0
followers
follow

Shiisan

A bandit recently released by his bosses. As in left to die.

0 · 539 views · located in The Horat-verse

a character in “The Great Guild Fortune”, as played by PirateofPie

Description

"Woah, I'm alive?!"

Name: Siisaa
Sex: Male
Age: 32
Race: Human

Physical Description: A gangly looking man, whose appearance can only be described as "grimy". A wild shoulder length mane of hair, sometimes unkempt, sometimes in a topknot, a fuzzy goatee, and bushy eyebrows.
Clothing: He sports dirty green robes and white socks.
Height: 6'3
Weight: 217 lbs
Skin Colour: Tan
Hair Colour: Dirt-brown
Eye Colour: Black

Occupation: Ex-Bandit
History/Bio: Shisa was a bandit. He became one at some point in his youth. He was fairly high ranked, great pals with the leaders of his gang. Then he infuriated the bandit leaders and they left him to die.
Home Town: Some nameless village in Gangamai.
Home Country: Gangamai
Personality: Carefree, yet intensely focused when he has a goal. Helpful if asked and entirely rude if he feels someone is worth disrespecting. He's fairly personable but is known to keep vague about things. He also has a bad habit of never letting others in on his plans.
Fears and Desires: He fears being lost and being goal-less. He desires having an aspirational goal, something that people can look up to.

Equipment and Weapons: His fists. A scimitar. Whatever else is around.
Styles and Abilities: His style is a free-flowing martial arts style that allows him to use whatever around in the environment as makeshift weapon with above average strenght. He calls this style Jeet Kun Flow.
Chi and Augmentations: His Chi ability is the Lion's Roar, which is of nature element allows him to create a field of chi energy around himself that reverts a natural object to it's original state. He also seems to have some affinity to the spirits that seem to be emerging in the world recently.

So begins...

Shiisan's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Shiisan

0.00 INK

["I've done what I can but I'll have to thank whoever treated you before. You probably would have been dead in the river if not for them.." Muna said before turning to the group. "Alright, anyone else?"]

There was a bout of silence as Lo-Muna spoke, but after a while a voice seemed to call out from the direction of the forest, shouting ,"Me!". Looking up, the members of the guild could see a a raggedy, dirt-ridden, human man, lying face down in a net, which appeared to be suspended high above on the desert trees and supported by half a dozen arrows.

"Me!" the man repeated. "I'm someone else! One of you good people wanna let me down?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Shiisan

0.00 INK

"It never ends, does it?" Muna said dryly as she looked up at the trapped human. With no one else needing medical attention, she bounded over to the strange human and looked down at her claws. They were still as sharp as always. She jumped up and cut at the net how she could, half the net giving way and the man began to fall. She quickly jumped again and caught the man in her arms before landing with a small oomph and gently releasing the stranger.

"Do you have any injuries or bruising?" she asked, still in the mindset of treatment.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Shiisan

0.00 INK

"Woo!" the ragged man cried, stretching his arms towards the sky as if he'd just awoken from a long nap. "Bunny baby, I've never been better!" the man grinned, pointing up to where he had been hanging from the tree. "I've been in that net for....well, I dunno how long, a month? Maybe?" the man shrugged, before glancing at the guild's assorted members. "Only water I got was the rain, only food I got was the occasional locust! Not to mention the severe lack of uh, y'know, a proper bathroom. Maaaaaaan, was that a predicament for a while..."

"I'll tell ya one thing, you guys...." he paused, pointing at each member of the guild once over. "Arrived just in the nick of time. I mean if you hadn't floated by all mutilated through the river, I dunno what I'd do! Well...probably wait in that net a few more days in that net before I starved!" he sniffed for a bit, before taking his left arm and placing it towards his nostrils, using his sleeve as a makeshift tissue. "It's, uh, just a shame that you guys are lost as shit now," he shrugged, wiping his sleeve on the very tree he had been hanging from moments ago.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki Character Portrait: Ann'Razul Character Portrait: Terra Himene Character Portrait: Rumelis Morende Character Portrait: Shiisan

0.00 INK

The salve Muna applied to her burns stung so badly that Terra nearly passed out again. What was wrong with her now? Even as far as being sensitive went, this was really unusual...was it due to Phecda's might or something?

Muna's voice faded in and out as Terra tried to endure the sting, but she barely made out something about the rabbit woman having to make more of the salve...well, hopefully it wasn't too hard to produce, even though it felt so painful.

Then Muna went off to tend to the others, leaving Terra in Rumelis' care. When the bear man asked if there was anything he could do to help, Terra replied in a tired, quiet voice, "N-no...i-it's fine, Rumelis. J-just rest if you need to."

The bear man removed his drenched shirt and tossed it to the side, before letting out a gasp, and then a groan of dismay. "We're not going to be able to get our stuff back, are we?" he lamented, sagging slightly. Realizing he was right, Terra sighed unhappily as well. Losing that outfit was a really big shame...ah, well, at least she had called her swords to her during the night; they were even more important to her.

High above, the moon continued shining cold silver rays. Terra shuddered as a breeze suddenly threw sand into the air above them. Her own damp clothes really needed to be changed...not that she could take it off now, though.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Ann'Razul Character Portrait: Shiisan

0.00 INK

For a fleeting moment, Ann considering asking if she could touch one of Lo-Muna's ears but thought against it. She gave her appreciation, briefly watching as the rabbit woman cut down a man tangled in a net. Looking down, she saw that it seemed like her clothes were both ruined and soaking wet once again. She almost instinctively began undressing when she realized that she didn't actually have a second set of clothes at hand. It was a pretty pointless action without having spares ready. She took her hands off the collar of her dress and began wringing out the water instead for whatever it was worth.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Shiisan

0.00 INK

"Oh yeah, y'all picked the wrong spot to wash up to, not that I'm ungrateful, but uh...this forest. This desert..." the stranger yawned, pointing from the forest and the desert with his arms. "They don't really take kindly to travelers. You go right, you'll end up left. You go left, you end up right. You head to a cave to rest for a bit, you end up in a forest. I dunno why, it's kind of a recent thing, started happening a few months ago. Some say it's...some kinda curse or somethin'. But me...eh. I dunno," he shrugged.

"Now, normally..." the man paused, scratching the back of his head. "You can buy some kinda talisman in Furoe, Jiefong or the city of Gangamai, or whatever that'll let you travel safely. Mine, unfortunately...got taken from me. So, I'm as stuck as you are. Now...if you all happen to make it to the mountains...maybe, just maybe, they will be kind enough to let you into their caverns. And within their caverns...there's supposed to be something' there that'll give you safe passage into Gangamai. Maybe, like...an underground road...or or some maps, I dunno. It's just a rumors."

The stranger rubbed his eyes, warily and stared off into the forest for a second, before turning to look at Lo-Muna. "Look, I owe you guys for settin' me lose. And my gang's been roaming this forest for years. Even if it's cursed, I can definitely get you to the Ganga Mountains faster than you guys would by yourselves," the man offered, before giving the assembled group a curious glance. "Come to think of it...what are you guys supposed to be anyway? Traveling circus?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Shiisan

0.00 INK

"We're the Great Guild Fortune," Lo-muna responded before adding quietly, "Or were. I'm not sure if 'Fortune' can still be added now that he's gone."

She seemed upset by this predicament and her own failure. Still, it didn't seem to be something she dwelled on long because a smile appeared, "But we would be greatly relieved if you would aid us on our way to Gangamai. Who might you be, by the way?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Shiisan

0.00 INK

"Oh right, I never introduced myself," the stranger laughed, slapping himself on the forehead. "Right, my name's Shiisan. I am...wait, was, a bandit. Was. But things happened and now I'm not. But hey, you guys call yourselves the Great Guild?" Shiisan questioned, raising an eyebrow. "Wow, uh, a little arrogant, are we?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Shiisan

0.00 INK

"Oh...y'know, I was always like a son to the boss," Shiisan shrugged. "So, you'd think....just MAYBE when he caught me and his daughter in his bedroom, he'd be a little proud. Guess thing's don't always go the way you think, huh?" Shiisan shrugged.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki Character Portrait: Shiisan

0.00 INK

Yamato dragged himself from the water, a small look of disgust on his face as he scanned the horizon. His wet clothes were coated in a thin layer of sand. He shook his head, pushing the frustration from his mind. Lo-muna took to work attending the injured members, which seemed to be most of them, before cutting down a man from a tree. In Yamato's opinion, he felt the man had spent too much time in the sun, and was no good to them dead or alive. However, Yamato wasn't in charge. With Yuwen captured, Suiken would be next in line. After that, who knew. He couldn't be the only one thinking about their group's hierarchy, after a quick scan, he knew he was. After all, he wasn't hurt and he'd missed what happened at the ball and nearly everything after.

He listened as Lo-Muna tried to communicate with Shiisan. He rolled his eyes, the man was rambling. "Please, just get us to the mountains. There's some good coin in it if you can make this a quick trip." Yamato offered, a small coin purse in hand, "Half now, half when we get there."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki Character Portrait: Shiisan

0.00 INK

Shiisan swiftly took the coin purse and pocketed it. "Yeah, here's the thing. It won't be a quick trip, it'll be a long and confusing one. This wilderness is tricky. And dangerous," the former bandit explained, cracking his neck and stretching slightly. "Yep. Gotta have your wits about ya out here. Might wanna pack all the water you can from the river," Shiisan added, pointing to the body of water. "Your snow oni friend won't fare too well out here without being hydrated."

Shiisan then scratched his chin and looked around. "You find any plants, you might be able to draw water from them as well. Speaking of plants, there are a bunch of fruit among the trees and such. Some of 'em edible. Some of 'em not. I can help with picking out which is which. And if you want any meat, well...this place isn't the easiest to go hunting in 'cause of the whole getting lost thing," Shiisan informed the guild.

"I mean, there's the hard to catch prey...like hare..." Shiisan paused as he glanced at Lo-Muna. "Rab-ehh...Rodents. Rodents are hard to catch. Then you got birds, which are near impossible to catch. Near impossible. Then..." Shiisan grinned, as he glanced at the ground and spotted something crawling across it. It was a scorpion. Shiisan, swiftly, picked it up by the tail and held it out for the guild to see. "This would qualify as easy prey. Not too hard to catch, so long as your careful. Taste surprisingly good cooked. Raw...?" Shiisan shrugged as he quickly bit into the front half of the scorpion and started to chew on it. "Hmm," he shrugged nonchalantly. "Kinda tangy."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki Character Portrait: Shiisan

0.00 INK

Yamato nodded and followed Lo-muna. He was grateful for an excuse to get away from the rather, eccentric, ex-bandit. "This isn't going to be an easy trip." He sighed, thinking about Suiken's injuries. They were also missing their leader, and Hyuna took off to who knows where. He balled his hand into a fist, anger rising in his throat. "What could she be thinking. she has absolutely no discipline."


He pulled his canteen from his side and dumped out the warm, day old water and filled it with the cold mountain fed water. He then gathered the other members canteens and filled them as well, giving them back with a warning. "For now, this is all the water we've got. Use it sparingly."

He returned to Lo-Muna, "Water's taken care of. Now food, and any possible plants that can be used as medical supplies."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki Character Portrait: Ann'Razul Character Portrait: Terra Himene Character Portrait: Rumelis Morende Character Portrait: Shiisan

0.00 INK

"Well, there's no point in standing here and arguing like tools," Shiisan commented. "We should get a move on! Figure out a way to carry your injured or whatever and follow me..." the filth covered bandit remarked. "And let's go...uh...." Shiisan glanced, around, deciding where to head next. "I dunno, those dunes, I guess. C'mon Great Guild, follow me!" Shiisan called out, marching forward over to the sand dunes.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rumelis Morende Character Portrait: Shiisan

0.00 INK

Rumelis looked at the "ex-bandit" in front of them, who they'd just trusted their lives to. He didn't seem to know where he was going, to be frank-- Rumelis was no expert at deserts, but it looked like he was just pointing in a random direction and asking the guild to blindly follow him there. He walked up to the man, still irritated at the loss of his things back in Jiefong.

"Uh, you know where you're going? 'Cause it really doesn't look like you do."

Perhaps it was blunt, but Rumelis wasn't in the mood for padding words. He was tired and had just lost what was likely to be the best bow he'd ever had, as well as the arrows, his supplies... hell, even his waterskin, he'd left the damn thing when he got into the military getup. And yet, they were still walking on, despite losing guild members, without sleep.

"Besides, don't you think it would be best to rest for now? We'll only wear ourselves down if we try to move right now."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Ann'Razul Character Portrait: Terra Himene Character Portrait: Rumelis Morende Character Portrait: Shiisan

0.00 INK

Shiisan, turned his head to the side, a bit, staring off in a vacant direction, as if barely acknowledging the beast-man's words. Eventually he laughed and spoke, "'Course I know, Brother Bear! Like I said, my gang practically lives out in these wilds! I know the best spots to stick around to and that shore you guys drifted up at? Not one of 'em."

"Sleep should probably be sparse," the bandit added. "I mean, you guys might have to take turns and carry around whoever's sleeping. This curse is usually kind enough to stick groups together, but if it catches one of ya sleepin'....well, it might just be in the mood to separate you. You could spend days looking for your friends. And if the Great Beasts happen upon you then, well...you're lunch man," Shiisan shrugged.

"So...all in all..." Shiisan stated. "It'd be pretty bad if one of us got separated from the group out here."

Suddenly an odd, loud clip-clopping sound was heard from behind the guild. Turning around they would notice a creature galloping in mid-air with the same size and general build as a deer buck, sporting scaly green skin, oaken antlers, a and draconian face with crystalline red eyes and a shaggy white beard. It snorted loudly, before soaring through the guild, barreling over some of the guild members, before grabbing Ann, Terra, and Suiken by their shirt collars in it's mouth.

With a surprising amount of strength, it took the injured guild members and carried them off into the forest.

"...Huh," Shiisan muttered, scratching the back of his head.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki Character Portrait: Ann'Razul Character Portrait: Terra Himene Character Portrait: Rumelis Morende Character Portrait: Shiisan

0.00 INK

"Oh, uh....so yeah. Those Great Beasts I mentioned earlier?" Shiisan began. "That was one of 'em. A Qilin. Though this one sure does act weird. The Qilin are generally the only ones more likely to run away then try to gobble ya up. Anyway, most animals and Great Beasts are allowed passage through the wilds. Beast-men....not so much," Shiisan told the guild, shrugging apologetically to Lo-Muna and Rumelis.

"Buuuuut, so long as your friends are traveling with it and they don't end up being dropped off in the middle of nowhere and walk off, they should be fine," Shiisan grinned assuredly.

***

As Terra walked off after being dropped off in the middle of nowhere, an odd sandstorm seem to arise and pass over her. te next thing she would notice is that she was in a completely different place than where she was previously. She had gone from the sands to the forest...

***
The Qilin seemed momentarily concerned as one of the humans it kidnapped broke free. It then simply shrugged and continued to gallop on into a nearby campsite.

"Oni..." the Qilin spoke as it approached a fire oni woman. "I have located upon the travelers that I spotted through the eyes of the forest...Here are their wounded..." it spoke, dropping Ann and Suiken gently onto the ground. "And thus our dept is paid..." it said, as it turned back towards the dense thicket of trees in the forest and galloped off.

Suiken stirred slightly. "Wh-where...?" he questioned, half delirious.

"Heh....better tend to 'em quick, Sha," a gravelly voice chuckled. "Don't look like they have much time before they bleed out all over the ground!"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki Character Portrait: Ann'Razul Character Portrait: Rumelis Morende Character Portrait: Shiisan

0.00 INK

A lot about this forest unnerved Rumelis, already tired and irritated by the loss of
his gear.

First was the shifting around. While he'd known some woods that seemed to shift to
and fro, he'd never seen one that really did trap people for days, like in the
stories... it was disturbing. Such a place could not be mapped, could not really be
known, without the doubt of the shifting terrain.

Next was the "ex-bandit" and the beast. It was all a bit strange-- following this
man who seemed to know what he was doing, as their wounded were carried away by a
massive deer-like beast. This was unfamiliar terrain, even for an Askian native--
for one, nothing had tried to kill them yet. Still, Rumelis kept his notched axe
close at hand.

And so he walked, past shifting sands and sparse greenery, traveling close behind
the "ex-bandit", and wondering if the Guild would ever be able to reunite past this
strange land.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Shiisan

0.00 INK

Sunaarashi nudged Shiisan.

"Name's Sunaarashi," he said. "Call me Suna. Look, I've been in places like this before, so I know that you're not lying when you say that it's going to be confusing and messy getting through this. But..." He leaned in, dropping his tone. "We've already lost several members, we can't afford to lose any more... We have to find them." Suna shrugged. "You have the ability to help us, and I do have the means to repay your efforts."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki Character Portrait: Rumelis Morende Character Portrait: Shiisan

0.00 INK

"What? Nah, I'm already paying back my debt for the bunny freeing me," Shiisan shrugged, as the scenery changed in an instant, from a desert to a dense forest.

"Ah, there goes that curse again..." Shiisan nodded. "...Ah, look. That's different..." he muttered as he glanced forward at a tree, bearing a parchment, which was pinned to the bark with a knife. Shiisan withdrew the knife and pocketed it, before reading the letter. "Woah...really weird. But maybe you guys should read it? I think it's for you..." Shiisan shrugged as he held the parchment for all to see.

The characters on it read, "To you, fellow guild, we offer a challenge....".

Shiisan shrugged again. "This is new. I've never heard of another guild in the forest..." he contemplated for a bit. "Then again, I have been stuck in a net for a few months..."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Shiisan

0.00 INK

Muna took the note from Shiisa to examine it more carefully, flipping it over in confusion.

"This isn't even a full sentence," she said quietly, staring at the words on the page. After a final look, she stored it in her bag, opening it making her frown at how much she had lost in the river. Another thought struck her. Her face paled and her eyes widened. It was gone. His jacket.

"Can't really accept a challenge if we don't know what it is," she muttered absent-mindedly. There was a distraction to attend to. "Maybe we'll meet them on the way and they can help us or something.."

~*~

Tsukumo was about to retort sarcastically when she saw the look in Ann's eyes. Another thin eyebrow was raised and the young woman chose to grumble instead, "Well if you're gonna start complaining, then yeah. I'm done."

A warm feeling spread throughout Ann as Tsukumo held her hands above her patient's stomach. Her injuries began to mend as Tsukumo's healing chi took over where Maiya and Lo-muna had left undone. Broken bones mended, cuts healed, wounds closed, all with little to show there was a wound in the first place. Tsukumo's scowling expression went rigid with concentration.

"While she's doing that, I might as well get some conversation going," Sha said to Ann and Suiken. "Alright, so I already know you guys are part of a guild. The rest of your team should be looking for you, hopefully, and that reunion will make all of us happy here."

Buruu paused, extending her hand to indicate the other guild members that accompanied her. A Fennec beast-man sat cross-legged behind her, examining Suiken and Ann with a cold, calculating look. Buruu chuckled and continued.

"But what is the guild named? Have to know an opponent's name," Sha said as she rubbed her chin. "And what are you guys doing out here? S'far as I know, many people don't go into the forest willingly and if they do, they know better than going into it injured. Either way needs a reason so explain it to me."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Ann'Razul Character Portrait: Shiisan

0.00 INK

The Guild continued to marched through the forest, which quickly had become the desert once more. As they walked, Shiisan found something crawling through the sand. ...:Ah, sand tortoise," he muttered, picking up the sand tortoise from the ground and examining his shell, where a blade was sticking to it. "Oh, there's a note stuck on him...huh. Hold on little guy," Shiisan muttered, drawing the blade out and reading the note. "The curse is not a punishment, but a childish game. A maze. Okay..." Shiisan shrugged, crumpling the note into a ball and tossing it to Lo-Muna.

When Lo-Muna uncrumpled the note, she would see a drawing of a boulder next to a patch of grass. Similar to one they were standing next to now. An arrow pointing east was drawn above it on the note.

"So..." Shiisan muttered, as a golden beam leaped from his fingertips and zapped the turtle, repairing the cracks in it's shell. Shiisan then placed the creature back upon the ground. "Guess whoever took your friends has their own idea of where we should go, huh?"

***

"We are..." Suiken coughed. "The Great Guild..."Suiken paused, before shrugging and adding. "Fortune. The Great Guild Fortune. And we were....shipwrecked. So to speak."

A man standing next to the fire oni woman, a man sporting a jacket with spiked emerging out of the shoulders failed to stifle his obnoxious laughter. "Great Guild. Fortune. I've heard some arrogant bastards in my time, but these buggers..." he sneered. Coming into view, Ann and Suiken could tell he was only half human. The other half appeared to be beastman, judging from his fanged canine grin and dusty wild hair. "Now, us, we're humble..."

"We call ourselves the Hunter's Guild. The nice lady you see before you is our leader, Sha..." the half-beastman pointed to the red oni standing before them. He then pointed to himself. "I'm Jakkar. The mute fox you see glaring at you is Daken, the grumpy medic is Tsukumo, the big lummox taking a nap..."Jakkar muttered, near the fire where a large man slept. "Is my stupid cousin, Tawa, an the rest of our number is out spyin' on your little friends out there," Jakkar finished in a mocking tone.

"Hunter's guild? So...you're bounty hunters?" Suiken asked with caution.

"Heh," Jakkar muttered, looking back at his allies. "I'll tell ya, Oni, you don't have to worry your old, fat head about it! See tha'ts the beauty of our name, we hunt bounties, yeah...But we also hunt beasts...and treasure, which happens to be our goal this fine evening. But what we're also hunting for something we haven't seen in a while. A challenge. Which hopefully, your guild can provide."

"And if we can't..." Suiken questioned.

"Well, I wanted to kill ya and take your stuff, but you guys don't look particularly loaded and our...'illustrious' leader feels a little benevolent on potential rivals, don't she?!" Jakkar asked his leader disrespectfully.

Suiken frowned and turned to Sha. "So...you're a fire oni," he stated. "You ever fight in for the Empire in the war?" he questioned, looking at the ground, still recovering form his wounds.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Shiisan Character Portrait: Pele Mele

0.00 INK

"What, this?" Shiisan asked, the golden aura encircling his fingers. "It's my chi ability over nature. See, I can restore things to how they once were naturally. Sort of like healing I guess. Like I can heal wounds...guess I shoulda mentioned that earlier, huh?" Shiisan shrugged. "Can't bring any people or animals back from the dead or anything like that. Plants are another story, though."

Shiisan then demonstrated by drawing out the knife that was previously on the turtle's back. Zapping it with the golden chi, it soon began to rattle before it's wooden hilt fell to the ground and became a tree while the metal of the blade split into various natural metal ores.

"'Course as a bandit, I had to find some combat uses as well. Took a while, but I finally honed it. I can bring back any physical pain anyone's ever felt. It's pretty nifty, I'd say...now are we gonna just listen to me talk or move on? C'mon, let's go!"

The guild took a right by the boulder soon was in a completely different part of the desert with several small unmarked graves. Another note was on top of it. "Let's see..." Shiisan muttered. "This one says, 'take a step backwards once and prove your worth'," Shiisan shrugged. "Makes about as much sense as anything else out here..." he muttered, giving the letter to Lo-Muna once more.

***

Suiken smiled at Sha. "Ah, no. I'm no soldier. Just a simple musician. I do know another fire oni woman, who fought for their navy. A chief, really. But...I suppose she's retired by now," Suiken sighed. "Just curious about where you stand. I assume you have no quarrel with the Snow Oni, then?"

Jakkar glared at Tsukumo and flashed her an ugly grin. "Stare all you want little doctor, but y'know the only real thing between you and me is that kimono your wearin'. One of these days my, uh....my knife might slip," Jakkar chuckled drawing out his butterfly knife and tapping the flat of the blade on his forehead. "And cut the sash in half...Then who knows what I'll do? Eheh..." Jakkar howled, his tongue hanging off of the side of his mouth like a wild dog.

***

As the hooded man hobbled onto the ship's deck, one of it's crew, a purple oni in blue monks robes, sporting a purple odd looking helmet, swiveled his head around and chuckled. "Aloha, my hooded brother!" he greeted in a cheerful tone. "We were just discussin' what to do with you!" the oni backflipped and landed on the mast, pointing his right arm backwards to the the rivers and mountainside before them. "We ain't that far from Jiefong, if you were wonderin'. Just took the scenic route by the mountainside. With all the bandits and shit. Kind of a boring trip though."

"In fact...." the oni muttered, turning towards his fellow Seven Sons members, pointing double finger-guns at them. "Y'all can wake me up when we get there! I'm snoozin'..." he informed his compatriots, and with that out of the way he hopped in a fishing net, hanging from the side of the ship, using it as a makeshift hammock. "Y'all better decide...what to do with hooded dude before we get there though..." the purple oni yawned. "It ain't gonna be too good if he goes around causing trouble or whatever..."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Yuwen Fortune Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki Character Portrait: Ann'Razul Character Portrait: Rumelis Morende Character Portrait: Shiisan Character Portrait: Pele Mele

0.00 INK

"I think...we're nearly there..." Shiisan muttered. The guild had collected note upon note of various hints and clues, all seeming to guide them somewhere. "So can I ask you guys, a question? Great Guild Fortune? Really? You,bunny baby..." Shiisan pointed at Lo-Muna. "You said your leader was named fortune? Was he rich or something? Or maybe you're some kind of treasure hunting guild...?" he asked, looking form Lo-Muna to the other guild members somewhat suspiciously.

***

Suiken gave Sha a wide grin. "Ah, you don't know how much it warms my heart to see an oni who doesn't subscribe to the mentality that we fire and ice oni should constantly war with one another. But, I must ask...you live for a challenge? Why? Was capturing Ann and myself completely necessary?" he asked while Jakkar looked as if he were prepared to charge at his Tsukumo, only to be held back by his recently awoken cousin.

***

"It ain't lyin' to withhold information from a potentially dangerous individual," Pele called back drowsily, from his makeshift hammock. He sat up once Yuwen inquired as to who they were. "Who we are...ain't important. What we're after....is. You remember Poyo, right? What you found there?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Rumelis Morende Character Portrait: Shiisan

0.00 INK

"I'm asking 'cause I wanted to know more about your guild. I've never heard much about guilds before, living out here..." Shiisan shrugged. "Not that you guys are making them seem impressive at all. I mean your leader doesn't even bother to stick around," Shiisan noted.

"Also..." Shiisan muttered, glancing towards the back of the group. "I think your bear skin rug has vamoosed. And by that, I mean some weird chick fell from the sky and the forest sent him spiraling somewhere else. So uh...'nother new problem. But Luckily these notes..." Shiisan muttered, grabbing another set of cryptic directions. "Seem to be leading us towards the right path, at least."

***
Suiken smirked curiously at the fiery spirited (no pun intended) competitive oni. "Well, I have no doubt that our guild will be here in time. And I must say, it's nice to meet a group that doesn't want to kill us...Well not right off the bat at least. Though, I suppose the Hunters Guild has their illustrious leader to thank for their stability."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki Character Portrait: Terra Himene Character Portrait: Shiisan

0.00 INK

As Terra entered the chamber, she winced from one of her injuries aching again. "Well...at least I can rest in here, right?" she muttered. It'd be better than resting out in the desert right now, anyway; this place was still rather hot as it was.

But strangely, it felt as though the temple itself was exuding an aura that was trying to convince her to leave.

--------------------------

The river had not seen anyone travel faster within itself. Umi, regardless of if it was a bad idea, was using his Chi to accelerate himself even faster through the water. Combined with his expertise swimming, and he'd be in Gangamai in no time.

But where would he go from there? This was something he was less sure of. Terra could have gone anywhere in that goddamned desert, and he wouldn't have the first clue on where to look. Hell, where had she even gotten out of it? He had no idea!

However, Umi had no more time to think about such things, for suddenly, the river bent in another direction, and he followed its course--into thin air.

"Wait, what the hell?! I don't even-AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!" Arms flailing comically, he went crashing into someone before toppling into a forest, many miles away from where he had been merely five seconds ago.

Rubbing his side in pain, Umi sat up and looked around, confused. "The hell just happened?" he asked out loud. Though there were a rabbit woman (who he had just crashed into), a Tengu, and two humans all behind him, he had not really directed the question to any of them in particular.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Yuwen Fortune Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki Character Portrait: Shiisan Character Portrait: Pele Mele

0.00 INK

"...Crown?" Shiisan asked suddenly. "What crown?" Any further inquiry was interrupted as an odd man tackled Lo-Muna into the ground. "Man, the forest just keeps on bringing me the weird one, huh?" Shiisan asked no one in particular as he grabbed a beetle from middair and began to chomp on it as a snack and glanced from the guild members to the newcomer.

"Welcome to the cursed desert forest of Gangamai, by the way," Shiisan informed the newcomer, still chomping on the beetle. "And try and stick with us. Otherwise, you ain't gonna be leaving any time soon. At any rate, we should get a move on."

***

Suiken pondered Sha's question carefully...before bursting into uproarious laughter. "Ahaha!" he bellowed. "No, no...not all of them." Suiken then turned to Tsukumo and bowed his head gratefully. "I thank you! Your healing skills are amazing."

***

"Forget about being destined to, Fortune IS important. OR at least he wormed his way into being so when he found that crown..." Pele explained. "There is something that happened to him. This monk gettup isn't just for show. A shadow looms over him now that we're currently unsure of how to deal with."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki Character Portrait: Terra Himene Character Portrait: Siisaa Character Portrait: Shiisan

0.00 INK

Yamato sighed in frustration. This day was getting better and better. He pulled the man off of Lo-Muna, "Now, you keep your mouth shut and follow us if you want to live. Apologize to our leader here," The first time he actually acknowledged Lo-Muna as the stand in leader, "and as soon as we get out of this mess you can be on your way. I don't care who you are, or where you're from. Got it?" He tossed the man in front of him before offering his hand to Lo-Muna. "Wonderful way to start your stint as leader, luck doesn't seem to be on our side."


****

"Well well, what do we have here? An intruder?" Risa smiled as she knelt in front of Terra, her green eyes seemingly glowing in the darkness. "I'm afraid you can't be here sweetheart." Se said with a wink, "What would the boss say if she knew I let a young girl walk in here with no problems? I'd be out a job, and well, that frankly just won't do. So, let's go. I have a feeling the boss will want to meet you, I can feel you command a powerful chi. What's a young girl like yourself need with chi anyways?" Risa sighed, shaking her head, he black hair falling over her shoulders before she pulled it back and tied it in a small pony tail. "Well, at any rate." She took ahold of Terra's shoulders and picked her up, grabbing her upper arm, she lead Terra from the temple and headed to her guild's camp. "Oh Tsukumo will be so happy to meet you." She said with a smile as the pair walked though the dense woods.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki Character Portrait: Terra Himene Character Portrait: Shiisan

0.00 INK

Well, the other people nearby didn't waste their time responding to his sudden entry. The Tengu had thrown him roughly away, while the rabbit woman seemed rather annoyed (though it was to be expected; not many people enjoy having other people land on them).

In any case, Umi stood up and dusted the sand off his black jacket. "Not my fault I got magicked from the river all the way into this forest..." Looking around, one could tell the river was nowhere near them, so it didn't seem very likely, did it? "But yeah, sorry for any injuries I may have caused...uh, ma'am."

And now, it was time to get to the main article of business. They weren't looking for introductions, so Umi skipped that step. "And pardon, but have you, perchance, heard of a guild by the name of Fortune? I'm looking for someone who may be with them." If only he knew who he was actually talking to.

--------------------------

"Eh? Wh-what?!" Before Terra knew it, she was suddenly getting dragged away by the a woman with black hair tied in a ponytail. "Hey! Let go!" But the woman did not seem to heed her replies...

"I...said, let GO!" Getting more and more panicked, Terra slammed her right hand into the side of the woman, and frantically tried to dash away. Underneath her feet, the earth shifted to aid her in getting as far away from that woman as she could.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki Character Portrait: Terra Himene Character Portrait: Shiisan

0.00 INK

Wait, I'm talking to them?! Hang on...but there were supposed to be twelve official members! There are only like, four here! Umi stared at the members of Fortune gathered before him, confused, before realizing it meant something even worse.

Forgetting his manners again, he stepped forward quickly, placing himself inches from the Tengu's face. "Then tell me something else! Right now! What happened to Terra Himene?"

But he feared he already knew the answer.

--------------------------

Luckily, Umi was wrong. Unluckily, if one knew Terra's thought process at that very moment, that person would think he was right.

The other woman had somehow managed to get directly behind Terra, and her hand was on her shoulder. She was saying something about how Terra shouldn't be going alone, and how the girl needed treatment.

But Terra didn't trust that woman at all. For some reason, the words with which she had met Terra just made it sound like her real intention was to kill the alleged "witch". "Just how do I know you're not leading me into a trap?" she demanded, pushing the woman's hand off her shoulder and jumping away to put a good three meters between the two.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki Character Portrait: Terra Himene Character Portrait: Shiisan

0.00 INK

"Shit..." Umi had no idea at all what a Qilin was, but the fact remained that Terra was still somewhere far away, and he didn't even know where she was. "Forget your challenge; I can't afford to stick with you guys when she's out there, maybe even getting killed by the guys who challenged you!"

Grabbing his waterskin and bag, he sent a rather menacing glare towards the members of Fortune. "And, I doubt you even cared about her anyway, if you're talking about her like that. Sure, she's not very strong, and I remember that she was scared of nearly everything...but if she was actually trying to help you, like I heard in Jiefong, calling Terra a goddamn shackle is the worst thing you could do to her!"

---------------------------

The lightning burns suddenly ached again, causing Terra to stagger just as she was about to make her reply. "...y-you shouldn't just believe that...I'm just helpless on my own," she rasped. "I-I'll have you know...there are a lot of things that aren't for...y-young girls...that I withstood!"

Of course, she didn't seem to make a very convincing show now, did she? Even though she had gone through the morning without too much pain, now it seemed as though she was suffering twice as much as she should have to now.

She tried to continue her argument, but suddenly her legs gave out, causing her to sprawl on the grass just in front of Risa. There was nothing Terra could do anymore to resist.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki Character Portrait: Shiisan

0.00 INK

Yamato shurgged and examined the papers in Lo-Muna's hands, "At least this one didn't leave Umbrals in his wake..." He muttered turning to Shiisan, "Lead on." He folded his arms across his chest, a small glance over his shoulder. "We're the ones looking for that girl...she may be a pain but she's powerful. She has potential and a clearer head than Hyuna. Fool should have stayed with us."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki Character Portrait: Rumelis Morende Character Portrait: Shiisan

0.00 INK

Rumelis politely declined to comment. He wasn't sure what this whole piracy stint
was with Fie, but it was probably just another drunken whim. He picked Fie up off
the ground. The man gave the two of them a glare, then went off on his own before
Rumelis could talk to him.

Nothing for that, he supposed. He walked off into the woods, with the drunk cat
following behind.

"Where ya goin', First Mate?"

First mate? What, was he part of this pirate deal now? Ah, well, he might as well
answer.

"Looking for my Guild. I need to get back to them, we can't be getting lost like
this."

He walked straight forwards, but still felt like he was being turned around-- at
least the drunk cat was still with him, he doubted Fie would stay alive without him
for very long. He swore under his breath at the damn forest, still spinning him in
circles and--

--then he ran into Lo-Muna's group again. He was surprised, honestly, that the
forest had cooperated.

"Hey everyone, glad I found you again."

He gestured at Fie.

"Found this woman in the woods. Her name's Fie, she's drunk, and I think she wants
to be a pirate? Something like that. Anyway, where are we headed next?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Yuwen Fortune Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki Character Portrait: Ann'Razul Character Portrait: Rumelis Morende Character Portrait: Shiisan Character Portrait: Pele Mele

0.00 INK

"Oh hey, Brother Bear is back," Shiisan greeted. "And he brought a scrappy drunkard, 'cause that's what we need right now." Shiisan pointed to the right towards a clearing. "We'll be headed that way," he informed the bear as the group marched on....and soon found themselves face to face with two of their kidnapped comrades, Ann and Suiken. along with another group that they had to assume was the other guild that had left all of those cryptic directions for them to find.

"Oh, hello!" Suiken greeted as he turned around. "It seems we've found ourselves a bit of...'friendly' competition," he sighed.

"Well, there's the fat lookin' one and the quiet lookin' one..." Shiisan noted. "But where' the neurotic lookin' one, that's the question. More importantly, who's gonna go out to look for her? Not me, definitely, 'cause I believe I just heard something about a challenge? So..." Shiisan began, clapping his hands together. "What's the challenge? I love challenges."

"It ain't for you, bandit," Jakkar spat, still not taking his venomous looking eyes off of Tsukumo. "We saw ya at the entrance to the forest, beggin' for someone to cut ya loose! We issue this challenge to the Great Guild only!"

"Oh," Shiisan laughed. "Shit, well why didn't ya say so? I'm a member of the guild! Ain't that right...?" he asked Lo-Muna, elbowing her.

***

"Well, if you asked our leaders...then nothin'," Pele shrugged. "But us? We plan on playin' this smart. No way can we accomplish an endeavor like this alone. We need allies, Hoods. Big time allies. And with the Empire and it's surrounding allies and enemies constantly on the brink of war? Maaaan, that shit's no easy feat."

The purple oni monk looked over at the mountains a their ship passed them by. "Recruiting an army massive enough for us to make use of 'em is highly improbable and highly illegal given the current wartime situation. Don't matter to us though, 'cause if we wanna save the world, we gotta do the improbable. And we need to work quickly but diligently though. We don't know how much time we have before the true threat makes their move."

***

In a decent sized, but relatively unknown village hidden in between the mountains to the north, a militia had formed and gathered in a defensive position in front of the mayor's mansion under the dark thunderclouds draped over the sky. Their home was under attacked. They had lost two hundred militia members before they made their retreat to what they assumed would be their final stand. Only a good eighty or so remained. The hired contingent of bounty hunters and ronin had been almost completely slain, the few of their remaining number deciding to cut their losses and flee the town, even at the cost of their honor.

All because of two men. Two monsters, seemed more accurate in the captain eyes. She looked upon her militia soldiers, who didn't have the veteran training in the Yunish army like her. They looked afraid. One of them turned to her, "How can this be, captain? "one young soldier asked. Not much older than thirteen by the looks of it. "How can an entire army be overturned by two?"

"Things aren't that simple anymore it seems..." was the captain's bitter answer. She recalled two days ago when the two had barged into the mayor's office, demanding he hand over the town to them and their unaccounted for benefactor. They were laughed off at first, but something in their tone indicated they would return. The mayor had assumed they'd bring an army. They did not.

So the captain raised her axe and prepared for what would be their villages' last stand. She looked at the young soldier standing directly beside her and her grimace turned to a grin. "I want you to flee. Go as far as your legs will take you. Should you live, you'll be our town's legacy. That we'll live on, even when faced with horrors unspeakable."

The child gulped and nodded and slowly, very reluctantly, then not so reluctantly at all, turned away from it all and ran.

The two assailants slowly, made their approach towards the mayor's mansion. Where eighty militia members stood with weapons and chi spells at the ready. The captain stared the two attackers in the face, raised her hammer and gave a battle cry that rang across the mountainside as she raised her axe and the rest of the militia charged.

"Hey, Hei...heh," one of the assailants, the lanky Bai Zhao, chuckled, seemingly unconcerned with the remnants of the militia rushing towards them. "Heheh..."

"...what?" the more muscular Hei Zhao queried somewhat irritably, as he clamly held his hands behind his back and his pale lifeless eyes stared down the captain and her forces raise their arms.

"Brother, how many are left in this village aside form the militia?" Bai asked.

"Well...let me see..." Hei murmured, tapping his talon-like fingers on his chin. "There's still the mayor and his family. And then there's all of the villagers, too stupid to evacuate, and still holed up in their houses, hoping for this all to pass over."

"All in all a good harvest then," Bai shrugged. "The call of death commands you..." the lankier brother spoke quietly, menacingly. "Reaper's Whisper..." he said as an icy chill necromancing his emitted form his body, causing a chill to fly through the air. A chill that pierced the very spirit of the informally trained militia members, causing some of them to panic in fear, and making osme of them lose the will to fight and stand still, frozen. As if mesmerized by fear.

The only one who stood was the captain. The veteran among the militia. She had the proper chi training to withstand such an assault. Though it still affected her. She still felt the deathly cold chill, felt the instinct to panic, but she held on steadfastly. She futilely swung her axe at the two brothers who lithely dodged with inhuman contortions.

"Enough," Hei yawned. "No more of this nonsense. Let's end this village. And keep the woman's corpse...she may prove useful to the master, yet...: Hei ordered his brother. "The tide of the afterlife...Black Hole Sun..." the elder brother whispered as a mass of black and violet flame emerged from his hand, it's shadow large enough to overtake the village. The ball of ebon flame rose slowly into the air and begun to create a vacuum as it radiated fire which struck out and hit the captain and her militia members.

Slowly but surely, people, both militia, and civilians, buildings, livestock, trees, all began to be drawn into the fiery center of Hei's attack. Quicker and quicker until all there was left of the town was rubble. Then, in a flash, it released everything it had drawn in. Not that what it released was recognizable as what it once was. The two undead brothers stood, their ground the entire time, their hands reaching and holding down their conical hats as the an ill tempered gust of wind blew vibrantly through the now demolished village.

They stood and glanced upon their success, not proud, but generally unfazed. "Well..." Bai muttered, looking down at the militia captain's corpse. The only one they had bothered to purposefully spare. "The master's experiment appears to be a success. Provided your orb of death there had collected this town's chi...?"

"It never fails at that," Hei answered simply. "Not only do we have a whole town's worth of chi, but another strong candida for the master to inflict an unfortunately long-lived existence in servitude upon," he added snidely.

"Well, when you put it that way, maybe we shoulda let her lie in the rubble with the rest..." Bai Zhao pointed out, slinging the captain's corpse over his shoulder.

"While, I would wish this fate upon no one, it stands to reason that for every new corpse of a capable warrior we deliver to the Master, the more likely it is that he'll keep his damn word..." he explained to his still skeptical sibling. "Come on. We head to Furoe next. Things...will be handled a bit differently there. I'll fill you in on the way."

And thus the two jiang-shi hopped away from the mountains and towards the sandy coast to the east...

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki Character Portrait: Ann'Razul Character Portrait: Terra Himene Character Portrait: Rumelis Morende Character Portrait: Shiisan

0.00 INK

Yamato stood silent while Lo-Muna talked. This new guild, the Hunter's Guild, wanted a competition. He wasn't buying it. While they seemed innocent enough, he couldn't help but feel on guard. Sure, Suiken and Ann were unharmed and if anything their wounds were treated. He shook his head seeing Terra wasn't with them. "Silly girl..." He muttered. He didn't hate Terra, he understood she was a lonely girl with powers she couldn't control and that she was scared for her life.

He perked up seeing Lo-Muna turn her attention to them. "Competition is in my blood. You know I'm okay with this. Yamato Hibiki by the way."



******

Risa knelt beside Terra, and looked up through the trees. "I'm sorry, but we won't be able to stay out here for long. Once the medicine sets in, I'll carry you to my guild. If you're part of the Great Guild Fortune, your friends may be there by now!" She smiled placing her hand on Terra's forehead. "No fever, that's good." It was then she noticed her eyes, "Well, that explains the chi I'm sensing." She smiled, "You're quite strong! Its a shame your body wants to just throw away all that chi. Your people were hunted down because of your constant chi flow...ignorant people. Its no wonder you wear that hood, despite being so close to a desert!" She nodded, "Well, you're safe with me kid."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki Character Portrait: Shiisan Character Portrait: Gatger Yamus

0.00 INK

"We're outnumbered," Sunaarashi pointed out. "And possibly outclassed. I won't be much use if any of them are moderately adept at chi. But if competition's what they're after, we might be able to impress them into cutting a deal, even if we lose. So let's just try our best."

Sitting on one of the rocks, Gatger's eyes bored into each one of the Great Guild members.

"Which one, Hanya?" he asked. "Which one is the strongest?"

His hands clenched and a ferocious grin threw a splash of white in a face dark from the sun's harsh treatment. His loose fitting clothing did nothing to hide the powerful build that Gatger claimed, nor did it hide most, if any, of the knives he carried on his person. His dark eyes blazed with an internal fire.

In contrast, the person next to him seemed anything but passionate about the coming battle. Her entire body was covered in cloth, except for her eyes, which peered out of the hooded darkness with a dull glow. Her cool voice came from the cloth mask, in sharp contrast to Gatger's rugged tones.

"It's hard to say, Gatger," Hanya said. "Probably the winged folk."

"Yes, they're always strong, aren't they?" Gatger laughed. "What about the Sudean? He's big."

"I sense no chi abilities however," Hanya said after a moment, considering it. "So unless he is impossibly excelled at hiding his powers, he does not have any."

"Pity," Gatger muttered. "And the others?"

"What do you think?" Hanya said, turning away, her voice level. "None of them are as strong as you. In comparison, they might as well be pieces of garbage."

Gatger frowned, but said nothing as Hanya walked away. He watched the group steadily, wondering if Hanya's analysis would prove correct.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki Character Portrait: Ann'Razul Character Portrait: Terra Himene Character Portrait: Rumelis Morende Character Portrait: Shiisan Character Portrait: Gatger Yamus

0.00 INK

The group took a rest in front of the temple for an hour. Around the time they awoke and were fully rested, Risa had arrived, leading Terra out of the forest. A member of the hunters guild, the half jackal beast-man/half human Jakkar got to his feet and stretched. "Alright, I'll get to settin' up the challenge and once my cousin, Tawa, wakes up he can explain the rules to you lot..." he sniffed before heading inside the temple.

"Ah, Terra!" Suiken greeted, slowly getting up form his sleep. "Glad to see you're safe and sound. These people with us are the Hunter's Guild. They're threatening us with the spirit of competition," he informed her, dryly.

"Oh, hey! The neurotic one's back!" Shiisan grinned. "Now we've finally got enough people to take on these jerks. Dont'cha just love bein' in a guild A GREAT guild like this one?" Shiisan asked his new found "guild-mates". e then turned to face the forest. "Anyway, I'll be back in a minute!" he informed them, walking off.

The Hunter's Guild member, Tawa, a large man with the build of a wrestler looked upon the guild and began to explain how this competition was going to go down. "Okay, here's the quick version," he spoke slowly, slightly scratching his bushy mustache. "We're going to have a series of of four challenges. You won't get too much time to prepare as we'll explain the challenges as we get to 'em. The prize is a map hidden deep within a temple, that not only leads to a trove of treasure, but a guaranteed safe entrance Gangamai. Whoever wins, gets the map, whoever loses gets nothing AND has to stay behind in this forest for a year."

"Oh, now that you've explained it, it sounds completely preposterous," Suiken grumbled at the ridiculous terms of this challenge. "So, what happens if we refuse to stay in this forest for a year? Your leader handed us talismans for safe passage already."

"Oh...we have ways of making you stay..." Tawa began to laugh. "We have ways..."

Before Suiken could respond to that unhelpful non-answer, he instinctively turned around to face the forest. Hovering before them above the trees, looming over them, was an ancient massive bird-like creature, sporting a vast wrinkled face, and piercing yellow eyes and a long jagged beak. It had a kind of aura about it that felt completely alien, but it didn't look upon the either groups of the guild with any particular malevolence. It seemed more intrigued than anything.

"Hmm," Suiken murmured, his brow furrowed. "Crane demon..."

"So you have escaped my maze, have you, little mortals?" the Crane demon chuckled in a soft spoken tone, with an underlying tinge of menace. "My what resolve you must have...Most simply give up and die. But you..." it said, pointing a wrinkled talon towards the Great Guild. "You have a sense of purpose about you...At least some of you do."

The crane demon swiveled it's head around towards the temple. "And now you make your way towards the temple. It is mine as well. I have made good use out of the death traps and corpses the humans and goblins who built it had left behind...It has claimed the life of many a trespasser, before foolish enough to scour for my treasure...." the beast cackled. "But perhaps. Just perhaps....I will let you all escape with your lives. Your...mortal games amuse me, you see. If you are entertaining enough, maybe I will go easy on you maybe I will let you...let..." The crane demon paused in it's speech as it made an obnoxious face and violently turned his head in the direction of two sounds. The sound of someone whispering a cheery tune and something else that reminded one of a spring of water.

Both sounds belonged to Shiisan, who was contently whistling as he, er....relieved himself on a nearby tree, lifting his leg up, not unlike a dog. Nearly tripping over himself as pulled his pants back up, Shiisan stopped in his tracks. One would think he saw the crane demon silently glaring at him, but it did not appear to be the case as he muttered something about pollen, and loudly sneezed into his hands.

Returning to the guild, he raised a hand in greeting, "Y'know when you have nothin' to drink except the odd bout of rainwater for a while, ya kiiiiinda tend to go overboard with the drinking water. Anyway, when I was planning on leading you guys here, I was hoping you wouldn't find out about the treasure. Kinda wanted that for myself. But, hey. These guys wanted to challenge my new buddies, so I just had to help...wait, what's everybody looking at?"

The Crane demon suddenly glared at the Great Guild with intense hatred. "Wow. It's, uh,...not an easy task to change the mind of one such as I, but there's pretty much no way I'm not going to try and kill you now. Peace..." the bird creature then departed in a puff of smoke.

".......Weird," Shiisan muttered after a bit, pointing at the direction of where the Crane demon had stood. He turned towards the nearest guild member next to him for confirmation. "It's not just me, right? That was weird? What was that all about anyway?"

Jakkar, who had wandered out of the temple by now, shrugged, but somewhat shaken. "Well, at least we have confirmation that damn near everything is goin' to try and kill us in there. Anyway, everything looks ready to go in there, so let's get a move on."

Both guilds then began to make their way inside the temple...there was a long stretch of nothing before they would reach the spot where the challenge began. So while it was safe so far, the fact that nothing had happened yet did little quell the odd feeling of ominousness, the temple gave off.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rumelis Morende Character Portrait: Shiisan

0.00 INK

"I can handle myself in the wilderness well, I can hunt well enough, I suppose. I can handle this axe-- that one I can't promise skill with as much."

Rumelis patted the axe at his side. It was on par with many of the hunter's weapons-- notched, slightly rusty, but sharp and well-used.

"I can use some traps, too-- basic snares and lines and such. From that I guess I could try to find other people's traps... but I haven't tried that, really, so we'll see. That-- and I've been surprisingly good so far at staying alive."

He patted the stump where one of his ears had once been, then relaxed, his little interview done.

"I don't know about the others as much, but they're all good fighters, I can assure that much."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Hyuna Ka-nan "Falcon" Character Portrait: Ann'Razul Character Portrait: Shiisan Character Portrait: Millie Kiyare Character Portrait: Rune Iyora

0.00 INK

Ann was mildly surprised to find that someone had actually decided to approach her, opening up with a simple question. She stuffed her hands in her pockets as they walked into the temple, listening patiently as the man talked. The same man that had been cut down from the net trap before she'd been whisked off. He mentioned something about the twins getting off on opium and she couldn't help but laugh a little to herself. "It happens to the best of us," she smiled weakly. "I can't say that I haven't tried any myself. I could imagine myself going down the same road, though I'd like to think that I take a little more care of my well-being than that. And I do talk, only...I don't know, I suppose I'm just not comfortable with starting conversations. I never feel that I have the need to tell people anything so I tend to keep quiet until I'm spoken to.

"What am I good at?" Ann blankly echoed the question. "Not a lot, unfortunately. I've dabbled in plenty of things from art to music to medicine, but I just didn't have the talent for any of those things. The only thing I'm good at..." With her left hand, she drew her kodachi in the blink of an eye, the flash of motion drawing a ringing sound as the blade left its scabbard. The weapon spun in her hand for a few moments before settling upright in her grip as Ann briefly gazed into its reflection. "...is killing." She lowered the sword and gave him a small smile. "I've never been good at anything else." Though her eyes were passive, there was a dangerous glint in them that belied her reserved, soft-spoken nature.

"Being a bandit, I suspect that your circumstances are similar?" she said quietly, turning her blade upside down and thrusting it back into its sheath. "Perhaps ironically, I've never been fond of killing. That just means that there's one more person you'll never get to know, one more person whose thoughts and experience you'll never get to explore. I like people, you know? All people. I tend to think of them as friends I haven't met yet. That's where the disparity lies between me and most of the people I've met on my journeys. I've never been fond of killing, but...it's never really bothered me, either. It didn't matter if they were elderly, sick, defenseless, or children - it's just that..." She paused for a bit, momentarily in thought. "Hm, how exactly does one explain what it's like to care about something without actually caring? Human sentiment can be surprisingly complicated sometimes, can't it?"

An unfamiliar girl approached from the side, asking to join their efforts in the competition. Ann's gaze lingered for a few seconds, but it wasn't enough to hold her attention. "You're asking the wrong person," she smiled. "The one in charge right now is Lo-Muna," she continued, pointing toward the rabbit beast-woman. "Though I imagine that there will be some opposition to that idea." It was understandable considering the fact that she was only a child - or at least appeared so - but such things were never subject to her judgment. There was no reason for her to force others to live by her own ideals, after all.




Afraid. Millie was...afraid. She wasn't abandoned, she knew as much; there was only so much that could be done after everything that had happened, but being lost and alone in this unfamiliar world did nothing to help her psyche. She calmed down at the edge of the riverbank, wondering what her next move would be. Was anyone out there looking for her? Should she get up and begin searching on her own? She frowned, her fingers digging into the dirt. Her feet ran through the cold water and her hands were planted at her sides among the flimsy blades of grass, dancing with each breath of the wind. It was an overwhelming pressure to put on her all at once, putting her into a state between despair and apathy. What could she do? What power did she have? Nothing. She had nothing.

Just as tears began welling in her eyes, something suddenly landed beside her with a loud crash. Startled, she kicked up a little water and scrambled back, tears now springing from fright rather than sadness.

"Wha...H-Hyuna?" she stammered, struggling to recover from the girl's abrupt entry. She talked, but her words didn't reach her at all. Millie's immediate reaction was to bury her face in the girl's chest, wrapping her arms around her in a tight embrace as she shuddered, tears shed freely as she cried in a moment of joy too strong to be described in words. "Hyuna!" she cried, her voice choked as she spoke. "Hyuna! Hyuna! I missed you, Hyuna!" She sniffled a few times in between her words, hugging her tighter as she looked up at her with moist eyes. The warmth of her body, the familiar edge in her voice; she needed this more than anything. "Where did you go? I c-can't - I can't believe you came back! I-I almost thought that, I thought that I w-was going to be left behind forever!" she barely managed, her chest heaving in pauses as she struggled to keep her crying under control. "Please...don't leave me...don't leave me ever again..." Millie closed her stained eyes, her arms beginning to go loosen as she leaned into Hyuna with her weight, feeling her body going limp. "I need you..."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki Character Portrait: Terra Himene Character Portrait: Rumelis Morende Character Portrait: Shiisan Character Portrait: Rune Iyora

0.00 INK

No sooner that Terra had offered to assist the guild, than another girl suddenly appeared out of seemingly nowhere, making the same request. Though Terra was startled and confused as to how the girl had gotten there without being noticed earlier, she quickly also voiced her support for the new girl joining. "I-it won't cause any problems, I'm sure!" she reassured the new girl, though her voice probably didn't sound convincing at all.

Suddenly, there was the heavy sound of feet landing behind her, and she turned around in surprise to see a menacing looking...what was she supposed to even call it?! Half human, half beast man? Was such a thing even possible?!
Regardless, the creature growled, baring his teeth, and whispered in tones that seemed to shake the very stones Terra stood upon, "Listen here, sheila. Our guild don't fear death, see? We live the challenge! 'N' when you live by the challenge, you gotta accept that there are winners and losers. Winners get the satisfaction of victory, the prizes, 'n' the satisfaction of crushin' the losers beneath their heel. Losers get whatever card fat deals 'em."

He then drew out his butterfly knife and tapped the flat of the blade against his forehead violently. "'N' iffit were up ta me, losers would just get the kiss of death. Heh heh heh..." The creature cackled as he swerved around and walked back towards his guild, before the astonished Terra could make a reply.

No. Just...no. To any other Gwanish warrior, even one in training, his or her mentality probably would be similar to that of the creature. But Terra found her fists clenching in anger as she turned his words over and over in her mind. It just seemed too cruel to her! And yet when she looked back at the real members of Fortune, none of them really seemed to be in disagreement with the statement. Then, that meant to Terra...

I said I would offer my support to Fortune...but in reality, I am competing against everyone.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki Character Portrait: Ann'Razul Character Portrait: Terra Himene Character Portrait: Rumelis Morende Character Portrait: Shiisan Character Portrait: Gatger Yamus Character Portrait: Rune Iyora

0.00 INK

"More than that..these people are insane..." Suiken added, approaching Lo-Muna and Terra. "But the bird demon will be after us either way, so we might as well compete to the best of our ability. After all, if we just decided to quit now, I'm not sure they'd take it so well..." Suiken frowned. He then looked at the newcomer. "What brings you to us, child? You seem to understand that danger lies on our path, but knowing that, why would you want to help us? If I may ask?" he queried, raising an eyebrow.

Shiisan nodded at Rumelis and Ann. Seeing as Rumelis spoke first, eh addressed him first, "Nice! A fellow explorer of the wilderness." He then looked to both Ann and Rumelis. "See, as a bandit of this forest and desert, I've gotta take it upon myself to know how to live on the land," he explained, nonchalantly picking his left nostril with his pinkie. "I'm pretty good at hunting honestly. Not so much at traps and gizmos. That's what other members of my old crew specialized in. But maaaaaan, do they all hate me now, so..." Shiisan shrugged, placing his hands behind his head as they walked.

"We were kind of crappy bandits to be honest, I mean yeah when someone stopped by our turf, we'd demand they hand over anything, but our leader had no sense of strategy. Only real reason I stuck around was 'cause of his daughter, I guess," he sighed, nostalgically. "and to tell you the truth being a bandit bored me after a while, bein' stuck in the same forest with the occasional visit to Gangamai. Heroic guild life sounds waaaay more fun."

He then glanced at Ann and asked. "So...you think potentially anybody could be your friend? And yet....you wouldn't have a second thought about killing anybody at the same time? Weird double edged sword thing you've got goin' on...or whatever ya call it," Shiisan paused to glance at the newcomer, a young girl it seemed. He then sniffed the air and shrugged and returned to speaking to Ann and Rumelis. "So, tell me this you two...I know that bunny-baby isn't the original leader of the guild? What happened? Was the old leader, the, uh...Duwen Fortunate dude, or whatever, the one who pushed you all down the river?"

"Alright as soon as you're done chattin' it up, you can decide which two member of yer guild'll participate in the first challenge!" Jakkar called, removing a brick from what appeared to be a dead end in the wall. The wall, through some mechanism, slowly pulled itself back, revealing a an cobwebbed filled mining tunnel. Looking alongside the walls, the guilds could see fragments of jade spread out across the dirt. Most of it had been mined up and cleared out years ago.

Two wooden, decaying mining carts stood abandoned in front of the tunnels. They hadn't seen use in who knew how long? But they were the object of the first challenge. "Here we go," Tawa began. "There are two trails of tracks carved into the dirt for these two mining carts. They're big enough to fit two people, so two members of each guild will get in the cart and race to the finish. Simple enough ,since it's the first challenge."

"The rest of us'll be takin' the tunnel off to the right," Jakkar pointed out. "It has a safe walking path. Well..."safe". The bird demon'll DID say he'd try 'n' kill us so...stay on yer toes, I guess."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Amanhã Tiamat Character Portrait: Hyuna Ka-nan "Falcon" Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki Character Portrait: Ann'Razul Character Portrait: Terra Himene Character Portrait: Rumelis Morende Character Portrait: Nee Me-Hyung Character Portrait: Shiisan Character Portrait: Millie Kiyare Character Portrait: Teri Serizawa Character Portrait: Rune Iyora

0.00 INK

#, as written by Rann
The gambit seemed to work out, Hyuna thought. The dark one wasn't constantly digging at her like it usually did. Where had it even come from, anyways? She didn't know, and although it seemed her chi was stronger and less tiring to use, still. That might've been connected. Whatever the dark one was though, it certainly wasn't a nice thing. Wanting to... take control of her body. Maybe to manifest in the real world. Hyuna had no idea how she was going to deal with tha- wait. Was this related to the enigmatic character named Magic? Did it start around that time, during the ball? In which case, Magic might've been the culprit. Perhaps.

This was frustrating. Now she had to track down Magic and kill him before things got even worse. Not that she could go on a hunt for Magic with this little girl here. Someone had to take care of her after all, right? And since no one else around, the probable least suited out of the entire Guild - if she even counted as a guild member at this point - had to take up the responsibility. And thus, Hyuna relaxed herself at the river bank, watching Millie.

"Wha... H-Hyuna?" The little girl stuttered, looking shocked at the pseudo-rocket's sudden appearance. The next second, the little girl rushed forward and pulled Hyuna's chest into a close embrace - the spear girl didn't even really get the chance to react at the sensation ... not that she minded. Too much. It's Millie, so it's okay, right? It wasn't bad... it wasn't uncomfortable... "Hyuna! Hyuna! Hyuna! I missed you, Hyuna!" The cries of 'Hyuna!' were interspaced with little sniffs and chokes and more clutching, to the point that Hyuna almost felt as if she was falling over backwards. She tried to fit in a few words here and there, beca-

Kill Her.

Godamnit. Hell no she wouldn't kill Millie. Millie's awesome. Hyuna frowned internally at the dark one's reappearance.

She's pointless, will just get in your way.

"Where did you go? I c-can't - I can't believe you came back! I-I almost thought that, I thought that I w-was going to be left behind forever! Please...don't leave me...don't leave me ever again..."

"Hey, I wasn't gonna-"

"I need you..."

And thus, Hyuna promptly felt like shit. She awkwardly looked around, and glad that no one was secretly spying on them, gingerly rubbed a hand on the little girl's head, ruffling her brown hair a little bit, fondly. This really wasn't so bad at all. She heard the dark one cry out for more blood and slaughter, but there was no way Hyuna'd let that happen. Not when Millie needed someone's protection. Not when at least one person in the world gave a shit about her.

Probably the only person in the world to remotely care.

"I won't leave you." Hyuna said gently. "Millie ... sorry you were scared and alone. I - " Damnit. She really did feel shitty. "Hey. What say we go an' try to find the others? I'm probably not the best person for taking care of a kid."

Furthermore, she didn't want to corrupt Millie with her own darkness. That'd probably be the worst sh could do. And she didn't want it to end the same way Yaeha's life went down. That'd be even worse.

She'd do it right this time.




At her admission of not disliking her, Sainko seemed further mollified for some reason. It was odd. Did she really care so much about Teri's own opinion of things? She didn't seem the type, at first sight. But then again, first impressions never tended to be accurate. She and Fuuta had gotten on terribly at the beginning, for instance. Teri leaned back to gaze idly at the children playing around, without a care in the world. It was almost sad. A few years from now, the half-tengu could be certain that those children would be jaded teenagers in the large scale of things. No one was really happy-go-lucky any more by that age, in her experience. Even the younger and more naive members of the Kurobas were pretty cynical compared to the idealistic lifestyle of children.

Pity, she supposed. Nothing to do with her, in any case.

"I'm glad," A deeper, more serious and grave voice. Was Sainko taking her more seriously? Did it really matter if she was? "I don't like to be disliked." Another cascade of hair, and Sainko approached. "Knowing how these things work," And it wasn't long until the illusionist reverted back to a voice that matched her form. "We'll probably end up working together again soon. Wouldn't put it past the higher ups, you know."

Teri then stood up, and took Sainko's hand. They still had to report in, after all, the details of how the mission went. That was the last thing, before it was time for her to return home to where she found some small semblance of belonging. And she wants to bask in that feeling now; she knew she had enough food to fly the hours required in one go, at least. Especially if she met with favorable winds. She grasped the illusionist, and meeting no resistance, leapt into the air, and swooped down to the lower levels of Jiefong; wind speeding past blindly; before using that downwards momentum to shoot them up into a warm current of air, further boosting their height. It felt amazing, and Teri almost glowed as she absorbed the feeling of flight.

"Comeradic Woods." Teri said, just for verification. "Right? Lots of bees. Might need to wear metal wings to shield us."

Those bees were legendary, even in Tengala, for being notoriously murderous. So the Comeradic Woods were a particularly good place to have a secretive rendezvous, right? Most people would, logically, try to avoid being there as much as possible.

Upon seeing the blotch of red trees, Teri then gently eased them down, falling through the canopy into the thick of the woods, instantly hearing a pulsating, hypnotic sound of buzzing all over them. Despite the afternoon sun shining down on them, it was dark, because the leaves and branches blocked it all out, except little steams floating down, almost majestically. And of course, the buzz of the bees instantly rose in tempo and volume. Once they landed on the soft, mossy floor, Teri quickly fastened the plates onto her wings, and spread them to cover both her and Sainko's bodies.

And thus, they waited for the representative of the Runiguard to appear.




The Sudean, as expected, reacted rather negatively to the whole thing, spurting out a "Wait, she used you as bait?" after struggling to even form a sentence together in a coherent, intelligent way. The explanation did nothing to really calm her down, and Nee once again felt the temptation to just resort to using her fix-all chi. She didn't, though, and perhaps that made things just a little bit better. It'd been a while since she tried to talk to someone without using the obvious advantage. A talk on true equal ground. So, Nee nodded mutely, and waited for Gridiron to continue. Saying anything else at this point wouldn't accomplish anything.

"...I'll have to mention to her that that was... not a wise thing to do." Gridiron looked exasperated, but the anger had died down. She still didn't look remotely pleased, but there was nothing to do with that. At least the problem was dealt with, right, and they could move on. Nee looked back to Amanhã, and shrugged a little. Perhaps the whole thing was a little much... Perhaps. She was drenched in the red liquid of death, after all. Nee made sure to buy some clothes as soon as she could.

"About the shit that went on before. I don't mean to overstep my boundaries or anything. I know I'm at best just some person in your eyes, and at worst a detriment to whatever nation-shaking plot you have boiling up in that fourteen year old head of yours. But, as awful as I am at phrasing it accurately, I... did sincerely mean what I said. Y'know. About wanting you to be safe and happy. I figure you deserve as much. I'm not too good at making this point without sounding like an idiot, but, uh... well, just know that much, will ya? I don't want you to return to Furoe thinking I'm only doin' this out of a sense of duty or some shit."

Nee nodded again, and took what Gridiron had said to heart as best as she could. She felt warm and fuzzy; and she wondered briefly if this was what friendship was all about. No harm if it was, right? In fact, it was rather pleasant. to the point that the usually verbose girl was rendered almost speechless, only managing to squeak in a 'thanks' in return, and couldn't think of anything else to say whatsoever.

"But that being said," Gridiron said, in a more authoritative and charismatic way, and started addressing her troupe about the situation, and about moving out. If they were going to, now would be the best time to do so. Nee saw the little gesture, and followed the cat out, keeping a safe distance away from him, then took the opportunity to wander off on her own into a clothings ship, after muttering to Garrus that she'd be just a sec. She had to change out of this shit, after all. In there, she purchased something rather simple - just a small, greyish tunic that more or less worked as a one piece, a leather belt letting the bottom billow out to somewhere above the knees. The also wore furred boots, and a black cloak with lilac lining overtop it all. Something more practical than a kimono, really. With that, she returned to the troupe on their march. She couldn't really hide the hain anymore, and it was more or less fastened to her belt, looped around in a way that trailed down her leg.

Time to head home. Nee didn't quite know how she felt about it.




The Gwanish woman was the first to respond, with a more or less neutral expression. "You're asking the wrong person." A smile graced her face. "The one in charge right now is Lo-Muna, though I imagine that there will be some opposition to that idea."

Rune glanced over at the rabbit beast-man. Someone that looked as weak as that, the leader? Well, to think that would be hypocritical, really, because Rune was hardly physically menacing. But still. It was more than a little surprising. It was then that the rabbit began to speak.

"It's dangerous, it's lethal in fact, this journey that we are taking. Should we get out of this alive, our road will lead to even more opposition whose sole intent will be to kill us, maim us, or leave us all separated to the far ends of this world. There will be times where death is a relief and where we will mourn one of our own." Rune struggled to keep a twisted grin off her face. She really didn't mind the idea of dying at all. Why would she? It's not as if it was a terrible thing, right? Right? She was eager too. To see what interacting with people other than her father was like. For the last few years it was only those two, wasn't it?

"If we fail, you will be trapped here with us for at least a year. I cannot guarantee your safety or permanent status within the guild. For now, I am a temporary leader as our permanent one was taken so when we recover him, I do not know if he will go against my word or not."

Lo-Muna. And the witch was Terra, apparently. Rune looked over with a bit of a shrug at the slightly taller girl, flashing a cool grin.

"A witch, huh?" She said. "Interesting." She then turned back to Lo-Muna. "And, thank you. I'm looking forward to fighting alongside you all, for as long as we're alive, at least.. We do have the disadvantage here, because I bet the other guild probably did this sort of thing before."

This was going to be fun. Exhilarating. And she could almost feel her father's encouraging sentiments through their little bond of necromancy. The wolf beastman listened to the others speak, and then peered at the two minecarts, ideas running through her head.

"A mix of weight and ranged combat." She said finally. "That would be the best. So, uh." She looked at the blue oni, who appeared to be the heaviest, and then at her own bow and quiver. Would it work? They'd have to see, wouldn't they? The bear wouldn't be bad either, but didn't appear to weigh as much. "Fat Oni for the weight to make the cart go faster. And then me to attack at range. That should work, unless you all disagree." She gave off this cool, almost savvy aura as she looked at her new, however ephemeral teammates. "Unless one of you has earth chi to control the cart, or wind chi. But what are the chances of that?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki Character Portrait: Ann'Razul Character Portrait: Terra Himene Character Portrait: Rumelis Morende Character Portrait: Shiisan Character Portrait: Rune Iyora

0.00 INK

The words Muna had for Terra made her feel much better, because now she knew at least someone really did care that she was participating...or even alive, really. However, just as Terra was about to respond...

"A witch, huh? Interesting."

These words came from the new girl that just joined. And, of course, that word drained out Terra's enthusiasm quickly. Not another person who thought that way about her... "P-please, don't refer to me with that term," she whispered, in a somewhat weary sounding voice. "Unless you really t-think...that way." But her tone uncharacteristically darkened on the last words.

Then, the annoying beast man/man from before suddenly opened up the wall through some kind of secret mechanism, revealing two minecarts that were practically falling apart, directly set upon the stones themselves. So they were supposed to race in these? It seemed absolutely suicidal, didn't it?

"A mix of weight and ranged combat." Terra jumped slightly before realizing that it was the new girl who said this. "That would be the best. So, uh. Fat Oni for the weight to make the cart go faster. And then me to attack at range. That should work, unless you all disagree." It seemed the girl was rather full of herself, but that was just Terra's impression. "Unless one of you has Earth chi to control the cart, or Wind Chi. But what are the chances of that?"

What were the chances indeed. The alleged "witch" was about to step forward and say she, in fact, had Earth Chi, but suddenly her mind screamed for her not to. What if something went wrong again? It's not like she was that skilled, anyway...

No. Just stop thinking like that. Swallowing hard, Terra stepped forward, placing herself one meter from the other girl. "I-I have Earth Chi, a-as a matter of fact. W-well, what do you say now?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki Character Portrait: Ann'Razul Character Portrait: Terra Himene Character Portrait: Rumelis Morende Character Portrait: Shiisan Character Portrait: Rune Iyora

0.00 INK

The other girl grinned back at Terra with an expression that seemed absolutely insincere to her. "So you do. Good luck then, Witch!"

"H-hey, listen, I just told y-" But Terra's anger had no time at all to flare up, for Muna began speaking while her fist was rising.

"It is true though. Suiken, you can probably aid with your girth in the speed of the cart and in the event of the crash. Terra, you can get the cart moving in the first place and actually aid Suiken in defense and attack should the other guild try anything." So it would be Terra and Suiken participating, then... "I don't think things will go well for such stakes. Shiisan certainly isn't helping in matters...But, I do believe this will be the lighter of challenges so I believe it's best for you Terra and Suiken, well, I trust you will protect Terra. You seem capable of handling yourself after all."

Despite how unsure of herself she was, Terra felt almost a little indignant hearing Muna essentially state she should be in this challenge due to it being easier. All the same, though, she bowed her head slightly and replied, "We understand. Y-you can depend on us to win." Whether she actually meant this or not, she had no idea.

As Terra climbed into the mine cart, the other girl--apparently named Rune--leaned in after getting admonished by Muna. At first, Terra met her with a rather icy gaze, expecting another round of the girl ignoring her request...but the mischievous-looking girl with the silver hair only had these words for her, said in quiet tones as though they shouldn't be heard: "Don't be afraid to cheat. Can't trust them to not try to take you out at first chance. Even if they say they won't, I bet they will."

Us? Cheat? That isn't even... Terra glanced at the other guild just to be sure. There wouldn't be anything suspicious about them...right? Suddenly, though, the mere looks the Hunter's Guild's members exchanged with each other looked very suspicious. "...I-I'll keep your warning in mind," she told Rune without really thinking much about it. "Come on, then, Suiken."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Yuwen Fortune Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki Character Portrait: Ann'Razul Character Portrait: Terra Himene Character Portrait: Rumelis Morende Character Portrait: Shiisan Character Portrait: Pele Mele Character Portrait: Jeon Oun Character Portrait: Rune Iyora Character Portrait: Fie Kurai

0.00 INK

"Alright, wait!" Shiisan said, raising a handing front of Terra. "Uh, guild meeting! Team meeting! Captain Spastic and The Fat One are who we're sending in, but uh, we want a team meeting first!" Shiisan muttered, calling the Great Guild members over to him. "Hey, look guys," Shiisan muttered quietly as they approached. "I dunno if you've all picked up on this or not....but these guys are crazy!" he whispered, pointing a thumb at the Hunters Guild.

"They WILL get us killed. And as someone whose spent months trapped in a net, lemme tell ya, I'd like to live out my life as much as possible," Shiisan whispered. "Look, I've been in this temple before. Even before the curse hit, it was pretty deadly. And now that the whole place is cursed, we won't be able to turn without danger lurking at every turn."

"So here's my idea...you two!" Shiisan decided, pointing at Terra and Suiken. "Will still do the race. As a distraction. While the rest of us...go with the members of their guild not competing and watch the race with them for a while. The some of us will stay with the spectators as a second distraction, maybe compete in some of the other challenges while a small bit of us sneak off and try to find the map, which leads to both a massive horde of treasure AND a curse-free ticket out of here."

"And what about gathering the rest of the guild after the would be treasure thieves find this map?" Suiken asked skeptically.

"That might be the only hard part as these loony tools are liable to attack us," Shiisan shrugged. "So we yell out a signal and the rest of you follow us and book it! So...whaddya think, gang? Who should do what?"

***
Pele Mele nodded at Jeon to inform Yuwen of the situation as he got a better look at the sea before them. "Gonna be a long voyage. Might have ta go for a surf if things get too boring..." he noted, drowsily.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Hyuna Ka-nan "Falcon" Character Portrait: Ann'Razul Character Portrait: Shiisan Character Portrait: Millie Kiyare

0.00 INK

Her back against the wall, Ann brushed her hair out of her eyes, listening as the ex-bandit spoke to their guild. She wasn't really interested in the treasure, but they certainly did need to leave this place one way or another. Sticking around for a year did not seem like the greatest of ideas. She didn't care which role she ended up in, nor did she have any suggestions on who should be allocated where to optimize their results. Acknowledging that any response would be ineffectual, Ann simply decided to remain silent, her arms folded over her chest and her eyes looking calmly over the others.



Millie took some time to regain her composure, but she managed to pull herself together enough to give a coherent reply. Still wiping her tears from her eyes, she put a little distance between herself and Hyuna to give her some breathing space. "Y-Yeah," she said quietly. "I want to know how Ann and Terra doing." She paused a moment before adding, "And the others, too. Do you know where they are? I thought they would've been gone by now." Millie smiled sheepishly, taking a gentle hold of her hand as a sign for her to take the lead. "Thank you, Hyuna. For coming back."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Yuwen Fortune Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki Character Portrait: Ann'Razul Character Portrait: Terra Himene Character Portrait: Rumelis Morende Character Portrait: Shiisan Character Portrait: Pele Mele Character Portrait: Jeon Oun Character Portrait: Rune Iyora

0.00 INK

"Suiken and Terra are both powerful enough to compete and escape so that stays as Shiisan has confirmed," Muna began. "I will be part of the initial group staying along with Rune and Yamato. Ann, Rumelis, and Suunarashi can accompany Shiisa to find the treasure. After all, I trust you know your way around the temple since you've been through it before, Shiisa."

She smiled warmly at the bandit before looking over at the others, "Any complaints? Objections? Suggestions?"

~*~

Jeon sighed and looked at Yuwen, saying, "Since my companions aren't in a talking mood, how very unlike 'em, I guess I'll be up to flap my beak."

"See, it seems you finally gained what most are looking for- a bit of specialness to ya. You have a few things of interest to us that would include the key and whatever you have inside you now. Now, before you start cheering, this is not the good kind of special. Well, it is if our plan goes the way we want it. We're travelling across a sea for this, for the good ending, and you and him-" Jeon pointed at Yuwen and Hoods. "Might really be able to help us save the good old world. Well, if we can figure out how to rid the evil in you first cuz as he mentioned, you may not know the key and I hope he's wrong on that, but you are a key. A pretty vital one to our plans."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Ann'Razul Character Portrait: Rumelis Morende Character Portrait: Shiisan Character Portrait: Pele Mele

0.00 INK

"Sound good to you or what?" Shiisan asked Rumelis, Suunarashi, and Ann.

***
Pele lazily glanced over to the Prefect yelling at them to dock ashore. "What? No," he shrugged lethargically as Seven Sons continued to sail on.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki Character Portrait: Terra Himene Character Portrait: Rumelis Morende Character Portrait: Shiisan Character Portrait: Rune Iyora

0.00 INK

But Terra, who was still midway into the cart, was not so keen about Shiisan's plan. "Are you sure, um, that they won't notice that so many of us are gone?" she asked skeptically.

At the same time, she glanced nervously in the direction of the Hunter's Guild. If they had heard the plan, that would not be good.

--------------------------------

A full day had passed, eh? Phecda was back in perfect condition now, but it still felt a little bit frustrating that he had accomplished nothing for an entire day. And Terra was still out of his view.

Well, with Yuwen and his friend at sea, there was not much he could do with the Umbrals he had already summoned. So there was only one use for them at the moment...

Raising his hand, he sent a telepathetic message to the Umbrals. "Find Hyuna Ka-nan. Bring her back here, alive." They would likely get killed if he sent them against the berserk lancer.

But he was planning on that.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Amanhã Tiamat Character Portrait: Hyuna Ka-nan "Falcon" Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki Character Portrait: Ann'Razul Character Portrait: Terra Himene Character Portrait: Nee Me-Hyung Character Portrait: Shiisan Character Portrait: Millie Kiyare Character Portrait: Rune Iyora

0.00 INK

#, as written by Rann
Kill the brat.

No, Hyuna protested internally as Millie clung to her. She wouldn't. Millie was the only one who really wanted her, there was no way Hyuna would kill her. She would never allow that to happen. Even at the cost of her own sanity, that'd never happen. She'd shove the spear through her own form before it could. She rubbed the little girl's back lightly as she steeled her resolve, her desire to be somewhat functional. Her desire to not just be a murdermachine.

She'll just weigh you down.

Shut up. Just shut up. Millie's not going to die just because some stupid dark one was trying to take over her body. Hell if she'd let that happen. But finally, Millie added some distance between them - relieving some of the hardpressed tension rising inside of the spear girl, as what was most likely an attempt to insidiously manipulate her physical form. She stood rigid as a board to try and counter this as best as she could.

"Y-yeah." Millie said finally, seeming just a bit tougher than she had been before, in response to Hyuna's query of finding the guild. Her voice was quiet; weak, and Hyuna felt the faint sense of... a threat. She wasn't entirely sure if it was just residual paranoia from the dark one screwing with her, or if someone was approaching, but she moved closer to Millie, almost protectively - bitterly reminding her of when she tried to protect Muna - keeping a wary eye on the surroundings.

"I want to know how Ann and Terra are doing." Millie said - and the latter name is what flared up in Hyuna, making her almost let go of the child completely in her sudden exploding rage - and the child gave a little pause. Did she notice? "And the others, too. Do you know where they are? I thought they would've been gone by now."

Hyuna thought. She last saw them at that riverbank. Would it be so much of a stretch to assume that they went down river, to wherever it might've lead? Yuwen was mysteriously absent, though; and that did burn at her mind as she tried to consider. The river. That had to be their best bet. Follow the flow of the river in hopes of catching up. And possibly, possibly... no. She couldn't hope to reconcile anything with Muna. She'd go there, drop the little girl with them, and then leave.

She wouldn't let someone as volatile as her be too close to her, after all. And if Yuwen were gone - Muna would most likely have taken charge. She'd take care of Millie, even if no one else did. She was pulled out of her slight reverie by a hand brush onto hers, clinging to a finger; and a bit of a smile wormed it's way towards her.

"Thank you, Hyuna. For coming back."

"I have an idea where they are." Hyuna said, going very slightly red at the thanks - she wasn't used to this shit, even now, was she - and scooped up the child, preparing to fly. The river, south east of Jiefong, at the base of the Comrade Mountains. What else was there to do? Hyuna made to boost herself up into the ai-

Wait. What the shit was that. Those weird... those monsters were coming. The same as she's seen from the village. Creepy ass disjointed runs approaching; this was going to be a shit of a hassle. In order to keep Millie from being afraid, Hyuna pulled the child into her form with her chi hand, as she held her spear stiffly in front of her in a defensive stance.

"Looks like we got company. Shit." Hyuna's eyes darted all around her, as if looking for a weak spot in their ranks. With Millie like this, she couldn't go all out like she usually did; she couldn't use her chi wildly. But this meant she had to rely on her weakened wrist that still wasn't moving right like it used to.

Sure you don't want to use chi?

She was sure. Relying entirely on her muscle strength, Hyuna bounded forward, using the spear as a buffer to any attacks, while driving it through the skull of one of the weirdass monsters, and flicking it with the blunt end of the spear, barreling towards another group that was incoming. She'd struck at one of the edges - but the other sides were now starting to converge. She was fucking surrounded, wasn't she? A familiar rage built up within - she couldn't let it out, she couldn't depend on losing control right now. Now with Millie here. She had to do this right.

A quick series of lunges and parries and jabs - a flurry of swings and twirls, leading to something of a pole-vault and another wide slash. Twist your body to tank the claws before skewering a bunch of them in a row. Raise your arm to keep them from getting at the girl, removing some others from the battle. Leap forward to go with the momentum and stab through another three, and flung the bodies at more trying to get close. Fall to your knee as you realize you can't get out of this without chi - you're already bleeding again.

"Damnit." She hissed. "Sorry, Millie."

With that, Hyuna let loose a burst of wind to shoot Millie into the air. A few surges of chi later, and all of the enemies were destroyed; torn into meaty shreds on the grassy plains. Before Millie could plummet to her death, Hyuna flew up to catch her, almost gallantly, and then landed back on the ground where something dark started rising up inside of her. Dark energy seemed to swirl around her form, and she felt herself twitching and bending into herself; clutching her chest in some desperate attempt to keep it all in.

Don't go psycho. Don't go psycho. Goddamnit, the battle's already over.

It's not. The girl is still alive, isn't she?

Goddamnit. Goddamnit. Stop. She was losing control. Again.




As the troupe more or less walked off, Nee just stood there, in somewhat of a stupor. This was her chance, was it not? She could take this opportunity, be rid of her father, and plant Garrus's fur there - having him be blamed for the murder. It'd be a cinch, and then she could continue with her revolution, and leave behind this idiotic chapter of her life. It'd be simple. She lost her chance to really manipulate Amanhã at all; if that's even what she was trying to do. Let alone Gridiron, who she hadn't wanted to in the first place. If she had done so from the beginning, and not tried to delude herself with stupid, childish fantasies, then maybe it'd have gone better.

There's no room for personal emotional chains. No room for friendship. There was only the Revolution. There was only saving the People. Nothing else mattered, isn't that right? Chances are, Gridiron wouldn't interfere with her at all, and it'd all go more or less smoothly. Manipulate both of her forces, possibly gain more help via any strong guild out there, so on and so forth. Take out Moga, gain Minayne's relative as an ally, and whoever they might also be affiliated with. It was more or less a clear road from here, most of her pawns being in place for the time being. So with a bit of a sardonic smile to herself, she began walking back to Furoe - back to her home. Because Gridiron was right. Trying to help them out had nothing to do with her; it was all irrelevant. A sidequest with no reward. Why would she possibly stay around, just for some fleeting attempt of companionship? There was no reason for that at all.

....Sure, guaranteed safe passage into Gwan would certainly be a boon; she predicted a mass panic would occur if her father died, after all. In said panic, it wouldn't be difficult for Moga to capture her, if he so needed. She could only rely on Cha'Valkar to retrieve her in time, and take her back. And that Moga wouldn't influence him at all in the time between now, and their reunion.

A few minutes later, the noble happened across, strangely enough, a horse merchant. Why he wasn't at a stable, she had no idea. Nee figured a horse would help speed the process along, of course. She checked her cash - she had enough for just one. So of course, she bought it - a rather stunning stallion. As a noble, she'd obviously learned how to ride a horse. It was something most nobles learned. Her mind flashed back to Gridiron - could they really save her lover? Amanhã wasn't even remotely fast, was she?

All of a sudden, Nee felt incredibly lonely. It was crushing and visceral all at once, and she didn't quite know how to deal with it. She never cared about companionship before, so she didn't quite know how to deal with this new development. But... a revolutionary that was bogged down with personal gripes couldn't be particularly effective, could she? Was it so bad to want a friend in life, so she wouldn't die completely isolated when the time came?

The blade flashed and appeared at the merchant's throat. Nee regarded him coldly for a few seconds - this was no time to try and use diplomacy to get the horses, after all.

"I need four more. If you value your life, you'll give me the reigns."

It wasn't long until Nee caught up to the troupe, with the other four equestrians behind her. She made something of an awkward look towards Gridiron before dismounting her horse with a childlike grace, and looking her bashfully, feeling somewhat as if this wasn't congruent with her personal perception of herself at all. Whatever happened to ruthlessness, and 'at any cost'? Almost feeling as if she was betraying herself, Nee lowered her eyes into a more humble expression.

"...This should help y-us.. us catch up, should it not? At least until the tunnels."




Rune was entertained. Things were starting to look up -and it appeared that this gild at least had the mental capacity to realize that the opposing guild was guaranteed not to fight fairly. Depending on how this Lo-Muna went about it, it could lead to a particularly fun fight. She'd never really trained against anyone but her father before, after all, and this'd be an interesting experiment. It wouldn't change much about her outlook on life, but hey. It was fun. Fighting was fun. It was a thrill. Rune gave the former bandit a thumbs up for more or less bringing it to light that they'd have to cheat in order to win.

She looked at her group - Lo-Muna and Yamato, the tengu, and felt more or less at ease. They looked as if they could handle themselves just fine, perfectly fine. And fighting alongside worthy allies seemed just as fun, if not funner, than fighting on your own.

"No issues on my end." Rune drawled, looking rather enthused. "Win at any cost, right?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rumelis Morende Character Portrait: Shiisan

0.00 INK

Rumelis looked at the bandit.

"So, you'd have me cheat with you?"

It was against his morals. But it was part of being with the Guild, he supposed.

"I dislike this whole business. But I'd rather not see you die on some simple trap.
I suppose I can help you."

He paused. "For the Guild, if nothing else."

He joined them down the path.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki Character Portrait: Ann'Razul Character Portrait: Terra Himene Character Portrait: Rumelis Morende Character Portrait: Shiisan Character Portrait: Rune Iyora

0.00 INK

"This doesn't seem too well thought out...but it's better than the alternative of dying in a cavern for an insane challenge," Suiken sighed before following Terra towards the Hunter's guild. "Alright, we are competing. It's time for you to put forth your competitors."

Among the rival guild's number the strong Tawa, was the first to approach. Jakkar raised an irritated eyebrow. "What the hell? ain't ya gonna be in the fighting competition?" he asked his lunkheaded cousin.

"What and risk bruising this beautiful figure?" Tawa obnoxiously asked, flexing a muscle. "No way!"

"...Alright," Jakkar snorted in derision, walking away.

"Woo, yeah!" Shiisan shouted. "The competition! It's, uh, it's pretty great!" he shrugged. He glanced over at Rumelis and shrugged. "Hey, dude, it's cheat or die. Ya wanna live or what?" he muttered quietly, before continuing with his mock cheering.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Hyuna Ka-nan "Falcon" Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Ann'Razul Character Portrait: Terra Himene Character Portrait: Rumelis Morende Character Portrait: Shiisan Character Portrait: Millie Kiyare Character Portrait: Rune Iyora

0.00 INK

Ann simply shrugged again, acknowledging their roles. As long as they found a way out, it didn't matter. Even then, she wasn't too averse to the idea of staying behind for a year, either. It wasn't like she particularly had anything to live for or had anything important to do outside of this place. When it came down to it, just being alive was all that mattered.

"Fine by me."



It was over quickly, this she knew, but Millie felt like she'd spent minutes up in the air. Those...things had come out of nowhere and thankfully enough, Hyuna was able to fend them off, if with a bit of trouble. She felt a pair of hands grabbing her, taking her safely back down to the ground. She was a little shaken, but at least there wasn't any harm done.

"N-No, It's...sort of my fault too,." she shook her head. "If I weren't around, you wouldn't have had to put yourself in danger for me." She paused, looking up at the girl with a curious expression. She seemed to be troubled, but by what she couldn't quite understand. "Hyuna...? What is it? Is something wrong? If you're feeling sick, we can get rest a little before we start moving."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki Character Portrait: Ann'Razul Character Portrait: Terra Himene Character Portrait: Rumelis Morende Character Portrait: Shiisan Character Portrait: Millie Kiyare Character Portrait: Rune Iyora

0.00 INK

"Shiisan," Sunaarashi said. "I really don't think it's that simple. Especially since you ticked off that demon thing." He sighed. "Do you really think that little of our chances in winning? There's only four competitions. And if we lose, we can always try to find the map later. But playing through this competition will get us a good idea on what we're up against, both in the Hunter's Guild and the crazy stuff around here."

He shivered. "Speaking of which, have any of you just felt really strange since getting here? Especially when that demon thing showed up?" He rubbed his arms.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Shiisan

0.00 INK

"I'm pretty sure that demon set off several things in motion," Lo-muna frowned as she considered Suunarashi's words. "The guild isn't at its peak right now. Risking ourselves now would be foolish. Not only that, but we don't have a year to waste. We must find Fortune and the others..."

She looked troubled and shook her head, "No, Shiisan's plan is necessary. We don't have a favourable alternative."

~*~

"I will be the second competitor in this," Daken said, stepping forward to stand besides Tawa. Sha chuckled and nodded, "This will be a fine competition. I like your team's enthusiasm!"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki Character Portrait: Ann'Razul Character Portrait: Terra Himene Character Portrait: Rumelis Morende Character Portrait: Shiisan Character Portrait: Rune Iyora

0.00 INK

Despite the doubts raised, in the end, it seemed Shiisan's plan would be going along. There was really nothing Terra could do but sigh and hope that they weren't detected.

Seating herself completely inside the crumbling minecart, she carefully made room for Suiken. "L-let's do our best, alright?" she asked, with the most confident smile she could manage. Although...why did it look like the members of the Hunter's Guild were giving each other sly grins?

Don't be afraid to cheat. Can't trust them to not try to take you out at first chance. Even if they say they won't, I bet they will.

Suddenly, Rune's warning didn't seem so far off...

----------------------------

Well, that was a rather short performance the Umbrals had put up against Hyuna. But nonetheless, it told Phecda quite a bit.

"I should be able to piece a winning formula together with this," he muttered, recalling that she had struggled to kill any of them without her Chi, even with that little girl weighing her down. In addition, it seemed Spectre's influence had tried to actually possess her body...interesting. Perhaps it could turn her into a pawn for him, even? "As for your Chi attacks...hm, that might be a bit harder to deal with. But if I have this..."

At this moment, he was holding a vial with a strange liquid in it--though it was similar to the one he had given his friend before the ball, the substance had a different color. "...you won't be able to win against your senior, Hyuna Ka-Nan."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki Character Portrait: Ann'Razul Character Portrait: Terra Himene Character Portrait: Rumelis Morende Character Portrait: Shiisan Character Portrait: Rune Iyora

0.00 INK

Suiken nodded and climbed in the mining cart, after Terra. "We'll give 'em our best and then some!" Suiken grinned, nodding at Terra and ready to begin the race. Tawa climbed into the cart, realizing there was barely enough room for him and Daken.

"Maybe I wasn't the wisest choice..." Tawa shrugged, attempting to make some room for the fox-man.

"Alright..." Jakkar began. "We'll start on the count of three, then? Then your teams will push off and start the race..." The Hunter's guild members began to gather in excitement ot watch the start of the first challenge, cheering on their guild-mates, while Shiisan looked back at Ann, Rumelis, and Sunaarashi. "Alright," he whispered. "The morons are getting pumped up! Just wait for it...."

An in a split second, both the heavier members of the respective guilds, Suiken and Tawa pushed off their mining carts. The carts launched off a bit slowly, steadily moving along the tracks laid out for them by the previous occupants of the temple. Speed began to pick up as the carts rounded a corner. As they did so, the two guilds took to a hallway to the right, which led them to a pathway where the could oversee the race. The Hunter's guild seemed to be studying it intently, silently muttering among themselves as they followed the cart race at their own pace.

The two guilds in their carts continued to gain momentum until they reached their first big drop. A lengthy hill where the mining tracks seemed to drop downward in a giant 'U" shape. Suiken turned to Terra. "Alright, I'm going to lean forward a bit. My weight should be enough for us to overcome that hill with ease. Failing that you should use your earth chi to push us back up. That way we can-"

"EARTH chi?!" Tawa screamed at the top of his lungs form the opposite tracks, despite the two guild's minimal distance from each other at this point. "I got your earth right here!" Tawa chuckled obscenely as he pointed at several stone statues decorating the walls of the temple beside the tracks. And as for the chi..." he grinned as he activated his augmentation chi and began to shake viciously as his muscle mass increased. He took one of the statues, ripping it form it's metallic hinges with one hand before doing the same with another. "Which of us do you think is gonna win...?! I'd say...it's a toss up!" Tawa grinned, tossing up the two statues towards the Great guild cart, one of them heading towards the cart. The other landed directly on the tracks in front of them, smashing it to splinters.

"Alright....we have a massive statue headed at our left and a railing malfunction right in front of us.," Suiken uttered quickly, but calmly. "Which one do you want to handle?"

***

"Hell yeah!" Jakkar cackled. "That's the way to show 'em, cuz!" he grinned, cheering on his teammates.

"Yeah, uh! hey guys!" Shiisan called. "Don't..die or whatever," Shiisan shrugged halfheartedly, before nodding silently at Ann, Rumelis, and Sunaarashi. He looked on to the path below them, one that the presently occupied hunter's guild was too caught up in the race to notice. With that, he led them off.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Terra Himene Character Portrait: Shiisan

0.00 INK

Lo-muna didn't look back as Shiisa began leading the assigned guild members away, one ear swiveling to pick up the sound of their footsteps. Her eyes were glued to the carts while the other ear was facing towards the cheering Sha. Tsukumo at the back of the group was watching it with a smug grin.

"You can do it Terra! I believe in you!" Muna screamed at the top of her lungs, even as statues flew at her guild members. "C'mon Suiken, show 'em what old and fat can do!"

"Go Hunters Guild!" Sha roared, unaware of the members slipping away. Her blood was boiling and the adrenaline rush had begun. Her attention was fully on the competition as was her guild's.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki Character Portrait: Ann'Razul Character Portrait: Terra Himene Character Portrait: Rumelis Morende Character Portrait: Shiisan Character Portrait: Rune Iyora

0.00 INK

"Great job, Terra!" Suiken laughed as Tawa angrily commented on how they were beginning to lag behind as he used his strength to swat the rebounding stature at the ground far below. Suiken leaned forward to the right, near the wall. The distance between the two tracks was widening now and between them was a long fall to the ground below. "Not a shortcut we'd want to be taking anytime soon..." Suiken muttered, glancing below. He continued to lean to the right allowing them to quickly make a sharp turn which looped around the temple's stony walls.

It was at this point, a black inky talon ripped through the rocky surface of the walls, attempting to take a swipe at Suiken and Terra. And it wasn't alone as it was soon joined by a good dozen counterparts. A quick glance over would tell the Great guild racer's that the hunter's guild was having the same problem.

"Duck!" Suiken shouted, pulling down Terra slightly as a several claws reached out for them.

"Uh, actually, dude, I think it's a crane!" Tawa corrected, inciting a an exasperated sigh from Suiken and probably Daken as well. Tawa had begun punching some of the talons on the wall, causing them to dissipate into shadow. Then he used his chi ability, and increased his muscle mass yet again. This time he leaned over towards the railing behind them and punched it with his fist, severing it form the railing ahead if them.

Using all of his might Tawa ripped the railing behind them, off of it's hinges, before using it as a bat to smash the shadowy wall talons on their side. He then gave the two great guild members a twisted grin and began to swing the railing at them. Around the same time, the shadow talons had multiplied on the guild's side, this time having sprouted a pair of bloody yellow eyes in the center of their palm and spouting gibberish that seemed to give the guild members a headache the longer they listened to it.

"Think you can take care of those?!" Suiken asked Terra rapidly, referring to the claws as he stood up slightly and tested his augmentation chi against the railing bat, holding up an arm. The railing bat was swung harshly by Tawa and his the arm Suiken held up, causing a dent in the railing.

On the wall next to the guild's cart, the bloody eyed claws, seemed to be slowly pulling themselves out of the walls, revealing more complete, sinister forms. The eyed claws were in fact, their heads. Their bodies seemed similar to human sized black cranes, and their feet resembled a crane's head, as if they were using it as a pair of slippers.

"Oh, shit..." Suiken commented as he saw the creatures emerge from the corner of his eyes.

From the hallway of the spectators, the Hunter's guild was continuing to cheer. "Not that I'm all to fond 'a that Crane demon, but I hope he knocks those two Great Guilders into the chasm!" he laughed cruelly like a tool.

***

Meanwhile, Shiisan, Ann, Rumelis, and Sunaarashi found their way into another room, below their comrades. Looking around, Shiisan saw an unlit torch lying in a holster on the wall. Shiisan then picked up two stones on the ground to spark a fire, which he then passed onto the torch. "Alright, so let's see what we've got down here...Buncha cobwebs...broken sword. Oh hey, a skeleton," Shiisan commented as he drew closer and saw it wasn't simply one skeleton, but a whole hoard of them.

"Way I figure it, these are probably a bunch of invaders from years ago, that tried to raid the place but failed," Shiisan guessed. "Ah well. They're loss. Free weapons for us!" Shiisan grinned, pointing to the large horde. "You got your swords, your bows and arrows, your axes, take whatever ya want, they might be antiques by now! Could fetch a good price, and hey! They might still have some use if ya want an extra weapon."

Taking a broadsword for himself, Shiisan glanced over at the skeletons warily. "Alright, I've heard of stuff like this. This is probably gonna be the part where they revive from the dead!" he assumed, suddenly bracing himself in a battle stance. Then...nothing peculiar at all had occurred with the skeletons, aside from one of their heads rolling off their collarbone and hitting the floor.

"Oh, uh, guess not, then," Shiisan shrugged as the he and the others marched on. They soon came across a wide bridge, comprised of small jade square shaped tiles. They only made it a third of the way across when the bridge began to shake. A light emerged from the cracks, that connected the small square tiles....before they began to separate, but still remained afloat in the air.

Shiisan nearly fell off as he slipped off his tile, if he hadn't grabbed onto it with his arms at the last second. "Okay...okay, Guild. It doesn't seem that far down. If we jump, maybe we can survive...." Shiisan paused ad a giant beak with rows of rotating sharp teeth seemed to open on the ground below, waiting for them to fall. Glancing at this for a split second Shiisan tuned towards the others. "Okay, change of plans. We probably won't survive if we jump down there. But...new plan!" Shiisan grunted, pulling himself up a bit, so his elbow rested on his tile. "We gotta hop these tiles to the other side." With that said, he leaped from his current tile, to a tile slowly drifting away from him, wrapping around it with his arms...." Should...be fun, right?" he panted with a chuckle.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rumelis Morende Character Portrait: Shiisan

0.00 INK

Rumelis took an old bow from the adventurer's group, testing the draw. The old bow almost snapped under his arm's strength. He discarded it for another one, that was stronger. He took it and a quiver of arrows to compliment his axe.

The jade panels had disoriented him; he stumbled to his feet after the cracks between the bridge sections disappeared. He was unsteady, and then looked down to see the clutching claws... he nearly lost his footing again. His larger feet were having difficulty with the panels, as he jumped to follow Shiisan.

"Slow down, dammit! Not all of us are light as a feather!"

He stumbled his way onto another panel, sliding to its edge and using his claws to stay secured. This was going to be... difficult.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Ann'Razul Character Portrait: Rumelis Morende Character Portrait: Shiisan

0.00 INK

Sunaarashi showed incredible balance as he hopped across the tiles, passing Shiisan and reaching the other side easily.

"Rumelis, it has nothing to do with weight," Sunaarashi said, shrugging. "It's... 'presence.'"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Hyuna Ka-nan "Falcon" Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Ann'Razul Character Portrait: Rumelis Morende Character Portrait: Shiisan Character Portrait: Millie Kiyare

0.00 INK

Millie wasn't exactly good with heights, but having Hyuna to hold her made her feel safer than she could've ever been. "Safe," she echoed softly. "Yeah..." She held on tighter, feeling the cool rush of wind as they soared. It seemed to surreal being in this kind of situation; it couldn't have been more than a week since she'd last sat down at a table with her family sharing a hot meal during the night of the festival. "I don't think she'll be surprised, but I do think that she'll be happy to see that we're back, at least," she answered. "I wonder if...she's been thinking about us while we were gone? If she was worried?"



Ann tested a nearby stone, putting weight on it to see how it reacted to pressure. Going one at a time or trying to reach the end as quickly as possible were both likely to cause an irreversible accident. This was a matter of keeping rhythm, a simple enough concept to follow given that she didn't think too hard about about what was lurking directly under the tiles. Fortunately enough, keeping calm was hardly ever an issue for her so she made it to the other end where Sunaarashi had already flawlessly reached without too much trouble. "That's a vague way to put it," she said quietly, taking a step back and watching as the others continued along the fragmented bridge. "Keep a rhythm. Pacing. If that's a problem, there's nothing wrong with taking it slow." She crossed her arms and leaned with her back against the wall, glancing emptily toward her fellow guild members. Speaking of presence, she felt an uneasiness wash over her - almost as though they were being watched. Seeing that there was no point in riling the others up over a hunch, she simply kept it to herself and continued watching.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki Character Portrait: Ann'Razul Character Portrait: Terra Himene Character Portrait: Rumelis Morende Character Portrait: Shiisan Character Portrait: Rune Iyora

0.00 INK

"Great!" Suiken nodded as he saw the bird creatures perish in a blast of ice. "Now we just have him to deal with..." the ice oni muttered, glancing at Tawa who continued to swing the railing at them, which Suiken continued to block. Suddenly Suiken turned his head and chuckled to himself. "Lights out," he said simply to Tawa who was still concentrating on knocking the Great Guild members out of their cart.

Tawa raised an eyebrow. "Lights out? What you gonna knock me out from here? Not unless you have s-argh!" Tawa frowned as a hevy looking fixture hanging from the ceiling smashed against his face. It didn't hurt him in his increased muscly state, but it annoyed and distracted him enough for the Great Guild members to get another lead.

"That's it....that's it! No more games! I'm going full strength!" Tawa frowned, using his chi to increase his muscle mass to it's limit, rapidly becoming more monster than man, Tawa grinned as his teeth became something akin to a tusks and his pupils began to become small and bloodshot red. He grew first over nine feet tall, and his skin became as rough as an elephants. "Now, to see how you handle some real competition! Once I...uh...uh-oh," Tawa frowned as their cart completely stopped, given the fact that Tawa was so huge he, Daken, and the cart basically become stuck, wedged between the ceiling and the railing below.

Everyone stared at the moron as he struggled to free himself as Suiken and Terra passed by with ease and after one long drop, made where the rails stopped, with devices on the side of the railing, causing their cart to brake and eventually stop. Suiken gave a thumbs up to Terra. "Looks like we've won!" he said as the other spectating guild members emerged from a pathway shortly.

"Damn it, Tawa!" Jakkar muttered glumly. "I knew I shoulda interfered..." the half-beastman continued, somewhat loudly, perhaps not realizing if the other guild heard....or most likely not giving a shit.

Tawa merely held his head down in shame as he practically deflated and reversed his augmentation until he reached his normal form. Jakkar spewed a series of curses under his breath before looking at the guild. "Your hides are toast this next round! In the fightin' challenge! Choose your warriors!" Jakkar then turned to Sha and asked, "Alright, boss. you wanna take this one or should I?"

***

Shiisan through several hopping attempts, eventually made it across. "Whew! Fun..." he panted, as Rumelis eventually made it across. "Can't just stand here to rest for too long, though," Shiisan shrugged, jumping to hi feet and dusting himself off. He then sniffed the air as if smelling something odd, but soon shrugged his shoulders and continued to lead on. He had lost his original torch when the tiles started to separate, but luckily there wasn't any shortage of torches on the wall or stones upon the ground to start a fire with.

They descended down a flight of stairs next. Nothing notable about it other, than the fact that it never seemed to end. Nevertheless, they moved quickly and had eventually managed to reach the bottom. Another room was up ahead, and even before they entered it, they could heat a noise akin to that of frogs.

Moving inside they soon found an underground lake. A remnant of the caverns the temple was built over and around. Giant lily pads seemed to dot the somewhat murky water. "Bah," Shiisan frowned. "Hate water. Unless it's in a drinking capacity, but still...this can't be safe...." Shiisan then grabbed a stone from the ground and skipped it across the water. Around the first few skips of the stone, nothing happen, but as it went further in the water and the clip-clop sound of it skipping continued to echo, it soon attracted two ominous shapes moving closer to it, further and further until they leaped out of the water.

Two seven foot tall reptilian creatures, with turtle like-shells and beaks akin to that of a ducks. Atop their heads was what appeared to be a seaweed and if they were able to take a glance at the top of their heads thee guild members would notice that it was in the shape of a bowl, filled with water.

"Damn...kappas," Shiisan muttered, beginning to whisper. "These don't look like the friendlier kind either. Good news is, I think they're blind what with living in a cave and all. But you all know the deal with that, right? Other senses are enhanced tenfold or whatever." Shiisan then glanced around. "Way I see it, swimming'll be dangerous. We should probably just use the lily pads as makeshift boats. Row slowly and quietly. Just, uh, make sure not to accidentally touch a kappa," Shiisan advised as he made hsi way towards one of the giant lily pads.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki Character Portrait: Ann'Razul Character Portrait: Terra Himene Character Portrait: Rumelis Morende Character Portrait: Shiisan Character Portrait: Rune Iyora

0.00 INK

"Thank you!" Suiken nodded to Rune. "And good luck to you on your challenge as well!"

Jakkar chuckled silently to himself as he set his massive backpack upon the floor. "Here are the rules," Jakkar grinned. "Fight 'till both of your opponents are knocked out." Jakkar then smiled a toothy grin. "Or dead..." Jakkar seemed to contemplate for a bit. "Well...that's all I can think of really. Any rules to add, Sha?"

"I have a couple..." the voice of the Crane Demon spoke, echoing across the room. Suddenly both guilds were enveloped in a large dome of air. "As soon as you start the battle...you'll have ten minutes as the air slowly runs out of the dome, eventually suffocating you. If either team wins, I'll collapse the air dome, allowing you all to live. After all there are much more...entertaining way to kill you. Ahahaha..."

"Hmm," Jakkar grinned. "Ten minutes eh? Now that's a challenge! Best to get started now, then, eh?"

***

Shiisan sat upon his lily pad, finding it could safely hold his weight. Nodding, he quietly drew a shoot of bamboo sticking out of the water, using it as a makeshift oar. "Remember, guys...keep it quiet, unless we wanna alert those blind kappas."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Hyuna Ka-nan "Falcon" Character Portrait: Ann'Razul Character Portrait: Shiisan Character Portrait: Millie Kiyare

0.00 INK

Ann simply followed Shiisan''s example, using her momentum as she got on for the initial push. She'd never seen a kappa before but she made sure not to let her curiosity get the better of her. There were enough tales floating about of people going missing only to show up in a nearby lake or river, drowned.



Hyuna's question didn't catch Millie off guard as much as the tone that it was delivered in. So it seemed that something was bothering her after all, but she didn't have the nerve to poke into affairs outside of her own. Would it upset her if she asked? Would it come off as presumptuous for assuming things about someone she hardly knew anything about? Something dark suddenly appeared in her vision for a split second and she felt something wet on her skin. The feeling went away, but she didn't really have half the mind to question it. Hyuna apologized for some reason as Millie continued took a few more moments to brood on the question. Before she could respond - or even begin thinking of a response - she was suddenly asked another question.

"I'm not totally useless, right?"

She couldn't understand where any of this was coming from, but it seemed likely that this is what she had gotten so worked up about. Still, it didn't help that she had no idea how to go about responding. What was the right thing to say in this situation? All of a sudden she felt like her next few words would be very important, but her mind went blank. What should she say? What did Hyuna want to hear? Offhanded reassurance? Comforting words? The truth? But what was the truth? "W-Why...why would you think that you're useless?" was the eventual timid reply. In the end, this was all that she could come up with; it was the only thing she could think of to say without possibly triggering what she feared might be something terribly irreversible. "I mean, at least, you're not...to me. You don't have to be so hard on yourself. N-Not that I'd know anything about that, maybe you're not being hard on yourself at all. Maybe it's something else entirely? I really don't know, all of this thinking is making my head hurt. I mean, there are...there are people that care about you, Hyuna. I care about you. Isn't that enough? Isn't it alright to just...leave it at that?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Ann'Razul Character Portrait: Rumelis Morende Character Portrait: Shiisan Character Portrait: Rune Iyora

0.00 INK

Jakkar had been hit, took a few slashes from Rune's sword, even. And although his jacket had been ripped apart by the various attacks he had been the target of, there were little to no bloodstains and no visible wounds could be seen on the rips in the half-jackalman's tunic. If anything he looked healthier than before.

"That's what you Great Guilder's haven't figured out yet..." Jakkar grinned, taking one of his butterfly knives and carving it across his forehead, which received no wounds, nor any sign the half-beastman had drawn a blade across it. "I don't fear pain 'n' I don't get bloodied. Instead, they're just the things I love to revel in..." Jakkar howled, slashing at his own ankles, which like the rest of his would-be wounds, seemed to be fine.

Jakkar then took a glance at Rune. "Weird chi barrier she's got. No matter. I'll go after their boss..." Jakkar snickered, leaping in a similar speedy manner to Lo-Muna and acrobatically flipping behind her as he tossed butterfly knife, aiming at her left thigh.

"Eight minutes..." the Crane Demon hummed cheerfully.

Suiken tapped his chin in thought as he observed the fight. "Necromancy. Hmmm," he frowned. "Something odd about it, though."

***

"Alright, not too far to the other side," Shiisan whispered to the others as they continued to row their lily pad's to the other side of the lake, in one of the lower floors on the temple. "Kappas are way on the opposite end of the lake, so they shouldn't bother us."

"Not without provocation, anyway..." the group could hear the Crane Demon cackle. As if propelled by an invisible force. A chunk of jade fell from the ceiling above and plopped down into the water, nearby the guild. almost immediately, the two blind Kappas turned their heads in the guild direction. They screamed a bellowing screech, before quickly diving into the water.

There was brief gap of silence where nothing was heard aside from the ripples in the water and occasionally the sounds of the bout occurring in the upper floors of the temple. Shiisan shrugged, still whispering, "Well...maybe that scared 'em off?" he offered, only to be quickly proven wrong when four pairs of clawed, webbed hands the size of woks reached out of the water and began to attempt to drag down Rumelis and Sunaarashi.

"Okay, guess not..." Shiisan paused, about to draw his blade, when he noticed four more pairs of webbed hands emerge from the opposite side of water, attempting to drag him and Ann under the depths as well. Shiisan quickly, leaped backwards, off of his lily pad and into the water.

"Leaping into their turf," Shiisan frowned. "Not the brightest idea, but look....kappas are tough. But still there are four of them and four of us," he grunted as his fist collided with the beak of the kappas in front of him, which caused them both to tumble backwards into the water. Shiisan didn't appear to activate his chi ability at all against them. If anything he seemed reluctant to fight them at all. "We should be able to take 'em..."

Several more screeches emerged from various places in the lake. More blind kappas, it appeared. "Come on, really?!" Shiisan groaned, shaking his head. "Any of you got any military experience?" he asked. "Some tactics on what to do when you're outnumbered?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Ann'Razul Character Portrait: Rumelis Morende Character Portrait: Shiisan

0.00 INK

More water. Rumelis was being dragged into more water.

Thinking quickly, Rumelis realized he had almost no chance of survival in the
water, out of his element. He flailed with one paw for something to hold, and
went for his axe with the other. After grabbing the axe he brought it down on
the kappa, injuring it as he fell into the water.

Rumelis frantically clawed for the ground as he felt the water come up to his
head. He scrabbled his way onto a lilypad as he heard the screeches of more
Kappa. The bow and arrows would be useless now, he knew-- he doubted the
things would hold up after their soaking at all.
After regaining his balance, he readied his axe again.

"Any of you got any military experience?" Shiisan asked, as Rumelis prepared
for another attack. "Some tactics on what to do when your outnumbered?"

Well, Rumelis had nothing of the sort, so he stayed quiet and focused on the
next kappa that approached him, keeping an eye on the water to avoid being
dragged in again.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Ann'Razul Character Portrait: Rumelis Morende Character Portrait: Shiisan

0.00 INK

Sunaarashi reached down to the grasping hands and seized one of the wrists. Arm bulging with the effort, Suna lifted one of the kappas clean from the water. His other hand closed on his katana's hilt, and almost too fast to follow, the sword was drawn from its sheath and passed clean through the kappa's body.

The lower half of the kappa hit the water only moments before the rest, as Suna relinquished his grip.

Turning, he saw more water imps splash into the water. Hearing Shiisan's question, he shook his head.

"In this situation, the best thing would be to put ourselves in an advantageous position," Suna said, wiping sweat from his forehead. He looked around and spotted a small cave in the rocks. "Make for that alcove over there. Looks big enough for all of us to fit. They'll have to climb out of the water to get us."

He dove into the water and intercepted one of the kappas with his sword, sending its blood outwards in a billowing cloud in the water. Suna hesitated, his eyes narrowing, before finishing his swim to the depression in the rocks and climbing out.

"Hurry," he called, wiping water from his eyes.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Ann'Razul Character Portrait: Rumelis Morende Character Portrait: Shiisan

0.00 INK

"Hey, woah, wait!" Shiisan called out as Sunaarashi cleaved A Kappa in half. The Kappa's smelled the blood of their fallen and seemed to shriek with a rage that could be heard even upon the upper levels of the temple, where the two Guilds were continuing their fight. Several Kappas began to migrate towards the center of the lake, not in retreat, but for a purpose...

Many hordes of Kappa, began popping up from underneath the depths of the lakes deeper waters. Shiisan noticed that Sister Silence and Brother Bear were still lagging behind a bit, attempting to fend off the Kappa with their own weapons. They were doing well enough. but the horde of Kappas was converging on them quickly. Shiisan quickly grabbed them by their soaked collars and tossed them over towards Sunaarashi, shouting, "Heads up, Brother Bald! Catch 'em!"

Shiisan then turned to face the approaching Kappas ad began to bow. Generally, it was customary when faced with Kappas, to give them a show of respect, as above all else, they valued honored shows of respect, which they usually would show in turn. Even with blind Kappas, such as these certain values had to be intact. Shiisan even appeared to look apologetic and oddly enough, somewhat angry. "Forgive us for intruding in your lair..." he began. "We only attacked one of your number in self defense. We just wish to leave and..."

The cackling of the crane demon, bellowing loudly over much of what Shiisan was saying. "They cannot hear you now...like many things within this temple, within this forest and desert, they are under my power now..."

As the bird demon spoke a Kappa reached down to strike at Shiisan as he bowed, but the former bandit was just quick enough to roll out the way, offering a kick to the kappa, which punted it backwards, towards several of it's kin, knocking them over, back into the water.

Shiisan then made his way to join, Sunaarashi, Ann, and Rumelis towards the alcove. "Let's hurry on and try to get outta here," Shiisan said. "We don't have time to dawdle around anyway, we're trying to get the treasure early here! Hopefully, there's an exit..." Shiisan grumbled searching around. "Wait...there....it's a crevice, but it's not too small, so I think we might be able to shimmy through to wherever it leads while we hold off these kappas."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Ann'Razul Character Portrait: Rumelis Morende Character Portrait: Shiisan

0.00 INK

Sunaarashi helped the others into the alcove, then motioned with his hand.

"I'll hold the fort, everyone get through the crack, quick," he said. As the others began moving towards the rock, Suna grabbed Shiisan and spoke to him quietly, so the others couldn't hear.

"Tactics lesson number two," he muttered. "There's one basic rule to retreating: don't get caught. You either find somewhere to hide, or you run faster. However, if neither is an option..." He swallowed. "You use a diversion. Give the enemy something to keep them occupied while you escape."

He gestured to himself. "I'm drenched in kappa blood. If I fight them, they'll go for me. They'll let the rest of you go."

Sunaarashi closed his eyes for a second, then nodded. "Get everyone out of here. I'll... meet up with you later."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Ann'Razul Character Portrait: Rumelis Morende Character Portrait: Shiisan

0.00 INK

After his.... inexpected flight, Rumelis was happy to oblige the bandit's call to flee. He was concerned for Sunaarashi, but supposed it was best that it was Sunaarashi over himself -- at the very least, Sunaarashi had a chance to survive the onslaught. Rumelis kept going through the dark cavern, blindly following the bandit again.

Well, at least Shiisan had proven to be worthy of some trust. While Rumelis disagreed with the bandit's methods, it seemed that Shiisan's intentions were good, and many of his actions under the same vein.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Ann'Razul Character Portrait: Rumelis Morende Character Portrait: Shiisan Character Portrait: Rune Iyora

0.00 INK

"Oh, it almost makes me sad to carve up a beauty such as yerself, rabbit! but a challenge is a challenge and....eh? " Jakkar forwned, raising an eyebrow s Lo-Muna had tossed the healing balm at him. Everything seemed to move in slow motion for Jakkar for a second as the healing balm grazed his knee, which began to billow out smoke as if it was being burnt. Jakkar howled in pain as he flew backwards, grasping onto his knee.

"Yeeeowowowow," Jakkar yelped, attempting fan away the smoke emitting from his knee. Tawa approached his cousin and placed a concern hand on his shoulder.

"You alright, cousin?" Tawa asked. This only seemed to further Jakkar's pain as more smoke seemed to erupt out of his shoulder. Jakkar, smacked Tawa's hand away and glared at him in a rage.

"Don't show me concern ya big doofus! Just go...Why don't ya help Daken or somethin'!" Jakkar growled, as Tawa shrugged apologetically and wandered off. Jakkar sighed loudly and dug his knife into his shoulder, causing the smoke to recede. Sweat poured down his face, as he grimaced at his opponents nervously.

"Six minutes..." The Crane Demon informed them. The could all feel the air get more sparse and heavier to breath into.

Jakkar began to get jumpy now. "They've found me out. They'd have too, they all saw...Time ta do what I was plannin' to do in the first place...Whatever it takes to win..." Jakkar grinned cruelly, finding the large backpack, that he had left on the ground. He drew out a canister, several of them in fact, and proceeded to pour their contents (which was oil) onto the temple grounds.

Jakkar then grinned and drew out a match. the fire would barely burn him and Sha, being a fire oni raised on the Koru Islands, would be able to resist the intense flame for a while. But the two Great Guilders? They wouldn't stand a chance. As the oil spread out across the floor, Jakkar struck the match and lit the flame, before tossing it onto the flammable liquid below him.

"Time to end this fight quickly!" Jakkar grinned. "You see this, Great Guild?! Yer gonna be roasted alive! Ahahahaha!" he cackled madly.

"I'm assuming that you're aware that fire needs to "breath" too...?" the Crane Demon questioned, amused. "Your six minutes, have been shortened to three..."

".......eh?" Jakkar frowned, raising an eyebrow.

***

Shiisan shrugged, sure Sunaarashi could handle himself. If anything, he seemed more concerned for the kappas. "Just don't go all out on 'em. They're not quite themselves what with the Crane Demon controlling 'em and all." Shiisan then nodded to Ann and Rumelis as they shimmied through the crevice. It wasn't exactly comfortable to move through, though, they made it to an open room and flight of stairs quickly enough. The stairs led them to what appeared to be the last floor of the temple.

There was nothing in the room, aside from two small sealed doors and one large one, which led to another room on the final floor. In the middle of the room, there lay a small pillar. Atop the pillar lay a a stone disk. "That's it!" Shiisan spoke. "That's the 'map'..so to speak. It's more like a compass. Something that'll lead us to the exit when it's time to go. Plus, it's also the key to all the treasure!"

Shiisan slowly, carefully made a grab for the disk....and took it with surprising ease. "What, no repercussions?" he questioned.

"Not yet anyway..." the Crane Demon spoke. "You all seek the treasure, yes?"

"Well, we're all kinda broke, so...yeah," Shiisan shrugged. The room suddenly darkened and only two smaller doors were visible.

"Then I will play a...somewhat fair game with you all..." the Crane Demon grinned. "These two doors lead to one of two treasure rooms...One is full of riches. The other...was full of riches. Now it is my nest...If...you choose the treasure room...then I will spare you for a moment longer. But your fate is sealed if you happen to choose my domain. Now choose!"

Shiisan nearly snorted with laughter, as he turned to Ann and Rumelis, whispering, "See, what this guy doesn't know is, I've been in this forest longer than he has! I know this place like the back of my hand." Shiisan then casually pointed to the left. "There's the door we want. Obviously."

The disk-like stone then floated out of Shiisan's hands, unlocking the door to the left. A golden light peered through the cracks as the door slowly slid open. "Yes!" Shiisan grinned. "C'mon, guild! Treasure awaits!" he laughed, greedily. The three of them entered the room. And the golden light was no more. Instead replaced by oddly shaped, fleshy walls that seemed to be breathing and emitting a black fog that covered the room as it rained feathers from the ceiling.

"Oh, uh..." was all Shiisan could manage to say as they saw a large mound of corpses of various warriors, their weapon laying beside them on the cold floor. In the far back end of the room, was a large pile of sand. Atop the sand lay a small treasure box, out of which more black fog seemed to be emerging from. Several lights dotted the room in the form of flames floating in midair, encircling the room.

There was another motion in the room, aside from the guild and breathing walls. One that might've caused some alarm if it wasn't so...sluggish. It was an old human man, practically cocooned to the floor by a dark ooze. His attire seemed to indicate that he was a miner. His eyes widened in surprise as he saw the guild approach.

"Two humans and a beastman...how interesting..." the old man coughed. "Hopefully you make it farther than the rest..."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Ann'Razul Character Portrait: Rumelis Morende Character Portrait: Shiisan

0.00 INK

As the room shifted form, Rumelis wondered if Shiisan could become more incompetent. How could he simply blunder into the room simply because it looked to be full of treasure? The demon had said it was trying to kill them, why'd he fall for such an obvious trap?

It wasn't worth arguing, though. They were where they were, so as a group they'd best make the most of it.

The walls around them had changed to a rather unnerving form, almost breathing to and fro. It was terrifying to Rumelis, who'd never seen anything close to the sort. He was tense, and the shifting shape of the old man made him jump slightly.

"Two humans and a beastman...how interesting..." the old man coughed. "Hopefully you make it farther than the rest..."

The old man, trapped in the ooze, looked like he was in pain. Rumelis wanted to help, but he was wary of the gunk, not sure if it would kill him, should he step too close. So he tried conversation instead.

"What happened to the rest? Know anything that could help us?"

It wasn't worth hearing the man's life story, not right now-- there was little time left for him, most likely. Rumelis pawed the axe at his side, still not trusting the wet bow.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki Character Portrait: Ann'Razul Character Portrait: Terra Himene Character Portrait: Rumelis Morende Character Portrait: Shiisan Character Portrait: Gatger Yamus Character Portrait: Rune Iyora

0.00 INK

Jakkar's face flushed for a bit as Lo-Muna embraced him. Only for a bit though, as he realized that the rabbit woman was playing his weakness against him. The show of affection contrasting with his karmic reversal chi. A fountain of blood shot out of Jakkar's mouth as he passed out onto the floor. The Great Guild had won. With one minute to spare! The dome of air dissipated.

"See?" Suiken grinned at Terra, happy to be able to breathe clearly again. Or breathe as clearly as the musty temple air would allow anyway. "We have it handled. We're going to survive this, Terra. Just a bit more and we can be done with these maniacs..." his voice fell into a whisper. "And hopefully, our comrades will be able to complete their task safely and get us out without a hitch."

Tawa somberly got to his feet and lifted Jakkar, Dalen, and Sha, lifting them over his shoulders. He looked bitterly at the guild. "Alright, Great Guild. Next challenge..." he frowned as he began to descend a flight of stairs. It was a long walk down to the next lower levels of the temple. The Crane Demon hadn't made any other moves yet, perhaps waiting for the next challenge to taper with them.

"The next challenge is an obstacle course..." Tawa began to explain curtly after a long period of silence. It was clear he wasn't too keen on losing two challenges in a row. "One on one." Tawa glared over at the guild, glancing at Yamato. "You haven't gone yet. You'll be his opponent." Tawa nodded to the silent member of the Hunter's Guild. One who presence had had barely been noticeable in all the commotion of the challenges. "Gatger Yamus is one of our best. Never lost a challenge yet, have ya Gatger?" Tawa then turned his head quickly, and glanced at the guild.

"Wait..." he paused. "Weren't there more of you?"

Suiken gave an aside glance to Lo-Muna. Their current leader had a bit of a silver tongue about her. Perhaps she could talk her way out this query.

***

"The rest..." the old man laughed, as he began to tell his life story. "Warriors of the past, felled here long ago. Some of them are my associates. Miners. We first explored this temple a year ago, searching for jade and other treasures. We were mostly successful. But then a few months ago, something odd happened. We spotted a treasure box. It looked so...unassuming, it was no wonder we never noticed it before. But that day something was different. It called to us..." he said pointing towards the treasure box, from which the black fog was emitting from.

"It was locked tight for such a small treasure box, but we managed to pry it open...and freed the horrid creature sealed inside," the old miner bemoaned. "The Crane Demon...it's evil reached out through the temple and permeated into the forest. It trapped us here, keeping us alive to feed on our guilt, making sure we knew we were the ones who released it's evil back into the world. We'd brought enough food to survive in the forest for a weeks. Rationing it off, allowed us to survive for months. Unfortunately...my companions lost their will to continue. They let the guilt take over."

"I'm the only one left surviving here...the guilt still eats at me...as I eat this stale bread and dirties water," the old man sighed. "But the desire to one day see this monster put back in it's place will keep me living for as long as I need too. One day..."

"Well. That sorta settles it then, don't it?" Shiisan asked, cracking his neck slightly. He turned to Ann and Rumelis. "Sister Silence, Brother Bear..." he began, pointing at the treasure box. "Attack whatever in that box." Shiisan turned around, harnessing his chi. "While, I provide ample distraction...."


[b]"I believe you all have worn your welcome..."
the voice of the Crane Demon spoke, in a hurried tone, somewhat . "You. Your friends upstairs, your enemies with their petty contest, all of you...will soon peri-AAAHGH!"[/b] the Crane Demon howled. Shiisan, using his chi to restore things to their natural state had blasted one of the odd, oily, flesh-like walls, briefly restoring it to it's original state, before it slowly regenerated back into it's corrupted form.

"Don't like that, feather-face?" Shiisan asked. "Got more where that came from!" Shiisan then turned to glance at Ann and Rumelis again, nodding at the treasure box. A wave of human sized, crane-beasts emerged from the floors, brandishing blades made of sinewy feathers and charged at Ann and Rumelis to block the path towards the treasure box. Shiisan had begun to dodge giant, boulder sized talons that had begun emerging from the wall, blasting whatever he could with his nature chi.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Ann'Razul Character Portrait: Rumelis Morende Character Portrait: Shiisan

0.00 INK

Tawa stared down at Lo-Muna briefly, before shrugging suspiciously and glancing back at Gatger. "Always a good sport, aren't ya, Gatger?"

***

Shiisan continued to blast at the the shadowy walls of the room, stinging the Crane Demon for a short time, as hopefully Rumelis and Ann made their way to the treasure box.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Ann'Razul Character Portrait: Rumelis Morende Character Portrait: Shiisan

0.00 INK

Sunaarashi's sword ripped through another kappa as he propelled himself forward, leaping into the water. In a few moments, he'd reached a small island, which he scrambled onto, in time to intercept another water imp, kicking it off to the side with enough momentum the creature rolled across the water before sinking beneath the waves. The others began circling like sharks.

Sunaarashi grimaced. This wasn't the way he'd thought he'd die.

"Well, not what I was expecting," the man said behind Suna. Suna spun and gasped. Although there were some minor differences around the eyes and nose, he could have been staring at himself. "Not at all what I was expecting."

"Who are you?" Sunaarashi growled.

"I think you know the answer to that," the man said, shaking his head. "But I'll tell you my name. It's Ravvah."

The name sent a jolt down Suna's spine. His eyes narrowed, and he stared at the man hard.

Ravvah smiled. "Don't worry, I'm not here to fight you. Just to help you out." He gestured. "The others left you here?"

"I volunteered," Sunaarashi said quietly. "Someone had to."

"See, now I even feel good about helping you," Ravvah said, grinning.

"Help me how?" Suna asked carefully.

"With your chi," Ravvah said, his smile fading into a grimace. "It's not going to be that pleasant for you, unfortunately, but breaking through mental blocks never is."

"Chi?" Sunaarashi blinked, lowering his sword slightly in surprise. "I can't use..."

At that moment, Ravvah struck, two fingers driving into Sunaarashi's brow, the other hitting him just below the breastbone. Heat flooded over Suna, like he was burning with fever under the noonday sun, the Sudean desert beating into him with all its fury. Ravvah retreated quickly, as Sunaarashi quivered.

"How do you feel?" Ravvah asked after a moment.

In response, Sunaarashi vomited.

***

One of the points Shiisan struck with his chi began to glow. Since Shiisan was pretty sure he hadn't caused it, he began to back away. An unearthly scream tore through the room as the glow brightened, then splintered into cracks before blasting apart. In the center of the new hole, Sunaarashi stood, his sword still glistening with some of the power he'd used.

He wiped sweat from his forehead. "Ah, there you guys are."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Ann'Razul Character Portrait: Rumelis Morende Character Portrait: Shiisan

0.00 INK

The demon's minions weren't tough, but they were hard to hit-- they were faster than they looked. Rumelis barely dodged a blade attack, and counterattacked one of them, crushing its face as it fell to the ground, crippled or dead. Then another of them struck him in the right arm, as he drew it back to claw the thing's face. With all his weight, Rumelis headbutted the minion-- briefly seeing stars-- and then whirled around with a slow paw swing, to knock another one. Both of them were crushed by the heavy blows, but Rumelis couldn't keep that pace up for too long.

He was struck again, in the back. He wasn't sure how much he was bleeding, but judging by his absolute lack of armor it probably wasn't pretty.

"Let's smash the box, quickly!"

Suddenly, Sunaarashi blasted through the wall. Rumelis ignored him, focusing on defense as he avoided the blades of the crane demon's minions-- he wasn't going to be able to take the treasure if he was dead, after all. And he wanted to live regardless...

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Ann'Razul Character Portrait: Rumelis Morende Character Portrait: Shiisan

0.00 INK

The blade's grip felt familiar in her hand, though she couldn't quite place that reason. Ann took slow steps back as the beasts rushed at her in a flock. She drew her kodachi, holding it like a dagger as she thrust the tip into the closest one's neck. It was a swift movement not unlike swiftly pricking something with a needle, only this was substantially more fatal. She side-stepped to let the thing's corpse fall over and, with her other hand, unsheathed the larger sword. The next few seconds were a blur in her eyes as she moved to counter the creatures as they advanced on her. Unarmored, weaponless, predictable movements; the things were charging straight to their deaths without a second thought. A cross slash nearly segmented one of them into four pieces and a follow up two-pronged piercing attack skewered the next one magnificently. She withdrew her blades in a spray of blood and instantly closed the distance with a scissor strike that split its head from the rest of its body. Ann took a step back and let the crane beast crumple to the floor at her feet. She kept her feet moving forward, shredding through them with ease as she made her way to the box. Raising her swords, the blades hovered in the air for a second before crashing down on it.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki Character Portrait: Ann'Razul Character Portrait: Terra Himene Character Portrait: Rumelis Morende Character Portrait: Orion Shan Character Portrait: Shiisan Character Portrait: Gatger Yamus Character Portrait: Rune Iyora

0.00 INK

With Ann's blade driven into the Crane Demon's box...a hoarse cry rang throughout the entire temple. Sunaarashi smashing through the wall, Rumelis and Ann's attacks on the Crane demons minions, Shiisan's chi blasts, and of course the blade now piercing through the cursed box had all but severed the Crane Demon's ties to the temple and the world of mortals.

"This...won't be the end of me...I...return..." the Crane demon coughed as all of the vile shadow coating the walls of the room, as well as the hellish aura within the temple, as well as the dark cursed placed upon the forest, began to reel back and recede towards the box. A sense of tranquility had filled the air that the Great guild hadn't felt since they'd landed on Gangamai's accursed desert.

"Wow, totally didn't know that would happen," Shiisan remarked, sounding thoroughly unsurprised.

"Re--remarkable..." the old miner grinned. "You all did it! You..." the miner paused as something in the treasure box began to spark and shimmer with a loud hum. "I think...we should leave this room..."

"Yeah, good point..." Shiisan agreed as he and the other guild members hurried out of the Crane Demon's former domain and went back into the room with the pedestal where they'd found the treasure map key in. It seemed that whatever was emerging from the box was the Crane Demon's parting gift. But it had lost too much power...Electricity surged throughout the treasure box, smashing the walls surrounding the room and toppling them.

***

Suiken and the rest of the guild turned in surprise as one of the walls collapsed in front of them. The Hunter's Guild turned, equally surprised, as they saw the 'missing' Great Guild members standing across the other side of the massive hole in the temple wall. Their looks of surprise soon contorted into rage upon seeing the Guild was standing in the very room, they'd surmised the treasure map to be in.

"You...what were you...cheaters," Tawa frowned his face growing with rage. "All of you! Cheaters! You've forfeit the contest! Hand over the map!" Tawa demanded. "You get to rot in this cursed temple..."

"Yeah, it's not cursed," Shiisan pointed out.

"Wha-, come again?" Tawa frowned.

"The curse is gone and so...there aren't really any stakes left in this contest..." Shiisan shrugged. Tawa looked completely lost as he looked over to the other Hunter's guild members, who simply offered equally infuriated yet stumped looks.

"So...now I take it that we all can just leave and be done with this contest?" Suiken asked Tawa.

"I, uh...." Tawa stuttered, looking over to Tsukumo as she began to heal their unconscious teammates. "I'll have to ask the boss first...Can you all just, uh, wait here a sec?"

The entire guild gave Tawa a blank stare, before simply leaving through the new hole blown into the wall. The old miner approached them excitedly, asking. "Do you all know what you've done? The entire province must've been suffering for a long time due to this Crane Demon and you all just...well you done a very good thing to say the least! After spending months in that room with that wretched thing, I feel as if I am twenty years younger!"

"This has to be told to someone! Perhaps, I will go to Jiefong and relay the news..." the old man continued, scratchiness his chin. "Er, what do I call you people?"

"We're the Great Guild," Shiisan explained. "The Great Guild Fortune. We're a pretty big deal, right?" he asked Lo-Muna, elbowing her a bit on the shoulder.

"The Great Guild Fortune..." the miner repeated, before turning around, beginning to take his leave. "I will remember that!" he shouted as he began to run off, in another direction than the guild. Back to a now curse-free Ganga Desert and towards Jiefong. "And thank-you!"Shiisan nodded and looked back at the guild, pulling forth a burlap bag in one hand and the key/map to unlocking the treasure room in the other.

Needless to say, the Guild realized that it was finally time to take a bit of a reward for themselves after the past couple of days. The key had unlocked the treasure room without a hitch and they soon took as much as they could take with them.

There was only one thing left to do, which was make for the exit into Gangamai. The last room that needed to be unlocked was unlocked. It led to a simple tunnel that simply led them in a straight line. They traveled in haste despite their tired demeanor, until they were closer and closer towards a dim light.

And then finally....they made it. The underground City of Gangamai. They were soon greeted by a confused rabble of dirtied faces, giving them looks of shock and surprise. There was an odd silence for a couple of minutes, before Suiken spoke. "Aha...excuse us, we've traveled for a long time without a decent rest and we-,"

"Stow it, oni," a Gangamai guardsmen spat, still looking in amazement at the group. "Did you all...just come from that temple?"

"Why yes," Suiken answered. "We've come from Jiefong, across the river and trekked through the Ganga Desert to..."

"You went through the cursed desert?!" the guard laughed obnoxiously at them. "You washed up by the lake right? You ARE aware that there's a a mountain near that area...?"

"...Yes?" Suiken nodded, vaguely recalling the geography of the area. "What of it?"

"The curse doesn't go that far!" the guard snorted. "There's a passage in those mountains that'd taken you right near here safely!" he guffawed.

Suiken gave a low sigh and turned towards the guild, whispering, "Remember, let's...keep a low profile here. Perhaps news of our...activities in Jiefong haven't spread this far yet, but we should nevertheless, be careful. Now...I suggest we search for an inn."

"Woah, what'd you guys pull off in Jiefong?" Shiisan asked, waiting for an answer as he turned his head back towards the tunnel, where unbeknownst to the rest guild, a pair of eerie, but not particularly threatening eyes peered at them from the darkness. The eyes of the qilin. Shiisan gave it a nod, before it bowed respectfully and departed as quickly as it had arrived. Shiisan's attention soon turned back towards Gangamai as the guild continued to search for an inn.

***

A filthy gecko beastman of a guard tapped violently on Orion's cell with it's warhammer. Glaring at Orion with razing hatred and iron willpower, the reptilian beastman snorted, "You ready for the full might of the judicial system, scum-lord?" he asked Orion.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Shiisan

0.00 INK

Suiken glanced around at the city disdainfully. He had never before stepped foot in Gangamai and judging from the stories he'd heard and what he's just now seen, he wouldn't warm up to it any time soon. He looked at the goblins in bonds and closed his eyes as he turned to face the creepster who just greeted them. Things were starting to feel too close to home. He looked at the scarred man and asked, "Thank you. Perhaps you'd show us around? We seek an inn, but I'm afraid we're fairly new to Gangamai."

Shiisan turned around and glanced down at the lepers standing by his and the guild's feet, before his eyes drifted to the crippled and wounded that seemed to litter the city streets, injured, dying, starving. "People live like this...?" he questioned, sounding as if he was in shock, as he looked down upon the lepers once more. "Though I suppose ya can't exactly call this living..." he muttered, reaching into his pockets and emptying them of gold, letting it pour to the ground for the lepers.

Shiisan turned to the scarred guide. "Who the hell runs this place?" he asked, not sounding at all enthused at being here.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Shiisan

0.00 INK

"Why keep 'em as slaves?" Shiisan questioned, still looking upon the state of Gangamai, disbelief apparent in his tone. "You said it yourself, the mines make coin. Have them work there, earn payment for a hard days work? Wouldn't paying them to improve the city be more...than this?" he asked, although his questions went unanswered as a guard had approached them.

"I have no master, never have," Suiken stated sternly, his hand reaching for a pouch at his side, containing some of the loot he'd gathered from the temple. "After all I don't believe many slaves carry pouches full of jade coins. Even if they're masters send them shopping," he muttered waving the pouch in front of the guard.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Yuwen Fortune Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Shiisan Character Portrait: Pele Mele Character Portrait: Jeon Oun

0.00 INK

#, as written by Nulix
"You can't work a man to death - you can a slave," Saaklemore explained.

"Where are your papers?" The guard demanded coldly of Suiken...

***

"...She tried to come when I was hurt,
Yu-une, where are you o',
She searched so far, but couldn't hear,
Yu-une, where are you now?
I tried to call to no avail
Yu-une, where are you o',
I screamed and yelled till I was dead,
Yu-une, where are you now?
When I awoke I wore all gold,
Yu-une, where are you o',
I was beyond, in land's more bold,
Yu-une, goodbye for now....
"

The words faded from Yuwen's slightly burnt lips as he sat with his feet in the water, the waves of the sea quiet enough to sit as the raft sailed, fog surrounding them. Still the hot summer's sun shun down, and sweat poured off the crew's bodies. The Hooded Villain took a sip of water before wiping himself off with a towel. "I don't like this fog," He frowned, approaching the Seven Son's members who had grouped the helm. "We have no lookout, we can't spot approaching ships."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Yuwen Fortune Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Shiisan Character Portrait: Pele Mele Character Portrait: Jeon Oun

0.00 INK

"So this...is a punishment?" Shiisan whispered to Saaklemore. "All of these people can't be criminals. Why inflict a punishment as relentlessly cruel as this?!" he asked, as his eyes drifted over towards the guard reprimanding them, his hand slowly reaching for the broadsword that lay at his hip.

Suiken grimly looked at the guard. "I have no papers. I've just arrived here, we all have!" Suiken growled, his voice rising exponentially.

***

Pele looked out over the water from the helm, unable to see anything through the thick fog. Frowning from underneath his helmet, he looked over for Jeon, who happened to be asleep, the lazy pheasant. Pele considered waking him up to scout ahead, but that wasn't particularly the bird's specialty. No use risking a life on his crew on by sending them off into the unknown.

"Fog like this...not the best omen out on the seas..." Pele sighed. "And it's gonna be hell to navigate." Pele looked over at the hooded man. He went back to the deck and unloaded the contents of a small cart that rested against the sides of the ship, filled with various supplies. Drawing out a lantern, he returned to the helm and raised the lantern towards the hooded villain, wordlessly, but quite clearly asking him to light it up.

It wouldn't help much in this fog, but it would be better than navigating blindly.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Shiisan

0.00 INK

Suiken's eyes widened as he sidestepped to the left to avoid the knife. It was way too soon for him to get stabbed again, he figured. Shiisan quickly drew his broadsword out using the hilt to quickly make a stab at the guards neck. "Made it quick," Shiisan muttered grimly, bowing his head respectfully towards the fallen guard. "Find peace, dude. Not that you seemed to particularly deserve it, but...." Shiisan shrugged, glancing over at Saaklemore. "You still inclined to help us, man? 'Cause I don't think we have much cause to stick around."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki Character Portrait: Ann'Razul Character Portrait: Rumelis Morende Character Portrait: Shiisan Character Portrait: Rune Iyora

0.00 INK

Shiisan shook his head as they followed Saaklemore to the edge of town."Cold blooded?" Shiisan questioned Saaklemore. "You blind? That guy tried to kill us for not having some papers or whatever. And given all of the beastmen and tengu slaves here, whose to say he wouldn't have done the same to them?" Shiisan asked.

After listening to Sakklemore's proposal, Suiken shook his head. "I believe we need to know more, first. Though, perhaps we will think on it after you provide some shelter for us."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki Character Portrait: Shiisan

0.00 INK

Yamato was about to extend his hand to take the bet. He was always ready to raise the stakes and he knew he wouldn't be loosing an obstacle course challenge. That's when the wall came down and the remaining members of the Gerat guild reappeared. They had lifted the curse and made the point of competition moot. He cursed under his breath and folded his arms over his chest. "Wonderful, simply wonderful. No really, great job." He said with a sarcastic undertone even though he wasn't speaking to anyone.

The group then found themselves in Gangamai, it was just as filthy as he remembered it. Saaklemore, their guide seemed untrustworthy, but Yamato wasn't going to volunteer himself as guide. He never wanted to be associated with this city. It wasn't long before trouble found them, a guard lunged at Sukien, but was caught by Shiisan. The resulting altercation lead to a woman crying out in a panic. She hadn't seen the unprovoked attack that came from asking some probing questions, but it didn't stop Yamato from grabbing Shiisan by the collar.

"You're an idiot you know? Seriously. Killing a guard without making sure there are no witnesses? At least silence the witness before she screams. It's too damn late now." He threw the man to the ground before racing off after Saaklemore and his promised hideout.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki Character Portrait: Shiisan

0.00 INK

As they stopped and waited for Saaklemore to expound on his offer, Shiisan took the time to shove Yamato into a nearby alley wall. "First, off, yeah. Not the brightest move I made, but then again, the guy moved and I reacted as quickly as I could. Didn't have much time to think, asshole."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Amanhã Tiamat Character Portrait: Hyuna Ka-nan "Falcon" Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki Character Portrait: Nee Me-Hyung Character Portrait: Shiisan Character Portrait: Millie Kiyare Character Portrait: Rune Iyora

0.00 INK

#, as written by Rann
"Hey, Hyuna," The girl said quietly, downcast. Hyuna spun to glance at her - she was about to grab Millie and have them go flying through the Genga desert. Millie had taken the sweetened bread more or less, biting into it solemnly. She'd said she didn't need to sleep, so Hyuna wanted to get her to safety as soon as she could. The Guild'd protect her, after all, right? "If...you and I never met, if I was somebody that you had to..." Then Millie's train of thought stopped, making the lancer raise an eyebrow. "Never mind. Just...never mind. We should go."

What the hell kind of question was that, anyways? How could she - Hyuna couldn't even think of the answer. She gripped Millie's hand harder, shooting them up into the air with an explosion of air below them, blasting them up into the heights of Jiefong, twirling to maneuver them to the side, catching sight of the south-east river. Hyuna then more or less tossed Millie over her shoulders, hooking her legs around her neck as they flew.

"What are you getting at?" Hyuna asked, feeling unsettled. What was she trying to say? What point was she trying to make? For some reason she really felt disturbed by whatever thought Millie had tried to make, and it messed her up just like everything else seemed to. "I don't get it, Millie."

Hyuna reached into her back, and gave Millie one of the talismans. She'd pilfered them off of those slavers - seriously, what the shit were they trying to do, anyways, who were they for? Were they also related to that mysterious villain, Magic? - Goddamnit, Magic, stop trying to screw up everything. Maybe the talisman was... who knows, maybe a gift or something. But in any case, there it was, right?

Eventually the ground below them turned fro the grasses of Jiefong and into a desert range.




So, Gangamai, eh? Earlier, Rune had gotten her father to heal up her foot - he'd told her, 'Good work, I knew you could do it', and well, of course she could do it. It really was a simple matter of a fight, and that Lo-Muna made for a pretty good partner at that, despite the shaky start. There was a bit of a facepalm moment in that they could've avoided the whole cursed desert thing by taking the mountain range, but what was there to do about that at all? It was just silliness. And hey, it let Rune have some time to hone her combat skills against something other than her father.

But in this underground dystopian metropolis, Rune kept her bow drawn and at hand at all times, because this was really getting creepy, with all the goblin slaves, and the owners, and the mine keepers at a distance, making money off of the toiling slaves who get inevitably worked to death. It sickened her - but then again, it was fate. There wasn't much to do about it at all, if that's what fate dictated. No point in worrying too much about it, as long as said fate didn't involve having herself be taken in as a slave.

She'd be able to fight and get free on her own anyways, though, if anything. But having thrown her lot in with the guild, well. At least that Yamato seemed pretty cool. Sarcastic, witty, just like she was. And so, the wolf beastman unconsciously gravitated closer to the tengu, keeping her hood carefully pulled over. Of course, when the bandit, Shiisan, killed the guard in open eyes, Rune just rolled her eyes, following the bandit and the tengu into the alley.

"First, off, yeah." Shiisan said, trying to defend his actions. "Not the brightest move I made, but then again, the guy moved and I reacted as quickly as I could. Didn't have much time to think, asshole."

Rune yawned.

"You really do like pissing off powerful people, don't you?" She asked sharply, grinning and flashing her fangs. "Looks like we'll have to fight through Gangamai, huh?"




"A story!" The man yelled at the Faceless Five and Turas. "Anything! An update on your life! Why are you travelling with these people? What are you planning to do next? Do you miss being at home?"

Nee sighed, tiredly looking at this new disturbance. He'd been following them for a while now, just yelling questions, claiming to be a part of the "Noble Outlooker" section of the "Yuna-Yae Daily" newspaper. A reporter, or whatnot, scribbling down whatever he could onto his paper, while his partner was hastily sketching and drawing both her and Turas from where they were.

"I don't-"

"Nee, you're the favorite noblewoman of Northern Yune! Everyone wants to know more about you!" He said enthusiastically, almost jumping up and down. "How old are you? What's your favorite color? Your favorite animal! Your birthday, your love life, your sexual lif-"

Nee shot him a dark glare, still riding the living suit of armor. The reporter took the hint - at least, it seemed he did, anyways, and turned to Turas.

"Turas, we haven't even seen you for years until now!" He exclaimed gleefully. "A lot of us thought you might've died, you know! Your fans in Yuna-Yae were getting worried! How have you been, why did you leave your family? Why are you with these two.. big women? Are you -" He looked between Nee and Turas and then gasped. "Nee and Turas are eloping? So the rumors of Nee's kidnap were just a cover for the young lovers to-" He turned to his partner, making hasty whispers.

Goddamnit. Nee just wanted to relax as best as she could, thinking of the upcoming festival to commemorate her return. Of how to entertain Noxchi and her vigilantes in some semblance of thanks. But then this.... this happened.

"Gridiron..." Nee whined sullenly. "Can you make them go away...?"

Seriously. This was the last thing she wanted enroute to Furoe. Other than another run in with Moga's faction, of course. Maybe if they just killed the damn reporter they could get on with everything.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki Character Portrait: Ann'Razul Character Portrait: Terra Himene Character Portrait: Rumelis Morende Character Portrait: Shiisan Character Portrait: Rune Iyora Character Portrait: Kaede Lythronax

0.00 INK

Was she really like this back in the old guild? Phecda's memory was starting to fail him now. "Well...you seem rather optimistic that he won't get lost at sea," he commented with a lopsided grin. "Ah well, if you really wish, I will be keeping tabs on wherever Fortune is going. But it's hard to say his new...companions...won't be intending the worst for him."

Suddenly, when he spoke of monitoring on Fortune's location, he remembered something else. "Hold that thought for a moment..." he muttered, turning around, draining his cup of sweet-tasting tea, and setting it down. Placing his mask back upon his face, he began sensing for, not Fortune, but Hyuna. And it seemed she was going towards the Gangamai Desert...

...but what was this? Terra and the rest of Fortune's new Guild had just emerged in an underground city at the edge of the desert. Interesting. He'd at least have something to do, if Kaede was planning to wait until Fortune got back to the mainland. "So, what will you do next, my friend? Even though I don't technically have a job, I've still got quite some work on my hands."

----------------------------------------

As Terra's eyes fluttered open, the first thing she noticed was that, while the pain was still there, all her injuries from the past two days were completely gone. But immediately after that, she noticed something else: They weren't in the desert temple anymore. Instead, small sandstone houses stood around them, illuminated by torchlight and the desert's afternoon sun piercing through...holes in the sky?! But she quickly realized that they were underground a few moments later. So...they got here while she was sleeping. Ugh, why can't I ever have the slightest clue where I'm going these days?

Pulling herself to her feet, she landed directly next to the beast-girl who had joined them just that previous night...it took her a bit to remember the wolf girl's name, though. Rune, was it? "M-morning...or whatever time it is, Rune," Terra greeted, still a little bit bashful. "W-where are we now?"

However, as she walked, suddenly someone slammed into her from the side--Terra let out a scream as she was roughly knocked back a few inches, directly in front of the wolf girl that she had been talking to. "H-hey! Watch where you're going!" she began to say. But when she saw the face of the person who ran into her, her voice faultered. Was that really him?! Why was he here?!

----------------------------------------

Umi had been in such a hurry to get away from the area in which that woman screamed for the guards to arrive, that he hadn't paid much attention to where he was going. Before he knew it, he smashed into a very small girl while he was turning a corner. Just as the girl began to reprimand him, and Umi was already preparing some sort of sarcastic apology out of habit...the girl's voice suddenly stopped. Confused, Umi took a better look at the girl...

When he realized who she was--despite her having grown slightly taller, her face hadn't really changed--the response he had suddenly evaporated from his mind. She was right here. Terra was alive and well. And he had finally found her.

"...U-Umi?" Terra finally stammered. "I-is that really you? B-but...h-how did you find me?"

Then, Umi finally found his own voice. "Y-yeah, i-it's me, Terra! I...well, I came back from Onium...j-just a few days ago. But, well, when I got b-back to Lindas...um, well, you had already left...for the Yune Empire. A-and, I-I was worried about what happened to you, so...well, I, uh, I went looking for you. I-it took me a lot of searching, b-but...yeah, I-I'm here now!" God dammit, what the hell am I doing?! I usually...don't, uh...stumble on my words like this...geez, now it's happening to my thoughts, too! Ugh... Despite all the thoughts racing around in his head at the moment, though, he had a broad smile on his face, glad to have finally found her...

But the same expression wasn't really replicated upon Terra's face. "Y-you s-seriously c-came all this way...j-just for...m-me, of all p-people?" The words were said with...much less joy than Umi's words had carried, even in their jumbled state. "I-I...w-well, um...t-thanks, I guess." Wait, what was with those words? They sounded so half-hearted to the boy's ears.

"H-hey..." Umi leaned so that his face was in Terra's field of view, for she had turned her head away from him when she thanked him. "I-is something wrong? Y-you didn't get hurt by someone, right? I-I mean..."

Terra, however, quickly turned her head in a different direction again. "N-no...I-I'm well, t-thank you. Th-there were some...um...n-nice people that h-have been taking care of me f-for the past few days, s-so..." A pause, and then she swallowed hard. "B-but...Umi...I-I, um...did I really m-matter that much t-to you? S-so much t-that...a-after coming back, f-fighting so hard for Gwan, y-you'd just throw yourself out there just for s-some girl y-you trained a few years ago?"

This took Umi aback, so much that he actually stopped smiling. "I...uh-what do you mean by that? O-of course you'd matter to me! I-I mean, I didn't have very many chances to write home...i-in fact, not a chance at all for the l-last 3 months...s-so...I..."

But he couldn't really finish what he was saying. After a long pause, Terra finally responded. "...w-well, I missed you too, b-but...Umi, e-even if you really liked me t-that much...t-to me, it just d-doesn't make sense you'd follow me here! N-not even for my sake, I mean..." At this point, her voice dropped to a whisper, as though she were afraid to say the words. "...I-I don't mean t-to hurt you by saying this...but, it seems more to me...like you went after me, into the Yune Empire...more for yourself than for me."

These quiet words had the effect of lightning on Umi's mind. At first, he tried to deny it, but the more he tried thinking about it, any arguments he could think of seemed silly and unworkable. Then, just why did he come here?

----------------------------------------

It seemed as though the last few words she said were causing Umi to actually stagger in what seemed like pain. Part of Terra wanted to rush up to him, hug her old friend, and deny she meant what she said...but, the way she saw Umi now, she couldn't tell if it'd make things even worse. And also, doing that just felt downright wrong.

"...but now that we're here, Saaklemore, I'll accept working with you on one condition." The two suddenly were aware of Sunaarashi speaking to an unfamiliar man who seemed to be their guide. The bald member of Fortune, however, was speaking in cold, almost bloodthirsty tones. "Every slaver in this town dies."

The girl in the ruined green kimono stared at him in shock. "S-Sunaarashi...a-are you serious?!" Her mind was already strained from her conversation with Umi, but this was sending her into panic mode at the worst possible time. "W-we can't take on e-every slaveholder a-at once!" And yet, the guide agreed to this idea. What the-?! "E-everyone, p-please, this is just suicidal!" Terra pleaded, trying to reason with them. "I-I know, slavery is terrible, b-but-" But no one seemed to listen to her...

"...if we do have to fight them...what will you do?" The weary voice of the boy in the long blue jacket came from behind her once again, as though it had lost all of its strength.

Once again, Terra wondered if she should support him or something, but something was still telling her not to. It was really strange... "I-I...well, if w-we really have to, t-then...I-I really don't know, Umi. W-whatever plan they've got, it probably won't work...right?"

"...y-you just said yourself, that slavery is wrong." As he said this, Umi started to pull himself up straighter. It seemed as though a dying fire burned in his expression...but a fire nonetheless. "I'm sure a lot of us think it's wrong, too. And if that's the case...I think we should take action, just like your bald friend. We just need a plan."

After staring at him as though he had turned into a pegasus (which, to her knowledge, doesn't even exist) or something, Terra sighed, figuring she probably was outvoted on this issue. "Alright...I guess, then, both of us will go along with it. Umi...I, um..." Her voice faultered once again as she tried to get out the last words. "...t-thank you for helping us with this," she finally managed, giving a weak smile.

Silence fell between the two, before Umi gave his own weak smile. "Hope I can be of use in this crazy plan," he replied.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki Character Portrait: Ann'Razul Character Portrait: Terra Himene Character Portrait: Rumelis Morende Character Portrait: Shiisan Character Portrait: Rune Iyora Character Portrait: Kaede Lythronax

0.00 INK

Kill everyone? Rumelis had thought, for a while, that the bald one-- Sunaarashi-- was a step above most of the guild members, but it seemed he was as indifferent to killing as the others. Was it really the only option? Not that slavers were harmless brigands, but still... a life should be a difficult thing to snuff.

"I know slavery's wrong and all that-- hell, there are probably lots of beast-men like me enslaved here-- but still, kill all the slavers? At the very least, wouldn't that be incredibly difficult? It's not like these people walk about the streets with no guards..."

He'd done things slightly against his morals before, but this was rather dire. At the same time, it wasn't like Rumelis was going to single-handedly hold them back, so there wasn't much he could do.

"Well, anyway, if you're set on it, then go for it-- but don't expect me to help in the killing. I'll free slaves and incapacitate guards, sure, but I won't kill them in cold blood. It doesn't sit well with me."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Hyuna Ka-nan "Falcon" Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Shiisan

0.00 INK

"I really would like to keep the killing to a minimum," Lo-muna agreed with Rumelis, a stern frown set upon her face. "We are here to help people and not use the slightest excuse to murder everyone in sight. If they attack us, we have the right to retaliate as Shiisan did. Knocking them out is the immediate reaction. Killing is the last option."

She looked over the guild, noticing that the blood thirsty ones had left. The frown deepened when she recalled Hyuna was no longer with them but the rabbit simply shoved that thought away. A contract had been signed by most of them. That was the only reason the young girl's missing presence irked her. That was the only reason.

Still, some of the ones remained had no trouble with killing as Suunarashi and Ann had so clearly showed. Lo-muna was on the verge of letting them loose had she not made that vow years ago. It was so tempting however. Gangamai brought back memories, among them, those of her younger brother.

"The guild's reputation is already stained with the events of Jiefong. To just blatantly go around killing slavers would further drive us to the equivalent of a gang, rather than a guild who helps people," she heard herself say and recalled that the world was cruel. No matter how cruel it was, freedom was vital to survive its cruelties. "It'll also increase our chances of imprisonment. I don't want to lose any of you after all and with Gangamai, that can happen in more ways than one. We must exercise caution while moving forwards."

"And that means we make our decisions and our offers carefully," Lo-muna added in a light voice while casting a glare at Suunarashi. It appeared he hadn't agreed to her position as temporary leader yet. She then looked over at the one with the unfortunate name, "Saaklemore, you wouldn't happen to know where we could find such a person? And perhaps you'd like to elaborate on that proposition of yours? Suunarashi obviously knows it since he agreed so quickly, but I would still like to know the details."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Yuwen Fortune Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki Character Portrait: Ann'Razul Character Portrait: Terra Himene Character Portrait: Rumelis Morende Character Portrait: Shiisan Character Portrait: Pele Mele Character Portrait: Jeon Oun Character Portrait: Rune Iyora

0.00 INK

"I agree with Rumelis and Lo-Muna," Suiken began. "I will gladly join in freeing slaves, but I will take no part in a mass slaughter."

"Slaughter would imply that the people we'd be fighting would be helpless, Brother Fat. I assure you these slavers'd most certainly fight back," Shiisan then turned to Rumelis. "Brother Bear, only thing that's coldblooded around here is working men, women, and children to until the day they die. If these slavers were warriors they'd expect nothing less than for you to give them an honorable death after a battle. But...that's besides the point. If what Saaklemore says is true, then whether we kill or incapacitate these slavers won't matter. No matter what we do, they'd send an army to raid the town for us."

"To face them now, whether to free slaves or to kill slavers, would mean our death. And that sickens me. What we can do and should do...is deliver a fatal blow to the slavers from the shadows," Shiisan sighed. "Create a wound in their system that they'd never recover from.

Shiisan then turned back to Saaklemore. "Which would be impossible without the help of Brother Saak, since he's the only one here who truly knows Gangamai. So, Brother Saak...your plans?"

***

"See that's the one thing I hate the most, Fortune...somebody who proclaims themselves a 'hero' just give the hell up. Kid, we kidnapped you under orders, but we planned to defy that from the start" Pele began to tell Yuwen. "And I knocked you unconscious again, and I apologize for that. But stop mopin' and listen for one second, will ya? We aren't the den of 'murderers and thieves' you think we are. It ain't coin we're after here, but one specific goal. To rid the world of an evil it's not even remotely prepared for."

"Nameless Ashura's right. You're unfortunately, the best lead we've got to fight this evil, so do what real heroes do and make do with what ya got." Pele turned to face the crew he assembled proudly. "We ain't exactly a Great Guild, but I'd say we're pretty damn great."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Hyuna Ka-nan "Falcon" Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki Character Portrait: Ann'Razul Character Portrait: Terra Himene Character Portrait: Rumelis Morende Character Portrait: Shiisan Character Portrait: Millie Kiyare Character Portrait: Rune Iyora

0.00 INK

Millie took the pendant, the smooth metal cool to the touch. Her fingers tightened around it as Hyuna offered a confused response to her words. She shook her head. "I'm...I'm not get-getting at anything," she stammered. "I wasn't trying to..." Looking down, she noticed that the fields of green had turned to a golden yellow during their flight. "It's nothing. Never mind." If she really was going to get into the thick of it, it would have to be at a better time, a time where matters weren't so sensitive.



"Killing is the last option," Lo-Muna said as their acting guild leader. That was all she needed to hear. It wasn't as though she'd particularly reveled in murder or found battle to be a thrill. It was just that ending a life was usually faster, easier, and less risky than trying to knock out the opponent. However, she was confident that it wouldn't have any real impact on her overall combat performance.

"I understand," Ann nodded. "If a combat situation arises, I will aim for nonlethal take-downs." It was strange, though only to a certain extent. Everybody seemed to have strong opinions on this matter one way or another. Some were intent on killing while others were completely against it. She wasn't exactly caught in the middle-ground, but alternating between the two just seemed incredibly inefficient. It couldn't be that they expected their entire journey was to follow through without bloodshed so she couldn't help but wonder why it mattered now if it wouldn't matter later. If they were going to have conviction in a more peaceful end to matters, they could be at least be a little more consistent about it.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki Character Portrait: Ann'Razul Character Portrait: Terra Himene Character Portrait: Rumelis Morende Character Portrait: Shiisan Character Portrait: Rune Iyora

0.00 INK

As the others commented on Sunaa's plan, and Rune sent what sounded like a snide remark in Terra and Umi's direction (which caused Umi to give the wolf girl an enraged, embarrassed glare, and Terra to let out a rather flustered reply filled with stuttering which Rune probably didn't understand anyway), their guide suddenly called that they had reached their destination. "Talk to the boys, I'm sure they'll have something for you to do in exchange for the kindness I've treated you all with."

"Well...this is a welcoming sight," Terra heard Umi say from a small distance away...but it was so dark that she could barely see him. "So...better get comfortable, I guess." Along with the others, he walked into the hideout, dim torchlights being lit shortly afterwards.

But Terra remained outside. At the moment, her eyes were fixed upon her old friend and (not-so-professional) mentor in unarmed combat. Somehow, she just didn't know how to think of him now...it just made no sense to her that he'd come after him! Especially not after all the things she had done to the Guild while trying to help them, and her inability to solve anything...

No. She must not think like that, Terra reminded herself. If you think you're useless, you really will be useless. I don't know if I did enough in the competition with the Hunter's Guild, but...well, we're here, aren't we? So I did help some, in the end... The small egotism she could feel in those words made them feel strange, coming from her, but nonetheless, they made herself feel just a bit better about herself.

Leaning against the doorway, she started quietly singing to herself, still not really caring to talk with the other members. Even if her opinion of herself was improving, she still felt reserved about spending time with them...particularly Yamato, who seemed rather disapproving of...a lot of things, really, or Sunaarashi, who probably was coming up with some other convoluted, unworkable plan for mass murder of slavers. Which reminded her...if somehow, they ended up using Sunaa's plan, what would she do?

It enough to make Terra feel the slightest bit paranoid, and so, ending her song prematurely, she walked a few feet away from the doorway. Unsheathing her swords, she focused on their edges with her mind, reshaping the structure of both of them so she wouldn't cut herself if she did something foolish. Then she began to whip them around herself in the air, carefully practicing all the techniques she could remember, while trying to refrain from using her Chi as she practiced.

Time seemed to fly past Terra as quickly as her swords and feet flew through the air. As she made a wide arc far to her side with her left arm, thrust forward with the green sword in her right hand, and tried to quickly move back, however, her feet ended up crashing into each other, sending Terra falling to the ground in a rather embarrassing heap. "O-ow...guess I still need to work on that one," she muttered to herself with a sheepish smile.

"Hey, it's not...uh, that bad at all. Clearly, um...you've improved since we...I mean, since I last saw you." Looking up in surprise, she saw Umi leaning against the doorway in the exact same manner that she had been 15 minutes earlier. He was eating...a rice ball? Terra eyed it a bit enviously, as she was particularly fond of them, especially the ones made by--
Well, at that point, Umi noticed her gazing at it, and, apparently assuming she was wondering where he got it, he smiled a little more, held up the half-eaten treat, and declared, "Specially made by Rika Hakaze."

The moment he said that, Terra immediately forgot any restraint. "Y-you have more, right?" she asked, dropping her swords and standing up. Half surprised and half amused by her reaction, Umi nodded, went back inside, and came out soon with a second one in his left hand, which the silver cestus had been taken off of. He held it out to her, and she quickly snatched it from his hands, biting into it and tasting a wonderfully nostalgic, sweet flavor. Just one month and this was the effect of Rika's cooking on her? Kind of silly, but there was not much she could do about it.

"Well, I...would have thrown it to you...but, I don't seem to, uh, remember you being very good at catching things," Umi muttered as he tossed the last of his own rice ball into his mouth, and then sucked a grain of rice that had stuck to his thumb up.

"H-haah?!" Terra, who had finished her snack almost as soon as she had received it, nearly fell over as she was picking up her swords. "Are you serious right now?" As if for emphasis, she tossed her blue sword into the air and swept it in an arc above their heads before causing it to fly back at her. Then she caught it in her left hand, in the same backhanded position that it usually was held in. With this display finished, Terra flicked the crystal blade back and forth before her feet, and slid it back into its sheath, flashing an almost uncharacteristically triumphant look at her friend.

After staring at her for a few moments, Umi sighed and looked away, with a smile that looked a little more...melancholic. "I guess, well...a lot really has changed," he sighed. "S-say...Terra...w-when I set off, I was planning to, um, you know...bring you back to Lindas. I-I guess the place, as nice as my memories of it are, just...I dunno, doesn't seem quite right without you. But..." Turning back, he looked at her directly in the eyes with an expression that seemed afraid of what her response would be. "W-well...if I did ask you to go back with me, a-after all this is finished...what would you do?"

At first, Terra was not sure what to say...it was Umi, after all; even if he was acting strange, wasn't she supposed to help him feel better about this kind of stuff as his friend? Besides, the reason she had come to the Yune Empire...she had already long been sidetracked from it, after the incident with the horrors. And then, the Great Guild Fortune...looking back into the hideout, she remembered that a number of the members had not really shown her much respect. No matter what she did, it never seemed like she really had a valid reason to stay with them, did it?

And yet, the answer she delivered... "...Umi...to be honest, I...I don't really want to go back to Lindas." As he gave her a wide-eyed, disbelieving look, she cleared her tightened throat, and began to speak again. "I-I mean, it's not like I h-haven't gotten homesick, and the Yune Empire w-wasn't exactly the nicest place to be...b-but..." Looking into the hideout at Fortune's members, who were still socializing, she sighed, swallowed again, and whispered, "I-it's strange, you know...being dragged into the strange things those people get themselves into, and fighting for their sake...even if I don't manage to do anything, I...I kind of feel like I enjoy being with Muna, Rumelis and the others. It really feels like my life actually has a meaning now...so to speak. That's why..."

"Are you kidding me?!" Umi leapt up, not bothering to keep his voice down. "I--you-" Remembering where he was, he glanced back into the room to make sure no one was listening, and turned back. "The Tengu said you were nothing but trouble, you know! He probably doesn't care if you die or not, you realize. And besides...uh..." Confusion began to cloud his voice at this point. "I...well, I...I kind of want to stay with you, you know..."

When he mentioned what Yamato had said, Terra felt a little stung, but also the despair that usually plagued her mind began to return. "...I...well, yes, I guess I was kind of trouble," she muttered. "I...Umi, I almost killed one of them, and I also got some of them jailed. But it feels more to me, as a result...that I must stay with them now. And..." Now was the hardest one of her reasons to say. "Umi...you kind of, um...made it sound as though you need me a lot...not just that you thought I would need you to save me. That's why I personally believe that, um...the two of us should stay apart from each other for a while longer."

At first, Umi began to protest, but after meeting her eyes for a full 30 seconds, he sighed and seemed to sag a little. "Well...I guess I'll decide, um, what to do after this is over," he sighed. "I-I guess I'll...uh...trust your judgement for now." But once again, he seemed utterly devoid of energy.

Terra clasped his hand tightly. "Don't worry, Umi. Just a bit more time, away from all the wars and our troublesome parents, and everything else...but please, away from me as well. Look, I've gotten stronger myself, by being with these people!" With a quickly brightening smile, she gestured into the hideout at the Great Guild Fortune. "So, i-if it works for me...everything will turn out wonderfully for you, too, I'm sure!" Pulling him after her, she started moving into the hideout herself, finally feeling ready to speak with the others if necessary. "W-well, when you're ready to decide where you want to go, let me know, okay? B-but for now, let's get you introduced properly to the others!"

The girl in the ruined green kimono stepped inside, pulling her rather reluctant and flustered friend in a dark blue jacket directly to her side. "M-Muna? Everyone? I-I don't think we properly got introductions out of the way..." Raising her hand, she gestured to Umi, who, rather embarrassed, raised a hand in greeting awkwardly. "T-this is my old friend, Umi Aogetsu. H-he'll be helping us with whatever we decide to do, alright? P-please, let's get along for the time being!"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki Character Portrait: Ann'Razul Character Portrait: Terra Himene Character Portrait: Rumelis Morende Character Portrait: Shiisan Character Portrait: Rune Iyora

0.00 INK

The guild walked into the hideout, their noses greeted with the smell of soup boiling over a small fireplace built into the wall. The inside of the base consisted of one large room. A dimly lit lantern hung from the stony ceiling and in the center of the room lay a large table, surrounded with chairs and various criminals, some looking over a plethora of papers and maps, while others were busy bundles of coins. On the far side of the base, to the right, lay many beds of various quality.

Saaklemore had run off to one of the members of his crew who was going over maps, a dragonfly beastman and whispered something, to which the dragonfly beastman nodded. The insect beastman grabbed the map he was glancing over and swiftly flew over towards the guild, buzzing around each of them to get a good look at them.

"So you're the new blood, eh," the Dragonfly mused, tapping his chin. "How'd you like your first taste of Gangamai? Sucks, huh? Welcome to everyday life for us. We make the best of it, though..."The dragonfly held out the map he was holding in front of them. "And now, with your help, it's going to be even better. See, we've run into...a bit of a big debt with some powerful friends of ours in Sudea. Time was running out to pay up, so two days ago, we set our sights on a HUGE shipment of gems our scouts spotted, about to be hauled out to Yuna-Yae. We sent our best to retrieve it, but...we were desperate and careless. One slip up cost us all and soon all of our best soon became not much of anything at all, but a smear on the street. Gangamai might be one big pile of shit, but with as big as the the slave trade is here, it has to be guarded like a royal fortress. The army folk around here are nothing to mess with..."

"That said, we did manage to give the army a fright in our ambush, I think. They put the gems back in storage. Guess their waiting for a more opportune time to ship them out," the Dragonfly continued.

"Aaand, lemme guess. You want us to steal 'em for you since you lost your top goons?" Shiisan interjected flatly. "Big surprise there. But,uh,won't that be pretty well guarded?"

"Well, yeah..." the Dragonfly shrugged. "That's pretty much the first huge problem. The second is that uh...there's one of three safehouses they could be stored in. And all our best scouts are out, so we had to rely on our good ones...and they didn't know which," he admitted, garnering skeptical looks from the guild. "Look, I know it's kinda risky, but hey this is in exchange for lodgings in Gangamai. you won't find any better than our place....trust me."

"And look at it this way...you do this and I give you this map of Gangamai," the Dragonfly added, his clawed finger hovering over three circled areas on the map, presumably the three possible safehouses. "Looking over this map, visiting various locations....it'll give you a good layout of this shitstain of a city. You wanna plan out how to free the slaves here? This is a good crash course in how Gangamai works."

"If you say yes, you're free to stay here for the night, safe from the guards. We have enough info on each of the three potential safehouses in our files, so I suggest you go over 'em tonight along with your plans tonight and get thievin' tomorrow. If you accept the job, that is..."

"Well, what do you all think, gang?" Suiken asked. As he did, Terra had walked into the room, introducing an old friend of hers.

"Greetings, Umi," Suiken greeted.

"Yo," Shiisan greeted. "So, uh, either of you two like burglary?" he asked nonchalantly.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki Character Portrait: Ann'Razul Character Portrait: Rumelis Morende Character Portrait: Shiisan

0.00 INK

Sunaarashi shook his head. "Stealing the gems won't be a problem, especially if we have three teams hit the buildings simultaneously. However, freeing the slaves will be the difficult part, and we'll probably need this group's help to do it." He looked at the others, and snorted.

"I'm really sorry to have to say this," he said, "since I'm aware that none of you like participating in killing, but freeing the slaves won't help in the long run. The slavers will just track them down and kill them or put them back to work, and they'll be worse off than before. And trust me when I say this, slavers are untouchable when it comes to actual law. The only thing that will stop them from putting chains on us is our strength, and even then, if they can overpower you, they will. And once you're a slave, that's it. You can't appeal to any judicial system, you're as good as dead to the government and everyone you ever loved or knew." His hands clenched into fists. "How do you think any of these people became slaves anyway? Do you think they were just assigned, perhaps even volunteered? No, they were people just like us, except they didn't have the ability to fight back."

Sunaarashi took a deep breath, and wiped the snarl off his face. "There isn't an honest slaver alive. It just doesn't work that way. Every one of these men and women are making money off of the lives of human beings. They're all murderers and thieves, and they get away with it because it's too inconvenient for the government and the wealthy to stop buying slaves, and because no one has the guts to say this is wrong. If we don't take a stand here, no one will."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki Character Portrait: Ann'Razul Character Portrait: Rumelis Morende Character Portrait: Shiisan

0.00 INK

Rumelis looked around at the Guild. They'd been more wary of mass slaughter than he'd expected, honestly, though that was based only on prior experience. Sunaarashi made a good case for the slaver's death after the group had made their little statement.

"Well, Sunaarashi, I'm not stopping you-- I doubt I could. And you make a good point. But personally, I'm sticking to cracked arms and broken noses. The rest of you may do as you will."

It was as simple as that. As for the little heist... well, Rumelis still didn't like it, but they didn't have much of a choice. He'd been compromising with his morals since he signed the Guild's contract, and stealing from the rich wasn't exactly the worst crime they'd done...

Still, their business in Gangamai was... uncomfortable. It was a shithole town, and the Guild was playing by its shithole rules. But there wasn't any other choice... Rumelis wondered briefly how often they'd end up doing this sort of thing.

"As for the jewels, well, at least we'll be scouting out the town. Might learn something on the side."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki Character Portrait: Ann'Razul Character Portrait: Terra Himene Character Portrait: Rumelis Morende Character Portrait: Shiisan Character Portrait: Rune Iyora

0.00 INK

Umi nodded to the others as they greeted him, though he still acted somewhat icy in demeanor. But then... "Wonderful, the lovable idiot is back! I thought we lost you to the forest. Can this day get any better?" Yamato's harsh words cut through the air.

Almost immediately, Umi stepped forward, an enraged look in his eyes. "Hey, yo-"

However, as he was raising his fist, Terra suddenly grabbed it, an urgent look in hers. "Umi, p-please stop! We can't afford to be fighting amongst o-ourselves right now!" Before Umi could protest, she moved onto her toes and whispered into his ear, "Yamato is one of the less tolerant members of Fortune. J-just ignore him, please."

After some moments of glaring at Yamato, Umi sighed, raised his hand, and sent a small amount of Yamato's drink spilling onto the counter just to spite him, prompting Terra to put a hand to her face and groan quietly (not that he noticed). "Fine, whatever," he sighed, before turning to Shiisan. "And, as to your question, um...sir...well, I was sent on a few missions to steal intel while fighting in On-" He was cut short when Terra suddenly elbowed him, pointing frantically at the Snow Oni at the other side of the room. "...uh, in Gwan's wars," the boy finished lamely. "Terra...you?"

The girl shook her head. "I-I'm afraid I don't have any experience in the field. But...even though I don't usually like stealing, we'll gladly help. Of course, I-I hope you're not worried about losing any gems...I might mess up while transporting them, after all." Or I might have to use those gems to defend us, on the other hand...

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki Character Portrait: Ann'Razul Character Portrait: Terra Himene Character Portrait: Rumelis Morende Character Portrait: Shiisan Character Portrait: Rune Iyora

0.00 INK

Yamato continued to sip his drink, despite Umi tipping it over while he'd set it down for two seconds. He just smirked and shook his head. He'd heard Terra's remark about him being the least tolerant member of the guild. It was a double edged remark. He'd thought himself quite tolerant, he hadn't killed a guild member yet after all, and at the same time he liked the feeling that they were some how beneath him. He lasted this long on his arrogance, to lose his arrogance would mean to lose the image he'd created after killing his clan. A feat that was more self preservation and subsequently an adrenaline rush. However, he was pegged as being in the wrong, so he ran with that. He couldn't let them know he had been officially exiled from his homeland. Not that he cared, but it was a piece of his image that he was acting on his own choices.

He downed the drink and quickly put the money on the counter, just give me the bottle. He proceeded to drink a quarter of the bottle without a breath. "Better..." he whispered as the memories and emotions became blurred. All that remained was his rash decision making. He looked over at where Terra and Umi stood, "I'll be dammed if I actually let anything happen to that girl. She has too much potential to die with this group." He looked the rest over, "None of these people deserve to die in this guild. It's my blade that will make sure they don't, I'll make sure this guild reaches its goals and I'll be remembered as the Demon of the Great Guild Fortune. A nice ring to it." He thought as a small evil grin crossed his lips, "The Fallen One..."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Terra Himene Character Portrait: Orion Shan Character Portrait: Shiisan

0.00 INK

"Well, if you're worried about transporting them or messing, up then just don't go," Shiisan told Terra. "Bug dude didn't say all of us had to go." Shiisan then turned to look at the Dragonfly. "Hey, man...we're tired, most of us agreed to this, so...just give us the maps and the files, so we can look over this, alright?"

The Dragonfly beastman shrugged and complied, handing the map over to the guild as well as several scrolls, which contained the files on the three possible safehouses. The insectoid beastman then pointed to the right where all the beds lay. "They're not much for comfort, but we have plenty of 'em. Take your pick. Next toy your bed are some crates. Those contain all are tools of the trade, so to speak. Have a look if you want, you might need 'em tomorrow."

Walking towards the beds, Shiisan unfolded the scrolls and placed them on a small table. "Let's see, we've got the auction house. The Guards Barracks, and...the Slaughterhouse? Really?! That doesn't bode well...Either way...tomorrow? We should break into teams and decide who goes where. But tonight? I dunno about you guys, but sleep is definitely sounding good right about now." And with that Shiisan fell onto one of the beds, soon falling fast asleep.

"Sleep does sound good," Suiken yawned. Sitting on a bed of his own, glancing over to the crates beside the bed.

Then, in a short amount of time...night fell.

***
While most of the other guild members slept, Suiken could barely bring himself to sleep. He lay wide awake, eyes glaring up at the rocky ceiling of the thieves den. The bed was creaky and uncomfortable and despite the width of the hideout, Suiken couldn't help but feel cramped knowing that above this stone ceiling was another one, covering all of Gangamai. It was less a city and more of a massive tomb.

And no matter how many times he tossed and turned, Suiken couldn't help but hear the screaming. Slaves. Children screaming, begging not be beaten. And he wasn't sure if sounds were just through from the outside or if this place was really beginning to remind him too much of the a certain someone back home, in Onium. "That's does it..." Suiken sighed, sitting up and rubbing his eyes, more out of habit than anything as he wasn't remotely tired in the slightest.

The old oni stood up and walked over to the crate, carefully and quietly glancing over it's contents until he saw what he'd wanted. A simple hooded cloak and what appeared to be papers,documentations of freedom to be exact. Forged ones of a free oni. It was all he needed as he draped it over himself and made his way out the door to the hideout. He could find it again, retracing his steps was something he was fairly good at. He then made his way to town, walking at a brisk pace until he reached the streets of Gangamai. Not much different from when the guild first arrived there. Lepers and beggars. Orphans and the crippled. All of the surrounded the city streets, begging, pleading, crying.

Then there were the slaves. Still being put to work, still being rounded and threaten and beaten. Suiken pulled his hood over his head. Even with the forged documents in his hands, he still didn't feel any safer. Slavery was much more prevalent in Yune than in Onium, which...was insane to him, he'd thought it had been horrific enough back home. The ideals he'd always fought for had been turned on their head in Onium that day, when he saw those slaves, those children...put to work, made to suffer. No one deserved such a fate. And given how much worse it was here...Suiken couldn't help but have a prickling feeling a hopelessness creep up on him. How could you change a world that thinks this is acceptable...? He thought he'd had the answer long ago...he thought through traveling he'd gain better answer. But in truth he just still didn't know.

"Move it oni! Stop stallin'! And get! Back! To! Work!" the angered voice of a human slaver spat, enunciating each word with a crack of his whip. Suiken turned around to see the oni in question and his eyes widened at what he saw. A snow oni, like himself although younger, sporting ragged, weather worn clothing, and long slicked back hair. A familiar face to Suiken, one he hadn't expected to see in Yune if ever again, since he departed Onium. The expression on the oni's face was one made of pure, stubborn anger. Each strike of the whip did nothing to make him change the look of pure hatred on his light green face he was giving to the slavers. Every time they told him to hurry up he slowed down. Every time they'd told him to move, he'd stop for a few seconds.

If this act of defiance was just intended to get under the slavers skin, then it succeeded and more. "You're a lucky one, you know that, boy..." the slaver spoke in a quiet menacing tone. "We're running out of slaves for watermill, and you're just about strong enough to work the whole damn thing yourself, aren't you? But even so I'm not gonna just stand here and be mocked!" the slaver hollered, grabbing the shackles on the oni's hands and pulling them forward, causing the oni to collapse on the ground.

"Not by a gods damned oni slave!" the slaver shouted madly digging his heel into the still fresh wounds that the whip carved into the oni's back. As he finished, his eyes turned to Suiken. "You...elder Oni. Papers?" he said, a mad look in his eyes, almost gleeful. Overjoyed at the prospect of enslaving another oni perhaps.

Suiken raised his forged papers and the slaver immediately grew disappointed as he saw them. "I was getting my hopes up that you were a loose one..." the slaver mumbled. "Well you must be an slave catcher or something then, eh? Most of the oni that work here are. Guess they don't have it in 'em to be slavers."

Suiken sighed heavily. 'If only that were the case...' he thought. Luckily, the slaver didn't seem to read his discontent as he walked back over to the oni slave. "Here, you can take this one back to his pen. It's near the boneyard. I'm tired and I think I'm about due an early rest, don't you?" he asked,half threateningly.

Suiken contemplating punching the man in the jaw, but the Guild had already garnered enough unwanted attention in this unsavory place..."I'd say so..." Suiken muttered. The slaver gave a disingenuous smile and handed the oni slave off to Suiken. It was a good thing that Suiken had looked over Saaklemore's map prior, so he could at least make it look convincing when he pretended to go to the boneyard.

After Suiken and the snow oni slave managed to get a fair distance away form the obnoxious slaver, Suiken began to speak, "Tora...it's been a while."

"Fuck you," the other Oni, Tora, spat as they continued to walk, this time slowing down.

"Ah, so you did recognize me," Suiken sighed.

"It's not hard to remember the face of a traitor," Tora growled. "...Even if you have gained weight, Seinaru."

"Hmm," Suiken chuckled, though he didn't sound all to amused. "I know....I betrayed the trust of the Empress, the empire. But after what I saw, how could I not? I doubt my absence would damn the Empire in such a radical way as you seem to think..."

"You think...you think this is about the slaves? You think this is about the Empress?! Dammit Seinaru...," Tora mumbled, his voice raising slightly. He then quickly glanced around, appearing a bit nervous, weary. "We can't talk here, she could hear us..." Tora wheezed, his voice dropping to a very low whisper. "Find the old quarry, the abandoned one. It's one of the few safe places... " The two oni made their way towards the quarry in question. Two looming signs hung over it's gate, barring anyone from slavers to slaves from entering it. No patrols seemed to be making rounds around this area.

Tora took the time to examine the ground, leaning over and placing an ear to it, sighing a breath of relief. "No hollow ground here, mostly rock. We're safe..." Tora leaned against one of the boulders, propping his whip-scarred back against the stone.

Suiken sat down upon a flat-ish boulder and asked Tora, "You're certain you don't wish to sit down? Your wounds..."

"I'm fine," Tora snapped, shaking his head. "What business do you have here in Gangamai of all places? Couldn't have been to find me, you seemed just as surprised as I did when I spotted you."

Suiken leaned forward, resting a hand on his knee. "You first, kid. You're the one who managed to get himself enslaved. Hard to imagine someone captured you of all people."

"It wasn't an easy task for them...but I was outnumbered and outclassed. I thought I could outfight them, but I payed the price for my brashness, it seems," Tora grumbled. "Just another tragedy to sprout up after you abandoned Onium. Though I was the least of them..." Tora shook his head and stared at the sky...what little of it could be seen through the cracks in Gangamai's stony ceiling. There was a brief silence before Tora spoke again, "The Empress sent me after you, you know. News had been making the rounds in Onium, that an Oni of your description was spotted around Yune."

"Hmm, spies are everywhere it seems," Suiken noted,resting his hand on his chin.

"Everywhere? Ha!" Tora coughed a dry laugh. "So few of them we have now...their time could be better spent spying on the enemies encroaching on our borders, than tracking you down. She wanted me to find you on your birthday, you know? Said she wanted me to give you an leg of yak since she figured you hadn't eaten any in so long being in Yune."

"Oh!" Suiken stated, his eyes widening in surprise. Shock, really. "That's...unexpectedly kind of her after all we'd been through."

"Then after you'd eaten, she wanted me to kill you," Tora admitted, unable to help himself from chuckling slightly.

"Now, that's the Empress I know," Suiken grimaced. "Though, this doesn't explain how you landed in here."

"By the spirits, old man, I'm getting to it!" Seinaru growled. "I think I deserve a bit of rest, right?" Seinaru asked,to which Suiken nodded in agreement. "Now, as I was tracking you, I ended up getting lost. Bought a damned phony map from a human merchant called Ris-Ki. Ended up near the Ganga Desert. I caught wind of some minor demon plaguing the forest and thought to myself, 'Why not give the humans a hand and purify the forest?', so I was taking a detour towards the desert when I ran into one a massive slave caravan.

"Seinaru, this place is a fortress of hell. Barely any of it's secrets escape it's wall and neither do it's prisoners. What you saw and revolted against in Onium is nothing compared to this! There is an army of slavers within these walls and they aren't jokes or pushovers. For every one of the fat bastard who you just saw whip my back to shreds, there are over five hundred slavers here who could level the Ganga mountains to rubble. It was just my misfortune that the slave caravan I ran into was run by the worst of them."

"They're the couple form hell, Vyasana and Kupiga. Vyasana is an ashura and not just any ashura. He was a former general in the Ashuran's army. Led the ashura to defend against that massive navy of pirates that stormed the seas ten years ago? He won that battle for them, no doubt. Some say he did it all by himself. Even so, he was dishonorably discharged and banished. Why...? Well, that's a mystery. As is what he did prior to arriving here, climbing his way up the ranks to become one of the top slavers," Tora continued.

"General Vyasana..." Suiken muttered. "I've heard the name. Didn't know he'd ended up here or had been discharged, but I have heard...unsettling rumors."

"About how he bares the blackened blood of demonspawn? Or how he is no longer mortal...?" Tora grinned,somberly. "I can't say. Maybe that's why he was banished. He certainly acts like am monster. And he's not to hard to spot. The ashura with the golden helm. Front and back covered in nothing but scars. Eyes blood red as a pool of magma. Another rumor says he's never been scratched in battle. All those scars he gave to himself, the spirits damned sadist..."

Tora spat upon the ground. "Doesn't waste those six arms either. Usually has a whip in all six...and uses 'em on one slave. And then there's his wife," Tora closed his eyes, recollecting a painful memory. "She's a centipede beastwoman. They say she terrorized Askia for years before arriving here. She was warden before Vyasana even stepped foot in here. You always loved tall tales....you ever hear the legend of the worm that prowls beneath the Ganga desert, dragging lost travelers beneath the sand and devouring them whole?"

"...I've told the tale myself," Suiken commented. It was one of those he thought had no ring of truth to it. "Just a cautionary tale for traveling alone in the wilderness, I thought."

"Well, in all likelihood, it was probably Kupiga," Tora sighed, cradling his head in his hands. "If I'd never seen a demon before coming here, I'd certainly confuse her with one. In the day, she waits in her lair for any 'problematic' slaves. One that defy their masters one too many times and got away alive. They bring the to her and she rips them apart, sometimes sharing bits with Vyasana."

"That's disgusting..." Suiken nearly vomited.

"Oh, it can get worse..." Tora assured. "Sometimes it's a public display. And at night? She prowls underneath the soft ground, waiting...hoping for a slave to speak of revolting, hoping she catches wind of an uprising. She'll appear without warning, ripping open the ground and dragging any one unlucky enough to be remotely near her down. Only a few among us know how to avoid her then. Mostly it's the criminals of the town and their secret passageways, but I've noticed that she only treads near the soft ground. Rock, like this quarry? Safe ground. Weird how they'd barred it off though, nothing seems unstable about it..."

"And you suffer all this all to search for me? I...have no words I can say to apologize enough, my old student," Suiken sighed somberly. To see an oni he trained himself since childhood end up undergoing such suffering on a quest to kill him? It ate at him worse than Kupiga ever could.

"I should've expected a non-answer like that from you," Tora sneered, though his expression did soften a little as he sighed. "Though, I finally realize what angered you all those years ago in Onium, Seinaru. When you saw the slaves? My way of thinking back then was that you were a fool, for sympathizing with them. The humans do the same to us, I thought. So why have the same done to them? I didn't even give a second thought to the beastmen or the goblins we'd enslaved...But when I arrived here...to see not just my people, but all people under chains, even children and meant to live and die like this? I understood. Shame it took so long."

"But," Tora continued, interrupting Suiken before he could speak. "While, I understood why you left, I do not condone it. You did a just thing when you spoke out against your betrothed, the Empress. Your intentions were noble when you left to live with that Fire Oni tribeswoman...When you returned, there was talk that maybe you'd lead a militia against the Empress...But instead, you tried and failed. You messed up and messed up bad, but that isn't why I no longer respect you. It's because after that for all of your speeches, for all of your idealism...you gave up."

"Gave up to become a bard, to wander free and to give up responsibility, only teaching heroism through song and not through action. You became Suiken, which, might I add, is a laughable name. 'The Drunken Fist'? Really? That's your pseudonym?," Tora paused to mock. "But I digress...you abandoned us and in doing so, doomed Onium, Koru and the entire world to die."

"W-what do you mean?" Suiken asked, after a moment, perplexed. He couldn't answer as his fellow oni's words stung him. He was receiving information he'd already known, but didn't want to hear from someone else's mouth, much less someone he once considered a friend and pupil. He could only wonder what his other, more hot blooded, former students thought of him. But what Tora said near the end....of him dooming Onium and Koru and the world. He didn't quite understand.

"When you left Onium, you didn't just abandon your country you abandoned your post," Tora sighed exasperated. "You were the chief among all of the Demon Hunters and the only one who knew anything about the Midnight Gate and the horrors that lay within it. Imagine the rest of us, four months ago. Still lacking complete training, spiritual awareness, and other patience, when and eclipse washes over Onium. The sun being covered by a blood-red moon. The light of energy beaming down from the heavens and into Hiehana Canyon."

"The gate opened?!" Suiken cried, standing up from his seat upon the boulder. The Midnight Gate. A sacred landmark in Onium, especially to it's famed Demon Hunters. A millenia ago the first Snow Oni demon hunter was said to have sealed a shroud of darkness, containing a million captured demons behind it's iron bars. Ever since the Demon Hunters had been among the most prestigious group in Onium. Until apparently, Suiken, the only snow oni heir to the original Demon Hunter's bloodline had abandoned them. By all means to seal the gate again should be Suiken's birthright. But if it's opened and all it's charges are loose, he's failed even at that. Tora nodded grimly. Suiken stuttered, "I-I would've never thought..."

"No, damn you! You didn't think!" Tora howled back, pointing an accusing finger at Suiken. "We have all of the armies of Yune right on our borders, at our doorstep and we're failing at fending them off. All because all of our greatest warriors, the Demon Hunters, and the empress herself are all busy protecting ourselves and the whole world, by keeping the demons at bay in the canyon. They're not small fry like the pitiful creature that claims the Ganga Desert, these are monstrocities beyond description."

"And this is a serious problem, Seinaru," Tora gritted, staring angrily at the ground below. "Demi-gods have been to aid us, Seinaru, but even they aren't enough to stop a crafty fiend from sneaking out of the canyon!"

"What do they want?" Suiken asked. "Something so simple as to destroy the world."

"Some certainly want to demolish Onium..." Tora informed. "But all of them have a purpose...They seek something. What that is, we don't know...but it's drawing them beyond Onium. They have a goal...but I'm not even sure they know what it is...The Empress doesn't even want them to escape, and you know how she feels about the Onium's enemies. Something's happening to the world, something's changing for the worst, sense-Seinaru," Tora cried out, almost slipping and referring to Suiken as a teacher once more. "Even in the lands of the humans, where the realms beyond those of mortals rarely show themselves, strange things are beginning to erupt all across Yune, Onium, Koru, Tengala, everywhere!"

"Sensei! Fix your mistake! Regain your honor and return to Onium!" Tora pleaded. "With your knowledge we could excorcise these monsters for good! Please! Even if that's not the case, at least learn to try again!"

"I cannot...I've taken a vow to give up such abilities..." Suiken said, simply, looking away.

"You really have lost your spine, haven't you..." Tora sighed. "You really are one fat piece of shit now, Seinaru. Just wanted you to know...What are you doing in Gangamai, anyway?"

"I'm traveling with a Guild. The Great guild Fortune. They...not me, but some of them, purified the desert of the Crane Demon's influence. And now we've traveled here to get some rest. A mistake on our part, it seems. We seek to free the slaves, you know. you could be the first," Suiken informed Tora, reaching over and snapping the shackles off of his hands in a display of force. Tora quickly snapped the ones off of his feet into bits.

"Your guild fights for a good cause...makes one wonder what you're doing on it," Tora quipped. "But it is a fight that will end in disaster. This isn't any ordinary cesspool, it's like I said. A damned fortress. With strong guardsmen. It's suicidal unless you have the strength and the army to back it up. But...I will say thank you for freeing me. You've done that much."

"Will you return to Onium? Or complete the task the Empress had sent you for?" Suiken asked.

"I wasn't necessary to hold the demons back in Onium. It's why the Empress could afford to send me after you. You're one of the few things that still gets under her skin more than the demons, I suppose. You should feel honored...I will head back to Onium, eventually. I'm going to be stopping in Yuna-Yae first...Though I have to tread carefully now. When I sneak out, it's perhaps best for you to go into hiding until you and your guild decide to leave...They'll look for a fat oni having freed me and let's be honest...you are the most obese oni anyone's ever seen."

Suiken would've roared with laughter, if he didn't have the sense to hold it in. Tora breathed a sigh of relief as he looked upon his hands. Free hands once more. "I will hide among the criminals for a time until I can sneak out and go to Yuna-Yae and I will not be caught this time. People must learn of the atrocities here...And as for your guild...they managed to purge the Crane Demon from the desert? Without your assistance?"

"Well, yes," Suiken shrugged. "We met a former desert...or forest bandit, rather, who joined our guild and aided us. Perhaps he knew something of how to get rid of the Crane Demon. He said he and his old crew had lived in the forest prior to it's arrival.

"...Seinaru," Tora frowned, as he scratched is chin in thought. "No bandits would be remotely insane enough to take up residence just outside the slavery capital of the world. Hell, the criminals within Gangamai's walls can barely go a day without one of their own getting captured or ending up dead. Just...be wary, old man."

Suiken nodded,remembering that Shiisan didn't seem to know much at all about Gangamai for a bandit that had lived near it and would've certainly seen slaves being transported form there, much less one that had been captured a pinned to a tree for months. "I will heed your words...Anything else you need to tell me, before you go?"

"Not much I can think of..." Tora shrugged...before suddenly recalling one more thing. "Actually...there is one thing. I did travel to Koru. I was almost barred access if not for your wife remembering my face. It seems your son has followed in your footsteps and made a bit of a mistake...but unlike you, it seems he has resolved to atone for it. He walks a deadly path, Seinaru. And so do you. Return to the oni you once were. The one that needs to rectify his mistake that would doom the world..."

And with that, Tora had run off. Sprinting without the heavy chains and shackles weighing him down. Sprinting through the night and out of sight. Suiken left as quickly as he could, returning to Saaklemore's hideout. He had much to think about.

***
"Quiet or we'll put ya in da grindeeeeeeeer!" The gecko beastman slobbered, whacking Orion on the head with the flat of his blade.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki Character Portrait: Ann'Razul Character Portrait: Terra Himene Character Portrait: Shiisan

0.00 INK

"Are you serious? You're going to blame me solely because I have wings? My Wings were silent old man. You and your sense of justice are what almost got us caught." Yamato spat, shaking his head at Sunnarashi. He then turned toward Shiisan, "Oh, and don't get me started about your whistling! What part of silent do you not understand? Honestly, I know we can fight and these idiots can't compare to our skills but I'd rather not fight off an entire city guard and slaver group."

The three continued to wonder the streets, arguing with one another. They turned the corner and heard a commotion nearby. Yamato rolling his eyes looked up to see Ann and Terra fighting off some men who took off after feeling their beating was sufficient. "What's going on here?" Yamato questioned as he ran up to the two girls.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki Character Portrait: Ann'Razul Character Portrait: Terra Himene Character Portrait: Shiisan

0.00 INK

"'Hey you two are up early,' I said. 'We might as well scout out the heist locations before we make out big move,' I said," Shiisan sighed, slapping his forehead as the three of them were attempting to find their way back to the base. "Look, I think all three of us know, that if you had a little bit of self control," Shiisan continued, giving off an aggravated frown as he pointed at Sunaarashi, "We wouldn't have gotten into this situation in the first place. Not to mention if the big turkey over here," Shiisan sneered, pointing an opposite finger at Yamato, "Didn't start spouting his 'I am the Lord of all Darkness' bullshit, then I coulda thought of an alibi that would've let us make a quick getaway."

"Ugh, I knew I shoulda just woke up the quiet one and brought her along..." Shiisan grumbled, kicking a can that lay in the middle of the grime covered streets of Gangamai, when they rounded the corner and saw... "Oh hey, Sisters Silence and Spastic," Shiisan greeted Ann and Terra. "Woah, uh, what the hell happened?" Shiisan asked, scratching his head.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki Character Portrait: Ann'Razul Character Portrait: Terra Himene Character Portrait: Shiisan

0.00 INK

“Well, excuse me for wanting to help people,” Sunaraashi snapped angrily. He caught notice of two of the Guild members lying in the dirt and sighed. “Just our lucky day...” He rubbed a hand over his head and scowled.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki Character Portrait: Rumelis Morende Character Portrait: Shiisan Character Portrait: Rune Iyora

0.00 INK

"Hey, what happened?" Shiisan asked, returning to the hideout along with Sunaarashi and Yamato. "We left early to scout the heist spots and on our way back, we spotted Ann and Terra lookin' bruised. Terra didn't tell us what was goin' on, so uh...what exactly is goin' on?" he asked, turning from Rune to Rumelis.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki Character Portrait: Terra Himene Character Portrait: Rumelis Morende Character Portrait: Shiisan Character Portrait: Rune Iyora

0.00 INK

As the bear man spoke about Hyuna and Muna, Umi sat and nodded quietly. Remembering with a bit of guilt how he had accused Muna (and the goddamn Tengu, but screw him) of not caring about Terra, if the bear man's words were right, Umi figured his first impression was completely off base. "I guess I can see why you guys want to save them so badly," he sighed, sitting up a little bit straighter. Though he didn't have any reason to, save for his own hate of slavery, it seemed to the boy that helping the Guild get their members back was a worthwhile thing to do.

Then the wolf girl, after probably making the bear man's frustration over the kidnapping worse, slipped out for about 15 minutes or so, before coming back in with a huge sum of money. "Does that work? Should I go do another round?" she asked, seeming somewhat proud and awed about the fruits of her heist.

Peering over the coins, Umi whistled. "That looks like it would buy more than just a slave with a decent build in Gwan, at least. But...this isn't Gwan, so I can't say for certain it'll be enough." Looking back up to the bear man and wolf girl, he gave them his most encouraging smile and leapt to his feet. "Well, I'm certain it's worth a try, anyway, guys! All we have to do, then, is figure out where they'll be sold."

Suddenly, some of the other guild members...including the tengu...returned to the hideout, having apparently been looking around the sites where they would steal the gems. The one in front, with dark brown hair, was asking about what Terra and "Ann"...that black haired woman that Terra went with, probably...had been doing.

Pointing to the sleeping area, where Terra still lay, probably weeping, Umi raised a finger to his lips urgently. "Well, you see...two of your members--Muna and Hyuna--have been taken in by slavers," he whispered to them, keeping his voice low. They didn't need to ruin Terra's mood even more by talking about how she failed. "Terra and Ann tried to go after them, but...it went wrong, is all I can say."

Glancing back at Terra again, but seeing no movement, he continued, "We might be able to buy them back...and essentially free them, after that. I can't say for certain it'll work, but it's certainly worth a try. Ugh...Yamato, was it?" Even though he really didn't like the Tengu, Umi had to bottle up that hatred for now. "Fly around, see if you can spot them, okay? And, I guess I should put in some effort as well, so I'll look for them, too, in a bit. Anyone else, if you feel like helping, please do so."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Shiisan

0.00 INK

"We just scouted out three places around here this morning! It's a damn fortress!" Shiisan yawned. He looked at the others and gave a shrug. "C'mon, let's all look out for 'em."

As Sunaarashi began to stomp his way out of the door, Suiken blocked his way. "You're embarking on a fools endeavor."

"Where the hell have you been, Brother Fat?" Shiisan questioned.

"I left soon after you three did. I heard a bit of your conversation on the way here," Suiken noted, nodding at Sunaarashi, Shiisan, and Yamato. "I made rounds in the city, asking questions. However large you think the army is here...well, they're bigger than that. "Suiken turned to Sunaarashi and stated. "You go out there alone, you'll just die and nothing will change because any you do manage to kill will be easily replaced. Your last stand would accomplish nothing."

"The only way we'd even be able to make a difference," Suiken continued, is to head directly to the source of it all. To the imperial city, Yuna-Yae. But that's a trip for later day. Who do we have missing?" Suiken asked, briefly scanning the room. "Lo-Muna and..."

"Someone named Hyuna," Shiisan informed him.

"Hyuna?!" Suiken exclaimed. "Hmm, I wonder how she's been since the incident in Jiefong. Either way, let's spare no more time, talking here, we have to find them!"

***

A large wagon, drawn by a single horse made it's way down a steady mountain road. It had a dark green tapestry draped over it's windows, the figures upon the tapestry near the right window illustrating great deeds of Yune's past. Of the journey's of heroes and their conquests over evil and tyranny. It showed several armies storming upon what appeared to be the ancient Imperial City. At the head of these armies, was a single man raising a sword as he faced another man, the Emperor, who also raised a sword and stood in front of his army, though he appeared to be vastly outnumbered. Above them, in the background behind the various tall buildings of Yuna-Yae, still impressive even in in illustration, was a rising sun. Upon one of the sun's rays, was an odd looking man, hanging his head back and beaming with a crooked, off-putting smile.

The tapestry near the left window illustrated pictures of an uncertain future. It featured a road, cracked in half, splitting in two where one road led to a lone soldier lying on the ground, apparently wounded, but not dead or dying. The wounded soldier seemed to be looking up at another figure. A hand, offering to help them up as a ray of moonlight shone on them. The other road showed the same soldier, this time crawling away from the helping hand on their stomachs, which appeared to be leaking blood. The soldier's hand appeared to be reaching for something else. A gate, guarded by two monstrous looking oni. The stars lay in the background of this picture. There was nothing notable in the background of this tapestry aside from a shadowy, sinewy tendril that appeared to emerge out of the ground. A hand seemed to spring out at the end of the tendril, with two eyes, each individually and greedily glaring at both possible roads, like a chameleon.

The side of the wagon seemed to be worn and scratched apart. "The word, 'Circus', was visible on both sides and nothing else. The wagon's two occupants, Hei Zhao and Bai Zhao, were piloting the wagon and lazily relaxing inside of it, respectively.

"The accords of the past...the intentions of the present...The gratitudes and grievances of a strange man exhaust the tears of a hero," Hei Zhao whispered as the wagon slowly approached it's destination.

"Enough...with the poems, brother," Bai Zhao groaned. "The tea-drinking sage crowd may love it, but I'm no fan of it."

"Ah, it's more than a simple poem, though," Hei Zhao corrected.

"I know, I know!" Bai Zhao retorted irritably, stiffly sitting up in an awkward motion. "Doesn't mean I wanna hear it though..." the younger corpse muttered, glaring at the floor. "We're late, y'know. But I suppose that's the price of taking detours. Why head to Furoe, anyway?"

"I'll assume you know why and are really asking 'what's the point?" Hei Zhao asked, to which his brother nodded. "Well don't expect too an answer there. The master commands that we sow the seeds of chaos. And we shall do so..." he answered bitterly. "But...don't you sense it? The onset of rampant ruination? Death?"

"A little, yeah," Bai Zhao shrugged, pausing as a cricket landed on his claw-like fingers. In a quick movement, Bai Zhao pinched it's wings as it fidgeted about. "I suppose ruination and death are calling cards for us, in a way. IS it bad, that I'm starting to enjoy all these assignments, brother?"

"..." Hei Zhao was silent for a moment, stopping the wagon completely. Turning around, he uttered a single, "Yes."

Flinging the cricket aside, where it then rocketed around the wagon's interior, Bai Zhao spat, "Damn it, must you be so melodramatic with everything?! You know how boring things have been for us since...a while ago. I've got to find the fun in something!"

"Then find it somewhere else...I've been trying too," Hei Zhao sighed.

"Aha! The hypocrisy will never cease, will it?!" Bai Zhao joked, Hei Zhao quickly rose a hand to silence him.

"Enough, we'll talk more once we've arrived in Furoe," Hei Zhao informed him.

"Would've arrived much quicker if we'd 'hopped'" Bai Zhao noted, beginning ti climb out of the back of the wagon, to get a better look at the mountains behind them.

"Perhaps," Hei Zhao admitted. "But one of our priorities there is not to make a scene. Difficult as that is for two such as us..."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki Character Portrait: Ann'Razul Character Portrait: Terra Himene Character Portrait: Rumelis Morende Character Portrait: Shiisan Character Portrait: Rune Iyora

0.00 INK

Sunaarashi smiled. "You don't know anything about who I am, do you?"

He took a few steps out into the dirt streets and squatted down. Peering upwards into the sky, Sunaarashi blinked as a light rain began to fall. Still smiling slightly, he looked down and began tracing some symbols into the dirt. After a few moments, he had created a circle.

Standing, he drew his sword.

"You see," Sunaarashi said, "although I hail from Sudea, I am not of Sudean blood." He held his sword horizontally. "Although I know very little of Hyuna, from the time I have spent with Lo-Muna, I can trace any strong emotions that were hers... or involving her. It is a magic that was taught to me by... my brother."

His sword began to glow white as the rain began to fall heavier. "Technically, this is my first time using it, but it shouldn't be too hard to figure out." He closed his eyes as a white mist began to rise from the runes. Although it looked like fog, the magic flowed unnaturally across the streets.

Suddenly, a piece of it turned black and shuddered. Sunaarashi gasped.

"There," he said, pointing towards the blackness. "I can feel her pain. It's a start. We might be able to pick up clues from where they grabbed her."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki Character Portrait: Terra Himene Character Portrait: Rumelis Morende Character Portrait: Shiisan Character Portrait: Millie Kiyare Character Portrait: Rune Iyora

0.00 INK

Almost as soon as the bald man entered, he got ready to leave just as quickly. "And you're saying your way, which could kill you just as much as it could kill those slavers, works?" Umi retorted hotly, taking a step after the man. "Or what, are you saying you'll just pull some divine power of ultimate destruction out of your ass?"

But as it turned out, a Snow Oni barred the bald man's way, voicing similarly how suicidal his ways were, and after asking who had been taken away, his eyes widened at the mention of Hyuna, but he quickly got over the shock. "Either way, let's spare no more time, talking here, we have to find them!"

Umi nodded and started following them out the door, picking up Terra's belt, pouch, and swords, and setting them on the table. Then, he glanced one more time at their owner...but saw her in a fetal position at the part of the bed farthest away from where they all had been standing, tightly clutching herself. The bald man's words had obviously carried over to where she was resting, and just as Umi had feared, they seemed to have hurt her terribly.

He wanted to go to her side and try to make her feel better, but when he remembered the words she had spoken when they met for the first time in this blasted city, his movement slowed. Finally, he sighed, swallowed, and called, "Terra, you don't have to follow us now. You've done your best to try and save those two; we'll take it from here. Sleep well, alright?"

The girl did not respond, but Umi knew no other things he could say to her. Stretching a bit, he turned on his heel and started walking down the road after the Guild, putting a hand to his face in disgust as the bald man did something that looked more like a hoax to him than anything else. With all the rain falling around them, though, he knew he would have a greater advantage if something forced them into battle.
First thing was first, though--he wanted to see where Terra and Ann had battled the slavers; they could probably get more reliable clues there. "So. Where did you encounter Terra a few minutes ago?" he asked, addressing Yamato and Shiisan. "You don't have to come with me if you don't want to, but in that case, just tell me which way it is."

Even if Terra said that doing reckless things for her sake was a silly thing to do...sadly, Umi had no other goals in his mind. So for now, he'd help the members of Fortune out in her place.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki Character Portrait: Rumelis Morende Character Portrait: Shiisan Character Portrait: Rune Iyora

0.00 INK

Suiken's words had been some relief for Rumelis-- more people than just him were openly concerned. Though Sunaarashi's words had been disconcerting-- he figured they were true-- Rumelis still wanted to try and help somehow, and he doubted letting Sunaarashi handle the problem alone was going to fix anything. It would probably just make the Guild look even more criminalistic, with more reckless murdering.

So, for now, the logical course seemed to be following Suiken to look for Muna and Hyuna. It'd get him out of their dark hideout, too, which was a bonus.

"Suiken, I'd be willing to help you. I've a feeling Sunaarashi's plan, however noble, would carry its own consequences. Besides, I'm sick of waiting around." Rumelis picked up his axe from nearby, and the now-dry bow and arrows. He tested the draw-- surprisingly, the bow held his full draw, and the arrows were, for the most part, not warped.

"But I'd suggest that we move in as large a group as we can. Slavers can pick us off if we travel alone, but as a group we've more of a chance, should it come to blows-- and less of a chance to be attacked in the first place," he added.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki Character Portrait: Rumelis Morende Character Portrait: Shiisan Character Portrait: Rune Iyora

0.00 INK

"Yeah, well does anyone have a better plan than him?" the irritated Umi intoned a little bit too loudly just as the bear man finished speaking to the Snow Oni. The boy was jerking a thumb in the direction of Sunaarashi, who he was really getting annoyed by with the idiot's recklessness. True, Umi was not one to talk about being reckless, but that person seemed to be at least 10 years his senior; he should know better, right? Or what, did that guy do drugs or some shit like that?

But as far as he could see, the wolf girl had also disappeared...already the bear man's suggestion had gone moot, as far as he could tell. Just as Umi was about to point this out, however, she came back, parts of her skin and clothes blackened. "We're... being watched. Followed," she snarled grimly. "Just a warning."

"Followed? By who?" Umi asked, looking up worriedly. "Are they still chasing you?" He looked in the direction from which the wolf girl came, but saw no one charging after her or anything overly climatic like that. "...okay, fantastic. But they're still somewhere in the city," he muttered, figuring things just got a few times worse.

Making sure the cestus on his right arm was tied down properly, he turned to the members of Fortune, a bit more urgently. "Guys, if you have a decent plan that will actually work about how to find your friends, I'd suggest we act soon. Those bastards might spring upon us at any second, so slavers aren't the only thing on our concerns list anymore."