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"Thanks for coming with me Sensei, you have no idea what it means to me."

To Jinsoku it didn't matter that he had to lace the request with tempting treasures such a cavern filled with a plethora of magic weapons. Such was enough to lure Jinsoku by any normal means, though in this case his feelings of necessary presence were actually along the lines of penance and retribution. Rumor from treasure hunters and warriors alike had it that the old Lanternway was haunted, the cavern of blades infested, both tainted by the Whispernight Scourge. The hellish flames of Whispernight tempered these lands, and unfortunately took a strong hold onto. After his debacle with the scourge ending in failure, Jinsoku felt that this would be the least he could do to reassure himself of his honor. He'd visit the Cavern of Blades, and he'd slaughter all the creatures of the dark he reasonably could before hopefully finding and making off with at least one new weapon or artifact. Donning lighter armor favoring leather with some steel, Jinsoku was equipped with his usual Microcomposite spear to his lower back, fully retracted and hosted in a horizontal fashion. To his upper back with its handle protruding beyond the right shoulder was the long curve blade, a Zanbato. The large blade was a more recent purchase for an even larger job. Carrying it on his back was no big deal in comparison to the sort of weight had had lifted training with Master James himself. In terms of combat use, it wasn't hard to compensate for its unwieldy nature. When one accepted that the blade was best for crushing as opposed to cutting, slashing, or stabbing, it became that much more useful in the right hands. Especially for an occasion as special as this one. 

"Perhaps this is a safe enough mission with us both in company to allow some of the greenhorns a chance at some real action. In as controlled a scenario as we could possibly hope for?

Jinsoku might not have been knighted yet, but James often afforded him the courtesy and respect of having some say so as long as he was in his right mind. Likewise he had helped first hand in training the lower ranks when he wasn't on some sort of mission or deployment. This experience was invaluable and could be more dangerous than anticipated. Though Jinsoku was so certain that having him and James together would be more than enough to complete the task as designated. Any extra hands would practically be overkill, probably. Regardless, this had to be done, and Jinsoku wouldn't rest comfortably until he managed to get through the final stage of grief. Acceptance.

@Fierach

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"Safe enough? Probably not, if the stories are any indication. But I'd like to see the our foes prove otherwise" came the serene reply. Standing at nearly six inches taller then Jinsoku, James Eredas was the the younger man's master, and one of the leaders of the Order to which he belonged. To look at James was to see a glimpse of Jin's possible futures. Of the same ethnicity, the Daemonslayer couldn't have been too much older, but he possessed more intense eyes, light scarring from battles past, and that self-assured confidence, bordering on arrogance, that could only come from somebody who was truly in control of themselves at all times.

Underneath his well-worn travelling cloak, James bore his Daemonbane armor, a masterfully crafted set of worked dragonhide, enchanted steel, silk lining, and reinforced with carved dragonbone, an excellent balance of agility and protection. At his waist lay belted a sheathed longsword, a chained tome, and a half-mask. No doubt the veteran warrior possessed numerous other weapons, not to mention the extra pack he carried, filled with rations and other common adventuring essentials like rope, a map, compass, and waterskein. 

Surveying the beautiful, overgrown landscape. James motioned for his apprentice to lead the way.

RxINBIP.jpg

"So, tell me what you know about this Cavern of Blades. I want to know what we can reasonably expect from these geists"

No doubt his apprentice did his homework.

Did he?

 

 

Edited by Fierach

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Perhaps his Master was right. Still, he felt that if the other trainees couldn't handle this task as a unit, then perhaps they were in the wrong vocation. Despite such thoughts, Jinsoku found it easy not to complain. He was well versed against the likes of the Whispernight Scourge. With Master James by his side, there was simply not reason to worry about himself. This was one small area anyways when compared to the entire continent being filled with relentless, limitless numbers of these spawn. There's no way he would lose everything this time. No, this time he would allow losses only to the enemy. The Whispernight vermin.

"Hai...The Cavern of Blades is said to be previously sacred and protected land within Genesaris. It's tunnels and pits are said to be littered with unfathomable amounts of melee weapons, both arcane and mundane alike. With remnants of the Whispernight holing up inside, the region has been practically abandoned. Warriors have been invited from all over the world to come and exterminate the vermin, with the reward in mind being claim to weapons found within the caverns. As for the targets themselves, there is no cliche or generic creature to prescribe you. It seems that there is severe lack of study in this facet of knowledge. The locals of the entire continent hole up in the larger cities during this event, leaving those outside at the mercy of the event until its end. The entire moment lasted about five to six weeks, though in it's wake it seems there are remnants plaguing many more areas beyond this one. Perhaps we should begin our own bestiary in order to catalog the threats we encounter along the way?"

Maybe with the right connections, more info could be had. However, the nation as a whole seemed to practically ignore the existence so long as they were spared from its wrath. Jinsoku had worked for several weeks after the event ended to learn what he could prior to devoting time to helping exterminate the remnants. He wasn't sure why he felt so compelled to help, but he felt that this was the least he could do in order to feel as if he was worthy of the forgiveness of the one's he failed to save. While he wasn't severely depressed from the experience any longer, nor plagued so harshly by the PTSD suffered, Jinsoku still felt indebted to the lost lives of Whispernight past. The option of finding some decent weapons was just a chance bonus in his mind. 

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"I have always cataloged the different creatures I've seen on my travels" James reminded Jin lightly, tapping the bound tome at his side as he did so. The Great Library back in Bastion possessed quite an intricate bestiary as well, books after books of various sorts of creatures, races, and animals, found throughout many worlds, all cataloged in the halls and classrooms of the Order of Force Majeure. The Daemonslayer emphasized blending both field experience and book learning. 

Well, it really didn't matter if they didn't have much information beforehand. Forging ahead into the unknown was part of an adventurer's, and definitely a Slayer's job as well. 

"We'll make a record of what we encounter. Lets get going for now"

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"I'd be lying if I said I had captured them all. Regardless, I lost everything then. Everything that wasn't left in Terrenus anyway."

Jin didn't capture everything he encountered simply because he couldn't always recall full details, or perhaps he didn't find them to begin with. Likewise, while his drawing skills had been developing more, he still lacked the finer skills it took to properly capture a creature on record both by written script, and by visual appearance. Despite the mentioning of dark times he had endured, Jin failed to slip from his usual, cheery and confident self. He had settled with his demons prior to coming, which is why he had come in the first place. James was right though, this would be a chance to start a fresh catalog. Certainly this might lead to Jin making other appearances to heed the call of exterminating the Whispernight remnants. For now, Jinsoku began to walk, leading Master James inevitably to the mouth of the cavern. While it seemed to be quiet this far to the entrance, Jinsoku could already feel the vibrations of the writhing darkness hidden in the dark depths of this cavern. Hopefully he could detect most if not all dangers before they struck, for there would surely be some gnarly echoing discovered within. Pausing for a brief moment, Jin took a deep breath and spoke to James once more as he looked onward into the dark.

"I wonder how deep it actually goes."

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The Daemonslayer tugged on his pack, pulling out a pair of torches, simple things, cloth wrapped around a stick, soaked in a special oil that burned longer and cleaner, without smoke or smell. 

Handing one off to Jin, he lit the other with a flourish, a spark of flame from his hands before holding it up before him, lighting the passages of the cavern before them.

Image result for darkest dungeon torch

"Only one way to find out"

And James strode forth.

Edited by Fierach

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Jinsoku was prepared to enter the cave in it's natural, darkened state. His gift of Electrolocation courtesy of the Raiju was more than reassuring. However, he would not refuse the generosity of his Master when he was offered a torch. Not only would this give him a fail safe in case the Raiju didn't pick up on something he could only physically see. That or in the case of the Raiju's abilities failing completely. Entering the mouth of the cavern, the passage didn't at first seem very promising. It was much too narrow to expect much out of, and it was as bare as what might have been expected. A faint presence could be felt however, by Jinsoku at least and presumably by Master James himself. Something dark and powerful loomed in the depths of these caverns. Something that felt more like a hoard of fiends than a single presence. Unfortunately there would be no telling for sure from this distance. Perhaps they would venture close enough to investigate the source, perhaps they wouldn't. 

He breathed in, his lips parting to speak. They shut without delivery however when the cavern began to expand into a wider birth. Jinsoku searched his immediate surroundings with his torch. He was weary of not only creatures beyond his comprehension lying in wait for ambush, but also for potential traps set by such creatures of capable sentience, or otherwise even hunter's past such as themselves in the present. Suddenly, Jinsoku's charcoal eyes narrowed as they came upon a fork in their path. The cavern split, separated by a wall. Even with his Electrolocation he couldn't sense if they two paths became one again at some point or not. Still, he took this as the perfect moment to mark their path for future reference. Squatting to the ground, he produced a charge of neutrons into his open fist. Pressing his palm into the ground at his feet, he placed the charge into the ground and ultimately creating an unseen checkpoint. Standing erect again, he hesitated for a moment, unsure of which way they should go first.

"What do you think Master? Perhaps we should flip a coin?"

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James studied the diverging pathways, first bending down to light the ground, and see if there were any fresh footprints headed in either path, then he closed his eyes, and reached out with his aura sense, seeking the direction of a stronger, or stranger emanation, if there was one. If there was any distinct sound, that would help too in making a decision. "Coin might be good, but first let us make sure nothing can come up the un-ventured path and ambush us"

The lengths at which James went to ensure this however, might leave a few eyebrows raised. Cutting a length off the rope he had brought along, James then retrieved a grenade from within his pack, one of two that he carried along, and created a very simple, yet effective trap.

"Do try to remember that we have it here" he added dryly.

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"?"

Silently he observed his Master. James cut off a length of rope and attached it to a grenade before tethering it as a trap for the untraveled path. By his guess, the rope would cause the pin to dislodge when disturbed, thus flanking whatever triggered it with an explosion in the least. Setting traps is something he had yet to practice during his travels, his experience instead more angled to searching for traps and disarming them when possible. Seeing James prepare to do such a thing was just evidence he still had a few things to learn from him after all. When James made sure to remind him to be weary of it, he delivered a simple nod as he verbally complied.

"Hai...Uh, say, you wouldn't happen to have the coin too would you?"

He mused nervously into a slow sarcastic laugh as his eyes closed for a brief moment, his right hand coming to scratch the back of his head as it tilted slightly to the right. If this was one of them anime, he would surely have had a sweat drop somewhere about his brow. One habit about Jin that almost never changed, was his lack of keeping currency on his person, especially without intent to use it.

 

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"Catch"

 

If Jinsoku did not open his eyes in time, he would have a gold, silver-rimmed coin flipped into his face.

"For Charon" James added, as if that explained everything.

Of course he did. Then again, Jinsoku should have been well accustomed to his master's ways by now. Sometimes vague, sometimes thorough, sometimes serious, but always with a lesson in mind. James very much encouraged others to figure things out themselves. This was one of those times.

Turning his attention back toward the the dual pathways, James spent a few more long seconds, before finally nodding toward the right path. "This way then"

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Jin's eyes opened suddenly when James instructed him to catch. Fumbling the coin a bit, he caught it sloppily without being hit in the face. The next words to come from James' mouth were received as more of a warning than anything. "For Charon", the ferryman responsible for seeing the souls of the living cross the river styx as they transitioned from, well, living. James was right, regardless of his gifts, he should not be reckless with them nor rely so much on them. It was best for Jin to keep his eyes peeled at all times. The coin dictated that they should travel to the right, therefore James rigged his trap onto the tunnel to the left. Jinsoku would surely remember it was there, or pay the consequences of forgetting should he be the one to trigger the explosion that waited for whatever passed through the rope. James having took the time to set a trap allowed Jinsoku to take the lead, something he would not shy from thanks to the reassurance his training had provided over the past couple of years. 

Using his torch to light his path, Jin watched as the tunnel they chose began to curve harder about 60 or so feet in. Likewise, it began to expand the further they went. Evidence of skirmishes past began to become apparent. Old dried blood, torn fabrics and pieces of metal from weapons and armor alike, the random scatter of bones devoid of entire skeletons. Jinsoku sensed no immediate present danger, though he was certainly weary that there just might be something lurking closer than they might currently expect. About fifty mote feet ahead, there seemed to be a dead end that gave way to a hole. The dark hole was not so shallow, though Jinsoku was certain he could smell fresh water down on the other side of it. The men might not be sure how far a drop it is, or the situation of the water below, but they certainly needed to find out in order to plan on how to continue.

"Master, ahead, it appears to be an opening giving way to some sort of fresh water source. I can sense the moisture of the environment, but not it's depth."

Flipping the coin his Master afforded him moments ago into the abyss, it fell out of sight and continue to fall, all the while, Jinsoku tracked it's fall all the way into the water and beyond. By the time the coin had fallen at least ten feet deep, he seemed to be convinced he had checked thoroughly enough to know the risks of jumping or not.

"We can jump, or, you can trust me to carry you in. Electroportation isn't the only new trick I've learned since arriving."

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Every so often, James knelt to examine the traces of blood, the bones and the metal, guessing at their ages with some skilled insight. The lack of whole skeletons stood out to him, suggesting that undead were at work within the cave, or at least something that could reanimate the dead. When they came to the drop, James eyed the opening with the same critical eye, cocking his head to listen to the coin hit something, water, dirt, anything.

"What do you have in mind?" James questioned.

 

Edited by Fierach

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The coin first hit a barrier of moisture, though from the sounds of it, it was rather shallow. For the briefest of moments, he felt the coin tumble via influence of motion. Which meant the water ran to a source, presumably a larger one.

"I've learned how to statically charge myself, allowing me to cling to surfaces through both magnetism and psuedomagnetism."

Crawling, walking, running, or even conventional climbing. Jinsoku could charge himself so that he would cling to surfaces for a myriad of reasons. Though he had yet to try sharing the bond of charges with another person.

"I'm not sure if I can yet transfer this affect to another, though I'm certainly strong enough to carry you while maintaining the static. In fact, perhaps I thought of a way to do so without prohibiting either of us from defending ourselves any more than absolutely necessary."

Jinsoku turned his back to his master, only to raise his arm, bending his elbow as he seemed to flex. His fist closed save for his thumb, in which he pointed down to his back from over the shoulder.

"Place your back up against mine, I'll balance the charge to keep you attached at the back, while also scaling the cavern walls. To compensate, I'll have to maintain at least three points of contact, though you will have all the range of motion you need to keep us safe until we reach the bottom."

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"Full range of motion? Not really, I'd be attached to you. You'll have a hard time maneuvering."

Not that James expected the walls to suddenly erupt with spikes or other dangers (although that was a staple of caves and dungeons for some ungodly reason), he let his torch shine against the sides of the hole, checking for anything that looked suspicious, and marking out if there were any crevices that seemed to act as an effective foothold. True, he could defend the both of them from incoming threats, but some sorts of attacks were better off dodging then parrying. 

Like the aforementioned spikes. James hated spikes.

"I'll go first" James added simply, and then without much more ceremony, jumped straight into the hole, angling himself against one side of wall. Jinsoku would have the distinct impression his master did this many times from the way James held the torch out before him, illuminating his the path down, while he slid down the side of the hole. There was a distinct grinding sound as his other hand dug into the earth, arresting his motion from turning into a freefall.

When the slide began to slow, either from his fingers carving into the rock, or simply from hitting a natural handhold, James kicked off to the other side of the wall to continue his momentum. The gouges his fingers dug looked red hot as well, evidence that it was not only the daemonslayer's formidable strength cutting through stone, but also his flames as well, precision application of his power to turn his hand into a claw that could savage armor, let alone rock or flesh.

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Never would he claim that either of them would hold a full range of motion, perhaps his Master was mistaken by his words? Then again, it was likely more accurate to assume that James meant full range of motion was in fact all the range of motion that James preferred or needed to have. Regardless, there would be no debate over it, for a decision had been made. James elected himself to enter the hole first, in which Jinsoku gave the man enough of a head start to keep them from being too close together, yet he would fail to let him get too far ahead. Unlike James that jumped into the hole though, Jinsoku charged himself in static prowess. He crawled into the hole after his Master, only to stand and walk down the side of the wall as he preferred to do in the first place. His torch bared before him in similar fashion to his Master's. This was where things began to get interesting. As they descended the Cavern of Blades, more and more weapons became apparent, and less human remains were found. Pieces of bones and dust more than actual skeletons and what not. The sound of movement came suddenly from further into the corridor, though the size and direction of what it was was certainly unclear, at least to Jinsoku. As they reached the bottom of the pit, Jinsoku watched over his Master to ensure he made it down safely before he would be far enough to decided he could jump the rest of the way down. Releasing his charge, he fell the last ten or so feet and landed in a three point stance beside and slightly behind his Master, his torch held safely away from himself.

"I'm sure I just heard some movement, though I can't help but feel like things are too quiet. The reports mentioned an infestation, not scattered sightings. Do you think the beasts have grown privy to the hunting of their ilk and have moved into more of a hive? Perhaps they have a Queen to protect? I highly doubt they have been exterminated or have vacated the caverns."

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