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Tenkai Matsumoto

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Tenkai Matsumoto last won the day on August 18 2019

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  1. Tenkai would have crossed his arms at the sight before him had he not wanted to keep one on his sword. Though he meant no harm, he wasn't quite sure the welcoming committee here could say the same, and not just regarding Tenkai and James, either. Seemed as if they meant more harm towards each other than anything else. As much as the one named "Khan Asparuh" intended to extend the olive branch, Tenkai wasn't quite sure how he meant to do that while carrying a grenade. Indeed, Tenkai had noticed something that looked a bit suspicious even before Khan's rather displeased ally pointed it out, but the monk hadn't made anything of it. How was he going to use a grenade on the two of them while walking up so close to them? It was unlikely he planned to blow himself up, so there were clearly other factors at play here. Tenkai's "good eye" went from point to point as he actively assessed their surroundings, barely even moving a muscle in a way that would give anyone the wrong idea about their intentions. Speaking of Khan's ally, who was now pointing his sword at him as if he was anything but, it was likely that he was the one who attempted to disarm Tenkai. James was probably right about it being magnetism or telekinesis, though in practice the two tended to work the same way. Most magnetic-related abilities Tenkai had come across acted less like manipulating magnetic fields and more like an extremely material-specific form of telekinesis. Yet, be it magnetic or telekinetic, a force was still a force, and forces could be opposed. But it was still pretty troublesome to deal with either way. Then there was the other one, the one who seemed to have all the guns pointed at them. He didn't seem too pleased by Tenkai's refusal to give up his weapon, and honestly Tenkai hated that he had to make things so difficult. But the truth was that Tenkai would rather they shoot at him and force his hand than let Muramasa fall into anyone else's hands. This wasn't a matter of pride or material attachment, but because the outcome of the latter would be far more dangerous than the former. "That's fine," replied Tenkai. "I don't blame you. No half measures, correct?" The armed officer seemed like he was even more interested in escalating this encounter than either of his allies. Indeed, if they decided to open fire on the two of them, they would absolutely be "fixin'" to have themselves a problem. Unlike his hosts, however, Tenkai had no intention of escalating this, and had no problem telling the lot of them who he was. But telling them such seemed a bit difficult when they were so eager to threaten them. Luckily, someone else had taken a step forward to ease the tensions. Having bayonets ready was certainly a lot less threatening than being held at gunpoint. The fact that the soldiers obeyed his commands clued Tenkai in that this was one of their commanding officers. Well, commanding officer to a good chunk of them at least. Not all of them were wearing the same uniform, so it appeared as if this was some multi-national response to the portal that had opened. Valucre was clearly not the only place to have this kind of a reaction to outrageous phenomena. So far, this officer appeared to be the most reasonable out of the lot of them, though undoubtedly still wary of their guest's intentions. Tenkai did not fault any one of them for their level of distrust. He had learned those same lessons the hard way, and if their situation had been reversed he would have been similarly distrustful. He would have executed it far differently, of course, but distrustful all the same. And thus did Tenkai's attention return to the other commanding officer, the masked knight who appeared to be calling the shots with this encounter. James was already addressing her and answering her questions, and she was likely the one that the marshal had wanted them to answer in the first place. Tenkai listened to their exchange, taking note of the details as they came. She identified herself simply as "Addison", and that the lands they had found themselves in had no name. Certainly an unusual piece of information. How did they know where to go if the location had no name? Knowing where to go implied they had a map, and a map meant that this was discovered territory. Did the explorer who found it never opt to give the land a name? Or was this previously undiscovered territory that they ventured to once they found the portal? If that was true, then they were clearly advanced enough to detect spatial anomalies. With Addison stepping close enough to extend a hand to James, Tenkai was able to give her a closer look. The first thing that hit him was the mask that she wore. It was awfully similar to a mask that James liked to wear all the time...at least until he got that helmet made, that is. The monk had no idea why James was still wearing it, at this point. Sure, it would be helpful in the event that someone started shooting at him, but if he was worried about that then he probably should've brought his weapons, too. Despite his capability without one, if their intention was to show they meant peace, perhaps he should've taken it off by now. Then again, James was also being irritatingly cryptic, to the point that Tenkai wouldn't be surprised if the Master Knight was trying to flirt with her. He was lucky that Selene had not been present at the experiment, or else she would have ran into the portal alongside James and make this twice as awkward. At any rate, their hosts were clearly military, and despite Tenkai's disdain for overly-regimented decorum, he still had at least some sense of professionalism. A professional thorn-in-the-side, but a professional nonetheless. "My name is Tenkai Matsumoto, swordsman of Yagyū Shinkage-ryū and Knight of the Order of Force Majeure," said Tenkai. "Pleased to meet you," he deadpanned, with a sideways nod of his head. @Fierach@Phoebe@Agent Knockout@Xoco@Hawk@Jack Howard
  2. For a moment, the sword sheathed at the monk's side began to rattle at the hilt, but it was at that point that Douglas would be met by unforeseen resistance. That fancy-looking high-tech scabbard wasn't just for show, it seemed. Something about it was causing interference with his attempt to steal the sword or otherwise pry it from his person. In fact, if such were even possible, he'd get the strangest feeling that all he was doing was making the sword irritated. A nonsensical notion, truly, for swords could not feel such emotion. And yet that same uncanny feeling one felt when they thought someone was getting annoying was clearly coming from that sword in very uncomfortable ways. The monk seemed to sense this as he laid his left hand on the blade, the span of his palm running parallel to the hilt as if to show he was not trying to grip it with intent to draw it upon them. By now they had been heavily surrounded by all manner of weaponry and personnel, their present company likely alarmed long in advance by the opening of the portal. With how long the gateway had been opened, it was likely they had been just as afraid of something unfriendly coming out of it as they had been not so long ago. Accounting for any sort of time dilation, they could have been dealing with the sudden unexpected portal for much longer than they had. In a way, their apprehensive response was probably warranted. No point taking chances with the unknown. Suffice to say, they were never going to get anywhere with a silent stand-off, so the monk thought it was best that he break the silence. "I don't know which one of you is trying to pull tricks here, but I suggest you quit wasting your time," the monk said aloud, sternly. "I am not relinquishing my weapon." The swordsman paused for a moment to let that sink in, gauging their reaction. Perhaps that would clue him in as to who was trying to oh-so-subtly disarm them, not that such would seem to apply to his counterpart. It would also give him a better read as to who their present company was. So far it had all been a mess of mixed messages. Some seemed eager to welcome them, but the vast majority of them had them at gunpoint asking them to stick-'em-up like they had just been caught breaking and entering. Of course, from a certain perspective, perhaps they were in the most literal sense. At least if by "breaking" you meant the fabric of space-time. Much as Tenkai would have accepted the closest thing to a warm welcome they had thus far, he would leave the matter of introductions to James, choosing instead to acknowledge Khan with a nod before speaking. "We have no quarrel with you. We can explain how we accidentally ended up here, but I'd feel a lot more comfortable getting into that if we weren't being held at gunpoint."
  3. Tenkai groaned internally. Here we go... James was nothing if not confident, albeit with the needle swaying a bit too far into overconfidence for Tenkai's liking. Of course they'd kill whatever daemon the portal had spat out at them, that was the entire point of the Order. But that didn't mean they had to go about making it easier for the daemons. If any good could come of this whole mess, it would be finding a way to use the stone to close rifts that they otherwise couldn't close through conventional means. They wouldn't be figuring any of that out if their experimentation had gone awry. Admittedly, this risk was currently not on the table right now. After all, if they had actually opened raw, unfiltered portal straight into the Warp, simply looking at the thing would have been dangerous. If the readings were true, then daemons were out of the question. Tenkai continued to let James have his moment, but his face wrinkled at the whole "I know nothing of defeat" cliché. Perhaps several years earlier a kinder, gentler Tenkai would have understood or even found the concept admirable. But times had changed, and the last shred of the monk's youthful optimism had been cut out of him along with his right eye. It was one thing to say decisively that you will not be defeated, but it was a completely different thing to have it force yourself into ignorance of its possibility. It was true that thoughts of defeat led to doubt. Doubt was a fixation that led to hesitation, and hesitation was the death of any warrior. But that was only true within the heat of battle, where the the body needed to act unfettered by thought. While they were physically abiding, their minds needed to be on the attack, and considering possible unfavorable outcomes was key to avoiding them. Trying to shut the portal while they were on the other side was simply not the best way to handle it. And yes, the Order sought to defend any world in need, and the threats they faced endangered more than just the worlds they came from. That much was a given. But it also stood to reason that they couldn't just waltz into another world and act like it was their jurisdiction. Heroes were just warriors forged through circumstance. They did what they did because they had to, and it was up to those they aided to decide whether they put their faith in them. They also needed to be practical about what they were able to accomplish at their current strength. Even if they could reach every world in the known cosmos, the Order was still only comparable to a paramilitary company in size. Elite as they may have been, there were already threats to Valucre that the armies of whole nations struggled against while they helped to turn the tide. They wouldn't be able to guard anything if they ended up stretched too thin. And yet, even still, Tenkai understood that James would not be deterred if he knew something was important enough. Indeed, Tenkai did remember the statement that James had made. Despite not being on the mission, he was present for the debriefing. He could not fault James for wanting to pursue something important to him any more than he could himself. Tenkai knew all too well how much the rules changed when things became personal. Dealing with ghosts of past betrayal and going on pilgrimages for the sake of his own cursed sword were testament to that. Sometimes where were just things you simply knew had to be done. "You should trust me more Tenkai. For a monk, you have very little-" "Save it, James," the monk shot back. "I said I was going with you." Tenkai didn't need to prepare any further than he already had been since the outset. After all, he wasn't exactly planning to stay the night wherever the hell this thing led to. He waited for James to take the first step, knowing that whatever waited for them on the other side was for him to take point on. But Tenkai was barely even a step behind, advancing from his left as he took the leap alongside James. On the other side of the portal... Following immediately after the first figure passing through the portal was a second one, landing at his left side in a crouch. The stranger stood up, appearing equally as outlandish as the first, though clearly some sort of warrior. His partially-armored body had plates and design similar to that of a samurai, or whatever similar class or job existed on their world. But the few pieces covering his shoulder, right arm and from his knees to his shins were probably unlike even those that they were familiar with, stylized by the modern technology that made it. The single shoulder guard he wore had its main plate carved in the likeness of some wrathful, fanged deity. His armor was worn over some type of clothing, a half-worn top that exposed the form-fitting bodysuit of an unfamiliar jet-black fabric that he wore under everything. A peculiar-looking large-beaded rosary was strapped across his chest like a bandolier. A dark gray waist cape hung from a silvery utility belt, with a Japanese sword housed in a device that could only be described as some outlandish high-tech scabbard was anchored to the left side of his belt at the hip. Unlike his counterpart, this stranger did not wear a helmet concealing his face. His only piece of headgear was an eyepatch fashioned from the disc guard of a small Japanese sword. Despite it being far less ornate than the helmet, it was nonetheless one of the more striking aspects of his countenance. Even with the patch covering his presumably missing eye, one could not help but feel that he was still looking at all those present through it regardless. He glanced around his surroundings warily, his bodysuit-clad left hand resting on the scabbard at his hip. He made no threatening gesture to reach for his weapon, aware that being the only one among them to be visibly armed would be enough cause for concern until those around him knew that he had no quarrel with them. "Seems like we have quite the reception." "Indeed."
  4. "Unexplored territory!?" replied Tenkai, "That's a bit of an understatement, James! For all you know the damned thing leads straight into the Warp!" James said "unexplored territory" as if he knew there was even land on the other side to walk on. There was no way of knowing whether there was anything even remotely safe about whatever was to be found on the other side of the portal. Yet James kept speaking as if they had already made the plunge head-first inside of it when neither of them had even taken the first step. The safer bet was to focus on finding some way to shut it down safely. Despite Tenkai's concerns, he did not doubt the expertise of the researchers the Order had put their trust into. When they started saying the portal was stable, that was at least one less thing to worry about. Not needing to worry about any suddenly collapsing interdimensional wormholes was a lot taken off his shoulders. Besides, it was unlikely the portal would be stable if they had somehow ripped a hole through realspace and into the Immaterium. Either that, or the artifact was simply so powerful that it could achieve a feat as great as perfectly stable warp travel. Even though the readings showed the other side as habitable, there was still no telling what was there on the other side. It seemed as if James had done so much preparation to discover what the stone was capable of that he did not consider what they were going to do after that. Perhaps he didn't need to consider it if his conclusion was to be such a simple one. "Stroll on over!?" Tenkai said, stepping forward until he stood beside James right before the portal. "Have you lost your mind? Hospitable or not, we still don't know who or what is beyond that portal. And now you want to 'shut it from the other side'? Do you want to strand yourself on a completely different world?" Wouldn't that be something? They were already Outsiders on Valucre, and past that point James would be an Outsider once removed. Who knows? Maybe he'd end up starting yet another Order if he ended up stranded on another world. Imagine that! Suffice it to say, Tenkai was tired with simply "not being happy" with all this nonsense. He couldn't just sit back and let James do something so drastic. Yet Tenkai knew nothing was going to stop James from doing something, and he wasn't keen on standing there waiting to see what happens. "If you're so hellbent on going in there, I'm going in too," said Tenkai. "If only to keep you from pulling some inane self-sacrifice stunt while we still haven't had time to understand this thing."
  5. 'A friend of mine', she says. Not suspicious in the slightest. Regardless of how she procured the blade, there was the matter of it being a "weird thing" that concerned him, or more particularly whatever was cursing it. Far be it from him to tell anyone they could not make use of swords that had some form of magical misfortune attached to it. He'd be quite hypocritical otherwise. But not all cursed swords were equal, nor was the level of control their wielder had over it. That being said, the halls of Dawn Komturie were not the safest of places for discussing this matter. Tenkai had thought about bringing it to the research area, but an apprentice knight such as Shishi would not be granted access. Given the purported nature of the weapon she wished to show him, it was probably best suited to one of the indoor training facilities and special armories set aside for the Custodes Vanquishers. Being the Knight in question that proposed their formation in the first place, Tenkai had far more familiarity with the layout of the training hall and other protocols. There was even an area set aside for his own training, which very much included whatever guidance he sought to provide aspirants or mutually honing his skills alongside the Vanquisher Captains. With the Vanquisher armories housing several swords of various level of enchantment, they would be well equipped for dealing with another cursed sword. "Follow me," said Tenkai, leading Shishi over to the Vanquisher's quarters. Most aspirants seeking to put their swordsmanship to use as Vanquishers tended to train outside in one of the open air training grounds, instructed by a senior Custodes or even a Captain. Tenkai believed fresh air was far better for training than an indoor training hall, but there were certainly benefits to having training areas secured by the Komturie's walls and away from prying eyes. It was here that higher-ranking Vanquishers conducted their own training and went about their business while not out on assignment. It was here where they trained in the use of their ensorcelled blades, combining their various schools of swordsmanship with the utilization of their weapons' abilities, cursed or otherwise. On the way inside, the two of them would pass by one of the Custodes Vanquisher captains, by the name of Richter Kreuz. A former Custodes Seeker, he was appointed to Captain of the newly founded Vanquishers after showing an interest and displaying his capability as a swordsman before both Tenkai and Master Knight Eredas. He appeared to be human based on general height and build, but that was all that would allow Shishi to make that judgement. Not a single hint of his body was exposed, covered by leather and steel plate, with a magitek helm fitted with an augmented tactical lens and filtration apparatus. He shouldered a sheathed Type XIIIa longsword with a notably less-traditional hilt, likely yet another form of magitek. Besides enchanted or cursed swords, the Vanquishers also made extensive use of technological advancements as part of their kit, though not before going through the research department for approval. Tenkai nodded to the ever-watchful captain. "Captain Kreuz." "Sir," he replied. Richter was a man of few words, unless necessary. Some Custodes believed he was horribly disfigured under his helmet and opted to speak as little as possible. But his breathing didn't sound labored at all despite the air filtration. Perhaps he simply opted to stay in his armor for privacy? "We're here to use the demonstration room today in order to assess Apprentice Knight Shishi's new sword." "Very well. The room is empty. Aspirants are training above ground today. Just try not to break anything not made to be broken." "Understood," said Tenkai, passing the captain and into the wide, circular demonstration area. The demonstration room was relatively closed off compared to the other sections of the Vanquishers' training area. It was lined with reinforced plating and a containment hatch as opposed to the smooth, dark granite interior in the rest of the area. This was to prevent any structural damage that may be caused by combining the power of certain enchantments with a Custodes' swordsmanship. Despite these measures, one could tell by the scuffs and streaks on the regularly maintained walls that some damage was harder to completely repair without fully replacing the plating, and something so resilient didn't come cheap. That was why certain magic and technology had to go through research first before being brought here. But unless Shishi had a cursed sword that exploded every time she swung it, it was hardly worth going through the trouble of getting approval when all she was looking for was Tenkai's insight. "Alright then," he said. "Show me." Tenkai looked at the sword carefully, finding nothing particularly striking about its blade or scabbard from the outside. It seemed like a typical hand-and-a-half sword, and perhaps to anyone unable to sense the flow of magic it would seem like little more than an ordinary sword. But psykers like Tenkai were more sensitive to aetheric flow than others, and he knew soon after gazing upon it that this was no ordinary weapon. There was a powerful magic woven into the blade, and whatever it was seemed...uncomfortable. Tenkai couldn't quite put his finger on why, though. It was a very strange sort of discomfort, too muted for him to fully recognize, yet disturbingly familiar in the worst possible way. "You may draw the blade," said Tenkai with a small amount of trepidation hidden under his serious tone of voice. @Zashiii
  6. Shishi would have little problem stopping Tenkai for a moment to speak with him. After all, she was the one he was on his way to see. He didn't know what she wanted with him, only that she had put in the memo for it and that it seemed to be important business. For someone who was so relatively new to the Order, he was surprised she had actually gotten his name right. For some people, foreign tongues were not so easy on their actual tongues. Numerous aspirants had accidentally called him "Tankai" or "Tenkei", "Tankie" and sometimes even "Tenaki". One time someone simply called him "Ten Kites" and Tenkai couldn't tell for the life of him whether it was a joke or not. It felt almost as if people were better at remembering his last name more than anything. "Yes. Shishi, right?" Tenkai quickly replied. "I was looking for you." When Shishi explained her inquiry, Tenkai's expression darkened a bit. He'd have found the irony humorous if it didn't remind him of a rather recent episode involving a particular cursed sword that was none too pleasing to remember. He would not refuse her inquiry, but the nature of it made Tenkai rather wary. He folded his arms across his chest, already expecting the worst. "I may know 'a thing or two'. Go on." @Zashiii
  7. Tenkai was not happy about this. Not one bit. Of course, Tenkai "not being happy" about something James wanted to do had been such a common recurrence that it was practically a cliché by now. Nevermind the fact that he was not quite comfortable with the idea of pursuing an artifact with seemingly absolute control over the concept of space. Oh no, that was the least of it, now. Now James wanted to use the damned thing! And for what? To open a portal? Why? Why even use it? Understanding it had its benefits, but if they weren't going to destroy it to prevent the myriad of malefactors who called Valucre their sprawling grounds from using it, then why not seal it away somewhere secluded and...well...likely not in the middle of a giant city. Tenkai knew full well what happened when immensely powerful and ambitious adversaries were dead-set on claiming an item stowed away in the depths of a heavily populated area. Nu Martyr was testament to that. Still, if more stones such as these existed and, more importantly, had fallen into the wrong hands, it was probably in their best interests to have capable weapons of their own. After all, that was the reason Tenkai had agreed to outfitting the Susano'o with its own superweapon, the Totsuka WMG Mk. I. But these stones were on a completely different playing field than a massive beam cannon. Even when you used it correctly there were still inherent dangers involved. Truth be told, Tenkai would not have threatened to fire the researcher for coming up with the idea. Both scientific and sorcerous minds were often wont to explore the possibilities of newly discovered phenomena, and their freedom to do so was how they developed the magitek the Order so frequently used. It was far simpler to just forbid experimentation deemed too risky. The fact that James, well known for taking the very same risks, was so quick to reconsider for the sake of investigating the stone made Tenkai feel like the initial threat was a knee-jerk reaction. Mayhap between the events of the Harrowing of Kadia and his fated trip to secure this very stone had started giving James a burgeoning sense of caution that was infinitely at odds with his inner nature. Tenkai wished it had been more than just burgeoning. So there the warrior monk stood, dressed in his battle-garb, fully clad in a form-fitting armored bodysuit with heavier plates on his shins, right arm and right shoulder. For now, he was fairly calm but certainly uneasy, not reaching for his sword housed in its mechanical sheath by his hip, opting to simply fold his arms while he oversaw the experiment beside the Master Knight. As the operation began to commence, he thought of all of the countermeasures they put in place. All of the Custodes at the ready, every rune and ward carefully in place, every defensive turret within firing distance of the experiment trained on this makeshift warehouse. And all Tenkai could imagine was that they'd end up tearing a hole in realspace and having a Daemon Prince crawl its way out of the Warp, and all of their protections would be useless. "This is a very bad idea," Tenkai said, loud enough for James to hear him. Not very long after... "Good grief," said Tenkai, gripping the magitek scabbard of his sword, no enemy in sight yet but still heightened with alarm. "I knew something like this was going to happen!" The experiment appeared to be a success. Too much of a success. With the portal self-sustained, it didn't need to be supplied with energy to keep it operational. While it was certainly wonderful news for the Order's finances and resources, it was basically the worst case scenario. They had opened a portal to who-knew-where, and they couldn't shut the damned thing off. Even if there was a way to shut it down, self-sustaining didn't mean stable. Tenkai had heard tale of the absolutely catastrophic effects a collapsing portal could wreak upon the worlds on either end of them. They had to get control of it immediately, and yet Tenkai knew full well that attempting to control it could end up very badly for them if it went wrong. "We shouldn't have disconnected the stone before figuring out how to close the portal," said Tenkai. Though not a mage himself by any real standard, he was not unlearned in the ways of magical phenomena. "If this artifact is as strong as you say, the only way we'll shut this down safely is through the stone itself." Tenkai kept his eyes on the portal, hand hovering over the hilt of his blade, half expecting daemons or some other inter-dimensional threat to come pouring through any minute. "I don't suppose any of you have any ideas on how to do that??" he exclaimed loudly over the thrum of the azure maelstrom of energy before them all, his head turned in the direction of their researchers and magitek engineers despite the lock of his single-eyed gaze.
  8. It was darker than he had remembered. Perhaps not as dark as the time before, when Muramasa had not yet accepted Tenkai as its master. The monk remembered how it was, a pitch black morass whose darkness had been broken by a single roiling pool of blood that emanated a baleful light. Now, his surroundings were that of a foggy grey mire and a brackish pool that lacked its former crimson luster. Within the pool he saw the terrifying form of Muramasa, the soul of the blade itself, waist deep in the mire, manifesting as an imposing armored gashadokuro (giant skeleton yokai) with a wild mane adorning its horned kabuto. Tenkai remembered when he first saw the spirit, so full of fury and bloodlust so strong he could literally drown in it. But now, Muramasa seemed pensive, reflective. Brooding, even. It was very unlike the bloodthirsty spirit born of the unhinged mind of the swordsmith that forged it. “Why do you languish so?” Tenkai asked. In an instant, Muramasa sparked to life like brush set aflame, two searing violet red orbs of light burning within its eye sockets. The mire lit up with its rage with that familiar crimson light as the spirit thrashed in the bloody pool, raising its skeletal arm as bone and armor fused and reformed into the shape of a massive sword blade in place of its hand and forearm. With frightening speed the spirit brought the massive sword crashing down towards Tenkai, striking the ground barely a foot or to his left as the monk looked up at it impassively. “YOU!,” bellowed the spirit in a voice that rattled through Tenkai’s bones. “HOW COULD YOU LET THIS HAPPEN? You, swordsman of the ‘invincible’ Shinkage-ryu??” “You mean at Nu Martyr?,” said Tenkai. “You LOST!” roared Muramasa. “We lost,” replied Tenkai. The sword roared out in anger and smote the ground again, it’s strike erupting in a wave of pure fury that laid waste to the bleak, empty surroundings around it. Tenkai could feel the weight of the sword’s fury crash down upon him despite its hateful stroke missing him by mere inches. For as much as the sword seethed at the monk for what had transpired, it could not strike him down. Because Tenkai was right. They had failed, and now all of Nu Martyr suffered for it. “‘Should you on your journey cross paths with a god, they will be cut down’,” said Tenkai, repeating old words that had now seemed to have lost their meaning. “‘Should you encounter a devil, they will be cut down.’” “Why have you come here, monk? Do you mean to mock me?” “No. I came to understand. I grew far too comfortable with the knowledge that no immortal could stand before us unopposed. Every vampire and daemon I cut down only reinforced this complacency. Now I know that I was wrong, and that I know very little about your true power. That is why I have sought you out.” Muramasa paused. This was the first in any of their encounters that Tenkai had sought out the spirit of the sword for insight. Their relationship had always been a rather precarious one, with Muramasa seeming more like a caged animal kept in check by its owner than a peer. One would have thought there to be a better communion between sword and swordsman in their case. Unlike previous fools who sought to wield its power, Muramasa had long ago ceased wasting its effort attempting to dominate Tenkai’s will. Despite the strength of the monk’s mental fortitude preventing it, the insatiable sentience within the blade found itself amused by and curious of the further development of its master and his seemingly adamantine will. Every painful misfortune and cruel betrayal that had chipped away so much of what Tenkai once was had been experienced by the sword as well. There was undoubtedly some sort of bond between them, unconventional as it may be. There had even been times they actually functioned like a team. Yet every effort Tenkai had spent learning or training was done alongside Muramasa, not under. Only one other moment between them could have possibly compared, and it was a memory that Tenkai surely wished not to relive. But this time was different. This was not a moment of duress, in the middle of a desperate battle where Tenkai had no choice but to open himself up to the sword’s influence. This was a moment of reflection, the calm after the storm had passed, leaving a vulnerable man in search of answers. Muramasa should have been able to squash his doubt-ridden psyche and flood his body with its own single-minded bloodthirst, but it couldn’t. Was this the strength of humility? “Hmph,” the sword sneered, “You waste your time, monk. Lest you forget, I am a sword. I exist for no reason other than to cut. To rend and rive and glut myself on the fresh gore caked on my edge. What would I know of my own power other than that which drives my purpose?” “There has to be something more to it than simple desire,” said Tenkai in frustration. “No. It is that simple,” said a voice, echoing throughout the mental space within the sword as if coming from all directions at once. “Yet that is not the whole story.” Tenkai snapped alert, but not awake. He was still in his meditative trance. This was not a matter of external stimuli. There was an unknown voice coming from within that same state of meditation. But who could it be? Whoever it was, it seemed that even the sword’s spirit was confused by this development, and also none too pleased about it. “Who DARES intrude into my inner sanctum?” roared the spirit, its eyes gleaming in rage, “I WILL SPLIT YOU IN TWO!” From the mists of the mire emerged a figure, a pale phantom in the shape of a gaunt old man dressed in the ancient robes of a Japanese swordsmith from an era long before Tenkai was born. Deep within the sword’s own realm, it was difficult for Tenkai to correctly ascertain whether or not he was a ghost or some other foreign consciousness psychically attuned to the blade as he was, but ultimately that did not matter. It was functionally the same either way, and the way that the old man’s form flickered and wavered like that of a wisp of flame led Tenkai to believe the former. The sword’s spirit snapped its gaze in the intruder’s direction, and without skipping a beat it would swing it’s massive blade arm around to strike down the unwanted visitor. Yet the blade stopped short as swiftly as it would have been if it had been impeded by an opposing blade. At first it looked like the phantom was repelling the blade without even lifting a finger, yet the way Muramasa’s blade arm trembled almost made it seem as if it was halted out of fear and bewilderment over the phantom’s presence. In fact, it was both. “YOU...HOW? WHAT ARE YOU...DOING HERE???” Muramasa’s blade flew back as if it had been parried as the spirit collapsed, clinging to the rim of its bloody pool. It trembled with frustration, cowed to submission by the mere presence of the other spirit that found itself within its mental space. “A voice called to me in search of answers,” said the other spirit, his voice strikingly familiar to Tenkai. The more he spoke, the closer Tenkai came to putting it together. “Somehow strong enough to echo through Yomi-no-kuni to summon me here.” Of course, thought Tenkai. The Magatama of Soul Sight. With his body fixated in both the physical and spirit worlds, it stood to reason that acts of meditation would have additional effects he had not been previously used to in the past. Tenkai’s intent on learning from Muramasa had reverberated through the fabric of the spirit world, summoning the spirit of… “Sengo Muramasa,” Tenkai uttered. The spirit looked puzzled, his senses dulled like he would have been if he were still a living, breathing human affected by his clearly old age. Of course, spirits of the dead were not hampered by the degradation of their mortal coils. It was more likely that the spirit’s clarity was muddled by the tenuous nature of this unintentional seance. The spirit’s empty eyes slowly widened as his brow quirked. ”Is that you, Jubei?” Tenkai was taken aback. Muramasa was surely referring to Yagyu Jubei Mitsuyoshi, the famous swordsman that long preceded Tenkai in the school of Shinkage-ryu. While there was absolutely no relation at all between them besides the art, Tenkai’s hand unconsciously reached for his eyepatch. Clearly the iconic accessory had given him a passing likeness in the old man’s hazy eye. “You are mistaken. I am Matsumoto Tenkai, a swordsman of Yagyu Shinkage-ryu. I know not how I managed to-” “Shinkage-ryu?” repeated the swordsmith, “Ahh...I see then. Perhaps this is where I see the resemblance. You thought it was the eyepatch, didn’t you?” Tenkai did not answer. Instead, he pressed the question he had originally intended. “I am trying to understand the nature of Muramasa’s power. All I know is that it can mortally wound those considered immortal. How is it possible to create a blade with such power?” The old spirit rubbed his chin, the wrinkled “flesh” of his corpus shifting with it as the massive form of the sword’s spirit still struggled to press itself up. It made no effort to further harm the spirit of its creator, cowed into disbelief over the sight of him inside its own mental space. Was this some sort of trick Tenkai was playing upon him? “Oh? You summoned me here to learn my secrets? I would teach you, but unfortunately I am dead, as it seems.” Tenkai’s expression went flat. Was the spirit trying to be humorous? “No, I don’t wish to-” Muramasa held up his hand. “I understand. I will enlighten you. The Yagyu swordsmen have proven themselves worthy of my trust.” He went on to explain… “In a work of art, one can see the soul of the artist. This is not merely flowery words. The soul of a craftsman is embedded in his work during the process of creation. Pieces and fragments of our spirits exist within each one of our creations. Over time and use, it develops into its own unique essence. That is the soul, the kami of the sword.” The spirit looked over to the giant, armored skeletal yokai mired in the pool of blood. Tenkai figured that Muramasa was referring to it, then. It must have been why Muramasa’s voice was so familiar to him. The idea that Muramasa, the sword-spirit, was the “kami” of this sword reminded Tenkai of tsukumogami, ordinary objects and tools that came to life after a hundred years. There was probably some common link between the phenomenon, but there would be time to ruminate on that later. “When I was still among the living, my spirit was never at peace,” he said, his voice echoing with a deep regret. He didn't seem any more at peace now, despite being dead. “So great was my yearning to achieve perfection in my craft, to forge blades surpassing even those of Gorō Nyūdō Masamune hundreds of years before me. I went mad with obsession, wanting nothing more than to create the sharpest of blades, blades that could cut down any enemy. That obsession turned into a thirst for blood that passed into my work. And so they became weapons of great misfortune. The end of my life was filled with great despair and regret, and thus, I could not pass on to the Pure Land.” So far, the spirit’s words answered many questions. The spirit of Muramasa was a fragment of his own soul, and its insatiable thirst for blood was but an aspect of his troubled spirit. “I see. Then the power of the sword…” “An edge is honed by more than just stone. The spirit hones it as well. My madness sharpened the edge of my swords to a point that at the zenith of my art they could sever the very threads of fate and smash apart the wheel that spun them.” “Threads of fate?” Now it was clear. Like the shears of Atropos, the cursed sword severed the fate that bound an immortal to their own immortality, leaving them with wounds no different than any mortal. That being said, it should have worked...unless his opponent somehow existed outside of fate itself, and was thus absent from its weave. A powerful necromancer versed in magics that defied the natural order could possibly have been capable of such, but that would be unlike any form of necromancy Tenkai had ever experienced. Of course, Lilith Reiter was unlike any necromancer Tenkai had ever faced, and there was far more he had yet to understand about her. It wouldn’t surprise him at all if this was the case, though that was not something Muramasa could answer for him. “Why do you wish to know this? By your appearance, you seem to be a Buddhist monk. Even one such as you who practices the art of kenjutsu should loathe this terrible misfortune.” Tenkai paused for a moment, trying to think about how he could best answer the question. “For many years, I have used your work to fight for the sake of others. To kill the evil of one in order to save a thousand. In my journeys I encountered a foe beyond even the sword’s power, and I knew not why. I can now only surmise that my enemy was beyond fate itself.” The old ghost grew pensive as the spirit of his creation rumbled with discomfort over Tenkai’s brief recollection. For a moment, Tenkai felt like his search for knowledge would end here. How could a man who died several centuries ago in a world so far removed from Valucre know any solution to Tenkai’s situation? “Perhaps if this sword had its name, your story would be different.” Tenkai was confused by these words, but the sword-spirit perked up its head in realization of something deeply troubling. “Name?” asked Tenkai. “I had always referred to it as Muramasa, but…” “All of my works, especially the most renowned, have been meito. They are named blades. My blades all carry my name as any other would carry that of their swordsmith, but they have proper given names I have provided them. Or at least most of them…” He pointed a gaunt, bony finger at the spirit. “I remember you. I remember all of my works. You were one of my last works, made just before I swore off creating instruments of death in an oath made before the Buddha. Just before I could finish carving the mei on the nakago (signature on the tang), I was so overwhelmed by the evil I had created that I crossed it out in rage. I had become a demon, creating demon blades...and I swore to never do so again.” The spirit of the sword trembled with rage, like a feral beast that had been abused by its owner. It was filled with passing memories, or at least the equivalent of such to an object such as itself, being cast aside by he who created it. It wished to dash the shriveled old phantom to pieces, but strangely managed to stay its rage. “You never noticed this?” "I...had not," replied Tenkai. Of all the times he had cleaned the blade and removed it from its fittings, he had kept the naked steel of the tang bound with seals inscribed into the very gauze he handled it with. Outside of its koshirae, the blade’s influence was too great and too dangerous to be left unchecked. Tenkai had never seen the signature, or the crossed-out name. “I can tell that by wielding this sword, over time and use, its spirit has been refined,” Muramasa continued. “Your soul is the whetstone on which it is honed, and I know that a swordsman of the Yagyu is more than capable of realizing its potential. If you could somehow hone its spirit further, perhaps you could rediscover its name, and unlock a potential that surpasses my own art.” “But you said you remembered every blade you created. Can you not tell me its name?” Muramasa shook his head. “I remember every blade I created, but I do not remember the name of your sword. I cast it aside in my despair, and through the many years since my death there is barely a flicker of memory. I do not know if I remember any other names of my works...only the pain and madness of their creation…” Tenkai’s face furrowed with sorrow. It seemed as if he had already asked too much of an old spirit roused from his eternal slumber. “I thank you from the bottom of my heart,” said Tenkai, bowing deeply to the old ghost. “I will not waste the wisdom you have given me.” “I know you will not. I wish I could have spoken longer with you, swordsman of Shinkage-ryu, for I know quite little of you. But I am tired, and I feel the maw of Yomi pulling me back. I must rest...must...rest…” The image of Muramasa’s ghost faded, his voice leaving little more than a fading echo. Just as he began to fade, the frustrated and tumultuous spirit of the blade burst forward, scrambling from its pit in an attempt to grab the old man. “No...NO!! You GET BACK HERE, YOU MISERABLE OLD MAN! YOU PATHETIC, WITHERED HUSK! I REMEMBER! I REMEMBER WHAT YOU TOOK FROM ME!!!” With the spirit of Muramasa gone, the sword could only curse the void. Deep within the emptiness of its inner world, the agonized spirit roared out with such fury and pain that the gloomy sky roiled with storm clouds. Fissures cracked outward from its pit, spewing hot red geysers of blood that burned bright like neon red lava. Baleful arcs of lightning streaked across the sky. Tenkai felt the need to run, as if there was even an exit for him to run to. Yet the moment he felt that intense urge to flee, the stress of it forced him awake. He gasped, falling forward onto his hands to keep himself from collapsing. He was back in his sealed quarters within Dawn Komturie, sprawled over the sword he just now been meditating over. The blade seethed with such a storm of furious emotion that Tenkai could feel it even though he was now out of meditation. The cry of the blade echoed in his mind, still so clear, so full of anger and...sadness? Regret, even? In all of his years using it, Tenkai had never felt these emotions from the sword before. There was so much he needed to ponder, and so little time for pondering. ------------------------------------------------------- Tenkai left his quarters an hour or so later, having placed Muramasa back into its magitek fittings and sheath, allowing it to rest and lay dormant long enough for Tenkai to confidently walk out of his chambers with it. There wasn’t much danger now, especially with the sword kept on Tenkai’s person, but he didn’t want to leave any room for error. After all, he was slated to meet with one of the Order’s new recruits, and the last thing he needed was to get into a mental struggle with his own sword in the middle of it. With many questions answered and more that yet remained, Tenkai made his way down the open hallways of Dawn Komturie, with the echoes of that painful cry reaching him as if they could fill the halls themselves. @Zashiii
  9. Muramasa Yōtōden Chapter 1: The Forging In the seclusion of Tenkai’s personal meditation chamber, to say that the silence was deafening would have been an understatement. The monk had personally requested its construction in such a way that he could have complete, unassailable quiet when it was necessary. The room was hermetically sealed and enhanced with wards crafted by Master Yodsuwan, who was particularly proficient in seals that nullified sound. Not even the thunderous cracks of wood and blunted steel from the Vanquisher’s training hall could penetrate through its walls. The only way Tenkai could be contacted while ensconced within was in the case of an emergency, where the alarms would be the only thing able to rouse the monk from inside. For the past few days since the fall of Nu Martyr, not much of the swordsman monk of the Order of Force Majeure was seen outside of that chamber. Though he hadn’t kept himself sequestered consistently, much of Tenkai’s free time had been spent within its walls, ruminating on all that had transpired since then. In the aftermath of that bloody, province-spanning conflict, none within the Order could blame Tenkai for seeking time alone to contemplate it all. After all, it had been a complete disaster. Thoughts came to mind about the plan of action Tenkai had given to the generals of Nu Martyr, his allies from the Veluriyam Empire and the Kadian forces. There was nothing about the strategy that seemed inherently flawed. Nay, it had certainly seemed to do all that he had expected it to do from the outset. Though the size of the Cult of Power’s forces had swelled immensely, they had managed to hold them at the pincer point just long for the Susano’o to flank them along with the Veluriyam airships. The firepower they had brought to bear had dramatically turned the tide, and it seemed as if victory was all but assured. Until Lilith herself took to the field. Tenkai remembered stepping forward to the field to face Lilith in single combat, just as he had planned to do from the start. It all would have gone smoothly enough if it wasn’t for the fact that Lilith was just that strong. Strong in ways that didn’t even make sense. Fighting her had felt different than fighting the battle-hungry zealots she had sent before her. She seemed almost disinterested, as if combat was but a trifle to her that she was ultimately forced to partake in on her way to her prize. As trying as it was, however, it had not been the first time Tenkai had dealt with someone who was stupidly powerful. If he could stand against the likes of Ryugi Kazamaru casually swinging around the wrath of a dragon god, he could stand against Lilith. And for a while, he had. Lilith had immense power, but Tenkai was powerful in his own right, and the sword technique of Yagyu Shinkage-ryu was unparalleled. With his strength, skill, and the power of the youtou Muramasa, even he was capable of giving the likes of Lilith a hard time. Surely enough, in her hubris and indifference, she would rely too much on her power that spared her from mundane injury, enough for Tenkai to strike a decisive blow that she would woefully be unable to regenerate. Such had been the fate of many capricious immortals that stood against Tenkai. But this time, it was different. For a moment it looked as if it had worked, that even Lilith could not recover from a blow dealt by Muramasa. The Immortal Ending, as some have called it, capable of slaying those who were effectively immortal as if they were mortal beings cut by any other master-crafted blade. Tenkai knew not how the sword was capable of this feat, only that it was capable, and he had put that to the proof several times past against vampire and daemon alike. But it was that confidence in his sword’s power that led to his folly, as Lilith began to recover right there on the battlefield. It was slower at first, of course, the slightest testament to the sword’s power, but after that it was as if Tenkai was attacking her with a completely mundane sword. Lilith proved to be a creature entirely beyond the realm of fate itself. From then on, Tenkai was losing, and his only hope was to continue keeping Lilith busy for as long as he could to buy his allies more time. Perhaps that might have worked to some degree if her Paragons from the south had not come from behind to reinforce her. Tenkai, the Order and the Veluriyam forces were now the ones in the pincer, and Lilith was free to overwhelm the vanguard. Emperor Melisande of Kadia had said as much that he was loath to waste the valuable lives of his men on what was quickly cascading into an inevitable defeat, and even Tenkai could not fault him for withdrawing to the city. After all, it was within the city that the prize she sought lay guarded. None of them could have expected what would inevitably happen once she stepped within the city. We had treated the whole ordeal as a military action, a battle in a long war. But the war was just a distraction. This was merely an acquisition, and she had made it abundantly clear that we were all just in her way. Now the PRIME, Ardon Dallas, was dead, and Lilith had claimed her prize. She took the Crown of Asteria and simply disappeared after that. What she did with it or planned to do with it was something Tenkai could not answer. He didn’t even try to. Once more, Tenkai found himself asking why at the most pivotal moment, having done all that he could, it had still not been enough to stop her. Had she simply been that powerful? Or was this just the extent of his own power? If he wasn't able to stop a threat of such caliber as the Cult of Power, what was he even capable of on this world full of beings of such unfathomable power? That was why Tenkai sat there in solitude, divested of most of his armor until he was left in little more than the magitek bodysuit and clothing he wore under it. In front of him was his infamous, cursed sword, the Muramasa, laid equally bare. The hilt and guard modules had been removed, the naked blade itself resting upon a white silken sheet. Though Tenkai normally removed the fittings when he set about cleaning or sharpening the sword, doing so was also helpful in communing with the blade itself. With its spirit unbound, the sword would be less reticent to speak, and the seclusion meant that there was no risk of the sword’s bloodthirst affecting anyone around him. Muramasa was the only thing that could give him the answers Tenkai sought now. With his mind clear, Tenkai fell deeper into meditation as he entered the inner space within the sword.
  10. Oh, I see. In other words if I go that angle with Tenkai, if others believe the same it just makes it that much harder to come up with justification in character to get to the end point we've agreed upon OOCly. Now I understand. I'll just have to avoid causing that then. It doesn't need to be strictly said that he thinks she should be killed outright.
  11. Also, nah, I didn't mean like "oh she's gonna be nice and comfortable in her cell." I actually wholly expected the imprisonment to be something less savory due to how powerful she is. I'm just saying he'd personally feel that she's too dangerous to forestall it, but that's little more than story and won't affect the outcome.
  12. OH no no no, nothing of the sort. It's not a personal quibble, it's purely story. I don't feel hamstrung. Or do you mean you don't want Tenkai to feel hamstrung story-wise?
  13. Well, if Lilith is Thanos, and the IPP is SHIELD/Nick Fury/I guess Captain America too?, then I was hoping Tenkai would be Thor and Muramasa would be Stormbreaker. No, not because of the eyepatch. And NO, events would NOT play out the same as the movie, lol, though some scenes would be funny. I mean more in that he's just part of the group of allies trying to stop her, and has a weapon meant to threaten her, but not solely responsible at all for her capture. All those meaty details we can work out as we go. I imagine that when Tenkai discusses matter with the IPP and hears they want to detain her, his "No Half Measures™" (© @Damnatus) mindset would dictate that Lilith should be killed, being too dangerous to be allowed to live. I would then presume that the IPP would provide good reasoning as to why they want her detained rather than killed, and Tenkai would acquiesce for the sake of accomplishing their mutual goal, albeit begrudgingly. It's likely he'd be none too happy with the IPP in the event of her escape in the future. Not with hostility, but more of a "I knew this would happen" sort of thing.
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