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 Post subject: Re: Within the Current; Sutera Sasaki
PostPosted: Sun Dec 13, 2009 7:13 pm 
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According to the rise and fall of the sun, it'd been days since my encounter with the unnamed man and his entourage of bodyguards. When one had nothing else to do, it seemed the only change in the world: the patch of golden warmth would move across the floor as the hours ticked on by until it disappeared. It was sometime midday, and it was only a piece of glass that separated me from them all. Now as I rest inside near the window, hazel hues unfocused on the business of midday travel of people's heads moving in a sea of bodies, there was nothing to keep me from thinking about him again. How it seemed to be a constant game. No matter how many times I vowed to forget, it was always there. The man and his words. Questions unanswered, they remained within, constantly pestering my mind for the answers that I wanted. More so, no one seemed to have seen any of them since that day outside. Not to say no one knew who they were, but from the way people moved away whenever I inquired, there just weren't any leads available.

Eyes cast themselves back down to the bound book in my lap, fingertips rest faintly on the bottom edge of a loose piece of paper. Ruffled edges showing the torn side where it'd been ripped free, the tip of my writing utensil came down, once more dragging itself with a whisper over the line of his jaw. It was his face I couldn't erase from my mind, and though it was simplified in structure from my less than perfect sight, it was still very much him. To have a face and no name, it was a bothersome mystery. Trapped forever on a piece of paper, I wouldn't forget him then, and that smirking smile disappeared as I closed the front cover and tossed the book aside to the table before me. It gave a teeter on uneven legs, one of the four likely faintly shorter than the rest, or perhaps the floor was just not quite right. The chair was fine, and so I ignored it, instead standing and moving away from the spot of sunlight I'd been bathing myself in.

How long had it been since the revenge for my parents? Two years, perhaps three? The furrowed brow that had recently begun to plague my otherwise calm features smoothed away at the thought of them. Having lost count of it all, it left me unable to determine my own age. Something so important at one time in my life, gone, lost under the weight of trying to live. I shook my head, tossing that uncertainty away. It felt like yesterday and a lifetime ago, all at the same time. It hurt, mostly, my thoughts flickering over their faces as the cool glass pressed to my cheek.

Two winters. Two years in the dark.

The fire had come at the beginning of spring, though now the world would remember nothing of it. Everything was too busy dying. Window lifted off its sill, I closed my eyes and took in a deep breath. Nothing would strike me like autumn did. It held my memories, returning the most important ones every year with such a simple action as breathing in the cool air. There would be no more home to go to anymore. It was a flattened ruin, a graveyard no one would go through. Nobody was going to wander past and speak words to the dead. They were forgotten now, buried under the rubble of death, the rubble of greed and misfortune.

Memories were all I had left.


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 Post subject: Re: Within the Current; Sutera Sasaki
PostPosted: Thu Dec 24, 2009 2:17 am 
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The way of the warrior is resolute acceptance of death.

Only shuffling footsteps in rhythmic time kept me grounded to the lengthy walk over sand that the line of us three were making. My body dragged my mind along as it moved with my companions, the sun rising to my right bringing forth the usual dissection of the philosophical readings that had been occupying my time. Men greater then us all were putting their experiences and thoughts down on paper and parchment, available to those who knew how to get them. I am no thief, but my connections had long begun to spread outwards, the roots of my upbringing and friendships the foundation for my continuing education. Watching the amber orb of light rise and color the sky in rust and persimmon, it was the artist's brush that I was content to watch. It was enough of a thing to start up my thoughts on the teachings that perhaps I could include into my own life. Surely it beat consciously stumbling my way over the dunes, cursing those who were the reason for the journey.

In fighting and in everyday life you should be determined though calm. Meet the situation without tenseness yet not recklessly, your spirit settled yet unbiased. An elevated spirit is weak and a low spirit is weak. Do not let the enemy see your spirit.

The lone skeleton of a tree we passed scattered the rays that had turned one side of us all orange in its light. Turning my gaze once more to the direction we were headed I tried to form the guesses of first impressions that would be made upon us. Both of them were fair of flesh, nearly looking to be tied by DNA if one did not know any better. Perhaps sometime before a royal had gone to have a bastard child with a commoner; their noses and eyes were shaped much the same to me. It was enough to make one give a second glance to the pair. That Kemori took after Aku so much in wanting to learn from him only made others believe they were siblings, an easy alibi as we carted her to cities in the hopes of finding a place to belong. Akumaru was looking for a home. He had found a group willing to open their doors to us; though there had been implications of fighting and danger in the brief letter, Kemori had given her nod of approval.

I was the odd one out. I didn't mind. I had started to guard myself in a way that let nothing in and very little out. They laughed enough for all of us and then some, enjoying their games and gaiety. To his credit, he did a good job of taking her mind off of the inevitable disaster her home was. Even now with the surrounding area dark, the light only just beginning to chase it away to the west he talked with her, making a pointer of his finger to the constellations before they vanished. Watching their happiness at the very least enabled a part of me to be content and quiet as we walked; he let me know when I was being too quiet by glancing back over his shoulder. The dawn made harsh contrasts of his face, but the smile was there, white hair turned a faux gold. Again he turned to her to resume speaking and it gave me the ability to see the first of what was to come.

The sands parted to either side, forming more completely the valley we'd been walking in. Though it was already illuminated my eyes refused to take in the largeness of it right away, forcing my steps to slow to give them time. What I had initially taken as just another pile of sand was something more, judged by the people who stood outside it. It was something capable of being lived in, the large entrance way letting just enough light in to show its pathways. The grandness of it, however, was not enough to keep my eyes from dropping down to the people we were nearing. It wasn't that one of them happened to be female or that three of them were standing in front of the small group. It was more that I knew them. From the tall, bulky male with the patch over his eye to the white coated one in the front, I knew them.

His mouth started off a line of stern resolve. The more our group drew close and the light fully extended to cover us all, it widened into a smile of undetermined nature. Perhaps he was happy to see us, but I was suspicious of other reasons. I did not know his name, but I had not forgotten his face, the smug grin or the fact he'd been able to look at me and tell I had a sword on my person. It didn't look like he'd forgotten me, either. Akumaru played the humble one, giving a bow when he stopped before them. Kemori followed suit, making me last in line to come up on Aku's left and give a fold forward to them. If it bothered him that I was last it didn't show.

As much as I would like to relay what was said, the types of introductions between leaders that were given, I cannot. Their words were only noise as I steadied my bit of dislike for who Akumaru was giving leadership up for. Numbly I realized what was happening as they made gestures; they were splitting us up into groups of two. We would be learning beneath the strangers to better get accustomed to the way they lived. Kemori was being taken by the large guy. His hair was braided with noisy bits of metal and the two walked away together and inside. The music of his walk disappeared, her grin wide as she waved back to us before being completely enveloped by the darkness. Akumaru was given a nod to the one woman on their side. Her name never stuck to my memory, nor did she have a special thing about her that held into it, either.

Do not think for a moment that they weren't dangerous or imposing. My lack of proper description of them only further distinguishes my feelings for them all. They had their parts in this story, but the main one was the male I was being paired with. The other two, both Captains beneath the Commander, knew what they were doing. All in all, I had little to do with the other two as time went on. It gave the Commander and I time to watch one another without hiding it. Akumaru misinterpreted my silence for my usual self. Somehow in the midst of things they both had forgotten my day out in the sun with my book and the man who'd come upon me then. He stood there between us and to the side, trying to break the quiet.

"This is Su-"

"Gretchen. Yes, we've met."

It gave my childhood friend a moment to blink and shake his head politely, but in confusion. I could see he was trying to be kind, but he couldn't understand the Commander's wide grin. My even stare and silence was enough to make Akumaru continue on.

"I'll see you later, Sutera." Try to play nice, is what he meant. I watched the woman lead him away to the same place Kemori had gone, only disturbed by the fact the Commander now knew my name. Thanks, Aku. I could only wonder why they were making us be with new people-I didn't believe their reasoning. Perhaps they were worried about a betrayal. From the warning they'd given in their letter concerning danger, these were no saints we were working with. They had their reasons, and my cool eyes shifted back to the icy one who had been watching me. I had the scroll he'd bought and delivered in my pack, his snowflake signature wrapped up in my book. He knew my name, and he offered his right hand out to me in the western style. Emerald eyes glistened in some humor of his own as I reached forward and took it. The flesh was slightly hardened and I knew he had offered his sword hand to me. Though my hand was slightly softer, his palm was freezing against my desert-heated own.

"You can call me Marick."


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 Post subject: Re: Within the Current; Sutera Sasaki
PostPosted: Tue Jan 05, 2010 9:56 pm 
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Death I could accept, but not this.

No sound had come from my lips as he walked a tight circle around my person. My mind was doing enough silent threatening as it was. I could hear the pauses of his feet as he stopped to admire along the way. The only credit I gave him was that he seemed to know better than to reach out and try to touch anything. I could've sworn there was a hint of laughter giving his eyes their wetness, trails of salty tears threatening to fall, mouth twitching in an effort not to laugh outwardly as he made a full circuit.

The oasis was not far from my new home, but Marick had gestured to it with a flippant wave of his hand. With only a vague hint that he was laughing at me, I had walked off in the direction he'd pointed me to go, unsure of what was coming that would elicit such a thing. All I knew was that at the moment, I would do anything to escape his piercing, drawing gaze.

Now with my boots sinking into the soft, moist sand, I knew the reason for the laughter. Searching my mind for the glimpses of people I'd gotten in the short time of introductions and parting with my friends, I realized I was the one most covered up. Head to toe in soft blackness and with a look that would've cowered any other man from gazing at me like I was mere cattle he'd sent me here to... what? I looked back over my shoulder to see not a soul. If he expected me to disrobe at the presence of water at my feet, he was sadly mistaken. I felt my glare touch nothing but the sand and tall pyramid, hating him and his silent laughter.

Crouching down, my sheathe was set across my thighs as the balls of my feet sank down with the changed balance. Pushing the hems of my sleeves up my arms, the water was suprisingly cool and clear as my cupped hands rippled the surface. Dripping from my hand it was a quiet song of invasion that I paused to listen to. Where I spoke volumes with my silence, it told countless stories with its noise. The tightness of my shoulder blades eased from an uncomfortable position I hadn't realized I put them in, head bowing as the bit in my hands came down over my head, baptizing me in the small streams which darkened my hair and ran down my face. Everything was going to be alright.

Nothing is ever alright. Nothing ever turns out how my heart wants it to be. For when I believed it was washing the tension and evil off of me to cleanse, it was only doing so to let me see into this dark reflection that was my future as it gathered before me. But foolishly I kept my eyes closed and sat there, not looking as my warning swirled and disappeared in time. I was a fool.


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 Post subject: Re: Within the Current; Sutera Sasaki
PostPosted: Mon Jan 18, 2010 7:06 am 
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My first impression upon the new home of our's was a smoking pyramid. A massive piece of rock that seemed to stretch onwards. Sturdy of material, the lines made peace with the sun, cutting it into shapes with diagonal lines and a point at the top. At some point in the day, it might have looked as if the large orb in the sky balanced upon it perfectly. Powerful. As if the Commander could control and hold such a thing. Made of beige stone, I wondered if it was that some king long ago had it built for himself but had become so forgotten people had begun using it for their own wants and needs. I never figured out if it was really so old as it looked or if Marick himself had it built for this purpose. All I cared about was that this was refuge. This was our place and a piece of it was mine.

I peered down the great hallways that led either way at the entrance and felt an adventurous streak well up from within me. Each piece of stone had been set with a purpose, lines between the stones everywhere making a brick walkway covering each surface. There had to be secret spots where one could hide. Places no one else had been and things no one else had seen. I wanted a room of peace that no one else could find. Upon inquiry, a recruit just outside had waved me on, merely telling me to find a room not yet chosen. Akumaru and Kemori had rooms close to their new friends. If Marick had such a place for me, he was no where near to ask after my wash at the oasis.

Winding, twisting and sloping riddled the inside with a myriad of rooms, hallways and alcoves. With immense ceilings stretching higher than the gas lighting could reach, I found myself unable to see too far upwards. Though one could not complain. Every other surface was lit in bronze and gold, the lights spilling forth pools of it from their places on the walls. My darkness held no place here, marking me out of context with the rich colors and antique everything surrounding me. Behind me dark prints marked my path, the rectangles and imprints of my boots dampening the floor. More than once I found myself watching these as I backtracked out of a dead end and made some other turn that brought me to another unknown and new place.

It was upon coming to a path where the lights stopped I picked a lamp up and out of the bracket on the wall. It was my quiet act of defying my new Commander. Where he had set a line of importance, marking all of the other rooms with light as their territory, I went farther. I dared to do such a thing and became rewarded to a room with a ceiling. But in looking up, something else caught my attention. Stretching my arm upwards and balancing myself as I stood upon the tips of my toes, I found a hole in the stone going up. No stairs or ladder. Just a hole and another room above this one.

My room.


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 Post subject: Re: Within the Current; Sutera Sasaki
PostPosted: Thu Feb 04, 2010 1:08 am 
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At times things needed to be done. Whether it was a simple plea from an outsider for help or another clan encroaching upon our territory, groups of us would leave together to fulfill some goal. Referred to as missions, they were always made up of at least one of the Lieutenants and then some of us lower recruits. We were all a mix of brains and brawn and Marick carefully picked out the groups so the objective could get done as best as it could. Of course, like all human beings, even Marick made mistakes.

Out in the cool morning, golden rivers of light spilled fluidly over the hills and lit gently upon the disappearing figures of Saraki and Kemori as they became but dissipating shapes on the horizon. With naught to do as far as instructions from our Commander, I picked up my sword and sheathe and set about to practicing my clockwork. It was all I had to do. The sun swam up the sapphire stream of the sky, moving so smoothly from east to west as I worked. From the morning softness and through the noontime glare I stayed. Time struck a chord on its great instrument, plucking out measures of some dance the great river of my world moved to. I was but a rock everything moved around, unchanging and in some form of stasis nothing could touch. The more I watched, I counted how my friends were sent out over and over again. But not me.

Weeks passed and still I spent my days relearning every detail of the brotherhood I could remember. It was all I had. My past teachings became a book that I flipped through, each page dog-eared and worn at the spine. Pages slipped free and I tucked them back into it until no longer did I need to look back. I kept the book of my past closed and put it somewhere safe deep within myself. My memories were all I had of my parents and of the simply happy life I had. At the time I had not seen it as happy, but compared to everything afterwards those were my most carefree and happy years.

It was one of those fall days where everything seemed to be perfect. There was not a breeze to urge on warmer clothes nor a glaring sun to put emphasis to the opposite. The world itself was in harmony but the voices of humans threw our clan off balance. For the first time since I had begun to so diligently conquer my studies did I find some distraction worth my time. Whispers I had long gotten used to floated through the air stiffly without the aid of a breeze to carry it around. Again as a rock the people drifted away from me and off to the sides as I approached one side of the circular gauntlet which had been made. In the center and holding his own Akumaru stood facing Marick, sword drawn. Where Aku had one out my gaze settled upon the dual ones our Commander held.

Hand raising at my side with my sheathed weapon clasped within, my first step was thwarted by the large grasp which tightly found my arm. The speed in which my actions had been read turned my head around to gaze over my shoulder. The impossibly large Saraki stood so close and I knew the tight hold was but a gentle thing from him. Like a weak thing I knew the potential within him and I struggled back for my friend, afraid of why he was holding me there. I cannot describe the immense hugeness he was to behold nor the quickness in which he moved to take hold of my other arm and wrap them around to my back. The pain of my arms forced into the angle struck my shoulders and I made some noise. A pained gasp in the silence which had fallen upon the group found Akumaru's attention. I heard a noise and crumple. Lifted off my feet and forced chest to chest with Saraki, I knew from his smirk it was my friend which had fallen, baited by my pain.

Without the ability to turn my head and look back I stared up at him, watching as his satisfied smirk turned into something else. I couldn't read much into the predatory curiosity, but I imagine it was the lack of expression which had long found my face that made him unnecessarily tighten his hold on my arms. Someone so used to finding fear on people's faces had found me and tried to break the mask of my apathetic face. Ready for it, Saraki got nothing but the tightening of my eyes. Feeling was no longer something my hands could do and I poured my concentration into keeping a hold of my sword. Weaponless I refused to become. I felt that pain at my shoulder which warned me the removal of my arm from the socket was soon to come just as the clipped "Drop her" came from my back. The relief I felt at hitting the ground I hid as I turned face down to the sand. My arms shook like the leaves which would fall from the trees of the villages but I had kept a hold of my weapon. As their two forms loomed above me I looked over to the passed out Aku who was being carried off by his female friend.

"Tough broad." His deep laugh rippled the air above me until I shook with it, knowing silence only when he walked away and disappeared into the darkness of our home. I stood, listening to the things Marick spoke of as I disappeared inside myself once more. Akumaru had gone against the direct command of Saraki on their last mission and had been made an example of. There was talk of my dear friend wanting to become Commander himself and it was simply unacceptable. Did I know anything of this? Of course not. Traitor was not a good nor wanted whisper and rumor to have circulating around and I would do my best to keep away from such things if I wanted to continue living. Last of all, once Akumaru healed, I would be going with Saraki and some others onto the next mission. If I was caught trying to disrupt Marick while he was commanding his clan again, I would become the example. He showed me no mercy and I knew the frustration of Akumaru's disobedience was leaking onto me. His anger was a cold thing as he waited for me to say anything while we stared at one another. Finally he left me and my silence, leaving me to stare at the rust colored sand which soaked up my friend's blood. Leaving me to see what I would become if I did not give up myself to them entirely.

It was easy to do. If I had been in the Commander's place, I might have done something similar. A threat to all he had worked for was not something to be taken lightly, and he hadn't. Besides, what of myself did I have to give to them? I was but a well trained instrument for him to use when he wanted or needed. I had agreed to that when I had come into this clan. But I gave nothing else. I was not as open as my bubbly Kemori. Too many new recruits had already learned the difference between us. I had eased many away with my empty stares and silence after their attempts to treat me like a female - pretty flowers and things were not the path to my heart. Eventually they stopped and I knew peace. I learned and accepted along with the recruits that there were no roads to my heart. Just walls. I only had space for my friends and even those numbered so few.

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 Post subject: Re: Within the Current; Sutera Sasaki
PostPosted: Tue May 11, 2010 2:23 am 
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Panic found and contorted the strong friend I thought I knew, taking those soft expressions over into wide, darting hues as if a hound had just chased the hiding bird out of the brush. And when something small is startled out from safety, when surety becomes uncertainty, the prey thinks nothing of who they were supposed to be. How strong they could be or the weapons they had. They saved their own life and fled on those quickened wings, soaring away out of the danger. They found their safe place elsewhere and then, maybe, remembered what they had given up. Too late to go back, but the regret became a substitute. It became so many moments of opportunity to turn around and go back, but they never did. I watched Akumaru become this as he stared at my numb face, the blood pouring out of my leg instead of giving color to it. I couldn't believe my eyes as he shook his head, turned and disappeared from my sight. Reflexively I tried to follow and met pain once more, slumping myself against the wall I was pinned to.

The hound which had scared away my closest friend was a group of large men, but yet he flew. I could not follow, their words to one another only noise as my leg spasmed and burned. The latter sensation drew my gaze downwards in time to see a bloodied hand take hold of the sword and yank it free from the wall behind me. Initially I made no sound, too busy staring at the hole in my thigh and trying to understand the pain which felt like a river of fire taking over my body. Time was not my friend. The next time I looked up it was to the sound of the only door out being shut and locked. Without being able to understand their complex language I could only guess I wasn't going to be able to leave.

It became a struggle of galactic proportions to keep my throat from sharing with the world my pain. A million stinging fire ants crawled out of my thigh and covered me completely. It was all I could imagine as the pain swept over me like a hungry fire finding dry brush, the streams of the building inferno finding every imaginable place. I don't remember dropping my weapon, but I had two hands free when I reached for the bookshelf to steady myself with. It fell so swiftly with all its weight, crushing a chair beneath it as I stumbled to the floor. Simply I could not stand with the pain, writhing in it as I stared up at the darkened sky through the hole in the ceiling. I could've been in front of it when it had fell and it was then I wished I had been. It would've meant the end of the pain.

The sword I had been cut with was a great weapon with something on it. Poison or some delusional matter. Of course at the time I was trying to get the ants off which didn't exist and didn't think of what it could've been or whether some antidote existed. They were more numerous than I could've ever imagined, beneath my skin and on it. I put my arm over my eyes and tried to sweep off the rest with my other arm. The feeling was everywhere and when I couldn't make it go away, my silence broke.

The scream which I heard was something I didn't immediately find familiar. Eventually I realized that the one making the noise was me. I screamed because it hurt and there was no way to make it stop. I bled there on the floor, trying to shake things off that didn't exist. I screamed because my best friend had left me there alone with this pain I couldn't manage. Choking on the feeling of hundreds of these stinging things entering my mouth, I screamed until I had no more air to do so with. My nails broke skin, adding my blood to the dirty floor of uneven wood. If the fire was within my veins, I would get it out. It seeped out and did nothing to ease my pain, but the scream which had been born from my suffering was dying. Gnarled and twisted I pressed my cheek to the ground, holding myself as the fire ate away at everything. My common sense, energy and strength were consumed until there was nothing left. I don't remember when I stopped screaming but suddenly it was more quiet than I thought it would be possible. The pain never left but in the state of twitching and exhaustion I found it bearable as the hours crept on. There was no sense of time there, just pain that ebbed and flowed. Eventually I stopped feeling and when darkness struck me so quickly, I didn't fight it. I couldn't.

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 Post subject: Re: Within the Current; Sutera Sasaki
PostPosted: Fri Jun 04, 2010 12:08 pm 
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Like a magical device of technological advancement, music drifted slowly through the air above me as if I'd wound up a box containing a turning, perfect ballerina. It was quiet but beautiful, and when it reached out to me, the coolness of it was the most welcome thing I could have ever imagined. Slightly rough hands of hard work touched my skin, tracing chilling lines across my cheeks where tears of pain had long since dried. But it felt them, how invisible they were and the paths each river had taken. The music did not pause when I tried to move to follow it as it finally tried to depart; only returned more delicately to my face. How quiet the winding music box became at the fever it must have felt fighting against it, starting once more in a feverish pursuit of a crescendo as the laces of fabric at my sides came undone.

I floated in my dream and felt better then for the change, the music and I dancing together as ice cubes of coldness found my bare sides at last and lifted me. Soft clicks of the music pattered past, great hands having snuck through the fabric that covered me to give me its cooled touch. Together we stayed like that, twirling without any real knowledge of where we were at all. We twirled without moving, the world around us instead doing the movement for us as I was so slowly put down upon my feet. It slowed to that point where you're never quite sure if the winding mechanism is done or just slowing down, leaving me there for the briefest moment in silence. I had not the strength to stand without it, and when I began to fall back to the soft, cloudy floor of my dream, I thought out loud.

Don't let me fall..

My voice but a whisper found the music for it was soon catching me, lowering me gently as to not jar me from the momentum of my downwards tumble before making me rise. It performed its dance with me as its partner and I did nothing. It knew what to do and how to move me to make my body not a prop, but a centerpiece in its design. The coldness wrapped pleasantly around my back as it moved through the holes in the sides of my clothing, holding me close then. It did not mind that I could barely speak or move. The music did not release me this time, but kept me against it, carrying me away from the pain that breaking the surface of consciousness would bring. Knowing not whether it was a good idea or bad, I relaxed once more and pressed my cheek to the softness it wore, disappearing within myself again.

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 Post subject: Re: Within the Current; Sutera Sasaki
PostPosted: Mon Jul 05, 2010 11:42 pm 
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Unable to focus upon the ground I was watching, I was left wondering upon the significance that without aid of a horse or carriage we were moving at bursts of speed that I'd never witnessed before. Bent over a broad shoulder, my body rocked with the movement. Like letting oneself be manipulated by an ocean, my cheek floated away from the white cloth of his back as we raced forward then lightly fell upon it again as he paused for a couple steps. Back and forth, burst and pause. Light and whimsical chimes made their soft music so close that I shifted to catch them in my sights. Such a simple movement of turning my head expelled so much energy that it was some time before I can recall opening my eyes up to look at them. Realization with a sickening tug against my stomach came as I connected the music from my recent dream to this being who carried me now.

His quiet, rumbling and deep voice only confirmed my guess at his identity. Despite the fact my ear pressed so closely to his back, his voice that wound itself around me sounded so very far away. "Your friend left you to die, but you never let jewels perish. Not if you can save them." Saraki, the large man with the bells caught within his hair carried me away from a hell and towards where we lived. As I struggled to make sense of his words and hidden meanings, he continued. "The Commander.. believes.. that there is something special about you. Let's hope he's right."

Rocking with the movements of his travel, I heard no more from him if he said another word. The pain of living was fading though for what reason I could hardly guess. Under his care, whether experienced or not, I was slowly feeling more myself but with more confusion. His kindness did not match how he was treating me just days before and I couldn't help but wonder what had changed. Some event of great significance must have happened while I was stuck in that place, I concluded. How it involved me I was only left to dreamily guess on, though those thoughts soon disappeared, too, as my consciousness drifted away.

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 Post subject: Re: Within the Current; Sutera Sasaki
PostPosted: Sun Oct 31, 2010 11:53 pm 
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A personal hell slipped away into the past, a vague memory which I'd never forget. With each new obstacle that I came across, I had something bigger to compare it to. The coping mechanism was welcomed and though there were no questions of my injury, I saw it change each morning and night. The angry red lines of it never quite came together beneath the bandage, dark lines winding and weaving their ways through my body just beneath the skin until a ring around my thigh was made. It was an injury that came to life and demanded my attention as it chose times to flare and burn, catching me unawares with the pain that never quite reached the same intensity that I'd suffered before. It slowed me and my training crawled to a halt. It was a pain all its own that no progress was made though I practiced daily with the same religious ritual as before. Marick tossed me a glance here and there but in general left me be. As if I somehow deserved the neglect.

If Saraki had said anything about my injury to anyone, they left me to myself. No one asked to see what had kept me; Aku, my deserter, saw nothing wrong with me days after my return and only threw me a friendly smile that I couldn't find the heart to return. I blamed him, some, for my pain, but he was still so close to my heart. It made it worse. I kept seeing that scared boy before me, wearing the mask of a strong man, and I couldn't let it go. My days became what they were before: endless and silent, only my shadow noting the passing of time and meals breaking up the monotony.

But Marick would not let us be apart. It was only a short week after my arrival that he put us together for a mission again. How diligently I watched and pleaded with my gaze not to stick us together, but if he saw it he ignored it. For once there was no one of the more experienced clan members coming with us. If my old friend had a repeat episode of last time I could not count on rescue. I shivered involuntarily to that but listened more carefully to everything. I refused to fail.

Between us three he held a map, the terrain and surrounding places riddled with marks and symbols that meant something of great importance to another being. Of course it was not too difficult to figure out. They were our people, Marick's people and their places. Instructions of movement and when they shifted, the places of those who worked against us and those who requested our help. It felt like we held all of his work within our hands, trusted to take it to a man some days away without getting caught. Into my bag the rolled up map went and out we set, given a week to return. In our walking away his voice caught my hearing, drawing me to a stop until I could turn to look back to his face, wind tousled hair shifting as a breeze pushed past.

“If you are caught.. destroy it.” His parting words struck an unfamiliar chord within my soul, hoping that we were not the sacrificial animals walking to our end. Without a movement from my Commander I was dismissed, turning back around to catch up to my friend.

An ever present dragon of heat soared above us, the glowing orb radiating down its rays that never seemed to quite reach its mark. How I wanted and wished for it to reach farther and chase away the chill that crept upon us, threatening and waiting for the darkness when it would be unleashed. Our first night was spent in silence, stretched out on blankets on a small bit of oasis we'd claimed. The fire crackled and snapped at me as I lay awake, staring up at the blanket of darkness that returned the stare with hundreds of bright eyes. The fire was a necessary evil to keep away the glowing orbs of felines which crept close, suspecting easy prey. Chased away with harsh words and thrown rocks, they never did quite leave, their presence forever marked in a page within my journal. His breathing was soft and rhythmic as my charcoal flew across the page, muzzles, glowing hues and ears coming to life before me. A day of walking kept a constant reminder within me of my injury, a steady pain keeping me unsettled and thoughtful. Again I wondered on the significance of us being chosen to do this task, the coldness of Marick's last words ringing through me as my things were put away. There was still one more day to the inn before we could get rid of the map, and I turned my back to the fire to watch those eyes which peered back at me along the grassy flatness, willing them to go away and leave us be.


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 Post subject: Re: Within the Current; Sutera Sasaki
PostPosted: Wed Dec 22, 2010 3:30 pm 
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It's a common saying that the eyes have a certain way of being doors or windows into the soul. Though I cannot say that I have seen someone's soul by looking at them, I have seen many other things instead. Emotions. Thoughts. The once playful, flirting manner of my Commander was now completely gone in place of a harsher, narrow-lidded glare that carried through to his stance. The anger was captured in the entire feeling his body gave off to permeate the atmosphere around him. It slowed my pace significantly, the air gelatinous with trouble as I struggled to both understand why and walk through the molasses of it.

I chanced a glimpse away from him, a lift of my eyes to Saraki's hardened face from where he stoically stood behind and to the right of Marick. Mirroring him to the left was the woman who had taken charge of Aku in the beginning. Behind them people had started to come forward from their chores and exercises, leaving a sick feeling along with the fatigue to plague me. Not a one looked any happier with me than Marick did.

A despairing sigh reverberated within my own head.

It was the double rings of steel which stopped me completely some yards away from Marick and brought my attention back to his stern form, swords out and at his sides.

"Sutera Sasaki, you've returned... why?"

I'd never seen him before draw his weapons and my eyes trailed down the twin blades of trouble shining in the sunlight. They glowed with some false holy light, stealing it from the bright orb above us. I couldn't help but believe then that they deserved a darker illumination to match the general mood that I had come to meet. His words spurned contemplation, memories of the last bits of information given to Akumaru and I bubbling up to the surface. I failed to remember any part of it that had given us permanent leave. It seemed nonsense that returning to my clan was being questioned here, but something was wrong. We had come here, us three, as a group to be united under his leadership and even now I could see Kemori standing in the gathering throng.

But she was there, and I was here. The symbolism whirled my stomach and its butterflies.

His patience was not without limits, displeasure prodding him further. Before I could formulate some answer he stepped forward towards me slightly to yet again initiate conversation.

"You return without your partner, without completing the assignment and we've been noticing more activity that could only be happening if the information you had fell into the wrong hands.” The last spit forth from his lips, angry and assumptive.

“You return a traitor."

"I'm not a trai-"

"Then where is he?"

He cut me off and seemed to have a gist of what I was going to say before I said it. It began to make sense to me now, though, why they'd sent us two out alone. It was a test of trust and Akumaru had failed miserably. Though my efforts in finding him had come up with nothing, I was determined to prove that one of us failing did not make both of us traitors. Even Marick seemed to know who was guilty, already seeking Aku. It all came down to where he had gone, and I only had one answer for him which I knew he would neither appreciate nor like.

"I don't know."

There was little to explain past that which would strengthen my argument that I was not what he claimed me to be. My story was not convincing. We'd left; he'd drugged me and disappeared with the information. I looked for him but found nothing. Who would anyone believe? The self doubting had no time to linger, however, for Marick moved past my answer quickly with what I thought to be a previously made decision.

"Then arm yourself. Fight me and live... live and you are welcome back."

The injustice and complete absurdity of it surprised me for he was offering me a death sentence. It was crazy; not only did the punishment not fit the wrongfully accused crime but was just too much too fast. Even at my best there was no way that I could have won such an agreement. He was the Commander for a reason, and it wasn't by voting. My disbelief of his words must have shown on my face, though, for his mouth turned into a smirk, but he vanquished any thoughts that this was a joke as he began slowly stepping towards me.

It was a different person coming at me and I was in no way ready for it.


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 Post subject: Re: Within the Current; Sutera Sasaki
PostPosted: Sat Mar 12, 2011 4:39 pm 
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As my gaze slid away from his challenging stare I felt uncertainty. I'd let him too close and not done enough in the hope that someone would stop him short. I missed what it was he did, but whatever it was it dropped me like a puppet having its strings cut.

Struck dumb, my vision split into many different overlays of the same scene, making it difficult to position anything correctly as people swam about, mixing with one another. I could barely make out the sounds of the rippling disapproval through the clan but there was something the group didn’t quite like about the situation. It gave me a small spark of hope that battled the fuzzy blackness that edged my vision. The pain was exquisite, enveloping my entire head as I moved. Gathering my arms and bent legs beneath me, I made it onto my hands and knees, the bits of sand in the grass digging into my palms as I tried to stay upright and only ended up finding myself on my side upon the ground that I couldn’t seem to hold onto.


"Comman-"

"Lieutenant, learn your place."

Hands fumbling, I did manage to pull my katana and sheathe free from one another, my legs folding beneath me as I sat up. I couldn't stand but I could try to defend myself from his attack. "Admit to your guilt, Sutera." His voice had dropped so only I could hear it, the multiple forms my vision had made of him straightening out into one as one of his sword edges came down to force my chin up. The metal was cold and sharp; a single thought could’ve made him lean forwards and cut me apart, but we were both too busy fighting without words. We stared at each other, his anger sweeping a chill through my limbs though I gave him nothing in return. It reminded me of who put me into this situation, wondering if Akumaru had expected this outcome. He'd given the information off to someone else... but why? Greed? It didn't make any sense to me and Marick's anger only gave me time to think for I had no wish to speak. The guilt he was trying to force onto me was not mine. Sometime during my absence he had been jury and judge, condoning me for something that I hadn't done.

My silence removed the coolness from beneath my chin, legs numbly moving me to my feet to stand prematurely. A forceful kick from the side dropped me back to the sand, a small throb to my thigh giving warning to where I was still sore from my injuries. It was a warm feeling that began to spread as I turned my head to locate him in front of me again. His stare was unnerving and I wondered what he was trying to tease forth by beating me down like this in front of the others. Humility? Shame?

I pushed myself up again to my feet, the muscles twitching in my thigh as I gave a turn of my katana within my grasp. It was a good feeling, familiar with its weight and gathering warmth. My persistence earned me a chilling smile and a beating.

I can only recall a hundred small cuts inflicted, his movements blurred as I tried so hard to deflect something, anything. The others swam away into nothingness until it was just him and I there. More him than I, though, his anger exhausting me through the removal of my energies and blood.

It was everywhere.

The most startling of injuries came at a show of power, which I would later learn was something he struggled to keep in check constantly. That and perhaps his sanity. All I remember of it was that joined with the creeping poison that was still within me, it was the most painful thing I'd endured at the time.

Marick wrote:
She never tried to hurt me. I expected she would; that some great power would wash out and I the receiver of it. I had her in the same way I had vanquished the flame of life from the traitors before her. Unskilled a swordswoman she was compared to I, it took only a couple minutes to run her through. But let it be known that this is the only time I made a mistake this way. I won't let it happen again.

I could see her face and as her breath came out in a struggled cloud of frosty air, I never felt her panic. I was chilling the veins within her. It seemed absurd she wouldn't admit to her guilt or try something to kill me. I watched though for something on her face... anything. I nearly had her heart within my icy grasp when I found myself the frozen one, watching as a swirling mix of tears and blood glided down her cheek which was already streaked with blood. It was being chased by an icy coating, veins of frost freezing it as it ran away.

What if she is innocent?


“Damnit.”


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 Post subject: Re: Within the Current; Sutera Sasaki
PostPosted: Sat Jun 11, 2011 1:30 am 
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Sutera wrote:
Out of the mists she came to me, short and bent over a walking stick. As she struggled with the act of pulling upwards a trapdoor in the ground of this painful place, I moved to help her so that it was together we succeeded. With the end of her stick she gestured downwards. “Get in. I will come get you when it’s safe.”

And so I went down into the darkness, the heavy blanket of it tugging at the pain as it began to ebb into a comforting warmth. Upwards I looked to her watchful gaze as I was able to feel it pierce through me. At once I felt bare before her and as unnerving as it was, I knew to trust her. "Child, show me what's happened to you." Heaviness came over my hands and drew my attention to them. I was holding my journal. If she had reached down for it with any sort of greed in the action I would've kept it, but again she was patient and wise with all of her years. So I lifted it into her hands and stepped back, watching as she let the lid of this safeness close down, extinguishing all light and consciousness.


Old Jana found us today.

It seems no matter how much I try to stay away from her and her ungodly prices for help that she finds me anyways. My horse was fine but around dusk it stopped and threw us off into the sand. Mark my words it was this old woman who is the cause of that. Luckily the sand was forgiving and the woman landed unharmed. Upon approaching I thought I saw her surprise at the sight of me. The help was not meant for me then. She went right to Sutera and with her floating lamp and my eased horse we are now housed within her home.

We won't be staying. Even now we are getting resituated to head out again.

When she called me back around the curtain I was surprised to see a pile of shredded cloth that had previously been covering the woman and all the lines of pain which had been on her face were gone. At first I worried her dead, but from one of two pieces of draped cloth over her chest, the other at her hips, I could see her breathe. It also showed how vicious my anger had been. The cuts were everywhere, and a good majority of them were different than the rest.

“I see you were not merciful in using one of your poisoned blades.”

Indeed, I had not been. Somehow this old woman made me feel guilt more readily than I would’ve liked, but she didn’t stop me when I touched my charge’s thigh. Here the veins beneath the skin could be seen, blackened with the flesh dying around a good sized cut.

“This was not me.”

“No, but this one is.. here, you do it. My fingers are old and unsteady.” As I took the needle and thread I noted her hands were calmer than my own, pushing me reluctantly to the right side of her lower abdomen where I’d done her through. Coming around the table and leaving the room, I was left in silence with the eerily exposed and injured woman.

The first stitch was slow; I kept watching her face for signs of pain. Funny that I would worry about that now when it was much too late. Not a muscle on that face twitched nor a tendon within the rest of her. So I worked. Light gleamed off of the needle and her blood every time I brought it through and out, a mosaic of yellow motes upon her skin from all of the smaller cuts and where the crimson had begun to dry in a sticky thickness. It was quiet work for a while but eventually the old bat returned.

Old Jana says that Sutera is innocent. Though I know her ability to read minds, for she abuses it all of the time upon me, I still don’t want to believe her. Even more proof of her ability is that she seems to know that and has given me a journal that is not mine.

The handwriting is neat and feminine; every couple pages or so are empty of words but instead a drawing gives life to the tome. I have seen better. She is not wasting any talent in taking up a sword instead of pursuing something else. The first entry was made years ago. Perhaps it is within here, somewhere, I can find her admission of guilt. I am unable to force her to say what I want so I will find it within this gift.

Sutera is ready and we are leaving now. It is with haste Old Jana says I must get her home and to the spring. None of them are going to let me forget it if I allow her to die. I cannot forget the look on Jana’s face when Saraki called her over to first look at her. The great-granddaughter of the old bat is well versed in the ways of healing and I cannot forget the faint traces of horror in her gaze when she looked to me. They all seem to believe she is innocent; I cannot let her perish until I prove otherwise.

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 Post subject: Re: Within the Current; Sutera Sasaki
PostPosted: Tue Sep 20, 2011 11:09 pm 
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(If you're looking for the new post, I scoot them all down to insert a left out one. It's the second post on the second page.)

"I'm dying."

I looked up to her then, realizing I had no clue how long she'd been watching me in lucid silence. Our days had been spent with her in a silent stupor of disillusion until now. I don't believe she remembered anything, which suit me. I don't want her the satisfaction of knowing she nearly crushed my nose the first day.

The way her voice lifted at the end posed it as more of a question than statement, though; I didn't know how to respond but glanced over to the bloody vomit she'd coughed up some moments before. I was at the point of reading her journal where being mean to her seemed inappropriate. In the spirit of trying to believe her innocent until I could prove it, I found myself unable to say anything. It was enough of an answer in itself.

Like burning brands her fingers wrapped around my wrist, stopping me from finishing the stitches, in search of something more than a silent response. Her skin was too hot and I found myself absentmindedly letting my power trickle out to cool her as I'd taken to doing the past few days. The corner of her mouth shifted as she noticed. It was a secret kind of smile that I felt should have been shown in less harsh circumstances. Perhaps one I'd see again.

Laid out she relaxed once more, eyes glued to my own.

In her weakened state it was easy to resume my work even as her flesh remained feverish against my own. The poison within her own blood had ruined the previous stitches, making me nervous about the state of things below the skin's surface. Fireworks of bruising were already showing but the woman herself remained the calm and perfect picture she always had been. As I rinsed her blood off of my hands in a bowl she shifted to life again.

"You may not be aware.. but you're going about this in the wrong way."

Perplexed I looked over to her, a serene and tired face watching my every move there. She seemed mostly empty of the energy required to turn or lift her head, the minute change only enough so she could see me. Inwardly I was almost afraid to say something. This was the most she'd spoke in my presence in a long while, my mind counting quietly.

"You're doing an awful job at killing me."

It seemed such an odd thing to come from her. A moment passed before I realized she was trying to make light of the situation that was her own death. I knew of the fall of her parents, of Kemori and Akumaru, of her up bringing but not a word of her writing called for any joking. A once in a lifetime kind of deal, I guessed. Briefly I recalled the sliver of terror I'd spotted in her eyes some days ago. I knew there was some mote of fear beneath the surface, one she wasn't showing me today. My expression gave something away, words silenced and no longer flowing so freely.

I didn't respond until I was packing up our things into my bag. The last half of the trip was something she wouldn't live through, I worried, which called for leaving the horse behind.

"So that implies I'm doing a good job of keeping you alive then."

I countered, breaking the spell of her speech and readying myself for the energy this route was going to take while baiting her, urging her to speak again.

The act of picking her up into my arms wrinkled her brow in pain though she made no noise of complaint. A couple shifts and they faded away, her exhausted gaze slipping behind my shoulders to where the magic of my form rested. "Barely." The softest cloud of her cold, pained breath of a whisper escaped her lips, disappearing quickly into the heat. Ice moved through the air along invisible routes, creating the wings that I would use to keep her out of the reaper's grasp.

We are the same size and she only finally rests her temple against my shoulder in silent acknowledgment that the energy to resist just wasn't there. Sutera doesn't hold on or drape her arms around me. I hold onto her, willing her body to continue fighting. There hasn't been much change in her or us this trip, but there has been a change in me. I find myself torn between trusting in everyone else's judgment and not wanting to be wrong.

I want her to open up to me. Every word, line and page I read created a silhouette of someone I hadn't yet met. They were the words of someone who was honorable and loyal. Someone who perhaps, in the throes of being betrayed, was now battling yet another betrayal that I had pressed upon her.

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 Post subject: Re: Within the Current; Sutera Sasaki
PostPosted: Thu Sep 29, 2011 10:39 pm 
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My home is a great place.

The villagers at the base of the mountain would think nothing of my silhouette dragging itself across the street as I flew. There had long been rumors of my power to sustain even the best gossiper. Some say I am a demon. Others that I've killed a great king to gain the power that runs through my veins. Some tell of the great treasure-hording beasts I've slain to have so much money. Even some others whisper about the war I created, one that keeps the blood flowing down the mountain's rocks as I deflect each new attack. Some rumors I had long created myself, watching them twist and sway until only a warped skeleton vaguely resembling the first story was left. Others were true. The last one is true.

The rock plateaus into the camp, tents and signs of people living dotting the green grasses. My people. There is even a path from it that leads to the lake and its glistening waters, the island dark in shadow from my vantage point.

But it's up the stairs that my home is. My sanctuary.

This is where we landed.

The path is straight and true, cherry trees lined and scattered to either side. My house is one of both strength and transparency. The porch surrounding it will lead into any bedroom and the hot spring out back. Beyond that there are caves and rock, sheltering the place I built. But, I will not detail everything here. It is a great place.

It is difficult nursing something back to health that doesn't want to be fussed over. There are times I am able to help her, but they are few. If one has ever held an injured bird, you know the feeling. It is living. Its pulse is frantic and quick. It desires nothing else but to fly again. It may even find the strength to struggle or surprise you.

Today was one of those days. Somehow she managed to physically struggle in the same way I am plagued inwardly about her. But when I came back this afternoon from Old Janna's with some new medicine I found her outside.

Ashen against the red and gray clothes she wore, I found myself able to crouch down beside her seated form without her noticing. It was a rare thing, but I watched her form visibly relax. That alone proved she was getting used to me.

"You shouldn't have come out here. You look terrible. Come on, I have something for you to drink." My spring has healing properties within it and it was with pride I helped her walk, noticing how even her gait had become over the past couple of days. There was a different kind of silence around her but I failed to notice it until we started up the steps of the porch and I saw the bloody footprints leading the way we'd come.

"I didn't know what else to do." As her words gushed out of her and I released her arm, my palm came back coated in more of it. What I'd taken as crimson design on her clothes.. "It's not mine. I don't know who.. don't know what happened." I followed the trail of darkness on my hallway floor until I reached her room, the door open and a body a dark mass against her sheets. I understood now her last comment. There was a foot wide hole allowing me the oddness of seeing through the assassin's chest.

I can't say I was completely surprised; I had told Saraki that there was potential within her somewhere. I'm just not sure what it is.

"It's alright. I do have enemies. You'd be wise to keep your senses open and alert in the future." It sounded like a reprimand to my own ears, but there were other things on my mind besides making sure she knew otherwise. "Remember not the scene but the feeling, Sutera. I'll need you to try to do what you did again later when we train."

"Train?"

"Yes, train. I told you I'm not trying to kill you. If you're truly not the traitor I thought then I'd rather you near as a powerful ally." Her expression shifted minutely enough into dislike and it made me laugh. "I may be easy to anger and foolish at times.. but I have nursed you back to health these past couple of weeks."

"Is that not enough?"

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 Post subject: Re: Within the Current; Sutera Sasaki
PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2012 11:18 pm 
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There was never such a unique, clear and familiar sound such as that which rang out amid the clamoring crowd. My people were excited; after three months we had found and brought back our traitor, Akumaru. Still, even among their chatter and noise my brother and I heard the draw of a weapon. We had become so intertwined with one another, and she with us through training, that there were only a few of us who found each other's gaze in an unknowing confusion, understanding consuming our expressions in tandem soon after.

"Sasaki!"

My people moved from me, clearing a path as I hurriedly stepped to where I'd left him to be held, disappointment immediately filling my gut. I'd mistakenly neglected to take note of whether she was going to be a problem. Her honor would pull her to kill him, of course, and I could not move my charges away from my way fast enough. Kemori stood there frozen, her delicate archer's hands brought together to cover her mouth. Useless. She stared at Stella, though, whose movement of drawing her sword being the noise that'd alerted Saraki and I in the first place. His head bowed, the dark gleam of her weapon linked them, erasing what had once been empty space between their bodies as it rested above his shoulder, a growing sliver of red dripping from his neck onto the blade. Her intentions were clear but I could not give her the permission she so desired, poised mid-behead.

"We need him alive, Lieutenant."

I used her newly received title deliberately, reminding her of her new station and place now, one she would need to weigh against her personal feelings. The white haori signifying her place as third in rank snapped lightly in the breeze, further driving home my point.

His eyes moved along the invisible leash from her hand to me, disdain clear as we stared at one another. I wonder if it was hate for the fact that I have her respect, enough to stop her actions, or that I am still alive and well. Or perhaps he wished to die right there by her hand. I released his gaze and reached for her weapon. It disappeared into its sheath and slapped against my hands hard enough for me to feel her anger, its biting sting coupled with her silence almost startling. I was surprised to find she gave it to me willingly, rendering herself unarmed and untrusting of her own will to not use it again. Hazel eyes refused to find my own, too much emotion caught up within them, I guessed. It would've been fine had Akumaru not began to chuckle, but the arrogant traitor couldn't seem to hold it back. Weakened as it was, he slowly lifted a poisonous green gaze to her, his thin mouth stretched with amusement as my two guards held him upright.

If there were any signs that preluded her lunge forward, I missed them completely. It was a quick punch that knocked his head back and splattered blood onto his features, the next into his stomach that pulled his body into a reflexive bow.

He did not rise as she did, curled up form released to the ground. Akumaru's laughter had stopped and our camp cleared her a path much more efficiently than they had me. Sutera strode away to the lake and I waved the guards away to clean him up. I still meant to get as much information out of him as I could.

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