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              xxxxxxxx WxE x AxRxE x TxHxE x GxOxDxS x AxMxOxNxG x MxExNxxxxsothisx&&xpurixxxxxxxxxxxxx

                          Ladies and gentlemen, I gleefully welcome you to Divinity, a roleplay of epic proportions over a
                          half a year in the making. Created, written and owned by yours truly, Sothis, with the lovely
                          coding done by the lovely - - PURI xx q u e e n (she's also responsible for several other minor
                          details~), and with some help from awesome people who know who they are without being named.
                          Loosely pulling inspiration from all sorts of places, including Clover Studio's Okami, Otomate's
                          Hakuouki series, several manga series, including Zone-00, Ten no Ryuu Chi no Sakura, and Kaze
                          Hikaru and with plenty of Japanese mythology thrown in. Combined with themes pulled from the
                          original Divinity and the unfinished Codex, both roleplays by myself, Divinity is a story on a massive
                          scale and tells a tale that covers centuries. It is a story of sibling nations, the values each holds to,
                          and the brave and loyal who put everything they are and everything they have on the line to defend
                          these values. The story of eight long dead gods who've left an incredible legacy behind, and the
                          story of the insurmountable and mighty creature that felled them. This is a story of courage and of
                          strength; a story of enemies on a battlefield who are not nearly as different as they think.
神性xxxxxxxx
know that it’s a voice that thinks only of you xxxxxx ああこの声が聴こえますか ★ あなたを想う声がxxxxxxlxxxxxxxxx
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Sothis's avatar

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      ║▐ █████████ █████《 神性██████

          ♛ ♛ ♛☆ ☆WE ARE GODS AMONG MEN become divine
          ♛ ♛ ♛★ ★WE ARE GODS AMONG MEN become divine
          ♛ ♛ ♛☆ ☆WE ARE GODS AMONG MEN become divine

        ▅▅▅▅▅▅ ▅▅▅▅▅ ▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅

        xxxxxxxあなたの胸にこの身を任せ 私は死んでいこう
        xx xxxxxx前も見えず、息も出来ず あなただけを想う

xxxxxxxxxx I WILL THINKOF NOBODY BUT YOU xxxx▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅ ▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅ ▅▅▅ ` »
just for youxjust for youxjust for youxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
just for youxjust for youxjust for youxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

User Imagexxxxxxxxxxxxxx 空を埋める花のいろ うつりにけりなわが恋xxxx the color of falling blossom fills the sky
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxwhich lingers with end of my selfish lovexxxx やがてすべてが過ぎ去るあとも あなただけを想う

✫ ✫ ✫ ✫ ✫ ✫

                                    They say that long ago, our world wasn't torn in two. That Sun and Moon lived side by side, brothers-in-arms. That our precious continent was protected by the Gods and all its people were kept safe... but that all changed when he came. Yamata-no-Orochi. Said to be born as the younger brother of the previous Dragon King, Orochi was a terrifying creature with eight heads, eight tails, and when in human form, eight personalities. But he was the younger brother of the King, and he was a dragon, so he was revered. Until the day he went crazy. He killed his brother... and then ate him. And then killed and devoured every other dragon alive. It is said the King's youngest son was able to escape with the aid of a maid, but I do not believe this to be so.. Regardless, Orochi had gone insane, and when he was done devouring the dragons, he burned the Dragon Fruit Tree to the ground.

                                    And then he waged war on Tengoku.


                                    Sun - the more bold of the two countries - retaliated first, but Moon was not even a day behind. It was a glittering mix of gold and silver as the two nations assaulted the eight-headed serpent with everything they had. But it wasn't enough. It wasn't near enough. So they prayed to their gods, prayed and begged for aide, for a blessing to give them power. They got more than they ever hoped for. The Gods of Takamagahara descended, each lending their power to the nations closest to them. Tsukuyomi, the God of the Moon, led our people. His sister Amaterasu, Goddess of the Sun, led the Sun's charge. And with the other six gods close behind - Inari, Goddess of Harvests, Susanoo, God of Storms, Ryuujin, the Dragon God and Lord of Seas, Ame-no-Uzume, the Dawn Goddess, Okuninushi, God of Healing, Benzaiten, Goddess of Fortune, and a few of the most powerful demons and spirits - they charged Orochi once more.

                                    But the dragons he'd devoured proved to make him far too strong. Even the might of the eight Gods of Takamagahara and their most powerful servants and guardians wasn't enough. So the Gods fell one by one, brutally massacred by the might of Yamata-no-Orochi. It was Inari, the trickster Goddess of harvests, that managed to deal a mortal blow to Orochi right before she succumbed to her wounds. And so when the Gods departed this life, destined to be reborn in the future, Orochi departed as well. He wasn't a God, and he wouldn't return, but the damage the two nations has received from his rampage was extensive, and we no longer had our Gods to watch over us. It was from this absence that the Codex was born. A code of conduct for every aspect of life, it taught rectitude, courage, benevolence, respect, honesty, honor, and loyalty. It was a much needed anchor in the troubled times that followed the death of the Gods. It was only a matter of time until the Codex became a complete lifestyle, and from that lifestyle, the Wardens were born. Wardens of the Sun and Wardens of the Moon, gold and silver, but brothers-in-arms, just as the nations had been when they fought Orochi. The Wardens thrived, living a warrior's lifestyle, tempered by a steadfast code of ethics.

                                    For three hundred years, the world was at peace.


                                    And then the Country of the Sun crowned their new Emperor, a clever and calculating boy of only fourteen, taking the throne in his now-deceased father's footsteps. His very first act as Emperor was to strike the Codex from the law, claiming it was outdated and pointless in this new world. He quelled the outcry of the people with violence, and put the Wardens of the Sun down like rabid animals with the "toys" - firearms - he imported from Isengard, a frozen island country far to the north. The way of the blade, the way of the Wardens, could not stand against firearms. So the Country of the Sun took a drastic change. Land of the Moon was shocked at first, and wept for its fallen brother. But that didn't last long. A mere seven years after taking the throne, the Emperor of the Sun no longer was content ruling only half the continent. So he turned on the Moon.

                                    And he destroyed us. Our Wardens, like their fallen brothers, stood no chance. He conquered and destroyed, crushing our country like ants. He executed the royal family, every last one, and declared himself our Emperor. We were a colony of the Country of the Sun now. We were second class compared to the Sun. And we had no way to fight back. For thirteen long years now, we've been under the Emperor's thumb, only a ghost of the proud nation we once were.

                                    But no longer.




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                                    ║▐ █████神性 》█████ █████ ▌▌█████│

                                    ♛ ♛ ♛ xxxxxJUST FOR YOUxxxxx
                                    ♛ ♛ ♛ xxxxxJUST FOR YOUxxxxx
                                    ♛ ♛ ♛ xxxxxJUST FOR YOUxxxxx

                                    xxxx 儚い春のかたみにはxxxthis fleeting memento of spring
                                    is the most beautiful thing I havexxxいちばん綺麗なわたしを
                                    ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬

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      ║▐ █████████ █████《 神性██████

          ♛ ♛ ♛☆ ☆WE ARE GODS AMONG MEN become divine
          ♛ ♛ ♛★ ★WE ARE GODS AMONG MEN become divine
          ♛ ♛ ♛☆ ☆WE ARE GODS AMONG MEN become divine

        ▅▅▅▅▅▅ ▅▅▅▅▅ ▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅

        xxxxxxxあなたの胸にこの身を任せ 私は死んでいこう
        xx xxxxxx前も見えず、息も出来ず あなただけを想う

xxxxxxxxxx I WILL THINKOF NOBODY BUT YOU xxxx▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅ ▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅ ▅▅▅ ` »
just for youxjust for youxjust for youxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
just for youxjust for youxjust for youxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

User Imagexxxxxxxxxxxxxx 空を埋める花のいろ うつりにけりなわが恋xxxx the color of falling blossom fills the sky
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxwhich lingers with end of my selfish lovexxxx やがてすべてが過ぎ去るあとも あなただけを想う

✫ ✫ ✫ ✫ ✫ ✫

                                    What the Emperor of the Sun didn't know was that his worst enemies still lived. Hidden high in the mountains, far beyond Lunaris or any other major city, was a temple dedicated to Tsukuyomi, the God of the Moon who'd so bravely led the Land of the Moon to war over three hundred years ago. And there, in the expansive halls of this hidden temple, the Wardens of the Moon still lived.

                                    And they were stronger than any generation before.


                                    Fiercely strong, incredibly skilled, and more than ready to win back the honor of their nation, the Wardens of the Moon prepared for war -- and they weren't alone.

                                    While the Gods of Takamagahara had perished against Orochi, not all the spirits and demons that served them had. The brave wolf spirit, devout servant of Tsukuyomi, had wandered the halls of this temple since the day his master died, and he was more than ready to fight for the country his master so loved. The frigid Yuki-Onna served no master, but called the mountains her home - and feared the sun would soon encroach there as well. The vicious Tengu - twin sister of the legendary Yatagarasu, the golden crow - cared not for the fate of the Land of the Moon, but would gladly lend her strength if it meant she would have the opportunity to kill her brother.

                                    Yet they had an even stronger ally still, one that no one but he himself knew about; the youngest son of the Dragon King, now an adult and the Dragon King himself, still lived. And his Dragon Fruit - the mythical fruit that allowed his spouse to bear children of the dragon bloodline - had survived as well, ensuring the survival of the Dragon race. Well, it would if the young girl he had given the fruit to hadn't vanished years prior; he'd only wished to save the girl's life, after all.

                                    But their road to victory would not be easy - the Country of the Sun had powerful allies as well. The Yatagarasu, the legendary sun crow who had faithfully served Amaterasu and would devoutly protect her country, commanding all Tengu save his wayward sister. The wild and devious nine-tailed Kitsune who answered to none but his master Inari, intent on paying back his debt by leading his clan in her place. The mighty oni, servant to none and second to none, who had allied herself with Susanoo so many years before and wondered if perhaps he would one day return.

                                    The Country of the Sun had an even greater secret.

                                    They were called Eikou, supposedly a very elite, very secretive branch of the Emperor's personal soldiers - but they were so much more than that. They were Wardens of the Sun, and every inch as powerful as the newest generation of the Wardens of the Moon, and just as loyal to their country... and living a quiet life somewhere in the bustle of Solaris, the capital, was the human girl who could ensure the Dragon race survived, completely unaware of the power she held. There was another force at work, as well - a force no one, not the Emperor, not the Wardens, not the guardians or demons, not the citizens nor the soldiers, could predict.

                                    The Gods of Takamagahara had been reborn.

                                    But they'd been reborn without their memories, divine form housed in a mortal shell, no indication of their true nature and no memories of their past lives. They only knew one thing; they were going restore the glory of their country.

                                    The Gods of Takamagahara were the Wardens.

                                    And they weren't the only ones who had been reborn. Someone else had, but with his memories and powers fully intact.

                                    Yamata-no-Orochi had returned.



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                                    ║▐ █████神性 》█████ █████ ▌▌█████│

                                    ♛ ♛ ♛ xxxxxJUST FOR YOUxxxxx
                                    ♛ ♛ ♛ xxxxxJUST FOR YOUxxxxx
                                    ♛ ♛ ♛ xxxxxJUST FOR YOUxxxxx

                                    xxxx 儚い春のかたみにはxxxthis fleeting memento of spring
                                    is the most beautiful thing I havexxxいちばん綺麗なわたしを
                                    ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬

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Sothis's avatar

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                  xx我 々 は 、 人 間 の 中 で で あ る 。
                  ────────────────────────────────────────────────────────


                  xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx DATE NOVEMBER SIXTH
                  xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx TIME EVENING (~5PM)
                  xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx MOON 100% FULL

                        EIKOU
                          WEATHER; COMFORTABLE TEMPERATURE BORDERING ON SLIGHTLY COOL, CLEAR SKIES; A TYPICAL COUNTRY OF THE SUN AUTUMN EVENING.
                              Having received a summons from the Emperor earlier that day, the Unit has headed to Solaris, only to find the Emperor intends to meet with them in the morning, and has given them leave to do as they will. They are, formally, off duty and out of uniform (though may still carry their swords if they wish - many in Solaris carry swords, regardless of military rank). Solaris is bustling and full of life, even after dark; it is, after all, the largest and most populous city on Tengoku. The demon allies, not formally Eikou, have no such forced loyalty to the Emperor, and have very likely tagged along for alternative reasons.
                              xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxCHAPTER GOALS
                              xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx None!


                        WARDENS
                          WEATHER; COOL BUT NOT COLD, MILD BREEZE, CLEAR SKIES; TYPICAL LAND OF THE MOON AUTUMN EVENING.
                              After a flurry of activity in the last few days (packing, going over strategies, preparing for travel), the Wardens of the Moon are ready to leave - to head to Shouheki - in the morning. Before they leave, their families and the retired Wardens have elected to have a small celebration; nothing extremely fancy or ornate, but more than enough for food everyone and a very comfortable air. This is the last time they may all be together ever again, after all, so everyone is encouraged to participate and enjoy. The morning and the war will come soon enough - for now, everyone will have on more chance to push it from their mind. The Wardens' demon allies are, of course, invited as well.
                              xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxCHAPTER GOALS
                              xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx None!
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                        ___↘↖ ( rise UP ) ⋮⋮ THERE'S JUST ONE THING YOU NEED ○ ○ ○
                        SOMETHINGTOBELIEVEIN______________
                        ████
                          ○ ONE MAN CAN CHANGE THE COURSE OF HISTORY ↖↘
                          ○ ONE MAN CAN CHANGE THE COURSE OF HISTORY ↖↘

                Autumn evenings like the one that Matsudaira Katashi was currently experiencing weren't exactly rare in the Country of the Sun, but tonight, things were different. For starters, the Eikou were back in the capitol city. Not that anyone knew outside of their group, the Emperor, and some of the nobles, of course, but it was the thought that counted. They'd been summoned by the Emperor, and Katashi was less than thrilled about the meeting tomorrow because they would, no doubt, be given some sort of horrible task to accomplish. At least Youta was happy; his horse had always preferred the stables in Solaris to the ones anywhere else. But Youta was not the reason that his night had changed.

                Youta was not the reason he shook like a leaf every time he so much as glanced sideways.

                Logically, there was no real reason for Katashi to be shivering so uncontrollably. He was an Eikou, a Warden, and a fairly strong one at that, so the cause of his trembling wasn't fear of danger. It wasn't the weather, either; the evening air was mild and still around him, and he was certainly dressed warmly enough even if it had been much cooler. He always liked to be prepared, even on something so mundane as the short trip from the Eikou's current residence to the shops of Solaris. He hunched further down inside his cape, his fingers ghosting over the hilt of his wakizashi in order to soothe the worst of his trembling as he walked. It was habit more than anything else that made him want to carry the weapon around, really- after all, this was Solaris, and people didn't generally spring up out of the shadows and rob you blind like they did in some other, less savory places in the Sun Country. Still, carrying it around did give him a bit of a confidence boost, and the gods only knew how much he needed it tonight.

                Risking a glance over at the person walking next to him, Katashi felt another chill work its way up his spine. It, of course, had nothing to do with the weather, and he dropped his eyes back to the ground before his companion noticed the red flush that had never quite left his cheeks since she'd approached him. He could hardly be blamed for feeling embarrassed though- Murasaki just had that effect on people. Well, mostly just on him, since he could barely make it through a single conversation with her without embarrassing himself horribly somewhere along the way.

                Every time they spoke together he was sure that she would never talk to him again, but somehow, impossibly, she kept coming back. And now, tonight, on a night where he would likely have gone to one of his favorite restaurants to brood about tomorrow's audience with their oh-so-noble Emperor over a nice plate of spicy noodles, Murasaki had actually sought him out and asked him to show her around the market, since she'd never really gone before. Which meant that she wanted to spend time with him. With him. Katashi still couldn't believe that it had happened.

                How could he, really? It had been one of the more surprising shocks he had ever received in his life, so how was he supposed to just accept it and get over it? One did not get over having the object of one's rather obsessive infatuation just come up randomly out of the blue and ask one out on a...a...a late-night excursion. He surreptitiously slid another glance towards Murasaki, because the heat that he'd felt spreading across his face upon almost classifying this little jaunt of theirs as a date had outdone every blush he'd had so far today. She didn't seem to have noticed, however, and Katashi relaxed a little.

                He was just so darn tense whenever he was near her. It wasn't easy to be completely at ease around her, not when he was so utterly afraid that he'd say something stupid and completely spoil any chances he had at getting to know her better. He'd never had a problem making friends with anyone else before, but she was just so incredibly fascinating and- and refined and pretty and- and he really needed to stop staring at her while she was walking five feet away from him.

                Smiling awkwardly, he hastily whipped his head around and focused on the path in front of them. To his surprise, he realized that they had already reached the main area of shops. It had been a decent-sized walk, and yet he'd gone all this time without saying anything more clever than "Nice weather, isn't it?" That wouldn't do at all. It was impolite as well as cowardly, and so he took a deep breath that wasn't exactly inaudible before turning his eyes towards her again. "Murasaki-sama." Her name came out as a squeak when he spoke, and he winced but hastily continued before he lost his nerve. "Um- we're here!"

                Gesturing out towards what he thought of as the best shops in the entirety of Solaris, he gave her a tentative little smile before continuing. "This's a great place in the market to start from. We can't properly visit all the shops in a night, you know, so I thought we'd go to the most interesting place first and then work our way down if we have time, which we will unless you'd like to go back early, and that's perfectly fine too since we'll need to rest for tomorrow." Katashi was acutely conscious that he was rambling, and he took a moment to collect himself again. Why couldn't he just figure out how to act normally around her for once?

                He sighed internally and nodded around at their surroundings. "All of these are really amazing shops, but I want to show you one in particular. I know the shopkeeper there, and it's a great little trinket shop, full of all these odds and ends, and there'll definitely be something in there that you'll like. I mean, there always is for me." He definitely hadn't taken her to a shop where, from what little he knew of her personal tastes and such so far, she'd clearly enjoy browsing around. Nope, not at all. Katashi made his way over to the shop in question before he could dwell on how pathetic it was to scope out which shops Murasaki would like after he'd had about three conversations with her. It never did anyone any good to dwell too much on the past, after all. Smiling nervously, he shoved those thoughts out of his mind and pushed on the door to the shop, holding it open for her to walk inside.

                The shop's owner, a thin, wiry man by the name of Tarou, looked up with a smile from his work as they entered. When he saw exactly who had come into his store, however, his smile grew even bigger and he stood up in a flurry of movement, placing the objects he'd been carving on a shelf before dusting his hands off and turning his full attention to them. "Ah, Katashi-sama!" the man exclaimed. Katashi smiled back, momentarily forgetting his previous awkwardness as he took in the sight of his friend. "Taoru-san. Good to see you again."

                "And the same to you, of course!" Taoru beamed at him, and Katashi was about to introduce him to Murasaki when the shopkeeper spoke again. "Brought your girlfriend in today, have you? That's brave of you!"

                His embarrassment came roaring back with a vengeance. Katashi froze. "G-girlfriend?" he stammered, staring in astonishment at the man. "I'm not- I mean we're not at all- unless she wants- erm- we're just- well- what I mean is-" He dissolved into a sputtering mess and cast a helpless glance at Murasaki, willing himself to stop feeling embarrassed because the stupid blush that was covering his face again was not helping matters at all.

                "We're just shopping." he finished lamely, directing his attention toward the display cases off to the side in order to try and quell his embarrassment. Taoru followed his gaze for a moment before nodding pleasantly. "Oh, shopping is it? I see." He waggled his eyebrows rather suggestively. "I've got just the thing for you two! Wait right here." With that, Taoru hurried off to the back of the shop. Well, at least there were no other customers in the store. Katashi probably would have collapsed of utter mortification by now if there had been spectators.

                As it was, however, they were quite alone. He fidgeted awkwardly, playing with the side of his cape for a few moments before daring to look over at Murasaki to see how she had taken the whole exchange. "Sorry about that, Murasaki-sama" he said awkwardly, stuttering a bit when he said her name, "Taoru-san can be a bit... enthusiastic sometimes. Which was precisely the reason why Katashi liked him so much, but he certainly wasn't going to say that. Not when the shopkeeper might have grievously offended her with his comments. He wasn't sure what she tolerated, honestly, and while he would have been fine with such a barb if he had been with any other person, with her it was... different. Much different.

                Katashi took a few more deep breaths. He needed to be composed in order to talk with her, and while he was privately rather proud of the fact that he hadn't completely humiliated himself in front of her yet, they still had the whole evening in front of them. It was more time than they'd ever spent together before. He shivered again as the thousand and one ways that things could go wrong flashed before his eyes, and he sent out a half-hearted prayer to the gods that he would be able to successfully get through the evening without making Murasaki think that he was a complete and utter fool.

                (ooc; dunno if i need to mention it, but preplotting played a hand in this post~)




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                            ██████████ EVERYONE ENVIES THE PERFECT WOMAN xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
                            SURELY SHE`S HAPPIERTHAN ANYONE ELSE .
                            xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx世界のどこにもかわりはいないよ 君は僕にだけのE V E R Y T H I N G
                            █████████████████████████████████████████████████████████
                            xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxno matter what i do( 僕の心は ) still ( 届かないのか )




                            Ah, she hadn’t been back to the capital very often. There were short trips back and forth for missions, but Murasaki would admit, she sometimes missed her home in Solaris. For all this trip incited a quiet nostalgia in her, she was more curious as to what kind of mission the Emperor was assigning. She was rather … on the fence concerning the emperor. She admired a man – especially one so young – that had the power and charisma to rule a whole country, but she had to wonder about his decisions sometimes. She knew better though, and kept quiet about her thoughts. But for the time being, the Emperor was the farthest thing from her mind as she adjusted her burgundy kimono quietly.

                            Now, normally she was one of steadfast decisions. More often than not did she not act at all if she wasn’t a hundred percent sure in what she was doing. Trips to the capital were few and far between, and being given a whole evening to simply relax was just as rare. So really, the idea of heading to the markets for a bit of a tour of sorts wasn’t a bad idea at all. Especially with her given choice of guide. He was a sociable young noble, naturally he knew more of the area than she – who also grew up in the city, but left her home’s grounds much, much less. He was someone she wanted to get to know better, so it was the perfect opportunity, right? Logically, it was an evening to enjoy.

                            So then … why did he look so ill-stricken?

                            It wasn’t cold. Autumn was one of the more comfortable seasons of the country, and even if it was a little cool, the energy of the market streets was enough to distract anyone from a small chill. Yet, as he walked a quite notable two or three feet away next to her, the normally talkative creature of conversation seemed stiff, quiet and feverish, like he had caught a cold. If he was sick, he could’ve said no, she thought, mind ebbing back and forth between concern for his health and the potential disappointment had he not agreed to show her around town until they had to return to their quarters. Then again, he always seemed a little bit fever-pitched on her numbered attempts at conversing with him. Everyone in their troupe knew Katashi to be a well-liked, easy-to-talk-to kind of person. She’d seen it with her own eyes, watching him train and laugh with some of the others. Though, he did seem to make a habit of saying strange, offhand things (to her) so perhaps that was his way of making others laugh. Could it be she was supposed to laugh at the things he said? They weren’t conventional jokes, for all his floundering could be a little bit endearing (a note which she also kept to herself).

                            Or … maybe she was over thinking things.

                            But he hadn’t said much for the few minutes they’d been walking besides commenting on the weather. She glanced once or twice up in his direction, you know, just to check if he was still sick. (Which he was, by the looks of it.) And though she hadn’t caught his sidelong glances, every time she did look at him he seemed to be doing his best to watch the road ahead of them, or well, look in any direction but hers. Murasaki decided not to point out his feverish condition, since he was trying so hard, and continue on as normal ... but she was still concerned.

                            Ah well, the walk was very much worth it. The road was all lit up by lights from the open doors of shops and hanging paper lanterns, giving off a warm light from the candles inside. The dull roar of outside noise was full of bargaining and tea shop conversations. The liveliness of the area was enough to make her spirits rise, and at the same time a small bite of regret nipped at her for not exploring the area more as a child. She had spent so much time studying and practicing, and look at what that had gotten her.

                            Murasaki’s gaze trailed back to Katashi as he weaned over to a particular shop. Though he didn’t seem back to his regular health, he was still smiling at her. That was more than enough for her to smile politely – while genuinely happily – in return. He had a little burst of words that didn’t seem to stop, but once she took in all his hurried words, it actually wasn’t a bad idea. “That sounds just fine,” she nodded graciously, “I have to thank you again for accepting my selfish request to see the market,” Murasaki added, entering the shop before him.

                            The place was just as nice as he said. The warm red walls were lined with cloth-set displays of glass statues, wood-carved trinkets and numerous pieces of leather-bound gemstones and metal-crafted hair pieces. “It’s all very beautiful,” she complimented, impressed by the quality of works. And Katashi knew the craftsman of such light-catching pieces, too. She was highly impressed by his connections. Someone called out to him as she looked over the items – Murasaki turned around to see a skinny man probably in his forties, grinning widely. She only caught Katashi’s relaxing expression before she moved to bow to the shopkeeper out of respect.

                            "Brought your girlfriend in today, have you? That's brave of you!"

                            “G-girlfriend?”

                            Murasaki stopped at about forty-five degrees into her bow. She stood straight up a little faster than she meant to, bringing one sleeve-covered hand to her mouth to cover an embarrassed cough, and the quiet flush that was starting to heat her face. Katashi began to stumble over his words in their defense, pleading with his eyes for her to dissuade the grinning shopkeeper as well. “Nothing like that, sir,” she assured with a pleasant smile, as always. Even though it was true, it also felt as if she’d been put back at square one in her attempts to try and get closer to Katashi, who followed up with a more digestible notion that they were just out shopping.

                            After Tarou hobbled behind the back curtains, Katashi had turned back to her. She shook her head. “Ah no, it’s quite alright,” Murasaki replied, doing her best to speak fluidly. (While her mind hoped desperately that any traces of her flush had dissipated – which it had, but only slightly.) “He seems like a very good friend to you, Katashi-sama, and … I can understand why he would come to that assumption.” She was going to continue with most people our age are often already married, but she could already tell that the statement would leave too bitter a taste on her tongue and decided against it.

                            “Sorry for the wait!” Tarou chuckled, reappearing from the curtain holding a folded square of thick cloth. “I’ve got some things here you two might like.”

                            Curious, Murasaki leaned forward as the shopkeeper folded the top half of the cloth away, revealing the stainless metals and gemstones inside. Rings and necklaces, pins and hair accessories were all lined up across the face of the cloth. “These are gorgeous,” Murasaki breathed, cascading over the jewellery. Though the designs varied, she noticed that some were more similar to each other. She picked up one red gemstone pendant was inlaid in what looked like thick silver and hung off a dark leather strap. Holding it to the light, and then to Katashi, Murasaki hummed. “This would suit you, Katashi-sama,” she said conversationally – though the red of the gemstone did mirror his hair rather nicely.

                            “There’s a matching piece, ojou-san,” Tarou said confidently, clearly elated by the praise on his finest works. He pointed out a similar pendant, made of the same stone but cut into a different shape, with thinner silver lining it. Murasaki’s first thought was that she liked it quite a bit –

                            “How about it, Katashi-sama?” Tarou laughed heartily, “buy a pair for you and your lady!” he egged on playfully.

                            Realizing where the conversation was going, Murasaki set back the pendants and shook her head politely. “Oh no, don’t worry about me she said, to both of them, before turning to Katashi in particular. “Please, buy something you would like for yourself. I don’t need anything,” she said, not totally sure why she had to make a conscious effort not to speak too quickly.
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valisveracidadvalisveracidadvalisveracidadvalisveracidad: val_____* Y val valU valR val. valvalE valY valE valSvalval
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valisveracidadvalisveracidaWHENTIMESGET!&ROUGHAND

valisveracidadvalisveracidadvalisveracidadvaliI AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDEvalisveracidadI AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDEvalisveracidadI AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDEvalisveracidadI AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE
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valisveracidadvalisveracidadvalisveracidadvaliI AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDEvalisveracidadI AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDEvalisveracidadI AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDEvalisveracidadI AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE
valisveracidadvalisveracidadvalisveracidadvaliI AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDEvalisveracidadI AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDEvalisveracidadI AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDEvalisveracidadI AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE
valisveracidadvalisveracidadvalisveracidadvaliI AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDEvalisveracidadI AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDEvalisveracidadI AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDEvalisveracidadI AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE I AM ON YOUR SIDE

valisveracidadvalisveracidadvalisveracidadvalisveracidadvalisveracidadvalisveracidadvalisveracidadvalisf r i e n d sv j u s tv c a n ` t vb e vf o u n dv . . .


                                Declarations of war hung heavy over ever family, every peaceful mind in Lunaris. The streets were bare, the oil lamps doused. Though, even on the sombre eve of the march, there were happy faces and the enthusiastic tellings of ancient stories rising above the underlying gloom of the night. The festivities had only just begun and the food, still warm. Most importantly, the sake, was already distributed and citizens of every age, every race and every gender raised their sakazuki, balanced on their fingers as they nestled beneath the many kotatsu gathered. Yet, some had refused to come. Why would they celebrate what many men would never return from? How could they celebrate the damnation of their husbands, their sons, their brothers, their friends? Where was the sense in it all? What could possibly take their minds off of the bloodshed that was sure to follow?

                                Drawing aside the rice paper door leading out of his living quarters, Yamadera Tetsujin rose to his feet and straightened his long back before ducking out quietly, inclining his head politely to a passing monk who was avoiding the din downstairs.

                                “Beautiful night,” the tall man acknowledged smoothly, volumes of steadiness and patience in his paced voice.

                                The elder monk nodded slowly back in agreement and even waved a silent goodbye before disappearing through the arch of a far corridor, the beads of a necklace wrapped securely within his fingers.

                                Rolling up the long, tattered map he held before tucking it safely inside the sash of his hakama, Tetsujin cast one levelled gaze back to the interior of his room. Had he forgotten anything? He hadn't thought so, but now that his soft, blue eyes scanned the futon and the generous amount of space he had been given by the Temple's caretakers, he couldn't help but feel like he was missing something. Noting where he had rested his ōtachi and cuirass against the far wall, his fingers found purchase in the fabric above his heart. The lightness of his steps would be a constant reminder of his near-bare body – he was not worried, no, he had no enemies there, but he felt distanced from his family, something that did not sit easy with him. His family. He hoped with all of his heart that they had found peace with Ryūjin in the clouds. The Dragon would do their ancestors proud, would restore their reputable name and bring back the honour their race had proudly bore. This war, however, was preventing not only his three hundred year aspiration, but the lives the people around him were trying their best to live. Under the ever watchful reign of the Sun, the citizens of the Moon were suffocated, fearful of loud knocks at their doors or the shuffle of mounted horses stamping their hooves against their cobblestone streets.

                                The Wardens set out to change that. The celebrations were for them, after all, to thank the brave souls and their allies for doing what the merchants and working folk could not. They were the protectors, the least they could do was host a night to remember for them before their courageous journey began.

                                “Idane-san, glad ya could make it!” A rosy-cheeked man, who he recognized as a retired Warden, hooted, raising a glass of something into the lantern light with a booming laugh. “Give the big man a bit of sake, would ya there, sweetie?”

                                An ethereal smile tugged at the corners of his lips as Tetsujin heard the false surname they greeted him with. It pained him to deceive his comrades, using such an easy flowing charisma to make them believe in such a title. There was verity to the ruse, however, as he was the foster son of the nekomata, Sen, who harboured the name, he felt it was almost acceptable to use it to hide his true heritage. Almost.

                                A petite girl, the former-Warden's daughter, wearing a pretty silk kimono bowed her head as she delivered him a small saucer holding the liquor, lifting it up with her eyes cast down to the floorboards. She looked amused at her father's inebriation – apparently it was difficult for the pre-adolescent to suppress her laughter, for she bit at her painted lip, her chocolate eyes curving delightedly. She said nothing, as she was taught to, but her expressions conveyed more than her words and young vocabulary ever could to the tall Dragon towering above her.

                                “You are most gracious.” Tetsujin thanked her softly, his demeanour betraying his imposing stature, “This one is humbled by your generosity and that of your father's.”

                                Then, as a side remark in a significantly lower voice that made her lean in to hear, he added, “He is having a splendid time... let us hope he remembers this happy celebration in the morning, hm?”

                                The chiming of her laughter was drown out by the din of the gathering as he excused himself and the man loudly wished him a comfortable evening as he exited the room in a pointed path to the wrap-around deck of the Temple. As soon as Tetsujin stepped outside, a rolling breeze tousled his long, black hair. Thankfully, he had drawn it back with a white tie, for it would have covered his face and made it difficult to see. The fresh air that greeted him was pleasant, though and he tipped his head back to gaze up at the full moon that appeared to bear down on the country, looking massive as it flooded everything in a white glow. This was what peace felt like. This was what the warring countries needed to see – to stop their quarrelling and to just look up. The stars have never been so bright; they joined the party, wishing the villages that prayed to them a safe and successful adventure. It calmed him, put him at ease and he rested a pale hand on the crimson railing, his other bringing the sakazuki layered with sake up under his nose to breathe in the scent. It was fruity, flowery and, when he brought it to his mouth to sip, dry. He did not partake in alcoholic beverages often, mostly because they had no effect and their taste was not especially agreeable, but it was a special occasion and he would not insult the man and his daughter who thought it kind to bestow it upon him. So he drank it in silence, enjoying the way the bitterness of the liquid stole away the moisture from his lips.

                                Once finished, it was time for him to work. They had gone over the plan several times, had plotted a course and the actions to take, but Tetsujin would not deny that he felt uneasy about allowing his new companions to enter Shouheki without proper instruction. Their strategists, commoners from town, had been relieved once they had gauged the Dragon's reliability – he was their new planner now, it was his duty to be the best. Reaching inside his haori, he drew out the map he had slipped into his sash where his longsword normally would lay and spread it out over the width of the deck, taking a seat before it. The rush of the waterfall sealed the chatter from the farewell festivities indoors, something the three hundred year old found he was grateful for at the moment.

                                And from his side, after his finger had traced a new line of entry into Shouheki, a voice interrupted his thoughts. It was entirely welcome though, as Tetsujin confirmed it to be his comrade Shikaku Naoru.

                                “The celebrations are unfolding splendidly, Tetsujin-san. With everyone having a friend's company, why must you be an exception?” The medic sighed, crossing his arms as he approached his familiar friend.

                                “You must think me ill-mannered, Shikaku-san.” The Dragon replied in a gentle tone, picking himself up off of the floor to bow, map in hand. “I apologize for seeming so anti-social... the strategy, I felt, needed one more look.”

                                As the Dragon had uttered his first phrase, the silver haired medic frowned and shook his head, knitting his brows together slightly in disapproval.

                                “Of course not. Your manners match those of a swan, with grace that equals as such,” he replied, the frown segueing into a smile midway.

                                Bowing in return to the bow, his friend chuckled a bit under his breath and shook his head once more. Tetsujin smiled at this, his friend's joy, casting soft shadows over his face from the moon's light.

                                “It's understandable. At least allow me a chance to give you support in this, then,” he serenely compromised, brushing aside a strand of silver hair from his face.

                                “If you help, then we have already won the war, Shikaku-san. You have my many thanks.” Tetsujin, laying the map out, gestured for the other to take a seat with him.



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                                        COUNTLESS MEMORIESXXXCOLLECTING IN MY HEART
                                              TxiRxiAxiNxiSxiGxiRxiExiSxiSxiIxiNxiGxixIxiNxixIxiDxiLxiExiNxiExiSxiS
                                        my hometown ;; UNCHANGED! itremains ...

                    The peaks of the snow-topped mountains where she made her home towered over her petite frame as she cast her gaze up toward the clear autumn night. The bright twinkling of the stars strewn across the deep twilight was a breathtaking sight to behold, but it paled in comparison to the portrait of the full moon blossoming against the backdrop of the sky. Her surroundings – the trees, the frost-covered earth – shimmered an Ethereal silver, and it was enough to make her heart ache.

                    This was it; it was the last night that she’d have to spend with her clan for a long while to come, but even so, the other women – fond of her as they were – dispersed as they did every evening to carry out their own menial tasks – pausing only some moments to wish her good fortune and bid her farewell. She was not surprised by this, however; her clan was not known to dwell on sentimental aspects, and she would have been taken aback if they had made a fuss over her departure. Yukine wasn’t quite like the other women in her clan though; while she could hide her anxiety beneath a placid façade, the way she drifted about with distraction evident in her eyes easily conveyed that her mind was hard at work.

                    And such was the case that night; alone with only her thoughts as company, she began to recollect about the times in her short (short for a yuki-onna anyway) life. Like flipping through an album, the memories flashed across her mind’s eye; there was the time she had met her first group of friends – the people to whom she owed her humanity; the many long hours of learning how to control and manipulate her abilities that she hated at the time, but was now grateful for every second Reina-sama made her train. She recalled the what-could-have-beens and the never-would-bes, and while she still felt a pang of sorrow, she didn’t regret how the years had played out for her. Each event that unfolded led her to that night – guiding her toward her destiny. She was only one player in the game, but if her contribution was enough to win back the Land of the Moon’s freedom, then she would push forward into battle with her head held high. The citizens were counting on them; those in the temple were counting on them; even her clan was counting on them to keep the Sun from encroaching further into their country. It was perhaps a heavy burden to shoulder, but together they would weather the storm and find themselves victorious – she was sure they would.

                    “You…haven’t left yet?”

                    A voice from behind startled the young snow woman from her reverie. Yukine already knew who it was; slowly she turned to face the other woman and was rather caught off guard to see the matriarchal figure of their clan accompanying her. Both their mouths were pressed into grave lines; from the moment she had told them that she would be traveling to Shouheki with the Wardens, they had made their disapproval well-known.

                    “Have you changed your mind?” Fuyune continued as if the brief pause between her inquiries never occurred.

                    “Have you come to change it?” Yukine countered; she stepped back – leaving a noticeable gap between herself and her elders. She did not wish to leave Reina and Fuyune on such a bitter note, but if they forced her into it, then it was unavoidable. “No, I have not changed my mind.”

                    The silence that followed was suffocating.

                    “You are not obligated to help these humans.”

                    “It is not obligation that binds me to my decision.” The retort fell smoothly from her lips. “You are my family; I’d rather we separate on amicable terms and not under these circumstances. Please support my choice to lend my – our – strength to the Wardens; the Mountains of the Moon are part of the land they are fighting to protect, so I want to protect our home – our family – too.”

                    Could they really continue to oppose her after an explanation like that? She waited for what felt like an eternity until Reina was the one to finally speak up.

                    “Return home to us unharmed; that is our only request of you. We know you are no longer a child, but you are still so young and lacking much experience; do not let that be your downfall.”

                    Yukine nodded. There would be no open displays of affection; she could see in Fuyune’s face that the woman was still displeased, but Reina – ever the pillar of resolve – kept her from protesting.

                    “You should go now.” There was that finality in Reina’s tone that suggested Yukine should not disobey her, and sparing not a single glance over her shoulder for her kin, the young yuki-onna began to descend toward the Temple of the Moon.

                    She saw signs of the gathering before she heard the voices mingling together in pleasant conversation. Lanterns were hung in many places – the reflection of the light cast upon the water’s surface waning and waxing with each autumn breeze that swept in from the north. It was not an elaborate show by any stretch of the imagination, but it was a perfect setting for an intimate gathering of friends and families to honor their loved ones before dawn beckoned them onto the battlefield.

                    Just outside the gates that would lead her inside the confines of the temple, she paused for a moment – donning her human guise and then slipping in quietly. Most days this was not a precaution that she found herself taking, but that night – with so many people joined together – she didn’t want to risk upsetting someone who might have a particular aversion to her race.

                    Upon closer inspection, Yukine saw that, despite the merry voices raised in conversation, there were few people outside enjoying the night air. Small groups of two to three – occasionally more – people were scattered about, and as she passed by each of them – her footsteps light and almost soundless – she exchanged greetings with them. But that was the extent of the conversation; Not wanting to disturb them further and preferring to keep counsel with her own thoughts, she drifted through the temple grounds with no real destination in mind. It was such a lovely night, and who knew when they’d be returning again, so a quiet stroll to reflect would do her some good.

                    However, as she ambled down one of the paths – her head already up in the clouds – she collided into something soft – something warm. It was a person. Taking a moment to compose herself, when Yukine looked up, she did not expect to meet the aqua-tinged eyes of one of the current Wardens. He had just been standing there with no one else around him; had she just intruded on something?

                    An embarrassed blush spread across her cheeks as a small, apologetic smile bloomed on her lips; taking a few steps back to return the personal space she had robbed him of, she bowed – the silks of her red, floral kimono rustling with the gesture. “My apologies, Saku-san; I didn’t see you there.” She supposed that it must have sounded ridiculous to tell someone who stood practically an entire foot taller than herself that she didn’t see him in her path, but Yukine was known for being absentminded; perhaps he wouldn’t hold it against her. As she got a better look at him though, she could make out more subtle details about his mannerisms. The one that stood out most to her was the heat in his face; it was not a blush that mirrored hers though; it was the warmth of slight intoxication. And if the nearly drained tumbler in his hands was any indication, then Yukine assumed her guess was correct.

                    “Are you enjoying yourself this evening?” she asked conversationally. The young man was not someone with whom she spoke often; their personalities contrasted greatly. Where she was mild-mannered and subdued, Saku was boisterous and outspoken. She had watched him train with the others on several occasions; he was the youngest if her memory served her correctly, but he seemed to put forth more effort – as if he had something to prove. She admired him for his perseverance, but it takes more than admiration to start up a meaningful conversation, and Yukine, not used to being the lead in social situations, was at a loss for words. They could always discuss what lay in wait for them in the days to come, but that was a topic ill-suited for the night’s festivities.

                    Lucky for the snow maiden, a young woman tasked with replenishing the guests sake happened by, and she beckoned her over to refill Saku’s glass. Little more than pleasantries were exchanged as the woman politely hurried on to the more crowded parts of the temple. “You should have a good time tonight; you and the others deserve it.” She managed an awkward compliment coupled with a smile as she kept her hazy gaze trained on his youthful face. But the sound of a door being slid open caught the yuki-onna’s attention, and as she turned to see who had stepped outside, a familiar mop of auburn haloed in the dim lantern summoned forth a cheerful smile.

                    “Kari!” she called out to the girl – her voice loud enough so that she was heard, but not so loud that it could be called a scream. She lifted a dainty hand to wave her friend over and waited patiently until the girl stood within their midst. “Have you been enjoying yourself tonight?” she asked – suddenly words came more naturally to her now that her friend was in sight. “Saku-san here certainly has been.” Raising her hand to her mouth, she stifled the quiet laughter behind her palm, but her eyes still danced with gentle merriment. It was a fleeting moment of happiness – one that she hoped would carry them deep into the night.

    ISPAINTEDWHITE;; for all eternity.`xxxxxxxxxxx
      blanketing the distant smiles and kindnessxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
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      valisveracidadvalisjust to be by your side

      val░░░░░░░░░░valisvathat alone is enough for me ░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░

      valisveracidadvalisveracidadvalisveracidadvalisveracidadvalisveracidadvalisveracidadJUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME valisveracidad JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME valisveracidad JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT MEvalisveracidad JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT MEvalisveracidad JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME
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      valisveracidadvalisveracidadvalisveracidadvalisveracidadvalisveracidadvalisveracidadJUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME valisveracidad JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME valisveracidad JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT MEvalisveracidad JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT MEvalisveracidad JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT MEvalisveracidad JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME

      valisveracidadvalisveracidadvalisveracidadvalisveracidadvalisveracidadvalisveracidadJUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME valisveracidad JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME valisveracidad JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT MEvalisveracidad JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT MEvalisveracidad JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT MEvalisveracidad JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME

      valisveracidadvalisveracidadvalisveracidadvalisveracidadvalisveracidadvalisveracidadJUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME valisveracidad JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME valisveracidad JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT MEvalisveracidad JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT MEvalisveracidad JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT MEvalisveracidad JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME JUST LOOK AT ME



                              War was such a horrible thing. It tore apart families, broke many fragile and soft hearts and destroyed sturdy homes built from dedication and unwavering diligence. Such somber thoughts were bound to plague the minds of soldiers and friends alike despite the zealous aura that adorned the sky, and the unit two leader was no different. Opaque irises stared almost pleadingly at the full moon lingering free from any conflict in the night sky as the Warden loosely hugged the hand stitched doll a little girl had made him a while ago once upon a moon. Festivities were in the air to celebrate before chaos while he made sure everything he packed was present and accounted for. His gaze languidly fell to the doll once more as he placed it carefully on his shoulder, emitting a soft smile from the memory. Though he couldn’t see the doll all that well, he still knew what it looked like thanks to dreams and a somewhat playful imagination. With a quiet nod to himself, he closed his eyes and felt around his bag for the materials that he knew so well.

                              One slender finger grace the tip of a scalpel, still sharp and fresh, ready for surgery, and laced its way to the small canteen of iodine. From one tool to the next, he serenely named and brushed delicately, knowing the routine just in case of an emergency. He practiced for a decent number of times before her heard a knock on the wall. Opening his eyes calmly, he turned to see the blurred shape of his mother, smiling radiantly through a dim path of vision. She meandered her way over to her son, going in every which direction except his until the final turn. The medic shook his head in an amused manner as he stood and greeted his mother properly, with a bow.

                              As he did this, the doll fell, but with the right reflex of his hand, he was able to catch it before it passed his knees. His mother chuckled a bit at this and hugged him in return, giving him a quick kiss on the forehead as he rose. Frowning lightly at this, he sighed inaudibly under his breath and perched the doll back on his shoulder. “There are many festivities outside, mother. Would you not rather enjoy them with father while I go over last minute details?” he asked, curiosity dressed in his tone. His mother giggled in return and shook her head, patting her son on his shoulder for reassurance. She then whispered something quiet under her breath, but to the silver haired boy, it might as well have been said with mute on. Before he was able to ask what she said, she smiled warmly and walked out of his quarters, most probably to go find his father. Still, the fact that he did not catch what she had said nagged a small part of his mind as he crossed his arms and closed his eyes in contemplation. If it was important, she would have stayed, right? No…it was still nagging him. He would ask before he would leave in the morning, and hopefully, it wasn’t something that expired that night.

                              Checking over his things one final time, he neatly placed the doll over the packed items and waved it a sort of goodbye before taking his leave from his abode. The sounds of merriment reached his ears, causing the gentle Warden to smile softly. Beginning to walk towards the sounds to see if his beloved Aisari was there, his thoughts began to contradict and start a small internal war of their own. If war caused such a wonder before the battle, then what would come after it? In reality, war was such a simple thing, but what came after it—that was what was truly difficult. Relationships are never the same again and lives cannot be brought back from the dead.

                              His expression melted into one that was daunted as he remembered what he had caused when he was little. Over time, he’s gotten used to seeing people die, but it wasn’t like it was a common event; perhaps maybe five over the course of a year, and that was mostly due to some sort of illness that seemed unlikely to happen until it actually happened. Living one’s entire life at the temple also closes off a scope of learning, so naturally, getting out and into battle should have been a good thing, right? Shaking his head, he knew that ultimately, it was still as horrid as it was made out to be. Announcing their existence to the other country wasn’t a smart idea either, but he believed that this generation was more than capable of faring their own against any animosity. And simply bequeathing their honor was out of the question. “Angh…” the Warden groaned under his breath, massaging his temples as his thoughts fought each other in what was for the greater good. There were many ups and downs, but that’s all they were: ups and downs. If only there was a middle section, then there would probably no conflict. A compromise was supposed to be the answer to this situation, but for some reason, he couldn’t see it. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the only thing Shikaku, Naoru couldn’t see, either.

                              Slam!

                              As he was walking and contemplating all the same, a wall had appeared from absolutely nowhere and attacked him. Okay, maybe not quite. Not noticing the giant blur in front of him as a wall, the medic had gracefully walked straight into it, causing him to falter and nearly fall back from loss of balance and surprise. Instinctively, one hand made its way to his forehead and the other to caress his nose. The color of midnight blue the wall had blended in perfectly to the night scene that blanketed the entire country, despite the fact that it was only around five. He blamed the shading. Taking some time to recollect himself from the bump, the medic sighed to himself and leaned his forehead against the wall.

                              Going into battle was still lingering in his mind, but he was beginning to question whether or not he would be able to do it. Even though his unit was mostly a back up for the entire team, it was still support. Of course he didn’t mind it, but what he did mind was the fact that things probably would have had to have gone really bad beforehand. He would not want to see any of his companions hurt in the least. It was a little frightening to know that Aisari was one of the ones that would be the first to fight. Every time she would enter his quarters injured, he always found himself shaking his head and treating her as if it were second nature. Those wounds were hardly anything, though. The intent of them was not to kill. Well, in a sense it was, but it wasn’t as malicious as it would be with the people of the Sun. He didn’t want to see her hurt at all, but that small glimmer of hope that shone in his mind told him she would be fine. Yes, that was right… She was more than capable of taking care of herself on the battlefield. She was strong and amazing; fearless yet kind. Many traits that perfectly described the beautiful young woman started to tap at his thought processes, and all of a sudden, it felt like there wasn’t a worry in the world. A warm smile came across his lips as he closed his eyes and pulled his forehead away from the wall. Looking around to see if anyone saw him, he scratched the back of his neck sheepishly and continued his way towards the celebration. On his way, the amount of children began to increase as they ran around with their little homemade toys and whatnot. One took notice of the medic and ran to him with a big grin on her face. She jumped a little before waving and bowing quickly to show respect. “Neh, Nao-chan! Come with us~! We’re going to play hide and seek!” she eagerly exclaimed, giggling all the while.

                              Nodding calmly to the little girl, the young man followed after…especially since she was holding on to his sleeve. She was one of the ones that always called him by that suffix, but he didn’t mind it all that much because of her age. She was a child; he couldn’t say no to children. Thanks to the mix up that one time at his small clinic, it seems that the suffix caught on with most of the younger ones. Oh well; win some, lose some. As she dragged him through the scattered groups of people, he took notice of his mother’s shape with his father’s talking with some of the other Wardens. Immediately, he remembered the earlier encounter with his mother and stopped following the little girl. “Erk!” the little girl, still running and grasping to his sleeve, grunted. At the abrupt stop, she was nearly jerked back, but caught herself in time. She glanced up with a curious look in her eyes, frowning at the long haired young man. Looking in the direction he was looking, she sighed and gave him her best pouting face.

                              “You wanna go talk to them?” she asked with a hint of disappoint in her tone. Blinking a couple times to snap him from his own daze, he turned his attention back to the girl and nodded. She then let out the most exaggerated sigh ever followed by a quick grin and nod. Cue course detour! Dragging him towards the couple, she waited patiently as he bowed in acknowledgement to them. Do you know that awkward moment when you mistake someone for someone else in some places? This was one of those. The couple faced the Warden with warm smiles, but when they spoke, they did not have the voices of his parents. Wasn’t that wonderful?

                              Feeling it was rude to just start an indirect conversation and just leave, he spoke with them for a good five minutes about the sky and some of the other Wardens before he felt a tap on his shoulder. Excusing himself, he turned around and saw his mother; no mistake that time. She smiled and embraced him once more, but quickly pulled away when she noted that the couple he was talking to was staring slightly. Bowing her head to them, she beamed once more to her son and chuckled. “I’m glad you can join us,” she chimed in a voice dipped with honeydew. Naoru nodded in response and managed a small smile before responding, “Only just for a few festivities. I still require some more practice in case of emergencies, mother.” The woman nodded calmly in understanding and crossed her arms languidly.

                              “Ahm; mother. Have you seen Aisari-san anywhere?” he asked her in a silk voice, the smile growing a bit bigger from thinking of his most beloved companion. When she shook her head, the small smile was replaced with a small frown. A small tug at his sleeve made his remember that there was still another person expecting him. Glancing down at the little girl, he tilted his head slightly and blinked. Silence. His mother cleared her throat. When he turned his attention back to her, there was a small tear in her eye that belied her smile. About to open his mouth to ask what was wrong, she instead embraced him once more and shook her head. Slightly surprised, the Warden couldn’t bring his arms to embrace her in return. Instead, he merely asked, as kindly as he could in the situation, “I missed your last words at our dwelling. May you please repeat them?” At the last words, the hug tightened and he found himself a little needing of air, but he didn’t want to express that.

                              “Be safe.”

                              As she whispered those last words once more in a choked tone, she softened her hold and dug her face into his shoulder. Frowning as he felt her cry silently, the medic nodded with a sad smile and returned the hug as soothingly as he could. The little girl released his sleeve and watched with a concerned look, almost on the verge of tears herself. The moment seemed to have lasted forever as he wished he could just shoo all of his mother’s worries away with the wave of a magic wand. He briefly wondered how the other families treated their sons and daughters going off to war. The smiles on the people that flooded the area only belied their true feelings of anxiety and prayer. He would do everything in his power to make sure that none of them had to suffer the loss of a loved one. He would do everything in his power to make sure that everyone on this journey would stay safe and completely healthy. He would do everything in his power to turn the tears of worry into tears of joy. With the quiet and soft spoken tone he always had, he affirmed with, “I promise.” Still clinging to her son as a shield from her sadness, she nodded in his shoulder and stopped bobbing her own. With one final squeeze, she pulled away and wiped the remnants of tears that danced down her cheeks, replacing her worried look with one of thankfulness and false joy. Fixing her bangs out of her face, she excused herself and reminded him that she would see him later that night for the final resting day he would have in a long while. Seeing her chance, the little girl started pulling him along again towards her friends. The group of children cheered for joy when they spotted their resident doctor and deemed him a hider almost automatically.

                              Surrendering to their will, when one of the children started counting, he serenely made his way through the crowd to find a proper hiding place. As he continued his way, the noise died out again to the mercy of silence. His hair bobbed flowingly against his robes with each passing step, the silk tint of silver being reflected from the moonlight above. His vision was deteriorating, but he knew the temple well. Through his meandering, he had found himself only a stride or two away from the wrap around deck that laced around the temple. Deciding to avoid it at first to make the life of the little kid seeking less miserable, he soon changed his mind when he spotted familiar licorice hair that flowed in the gentle breeze that masqueraded throughout. Careful steps guided him to follow his newest friend, his thoughts on why he was out on such a night completely confused. Frowning as he neared closer to the place where he saw his friend abscond to, the medic crossed his arms smoothly and sighed silently to himself. It pained him a little that one of his friends wasn’t relaxing with other companions and allies alike during the momentous evening.

                              Pretty soon as time transitioned, the sound of celebration was all but nonexistent as it was drowned out completely by the sound of rushing water not far off in the distance. It was soothing; it was the epitome of peace. He stopped his path just momentarily to hear the sound clearer. Memories entered his mind again as he recalled the first time he had formally been to the location. The time was dire that time, so this was a nice antithesis for the change of pace. Trying to forget the past is something that most people try to do, which is another reason why so many don’t learn from it.

                              War snaked itself into one of those categories.

                              That night would be the last night for a long time that he would hear the pleasant noise of curse and blessing. He would return; he knew he would—he promised. So why was he feeling unnerved? Knitting his brows together in that creeping feeling of worry, he bit on his lower lip gently to keep his thoughts from emitting anymore negative inputs. He would return back when he could think properly again. He couldn’t afford to have any doubts on the battlefield, and he would rather not be in that metaphoric debt. Besides, Aisari would be there. The thought of her made the rest of the uncertainties and qualms disappear; she was all that was needed for an assured victory. Smiling fondly at the image in his mind, he nodded to himself in assurance and continued his silent chase to catch up with his friend. As he rounded the corner, he saw him sitting with the map of action before him on the deck. Shaking his head, he approached his friend with quiet steps. “The celebrations are unfolding splendidly, Tetsujin-san. With everyone having a friend's company, why must you be an exception?” the medic sighed, crossing his arms as he approached his familiar friend.

                              “You must think me ill-mannered, Shikaku-san,” his wise friend replied in a gentle tone, picking himself up off of the floor to bow, map in hand, “I apologize for seeming so anti-social... The strategy, I felt, needed one more look.” As the Dragon had uttered his first phrase, the silver haired medic frowned and shook his head, knitting his brows together slightly in disapproval. He didn’t like the fact that one of his close friends felt the need to bow to him. And more than that, he would also appreciate it if he would learn how to call him by his first name. Naoru knew it was just respect, and Idane, Testujin, seemed to carry that Codex beyond his will to change.

                              Although it wouldn’t have been disrespectful in the least to the medic; it would just be…friendlier. Besides, the words ‘ill-mannered’ referring to the one before him was impossible. “Of course not. Your manners match those of a swan, with grace that equals as such,” he replied, the frown segueing into a smile midway. Bowing in return to the bow, his friend chuckled a bit under his breath and shook his head once more. As he rose, he responded to the second phrase. “It's understandable. At least allow me a chance to give you support in this, then,” he serenely compromised, brushing aside a strand of silver hair from his face caused from the bow. “If you help, then we have already won the war, Shikaku-san. You have my many thanks.” With a gentle smile, the medic shook his head and sat down beside his friend to view the map from that point of view. “You think too highly of me, but I will try my best, my friend,” he smoothly stated, bowing his head curtly as he took a look at the map. As he observed it, he squinted a bit to make the blurs a little less, well…blurry.

                              It was working out for a while until he opened his mouth to speak. All of a sudden, the words he thought he was going to say didn’t make sense to him, so he just stared more. Tetsujin regarded his friend as he took a seat beside him and adjusted the map to spread out in perfect equality between them both, smiling at Naoru's comment, saying nothing. For many moments, they both stared upon the map—the taller man waited patiently as the medic's mouth opened and closed. He spoke on his behalf.

                              “You see, Shikaku-san, Shouheki is the ideal stop for the Wardens, however, in my travels I have noted guard towards here and here,” he spoke slowly, pointing at times, his voice as gentle as the breeze, “so I have half a mind to believe it would be easier to take the longer route and enter quietly from this side to avoid potential questioning.” Hearing that made the Warden of the Cinereous Moon nod slightly, holding his chin in thought as he contemplated the longer route in favor of the shortcut. His eyebrows knit slightly as he frowned to himself; Shouheki was also the place of merchants and other sales; it would also be a good stop before the invasion. At least, that was the medic’s opinion.

                              “That’s a good plan, but what about before? An outward invasion would be brash, would it not? And I believe we are aiming for surprise, correct? Would it be wise to send in two or three of the more skilled soldiers in first just to set up a parameter? In addition, they will be able to buy extra equipment from the merchants. To my knowledge, they won’t say no to the proper price. We could send a handful of our own into the city as normal civilians at separate intervals first while the rest of us are bringing up the rear with the long route. Before anyone could deem it suspicious, we can then strike from the inside and out,” he advised, looking to meet his friend’s gaze with an opaque look in his clouded hues.

                              “O-Of course that’s just my thinking; please don’t pay it any mind if you don’t accept it,” he added, bowing his head out of that chance of absolute rejection from a kind friend. His neck slightly craned back to the map as he started looking at the surrounding cities. Aisari would have been a wonderful candidate for the few chosen to infiltrate from the inside for the strike, but he didn’t want to voice this in fear that it might put her in danger. This war was not going to be easy and it was not going to be short. The sound of the waterfall still reverberated through the surroundings, engulfing it with its powerful sound. To some, it would be a reminder of peace, as it should be. But it meant something else to the young medic. He would just hope it would never mean that again. Massaging his temples, he stared even more at the map. Though he would not win the staring contest, it was still alright to try. Brushing some more lingering strands of hair from his face behind, he awaited his friend’s input.



      valisveracidadthe ( d ) - darkness; *is && becoming frightening
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      vaBUTONLY:JUSTLITTLE
      valisvTHEREv ISv SOMETHINGv Iv NEED vTOv TELLv YOU v, vANDv THOUGHv I vLOOKv FOR vTHE vWORDS
      valisvera ▫ THEBEAUTIFULWRLD`SCOLORS ██████▓▓▒▒░░
      valisveracidadvalisveracidadvalisveracidadvalisvalisveracidadvalisvalisveracidadvalisARE FADING AWAY valis FLOWING AWAY valis TEACH ME
      valisveracidadvalisveracidadvalisveracidadvalisvalisveracidadvalisvalisveracidadvalisARE FADING AWAY valis FLOWING AWAY valis TEACH ME
      valisveracidadvalisveracidadvalisvalisveracidadvalisveracidadvalisvalisveracidadvalisARE FADING AWAY valis FLOWING AWAY valis TEACH ME

      valis
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                              xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxh o w _ f a r _ d o e s _ t h i s _ s k y _ c o n t i n u e _ ?
                              xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxh o w _ f a r _ d o e s _ t h i s _ s k y _ c o n t i n u e _ ?
                              xxxxxxxxxxxxTHIS IS THE ONLY WORLD I KNOW ☪ ☪
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                              xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxt h e o n l y w o r l d I k n o w . . .


                              There was an unfamiliar tightness in his stomach. Saku nervously rubbed his belly, unaccustomed to this…this what?

                              “Saku! I’m glad I found you.” The young man turned, thankful for the distraction and banishing all thoughts of nervousness. Fear. He pushed a hand through his damp hair and came to his uncle’s side. The man was standing in the courtyard, hands clasped behind his back. “Training again?”

                              He gave a nod of assent, his hair still dripping from the bucket of water he had upturned over himself. ”I would have been sure to visit you before we left, Uncle,” Saku greeted the man with an easy smile. Once again, he pushed his hair out of his eyes, following Teru’s upturned face towards the darkening sky. But Saku’s eyes never found the bright moon in the sky, as he looked at the other man slyly. ”Though it seems to me you have been standing here waiting.”

                              Teru pretended as if he hadn’t heard anything. “I hear the monks have found a cask of your favorite sake. Who knows what you might do with your wits half-gone?” He spoke bluntly, but Saku knew a humorous jab when he heard one.

                              He laughed, ”Uncle, do you deny me one of my few pleasures in life?”

                              It was the monk’s turn to laugh, and he waved a hand in the air dismissively. “Deny my dearest Saku one of his life pleasures? I would never. Though I hardly think you should be drinking the night prior to your march.” Saku shrugged, running his thumb over the pommel of his sword and relishing the soft chime of steel when he loosened it in his sheath. It was Teru’s turn to look sideways at his nephew. “You plan to drink?”

                              ”Perhaps a small cup. It is a celebration after all.”

                              “A celebration, yes,” Teru echoed. “Still, I will miss you.”

                              That caught Saku’s attention. He turned fully, the shadows cast by the moon falling across his face. Almost questioningly, the young man replied, ”And I you, Uncle. Of course.”

                              “And I will fear for you.” Teru had the same eyes as Saku. The same blue-turning-green that so closely echoed the color of the pool’s brimming around the waterfall. The same eyes his Father had. At least, that’s what Saku had been told. He had kept that secret like any person kept a treasure: close to his heart and embarrassment. And now, embarrassment held Saku’s tongue.

                              ”Uncle-“

                              Teru smiled, “And I will pray for you.”

                              ”Uncle,” Saku tried again.

                              Teru had returned to gazing at the moon. “I hope you’ll come back soon, too.” He chuckled, holding a hand to his lips to hide his smile. “I almost thought about not saying that. After all, it is understood, isn’t it? All parents want their children back safely. Ah well, now it has been said. What is it you wanted to say?”

                              But it was too late. The power of speech had long since left Saku, and his throat was stinging as he finally gave in to his childish fears. He stepped forward, wrapping his uncle – his father through all these years – in a tight embrace. He had grown quickly and now stood the same height as his uncle, but it seemed as if the last ten years had simply melted off, and he was a child once more. Yet, it was obviously ten years too late for that and almost reluctantly, Saku pushed himself away. He spoke, his voice hardly above a whisper, though it grew in strength as he spoke, ”They say Shouheki is beautiful. Not as beautiful as the temple, but they say there are enough people to make you feel insignificant. You should have taken me before. Now I’m already too old and I can’t go traveling with my Papa and- well, of course it’s different. What am I saying? I’m a Warden, Uncle. I’m excited.” As he finished, he smiled, pleased that it wasn’t too far from the truth. ”I better go. I need to shower before the party ends.”

                              Teru laughed, reaching up to pat Saku on the head. “Go, go. Some have already opened the sake. You’ll miss out.” He gave the boy a gentle push and with one last glance at the moon, wandered off to find his own cup of solace.

                              - - -

                              His room was sparse. He had never forgotten the lifestyle of a monk – to be honest, it was difficult to, living so close to a temple – and many of his belongings had already been packed away. Saku had packed almost as soon as the decision was made to travel to the Country of the Sun. Pulling his sword from his place on his waist, Saku left it beside his unstrung bow, propped against the wall. Quickly, he pulled off the sweaty clothes he had been training in, donning a simple black and white hakama ensemble. His hair was drying, even in the cool night air, but he ran his fingers through it a few times, urging it to dry faster. Lanterns lit every walkway with soft glows, but ahead, Saku could see warm light pouring out of the room where his friends and companions waited, burning the dark red columns a bright crimson. As he appeared in the doorway, another round was poured, and before he knew it the young Warden was hauled into the festivities.

                              Just as his uncle predicted, he had found that the shochu eased the nervousness in his stomach. But sooner rather than later, he felt the familiar tinges of buzzing in his head. ”I need some air,” he announced, and waving away the jokes of being a light-weight, Saku escaped the room. He found his half-full cup still in his hands, a mellow earthy tinged with a slight fruity flavor from the juice someone had added. That seemed to be the only sign they realized he was still a youth, he thought amused. Sipping at his drink, he found a spot not so illuminated by the light of the party. The cool night wind licked his face, drawing pleasant caresses across his burning skin.

                              His thoughts were wandering anywhere but on what tomorrow held; ’The wind feels nice’ ’The moon is so big!’ ’I really have to pee.’ The pleasant buzzing in his head made it difficult to think of anything else and he was completely oblivious to the figure advancing down the walkway. It didn’t help at all that her footsteps were quieter than falling snow.

                              Saku was a good foot taller than Yukine, and her little walk-right-into-him only made the dregs in his cup slosh around a little. He glanced down, taking a moment to place the frigid woman as one of his companions. ”Mmm…no problems, Yukine,” he slurred back, forgetting his honorifics. ”It is a pretty night,” he agreed conversationally, brandishing his dry cup at the night sky. He had no intentions of finishing his drink. His uncle’s words still bouncing around in his head; just to spite the man, Saku didn’t want to drink anymore. Of course, Yukine didn’t know that. Conceding, he allowed the server to refill his glass and he politely swirled it around in its cup, though he tried not to make it obvious he was refraining from drinking.

                              It wasn’t completely awkward – Saku was a little too drunk to notice – but his relationship with the snow-woman was less than perfectly comfortable. She was a flighty creature, not always around the Temple and only appearing when she so wished. On top of that, she was always simply…watching. As if absorbing everything going on. She was too quiet and never spoke much on the occasions that the two interacted. Valkari on the other hand…
                              Saku held up his cup in greeting to the newcomer, and was startled by the speed at which she stole it from him. But, he only blinked stupidly at her, his thoughts not quite translating themselves to his expression. If anything, he felt more comfortable with a fellow warden around. ”Hi Valkari-chan,” he stumbled over her foreign name, ”I’ve gotten better at fighting now. I’m probably better than yous.” He laughed at that, chuckling softly to himself. In truth, the girl was far better with a sword than he would probably ever be. But as the second youngest in the troop, she had always been one of his sparring partners. ”You better watch out or I’ll surpass you.”
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                                                  "Mama, the moon is full again. It feels as if it wasn't that long ago since the last time. Have you seen it yet? It's beautiful."

                                                  The words flowed smoothly, the feminine voice hushed and gentle. Each syllable fell with an exotic ring from the young woman's mouth. With a bit of a smile, she carefully swung her flowing tresses over one shoulder, delicate fingers brushing the fine metal of her hair piece. With light footsteps, she followed the woman to whom she was speaking to, as she busied herself back and forth in the quaint room they called their quarters.

                                                  "I'm sure it is beautiful, just as you are, daughter. That kimono suits you perfectly." The woman-- her mother -- replied, easing herself slowly to her feet. Closing the distance between them, she smiled in a melancholic fashion. "You are not a child anymore, Valkari. You are so strong, I'm proud of you and your father is too." She said quietly, the foreign tongue still in use. The younger woman shook her head in embarrassment, putting on a cheery look, a perhaps weak attempt to hide the emotions she felt welling up within her chest. She didn't want to cry though. "Don't worry, Mama," she assured, though she knew her mother would worry anyways. "I'll come back. I'll always come back here. Now, don't make me cry!" She chided harmlessly, embracing Marie tightly for a moment before stepping back. "We should enjoy ourselves now!"

                                                  The woman sighed, then nodded. "Yes, that's right, isn't it? Why don't you go on ahead? Show off how pretty you look when you're not wearing battle garb." Nodding once more, Valkari took her mother's hand in hers; they were so similar, yet so different. Etched on both though, was the toil and effort they'd put into their lives coming to the Land of the Moon. This place that had given them a chance to start a new beginning. The young woman was determined to do her best to liberate it. War was perhaps not the answer, but it was the only option. Giving the hand a quick squeeze, she smiled once more, before allowing it to slip from her fingers. "I'll go, but come with me, just for a bit!" She said, determined to stay where she stood until Marie finally relented; she gave in in due time too, and with her victory acquired, the younger one grinned triumphantly.

                                                  Stepping out into the cool evening air, Valkari gave a quick sigh. Her verdant gaze drifted upwards to the moon once again, as she smoothed the soft material of her kimono out. glancing at her mother as she followed after. Gathering her wits, she shook her head, as if that one mere action would do away with all the other thoughts in her mind. It was within the temple that the din of celebration rang out; outside, under the light of the moon, there were much fewer people. Even so, there was nothing wrong with fresh air, was there? Not to mention, it would surely be a shame to whittle their last day away in the confines of the temple. With a motion for her mother to follow, Valkari sought out one of the more familiar paths, taking to chatting comfortably with Marie for the plain sake of it. They both, of course, greeted anyone who passed them by, and maintained a relaxed walking pace. This only changed when they happened to come into close vicinity of the horse stables. Darned creatures.

                                                  Valkari's roundabout path-choosing took them a considerable distance. She herself couldn't help but feel drawn to the festive nature around her, though. With it, it felt like it was just this night; the hard times to come where still there of course, lingering with the sunrise, but there was no point in worrying over that, at least not yet. At one point, the young woman found both herself and her mother beckoned back inside by a friend, and with an inviting look to her mother, they obliged wholeheartedly. It was only once inside that Valkari recalled the faintest gnaw of hunger in her stomach.

                                                  Back inside, patiently working her way through the crowds where the two women's foreign nature stood out all the more, she was pleased to find that in the midst of such company, even and in a much more cheerful state. Together, they shared a quick meal, picking from all the various food which had been laid out, and then a laugh. Eventually, her mother turned to her, looking much more at ease than before, nodding to her as a sign that she was free to do as she pleased. Deciding it was high time to find her own companions, Valkari nodded, now feeling much better about leaving her mother in the morning to come. At least she would be safe and happy here.Carefully, Valkari slipped back out into the night, reminding herself to gently ease the door she used for her escape back shut.

                                                  “Kari!”

                                                  Looking up curiously upon hearing her short-name called, a friendly smile slipped onto Valkari's features as she spotted her Yuki-Onna friend. "Ah, hallo, Yukine-chan!" She answered cheerily, waving a hand as she made her way over with a renewed spark to her step. At this point, she'd taken to speaking in the language of Tengoku, though an accent still lingered noticeably on each syllable, as she closed the distance between herself and her closest friend. Mind, apart from not being human, the Yuki-Onna herself was a rather quiet type; still, neither of those factors seemed to bother Valkari in the slightest. Together, their personalities seemed to fit like a perfect match for this friendship of theirs.

                                                  "I am so 'appy to see you, you are doing good, yes?" She said with a little grin and nod, "Yes, I 'ave been very much enjoying tonight!" The young woman assured, her gaze then drifting to the other standing present with them. He seemed rather tipsy, from what Valkari could notice. ... Correction, he was a bit tipsy; the cup in hand proved as much. "Ah, Saku-kun! He 'as been enjoying tonight in a different vay, I can see that!" With a giggle at the same time as her friend tried to stifle her amusement, Valkari raised a hand to the younger Warden. Smiling, she lightly tapped him on the nose, as if expecting him to sway from it, before reaching the same hands to snatch the full glass from his fingers. "I vould ask if you been enjoying this time, Saku-kun, but most yes you 'ave been?" Taking a first cautious smell of the liquid, she looked up to the male, an amused look glittering in her eyes. "Yukine-chan, maybe it is possible for Saku-kun to best me in the fighting?" Raising the glass to her lips with a good-natured look, she laughed again. "I vill be doing my best to not lose to Saku-kun!" With that, she took a drink of the sake, a tad unaccustomed to the taste, but downing it nonetheless. "Ah," She said thoughtfully, a curious expression on her face as she peered at the now empty cup, and then to Yukine and Saku.

                                                  "Yukine-chan, this is vhat is making Saku-kun feel so strong enough to bring the moon from the sky down, yes?"


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      ↱↱ ____ maiden of the iron shores _____ ✯ ✯ ✯


      ____ _________ IS THIS OUR FATE ?

      _________ (( i still can't escape the image of falling !! ))
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                                  TAKEALLTHECOURAGEYOUHAVELEFT x
                                      xxxxxxxWASTED ON FIXING ALL THE PROBLEMS THAT YOU MADE IN YOUR OWN HEAD
                                      xxxxxxxWASTED ON FIXING ALL THE PROBLEMS THAT YOU MADE IN YOUR OWN HEAD

                                      xxIT WAS NOT YOUR FAULT BUT MINE && IT WAS YOUR HEART ON THE LINE
                                      xxxI xxx R x E x A x L x L x Y xxx F x U x C x K x E x D xxx I x T xxx U x P xxx T x H x I x S xxx T x I x M x E xxx D x I x D x N x ' x T xxx I xxx M x Y xxx D x E x A x R x?
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                                                  "Are you afraid?"

                                                  The voice that spoke behind Sayuri would've made her jump, if not for over two decades of adjusting to it. Kuume, despite retiring years ago, was still very light on her feet - just as Sayuri herself was. Turning to regard her mother, Sayuri kept her face impassive. She'd just been looking over her things once more (she'd have to double check Aisari's later, she reminded herself), but couldn't get rid of a nagging feeling that she'd forgotten something. Her mother wasn't helping the situation in the least.

                                                  "No," the vice-captain replied flatly, her voice entirely devoid of any emotional traces. Resigned, Sayuri turned completely around and crossed her legs, staring up at her still-standing mother. "I've no reason to be."

                                                  "Confidence is certainly a good thing, but that's bordering on arrogance, Sayuri." Kuume's voice held the faintest undertone of warning, and the retired Warden sank to the tatami to sit beside her daughter. "I paid for my arrogance, and if you think that way, you will as well." Kuume leaned forward, the motion just enough to displace the sleeve of her kimono; it was, as it had been since the war, empty.

                                                  The faintest trace of unease flickered across Sayuri's face, and the warden pointedly looked away from her mother. It'd been over ten years. Ten years, and she still hadn't come to terms with her mother's defeat, still was unable to accept the woman she'd grown up admiring would never again wield a sword. "Would you rather I was a coward?" Her tone was more barbed than she intended, but she made no motion to apologize. Kuume simply smiled in reply, a quiet, enigmatic smile that seemed to imply she knew far more than she'd ever let on. Sayuri loved her mother, but absolutely hated how she always acted as if she knew a joke no one else did.

                                                  "There is a middle ground between complete confidence and cowardice, you know," Kuume finally added, still smiling faintly.

                                                  Sayuri just stood at that, adjusted the swords at her waist, and then looked down at her mother. Her tone was frigid, obviously disagreeing. "Is there?"

                                                  xxxxxxxxxx

                                                  The outside paths on all nine floors of the temple's tallest building had been strung with colorful paper lanterns, illuminating the building with a warm glow. Sayuri paused to stand on her toes and brush one with her fingertips, a ghost of a smile playing across her face. It'd been years since she'd seen so many, and so colorful. They never had much to celebrate here in the mountains, really, and it had been a long time since the Land of the Moon had anything to be happy about. When was the last time Lunaris had been lit up like this, the air practically alive with energy? She couldn't even remember.

                                                  She felt a little lighter, a little more cheerful than she'd been a moment prior; the exchange with her mother had soured her mood quite a bit. She turned away to lean on the railing, glancing down from the third floor to the ground below. People were scattered in groups, and the noise of their conversations drifted upwards easily in the thin mountain air. People really were amazing, to turn something that could be taken so solemnly into something to celebrate. When the last war had started, there was no such celebration. Hand closing into a tight fist over the railing, Sayuri narrowed smoke-gray eyes and exhaled, pushing away the regret that gnawed at her mind once more. She'd been left behind to "protect the families", a Warden in nothing but name. Getsuryuu's sharp admonishment, calling her out on foolishness, still burned over a decade later.

                                                  "Ah!" A small voice interrupted Sayuri's thoughts, right as something collided with the back of her legs. The silver-haired Warden turned her upper body, face blank, to regard what had run into her; a child, no more than six or seven, peered back up at her from the ground where he'd fallen.

                                                  "Touichirou!" A stern voice called after the boy, and Sayuri turned to stare at the man who approached after his son. Enshouji Shuuya, thirty-one, unit three member, third generation warden. Sayuri rattled off the facts immediately in her head, and then turned completely around. "Ah," Enshouji noticed immediately when the woman turned, and a sheepish smile flitted across his face at the blank stare from the vice-captain. "I'm sorry, he.."

                                                  "No matter," Sayuri replied, and, casually as could be, caught the child by the back of his yukata's collar and lifted him to his feet. She wasn't good with children, and wasn't particularly fond of them, either. As long as the child didn't start crying, she could handle it - not that she'd want to. With the child back on his feet, Sayuri simply inclined her head and turned to walk away. "Take care."

                                                  "Vice-captain!" Enshouji called after her. "You and the captain can celebrate a bit too, you know." Sayuri paused for a heartbeat and contemplated the statement. She was well aware she was entitled to celebrate and to relax (her father, already halfway to stupid-drunk, had declared as such when he'd picked her up and spun her in a circle as if she was a child) but had little actual inclination to do so. There was plenty of other things to be done yet, after all, and well... she knew he wouldn't be lazing about either.

                                                  Really, her captain was an incorrigible workaholic.

                                                  Decision made, the ninth generation warden picked up her pace, hurrying down the stairs with footsteps that barely made any sound against the wood. Turning a corner onto the main floor, which spilled out onto the open strip of land that often functioned as a training field, Sayuri became far more aware of exactly how many people were here. Some had seemingly called their families from all the way from Lunaris, and perhaps Shinsei as well. The amount of people and noise, even when broken into smaller groups, was overwhelming. Grappling with the brief, instinctive urge to turn and flee back up the stairs to avoid the crowd, Sayuri exhaled and stepped off the nure'en, intent on tracking down the captain.

                                                  Twenty minutes later, Sayuri was seated on the edge of the nure'en on the opposite side of the main building. This side of the building faced the river and the waterfall; it was much quieter than the side that overlooked the crowded courtyard. Feeling far more exhausted than she should - really, it'd only been twenty minutes - the vice-captain leaned forward to let out a tired sigh. The second she'd stepped into the courtyard, she'd been grabbed by the nearest warden and introduced to their family excitedly. The process repeated several times after that; nearly every time she thought she'd gotten away, someone would catch her arm or call her name. Sayuri would've minded it a whole lot less if most of them hadn't been intent on emphasizing the fact she was the first female vice-captain, as if it was her only defining feature.

                                                  Her train of thought was broken when someone on the fourth floor above her erupted into raucous song, and Sayuri turned to look up, expression caught somewhere between horror and amusement. Horror because her first instinct was that it was her father (she oftentimes realized if she hadn't seen Tsuyoshi wield a sword, she'd never believe he was a warden at all, much less a ex-unit leader) and amusement because, well, it was actually pretty funny. The merry (and entirely drunk) singer was completely off key and had seemingly began to improvise the lyrics to his folk song, but he seemed quite happy all the same. Sayuri gave an amused snort in return, turning back to look towards the water. Even while she felt no personal inclination to celebrate, she was glad others would. Tomorrow would come soon enough, and there would be no time for joy like this again.

                                                  Not until they'd won.

                                                  There was something soothing about the waterfall, the cool mountain breeze, the full moon. Sayuri hadn't had any intention to relax tonight - she still wore her uniform, covered with a simple deep blue haori - but there was a feeling of peace here she was in no hurry to leave behind. There would be no harm in staying a few minutes longer.. right? Surely finding the captain could wait ten minutes.


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      fadufadu
      xxい つ か 重 力 の ク サ リ をxx断 ち 切 りxx君 を 探 し て あ の 街 へxx
      SOMEDAYxI’LLxBREAKxTHExCHAINxOFxGRAVITYxANDxTAKExYOUxTOxTHExSATELLITE
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                                          If there was ever a time that Kiyone Makise ever wished she had a sense of direction, it would be now. You would think that as a unit leader of the Eikou, and a female unit leader no less, Kiyone would be able to navigate the streets of Solaris as if she knew them like the back of her hand. Unfortunately, her ability to memorize streets was about as strong as her desire to kill people – in other words, she didn’t possess an ounce. What Kiyone did have, luckily, was a charming personality that managed to weasel out directions from even the “quality citizens” of Solaris who seemed to avoid flustered women like the flu. Either that, or it was because despite her obviously feminine face, Kiyone was in fact wearing a hakama. Point being, it took Kiyone much longer than she would’ve liked to arrive at her destination- time, and an apple she used to bribe someone into pointing her in the right direction.

                                          "Yo! Yoshioki!" the purple-haired woman called out as she rapped her knuckles harshly against the polished wooden door. Almost immediately, she heard a loud baby’s cry erupt from inside the house. Then came a familiar masculine voice that called out irritably, "Coming!" Kiyone couldn’t stop the grin that spread across her face; it seemed the knocking had woken the baby. When the door slid open, Kiyone was face to face with a man who had a good five inches on her, but his eyes and hair were a perfect match for hers. That is, if you ignored the fact that he looked dead tired and his hair was as neat as an overgrown bush. "I’m sorry, but this really isn’t a good tim—" Yoshioki started, rubbing the back of his neck. He stopped abruptly however when he finally registered exactly who he was speaking to. Almost instantly, his face broke into a silly grin as the man slapped Kiyone on the shoulder twice, "Kiyone! It’s great to see you!" Kiyone returned the grin as she gave him a few pats in return, "Aniki!"

                                          Yoshioki Makise quickly shovedushered Kiyone into his home where his wife, Kimiko, was hushing their two-month-old little boy. Clapping her hands together lightly in apology, Kiyone winced apologetically and tried her best to keep her voice to a whisper, "Sorry about that Kimiko-san." Kimiko just gave a tired smile, "Think nothing of it." Yoshioki led Kiyone to the room two doors over, where they would go at their antics without being disturbed. As the purple-haired man poured the tea, the purple-haired unit leader glanced around; the house was almost littered with children’s toys. Yoshioki was Kiyone’s eldest brother, and was on temporary leave from the military in order to help Kimiko raise their first child. As the tea clinked at contact with the table, Kiyone bowed her head in thanks and picked up a cup. They sipped tea in silence for a few moments, before Kiyone’s eyes twinkled, "Is Solaris to your liking?" Yoshioki and Kimiko had moved here out of convenience for his job in the military, while their family’s true home was in Shouheki.

                                          The two siblings conversed like this for a while, exchanging pieces of news about their family, cracking jokes just like they used to. The steered clear of the subject of the Eikou, however. That is, until Kiyone was halfway out the door and about to leave. Yoshioki’s eyes darted to the katana at her side, Hinode, which their second brother had given to her. "You’re in the Eikou to change them – I know that. But things are so much more peaceful now. Couldn’t you… come home?" She turned around to see the wistful look in her brother’s eyes.

                                          Kiyone simply smiled sadly and shook her head. "Everyone’s a pacifist between wars." *

                                          fadufadu_______█████████xx█████████xx█████████xx█████████xx█████████xx█████████
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                                          She had spent about an hour at her brother’s home, and all that remained of the sun now was a wavering, glistening orb disappearing over the horizon. Kiyone stretched her arms as she walked along the bustling streets of Solaris. The temperature was perfect, and the atmosphere wasn’t the least bit humid. Because she’d had nothing to eat at her brother’s house save a few cups of tea, the unit leader was suddenly aware of how hungry she was. It didn’t take long before Kiyone finally spotted what she was looking for: a takoyaki stand. Skipping rather childishly towards the stand, the woman nearly barreled into the person in front of her. "Oh geez, I’m so sor—Hey, Asuka-chan!" The purple-haired female’s stunned look transformed into a brilliant smile as she slung her arm amiably around Asuka’s neck. Minowa Asuka was a member of Kiyone’s own unit, and an elegant, regal woman with a firm resolve that Kiyone herself admired. Flashing the brunette a friendly smile, Kiyone piped up curiously, "You like takoyaki too? ~ " It was a curious thought, someone as regal as Asuka eating messy, commoner food like takoyaki.

                                          And the closer Kiyone peered at her subordinate, the more disoriented and listless the woman seemed to her. "Ah, Kiyone-chan. I … was just enticed was all. I generally don’t eat this kind of food, although my otouto-chan used to scarf them down by the boxes," the woman smiled softly with a light sigh, ending with an obligatory pause. Sharp as she was, though, Kiyone didn’t miss the rather wistful look at the stand. So as the responsible unit leader she was, always trying to make her subordinate’s happy, Kiyone flashed her hand at the stand owner and chimed, "I’d take five good sir ~ " Asuka immediately tried to protest, "Oh, there’s really no need Kiyone-chan." But by then, the store owner was already handed Kiyone the order, and she had already paid the kind sir. "Thank you!" she smiled at the stand owner, before taking two and shoving them at Asuka. "For you!" When the brunette looked like she was about to protest, Kiyone interrupted, "C’mon, take it! It’s delicious! ~ "

                                          Asuka reluctantly accepted the food, but making sure to add, "All right, very well then. I’ll make sure to cook you something nice next time." Kiyone grinned and pat the woman on the back a few times, "Great, I look forward to it!"

                                          Because everyone in unit three knows that Kiyone Makise cannot cook.

                                          The two women strolled along the busy streets of Solaris, the unit leader pausing every five seconds to gasp in awe or wonder at something she deemed "amusing". "Ah Kiyone-chan? I was about to visit the bathhouse down the street. It’s not so crowded at this hour and well, I haven’t taken a nice bath in a while. Would you like to join me?" Taking a large bite of her takoyaki, Kiyone’s eyes lit up at the mention of a bath. The journey to Solaris had been rather tiring, and a bath would do just the trick. Nodding eagerly, Kiyone managed through chews, "A baff founfs grate ~ " (a bath sounds great) Because of her lack of navigational sense, Kiyone stuck to following behind Asuka and doing her best to memorize the way there in case she should have to make her way back. And along the way, she spotted a familiar figure: a tall, tanned slim figure with long copper hair and piercing amber eyes. She recognized the woman, instantly.

                                          "Hiyori-san!" Grabbing Asuka by the hand and dragging her subordinate along, they approached thet oni who was just exiting a liquor store. "Hey Hiyori-san! Are you by yourself? Why don’t you come to the bathhouse with us?" Kiyone didn’t give Hiyori much say before the woman linked arms with the demon and hurtled off into the direction of the bathhouse. "What the -- ?!" the copper-haired woman sputtered as Kiyone dragged her along happily. She heard Asuka mutter a muted "hello" to Hiyori and Hiyori responded with… something… but the unit leader wasn’t quite paying attention because they arrived at the bathhouse just in time, because the oni looked like she was going to take off the moment Kiyone let go of her arm. However, not even the demon could resist the relaxing, steaming allure of a bathhouse, could she? "Wow, you sure know good places Asuka-chan!" she breathed out, awed by the splendor of the bathhouse. It was plain and common, but very homely; Kiyone liked that best.

                                          She entered the changing room, subtly hanging a tower around her before removing her haori. Asuka did the same, careful to cover every inch of bare skin. Hiyori on the other hand… immediately stripped bare, showing no sign of embarrassment at all. "Hi!! Hiyori-san, could you get into the bath now?" Kiyone flushed, averting her eyes from the demon’s naked form. After years of bathing only with her brothers, she was completely unused to seeing a woman’s body. Her own body? Well, she never really considered herself female… "I’ll uh… I’ll be going in now…" she chuckled lightly, still trying to keep her eyes on the ground as she waddled towards the entrance to the bathes. She was stopped short by Asuka’s voice, "Ah, Kiyone-chan, that’s the wrong side…" Kiyone looked up to see the ‘men’s’ symbol on the door, and frowned curiously, "No, it’s th--"

                                          Insert awkward pause here.

                                          "Ahaha, sorry, I usually go in the men’s bath with my brothers…"

                                          * - epic quote by mccarthy ~ * w*

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                                  Ikure-san, don’t you dare lounge around up there all evening!

                                  When nothing but a nonchalant growl came as a response, the elderly monk persisted again, waving a weary fist to the upper surface of one of the many temples that marked the mountain cliff side. A few more words were one-sidedly exchanged, words that went through one ear and out the other of the giant wolf form which shadowed the shingles of the roof above. Monstrous paws crossed one over the other, and with the demeanor suggesting that of a rather rude schoolboy, Chu, Ikure once again protested with a low huff of air powerful enough to reach back down to the monk’s robes, wafting them gently along with the cool evening breeze.

                                  The silence that followed allowed both parties to rethink their strategies – the once persistent monk now calmed himself while the demon took a quick lap at the bowl beside him, the bitter taste unsettling his stomach, causing another partially irritated grunt.

                                  I guesssss findin’ water for a water bowl would be asssking too much this evening, Sai –

                                  Of course it’s sake, Ikure-san! It’s a celebration, and everyone is out and enjoying their last days at the temple and you’re here! Moping around as usual!

                                  Another uncomfortable silence before the monk continued, the tense air suddenly becoming more solemn. “You’ve been here for more years than I’ve been alive, and you’re leaving tomorrow. Can’t you do us all a favor and go and enjoy the scenery? The company? Let your last night here be something worth remembering, not one that’s like any other.

                                  Even though Ikure played an iron wall rather well at the comment, his stomach turned ways he didn’t think it was capable of. He would remind himself later that it was because of the heavy drinking he had been “tricked” into doing since he awoke that evening, but if one looked deep enough, they would know the real reason for that knot.

                                  Ikure hadn’t left the Temple of the Moon since Tsukuyomi’s death. To the wolf spirit, the monks that lived there he had come to know as family, friends, companions, something deeper than just guardians. Their bond was unexplainable, tied only between man and wolf, and so going into detail would be pointless. What needs to be remembered, to be mentioned, is that Ikure drank past the fowl odors to forget, to lose the thought of leaving behind the most important people in his life. The last thing the wolf wanted to do was to leave Sai alone that night.

                                  We’ll still be here when you get back, Ikure.

                                  Giant water-turned-sake bowl now emptied, Ikure raised his proud head, soon after lifting himself up from his comfortable position on the roof above the single monk. With one graceful movement, the large wolf leapt from his recline, powerful muscles tensing at the impact of the cold stone ground before the elder. Easily five feet taller than the monk, Ikure towered over Sai – foreboding enough to make any regular person cower in fear. But as stated earlier, the bond between these two couldn’t be more strong, and so Sai stood absolute, undaunted by the commanding stature before him.

                                  The silence at this point could be broken into three.

                                  The first was for the wind. Silence which broke with every gust, every rustle of leaves that signaled the forthcoming night. It was previously uncomfortable, tense, solemn. But now it just was. It belonged to no one, left to only come between a man and a wolf, one that was ultimately meant to be broken, and so we continue.

                                  The second silence was for the celebration that lingered below. The lights that mirrored in the small ponds, the families that wished their Wardens good luck in the distance. It honored those who would run to war to save their country. It was the silence of the future, the one that would still be there once everyone went to sleep, the one that would be present once they awoke. It was the beginning of the end, one that could never be broken, not even by the eventual exchange of two parting companions.

                                  The third silence was his. Thick white fur thinning, full mane becoming a patch of strands hanging loosely atop a tanned head. The size difference becoming less substantial with every second as Ikure transformed from wolf to human, the only coverings of his now familiar form coming as deep red hakama. Barefoot and shirtless, he stood before the shorter Sai, his silence saying more than his words could ever hope to (possibly only because of the somewhat drunken state the wolf spirit currently found himself in, but that isn’t needed to be admitted). This silence said hello. It said goodbye. It said I love you. Technically cut by the light shuffle of steps, by the tight embrace shared, by the single tear hitting stone between them, truly cut by the deep words of a man wishing his friend the best of luck. After all, it was his silence and so only he could break it.

                                  -

                                  Ikure played his state of mind off well before Sai, at his final farewells.

                                  Goodbyes done now, however, left the wolf-spirit with no reason to hold back.

                                  Full sake bottle recently stolen from a lonely platter dish, Ikure stumbled across rooftops, listening every so often to the chatter below him. “Gooooo mingle Ee-kuu-raaay, he says, but who woullld wanna do that nooooooow!” He stuttered (thankfully) to himself, meaning to mimic Sai, only to seemingly imitate a young school girl. Holding his nose, Ikure took another swig of the dry liquor, sending it to mix with the other beverages already inebriating his every movement.

                                  It’s worth noting now that Ikure can usually keep his liquor down rather well, when he does partake. However, after lapping at a bowl full of sake whilst in wolf form would normally leave him quite capable of decent conversation, a quick transformation into human state would change the effects. After all, who wouldn’t expect a giant four-hundred pound wolf to hold alcohol better than an albeit rather muscular male figure?

                                  It was then that he happened to come across the waterfall. Hopping tipsily from his current position above ground, Ikure wound the corner and heard the sound of familiar voices. But what he expected to be mirthful conversation was just the opposite.

                                  … we can strike them from the inside and out.

                                  Didn’t he just get reprimanded for not having a good time?

                                  This seemed relevant.

                                  OOOOI, SHIKAKU, IDANE,” he bellowed loudly over the roar of the waterfall, stumbling around the corner, waving the partially drunken bottle above his head. “TALKING BEESNESS EH? I’VE GOT SOME BOOZENESS FOR YA.

                                  As if the wild nature of Ikure wasn’t apparent enough at his entrance, the comparison between the pair and him was. While the duo before the wolf spirit prepared for the night in formal attire, Ikure decided against it. Though he could blame it on his state of mind at the time, it didn’t take a friend to notice Ikure’s complete lack of civility for the moment. Just as he had transformed minutes before, the wolf demon stayed shirtless, leaving his black haori folded at his waist. His untamed white hair was pulled back into a loosely tied pony tail, renegade strands sticking from every which direction. The deep red hakama still covered his legs, feet still barefoot. In fact, if anyone had seen Ikure as soon as he transformed earlier, the only change would have been his attempt to make his hair look more presentable. And they would have noticed he failed.

                                  The usual demeanor of Ikure only a spirit of what was now, the demon lazily lugged an arm around the other silver-haired male, leaning over to him a bit more closely than he had originally intended. Sake breath unable to hide, Ikure trudged on boldly, “Look, Shikaku, you’re brilliant, soooooooo it’s time for reeeeaaaal buzzness. Time to reeeelax.” A look to Tetsujin, then, as if to say, ‘check this out, it’s going to be good’, and then, “Reeal buzzness is that, check it, that map has curves, but, I can do you one better.

                                  A sensual caress of the sake bottle and wink later, and Ikure was shoving Naoru out from behind the waterfall curtain and out into the moonlight, nodding at Tetsujin to follow suit. An arm swung out and into the open air as if to point out everything the Moon Temple had to offer, and then, “Just look at allllll theze curvier mabs!” Ikure looked to Tetsujin and added, as not to insult his other comrade, “Don’t worry I’ll find some fur you too!

                                  Get it? Fur?

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