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* Plot Information for Shalador

The capital has been destroyed, replaced with the spewing ash and liquid lava of Shalador’s Eldest Sister. The surviving factions and Clans scramble for a new leader and a way to save the jungle Territory from the remaining volcanoes. The Black Widows, long held at arm’s length, have stepped up to guide, by force or willingly, the Territory towards salvation.
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Author Topic: Home will be where the heart is  (Read 190 times)

Description: Hattori

Offline Nova Marzena

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Home will be where the heart is
« on: May 18, 18, 02:04:28 PM »
Yuki's male First Escort (Consort? Nova wasn't sure, honestly) was north, in Dena Nehele, but she still had males to occupy her, and work to do as a Healer. Nova's males were scattered about the world, and her world--her Shalador--no longer seemed to particularly care what she did. Erisian Maboya had returned, and her presence within the Territory had always been controversial. After so long, remaining in one place was beginning to chafe at her. The same things every day, the rhythm of life, no longer comforted her as it had when she was the seventeen-year-old Queen of Nayarit. She notified the Guardians that she intended to travel south, giving her Gift to the new plantings, until Rian Maboya's trial was held.

And south she went, trailed by a pair of escorts who didn't abjectly desire her death. It wasn't easy to convince them to leave her alone, but nor was it particularly difficult. If she had been another Queen, a Queen with a stronger and better reputation, perhaps it might have been. It should have been.

She ended up on the forested sides of the Middle Sister. The volcano still smoked, but there had been no earthquakes, no prelude to eruption, and her land-sense informed her that there was no danger, not just then. Beneath her feet--she had removed and vanished her boots right around when she summoned the bucket of clear water from her psychic cabinet--the land lay quiet. Still, the land was not the only threat to Nova Marzena; many still thought of her as a traitor to the Territory, though the Guardians had publicly declared her innocence and service to Shalador.

I saved you from worshipping a monster as a deity, she thought. Her bow was strung, and she held it loosely as she set herself down next to her bucket of water, in the fresh spring growth. With Erisian and I, you could have fertile land beyond reason... but she didn't need to rule to be expected to gift the land. At least the other Territories had offered her payment for her Gift. Shalador--her home--offered her only forbearance.

A branch snapped somewhere nearby, and Nova called an arrow into her hand as a matter of instinct. She nocked the arrow, but didn't draw, as she shifted into a low crouch. "I know you're here, interloper," she called. "Come out before I shoot you!"




Offline Hattori no Shingetsu

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Re: Home will be where the heart is
« Reply #1 on: May 18, 18, 03:25:21 PM »
Hattori no Shingetsu was beginning to think that volcanoes were simply unavoidable.  Being Tacean, perhaps it was simply his fate to be where volcanoes were, and to live with the question that would always linger.  Was today the day that the world exploded into ash and molten rock?  It was not a constant, even in Tacea, but every now and then one would remember it, the way one will occasionally recall one’s first kiss or a sunset, and the very real possibility of the world exploding would loom large in your mind’s eye for the best part of a day.  Hattori never lingered on the thought for too long, but there had certainly been time, usually less than an hour or so, when he had felt small and terribly mortal.  He was usually busy, however, and so he got over such dark thoughts rather quickly.

Shalador had three, and they were likened to Sisters, no less.  That seemed worrisome to Hattori.  It was often unwise to trouble sisters, no matter how they might seem to get along, any man amongst them was just an interloper.  He was already a stranger in Shalador, but despite the idea that seeing one of these volcanoes might well be tempting fate, his curiosity would see him braving one of the Sisters.  He only hoped the presence of a Tacean did not somehow upset the natural order, and that volcanoes did not somehow communicate.  Hattori smiled slightly at the notion that the so-called Middle Sister might somehow accept him as a sacrifice since he had for so long dodged its Tacean cousin.

The Blood Opal Prince had no problem braving the wilderness.  He had been traveling for some time now, and the only environment that ever truly concerned him had been Pruul’s, and that had more to do with worms than with heat or lack of water.  Hattori had met only a few native Shaladorans, and he had broken away from well trod paths days ago.  Most people did not want to get close to a volcano, but the Shingetsu Archer had never been most people, whether it was avoiding life as a Geisha, or becoming a self-exiled wanderer, Hattori had a tendency to blaze his own trail.  He was doing just that when a strange sense of something crept over him, like a tarantula slipping down his tunic and dancing along his spine.  Hattori tried to focus on it, and drew on Shingetsu-ryu to swiftly cross a stream, his feet briefly dimpling the water as he ran across the surface in a flicker of motion.

Hattori sensed someone else on the slopes of the Middle Sister.  What were the chances that someone would be there as he explored, let alone so near?  He opened his senses to the area, and tilted his head slightly.  He had sought out the Psychic Scent of the presence, and had discovered something unexpected.  Hattori had not graduated, but he knew the scent of a Queen.  He paused, going very still, looking for her escorts, and some part of him was vaguely annoyed that those he did sense were woefully out of position.  This was not his occupation, he was not an escort, no matter the training or the instincts.  Hattori closed his eyes for a moment, grumbled under his breath, and moved in the direction of the scent--ignoring any sense of allure that some part of his instincts suggested.

He allowed himself to return to his full, normal weight, and stepped on a branch to announce his approach.  Hattori responded, putting his hands up so they could be seen, and adding a shield close to his skin should there be a misunderstanding.  ”Here I am.”  His accent giving away his origin, if one had an ear for such.  ”I mean you no harm, La--”  Hattori met the Queenly Archer’s eyes, and went very still.  Volcanoes were not truly a part of his fate after all.

Offline Nova Marzena

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Re: Home will be where the heart is
« Reply #2 on: May 18, 18, 03:58:01 PM »
Nova sensed the Blood Opal shield going up and she raised the bow, tensing her grip on the string. The energy in the weapon thrummed up her arm, her heart beating a tattoo in her throat. His empty hands did not reassure her. A man with nothing in his grip had nearly ended her life on the grounds of Dhemlan Academy. They were Blood, and their Jewels were potent weapons. Even the Ebon Gray wouldn't stop an opportunistic strike... though she supposed that now that she was warned, the danger would be lessened.

Then their eyes met, and he went still. Nova relaxed her grip on the bow, though she didn't vanish the arrow, only lowered it to her side separate from the bow. Now that energy, the potential of a shifting paradigm, hummed between the two of them: the Prince and his newly-bonded Queen. By now, Nova had bonded enough men that she was thoroughly disabused of the notion that every man was pleased by the Bond. Sebastian had rejected her outright, and many males whose leash was hers to hold had refused to travel with her. She had even heard tell of males attacking their Bonded Queens... though not from Tacea.

Her grip shifted on the shaft of the arrow. This male didn't feel hostile, and if he was here with Yuki then he obviously wouldn't be. But what was a Tacean doing separate from the main delegation in Tikal?... She supposed there were other ports in Terreille where a man could disembark from a ship. This would be on the path to Omineca's capital from the port at the mouth of the Vaal. If he was sent from Tacea to join the group at Tikal, but decided to detour, perhaps?

Aware, suddenly, of the length of her silence, Nova said, "I see that, Prince." She propped the longbow against her side and finally vanished the arrow, extending her empty hand to the Tacean man. "You're far from home, aren't you? I thought I left the Tacean delegation behind in Tikal." Yuki was her friend, and Nova didn't sense any ill intent from this male. Only... confusion. And mild displeasure at finding her alone. Well... not much she could do about that last one.

"My name is Nova," she said. "I'm honored to meet you at last." Surely he felt the same sense of homecoming as she did. As she always did when she met a new male. Did he also feel the reluctant hope that maybe this one would stay?




Offline Hattori no Shingetsu

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Re: Home will be where the heart is
« Reply #3 on: May 18, 18, 09:35:54 PM »
Being consumed by magma and ash would have been a far less poetic fate.

Once again, Unmei chose to remind   him that no matter his choices, a part of his destiny was completely out of his hands.  Thus, when fate reared its head again, embodied in a beautiful and startlingly powerful young Queen, Hattori was not taken entirely by surprise.  She was a fighter, a warrior, he could see that in her stance and the way she had greeted him, even without the arrow aimed at his heart, he would have known that.  Hattori stood still, letting the wind of fate wash over him.  There was no denying that he had somehow come full circle.  He had avoided service to the Dragon Queen, only to find that his soul was bound to a Queen world’s away.  Hattori heard her speak, but his mind did not choose to comprehend her words, at least not yet.

Here was Ikigai staring him in the face.  By choosing to avoid service to one Queen, by turning from the Dragon to serve the Spider, he had been sent forth into Terreille and found the Queen of his Soul.  Only a fool would spit in fate’s eye twice, only a fool would think that Unmei had any other plan for him but this one.  ”Ikigai.”  He murmured, though he knew that his Queen, His Queen heard the word, even if she could not be certain what it meant.  He walked towards her with all the grace of a Shingetsu Master, light and easy on his feet, his dark eyes holding her green-gold gaze.  ”I am with no delegation.”  He answered, allowing himself to absorb her words.  ”I am Hattori no Shingetsu.”  He moved to stand before her, his eyes nearly level with hers.  He brushed hair from his eyes, so that the dark shag he’d let it become did not occlude their ability to see each other.

”The honor is mind, My Queen.”  He said in that same calm and quiet voice, pitched as though to soothe her.  The instincts of his Geisha training showing through, not that Nova seemed overly perturbed.  Hattori bowed, and then raised empty hands.  A moment later, his bow appeared across his palms, the lacquered wood rich and dark, the Tacean bow obviously not of local design.  ”My bow is yours, as am I.”  Simple, sincere words he never truly expected to utter.

Offline Nova Marzena

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Re: Home will be where the heart is
« Reply #4 on: May 20, 18, 01:48:30 AM »
Ikigai... At the Academy, Nova had learned about the old languages, long before the trade-tongue called common had erased many of them. These days, most survived only as names endemic to their Territories of origin, nouns and verbs and descriptors now used to identify. Her own name was one such, an antique Shaladorian word meaning butterfly. Perhaps Tacea, a Territory free of the rest of the world, had begun to reclaim their ancient alphabet... or perhaps she was wrong, and it was still a name.

She chose not to ask. If it was a woman to whom he wanted to return, she didn't want to know.

Her new male, Hattori, walked towards her like a dancer. She'd seen the walk of others claiming his surname in her time. Perhaps it was endemic to the people of the Shingetsu clan; Haneul and Yuki had explained the Clan system to her. To her, it sounded so close to the Shaladorian tribes, but so far away. Almost correct, but not. He brushed his hair out of his face and she wished he had let her do it, that it felt appropriate to touch him. The Taceans were supposed to be stringently self-controlled, keeping emotion behind closed doors. Maybe this one was different, but she wasn't going to assume. Not after every other male she had bonded.

Nova looked down at the bow in his hands when it appeared. It was a beautiful piece of craftsmanship; she wanted to pick it up and feel its heft. Was she strong enough to string that bow and draw it? How did it compare to the bow tucked over her arm? She lay her hands atop it, atop his, felt the archer's calluses on his fingertips against her wrists. "Prince Shingetsu," she started, and then she hesitated. "Hattori." Had she said that right? Nova thought she had pronounced it just as he had. "I was about to gift the land. It would put my mind at ease if you stayed with me while I performed the rite." She smiled, a smallish thing that barely creased the corners of her eyes. "But I shouldn't like to impose, if you've a destination in mind. It is growing late."




Offline Hattori no Shingetsu

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Re: Home will be where the heart is
« Reply #5 on: May 20, 18, 02:41:05 PM »
Hattori had lived for challenges in his younger days.  It had been the draw to martial arts.  The idea that through understanding, both mental and physical discipline, without the need for Craft one could overcome any obstacle.   They were combat arts, to be sure, but that perspective could be applied to anything.  In his time, he had seen smiths show more discipline than warriors, and a bowyer show more skill than even the archers they served.  Hattori knew what it felt like to find the right rhythm, the right movement to satisfy a particular form or technique.  One could copy a teacher over and over, but until one made something their own, it was not truly an Art or even an art form.  It was simply repetition.  Which is perhaps difficult to understand, when there were simple phrases like, ‘one should not fear the man that knows a thousand punches, one should fear the man that has practiced one punch a thousand times’.

There was a feeling that came with understanding, a sudden blossoming of knowledge born from the seeds of practice and discipline.  Hattori was not so romantic as to call it ‘enlightenment’, he felt only a little more wise than the next man, and that came from life not expansion of skill.  The Blood Opal Archer sensed Nova’s acceptance of the Bond, and it felt like enlightenment.  Ikigai, one’s purpose in life.  It was a thing to be sought, to be found, to be treasured and respected, and in that moment, Hattori had found his.   He waited for Nova to further acknowledge his service, and when she laid her hands atop the bow, he lifted his eyes to meet hers, and vanished the bow.  His hands took hers for only a moment, and he smiled when she spoke his name.  ”Yes, my Queen.”  He gave her hands a gentle squeeze, and then released them, uncertain how welcome such contact would be.  ”It would be my honor to stand by your side.”

Hattori had trained for this, though he had not witnessed the act often.  Any Geisha that might serve the Dragon Queen had to understand and be prepared to endure this Rite alongside their Queen.  This was his Bonded, and that was not something he could have trained for.  He took note of her small smile, and he laughed softly.  ”My Queen, I believe I have found my destination.  I have travelled far and wide, all to find you, it seems.”  He nodded, ”Give to the land.  I will keep you safe.”  He summoned his bow again, this time into his left hand, to be used if necessary.  ”When there is time, I should like to talk about the archery of this land.”

Offline Nova Marzena

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Re: Home will be where the heart is
« Reply #6 on: May 22, 18, 02:50:52 PM »
When Nova was quite small, her mentor had shown her the rituals used when a Queen first gifted the land for a season. The heavy jewelry and brightly patterned dresses, beaded headdresses: She didn't wear them anymore, and wasn't sure what she would do should she be confronted with such an opportunity. There was no space for that in the life she'd led since she was nineteen. Her Gifts were done quickly, quietly, with little fanfare. The land was fed, and then Nova disappeared as best an Ebon Gray could--easier than one might expect, when one went through the trouble of avoiding the Blood--having collected her payment for services.

Now she worried that showing Hattori this stripped-down version of the land-gifting would make him think less of her. Yuki and her entourage seemed to live a life bounded by ritual constraints, and Nova had shed many of hers. There was nothing for it, though. She was hardly going to send him away.

"Thank you," she said, and she called in her knife and the still-unset chunk of uncut Ebon Gray that she had received at the Dhemlan altar. The Jewel was the size of her palm and full to the brim of Ebon Gray power. It glittered steel-gray in the sunlight.

Though cutting her palm would have been more elegant, Nova didn't have the safety required to cripple one of her hands until she could find a Healer. She made a small cut along the outer side of her forearm and collected the blood in her palm, dumped that into the water and mixed it with her hand. The water, rather than shading pink as it would have were it just blood, darkened until it was the color of a dark thundercloud. The fire inside her Ebon Gray dimmed, but it was barely perceptible to one who wasn't experienced with such a Dark Jewel.

She hefted up the bucket. "There's plenty of time while I pour this out," she said. "What do you want to know? I've been an archer since I was small; I can tell you what you need to know, if you like."




Offline Hattori no Shingetsu

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Re: Home will be where the heart is
« Reply #7 on: May 23, 18, 03:00:00 PM »
Hattori had not been in a Queen’s company for a very long time.  Years, and even then, that had been for training alone.  A real Queen as not typically brought in for training, but for certain acts, certain Rites, a Queen might be called upon, or a Priestess.  No other Caste could give to the land, however, and no other Caste’s blood could inspire violence or madness from simply a drop.  A Geisha would not be terribly useful if they--(what was the Dena Nehele phrase he had heard?)--lost their shit every time a Queen shed blood.  The Dragon Queen would have to make this sacrifice, albeit with more ritual and circumstance than any Clan Queen.  It was the clearest proof of her nature, and her Night Given Right to rule as the Dragon Queen, as they have Ruled for time out of memory.

He was not one for ostentation.  Tacea had its ceremonies, but many were of the quiet variety, small and honorable, without making loud declarations about one’s worth or honor.  Hattori preferred that sort of quiet confidence, and he sensed some of that in his Queen as she moved to make her sacrifice to the land.  He was moved to assist her, but resisted for a time, his eyes as drawn to her as iron shavings to a magnet.  He explored that feeling, not probing along the bond, but running psychic fingers carefully along it, as though he were checking a bowstring for defects where there were none.  She was the Queen of his soul.  In all of existence, there was only her for him, and he for her--and she had been in Shalador.  He marveled at all that had to happen to place him there, beside her.  ”You are perfect.”  Hattori stated with the quiet sincerity of a man moved by a work of art.

The Blood Opal Prince watched Nova cut her forearm, understanding instinctively why she avoided her hand.  She had to be able to use her bow, or hold a knife.  He was curious about the need for such pragmatism, but he would not make that curiosity known just yet.  Without a thought, he conjured a clean length of linen, and bound it about his Queen’s forearm as a bandage, doing so with as much speed and grace as her own movements allowed.  If he was surprised or worried about her Ebon Gray, there was no sign of it.  Hattori was more concerned about her bleeding more than was entirely necessary for her Gift to the land.  ”Such a dangerously broad question, my Queen.  About you, I would like to know many things.  I will settle for archery.”

Hattori regarded er for a moment, before he spoke, ”What brought you to the bow?  It was family tradition for me, that and the challenge, I think.  Everywhere but Tacea favors the center grip.  Is it a traditional weapon here, in Shalador?”

Offline Nova Marzena

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Re: Home will be where the heart is
« Reply #8 on: Jun 11, 18, 09:44:27 PM »
Nova let Hattori wrap her arm, and she was... happy. It was the strange, queasy sort of happiness that one had when one wasn't sure whether the feeling could be relied upon to return. The whole situation was odd; only a few months ago she would've expected everything to come right once she went home. She had expected so much and received so little for what she had given, just another disappointment in years that had been full of them. While she wanted to depend on her new male, she had been disappointed by too many others to do more than nod her thanks to him before turning her attention to the question he'd asked.

"My Tribe, the Marzena, are known for being hunters," said Nova as she started her slow walk, sloshing water out over the ground every few steps. Where the dark water splashed into the dry leaves, things greened, grass sprouted, flowers blooming beneath the sheer power of her Ebon Gray. "I was... a not entirely well-controlled child, Hattori, so I'm sure you can imagine I drove people mad with my Sapphire. They wanted to give me an outlet, so they taught me to hunt, hoping it would teach me patience. I don't believe they thought I would prove as talented as I am." She half-smiled over her shoulder at him, hopping over a large fallen branch. The forest had never been this bad before; had it been starving for Queen's Craft? It oughtn't have been, there were plentiful Queens in Shalador... but perhaps with no Queen in Nayarit, the Gift had been spread further than was wise.

The thought was a burden. If she had never discovered Rian's duplicity... if there had never been cause to send Nova away. But that was never going to have been an option. The Priestess craved power. Nova's strength was a threat.

She slowed down at a particularly dry spot. "So yes, it is a traditional weapon. My father in particular was known for his hunting ability... For a while, he ruled the village where I grew up." Nova hesitated, then, before brushing an errant thought aside. "Perhaps we can go hunting together. I'd be interested in seeing how a Tacean shoots."




Offline Hattori no Shingetsu

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Re: Home will be where the heart is
« Reply #9 on: Jun 16, 18, 06:41:40 PM »
Hattori sensed the uncertainty in his Queen, the caged joy that he himself was feeling.  His was caged by a lifetime of training, culture and tradition.  Effusive expressions of emotion were not terribly Tacean, though feeling them absolutely was.  It filled scrolls and books of poetry and fable, much of which he had learned about and read, and had be trained to give dramatic readings of for the Dragon Queen that he never wanted to serve.  Fate, yet again, showing him that everyone had a purpose, and he could not avoid his.  Hattori was happy, thrilled even, and curious.  His had been a lonely exile.  He had socialized along the way, met people and even made friends, but nothing had ever been permanent.  He was a transient, and perhaps he did not have to be any longer.

He had meant what he said.  She was perfect.

The Blood Opal Prince was silent as Nova began to answer his questions.  She spoke plainly, her tone that of someone only mildly distracted by the task at hand.  Hattori wondered how often she performed the Gift on her own, and if there was a better way.  Her people were hunters, and the bow was nothing if not efficient in that arena.  ”Our elders never expect talent.  It is as if they trade the wisdom of age for a selective sort of blindness.  You did not need to be controlled, only encouraged along paths that would make the best use of your enormous energy.”  He smiled very, very slightly.  ”It seems that someone did, eventually.”  Hattori kept pace with her, light enough on his feet that the lead litter beneath the barely stirred.

”I would be happy to hunt with you, my Queen.  I have done a fair bit of it in my travels, but I confess, what I was taught was made for war.  Shingetsu-Ryu Archery was not really meant for the hunt, of course the skills can be applied to such, but that was not its original intent.”  Hattori had sensed something when she spoke about his Father, it was his job to do so, as her Escort and thanks to his training, he was meant to protect her as well as see to her well-being holistically.  That meant her feelings as well, but they had only just met.  He restrained the instinct.  He reached then, not sure why he did so, and took hold of her wrist, his fingertips brushing over the sensitive skin that covered her pulse.  ”I am home, Nova.  I have seen nearly all Terreille has to offer, and Ikigai has led me here.  I am yours, Nova Marzena.  Where you go.  I go.  Where you stay.  I stay.”

He released her, and stepped back, bowing a touch in apology for being so forward.  ”Please, do not let me impede the ritual.”