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Takao Eguchi

Mid-Level dig supervisor for Ten-Shi Zaibatsu's Site Nine

1.7320508075689 · 200 views · located in Iskjerne Bay

a character in “The Multiverse”, as played by barney_fife

Description




Name: Takao Eguchi (江口孝雄)
Age: 31

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Race: Human, Taiyou
Gender: Male
Age: 31
Birthday: Winter,
Birthplace: Minami-Shii, Sector Two, Niihama City, Niihama

Education: His Imperial Majesty Nobuo Takayama University, four year degree -Xenoarchaeology
Languages spoken: Taiyou (Native), Anquietas (Poor)
Occupation: Site Supervisor for Ten-Shi Zaibatsu's Site Nine dig.

So begins...

Takao Eguchi's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Seno Miyagi Character Portrait: Sigurd Hring Character Portrait: Takao Eguchi

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Takao briefly shot a glance back towards Seno in slight confusion, while he had every confidence that the Science director knew what he was doing, he couldn't help but consider himself nervous at what Seno was trying to do. The man only spoke Taiyou, and a little bit of the Aschen languages, and he knew that wouldn't help him here. One last glance, Takao looked Seno directly in the eyes, before frowning. "Kore honkina no?" He asked, before Seno passed him a small book. "Kore wa karera no kotoba ni yakudachimasu." Seno said, putting a hand on the man's shoulder, and offering a nod.

"Anata wa kono tame ni, atarashī jobu o shutoku shimasu." Seno added, patting the man on the shoulder, before turning to Hrollaug. "I want to see him in one week, to learn his progress, can you do this?"

Seno offered one last farewell to the young Takao before setting off back into the interior of the cave. The miners were slowly beginning to disperse, being replaced by self defense personnel, more of which arrived via the elevator shaft, they were carrying sandbags, and they began to set them up in semicircles around the interior of the cavern, one of the Self Defense personnel were setting up a Type M2 12.7mm Machinegun near the elevator shaft.

While Takao didn't understand the King, or Hrollaug, he was smart enough to know that they wanted him to follow them, so he complied once he took the book from Seno, and offered one last glance back towards the Taiyou soldiers in the other room.

As they walked out of the chamber, the Self-Defense personnel on the other end made no efforts to cross the threshold, rather they maintained their positions, with their guns lazily trained on the opening, watching the Viking guards on the other side carefully.

Takao watched Hrollaug closely, and made an effort to keep pace with their movements, though the much larger armed men made him nervous, without the protection of the Self Defense Force, Takao was vulnerable, and swallowing hard, he wondered if Seno made a mistake. But he trained for this, he went to school for this, Xenoarchaeology was a study of his, and here he was, putting every bit of that grueling coursework to practice.

Coming up on the skeletons, Takao slowly approached, but looked deferring to Sigurd, and Hrollaug. If allowed closer, he would make his way to the skeletons. He reached into his pocket, and produced a small liquid filled stick. He broke it with a snap, then shook the stick for a few moments as it began to glow a brilliant green.

He held the stick up to the skeletons to get a better look, and pursed his lips briefly. They were Taiyou alright; he recognized the collar pips, the uniforms, though they appeared to be very old.

"Hmm..." He looked the uniforms up and down, they appeared to be pre-ascension. The insignia dated back to the Taiyou Empire's infancy.

Takao's line of thought was suddenly interrupted, however, as Hrollaug tasted the contents of one of the cartridges. He tried not to laugh, instead he kept a straight face, that turned into a slight grimace.

"Dangan." He said, pointing to the shell casing. Slowly he reached down to pick it up, noting the corroded bullet. He thought for a moment, then held it up. "This." He said in broken english. "Goes to this." He said, with his thick accent mincing his words while he pointed to the rifle. "Raifuru" He said, slowing down. "Rai-fu.... Rifle" While he didn't take the skeleton's rifle, he brought his hands up like he was holding one, jerking his hands and saying "Bang!" Like he was firing it. "Like arrow." He tried to explain. "It shoot, bang! Kill enemy." He tried to explain, before looking down at the soldier, and flipping through the dictionary. "Warrior, Taiyou, very old, be here long time." Noting some of the viking skeletons, he saw something peculiar in the green light. The rotted armor he was wearing had several small holes in it, the skeleton was flat on it's back, like whatever hit it had thrown it back, embedded in the skeleton's back, lodged inside what was left of one of the ribs was a deformed, and mangled bullet. He pointed to the skeleton. "Gomen'nasai, he kill your friend, humble sorry." He tried to explain, pointing back to one of the Taiyou skeletons, that was propped near the back of the cave, the remains of his mummified hand over his belly, where a seax was embedded.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Seno Miyagi Character Portrait: Sigurd Hring Character Portrait: Takao Eguchi

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After the king and his closest men had left the chamber, jarl Omar the One-Eye would turn and nod to jarl Evan Skjalsson, who nodded back. Together they orchestrated the Heathen forces, calling their archers, javelins and axe throwers to lower their weapons and pull back. Jarl Omar took control over the shield wall and ordered them to hold their positions until all of the Nordic troops behind them had seperated into different tunnels which all led to the same chamber closer to the cave entrance that would eventually lead them out of the cave. After the shirtless warriors made their exit, then the lightly armored vikings would leave behind them. Then as the Norse soldiers in blue robes started to go, Jarl Evan took one last glimpse at the opening between the Taiyou and the Norse, and then nodded again to Omar before leaving.

Jarl Omar nodded back, but remained unmoving at the shield wall with the rest of his phalanx. The viking's large round shields, made from wooden planks and gripped from the center behind an iron boss, along with their heavily padded armor and thick fur clothing would guard the exits and protect Evan and his leidang during their departure. Omar the One-Eye focussed on the Taiyou in front of the giant hole. He watched as more of the Self-Defense personnel arrived carrying sandbags, and watched for a moment to see what they were doing. "Okay, let's go" he whispered while patting the man's chest beside him. As the remaining vikings pulled back and started to leave, Omar watched the Taiyou guards begin to setup a small wall using the sandbags. Assuming they were just going to close the hole, he turned and exited the cave chamber following the rest of the shielders, looking back one last time to catch a glimpse of the M2 machine gun before leaving the chamber.

Meanwhile the king had led his companions into another cave chamber for reasons unknown to them. But as he brought their attentions to the skeletons, it soon became clear. Takao Eguchi would look down at Prince Hrollaug then up to King Sigurd, both of whose eyes were now fixed on him, as if looking for insight. Takao approached the skeletons and pulled out a neon green glowstick, snapping the capsule inside of it to produce a florescent glow. Hrollaug would stand up slowly, towering over Takao while gazing silently. Sigurd watched quietly from a stone pedestal across the chamber, while Hrollaug's guards would place a hand on their weapons, looking at Takao with sudden awe. "Hmm..." Takao hummed while stepping past Hrollaug and waving the glowstick over the skeletons. Hrollaug stared quietly from behind his metal helmet, wiping the taste from his mouth with his arm sleeve as Takao examined the remains for clues. "Dangan," he said whilst pointing to the metal casing before picking it up.

"This... Goes to this," Takao said in broken English, struggling to translate his thoughts into words which they could understand as he pointed to the rifle and imitated what it could do. "Rifle... Bang! Like arrow," he said as he pretended to fire it. "It shoot, bang! Kill enemy." Sigurd and Hrollaug watched and listened carefully. Neither of them had seen a rifle before during the Viking Age, but they did have experience with Frankish crossbows which operated similarly using a trigger mechanism. Takao flipped through the book in his hand, searching for the right words to say. None of the Norsemen in the chamber were literate, but King Sigurd took notice of Takao's ability to read as he shined his glowstick over the pages in front of him. "Warrior, Taiyou, very old. Be here long time" he explained before examining the viking skeletons. He showed them the holes in the viking's armour and explained to them what had happened. "Gomen'nasai, he kill your friend, humble sorry" he tried to explain.

"Komma," the king said before turning and climbing up into yet another tunnel. Hrollaug glanced at the glowstick and then at Takao before following before his father up towards the cave entrance. His guards would wait for Takao to go first before following him. Once at the narrow entrance, King Sigurd was greeted by the soldiers he had appointed to guard it. He ordered one of them to fetch some warm clothes, and the guard immediately carried out his orders, running up the stone stairs towards the blistering fog. The blizzard was unbearable and windy, the stairway being the only surety of the presence of the watchtower up on the mountain, which could not be seen from the cave entrance. "Min konge, du skal gå nu. Blizzard bliver værre!" another guard at the entrance would say as he pulled three Icelandic horses over to the king. "Holde," Sigurd motioned for him to wait as he turned to look back at his son and the others, as if to see if they had followed him.

As the storm ravaged on, the wind between the rocks and mountains was louder than words, so King Sigurd had to raise his voice to be heard. "Vi passar inte alla!" he shouted as the guard handed him the reigns. "Du og prinsen går. Jeg vil vente her," the guard said, grabbing his belongings from the back of the horse's saddle before walking down towards the narrow cave entrance. King Sigurd looked at the horses, petting one of their noses before mounting the saddle on its back. He climbed up on to the black horse and waited, still holding the reigns of the other two horses, one golden brown and one silverish grey. All three horses had black hair, but the brown horse had a white nose with white socks on each leg. These particular horses were of a larger more stocky breed, with almost woolly hair and bearded chins adapted to the harsh cold. It was obvious they were bred to pull the viking's large sleds through the snow and over the hills. Sigurd's black horse was more built for treading over rocky terrain than for riding into battle. It was not a war horse, but a burdening horse capable of carrying heavily armoured vikings, some of whom were over six feet tall and when in full attire weighed 300 pounds. Such toughbred horses breathed frost and frigid smoke, clawing at the icey rock with their thick black hooves and hairy socks.

Within a minute or so, the guard who ran to the tower would return with a bundle of thick furs and weatherproof sealskins. The skins had been groomed and conditioned using bone scrapers to close their pores, therefore making them both waterproof and windproof. Hrollaug would approach one of the horses, standing almost at eye level with it. He pet the horse's neck before taking the reigns from his father. "These horses are too small," Hrollaug said boldly as he looked over at the other horse. Sigurd smirked before turning to look at the other guards who were stationed at Iskjerne's cave entrance. "You must follow the tracks before they fade," one of the guards said to his king. Sigurd nodded again before nudging his Icelandic horse into the storm. The guard with the animal skins would walk over to Takao and offer him a thick white furry robe made from polar bear hide, motioning for him to pick a horse. "Det er en storm framover. Følg dem, de tar deg til den store salen" the guard said quickly. "He says there's a storm up ahead. We have to move quickly," Hrollaug translated, again motioning for Takao to choose one of the horses. Hrollaug's voice was deep and loud, his apparel making him look almost like a physical hairy metal demon as he held the reigns out to Takao.

After Takao chose a horse, Hrollaug would mount the remaining horse and then look over to Takao before speaking. "If we follow the tracks, it will lead us to the great hall," Hrollaug said loudly, talking over the wind while breathing heavily behind his mask. With that, he brought his horse into an ambling gait and it would prance through the blanket of snow into the blistering cold fog ahead, following the fresh tracks left behind by his father. It was at this time when all the vikings who were still inside the tunnels began to reassemble and gather back into formation. Jarl Omar and Jarl Evan would meet up inside a different chamber closer to the cave entrance, but still underground. There were rock wagons, wheel barrels of sand, buckets, benches and Norse mining tools laying all around the chamber as the two companies entered the chamber from two different tunnels. "Kongen gjorde det sikkert ud," Evan said in a hurry as his soldiers gathered into a circle around him. "Der er mennesker med våben i disse huler," Omar responded while looking at those around him. "Tror du de vil utgjøre en trussel mot oss?" one of the vikings in blue robes would ask. "Jeg vet ikke, men de arbeiderne så redd" Evan replied. "Hva nå?" Omar asked, setting his shield down before resting on its edge. "Me levimme. Tee itsemme näkymättömiksi. Sitten odotamme," one of the others suggested. Evan and Omar looked at one another, then nodded silently in agreement.

And so it was that Sigurd Hring, the Dano-Swedish king of the Svears and Geats travelled through the blizzardy snow, pushing against the frostbitten winds through the thick hazey white curtain of fog and ice along a fading horse trodden trail back to the Ring Fortress of Iskjerne Bay, followed by his oldest son and those who accompanied him. King Sigurd had agreed to bring Takao Eguchi with him back to their Nordic settlement in order that Takao might learn from them in exchange for medicine and trade goods. But the Taiyou ambassador had provided Sigurd with so much more than just material objects. He could read words from a book, show them the Sun people's technology, and explain things to Sigurd that the Norsemen would probably never understand otherwise. King Sigurd knew that there was a good chance that Takao was really being sent there just to gather information and send it back to the Taiyou, and would likely betray him sooner or later. But what choice did the king have? As he neared the outer wall of the settlement, Sigurd stopped by the two small gate towers in front, looking up at the guards on the wall while fumbling with the butane liter in his belt pouch.

"Halt! Nogen nærmer sig porten!" a guard in the gate tower shouted. "Það er konungur, opnaðu hliðið," he added before waving for those behind the wall to raise the spiked gate. As the gate was lowered, King Sigurd's horse trotted into the first open yard of the ring fortress, stopping before he dismounted it and handed the reigns to one of the slaves. "Ta med mig dödens ängel och en smed," Sigurd commanded before walking up the tiered hill to the next level of dirt enclosed by yet another higher inner wall, similar in structure to the outer wall. The messenger quickly ran inside, carrying out his orders as Hrollaug and the others approached the ring fort.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sigurd Hring Character Portrait: Takao Eguchi

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The young man listened quietly to the king as he instructed him to follow. The word Komma, he was instructing Takao to follow him into the next chamber. The Taiyou man did so without hesitation, but also noticed that Hrollaug was eying the glow stick, so out of humility, Takao handed the stick out to him, the light would eventually fade, and the stick would be useless, so Takao thought it would be a suitable even if brief novelty.

If Hrollaug took the stick, Takao would turn and follow the King, and his men up towards the entrance of the cave, making sure to keep his footing on the damp rock. It seemed this side of the caves were much colder than the other side he was at, and he was seeing light at the end of the caverns, which meant that this wasn't an underground civilization.

The closer they got to the light at the exit, the more agitated and confused Takao would become. "Rikai dekimasen!" Takao called out, greeted by a gust of frigid wind that whipped through his baggy clothes, causing him to bring his arms close to his body, and let out a shiver. "Samuidesu!" The Taiyou called out, stepping into the blizzard, but quickly shrinking back into the cave for a moment. "Samuidesu!" He cried out again, wrapping his arms around his chest, pulling the fabric of his reflective vest, and his Tobi outfit closer. His footwear offered little protection against the snow, and he could feel his feet becoming cold, as well as the icy wind whipping at his face, and through his hard hat. Now that they were in daylight, Takao's dirty face, pale skin, and odd facial structure was clear to see, the glow stick also did not seem to glow anymore, being overpowered by the light of their surroundings.

Takao stood there in silence, shivering in the brutal cold until someone handed him some seal skins, and fur. Takao offered a brief nod of his head before speaking. "Arigatōgozaimasu." He said in a grateful tone, pulling the warm furs close to him, and shivering slightly.

The next strange thing were the horses, the Taiyou worker looked quizzically at the beasts of burden, he was completely unsure how to handle this situation, and that much was obvious as he cantered his head at the horse before him. But that confusion slowly dissipated when he saw Sigurd climb onto his horse, so the man followed suit, scrambling up and failing at least twice, before getting his footing, and pulling himself on top of the horse, unsuredly taking the reigns and looking towards Sigurd first, then Hrollaug for guidance.

The man had absolutely no clue how to operate this strange creature, and sat awkwardly inside the saddle. He watched Sigurd walk off into the storm with the horse, and so he turned back to Hrollaug, watching his movements and trying to mimic them, as they moved through the storm.

During the trek the man mostly kept to himself, not saying much, if anything to the men accompanying him. Thoughts were racing through his head, however. They must have crossed through some kind of portal to another realm, or another dimension. This would be invaluable information to relay back to Seno, and the Science Ministry so they could follow up. This Special region would be invaluable to the Taiyou Empire, enriched by it's cultures, and possible wealth. The young Xenoarchaeologist smiled under his furs, and skins, but otherwise followed the other's lead, unless directly spoken to, he would remain quiet.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sigurd Hring Character Portrait: Takao Eguchi Character Portrait: Bjorn Ironside Character Portrait: Hrafn-Floki Character Portrait: Lagertha Character Portrait: Harald Fairhair

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Planet Earth... 770 CE.
Kattegat, somewhere between Sweden and Denmark...


Everything was dark and quiet for a moment. Then the screeching sound of a metal lock could be heard followed by the sound of a wooden plank being slid to the side just before the large oakwood arched twin doors opened. In walked the silhouette of a 20-year-old prince named Ragnar Sigurdsson, known as Ragnar Lodbrok to the people of Kattegat, a powerful jarl and second in line to the throne of the Dano-Swedish kingdom. As he entered the Great Hall at Kattegat, his average height and stocky frame could be seen cascaded by the sunlight as he entered the doorway. Inside the Great Hall was empty apart from there being three other people. Ragnar's wife, the renouned Princess Lagertha, seemed quite surprised to see him. She was walking around the Great Hall, cradling their newborn son by the central fireplace and nursing him on her nipple while her house servant Hermala added wood to the fire. Hermala's apron was covered in blood and there was a pile of wet blankets next to a water bucket beside one of the straw covered wooden beds. Lagertha had just recently went into labor, and Hermala had delivered the baby just minutes before Ragnar walked in.

"Lagertha, I thought you would be in bed" Ragnar said with amazement. The beautiful blonde haired princess would walk over to him slowly, still nursing the baby in her arms with a straight expression. "Back so soon Ragnar? I thought you would be in Iceland by now" she replied with a bit of sarcasm, before showing him their new baby boy. Ragnar's eyes lit up as he placed his large calloused hand on the infant's forehead. "He has your eyes," Lagertha said with a slight smile. Ragnar's eyes would tear up for a moment as he stroked his thumb over the newborn's cheek. "Can I...?" Ragnar seemed speechless as Lagertha smiled, handing the baby over to her husband. Ragnar would cradle the infant in his arms, making baby noises as the tiny child giggled and reached up to touch his beard. "What will you call him?" Hermala asked as she continued to clean up, unfolding a clean fur blanket and draping it over the bed. Lagertha would look up to Ragnar for an answer, but Ragnar kept his eyes on his son, smiling in a way that the princess had never seen before. After a moment, Lagertha turned to answer her house servant. "Bjorn," she said with a smile. "His name is Bjorn..."

Jarl Ragnar played with his son some more before handing baby Bjorn back to his mother. "So what happened? Where is your brother?" Lagertha asked inquisitively. "I don't know," the young prince responded. "There were thirteen ships, only eight of them returned," he explained. "We travelled west, but got lost in a storm. The last I saw, my brother's ship had drifted south. I tried to stay in sight of him but the waves were too big," he said quietly, sitting down by the fireplace while looking into the flames. "Well, your brother is a great warrior, I'm sure he will find his way home" Lagertha assured as she wrapped her baby in warm blankets and set him into a straw basket to fall asleep. "My father went with him," Ragnar added, causing the princess to sharpen her eyebrows. "To Iceland?!" she asked rhetorically, heightening her voice with confusion. "Aye, one of Jarl Skjal's boys was with us too" he continued. "Oh and I suppose you were just going to leave me here to run Kattegat all by myself?" Largetha placed her hands on her hips angrily. "I thought you wanted to be queen," he said sarcastically. "Not if you are dead," she retorted back.

"I am here now my love," Ragnar said as he stood up to hug and kiss her. But the princess stepped back and scoffed at him. "Only because you got lost," she said, walking back over to the bed and sitting down on the edge of it next to the baby's basket. "Besides, I don't need your help Ragnar, I have Bjorn now." Ragnar would roll his eyes, looking up to the domed ceiling before looking back down at her. "She is a shield-maiden," Hermala butted in, coming to Lagertha's defense. Ragnar bit his lip and walked over to Lagertha, sitting down next to her on the edge of the bed. "I know you are my love. You are the best fighter in Kattegat," he assured her. "Maybe not as good as you," she said with a smile before kissing his cheek, then suddenly grabbing his testicles firmly. "But if you ever leave me like that again I will cut your balls off... Understood?" Lagertha's tone was flirtatious, quiet and sweet, but not unthreatening. Ragnar gasped and swallowed, nodding silently to show her that he understood. "Good," she said with a smile, letting go of his nuts before kissing him again, this time on his lips.

Meanwhile...
Planet Gaia, year unknown...
Iskjerne Bay, south of the cave entrance...


It was winter time, and the Jol holidays were coming to an end. There was a blizzard sweeping through the Arctic circle which would cover the realm with frost and pale snowfall as it headed north to south, originating in the frigid most region before dissipating as it ventured south into warmer climates. A thick mist of icey rain provided little visibility for those outside at the Norse settlement, with temperatures dropping to -20 degrees below zero, enough to freeze a man's lungs or cause frostbite. The rivers were frozen solid, and even the salty waves leading to the sea were slowly beginning to freeze. Thin ice sheets covered the whole bay area, creating a barricade to prevent all sea vessels from going in or out. The Norsemen were now landlocked, with large glaciers and icesheets forming all around their settlement. There was no easy way into or out of Iskjerne now, as all the roads and passages had been blocked off by towering ice walls, some as tall and as thick as mountains as the blizzard pressed on, the only protection from its rime ironically being those very same mountains and ice walls. But all was not lost, for deep within the heart of the storm was a Norse settlement that was built to deal with the cold weather.

As Prince Hrollaug and Takao Eguchi rode their winterbred horses through the thick snow trail heading back to the settlement, Hrollaug would glance up and point to the fortress, still holding the fading glowstick in his hand. "Look, there it is" he said as they approached the gate, their horses tolting out of the blinding fog. There before them was a tall wooden fence standing 20 feet off the ground, made of upright wooden poles which had been buried vertically side by side going 10 feet into the dirt below them. The fence was large and round, each pole being roughly 24 inches in diameter, curving on both sides of the large wooden gateway entrance to form a wooden circle around the entire village. The gateway itself was flanked on either side by tall wooden towers, each one having a flagpole and waving the white Raven Banner, its flapping cloths in the wind giving the raven logos an almost alive feel as Hrollaug and Takao approached the gate.

The gate itself was made of wooden spikes, fashioned simply using thick ropes as a pully system to keep the spikes raised when the gate was closed. This helped to protect the entrance from charging cavalry, or from any unwanted predators that may wish to enter. As the gate was lowered, it doubled into a ramp, allowing Hrollaug and Takao to pass through unharmed.

As they entered the village, the gatekeepers and some of the guards posted in the towers would shoot ackward glances at Takao, and to the faded glowing object in Hrollaug's hand. But nobody dared to question them as Prince Hrollaug pointed to the stable, motioning for Takao to follow him there. The stable was also of a simple construct, all-natural made from wooden beams, piled rocks and earth. There was a feeder where the horses could eat, a well where they could drink, and several straw-filled horsebeds where they could be groomed and find protection from the snow. The stable's rooftop was thatched together using grass and straw, while the stone walls that supported it were further reinforced with earth and mud to keep it insulated. Despite being very simple in their appearance, the Norsemen were apparently excellent builders and craftsmen both economically and architecturally. Takao may have even noticed that the wooden framed open entrance to the stable was finely crafted and had been carved by hand, depicting a sort of Jelling style artwork showing many horse-like figures and other animals hidden within the leafy knotwork, vinework and serpentine 3-dimensional designs which could have only been carved by an expert woodsmith. Next to the stable was a wooden manger with horned woolly sheep, bearded goats, pigs and other livestock which the Norsemen had brought with them on their ships. Just outside of the manger was a herd of reindeer which, despite the frigid weather, seemed unaffected by the temperature as they walked around freely and grazed on the moss or whatever mushrooms they could find buried beneath the snow.

As the large prince dismounted his golden brown horse, he noticed that the light from the glowstick had died out. He tried to shake it up again, but to no avail. Finally, he tried to snap it like Takao had done. Hrollaug underestimated his own strength, however, snapping the plastic canister in half with ease. The clear liquid would spill out on to the ground, causing Hrollaug to sniff his fingertips and taste them. "Ptew!" he spat on the ground, before looping the horse's reigns over one of the posts. "We will be safe here," Hrollaug told Takao before pointing up the hill to another circular wall-like structure. On the next tier ahead of them was an inner wall, this time made of bricks and stone. This wall was not as tall as the first wall, only about six feet high, but it was much thicker with an area big enough to ride a wagon on. There were many stations setup along the wall where troops could garrison incase of an attack, and just as before there was a spiked wooden gateway with two flanking stone towers bearing white triangular flags waving the raven banner. There seemed to always be two flags posted together, or two ravens flying over each entrance to the Norse settlement, in any given location. "Huginn and Munnin," Hrollaug said to Takao, pointing up to the raven banners as they walked up the pathway towards the inner-gate.

As the gate was lowered, Hrollaug would lead Takao beyond the circular stone wall into the interior settlement where all the Norse houses and finer buildings were located. There were four different farmsteads neatly organized with an arrangment of four houses per square, all of them located off to the side of the road around a third interior wall-like structure. It seemed that the Norsemen had designed their settlement in the shape of many concentric rings, each level being built on tiered ground which their workers had lifted up using the dirt that was already there to begin with. In just a couple month's time, the Norse had created an artificial landscape, turning the largest hill at Iskjerne Bay into a decent sized ring-fortress, which Takao and Hrollaug were now entering. There were twenty homes in all on the second tier, but they were longer and larger than what Takao was probably expecting. Each house could accomodate up to 50 people, including the Norsemen's pets and slaves. The rooftops were peaked sharply all the way to the ground so that any snowfall would not collect on top of them, but instead build up around the base of the houses to help keep them insulated. This gave the front of each house a triangular look, and each one had a wooden frame made from two planks which peaked at the rooftop and crossed at both ends. Both ends were hand-crafted and carved to look like two ravens facing opposite directions. It was obvious that the symbol of the two ravens everywhere in the settlement were somehow significant to the Norsemen's belief system.

Moving along up towards the third tier where another wall had been constructed, Hrollaug stopped and turned to look at Takao, speaking directly to him. "My father started building this wall two months ago, using stones from the mountains up ahead," he said, motioning for Takao to approach the guards at the gateway. "Beyond the wall, you will see the great hall, the biggest building we have. Everyone is already inside," the prince told him as he signalled for the guards to open the gate. "And this is where I leave you," Hrollaug said. "King Sigurd is waiting for you in the hall. There you will find warmth and plenty to drink. Today is a holiday for us so there will be feasting," he said. With that, Hrollaug would breathe heavily, steam elevating from his visor as he turned to look at Takao one last time. He would rest his giant heavy hand on Takao's shoulder, nodding to him. "Thank you Tako of the Sun," he said before walking away with his large bison-hide cloak draping behind him.

Iskjerne Cavern...
Somewhere in the cave tunnels...


Jarl Evan Skjalsson and fifteen of his best warriors were standing in a very dimly lit tunnel, painting themselves with charcoal and a clay mixture of lanturn oil and black ash. They covered their weapons, their shields, their armour, their faces, their hair, their beards, their helmets, everything from their head to their toes. Jarl Evan's small leidang were cammoflaging themselves specifically to deal with the Taiyou's bright lights. Jarl Omar One-Eye and the other fifteen Norse warriors had descended into a different tunnel and were doing the same thing, only they were slightly faster in getting ready. They had killed the flames on their torches, and were sitting in a perfect circle, passing around a leather drinking bag filled with a magical sustenance made from the same mushrooms that the reindeer at the settlement were eating. As the scarry eyed chieftain drew a character similar to the letter "F" on his face using black clay, Jarl Evan ordered his leidang to turn off the lanturn. Both crews would spread out through the tunnels and go their seperate ways.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Seno Miyagi Character Portrait: Yoko Kayabuki Character Portrait: Shimizu Takayama Character Portrait: Sigurd Hring Character Portrait: Takao Eguchi

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Imperial Taiyou Palace, Niihama City, Niihama



The conference room was steeped in the aire of tension after Director Miyagi delivered his report to the Emperor, and he sat uneasily at the table as Shimizu considered the report, and the contents thereof.

"You were foolish to send that worker across the threshold, without proper security protocols being followed, Director your reckless decision not only threatens the moral of those workers, but now Kenji Tenzai is personally upset with us for your decision." Shimizu explained coldly, throwing the file folders upon the knurled, and ornate wooden table. The interior of the room was sparsely decorated, with a dark marble floor, muted wood paneling along the walls, low overhanging lights, and a large slanted window where the cityscape could be observed.

The pitter of rain filled the gaps in Shimizu's speech, where there would otherwise be a deafening silence. Interspersed with the pitter of rain, was the occasional rumble of thunder, and the flash of lightning that illuminated the otherwise dark Niihama sky.

The Taiyou Emperor brought his gaze downward at the file folder once more, opening it up and detailing the report, as Seno began to speak.

"The possibilities of the special region are almost without limit, we have an undiscovered network of caverns deep within the planet's crust, furthermore with the prospect of a possible entire realm at our fingertips, it was an opportunity I didn't want to pass up, Tennoheika."


Kayabuki kept quiet, occasionally letting her fingers move through her hair, before focusing back on the notations before her.

"Technology doesn't work beyond the threshold." Shimizu said flatly. "Mr. Tenzai has reported bugs, glitches, and power outages in his entire corporate campus since the discovery of the special region; Mr. Miyagi, I'm inclined to instruct the Umibozu to infiltrate the special region, extract Mr. Eguchi, and seal the gateway permanently."

Seno pursed his lips slightly, than tapped his pen on the table. "Respectfully, Tennoheika, I've gained their trust, all I ask is that we await Mr. Eguchi's report, if he does not report, then we can send in the Umibozu?"

Shimizu simply frowned. "Perhaps you're onto something, since Technology does not function in the special region, I would be better served..." Shimizu cast a brief glance back towards two men standing behind him.

"Azaka, Kamidake; travel to the special region and locate this man." Shimizu said, turning in his chair and pulling the file off the table.

"Bring him back, preferably alive, and in one piece."

The two men offered humble nods, and in unison they spoke.

"Tennoheika."

---

The Iskjerne Settlement

Takao quietly took in the sights as they passed through the gate, his hand was put to notepad, and he was scribbling his kanji, and hiragana notations as everything happened all around him. It was as if he had stepped back in time, nevermind the cold whipping at his face, and nevermind the uncertainty of being in an alien settlement, with alien people.

When it was time for Takao, and Hrollaug to part ways, the Taiyou offered the Prince a deep bow, before he spoke once more. "Takku Firr." He tried to croak in poorly pronounced norse. "arigatou gozaimashita" He said again, offering another bow.

He looked back up to the grand gate, and then started towards the hall, his steps purposeful, and careful as his eyes wandered about the camp.

Once at the building, he reached out and pulled on the great doors, pulling them open and quickly being greeted by the warmth of the house, his face was red from the cold, and frost had accumulated on his eyebrows and nose.


He quietly stared forward, slowly removing the heavy coat he had been provided, and then he reached down and slowly began to undo his shoes, a Taiyou custom.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sigurd Hring Character Portrait: Takao Eguchi

0.00 INK

Image



Takao Eguchi would knock on the heavy oakwood doors and open them, being greeted by a large guard who stared him over for a moment as Takao removed his shoes. The guard gave him an ackward gaze before turning and shrugging his shoulders, lazily motioning for Takao to enter. Once inside the Great Hall, the Taiyou ambassador would immediately feel the relief of the warm dwelling. The hall was exceptionally large, crafted from a single longship that the Norsemen had flipped upside down. Takao would smell the smokey air and cooked meat roasting over the open log fire. There were wooden benches and tables set about, with over a hundred or more people sitting down or walking around inside. Some of them had musical instruments and were chanting, singing and dancing merrily inside the great hall. If he would look up towards the ceiling, Takao would notice mistletoe hanging from the rafters above his head. Just then, two beautiful bare breasted shirtless blonde women would walk over to Takao and grab hold of him, leaning up against him and kissing him on both cheeks. Sigurd was sitting on his throne at the opposite side of the great long hall, surrounded by others who were laughing, drinking and having a good time. Seeing this, Sigurd would laugh and smile, waving Takao over to join him.

The Norsemen were a rowdy bunch. There was little distance between them, if any, as a hundred or more settlers gathered around the festivities. There in the middle before them was a banquet fit for a king, as Sigurd stood up at the far head of a long table and raised his mug. He yelled something loudly, before laughing and sitting back down on the throne. A small group of people around him would laugh at the apparent joke, but nobody else seemed to even be interested or paying attention, lost in their own jokes and conversations. The background noise from all the gossiping, laughter and music made it difficult for Takao to hear over the crowd of Heathen ruffians, who didn't seem to be paying him any mind at all. Every one of them seemed to be lost in their own world. There were lit candles, holly wreathes and tinsel, and little glass orb-like decorations everywhere. It was Yule time, a winter holiday for the Northmen, and Takao had just walked into a party. This particular occassion was a very special party, one which served a quadruple purpose and therefore was extra special. One of the shorter, less brawny Norse workers would bump shoulders with Takao, eyeing him hatefully as he walked by. "Takku, komma. Setjið með okkur. Fáðu þér drykk," the king shouted, motioning for Takao to sit with him while offering the Taiyou a large double-pint tankard of wine and an empty seat at the table. Everyone else at the table was already gorging on turkey legs and roasted ham, enjoying the mead and festivities.

After a moment, one of the large men sitting beside King Sigurd would stand up, gripping his steak knife tightly and suddenly lunging towards the king, intending to cut Sigurd's throat. The king was quick to react, however, deflecting the blade with his mug before picking up his own steak knife and thrusting it into the assassin's abdomen, hugging him tightly as he slid the sharp steel blade deep into the Northman's stomach. The man would choke and cough, blood oozing from his mouth as Sigurd let go of him, allowing his large body to hit the ground with a loud thud. King Sigurd would glance at Takao briefly before sitting back down and finishing his meal as if nothing had even happened. The noise never stopped, even for a minute as the rowdy settlers continued to party and play their daunty music. Two slaves would drag the dead man's body out of the hall, while a third servant walked over to Sigurd and refilled his mug before turning to offer Takao some more wine. Sigurd nodded quietly to Takao, waving for him to eat. There was no shortage of mead and food in the king's hall, and the rest of the Norsemen seemed delighted to have him as their leader. Sigurd himself was pleased to have Takao as his guest as he raised his mug in the air and nodded to the Taiyou ambassador, giving him cheers. "Skál," he said before taking a swig of the homemade Danish brew.

Omar the One-Eye, formerly known as Omar Finnsson, was standing in the darkness of one of the many cave tunnels which formed a network of different underground chambers sort of like a rocky labyrinth, all connecting in some way or another and leading to a single entrance. Jarl Omar was a middle aged Norseman of Scandinavian descent with shoulder-length dirty blonde hair and one aquamarine colored green eye. He was six feet tall with a large muscular frame and thick bronze skin, squared stubby chin and chiseled features. He was beardless, clean shaven and ready for the task at hand. Omar's nickname came from the scar over one of his eyes, seered shut with a hot iron many years ago after being shot by an arrow which pierced his skull, leaving another small circular scar marked by a tiny bald spot where the arrow had gone through to the back of his head straight out the other side. Omar lost an eye, but he miraculously survived and went on to become a jarl and a great warrior. Jarl Omar and his group of fifteen Norse ghost warriors had painted their entire bodies black with ashes from head to toe. Omar presented his group with three small mysterious clay canisters and a cloth bag. They were about to attempt an infiltration of the Taiyou gateway using whatever means these tools could provide to help them avenge their injured comrades, who were now undergoing traditional medical treatment back at the Iskjerne settlement. King Sigurd was not aware of the jarl's intentions, but Omar took it upon himself to be a hero for his people. As the drinking horn was passed to him, Omar took a sip of the magical shroom juice before passing it around the circle.

Afterwards, one of the vikings would step forward holding two dogs on a leash, with another small bag which the jarl opened before pulling out another live animal. It was a small black bird which squawed and flapped its wings, trying to escape. Omar would snap the bird's neck, before draining its blood onto the rocky cave floor. "Accept this offering," he said quietly as the bird's blood was absorbed by the ground. This was done to appease the Norse gods, and to prevent the goddess Hel from allowing any of her draugirs or ghosts to interrupt their mission while they maneuvered through her shadowy dark realm deep underground. Afterwards, he placed the bird's carcass on a smooth stone altar with its wings spread over it. After this, Omar the One-Eye and his ghost warriors would seperate into pairs and spread out through different tunnels while the jarl himself took a handful of them down deeper into the cave, nearing closer to the chamber where the Taiyou gateway was located. This group of six would bring with them the dogs on a leash, the three clay jars and the small cloth bag as they approached the empty chamber, remaining hidden in the dark tunnel just around the corner from the gateway. The other ten ghost warriors would part ways, taking up secret positions inside the many winding tunnels where they hid in the darkness, blending in with the natural texture of the rocky caves.

Meanwhile, the other sixteen vikings led by Evan Skjalsson had dispersed throughout the caves, seperating into four bands of four. Jarl Evan was another six foot tall Norseman of Norwegian descent. Him and his brother Erling had been sons of Skjal Olofsson of Norway and through many years of diplomacy and war, had managed to take up high positions in Norse society. Skjal was killed in a naval battle, but his older son Erling Snake became the King of Norway while the younger one, Evan, became one of Sigurd Hring's jarls after the war. Evan was tall and built tough with broad shoulders and strong muscles. He had icey blue eyes and a shaved bald head with blue tattoos. He also had a bright orangish red beard which hung down loosely to his neck. Jarl Evan was just slightly younger than Jarl Omar, but no less intimidating to look upon. His thick animal fur robes concealed his chainmail tunic and padded leather body armor as he and three of his kinsmen took up their own positions inside the Iskjerne caverns, aided by their heavy helmets and large round shields.

Jarl Omar would glance around the corner to the lit up gateway, then look to the five warriors beside him, nodding silently. One of the ghost warriors nodded back before suddenly tossing one of the clay jars into the Iskjerne cave chamber. As the jar shattered near the open rockwall, a thick black stream of billowing smoke rose up before the Taiyou gateway. Within a few seconds, the whole chamber would be smothered in a cloudy mass, obscuring the Jarl's next move. The ghost warriors would try to step around the corner, but Omar held them back. "Wait," he said, allowing the smoke cloud to thicken while waiting to see the Taiyou's reaction. If the Taiyou would fire their weapons into the smoke, the one-eyed chieftain would see to it that they hit only rocks and nothing more. After a moment, however, if there was no gunfire Omar would give the signal for one of his men to turn the corner and walk low towards the flank of the gateway, using his hands on the wall to guide him through the smoke cloud. As he neared the open hole in the rockwall, he crouched down and opened the small cloth bag, tossing the whole sack around the corner into the Taiyou chamber. The bag landed in the middle of the ground, and instantly a thousand honey bees came buzzing out of the bag in a pissed off angry storm, looking to sting anyone and anything inside the Taiyou chamber. The thick smoke cloud on the Iskjerne side of the portal would prevent the bees from flying through the gateway, so instead they would swarm around the Taiyou soldiers and the mounted machine gunner.

As the bees kept the Taiyou busy, Omar turned and signalled for the man beside him to unleash the dogs. The man nodded before setting the hungry canids loose. The dogs darted around the corner and through the smoke curtain into the open gateway, barking and lunging at the nearest Taiyou officers in their sights. The battle had begun, and with that the Norse ghost warriors made their move. All six of them emerged from out of the smoke with weapons in both hands. The smell of smoke on their skins would prevent the bees from stinging the Norsemen as they entered. As they entered the Taiyou chamber, one of the viking ghost warriors would hurl his spear at one of the Taiyou officers before charging at the others with his sword and seax. Another one of the vikings would throw his axe at the Taiyou before charging at them with his sword. Yet another would emerge with a large club staff and begin swinging it around in a circle, aiming at the Taiyou soldiers to both his left and right with little to no hesitation. A couple of the Taiyou security personnel would raise their weapons to fire upon Omar's gang, but would themselves be greeted instead by a pair of arrows flying from out of the smoke as two other vikings entered the gateway holding stringed bows. Finally the one-eyed jarl emerged, smiling deviously, holding a pair of bearded axes in both hands. Jarl Omar would hack his way over to the Yunboro in an attempt to shatter its most brightest light source with the head of one of his axes. "Die demon!" he roared, apparently viewing the Yunboro as something other than a machine.

Jarl Omar knew that King Sigurd would not approve of his actions, but it was in the hands of the gods now as he let out a beckoning laughter, the magical shroom juice in his system taking its effect on him. Omar the One-Eye and his five companions were now fearless and impervious to pain as they took on the couple dozen Taiyou officers all by themselves, hacking and slashing mercilessly with the combined support of their two attack dogs and stinging bees. Their roars and battlecries would echo through the cave tunnels. Jarl Evan would order his own three companions to stop and be silent. "Shhh, do you hear that?" he whispered. "Sounds like fighting," one of the Norse warriors responded. Jarl Evan grimaced, knowing it could only mean one thing. "Ivan," he said quietly. "Go inform the guards that we have a situation." With these words spoken, one of Evan's comrades would nod, raising a closed fist to his own chestplate before turning and heading back towards the surface. "The rest of you, follow me" Jarl Evan said as he started to walk down further into the cave.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: The Umibozu Character Portrait: Sigurd Hring Character Portrait: Takao Eguchi

0.00 INK

The young Takao was caught completely by surprise as the pair of rather well endowed blondes ambushed him at the door. He let out a surprised cry, and a shout as they pressed themselves against him. "Nani!?" He called out, but as quickly as the women came, they had mingled back into the crowd, and the young man was left all the more confused. But that didn't stop the man as he looked up to the great king, admiring the grandeur that was the longhouse. He had beckoned the man to enjoy a drink, and feast, and certainly the rich meats roasting on the open fire brought a growl from the man's stomach, unused to the sheer volume of food before him, having subsisted on processed, and packaged foods nearly his entire life. This was all a welcome sight for the man though, and the aromas drew him closer

Takao quietly reached for a turkey leg, pausing only to gasp in horror as someone moved to stab the King in the gut, of course things only seemed more exacerbated when the great king swiftly defeated his assassin, only to carry on enjoying his meal like nothing had transpired.

Takao quietly remembered the attempted coup on his Emperor, back when he was but a child. The news cycles spoke of the attempted assassination for weeks, and the assassin was publicly, and brutally executed.

There seemed to not be much difference at all.

At first Takao looked to the food on his plate, reaching into his tobi and pulling out a small pocket knife, given to him by his father. He flipped the tanto shaped knife open with an audible 'snick' before carefully cutting at the flesh of the turkey leg, cutting it into manageable, bite sized pieces. He carefully, and politely took a sip of wine, a stark contrast to the rowdiness of the men, and women around him.

Folding the knife back in on itself, he produced a pair of chopsticks that he kept for his lunch. Fumbling with the metal sticks for a moment, Takao reached down and picked up a piece of turkey, and placed it into his mouth with a smile.

"Kono tabemono wa oishīdesu" He said with a smile, then he flipped through his book, pausing in between bites to look up the appropriate english word. "This very good." He said, nodding his head politely, before putting the book away, and picking up another piece with his chopsticks.

---

Inside the cave, the Self-Defense soldiers kept a vigilant eye on the gateway, they had situated themselves in small redoubts positioned throughout the interior of the chamber, behind sandbags, and razor wire. The entire facility had been under lockdown for some time now, much to Kenji Tenzai's chagrin, with the Self Defense Army, and elements from the Imperial Taiyou Army positioned inside the campus, they were trying to decide how best to proceed.

Sergeant Mori was thoughtfully oiling the machinegun when he noticed smoke starting to waft through the gateway, and that the other side had been completely obscured by smoke.

"Mon o miro!" The Gunner cried out, and everyone began to snap to attention, leveling their assault rifles on the gateway in anticipation of whatever threats were about to come through.

They did not open fire quite yet, they simply watched, then the call went out. "Bōdoku masuku!"

Almost in unison, the men began pulling protective hoods over their face, gas masks in case the strange smoke was come kind of chemical agent, these round-eyed masks bore a canister shaped extension over the mouth, to protect their faces from whatever was to come next.

It was the bees, the bag full of angry bees was what got them to open fire, the heavy machinegun fired first, letting out a deafening 'rata-tatatat' that echoed through the cavern chamber, 12.7mm bullets whizzing into the smokey maelstrom, and striking rocks, sending small rock shards in every direction as they hit.

The bees came in waves, and the Taiyou soldiers cried in agony, and confusion. Then came the dogs, of course they didn't fare as well as the angry bees, as they lunged towards on Taiyou officer, he managed to empty his magazine of 5.56mm armor-piercing bullets into the charging dogs, in a spray and pray fashion. The dogs likely would yelp in pain as the bullets struck one of them, bringing it down swiftly.

Some weren't so lucky, as the dogs managed to maul one of the other men to death, another was killed as his comrade tried to shoot the dog that was mauling him. Then the men came through amidst the confusion; and more gunfire erupted. One soldier brought up his weapon to the viking that impaled their Commander with a spear, loosing off roughly six shots with his rifle before an arrow struck him in the chest, impaling his heart. Caught by suprise, and outnumbered, the Taiyou tried to press back, firing at anything that seemed to move through the cloud of angry bees.

There was a cloud of bullets too, as they tried every opportunity to get off a shot, hoping at the very least the deafening crack of their weapons would startle the barbarians.

The man in the Yunboro was not spared, as the Jarl charged at the Yunboro, the frightened worker quickly emerged from his glass coccoon, scrambling over towards the Elevator, where a wounded Soldier was calling into his radio.

"Watashitachiha, kōgeki sa rete imasu!" He cried out, as the Worker ran to the elevator shaft, swatting bees in the process.

As soon as his cry for help went out over the radio, an axe struck him in the back, and he lurched forward with a grunt, blood coating the console nearby.

---

Niihama's Surface, near the Elevator.

Two Umibozu soldiers were the first to hear the call going out over the radio, the Defense team had been overwhelmed, and the gateway chamber was compromised.

They looked to eachother before they looked to the commander.

"The gateway chamber has fallen! They will reach the surface soon! We must summon reinforcements!"

Quickly, they took position near concrete jersey barriers, racking their weapons as the Commander got onto his radio.

"Cut power to the Site 9 main elevator until we can get some reinforcements, the Special Region has launched an attack, we mut assemble a counter attack at once!"

As the battle came to a close, Omar and whatever number of his warriors managed to survive would be greeted with dead soldiers all around them, both Taiyou, and Viking. The Taiyou side of the chamber was still well lit, and among the swarming bees, their technology could be made out, through the acrid smell of gunpowder, and the crunch of shell casings under Omar's foot. The Yunboro hummed as it's engine churned, despite Omar's hacking at it's metal hull, at least until his axe severed a fuel line, and the Yunboro died, with a violent spray of diesel fuel, and hydraulic oil all over Omar, then it shuddered slouching forward.

Omar had won this day, but the controls to the elevator were unresponsive, and the distant klaxxon of alarms could be heard in the distance.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sigurd Hring Character Portrait: Takao Eguchi

0.00 INK

Iskjerne Cave...
The gateway between the realms...


Bullets whizzed through the air, ricocheting off the rocks and cave walls with an array of metallic sparks, whistles, pings and tings as the sounds of Taiyou assault rifles echoed through the cave tunnels, combined with the bloodthirsty roars and injured cries of men being ripped apart in one way or another. A dog would yelp in pain, while another would growl and bite. Unorganized chaos and the shouting of mass confusion would takeover as six Norse warriors single-handedly raided the Taiyou chamber, bringing with them the fearfulness of their barbaric fighting methods and guerrilla war tactics. Within a few moments, the skirmish was over. The viking ghost warriors had wasted no time in laying the place to waste. As quickly as the noise started, it suddenly ended. Jarl Omar would smash the lights on the Yunboro and sever its fuel line, destroying it as the machine's deisel blood and oil spilled over him. All that remained now whera bloody mess of disfigured corpses and the lingering smell of gunpowder. The few Norsemen that survived were panting and breathing heavily, looking around the empty chamber. There were severely injured security officers and dead bodies laying everywhere.

Omar the One-Eye turned slowly to look at his gang. There was no hooray, no victory cheer, only silence, red blinking lights and the feintly distant sound of the Taiyou alarms. Omar would walk around slowly, empty shell casings being crumbled beneath his boots as he examined the area. Three others would also walk around quietly, looking down on the ground beneath their feet. "They got Helgar," one of them said. "Aye, and Eric too" another one added, kneeling down to check on his badly injured friend. Eric O'Malle would look up at them, coughing up blood as he tried to lift his head. It was apparent from his bright red hair and thick accent that Eric O'Malle had originally been from Ireland before joining King Sigurd's expedition. He had been shot at least three times, and one of the bullets had punctured a lung, causing him to cough and choke as he lay there dying. Jarl Omar walked over and looked down at him. Eric just smiled up to him. "I... I-I, don't-" he hocked and spit the blood from his throat. "... don't f-feel a thing," Eric said as he breathed heavily. "You fought well my friend," Omar said as he knelt down beside him. "T-t-to-day... w-was, a, good... d-d-da, day" Eric smiled, panting heavily before looking up at the cave ceiling. His eyes glazed over, his breath stopped and his body went limp. His smile faded and soon he was dead.

Jarl Omar would close Eric's eyelids, grasping the Norse Irishman's sword and placing it back into Eric's cold dead hands before standing up. Afterwards he turned to look at the other three who had survived. One of them, Kraiger Nallesson, was bleeding from a bullet wound in his shoulder as he walked around, checking the Taiyou security officers. Finding a badly injured survivor, Kraiger would pull out his small seax and thrust its tip into the officer's throat, killing him instantly without any remorse whatsoever. He then proceeded to look for others, putting any barely surviving Taiyou out of their misery in the same quick fashion. Another ghost warrior named Augee the Archer was also walking around, raiding the dead Taiyou's pockets and tossing anything he deemed valuable into a small pile while retrieving his arrows from their lifeless heads and bodies. The last ghost warrior's name was Honz Benjisson of Russia, a reputable Rus viking who had served in the Varangian Guard with Sigurd Hring back in the day before Sigurd had become the Geatish king. Honz was a veteran warrior with long grey hair whose only desire was to die in battle.

"Ack!" Honz would slap the back of his own neck, swatting a bee just as it stung him. He had broken a light sweat, causing the ashy paint to run down his skin a little bit. He walked over to the elevator and tried to open it, pushing some of the random buttons but to no avail. He picked up the Taiyou radio, examining it with tentative curiosity. Just then, something would tap Omar's boot. The jarl looked down to see one of the Taiyou assault rifles at his feet. He bent over and picked it up, studying the mechanism carefully. Pulling a lever back and chambering a round, Omar mimicked what he had seen the Taiyou security officers do. He pointed the rifle down an empty tunnel and squeezed the trigger. "Ta-ta-tat!!" the weapon kicked back, almost flying out of his hands as it fired a few shots into the darkness. Kraiger, Augee and Honz would stop and look at him. Omar examined the rifle again, hitting another small lever to release the magazine. He studied its function before sliding the magazine back into its place with a click.

"Kraiger, bag what you can, take it back to the surface and dress that shoulder wound" Jarl Omar commanded. "Honz, Augee, follow me" he said as he started to walk deeper into Taiyou territory. Honz Benjisson and Augee the Archer would each grab a rifle and a few extra magazines before following Omar the One-Eye into the tunnels. Kraiger would also grab a rifle, along with a sidearm, a folding knife, some flares, a radio, a flashlight, a magnetic compass, a gas mask, and whatever else he could bag up and carry with him back to the Iskjerne viking settlement. He was hoping that King Sigurd would see all the wonderful loot and possibly reward Omar's gang instead of punishing them. He was also hoping that the Norsemen would be able to reverse engineer some of the Taiyou merchandise, perhaps giving the vikings an advantage over other civilizations in the future. As Omar and the other two remaining ghost warriors walked cautiously deeper into unexplored territory, they kept their newfound weapons pointed in front of them, following the red blinking lights and the sound of the distant alarms through the otherwise pitch black darkness. Jarl Omar had gained a small victory, but he wasn't done yet as he led his two partners through the cave tunnels, looking for another exit which might lead them to the Taiyou's base. Little did any of them know that they had just entered another portal by crossing the gateway into Taiyou territory. The Norse ghost warriors weren't in the Iskjerne Cave anymore, they were about to enter Niihama...


Back at Iskjerne Bay...
The multi-cultural Viking settlement...


Some of the Norsemen watched with unsure curiousity as Takao kept pulling strange new items out of his pockets at the dinner table. First there was a folding pocket knife, something that none of the vikings had ever seen before. It wasn't completely alien to the Norsemen, as they were well aware of what the knife was. But it was different, foldable and more compact, made from high quality steel that only King Sigurd and a few more wealthy vikings could afford. Afterwards, the Taiyou ambassador pulled out a pair of metal chopsticks and started eating. Takao was very proper and polite, taking a small sip of wine rather than chugging it down. King Sigurd watched quietly, learning through observation as he picked up his own drink and took a small sip, mimicking him. Wine almost shot out of his nose as he tried to hold back his laughter, before quickly chugging the rest of it and slamming his mug on the table. "Annar!" he shouted, followed by the circle of people around him who would also chug down their drinks, slamming their mugs on the table. "Annar!" someone shouted. "Annar!" another one echoed.

As a young servant girl approached their table with a pitcher of wine in hand, Sigurd would reach across the table, leaning over everyone's plates and all, grabbing another large turkey leg from the silver platter before settling back into his seat. He didn't bother trying to be proper by cutting up his meat first, instead biting directly into it and ripping a hunk of meat off the bone with his teeth. He would chew the turkey with his mouth open, bits of meat dangling from his lips and chin as he spoke. "Borða Takku, það er nóg að borða. Hjálpa sjálfum þér. Þú þarft smá þyngd," the king said happily as he took some food from the Northman's plate next to him and tossed it on to Takao's plate. "Hæ! Ég var að borða það!" the stunned Northman shouted, followed by light-hearted chuckles from all those around them. "The king says you are too skinny, you need to eat more" one of the Anglish speaking Norse Saxons told him. "Help yourself," the Saxon smiled, patting Takao on the back with a heavy hand as the young slave girl refilled their drinks to the very brim, wiping up some of the spilled mead with a cloth. Sigurd's two pet wolves would get in on the action too, one of them trying to jump up on the table and steal a piece of ham before being smacked away by one of the viking women. "Shew! Shew!" she said, waving him away with her hands. The other wolf would lick up all the fallen food that had fell under the table before laying down next to Sigurd's feet. Although the arctic canids were very large animals, the Norsemen showed no fear of the two wolves, instead treating them like common house pets.

After the turkey and ham was all gone, the servants would bring out a platter of smoked fish, a plate of warm bread buns and a large pot of green bean casserole mixed with sprinkled almonds and nuts. There were yams and sweet potatoes, cranberries and pickled eggs, and all the oisters and seafood that Takao could stomach. The party lasted the entire evening, while King Sigurd took a great newfound interest in speaking to his new friend. He ranted on and on, telling jokes and explaining the Norse way of life to Takao as the Anglish speaking Saxon translated everything for him. As the blacksmith approached the table, Sigurd would stop him and hand him the butane liter from his pocket, conversing with him for a moment before allowing the man to carry on. All was well it seemed, until one of the guards walked over and whispered into the king's ear. Sigurd Hring would look up at the guard, then to Takao, wiping his mouth on his own arm sleeve before nodding his head. "Engill dauðans stendur við dyrnar," the king said quietly before burping loudly and excusing himself from the party. "She's here..." the Anglo-Saxon whispered quietly, finishing his drink before turning to look through the open hall.

King Sigurd would return a moment later, accompanied by a short little old woman with a hunched back and a cane with very long white stringy hair. The old woman was clinging to Sigurd's arm as he helped her walk slowly into the great hall. All the music stopped when the old woman entered the hall, and even the largest viking warriors would stand aside quietly and make way for her as she passed them. She was decrepit looking and blind, her eyes being milky white and void of color. She had long curled up boney fingers and a drooping crooked nose, her bent posture showing signs of great old age and arthritis as her tattered black dress dragged behind her sandalled feet. She wore a black and white scarf made from wild cat-skin and carried a small leather bag in one hand while her tiny bone jewelry rattled and jingled as she walked. This was the Angel of Death, a type of witch or oracle which the vikings called upon to guide them during times of difficulty. Even the king himself was subordinate to her as he helped the old woman to take a seat on the throne, being a gentleman as it were. Everything was quiet now, and if he glanced around Takao would notice from their expressions that all the Norsemen in the hall were deathly afraid of her despite her small and feeble appearance.

At that moment, King Sigurd would sit down on the bench next to Takao Eguchi, staring up to the crippled old woman who now sat on his throne. "Grand sonur, hver er þetta?" the old woman asked, her milky white eyes staring at Takao as she pointed her long boney finger at him. Sigurd and Takao would both glance at one another with bewildered doubt and nervous confusion for a second before looking back at the blind old woman. "Þetta er vinur minn Takku, sem þekkir margt. Hann getur hjálpað okkur, og hann kom til að læra um okkur" the king answered. The old witch opened her bag and emptied its contents on to the table. "Lærðu að þú munt," she said, as everyone looked down at the table that had been cleaned off and prepared.

There before them on the table were twenty four small bones carved with magical runes. She would wave her hands across them, moving the domino-like bone carvings around and mixing them up with her fingertips. "Hvað sérðu gamla konu?" Sigurd asked her. The old woman would feel the inscriptions in the bones as she fumbled with one of them between her fingers. Suddenly, she shouted in a language that all of them could understand. "I see your destiny, Great King Sigurd" she answered him now directly. "I see wonders that no king before you has ever laid eyes upon" she said more intently. She would fumble with the rune some more. "I see a castle, and the great hall in which the throne sits, larger than this very room" the creepy old woman added. "I see that you have been favored by the gods," she paused for a moment to catch her breath, after dropping the rune on the table.

"Hvað er það?" Sigurd asked. The decrepit blind old woman with the long white stringy hair would look up towards the ceiling. "I see your doom, Great King Sigurd" she said quietly. "I see ashes and giants, nightmares and terrors that your fathers never spoke of" the creepy woman continued. "You will have a great choice to make," she said. "Depending on what you do, it could be your last" she prophesied, before collecting all of her bone runes and putting them back in her bag. "When?" the Anglo-Saxon sitting on the other side of Takao suddenly asked. "The gods know all men's fates Bruce of Essex, even their own" the witch answered, causing the Anglish speaking warrior to question in his mind how the blind old woman even knew his name. But she didn't really answer his question, or maybe she did somehow as King Sigurd handed the old lady her cane and helped her to stand up. King Sigurd would escort her out of the hall, thanking her for her wisdom and guidance as the hall slowly became noisy again with whispering, gossip and chatter from among all the Norsemen.

As the tired old woman and her grandson neared the doorway, she would turn and look up at him one last time. With one shakey hand, she reached into the fold of her long black dress and pulled out a simple leather charm necklace bearing a natural piece of clearly transparent quarts crystal inscribed with magical runic symbols. "Put this on" she said, dropping the necklace into his hand. Sigurd would do as he was told, slipping the necklace on over his head and letting it dangle from his neck. Afterwards, the woman extended her open hand to him. Sigurd would spit into her hand, and she would draw an inverted cross-like symbol into the air in front of him with that same hand, as if blessing him with some sort of religious gesture. Afterwards, the old woman would clutch her cane tightly and leave the Great Hall just as Ivan entered the doorway. "Konungur minn, við höfum aðstæður í hellunum. Jarl Omar og klíka hans hafa farið yfir hliðið!" Ivan shouted. King Sigurd would place his hand on Ivan's shoulder. "Hvar eru þeir núna?" Sigurd asked. "Ég veit ekki. Við heyrðum þá berjast," the viking answered, causing the king to sigh loudly.

A moment later, someone else entered the inner wall of the ring fortress and approached the massive longhouse. It was one of the guards from the tower. "My lord, I bring news from the cave entrance. One of your kinsmen just arrived to the surface with a shoulder injury. I'm to give you this," he said while presenting the large knapsack to Sigurd, bowing his head to the king as he opened it. Sigurd would glance inside the bag before quickly turning away with a scoff of frustration. "Koma með það til smiðjunnar. Láttu hann reikna það út," King Sigurd said before turning to walk back inside. By now, the Ellarian blizzard was dying down and even though all of the Weargtooth Mountains around the Iskjerne settlement were still freezing white, the sky was beginning to change. One of the three moons of Gaia could be seen in close proximity to the bright star Sirius, while another moon had started to shift away from the sun Sagittae's path, its eclipse slowly fading as the dark night sky turned to twilight and Gaia's ring became visible. Sigurd would gaze into the sky, seeing its light and its moons for the first time. He thought he was looking at an optical illusion, a mirror image of the Earth's moon. The greenish haze from Gaia's ring looked very similar to an aurora borealis he had once witnessed in Norway, and the bright star Sirius looked like the brightest star in the sky to him, so he gave it a name, the Big Dog star, named after man's best friend who guided their sleds through the snow.


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Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sigurd Hring Character Portrait: Takao Eguchi

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After about a week or so, the weather in Iskjerne Bay slowly started to get warmer, causing the snow to melt and the icesheets to thaw out. King Sigurd would sanction a dragon-headed longship headed by a new earl named Hethel Svensson to set out an explore the sea, as Prince Hrollaug took another small band with him on horseback into the southern mountain ranges to search for greener land. Takao Eguchi was allowed to wander and roam freely around the viking settlement to study and take notes of everything as he saw fit, so long as he did not interfere with their progress and development. King Sigurd would keep his distance from Takao during this time, mostly just watching him quietly from time to time and checking up on his well-being. King Sigurd had appointed Bruce of Essex to accompany Takao as a guide, translater and bodyguard during his two week stay. Lord Bruce was quite a bit different from some of the other vikings Takao had seen at the ringfort. He was sophisticated, well-spoken, mannerly and cleaner than most. Bruce was an Anglo-Saxon linguist from a little town north of the River Thames in East Albion, and although he didn't understand Taiyou, he was able to communicate with young Takao Eguchi through patience and understanding. Over the next five days or so, Lord Bruce would give young Takao a basic tour of their settlement. They would talk for hours about Norse religion, medicine, sustenance and legal traditions.

Lord Bruce would teach the young Taiyou about the Norse social classes and how they worked. He explained to Takao that most of the hard work in Iskjerne was undertaken by thralls, most of whom were fellow vikings who had been conquered or captured from other lands, working for their freedoms and a second chance to live. Lord Bruce also explained the significance of the old woman they called the angel of death. He told him all about the social taboos and warned him carefully about trying his best to fit in, as the Norsemen were a very superstitious people and easily frightened by anything they were not accustomed to. Lord Bruce explained to Takao that only the women in Iskjerne were permitted to practice magic, and that the oldest woman in the village was held with the utmost highest respect. This was the Old Mother, the one the vikings refered to as the angel of death. He also told Takao about the Norsemen's warrior culture and ancestor worship, recalling to him great songs and poems pertaining to the old gods like one-eyed Odin, handsome Freyr, magical Freyja, Tyr the one-handed and Thor the thunderer.

Then one sunny morning, King Sigurd would approach Takao slowly and for the first time since his visit, the king spoke to him in the English language. "You can draw sounds," King Sigurd said slowly and directly, showing an interest in Takao's ability to read and write. "You can teach me this?" he asked quietly. Bruce smiled and nodded, standing at attention off to the side. He had never left Takao's side, guarding the Asianic ambassador's tent even as he slept. Bruce never appeared to sleep. He never seemed to get offended or angry. He was always happy and well respected by everyone else around him, even the king himself as he nodded back. Just then however, Brunnard the Blacksmith would walk through the ringfort's outer gate followed by four armed guards. He was holding a rectangular canvas kitbag made from hemp, and one of the four guards was pulling Kraiger Nallesson behind him, shackled, collared and chained with cast iron.

The guards at the gate tower blew their horns. King Sigurd and everyone around him would stop to listen. "Make way! Make way I say!" a voice could be heard shouting in the distance. "I better go check it out," Bruce said before nodding again and walking away. Takao would notice that Lord Bruce never bowed or saluted to King Sigurd, but he wouldn't question it at that moment. Instead, he looked over to King Sigurd whose gaze was still fixed on Takao's books.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Seno Miyagi Character Portrait: Yoko Kayabuki Character Portrait: Imperial Taiyou Army Character Portrait: Yukiko Takayama Character Portrait: Sigurd Hring Character Portrait: Takao Eguchi

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Niihama/Gaia The gateway

In the ensuing days since the attack on the Self-Defense forces stationed at the gate, the Taiyou on the other side worked diligently to clean the bodies, so that they would have a proper burial, at least for the Taiyou soldiers. Self-Defense personnel, along with Ten-Shi Zaibatsu personnel, soldiers of the Imperial Taiyou Army, and a handful of officers from the Inter Solar System Police were hard at work cordoning off the area, securing the surrounding caverns, and taking lots of pictures.

The Taiyou bodies were cleared out first, with Detective Onamura taking a few notations on a paper pad.

"There's a lot of equipment missing, small arms, ammunition, flashlights..." He commented as he looked down as they carried the last deceased Taiyou soldier away.

"The Alien warriors will be taken to autopsy, and it looks like two dogs were recovered; they'll be euthanized." The Detective added, turning over towards his partner, and then back to the metal gate that was fitted over the gateway, with a fine wire mesh over the bars to prevent things like grenades, molotovs, or sacks of angry bees being tossed into the chamber again. Two Machinegu emplacements were being established in positions perpendicular to the gateway to provide overlapping fields of fire. Amid the chaos, the elevator rattled, clanked, and shrieked, the doors opening to reveal five people.

Yukiko was the first to emerge from the elevator, her face buried into her phone as she shot off a brief text message. She shot a look over towards Kayabuki, whom kept her gaze affixed onto the gateway.

Prime Minister Yoko Kayabuki had doubted the mission from the beginning, and had at times questioned Emperor Takayama on the wisdom of sending his sister, and herself into the gateway like this. She had sat through countless deliberations with him, and they seemed to always arrive to the same conclusion; if these primitives were hostile, and the men that came through the gate were indeed an attacking party, Yukiko, and Kayabuki were surely walking into certain death.

Kayabuki quietly, but briefly affixed her gaze to Azaka, and Kamidake, whom were charged with protecting them, and her feelings of trepidation began to wane.

Kamidake took up the front, approaching the gate, and clasping his wooden staff tightly while the soldier unlocked the latch, then swung the gate open.

"We'll be fine." Seno Miyagi commented, clasping his hands in front of him, as he cast a sidelong gaze to Yukiko, then to Kamidake, who was moving to channel energy into his staff, the red orb in Kamidake's staff glowing brightly, casting a brilliant white light into the chamber on the other side.

Kamidake stepped through the gateway first, his mind clear, an invisible forcefield forming in front of him.

---

Iskjerne Settlement

The time spent with Bruce of Essex was both rewarding, and educational for Takao as he took the opportunity to take as many notes as he could, filling dozens of books with script during his travels through the settlement. Though to him, the Vikings appeared simple, and primitive, in a way he seemed to envy their simple life. They were closer to nature, whereas the Taiyou lived in cities that devoured the landscape.

Conversations that went on about Taiyou culture were innterwoven with Bruce's lessons about the Norse. Takao explained, through careful communication that the Taiyou were an empire that spanned millions of worlds, and was as vast, as it was powerful. Takao explained their traditions, their reverence for the three Choushin entities that guided the evolution of reality, but above all their reverence for their Emperor, whom Takao explained was a young man, brilliant, and shrewd.

"Our Emperor is revered as descended from the heavens." Takao explained one night.

Takao even tried to teach Bruce Taiyou, using simple things to explain the meanings behind the words, explaining their surroundings in Taiyou. Takao explained that the word Taiyou literally meant 'sun' in their language, and they were literally called the People of the Rising Sun.

One concept Takao attempted to explain was space travel, that his people had ships just like the Vikings, but they did not sail the water, Takao explained that his people had ships that sailed the stars.

On the fateful sunny morning that Sigurd opted to approach Takao for the first time, the King would find Takao amidst one of his many lessons, a chart of Taiyou Hiragana was written with their respective english characters next to them, a sort of translation guide that Takao took from his translation book.

Briefly the young Taiyou looked up to Sigurd, quietly offering him a seat at the table. He slid the chart over towards Sigurd, to show him the sounds.

He pointed to the symbol "あ" first on the chart, and looked up to Sigurd. "Ah." He said aloud, then he pointed back to the symbol. "Ah..." And then to the letter 'A' on the chart. "These sound the same."

Takao then paused for a moment, then he put pencil to parchment, and started to write. "たかお." He then put his finger on the first symbol. "Ta." And then the Second. "Ka" And then the third. "O"

"Takao." He said, sliding the paper over towards Sigurd, even as Brian left, Takao figured whatever it was, it was an internal affair among the northmen.

Takao then wrote three more symbols down on the paper. "しがど." "Shi ga do." He interated, before he wrote the word. "Sigurd." On the paper. "You try." He said, handing the great king a pencil. "Copy me." He drew the Hiragana symbols more slowly this time, so Sigurd could see the stroke order, and then he wrote the words in english slowly, giving the King the opportunity to see, and copy his stroke.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Seno Miyagi Character Portrait: Yoko Kayabuki Character Portrait: Imperial Taiyou Army Character Portrait: Yukiko Takayama Character Portrait: Sigurd Hring Character Portrait: Takao Eguchi

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Iskjerne Caverns...
Deep inside one of the cave tunnels...


Jarl Evan Skjalsson and his leidang were spread out through the cave tunnels, all fifteen free-men having painted themselves with ashes and divided themselves into four groups of four. All of them were heavily armed, wearing thick furs, dark blue robes and armor, carrying large round black viking shields bearing the symbol of the raven. These four small bands were charged with patrolling the cave tunnels and protecting the Iskjerne settlement from any unwanted invaders, being fully aware to the presence of the Taiyou gateway to their world. Jarl Evan and his gang would patrol the tunnels like clockwork, being the first line of defense in case of an attack. They were supported of course by about two dozen guards from the watchtower at the cave's surface, and the invisible remnant of Jarl Omar's ten remaining ghost warriors, all of whom had seperated into five pairs of two and were hiding stealthily in the darkness, setting an ambush for any unsuspecting trespassers. Jarl Evan stood over six feet tall with a shaved bald head covered in tattoos. The large Norwegian commander scratched his bushy red beard, the runic symbol of an upward pointing arrow called Tiwaz painted in black ashes on his forehead.

"Follow me" Jarl Evan said as he started to walk down further into the cave, followed by two other companions, as a third one named Ivan had ran back to the surface to inform King Sigurd of the conflict that had recently taken place under Jarl Omar's command. It wouldn't take long for Jarl Evan and his other two patrolmen to reach the tunnel to the cave chamber where the sound of fighting had come from. But they would approach with caution as they entered the cave chamber, so by the time they arrived, Kraiger had already slipped passed them. He didn't make it far however, as the guards at the watchtower would seize him as soon as he reached the surface, having been forewarned ahead of time by Ivan himself. Instead what Jarl Evan would find was a barricade and fine mesh-wired fencing around the gateway. Jarl Omar, Honz the Old and Augee the Archer were nowhere to be found. But what they found was Detective Onamura and a handful of ISSP officers doing their own investigation into the matter. Jarl Evan whispered for his men to halt as soon as they heard the commotion. "Wait," he said, motioning for his two comrades to hide as they ducked off behind a large rock around the corner from the gateway, the sound of cameras flashing and the Taiyou ferensics team being heard on the other side of the gateway.

"Hverjir eru þeir?" Ryan the Freeman would ask quietly. "Ég veit ekki. Hvar er Omar?" Evan whispered. Just then, the latch on the gateway was unlocked and the gate swung open. Evan would peak through the darkness through a crevice in the rock, watching as a Taiyou soldier opened the gate and Kamidake stepped through. "Watashitachiha daijōbudesu," a familar voice said. Jarl Evan recognized it to be the voice of Seno Miyagi, one of the Taiyou leaders that King Sigurd had negotiated with. He watched silently, taking a mental note of the glowing red orb staff that Kamidake was holding right before he was suddenly blinded by a brilliant white light which illuminated the whole cave chamber. Jarl Evan was forced to duck back around the corner and divert his eyes, so bright was the light that seeped through the rock's crevice. Evan was now temporarily stunned, but Ryan Skjalsson and his other Norwegian brother Rolind could see the light cascading against the wall beside them just inside the chamber.

"Ekki skjóta! Ekki skjóta!" Jarl Evan shouted, stepping out from behind the wall. He had dropped his spear and shield, and would step out into the open chamber with his hands raised in the air to show that he was unarmed. "Ekki skjóta," he repeated again as he stepped slowly into the light, keeping his hands where the Taiyou could see them. Ryan and Rolind would remain hidden, listening quietly as Jarl Evan took the lead. Evan's eyesight was slowly returning to him, but he squinted at the sight of the blurry figures in front of him, their faces and costumes indistinguishable to the slightly stunned Norseman who stood before them.

Iskjerne Bay...
Within the Viking ring-fort's pallisade...


King Sigurd had approached Takao Eguchi with the desire of learning how to be literate. Takao would show the king his books and share with him some of his many writings. Eguchi took a few moments to teach the king how to pronounce basic sounds and write both their names on parchment, in English and in the Taiyou dialect. Sigurd Hring was extremely observant, patient and attentive. As the king sat down inside the mammoth skinned tent on one of the wooden chairs at Takao's writing table, he carefully followed the young Taiyou's instructions, putting pencil to paper for the first time in all of Norse history. They would spend several minutes practicing their calligraphy together before the ruckus started, commotions rising from the approaching gathering. Lord Bruce would re-enter the tent moments later, looking to the Dano-Swedish king. "Brunnard the blacksmith is here to see you sir," Bruce said respectfully, again never bowing or saluting the king for whatever reason. "Send him in," King Sigurd responded as he patiently finished writing something down on parchment.

"太陽の人々... Taiyō no hitobito. People of the sun" King Sigurd would say slowly, his expression remaining serious and void of emotion. Takao would smile to him and nod his head, impressed with Sigurd's performance. The middle-aged king was finally beginning to understand. Just then, Brunnard walked in holding his welding mask and a canvas kitbag made from hemp. "My King, I report to you from the Forges of Bifrost with some important news," the blacksmith said as he brought his welding mask to his chestplate and bowed his head. King Sigurd would finish his writing before setting the pencil down, closing the book, and handing it to Takao to do with as he pleased. "Come, sit down" Sigurd said, motioning for Brunnard to take a seat. Brunnard would set the kitbag down on the table, sitting down on a wooden chair across the small table from his king. "What is this?" the king asked. "It's what we've been working on, my lord" the blacksmith answered, pointing to the kitbag. "This is canvas," Brunnard said with a smile as Sigurd felt the kitbag's fabric with his fingertips. "It's strong and easy to make," Brunnard explained as he pulled a leather toolbelt out of the bag.

The toolbelt was newer and had more toolspace, designed by simple means using Norse craftsmanship. But the tools it carried were a different matter entirely. The belt consisted of pliers, screwdrivers, a tape measure, chalk strings, a hammer, wrenches, a ratchet and other strange tools that King Sigurd had never seen before. "What's this?" Sigurd asked, pointing to one of the tools. "It's based on something they made," Brunnard answered, nudging a shoulder in Takao's direction. Brunnard pulled the tool out of its looped slot on the leather belt and clicked the single button on the side of it, causing a clear bulb at the end of it to light up and project a beam up to the pitched ceiling where it formed a bright circle. "I call it a Firefly," the blacksmith said, although Takao Eguchi himself would perceive it as an ordinary flashlight. Brunnard clicked the button again, causing the tool in his hand to cause a strobe effect as the light blinked rapidly. He would click the button one more time. "Three clicks," the blacksmith explained as he turned off the device and slid it back into the looped slot on the toolbelt and set the whole toolbelt aside.

Next he would reach into the kitbag and pull out a variety of other inventions, reverse engineered from the items King Sigurd had handed to the smiths, and from the items Kraiger Nallesson had confiscated from the Taiyou chamber. There was a hard work helmet with a built-in headlamp and gasmask, a firstaid kit with bandaids and bandages, a phone radio, a chrome butane liter and a box of soft metal-tipped 5.45x45mm cartridges, which melted in mid-air and thus had been unintentionally converted into incinerating bullets. Unlike the armor piercing tungsten tipped rounds, the Norse blacksmiths had forged metallic lava-like bullets which melted when discharged, creating flaming tiny fireballs which splashed and splattered whenever they hit something, burning through flamable objects slowly like napalm until the metal fragments were cool enough to solidify. "We have enough to arm half the village," Brunnard said as he presented the box of ammunition before his king.

"There's more too," he said, waving for Bruce of Essex to bring in his guests. Just then, Lord Ivan would enter the tent, pulling Kraiger in shackles behind him. Kraiger would fall to his knees between Takao Eguchi and Sigurd Hring, his armor and clothing stripped, his face bloody, bruised and dirty from being pummeled by the guards who had arrested him many days ago. Kraiger was skinnier now, having been starved in a cell inside the watchtower for days. His shoulder wound had been treated and bandaged by one of the handmaidens, but otherwise he was in poor shape with one swollen eyes and a fat lip. Kraiger gazed up to the king quietly, fear in his eyes as he shook his head with disbelief, humbled by the might of the Dano-Swedish king. Sigurd would glance down at Kraiger before looking over to the other men inside the tent.

"My Lord, I only did what was best for our-" Kraiger was suddenly interrupted. "Silence!!!" the king roared, standing up slowly. Sigurd would take one more look at Kraiger before scratching his chin and pacing back and forth. "My Lord-" Ivan tried to speak, but Sigurd raised his hand in the air to stop him. "Let me think," Sigurd said, continuing to pace around in silence for a moment. "Kraigr, you are hereby relieved of your status," King Sigurd commented. "My Lord, I-" Kraiger was interrupted abruptly. "You have only brought war upon our people, Lord Kraiger, is that what you think is best for my establishment?" King Sigurd would hear no more of it. He walked back to the table, reached into the canvas kitbag and pulled out another small capsule-shaped device with wires attached to it, examining it quietly before looking over to Takao and Brunnard, obviously curious about the function and purpose of such a device.

"What is this supposed to be?" King Sigurd asked, glancing over at Takao Eguchi for answers. "Omar cut it out of the golem they constructed. It is not a monster, it is some kind of armor," the battered prisoner interrupted before getting punched in the face again by Lord Ivan's metal gauntlet. "Speak only when spoken too," Ivan commanded, reminding Kraiger of his place in the conversation. Takao would pause nervously before flipping through his books and showing King Sigurd a diagram of a Taiyou operated Yunboro mechsuit, before pointing to a picture of the Yunboro's CPU or power cell. King Sigurd scratched his chin quietly, studying the picture in silence for a moment before deciding what to do next. "Lord Ivan," the king said softly. "Escort Lord Kraiger back to the dungeons until I decide what to do," King Sigurd insisted as he shewed the ghost warrior away from him. "And see to it that he gets fed. I want to give him a fair trial," Sigurd added as Ivan saluted him before dragging Kraiger out of the tent by the metal collars around his throat and wrists.

"Brunnard, thank you for traveling so far. Please, enjoy yourself at the great hall," Sigurd said calmly before turning to look at Takao's books again. "Tell me more," the king said, fumbling with the Yunboro's power source. Sigurd Hring stared at Takao Eguchi quietly, listening and waiting stillfully for answers.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Seno Miyagi Character Portrait: Yoko Kayabuki Character Portrait: Imperial Taiyou Army Character Portrait: Yukiko Takayama Character Portrait: Sigurd Hring Character Portrait: Takao Eguchi

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Iskjerne Bay, the Cave Chamber

Kamidake kept his staff out, and his eyes affixed to Jarl Evan as the man seemed to plead with them not to shoot. Kamidake looked to Evan as if he understood the words perfectly, and while Kamidake's lips moved to speak Taiyou, Evan would hear the words in his native tongue, as easily as if a native viking was speaking to him.

"We mean you no harm." Kamidake said, his voice calm, but firm, his hand firmly clasping the orbed staff as the light emanating from it began to subside so that it was tolerable to those inside the cave.

Keeping his eyes on Evan, Kamidake took another step forward, holding the staff up so that he was illuminated. The first thing that was noticeable was Kamidake's clothes. A traditional white kimono, worn under a light blue haori jacket, which gave Kamidake's appearance a soft pastel appearance, a contrast to the dirty, ashen vikings.

Completing Kamidake's attire was an armored chestplate that went over his shoulders in wide arches, attached to his Haori with two red orbs, the armored chest-plate appeared to be made from finely carved wood, crystallized with sap from an ancient tree. The ornately wrapped hilt of a katana sat secured to the obi of Kamidake's Kimono. After a moment, Kamidake moved to allow Prime Minister Kayabuki, a middle aged woman in a red pantsuit to emerge through the gate, followed by a woman in cargo pants, hiking boots, and a fur lined nylon jacket.

Seno was the third person to step through the gate, and the last man, an older man similarly dressed to the young Kamidake, the legendary guardian Azaka, however his staff orb, and chest-plate orbs were blue, as opposed to red.

Azaka clasped his staff firmly, as the gate shut, and latched behind them, he took a position besides the Science director, and the Prime Minister, surveying the chamber quite intently.

It was Prime Minister Kayabuki's turn to speak, so she took a step forward, standing directly besides Azaka to address the Vikings in the chamber, like Kamidake, her voice carried through the chamber in their native language, even if Kayabuki was speaking Taiyou.

"We are an envoy sent on behalf of His Majesty, the Emperor Shimizu Takayama, of the Taiyou Empire of Greater Niihama, I am Prime Minister Yoko Kayabuki, this is Crown Princess Yukiko Takayama, and this is Director Seno Miyagi, head of the Science Division of the Ministry of Technology, and Culture. We have come to seek an audience with your king, and to demand answers as to why our people were attacked unprovoked."

"If you choose to attack us, you will be swiftly defeated, so it is better if we go quietly, so that we may meet with your King, and reach a mutually peaceful solution." Yukiko commented, sliding her cellular phone into her jacket pocket.

Kayabuki kept her eyes fixed onto Jarl Evan, while the woman was smaller in stature, she commanded great respect among the rest of the entourage, and as with the Princess Yukiko, the guardians would lay their lives down in her defense.

---
Iskjerne Settlement

Takao quietly sat and watched as Brunnard placed the kit bag on the table, and his eyes widened at the technology inside. Surely the Vikings couldn't have come up with this in such a short period of time. He looked to the shell casings, and while lacking the precision machining that went into the tecnology produced by his people, the craftsmanship was exquisite.

Takao was visibly uncomfortable at the events playing out before him, the lighter, the flashlight, all of this meant that they either were shared the technology, which, given the lack of contact, or the Self-Defense Commander's unwillingness to even open a dialogue, was unlikely.

"You must have taken..." Takao said in English quietly. "You must have taken, made war..." Takao said as he slowly stood up. The look of fear, and panic crossed his face as he began to speak in Taiyou, and speak quickly, with great fear and concern given in the tone of his voice. "Anata wa naniwoshita! Watashi no hitobito wa kitto ima hōfuku surudeshou! Anata wa jibun jishin ni fukō to shi o motarashimashita!" He cried out, pointing angrily at Kraiger.

He regained his composure quickly, though and looked back to the great king. Perhaps this display would appease the envoy that would inevitably come before them.

He looked to the diagram of the Yunboro, and then to the power cell, glaring at Kraiger. "It is called Yunboro, it not armor, not weapon, Yunboro for build, move great stones easy, make easy build house, one yunboro do work of one hundred men, it no threat, but Omar attack?"

Takao took a breath to calm himself, before he looked up to Sigued. "My people angry, but not likely make war, my people peaceful, they may come, demand justice, demand answer, war is last resort."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Seno Miyagi Character Portrait: Yoko Kayabuki Character Portrait: Yukiko Takayama Character Portrait: Sigurd Hring Character Portrait: Takao Eguchi

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As the 6-foot-tall Northman of Iskjerne Bay stood before the five well-dressed Taiyou figures in front of him, Jarl Evan Skjalsson provided a Norwegian contrast to their Asiatic culture. He was large, stocky and muscular with a bald shaved head and reddish beard. His head and body were covered with vinework tribal tattoos which could barely be visible over his black painted skin. Evan had a tiwaz rune symbol painted on his forehead and was dressed rather crudely, more for comfort and maneuverability than for looks or fashion. His greenish blue eyes were squinted upon Kamidake and his red orb staff as his vision returned slowly. Kamidake's own eyes were fixed on Skjalsson as he spoke to him in a language the Northman understood. Kamidake would introduce Jarl Evan to the Taiyou prime minister Yoko Kayabuki as crown princess Yukiko Takayama, the sister of Taiyou emperor Shimizu Takayama, entered behind her, followed by the science director Seno Miyagi and the guardian Azaka with his blue orb staff.

"We are an envoy sent on behalf of His Majesty, the Emperor Shimizu Takayama, of the Taiyou Empire of Greater Niihama, I am Prime Minister Yoko Kayabuki, this is Crown Princess Yukiko Takayama, and this is Director Seno Miyagi, head of the Science Division of the Ministry of Technology, and Culture. We have come to seek an audience with your king, and to demand answers as to why our people were attacked unprovoked."

Jarl Evan watched them all carefully, obviously distrustful about their intentions. For a moment he glanced back to his shield and spear, both of which were just a few feet behind him leaning against a rock. He turned and looked at the prime minister silently before Yukiko slid her cellphone into her pocket and warned him not to do anything stupid. The jarl had never seen a cellphone before, but he didn't trust Yukiko or any of the other Taiyou in the white robes, nor the devices they were carrying. Something about them was fishy, and the Norse petty chieftain had his own questions. "How do you know our language? Where is Omar?" he asked suddenly, never bothering to introduce himself. He turned his attention then to Seno Miyagi, recognizing him by his glasses. "And you, where is that medicine you promised?" Jarl Evan glared distrustfully at the science director before turning his attention back to Kamidake and his red orb staff. The petty chieftain stood there quietly, unthreateningly but also unafraid. He was stalling the Taiyou so that Ryan the Freeman and Rolind Skjalsson, his two younger brothers, could sneak away and escape. Ryan, Rolind, Evan and their other brother Erling Snake were all sons of Skjal the Merciless from the House of Norway, and so it was Evan's responsibility as a jarl and a brother to protect his kinsmen and his king.

Ryan and Rolind would listen quietly to Jarl Evan's conversation with the Taiyou, then creep away silently and forewarn any of the other Norsemen they came across throughout the cave tunnels. The word of Princess Yukiko's arrival spread quickly to the surface where the two dozen guards from the watchtower were already waiting. Meanwhile, another small group of guards led by Lord Ivan were escorting King Sigurd's prisoner Kraiger Nallesson in chains up to the the long stone stairway to the watchtower, where they would imprison him inside the tower's lightless dungeon. As news of the princess's arrival spread, other goings on would occur back at the Great Hall that would eventually effect the Norsemen's relationship with their Taiyou neighbors. King Sigurd had a great deal of issues to consider now as he looked around the animal skinned tent where the young Takao Eguchi was standing, somewhat frantic and confused by the Norse attack on the gateway.

But as Takao unleashed his own frustrations, King Sigurd remained silent, listening to everything while making his own mental decisions. It wasn't until Takao became too excited around the king that Bruce placed a hand on the hilt of his sword, causing the young man to instantly stop talking and take a seat. Suddenly the Taiyou researcher wasn't angry, he was afraid. Lord Bruce of Essex stood idly by though, awaiting orders as the news of Seno Miyagi's return reached the gates and the Norsemen began to gather in the great hall. King Sigurd would turn to look at Bruce once more before looking at Takao and smiling. "You will be going home soon my friend. Be sure to tell your people good things about me... Make sure he doesn't leave," King Sigurd smirked, patting Takao on the shoulder before turning and leaving the tent. "This is not good," Bruce of Essex shook his head with a sigh, waiting quietly by the tent entrance, as he was still sworn to accompany and protect Takao as his personal bodyguard against any of the other Norsemen who might've wished to kill him over the time he had been Sigurd's guest.

Brunnard the Blacksmith had also taken King Sigurd up on his offer and had gone to the great hall, where everyone waited for the king to take his throne again. Takao and Bruce would stare around each other in ackward silence, Takao tapping lightly on his own knees while staring at the ceiling as Bruce bit his own lip and lowered his head quietly just staring at him. But despite the humor, there were other forces at work in Iskjerne Bay that would soon disturb the silence. "Tap-tap-tap!" three slender arrows would suddenly bounce off the dome shaped walls of the tent. For although the tent was covered with multiple layers of animal furs, they had been weatherproofed and strengthened, and were reinforced by large megafauna bones which deflected the arrows with ease. Bruce and Takao were under attack. "What was that?" Takao asked quietly, looking up at the domed rooftop. Bruce of Essex would pick up his shield and unsheath his sword, turning to step outside and intending to investigate the matter when suddenly he was impaled right in front of Takao, a sharp steel sword protruding from Bruce's back shoulder before he was pushed back into the tent and the bloody blade was withdrawn from his body. Bruce stumbled and fell over at Takao's feet as a black knight entered the tent wearing full crusader-type body armor holding the bloody sword in both hands while looking at Takao Eguchi from behind a full-visored helmet.

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Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Seno Miyagi Character Portrait: Yoko Kayabuki Character Portrait: Shimizu Takayama Character Portrait: Yukiko Takayama Character Portrait: Sigurd Hring Character Portrait: Takao Eguchi

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The transition into realspace was sudden, and abrupt. But the organ didn't stop playing, as slender fingertips danced across the keys, drawing fourth an eerie melody. Surrounded by towering marble pillars, a glimmering marble floor, and the vast interior that he called his throne room, Shimizu Takayama manipulated the instrument to bring fourth sound that was pleasing to his ears.

"Tennoheika, we're in orbit above Gaia, just beyond the technological interference field, if we move any further, we risk damaging the Soja." A voice called out over the somber melody of the organ, and Shimizu stopped playing to look up, a projection superimposed on the ceiling of the Ship's Commander.

"This is far enough, calibrate the transit array, and prepare for my disembarkation." He said, pulling his hands away from the keys, and rising to his feet. "These people, and their insolence will inevitably cease to amuse me."

Briefly, the man surveyed his surroundings, the elaborate throne room that he called home, where he administered the daily operations of his Empire. Being mobile aboard the Soja had it's advantages. One of them being that he was incredibly difficult to track, which meant would be assassins would be fooled.



After taking several paces, he placed his hand upon one of the cobra statues that guarded his throne, then he checked the hilt of Tenchi-Ken, the Sword of Heaven and Earth, and symbol of his authority. The Sword seemed at first glance to be a simple wooden hilt, carved from an ancient tree and crystallized with it's sap, three red gems rested in the pommel.

"These savages will be made to account for their insolence." The man said quietly, as arcs of energy began to form before him, the air warped, and bent. "I will slaughter them all myself." He said with a grin, brushing hair away from his face, and then he composed himself, bringing the wicked snarl back into a straight face, smoothing his attire, which consisted of a simple black Yukata with white undershirt, and tan colored overcoat.




"At large." Kayabuki replied in response to the question regarding Omar. "After he slaughtered a dozen security officers, and then escaped into our city." The Prime Minister answered, her lips speaking Taiyou but her words carrying in the nordic languages that the others could comprehend.

"Our language is being translated for you, through magic, likewise your language is translated into a tongue we can understand, it's a simple alteration, but one that is effective." Kamidake elaborated, glancing briefly to his staff, and then back to Evan.

"The medicine is coming, but your king needs to explain a few things to my superiors, before they decide to fulfill our end of the bargain." Seno said calmly. "Your friend Omar... I presume that is his name, crossed the gateway and killed my people on the other side, there he fled the cave chamber, and into our city, where he is on the run." Seno explained, taking a step forward, briefly casting a glance over to Yukiko, and then Kayabuki. "Word of this reached our Emperor, whom is displeased. I had hoped to arrange medicine be brought, but that arrangement was denied." Seno admitted, briefly glancing over towards Skjalsson for a moment, as Kamidake too took a step forward.

"It is imperative we be shown the settlement, and granted an audience with the King at once." Kamidake insisted, but Azaka seemed to be distracted. He spoke in Taiyou to Kamidake, intently obscuring his words so that Skjalsson couldn't understand him.

"Watashi wa chōdo Watashi wa chōdo Sōja ga kidō ni notte kuru no o kanjimashita."

Kamidake looked briefly back towards Azaka, and frowned. "Watashi mo kanjimashita."

The pair of Guardians turned back towards Evan, a sense of urgency playing on his face. "The fate of your people rests on this meeting, we must make haste."




Inside the tent, there seemed to be an awkward silence since the King left. He was visibly confused after the King left, and his agitation died down, the commotion of the settlement wasn't lost on him. Were his people retaliating for Omar's attack? What did King Sigurd mean about him going home soon. All of this played as visible confusion on the man's face, as they sat there in silence, at least until the sound of arrows hitting the tent could be heard.

Takao quietly nodded as Bruce went out to investigate the noise, but that silence was abruptly interrupted, the sound of metal in flesh filled the tent, and the Taiyou researcher jumped back, gasping as his eyes were fixated on the sword, Takao was certain he was going to meet his end, as he backed up against the far wall of the tent, swallowing back bile, and vomitus from the sight of the dying Bruce before him. Words lost upon him, only a wide-eyed stare at the strange armored figure before him.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Seno Miyagi Character Portrait: Yoko Kayabuki Character Portrait: Shimizu Takayama Character Portrait: Yukiko Takayama Character Portrait: Sigurd Hring Character Portrait: Erling Snake Character Portrait: Takao Eguchi

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As the black crusader entered Takao Eguchi's animal skinned tent, he wiped the blood from his blade and looked down at the young Taiyou boy from the single eyeslit of his cylindrical black knight's helmet. The knight was covered in medium armor from head to toe wearing a black tunic over chainmail, with thick padded gloves and black leather boots. His entire face was masked by his visor, and on one of his shoulder plates was an engraving of a large S-shaped serpent entwined around a cross. The mysterious figure stepped forward into the tent, looking down at Lord Bruce of Essex before turning his gaze on Takao Eguchi who was now unarmed and unprotected. "What's this? You aren't the man I'm after," his deep voice growled from behind his visor. But the knight raised his sword above his head anyway as Takao raised his arms in front of himself and closed his eyes tightly as the long broad sword came slashing down at his skull. "Cla-cling!" suddenly metal struck against metal as Lord Bruce of Essex rose back up from his fallen state, putting his own blade between Takao and the man who was trying to kill him. Bruce would stare at the black knight with hatred in his eyes as he pushed the crusader's blade away before elbowing him in the side of his helmet. The knight would suddenly stumble sideways as Lord Bruce stood up between him and Takao, gripping his slightly shorter viking sword with both hands, blood running down his right arm from the painfully deep shoulder wound that the knight had inflicted on him.

"Takao quickly, take my axe!" Bruce shouted, refering to the small axe he had contained on the back of his belt. Takao had never really seemed to notice it before under Bruce's cape, but now that Bruce's back was towards him, the short bearded axe was standing out to Takao like a sore thumb. Whether the young man had been in a real fight before or not, he very soon would be as the black knight turned and swung his longsword wildly at Bruce's abdomen. Lord Bruce was ready this time however, deflecting the crusader's blade with his own sword before slicing upwards under the knight's armpit and slamming his pommel into the knight's forehead. The mysterious warrior would stumble backwards again, regaining his composure just in time to be ran through. Bruce of Essex would lunge forward, thrusting the tip of his blade into the black knight's narrow eyeslit before running his sword through the back of his head. The masked crusader would fall to his knees, blood rushing from the bottom of his helmet as Bruce placed a boot on the dead man's chest and kicked him over, removing his blade from the black knight's helmet. He then pushed the knight's body over with his foot, glancing down at the S-shaped serpent and cross on his metal shoulder plate. "Impossible," Bruce expressed with disbelief just as two more black knights in similar garb entered the tent, one holding a glaive-like halberd while the other had a morning star on a chain. Somehow the outer wall of the Norse fortress had been breached by Christian raiders looking to kill King Sigurd and destroy his Heathen kingdom.

But since there was no sound coming from the guards at the gate entrance, it appeared to Lord Bruce that someone must've secretly helped them breach the compound from the inside. The snake on the cross meant only one thing to Lord Bruce, that King Sigurd was now in grave danger, for the crest belonged to King Erling, a merciless rival Christian warlord who would stop at nothing to wipe them all out, even if it meant killing a few Taiyou as well. Lord Bruce and Takao were about to have the fight of their lives as the two other black crusaders split up inside the tent and surrounded them from both sides. It wouldn't be long before everyone else in the ringfort was aware of the infiltration. It couldn't have come at a worse time either, for there in the sky above appeared another strange phenomenon. The Soja, a mysterious looking ship sent down by the Taiyou had also just arrived. On board this large creepy vessel was Emperor Shimizu, himself preparing to wage war on King Sigurd's viking settlement. The guards protecting the outer wall of the concentric ringed fortress would gaze up at the skies with disbelief, the Soja's sudden appearance in the clouds distracting most of the Norsemen from the handful of Christian raiders on the ground, who only appeared to be looking near the tents.

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Meanwhile, the majority of villagers and Norse settlers had once again collected in the Great Hall at the highest most central point within the ringfort as King Sigurd took up his throne again to hold a public discussion about the sudden drastic chain of events that were happening. It seemed that the battle scarred konung could never get one moment of peace in his own kingdom and it was starting to really bother him. In fact, he was becoming quite furious, growing ever more impatient and less kind to those around him. "Bring me my armor!" he shouted angrily, plopping down on his throne before a large audience. "Who in Hel's name do these people think they are, coming into my realm and trying to make demands of me? Don't they know who the fuck I am?!" Sigurd slammed his fist down on the table, so hard that the table would actually crack beneath his fist. "My Lord, you are-" Sigurd suddenly pulled out a dagger from his boot and hurled it across the room, sticking it into the ashwood beam beside whoever was talking. "I am Sigurd Ringtaker, king of the north!!!". He would stand up and pace around the tables, singling people out by pointing his finger at random individuals inside the hall. "Not you! Not you! Not you and not you!!! ME!!!" he roared furiously, his voice loud and deep, echoing throughout the great hall as people backed away from him in fear. "Now who gives any of you the right to undermind MY authority?! Huh?! WHO!!!" he roared again, retrieving the dagger from the wooden beam as he walked by it. "If any of you would rather be king, go ahead. Do you see that throne over there? Kill me, right here right now, and you can have it eh?" Sigurd stuck his arms out to the side and looked up towards the ceiling, closing his eyes. He waited patiently for someone to sneak up behind him and slit his throat, but nobody dared to try. This seemed to only infuriate him more as he squeezed his eyes shut, shouting as loud as he could. "WHO, WANTS TO BE KING?!!!" Sigurd's voice was like thunder.

After a moment of uncomfortable silence, only one person would approach Sigurd Hring, and only to place the king's battle crown above his head. "Every man here would give his very last breath for you King Sigurd, son of Randver, every last one of us" a gentle voice spoke to him. King Sigurd would open his eyes and turn around slowly only to see hundreds of men, women and children all nodding their heads in agreement. The man who spoke to him would place the king's breastplate on his chest and attach it to his body as Sigurd kept his arms extended to the side, looking around the room. In a short time period under his rulership, several Norse cave miners had been injured by Taiyou carelessness, some of the Skjalsson brothers had betrayed him by starting a war with them, a paid berserker had tried to assassinate him, and more tensions were rising throughout his kingdom that he wasn't even aware of yet. But despite the non-stop drama and Sigurd Hring's growing anger, the Iskjerne Vikings still understood and supported him as their leader. Several of them would stand up and place a closed fist to their own breastplates, saluting King Sigurd with the utmost respect. Others were now dawning their own chestplates and armor, or else stomping and tapping their spears on the wooden tables above the soft turf floor in a rhythmic melody and manner. This they all did to honor their oath rings, and their king.

A circle of young redheaded ladies were brought into the hall at that moment. They were all dressed in long white see-through linen dresses, being completely naked underneath with cat-skinned belts, feathered scarves and long thin white gloves, adorned with an assortment of jewelry decorated with raven feathers, cat bones and many colorful gemstones. There were five of them in all. Every one of them was still a virgin, and all of them were sisters, being born from the same mother. These five young ladies would dance barefoot in a circle around their king, mumbling and chanting amongst themselves in a song and language that was foreign to him, while one of them called upon the various Norse gods for help. "We call upon the spirits of the ancestors to protect this settlement, this kingdom and its people. Sigurd, son of Randver, high king of the north. May you be granted the wisdom of Odin, the mercy of Frigg, the courage of Tyr, the strength of Thor, the swiftness of Skadi, the winds of Njordr, the magic of Freyja, the eyes of Heimdall, the fairness of Freyr, the healing of Eir, the longevity of Baldur, the vengefulness of Vali, and the humor of Loki" the young fair maiden chanted swiftly and quietly, poking her fingertip with a needle before drawing a blood red Dagaz rune on the king's forehead to protect him in battle, specifically against any magical weapons or spells which might be used against him by the Skjalssons, who were known to follow Odin.

Meanwhile, around the time when Omar was in a gunfight with Takashi in Niihama City, something else was taking place deep down in one of the chambers of the Iskjerne Cave, one of the high ranking earls of Norse society standing all alone in front of the five Taiyou political leaders who demanded to see the king. They warned Jarl Evan that his people were at great risk, causing Evan to raise his head and glare at them quietly. Were they trying to help? Or were they trying to kill the king? Evan contemplated for a moment. "If you are lying..." the jarl paused, lowering his arms as he looked at Yukiko and Kamidake more closely. "I will kill you myself... Now follow me" Evan said with a slight nod, before turning to go pick up his spear and shield. But as he turned around and motioned for them to fillow him back into Iskjerne's cave tunnels, the Taiyou in the white robes would notice that on the back of his toolbelt, Jarl Evan had already had a magic weapon hidden behind him the whole time. It was a curved bone dagger made entirely of a single fang from a smilodon. It had been fitted with a pitch black gem, and the whole handle had been carved to grip with runic engravings all over it going even up the spine of the blade. The dagger had been gifted to him as a present, and Evan kept it always for backup.

Back up at the surface, within the clouds, other things were taking place in the sky. Above the planet's atmosphere, from a safe distance above Gaia's surface, an alien ship cast a dark shadow over the face of a daylight moon, something like a grey cloud descending from outer space, its occupants no doubt peering down over the Weargtooth Mountains to the Iskjerne viking settlement in the middle of its frozen arctic, where a hundred or more Norse guards gazed up at the sunny blue sky in awe, witnessing the shadow over the moon, which seemed to them like a bad omen. "Ragnarok!" one of the Norsemen shouted, for an old prophesy foretold that the black wolf Managarmr would one day devour the moon signalling the end of their world. Others called the dark wolf by another name however, Hati Hróðvitnisson, the warg pup of Fenrir the Famous, a monster feared by gods and men alike. It was at this time that one of the patrolmen noticed that a couple of the animal skinned tents were smoking. Someone had set the tents on fire, and it wouldn't take long to realize that there was a small band of intruders. The crusader knights had infiltrated one of the outer wall's many lookout towers, assisted with help from one of the guards, a Norwegian archer named Edill Skjalsson who had killed the other two guards on duty before sneaking the Christian raiders into the tower. Despite their appearance, however, and the fact they were wearing better armor, these were not crusaders. They were vikings. They were led by Edill's brother Erling Snake, a contesting King of the North who had slipped back in time in an attempt to change the course of history. If only he could kill King Sigurd, his empire would be complete.

The setting changes from iskjerne-bay to Ellaria

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Seno Miyagi Character Portrait: Yukiko Takayama Character Portrait: Legion of Shadows Character Portrait: Zhou 'Spud' Myrkul Character Portrait: Sinfrost Character Portrait: Sigurd Hring Character Portrait: Takao Eguchi Character Portrait: Iskjerne Vikings Character Portrait: Eras

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From northern far, in, a deep chill seeped, to the bone, through the scale, up the roots. White pockets of fire erupted throughout- advancements made by those within and foreign tools come here for final rest ceasing to exist with a flash and bang. A lament was cried from the Bez Daha Trees to Saggitae, to Gaia, to anyone who could hear and would, that again did Eras breathe upon this realm; and would continue to breathe, continue to inhale their realm, continue to flex chaos and destruction, until Gaia drew breath no more.

The setting changes from ellaria to Iskjerne Bay

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Seno Miyagi Character Portrait: Yoko Kayabuki Character Portrait: Shimizu Takayama Character Portrait: Yukiko Takayama Character Portrait: Sigurd Hring Character Portrait: Erling Snake Character Portrait: Takao Eguchi Character Portrait: Eras

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From northern far, in, a deep chill seeped, to the bone, through the scale, up the roots. White pockets of fire erupted throughout- advancements made by those within and foreign tools come here for final rest ceasing to exist with a flash and bang.

As if the gods themselves were angry at this transgression of their divine order, a massive thunderbolt struck down out of the blue, destroying much of the Taiyou gear and production facilities in the dead of the night when the craftsmen were away from their posts. Miraculously, everyone would escape injury, but the guns and other tokens of Taiyou affection were melted into slag heaps or damaged beyond repair. Many crystalline powered weapons were not left to spare, too suffering under the wrath of who?

A lament was cried from the Bez Daha Trees to Saggitae, to Gaia, to anyone who could hear and would, that again did Eras breathe upon this realm; and would continue to breathe, continue to inhale their realm, continue to flex chaos and destruction, until Gaia drew breath no more.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Seno Miyagi Character Portrait: Yoko Kayabuki Character Portrait: Shimizu Takayama Character Portrait: Yukiko Takayama Character Portrait: Sigurd Hring Character Portrait: Erling Snake Character Portrait: Takao Eguchi

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In the midst of the Viking settlement at Iskjerne, among a group of tents, and in front of the great hall. There was a crackling of energy, a brilliant sphere of green light began to materialize, crackling with power, arcing with green bolts of lightning which leapt from the sphere, and into the ground.

Pops, and crackles of sound emanated from the green sphere of light, before the light opened up, forming a person sized silhouette of black within.

The person stepped forward, and there was an audible snap of sound, like the cracking of a great stone before he came into the full light of the sun, and the portal snapped shut behind him with a loud pop.

His hair was neatly combed to one side, thin, soft strands blowing slightly in the frigid wind of the Iskjerne bay. A shiver ran down his spine as the cold slowly seeped through his clothes, and into his skin.

The overcoat deflected much of the wind from his body, but the smell brought a brief wrinkle to his nose, the settlement was primitive. This was what the Science Ministry wanted to investigate?

Slender fingers moved towards the sword Tenchi, which was secured at his belt, it had been some time since he had tasted blood, but he would only act in self defense.

Pulling the wooden hilt free from his belt, he clasped it firmly in his hand, and looked up to the norse guards, and he could hear the commotion within the longhouse.

His eyes darted to the flaming tents, and he focused his will for the slightest of moments, igniting Sword Tenchi as a brilliant shimmering blue blade of light jutted fourth from the wooden hilt. There were raiders, wearing some kind of heavy armor. The Longhouse would have to wait, as Shimizu caught the sight of two heavily armored men entering a tent, was that a Taiyou inside the Tent?

Shimizu suddenly vanished from where he stood, flickering out of existence for a brief moment before reappearing just outside the tent, upon the heels of the two black knights that entered.

He stormed into the tent, and would be the first thing that Takao would see. Shimizu lunged forward at the first knight, the one closest to Takao before the Knight could react. He brought Sword Tenchi across the man's armored torso in a wide cleaving motion, sweeping the sword from right, to left. The Black Knight would have scant moments to react before the white hot blade of pure cosmic energy cleaved him clean in two in one fell, effortless sweep.

"Okurete!" The young man called out, and Takao didn't hesitate, kicking himself back as the young man turned to face the second black knight, the blue light of his blade glinting, and reflecting off the armor.

The young man who, to Bruce didn't seem like much, while Tall, the young man was a scant one hundred and sixty three pounds. He held the shimmering blade in the Hasso no Kamae stance. Holding the blade paralell with his body, with the hilt at chest height, the shimmering blade held close to his face. He kept his feet shoulder width apart, and watched both Bruce's, and the Black Knight's next move.

----

Quietly, Kayabuki and the Taiyou party followed Evan and his people, they knew that time was growing short.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: I AM Z Character Portrait: Seno Miyagi Character Portrait: Yoko Kayabuki Character Portrait: Shimizu Takayama Character Portrait: Yukiko Takayama Character Portrait: Sigurd Hring Character Portrait: Erling Snake Character Portrait: Takao Eguchi Character Portrait: Iskjerne Vikings

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And so it had begun. Dark clouds hovered over Iskjerne Bay between the Weargtooth Mountains, bolts of lightning of various types and colors. First red and purple heat lightning. Then a loud white lightning bolt, followed by a green lightning web. To the vikings, it seemed like Ragnarok had arrived. To the knights, it seemed like the Apocalypse was occurring. But as the King of Iskjerne stepped shirtless out of the great hall and into the wispy cold, he had a wide grin and an evil fury in his gaze. He was just about to order an attack on the Taiyou, but just then a Christian knight came out of nowhere and tried to tackle him. This was a bad move, however, as Sigurd quickly reacted, sidestepping the knight's lunge whilst bringing his expensive sword blade up against his neck. Before he could even react, Sigurd beheaded the knight, his twitching body hitting the ground as his head fell, rolling down his shoulder and off to the side of the king's path.

Lord Bruce watched in terror as Emperor Shimizu cut down the knights before him. He kept his guard up, staring at Shimizu with unwavering eye contact. "Takao, do you know this man?" he asked calmly, gripping the hilt of his sword at shoulder level. By this time, Erling Snake had made his way past the second wall and was looking up the hill towards the ringfort. "Burn everything! Spare no one!" He shouted, walking up to one of the viking captives and impaling him with his longsword. More knights entered the breached gateway behind him, met by a wall of shields and spears as the Vikings charged at them. Sigurd Hring felt the enchanting power of the runic spells and the blood magic ritual covering him like a bearskin. His eyes twitched and flickered. His face became contorted. He would snarl, growl and huff lowly, hatefully glaring down the hill towards Erling Snake, who snickered back to him.

Suddenly, another large object could be seen approaching from the distance. From out of the great chill came what looked like an avalanche from the mountains. A huge cloudy mist started to close in on the viking settlement as a large blanket of snow started to cover the area. As it approached the viking village, suddenly a dragon's head appeared from out of the mist. Then the dragon's neck, and finally the Taiyou and the Vikings would see the whole creature. It was a dragon ship, the largest one the vikings had ever built. Hrollaug had daringly sailed it down the mountainside and towards the bay area. As the ship slid across the blanket of snow, one could make out a crew of about a hundred or more vikings. They were being led by Hrollaug, and by Gwyneth the shield-maiden, who shot a whistling arrow towards the invading knights, jumping on to the tower as soon as the large sailing vessel ploughed into Iskjerne's outer wall.

Sigurd's reinforcements had arrived..."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: I AM Z Character Portrait: Seno Miyagi Character Portrait: Yoko Kayabuki Character Portrait: Shimizu Takayama Character Portrait: Yukiko Takayama Character Portrait: Sigurd Hring Character Portrait: Erling Snake Character Portrait: Takao Eguchi Character Portrait: Iskjerne Vikings

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Slowly, the viking settlers of Iskjerne Bay would start to experience a change of luck. The arrival of the Rainstorm Dragonship struck fear into the hearts of Erling's knights. The Christians started to withdraw, fighting their way back in the direction they came. The gjallahorn blew loudly, echoing for miles, a newfound boost of morale as the vikings pushed forward, roaring sounds of victory or Valhöll, giving Sigurd Hring a chance to duel with Erling Snake more personally. The two former comrades gazed at one another with hatred, both of them walking slowly towards one another with their swords already prepared to strike. Sigurd would dodge a throwing axe as it flew past him, his eyes still focussing on the opponent in front of him.

"This ends here Snake," the king said as he approached the traitor. "Nice kingdom you have here. Took me a minute to find you!" King Erling lashed out, swinging his blade towards Sigurd's chest. The pagan king would respond by deflecting the blade with his own before trying to cut Erling's arm. Erling was fast however, and managed to evade Sigurd's steel before chuckling quietly. "You should have stayed in Iceland," Sigurd said calmly. "Aw, but don't you want to know how I got here?" Snake asked sarcastically, this time going in for an upward slash to Sigurd's chin. Sigurd would lean back, blocking the swing and redirecting it away from himself with his hand guard. Metal scraped metal, screeching with a small array of sparks from the force of their blows.

Sir Hadrid was walking around setting fire to the viking tents when suddenly an arrow whistled past his head. Looking up, he could see Gwyneth peering down at him from one of the wall towers. She quickly notched another arrow to her bow, but Sir Hadrid was undaunted. He would approach the tower as she fired arrows at him, one after another. He used his kite shield to stop one of the arrows before he tossed the lit torch into the wall tower. The wood was cold and dry, allowing the straw thatches to catch fire rather quickly. Within moments, Gwyneth would find herself trapped in a smoking tower. Sir Hadrid would gaze up at her and laugh loudly, only to be hit in the back of the head by Hrollaug's axe. There was a loud thud, followed by another as Hrollaug ripped the blade out and drove it into his spine. Sir Hadrid fell forward, dead before he could even hit the ground.

Sigurd Hring and Erling Snake continued their duel on the edge of the hill, swords clanking and clashing together with each passing swing. Meanwhile, Lord Bruce of Essex was still inside the tent with Takao and the Emperor, and confusion ensued between the Anglish Norse pagan and the Taiyou autokrator. Bruce wasn't sure what he should do, so he just kept his guard up and prepared to die mentally as he waited for the Emperor to attack him, or else state his case. Gwyneth scrambled to find a way down from the wall tower, which was slowly going up in flames. She gagged and coughed from the smoke billowing around her as she climbed to the outside of the tower and looked around. Seeing a rope attached to the warning bell, she slid her yew wooden bow over the rope, grabbing it with both hands while clenching an arrow between her teeth.

Just then, the outer wall of the viking ringfort started to crumble. Warriors pushed and shoved to get out of the way as the wall came crashing down near the entrance, a loud boom followed by a crashing wave of bricks and dust, forming a cloud which knocked Sigurd and Erling off of their feet. Sigurd's head started pounding. He felt dizzy as he sat up, being temporarily deafened by the loud crash of heavy logs and stones. As he sat up, he noticed people running around in mass hysteria. Dogs were barking. Women were panicking. There was a young child hiding under a table near one of the food tents, plugging their ears and crying in shock. There was ash and cinder, and rubble everywhere. It all seemed to be happening in slow motion as Sigurd staggered back to his feet slowly, ears still ringing. He tried to look around again for Erling Snake, but the Christian warlord had managed to slip away.

Back at the fallen gate, the vikings were holding strong. Gwyneth ziplined down the rope from the wall tower with her bow, landing gracefully on the ground as the Christian raiders continued to withdraw. By now they were retreating, and their flags waved on the wall, signalling them to fall back to the shore. At that moment, Gwyneth and Prince Hrollaug approached Sigurd and stood beside him on the edge of the hill, watching as the Christians retreated to their ship. It was one more victory for the king, but this time it would be short lived. The Soja was still orbiting up above the planet, prowling the skies like a shadowy wolf.

To make matters worse, other strange forces were now at work, and just then a viking herald rode up to the king on horseback. "My Lord Sigurd, I bring a message from the caves. The foreigners have returned. They have powerful weapons, and Jarl Evan is with them," the herald said before Sigurd nodded, waving a hand for him to go away. "Gwyneth," he mumbled. "Yes my king?" she answered. "Are you okay?" he asked. "Yes," she responded. "I have a new plan. Go fetch Kraiger, bring him before me. Our guests will no doubt wish to see us in person," Sigurd commented while sheathing his sword. Gwyneth nodded and quickly turned to go carry out her orders. Hrollaug placed his hand on Sigurd's shoulder and sighed, offering him a drinking horn filled with mead. Sigurd nodded quietly and took a sip, before staring out silently over the ravaged buildings before him.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Seno Miyagi Character Portrait: Yoko Kayabuki Character Portrait: Shimizu Takayama Character Portrait: Yukiko Takayama Character Portrait: Sigurd Hring Character Portrait: Erling Snake Character Portrait: Takao Eguchi Character Portrait: Iskjerne Vikings

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Shimizu kept himself in the sword stance as he stared down at the englishman, but Takao could only stand by and do nothing, calling out the words 'Tennoheika!' and immediately prostrating himself at Shimizu's feet once the two knights had been felled.

"Kare wa yūjin, watashi no Tennoheika."

Shimizu briefly cast a sidelong glance down at Takao, and then he brought his eyes back to Bruce before the shimmering blue blade of light disappeared with a hissing sound, followed immediately by a popping sound.

The man spoke english, this brought a raised eyebrow from Shimizu, and he chose to answer in almost perfect english, lilted by a strange accent that was unlike those of the Taiyou who attempted to speak english. Shimizu's accent was closer to someone from Greece, or Rome who was speaking the Anglic tongue.

"Of course he knows me, I'm his Emperor." Shimizu replied, slowly bringing Sword Tenchi back down, and letting it clip to a small loop around his belt. "This settlement is under seige, and it seems our technology doesn't work here." Shimizu added, his words still in english.

"Your leader has some explaining to do, please; take me too him." Shimizu implored Bruce. "I see you have treated this man well, you will be rewarded for your efforts."

The arrogance was seeping from Shimizu's words like venom, he regarded these primitives with incredible disdain, but that disdain was well concealed by a veneer of calm, and even a reassuring smile.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shimizu Takayama Character Portrait: Sigurd Hring Character Portrait: Takao Eguchi Character Portrait: Iskjerne Vikings

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Shimizu kept himself in the sword stance as he stared down at the englishman, but Takao could only stand by and do nothing, calling out the words 'Tennoheika!' and immediately prostrating himself at Shimizu's feet once the two knights had been felled.

"Kare wa yūjin, watashi no Tennoheika."

Shimizu briefly cast a sidelong glance down at Takao, and then he brought his eyes back to Bruce before the shimmering blue blade of light disappeared with a hissing sound, followed immediately by a popping sound.

The man spoke english, this brought a raised eyebrow from Shimizu, and he chose to answer in almost perfect english, lilted by a strange accent that was unlike those of the Taiyou who attempted to speak english. Shimizu's accent was closer to someone from Greece, or Rome who was speaking the Anglic tongue.

"Of course he knows me, I'm his Emperor." Shimizu replied, slowly bringing Sword Tenchi back down, and letting it clip to a small loop around his belt. "This settlement is under seige, and it seems our technology doesn't work here." Shimizu added, his words still in english.

"Your leader has some explaining to do, please; take me too him." Shimizu implored Bruce. "I see you have treated this man well, you will be rewarded for your efforts."

The arrogance was seeping from Shimizu's words like venom, he regarded these primitives with incredible disdain, but that disdain was well concealed by a veneer of calm, and even a reassuring smile.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shimizu Takayama Character Portrait: Sigurd Hring Character Portrait: Takao Eguchi Character Portrait: Iskjerne Vikings

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Lord Bruce gripped the hilt of his sword with both hands, holding a European fighting stance. Shimizu kept himself in the Japanese sword stance as he stared down at the Englishman, but Takao could only stand by and do nothing, calling out the words 'Tennoheika!' and immediately prostrating himself at Shimizu's feet once the two knights had been felled. "Kare wa yūjin, watashi no Tennoheika." Lord Bruce of Essex watched in confusion as Takao started rambling and prostrated himself to the lone swordsman.

Shimizu briefly cast a sidelong glance down at Takao, and then he brought his eyes back to Bruce before the shimmering blue blade of light disappeared with a hissing sound, followed immediately by a popping sound. Bruce took notice of the glowing blade as the blueish light whisped away, but said nothing of it at that moment.

"Takao, do you know this man?"

Lord Bruce of Essex indeed spoke English, and this brought a raised eyebrow from Emperor Shimizu, who chose to answer in almost perfect English, lilty a strange accent that was unlike those of the Taiyou who attempted to speak English before. Shimizu's accent was closer to someone from Greece, or Rome who was speaking the Anglic tongue, and this Anglic tongue was what Bruce spoke fluently.

"Of course he knows me, I'm his Emperor." Shimizu replied, slowly bringing Sword Tenchi back down, and letting it clip to a small loop around his belt. Lord Bruce took a moment to digest Shimizu's words. "This settlement is under seige, and it seems our technology doesn't work here." Shimizu added, his words still in English.

Lord Bruce slowly lowered his sword, but kept an eire of caution as he watched the Emperor lower his weapon. He still had a million questions rolling through his mind, especially as to how or why the Christian Knights had infiltrated the kingdom, and what the Taiyou Emperor was doing here. One thing was for certain, however. The Taiyou and the Knights were not in cahoots together, for Lord Bruce had just watched Shimizu fell two of the invaders with his own eyes. This was something he had to consider, as Bruce quietly examined the dangerous individual in front of him.

"Your leader has some explaining to do, please; take me to him." Shimizu implored Bruce. "I see you have treated this man well, you will be rewarded for your efforts." Bruce raised an eyebrow curiously, as if questioning Shimizu's motives, and his understanding. "You mean Lord Sigurd," the Anglo-Saxon warrior exclaimed. "He is not my leader, but I will take you to him" Bruce nodded, sheathing his sword in the process.

The arrogance was seeping from Shimizu's words like venom, he regarded these primitives with incredible disdain, but that disdain was well concealed by a veneer of calm, and even a reassuring smile that Lord Bruce did not seem to notice. He stepped over the dead bodies on the floor and motioned for Shimizu to come, assuming that Takao would naturally follow them. But as he stepped outside the tent, Lord Bruce suddenly felt a sharp pain in his chest. He gasped in agony and fell to one knee, placing his hand on his shoulder. At that moment, the Emperor and Takao would notice fresh red blood flowing out from beneath Bruce's armor. A small price to pay for guarding the Taiyou boy's life.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Seno Miyagi Character Portrait: Yoko Kayabuki Character Portrait: Shimizu Takayama Character Portrait: Yukiko Takayama Character Portrait: Sigurd Hring Character Portrait: Takao Eguchi Character Portrait: Iskjerne Vikings

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Shimizu surveyed his surroundings for a moment longer, there was the clang of battle outside, the sound of thunder rumbling through the skies, and it seemed it was starting to get dark. Something strange was happening around this settlement, and it unnerved the Emperor slightly. He didn't pay much attention to Bruce's wound, or the fact that he was going to take him to Sigurd instead he moved swiftly outside, and took a look upwards.

His radio didn't work, and he was effectively cut off from communication with the Soja, he would have to meet with the approaching diplomatic party, and arrange transit.

"Anata wa, kare no kizu ni nari-gachidesu." he instructed, once again his words bore an accent, the way he spoke Taiyou didn't sound exactly like the others, but Takao understood him as he moved swiftly towards the entrance of the tent, looking up to the sky, and then out to the retreating Christians. He also noted the damage to the outer wall. Things were beginning to heat up.

With a swift movement, the man stepped out of the tent, grasping Tench-ken free from his belt, he started towards where Sigurd was standing adjacent to the settlement entrance, and the great hall.

Shimizu's footfalls crunched on the soil, and with a swift jerking motion, the blade ignited once more, hissing, and then humming, as the solid blade of blue light shimmered against the darkness of the changing environment.

"Rex Sigurd!" Shimizu called out angrily in Anquietas, Staring upwards at the much larger Scandinavian monarch. "Dicere mihi ut quid Ego non uro hic mundus in cineres abit!" The Taiyou monarch called out again, these strange words sounding much more natural to him. He was still walking towards the King before him, as lightning bolts split the skies asunder, anger welling inside the Taiyou Emperor for the humiliating attacks against his people.

At that moment, the Taiyou Party would have come to the outer gate with Jarl Evan, Kayabuki the first person to spot Shimizu approaching the longhouse, and King Sigurd with Tenchi-Ken ignited. The Prime Minister stumbled over her shoes on the rough terrain, but her voice carried across the wind in a shrill panicked call.

"Tennoheika!"

This caught Shimizu's attention for the briefest moments, and his gaze hardened as Kayabuki tried to climb over the rubble, with Azaka, and Director Miyagi in tow.

---

Inside the Tent, Takao moved quickly to pull some gauze from a small first aid kit he was keeping hooked to the belt in his Tobi. he moved quickly towards Bruce and tried to look at the wound. First aid training was given to everyone who worked the mines, inn the event of an accident so that aid could be rendered quickly.

He feared for his Emperor, but he also feared for Bruce's life. Takao moved quickly to try and unfasten the armor so he could get to the wound. If he succeeded he would pull the fabric away, wincing at the sight of blood before putting the Gauze onto the wound. "Hold pressure, stop bleeding." Takao implored. "We must stop Tennoheika, before he start war." Takao added, offering to help Bruce out of the tent, and after Shimizu whom had stormed out.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Seno Miyagi Character Portrait: Yoko Kayabuki Character Portrait: Shimizu Takayama Character Portrait: Yukiko Takayama Character Portrait: Sigurd Hring Character Portrait: Takao Eguchi Character Portrait: Iskjerne Vikings

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Bruce was down on one knee when the Emperor walked past him, paying no mind to his injury as something else caught his attention in the sky. It was at that moment that the Anglic lord would also notice that the sky was getting darker. Bruce looked up towards the distant mountains, focussing on a single white cloud which almost seemed to him like a running horse. Bruce blinked and squinted to look again, but the cloud faded away as he started to get dizzy. He was about to fall over when Takao suddenly ran up to him and started applying first aid. Meanwhile, the Emperor turned to look at King Sigurd, or someone who looked like he could be king, and shouted out at him in a language he didn't understand.

"Rex Sigurd!" Shimizu called out angrily in Anquietas, Staring upwards at the much larger Scandinavian monarch. "Dicere mihi ut quid Ego non uro hic mundus in cineres abit!" The Taiyou monarch called out again as King Sigurd turned at the sound of his name being singled out. "What did this monkey just say to me?" Sigurd asked lowly. "I think he just challenged you to holmgang," Hrollaug said, raising an eyebrow at Shimizu as he approached Sigurd with his sword charged once again. Sigurd would pick up a shield off the ground and do a couple neck rotations before tapping his crucible steel sword blade against his shield boss. He then started to approach Shimizu slowly as lightning bolts tore the sky asunder. He could sense the emperor's hatred, glaring at him quietly as he twirled his sword low through the air, looking down the hill towards him. King Sigurd started to think about the viking miners who got injured during the Taiyou's portal discovery, tucking his shield close like a battering ram while starting to speed up. Sigurd would point the tip of his viking sword at Shimizu as he ran, singling him out as if to let him know that his challenge had been accepted.

As the emperor continued to near closer and closer, Sigurd was about to lunge. But just before they were about to make contact, someone shouted. "Tennoheika!", a woman shouted loudly, drawing the emperor's attention away from Sigurd for just a moment. It was Yoko Kayabuki, the emperor's prime minister as she stumbled to climb over the rubble, with Azaka, and Director Miyagi in tow behind her. "King Sigurd! Stop!" another voice shouted. This time it was the viking jarl, Evan Skjalsson, who slid down the pile of rubble and rocks behind Miyagi, accompanying the Taiyou leaders. As he climbed down over the debri, Evan took note of a dead knight whose navy blue shield bore the symbol of a red serpent. He recognized the symbol immediately as belonging to the House of Norway, the kingdom of Evan's very own brother, Erling Snake.

Sigurd Hring stopped dead in his tracks, watching as the small group of characters gathered around him and Emperor Shimizu, urging both of them to stand down. King Sigurd would glance at Emperor Shimizu, not with hatred but rather with an utter fearlessness, as if ready to lunge out at him at a moment's notice. For his kingdom, for his people, Sigurd would gladly fight to the death. He kept his shield tucked and his sword drawn, ready to strike or defend in an instant as he spat on the ground, keeping his eyes fixed on the emperor as Evan slowly approached them, being cautious. As the settlers started to gather around, Gwyneth suddenly appeared accompanied by a handful of armed viking guards.

Gwyneth and the guards would walk through the gathering crowd as people began whispering under their breaths. For there in her possession was the prisoner Kraiger Nallesson, shackled and blindfolded. Seeing this display caused Sigurd to take a step back and lower his weapons, but he kept a watchful eye on Shimizu, looking for any sudden aggression which might cause him to react. Meanwhile, it seemed that Takao Eguchi had aided Lord Bruce of Essex and was now running around trying to help the injured soldiers. Yoko Kayabuki, Seno Miyagi and Jarl Evan would step forward to the front of the gathering crowd where Emperor Shimizu Takayama and Konung Sigurðr Randvérsson stood at arms. They were followed by the Taiyou crown princess, Yukiko Takayama, as Gwyneth the Shield-Maiden led Kraiger out of the crowd, removing his blindfold but not his shackles. Hrollaug and his men would stand guard and keep a watchful eye on the Taiyou foreigners, whilst also keeping another eye out for any sign of Erling Snake.