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The Great Guild Fortune

Setting

Hey Horat, come on in.
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The Horat-verse

Welcome to the Horat Zone

Minimap

The Horat-verse is a part of The Great Guild Fortune.

15 Characters Here

Suiken [596] A Wandering Street Musician who knows more than he lets on
Yuwen Fortune [549] The Fearless Young Guild Leader of Fortune
Samyan Zaheer [534] spiffy
Lo-Muna Vanhi [512] The Ravishing Beauty of the South
Takai [472] The Noble Shaming Arrow of Flaming Lae Ming Wae
Xanth [462] The Assassin with no Voice nor Past.
Namari Shioh [444] A Practitioner of Bastardry
Sunaarashi [410] An Unstoppable Force of Nature sent from the desert to destroy his enemies
Ren Van [388] A Warrior Without Honor, But Maintaining his Humanity.
Yamato Hibiki [384] A Ronin seeking his own path

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Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Yuwen Fortune Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Xanth Character Portrait: Ren Van
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Ren was silent for a moment as he contemplated whether or not Yuwen was being facetious or not, but ultimately decided the observation wasn't wholly inaccurate.

"As it so happens, character would be the correct word for it. Though, I have my means for trying to breath some... Unique life into it."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Yuwen Fortune Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Xanth Character Portrait: Takai Character Portrait: Ren Van Character Portrait: Gonpo the Fisher
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"I...was just going to suggest we fake a fire, evacuate the tents, and free Kaor in the confusion, Suiken added.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Yuwen Fortune Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Xanth Character Portrait: Ren Van
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#, as written by Nulix
Yuwen looked at Suiken and then Ren before squinting up at the afternoon sun. "If we're going to start a fire we'll have to do it quick, soon enough we'll have to perform..." Yuwen paused, realization coming over him. "Wait a minute, the show! Kaor is guarded, right Xanth? I assume that's why you weren't able to escape with her." Yuwen stroked his chin. "Makoko has guards, but from the intel I've gathered his most ferocious warriors are performers in his show- and to beat us tonight and win Samyan he's sure to have them all performing, meaning it'll only be lackeys guarding her."

Yuwen turned to Ren and Suiken. "If we stage an accident backstage during the show Makoko will be too busy hosting to see himself, and all his best men will be busy, we'll have deniability because we'll be performing!"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Yuwen Fortune Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Xanth Character Portrait: Ren Van
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"So, one of us slips off during the performances...this will have to be well-timed," Suiken sighed. "Though I'd advise against truly starting a fire, but make sure no harm comes to anyone trapped within. In fact, whoever slips off can re-convene with Takai and Gonpo in order to collaborate further. If you're up to it, Xanth, perhaps you can do so?" Suiken asked.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Takai Character Portrait: Gonpo the Fisher
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Takai frowned and thought hard for a moment, "So...what if those contracts were found and destroyed?"

Setting

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Character Portrait: Samyan Zaheer
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Samyan pulled the curtain past the entrance of her makeshift workshop, shutting the sharp noon light out of the wagon. The burlap sacks sat on the benches of the cart, and she'd layed a good sized blanket on the floor to serve as her workspace. Holding the silver needle lightly between the first two fingers of one hand, she began with the larger sack, pulling out each bone in turn. Each piece of the skeleton was placed delicately on the cloth, Samyan drawing the needle gingerly through each as though building an intricately detailed anatomical model.

The larger bones were placed first, carefully considering and stitching together the broken pieces until they reformed their original whole. It was deliberate, delicate work, with various shards so small and fragile that the slightest slip of a finger or careless exhale would see them lost to the aether. Nonetheless, Samyan proceeded quickly through the work with the practiced, familiar deftness of someone who had done this many times before.

Once the reconstruction was complete, Samyan reached over for the next part of her operation - cloth wrappings and tight leather clothing, which she used to dress her subject until all that showed was its bare, grinning face. That done, she lifted it gingerly and set it on one of the benches before resuming the process with the contents of the smaller sack. She would need to find masks before her work with these two was truly complete, but there would be more than enough time for that later.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Yuwen Fortune Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Xanth Character Portrait: Ren Van
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Xanth nodded in response to Suiken. She wanted to go. There was only one problem. Kaor wouldn't come. But if the circus is on fire she'll have to, dark Xanth reasoned. She huffed the devil on her shoulder away and got to drawing with her finger again, rubbing out the bear. In Kaor's place she drew a face with a long schnoz. She pointed to her eye, then down to the picture. Keep an eye on that one.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Yuwen Fortune Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Xanth Character Portrait: Namari Shioh Character Portrait: Takai Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Ren Van Character Portrait: Gonpo the Fisher
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#, as written by Nulix
"If you could do that, the greatest travelling circus in the land of Yune would be free," Zhaoprazu commented with a small smile. "But that would be impossible- Makoko keeps his contract in the safest place this circus has." The slippery mander leaned in to the monkey and his fruity little goblin companion so they could see into the blackness of his inhuman eyes. "His own body."

The metallic echo of a chau gong echoed through the packed passages of the tent. At the sound the temperate pace of the tent inhabitants swiftened. "You should get to your station," He informed the fire-oni. A few stagehands pushed passed Takai and Gonpo, hurrying to do the same. "Tickets just went on sale, that means mere hours until the show and a million things to do." Zhaoprazu turned back to the guild members. "I wish you luck, and if Makoko catches you and hangs you from your innards, I will weep." And with that Zhaoprazu scurried into the chaos of the big top...

***

Yuwen grimaced as Xanth drew a long nosed person in the manure between them. "Xanth, you were probably never told this but the tengu really don't like these caricatures." Yuwen went to a knee and placed a hand on her shoulder. "Don't let Yamato see this, it'll really hurt his feelings," He advised sincerely, trying to protect his friend from the deeprooted bigotry of his guildmates.

Suddenly, the sound of a gong bellowing out from the horizon. Yuwen rose as in the wake of the sound one of the many smaller tent in front of Makoko's bigtop parted it's curtain to reveal a ticket booth. Leering out at the assembled village was a woman, her hair tied back tight enough to rip the roots from her skull, and a makeup plastered smile cemented permanently on her face. "TONIGHT! THE FINAL OF THE FIVE DAY PERFORMANCES! MISTER MAKOKO'S MARVELOUS MOVING CIRCUS! FEATURING NEVER BEFORE SEEN CREATURES AND ACTS! COME EARLY FOR PRE-SHOW QUESTION SESSIONS WITH STARS OF THE STAGE POUNAMU SENSHU AND SHANG-LO!"

"Wait, that name..." Yuwen plunged his hand into his trousers and from them pulled out the folded flier for Makoko's circus. "Of course! This isn't racism, it's the world's greatest smeller, Shang-Lo!" Yuwen deducted, slapping the poster with the back of his hand. On it standing with the other performers was a noble illustration of the large nosed man. "This says he can identify a single orchid from across the stage. Alright, this settles it, during our show we all have to perform, and when we aren't we'll infiltrate, find Takai and Gonpo in Makoko's crowd, concoct a plan, free Kaor in the ensuing chaos, then get back to our show before the final curtain call, where all of us will cleanly and calmly take a bow, having outsold Makoko and won Wun back fair and square."

Yuwen looked over to the ticket seller, who already had a line of curious villagers queued. "Of course, that still means we have to put on one hell of a show." Yuwen dusted himself off and began to march back toward the village streets. "The four of us will reconvene tonight at the show!" He called back to Suiken, Xanth, and the man formerly known as Ren.

A lemur leaning against the side of a shack tracked Yuwen as he pushed a wooden stall into the square, across from ticketseller tent. "What are they planning...?" Makoko's lemur spy hummed as he bit into a plumb.

From their karts Yuwen emerged again, pulling behind him the kimono'd husk that was Namari. "Ladies and gentleman! There is simply TOO MUCH magic in this one town!" Yuwen announced, causing the line lookers. "Why see Makoko's tired old show yet another time when, instead, you could witness the GREAT GUILD FORTUNE For the same price! One night only, tickets on sale now!"

Namari reluctantly plopped her elbows down on the wood as a few curious villagers approached. Yuwen backed away, placing his hands together and mouthing a thank you to the woman. Namari paid the guild leader little mind, instead ripping off a piece of the hastily written tickets and handing it out to their first customer. The customer swallowed upon seeing the hand that held the ticket had a shackle and shattered chain hanging from the wrist but still took the ticket regardless.

***

"Do it!"

"Jump!"

"What are you, chicken?!"

"Am not!"

"Then do it!"

"AAAAH!"
The girl let out a mighty bellow, running forward off the rock-ledge and leaping out. She plunged into the river, water splashing out onto her friends her watched. A moment later the girl herself rose to the surface, a bucktoothed grin on her face. The children cheered from atop the tiny drop-off.

"You like danger, do you?" A voice called. The children turned to see out of the tall grasses Yuwen Fortune sinisterly rise. "Then you'll love the Great Gilly Fortune." Yuwen handed one a poster. "We have real warriors from Yutan and beyond."

"Real warriors?" A child repeated.

Yuwen nodded. "That's right."

"But... I don't have any money," Another child added sadly.

Yuwen scratched his chin. "How many children live in Ginori?

"I don't know, fifty?" A child replied.

Yuwen pulled out from his cloak a bustling sack of coin. "Then you give this to every kid your age you know, and keep whatever's extra. You dig?"

***

"I never knew!" The man had a wide smile beneath his sunburnt stubble. He was barely paying attention to the field he was meant to be sowing. "What are you, year of the horse?"

"Year of the goat," The woman across from him said, she too smiling. In the large field of farm workers they seemed to be the two having, by far, the most fun.

"Girl, I can't be messin' with no year of the goat! Are you kidding me?" The man exclaimed, wiping the sweat off his brow.

"YOU LIKE ASTROLOGY, DO YOU?!" Yuwen exclaimed, emerging between the two. The man screamed in horror and dropped his woven baskets of seeds as Yuwen arose. "You like the wonders of the cosmos? Then you should see the Great Carnival Fortune." Yuwen handed each a flier.

"I'm sorry sir, but me and Cao Chen already went a day ago," The woman informed.

"You've seen Makoko's circus yes, but did Makoko's circus have the great Star Seeker, holy man of the north, and visionary of the stars? " Yuwen asked. "Because ours does."

"Really?" The woman whispered, taking in Yuwen's words before raising the poster to her friend. Yuwen grinned as he knelt again, ready to creep up to the next worker.

***

The market had died down as the orange sun stretched on the horizon, but the group of patchy faced teenagers were still gathered.

"I keep thinking about that little bounce, you know- that jiggle," One breathed.

"It's the ears for me," His friend said, closing his eyes.

"So you liked what you saw?"

The teens turned to see Yuwen Fortune had again invaded their space. "Come on, it's nothing to be ashamed of," Yuwen continued, ingratiating himself to the group. "You saw an attractive beast-man, can't imagine you get much of those here, right?"

"Right," A teen said bashfully.

"You liked her, yeah?"

"Yeah," Another added.

"Yeah, she's really foxy."

Yuwen paused, debating whether to correct the teen about Lo-Muna being a rabbit beast-man, but instead dismissed the thought. From behind his back he held out a poster. "You know she'll be performing tonight- at this." Yuwen grinned at the teens leaned in. "You should be there."

***

By the time Yuwen returned to the tent the sun had set, and the guild leader was shocked to see that almost every soul in the village of Ginori had crowded into the town square, though it was unclear if they had gathered to enter Fortune's carnival or Makoko's. "Okay," Yuwen announced, approaching Sunaarashi who stood outside their tent. "I did what I could. Our circus has danger, excitement, eroticism, music, and mystery, and Makoko's will have... well, sabotage and animal cruelty. Is everyone inside ready?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Takai Character Portrait: Gonpo the Fisher
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Gonpo gulped, his eyes drooped as he instinctively leaned back from Zhaoprazu's pitch black, doll-like eyes. He slowly turned towards Takai, amidst the hustle and bustle of the circus. "Good Friend, I'm no hunter of men, but..."

Gonpo drew his hunting knife. "Makoko's a predator, and a vile one at that. He is a plague upon this community. We should do..." His eyes glinted with the sharpness of his knife. "...What is necessary."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Takai Character Portrait: Gonpo the Fisher
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Takai glanced down at Gonpo and saw what he saw in himself many years ago. Anger. Sadness. Vengeance. Was it the only way? A voice in his head whispered to him from long ago.

It wont stop this.

Killing them wont stop this, Takai.


The monkey man winced as a familiar pang of hurt pierced his heart. It was true, he couldn't see another way around this, but he had to try. For him. Takai let out a held breath and shrugged the heavy past away, giving Gonpo a wide smile, "Maybe. There might be another way to do this, though. Ruin Makoko's reputation. Make him wish he never owned this circus in the first place. If I know guys like him they hate to be a laughing stock." Takai lifted the bag of remaining nuts they hadn't planted yet and wiggled his brow, "What do you think, my friend?"

Setting

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Character Portrait: Takai Character Portrait: Gonpo the Fisher
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Gonpo looked between Takai, his bag of nuts, and back again. There was pain and plea in Takai's eyes. Even if Gonpo did not know the reason, he understood his feelings.

And Gonpo does not let good friends suffer like that.

Gonpo sheathed his knife and grabbed the bag, returning the monkey man's smile with his own. "I'm with you, Good Friend Takai. Let's do this, then get back to the others."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Samyan Zaheer
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Samyan wandered about the center of the guild's performing tent, dusting the ground with earth from a large burlap sack. It was a small enchantment, and would fade within hours, but the metaphysical familiarity which began to pervade Fortune's Clown Tent should be enough to draw more people in when the doors swung open in a few short minutes.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Captain Jensu Character Portrait: Samyan Zaheer
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#, as written by Nulix
"We just cleaned this place," Jensu complained as they spotted Samyan re-dirtying the earth for no apparent reason.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Yuwen Fortune Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Xanth Character Portrait: Lo-Muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Namari Shioh Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Captain Jensu Character Portrait: Samyan Zaheer Character Portrait: Ginchiyo Lao Tzu Character Portrait: Ren Van
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"Ready as we'll ever be," Suiken nodded. "I've got the act order written down here...." Suiken said, lifting up a scroll for Yuwen to read. "Added a bit of extra space in case anyone has a bonus act they'd want to perform. Are you ready to rally the crowd?"

He then turned to Samyan, who had just arrived at the Guild's tent. Or, to be more accurate, Suiken had sensed the aura emanating from her bag before she even stepped past the curtain. So, that's what she was up to. Needless to say, Suiken didn't approve, but this was no time to incite any inner-group conflict. Instead, the Snow Oni took a deep breath and stated. "I'm going to get my instruments tuned before I go on. Let's give this our all, everyone!"

Setting

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Character Portrait: Captain Jensu Character Portrait: Samyan Zaheer
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"Loose earth in the ring has aesthetic appeal," Samyan remarked, not looking up from her work. "Besides, in my culture sprinkling the ground with dirt before a performance gives you luck in attracting an audience. Everyone knows that."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Lo-Muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Sunaarashi
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Lo-Muna eyed Samyan warily despite having aided her in collecting the dirt she was currently spreading. So far, the Ashuran's first offer had held true and she had been released once it had been delivered. Soon, she would see if the second claim Samyan had made to her would also hold true. Glancing at Suiken's scroll, they might need it after all.

On the list was Sunaarashi and Lo-Muna's play the two had crafted together while she had worked on their costumes. It had taken up the rest of her time and she was glad she hadn't gone to scope out Makoto's tent. She had only just finished as the group had gathered and even then, Lo-Muna eyed the white qipao she wore with some disappointment. Some of the seams had been done clumsily in her haste and she had to forego the detailed embroidery she had been planning on.

Still, it looked nice from a distance. The form fitting dress reached her knees and had a long slit on both sides that nearly went up to the top of her thigh. The edges, opening, and buttons were outlined in yellow and the bell sleeves had little yellow ribbons sewn into them. The front of the Mandarin collar was the same shade of red as the ribbon in her hair.

Now, just a couple more things to take care of...

"Wait, Suiken!" Lo-Muna called out as she approached the Oni. "Speaking of music, for Sunaarashi and mine's play, would you be able to play some music for us? I think it would be too dull if we just spoke the whole time."

Setting

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Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Lo-Muna Vanhi
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Suiken his mind focusing on tuning his instruments, stirred out of his concentration when Lo-Muna approached. Taking in her words, he scratched his chin and nodded. "Hmm, of course! It shouldn't be too dissimilar to the original Gwannish Opera, so I know just what to do."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Lo-Muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Sunaarashi
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Lo-Muna beamed at him and gave a small bow in thanks, "I appreciate it, Suiken. It's a variation of Eternal Maiden on the Clouds so if you need any assistance, let us know. I'll go tell Sunaarashi so we can rehearse one last time."

With one last thanks, she turned to go back.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Yuwen Fortune Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Xanth Character Portrait: Lo-Muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Namari Shioh Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Captain Jensu Character Portrait: Samyan Zaheer Character Portrait: Ginchiyo Lao Tzu Character Portrait: Ren Van
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As Xanth, Suiken, and Yuwen discussed the possibility of fire, a though had occurred to Ren of something that would make for an interesting addition to tonight's entertainment. He started to feel very uneasy about how everything would go down, but if nothing else... Ren certainly knew he'd make for a very capable distraction.

It seemed as though they had a plan now, and as Yuwen rambled off about someone with Chi Based Smelling Powers, Ren looked back to Xanth. "If you need any help tonight Xanth, you shouldn't have any trouble finding me. Though I warn you; I will be ill equipped for anything requiring secrecy." He chuckled in that low voice he'd constructed. "Other than that, I'll soon be prepared with everything I need, just have one more thing to work on."

With that, he nodded to be Suiken and Xanth (Yuwen having already run off to set up the ticket booth) before heading back into town. He needed to find some kind of craftsman...

___________________________________________________________________________________________


'Old Man Ren' was back in town a short while later, and had already picked up a few things. Some small metal parts and pieces from a local tinkerer, a strange resin like substance from a carpenter, and bits and pieces of fire starting materials, such as a flint. He'd made his way over to a small workshop, finding a woman inside fast at work on designing what looked like a rather ornate birdhouse. "Excuse me miss." His voice bellowed. "Can I trouble you? I'd appreciate a few hours to work with some of your tools, if you wouldn't mind." The woman jolted slightly, turning around to peer at the strange figure.

"Uhh, sorry. I'm in the middle of another project for someone. You'll have to come back another time." She turned back to her work, expecting the man to leave.

Ren shifted uncomfortably. He'd expected she'd just... Stop doing that job and do his instead. That was, in hindsight, a poor assumption. Reaching into his cloak, he produced a small, hefty bag, opening it to pour a dozen gold coins onto the counter. "Surely you can spare even a few moment of your time to assist me." He pressed on.

She looked at the gold and almost immediately shook her head. "I'm sorry, that's not how I operate here. You can't pay to skip ahead, you'll just have to wait."

A heavy, agitated sigh emanated from the man, who slammed a hand down on the counter. Her eyes lingered over to it.

It was red. And covered in unholy black markings. Wait... Did they move?

"Where I come from, they have a saying about thrice denying the request of someone in need. Would you like to hear how it goes, or would you rather take the gold?"

The woman's eyes were widened in horror as she looked up to the figure. She wanted to scream or something, but realized what a mistake that could be. Instead, she acquiesced. "A-alright. But- But at least let me do some of the work. Forgive me I just... I want to make sure my tools are used correctly."

The figure nodded their veiled head slowly and let out a content sigh. "That will be acceptable. Shall we begin?"

___________________________________________________________________________________________


Hours later, Ren stepped back out onto the streets of the village, the craftswoman standing in the doorway behind him. Ren produced the bag once more, and handed her six more coins. "Your assistance is greatly appreciated miss. Thank you again." He gave a slight bow as he prepared to leave, but stopped short and turned back to the woman for a moment. "You know miss, there's another performance in town tonight. Not that Mr. Makoko's, a new one. Perhaps you'll come watch, should you have time. It will be a show to remember forever, I can promise you that much."

The frightful figure left, heading back towards another encampment. The craftswoman was, at this moment, preoccupied with trying to figure out whether or not she was invited to watch this performance, or if she'd been threatened to go. She was also trying to figure out whether or not that just made her more interested in going.

.....................................................................................


Ren continued down the street towards their tent, his staff carrying a little more weight in it now that before, landing with a slightly heavier thud. It was a bit unbalanced now, but Ren was skilled enough to continue to wield it, and in exactly the way he had intended to. Anyone that ended up near to him seemed to naturally veer away, making pathways open up quite easily for the man as he wove his way through the crowd to the tent.

He'd arrived shortly before Fortune, neither too early, nor too late, but precisely when he intended to arrive. Ren caught immediate sight of the necromancer tossing dirt on the ground for reasons that were almost certainly a crass perversion of nature, life, death, and everything one should hold as sacred. But he was also covered in curse words now, so this probably wouldn't make things any worse than they already were for him.

Yuwen entered shortly after, giving everyone a rundown on the situation, then asking if everyone was ready. "Should be good to go. Only thing I'm lacking is Master Wang, assuming you can spare him for a short while during the performances."

Suiken briefly addressed the plans he'd come up with, and indicated he'd go get his instruments before telling them to give it their all. "If all else fails Suiken, we can always host an impromptu concert."

He turned his gaze back to Yuwen, as he'd not had time to spy what Suiken had shown him. "So, what IS the order we're going in?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Yuwen Fortune Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Xanth Character Portrait: Lo-Muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Namari Shioh Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Captain Jensu Character Portrait: Samyan Zaheer Character Portrait: Ginchiyo Lao Tzu Character Portrait: Ren Van
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#, as written by Sepokku
Ginchiyo slogged out of the nearby wilderness, a tired scowl on her face. Her usual ragged clothing and cloak had been replaced with a colorful outfit adorned with feathers of every shade. Her gait was unusual, her knees bent as if she were trying to sneak behind a particularly short box. Pursing her lips and rolling her tongue, she made a small chirruping noise; which prompted a rooster with scarlet red feathers and a bright blue comb to follow her out of the wilds.

She let out another small chirrup, which caused a long-legged flamingo to tip-toe after her. A third chirrup caused a third bird to fly in; this one was a dark black raptor with dark red fake eyes on its wings. A fourth chirrup, another oddly colored bird; then a fifth, and a sixth. Before long she had a procession of oddly-colored birds following her or resting on her shoulders; one particularly flamboyant bird had made an honest-to-Gods nest in her hair and was silently looking around.

"Can't believe I'm doing this..." Ginchiyo grumbled as she awkwardly continued her awkward walk into the tent, the eyes of quite a few townsfolk on her. She arrived just in time to hear Ren ask their leader a very important question.

"So, what IS the order we're going in?"

Without waiting for Yuwen to answer, the procession of wild birds made their way into the tent, following their temporary leader, not one of them entirely silent. Ginchiyo pursed her lips and let out three more awkward chirrups. As if on cue, all but the bird on her head scattered to roost in the tent. "I'm first." She locked eyes with Yuwen as if daring him to disagree. Seeming to take offense, the bird roosting in her hair began to flap its wings. The rest of the birds in the tent began to mirror its aggravation; the rooster even ruffled its feathers and let out an angry "COCK-A-DOODLE-DOO"

"Alright! Alright. We go last. We'll go last!" Seeming to understand, the bird on her head settled down and began to clean its feather with its beak. In unison, the rest of the birds calmed down and returned to whatever they had been doing. Ginchiyo let out a defeated sigh and sat down so that both her knees were to her chest. She rested her chin on her knees and wrapped both her arms around them.

"If anyone laughs, I'll make sure every one of these birds flies over you after they've been fed."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Yuwen Fortune Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Captain Jensu Character Portrait: Ginchiyo Lao Tzu
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#, as written by Nulix
Yuwen observed the crowd of cocks surrounding Ginchiyo and adjusted his robe. "You really are a wildling, aren't you?" Yuwen smirked at the woman, not bothering to ask where she'd been since they'd entered the farming town. He leaned toward her. "No chance you can get Makoko's pets to revolt against him, can you?"

Suddenly Jensu re-entered through the stage-curtain, a flash of the crowd beyond spotted as they entered. "Everyone is inside... but theres a lot of empty space."

"Damn it," Yuwen cursed. "I guess we'll have to put on a show good enough to make people leave Makoko's early. You know, make it... extra irresistible."

Yuwen turned back to his guild, gave an enthusiastic thumbs up, before facing the curtain and marching forward, through the fabric and onto the stage.

***

The air in the Great Guild's tent was stale, and summer sweat lingered on the moustaches of the assembled crowd. They stood and sat across the floor of the tent, waiting for the show to begin. Just as boredom began to take over a figure emerged- a figure many in the crowd recognized, for he had personally sold most of them on the show earlier that day... only, something about him was different. He wore a white-robe, and above his lip were two long-thing tendrils of hair hanging down. The man suddenly awoke, and revealed to the crowd pupilless eyes. They gasped in horror.

"Fear... I smell fear among you," Yuwen began to speak in a voice that was not his own. "I am the mystical Star Seeker, holy man of the north, and visionary of fate. Tonight you will be entertained, intertwined, and erotically exfoliated," He predicted, wisely. "We have for you performers from every corner of the map, and masters from every race known to man..."

Yuwen rose a hand to his heart as if having a vision. "My first guess... I met in the frozen wastes of Onium, singing a song as thousands of children drowned to death on an ocean-bound frigate... he is the great bard of our time, he sings... to keep from crying... allow me to introduce... Suiken!"

There was a sputter of confused claps as Suiken was given his cue...

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Yuwen Fortune Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Lo-Muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Namari Shioh Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Captain Jensu Character Portrait: Samyan Zaheer Character Portrait: Ginchiyo Lao Tzu Character Portrait: Ren Van
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Suiken too couldn't help but share a confused glance with the crowd as Yuwen gave his...unique introduction. But he soon steeled himself and his attentions drifted elsewhere. A state where nothing was there but he and the crowd. He sat down and placed his instruments down in front of him. While percussion was his instrument of choice, he opted to use a guzheng. The curtain behind him closed and everything grew dark aside from a small lantern placed on stage to illuminate the Snow Oni.

The guzheng came first and by the time his fingers plucked upon the first note, a bit of recognition and nostalgia coated the hearts of the audience present. The opening notes were reminiscent of an old jingle many remembered from their youths to differing degrees. It was an old Yunish tune that didn't see much circulation anymore. What many adults heard as children were only a small snippet of the full tune, even the elders in the small crowd had only heard it a sparse few times. Only to the children and youth present was the song completely new, and even to them, its jaunty, joyful tune was captivating, especially once he sang.

Look at them go! Look at the carp go!
All around, to and fro! Up against the river's flow!
Swim, swim, swim strong fishes! The place where only the brave know!
O'er the deadly waterfall! Up against the river's flow!


Behind him, the darkened curtains suddenly lit up via lanterns on the opposite side! They illuminated shadowy figures, puppets shaped like fish, each carved by the oni bard himself in preparation for tonight and puppeteered by some of Suiken's guildmates. They danced along similarly carved out shadow puppets made to resemble waves, held along by a carefully manipulated rope. Slowly they swam, simulating a struggle...and before the audience knew it, where there were once at least a dozen fish puppets, their number soon dwindled down to about half of that.

Some would call it a foolish thing!
A fruitless to be sure!
Determined as they were, they did not lose faith
O'er the deadly waterfall, their quest was one most pure!


Behind him, the fish puppets dwindled to all but three. It was then that the lanterns behind the curtain dimmed and the gleeful song's tone shifted to one of melancholy. The three remaining fish appeared to struggle as they attempted to swim up the river. One hand remained on the guzheng while his other subtly reached behind him where his Ice-Fang mallets sat. It could barely be called a slightly of hand as the audience was so entrenched in the song and the puppetry that they didn't even notice his subtle movements.

Using his own manipulation of the mallet's chi, he caused a chill to dart through the air, surprising the crowd as it was in the middle of summer.

With respect to their fallen brethren...the remaining carp trekked on
Through the harsh winter winds...and the dimming of the sun
The three who remained...kept each other warm with love and song
Their journey was close to its end. Once the next day dawned...


The song suddenly and without warning picked up its pace, Suiken's fingers gliding across the strings of the guzheng, note after note pouring forth, the oni sweating from his forehead despite the frigid air he had dispersed in the surrounding area.

At Dawn! At dawwwwwn!
They could see blue all across the river at dawn!
Look at them go! look at the carps go!
Against the Raging River's floooow!


The last three fish puppets appeared to struggle across the shadow-waterfall i nthe background. But with one last push, the two carps trailing behind used their strength to push the carp in the lead forward. Giving it just the edge it needed to cross up the river and mature into...

A dragon! A dragon of spring!
It brought with it a great warmth, enveloping everything!


As he sang, the most massive puppet yet...and the one with the most time put into it emerged. The head of a great dragon. With another subtle motion, Suiken shot a blast of his Natsuta palm blast into the air. The wintery breeze of his mallets now vanished as Suiken continued.

With one bellow the frost fell and he melted the snow
Rising above the deadly waterfall, ignoring the Raging River's flow!
Wisely he spoke to his kin and bid them return to the sea.
He saw the top of the world and knew how everything came to be...
And one day...


The puppet of the dragon turned to look down on his carp brethren.

You too shall see...

He concluded with a sweeping rhythm across the guzheng, as lanterns were lit where the dragon's eyes sat, constantly growing dimmer before brightening and growing dimmer once again, giving them an almost ethereal quality. It was now that Suiken turned to the audience directly speaking to them. "It with great honor that I welcome you all! To the Great Guild's Circus!" he stated with a bow.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lo-Muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Sunaarashi
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Lo-Muna’s hands nervously tugged at the white sash around her waist. The blue silk shimmered in the soft light of the torch beside her and she found herself picking at the threads already coming undone. She sighed. There wasn’t much that could be done in so little time.

On the opposite side of the stage, Sunaarashi tugged on the suit he’d tucked away somewhere, and nodded to Lo-Muna. It was time for her entrance.

She gave a small nod and began to proceed onstage. The crowd’s murmurs quieted as their eyes focused on the beauty lit by the soft glow of the flames around her. Wordlessly, she dropped to her knees and bowed her head down to the audience.

“My good people!” she cried out, head still bowed to the floor. “I beg of you, pretend you never saw me!”

She looked up, the light of the flames focused on her face.

“I have come far and yet still, there is much danger,” she explained as curious whispers could be heard from the growing crowd. “There is a kingdom not far from here whose people have suffered for quite a long time. It was not always like this however. They once thrived and had bountiful harvests. They feasted without care and knew their blood would run far. That is.. That is until I was born.”

Lo-Muna slammed her hands upon the stage and a gust of wind blew out from beneath her, causing the fires to dim and the stage to darken. The reflective sheen of her hanfu helped keep her in sight of the audience.

“As I grew older, the number of misfortunes too, grew in number. My people began to suffer and I found myself thrust into the world.”

She spun around, arms wide, and another gust of wind came out. The fires on the nearby poles nearly went out but then suddenly sprang back to life, even brighter than before.

“The gods had spoken to my people, you see. They told them that once I left, peace would resume in the kingdom. What they did not know was that it only left them, because that misfortune would chase after me.”

At her words, the fires flared again and the shadows behind her seemed to loom over Lo-Muna. It was almost as though…

“No!” Lo-Muna cried out as she whirled around, the shadows taking form. “They’ve found me!”

Lo-Muna dodged the shadows with ease but she made a big show of landing on the stage, one hand on the ground, panting as though she had exerted herself.

“I cannot put the rest of you in danger,” she asserted as she gave a small smile to the audience, making eye contact with a few. “Farewell.”

She then leapt off to the side, out of the audience’s view, to where Sunaarashi stood waiting.

“And now it’s yours,” Lo-Muna said with a grin and her hands on her hips.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Takai Character Portrait: Gonpo the Fisher
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Simultaneous with the festivities in the relatively diminutive tent of the Great Guild, a far more extravagant celebration was commencing opposite them. Lines of customers from the village and beyond still awaited permission to be let inside and join in the most highly anticipated show in all of Yune. On a normal night, there wouldn't be a single empty seat left in the tent, but tonight was an odd exception. The unexpected draw from it's smaller competitor gave way to a couple of rows of empty seats, not that it was entirely noticeable among the sea of people still excitedly waiting inside and the flash and pomp of the opening ceremony going underway.

Behind the scenes, however....things weren't looking as bright and cheerful. Another long line was beginning to form at Makoko's Circus. One that did not seem to bode well. Acrobats, clutching their stomachs, on the verge of soiling themselves. Archers, clutching at their mouths to keep from vomiting. Attendants running to and fro amidst the chaos, worrying if a bug had broken out amongst the performers as they attempted to get their doctors to ascertain the nature of the illness. The fact that some semblance of order remained, even hanging by a thread was a testament to how much of a well-oiled machine Makoko's Circus was.

Eventually, the cause of the problem became all the more clear. It was nuts. No, literally, the very same nuts sold at concessions. Upon discovering this, the items were quickly replaced with fresh candied fruits as they attempted to sort out just how their legion of prestigious chefs and gardeners, handpicked by Makoko himself from his travels throughout the land could make such an error.

The Hunter of Tengu was one of two who had an inkling of what happened. How Makoko's rivals had interfered. "Poison, huh...?" he sighed derisively, lounging in the grass, idly watching panic begin to brew within his current place of employment. "Not very sporting." He sat up, brandishing his club, going to search for the two infiltrators.