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  1. #1
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    Shinsou Vaan Osiris's Avatar

    GP
    1,770

    Name
    Shinsou Vaan Osiris
    Age
    31
    Race
    Telgradian
    Gender
    Male
    Location
    Salvar

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    The Outlaw Torn II: Shinsou vs John Cromwell

    John,

    I write to you amidst a world that has changed. I hope that you have not, and this letter finds you well.

    Amongst all of the changes our world is going through, there are some things that remain the same. I have watched carefully and have come to realise only authoritative reality exists. Every being in this world seems to live misrecognizing only convenient “facts” as truth. This is because they have no other way to live. However, for the powerless who make up the majority, the inconvenient “facts” they affirm through themselves are entirely the truth.

    What is the truth for men like us?

    The truth for us is strength; on that I'm sure we agree. Yet, we find ourselves divided by both its application and indeed its very definition. I thank you though, John, from the bottom of my heart. During our first meeting, you made me feel the weight of your version of strength and I confess I doubted myself for the first time in many years. That may seem odd, given the restorative properties of the Citadel, but consider this; for the first time I met someone who could stand as my equal. Fear is necessary for evolution, my friend; The fear that one could be destroyed at any moment.

    It is hard not to admire you, although I try not to. Admiration, after all, is the emotion furthest from understanding. But you have earned my respect, and, out of it, a need to understand you further.

    If you are able and willing, come to the Citadel. I want you to come at me with everything you have.

    ~Shinsou Vaan Osiris~
    -
    Old does not mean dead – New does not mean best – No hard feelings, I’m tired of being right about everything I’ve said – Yours does not mean mine – Kill does not mean die – We are not your kind

  2. #2
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    Level completed: 15%,
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    Shinsou Vaan Osiris's Avatar

    GP
    1,770

    Name
    Shinsou Vaan Osiris
    Age
    31
    Race
    Telgradian
    Gender
    Male
    Location
    Salvar

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    “What is it about Cromwell that fascinates you so much?” Arius Mephisto, Shinsou's friend and right hand man, piped up. His voice was almost a whisper on the howling wind, “I'm not so sure we need this kind of man in our life, given our current endeavours with the Brotherhood and the way the public already perceive us. You won't be able to recruit him, so I think we should let this particular sleeping dog lie.”

    Shinsou Vaan Osiris frowned at his friend, his brow creasing and his golden eyes narrowing into slits. They sat together on a hill about three miles from the breathtaking colossus that was the Citadel. It cut a wonderous sight; its black stone spires propelled high into the gloomy Radasanthian sky and its shadow projected across the urban ocean below. He could see the specks of people entering and leaving the grand courtyard of the Ai'Bron's finest creation, none of them perturbed by the dark storm clouds that swaddled the isle, flickering with lightning yet refusing to spill a drop of rain. Thunder rolled distantly.

    "I'm not interested in giving him a job, Arius. He'd turn it down even if I did. I'm interested in fighting him, and understanding him,” the Telgradian paused, and tilted his head. "He possesses strength in ways that others simply do not."

    “Do you think he is a threat?” Arius reclined on his grassy patch. His brown, wiry hair floated in the breeze and his hazel eyes drank in the sky.

    "Of course he is, but so is anyone with that kind of power. If he takes exception to anything we are doing, the likelihood is that he'll challenge us. But that's part of the reason I'm here,” Shinsou reminded him, leaning forward on his knee. “I'll be ready for him if he does, because I'll know what he is capable of."

    Part of the reason?,” Arius scoffed, like raindrops whipped against a window and refusing to leave the subject of alone. "Want to know what I think? I reckon there's a part of yourself that listened to what he said last time. I think John makes you doubt yourself."

    "You're overthinking it, friend.” Shinsou put his left hand up as he uncrossed his legs and stretched. He breathed in the salted coastal air, stirring the memory of his last fight with John Cromwell. It had ended in a stalemate, but the fight itself had represented for the Telgradian a moment of doubt, a moment of weakness, and yet one of such deific might. It was still, though, a mere micro-appetizer for the feast that awaited.

    The two men paced for a short while down the hill, coasting to a stop they neared the Citadel's gates. Arius shook his head, his fingers fluttering in an open gesture.

    “Go on, then.” The man shrugged. “Get it out of your system.”

    Arius disappeared in a hazy cloud of blue magic, his words chasing Shinsou down the parade. As his brown hide boots crunched on the gravel path, he glanced over his shoulder. His friend had vanished. His words still echoed in his ears, testing the parts of him that remained in doubt.

    ***


    The arena he had chosen for the encounter reeked of nostalgia.

    He strode inland toward the dense jungle that sat within the ring of sand. The wind tugged at his white clothing, pressing the tailored fabric flat against his muscular frame. He rolled broad shoulders and cracked his neck, running a hand through close-cropped brown hair and scraping it over the stubble on his chin.

    Years ago, the island had been the arena of his friend Joshua Cronen as a master of the Dajas Pagoda. Shinsou remembered that he had fought and overcome many challengers there, on the beaches, through the jungle, and in the building at the center of the isle. It was there he had instructed Shinsou to meet him once before, for a real life training session with the demigod. Luckily, Shinsou had survived the encounter with his life and body barely intact, but it taught him a valuable lesson - that he wasn't so invincible. Although angry thunder clouds still blotted out the sun, he knew it was nearing noon. As usual, the Telgradian arrived early.

    The Ai'Bron had recreated the Pagoda's grounds perfectly. The path through the jungle had grown over in the years since he left the island. Roots and brambles clutched at his boots and pants, and dangling vines brushed against his back like curious serpents. The close-grown trees blocked out most of the wind, allowing him to become accustomed to the smells and sounds of the forest. Insects trilled and the occasional bird chirped, and the musky scent of loam filled the air. Before long the path opened into a clearing dominated by a ramshackle building.

    The Akashiman-style building’s ornately arched roof was covered by dead leaves and sticks. A fallen tree had sliced a swathe through one of the paper-thin walls, and the double doors hung open loosely on their hinges. Every so often they gave a grating whine as the wind moved them back and forth.

    As he moved through the arena, the Telgradian could not sense a heartbeat or breathing and could not detect any arcane signatures. But Shinsou was aware there were people who could have taken steps to shield themselves. Of course, it was possible that anyone had yet to arrive.

    Lightning flickered in the clouds overhead, and thunder rumbled its agreement.
    Last edited by Shinsou Vaan Osiris; 05-17-2019 at 11:18 AM.
    Old does not mean dead – New does not mean best – No hard feelings, I’m tired of being right about everything I’ve said – Yours does not mean mine – Kill does not mean die – We are not your kind

  3. #3
    Senior Member

    EXP: 30,681, Level: 7
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    Level completed: 47%,
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    GP
    739

    Name
    Robert Bertrand
    Location
    Corone
    (1/2)

    John turned the letter over in his hand, but there wasn’t anything on the back. A challenge, but should he accept, John felt that the term ‘rematch’ was a little too simple. He’d met this Telgradian not only with his fists, but with his beliefs as well; and now reading this letter, he knew Shinsou felt the same way. The letter omitted a date, but tradition of the Citadel was that rematches were held a month after the first bout. Again, the wording of his inner monologue seemed insufficient for the notion at hand. He’d met Shinsou’s every stroke with an ironclad body and will, matched the Telgradian’s philosophies of conquest with his own of protection. No, ‘bout’ was not a descriptive enough term.

    Jamie set a mug of steaming tea on the table and cupped her own in both her hands. The hearth was winding down, but still cast enough light for him to clearly see her tawny face, framed by wavy black hair. She gave him that look, the ‘what are you thinking about?’ playful smirk. John set the letter down and grabbed his mug, smelling the spicy honeyed notes of the tea. Despite the comfort of his home, and the company of Jamie, and the smell of the tea, he was distracted. He stared into the fire, and took a sip.

    “Am I a tyrant, Jamie?”

    Before she could muster up the indignation John expected, he turned to her.

    “I know, I know, I shouldn’t think about it too much, but I do. Isn’t it possible that the only difference between myself and Osiris is that our beliefs about what’s ‘good’ are slightly different from one another? If my ideals of right and wrong were skewed just a little, I’d believe that this city was ruled by a corrupt bureaucracy that has killed enough people to warrant exactly the kind of thing Osiris threatens to bring down on it. Are my ideals so different from his that I would stand against him in the coming conflict? Could I be the tyrant in this scenario?”

    John fell silent, feeling the uncertainty rise inside of him. He turned back to the fire, trying to silence his thoughts on the subject so he could try to organize them, think about them one by one. For a long minute, he pressed back against thoughts that threatened to disrupt his philosophy. He didn’t notice Jamie had gotten up until she pressed her fingers into his shoulders. John’s distractions lessened, and his head rolled back a little so he could stare up at her.

    “I know you, John, you’re a good man,”

    John sighed. “What does that even mean, Jamie. If –“

    She silenced him with a hand placed softly on his lips and continued.
    “You gave Daniel that armor, some of your best work, at cost of material only, when you could have sold it for more than he was even worth, and when I told you that Philomel wanted to conscript the girls at the Rose to fight, you told me you’d be there to protect me, no matter the ideals in play. Nobody fights out at Jacques’ tavern any more because of you, would you like to know why?”

    John didn’t answer, he knew she would in a second. He closed his eyes and tried to focus on her touch.

    “You destroyed a dragon for the sake of what it would to people who couldn’t have protected themselves. It cost you your skin, and months of pain in recovery. It’s because you’re a protector, John. I’ve never known you to be anything different. You have this amazing armor and a shield, and half the time you don’t even use it for yourself because you take the hits head on.”

    Her voice changed at the end slightly and John opened his eyes to see her eyes shimmering with yet unshed tears. She rested her forehead on his, and sniffled. John reached up to tangle his fingers in her hair.

    “You protect us, every one of us, and every time you go out on a team, you bring them back safe, no matter how beat up you are.” There was a pause, and she lifted her head to look at him, taking a sleeve to wipe her eyes. “I love you, John, and every time you come back broken, it breaks me a little to see it. And you’re a good man, a great man, for it, and that’s why I’m here, even if it scares me.”

    John’s eyes widened as Jamie walked around to sit on his lap, leaning her head on his chest. Moments like this were rare for her, she always liked to play the aloof, clever vixen in his presence.

    “That’s the man you are, John, you’re a shield for everyone you care about, everyone you’re responsible for.”

    John blinked back the haze from his vision and wrapped his arms around Jamie. He took a deep breath, steadying himself again. He tried to think of something clever to say, but all he could muster up was a whispered word of thanks, lest his voice betray the depth of his emotion.

    John felt that he had been called, and though he had always known that he must answer, now he knew his mind could be ready, as well as his body, to bring the debate to Osiris again. His breathing slowed as his thoughts fell into place, noting that ‘debate’ would be a fitting term for their reunion at the Citadel.

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