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Tenkai Matsumoto

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About Tenkai Matsumoto

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    Professional Thorn-in-the-Side

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  1. "It's quite the story, but succinctly put, it is said that the Crown of Asteria was a gift given to the goddess Asteria from the All-Father himself. Eventually man killed her, believing her power to be of the crown. Alas it was not, but their evil acts tainted the crown and the goddess, distorting what was once a power for good to something of absolute evil. Whether you believe the stories of gods and goddesses,, titans and the All- Father, I've seen the crown. Held it. I'd once longed to return the Crown of Asteria back to it's former divine glory." Ardon shook his head, parts of his sideburns having gone gray since the Commander had declared war. "But I no longer think that's possible. It is hard to explain, but it is blacker than black. An item so tainted with evil, I'd go so far to say it will bring nothing but ruin to Renovatio and Valucre as a whole if this witch gets her hands on it." "I thought as much," said Tenkai. An artifact of absolute evil drawing the ambitions of powerful individuals. Always thus, thought the monk. There was little else Tenkai needed to know other than that. Whatever it was truly capable of, all he needed to know was that it posed a threat to the world to have his purpose set. This was self-evident, of course, as it was highly unlikely Lilith would go through all this trouble just for a fine piece of jewelry and metalwork to complete her look. She knew the artifact had power that she needed, and it was likely she knew how to use it as well. To what end was another matter entirely, but it could ultimately be nothing good for anyone. Would that they could have the crown destroyed, they could have eliminated Lilith's entire reason for this atrocious assault. But Tenkai could not have been the first to think that, and it was even more likely that the crown was either too powerful to be destroyed, or came with a price too high to be paid. “I agree with a proactive plan.” He said as he entered the room, causing a mild disruption. “We can’t fight a war of attrition against this specific kind of filth. Doing so would only be to their advantage and add more to their armies over time.” He said, taking a spot beside the Order’s Knight. Though this was a risky plan in itself, it was better than the alternative. “Though I doubt Lilith will remain amongst her main forces once you mobilize. She’ll come for him directly at that point. Though destroying her Paragons would well be worth it.” He said, his calm smile a contrast to the violent promise in his words. He nodded his head in greeting, offering only the minimal amount of courtesy to those below his station. Before any more could be said of the matter, Connor Melisende made his grand entrance into the room. Tenkai impassively turned his attention to the Crown Prince---no---Emperor of Kadia, who wasted no time at all weighing in on the situation. His presence was not a surprise to the monk, who had been informed of Kadia's involvement back when he was first contacted by the Veluriyam Empire. It was likely that the Renovatians knew as well. Connor would not have shown up out of nowhere without an army of Kadians in tow, and it seemed like something that the PRIME would have been aware of. Having aided the Kadians during the events of the Harrowing, the monk-swordsman was already acquainted with then-prince Melisende. Through this acquaintance, one thing was certain to Tenkai. Connor was here on behalf of his empire’s interests and nothing more, and the only lives that truly mattered to him were Kadian lives. He had every right and reason to be, but it would become problematic as soon as the young emperor determined that Renovatio was no longer worth fighting for. Truly, Tenkai could not completely blame Connor for this. The prince-turned-emperor was nearly half his age and yet he had already been put through enough horror and suffering to last several lifetimes. To have that along with the responsibility of an entire empire set upon your shoulders was an experience no young man should have had to be put through. But he wasn't in Kadia now, and as both emperor and representative of his nation in this conflict, his actions affected more than just the lives of his men and himself. Surely he realized that. “So, how about we set a trap? We know her target, this means we can manipulate her to move as we wish.” His smile threatened to widen as he spread his hands open before him. “As Buddha holds the world in his palm, so too shall we hold her, no?” He said, flashing the warrior monk and look and clenching his metal clad hands into a fist. “The question is, how best to implement this with minimal risk of her taking the crown.” He added, looking at them all. “Personally I would destroy it and supplement it with a fake, so that win or lose the battle, we win the war.” He chuckled. “Though I suppose that’s not an option, hm?” Connor could not have misused the Buddha more if he had used his statue for a footrest. This was not very unexpected, however, given his origins. If Connor was anything like his father, foreign religions were viewed as curious whimsy at best and dangerous ideology at worst. He was probably speaking as such as a matter of forming rapport with Tenkai, which was admirable but not entirely necessary. Perhaps worse was the fact that he used it almost as if to give blessing to his otherwise recklessly overconfident "trap" strategy. Had this been a different situation, Tenkai would have found the emperor insufferable. But in this conflict, their aims were aligned in an oblong sort of way. He was their ally, and Tenkai would respect that. Ardon confirmed at least one of Tenkai's hypotheses, albeit through myth rather than a well-grounded fact. But when it came to items of mythic proportions, myths often proved to be reliable sources of information. Of course, there was more than just the apparent indestructibility of the crown that should give them pause. "With all due respect, Emperor Melisende," said Tenkai, "I am not fully convinced a 'trap' would be a wise course of action. If she can sense the crown's power as Lord Dallas describes, there is no way she would fall for a fake even if it was possible to create one. And trying to lure her anywhere with the real crown would be the exact opposite of 'minimal risk'. Destroying the crown would probably be a bad idea even if it were possible, as well. There's also the matter of our enemy enjoying extensive freedom of movement. If she wanted to come directly for the crown, she would probably be upon us herself in an instant. And yet she remains with her main force. She would be quite difficult to trap if she's being this pragmatic." But going over all of this again was just wasting time, and if trapping her was not the wisest of moves, then Kadia still needed a way to fit into the overall plan. Tenkai would not be so bold as to presume he could order anyone with the title of "emperor" around, however, so this was all a matter of negotiation. "Nevertheless, you are right to presume that sitting here waiting for her to flood the gates of Nu Martyr is the worst course of action. That's why I intend to cut off her advance. If she does somehow manage to slink away and break off from her main force, then she will end up in the same position she would have been had we waited for her to step upon our doorstep. Minus a few hundred thousand warriors." Tenkai returned to the map, tracing his finger from Nu Martyr to Parrish and straight onward towards Nu Delo, where Lilith's armies would be departing. "If those of you present are with me, I would reiterate: we should have the Renovatian forces at Parrish advance upon their main force. They will not be able to hold on their own, however, which is why I would ask that you send your forces to act as the vanguard, Emperor Melisende. That should hold the front long enough for the Order and Veluriyam forces to get into position and cut through their formation." The warrior monk pointed north of that position. "Then there's the matter of the Cult's forces at Taronta. Should you choose to to do so, Emperor Melisende, you may wish to send some of your forces to rally the soldiers at Ralrome and Algany in order to flank the enemy at Taronta. They would be hard pressed to attempt a flanking of the vanguard at the pass if they themselves are being flanked. Aside from that, if Lilith were to escape me and break from her main force, she will likely be alone for the most part. If you so wish to face her as well, then I will leave that part of the plan in your hands. That's probably about the closest you can get to 'trapping' her. Perhaps not the same trap as you hoped, but it certainly would play our strengths to her weaknesses." Provided that she had weaknesses, that is. This, of course, was not to say Tenkai as doubting himself or the forces currently under his command. Especially not if he could face Lilith in single combat. After all, his sword had been the bane of many an immortal, and the necromancer would be no different. That would have to count for something, for if not, things were bound to get a lot worse than even he could predict. "Now, as for the other---" The Greatsword strode forth to catch Tenkai's attention, even as the PRIME Lord Dallas and the other notables within the room would likely similarly be informed of the development as well. "Reports of undead sir. They are rising in the city" he paused, tilting his head as the communique continued, "Scattered reports coming in from elsewhere as well. It seems to be happening all around the nation. Your will?" Tenkai's eye widened barely before narrowing in disgust. Of course she would do something like that, he thought. How could she not? She was a necromancer, after all, and raising the dead was their modus operandi. Even as Tenkai looked around, his other "eye" could see the spirit world roiled into a stir as the balance between life and death was violated all around him. He knew that the undead would be a factor in this conflict, but in such a number and so many places at once? Either her Paragons were accomplished necromancers in their own right, or Lilith's power was far beyond what Tenkai had expected. "Damn them. We have no time to waste." Tenkai turned back to the company of generals, the PRIME and the Emperor. "I must take my leave of you now. I've spoken my piece." Tenkai turned away from them and departed with the Greatsword, with the four Custodes captains following suit. Tenkai had left the pieces on the strategy board in correspondence with his proposed strategy. It was now up to his allies to decide whether to follow his lead or not. After all, Tenkai held no true authority over them, so all that was left was to see if they'd place their faith in him. Regardless of what they decided to do, he fully intended to face Lilith before her main forces managed to reach Parrish. ------------------------------ Though Tenkai made his way out of the study and back towards the airship hangar, the plan of action was still not yet settled. There was still the matter of sortieing the OFM and Veluriyam forces. Tenkai would have to hit the ground running on that one. There was no time to convene with everyone in the same manner as he had with Ardon Dallas and Connor Melisende. He'd have to do it on his way there, and first he would have to contact-- On the way back to the airship, the monk would be accosted by a Guardian running at speed. Taking a moment to catch his breathe, he held his hand up to forestall the Knight and passed him a communicator. "You have a priority call, Sir Matsumoto. It is Lord Eredas on the line" the Custode explained, indicating the device which was patched into the Susano'o's communication systems. Speak of Cao Cao, and Cao Cao appears. "Understood," said Tenkai, taking the communicator from the Guardian with barely a halt in his step. He activated the magitek device as the display coalesced into existence, showing the face of Master Knight James Eredas. "Tenkai, this is James. What is the situation at Nu Martyr? I received a report before I had left, but the details were sparse. I might expect you can provide me with more insight into matter?" "In all honesty, the situation's gone from bad to worse," said Tenkai. "The Cult is assaulting several cities across the province simultaneously, and the outlying cities are almost all but wiped out. Keto has been razed along with Hungary, Taronta and Apolypse. Nu Delo is likely next to fall, if it hasn't already. What's more is that she's managed to raise the dead all across the province all at once, likely as a means of sowing chaos and distracting our forces. I plan to intercept her main force before she reaches Parrish. She cannot be allowed to march onto Nu Martyr unimpeded. Failing that, Emperor Melisende wishes to set a trap for her, and I have requested that he send forces to the vanguard to impede her main force towards that end." "I like your plan, and those ideas proposed by Kadian Emperor. However, I believe more emphasis should be placed on Hungary. It is destroyed yes, but it has also become a staging grounds for the enemy. Send the Invictus Nova, wipe the enemy off it, destroy their entire southern front, and you can reinforce at will, or harry both the Cult's approach from the west, and their approach from Apolypse." James was right. Even with several cities being razed, that didn't mean the enemy would simply move on like it was nothing. Using them as staging grounds for a longer siege would be ideal against the more well-defended cities. With Hungary being so isolated by water, the Invictus Nova had the best means of assaulting it. The forces at Hungary were likely in the midst of attacking Landonia, as it were. An assault on their fortifications by the Invictus Nova while their main force was on the other island could be nigh unstoppable. "A sound plan. I will relay that to the Invictus Nova as soon as I'm aboard the Susano-o. I'll have them coordinate with our other forces. The Invictus' presence should distract their southern forces from catching wind of our assault. I would not want to find myself flanked with my back to the shore. Not against Lilith." "This Lilith sounds to be a most formidable opponent. Do not underestimate her. Remember, you are the Knight over there. Whatever you do, you must be decisive. I fully empower you to make all and any decisions you deem necessary in the course of action. May your enemies keep you sharp Tenkai." With that, the communication closed, and Tenkai handed the device back to the Guardian. There were still more calls to make on his way back to the hangar, but Tenkai would use his own communicator this time. He deactivated the lock on the side of his gauntlet to reveal a sliding panel that hid yet another magitek interface. With a quick input from his left hand, three more screens appeared in front of him. One of them was Lady Holly Sheathe of the Veluriyam Empire, who had been fashionably late to the meeting of the generals. By the time she made her way to the gate, Tenkai would be already on his way to the hangar through the other way. This would not impede them from making contact, however. While she was still busy with the guards, one of the Order's Guardians stationed at the palace would be running up to her, having received the call from Tenkai to put her on comms. "Lady Sheathe," said Tenkai, "I apologize that we couldn't meet face to face, but we're running very short on time. I'll make this brief. I have just spoken to PRIME Ardon Dallas about our counter-attack. I am currently taking the Susano-o to meet the enemy. I would request that you send two of your airships and the knight companies assigned to them to join us and protect our flank. They will be the haft of the spear. As for your remaining forces, I would ask that you send them southward past Draven to assess the enemy's movements. If the enemy has arrived at Yascrow, they need to be driven out. They musn't be allowed to link up with their forces at Apolypse. If they do, they could overwhelm Nu Rosinder or head further north past the city towards Draven. If Draven falls, Nu Martyr will lose its main supply line and we won't be able to reinforce. Can I count on you for this?" It was the Veluriyam Empire that originally sought out the Order of Force Majeure for aid in this battle. Tenkai could only hope that this meant Veluriyam put enough trust in the Order to follow along with Tenkai's plan. He knew his assault was a dangerous one, and he would not let anyone needlessly throw away their lives in vain. That was why he wanted to give Veluriyam ample room for retreat should they be overwhelmed. Against such a foe, they needed to play their strengths where they were strongest. A second feed popped up, this time patching in directly to the Order-issued communicator of one Perestroika Orrikov, who was either still aboard the Invictus Nova or somewhere within Nu Martyr after disembarking. Formerly a member of the Legion of Doom that the Order had so notably faced at Last Chance, Perry had undergone a change of affiliations as one of the Order's newest members. Tenkai had made it his responsibility to see that the necromancer make up for her past transgressions by using her abilities for the good of the world, and today was as good of a chance as any for her to reclaim her honor. "Perestroika," Tenkai said with the sternness necessary to convey the severity of the situation. He was already mere steps away from the landing area, "You've probably noticed this already, but the situation has gotten worse. The Cult has managed to raise countless undead all across the province. This is likely a distraction by the enemy, meant to throw us into disarray. I haven't seen necromancy on this scale before, and I'd wager you haven't either. I don't expect you to wave your hands and make the undead simply disappear. However, if there is a way you can at least do something about the bulk of the undead horde springing up out of their graves around the central city, then do so immediately to the fullest extent of your ability. If Lilith's main force reaches the city while we're still knee-deep in zombies, she'll have quite a large meat shield to use against us." Tenkai narrowed his eye as he peered straight at the young necromancer. "This is your hour of redemption. Show me that I was not wrong to put my faith in you." The third feed came directly from inside the Susano-o, Tenkai's personal frigate, where the monk now established comms with the ship's chief engineering officer, Dr. Kazuo Ishiyama. He was one of the head engineers of RAKAN Industries, a technological R&D firm that was also just as foreign to Valucre as Tenkai and James originally were. RAKAN Industries was responsible for most, if not all, of Tenkai's current advancements in wargear, from his armor and bodysuit to the fittings and convertible sheath/hilt system he now used with his sword. Dr. Ishiyama and his team were the ones responsible for making alterations to the Belisarius-Sinistrum class frigate that ultimately became the Susano-o. In a way, Ishiyama was "on loan" from RAKAN, though it seemed unlikely that he would want to go back. He was a bit of an odd duck, an "otaku" as he would put it, and his work for the Order in a place like Valucre almost felt like he was living out some sort of fantasy world dream job. Much to Tenkai's chagrin, as one would expect. "Ishiyama," he said, "Do you read me?" "A-ah! Yes! I'm reading you loud and clear, Matsumoto-san! Ahh...no...Matsumoto-dono? Sir Matsumoto? I don't really know, we never got the chance to discuss--" "Ishiyama, please. Focus. I'm en-route to the ship. Status update." Through the mild static of the magitek feed, one could see that Dr. Ishiyama had already decorated his quarters with some colorful paraphernalia, with stacks of small manga books and magazines next to mountainous binders of schematics and engineering statistics. As much as could be said about his habits, he was rather dedicated to his work. "Yes, yes, of course. All systems are green. I was just in the engine room a few minutes ago, and the reactor cells at operating at peak efficiency. I'm currently poring through a diagnostic of our weapon systems, and so far everything's in top shape and ready for action!" "And the Totsuka?" "Huh? What about it?" "Status report on the Totsuka, Dr. Ishiyama," Tenkai said impatiently. "Oh! Well, I mean, there's not really much I can say that you don't know already. It's only been tested in a very limited fashion, and by those parameters everything should be primed and ready. But...you don't mean to use it here, do you?" "We may have to. It's that bad. I just want to be sure it won't explode if we do." "Oh no, nothing like that, of course! I can tell you that much. But even with all of our testing, we still haven't seen it at full strength, and I don't have to remind you that--" "We only have one shot. Yes, I remember. And the risk involved is exactly why you set up that life-signal detection array, at my request, if you remember." "Absolutely, Matsumoto-taicho!" "...That's not necessary. At any rate, I bear full responsibility for this ship and whatever may come of it. Do not feel burdened by the guilt of your creation, as I was the one who ultimately consented. Just make sure it's as controlled as possible." "You got it! Just leave it to me and my team, we won't let you down!" "I know you won't. Tenkai out." With all of the comm-links turned off, Tenkai turned his attention to the Greatsword captain, Eshara Dominic. "Captain Dominic," said Tenkai, "Rather than accompanying the Invictus Nova, I would have you and your Greatswords make way to Primaria. It's a small port, but vulnerable, and if the enemy takes it by the inland sea, Nu Rosinder will be lost. Take half of our Guardian squads and the Seekers with you. Should the enemy be thwarted, you are to reinforce Nu Rosinder against the enemy's southern forces." Tenkai nodded towards the Seeker captain, who would know to lend her bow to this endeavor. He then turned his attention to the Guardian and Vanquisher captains. "As for the rest of the Guardians and the Vanquisher squads, you're both with me. Once we make the initial thrust, we'll make landfall, and take the fight to the Cult alongside Veluriyam, Kadia and Renovatio." The two captains nodded in assent, having been ready for this since before the battle lines were even drawn. Now having boarded the massive frigate, large in its own right yet not at all the size of the imposing Invictus Nova, both the Susano-o and the larger cruiser next to it made their final preparations for takeoff. The dedicated crews of each vessel hurried to their stations as orders were issued, passing down the chain of command in less than a minute as they functioned like the blood cells of the ship, coursing through it as they both roared to life. The Custodes assembled their wargear as they too prepared for takeoff, eagerly awaiting the moment where they would be assembled at the main assault bay once they had reached their destination. With Tenkai standing at the bridge alongside the other dedicated officers brought from both the ranks of the Custodes and other OFM recruitment efforts, it was time to put their counter-attack into full effect. "Engines, engage." "Engaging." The frigate's engine came to life as the propulsion jets started to glow a pale blue. The ship detached from its moorings as the lift thrusters raised it slowly up above the hangar, the ship's pilot and navigating team following the coordinates as they interpreted from Tenkai's relayed direction. "Main thrusters, engage." "Engaging thrusters." A burst of azure plasma erupted from the propulsion jets, pressing the massive ship forward slowly as its acceleration picked up exponentially. "Course is set for your requested coordinates, Sir Tenkai." "Good," said Tenkai. "All ahead full. It's time to drive the blade into the enemy's heart." "Acknowledged." With that, the thrusters faded briefly before firing up to full power in an instant, generating a small shockwave as the frigate shot forth like a spearhead flung forward by a stalwart thrust. Onward, then, to the shores of Parrish and Nu Delo, where the Commander and her Paragons await. @Ataraxy @Alexei @Fierach @Thotification @Djinn&Juice
  2. "Understood." Tenkai's lone eye stared down the horde of beastment before him as they wheeled out their mechanical monstrosity. Through his other eye, the beastmen were an absolute sea of red, their souls bearing the corrupt blood-red tempering of the Blood God. Among the raging throng, Tenkai could see the largest one among them that James had pointed out. Indeed, some manner of machinery was generating the shield that prevented the frigate from taking out their siege weapon. As long as they kept the power diverted to the shields, the frigate wouldn't be able to cover them. If the beastmen were allowed to bombard them with impunity, they would be forced to retreat back inside the frigate. Even then, the void shields would not hold up forever if their siege was unimpeded. With the target clearly in sight, the only issue now was the matter of getting through the horde in order to cut him down. James and the others already had their hands full fighting against the unsuppressed charge. Tenkai needed to carve his way through their ranks if he wanted to get through to their leader, and even then it would take time that they had so little of. Fortunately, the stasis field erected by Inquisitor Alexa had rendered much of this problem moot, cutting a sharp divide through the horde. That left Tenkai with a more reasonable amount of foes to contend with, but they couldn't be so stupid as to not see what Tenkai and James were trying to do. They wouldn't just let them walk up to their leader, who had the lynchpin of their assault in his possession. But the damned followers of Khorne were no strange adversary to the warrior monk, and he knew how to play their unholy devotion against them. If it was blood that they wanted, then they would have it. Tenkai drew Muramasa from its sheath, its blade gleaming against the Warp-blasted sands. The sword was far smaller than anything the brutes wielded, but any who knew of what Tenkai was capable of knew that this was a trivial matter. The braying mass of bloodthirsty killers before him wouldn't care either way. Tenkai could come at them with a toothpick or a sword the size of the Imperator Bellum itself for all they cared. They didn't care that the monk, charging alone directly into their ranks with his sword at his side, would look like some madman with a death wish fighting on such a one-sided scale. Be it their blood or his, all that mattered to them was that it was spilled, and Khorne had his fill. One equally eager beastman hefted a massive cleaver-blade on a long haft above his head, ready to split Tenkai in two before he could even reach him with his much smaller sword. With Muramasa held in both hands, he raised his blade high from a tail guard to overhead a fraction of a beat after the beastman assumed his stance. There was a brilliant flash as steel clashed with blood-spattered steel, followed by a surge of blood. When the dust and crimson mist settled, the beastman fell into two pieces onto the sands, split right down the middle. To others, it looked like the two of them had cut each other at the same time when they simultaneously struck. But the point of balance of Tenkai's blade met with the ridge of the beastman's sword towards its tip, and the follow-through of his blade brought him into an overbind that diverted the larger sword off to Tenkai's right side. The force of Tenkai's ki behind his strike caused his measure to extend well past the length of his sword, cutting the creature down in a single stroke. From there, Tenkai did not let up in his momentum. He was a whirlwind of steel, his blade like a streak of light against the numerous beastmen who came at him from all angles, trying to overtake him. Their eagerness proved to be their downfall, as Tenkai exploited every opening they gave him in a continuous chain. There would be no worrying cuts or glancing blows. Each strike had to be critical, slashing apart bodies and cutting off limbs and heads in order to completely incapacitate each monstrosity that came his way. Anything short of that would just be shrugged off as they went berserk. Eventually, however, things started getting a little tight. Despite his ability to strike beyond his measure, Tenkai couldn't just wave his sword around like magic all day and reduce them all to ribbons outside of his reach. Having waded this deep into the enemy's ranks, the monk needed to keep them at distance and control the crowd. It was as good a time as any to demonstrate just how versatile Tenkai had become thanks to his new-and-improved wargear. Finding a brief gap in the seemingly endless ranks of beastmen, Tenkai brought his sword back to his sheath on the left side of his hip and, strangely, stuck it back in backwards. The kashira (pommel) of his sword somehow interfaced with the kuchi (mouth/opening) of his high-tech scabbard. Small hydraulic mechanisms whirred and plates shifted as it pulled the weapon inside of it, until the entirety of the modified hilt was inside the sheath. With his free hand, Tenkai pulled the sheath free from behind his back on the right side, sword still attached as the sheath became its new hilt. He brandished this new weapon briefly before settling in a middle guard, his hands spaced a foot and a half apart on the long "hilt" of his sword which now resembled a nagamaki rather than an uchigatana. Tenkai made good use of his extended reach, his sword now a full 60 inches long from tip to pommel. The horde resumed its assault, and this time Tenkai was able to meet a few of them before even their own blades came within measure, choking up on and sliding down the haft of his weapon to reach past their guard. He swung in a much wider arc than he normally could unpowered with a katana, hacking off their fingers and hands and taking their legs from under them. At close range, the extra hilt space gave him more leverage, like a zweihander held at half-sword. Yet in spite of this different means of operation, his weapon was still the same preternaturally sharp blade as it ever was, slicing through their malformed muscle and sinew with ease. Still, a five foot sword only barely increased his measure past most of their weapons, and that was not counting the reach granted to them by their Khorne-blessed physiques. If Tenkai truly wanted to stave off the crowd, he needed to go longer. Coming up from a left-to-right horizontal stroke, Tenkai followed through with the momentum and rose the blade above his head until he began switching hand positions in a rather un-nagamaki-like fashion. With a single turn of his weapon, the hydraulics in the scabbard-hilt whirred with activity as the individual interlocking plates that made up its "hilt-wrapping" appearance re-oriented themselves, straightening itself out as it extended over two feet. The "nagamaki" thus shifted into a naginata as Tenkai brought the polearm down onto the head of the nearest beastman, splitting his skull in two. Reversing his momentum, Tenkai wheeled the polearm around over his head once more and into another wide arc, making full use of the extended haft of his weapon to cut through even more of the beastmen. Those that came at him with polearms of their own would find their weapons beaten aside and parried before running through their throats with a well-placed thrust. Even near-miss thrusts due to the slight curve of the blade would turn into push-cuts as the monk ruptured their throats. His blows became more furious as he passed the weapon between his hands, winding around his body in spinning arcs that transitioned between thrusts and swings. At the height of his momentum, Tenkai wound up a wide horizontal swing from a spinning overhead turn, releasing a giant scything arc of displaced air pressure that decimated the ranks around him in a near 360-degree arc. Those who were not bisected by the attack were send flying back into their brethren, leaving Tenkai with a wide clearing around him. Satisfied with the display, the monk returned the scabbard-hilt behind his back as it reverted to nagamaki-length and, finally, reattached with the hydraulic mounting at his side. He detached the Muramasa from this housing with a brief flourish and pointed it towards the ten-foot-tall monster who led this band of brutes. He knew that such a display of carnage and martial prowess would catch his attention, and Tenkai's gesture of challenge was meant to seal the deal. If all went as planned, he would be luring their leader out into single combat, where Tenkai would be at his strongest. At that point, it was all a matter of slaying the monstrous beast and destroying the shielding device, in no particular order. @Fierach @-Lilium- @Maverick
  3. As the ship continued on its perilous journey, Tenkai would be found in his quarters polishing Muramasa in traditional fashion. There were a number of tools set out in front of him, so simple by comparison to the technology surrounding him that he may as well have been using rocks and twigs. The swords’s modern-tech fittings, far more advanced by comparison, laid at his side while he worked. Despite the changes it had undergone, the Muramasa’s blade itself remained as it always was. The cursed edge itself needed no upgrading, or even sharpening for that matter. However, the occasional polish certainly didn’t hurt. The aura of the blade stirred as the monk worked the ridge with oil and cloth. Muramasa’s temperament was sometimes that of a bloodthirsty monster, but during sessions like these it was more like a disgruntled pet dog who didn’t enjoy baths. It loved to be stained in blood and gore like a pig loved being covered in mud, so polishing it clean was a very dubious ordeal for it. Not much blood remained on the blade after Muramasa was slaked in battle, but any small trace of plasma or fat that wasn’t burned away by Muramasa’s “feeding” was not good for it. So Tenkai did what any responsible sword owner would do, with any other ordinary sword. Tenkai liked to think of it as “bonding time”. Indeed, the surrounding warpspace had made Muramasa’s spirit far more active than usual. Tenkai surmised it had something to do with the Warp. Spirits, even those that belonged to weapons like Muramasa, reacted to Warpspace in peculiar ways. With the veil of reality lifted so, it was far easier for supernatural phenomena to manifest themselves. Communing with the sword, which otherwise would have required silent meditation to achieve, was as simple as speaking to it verbally. Tenkai refrained from this, however, knowing that it would’ve been unsettling to any crew member who walked in on him. Or barged into his room urgently, for that matter. Which was exactly what happened. The hydraulic door hissed as it slid open, and a Custodes rushed into Tenkai’s room. The monk was not annoyed by the abrupt breach of privacy. After all, the Custodes never did things like this without good reason. “Sir Tenkai!” said the Custodes, “We need you on the bridge! We’re...” A sudden fit of turbulence nearly threw the man off balance. For the majority of their journey, the ship had sailed relatively smoothly without much trouble. But something had changed, and it was likely pertaining to whatever the Custodes was trying to alert him to. “Understood.” Tenkai quickly reattached the fittings of his sword. The job he had done so far would have to do for now. As Tenkai stopped onto the bridge, he was greeted by the sight of what he could only presume was Kadia. Or at least it should have been. There was no way to tell what it was anymore. The Harrowing had turned the land around them into a Warp-blasted mockery of what it should have been. Even if this was Kadia, they wouldn’t have been able to tell. It certainly wasn’t the Warp, but it may as well have been after how twisted it had become. But now was not the time to marvel at the scenery. Tenkai was no expert navigator, but even he knew that it was far too early for them to re-enter realspace. If this even was realspace, for that matter. It couldn’t have been the Warp, as to look upon it directly was to invite madness. This view alone was unsettling enough. But that was the least of their worries. It wasn’t long before the readings came in, detecting multiple hostile entities and a high degree of Warp corruption among them. Tenkai got a fairly good look at them through the ship’s scouting cameras. A horde of beast-men twisted into canine forms, bearing the mark of the Blood God. They were a living flood of brutality and wrongness. James was already putting out the alert to all Custodes aboard the ship. Today would be their first bloody contact with the enemy. ———————————— “This is a good position,” Tenkai said, standing alongside James as they prepared to step off the ship. “But I am still wary. We must not presume the enemy is ignorant of their own territory. They may know of ways to reach the top of these outcroppings. If they flank us from above, that’ll be a real problem.” Scanners hadn’t detected any presence hiding in ambush, but that didn’t set Tenkai at ease. This place was tainted by the Warp, and they were now thusly outside the realm of logic. These were still thoughts t be considered. Regardless, the plan would not deviate, and their path was clear. Once they had finally left the ship, James led the charge against the hundreds of marauding beastmen and the rest of the Order followed suit. Tenkai would not tarry any longer. The monk wasted no time, not bothering to exhibit any flashy display of his spiritual might. The enemy was dedicated to Khorne, who spurned magic and longed for combat. Tenkai wished not to chance a waste of his energy in case his special abilities be rendered ineffective. There would be no need for that now. With the Muramasa drawn, Tenkai charged the line alongside the Custodes, his sights set on a large beastmsn hefting a particularly heavy long-handled axe. The two seemed poised to clash, their weapons meeting simultaneously in vertical downward strokes. Clearly the beastman thought his strength would be enough to completely overwhelm Tenkai and break through his offense. That was a mistake. Tenkai brought his weapon forward in a downward stroke with the timing altered just so that his blade would meet above the axe’s point of balance. Tenkai’s unexpected strength and the resilience of his sword would come together in his technique, deflecting the axe off to his right side while simultaneously bringing his sword down onto his foe. The air pressure from the force of the strike alone was enough to cleave downward through the mutant’s body and split him in half. From there, Tenkai quickly moved on to the next foe, never letting his attention stay fixated for long in the middle of the fierce melee as he aided the Custodes in driving back the threat. And well that he did this, such so that he could see the tower of skulls in the distance as the enemy sought to settle the score. “I had a feeling this would happen!” Tenkai called out to James in the middle of battle. “I hope you have a plan for this!”
  4. --- Nu Martyr, Inside the Palace of the PRIME, Study Hall Tenkai could see the way his presence and that of the Custodes affected the Renovatian soldiers and, in a way, that was a bit concerning. Though he was prepared to do all he could to protect them, this was not some small matter of a single malcontent or a rampaging monster that needed slaying. This was war, and as mighty as the Order's combatants were individually, there was only so much they would be able to do if they could not count on the Renovatians to be able to stand on their own. These men were not civilians and village folk. They were soldiers, and Tenkai counted on their strength and courage just as much as they would count on his. One could only hope that their presence here would instead uplift the fighting spirits of those who fought for Nu Martyr rather than lull them into complacency. But first things first. The warrior monk and his retinue entered the PRIME's study early enough for them to catch a bit of their war room discussion on the way in. It was a fairly big study, after all, and the echoes of their robust discourse carried through the room. This was good, thought Tenkai. He didn't want to waste any time. As Ardon Dallas spoke to him, Tenkai stopped and gave him a short bow. It was not a gesture of allegiance, but of respect. It was the kind that Tenkai was culturally accustomed to giving, even though that was now worlds away from him. "Thank you, Lord Dallas," he said. "I am Tenkai Matsumoto, knight of the Order of Force Majuere." With a nod, he turned to the four captains, allowing them to make their own introductions and signs of respect. They would undoubtedly be quick and to the point, just as Tenkai was. They didn't have much time to spare. Almost immediately, Tenkai marched over to the war table and leaned over it as if he was one of the Nu Martyr generals. Having stepped closer, his features would be made fairly clear. His manner of dress was unlike that of his fellows, as the Order was rather eclectic in its expressions of individuality. His manner of dress was a peculiar mix of humble, traditional clothing similar to that which was worn in Weland combined with modern armor and technology. From what one could tell, he was dressed from the neck down in a jet black bodysuit worn under a dark grey kimono top and black pants that were tucked into a pair of gunmetal sune-ate, samurai knee guards and shin armor that protected him from knee to instep, the plates on his feet segmented in a design that resembled its traditional counterpart using modern methods that seemed more at home in Terrenus than elsewhere. Half of his kimono was worn off of his left side, while the half on his right side was mostly obscured by a gauntlet and interlocking armor plates connected to a black half-chestplate. Over all of this was a large black shoulder guard with the main plate carved in the visage of an angry deity. A large-beaded rosary necklace was slung across his left shoulder and chest like a bandolier, one of the few pieces of religious paraphernalia that indicated his monkhood. An eyepatch made from a round disc guard from a sword covered his presumably missing right eye, which somehow managed to make the gaze of his remaining eye twice as intense to compensate. And there, fastened upon his back by some high-tech mechanism connected to his metallic utility belt was a sword, a katana by the look of it, yet bound in modern fittings much like the rest of the small bits of advanced technology in his wargear. "If I may," Tenkai said, as if to preempt any protestation from the elder strategists present. He reached over with his gauntlet-clad right hand and pointed at the mark on the map that indicated the city of Keto. "Based on your map here, the Cult's main force has made landfall here and they're heading down the peninsula directly towards the main city here, correct?" In essence, Tenkai had mostly repeated what the strategists had discussed, except for the fact that Tenkai traced all the way to Nu Martyr rather than simply Nu Delo. After all, it was here in this city that Lilith's prize awaited. The monk waited for any sort of response from those present before he proceeded. "And currently, based by these three markers here, Lilith's so-named 'Paragons' have all managed to hit these three completely separate cities almost simultaneously, and are thus lost to us. Correct?" It was clear that the enemy was using some sort of magic to engage in a rapid deployment of their troops, striking in several directions at once. So far, besides the city of Keto that had been almost instantly decimated by the arrival of Lilith's main force, the three other cities to fall were Hungary, Taronta and Apolypse. It only took a glance at the way the pieces moved on the board for Tenkai to come to a general idea of what was to come. To that end, Tenkai would share his thoughts. "At first, these additional strikes appear to be little more than a distraction, but that seems to be merely an added bonus of their unique method of sortie. If you would look here..." Tenkai tapped the spot on the map labeled Apolypse and traced upward towards Nu Rosinder. "From the south, there is nothing in the way between Apolypse and Nu Rosinder. But Nu Rosinder is far larger and more heavily defended than the other cities. They could attempt to lay siege from the south, but that would only serve as a petty distraction. What concerns me more is this city here." Tenkai pointed to the city of Draven, which lay between the major cities of Nu Rosinder and Nu Martyr. "This is your supply line between Nu Rosinder and Nu Martyr. If that supply line falls, neither city will be able to reinforce the other, and there will be no escape. And here..." Tenkai pointed to the small island of Hungary, just off the eastern coast of Yascrow. "It's clear that they intend to cut off escape from Nu Martyr by sea. Not that they seem to need to traverse by sea, but attacking your island cities disrupts your maritime forces and leaves you vulnerable. From here, they will likely head to Yascrow in order to completely cut off your sea route. It is also possible they intend to link up with their southern forces and converge upon Draven to cut Nu Martyr off. And finally..." Tenkai pointed to Taronta in the north, tracing a line to the thin strip of land between it and Nu Delo. "From here, their northern forces could link up with their main force, or flank your armies from the coast as they meet with the main force on the peninsula. They could decide to move along the northern region and take out the outlying cities, but there's little point in them doing that unless they somehow manage to garrison troops throughout the northern region without being spread too thin. And on top of all of this is the knowledge that Lilith could have many more of these 'Paragons' ready to jump out of nowhere at the drop of a hat and throw everything into disarray." By now, the monk had surely spoken volumes to the strategists at the table, and much of it was of matters that they themselves were aware of. Tenkai could sense their impatience. The Order wasn't summoned here to point out the obvious. They needed action. "If I may be so bold, I do have a plan." Tenkai pointed at Nu Rosinder. "It is imperative that the forces at Apolypse do not head to Draven. Have your defenders at Nu Rosinder attempt to corral them into your defenses, while your forces at Shrreb move in from the south to take them at the rear. If they head straight for Nu Rosinder anyway, all the better. They'll be too busy throwing themselves at your defenses to notice they're being flanked." He next pointed to Hungary. "It is likely that the enemy will head to Yascrow next. If your forces at Landonia can cut them off before then, you just might be able to reach them before they make landfall. At the very least, you'll be able to reinforce Yascrow from their rear if they manage to get there first." Then he pointed back to Taronta. "Your forces in Ralrome and Algany should seek to engage their northern forces immediately. It is imperative that you prevent them from linking up with the main force. If they try to head across the northern region, they will inevitably run into these two cities. Hitting Algany in order to reach Nu Martyr from the river will leave them open to attack from Ralrome, and if they try to bypass both cities to reach the mainland, you can pincer them here." He pointed in between the two cities in question. "As for the part we'll be playing," Tenkai continued, bringing his finger back to Nu Rosinder. "Though nothing has fallen yet, I take it by the pieces on your board that Primaria is also threatened. If that falls, Nu Rosinder is as good as gone. As heavily defended as it may be, I doubt even it would hold against a pincer attack from the north and the south. Half of our forces will head to Primaria to engage Lilith's Paragons. And as for Lilith's main force..." With an emphatic thrust of his finger, Tenkai nearly slammed his armored fingertip into the spot that indicated Parrish. "I need you to advance your forces from Parrish to meet their main force at Nu Delo. It is inevitable that they will face the brunt of the Cult's armies, but at the moment they are still at Nu Delo. It is likely that Nu Delo will be lost by the time your forces reach them, but that may work to your benefit. Fighting them at Nu Delo gives them the advantage by occupying the city, and opens you to being flanked by their northern forces. But if you meet them here at the bend of the coast as they march towards Parrish, you'll create an opening. An opening that I plan to drive our frigate through." With Tenkai's air frigate, the Susano'o, he would be able to approach Lilith's main force from the sea by taking a direct route, such so that even their forces at Hungary would not be able to reach them before the Renovatian military mobilized on their position. From there, he could drive straight into the dark heart of their army, and it was there that the Order of Force Majuere was most capable. "That's complete suicide!" exclaimed one of the strategists. "You mean to throw yourself at the Commander herself?" "I mean to engage her in combat, yes. And I would like it if you could bring two deployment vessels full of your own troops to join me. Once I get into the opening, I'm going to blow that flank wide open, and we'll need enough troops on the ground to form a front. There's also the possibility that their troops at Hungary manage to catch on to our movements and attempt to give chase. We'll need some way of delaying them until your other forces can engage." There was much furrowing of brows and gritting of teeth among the strategists gathered around the PRIME. Tenkai's plan was an incredibly brazen one, but this was a situation in which they had very little recourse. In the midst of a chaotic battlefield where the winds of war could change at any moment, hesitation was like letting your grip fail you while hanging on for dear life in the midst of a crashing tide. It was only by being decisive in their action that they would have any hope in an otherwise hopeless situation. "There is one thing that I must ask of you, Lord Dallas." The PRIME seemed perplexed. Tenkai already asked so much of him already. What more could he possibly want? "Speak." "I want to know what this 'crown' is," said Tenkai. "Is it truly a powerful and dangerous relic, or merely an icon of legendary status? Why would Lilith go to such lengths in order to take it?" Tenkai knew that if James had been here, he would have come up with some cheeky idea to destroy the crown or replace it with a fake, whatever way he could to frustrate the Commander and rob her of her prize even if she burned all of Nu Martyr to ash. He was a bit of an iconoclast, though Tenkai was not that much different. Surely there would be others who felt the same way. "All of this for a stupid crown?" they would say. The difference here was that Tenkai would not be so presumptuous as to assume that the crown was merely a fancy McGuffin. There had to be a reason why someone in charge of a group called the "Cult of Power" would want it. It was clear that Lilith and her subordinates were only interested in increasing their own strength by whatever means possible. If the crown really did have some incredibly dangerous power to it, Tenkai wanted to know. He wanted to know what sort of consequences there would be if Lilith ultimately succeeded. @Ataraxy @Fierach
  5. ---- Dawn Komturie, Fortress of the Order of Force Majeure; 1 week ago "HYYYAAAAAAAAAAAAH!" "EEEEIIIII--!" "HRRAAAGGHHHH!!" Vigorous shouts of effort and strength resounded across the fortress training courtyards as Order aspirants diligently went about their exercises. There were quite a number of them, carrying all manner of practice longswords made of wood, bamboo and blunted steel. From the sleek and subtle curves of Elven design to thick slabs resembling the make of Dwarven or Orcish origin, all the way to common human training foils and bamboo shafts. Students drilled their techiques in unison with weighted rods for endurance while others practiced the specific intricacies of the myriad styles that their masters had brought to the Order. Aspirants of all sizes and shapes sparred against one another, regardless of advantage or class, honing their strengths and learning from their weaknesses. Though there was much different about them all, they were all training in some form of longsword, and all for the same reason: to join the ranks of the newly founded branch of the Order Custodes, the Vanquishers. Not too far away, Order Knight Tenkai Matsumoto watched the aspirants quietly from just outside the training courtyard, pleased with the progress that he saw. It was he who broached the idea of a fourth branch of Custodes with Master Knight James Eredas, one that could strike precisely at high-value targets like the Seekers but with a melee presence focusing on mastery of the sword. These would be the kind of warriors Tenkai could fight alongside as opposed to solely relying on Seekers for cover on the battlefield. Several Custodes among the other branches who possessed their own mastery of the sword took to Tenkai's idea and formed the foundation of the new branch, eager to use their skills in the Order's service and pass that knowledge on to their aspirants. Thanks to this, the Vanquishers had plenty to their number already, and soon the time would come for them to be tested in battle. It seemed that time was to come sooner than he realized. "Sir Tenkai." The swordsman-monk turned his head to the side, where a pair of Seekers and one Vanquisher were standing a few feet away. Turning the rest of the way to receive them, Tenkai could see that one of the Seekers was carrying a missive. An undoubtedly urgent one, he supposed. The Seekers didn't deal in innocuous correspondence. "Yes, go ahead." "We've recently received this missive from a Veluriyam messenger. They were particularly urgent in insisting that this gets into the hands of a Knight." "Very well," said Tenkai, accepting the missive from the Seeker and breaking the wax seal. It was amusing how even in a world and age filled with many impressive technologies, simple means such as parchment and wax seals still had their place. It could very well have been that the wax was enchanted in some way, though, perhaps to make sure it reached the intended recipient. None of that really mattered to Tenkai, however. Especially not after he read the message. The amusement was swiftly drained from him. Having gleaned all that he needed to from he message, he rolled it up and looked back up at the Custodes. "Alert the Custodes and patch me in with Master Eredas. We don't have much time." ---- Nu Martyr, outside the docked Khan-class Cruiser Invictus Nova, present time It had been about a week since Tenkai had received the message. At first he thought there would have been some protest from James at the request to bring the Invictus Nova, the Order's flagship cruiser, to Nu Martyr. After all the trouble they went through in the construction of Tenkai's personal frigate, the Susano'o, Tenkai almost thought James would begrudge a request for even more of the Order's resources. However, it seemed that James trusted Tenkai enough to believe him when he said the threat was dire enough to require them to field a force of this magnitude. At least the kind of magnitude the Order was capable of fielding, that is. Their number was far smaller than that of the vast armies they often found themselves fighting alongside and against, but any nation that had dealt with the Order on either end of the blade knew where their strength laid. It seemed that the Veluriyam Empire knew this as well, or else they would not have wasted precious time and resources reaching out to the Order for aid. In both cases, this is what Tenkai would have considered good fortune. That they would immediately recognize the threat that this "Lilith" and her Cult of Power posed meant a lot less wasted time. He knew he could count on James for that. Indeed, ever since the Symposium, those strange questions proposed by that lone journalist had piqued both his interest and suspicion, and he had since looked into accounts and information regarding the one the cultists referred to as "the Commander." He knew she was a necromancer, and a rather powerful one at that, which was more than enough to draw the eye of a man who was committed to making sure the dead stayed that way. This was not the same kind of necromancer as Perestroika or the Order's Craftsmen. This was was a power much darker than that, and Tenkai didn't need any previous information in order to know this. He could feel it quite clearly. With both the Invictus Nova and the Susano'o docked within the city, getting to the PRIME's palace wouldn't take very long. While the Custodes and other Order personnel made their preparations aboard the cruiser, Tenkai chose four Custodes captains to accompany him, one from each of the four main branches present with him in this endeavor, to accompany him as he sought an audience with Ardon Dallas. Though the Order was here acting on behalf of the Veluriyam Empire as part of the Allied Nations of Terrenus, it was Dallas and Nu Martyr military that he would be assisting. Tenkai admittedly did not know much about the PRIME other than the fact that he had come into possession of an artifact of great power, the very same item that had now literally brought death to his doorstep. If this artifact was so important as to spur Lilith into such brazen action, then one could only wonder what Ardon Dallas intended to do with it. After all, if its power was a mere fabrication, there was nothing stopping him from discarding it for the sake of sparing his city. Was he trying to protect it from the hands of one who would undoubtedly use it to obscenely evil ends? Or was there something else to all of this? One way or another, Tenkai would find out. After all, they were here on behalf of Veluriyam, not the PRIME of Nu Martyr. He had no interest in aiding anyone's ambitions or the selfish pursuit of glory. Even then, his interest was less in the empire's stake in the region and more in preventing such an immense loss of innocent life. To that end, Tenkai wished to see how much of their aims aligned. Once they made it to the front gate, Tenkai and his retinue stopped in front of the guards that stood watch over the entrance, wary of those who would seek out their ruler in the midst of an impending crisis. "I am here to request and audience with PRIME Ardon Dallas regarding the defense of the city," the Knight said as the Custodes Captains stood solemnly behind him. @Ataraxy @Fierach @Twitterpated @Djinn&Juice
  6. @Ataraxy I think the idea I had was to have some dramatic entrance to help turn the tide against an attack. So would I just need to wait for one of the attackers to go first? I mean, then again, with how the defenders outnumber the attackers, it’s unlikely anyone would be unattended to. I guess I could do the whole thing to an NPC army of undead but it’s really hard to work off of things when you need to use someone else’s lore you don’t know about and basically RP with yourself. .w.;;; I guess I’ll start by reading what’s here and seeing if anything clicks.
  7. If we’re defenders and we start in a city by ourselves, does that mean it’s not under attack until someone invades it? Or would we just have to roleplay Lilith’s forces attacking the city apart from the main force led by you? If I have to wait then I could probably just do transitionary stuff and then pop in once Lilith gets closer to Nu Martyr, I guess.
  8. Anyone here with knowledge of Veluriyam/Nu Martyr lore and the situation at hand want to volunteer to play the person who contacts the OFM/Tenkai about what's happening in a quick thread?
  9. I have been summoned. owo If the Order is called then Tenkai will be there.
  10. Ship Travel Turn: 1 For someone who had never traveled through the Warp on a ship like this, Tenkai was preternaturally calm. Calm, but not quite what one would call "good spirits". Not that there was anything particularly gloomy about him for that matter, but more to the point that he wasn't about to prop up his feet and treat this venture like a leisurely cruise on the sea. The severity of the situation, both their current status and the endeavor as a whole, was not lost on him for a moment. He could not allow it to be. Things may have been relatively peaceful for now (as 'peaceful' as it could get, at least), but that could change in an instant, and Tenkai had to be ready to act immediately. So he would remain vigilant. Still, he would not risk the damage to the morale of the Custodes by telling them they could not seek levity. There was nothing wrong with finding ways to cope with the harshness of reality if it helped one move on through the adversity. It was only when it got in the way of readiness and responsibility that it quickly spoiled into delusion. For now, such was not the case, and the Custodes continued to go about their duties. The monk, too, had to shoulder this burden with them. The plan to reduce rations to three-fourths was not at all a problem for Tenkai. Personally, he intended to reduce his own rations by half or less, depending on the day. Tenkai was used to going for long periods without much food, as was often the case for traveling monks. Hunger was a particularly deceptive need that rapidly fluctuated between that which was necessary to survive and that which was purely desire and attachment to food. Reducing his rations wasn't about willfully starving himself like a foolish martyr and more about conditioning himself so that the fine line between sustenance and gluttony was clearer to him. So long as there was little need for intensive physical activity, or rather, so long as they weren't in any combat situation, he could keep himself sustained with a small amount of food and meditation. Living as a wanderer taught him much about how to sleep efficiently. This only seemed to further justify Tenkai's decision not to bring his newly trained Vanquishers with him. More people meant a tighter strain on rations. Although it wouldn't have been a significant margin, every little bit helps. One day along their voyage, the thought of the Vanquishers prompted Tenkai to pay a visit to the armory. It was imperative that everything was kept in order in the event of an attack. Troops needed to be sortied without any delay, and part of making that possible was a well kept armory. Of course, as far as Tenkai was concerned, there was little he could say or do in the way of managing the Custodes' firearms and other forms of projectile weaponry. That wasn't Tenkai's particular area of expertise. But their swords, on the other hand, was a different matter entirely. Though he clearly had his own weapon of choice, he knew enough about the maintenance of blades in general to provide assistance. Yet swords were often a very personal matter, and by and large it would seem that the Custodes were responsible for the maintenance of their own blades. It was likely that some of them preferred to keep their blades at their sides in their own quarters rather than store them in the armory, and the latter ones were the property of the individual Custodes. However, there were auxiliary weapons within the armory meant as back-up arms for proper Custodes as well as armaments for crewmen who were not men-at-arms. Making sure these were well maintained was just as important, and that was exactly what he did. The monk went through the weapon racks, doing a random inspection of every third or fourth blade he came across, or at least any one that managed to hit his eye. One of the blades in particular was a well-crafted longsword of some non-standard make, likely some form of advanced or special class material that made it a grade above mundane weaponry but not quite to the same level as the enchanted or master-crafted weapons that the Custodes were likely to carry. Tenkai could tell by the way the light hit the edge that it was starting to dull a bit, so he put it to a whetstone to sharpen it. Tenkai was no master togishi, but he knew his way around Japanese water stones, and although the ones in the Order's possession were all some sort of special grade from uncommon materials beyond those he was used to normally, they functioned all the same. He would never be able to get the blade as sharp as his Muramasa, but its strikes would be true. +1 Maintain Armory The next day, Tenkai spent most of his time meditating by the bridge, seated with his legs crossed and his sword sheathed in his lap as his fingers interlaced in the Naibaku-in mudra, the Seal of the Inner Binding. There was no din of murmured mantras from his mouth. It was simply silence as the focus of his meditation was turned inward, maintaining the psychic shield of faith that allowed a holy warrior like Tenkai to combat the unspeakable horrors they would most assuredly face. To that end, there was much for Tenkai to contemplate about what effect the Warp would have on him. Or, to be more particular, his eye. The Magatama did more than just allow him to see souls as easily as he saw people. It also put him in between the mortal and spiritual planes simultaneously. To that end, one's psychic presence within the Warp was deeply connected with that of the soul, if not nearly synonymous with it. As long as they remained in the Warp, part of this was moot, as being physically present inside of the Warp was to have one's psychic presence be synonymous with one's physical presence anyway. It was why fighting a daemon within the Warp was just as dangerous for the daemon as it was for the slayer, for to slay a daemon there means a true death. Whether the same logic of "true death" applied to mortals within the warp was hard to say, being creatures of reality that rightly did not belong in such an accursed plane. Suffice it to say, any such fate within the Immaterium likely had consequences so disastrous that a "true death" was little more than a mercy denied to them. That being said, how would the Magatama's sight function in the Warp? How was the spirit world, the Shadowlands, reflected in the Immaterium? Were they connected? Were they one and the same? Or perhaps something entirely separate? Either way, it was less a matter of if his eye would function and more of a matter of how. It could allow him to perceive the Warp with some measure of protection from the madness it could induce by nature of not being a mortal eye. Or it could allow him to see it too differently, possibly magnifying the effect it would have otherwise had on him. Perhaps it had no effect at all. At any rate, Tenkai was content with the fact that the shielding that protected the ship from the Warp also managed to block out and filter what would have been too much of a strain on his psyche, so this was not something imminent he needed to worry about. It was, however, something to prepare for. "Does it help?" Tenkai opened his eye and quietly regarded the voice of the one who had interrupted his meditation. It was one of the Seekers, an elf by first glance of his height, build and (obviously) ears. If the monk was annoyed at the interruption, he did not show it. Truth be told, Tenkai did not care either way. Knowing how to resume meditation and attain clarity quickly was yet another skill, and being so attached to the seclusion of meditation was counter-intuitive. That was part of why he chose not to meditate in his own private quarters. "Pardon?" replied the monk. "Does it help?" asked the Seeker, "Your meditation?" "If it did not, I would be a fool to waste my time doing it. Why do you ask?" The elf had a subtle hint of embarrassment on his face. He did a good job of hiding it, but he couldn't hide it from Tenkai. Elves were a very proud race. Not that humans were incapable of hubris themselves, but elves had a far stronger tendency towards it due to their natural aptitudes and culture. At least, for high elves, this much was certainly true. "Frankly, I've never understood the point of it," he said. "How does one focus the mind by simply doing nothing? Now, don't get me wrong here, I understand it has its virtues but where I come from, the magi always seemed to have some...purpose or direction to their meditation. Circles of power, weaving the Winds and all things of that nature. I can even understand focusing the mind through the lens of knowledge, like reading a book, or perhaps pouring one's focus into one's chores, or perhaps a nice, refreshing session of target practice to hone one's skills. Something, anything that could serve as a means of taking their mind off of the fact that they're sailing through the Immaterium in a giant metal deathtrap off to confront the very stuff of nightmares, but really, how does doing nothing actually help you get through this?" Tenkai said nothing, his eye unflinching save for a few unmoved blinks. The Seeker's words had told him all he needed to know, and he kept that steady, knowing gaze upon him. "Would you like to join me?" Tenkai asked of him. "Yes please," he replied. Taking a seat next to Tenkai, the elf crossed his legs, laying his sword and bow in his lap much like how Tenkai had done with his sword. He did not attempt to copy whatever Buddhist ritualism he thought Tenkai was doing. The Seeker merely folded his arms and lowered his head a bit as he closed his eyes, quietly turning his focus inward. +1 Maintain Morale
  11. Oh, sorry. I had wanted to wait for people who hadn’t posted yet before me, such as those who skipped, but it seems there’s enough material to work with. I’ll post today after work, I figure, but no one wait on me either, especially if @Paroxysm @Ataraxy and @Deus Ex Aizen want to go first. I’ll adjust accordingly by then.
  12. In a way, Tenkai was both relieved and disappointed at the same time. Not in James, but in himself. Tenkai should have known better than to presume the nature of James’ resolve. Even with his willingness to give his life, he would have surely chosen life over death if there was truly a way for him to do so. In this case, it was Tenkai’s responsibility to make sure that option stayed on the table. The Order existed to triumph over Chaos, not die before it. Attempting to predict the gesture, Tenkai put out his hand as James raised his fist for the ubiquitous fist bump. However, Tenkai had actually expected a handshake from James instead, so he found his open hand clasping around the Master Knight’s fist for a brief moment. He pulled his hand back, realizing his error, but if James tried to shake his hand instead, he would just end up tapping fingertips against Tenkai’s fist this time around. Unable to find a way to get in sync with James, the monk’s hand awkwardly shifted phase between open hand and closed fist rapidly until he finally gave up and committed to a safe, passable thumbs-up. Of course, the awkwardness would not end there. Somehow, Tenkai’s words had moved Selene to the point that she would suddenly embrace him, a gesture that the monk was not prepared for. He looked upward, almost incredulous as to what was taking place, arms held outward past Selene as she wrapped her own around him. Taking the moment to think about how best to respond, he merely took one arm and wrapped it around Selene in response, giving her a small pat on the back. “Yes,” Tenkai said, clearing his throat. “Right.” With that matter settled, the awkward fist bump and awkward hug gave way to awkward silence. “I’m...going to get on the ship,” said Tenkai, jutting his thumb at the frigate behind him. As he headed for the frigate, Tenkai thought about whether he should have been going on this mission alone or if he should be accompanied by the new Custodes from the branch that was currently being established at his request. As much as he knew they would fight no matter what enemy laid before them, they were still not yet ready. Most of them were either aspirants in training or former Seekers and Guardians still adjusting to the transition. The most accomplished of them needed to stay behind, protect the Dawn Komturie and train the aspirants. Their time would come, eventually. @Fierach @-Lilium-
  13. One way or another, Tenkai had expected this outcome. It had been some time since he had visited Kadia. His stay was brief, but in that short period of time he had learned enough about Kadian society, even going so far as to meet with the God-Emperor and Goddess-Empress themselves. Though there was much about Kadia that had given him pause, James had stressed that the conclusions they had come to regarding the nature of their society and culture were directly related to their struggles against the forces of Chaos. Resigning himself to the idea that their laws and customs were necessary in order to ensure that the Ruinous Powers never claimed their empire, Tenkai cast the thought from his mind and ceased to question further. Ultimately, Tenkai's fears had proven to be well founded, and Kadia now suffered a fate similar to other nations who faced the same question of how to best deal with the ever-corrupting nature of Chaos. James must have known as much, given the Order's resources as well as whatever history the Eredas family had cataloged. Though the specifics were likely different this time around, there was always a common trend among them that was made clear to him soon after his initial visit to the Imperium. Once more, cruel Fate had played its hand. The monk cursed it as he rested his hand upon Muramasa's hilt. One thing Tenkai knew was different for sure this time was that things had gone so catastrophically bad that the end result was far worse than the mere conquest of a nation by Chaos cults. The very fabric of reality had been torn asunder in Kadia. If left unchecked, the fate of Kadia was the least of the problem. Something of this magnitude threatened the entirety of Valucre itself. There were far worse things than simple warp-spawn within the Immaterium, and if the way was opened wide enough, there was no telling what manner of daemon could claw its way out into real-space. "I can't convince James any better than you can, Sir Tenris," said the monk matter-of-factly. "There's only one thing I can do in this situation." Tenkai knew there was absolutely nothing he could stay that could deter James the moment he set his mind on something. That was why he would have to take a different approach. ------------------------------------------- "Together?" Tenkai made his presence known rather loudly and abruptly as he approached James and Selene during their obviously touching moment of mutual resolve. At first blush, it seemed like the right kind of attitude to have when facing a moment of unparalleled adversity. After all, the bonds of love were stronger than most people gave them credit for, quite often the target of ridicule from more cynical folk. Yet Tenkai was no fool, and his "eye" revealed much more to him than others realized. James vowed to save them, but its core these were little more than words of hope to give Selene peace in the face of something James wholly believed to be suicide. One thing that Tenkai had begun to notice about James through witnessing his exploits was that he possessed a "heroic martyr" complex to almost absurd levels. Tenkai understood selflessness more than anything, but sometimes it felt as if James was simply trying to find ways to get himself killed in a blaze of glory, so long as the emphasis was on the glory. It reminded him of the ideal of the pluperfect, consummate warrior, wanting nothing more than a "warrior's death" on the battlefield and dreading the thought of passing away peacefully of old age. People like that annoyed the ever-loving piss out of Tenkai. "If by 'together' you mean 'die together on the field of battle against impossible odds', then you'll excuse me if I ask you to spare me the drama," Tenkai folded his arms, his tone carrying what could clearly be interpreted as disappointment. "If you really think this is a suicide mission, then you may as well be open about it." By now, James would probably have figured the monk had come here in an attempt to discourage James, just as Tenris had hoped. After all, James never expected Tenkai to throw his life away, knowing full well the threat that the Warp posed. He would probably attempt to remind Tenkai that he was under no obligation to join James in this "fool's death". But the monk would cut him off swiftly. "You are aware, Master Knight, what sort of threat this poses," said Tenkai, "not just to Kadia, but to the entire world." Tenkai shot his eyes towards Selene as he put the emphasis on "Kadia". "You said so yourself. We do what must be done. And something must be done about this, otherwise this whole world is doomed and we'll all be dead anyway. Do you know what I'm getting at here?" Tenkai held his right hand forward and clenched his fist until the finger-plates of his gauntlet ground against each other. "It means that death is not an option! Do not lie to me. I know you're eager to sacrifice yourself to save this world like some damned hero, but if either of you go out into that Warp-blasted mess thinking this a suicide mission, you will die. Together. Done in by your own fixation, be it duty to your nation or your own bull-headed principles." The monk beat his fist against his breast, over his heart, not as some salute at attention, but as a gesture of resolve. "I joined the Order because of our common cause, our common enemy, and the knowledge that there is only so much I can accomplish alone. I cannot allow Chaos to dig its roots into this world as it has others. That is why I must do what needs to be done and join you on this mission. But I am also coming to make damned well sure that you don't start throwing your life away just to find your personal blaze of glory. If we go into that storm, we do so because we believe we can stop it. We know we can." Faith was a powerful thing, especially against the Warp. The Dark Powers that governed the realms of Chaos knew how to find and exploit the tiniest sliver of doubt or uncertainty and turning it against those that opposed them. If any of them believed they would give their lives for the sake of this fight, their beliefs would be made manifest in that realm, be it for good or otherwise. Chaos had its way of perverting the noblest of sacrifices and twisting it in their own image. Though Tenris thought it all to be folly, James himself was no different so long as he knew it was folly and simply didn't care. It was like blindly tumbling off a cliff because he forgot how to fly. For many, death in the face of Chaos and the Warp was simply fate. For Tenkai, fate was yet another foe to be cut down. Breaking away from James and Selene for a moment, Tenkai turned his attention to the Custodes who thus far had thrown their lot in with James. With a flash that streaked through the air, he drew Muramasa from its sheath and pointed it at them. The bewitching sword was incited by the fires of Tenkai's righteous indignation, to the degree that the mere sight of its edge would make one feel as if Tenkai had cut down to the core of their souls. "All of you here understand what we are up against. The danger is immense, that is for certain. No one would fault any of you for opting not to join Master Eredas in this endeavor, and knowing this, you chose to say. Which is why I say to any of you joining because it is simply 'your duty', or because you want that 'glorious death' you feel you deserve, or that you want to show your courage in the face of an 'unwinnable scenario', do me a favor and stay here. For those of you who step aboard that frigate, there is no such thing as an unwinnable scenario. We cannot allow this world to die! No other thought should plague your mind! Otherwise, you may as well all fall on your swords where you stand. Is this understood?" Though Tenkai did not hold the rank of command in the same manner as James, that would not prevent the monk from speaking with utmost earnestness. His words thundered against them with the force of his ki, so that they would know that this was not some empty-hearted pep talk. He was not about to send the Custodes off to die just to clean up the mess Kadia created. They were being sent there to defeat their eternal enemy, and they would do so. Anything else was either hesitation or recklessness, and both would lead to a terrible end. With these words, Tenkai sought to uproot it from their minds and hearts. The monk returned Muramasa to its scabbard as he turned back to face James and Selene once more. It always disappointed the sword to be drawn and sheathed without once drawing blood, yet somehow it felt oddly satisfied by the magnitude of spirit Tenkai had displayed. Though his words would not have the same effect on James or Selene as they would on the Custodes, he trusted they understood his meaning. "Now we can do this. Together." Tenkai reached his hand out to the two of them. Between James and Selene, through arrogant confidence and love, there was much they could accomplish. But with the addition of Tenkai, there was now faith. Truly ironic, it was, for a man of foreign faith to come to the aid of Kadia, of all places. @Fierach @-Lilium-
  14. [ Sits on the rock ] :U Hopefully we don't get too many skips, or else it's gonna come back to me again and I can't hand the baton back to myself. .w.;;
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