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Tenkai Matsumoto

[ Ravenspire ] A Chance Encounter

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"Hmmm...Article II, Crossing Precinct, Code 1.1. Only individuals under gainful employment of the Capital Ring may enter the district," said the monk, quietly reading aloud. "Well, I sure hope this isn't heading there. I don't believe I'm considered 'gainfully employed'."

Tenkai didn't expect the trip to be this long. Of course, he should have expected as much given that he was traveling from one end of the island to the other. Taking a transport obviously cut the travel time by a wide margin, but it was still going to be an hour or two. Luckily, he had been provided with some particularly peculiar reading material. When Tenkai first arrived at the port city of Parime, the first thing he ran into was a military checkpoint. Not an unexpected thing to find at first blush, but Tenkai could tell by their manner of action they were in no mood to be trifled with. Not that Tenkai intended to give them any difficulty in the first place, but he was far more careful to avoid any misunderstanding. 

"Article IV, Code 1.1, Upon your arrival to the city, you are to divulge the full extent of your abilities to the proper authorities. Well, check that off the list."

Tenkai wasn't exactly sure how to describe the "extent" of his abilities to the authorities. It actually seemed like an incredibly strange request to make in the first place. Did they want a full list of techniques and spells and what have you? Probably not, or at least that's not what Tenkai had given them. He told them he was a monk, a practitioner of spiritual arts and exorcism, proficient in utilizing his own spirit energy. They seemed to regard that as being a "psyker", which was a modern designation for the term "psychic" that Tenkai had actually heard used in places outside of Kadia. Yes, being a spirit sensitive human was indeed one form of psychic power, in a sense. Tenkai couldn't exactly use telekinesis or read people's minds or any of the other abilities commonly associated with psychic power, but communing with spirits and controlling one's own spirit energy was tied to a similar discipline. It also made Tenkai sensitive to many of the same things psychics could sense, so he could at least be considered psychic in that regard.

As for his other abilities, that was a bit more difficult to describe. He called himself a "swordsman and martial artist", which caused the seasoned military men to quirk a brow at the oddly dressed traveler. At least that was how the monk remembered it. Tenkai didn't particularly look like much, and what he did look like was some sort of holy man. He couldn't be sure whether that was what made them wary of him or the fact that they didn't seem to believe him when he said he was a swordsman. Of course, that was when Tenkai showed them his sword, the yōtō Muramasa (妖刀[村正]; Cursed Sword [Muramasa]). Neither of the guards seemed very impressed by its appearance, and when he mentioned that it was a cursed sword, they merely laughed at him. It seemed that in these parts, weapons that were "cursed" or "magic" were a bit more visually impressive from the outset, and with their rather high tech looking close combat weaponry, Tenkai's blade looked like some flimsy pieced of steel with a single edge and a guard too small for their tastes. 

The only other thing he could mention, in all honesty, was his eye. Or rather, what was now in place of the eye that used to rest within his right socket. He told them it allowed him to see and interact with spirits, which was true enough, though that was probably the simplest way of putting it. By then they had grown tired of Tenkai and, judging by his demeanor, deemed him non-threatening. They recorded the information and set the monk on his way with a warning to keep his "sword" under wraps, though they weren't entirely convinced he could do anything with such a simple looking weapon. Nothing else about Tenkai seemed threatening enough to be forbidden, though the monk had yet to find out the real reason why they weren't worried.

"Strange that they would do that, but I guess it's a matter of security," Tenkai mused to himself as he pondered the memory, flipping a few pages back in the booklet he was reading. It was given to him by the very same military officers, said to be a brief primer on Kadia's Imperial codex. They recommended that he study it and stay in line, lest he get a rude awakening. How thoughtful, Tenkai had thought of the gesture.

"Let's see here...Civil Services, Code 1.1 'One man from every family must attend Academy and spend a bare minimum of five years in service to the Imperial Legion'," he continued, rubbing his chin in thought. "Mandatory military service? Hmm..."

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

It wouldn't be too long until the transport arrived at his destination: Ravenspire. Truth be told, Tenkai wasn't entirely sure why they'd give a name ending in "spire" to a city. The name itself evoked a feeling of some massive, towering castle scraping the sky. Of course, as he looked to the city itself, the name began to make more sense. The massive Corvinite Obelisks didn't seem to be the same kind of spires Tenkai was more accustomed to ascending like some sort of tower, but they were still spires in a sense. The black metal gave off a strange, golden glow that, oddly enough, seemed a bit unsettling to Tenkai. He could tell that the pulse was more than just some natural resonance. It was some sort of field of influence that washed over the city itself like some sort of psychic territory. Except...this wasn't a "psychic" territory at all. It was most certainly some sort of force of will, but it wasn't a psychic emission. If anything, it seemed to dampen the psychic resonance of his surroundings, making his Soul Sight somewhat fuzzy. Tenkai didn't understand it completely at first, wondering if he was just having a bit of a headache for a moment. Yet even when he did have a headache, his eye didn't react in the way that it did. Even Muramasa seemed a bit perturbed by the surroundings. Was this field of influence that of Kadia's so named "God Emperor" that he kept hearing about on his trip here?

And why was Tenkai here, sailing all the way to Alterion on Tellus Mater, and then to Kadia of all places, specifically to reach Ravenspire? He had heard that the city was a giant university campus, but it wasn't higher learning that drew him here. After all, there were other places that could catch his interest more on Kadia than Ravenspire. No, there was good reason for him to be here. There was a familiar face or two he was still trying to look for, and he had heard through the proverbial grapevine that he would find them here. Quite a long way to go just to catch up, but as far as Tenkai was concerned, it was worth it.

"Code 1.2...Every female citizen must bear at least one child by their thirtieth year? Why, that's--! But what--!?"

Tenkai kept himself from making an outburst as he departed the transport, slowly walking down the bridge connecting the concentric rings of Ravenspire together. He remembered how wary the military personnel had been with him at the checkpoint. It was likely that they didn't take too kindly to outsiders passing judgement on their way of life. Such was the nature of a strict, authoritarian culture. The more and more Tenkai read of it, the more uncomfortable he began to grow. By now, he couldn't decide whether it was what was written in the codex or the emanations from the obelisks that caused his unease.

Of course, he would try and drown it out by getting himself something to eat. He was a bit peckish by now, and there seemed to be plenty of little shops and stalls along the way. So he decided to get himself a little something-something as he went. One of the stalls had some rather tasty-looking foodstuffs made of thinly sliced meat stuffed into a rolled up flatbread with cream sauce. It reminded him of a similar street food that he remembered from his home many worlds away, causing him to wonder whether cultural similarities among human races popped up like this in other worlds. Unlike some monks, Tenkai was not a vegetarian, though it was always a fuzzy issue with him to begin with. Some schools of Buddhism carried the stipulation that a monk could not eat any meat that was killed on their behalf. Others, much like the Japanese tradition he was a part of, de-emphasized vegetarianism, as humans were already so sinful that abstaining from the consumption of meat was not enough to ensure happier rebirth. Even so, Tenkai did not eat meat very often, and relied on his spiritual practices to overcome the negative karma of consuming meat. 

It wouldn't matter much for him in the end, anyway. He was a very unorthodox kind of monk, and with the many regrettable things he had to do in his life, the "negative karma" from eating meat was just a drop in the bucket.

Of course, there was also no reason not to treat himself a bit while traveling after several long months of nothing but small rations of rice and dried soybeans.

"1.3-A," he said, continuing to read as he ate his wrapped sandwich, "'Items found to be cheap, or faulty, shall be refunded at triple their original cost.' That sounds awfully in the eye of the beholder, no?"

It was a good thing he didn't want to return that sandwich. Well, not that he could, really.

 

@Deus Ex Aizen @Fierach

Edited by Tenkai Matsumoto

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“No, no. Absolutely not. This is not what I ordered and I will not be taking it.” Firm, resolute. Raveena stared up at the burly smith. He was more machine than man, but that wouldn’t intimidate her. She stood with her hands on her hips, chin tilted up regally. Her eyes were narrowed in the infamous leer she used on her Enforcers when they were in trouble. A clipboard was pressed against her side in her left hand. The market was a busy place, and it was a busy time. She had no time for nonsense.

“Lady you best be on your way then. This is what came in, this is what was ordered, take it or leave it.” The argument was only just getting heated, and she would not be backing down! The City of Alethea was in need of major enforcements, modifications and defenses. Raveena had ordered her supplies in bulk, favoring the beauty of the Ravenspire architectural influence, tempered by Kadia’s military grade. She exhaled slowly, scowling, “This is not what I ordered. I am not some pompous twit. I’m the most organized person I know. I have a detailed record right here!” She smacked a clipboard nestled into an arm, stuffed full with papers—each one a manifest of her ordered supplies. She must have looked ridiculous to most.  The merchant shook his head and frowned, a look of annoyance as his joints clicked and whirred. He was a lumbering man who towered over her, "Take the order and leave, before I have you removed." It was an idle threat to the wrong woman. Clearly he knew very little about the General's temper. She, a petite woman dressed in business casual, with only her heels to give her an inch of height and the appearance of being formidable. “I know your laws here. You will refund me if you will not rescind the order, or you will take this pile of crap and bring me what I ordered. Primero was very specific, he--.” The merchant cut her off with a disgusted looked, “Primero? The Primero. Son of--.” Raveena cut him off with equal disgust, “Ezio.” She seethed, her infamous temper peaking, with each word carefully spat out like barbs.Primero. Merida. Melisende. My esteemed guest, who is assisting me in the fortification of my city! Who very specifically requested this material! Are you telling me the First Prince is mistaken!?” She slapped the clipboard  impatiently against the palm of her right hand to indicate the order.

The merchant paled and leaned back, “S-son of Ezio.” He repeated the words quietly with reverence—like swearing an oath in disbelief. Raveena could see the gears of his mind working out the flaw of his uncooperative nature. Primero was hailed as a hero in Renovatio for his deeds in the rebellion against Raz-Nogore, the Beast King of Himmelsfestung, which had only recently been revived as the Kingdom of Alethea. Primero was one of few who—native born First Prince of Renovatio, was kind enough to assist her in understanding the history of Renovatio between Humes and Xenos, and indulging in her appreciation for the Renovatian architecture. Young though he was, his knowledge was priceless, and she would not tolerate his intelligence being insulted through her. Insulting Primero was insulting Ezio. Insulting Ezio was insulting Emperor Corvinus. Insulting Corvinus was unheard of. Feeling satisfied that the merchant who underestimated her now understood the importance of her request, she extended a hand out, “I will not ask again,” She said firmly, “Correct my order, or your incompetence will cost you thrice the price.” The merchant stared down at her hand, the sound of his optic whirring and zooming in on her extended hand filling the silence between them.

His augmented hand took her own—with more firmness than was necessary—and they shook, “Give me three hours, and it will be ready.” He replied gruffly. And Raveena nodded her ascent before giving her attention to the clipboard. Check, check and check! All over Ravenspire she had sent some of her Enforcers to run errands for her. The Laureline was docked and receiving her orders en masse, overseen by Sabine herself. Things were starting to look up. Raveena sighed with satisfaction, hugging the clipboard to her chest. She missed Rowan’s presence, and damned his line of work taking him away from her. Still, he would be pleased by the gifts she picked up for him while visiting. After the assassination attempt on Empress Gabriela, Raveena didn’t think she’d return to Ravenspire. It had been only a few months since the Imperial wedding, and she made a full recovery within weeks thanks to Rowan’s blood transfusions.

Things had moved so fast. Her proper coronation, the acquisition and expansion of Alethea, Kirena’s engagement. After long meetings, dancing ceremonies, endless inspections, approvals, modifications, and luncheons with over-confident regents and regals--she simply wanted to come home to Rowan, his tea and their comfortable silence. She missed kicking her heels off and resting her head in his lap while he read dossiers, studying his targets--and the curve of her thigh. She was stronger, now. Better equipped to function without him lurking as he used to. She learned and grew from Rowan, and would continue to do so. More and more she strove to prove to him she could be the woman he demanded of her the very night they met. She would marry him some day, just to shut him up once and for all.

No one could say she wasn’t competitive.

JJAAMMMMEESSS! She bellowed, using the force of her solar plexus—calling on the Master Knight and friend the way she did when she commanded attention from her military. She wanted to take the day to catch up with him, and so they had agreed to meet and do their shopping together. Despite retiring from the Order of Force Majeure, she was still puppeteering her replacement and working with the Order to keep them abreast on the political side of things in terms of the good, the bad and the evil.

Her nephew—and new neighbor in Renovatio—fell into the evil category.

“James!” She called again, her attention focused on the lists of supplies on her clipboard, “I’m all finished here, let’s eat!”

It was impossible to believe such a petite slight of woman could be queen.

@Fierach

Edited by Deus Ex Aizen

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"Over here", came the reply.

A scant few yards away and leaning on thin air was Raveena's former superior and eternally infuriating companion, the Master Knight of the Order of Force Majeure himself, James Eredas. The handsome Oriental man glanced up at Raveena from the datapad he was reading, catching up on news of Order activity back in its base realm. In stark contrast to Raveena, James was attired in his Daemonbane armor. Even in militaristic Kadia, he stood out, his armor being more baroque and, well quaint in comparison to Kadian tech. There was no sign of any weapon on him, save for the ever-present chained tome at his hip, but all who knew James knew that he was possibly one of the deadliest beings alive with just his fists.

"That smith received quite the earful. I think the good name of his craftsmanship will suffer from here all the way back to Renovatia" he remarked with amusement dancing upon his lips.

Closing the screen on the datapad with a swipe of his fingers, James tucked it away before striding over to Raveena's side. She had left the Order with James's blessing, more or less. She was a good Knight, but ultimately it was not the life for her. She deserved more, and he hoped she could attain true happiness and a prosperous life for her people and civilization.

If only people knew he desired for all Knights to be unneeded.

Of course, the man was still very partial to his former subordinate passing on information. Whilst James would forever be an Outsider, a Realmwalker, Raveena had decided to make Valucre her home, and take care of it accordingly. Koji, the son of the Pendragons, and her nephew, was the self-styled Dragon Emperor, and James had heard whispers of ill activities planned from the other budding empire. Although the Order itself was apolitical in nature, it wasn't unheard of for Knights, or other associates within it to be caught up in worldly affairs, and thus they would have to take important geographical developments into consideration.

"I guess I have no need to ask after your recovery then if you're this boisterous. Any recommendations for food? I have not had fine dining in Kadia yet".

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"Article II, Code 1.2, All residents and citizens are to spend no less than two months’ time attending basic combative classes offered at the Imperial Academies," Tenkai continued to read in between bites of his sandwich. "So it's required that every person living here know how to fight? How peculiar."

It was definitely not the most controversial rule in the codex that he had read thus far. After all, a basic understanding of martial arts had practical uses, and martial arts training was a great way to develop spiritual insight and personal cultivation. Tenkai would have been an absolute hypocrite to deny the merits of martial arts. However, these were not "martial arts", but "combatives". A familiar term, to say the least, with a name that lent itself more to the "martial" end of the spectrum rather than the "art". Given the article he had read earlier about mandatory military service, it was safe enough to assume these "basic combatives" were focused on how to fight. How to kill. It almost reminded him of the archaic society of the Spartan oligarchy, with the notable difference that women were allowed to join the Imperial Legion rather than simply training to strengthen their bodies.

But that raised even more questions about that previous article. Why have it so that a family must choose a woman to serve in the Legion only if a male figure is absent? Why not have a choice to give over either a male or a female in military tribute? Why not choose tribute based on the most able-bodied and willing member? It seemed like an awfully strange preference given the variety of natures among humans. After all, if you're going to use families as sources of conscription, you might as well give them the agency of putting forth their best product, right? Tenkai balked inwardly at the thought of referring to another human as a "product". Debating the logic of the code with himself was distracting him from the fact that the whole rule felt ridiculous to begin with. 

Of course, thinking of these things period was distracting him from where he was going.

"Ooh-! Sorry!" said the monk as he absent-mindedly bumped into one of the citizens passing along Ravenspire's marketplace. The man barely made a noise in response, his austerity likely a result of his Kadian upbringing. However, he gave Tenkai a rather strange look, somewhere between annoyance and mild revulsion. Tenkai's appearance was a bit too outlandish and aesthetically religious for their tastes. Tenkai gave him a little apologetic wave and continued on his way. 

Well, that wasn't very comfortable, he thought. I should be careful. Wouldn't want to anger anyone in a place where most of your citizenry is in the military.

Yet curiosity suddenly got the better of him again, and Tenkai found himself poring through the pages of the codex booklet, halfway finished with his flatbread sandwich.

"This is just...!" 

He continued reading through the sections under "Civil Services." Not only were women expected to produce children by their thirteenth year, but children born out of wedlock or "proper families" were taken by the state. What constituted a "proper family?" Given that this was mentioned separate from wedlock, Tenkai could only figure it meant more than just pregnancies resulting from casual copulation. Would a single parent be considered an improper family? What was one to do if a woman's husband died in combat? And if that didn't matter, then why would any of it matter? Why matter when someone had at least one person to teach them and raise them? Tenkai wished this was more than a primer, as he would like to see what this definition of "proper family" boiled down to. He tried to find it, but reading down the list only presented more issues that raised further questions. Accidental pregnancies were terminated by law, but what was an accidental pregnancy other than a child born out of wedlock that was unwanted? Would the child not be terminated if the mother declared it to not be accidental? That would have been freedom of choice, which oddly enough seemed contrary to many of the laws he had read so far. If that was so, then did this mean that the Imperium determined what pregnancy was accidental or unwanted and which one was? Even if it wasn't an accident, the child would simply be taken anyway. What happened then? And what of the children born with defects and handicaps? They were not aborted, but simply "turned over to the state", a result determined in utero. What did the state do with them? And what did they do with them that they wouldn't do with accidental pregnancies? They could neither keep the children they didn't plan to have, nor keep the ones they planned to have that were abnormal? If freedom and choice were that terrible a thing, why not mandate that accidental pregnancies be carried to term? Once more Tenkai found himself trying to correct the logic of the Codex with logic that was still contrary to his own ideologies, not so much in what was being forced but the forcing in and of itself. At this point Tenkai was surprised the state hadn't mandated what sandwich he could buy.

Unless they already did.

Tenkai sighed, flipping ahead a few pages and continuing to read. "Article II, Code 1.4 section A, Report any sightings of Unnatural species, such as but not limited to; undead. What other unnatural species are there besides undead and demons?"

The monk figured this to be a sore topic for many, so he made sure to keep quiet as he read rather than simply keeping his voice low as he had been before. The last thing he needed were more awkward stares from passersby who may not view "Outsiders" too kindly. The reading took more and more of his attention, just as it had before, to the extent that when he turned the corner by the smithy, he didn't notice who he was about to bump into.

"Oh! Oh, sorry!" Tenkai exclaimed, stumbling back a few feet, startling himself with how fast he snapped back to his senses, "I didn't mean to--"

The two standing before him were more than simply familiar faces to Tenkai. He knew quite well who James Eredas was, a fellow Outsider and daemonhunter just like Tenkai. The monk had a small history with James and his Order of Force Majeure, and at one point James had asked the monk to join his Order in their ongoing mission. Tenkai had turned down the offer, but he would lend his aid when their aims aligned, as they often did. It was not the first time Tenkai had run into James whilst traveling this world, and by now James had gotten to know a bit more about what happened to Tenkai over the past few years since he had seen them. Perhaps not the whole story, but at least he wouldn't be surprised by seeing Tenkai missing an eye.

Rather, it was Raven's presence that surprised him even more. Not because he hadn't expected to find her here. Quite the contrary. She was part of the reason he came to Kadia in the first place. It seemed that all that talk of a woman named "Raven" from Arashi had been referring to just the person he had thought of. It should have stood to reason that she would be here if James and his Order was and vice versa, given her own history and relationship with the Order. What surprised him, however, was what he didn't recognize about her. It wasn't simply a matter of a change of appearance, as James looked plenty different himself. Admittedly, Tenkai had never seen Raven using his Soul Sight in the past, so he didn't know what to think of what he saw now that he finally did. Yet somehow what he saw seemed different than what he had always felt when he simply sensed someone's spirit, back before he had been "gifted" this eye. Was it simply the effect of those strange black spires, or something else?

"General Kanzaki? And James Eredas, too? Well then..."

Tenkai's response was far more measured than it would have been years ago. Outside of battle, Tenkai's demeanor used to be far more upbeat and mirthful. These days, however, Tenkai's pleasant demeanor was on a much lower note. He didn't gawk at the two of them like a bewildered child who was just seeing his siblings for the first time in several years. After all, he did come here looking for Raven, among other familiar faces.

@Deus Ex Aizen@Fierach

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She laughed, and it was a curious sound for those who knew the Queen before her rebirth. To them, Raven was not a woman of mirth and joy. She had been a callous, tortured and empty creature. A living weapon who knew her doomed future, bleak as it were—and so she lived it. It was only by the grace of the holy war above their heads that her future was not as she thought it. Those who knew her, knew her to be a survivor—and so she was. Now she laughed, genuine and true—and it was a pleasant sound, for a happier woman.

“I don’t know what I was like before, but by the sound of it I was either incredibly dull or particularly maverick.” Raveena glanced around as if she were trying to familiarize herself with a path she had walked before. She was all smiles, pleased with the workload she had accomplished, “Besides. A woman enjoys her shopping. Rowan will tell you, if I was easy to deal with—he’d be bored. Almost makes me miss the Order.” Both brows shot up as she leaned into the man and amicably slapped his leather clad shoulder, “Almost.” A part of her meant it, and a part of her didn’t. She barely recalled her time with the Order, but even after the loss of her memories, it had taken her a long time to warm up to James and the Order.

For a long time, she thought it had been James who hired Rowan.

She thought it had been Drew at one point as well.

The elusive Spider refused to tell her, and had even dissolved his contract with his employer, and thus the conversation had been dropped ever since. James had always meant well for her, in a way only James could convey. If he wanted to look out for her, he would do it his way on his terms.

Raveena swiveled around, marching backwards as she James followed her. “There’s actually a little place a few blocks from here that I tried once and—." James could warn her, before anything could be said or done, the Queen collided against the stalwart form of another—clearly someone in motion as she made a strangled sound of surprise and nearly stumbled. She was a graceful thing that recovered mid stance—perhaps more from her militant training than her own preternatural lithe of stride. She whipped around quickly, feeling embarrassed and preparing to apologize when—

“General Kanzaki?” Her eyes flew wide, then turned wary, “And James Eredas, too? Well, then…”  Raveena started to open her mouth but she rethought her next words as the clipboard slipped behind her back—almost protectively. She glanced over her shoulder, unsure—she surely did not recognize this man, but he certainly recognized the pair, “James…?” She asked meekly, trailing off with a touch of anxiety creeping in. Though the stranger didn't look suspicious, there was something generally unpleasant about continuing to run into people whom she had no memory of.

The formerly robust woman had turned shy in a matter of seconds.

@Fierach

Edited by Deus Ex Aizen

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The Daemonslayer was a bit surprised to see Tenkai here. Misadventures aside, he hadn't known the monk to stray far from the realm of Gaia. Then again, it seemed like Valucre was a common destination for their kind these days. Plenty to do, plenty to see. First however, James tapped Raven softly, reassuringly on the shoulder however, and gave her a nod before addressing her in his usual calm and collected manner, never appearing in the least bit fettered.

"Raveena, this is Tenkai Matsumoto. Some would call him a Monk. Others would call him a Kensei. Pleasant fellow. He was a good acquaintance of yours. Harmless..." he then gestured toward the monk's sheathed sword. "Mostly".

"Tenkai. Meet Queen Raveena Senaii Hithar'sidd", he introduced formally, almost lyrically, using her full name and new title. He wasn't sure if Tenkai was aware of Raveena's royal heritage, and he was pretty sure the monk wasn't aware of her rebirth either.
 
"It’s a long story" he added dryly, forestalling any questions from Tenkai for the moment.

Looking over the other man, James noted the monk's eye was still missing. Few in their line of work ever remained whole over the years, and the slayer was lucky that his own disfigurements weren't immediately visible. James asked the monk long ago if he had considered powerful healing magic, or the most advanced sciences to restore regular vision, and the answer James received back then was noncommittal. It seemed like Tenkai intended to keep his spectral sight.

Well, that and having an eyepatch looked pretty cool too.

"In fact, Raveena and I were about to go to a restaurant for lunch. It'd be a good opportunity to catch up, and for you two to get reacquainted."

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"There's...no need for that, James," Tenkai said as he stifled a grimace into a half-frown at the mention of the word "kensei". Though the concept of a "sword saint" was something even attributed to the progenitors of the martial arts lineage he follwed, such as the Yagyu clan and Kamiizumi Nobutsuna, Tenkai found the word to be pretentious. It was the kind of word thrown about by overly-enthusiastic youths that gushed over the wonder and mysticism of the Sengoku and Edo periods. It put far too much important on the "badassery" of being a swordsman, which to them was always synonymous with "samurai". Little thought was given to the wisdom of the martial arts, and any actual mention of it was mystified to the point of being magic and otherworldly. Actual use of metaphysical abilities aside, it was not the kind of thing any real master of kenjutsu wished to promote. A name like "kensei" was an audacious boast, a claim to being "the best of the best" that, while unfortunately true to many who went on warrior pilgrimages for the sake of testing their skills, was not true for Tenkai.

"It's always a long story with you two, isn't it?" said Tenkai. This was quite an understatement, all things considered. Even back when he knew Raven Kanzaki back on Gaia, he could never say he really knew Raven Kanzaki. There was always something more to her that Tenkai never managed to figure out. Of course, Tenkai never bothered to figure it out in the first place. He was not interested in delving into people's pasts unless some good could come of it, be it for others who needed it or for the person in question. Tenkai did very little out of self interest, if at all, and didn't particularly like gathering information for the sake of gossip. Though he found himself often trawling for information like he was a tabloid journalist, there was always a practical purpose to it. Vampires and demons loved their secrets, and knowing what those secrets were gave people like Tenkai an undoubtedly potent edge. James of all people would know this. 

But Raven--...or Raveena, rather, was an entirely different subject. Tenkai had let her mystery be because, frankly, it simply was none of his business. He could even imagine Raven saying just that. Or at least, the old Raven. The new Raveena seemed like a different person. Not entirely different that she was not recognizable, but certainly not the same as General Kanzaki. 

"Well, I suppose you can tell me this 'long story' on the way to---....excuse me, did you say queen?"

Well now, this was certainly a strange turn of events. The Raven he had known was a general, and now this new Raveena, with a name Tenkai could hardly believe James managed to get out of his mouth, was a queen. And a shy one, at that. Of course, that much was to be expected. Tenkai was smart enough to glean from context clues that Raveena had little to no memory of Raven, which by now Tenkai had chalked up to a past life or reincarnation. Buddhists believed in the cycle of rebirth, which was actually subtly different from the Hindu concept of reincarnation, and it would've been highly unlikely that James would have found the selfsame Raven had it been an actual rebirth through the Samsara since there was no concept of "self" to be same. She would just be dead, off in some other plane of existence perhaps, as her karmic energy pulls together the aggregates of form and consciousness that makes up a sentient being. 

Come to think of it, had she died? Tenkai sure as hell didn't know. This "rebirth" could have been due to a plethora of strange mystical happenstances that Tenkai didn't even know about, so musing about it was useless, even if only for a moment. What mattered here was that she was, in fact, a queen. Queen of what? The monk could not say. Probably not here, at least. This was an empire, led by an emperor, married to an empress. That, as much, Tenkai had gathered from reading that codex with all it's absurd rules. Had she been a queen of anything back on Gaia, Tenkai would have probably known about that already. He hadn't seen Raven in quite some time, and had reconnected with James only recently. If she had been here all this time, that would explain why he had seen so little of her. If she was queen of anything, it was likely a neighboring land. That meant she was a foreign leader in the Imperium. Was she on a diplomatic mission? Or was there some other event that had drawn other kings and queens and all manner of monarchy to Kadia? There wasn't a terrible lot of buzz right about now, so if anything had happened or would happen, Tenkai had arrived too late. Or perhaps too early?

Either way, questions were bound to be raised between them no matter if Raven was Raven or Raveena or whoever. Tenkai may have looked more or less the same as he always had, but there was the rather significant addition of an eyepatch covering his right eye. Or at least something that was acting like an eyepatch. It was actually an iron tsuba, the guard of a Japanese sword, one small enough to fit over his eyesocket comfortably enough. Admittedly, yes, it was a motif best represented by one of the most famous masters of Shinkage-ryu, Yagyu Jubei Mitsuyoshi, but it wasn't exclusive to him alone. Suffice it to say, it simply felt right. 

As for why Tenkai needed a eyepatch in the first place, well, James and Raveena weren't the only ones with long stories. James had offered to have his Order find a way to restore his eye, but Tenkai declined. Considering how he had lost it, there was little that could be done to reverse the damage. He now used the empty socket to house the Konshi no Magatama that had been...gifted to him, sealed in an opaque crystal orb to function as a false eye. Doing so had allowed him to see the physical world with his left eye while the artifact's Soul Sight ability remained active, taking over the function of his right eye. This was, however, at the effect being permanently active, reminded each and every moment that the world around him was practically inundated with lost souls, and many of them languished in their suffering. He saw them, and they saw him, too. This eye, in a way, was Tenkai's memento mori.

"Right...yes...queen," said Tenkai. "I suppose this is yet another thing you will explain to me on the way to wherever it is your planning to dine. Or did you want to wait until we got there? I wouldn't quite fault you for it. This place seems a bit...unfriendly to those with secrets."

Tenkai sure had a lot of questions for the two of them. Not simply ones about where they've been and what happened to them, but also questions about Kadia in particular. They seemed to have the lay of the land far better than he did. If anyone could make sense of these incredibly strict laws and was open to Tenkai's inquiry, it was them.

@Deus Ex Aizen@Fierach

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"There's no secret. I am an honored guest here courtesy of Emperor Corvinus. As such I have nothing to hide." Raveena declared with an air of indignation. Perhaps it had been Tenkai's delayed reaction to her status, but then again--from what she learned of her past self, that sort of reaction was warranted. "Imperial blood has always run in my veins, Mr. Mastumoto. My previous incarnation simply didn't want to embrace it. Come on." She gestured casually. She was certainly lovelier than her previous incarnation--in that when she smiled, it was a warm gesture. There was a kindness there that had not been present before. A sweet disposition, sincere and sometimes even mischievous. Raven was a woman who denied herself the pleasures of life. Laughter, fun, an attractive man to loop arms with. Raveena's job was neither easy, nor fun--but her life was another story. Sometimes she woke at night, startled and confused with dreams of blood and ichor coating her. The sounds of war between a hostile government and rebellious citizens. Rowan would make her tea and--she suspected--drugged her to sleep through the night, dreamless.

Here and now she felt the tension leave her shoulders, understanding that Tenkai was a respected man from a past she never recalled. He would find her spirited, for despite her duties as queen she was more than that. A formidable woman who found her calling in life--and greatly enjoyed it. "OXY invaded, and I died--as did my husband Andrew." It was a confusing tale. She delved into how she gave her life to save Andrew's, and how her God took pity on her sacrifice and revived her, but at the price of her memories of the past ten years. Greater still was the discovery of the Matreyan people--her people--and how she led them to Predator's Keep to recover from their genocide and enslavement.  She regaled to him her recovery, and how she fled to Durem city and lived for a year, until Xartia Pendragon had coerced her to return and accept her place as the leader of the refugees.

"I gathered the Enforcers and took to Renovatio in Tellus Mater, where I dethroned a Tyrant King. The City of Alethea is under my reign now. I am here buying supplies and trade negotations." She recanted the Imperial Wedding, the subsequent assassination attempt on Gabriella duGrace of Orisia and her own recovery being in the cross fire, the story of Emperor Koji of the Midlands in Genesaris and his ties to Akako, Xartia and herself, on top of the political conflict that centered around Akako's disappearance and Red's potential implication.

"Not only did I come to shop, but to submit my official request to involve the Kadian Inquisitor. Though the Kadian people do not favor the supernatural, I trust the Inquisitor to be thorough and fair and to assist me in conducting a full investigation." Raveena spoke so casually, so openly--and only because parts were common knowledge, the rest was speculation. "Xartia has been patient and kind to me. If I can move this investigation forward pending Lord Athyon's acquisition, I may be able to save lives." She explained that Athyon Yor was the Imperator of the Carmine Empire, who largely controlled a vast chunk of land in Genesaris, and was her strongest political ally. He was practically family now that he wedded her High Courtesan, who was now known as the formidable Imperatrix Kirena Yor, and were already expecting their first child.

"Things have been busy." She concluded, as the glint of sunlight caught her attention, reflecting off strategically placed square metal tables. A young woman smiled and greeted them by the entrance and after a quick and quiet exchange of conversation with Raveena, set about to arrange two tables put together with three chairs for each of them, before guiding them to their seats. Raveena chose to sit at an end table, her ankles crossing by reflex in the manner that Emperor Raphael had taught her. All manner of ethics, politics, and charm schooling to groom her as a noble had paid off. The earthy scent of coffee and baked bread permeated the air, the sound of Kadia's day to day traffic loud enough to drown out conversation that did not need to be overheard.

"Raphael has called away my Rowan for business, so I hope to find a worthy enough gift to greet him when he comes home." She smiled at Tenkai, "I'm just glad I get to catch up with James in the meantime, and now you're here. I hope Kadia is treating you well so far. It takes getting used to!"

@Tenkai Matsumoto

@Fierach

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If Tenkai was annoyed by James's usage of the term Kensei, it was because James deliberately invoked it to do so, taking a bit of enjoyment in teasing the humble monk, although he did hold the other man's sword skills in such high regard. One day, James would invite Tenkai to a friendly exchange of techniques. 

As they walked, the Daemonslayer listened intently to her tale of Emperor Koji, of the fox tailed woman Akako, and of Xartia and Queen Red Yusuke's potential connection. This was the information he had primarily come to hear. Apparently familial bonds weren't as important to Koji as the rest of his family. Many nations were militarizing rapidly all over Valucre, and few troubled him as much as did that of the Young Dragon. Whilst James considered fighting and battle to be merely an integral aspect of human nature, and ultimately he didn't care if one world burned itself to ashes in conflict; wars presented singular opportunities for eldritch powers to gain footholds in the mortal realms, and that, he could not allow.  

When they entered the homely café, James waited for Raveena to finish addressing the waitress, and once the tables were put together he took a seat opposite the Queen. Picking up a menu, he glanced at it briefly, before addressing both Tenkai and Raveena. "Knowing your sensibilities however Tenkai, I believe you may have some reservations"

He did notice the Codex the monk was reading when he had bumped into them. James might not have been an empath like Raveena, but he knew the man longer (ignoring the loss of memory), and he was fairly good at reading people as well. 

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It seemed as if this was to be a very revealing trip down memory lane.It seemed as if this was to be a very revealing trip down memory lane. James and Raven, or Raveena rather, were not the only familiar names that came up as she got Tenkai caught up on current events. Raveena had mentioned Xartia Pendragon, that ambitious cambion wizard who was somewhat disturbingly interested in Tenkai's pet panda, Kuroshiro. She also mentioned Akako Akari, the elusive kitsune, and the psion Red Yusuke. All of them were names that were familiar to Tenkai and his past, though he was at least already somewhat aware of both Red and Akako being present in these lands due to the festival. This memory ended up reminding Tenkai that he still had about half a flatbread sandwich he had bought from a stall on his way here. He didn't really care to eat anything else at the moment, but it was bad form to bring food from other vendors into a restaurant. Tenkai wrapped up the remaining foodstuff and stowed it away in his satchel.

"Well, then," said the monk with begrudging amusement. "It's like you all went off and became kings and queens without me so much as hearing a whisper of it. I wonder who else we know came here and ended up starting a kingdom."

Perhaps Tenkai wasn't being very fair. The ambition to rule wasn't always steeped in autocratic tendencies. Raveena's story in particular was a bit more heartening for the monk. Though he never truly understand who or what OXY was or had ever been back when he knew the original Raven, he could tell by her tone that they were a serious threat. Now, in being reunited with her people, she not only managed to dethrone a Tyrant, but also created a new home for said refugees. Even after all this time and all that had happened with him, he could still appreciate it when war and conquest was fought for more altruistic purposes. In losing much, Raveena had gained more. 

"Speaking of Red and Akako," said Tenkai, "I was actually at a festival in Port Caelum not too long ago, which is where I first heard of their dealings here. Seems the situation has grown a bit sour since then." He sighed wearily. Of course it would, he thought. Everything eventually did. He wasn't sure what to make of the part about Red being implicated, but he was never one to put the cart before the horse. There was only one truth, after all. Moreover...

"I actually ran into someone who I thought you might know. A young half-dragon named Arashi. She kept telling me about her friend 'Raven', and her description matched yours too closely to be coincidence."

Tenkai wondered for a moment where Arashi had ran off to while simultaneously breathing an inward sigh of relief that she had not followed him on his trip to Kadia. Given what he discovered about their attitude towards non-humans, it was unlikely that they would have tolerated her presence in the city. That would have led to some unwanted conflict a bit sooner than he would have liked. As they seated themselves at the restaurant, that thought managed to hang in his head, up until the point James so cleverly picked up on it.

On 12/12/2017 at 11:44 PM, Deus Ex Aizen said:

"I hope Kadia is treating you well so far. It takes getting used to!"

8 hours ago, Fierach said:

"Knowing your sensibilities however Tenkai, I believe you may have some reservations"

"That would be an understatement."

Tenkai planted the Codex down on the table in front of them as if he was presenting evidence in court. He didn't slam it on the table such as to draw suspicion or unwanted attention, but he placed it firmly enough to show his severity in gesture before he even started speaking. And even then, he made sure to speak in a low enough voice that he wouldn't be heard too easily, at the very least not by anyone making themselves a bit too uncomfortably close.

"No option of divorce or annulment. Mandatory military service. State-mandated pregnancy, AND state-mandated abortion. Even children with handicaps and defects aren't allowed to be kept by their parents. Not to mention that absurd law about refunding at triple the cost."

Yes, the very law that Raveena herself had invoked not too long ago. It was a law undoubtedly intended to scare merchants and manufacturers into maintaining the absolute highest level of quality, but designating an item as "cheap" was not something easily quantified without some specific standard. Perhaps Raveena had only invoked the law in order to scare the blacksmith into acquiescence, as it would likely require Imperial inspectors to appraise the item in order to determine whether it was eligible for refund. However, that merely opened the door for corrupt practices, where wealthy or influential members of the government or friendly foreign dignitaries such as Raveena could have their claims given credence due to their status or contributions. Raveena was a guest of Emperor Corvinus himself, was she not? Would the Imperium have seen it her way, that of a queen, or that of a mere blacksmith?

"Everyone in the empire, citizen or no, is required to report any crime even if it's so much as hearsay," said Tenkai. "All it would take is for someone to start a rumor in order to put the authorities in an uproar. With rules like these, I can only imagine just how many could already be locked up in the Imperium's prisons."

Tenkai could barely even think about what it could be like in a prison system run by an empire with such strict laws. Though the Codex didn't seem to show any laws regarding the discussion of Kadian law, he kept in mind that the Codex was merely a primer. There could have been a much larger, more complete version that went into more detail regarding dissent. Even if it wasn't against the law, there was no telling how they felt about it, and Tenkai was not about to make himself into a person of interest in a foreign territory just for questioning their laws. There was more he needed to see.

"The Legion, their military, is given absolute authority here, and the people are expected to obey their orders 'without question'. Doesn't any of this seem a bit familiar to you? Do you ever wonder what Tres Ecstuffuan would have thought of this?" Even though Tenkai was just as critical of Tres' own ambition, he couldn't deny that the UWP had its merits and was at least at its core fueled by a desire to help the oppressed. Tenkai turned his attention specifically to Raveena. "Do you even remember that name?"

Tenkai was not trying to browbeat Raveena, or least of all James, who likely had his own scruples in this situation. He didn't know how she truly felt about these laws, or even if it concerned her. After all, she was the queen of a newly risen nation and had to think of her people first and foremost. Even if things didn't sit well with her, she was still a foreign diplomat, and every action, every word she spoke could carry strong political consequences. Yet still, as he always had even when she was Raven, Tenkai would not hold his tongue when he had something to say, and boiling it all down to something he simply needed to "get used to" didn't sit very well with him. 

@Deus Ex Aizen @Fierach

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40f03f86f3.jpgRaveena smiled at Tenkai's indication, "You know, I brought the United Worker's Party with me. Tres' radicalism was something I feel like I noticed...perhaps too late. But then, bless that woman of his for giving him something more down to earth to focus on. The Enforcers flourished, even after Ertai's invasion. They are my main military police force, thanks to training with the Order of Force Majeure."

She glanced absently at the menu, but already knew what she wanted. A woman of particular tastes, when she found the one thing on the menu she knew she'd love, she never seemed to order anything but that one. It only sometimes drove Rowan insane when he treated her to a dinner out, as he often encouraged her--as a woman from a melting pot of culture--to explore new foods. Sweeping strands of hair from her braid behind her ear, she smiled again. "As for Kadia. It's very rigid in its structure. People relinquish certain freedoms for security. It's a way of life, and it's not for everyone--least of all me. I favor danger too much to err on the side of caution, but I can sometimes appreciate the reprieve of such a authoritative state. My only ill favor was during the assassination attempt, they would not let Rowan leave to attend to me properly. I thought he might murder the Inquisitor were I not still alive."

Her dark brows knit at the memory, her lips pressed into a thin line. It had been a troubling thing, indeed. One that was swiftly rectified, "As for starting kingdoms, you are only slightly incorrect. I hail from an Imperial bloodline, and my house is an old one--one of the founding houses of the Empire. I'm simply expanding what was always rightfully mine, courtesy of Valucre. Imperator Athyon and Emperor Raphael fondly refer to me as the Rising Queen, and it has stuck. My sun sets to rise again." Those last words were a common saying among her people as they embraced their new God Arun'daeraa, who was once the minor Matreyan God of the Sun, and often considered a Trickster, and rightfully so. He had only suckered his brother into a wager and started trouble the moment said brother's head was turned away. It meant they were surviving, flourishing. They lived to flourish another day.

"Besides. There's plenty of trouble for men like James to get into here," And lifted the menu to cover her giggling, "Lord knows you'd be bored otherwise." Lowering the menu, she regarded Tenkai more seriously, "But honestly, Mister Matsumoto--Tenkai," She quickly corrected herself, "One man's hero is another man's enemy. It's all a matter of perspective. Koji feels justified in his vengeance. That woman tortured those children--and were I any lesser a woman, I would have stopped her. No wonder I pledged my life to them before I died." She placed her hands flat in her lap and sighed, "That does not, however, give those children the right to cause mass chaos and destruction. Kadia favors order and efficiency. They are here to flourish as an Empire, and I can respect that. You have less to fear from Kadia than you do the Dumplingbutt Empire."

She paused for a moment, as if letting her words sink in before she burst into a fit of laughter, delighted by her own words. It was something she had referred to the Datsuzoku Empire mentally, and it had only been the first time she absentmindedly spoke it out loud. Sometimes she was silly in her way, but that was the splendor of Raveena. Despite how terrible and dire the threat of the Empire was to her allies, she managed to find something amusing about them to take the edge off. "Forgive me, forgive me!" She laughed quietly, shaking her head in shame, "If I can't have fun I must make fun of something." It was a simple philosophy, one she was buying into more and more. She was radically different than the fatalist that Rowan saved.

The server came to take their drink orders, to inquire sweetly if they were ready to order. She would not yet order until her new-found companions did, accepting only a glass of water to begin with. Her appetite had changed drastically, taking better care of what she put into her body. She was slow to eat her meals, and enjoyed them much more thoroughly. "Although to be perfectly honest, what Kadia is doing works for them. I'm only here to order good quality supplies and find a gift for my better half. We can't have everything we want in life. What changes would you see?"

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James pretended to studiously examine the menu whilst Raveena and Tenkai exchanged words, listening closely even as he picked out a tasty sandwich, roast beef with jalapeños, and then looked for something else to go with. Raveena was an effective politician already, redirecting Tenkai's concerns about the Kadian policy with a false analogy involving Datsuzoku Empire. Of course it wouldn't work on the astute monk, a fact she knew, which was why she immediately followed it up with justifying that what their host nation was doing worked for them. 

"I think you and I are used to the freedoms of Gaia Primus, Tenkai. Valucre is another world altogether," James spoke up and reminded the monk. Personally he could see some merit in the ways of the Kadians, but to him, those who sacrificed essential liberties for security deserved neither. Kadia would fall in time like any other empire throughout the ages of worlds, and would not need the judgement of a few morally outraged Outsiders to help it along. 

"Have you studied the history of Kadia yet? I think a close look at that will answer most of your questions as to why the nation is the way it is." The natives were a people constantly embittered and besieged by enemies, from vampires, to beast-men, to the daemons of Chaos. It was little wonder they were an advanced, militant people; constant struggle bred that growth and mentality. To sum it up, James once surmised that was exactly the type of society that would arise if groups like the Order of Force Majeure, and Daemonslayers like him did not exist. However, whether it was for the better of humanity, or for worse, it remained to be seen. 

He put his menu down, indicating that he was ready to order.

Edited by Fierach

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It would seem that Raveena managed to either retain enough of her memory of her former life to know of Tres Ecstuffuan, or at the very least had her memory restored in some other way. She spoke of these subjects as readily and without confusion as Raven Kanzaki would have done herself, albeit in a far different manner and attitude. She spoke more like a politician and stateswoman than a military commander, and both managed to chafe with Tenkai equally. That, as much, was to be expected. Tenkai was neither a military leader nor a politician. He was a monk, and he always spoke from a position relating to individual people and their struggles on a more personal level. To many, this came off as him being too soft or naive, unable to grasp the bigger picture of society. This didn't seem to bother the monk very much. There was some benefit in having others believe he was nothing more than rosy-eyed fool. 

Relinquishing certain freedoms for security? he thought, listening as Raveena sought to justify the Kadian codex. He could not help but ponder just how much security had actually been bought by giving up said freedoms, or even if it was truly necessary to purchase said security with said freedoms. The words came flowing into Tenkai's unfettered mind as they usually did. Sell not virtue to purhcase wealth, nor liberty to purchase power, he thought. Raveena was right in that it worked for Kadia's people, but then again, why wouldn't it? Of course it would work for its own people. Many of them had likely been born into that system, knowing nothing else. Others were unflinchingly loyal to the Emperor, who based on what he had read was hailed as the Empire's principle deity. What mortal man in their right mind would willingly oppose someone they truly believed was their god? Any man who was given any sort of pause would be found wanting, and Tenkai knew what happened to those found wanting. The concept of an empire led by an individual believed to be their god was certainly not unheard of to Tenkai, who knew well of the history of the far-away land of his upbringing. It only managed to make him ponder the matter further.

Raveena was introducing new names left and right at a pace almost faster than the monk could manage. He did not know of Imperator Athyon or Emperor Raphael, but now he at least knew there was more than one empire in these lands, and more emperors to go with it. He could only imagine what sort of conflict that the world of Valucre had seen through the ages, how many more empires and their emperors had risen and fallen. He could only imagine the untold loss of life that resulted from it. Tenkai thought he would have seen that first hand by means of his "eye", but everything had felt so blurry ever since he stepped foot into Ravenspire. It always got worse when he neared those obelisks. Just what would he have seen had his vision been clear?

Tenkai couldn't help but feel a twinge of discomfort over the suggestion that James would be "bored" with so little to do. Perhaps that was true enough for James Eredas, who enjoyed a good fight even when he was bound by purpose to fight it, but Tenkai was as much a "man like James" as any other. Anyone who knew Tenkai well enough knew he was far more than just a humble Buddhist holy man. He was Tenkai Matsumoto, master of Yagyu Shinkage-ryu, exorcist of Daishin-ji Temple, former agent of the Vatican's Arcanum Est Opus Dei. A feared vampire hunter, bane of the undead, enemy of Chaos and professional thorn-in-the-side. To think that a man like him would be "bored" for there being nothing to fight and kill was almost an insult. None of what Tenkai did was for enjoyment or the thrill of battle. If anything, it was his hatred for violence that led him to more pragmatic decisions and decisive actions. Relishing in bloodshed was a path that turned men into monsters, so Tenkai did well not to make light of his task, not even when he was in good spirits.

Raveena, however, didn't seem to bothered by making a joke of it all. Once more she brought up the name of Koji, who she had earlier explained was the son of Xartia Pendragon, using him as an example of how "one man's hero is another man's enemy". As if any of this had to do with "heroes" and "enemies", or villains rather. Tenkai remembered being exposed to such a narrow line of thought in the past, perhaps he himself being a bit too close to that concept in question. He remembered a time where he had tried to unify people of character back on Gaia, his ultimate plan to bring the myriad fighters, adventurers, mercenaries and "heroes" together, united only by momentary common interest. An alliance with and without form, something that would go beyond the petty factional disputes of the time. For a while, it seemed to have worked, but only because people had become united by circumstance itself rather than anything Tenkai could do. That effort of his died the day he had to kill the man he called his friend. That was when he learned that such words as "hero" or "villain" were arbitrary, and that even bonds of friendship alone were not enough to bring people together. Some people were simply monsters, no matter how much commonality you found with them. 

To that end, Tenkai was almost uncharacteristically grim in his response to Raveena's joviality. In the past he could have allowed himself a moment of amusement, but none of this was a laughing matter to Tenkai. He was not bound by some ephemeral notion of heroism and villainy. To him, there were men, and then there were monsters. The only thing that hadn't changed about Tenkai, the thing that separated him starkly from the governance of Kadia, was how he defined what made a man and what made a monster.

"You think this is fun?"

For a moment it sounded like Tenkai was angry, but no rage bubbled forth from him. There was no tremble in his features, no fire in his eye. He was simply without mirth, unable to see the humor Raveena saw. Perhaps that was merely a fault in their perspectives. After all, Tenkai was not royalty. Not that royal blood had anything to do with it, but perspective due to position was another thing entirely. Perhaps Raveena could afford herself that bit of fun that Tenkai couldn't. Tenkai knew from that day onward there was no fun to be had in what he did.

Even James seemed a bit too comfortable, at least outwardly so. He was as quick to bring up the fact that Tenkai was as much an Outsider as James was, and how different these lands were from the ones he knew. It wasn't that Tenkai disagreed with this notion. Perhaps it was moreso that Tenkai thought James would have known that Tenkai understood this from the outset. He didn't speak of these matters lightly.

"Neither of you should be so quick to presume me so ignorant," said Tenkai, clearly not amused but without any ire in his tone. "It goes without saying that this system works for Kadia. Why wouldn't it? But there are many other systems that also 'worked' for its own people with no regard to others or the rest of the world they interact with. Even more existed that 'worked' in the sense of creating a consistent, sustainable society at a price that didn't need to be paid."

Tenkai turned to James. "Unfortunately, the Codex didn't come with a history section. It is, after all, nothing more than a primer for visitors. I imagine that those who seek to become citizens are required to acquaint themselves further with a more comprehensive set of laws and whatever pieces of history the Empire feels its people need to know. I am not concerned with the circumstances. I am sure that, given the nature of this world and its conflicts, this was simply the natural recourse in the development of their society. Anything more forced than that would be nothing less than complete oppression and tyrannical despotism."

The monk then turned back to Raveena. "You ask me what changes I would see as if I fancy myself a statesman. You say I can't have everything I want in life as if all of what I say is acting out of desire. None of this is true. To act out of desire would be selfish, no different than those who seize power for their own sakes. In spite of all you know me to be, I am little more than a Buddhist monk. I care for nothing more than to help those who suffer. I am not like Takuan Soho, advising the daimyo of a bygone era. I am neither your advisor nor someone so versed in statecraft as to carefully articulate that which is possible, and politics is the art of the possible. I only go where I am needed, act on what I see and with what knowledge I have. And there is still so much yet to see and know. Given all that you two have presented me with, I can see now that it is not here."

Tenkai pushed out his seat and rose, straightening out the bunches in his robes as he stood. Though Raveena and James had given him much to ponder, there was not much else they could offer them here. Raveena was a queen now, and she was to act in the best interest of her people. James was the leader of his Order and had a sworn duty to uphold. Perhaps then this was the fault of Tenkai's purpose in life being such a broad-spanning matter. To concern oneself with the suffering of others spanned a whole gamut of issues on a massive scope. The monk tended to stay away from politics, and the last time it even managed to concern him was back in Sigil during the conflict between the Merchant's Guild and the UWP. In the end, that really was all it was insofar as the grand political scheme of things; a concern. It was a concern because he knew very well where this all inevitably led and what resulted from it. Contrary to what Raveena might have thought, Tenkai saw it as neither his right nor his place to seek some form of change in a land that as not even his by origin, let alone rule. He wasn't about to play this game of thrones that many from his past had now sought to take part in. He would do as he had always done: wander, learn and help those that he could. If that led him to Kadia or the Datsuzoku or practically anywhere on this world, so be it.

At the very least, James' prompting that Tenkai learn of Kadia's history seemed like a good enough direction. 

"If you have any means of keeping in touch with me, I would hear it," said the monk. "This is certainly not the last time we'll meet."

Tenkai would accept whatever means by which he could stay in contact with Raveena and/or James and the Order before respectfully parting company.

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"Sit and eat, at least. As soon as our orders are ready we're departing the city."

There were things that were beyond their control. Beyond their reach. They had only now, and that was something Raveena had come to cherish. In her past life she gave herself no room to relax, no room to be comfortable. In the end, she was told, it destroyed her. Even still, her Daemon insisted that some of that trauma seeped into her new life. It was only by the grace of Rowan that she managed to grab that faulty logic and turn it around.

Her gaze leveled with Tenkai, and she decided that she was offended by his reaction to her logic. Did he know the depths of her despair to judge her for how she led her new life? Not even Raveena fully grasped just how damaged she had been in her former life. A life where she made it her mission to try and save everyone but herself. It was not that she lacked fortitude--she had such in spades. It was simply that her look on life had changed long before she assumed the throne.

Hyperion was not simply for her people, but for anyone who needed it. It was her way of balance, to help those she could without sacrificing more than necessary.

"Or if you won't, I'm sure we'll find a way to keep in touch. I have a home in Genesaris, Terrenus and here as well in Tellus Mater. Renovatio is not as exciting as here in Alterion, though. You can always email me," She smiled pleasantly, "It's not as though we're not technologically handicapped." Did she think it was fun? No. But if she could not strive to cling to the positives, the good things, the joy of humor--was it worth living? Tenkai seemed more and more like the shell of a man. That was a path she did not want to follow again. She did in fact, presume Tenkai to be ignorant of many things. He seemed a learned man, but that was just as well. It were as though he was insinuating the Kadian people suffered.

That was true for any civilization, any kingdom--even within her own realm. People suffered. But these people chose Corvinus as their leading, guiding force. To her, she could see and even understand the merits of Kadian fortification, though she didn't disagree that anything more forced was tyranny--and Raveena was well met in the workings of tyranny through the liberation of her people. She sighed, as there was no reasoning with a man like Tenkai. He was set in his way, and she, hers. He seemed so upset that he had not even bothered to stay for lunch, watching him go.

She glanced at James with arched brows, "I don't think I particularly like that stick in the mud."

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"Sometimes sticks are useful, they let you know where the line is" James replied lightly as he waved down a waitress.

Catching her eye, the Daemonslayer added with a chuckle, "You felt the roughly the same way about back then as well".

"I have the utmost respect for his abilities, and should you meet and get to know him more, the two of you will find much in common over goals, if not priority of said goals". James believed he understood Tenkai well, the monk was a man who could hardly look over injustice, or hints of it, even on the smallest level. In fact, there was no smallest level, if you chose to think of it that way. He was a harmonious man, despite his capacity for battle. To him, the Kadian people were indeed suffering despite their prosperity.

It did not matter. As long as Tenkai would fight the true enemy when it showed itself, it would be fine.

"I invited him to join the Order once, you know"

Edited by Fierach

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