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Thread: Round 2: Team 1

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    Round 2: Team 1

    Round Two will beginning 3/17/17 at 3PM EST. Good Luck!

    There are three paths to take.

    1) Corone’s Army, conscripted from the barons, has surrounded Akashima. Its navy has blockaded the sea. In your thread, determine the fate of Akashima. Will Senator Fordstein’s deceit prevail, resulting in him being named baron of Akashima, or will the plot be unraveled before the armies move on their hapless foes?

    2) Senator Fordstein and Ceidon Lore compete to obtain possession of the artifact discovered by Phyr, Leoric and Storm Veritas in the Jagged Mountains. In your thread, trace the fate of the artifact. Will it end up in Fordstein’s hands, will it end up in Ceidon’s hands, or will something completely different happen to it? To avoid an unfair advantage to those players, possession can be automatically assumed by any group.

    3) Ceidon Lore has assembled a rag tag group of diplomats in an attempt to right, what he believes was a wrong that stemmed far deeper than Akashiman independence. The group sails south, following what Ceidon believes is a map to a new world. What will they find, if anything? Will they be absolved of the slaughter of the cat people, or forced to endure a much worse fate?

    A good story will expand on one path. A great story will consolidate all three. In your thread, you must a) regardless of your alignment, work together with your partner overcome a major obstacle; b) somehow, beyond a mere reference, incorporate the Thayne Am'aleh into your story, and c) kill of a major player in the story (sans Ceidon).
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  2. #2
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    “Careful, get your gloves on,” A voice said sternly. There was no room for argument in it’s tone.

    “Why is it important?” A second voice challenged.

    “You want to be cursed like him? Get your damn gloves on and help me put him on this sad excuse for a blanket.”

    “I’d hardly call being effectively immortal a curse,” The second voice offered.

    “Yeah, ask him about it sometime, you’d think it was a curse too,” The tone held a weary tone, as if the point had been argued once before. The sounds of brush being moved from the downed form of a man could be heard, “He put his sword through his own gut. That’s not a good sign…”

    “Why’s that?”

    “How desperate do you think he’d have to be to want to trigger a resurrection? How far against the wall would he be to think that was the best course of action? Now hurry up before the rangers come back, we got a few moments tops.”

    ~*~

    The sounds of shod hooves clopped along the trail, the creak of wood in the occasional breeze. Warmth radiated into the still form on the back of the wagon. A small group of men huddled around, watching the still figure kept under a burlap blanket for privacy. The road was clear on both sides, traversing a meadow that stretched seemingly forever, except in front. Before them the edges of a forest were beginning, and the thickness suggested it was a rather large one.

    The body under the burlap twitched. A chorus of mutterings followed it, as the body twitched once more. Soon coughing filled the air before the corpse convulsed, a spasming that was accompanied by a chorus of cracks and pops as joints once locked in paralysis regained their range of motion. The form shook one final time, as a gauntlet clad hand gently reached out from under the burlap. Grasping the edge it pulled it back, revealing a mess of white hair stained with mud and dirt. A lone white eye looked out amongst the world as the face that contained it winced in the bright light. A hoarse voice spoke, “Report.”

    A tanned skinned man nodded as he hopped into the back and sat down, his voice taking on a more formal tone, “We’re an hour out from Concordia. We received word from a monster hunter named Azaranth that the camp you went to had been overrun and that skullduggery may have happened. We had to be fast and got your body in the dead of night to prevent it from being burned. Don’t worry we used a burlap blanket and gloves to haul you back to Gisela. They were all burned. We had to make camp outside and stand watch since they locked down and it was a hell of a time getting out. Once gates opened for the day we grabbed the wagon and started north.”

    “Did you send warning?” Taka asked softly, pointedly.

    His lieutenant nodded, “I knew you would want it, we sent Weatherly on horse. He’s making haste to Konishiko and her tea house as we speak. He has a note from me on your behalf. That should be all she needs to know that you are alright and on your way to her. I also told her to notify General Jubei of Yanbo Port of the looming threat. Azaranth was not very forthcoming other than the cats were a threat. So it merely says that the ships are not friendly and to treat any attempt to reach the shores as an act of war.”

    Taka nodded as he carefully plucked the ribbon from his hair and carefully pulled his hair back in a new ponytail. His gaze raised to the heavens before he spoke, “There were others, who waylaid me not the refugees. I suspect that the forces of Corone might be working with the nekojin.”

    “That seems to track with what Azaranth said. Something about a caste war going on-”

    “What’s important is that we trust no one freely Erikson-san. Now, let us go to Underwood and into Akashima.”
    Last edited by Tainted Bushido; 03-19-17 at 09:41 AM.
    How something is said, is just as important as what is said. -Anonymous

  3. #3
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    Gravel tumbled along gray trails as the smuggler descended the bleak mountain range empty-handed. His mind turned again to the intricate artifact, and despite the instinct to flee, the nefarious Nyadir thought only of plots to procure it. Steel-toed boots skidded to a stop as he shifted the strap of the blade on his back and gazed back up the mountain. Power lay there, and even now was drawing closer; he only had to wait. Though one eardrum had been destroyed by the lightning-flinging madman, the other still worked well enough that he heard the group he sought approaching. He remained in his hiding spot behind one of the many clusters of boulders along the path. It was a tight squeeze between several large rocks; the wanderer wouldn't be escaping if he was caught. Many tense moments passed, his mind blank as footsteps grew louder.

    They slowly faded again afterward, but he waited several minutes more before emerging. The group would have to make camp at some point, so the swordsman skulked far behind them as they escorted the cat-people and the artifact out of The Jagged Mountains. It wasn't until dark that they finally stopped to camp for the night, a cosy spot up against a short cliff some ten paces high. Much of the range sported such steps, but they all led to nothing but lonely peaks. The deep purple of night fought the warm glow of the campfire they had made, and many eyes peered out from above green cloaks. Approaching any further along the path was impossible with all those Corone Rangers standing watch. The sly smuggler climbed the nearby rocky slope, confident that he was far enough away for loose pebbles to be no concern.

    Once he found stable ground above the swordsman began his approach, half-elven senses sharp for the signs of discovery. This caution and alertness was quite familiar; and the memory of jobs gone wrong in the past kept him on his toes. The smuggler removed his steel-toed boots once he got close enough, and hooked them over the back of his belt by the laces. He also loosened the strap of his sheath, pulling the sword from the hole in his black cloak, and re-sheathing it quietly at his waist. With a hand on its hilt and a cautious step, the half-elf slowly circled around to the top of the small cliff the group was camped near. They had only posted guards facing the trail, but everyone was still awake and examining the artifact by the firelight; the time wasn't right.

    It was much later, with one tired ranger keeping an eye on the cat people as they fussed over the artifact, that one of furry bastards twisted something in one of the intricate patterns on the surface of the puzzle-box. A belt-knife flew out of its sheath and stuck to the artifact, and with a laugh the other cat-thing stepped back a bit. The first struggled for a moment, but once he freed his blade he stepped back as well. In that quiet moment of chagrin between them, a green tint flashed and the box clanked. Stuck to its surface was a plynt dagger trailing steel wire, and just like that it flew up the cliff-face and into the black night. The call was raised and the rangers dispersed, but the smuggler quickly slipped away with the prize.

    The bubbling elation at succeeding in his gamble was soured only by the tenacity with which his dagger clung to the artifact. It wasn't until he was well away from the camp that he even stopped to laboriously tear the blade away. His cloak proved a fine buffer, and after putting his boots back on the half-elf began quickly descending the mountain. He kept the artifact wrapped in black folds and dangling at the end of an outstretched arm, and left behind his souvenir mottled pelt. The wanderer had already claimed a much greater trophy. A few hours into his moonlit trek south, the puzzle box made some noises from within his cloak, and afterward seemed inert. He gladly returned the black cloth to his shoulders, and squeezed the artifact into one of the large lower pockets on his vest. With a sigh of relief and a triumphant grin the smuggler headed south; finding a buyer would be no problem in Radasanth.
    Last edited by Ebivoulya; 03-21-17 at 05:57 AM.

  4. #4
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    A tattered copse of trees well off the main road provided a few fitful hours of sleep for the exhausted swordsman near dawn. What little energy he woke with went straight to mending his busted eardrum and bruised shoulder. He rested one hand on the artifact in his pocket as he stood, eager to sell the thing. The wanderer turned around to leave, and found an old hobo standing there with a smile. The small and grizzled man glanced down to the box, and spoke with a voice smooth and commanding.

    "A curious thing, is it not?"

    Gloved hand at his dagger, the younger man found his hand stayed despite his sudden desire to get rid of this old geezer before he asked more questions. The startled smuggler looked down at the weapon in confusion, and when he looked back up the old codger was admiring the smooth black puzzle box in a bare grip. With mouth agape, the swordsman found his vest pocket still buttoned closed. The small man spoke again, in that tone that dwarfed his stature.

    "Would you like to know how to use it?"

    That question rekindled the buried hope of matching the one-man storm on the battlefield; his hand pulled away from the dagger at his belt, and he slowly nodded. The beggar sat in the dirt and asked the younger man to remove his gloves. Despite the suspicion of some poison, the promise of power compelled him to oblige. The wanderer kept his sharp blue eyes on the artifact as the old man spoke.

    "I would ask a favor in exchange. Return this vessel to the faithful at the port of Yanbo, for they have great need of me."

    He nodded immediately of course, palms sweating as he waited for his opportunity to snatch the box. "Agreed," the smuggler stated curtly. A moment of silence passed, and suddenly the old man's face was inches away and searching the younger man's eyes, their hands interlocked in a burning handshake.

    "What the f-"

    The geezer was seated calmly across from him again, and the wanderer looked down at his quivering hand. The anger had risen sharply when their hands met, and even now it was difficult to contain. "The deal is made," the old man said with authority, and the many questions the half-elf had were ignored when the codger started explaining the box. Apparently, bare hands were necessary, but the finger positions seemed simple enough. The old hobo only taught the younger man two hand positions, but if he wasn't lying, that would be enough. The swordsman’s eyebrow raised once the simple explanation finished, so the codger spoke cryptically.

    "There are other paths within, but you have not the sight to see them."

    The old man handed him back the black box, and stood to leave. The half-elf sat there confused for a moment; he had expected this all to be some ruse to steal the thing. He looked back up to find bare ground and swaying branches; the codger was gone, and the smuggler was even more uncertain. As he thought back over the words of the magical hobo, the implications unsettled him. As far as the half-elf had heard, all the port towns of Corone paid homage to Am'aleh, one of the Thayne. That he said they have need of him also implied that some part of the odd geezer was in this box he called a vessel. The wanderer tried to ignore the obvious conclusion.

    The symbol that sat now like a black tattoo upon his palm was more concerning, and no amount of rubbing would remove it. After a while he just pulled his gloves back on, and tried to ignore that as well. With that thoroughly unusual meeting out of the way, the smuggler began heading south along the road again. Since he had decided to keep the puzzle box, the best place to be was back at his quarters in Radasanth, and as close to Dulan and the airship as he could manage. This place was getting dangerous and strange, so a safe escape route was the highest priority. After a few minutes of walking, he noticed that he had wandered off the eastern edge of the road. He got back onto the packed dirt and continued, but soon found himself drifting off again. Every time he tried to walk south he drifted east, no matter how many times he corrected it; always closer and closer to Akashima.

  5. #5
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    Underwood was filled with people. Men ran about wearing what could only be considered the rough estimation of a uniform. Some were moving crates of supplies, while others held bundles of weaponry. It was obvious what had happened. Underwood was the staging point before the army could move on Akashima. However, whether anyone knew or not was a different matter. The ronin had regained strength enough to move alongside the cart with the others as they moved into the town.

    Immediately they were approached by men in armor, and with a more formalized version of the deep blue uniform that seemed to be the norm. The small group of mercenaries stiffened as one, each knowing their place in what was undoubtedly to happen. A hand was held up before the soldiers spoke up, “Gentlemen, what brings you here today?”

    Taka stepped forward and spoke up, “I was merely heading back home. We decided Underwood would be a good place to stop for supplies on my way home.”

    The two men looked at the foreign garb then at each other and nodded before they spoke up, “We’re sorry sir, but we’re going to have to detain you. We have heard of a plot on Akashima and a man matching your description was given to us as a possible member of the conspiracy.”

    Taka could hear the muttering of the men before he raised his hands up carefully, the sleeves of his kimono shifting down to reveal his bandaged arms and spoke firmly, “I do not wish any trouble Sers. Please take me to your Magistrate and we can have this sorted out. May I ask what an army is doing so close to Akashima’s borders?”

    “We’re forming a line against attempts to interrupt the Sovereignty of Akashima. If you would follow us we will bring you to the lieutenant. Thank you for your cooperation. We will take that into account when dealing with your circumstances,” The guards said as they reached towards the Ronin.

    The group seemed to want to speak up before Taka did something unexpected, “Thank you for escorting me, I will pay for the service once these charges have been dealt with. I may have need of you folks again soon”

    Erikson looked at Taka before he nodded and said to the guards, “Don’t rough him up too much guys, we still need pay, easiest fifty gold we made yet. Just babysit this fool on his way here…”

    The guards laughed as they looked at the Ronin and spoke, “I never thought I’d see the day as Samurai hired thugs as bodyguards. Aren’t you supposed to be honorable?”

    Taka raised his shoulders slightly after lowering his hands and spoke, “A wolf travels with a pack, does one consider the single wolf weak?”

    The guards shook their head bringing him in, “Should we mention this to the general?”

    Taka perked up at the word General. You didn’t send Generals to quarantine, generals were for people you expected to meet the enemy. Captains held ground and Generals expanded. This tracked with what Taka was beginning to realize. The Catfolk weren’t here unexpectedly, someone had invited them here.

    Little Falcon, it seems you’ve disturbed the wolves den in your hunt.

    Taka ignored the voice of the Oni, oily and filthy in his head. He tried to ignore the fact it was louder than he had ever remembered it, attributing it to the stronger grip the Oni held on the Ronin. WIth his recent death he would have to be careful to police his actions in order to prevent the Oni from potentially overwhelming him at the worst of times. It was yet one more concern in a situation that seemed filled with such distractions.

    Taka moved into a tent where he saw a man looking at a map. Looking at Taka intently he gestured to the maps, and a servant quickly rolled them up moving them out of sight of the Ronin. The tent was clean except for the table, which held a few burnt out candles and the remains of what looked like dinner. The sun continued its daily sojourn reminding Taka he was timed. The man gestured to a chair which the Ronin carefully sat upon, then the two looked to each other before he spoke, “I never thought The Dark Blade of the Ixian Knights would show his face.”

    Taka seemed to stiffen, causing the man to speak up, “Oh no, don’t act surprised. Corone High Command was given a thorough profile on each of the Ixian Generals after your attempted coup. Should I have you executed now for Treason to the Crown?”

    Taka looked upon the officer before him as he spoke calmly, “For it to count as treason, need I have sworn an oath to your crown?”

    The officer laughed before he spoke, “Well met General. I suppose I am speaking above my rank. I shall have to get the General, but in the meantime, Servant! Get this man a tankard of water and whatever remains of dinner. He is our political prisoner until the General says otherwise.”

    ~*~

    Erikson watched Taka’s entrance into the tent before he turned to the other men. His demeanor changed as he assumed control once more, “Alright men, this is what I want. All of you spread out and find every former Ixian in town, this looks like a conscripted army and with the Knights disbanded there are going to be a few who still want to serve under the banner. Use the old password to the castle to ferret them out and talk to them. Taka has something planned, and we’re going to smuggle the ace up his sleeve.”

    As the men began to spread out Erikson snapped his fingers and said firmly, “And be careful. If you fuck this up Taka will hang before we reach Akashima. Am I clear?”
    How something is said, is just as important as what is said. -Anonymous

  6. #6
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    "Akashima will burn, if I have to do it myself!"

    Yelling at the sky wouldn't solve the problem, but the frustrated smuggler wanted to make sure the lofty bastard knew he had brought it on himself. Like some torturous nightmare, Radasanth loomed glistening on the horizon, but never grew any nearer. For half a day the swordsman had tried to reach the city, but each time he found himself further east, slowly passing the city by like a raft at sea, just out of reach. Trying to stop and go nowhere had been worse; he didn't realize he had started walking south-east again for nearly an hour that time. The rage that bubbled up from within was even more difficult to contain when mixed with his own. Being manipulated by anyone had never sat well with him, but revenge was always a possibility. He was unsure how to get revenge on one of the Thayne, though.

    They got their prize, they should enjoy it and leave mortals alone.

    Thinking carefully now about inventive ways to hurt what Am'aleh appeared to care about, he was drawn back to the waving grass when a glint flashed in the distance. Instinct had the swordsman crouching as he stopped for a moment, and sank inward. His eyes took on a crimson tint as he borrowed the vision of his dark passenger, and the faint specks jumped closer. They all bore some metal over one shoulder, but more interesting was the silver color of their skin, or more likely fur. The group was no more than a few dozen, undoubtedly sent ahead of the main host to retrieve the puzzle box. Something about that didn't seem right, but the wanderer was glad for a chance to try the thing out.

    He exhaled slowly as the red faded from his eyes, and started walking again. He didn't bother changing course, and after a few minutes the silver-furs spotted him. The smuggler was surprised when half of them swerved to intercept him; they weren't taking any chances. He sped up to a jog as he pulled the artifact from his vest pocket and recalled the hand positions. They both started with the same twist of the ornate knob on top, and the same press of the top four corners. The swordsman pulled off his gloves one at a time, and stuffed them into another vest pocket. Tiny thunder echoed from behind, and the whistle of bullets set him on edge. The adrenaline had his hands sweating, so he kept a careful grip on the shiny black box. He slowly turned the centerpiece to the side, and a strong tingle ran up his bare arm. The smuggler could feel the pull of the cube on all of the metal he wore, and was glad none of it flew out.

    Next, he carefully pressed the top four corners of the box at the same time, and the intricate patterns shifted. A bit of blue light escaped from between the interlocking pieces, but nothing like the bright glow when the lightning mage had handled it. Nothing else happened at first, so the swordsman began deciding which of the scattered copses of trees to hide in. The grass stretched long between them, so he quickly settled on the closest one and angled for it. As his legs pumped and the bullets whizzed past, clouds began gathering above with an ominous rumble. It was less than a minute later that rain started falling, and the musket shots from behind finally stopped. Unfortunately, the other half of the original group veered towards him in the distance. Hindsight helped nothing, as usual.

    Maybe a sign would've been more subtle.

    The silver-furs were sprinting now, and quickly catching up, but he managed to make it into the copse with about a hundred paces to spare. The cat-people slowed and spread out as they approached, and the half-elf carefully positioned three fingers from each hand on the smooth artifact. The old codger had told him to point the top toward his foes with this position, so he stepped out from behind a large oak and aimed it forward as he pressed in with his fingers. A blinding flash tore the sound from the world, and the feeling from his hands. As the half-elf's vision cleared, the large black mark on the trunk next to him drew his attention; probably wise to have more distance next time. The scene before him was surprising, however, as more than half of the silver-furs were blackened and smoking on the ground. It branched much more than he expected. The other half of the cat-people spread out on either side of the copse, and the wanderer retreated deeper within.

    For several minutes he peered out through the gaps in the trees; it seemed the ones that survived were waiting for the rest of their allies to arrive. The swordsman soon grew used to the tingle running up his arms. The water that poured down his face tasted cleaner than the rain of Ettermire. By the time the rest of the silver-furs arrived he was quite refreshed, despite the rumble of his gut. The cat-people started stalking toward the copse, so he threw caution to wind and arranged all four fingers from each hand into the second position. He pointed the box toward the sky and pressed in on the intricate black metal. Leaves continued to rustle in the wind, and rain continued to patter onto soft dirt. The smuggler checked to make sure his finger placement was accurate, silver figures drawing ever closer.

    A low howl rose on the wind, and the branches began shaking harder. Most of the cat folk looked around in worry, and the half-elf himself grew uncertain. Over the course of only a few seconds the wind grew to a cacophony that drowned out the rain, and battered the trees that flailed violently. Branches and other debris pelted the silver-furs as the wind rose in a circle all around the copse. The swordsman's mouth fell agape as he glanced up between the branches. Like a heavenly serpent the spiraling clouds above formed a thin tornado that slithered its way earthward. He immediately wrapped his arms around the burned tree-trunk. One of the cat-folk spotted him and let out a call, but the wall of wind that slammed down around the copse tore the silver-furred bastard off into the sky. They all sailed up into the heavens, and just as quickly the violent curtain was drawn up again.

    The wanderer stood shaking against the tree as the winds calmed down. Once he was certain the tornado was long gone, he placed a trembling hand atop the artifact and turned the knob back to its normal position. The patterns shifted and the inner-light disappeared as the puzzle-box went dormant. The tug on his belt buckle and dagger disappeared as well, and the smuggler sat down at the base of the tree. This thing was far more dangerous than he had thought; and that bastard Am'aleh had given him no warning.

    "Akashima will burn..."

  7. #7
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    The ronin didn’t have to wait long before he saw the man enter the tent. He held himself with a calm authority that made him dangerous, something that Taka mentally filed away. His uniform was neat and clean, but free of extraneous ornamentation, the uniform of an officer used to battle. If Taka was to gain any sort of advantage over the man, he would need to entrust Erikson to read his mind. The greying hair marked a veteran who had fought from the front lines, and steadily worked his way towards the back, through triumph and courage.

    Whoever was leading this assault into Akashima, they had known better than to go with whoever the other nobles had suggested. This shadowy puppet master had gone for a man who could succeed if Akashima was unaware, and Taka was grateful that Erikson had sent immediate word to Kachiko. It would prove the first layer of defense in what would be a complicated web of traps and tricks to dissolve the army from within.

    Taka didn’t rise to meet with the man who leaned forward on the table, he merely met the gaze of the General with unfazed indifference. The General studied Taka for awhile before he spoke, “You’re a dangerous man Dark Blade. Why shouldn’t I draw steel and end you here and now?”

    “Appearances. Kill me now and you tip your hand to your soldiers. Those who might not fight if they knew they were part of an expansionist plot would desert in droves,” Taka replied evenly.

    “Spoken as a true warrior. I can appreciate that, so few remain in today’s world of bread and circuses. You know why we’re really here, those men you came with, they’re your mercenaries, aren’t they?”

    “I only traveled with them from the edge of Concordia,” Taka replied. The half truth came easily, the sort of lie that would be impossible to discern with a truthsayer. He wasn’t sure if he could lie in the tent, but he also knew the truth of information; how something was said was as important as what was said.

    The General nodded before he spoke, “My name is Gregore Lipscomb, you are my prisoner until such time as the campaign in Akashima comes to an end. If you attempt to draw your sword, I will cut you down without mercy. If you lie to me, I will know and I will cut you down without mercy. I know what you pulled at Gisela, and while it was brutish it was effective. I also however know that you are not as clever as you appear, do not test yourself against me son and you may yet see another spring in Corone.”

    “I am Taka, I have no Lord, am from no family. I have no army, and bear no banner. I am merely a simple man tossed upon the waves of fate. Know this General, I understand the difference between a weapon and the hand that wields it. So long as you conduct yourself honorably, I will hold no grudge against you for the coming war. However, I wish to know who wishes to bring Akashima under the crown,” Taka said, his voice steady, even as he looked at the man.

    “Your enemy is Senator Fordstein. I pity you boy, you’re picking a fight with the shadows, and think you can win,” General Lipscomb replied as he shook his head. “You may as well kill yourself honorably now, it would be far more merciful than unraveling this plot and fighting him.”

    “When do we march on my home General?” Taka asked softly.

    Lipscomb looked at Taka before he shook his head once more and spoke, “Now, we were actually preparing to move when you arrived. I hope you aren’t too tired from your journey here, we hope to reach the western province by sunrise.”

    ~*~

    Erikson listened as his men carefully pulled on their blue uniforms. It had taken some doing but they had gotten some basic numbers on the forces. The army was a core of some seven hundred soldiers from the Coronian guard that were loyal to the General, a Gregore Lipscomb. The rest were peasants and able bodied men who they found while moving the force, comprising five hundred more.

    Of those men, maybe two hundred were former Ixians.

    That meant that they only had a force of three hundred that the loyalty was not known. With the problems that created it was important for the Ixians to spread far through the three hundred men that were unknown to sow the seeds of doubt. If they could flip even half of them the plan had a chance to succeed, but only so long as the seven hundred were on the line. Erikson sighed as he did the math, Taka’s plan was by far the longest shot they had.

    What made it worse was it was most likely their only shot. With Taka arrested by the General, access to their leader would be difficult. That meant it was up to Erikson to notify the troops when to pull their mutiny, and Taka would need to be ready to fight as soon as the battle began. He kept the men in line and told them to prepare, a prayer to Y’edda on his lips as he did so. He hated praying to the thayne, but he certainly needed divine inspiration now.

    With the army beginning its march to the capital, they had little time to light the fires of anarchy.
    How something is said, is just as important as what is said. -Anonymous

  8. #8
    Member
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    Tainted Bushido's Avatar

    Name
    Taka
    Age
    21
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    Akashiman (Human)
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    Male
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    The sun rose, showing the army having marched through the night to reach the outskirts of the western province. Moving with clear intent, they continued along the roads, rebuffing any who attempted to question their reasoning. Already there were mutterings that they might not be welcome here, for many a samurai had attempted to contact the army, only to be met with mute indifference. The brazenness of the action spoke volumes alone, the army refused to answer to anyone. Soon the Crystal Spire upon which Capital City was built around shone brilliantly in the sunlight.

    General Lipscomb looked upon the sight and turned to his prisoner, “I can’t see why you never came back here. If Radasanth was half this beautiful, I’d never leave,”

    Taka looked upon the crystal silently before he spoke, “There are some things even a Ronin will not say. You tread heavily upon such topics.”

    The army finally began to fan out forming into ranks. The general looking at the Ronin before he spoke, “Are you going to be my translator? Or should I grab someone who can?”

    “You state you do not trust me, but for your greatest deceit you wish me to participate. Please General, do not take me a fool.” The Ronin saw they were now in solid lines, with the center the block of true soldiers, while the sides were formed by the conscripts from the baronies they had marched through. Taka could see the reasoning, even if the logic was easily refuted. Still, if they were to take the capital by surprise, the strategy was a moot point.

    The General looked upon the Ronin before he finally spoke, “I’ll be frank, you fought the good fight and lost Taka. I know these are your people but you owe them nothing. I know about your taint, it marks you for death in their eyes. If you help us, we can lessen the punishment, maybe get you a pardon. Fordstein is a pragmatic man, the easier you make this go, the easier your life will go from here. How would you like to be the leader of the Akashiman Barony’s army? Think of all the good you would do.”

    “Do you not want the post for yourself?” Taka asked dully, even as he saw three horses ride forth.

    “Actually no, it would be an easier transition if someone who knew the culture and the language would be the leader. I’m also more of a frontline leader, I hate paperwork and the job will reek of it for years. You’d probably be spending the good years of your life just transitioning this country into the crown’s authority. Make no mistake Taka, the work is important, but I am not the one to do it, I know my limits.”

    The horses rode forth, even as Taka looked upon them. He could see the royal colors upon all the riders. It was most likely the Shogun, high general of the Akashiman armies, out to parlay and find out why there was a Coronian army on his doorstep. The Dark Blade could feel the searing heat of his warriors aura. It would cleanse this world of any who dared defy him, and was in direct competition with Taka’s own aura. Taka finally answered the question, “I will speak to my people, it will be preferable to a Gaijin trying to tongue.”

    The Ronin could hear the smile in the Lipscomb’s voice, “Pleasure to have you on board, Taka. Now I do believe we have a parlay to attend. If you would be so kind.”

    The horses stopped a comfortable ways back from the force. The figures upon them dismounting. They moved together in a unison that spoke of strength, and Taka felt a surge of pride in seeing it. It was reassuring him of his next move, even as he hoped that Erikson had prepared the troops. The leader nodded his head to General Lipscomb in a measure of respect, while Taka bowed deeply in return, even going so far as to drop to a knee. He spoke firmly, “Only nod back, you are considered equals for now. It won’t be until battle joins one of you need bow lower.”

    The general’s posture didn’t move at all as he merely smiled and nodded himself. The two that had accompanied the leader bent at the waist before returning to standing, and Taka had waited until they straightened to take his place beside Lipscomb. The general’s voice carried slowly, “Why did you bow so low?”

    “I’m a ronin, barely better than a peasant. The fact I’m samurai born is the only reason I didn’t have to press my face into the dirt. Now, what do you want to say?”

    “Tell them my name, and that I’m here to help with the invading catfolk who seem intent on attacking their country.”

    Taka sighed behind his mask as he carefully stepped forward and began speaking in crisp Akashiman, “<My Lord, I am a lowly ronin who has been tasked with acting as the bridge between our two cultures. I represent General Gregore Lipscomb of the Coronian Army, who comes on a mission of aid, wishing to protect this country from the invading forces that even now harry their lands.>”

    ~*~

    Erikson watched as Taka took his place at the forefront of the army. He could see the formalities that often accompanied his boss’ return to Akashima. His crossbow was already loaded, and he knew what he was looking for, a signal from Taka to take a shot and start a war. He had stuck to the Ronin’s side for a few years now, and it wasn’t difficult to see what was going on. Taka wasn’t an idiot.

    He knew he couldn’t stop the invasion.

    Instead he wanted to join in, blend with the attackers, then when the enemy least expected it, redirect the attack. His men had been hard at work all night working with the other peasants and conscripts to the point most were on board. While outnumbered greatly, they would have Akashima as a backing force. All had been told to wait for a signal that would be obvious.

    The General of Akashima was conversing with Taka in their inscrutable language, and Erikson was happy for the distraction. He looked upon the two folks with the General. He knew he couldn’t kill one of them, he merely had to wing one and that would be enough. The group of soldiers he had been hiding in was all Ixian Loyalists, and that was all he needed. Moving to get a clear shot he waited patiently behind the front line, where he couldn’t be seen.

    The conversation seemed to be getting tense, and just when both sides were quiet Erikson saw it. To the average person it wasn’t much, but a the briefest glint of metal from Taka’s side. He had draw his Tanto, and that was the only sign Erikson needed. Bringing up the crossbow he aimed for one of the non-leader types and took a shot, aiming just off center mass.

    It was the shot heard round the world.

    ~*~

    Taka heard the whistling and cried out to warn his target, who wisely turned. The shot, that would have punctured the ribs and into the lung merely hit an arm, and the warrior let out a cry of frustration. The Ronin finally took the moment to speak, “<Shogun-dono, they mean to capture the capital, fall back and raise the army before they kill you!>”

    He heard the saber being pulled from the sheath of General Lipscomb and saw him begin to chase after the warriors. Taka knew he had a small window and took it, dropping the tanto and drawing the steel of Rengoku. The blade sang out and sliced shallowly into the General’s back who cried a the betrayal before his eyes widened maddeningly as he hissed, “You idiot!”

    “A promise made under duress is never one a warrior should follow,” Taka replied firmly.

    “They would just as soon see you burn as thank you for this you insufferably righteous buffoon!” Lipscomb yelled. His eyes narrowed as he took up a fighting position and shouted, “Warriors of Corone, take the Capital!”

    The battle for Akashima had begun, and at the center was a Ronin, fighting a war his country never asked of him.
    How something is said, is just as important as what is said. -Anonymous

  9. #9
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    Ebivoulya's Avatar

    Name
    Nyadir D'Var
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    The burning of Akashima had begun, or soon would at least. The smuggler smiled as he picked up the pace towards the green field on which two armies met. He had managed to get a few hours of sleep on the eastern edge of the great lake, well after dark. He was surprised the tyrannical Thayne had let him sleep at all. The crack of dawn had found him quite refreshed, though. It was probably the large helpings of stringy meat he had devoured by the firelight. Only the pre-cooked cat-folk outside the copse had been left, but there had been plenty even for his appetite. No furred bastards darted around on this field, though, just good old fashioned men killing men; a finer flesh by far. An envoy of samurai quickly retreated back to the smaller army, which stood poised to defend the glittering city behind it. That massive spire at the center stabbed the heavens, something the swordsman could understand. He focused for now on the army of blue-coats, which had dissolved into chaos. Whatever their allegiance, they would sate his rage at the Am’aleh.

    The half-elf enacted his usual enhancement as he neared the rear of the blue-coat's left flank, and drew the large blade from his shoulder. The first head to drop to the trampled grass brought the relief he had sought, and the swordsman hacked a few more off before moving on to the next pocket of fighting. Everywhere groups of men in various blue shirts and coats fought each other, and their backs paved the safest paths. With his speed doubled, he avoided the swipes of the groups who spotted him early as he ran past. The smuggler spied a prime target, and swung for the back of the neck, but came up short. He reversed the slash, but the blade veered down to the ground. The lads spotted him and turned to face the swordsman, so he moved on down the rear of the line, towards the center.

    The hell was that about?

    With a confused roll of the shoulder, he approached the next pocket more cautiously. His sword found its mark in the back of a short soldier, and he maimed a few others before moving on. He licked the crimson stain upon his steel, and savored its bitter tang. The wanderer could only attribute his misses to the same bastard who sent him to Yanbo, so that probably meant that this battle influenced the fate of Akashima. When a dead-center stab into the back of his next victim slipped under the arm instead, he became certain. Am'aleh was even turning the half-elf's blade to help save what the mortal had sworn to destroy; clever dick. The swordsman parried the return strike, and continued along the back of the line. The blue-coat army bulged near the center, so he distanced himself from the fighting as he sheathed his blade, and pulled out the black box.

    His gloves hastily stuffed into a vest pocket, the smuggler twisted the centerpiece atop the box. The magnetic pull returned again, and he quickly pressed the top four corners to prime the thing. He positioned his hands in the six-finger position on the artifact as he scanned the battlefield. Most of the blue-coats wore actual armor here at the center of the line, so he aimed the box toward the bulge of soldiers and pressed his fingertips into the black metal. A flash stole the roar of battle from his ears, but it returned thin and distant as his sight cleared. Like a godamn miracle, half the men remained standing and unburnt; how f'kin' lovely. A few of them tried to run toward him, but he pointed the box toward them and unleashed the lightning once more. Again the crack of thunder devoured the screams of war, but the half-elf regained his senses sooner this time. The center of the main line was thinner still, and either out of fear or trust, those who remained ignored him and turned to hacking away at the other blue-coats.

    The swordsman watched someone take off south out of the front of the army, followed by a retinue; probably the cowardly general fleeing. He waited a few seconds before twisting the knob atop the artifact to return it to its dormant state. His grimace betrayed the burns on his fingertips, another side-effect the lofty bastard had failed to mention. He held the thing at the ready in his offhand, but otherwise merely watched as one of the only people not in a blue uniform approached him cautiously. The man was dressed much like the samurai envoy that had retreated earlier, and as he neared, the half-elf's grip tightened on the puzzle box. The rage rose sharp, and the smuggler couldn't help but narrow his blue eyes. There was a familiar hunger to the shorter man, but only a hint. The taller man spoke, to pre-empt what he assumed would be words of gratitude.

    "Just clearing a path to Yanbo; I don't plan on helping any further."

  10. #10
    Member
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    Tainted Bushido's Avatar

    Name
    Taka
    Age
    21
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    Akashiman (Human)
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    Blade sang against blade, the deadly duel rising as the flanks collapsed on the center. Taka could see where his opinions of Lipscomb had become fact. There was not a soft muscle in the man, he was a warrior through and through. The two fought, Taka feeling like he was fighting another Katana wielder. The similarities were there, and the differences were enough that the Ronin was uncomfortable.

    Slashes were fired off as the two of them committed to the fight. Taka managed to hold the man off, but never managed to force Lipscomb into a deadly choice. His mind worked furiously before the first bolt of lightning struck. Men fell over and died as the force of the blast struck the center. Lipscomb cursed as he said, “First you, now the weather. I refuse to die here!”

    Taka remained impassive, instead grabbing his wakizashi and unsheathing it before he settled into the first stance of the Storm’s Eye. With both blades out he began to hammer away at the General’s defences, before a second bolt struck. Taka continued to press his advantage before he heard a man charging at him. He turned to slice outward with both blades, and caught the man off-guard.

    When he turned back he saw the General on a southbound horse. Taka panicked at the sight, seeing his opponent flee the battlefield threw him off-balance, and he tried to figure out where he was going. With the center faltering, Taka looked around and saw a rugged looking man, his features softer. He carried something in his hand and spoke of clearing a way for Yanbo port.

    The Ronin realized where Lipscomb had gone. Looking at the man before him he spoke quickly, “You are heading to Yanbo Port? Let's go, if you can clear a path then I have use of you.”

    The battle was beginning to settle, as Taka saw the samurai rush towards the army. They would certainly be confused for awhile. So, the Ronin looked at the retreating form of the General. This was not the maneuver of a coward. He went to the harbor with purpose.

    He pointed to the retreating man, “He's running for the port, we need to stop him, can you make that happen?”
    How something is said, is just as important as what is said. -Anonymous

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