[ ] Introduce yourself as... - [ ] The song-smith of the north, weaver of verses and skald of skill.
A moment flashes past, one of judgement and doubt entwined into one. Thoughts race through your mind, wondering whether you should seek to find the answer she must be looking for, or whether you should tell her what you feel in your heart. Perhaps these are one and the same, perhaps not.
Still, Sons of Odin are not ones to hesitate, and in a sudden flash of insight you choose which one among the many titles you could claim you should choose. Silver tongue unbound, song forged with wit and skill, tale told truly, these do you bring with you, for no other skill is as great as the stave-smithing.
You stand tall and proud, you face the guardian of this strange town, and you sing.
"Hail, glorious guardian, you who would know the one who now stands before her. Hail, listen to the words, tangled tale untwisted when silver togue speaks. Listen, you loyal thane who would stand before your hearth and home, You who would shield the town of spellbound realm, hear honour's voice.
Ask, you who stand sentinel o'er hold and hearth, ask him of his deeds and daring, Question, you who would wish to know him, answers aright he does as Odin bids. Wonder, true-hearted thane, what warrior stands before you, know he is a tale-weaver, Hear his deeds and name, those both who mark a man for judgement, who weigh his worth."
You pause for a brief moment, for dramatic effect as well as for a quick breath, then you catch the trusty thane's gaze with your own and you speak again, power flowing over your tongue and into your words.
"Listen, for one who stands before you is Sigurd Thorgrimson, son of Odin, song-smith. Verses he weaves, staves of skill summoned when tongue tells truth, as when fable is fashioned. His is wit and wisdom, well-versed with praised poems he sings staves smithed by skalds of yore. Words he wields, warrior of blade and song, when glory is greatest he is its author or witness."
There is silence as you let the words end. In the eyes and expression of the great guardian you can find slight
bafflement mixed with a hint of lingering suspicion. Not a woman whose trust is won with words alone, this guardian.
"Hah! What'd I tellya -ze?" The black-white witch wonders while slowly sauntering to the side of the taller woman, mischief evident from the forest witch's features. "Isn't he really awesone, hey Keine? Isn't he -ze?"
If she is annoyed by Marisa's prodding, the woman called Keine hides it well, instead turning back to you and bowing slightly.
"Welcome, Mr. Thorgrimson." She tells you, though not without difficulty when it comes to your father-given name. "Or, owing to the similarity in our family names, I suspect that you perhaps prefer to use your first name?"
"Sigurd shall suffice for song-smith's name, O stalwart shield-thane." You answer her, for no further need in truth do you see for names and titles to adorn yourself with.
"Then, please call me Keine." She replies with a warm, though slightly wry smile, "After all, I have no formal title, and no wish to force every outsider who comes knocking mispronounce my family name all the time."
"Hey hey, now that we're aquainted an' all, we gotta tell you of our great adventures -ze. Y'wouldn't believe how awesome we're when we team up." Marisa interjects, this time managing to visibly sour the mood of the azure-maned thane.
"As for you," The great guardian slowly says while turning on the black-white witch. "You will remain quiet until spoken to, and you will address your teacher with respect."
"Eh? What's that 'bout -ze?" The forest witch wonders, scowling slightly at the guardian. Her gaze is met by a cool stare for a second, then the blue-haired thane springs forward in a blur. A sharp crack is heard as she smaskes her forehead into contact with Marisa's, and the forest witch goes down hard.
For a moment you're unsure what to make of this scene, for seldom should a man stand still and watch when violence is offered against his comrades. Yet still, you must admit, that this guardian holds authority in her hall and that the black-white witch often acts as to draw the ire of others. Besides, judging from the way Alice is smiling, it surely cannot be that serious.
"Do I make myself clear?" Keine grimly asks the fallen witch, who groggily drags herself to her feet while mumbling something.
"What was that?" The guardian again asks, the tone of her voice leaving no uncertainty about the answer she is expecting.
"Yes, Miss Kamishirasawa." The black-white witch meekly replies, an truly uncharacterictic response from the fiery emotions you have come to expect.
"Don't you think that I've read the news?" The shield-thane demands, her anger visibly rising with every word. "Do you have any idea how much you've stirred up the village, or what could have happened if you had killed Lady Yakumo?"
"Um, sorry Miss Kamishirasawa, but I can explain, see..." Marisa replies while giving you a furtive glance. Sighing heavily you resign yourself to the demands of honour and open your mouth to speak.
"Keep down the goddamn racket." A new voice suddenly cuts in before you can spin the word-weave to set things right, this time sounding from above. Looking up you see a wild mane of pure white hair hanging out from a window, obscuring the face behind it. Could this be the third one you saw, the earthbound sun-pyre?
A hearbeat later the figure leaps down from the window and reveals herself to be another young woman of strange yet beautiful appearance, her white hair and blood-red eyes giving off an unearthly aura. Her clothes are odd as well, long red britches and a white shirt all studded with strange paper emblems. Yet despite this strange look, you must admit that the outfit does suit her.
Yet on a second look you can see that all is not well with her. Not only the irises of her eyes are red, the whole sight-orb is bloodshot and she moves as if afflicted by some strange pain. Or rather, she looks like a man who has lingered too long and drunk too well at the ale-feast.
"Um, hey Mokou. How's it rollin' -ze?" The forest witch asks of the white-haired woman, apparently glad to get an excuse to escape from the shield-thane's questioning.
"Got jumped by the bitch and her psycho friend last night." The woman named Mokou replies with a grim smile. "You should see the other guy though."
"You're still working on that excercise is futility?" Alice wonders aloud, her voice slightly amused. As you glance down at your dear dollmaker you see that her lips are curled into a sarcastic smile as well, yet the white-haired woman merely chuckles in reply.
"If it can be done ain't important as long as it's fun trying." Mokou commants after a few moments, then turns her gaze on you.
"Well then, who're you, big guy?" The snow-maned woman wonders, peering up at you with a hint of curiosity in her eyes, as far as you can determine.
"Sigurd Thorgrimson, song-smith of the north." You answer her, reasoning that one in this woman's condition might prefer a shorter, less loud greeting than the one you gave to the village guardian.
"Right, think I heard that much already. Woke me right up you did." Mokou replies wincing slightly as she speaks, obviously suffering from a good headache.
"If so, this song-smith can offer only an apology. Never was it my wish to cause discomfort to any man who did not deserve it." You answer her, for few men deserve a rude awakening after an ale-feast, and you feel as if this woman truly is one who could not be counted among them who do.
"Heh, well said." The white-haired woman replies with a wide grin. "If you feel guilty, you can pay me back with a beer."
"Which reminds me," The white-haired one continues, turning to the two magicians, "I really need a pick-me-up, so what do you all say, up for a party?"
"Mokou!" The shield-thane suddenly protests, "You can't just barge in when I'm beating sense into a fool, and besides, you shouldn't drink so much."
"Shit, Keine, if you'd been through what I've, you'd need a drink too." Mokou replies with a small shrug, "Besides, you can yell at Marisa in the bar."
"Oh, you're just as incorrigible as her." Alice snidely comments, glancing first at the white-haired sorceress, then the black-white witch. "Why must my social circles be filled with drunkards and fools?"
"Beats me, I'm not the one who chooses to hang around with that kind of people." Mokou deftly replies, earning her an amused smile from the dollmaker. Another strange friendship, it seems.
"Bah, do as you want then." Keine interjects, now more annoyed than anything else. In reply, Mokou merely smiles and winks at the thane protector, a gesture that seems to both infuriate and fluster the great guardian.
"Anyway, I'm off. You all come if you want to." The white-maned woman finally concludes, glancing back at you, as if she is waiting for your answer alone.
[ ] Let the snow-maned sorceress lead the way, you shall have your ale no matter who else follows.
[ ] Accept her invitation only if all others agree. Ill would it be to leave a friend behind.
[ ] Decline her offer for now, for you still have matters to discuss with the shield-thane.
I live and I still like you all. However, I have been confronted by the unfortunate combo of a lot to do, alcohol and a terrible flu that just won't go away. Seriously, not even a bottle of Whisky will make this shit go away.
So I don't have any real excuse for the lack of updates, but I promise that I'll fix up an update by Máni's day. Now I'm off to get drunk.
Terribly sorry for dropping the ball like this everyone. I've been struggling to keep my academic career somewhat on schedule all spring and thus I've had no time for writan gaems.
Anyway, my finals are coming up so unfortunately I still don't have time to write until the week after the next. But write I will, sooner or later. In the meantime I recommend the Laxdœla Saga for your reading needs.
You know what time it it? It's the time when Norseman has finally managed to finish all the bullshit he has to do for those bastards at uni.
This means the end of horribly long absences, and hopefully the return to a regular update schedule.
[ ] Accept her invitation only if all others agree. Ill would it be to leave a friend behind.
She has left you pondering for a moment, this white-haired woman. Yet Allfather's advice is clear when a man is to choose among these paths stretching out before you, Runatýr's words well-wrought, those staves you have remembered and enscribed into your heart, for when would a worthy warrior leave the will of kin and kith without consideration?
Never should such a thing happen, and so you speak.
"Silver-mane, well would I wish to walk with you to feast on Bryggve's blessed barley-brew, to make merry and weave words with wit and wisdom. No finer time to be found than when noble thanes share tales of daring deeds during the ale-feast, as the heroes of old ever did." Your words boldly declare to all who would hear, yet your vision wheels towards the silver-maned sorceress, meeting her bloodshot gaze with steady eyes as you speak.
"Yet only the craven coward thinks of is own wishes alone, not a noble man can be found tainted by scorn for the wishes of kith and kin, thus this song-smith wonders, what is the will of those he holds dear, for ill would it be to act heedless of the bonds of friendship." You state, glancing towards Marisa and the old master.
"Or love." You softly continue, shifting your gaze to meet your dear dollmaker's eyes. She smiles slightly in reply, amusement and affection dancing in her eyes.
"Why, how gentlemanly of you." Alice softly answers, little Shanghai nodding vigorously in agreement. "When you put it that way, I believe I have no option but to agree."
"Yeah, sounds like fun. Let's go -ze!" Marisa eagerly chimes in, though you suspect that her motives may be different
"You aren't going anywhere until you've explained yourself." The village guardian snaps at the witch of wildwoods, evoking a slight yelp from the magician, yet her startled expression swiftly shifts to a look of purest annoyance, something .
"Y'think so?" The forest witch softly mutters, her hand slipping into some hidden fold in her dress. So well do you you know the mighty Marisa by now that you can suspect what will come next, and so you decide to speak, for ill would it be for a visit intended to forge friendship to end in blade-clash.
"Stalwart shield-thane, stay your hand." You interject, earning you a slightly suspicious look from the village protector. "For well would I share, for friendship and fortune, the gift of Freyr's faithful servant with the guardian of this village, for so does the law of courtesy bid."
"Yet before," You continue, disregarding the faint feeling in the pit of your stomach, "Matters must be made clear, for if an explanation is owed, then it should be
"How so?" Keine answers, a somewhat puzzled look coming over her features.
"It was not by the hand of the black-white witch that the Lady of Borders was laid low, though that battle was hers as well, but by mine." You answer forcing yourself to keep calm as you reveal
"Forgive me if I find that unconvincing." The guardian replies, her expression hovering somewhere between disbelief and irritation.
"Naw, Keine. He doesn't look loke the kind of guy who'd be stupid enough to try and make something like that up to try and impress people." The silver-maned woman interjects, her gaze and expression now showing sharpness and curiosity.
"It is as I say," You calmly reply, "Never would I claim credit for the deed were it the victory of mighty Marisa, for by his deeds is a man measured, and lacking will the liar be found when tried by the fame he has found."
"That's what I thought. He might be stupid enough to try and cover for Marisa though." Mokou continues, amiling slyly all the while.
"Look, y'can say a lot of things an' I won't mind." The black-white witch suddenly interjects, voice quivering with outrage, "But if you're sayin' that I'm hiding behind someone's back I'll beat you up so bad that they'll be fishin' pieces of you from the river for weeks."
"Sorry, sorry." Mokou shoots back, a wide grin spreading over her features, only to be turned into a wince, "Damn, I think that the psycho nurse left an arrowhead in me." She mutters while prodding the side of her neck, though surely she exaggerates, for no matter how tough, no man would walk about with an arrowhead lodged within.
As the silver-mane seems distracted by this, you deem it safe to politely turn back towards the thane of this village.
"Why did you fight Lady Yakumo?" She asks, calm but powerful in her voice and posture.
"For vengeance." You coolly answer, meeting the gaze of the blue-haired protector, "Far away is my homeland, and the Lady of Borders stole me away without consent or honour. Justice and honour demanded that she pay the price of her crime."
"And was it the right thing to do?"
"Injustice must be met," You reply, feeling calm reassert itself once more. "Though had I known what I know now, I would fain have found another way."
"Why do you tell me this?" She next wonders, still scrutinizing you intently.
"Honour does so demand, when you accused another of my deed. Even had you not, lies and tricks are not for use among noble thanes."
"You are aware that I may be obliged to punish you for jeopardizing Gensokyo's border?" The shield-thane then asks, her voice taking on a definite iron edge.
"Aye, that is your right. Others have done so before you." You answer her, "Yet I no longer hold a grudge towards the Daemon of Borders, nor do I wish ill towards this realm."
"Good." She replies, the harshness fading from her features, "I'm inclined to believe you, and as long as you keep in mind that revenge never leads to anything good, we can leave this matter at that."
"Now now Keine, don't be a hypocrite like that." Mokou suddenly interjects before turning her gaze towards you.
"Look, I'm what you'd call a pro when it comes to the revenge business, and I think you did pretty well." Silver-maned Mokou tells wth a grin, "And don't sweat it if they don't stay dead, stuff like that happens."
"This isn't a laughing matter, Mokou." The shield-thane admonishes, then turns back to you.
"I cannot swear that I shall not seek justice in the future," You reply, for ever uncertain is it when a man must seek to protect his honour, "Yet I shall not act in haste another time."
"That is acceptable." Keine answers with a satisifed smile. "And if you like I can accompany you for a while."
"Aye well would I wish that," You reply, relieved that this meeting has concluded in a satisfactory manner, "And as I was to ask, would you join us as well, old master?" You inqure of the wise graybeard, still standing slightly to the side.
His reply is a faint shake of his head and soft-spoken words. "Though it pains me to be rude, I must decline. Yet do not let this stop you, should you wish to go."
"Well damn." Mokou hisses as she turns her head towards Youki, then winces again. Shaking off her pain, her expression turns from bafflement into a wide, happy grin.
"Youki Konpaku, you old weasel." The silver-mane shouts, "You vanish for ten years without a word, and I'm not even getting a greeting when you return? You've got no business speaking about rudeness."
"Lady Fujiwara, Lady Kamishirasawa." The old master greets with a respctful bow towards the shieldthane and silvermane. "It has been too long, yet I'm afraid that I cannot accompany you this day."
"Master Youki," The shield-thane says, she as well seemingly caught by disbelief. "If I may ask, what reason do you have for this? We have sorely missed your company."
"There is a temple in this village, and as one who has chosen the path of Enlightenment, it would be unseemly not to visit." The old master calmly explains. "Yet as I said, do not let this hinder you. I shall join you later, if possible."
The old master's words seems reasonable, yet perhaps it would be courteous to visit this temple along with Youki? Then again, he has said he shall join you afterwards, and you are getting thirsty.
[ ] Go on without him. That ale is not going to drink itself.
[ ] Why not accompany the old master to this temple first?
This is Norseman. I am officially writing with the speed of a thousand rockets. Enjoy update while I enjoy sleep.
In the end, the choice is simple, for though the old master's impeccable politeness leads him to his kind offer, so does your sense of courtesy tell you to accompany him. And did you not decide to accept the slver-hair's offer only is all your companions agreed?
"Old master, your offer is kind." You answer the honoured greybeard, "Yet the words uttered by this song-smith are not like leaves to be scattered in the wind, nay, let them be like mountains if spoken."
"Old master, ill would it be to leave a friend behind for convenience." You camly declare, "Thus this song-smith would accompany you to the temple you speak of."
"It is gracious of you to take an old man's wishes into consideration." Youki replies, the faintest hint of reproach in his voice. "Yet while I would be honoured to accept and while I do not expect to linger, what of your other companions?"
"Hell, it's almost on the way anyhow, and besides I'm not going to let you slip away as you always do." The silver-haired one snidely comments, "Figures that you'd come barging in after a damn decade, pull that invisibility trick and then scuttle off with nary a word to boot."
"It would be nice to talk for old times' sake. You disappeared quite suddenly after all." Keine then adds, and you suspect that the shied-thane might share the sentiments of the silver-mane.
"Fate of willow reed, Bending in stormwind, called by Wings of a Phoenix."
The old master's voice is one of resignation, though not without a faint hint of happiness when his verses are woven, for what man would not feel joy when he finds himself in the company of an old friend?
"Well, if it's on the way, why not -ze?" Marisa interjects with a shrug, "Sure that Alice won't mind either."
"Indeed, I see no reason to object." Alice replies with a sly smile, then glanced up at you, "And I must say that it's a refreshing change to have someone who knows the value of proper courtesy."
To her credit, the black-white witch doesn't rise to the bait, and so the silver-mane siezes the moment to speak up.
"Right, I'll show you to that temple." Mokou cheerfully says, yet her smile swiftly turns into another wince of pain, "And maybe they could do something about that arrowhead too."
With the matter settled, your strange group begins to make your way though the streets of the village, the shieldthane and silver-hair taking point along with the old master, chatting loudly about something that happened a long time ago, but you can't gather more than that.
On the other hand, whatever strange power of concealment the old master had previously been using seem to have vanished, for the attention the trio before you attract is all the proof you need. Waving hands and shouted greetings assompany your path, several older men and women even falling down to their knees and bowing low when laying eyes on the old master.
Thus it is you and the magicians of the forest that make up a relatively nondescript rearguard in the wake of the old master.
"Hmph, look at the geezer, hoggin' all the glory." Marisa grumbles, "I get to be the hero of the town for ten minutes, then some old man shows up and everybody's genuflectin' like he was the emperor or something -ze."
"Indeed? And here I thought that you didn't want such an unearned reputation." Alice softly points out, earning her a dirty look from the forest witch.
"Look, what I want an' what I want are two different things." The black-white replies in a vaguely defensive tone, her cheeks flushing slightly as she speaks.
"Aye, often are matters such when it comes to wishes of men." You calmly reply, divining the meaning behind her words, one that you cannot fault despite its contradictions. Marisa gives you a strange look, though she refrains from arguing further.
The journey is somewhat uneventful besides the attention lavished upon old Youki, and before long you approach a gated compund, a single, strange building. Rising high above the outer walls, and with a strange design almost like the one of the headgear of the village's shieldthane, it resembles no other building you have seen before.
"I feel a familiar presence." The old master calmly explains, as he halts a dozen metres before the gate. "I ask of you not to be alarmed."
Yet even with this warning you cannot help to feel suspicion as something reddish and cloud-like rises from behind the gate, swirling like it was whipped by an incisible wind. Impossibly enough the cloud swiftly shapes itself into a great giant towering over the wall, gazing down upon you, a steely expression upon his face.
For a moment reflex sends your hand towards the hilt of your sword, then you suppress the instict, for surely this great being is not one of the Jötun of legend, and did not the old master tell you that nothing was wrong? Only seconds after you've concluded this you begin to doubt your wisdom as the cloud giant's eyes fix on Youki and it draws back its arm with a thuderous roar.
The cloud giant's mighty fist then shoots down towards the old master, yet his only reaction is a faint smile. His arm is a blur as it draws back, only to spring forward with even greater swiftness, meeting the giant's blow fist against fist and halting the huge hand's descent in its tracks. For a moment the two stand locked in this pose before the old master draws back his fist, and with a peal of laughter booming like thunder in your ears, the giant does likewise and shrinks down into a smaller frame, yet still at least thrice as high as a man.
"It is a joy to meet you again Youki." The giant booms, "Your wisdom and company have been sorely missed."
"Likewise, Unzan." The old master replies, "This seems to be a day for meeting old friends."
"Ah, the Princess of Fujiwara?" The giant wonders aloud, shifting his gaze towards the silver-mane. Glacing towards the rest of you, he seems to study each of you for a brief moment, ending his inspection with a satisfied nod.
"As companions of Youki Konpaku, you are most welcome to enter the Temple of Myouren." He declares, though in a far softer voice that he had employed earlier. "The mistress of the temple is meditating, thus you are requested to first approach one of her disciples if you wish to meet her, otherwise you are free to visit the temple."
With these words the cloud giant's arms easily puch open the gated of the temple. You all enter and find yourself in a beautiful garden, small walkways winding between ponds and trees and the fresh scents of nature gicing the place an air of harmony.
"Youki?" The cloud giant asks after shutting the gates once more, "A word in private, if you would?"
The old master seems slightly puzzled by this request, but follows Unzan towards the gates of the temple. Strange, yet in his own hall every man is master, and so the wishes of the great giant must be respected.
"Wow, this is a really nice place -ze." Marisa comments, the black-white witch , "I think I'm off for a stroll -ze!"
"You mean you're off to find out how to break in easily. Honestly Marisa, planning to steal from a temple?" Alice remarks, a sly smile coming over her lips, little Shanghai hovering above her shoulder looking positively scandalized.
"Well y'see there was this time when I got onto the temple while it still was a treasure ship," The black-white begins to explain in a matter-of-fact tone, "But it didn't have any treasure so I figure they owe me for that time."
"Besides," She adds with a wide grin, "Ain't these monastic types supposed to be poor anyway? Maybe I'm just helping them?"
"Well, you do whatever you want." Mokou cuts in, "I think I'm just gonna sit down in the shade and relax for a while. Not gonna stay for long though, I still need me a beer soon."
True to her word the silver-mane begins to shamble off towards a large tree at the edge of the garden, the village protector following suit leving only you and the magicians.
"Well," Marisa says with a wide grin on her lips, "I'm off too. Tag along if you want to."
"Indeed?" Alice wonders aloud, an amused smile on her lips. "What do you say Sigurd, should we lower ourselves to aiding and abetting her petty thievery?"
Though you know a thing or two about looting temples, you doubt that it would be wise to ransack this specific one. But perhaps it would be wise to keep an eye on the black-white witch? On the other hand, Marisa probably wouldn't do anything too reckless so you might find some other way to spend your time.
[ ] Why not tag along with Marisa? You might find something interesting.
[ ] Ask Alice to take a walk with you. The garden looks lovely.
[ ] Just sit down with Mokou and Keine. You should get to know them better.
[ ] Why not take a look inside the temple? It would be interesting to meet this mistress the giant spoke of.
>The cloud giant's mighty fist then shoots down towards the old master, yet his only reaction is a faint smile. Epic
[x] Ask Alice to take a walk with you. The garden looks lovely.
Why not spend some time with our love. Maybe let her stand in the sun while you knee before her and recite a Viking Poem meant only for her. Show the rest what a real Viking is like. It has been way too long since he last did that.
[x] Why not tag along with Marisa? You might find something interesting.
A bit of bridge maintenance wouldn't hurt though I'm fine with Alice time or meeting Byakuren, though we might need to slap Sigurd upside his head if he gets too distracted by her. We have one magician already (and possibly a second depending on our choices in the future) and that's about enough.
Right, as a general policy I'll try to keep to updating at least every other day. The faster you all vote, the faster I can get cracking at producing new and exciting tales for you.
[ ] Ask Alice to take a walk with you. The garden looks lovely.
The black-white witch's schemes are often reckless, this you know, yet surely there is no need to worry this time.
And though it would be interesting to witness the forst witch's misadventures, you have something else in mind. Thus you face the witch of wildwoods and speak.
"Nay, mighty Marisa, for courtesy has led this song-smith to high hall. No need do I see to spy around."
"It appears you're on your own this time Marisa." Alice comments with a small shrug and a shake of her head. "Do try not to get caught red-handed as usual."
"Heh, don'cha worry about me, I've got some more sense than that." Marisa shoots back, voice full of confidence, then she leans a bit closer to you and Alice.
"Well, y'see I've met a couple of these guys before, back when me an' Reimu went after that treasure ship. I guess that Sanae was somewhere there too, come to think of it." The black-white one explains in a conspiratorial tone.
"Anyway, I kinda never saw where the ship was goin' cuz' all of a sudden this crazy lady jumps out and smacks me with a damn huge anchor and off I fall." The forest witch continues to explain, her description accompanied by a slightly embarrased laugh. "An' then, just as I've got back on my broom the whole ship just disappears before my eyes, but the point is that I won't go collectin' anything when there's people like that around -ze."
"How reassuring." Alice replies in a deadpan tone, little Shanghai frowning disapprovingly at the black-white witch.
"Sure is. Well, I'm off then, you two can just go do somethin' fun and leave me to fend for myself against crazy anchor ladies an' whatever horrors that lurk in the night -ze." The forest witch laments, then skips off towards the temple itself.
With a soft sigh the dollmaker watches her friend leave. "Hopefully she won't get into too much trouble." your dear Alice turns back to you, a cunning glitter in her eyes. "Aside from that, I assume you have something in mind?"
"Behold before us, the green garden." You reply, for in truth you do. "Wander it in wonder, this my heart tells me, if its dear love would walk by my side."
"I would be delighted to." Your dear dollmaker replies, the smile she's been suppressing flowing forth over her features as she takes your arm. Little Shanghai floats up and nestles down on your shoulder, and so the three of you wander down a path between the trees.
The garden itself is a wonder in truth, the small paths revealing new sights and surprises appearing as from nowhere. Not even in vast Miklagård or the lands beyond have you seen such intricacy in a mere garden, and in truth great skill must have been put into growing this place.
"Truly a sight to behold." You marvel as you suddenly enter a small glade surrounding a pond blooming with water lilies, their fragrant smell reminding you of the enchanting scents found in the gardens of Särkland.
"I must say that for such a rugged man, you're surprisingly sentimental." Your dear Alice replies, a twinkle of amusement in her eyes.
"Dead may as well he be, the man without love for beauty." You answer her, glancing down to meet her gaze, "Of all kinds." You softly add, feeling a smile coming unbidden over your features.
"I happen to like that part of you." The dear dollmaker tells, meetng your gaze with her sky-blue eyes. "To be honest, when I first met you I didn't think that it existed."
"Though battle brings glory, peace is welcomed by worthy warriors." You reply with a shrug, for such is the way of the world. "All the more precious, moments of rest, for no man can say how long they shall last."
"I don't know whether I should call that attitude awfully negative or admirably realistic." Alice calmly comments, "Though I suppose that it may be the second. We still have a few troubles to sort out, haven't we?"
"Aye, we do." You answer your love as the two of you reach the path's end, at the very edge of the flower-filled water. "Yet I would leave thoughts of the quest this song-smith has accepted aside for the moment."
"Truly?" Your dollmaker wonders, her sly smile returning to her lips. "And here I had assumed that you wanted us to be all alone in order to discuss strategy."
"Nay, dear Alice," You answer her, feeling a smile creeping over your lips, "For what man would waste his time with fair maiden thusly?"
"Oh my?" Alice whispers while leaning slightly closer to you. "What reason could you then have for luring away an innocent maiden?"
Well now, I can't be telling you that and ruin the suspense, now can I?
I am also pondering the strange voting patterns exhibited by my dear readers. Don't update for months and you get a truckload of votes, update regularly and you get three. Strange are the ways of Anonymous.
Anyway, don't have time to write tonight, so I'll keep the vote open until tomorrow morning.
>>21233 Also all those votes accumulate over a week or so; that and the whole weekend thing. Things are usually slow due to A) Readers expecting Writefags not to do much and B)Writefags not expecting readers to be on.
I think it might be the general cheesiness of the last part of the write-in. I'm voting for it simply because I'm no good at this sort of this, with hope that Norseman might spin it into something a bit more...I dunno. Can't think of the word at this early hour, but I think you know what I mean.
[x] "Just a moment for the two of us, without any outside eyes peering in. And this garden only compliments your beauty"
As a general rule, I tend to use dialogue in votes as written. If you vote for some general guidelines I'll use my discretion, but once it goes in quotes I'll assume that you wanted that exact formulation.
However, as this doesn't seem to be the case this time I'll use my discretion.
Right, update time. RL stuff are also taken care of, so you can expect a more regular update schedule in the future.
[ ] "Just a moment for the two of us, without any outside eyes peering in. And this garden only compliments your beauty"
Many reasons do you know for luring away fair maidens, yet this time yours is not the common one. Another one, more subtle, has steered your actions. What tomorrow brings, no man can know. So brief is a single moment in a man's life that it may as well be a drop of water in the raging ocean, and yet it can be more important than his own life.
"A moment." You reply, earning you an inquisitive look from your fair Alice accompanied by a slightly mischievious smile.
"Aye, a moment for the two of us, free of prying eyes." You continue, trying to weave your feelings into words though you find this unexpectedly difficult. "A moment of peace, yet not for its own sake. If it must be that ill fortune is to be mine, I would have a calm moment at your side, one to ever remember, this is song-smith's wish."
As you fall silent once more, you see your dear dollmaker taken aback for the briefest of moments, your words having erased the playful smile from her face, then you feel her tension fading away and a smile of a different kind return to her lips.
It is then you realize that you've found what you sought. With a smile that reveals her happiness as well as the hint of sadness in her eyes, those sky-blue jewels shining bright with tender feelings, in this moment you could not doubt her feelings even if you wanted to.
"Greater still blossoms a flower in green garden, aye, well-wrought woods well serve as stage for your beauty."
Your thoughts escape unbidden in a soft whisper. "If no other cause there was, well would this sight alone make of a moment one this weary warrior would never forget."
These words barely have time to pass your lips before Alice answers without words, her arms pulling you closer to her and her lips meeting yours. As you return her embrace, time itself seems to slip far away as you hold her tightly, swept away by a moment long enough to fill a lifetime.
After these blissful seconds of calm and love your embrace ends, guilded by a silent understanding. Your dear dollmaker meets your gaze once again, a satisfied smile on her face.
"We should head back, should we not?" She asks, though with a hint of hesitation in her voice and slightly flushed cheeks.
Perhaps you should, yet in this moment you wish no such thing.
[ ] Why not stay a little longer? Love waits not for a time and place.
[ ] Wiser would it be to head back. The day is still not done.
[ ] Wiser would it be to head back. The day is still not done.
Yet wishes are worth little when weighed against the world's demands. Thus wisdom must be heeded, for ill would it be to leave the greater matters confronting you unattended, no matter how pleasant the distractions may be.
"All good things must end, so sages tell. In truth, though I would not have it so, the day is not done." You answer her, though it is with a hint of regret in your heart.
"Indeed," Alice replies in a resigned tone. "I suppose this isn't the time."
"Yet fear not, fair maiden," You swiftly give answer, "This song-smith shall not leave you wanting for long."
"Oh my." Your dear dollmaker whispers, her face suddenly coloured by a most charming shade of red. "Is that a promise?"
"An oath more pleasant than most I have sworn," You answer with a confident smile, "And one that I shall keep."
"I'll look forward to it." Alice replies, the smile on her lips now containing a hint of mischief.
As the two of you walk back along the path you came, you find yourself feeling completely at peace for the first time in a long while. No matter what fate may lie in store for you, you have the memory of this moment, and the love of your dear Alice. Few men could wish for more.
To your surprise you find your musings interrupted by little Shanghai suddenly floating slighty ahead, a single tear rolling down the puppet's cheek even though she is smiling widely at you. As you meet her gaze the little doll gives you a thumbs-up, then quickly flies back to her customary position behind Alice's shoulder.
Strangely enough your dear dollmaker doesn't seem to have noticed her puppet's actions, and so you decide to leave them unmentioned for now. In truth you're not completely certain what she meant either.
As you return to the square before the temple, little seems to hav changed. Neither the forest witch not the old master are in sight, though silver-maned Mokou seems to have fallen asleep with her head in the village guardian's lap.
The shield-thane herself waves in greeting as she sees you, and thus, for the sake of politeness and for a lack of better things to do, you and Alice make your way over to the stalwart shield-thane and sleeping silver-mane.
"Hello again." Keine greets the two of you, a knowing smile on her lips. "Did you have a pleasant stroll?"
"Yes." Alice softly replies, "The garden was very beautiful."
"Aye, wrought with greatest skill it was." You comment, finding nothing else in particular to add.
"That's good to hear." The shieldthane replies, as if this answer was exactly what she expected you to give. "How nice it must be to be young, sneaking off together into the gardens." She continues with a wistful sigh.
To this you have no reply to give, for well do you know that to do so would lead to little good. Yet from her words you can gather that the shieldthane must be far older than she appears, something you've half come to expect from the inhabitants of this magical realm.
"Is Mokou all right?" Alice suddenly wonders, and glancing down at the sleeping silver-mane you find yourself pondering the same question, for the silver-maned woman's sleep seems troubled in truth.
"It seems like she's still tired." Keine replies, a hint of sadness suddenly entering her voice. "She hasn't gotten much sleep recently, so I suppose it's understandable."
"Is she still obsessed with Kaguya?" The dollmaker inquires in a concerned voice.
"Not all the time, but it's been worse lately." The shieldthane confides, "And since it's full moon tomorrow, I can't help worrying about her sneaking off and doing something reckless."
To this Alice simply nods in sympathy, and though you don't know the exact circumstances surrounding the silver-maned woman and the village protector, you can still see that this must be draining for the guardian. It would surely be impolite to pry into these matters, yet you can't help your curiosity nagging you with more and more insistent demands. For the moment though, this is a matter that can wait, especially as the sleeping silver-mane suddenly decides to awaken with a pained yelp.
"Fucking fuck, it hurts!" The silver-mane blurts out in a somewhat crude tone, her hand shooting up to the back of her neck.
"Mokou!" The blue-haired guardian exclaims, voice filled with sudden panic. "What's wrong?"
"I think that damn arrowhead's stuck somewhere. Gotta get the bastard out somehow." The silver-mane growls, her face twisted into a mask of pain. Then her gaze suddenly turns to you, and she slowly rises to her feet.
"Hey big guy, are you handy with that sword?" The silver-mane demands, her bloodshot eyes suddenly almost pleading.
"Aye, I have some skill." You reply, somewhat perplexed by this unexpected question.
"Good enough." Mokou mutters under her breath. "Look, this might sound a bit fucked up, but could you cut open my neck?"
"I know what you're thinking, but it'll be fine." The silver-maned one explains in answer to the incredulous look that must be on your face right now. "I'm immortal, you see."
"Mokou." The village guardian protests, "I understand that you're in pain, but that would be most improper, this is sacred ground, remember?"
"You know that what's proper or not never was high on my list of priorities." Mokou replies, managing to produce a sarcastic smile despite her pain. "They won't mind anyway."
"Don't be obtuse, you can't expect Sigurd here to do something like that" The shield-thane snaps back, "I'll fetch high priestess Hijiri so she can take a look at you, just bear with it for now."
"I'm not exactly in the mood for a debate right now." Mokou growls, then turns back to you and puts a finger against the left side of her neck. "The damn thing is right here. Just cut up my neck so I can get it out, all right?"
Now this situation truly has taken a turn for the surreal. All men must die, this is well known, thus the claims of the silver-maned sorceress ring hollow in your ears. Yet neither Alice not Keine have refuted such an outrageous claim, thus you are inclined to believe it has some truth in it. Perhaps the silver-maned sorceress truly is undying?
In any case you're suddenly aware that three pairs of eyes are staring at you. A decision must be made, then.
[ ] A strange request indeed, yet if she truly is immortal it would be rude not to aid her.
[ ] Perhaps she should seek some less drastic method of healing?
[x] A strange request indeed, yet if she truly is immortal it would be rude not to aid her. -[x] But first, if not much to ask, walk to the door and do so outside the temple. This isn't rocket science. She waited 2 days, she might as well wait 20 more seconds.
It'd consist of me posting a thread full of text written with a pacing that makes glaciers seem swift.
[ ] A strange request indeed, yet if she truly is immortal it would be rude not to aid her. [ ] Yet you would do so outside of these sacred grounds.
Yet though you wish to help the pained silver-mane, your hand is stayed by the oldest of laws. Long has it been known that the holy places where the gods are praised are not to be sullied with blood, aye, such a crime is cause for outlawry in dishonour among the men of the north, and surely these shrines of eastern lands are no different, even though you have understood from the old master's explanations that no gods are worshipped here.
"If she asks for aid, it shall be given." You thus answer the silver-mane, "Yet few crimes are greater than shedding blood at fair, feast or fane. If you would, silver-maned Mokou, let us leave these grounds first so that the sacred shall stay stainless."
"You won't do it here, but you'll do it somewhere else?" The silver-maned sorceress asks, a hint of anger in her voice. "What's the sense in that? Is some arbitrary border really that important to you?"
In truth there is some sense to her words, for though a sacred place, it is of no greater significance to you. Allfather's name is not known in these lands, and this shrine is not his.
"Nay, for no shrine to nothern gods is this, not Odin's temple nor field of Freya, no hall of Thor or Freyr's fane. "
You answer her, "Little then binding song-smith to follow this shrine's custom, aye..."
"Sorry if I interrupt, but get to the goddamned point." Mokou growls, wincing slightly as she does, "Hurting like hell here, remember?"
"It was the word of old master Youki that bought this song-smith's passage to hallowed hall." You continue, deciding not to take offense at her hastily spoken words. "Gravest of crimes, greatest in infamy, would it be to bring trouble to old master, to tarnish his honour. So he has told, he holds this shrine sacred, thus it is holy to song-smith as well. Stain it I shall not."
"Well now." The silver-mane replies, apparently somewhat surprised by your words. She stops a moment to think, then gives answer, "That changes things. If you have a good reason like that I guess I'll just have to fix things myself."
Fire flows forth from the hand of the silver-maned sorceress, streams of flame looping and curling back on themselves until it looks as if a talon shaped of flame has replaced her hand. You almost flinch back from the heat radiating from the claws of fire, yet you have grown close to flames in recent days, and so you endure the sun-bright inferno without outward signs of discomfort. The siver-maned firewitch herself grins grimly and opens the top button of her shirt with her other hand.
"For the squeamish, you might want to look away." She tells as she pulls down her collar.
You hear the village guardian attempting to say something, but before anything but the first hints of sound can be heard, the silver-maned sorceress touches her neck with a hand of fire, her expression twisting into a mask of agony as her flesh begins to char and drift away as fine ash. But though blistered and blackened flesh soon radiates out from her hand of fire, the only sound you can hear is the horrified gasp of the shield-thane, nor does the firewitch falter or fall as she is scorched. Stangely enough you note that neither her hair nor her shirt seem to be affected by the ravening flames.
You know not how many seconds pass, but before long she yanks away her hand and drops a gleaming arrowhead on the ground, the flames around her hand quickly exhausting themselves. And then, unveling a power more miraculous than any she has yet displayed, the charred crater in her neck simply fades away. Soon the only evidence of the deed of silver-maned sorceress, is the forlorn arrowhead and the lingering smell of burnt flesh.
"Mokou." A soft voice calls out, though behind it you can hear a storm of emotion. And true to your suspicion, as soon as the silver-maned sorceress turns her head towards the sound, she almost flinches back from a truly withering gaze, glowering guardian's waxing wrath palpable even to one who has not earned her ire. Greater wisdom than before do you now see in making the effort to stay in her good graces.
"I will go to apologize to High Priestess Hijiri for your antics," The shieldthane utters in wrathful whisper-voice, "And you will behave in the meantime."
Thus spoken, she spins around and marches off, followed by a slightly shocked stare from the firewitch.
"I do wonder," Alice asks with voice tinged with sarcasm, "If you could take out that arrowhead by yourself, why ask for help?"
"Because it'd be messy of course." The silver-maned sorceress replies as if the answer to her question is completely self-evident. "Shit, my nerves are still all frayed."
"Aye, truth there is in your words." You reply in a deadpan tone as you shoot a glance towards the village guardian.
"Oh well, she'll come around. Women, you know?" The firewitch replies, a strained grin on her features, as she lifts her left hand. "But I was talking about neural damage, that shit takes a bit longer to heal, see?"
Indeed you can see her fingers twitching strangely now and then, like those of old men or warriors who have taken a blow too many to the head, though you have never heard of anyone recovering from such an illness.
Still, even though her power of healing is greater than any other you have seens, you feel more impressed by her courage and self-control. Few men that you have knows could have been her equal in enduring pain, and you cannot count yourself among them. But still, there's a nagging feeling that a woman so ready to profane the sacred is inviting doom upon herself.
"This tale-weaver must wonder," You declare, earning you the attention of all present, "Do you not fear the wrath of gods above? Would silver-maned sorceress stand without waver before even the greatest of gods?"
"Nah, as far as gods go, I've met a few of them. Nothing to be afraid of, really." Mokou replies in a flat tone.
"Pissed off most of those I met too." She continues, then falls silent for a moment, a thoughtful expression on her face.
"Still, here I am, blasphemer and worse." The silver-maned firewitch muses. "And I haven't been struck dead by the gods or Buddha yet, so I guess none of them did mind a little surgery after all."
"Perhaps they simply didn't think it worth the effort?" Alice innocently wonders, earning her a barking laugh from the silver-maned sorceress.
"Yeah, maybe. Though some of them actually did." She then turns to you with a sly grin on her face. "So then, what do you think? You did say that this place was sacred to you too, so are your gods pissed off because of me? Shouldn't they have tossed a curse or two my way yet?"
[ ] Nay, for in the end, this is not a shrine to the gods of the north.
[ ] Indeed they may have, for though the gods may not act immediately, their vengeance is relentless.
I guess it would be, like... killing everyone she likes, locking her in a fireproof box with Kaguya, and launching them both off into the sun. If you want to punish an immortal person, you can get really creative. Hell, think of what happened to Prometheus. Classic example.
That sounds like a nice festival. Seafood is damn tasty, by the way. Goes well with beer.
[ ] Nay, for in the end, this is not a shrine to the gods of the north.
To weigh and ponder her words do not take long, for is it not thus, that each shrine, whether for god or spirit, is hallowed only to the one whose name is carved within holy heartwood arching above? Thus, why would your gods care about this place, no matter what you have declared?
"Nay, for though sacred it may be, this is no shrine to the gods of the north. No reason would they have to care for this place." You reply, words without fault in reason, though you feel that something about them still is odd.
"Territorial, are they?" She wonders aloud, then stops to think for a moment. "Where the hell are you from, exactly? I got the north part, but that's damn vague."
"Last I was wintering in the hall of King Harald of Norway, he who is called Fairhair." You reply, for indeed her words tell you something you should have thought of yourself. Surely the north referred to in these eastern lands is not your homeland, but some other place?
"Wait a minute." The firewitch replies, though she seems slightly puzzled by your words, "Fairhair? You mean Harald the fifth, right?"
"Nay," You reply, now truly mystified by the turn this conversation has taken. "No High King of Norway has there been before Harald, but many lesser."
For a moment Mokou watches you with a hint of disbelief flickering in her eyes, then she takes a step towards you and grabs your wrist. You feel a warm tingling for a few brief seconds, then she releases you with a shocked gasp.
"Would you look at that." She mumbles, eyes wide with shock. "Are you immortal too?"
"Nay, that power is not mine, not known to song-smith any such skill." You answer as good courtesy bids, though you can see little sense in her sudden question. "Yet I must ask, why does silver-maned sorceress wonder such a thing?"
"The phoenix knows the age of all human beings, and it tells me you're only about two hundred years younger than I." The firewitch replies, still seeming somewhat stunned. "And I'm no youngster."
"How old are you, silver-mane?" You softly ask, for as you speak, something you had not realized earlier suddenly surfaces accompanied by a tinge of dread fluttering through your mind.
"Thirteen thousand and twenty." She answers you, voice now somewhat calmer, "As for you, you were born eleven hundred and fifteen years ago."
You slowly take in the merciless truth, one that you had heard and suspected already, but the confrontation with harsh fact still takes you by surprise. Eleven centuries? A number so vast you cannot fathom it, a chasm as wide as the far-stretching ocean.
You take a few deep breaths to steady yourself, calming your thoughts, will wreathing your mind in a sheath of steel. Though you had resigned yourself into staying in this realm, aye, even wished for this very thing when within the void between worlds you faced the dark daemon of all borders. Yet the sudden and certain
knowledge that all you knew, all you cared for, is long since dust still manages to sting your heart like few revelations before have managed to.
"I know that it can't be easy for you," The silver-maned sorceress tells in a knowing voice, though still carrying sympathy. "But even though the world you lived in is gone, you're still here. Take it from someone who knows, there are worse situations."
"Sigurd." Alice softly whispers, her voice slighly shocked, though more coloured with concern, "I'm sorry, I hadn't realized."
"Nay, no need for apology," You reply, shaking off the gloomy feelings grasping at your heart and mind, "In truth it was known already that this song-smith's tale would not bring him back to frost-filled fields of his youth."
"Awfully cold of you." The firewitch replies, a hint of curiosity in her voice, "Everyone you knew is dead, and you're just accepting it? Not even a hint of sorrow or regret?"
You shift your gaze back to the silver-maned sorceress and study her for a few moments, though in the end you find both eyes and expression inscrutable.
Regardless her question has some merit. Perhaps it is because you've not accepted the fact fully, or perhaps it is because you have steeled yourself to your fate, but the mere knowledge of your shift in time does not rattle you as much as it should, for in the end you feel as if there is a clear answer.
[ ] Though they are long gone, all noble men meet again in Valhalla. One day you shall see your family in Odin's halls.
[ ] Nothing is impossible for the sons of Odin. If you could be brought here, then surely there is a way back, if you wish to take it one day.
[ ] And yet, perhaps there is truth more truth in her words than you would like to admit? You need a moment to think.
[x] Nothing is impossible for the sons of Odin. If you could be brought here, then surely there is a way back, if you wish to take it one day. --[x] And yet, perhaps there is truth more truth in her words than you would like to admit? You need a moment to think.
[X] And yet, perhaps there is truth more truth in her words than you would like to admit? You need a moment to think On a second thought, it seems that this one may imply something beyond sadness and regret... I take my earlier words back.
So the bad news are that I'm not entirely satisfied with my writing right now, and I might have to apply some finishing touches to my finishing touches. However, as this is an update that I really want to get right, I'm shooting for maximum quality. That would be the good news.
So please wait warmly, this one will be finished tonight or tomorrow morning.
How about no? Remember, this Saga will be finished, by hook or crook.
In general, I am a very bad person, and a liar to boot. I offer updates of recompense.
[ ] And yet, perhaps there is truth more truth in her words than you would like to admit? You need a moment to think.
The answer lies clear before your eyes, aye, it is to deny her words, to find an explanation to push away the thought of loss and lament, to leave the possibility without heed. So much easier would it be to lie to oneself.
But ever is knowledge persistent, wisdom finding its way through the twists and trammels offered by the most steadfast denials. Often does pain follow, as it does when you find yourself face to face with the truth that your family is long gone, when you know that you shall not see them again in this realm, perhaps not even in the next.
"Aye, those I count as kin are gone, this I know, for a man may travel a thousand leagues, riding sleek sea-steed or sure-footed stallion through the fiercest storm if he has but skill and strength, but not even Asgard's lords can find the paths twisting back through time." You slowly declare, feeling sorrow's rain suddenly beating down upon your cheeks.
"Even if Valhalla is my fate, a thousand years lie between father and son, lifetimes of countless men, such an age that not even the wisest skald could remember the names of his ancestors." You turn your gaze towards the firewitch, seeking not comfort but the truth, for she alone would know. "Tell me, everliving witch, does memory keep sharp as steel when life's years grow greater than the stars in the sky?
The red-eyed woman meets your gaze, in your eyes suddely seeming just as ancient as she claims to be despite her youthful beauty. "Well." She replies, without malice yet with words that hurt as harshly. "It rusts away just as fast."
"A thousand years, yet he feels but the blink of an eye. It is not the sleeping song-smith that would suffer." You growl, voice twisted by sorrow and growing embers of rage. "A thousand years, a son lost, seat empty in Odin's hall. What father could rest among the fallen knowing that his son must be cast down into Hel's cold halls? What mother could find peace if her son fell without honour?"
"By Odin and all the gods," You hiss between your teeth, feeling your sorrow fade away before something far stronger, a great and terrible need seizing your very soul "This will not stand."
Thus, so that your kinsmen may know that their long-lost son has not forgotten, and so that all men in this eastern realm may know, though it is long overdue, you are faced with the final obligation all noble men have to their sire.
"Time enough for sorrow there shall be," You finally declare, struggling to keep your voice steady as you weave the words. "Greater are the demands of duty."
"Well now, what would you mean by that?" The silver-mane wonders, curiosity colouring her voice.
"Answer me first, silver-maned Mokou, where men of this eastern land gather to honour their dead." You inquire, for ill would it be to remain ignorant of this fact.
"That depends. But a temple like this is a popular place." She replies, her features still revealing a slight hint of puzzlement.
"Aye, then it shall do." You mutter under your breath, then turn your head towards the silver-maned sorceress and give answer. "For greatest of a son's duties to his sire, is to see that men will remember. Nothing of worth can a man leave behind after death, but the memory of his honour. Shall he who I called father do any less?"
You turn your eyes toward your dear dollmaker, finding a blue gaze meeting you, her eyes steel-sharp as she simply nods towards you. A small gesture, yet you feel strangely comforted by it.
Your intention thus duly declared you utter a soft prayer to the far-sighted god, Asgard's great guardian, to let you find the hidden and the holy resting beneath the ground of this eastern land, aye, you whisper the name of the eagle-eyed one as you open your eyes and see. Boring through soil and earth, your gaze finds what you're searching for, you follow the twisting path before you until your eyes look down upon the moulded shape of the first giant's flesh, yet your gaze is fixed on the sliver of bone buried beneath.
"Hail, you spirits scattered among splintered shards of great giant's body, listen, you stone-spectres who linger within Ymir's bones." You chant, reaching out with spirit and soul to the hidden powers bound within stone.
Though slow to answer, they respond with a hundred voices, a deep spirit-sound´rumbling within your mind.
Satisfied with their reply, you plunge your hands into the soft soil and grasp the splinter of old Aurgelmir's bones, now feeling the ones living beneath, every spark of power stirring deep below. A few moments are spent in struggle, then you manage to get a firm grip and wrech the slab of rock from the arms of the earth.
Thus you raise the stone upright without much struggle, for stronger and stronger do you feel the spirits of stone flowing beneath the surface of the shard of giant's bone, their strength, though sluggish, lending an inexorable power to your limbs. You whisper to them of sorrow and duty, as the words are spoken you feel their power flow into the cold rock and stir the stone into awakening, the spirits answer, and beyond them something greater still stirs, half-glimpsed like a great ship on mist-shrouded sea.
Dirt and soil rain down from the stone at your command, leaving a grey slab nearly as tall as you are. Not the red rock of the north, known to all wise men as the best for carving, yet it will do.
"Stone did Sigurd raise, For Thorgrim his father. For Hilda his mother, Kin to honour with memory."
Words you utter, tongue's sons sending spirits scurrying through the bones of Ymir, their power gouging grooves into giant's bone, turning twisting thoughts from fleeting into firm.
"Harald's son, mighty Thorgrim Many deeds did he bear Up to Odin, among the slain His place won with honour
Gunnlaug's's daughter, wise Hilda Rightly ruling, kept hearth and home Wise counsel, noble heart, Four sons sent forth with honour.
Let all men know, far away they fell In age past, years unnumbered."
A scattering of dust settles down as you inspect your work, the runes running in a long row over the giant's bone, carved upon it ships and sea, great groove-wrought tree rising from the earth to the top of the rock.
It will do, so you deem it and draw breath to seal the sacred stone's spirit-signs.
"Sigurd song-smith spoke the staves, with words did he carve."
The stone-dust swiftly settles down as the final staves are brought into being. Long does the row of runes wind, the signs wrought as finely as if by the most skilled carver over the sacred stone, your words locked into place for all time. So that they may be known, so that men may remember.
"Throughout nine realms, let these words be heard." You cry out, willing your voice to rise above the heavens themselves, releasing every shred of your pent up emotion and power in a single mighty shout. Thunder cracks from a blackened sky, Thor, lord of thunder answering your cry with his power.
And thus, with your power spent and your might expended you fall down upon your knees, the power of the runes drained from mortal man, carved into stone by rune-cunning song-smith.
Though strength has faded, though magic has flown, you see the carved words wavering before your eyes, spelling words of power and might. In truth, for ages untold are they carved by Odin's chosen. You hear the whispered voices, their words veiled, though you know that they are echoes from another god's might.
But even so, even when your heart is filled by Odin's name and power, you stil feel a sliver of unease piercing your will and wishes. To rise towards the gods or to remain among mortal men. Which shall you choose?
[ ] Meet your fate, feel the power of the gods. One who is the chosen of Asgard's lords
[ ] A man to face Odin's call, you shall be a Gothir of the One on High
[ ] Mortal man among others, your might shall be your own
[x] Meet your fate, feel the power of the gods. One who is the chosen of Asgard's lord Only a coward is afraid of change. If his cause is right and his mind fair, he'll stay as himself, regardless of his form.
Now You all know The bards and their songs When hours have gone by I'll close my eyes In a world far away We may meet again But now hear my song About the dawn of the night Let's sing the bards' song
Tomorrow will take us away Far from home No one will ever know our names But the bards' songs will remain Tomorrow will take it away The fear of today It will be gone Due to our magic songs
There's only one song Left in my mind Tales of a brave man Who lived far from here Now the bard songs are over And it's time to leave No one should ask You for the name Of the one Who tells the story
Tomorrow will take us away Far from home No one will ever know our names But the bards' songs will remain Tomorrow all will be known And You're not alone So don't be afraid In the dark and cold 'Cause the bards' songs will remain They all will remain
In my thoughts and in my dreams They're always in my mind These songs of youkai, gods, and men And skalds Come close your eyes You can see them, too
Right. I won't ask for forgveness because this time, and this time only, my tardiness isn't my fault. Trust me on this one.
And by Odin, /forest/ is truly the slowest board.
 Mortal man among others, your might shall be your own.
Reaching for offering of the gods, the easy path of faith awaits you. Reaching for the path shown by the gods, a way is opened. To go down a road that would lead to answers and closure would be simple.
But this is not not for a man of the north. The easy road is weakness, the simple road is the path of fools. To be lain into the earth, to be lain into a ship after the deadly wound has cast a man to Valhalla is what a man can crave, no more, no less.
You turn towards the Rainbow Witch and the Living Phoenix, drawing upon the anger and the grief within to tell them your answer.
It calls and it wishes, so easy is it to feel the world's mischief and ill will towards you. So easy to follow the false path.
"Who then has thought that life will bring to a man what he is worth", You state, for this is a truth that all men should know.
"Runes I have carved, runes to memory, runes for ages in distant land. What man can wish for more?" You ask, your words unaswered, though the mistress of marionettes weeps silent tears for your sake.
You turn towards her intent on drying up her anguish, and it is then that you hear the sound that will change your world back.
Clear the call is issued as the black-white witch bursts out from the temple. She is followed by a shower of splintered wood as the doorway behind her shatters, as if the fist of an enraged lord of Jötunheim had crushed the building itself.
She barely dodges the rain of sharp wood and lands upon the hard earth right before you, but before you can utter a word to tell of this strange sight Marisa has already righted herself.
"Goddammit, what the hell?" She whispers, anger flickering over her features. Anger is turned into surprise in a single moment as a slab of iron crashes into the ground where the wildwood witch stood only moments ago.
This proves to be a question easily answered as a strange girl mostly dressed in white leaps towards your fair friend. She snatches up the anchor and delivers a mean blow towards Marisa, yet the witch of the woods manages to dodge. The anchor girl's next blow meets Sólargeisli and is turned aside, yet the effort of this leaves you knocked off balance for a moment.
Thus you stand, facing a young girl wieding a giant anchor, strange as this may seem. Her eyes narrow and her features grow even more grim as she watches you.
"Stand aside, Sir. If you shield that filthy thief I shall have to crush you as well", she claims, picking up her anchor and swinging it around a few times, perhaps meaning to intimidate you.
"That ain't true at all", the black-white witch protests, her voice full of indignation. "I didn't even have any time to steal nothing"
Her words almost slip by you, and in another moment the clash of metal on metal is heard again as you leap forward to slay this fool that stands before you. You see her swing up the huge anchor in her hand effortlessly, and thus a tought enters your mind, how shall you face this foe?
[ ] Strike straight and true, win glory with victory
[ ] Defend yourself first of all. [ ] Deflect instead of halt, using her momentum as an ally.
A few blows are traded before a crushing swing forces you a step back. Thus the first rush of battle fades and you find your mind cleared, thus you see that her mighty weapon would surely make a mockery of any direct attack. For a brief moment you spare a thought to the witch of wildwoods, but she is swift and cunning, and in fact you find doubt within that you could do much to shield her that she could not herself.
Thus you plant your feet firmly, lingering power from the ones dwelling within Aurgelmir's bones steadying you. The girl before you snarls an oath under her breath, and quick as the bite of Jörmungandr itself the slab of iron in her hand flies out. You twist back and catch her weapon with golden blade, a mighty shout and heave of muscle speeds the anchor down to the earth only scant feet from you and a golden serpent's tongue flows forth to find foeman's flesh.
In this you are denied as the ghostly girl nimbly vaults over her weapon and only the empty air feels the touch of your blade. You turn to face her as she snatches her iron back into her hands and again you're forced on the defensive, but this time the girl doesn't give you time to do more than react, her weapon raging like a whirwind of black iron. You now see there is no deflecting such a weapon for she wields it as if it were light as a feather, and the best you can do is to dodge out of the way and attempt to ward off her blows.
"Fall!" She roars as she batters you back, every blow sending sharp stings of pain through your weary arms. "In the name of Amida, you shall fall!"
It is then that a strange calmness comes over you, all other emotion swept away by the ice-cold focusof battle. A deep breath gives you insight, and your eyes show you the truth, this girl's swiftness is too great, her skill too strong to twice taken in by the same trick. Strength, then, must be your weapon.
Thus you seize the moment, thought of defense forgotten and oath to Allfather on your lips as you spring forward. In clash of metal on metal you lock your weapon with hers, though the impact feels like one of Jötunheim's lords had dealt it. Thus you struggle with the girl, iron grinding on gold as you try to wrestle aside her weapon. It is only now that you notice the wight-smell lingering over her and the cold tang of Aegir's realm that she carries with her, yet the knowledge of her nature brings little aid to you for defeating this foe. Impossibly this small ghost-girl before you pushes your sword to a halt. Another moment passes and the golden woundbringer is forced back, inch by inch it moves, edges closer to dark defeat.
Then the pressure lessens as your dear dollmaker comes into view behind the ghostly girl. A thousand delicate threads bind the Sea-Ghost's weapon and you find that you can halt its inexorable push, though the effort still strains your strength.
You right yourself slightly and try to find your balance again but this effort proves futile as something suddenly grabs your left shoulder and pushes down hard, a flash of light stings your eyes, a shine of ice-blue fire that flows for a moment.
Then the fireball is past you and stikes your foe head on. You stagger back by the force of the blast, but swiftly see that the white wight of sea-steed's road fared poorer than you, the enchanted flames showing no sign of sating their ravening hunger soon. The black-white witch drops down beside you, flickering flames still licking around her fingers.
"Hah, didja see that?" The wildwood witch asks, wide grin and proud voice showing how pleased she is with herself "Good thing yer so big though, made it easy to hide -ze."
"Truly, Marisa, haven't you caused enough trouble already?" Alice sighs, with a slight shake of her head "At least that farce was over quickly."
"Well, wasn't my fault. I didn't do a thing." The black-white witch replies. "Crazy anchor lady over there just jumped me all of a sudden an' started swingin'."
"Yeah, those things happen." The immortal phoenix states in a deadpan as she joins the conversation. "And not that it matters to me, but shouldn't you do somethin' about that fire?"
Your gaze follows her pointed finger, and there is sense in her words for some distande away the blue fire still burns around the Wight of Aegir's halls, yet the immortal one's concern proves unfounded as the flames are cast into the sky with a mighty shout. The Sea-Ghost emerges from below, slightly singed but otherwise unharmed. She swings her anchor over her head and brings it down to rest on her shoulder as she turns towards you.
"Yer a tough one." Marisa comments, mild surprise showing on her features. "Wanna go for another go, or didja have enough already?"
"Silence, you pissant little shit!" The ghostly captain commands with a sharp snarl, her eyes glaring at black-white Marisa as she stalks forward. "You've dared spit on all that this temple stands for and you're not getting away without a beating."
"All of ya can just stand back." Marisa states and waves you back, a wicked smile on her lips. "I still owe her for last time, hafta pay back my debts and all that. An' now that we're outside I can go all out."
"Do as you please." Your dear dollmaker replies with a slight shrug of her shoulders. The immortal one seems uninterested as well, thus leaving only you left to decide what to do.
[ ] Strive to defeat the Ghost-Captain. Aside his friends in battle is the place of a man.
[ ] Let the wildwood witch handle herself. It would be ill to cause further offense.
[ ] Advise a swift retreat to your companions. It seems you have overstayed your welcome
By the Gods you're surprising the hell outta me Norseman. I'm a Anon who has been reading this since the very beginning and was very sad to see this damn good story stop. Gonna have to get drunk for this great occasion! Ill see if that Skullsplitter mentioned earlier is available in AZ. Any other good Norse/Viking liquor?
Orkney Raven Ale is really good, but you really have to get it on cask.
[ ] Let the wildwood witch handle herself. It would be ill to cause further offense.
Ill it is to leave fair friend without aid in fierce battle. Yet worse would it be to betray your oaths and spit on your promises. In your heart you trust that the black-white witch can overcome this foe, for her spells and sorcery will win victory where weapons' clash cannot.
Thus you step back and let the wild witch of deep woods handle this foe. "Aye then," you tell, "This foe is yours to defeat, brave witch of woodlands. Face her with courage and strength."
And so you have spoken, and so wildwood witch leaps into the air above, the Wight of Sea-Steeds' road follows her. In mere moments a battle of dire spells and darkest witchcraft is joined, the two combatants trading attacks with blinding speed.
"Well, well." The Immortal one comments, "Looks like those two will go at it for real."
Thus spoken the white-haired phoenix settles down against a tree and produces a strange brown tube from some hidden pocket.
A tongue of fire she sends, its lick igniting the end of the tube, then she puts the unlit end in her mouth and draws a deep breath, a cloud of smoke follows as she exhales.
"Sigurd? Are you all right?" Your dear dollmaker asks, drawing your attention from the stange scene. The Seven-coloured sorceress looks upon you, a hint of concern upon her beautiful features as ske speaks.
"Aye, I feel fine." You answer, for in truth your sparring with the ghost of Aegir's halls has brought the calm often found after the din of spears has faded. Still somewhat drained by this ordeal, but resolved to carry the burden all men must face. "I will endure."
Wordlessly your dear dollmaker draws to your side and pulls you into a tender embrace. For a few moments you forget about the concers of men and gods, for if you need strength greater than your own to stand tall, she is right here.
After a few moments more you draw apart, the rainbow witch reaches up and gently brushes away a few stray tears from your cheeks. For a few moments you feel at peace, in the silence that follows you feel new strength welling up within you.
"Still, don't you think it's a bit strange? About Marisa and that girl, I mean." Alice suddenly asks, slaying the silence with words of worry.
"How so?" You reply in mild confusion, for unexpected in truth was this question.
"Why was she so angry with Marisa in the first place?" The mistress of puppets wonders.
"Did she not accuse Marisa of theft?" You point out, still failing to see her point. "Is it strange to seek to drive out thieves from high hall?"
"That's the thing," Alice answers, a thoughtful look stealing over her face. "I don't think Marisa was lying when she said that she hadn't stolen anything yet."
"I mean, she'd usually brag about something like that, not deny it." The rainbow witch continues, and you begin to see the cause of her concern.
"There is truth there," You answer, acknowledging the sense in her words "Yet if it was not this day that black-white Marisa drew her ire, then this Sea-Wight must have past grudges against the wildwood witch."
"As far as I know they've only met once. It seems odd, but maybe Marisa did something back then to earn the enmity of the people living in the temple?" Alice muses, though you can hear a hint of unease in her words.
"But then where are the other guardians of this temple? Why were the gates unbarred for a foeman?" You speak alound the question which must have been on her mind.
"Yes, I was thinking the same thing." She answers as she looks up into the sky. "I must confess having second thoughts about letting Marisa do this on her own."
You follow her gaze and see that the daring dance in heavens above still rages unabated. The ghostly girl of Sea-Steeds' road sends spell-bolts falling like deadly drops of rain, the black-white witch dodging them as the sends back bolts of magic and balls of flame.
"In any case, should we try to find whoever's in charge here?" Alice wonders aloud, "They should still abide by some rules of hospitality, even for an uncultured fool like Marisa."
"Or maybe we should just beat some answers out of that girl?" She then adds, annoyance creeping into her voice. "I must also confess I'm running out of patience for these kinds of antics for today."
"Why bother?" The white-haired Phoenix suddenly asks, earning her a questioning look from Alice.
As you turn towards her Mokou exhales another cloud of smoke and lays open her word-hoard. "See, either that Marisa tried to nick something, and then she gets what she deserves, or the temple guys let you in because they wanna lure you into some kinda trap, though that idea's dumb as all hell 'cause they're a buncha monks."
"Or finally that ghost girl is acting on her own for some reason, in which case she'll get what she deserves." The immortal one finishes as she leans back against her tree and draws another smoke-filled breath.
"Not that it concerns me though, just opinionin'." She finally states and settles down to watch the fireworks in the sky.
"Well, you have a point." The dollmaker replies, though a ghost on uncertainly colours her words.
"What do you think, Sigurd?" She then wonders as she turns to you.
[ ] It would be wise to seek out the lady of this temple.
[ ] Better to follow the advice of the Silver-Maned Phoenix.
[ ] Certainty can only be found from battle. Seek to bring down the Sea-Ghost and make her talk.
Hm, took even longer than I'd hoped. Oh well, tired now. Will go and sleep.
[ ] It would be wise to seek out the lady of this temple.
"Wise would it be to first trade well-spoken words with the lady of this hall." You answer after a moment's thought, for though you feel uneasy at the prospect of leaving the black-white witch to fend for herself, battle and rage have served you ill thus far. Better to trust in word and wisdom.
"Perhaps." The Mistress of Puppets comments though it is plain to hear that she is not entirely happy with your suggestion.
"I have spoken my mind." You tell, glancing down upon her troubled features. "Yet I see you are not convinced, Lady of Puppets. Have you a wiser plan within your thought-hoard than this?"
"Not truly, no." She finally tells after a few silent moments. "I suppose we'll have to sort this all out with the high priestess."
So the two of you make your way towards the grand temple of Gensokyo. Your hurried approach leaves you little time to appreciate the artful crafting of wood and stone you see standing before you, but still you understand that this structure is large indeed and to search it all would see Sól's chariot gallop far indeed upon the firmament befor such a work is done.
For a brief moment your world-vision slips into the spellbound, with eyes holding high Heimdall's sight you search for a sign of the high priestess. It is a strange sight indeed, a soft golden light that flows from the heavens all around you, one that blinds your eyes from seeing anything else and as few moments of trying to pierce the shining veil have passed your eyes begin to sting and your vision waver. Thus your gaze flows back into your mortal eyes as you and the dear dollmaker step through the gates of the temple proper.
"Are the paths leading through the mighty temple known to you?" You ask the dollmaker at your side as the two of you stride into the temple of Myouren. "My spell-sight saw nothing but gold-shine flowing like the wide streams of Gårdarike"
"Unfortunately not." She answers, "I haven't had the time to visit."
"How then shall we find the lady of high hall?" You quickly reply as the two of you enter a wide hall, for no priest or other dweller of this temple can you see. "Too long would we linger in these halls if we search each room and rafter."
"Like this." The Seven-Coloured sorceress replies and with a flick of her wrist she summons a host of puppets that fly forth, their eyes spying around for the dwellers in this place. Their mistress halts and concentrates upon directing her dolls through the temple, swiftly spreading the marionette troop to search the hallowed halls.
You steal another glance at your dear dollmaker as she continues spying around the temple through her many minions, her eyes cold and piercing, her features hard as Ymir's bones. It might simply be her furious focus that is the cause, but you feel that there is fury of another sort smouldering within her heart.
"What anger has entered your mind, dear Alice?" You ask her, for little wish do you have to see your dear dollmaker like this. "It is plain to see for one who knows that your heart is troubled."
"If I seem annoyed, then it is because I am." She confesses, and true to her words she sounds irritable indeed. "All this skullduggery is, how should I put it... inelegant."
"Aye, easier it is when one can face foemen blade to blade." You wistfully reply, thinking back upon simpler times in your life for a few moments.
"Don't misunderstand," The rainbow witch replies as she spares you a quick glance, eyes mirroring her feelings. "I do enjoy a good intrigue from time to time as much as anyone else, but this constant sneaking and scurrying about is simply vexing. Anyway, I need to focus."
Thus spoken she falls silent, true to her word. Heeding the obvious words of wisdom you also remain silent and let her finish her task.
"Ah, I have the location." She finally says after a minute or so, "Let's get going so that we can end this farce." The Seven-Coloured Sorceress adds as she sets off in a brisk walk. You fall in beside her and follow your dear dollmaker's lead through the winding paths leading to temple's heart.
"Truly, Sigurd," Alice offhandedly comments after a short time's walk, "It seems like we're quite the unwelcome guests wherever we go."
"Aye, cold welcome have we had. Yet seldom have the sons of the north been welcome in the halls of strange lands. I pay it no mind." You answer, for though you have felt the same, you find yourself caring surprisingly little.
"I can't say I feel the same way." Artful Alice tells, cold honesty in her words.
"How then do you feel, dear dollcrafter?" You wonder as the two of you ascend a long staircase. For a few more steps the mistress of puppets remains silent, and you begin to wonder if she intends to answer at all when she suddenly stops.
"Honestly?" The rainbow witch wonders as she turns her head towards you, a faint smile on her lips. "I feel like beating someone up."
You look down and meet her eyes, sky-coloured falcon's gaze piercing you with its intensity. You feel a slight shiver running down your spine as you look upon her and again realize that your dear dollmaker can be dangerous indeed if she wishes it.
"I rue the foeman who will suffer her anger, artful Alice who weaves the spell-winds like wrathful winter storm." You answer her with a smile of your own, for you find even this aspect of her to be enchanting indeed. "Well would I wish to weave the tale when time is at hand for her beauty to shine."
Your dear dollmaker's eyes soften along with her features as a small chuckle escapes from her lips. With a small shake of her head she sets off once again, and you continue your path towards the high priestess of Myouren's temple.
As you turn the corner you find yourself walking towards a large doorway, and likewise you find the village guardian standing before it. She turns around as the two of you approach, a questioning look on her face.
"Hello." The stalwart thane greets you, though she seems slightly surprised to see you here. "What brings you two here?"
"Trouble." Alice answers her, voice and word terse. "Is the high priestess here?"
"Yes, though I was told she is unavailable at the moment." The shield-thane replies. "I would think that you'll have to wait if you want to see her."
[ ] Then you must wait. Ill would it be to upset one whose ear you seek.
[x] No time for waiting. Enter immediately. >>24666 As far as I can tell, Byakuren isn't exceptionally strong. Somewhere above Okuu and Ran and below Yuuka and Shinki. Wait, that means she's as strong as Remilia or Yuyuko. Forget I said anything.
I suppose it won't be any great revelation to state that no matter what exact kind of powers any arbitrarily chosen Level 6 or EX boss specializes in, they still won't have much trouble pounding a human with some modest supernatural talents into the dirt when one-on-one.
Then again, is it so clear which optionn, if any, would lead to fighting?
Going to keep the vote open until tomorrow at least, just so you know.
Goddammit, this took much longer than it should have. Apologies for that.
[ ] Then you must wait. Ill would it be to upset one whose ear you seek.
The shield-thane's words are ones full of sense, for though each man is lord in his own hall, it is unwise indeed to ignore others who hold power within. Though gods on high alone are masters in their fanes, gothir and soothsayers still hold stewardship, and ill would it be to draw the ire of them, this all men know.
Knowing this you halt well before the oaken doors, for though you do not enjoy this delay you accept it.
Yet, as you've come to experience so often, your feelings are not shared by others.
"Wait?" The Seven-Coloured Sorceress spits out, harsh voice forming harsh words. "We don't have time to wait."
Thus spoken, eyes filled with ice-flame, your dear dollmaker strides up to the doorwa. Without effort the doors are forced ajar by her arms, and then she is gone beyond.
Your first instinct is to follow, for thus does both will and wisdom bide. As you take your first step you dimly sense it, at the second step you feel is if you were walking beneath the blue roof of Aegir's halls.
"Wait." The village guardian's voice calls out at the third step, and you halt. "Please tell me what is wrong." She tells, words polite, yet it is plain to know that this is not merely a request.
You turn your eyes towards the blue guardian, her eyes meeting yours. You see surprise and faint unease etched on her features, yet her gaze remains unflinching, her will unbending.
"Aye," You answer her, for answer you must, this as well you now know, and begin to draw from your well-of-words. Swiftly, with skill, you spin the staves of what has happened, of how the Wight of Aegir's realm came to do battle with Black-White Marisa and of your thoughts of this matter.
"Your actions are understandable in this light." The shield-thane concludes after hearing silver-tongued words, "Yet are you certain that Marisa did not cause this disturbance?"
"I am not." You admit, and in doing so let a hint of steel seep into your words as you set your mind alight with Kvasir's blood.
"Yet unbarred were gates by giant's hand for guests in godly halls, Guest-right, that law of Odin, Allfather set in age before ages, Host's duty, hallowed law, wrought strong as blade born of Regins's forge, For only the vile would seek to scathe one he has let sit down at his hearth."
The great guardian nods at your verse, features softening slightly as the poetry reaches her. After a moment of silence she speaks again,
"Yes, that is true. It is unacceptable to accost a guest in such a way." The shield-thane answers. She lets out a deep sigh and shakes her head slightly as she speaks again, "I may have been hasty in suspecting her, but if so is it because I am concerned about Marisa. That girl just doesn't seem to be able to keep out of trouble."
"In any case we must sort this matter out with the high priestess" The village guardian concludes and sets off towards the great doorway.
So decided you again turn towards the door, yet before you can enter a sharp voice reaches your ear from beyond the oaken portal, though strangely distorted. The sound stops for a moment, then returns again, louder this time, only to stop again.
A few moments after this the mistress of puppets appears in the doorway, and next to your dear dollmaker wanders another woman, and strange indeed do you deem her. Strange dress, strange hair, her features near-impossibly peaceful. Yet what is truly striking about this women is the stillness around her, the calm and quiet that her mere presence brings. Of all strange men and women you've met in these enchanted eastern lands only the old master himself has ever had such a power as this, and even then not nearly as strong as the radiant calmbringer who stands before you.
"Hello, Miss Kamishirasawa." She greets the shield-thane, her voice soft and gentle. With her greetings done she turns towards you, studying you for a brief moment before she speaks again.
"Hello, sir. Who might you be?" She asks, voice barely above a whisper.
"Sigurd, son of Thorgrim, a song-smith of the north." You answer, strong-voice clearly calling out your name to the soft-spoken calmbringer.
"I am high priestess Byakuren Hijiri." She replies with a slight bow. "Welcome."
"High priestess," Your dear dollmaker interjects, her acid-etched tone shearing sharply against the voice of the high priestess. "Do we not have something to do?"
"Yes, pardon me." The lady of the temple replies then strides off towards the courtyard, the shield-thane falling in behind her, you and Alice following at a small distance.
So the four of you wander out through the temple, and your mind begins to wonder about what will come to happen without. Though she seems peaceful, the gothir of strange shrines claim strange powers, one and all, and would this not be doubly true in this land of enchantment?
"What words did you trade with the mistress of this fane?" You ask the seven-coloured sorceress, voice low, guarded against sharp ears, for you feel this is a thing you need to know.
"The first thing she told me is that I reminded her of someone, if you can believe it." Your dear dollmaker answers, speaking softly as well. "In any case, after a bit of convincing she proved to be reasonable and promised to sort this foolishness out."
"Aye, that is good." You tell her, for well would it be if this matter was settled with words alone. "Yet can she be trusted to keep her word?"
"Probably." Your dear dollmaker answers as she slows her steps slightly and lightly grasps your hand. Turning towards the Seven-Coloured sorceress to ask what her will is, your word-hoard's gates are swiftly barred as she leans her face towards yours, suddenly laying one hand on your cheek as she sets a single finger against your lips.
"Be quieter, they could hear us just now." She softly breathes in your ear, softly like the slightest beat of bird's wings, even with her lips next to your ear you strain to make out her words. "Hear me out, please, we don't have much time."
"Promise me that you'll follow my lead for now." Her whisper-voice then asks, "Please, this is important. Nod once if you understand."
You ponder her words, honestly taken aback by this unexpected request. Your first instinct is to agree, for heart and mind both so bide. Yet some instinct within holds you back from agreeing too readily. Though you wish to trust her, the voice of cold caution still counsels against agreeing to a promise as vague as this. Still, in truth you have little time before an answer must be made.
[ ] Aye, if she asks, you must trust your dear dollmaker.
[ ] Whisper back to her, ask her to explain her thoughts.
Right, calling the vote for giving your trust to the Seven-Coloured sorceress.
I will go and get drunk as all shit today, so updates will probably appear on Máni's day or on the day of Tyr. I'm going to start a new thhreade while I'm at it, so feel free to take this one pastthe autosage limit.