpose, and tame the un-tamable. Nature's wrath bends to my whims.

Character Portrait: Tora Lithenmiir
Tora Lithenmiir

"My blade is justice that the rest of the world refuses to enact."

Character Portrait: Korrin Arzan
Korrin Arzan

I hunt, you eat. It’s easiest thing to remember!

Character Portrait: Lemnia Estallamos
Lemnia Estallamos

Mommy likes to explore, and I like to too! Do you wanna explore with me?

Most Followed

Character Portrait: Captain Armedus Lohran
Captain Armedus Lohran

I sail with purpose, and tame the un-tamable. Nature's wrath bends to my whims.

Character Portrait: Tora Lithenmiir
Tora Lithenmiir

"My blade is justice that the rest of the world refuses to enact."

Character Portrait: Lemnia Estallamos
Lemnia Estallamos

Mommy likes to explore, and I like to too! Do you wanna explore with me?

Character Portrait: Korrin Arzan
Korrin Arzan

I hunt, you eat. It’s easiest thing to remember!

Character Portrait: Cretas Estallamos
Cretas Estallamos

I know it's true! There's a new world beyond the horizon! Untamed and unclaimed! Let it be ours!

Character Portrait: Collen Merah
Collen Merah

Fisherman's son


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