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Tenkai Matsumoto

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About Tenkai Matsumoto

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  1. ((I apologize for any interactions I could be missing. It’s hard to focus and I’m just trying to get some stuff moving on my end. Bear with me. 🐼 .w.;)) With the tense exchange between the Datsuzoku Emperor and the Yokai Queen having completed, everyone seemed to go about their respective ways to enjoy the rest of the festival. Though it seemed there was no need for any in his party to intervene, there was still yet some manner of business to be had in Port Caelum. Tenkai knew that as much about Arthur, who seemed far more acquainted with Lady Akako than even Tenkai was. Should Arthur depart to speak with her personally, that would leave both the monk and Artanthos by themselves. Though Tenkai had his own reasons for being here as a Knight of the Order of Force Majeure, he did not forget about his mercenary friend. Tenkai was loath to drag him into matters he may have had no interest in getting tangled up in, but having an ally at his side would mean a lot for the particularly risky endeavor he was about to attempt. “I’m about to do something a bit forward,” he whispered to Artanthos. “If you would stand with me, then follow. If not, shadow me in case things go south.” He had just briefly met glances with Koji and his retinue, Empress Katiya in particular, though that in itself did not cause any issue. Even with their business with Akako concluded, it seemed as if the Emperor and his people lingered to enjoy what they could of the festivities...at least for now. Regardless, it was the closest the warrior monk had ever been to Koji and perhaps the only sure chance he would have to approach him. He wished to take his measure of the man, and there was no greater opportunity like the present. Tenkai trailed him inconspicuously for a while, but only up to a point. Once Tenkai came close enough, he knew that simply trying to spy on them was useless. Aside from those in his immediate vicinity, the area around them was likely crawling with Datsuzoku shinobi. For all he knew, they were already watching him. Of course, Tenkai never found subterfuge to be the best means for him to gather information, and the festival was far too open to glean anything by simple observation and eavesdropping. Attempting to do so would only generate undue premature hostility. As much of a threat as Koji seemed to pose, it would do no good for things to turn sour without first taking measure of him. That was where the direct approach came in. “Seems a bit hazardous to traipse about while possessing that kind of aura.” Tenkai approached from behind Koji’s retinue, not very long after the emperor partook of his festival dango. He dissolved all effort to hide his presence, though he also did not approach like a man who held quarrel with them. Nevertheless, it was likely that any man of such lower status having the audacity to approach the Datsuzoku Emperor and his Empress would be met with immediate apprehension from his escort. Should Artanthos wish to step to Tenkai’s side at this point, that was the mercenary’s choice to make. “Still, I would say it’s an unmistakable aura at that. You are the Datsuzoku-tennō, Datsuzoku Koji, are you not?” Tenkai gave Koji a good look over without being so avert in the movements of his eyes. To do otherwise would come off rudely, and would be especially offensive had he done so to the Empress. Though he would have liked to determine why she struck him as so familiar, meetings such as these where two parties had the opportunity to size each other up still needed to be carried out carefully. Especially when one of them was royalty. @Damnatus@Voldemort@Akako Akari@Twitterpated@Dreamer@dvsn@Etched In Stone@Chappu@Aleksei
  2. As much as I would like to face Koji, you know how the Order goes. We’re not here to assist anyone with conquest or be a part of their army under their banner. That being said, since he does pose a threat I can imagine us getting involved in some way. I’ll have to check with Fierach. @Fierach
  3. Before the Time Skip Tenkai turned his head towards the approaching guest, struck once more by a brief pang of recognition. What little memory he had of Kalmuli from several years ago was at least present enough to stir in his mind upon the sight of her, though perhaps not enough to breach his countenance. Truth be told, there was not very much of the Tenkai most people remembered from back then. With the exception of the eyepatch, he more or less looked the same, but the exterior mattered very little in this case. Even so, it would seem that his appearance as a monk was still enough to convince Kalmuli that he would be able to aid her in her moment of spiritual crisis. Tenkai knew not what ailed her, but there was one thing he did know. "I'm sorry," Tenkai said, solemn and stone-faced, "But I can provide you no succor. Not any longer. Look to the priests of these lands if you need guidance." Perhaps in the past, Tenkai would have been able to aid her, and perhaps anyone seeking spiritual guidance. But aiding in matters of the spirit was only possible when ones' own was at peace. Far too much had changed since then, and much of Tenkai's hopeful, borderline naive idealism had faded away. Though he was still more or less an altruist, the path he had chosen for himself made him ill-fit to act in the manner of a priest. Hopefully, Kalmuli would understand this. .................. At the very least, the attention of all those present would be suddenly taken by the festivities, so perhaps the awkwardness of that chance meeting would fade soon enough. For that matter, it seemed as if the performance had granted them all a reprieve from the building tensions between the hostess of this festival and her most infamous and ignoble guest. Tenkai, at the very least, found himself watching the sword dance intently, though perhaps not with as much of a relaxed disposition as he would have liked. After all, there was always the chance that some opportunistic party might take advantage of the performance to achieve some ill-meaning end while everyone was otherwise predisposed. At the very least, Tenkai allowed himself enough of a luxury to observe. It was a rather odd mix of cultures, that it was. Thus far, the festival had reminded him of something he would have experienced back in Kyoto, a place now more than worlds away from him. But the performance involved music and dress that was far more reminiscent of Chinese culture. Tenkai knew little as to whether or not this was some Valucre-born natural analogue or simply something from outside introduced by Lady Akako, as many things here would have been. It certainly raised the question as to whether or not the yokai in these parts were natives of Valucre, framed by the same conventions shared by their Terran counterparts that were stars apart from them. It was not the first time Tenkai had observed that phenomenon, like some sort of gestalt natural and cultural framework that spanned the universe itself. Much in the same way that one would find humans, horses and dogs on one world and another with little difference in between, so too could that be said of other creatures. Or perhaps these yokai were members of Akako's original court, having made the exodus along with her? These were curious questions indeed, ones that Tenkai would probably like to discuss with Arthur or some other knowledgeable mind. As it seemed, the sword dance was more than just a display of practiced flourishes. There was a narrative involved, of that Tenkai was certain. It was most likely symbolic of something, perhaps a story that Akako herself wished to share. What it all possibly meant was still a matter that eluded Tenkai, but that was fine. There would be more time to ponder these things later. As the performance ended, the monk modestly joined in the applause out of a humble expression of gratitude for the performance. While Tenkai and his compatriots were thus preoccupied with the performance, something was amiss between Akako and Koji. One moment they had been within sight of the group, only to end up completely obscured by a black mist the next. Should Arthur or Artanthos become alarmed, Tenkai would have been quick to ease their concerns. This wasn't the work of Koji's miasma. No, something so brazen in the face of the daiyokai's retainers would have ended up causing instantaneous chaos. This magic was Akako's doing. She was using some form of localized sensory deprivation in order to gain a moment of privacy with Koji. Whatever they were discussing, it was not something she wanted any of her guests to pry on. She was best left to her business. It was at this point that Tenkai noticed the apprehension in the faces of several individuals around him. It didn't take much, least of all from Tenkai, to tell that the pensive gazes were all coming from yokai. Members of Akako's court, like as not. They did not seem that bothered by the presence of Arthur or Artanthos, but Tenkai was a different story. Being dressed like a Buddhist monk and possessing the spiritual presence of one at that, Tenkai carried the all too familiar feeling of those exorcists from "back home" who would routinely perform rituals that drove their kind away from the dwellings of men and into the forests and mountains. In some cases this was justified, though in others it was little more than invasion, and Tenkai would not be able to tell whether these yokai had been driven away before due to some past evil, or if they had been scorned by the capriciousness of humanity. Suffice it to say, Tenkai did not come here with intent to harm them, and certainly did not want any trouble to start between the lot of them and his companions merely due to his presence. That being said, Tenkai had no intention of leaving early to suit their sensitivities either. If it came to it, he would have no problem bringing the full weight of his aura to bear upon them to drive them back should any seek to start trouble with him and his. "This place is teeming with yokai," Tenkai said to Arthur and Artanthos quietly. Arthur likely knew what they were, though it was probable that Artanthos was still unsure. "Some consider them demonic, but they're mostly similar to fae, if you're familiar with that. I don't think they're very fond of my presence..." One particularly brave yokai stepped up to the three of them to speak with them. She appeared to be some form of avian yokai. It was not uncommon for yokai to come in varieties with the aspect of certain animals, There was a wide amount of diversity amongst yokai, but only a few among the animal-aspected kind were considered to be the most powerful and prominent. Kitsune such as Akako herself and the dog-based inugami were among the highest tier of these creatures, though there were also many yokai that did not fall under such categories connected with the natural world. Not wanting to alarm the curious creature, Tenkai made no sudden motions as she approached. "I assume you are all here for Akako-sama?" Jun asked, her beak only moving ever so slightly as she spoke. The monk briefly turned his head to Arthur before looking back at the falcon yokai. "I would say so, yes. We are acquaintances of hers." As they spoke, the mist subsided, with Akako seemingly concluding her business with the Datsuzoku Emperor. The dispersal of the mist drew Tenkai's immediate attention once more. From what it seemed, Koji was about to depart. Mayhap their business been concluded? Regardless of what had transpired, Akako seemed to be unharmed. That was good, to say the least. Anything otherwise would have resulted in an international disaster. Probably not the kind of thing that he or his companions would want to get tied up in. Still, Tenkai found himself somewhat disappointed that Koji was departing so early. As tenuous as this peace was, it was probably the only moment he would have had to get close enough to Koji in order to size him up, getting a measure of his character and perhaps glean some of his intentions. There wasn't much telling how Koji would have responded to the presence of one of the Order's knights, if at all, provided that Tenkai's status as a knight was even well known. After the events that transpired at Last Chance and his subsequent attendance as representative at the Symposium, Tenkai would have been surprised if it wasn't. The warrior monk peered at the emperor and his retinue as they made their way out of the festival. The crowds split nervously to make way, few daring to risk drawing Koji's ire by impeding his procession while those of even weaker will were simply repelled by his miasma. Tenkai stood there quietly, as Arthur and Artanthos notably would be, getting as much of a read of Koji and his entourage as they could without overtly staring. When he stopped to bolt out his patronizing exclamation, Tenkai looked on impassively. Was this meant to taunt those among Akako's court that had been so wrought with tension over the possibility that harm might have come to her at the emperor's hands? It certainly wasn't a phrase absolutely brimming with sincerity, thought not overtly mocking enough to be a clearly intended insult. If any among Akako's people were to react poorly to that, there would be no way to blame Koji. Perhaps it was not best to dwell on what may have been. For the briefest of moments, his eye caught that of Koji's Empress, and in that moment came yet again the unexpected and uncomfortable feeling of familiarity. Uncomfortable in the sense that he knew there was something uncannily familiar about Katiya, but it had to have been so long ago that he was frustratingly bereft of a clear memory. Perhaps this was just a fluke? Memories were not as reliable as people would believe them to be, and it would be folly of him to wrack his brain over what could have been him being reminded of someone completely different. Still, he could not help but feel bothered by how much his mind kept attempting to drag him by the arm down memory lane. Tenkai was no longer the same person from back then. There was a different path to walk. Speaking of which, Kalmuli seemed intent on leaving things open for Tenkai to take her up on her request. The monk would not say he could oblige her, but keeping her in mind as a possible contact should he ever find himself in the neighborhood wasn't a bad idea. "Though, I suppose amongst yokai, monks are quite intimidating aren't they? I will have to hold off a prayer for another time then."Kalmuli would step away from the monk to join the side of the falcon envoy. "Should you be in Weland or Altissium Bay, Mr. Monk, feel free to visit. I wouldn't mind the company." "I'll keep that in mind," he replied. With that being settled, Tenkai turned to Arthur and Artanthos once again. "Well, then. Shall we pay a visit to the hostess of this festival?" @Akako Akari@Voldemort@Damnatus@Twitterpated@Dreamer@Kalmuli@dvsn@Aleksei@Etched In Stone@danzilla3@Chappu@The Hummingbird@King
  4. The Dawn Komturie, 6:45 A.M. The wee hours of the morning at Dawn Komturie were about as busy as any other time of day. Custodes went about their duties with due diligence as the aspirants arose for their early morning drills. Tenkai himself was busy as well, but perhaps not in his usual fashion. Normally he would be overseeing the Vanquishers and their aspirants going about their training, but something was keeping his attention that day. The warrior monk had sequestered himself in his chambers, poring over documents in a manner he had not done since his days investigating suspicious fighting tournament sponsors. He was looking through whatever OFM resource that was made available to him, sifting through registries and logbooks and chronicles, all for one single purpose: to find out what happened to Gloria Isabelle Ruinen. Gloria had been a fellow knight of the Order, but not at the time Tenkai had joined. No, Tenkai’s history with her and in many ways the Order in general went further back than even his first arrival on this star. He knew of Gloria even before her time with the Order, back when she was the prodigious pupil of the psion known as Tresondros Ecstuffuan. Tenkai had learned of her departure from the Order just as soon as he had learned she had joined them in the first place. The familiarity of her name and the many memories of a life that once was which sprung from the recognition hit Tenkai like a bolt in the chest. The past always seemed to have such unexpected ways of catching him unawares. Tenkai’s chambers at Dawn Komturie weren’t exactly what one would consider an “office”, but it did have a desk for dealing with missives and parchments and all other manner of paperwork whenever the need arose. Given certain affairs he had gotten involved with in the past, Tenkai was actually no stranger to paperwork and investigative research. Even so, there was only so much Tenkai could glean from the Order’s records, but he had to start somewhere. Thus far, he had only managed to learn one key piece of information. Gloria has been, as it was written, “excommunicated” from the Order following some incident that had deemed her a danger to the peace the Order was committed with keeping. Her impressive psychic power had caused much damage and mayhem, to the level that James could not have easily overlooked it. But why then was there so little else, not even some form of contact information? And surely there had to be more to these accounts than what was present, should there not? He had to keep digging deeper. Yet try as he might, there wasn’t very much to lead on. It would seem that after her excommunication, Gloria went completely off the grid. This was rather disappointing. Tenkai would have thought that James would have gone to greater efforts to keep tabs on her, given her level of psionic power and the fact that she was likely privy to a number of inner workings within the Order. Granted, it was not really part of their duty to spy on people, and if Gloria was really so dangerous as to warrant keeping a thumb on her then perhaps “excommunication” was not a wise choice. But if that was true, then what exactly was Tenkai doing here, trying to figure out where she might have gone? Would that not be essentially the same thing? It wasn’t like he was hunting her down like a fugitive. Could there have been another reason James had let her slip off their radar? Did he still think of her as a friend? Did Tenkai think of her as a friend? He cursed himself. This is probably one of the most foolish things I’ve ever done, he thought. Tenkai had already paid the price for seeing those that he had called “friends” as who he thought they were and not what they truly were. His missing eye and the artifact sitting in its place were an eternal reminder of that. Tenkai thought he had managed to bury his past deep enough that he wouldn’t find himself making the same mistakes he had made before. And yet, if recent events had taught him anything, it was that some things weren’t content to be little more than a memory. If he didn’t give the past it due diligence, it would end up repeating itself. And so he continued, poring through whatever information the Order had about Gloria’s last known whereabouts. While there was nothing conclusive about where she might have gone, he did learn enough through the Order’s files on certain key places of interest that he knew a good enough place to start. Last Chance, La Ultima Opportunidad Docks, 7:35 P.M. The port city of Last Chance had risen in notoriety as a place of interest in recent years. What was once a veritable prison city overrun with crime was now the second largest port city in Terrenus, with a bustling economy to boot. Despite this progress, however, the criminal underworld of the city managed to thrive in its own way, a dark reflection of the promise of opportunity that the city had come to embody. The attack on the city by Dredge and his Legion of Doom has certainly not helped matters. If anything, the attack had served to remind people of the divide in the city, caught between the the hope of progress and the stagnant mire of the past, where criminals were kings. It had been a while since Tenkai had walked the streets of Last Chance, though this was perhaps the first time he had ever walked them during a time of relative peace. That being said, it would seem he had chosen the absolute worst part of Last Chance to start his search. “La Ultima Opportunidad” was the last bastion of the old guard in the city, where the worst of the worst who refused to change their ways or leave the city stakes their claim of a rogue underworld empire. Moreover, there was also the not-so-insignificant fact that Tenkai was one of the heroes of the battle for Last Chance. Gone were the days where he fought in relative obscurity, plagued only by whatever infamy he held amongst the vampires and demons of Gaia. Now he was Tenkai Matsumoto, Knight of the Order of Force Majeure. Though his actions had aided in the defense of the city the criminal underworld called its home, they likely wouldn’t take too kindly to anyone associated with the Terrenus military, especially not when many among Dredge’s legion had been part of Last Chance’s criminal element to begin with. So why in the pluperfect hell did Tenkai think this a good place to start? For one, the city reminded him in some small ways to familiar places from his past, namely Sigil and Durem. Economy driven port city with a seedy underworld? It was like a trip down memory lane, so what better place to locate someone from his past? Gloria no doubt thrived in places like these, free from the reach of law, where your only safety was how well you could defend yourself. Having been through enough seedy taverns and inns back on Gaia that ran by the same rules, such a place would be like a taste of home. There was also the matter of criminal underworlds being useful places to find information, find work off the books, or simply find ways to disappear if you didn’t want to be found. If Gloria went off the grid, this would be a great place to be, and a psyker of her level of prowess would not have any problem dealing with any thug that made up the city’s unscrupulous ecosystem. There was always the chance that word of the OFM’s involvement with the defense of Last Chance could have given her pause in setting foot there, but if there was any chance she had been there, there would likely be someone with information. So Tenkai made his descent into Last Chance’s “La Ultima Opportunidad” district, dressed in his monk’s robes such so that he would not be so immediately recognized by those who knew him more famously in his battle garb. Of course, if Gloria did see him, she would recognize him immediately, even with his eyepatch. This didn’t bother Tenkai. After all, trying to get the drop on her would be impossible, most likely, and doing so would just be detrimental to his cause. It was better to be upfront where he could. About a half hour of wandering through the more lawless half of the city, Tenkai arrived at the docks, where he changed upon a rather peculiar site. A large, extravagant boat decked out with flashing colored lights and neon signs was moored at the docks like some sort of floating casino. Indeed, it was exactly that, as he would soon find the aptly-named “Full Horizon” to be. A glittering jewel by the boardwalk amidst the salty shadowed pier. Truth be told, Tenkai could have kicked himself for not expecting to find a place like this among these disreputable docks. After all, this part of the city was full of cuthroats and rogues, not paupers and beggars. Casinos and other gambling establishments cared little for the class of their clientele, as long as they had the coin to spend and, invariably, lose. The criminals in this town would be the wealthiest of all, like as not. Tenkai wouldn't be surprised if a few of the socialites from other parts of the city would find themselves here by nature of discretion. This cozy little slice of night life was probably the best possible place for Tenkai to start. Even if Gloria wasn't here, there was always a chance she had visited in the past. If not at this port, then perhaps at another. Without any room left for doubt, Tenkai crossed the pier ramp and passed through the doorway into the casino interior, and onto whatever he may end up finding there. @The Usual Suspect @Aleksei
  5. Tenkai's attack had hit home, though he would not waste any time assessing the sort of damage it dealt. After all, the air pressure blade wasn't meant to deal critical damage. Though the technique had caused the Chaos Warchief to re-direct his counter attack, strikes to the head in such a fashion that did not result in fatal damage had a second purpose. Distraction. That small fleeting moment where the strike to the face would cause the monster to blink and flinch, a moment so brief that a lesser swordsman would not have been able to make use of it. But for one such as Tenkai, it was all the opening he needed. With a burst of speed he dashed across desolate ground, leaving a sharp trail of sand in his wake as he closed the distance just a moment earlier than anticipated to the creature's right side. Tenkai advanced ahead of the point of impact and off of the beastman's line, neutralizing the bone-crushing flail swing and avoiding the aftershock of its thunderous impact. Well within range to attack the offending arm, Tenkai brought down his sword at an angle towards whatever exposed part of the arm he could cut, in line with the beast's arm from its elbow down its forearm. Even if he didn't cleave the limb off at the forearm, it would rend the taut sinewy muscles of the abomination's arm well enough to weaken its mace-swinging hand. That would leave the axe-wielding arm still able to strike. Yet with Tenkai moving off to the beast's right side, thrusting the axe head would require some rather awkward arm-crossing and a clockwise turn, tying up the opposing limbs enough for Tenkai to slip past it with only a shunted strike against his shoulder armor. If Tenkai advanced to the flank, he could have a good shot at reaching the crude shielding device that protected their siege weapon. Yet the monk abided for the moment, knowing that the beast's positioning could leave it wound up for a truly fierce counterattack if he moved in hastily. @Fierach
  6. Arthur wasn’t alone in his nostalgia, for a Tenkai had also attended the same festival a good while ago in the very same port. He remembered it as the place where he had met that curious cat-like dragon girl named Arashi who kept pestering him for food. Those were more innocent times, and times such as those were invariably fleeting and quick to wear away. Still, Tenkai could not deny that there was some much needed peace to be found among the beauty of the cherry blossoms blooming around them. Perhaps this was what he needed after all. Of course, anyone who knew Tenkai well enough knew it wasn’t that simple. The Order Knight considered this outing to be as much work as it was play. When Arthur had proposed the idea, in true Tenkai fashion, he had sought a way to factor his work into it. Much like how Tenkai had attended the Symposium as a representative of the Order of Force Majeure, Tenkai decided to attend this festival in representation of the Order as well. Though not specifically full of pomp and pageantry, Tenkai knew as much through what Arthur informed him of that a number of high profile guests were attending the festival. Keeping tabs on those present, especially in a few specific cases, would definitely be something of interest to the Order. Who better to engage with them than the OFM’s most diplomatic member? At the very least, that was what Tenkai planned to explain it to be, should James inquire. Arthur certainly pulled out the stops to make sure he was well dressed, though Tenkai wondered silently to himself why he hadn’t opted for something more...in the season, to put it lightly. At least where he was from, the Hanami festival would have had people dressed in Japanese finery, with all manner of dressy kimono and haori. However, that was not fair to say considering that the festival was probably foreign to the locals, given that Lady Akari was the one who was hosting the event. She was as much an outsider to this world as Tenkai and James were. As such, it was likely that few guests would even be dressed in garb emulating the culture of the festivities. Not that Tenkai was one to talk. After all, the robes of a Buddhist monk were certainly not something one would consider party clothes. And yet the black and gold kintsugi-patterned kesa he wore was perhaps the fanciest piece of cloth he kept in his meager possession. It had served him well enough back at the opening festivities of Heaven or Hell, and you could be damn sure he was going to get some mileage out of it. And yet beneath his robes he still wore his bodysuit and other hardpoints and armor pieces, knowing full well that any light-hearted get together could turn sour rather quickly. He wouldn’t be wearing a sword like Muramasa openly, but with it being kept under wraps by his shoulder, it would never be far from him if it was needed. Before they even pulled up at the entrance, Tenkai began to feel a great disturbance coming from within. It was some sort of aetheric mass, like a power signature trying to drown out everything with an oppressive amount of pressure. Some sort of heavy-hitter had arrived ahead of them, and from the looks of it, whoever it was had thickened the tension in the air enough that you could take a bite out of it. And that wasn’t all. “This entire place is under surveillance,” said Tenkai, responding to Arthur’s concerned glance in his direction. Indeed there was much more to Tenkai’s abilities that met the eye, of one would pardon the pun. He couldn’t tell if these were all just Akako’s youkai or just the personal retinue of bodyguards and ninja that any one of the festival’s more high profile guests would bring along with them. All Tenkai could say was that they were going to pretty heavy lengths to make sure the only people who saw them were the ones they wanted to be seen by. “Neither of you should let your guard down, though I’m sure that goes without saying.” Once they departed from the coach and entered the courtyard, Tenkai managed to see with his own eyes just who had been responsible for that heavy, oppressive aura. Arthur immediately asked Tenkai if he knew anything about the “guest” that had brought on all of the staring eyes and bated breath, and the monk knew exactly who it was. “That’s Emperor Koji of the Datsuzoku Empire,” said Tenkai, both surprised and disquieted by the sudden turn of events. The Order knew well enough about Koji for Tenkai to recognize him, but this had been the first time he had seen him in the flesh. The monk was taken aback by the level of power Koji seemed to be capable of, not expecting him to possess such a heavy aura. James was definitely right to be concerned about the potential threat he posed. “Things may get dicey in here sooner than we think,” he said nigh under his breath to Arthur and Artanthos. It was likely that the entire festival was crawling with shinobi and other operatives. Koji wouldn’t so brazenly come here and face Akako in such a fashion without a plan, least of all in the Carmine Empire’s territories. “We shouldn’t act hastily, but stay vigilant in case things go south.” @Voldemort @Damnatus @Akako Akari @Twitterpated
  7. Hosted by the Order? :U Do I need to get a hat and a name tag and put in hours? Damn, I wish I knew about this sooner. This almost reminds me of the idea I was thinking of about recruiting people for the Vanquishers by holding a sword tournament. I wonder if there's a way we can work that into here?
  8. It would seem as if Tenkai’s little spectacle had done the trick. While James, Selene, Alexa and their retinues dealt with the rest of the horde, the monk’s display of prowess had caused the largest among them, presumably the one in charge, to single him out. As James had indicated, the beast was carrying some manner of aetheric converter, which was likely the source of their siege weapon’s shielding. Through the void and with the aid of his “eye”, Tenkai could perceive the ebb and flow of the creature’s hate-filled soul and the red aura wreathed around it. Had he the opportunity to surmise, Tenkai would have said that the shield was being fueled by the beastman’s bloodlust, a source that was likely nigh unlimited. All the more reason to put it out of its misery. The monster seemed to agree, as he took initiative in bringing his massive flail to bear against his much smaller opponent. Aside from the massive weaponry, the beastman chieftain was much larger and had superior reach compared to Tenkai. Even if he put his sword in naginata configuration, it would be a close match. But that wasn’t the only trick up his sleeve, and wielding the much shorter weapon was a good way to breed overconfidence in his brutish opponent. As the heavy swing came in, Tenkai pushed off his lead foot and sprung backwards out of measure of the attack. Giving ground to an opponent with reach advantage was not the best idea normally, but Tenkai had different plans. Bringing his sword low into a waki-gamae as he made distance set him up for an immediate counter-attack. Barely a beat after he touched down, Tenkai swung upwards at an angle with a furious slash, scattering the sands in front of him and sending a flashing arc of displaced air pressure at the creature’s face. It was enough to cut him as of Tenkai had struck him directly, but would likely be little more of a distraction to something so large. @Fierach
  9. "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
  10. "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
  11. 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!”
  12. --- 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
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