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Saki had always been a complicated presence in Eiji's life. The pair had first met when they had clashed over a piece of treasure that they had both been hired to steal; and ultimately neither had managed to claim it. After a few more similar encounters, they had both been hired to clear out an enclave of bandits up in the Cold Mountains. Reluctantly, they had agreed to work with each other, and had grown closer during their journey. On their way back down the mountain they had been caught in a blizzard that forced them to take cover in an abandoned cabin. Forced to remove their soaked clothes, one thing had led to another, and they had made love. 

They'd had similar encounters over the years, some longer than others. There were times when he had seriously considered asking her to marry him; to settle down and create a life for themselves somewhere. Somehow he never felt like the moment was right, and the last time they had parted had been for years. Until recently that is, when he had founded Clan Shokan, and recruited her to lead his Diplomacy branch. The two hadn't really talked much since then until a few days ago when she had come to him with a rumor; a pirate ship holding a dragons hoard of treasure, and she had a guide willing to take them.

Now as he rowed their small boat through the flooded streets, he felt unsure of how to talk to her. Even all these years later she still made him feel strange; desire and regret mingling into one powerful emotion. He knew at some point he would have to break the silence, but he wasn't sure how. For now he would just keep rowing.

@Thotification @Twitterpated

Edited by danzilla3

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"If this isn't a mission for the clan, I would have regarded this little boat trip a tad too romantic for my taste," Saki chuckled, her eyes drifting to the waters beyond.

Testerossa.

She had been here once. With her Fuki-nee and the old man. It had been years since then. She's not sure if the old place had changed. 

"I've traveled here, in the past. With my adoptive father," Saki spoke after a while, her face pensive and filled with longing. "This is a dangerous place, Jiji-chan. Not bad for a date. Not bad at all."

Then came another stream of giggles from Saki.

"I'm glad that you still know your way around women."

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"You used to like my romantic side."

She had always been fond of teasing him; both verbally and otherwise. He had always found a way to get back at her; though he suspected that she enjoyed that, and was part of the reason she did it in the first place. At least, that was the way it had been. Now he had no idea where the two of them stood on a personal level; so he had been trying to keep things professional. Of course, she wasn't making it easy. Saki never did. 

"So you're the one who knows where this thing is. Any directions, or just keep moving forward?"

The further in they went, the surer he was that he could feel eyes on him from the seemingly empty buildings. It was a well known fact that the ghosts of former pirates haunted these streets. He had no doubt that they would make their presence known at some point. Probably at the worst possible moment.

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Saki frowned. It had been a long time and she was not sure where to go next, it would have been great if she could mentor here but reality has always been harsh to her.

"Well, I was young back then," Saki replied as she peered through the cloying mists. "You know, I did call a friend to help us navigate these waters but she hasn't appeared yet."

There are wreckages everywhere, mostly from dead ships. A graveyard for seacraft. A very apt term for such a depressing place. Now all she could see are graves of these once glorious vessels or perhaps remains, for lack of better term.

As their little boat rowed through the cluttered waters, Saki could not help but sigh at the creepiness of their situation. She could feel it too, the ghosts of this place watching them, observing, stalking.

"Uh...Jiji, we might have a problem."

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"I'm aware of them," he replied quietly, "Don't engage with them, but stay on guard.

For the next while they moved in tense silence; both keenly aware that they were being followed just out of their sight. Thankfully, the flooded path kept straight on for a good distance, so he didn't have to worry too much about navigation. Saki hadn't told him much about the guide she had procured for this expedition, but he was currently unimpressed. After all, what kind of guide doesn't show up when the journey begins? But Saki seemed confidant that the person would appear, so he would have faith in her. Given that the other option was to go blindly into danger, he didn't have much of a choice.

Eventually the pair came to a four way intersection, and Eiji cursed under his breath as he guided the boat to a stop. There was nothing to indicate the direction in which they should progress. As they sat there, the presence of the watchers grew stronger and stronger, and he knew that they would soon seize on this opportunity if they lingered.

"Now would be a good time for your friend to show up."

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"There!" Saki cried, albeit softly as not to draw more attention than necessary. Her fingers pointed to a lone shadow in front of them. A hazy shadowy figure that looked almost female and getting closer by the second. 

Female? But the one I called was my mentor.

Saki can't help but frown. Her teacher had this weird predilection for female and as such had a plethora of female apprentices and students. It was a bummer but Saki did not have much of a choice except to trust in her mentor's wishes.

"That should have been my mentor but I guess he's not available." Saki spoke after a while. "I'm just hoping this new guide is not who I expected it to be. Please don't be that bitch."

Soon the mysterious figure finally reached the boat, her features fully revealed. It was both a familiar and disgusting sight. It was her teacher's worse student, Frigga and yet the woman felt different. Maybe a sister or daughter.

"Hello, Saki," the woman spoke as she motioned to join the two inside the boat, "It's been awhile but let me ride for a moment. Floating over long distances can be quite tiring."

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Just as he was about to ask Saki if this was the guide they were waiting for, there was an earsplitting howl that shook small stones loose among the ruins. From one such building a skeletal specter burst forth to charge at the small craft. Dropping his oar, Eiji wrapped his hand around the hilt of his sword and braced himself. Once the ghoul was close enough, he drew his sword and struck the spirit in half in one swift movement. Though it had been split in half, the ghost screeched one last time before it faded like mist in sunlight. 

But as he returned the blade to its sheathe, he knew that he hadn't managed to do more than drive the apparition off. While his sword was enchanted enough to injure spirits, it could not purge them from this world. He looked to the new arrival and spoke.

"If you're our guide, then I suggest you tell us where to go before more of those things show up."

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The guide shrugged. "Very well. Since I'm not much of a fightee, I can cheer you guys on from the side."

Sighing, Saki had to ask the question. "Where is is it? Can lead us?"

"Oh that I can do," came the woman's reply. Then she pointed at to the rightmost path. "There. Take the turn there. This will lead us straight to our intended destination."

Then she paused, pursing her lips. "Although, that path has the largest number of enemies"

Saki groaned. There's not much choice but to press forward and prepare herself. That she did as power blossomed within her, convergin on her hands, in case shit happens.

Edited by Thotification

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Eiji was trying his best to reserve judgement of their newly arrived guide; but he had to admit, she was making it difficult. It was like she was a composite of all Saki's worst traits, taken to the extreme, and with new ones added. Her casual attitude about being a noncombatant grated on him as well. None of this was helped by her comment that they would be heading into substantial resistance. But there was little to do about it but sigh and press on.

"Very well then," he nodded, "By the way, Saki mentioned you would know something about fixing the ship we're going to?"

Not waiting for her answer, he resumed rowing, and once the guide had spoken the quiet would resume. The sensation of surveillance persisted and intensified as they made their way further down the waterway. To his surprise, they soon came across a sort of shore formed from what used to be a street. It seemed to stretch on for miles. Hopping out, he dragged the boat ashore and then offered his hand to Saki.

"My lady."

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"Ah yes," the female guide replied, "As long as the original parts are all present and not completely disintegrated. It's a rare skill and the scale is never the problem."

The guide chuckled for a bit before pointing to the nearby shore. "There. It's a good place to dock. Past that we might have to fight our way through ranks of spirits and undead."

As they docked, Eiji offered his hand to assist Saki which the latter gladly accepted with a snicker.

"Thank you, Jiji. At least someone other than me are capable of civilized and impeccable manners. Unlike some people," Saki spat with as much venom lacing her feminine wordd as possible.

The guide shrugged in response. She unceremoniously jumped off the port side, her boots splashing upon her landing. Unfazed, she waddled to take point.

"Employer, Saki. Welcome to our first fight of the journey." Smirking, the guide slowly backed away. "Bloody ghosts! Stay away from me. Take Saki instead."

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As the two women sniped at each other, Eiji reflected that he would never understand the dynamics of female relationships. Saki and their guide clearly hated each other, but neither would just come right out and do something about it. Two men would have broken each others noses and come to an understanding over a few beers. It was a tactic that had served him well over the years. Maintaining a mostly passive-aggressive grudge against someone for years on end sounded exhausting. Either reconcile your differences and come to a mutual respect, or kill each other. 

But he would have no more time to think about it; as a small horde of ghosts were now closing in on them; all dressed in pirate garb. Drawing his sword, he slashed through three of the tightly packed spirits at once; dispersing them into ethereal mist. Leading the way through the onslaught of specters, his sword flashed as he dispatched foe after foe. The fact that they seemed to charge with no regard for tactics or indeed their own safety made things easier in a way. Given their numbers advantage, the enemy could have outflanked them with proper coordination. Thankfully they continued their reckless charge, and he cut them down one by one; trusting Saki to handle any that got by him.

Soon they had fought their way to the crest of the hill, and the ghosts ceased to charge them; instead hanging back in a loose circle. Through the crowd of spirits, a corpse in a captains clothes walked steadily into the space. His eyes glowed with spectral energy, and it was clear that the body was being animated by a powerful entity. Eiji stepped forward and looked over his shoulder.

"I'll handle the big one. Keep the rest off me if they try to butt in."

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It was a mad dash, one Saki greatly hated. While she greatly detested the idea of fighting, she understood its necessity. Still, she can't help but feel that this was orchestrated by the white-haired bitch of a guide. 

Any more of this and it might get dangerous.

Saki was never the combatant but she could hold her own in a fight. Probably.

"Stay close to me," Saki ordered as she moved towards the end of their line. "And make yourself useful. If you are truly a student of our Master, then don't disappoint me."

The guide chuckled in response but grew silent as the battle started. As Eiji pressed forward, Saki brought up the rear. One can say she was meticulous and methodical, as she fought with practiced ease but with careful steps. Each offense and defense is calculated, no waste movements, no mishaps. 

Atop the hill, Saki could see ranks upon ranks of the undead while EIji entertained the strongest one. Unfortunately, there's no time for sight seeing as their group might be overwhelmed pretty soon.

Seeing that the guide had more or less hid behind Saki's back, she figured it is time to try a bit harder. Explosions rang out as Saki held all the undead off, keeping them away from the boss battle atop the hill.

"Jiji-chan! Hurry! I can't keep this forever!"

@danzilla3

Edited by Thotification

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Eiji drew his sword and charged the Captain; his roar of challenge echoing off the ruined buildings. The undead responded in kind, and their first clash brought the two into a blade lock, each pushing against the other. Struggle as he might, the clan head could not make the creature budge. Jumping back, he darted back in with a series of quick cuts; only for his opponent to parry each one. For a time, they engaged in a dance of blades; each strike, block, and dodge flowing into the next. The Captain was an unexpectedly skillful foe; and Eiji was enjoying the fight until he heard his companions cry.

11 hours ago, Thotification said:

"Jiji-chan! Hurry! I can't keep this forever!"

It wasn't much, but it was enough of a distraction to cause him to make a tiny mistake that his enemy ruthlessly capitalized on. Swatting Eiji's sword away, he brought the blade down in a powerful overhead slash; aiming to split the mans skull. Eiji recovered just in time to move his head out of the way, but the blade still hit; cleaving through his armor to bite deep into his shoulder. Thankfully the guard had absorbed enough of the impact to keep the sword from going further, and he grabbed the Captains arm before bringing his blade up and severing his sword arm. Roughly dislodging the blade, he charged again, but was pushed back by a stomping kick from the undead.

Panting from pain and exertion, Eiji decided to end the fight right here and now. Wordlessly he entered his enhanced state, and threw his katana at the Captain; who casually caught it. But Eiji had been moving as soon as the weapon had left his hand, and as it was caught, he slammed a fist into its hilt; driving it into the creatures chest. The ghoul threw a haymaker with his remaining arm, but Eiji slipped it, and used the momentum to throw the walking corpse over his shoulder. Once it was on the ground, he pinned it with one foot, drew the sword from its chest, and thrust it into its head.

The corpse convulsed violently before a spirit flew out of it, headed toward the harbor. The rest of the spirits followed it as it fled, and soon he and his comrades were alone on the deserted street. Sheathing his sword, he left his enhanced state, and looked to the wound in his shoulder. Confirming it was mostly healed, he walked over to the two ladies.

"Everybody alright?"

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While Eiji was busy entertaining that lone and singular enemy, Saki was stuck with all these numerous lower level spirits. Well, they aren't really worth much as one strong kick from  from Saki's aging legs were enough to crush most of them. The problem lies in the numbers.

They are like a massive wave that keeps crashing at Saki's frail and delicate body. A horde of spirits ganging up on her meager defenses. Explosions continuously rang all over the battlefield as Saki's land mines kept getting triggered by the bumbling spirits. 

Meanwhile, the guide was instead busying herself with slapping any spirit that comes near her. In fact, Saki had to raise a brow with such a rather absurd display. Still, she managed to keep most of the spirits away form her companions until Jiji-chan managed to subdue the spirit captain.

Finally, after a few grueling minutes., the spirits fled leaving her sweaty and sticky all over.

On 7/11/2019 at 6:46 PM, danzilla3 said:

"Everybody alright?"

"Ungh...Let's just get this over with."

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Eiji nodded, "It shouldn't be too much further now."

The streets were now even more silent then they had been when the group had first arrived; and now even the unsettling feeling of being watched had vanished. It seemed likely that the spirits had retreated from the area after their ambush had been defeated. He had no doubt they'd strike again though. If they were smart they would regroup at the docks, where the group was most likely to be heading. Eiji didn't know if the shades were that intelligent, but evidence seemed to suggest that they were. That Captain seemed to be the one guiding the others. Perhaps vanquishing him would scatter the weaker shades. Only time would tell.

He led the ladies through the city for another few hours, until the sun finally began to set over the ruined city. Traversing the streets after dark seemed like ill advised, so Eiji began looking for a place for them to hole up. Soon he found an empty shop with a residence above the store. He had his comrades stay put while he scouted things out. When it was all clear, he went back outside.

"We're camping here for the night. I know it's not ideal, but it would be unwise to be travelling at night."

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