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Rider


Fuyuki Park

- TO -

Miyama Town





Saving innocent lives. If that was the sole focus of his master then it was respectable at least....but also a total fool's errand when within the bounds of a warzone. Not yet had the fighting begun in earnest, but this child did not understand the very nature of war. Never mind if this boy was a magus or not, used magecraft or not, and has mystic codes or not. They were a simple tool in this matter, as with any weapon, but even the best weapons and tools could not alone save a fresh soldier should he face a far more veteran opponent. Had he even been engaged in battle against a foe? Had he seen devastated villages and dying people left at his feet, following the trail of pursuit back to his enemies?

A hero's world was not that of white-knighted and naïve idealism, but fighting for what could be saved and what could be done to achieve victory. Even he knew this much.

If you held yourself responsible for all the innocent lives in wartime, you would go inevitably mad in time. It was a most naïve wish, one that could bode even worse fates lied before the magus if he kept on this path. The heroic spirit felt it in his bones. Even he did not wish devastation upon this place. The people here had done naught but live their lives. But all the same, nothing came without a price. It was bloody, ruthless, and even when pride and honor were on the line it was never pretty. But he would do his duty and follow his compassion upon this poor soul all the same.

This young one who knew not the horrors of war, he prayed that he would be able to teach him. He would need to speak with the boy at some point, really, but for now the boy seemed to be content trying to run off and do as he pleased.

'If this person you wish to meet is found yet turns hostile, your equipment will mean nothing. Be prepared for anything, young one, and I will be by your side for whatever comes at this next location."

And so he would follow along close to his master, all whilst remaining in his spiritual form.

@Letter Bee

Leannah





"So we find one of those orbs and you give it to me. It’ll be safe with me, promise.”
A Loveable Heart-Attack Of A Demigod Girl


Wait. Wait. Wait. She hadn't mentioned orbs, which meant Lazhira-...oh no. Oh nonono. What The Illuminator had told her was making even more sense now, and that was not good. Very very not good. She was so very tired, exhaustion burning at her, but there was no time to lose if she was going to at least try to do something or talk to someone. Frankly there was only one other person she trusted at the moment, and that person had seemed to remain with her in this room at least. A small blessing, potentially, but even then Leannah found herself questioning if the others had any odd deific experiences in the temple to boot. Blargh.

She had to start somewhere. Lazhira talking about getting the orb had made the catgirl's heart drop down into her gut in an instant, though she'd been able to hide it behind exhaustion and how she was feeling already at the very least.

But why did they seem to think he was after the orbs? Surely it seemed like a ploy to scare people off at best so far, but other than that she had no idea. It was fishy, however, and she wasn't going to turn down any odd thing like that in this situation. Take it at face value, or an assumed face value, and you could screw things up badly. Thinking too deeply also held the same issue, however, which was something to keep in mind.

She had to start somewehere, and after picking back up her plate and she downed the rest of the food as best she could before she looked over at her current compatriot. Narkissa. The catgirl took several deep breaths, trying to focus her mind as best she could. She imagined sparring someone, or performing meditation, anything that would help her in getting some reign over herself once more. Truth be told she felt more fragile than she had for a long time...it scared her. Badly. Yet at the same time, she couldn't just sit and do nothing either.

Too many lives were at stake.

"Thank You....b-but I need to talk to you. Just the two of u-us."

Leannah forced herself to sit up a little more as she spoke in a lower volume and tone where just she and Narkissa would be able to hear, wincing in pain and soreness as she did so but still managing to stabilize herself a bit. A bit. Better than nothing, she supposed. Even so, her still-reddened eyes seemed to reflect a seriousness, a great gravity that even now the catgirl perhaps felt on her shoulders.

"I want to...hah...I want to know everything that happened back at the temple to the rest of you. Talking to gods if that happened, fighting things, the cultists, all of it. If that...if that's ok...hah. Need to talk to that 'Novak' guy later if I can too.

Won't slouch in return though I also want to tell you what I learned, but you must promise to tell no-one else. Swear it to me. Nobody else learns about it from you. Not the gods. Not anyone else. The village itself...Lazhira...and humanity...hah...all are at stake here....everything is."


It was a lot of heavy things she knew, but she knew her knowledge was imperfect. Spotty. In that sense like The Illuminator, but not mad in the head as of yet at least. She couldn't just have someone spouting it out everywhere. Truth be told, this was the kind of information that felt like you either sound crazy for saying it and are distrusted or were scolded later or worse by others for not telling earlier when others would actually believe you once things hit the fan badly enough.

The Illuminator didn't want meddling either, and that meant he was willing to do things with the menace he put into that. She had no doubts. Delphiti was, if all was true, involved in this as well with her own aim. The village, then, was caught in the middle of the struggle and...well, the Bastelian girl had no idea what to make of it since she knew so little about here thus far and how the village believed.

But Lazhira's advice to "do what comes naturally" felt oddly fitting for this somehow. If she was going to try anything, she needed information. As much as possible. She'd have to give in return to get it unless Novak or such were cooperative in her being curious, but hopefully nothing too damning too early would come into play or so forth. Then again that felt like a line to think of moments before something went badly sideways. Ugh.

She just hoped Narkissa would be willing to tell her everything from back there first. She would be honest in return, as promised.

They had to figure something out. Maybe they could even rope in Nobunaga and the fluffy-tailed woman who she in her head called 'the Japanese duo', whom she really did need to try to at least talk to after the other night's accident, and anyone else who could be of assistance to saving this place. Well, depending. She had no idea of the other two's dispositions, or of Novak's beyond their brief time around each other, and so forth.

...Narkissa was right not long ago. 'Interesting' was far more of a curse than it was chocked up to be.

Leannah





Iva? Wait, was that a local name for The Illuminator? Though Lazhira seemed to be familiar with the mad god's dungeon-based and puzzle-loving antics, which validated some of what the catgirl had been told some thus far at least. It was equally relieving and terrifying at the same time, given the whole contents of what she'd learned. Even so, Leannah let herself be led back to Lazhira's cabin in silence, a small pang of guilt kicking her in the stomach along the way.

The girl likely had business with the others, anything, and here she was getting escorted back like the wet, limp noodle she was. Someone who...well, there wasn't much to recount. She'd not been here as long, not talked to Lazhira as long, and yet here she was getting help. She'd made a dumb mistake back at the temple in regards to The Illuminator, albeit it wasn't all fruitless at least, but it wasn't like she had experience talking to GODS of all things. Still, she was gone for a day due to divine realm shenanigans and all. Also got half burnt, exhausted, and tired out in the process.

Ugh. Yet there was nothing to do but go on from the point she was currently at, and she knew it.

Mad nutjob of a deity was probably laughing at her somewhere, maybe through some other set of eyes watching her using some bird statue-...mmm, actually not a bird statue. Last bird he probably ever met smashed one of his because he pissed her off. Said cute bird was also the Bastelian Goddess of the Sun.

Yet as Narkissa spoke up in turn as well, the catgirl's ears perked up at the mention of what had happened to the rest of them. It at least caught her up to speed, and gave her some retroactive worry, though one thing among it all seemed to catch her attention. Novak, the man, had made a deal to help The Illuminator acquire a stolen artifact? A 'stolen artifact' was what Narkissa had said, but in truth the orb (one of the keys) was the first thing that came to Leannah's mind when such a thing was mentioned. It was her first suspicion at least, given what she'd heard and learned. Then they were hunted by cultists?

Was The Illuminator trying to drive them away from finding the artifact by pretending to seek it? It seemed likely, but also something felt 'fishy' about it as well. Delphiti was seeking it too, and the conflict goddess essence could be warping things somehow. She could not discount those details, not after her prior adventure. She needed to talk to Novak, it seemed, and further ask the others once she was rested up more. Because in the very hypothetical case 'stolen artifact' meant 'the orb', then it made zero sense if he wanted to find it. He didn't want anyone to find it, but why have them help you find it if you don't want them to? Why grab up Lazhira if keeping her close was apparently a bad idea to him? He said it was in a safe place, which meant that there was no need to drive the ploy so far along, right? In such a case, either he was 'that' mad or something oddly fishy was up. Leannah felt far more inclined to the latter.

That aside, as she was laid on the bed and had bandages applied the catgirl let out a long, deep sigh. The cute but knowledgeable human girl would lecture her at first, it seemed, and frankly the catgirl felt she deserved that one. Badly. Sure it saved her life, and that was still true, but it was also incredibly stupid to fiddle with her own light magic before getting Auset-Kythet's approval by slaying an Elder Beast. Delphiti had put her in a hell of a spot in that regard, and she herself and further done so by praying like an idiot in a world where DEITIES ACTUALLY EXISTED.

"And you met him! Ugh, ha...I suppose now is probably a good time to talk with you."


Wait, what?

Leannah's stomach would growl as the first smells of cooking food reached her nose, and frankly by now she wasn't going to be picky. Her body seemed to thrum with the primal urge of hunger, regardless of her state, and when the plate of food was extended to her the catgirl's hands would lightly shake as she took it. Despite trying to not appear as worse off in that sense, however, she eagerly and rapidly wolfed down a couple of big bites of fish and veggies and berries in tandem with each other. Nearly choked at the end of the second bite, but a couple of coughs and thumping her chest with one fist was enough to get it down safely in the end.

But-

“So...uhm...he probably told you I’m his uh, daughter right?”


-the catgirl stopped, frozen in place right before almost going for another bite as Lazhira spoke to her again. Hell. It did confirm that information from The Illuminator, which meant-...no. She would take this bit by bit. One thing at a time.

Leannah would gently set the plate on her own lap, before looking over to Lazhira sitting next to her.

"H-He...He did. Called you...ah...his 'Little La-Zha'-"

The catgirl abruptly paused as she said the last bit, slightly cringing before letting out a sigh.

"S-Sorry...not sure if that, ah...if you needed to hear that tidbit of information..."

Running a shaky hand through her own hair, Leannah looked back over at Lazhira. Focus. She needed to focus. The nerves couldn't just fry her right here and now, she just needed to focus on the person in front of her. Lazhira. A cute human girl, interested in the past, wanting to learn history, kind, hospitable, and frankly the kind of person Leannah felt she treasured right about now.

...They had only just met the other day or so anywho. Why was she thinking like this already? Idiot. She was just an idiot.

"I also learned about how he was made, who made him, and all of it. The full story, the full legend, from start to finish. I spoke to your grandmother, the one who made him, and even learned more about Delphiti and some secrets things about this area."

Leannah rested her hands on either side of herself, one being in reach of Lazhira as it sat between them on Leannah's left. The catgirl clenched her hands tightly without thinking, her knuckles turning white as she did so. Her eyes struggled to look at Lazhira, or anything for that matter, unfocused and almost hazy as if something was playing out before Leannah's very eyes within the confines of her own mind.

Even so, her mouth continued to move. Yet her words would be shaky, a chill running up her back as she spoke and a light tremble running through her limbs.

And...I learned things I wish I hadn't at the end as well.

I learned things that haunt me even now, knowledge that he knows no one here would believe. Truths that I'd...you'd...anyone...that e-everyone would...t-things he knows would cause trouble, and would hurt others.

And...I-I...I-I-I...I don't know what to do..."


The last sentence came out soft, audible clearly to Lazhira but almost a whisper compared to Leannah's usual manner of speaking. Even her gung-ho attitude to explore and learn seemed quashed, as if the gravity of what she'd learned was tearing away at her, all whilst a few tears genuinely began to trickle down from her reddening eyes.

And to Leannah...how could it not get to her like this?

What else could be a nightmare, than to realize doom loomed over things alongside just how tiny you were and how little you knew despite knowing a lot otherwise? She was exhausted. She was tired. She barely had put two bites of food into herself, and so she couldn't hold it back well at all if she tried. It was terrifying, and for once she felt very much human once more.

Lazhira, the bright, beautiful, intelligent girl next to her was a living key. If she got the orb, she was dead...everyone here was. A living key to a seal holding back a Goddess of Conflict that wanted humanity's collective heads, and was tainting the village and affecting even Lazhira herself. If Lazhira found the orb, and if the village scoured out all traces of The Illuminator, then humanity was potentially very doomed. Potentially He also seemed to be the sort who'd maybe even turn on the village if it kept humanity as a whole alive and the seal from breaking for his own benefit. He was a madman, for heavens' sake! A mad god of knowledge! A Frankenstein's monster cobbled from dead gods of old his 'Auntie' probably even knew!

A slim chance it wasn't, but it was phrased so worryingly Leannah knew she'd have to calm herself down about it.

At first she'd taken it somewhat in 'stride'. Yet the more she thought over it, the more cold dread crept into her from her extremities down to her core.

Real lives were on the line here, many of them, and all were not beings from some anime or video game or whatever. Humanity in this world, not even her own people or even the humanity she'd formerly known anymore in this life, was in danger of potential annihilation. Again. This time without a Sage willing to simp for a goddess so hard they managed to save the world. Hell. It was all combined something that made her want to scream as loud as possible, but her mouth felt sewn shut somewhat.

Plus on the flip-side, the situation was screwed as hard as she could think of it in regards to her own knowledge otherwise.

She had yet to learn about this place and what they believed in and so forth.

She knew so little yet so much at the same time.

She had talked to three deities yet knew nothing much about them. She had seen an immortal in person and spoken with them, and yet couldn't even so much as keep her trap shut around a mad god when she needed to.

She hadn't so much as killed a thing but those experiments in the puzzle and one of them back at the lab, having burned half of herself in the process of saving her own life during the former and lost her only weapon after the latter, but was expected to go and kill an Elder Beast of all things to prove herself and stabilize her 'gift'.

Now here she was, crying and rambling and sitting next to a person/stranger she wanted to get to know more. Someone she felt an urge to protect without fully knowing why but feeling like it was the right thing to do. And she was saying all of this to this local girl, unabashedly, like an idiot. Like a stupid idiot who runs into an ancient temple and pulls on the traps and without thinking. Like a stupid idiot who falls in love at first sight with someone who has a brilliant mind and heart. Like a stupid idiot who cries and spouts out their feelings in front of a stranger two days after being reincarnated into a new world.

Indeed...what a fool she truly felt like she was right now. Even bigger a fool than a Sage who falls in love with the moon and Frankenstein's dead gods into a new one by paying a rather great price.

@Rune_Alchemist
The Greater Republic of India


Unnamed Building, Outer City, Mogadishu, Somalia


The man had been given a chance to speak, but in the end he'd finally spilled his guts to the unit after capture and 'persuasion' to speak. From there he'd been handed off to be processed further. It was progress. Finally, one of the holdout locations on the small northern coast of Somalia was in reach. But his friend has not been so fortunate.

CRACK


With a sickening split, the butt of the Indian marine's rifle rang out as it crashed into the pirate's skull. Man had balls of steel, but not the steel to reinforce his own skull. How quaint. They had only needed one man to speak out of the two they'd managed to capture from the latest pirate attack up in the Gulf of Aden, so it was only natural the other would be taken into custody with swiftness. No limits on how he had to subdue the pirate, so he'd taken the quick route to it...and now the limp but alive body of the pirate was on the floor once more.

The soldier made a gesture to a nearby man near the door, armed with a rifle, who with a nod walked over and began to drag the pirate's unconscious body out of the cement-floored room. Medic would patch him up, then he'd be sent to the rudimentary 'jail' the Indian Forces had set up nearby.

In truth, the whole area had been a blur of business after the operations had begun. Warring groups and warlords inland, with pirates smattered about the coastline. The latter had been rushed in a blitz by the Indian Navy, securing land and taking out most major centers over time beyond that. What did the west call this tactic? A 'blitzkrieg'? Sounded European, but that was of no concern to the soldiers and marines and vessels taking part in it all. They'd warned the Somalian government ahead of time, maintaining official documentation of their communications to build up their case before finally launching the operation.

They'd set it up to be laughed off, but when the pirates had taken bullets and barrages and bombardments it had brought things into line more quickly than not. The scant remnants that did flee the pirate purge moved to the northern coast, torn apart and in tatters at best, and landing parties of tanks and troops had pushed further in from there.

Admittedly some had been more entrenched among those fighting within the Somalian lands, but Anomalies and so forth had done enough to push most closer toward the coast by recent times. It also gave Somalia a semi-natural barrier of Anomalous Zones to the north and somewhat in the northwest. More importantly, though, it had given the Indian forces a way to take down most opposition in the short-to-mid term. Finally, the long-term operations were being started and cemented.

Mogadishu, the capital city of Somalia, was being brought relief and security even as its infrastructure had prior been cracking and buckling under the weight of three decades of chaos. One year after its independence came The Visitation, which had sent the nation into a spiral as everyone else had seemingly been forced to look after their own hides for a time. Or something of the sort. Yet now, the reorganized Somalian Government was working on ensuring its own stability for the future. They had even signed a treaty with India itself as a start to bring in Indian businesses and new commerce to the area, mostly stuff to help rebuild and reinforce the nation as natuiral resources and Anomalous Zones would be tapped into...all of these things starting with Mogadishu itself.

The publicly announced 'Anti-Piracy Police Action' had been declared to the world prior to launching the Somalian and Burman operations, declaring the desire to create a safer Indian Ocean that would be intolerant of piracy and seek to forge stability within the boundaries of the Indian Ocean that would last for a long time to come. One that would be made for the benefit of international trade and the safety and prosperity of the peoples of other nations.

The soldier sighed as he readjusted his gun, using a rag torn from the pirate's clothes to wipe off the blood before tossing it down onto the dusty floor. Yet as he began to walk toward the empty doorway, one of the other men rushed in and gave a hasty salute. The soldier saluted back.

"Sergeant Gupta, we have new orders from command. We are to return to the ship and prepare for new deployment."

Finally.

"I take it they liked the intel?"

"Yes sir! Ships are heading to scout the location, and we are to be prepared to land as soon as the day after tomorrow if the situation proves favorable."

"Understood. Relay to command that we will be back at the ship soon...and how's Private Khatri doing?"

"Stabilized, sir. Medics say the bullet avoided critical parts, too low-caliber to go deep either, but they might not be able to remove it without sending him back home."

Pirate bullet to the head when they'd taken the boat those latest two prisoners had come from. Nasty, maybe even lethal for all he'd known. No hesitation in gunning down the feral asabhy that had rushed the private during the squad's nighttime interception of the pirate vessel. By the gods, the man had a young wife back home and a child on the way! Yet as much a warrior as ever, the fool had tried to insist he could still fight even has he tried to stand and bled on the heavens-damned floor.

Gupta nodded his head, face restrained in a stoic manner. His own father was a General...his grandfather even a soldier back in the day. He had to be strong, on or off the field, but he could not ignore his duty to his men either.

"Good. The faster they send him back, the better."




Office, 7 Lok Kalyan Marg, New Delhi


Prime Minister Ishann sat at his desk, the air conditioning turned down as far as he could afford to get it. Even them, however, he could feel the hot sting of the Finance Commission's eyes on him from the last session.

Ever since Daksh's orbital strikes and the launch of operations in Somalia and Burma, the amount of things he'd had to keep up with was getting only worse and worse. Well, larger and larger at least. Both fronts were beginning to pay off with the anti-piracy operations, though in Somalia things had gone a bit faster thus far than with the Burmese. By now forces were rooting farther inland after the discovery of 'dangerous and corrupt bodies' in Burma that threatened the coasts and people of the land. Ties to smugglers, human trafficker's, and the coastal pirates had been drawn well enough to take action, but the insistence on evidence had taken up time that the Burmese Government had used to shore up a bit more than expected using those criminal assets they had and whatever of the Burmese Army they had been able to muster in that short window.

He knew what would come next regardless though.

The current Burmese Government was already being outed in the news for its rampant corruption, accused crimes, and other human rights violations in the wake of securing the Burmese coast from piracy. Likewise the Pakistani falsified documents and false reports about the Kashimirian Orbital Strike had already begun to make them less trustworthy as they seemed to scramble for ground to stand on within the UN, but growing troop concentrations around Hyderabad had been of some concern. It was going well 'enough' so far at least, despite some surprise resistance from the criminals running Burma or other criminals tied to its current government in the area around the capital, and the amount of press and propaganda in both rural and urban areas was generating the needed soldiers here at home for the efforts.

Yet the pressure that came from it was almost too much at times. He was trying to advise the president as best he could about how to deal with the worldwide media looking at them now, and with Pakistan getting itself moving the potential for a drive into India itself felt more and more real. Not to mention the Finance Commission was meeting more often than before as finances for the operations went out and they waited on the promised influx of revenue and resources to come in. Daksh had promised a lot to get his and the Army Minister's plans fulfilled, and so far Somalia was beginning to pan out as expected. Burma, though, was only slightly behind schedule but was making progress.

For a first push as a part of the 'Anti-Piracy Police Action', it was an effective one learning from tactics both new and old. Yet beyond this, any other announcements and warnings and such would only be taken more seriously by others. The road from there, most likely, would get harder and also likely require greater intervention and firepower to complete, relying on the dividends paying in from the new relations and economic support going to Burma and Somalia to continue to fuel in the longer-term.

Daksh even had pushed through plans to approach Japan for expanded economic relations! Not to mention sending someone to Moscow to speak with the Soviets about 'further economic and political ties', not that they'd ever been on bad grounds to his knowledge, though he would have to talk still to the Department of Atomic Energy about what Daksh wanted to propose to them. On top of this an ambassador was on their way to Brazil, of all places, to try to begin new talks with them about economic ties.

Not yet were they amidst a flurry of astra aimed to annihilate them all, but even so he felt it was a potential that could arise later down the line. The man had aspirations above and beyond the heavens, and yet at the same time it felt like it could all come crashing down someday. If naught else, he would have to fight back with Daksh to try to level the man's grandiose ideas out...or at least get him to fund a few non-military projects in New Delhi to keep him distracted for a time without anything massive going on. Maybe.

The man was supposed to be more subject to him technically speaking, but in the end the latter had a more forceful and charismatic personality to get things done and what he wanted it seemed. Ishann hadn't been much of a fan becoming Prime Minister, usually among the more quiet members of the parliament, but had entered the position as a means to fulfill his duty when it came to his own conscience. Some thought him to be a 'push-over', as the western saying went, but all the same he wasn't a man of the public but a man who knew his office well at least. A man who could get people to ease down, work things out, and try to keep the peace.

Ugh. He could hear the complaints already, or at least they would be that way before Daksh got to them eventually. Left a bad taste in his mouth, all of it.

But it was about time to stop work for the day at least. He could really use some of his wife's homemade mater-paneer about now...
@Hitman@canaryrose (and on the side @Rabidporcupine)

With Rabid's permission, and after having it looked over by them to ensure it is in-line with Grahm/Enkidu's lore and so forth, I present the calculating, the intelligent, and the young hero...Scarab!




Leannah





Well, they did seem to notice her at least! That was the good part. The bad part was that her body felt like a giant lead weight right now, and the desire to sleep was stronger than it had ever been prior. Even so, the catgirl kept her eyes open and she looked up at the two faces peering down at her now. She wasn't grinning or smiling, but simply looked relieved to see the other two females ok and alive at least. It had been a whole day since the temple adventure though, it seemed, so it wasn't like she came back from some stereotypical long timeskip. Kinda.

Some of Narkissa's last words seemed to click in Leannah's head first though.

"The temple is gone now?" the catgirl said, slightly surprised, though shaking her head side to side, "Wait, not as important."

She sighed aloud, her exhaustion as audible as her attempt to refocus.

"Half of my body is burned, though my hair is fine at least, and truth be told my body Mostly feels like dead weight right now. So I could maybe use a little help back," Leannah admitted, feeling a bit guilty about her current state and the worry she'd put the others through, "As for what happened, that is another crazy story. Ridiculous even. A Bizarre Adventure.

Can give the general flow of events right now at least, while I can, and say more about the rest later."


She would just have to omit a couple of things for later, but she wouldn't be lying either. For now, though, the basics.

"So I fell down the pit, falling onto some strange slimy stuff that broke my fall, aaand also had no idea what was going on up there after. The other guy who tagged along with us shouted down, so I figured you'd all be coming down sooner or later. Decided to check the path ahead, see if I could make sure it was safe. Well...tried to do that at least.

Turned right into a cool old library and tried to check the shelves and such, but got trapped in by what in hindsight was an obvious trap. Had to solve a big puzzle there to get out, tied to lore about The Illuminator. Managed to solve it, but instead of the door opening another path opened up. Used it to get out of the old library, but it left me in an area near a big pool with what looked like some big cage that had fallen into it.

Ignored that obvious trap, for once, and went up the stairs to the next room.

In there were carvings on the wall near the pillar: A woman in a flowing dress which turned into water. A hooded figure kneeling in front of a star. A carving of an old man, hand to his head and cane in the other.

There was also some kind of riddle there etched on some bust or statue."


“Made by new, to learn of the old. A creature that only knows, not how. Knowledge without knowledge. Incomplete memory, a fragment of old stuffed into new. Who am I?”


She recited back the riddle clearly. Not like she could forget now after all of that she'd been through.

"Made a couple of stupid guesses on purpose as I tried to think about it...but got a response. His response. The Illuminator talked to me, asking if my brain was full of fur, but he was amused all the same and wanted to know what I wanted. I panicked, because that was the literal and actual third time I've spoken to a deity in the last day or so, and so I said I was there to learn about him. This turned into me fumbling my words, and so I ended up accidentally making that into a 'game'.

So for the last day since then I've been trapped in The Illuminator's 'Divine Realm', or 'his house' as he calls it, trying to not die by fighting through challenges to learn about his history. Four rooms, four trials, and I even met the Mother of The Illuminator there and chatted to her a little bit. She was apologetic about things. That was nice at least. Also one of the other rooms had monsters, and I learned how to make my accident with the 'Light' spell from the other night into a giant exploding miniature sun that melted everything and burned half of my body in the process. But now I can fight using magic at least! Also was my only way to survive that situation though...

Still, I managed to learn it all somehow and answer the riddle and win the 'game'. Won a prize of the full and honest answer of whatever question I wanted to ask him. Also ended up making a statue for him by solving the puzzle, because of course that was all for his own sense of humor and convenience. Hell, wouldn't be surprised if he used those statues or forms of his like bodies to be in multiple places at once. Saw him in the form of the 'Faceless God' there at the end too, and it did look like a statue for a bit there, but no idea if my guess is anywhere in the right spot."


The catgirl shakily tried to sit up, barely managing to grab hold of a stump as her grip slipped. Theories. So many theories. This one was on the spot, but he had tricked her by looking like one. So she was open to making pot-shot guesses into the blue at this point.

"Then he dumped me a little ways away from here, kicking me out because he's busy, and I wandered over to this spot exhausted, half-burnt, and just happy to be out of that place. Saw you two, called out, tripped, and now my body is not cooperating with me."

Leannah let her body fall back onto the snow once more, unable to hold herself up on the stump for too long.

"Oww...I'm honestly just glad to see you both are alright, though, as you seem to have been more lucky than myself."

At this point the catgirl's stomach would growl. Blargh. Being kidnapped by a deity into a game by her own mistake did drum up a real huger within her though. But she had told the full truth and a general flow of events, minus a number of smaller details but including a few more than intended, all as promised.

@Click This@Rune_Alchemist
Suteki Kiyoraka


Central Temple Grounds, Ryuudou Temple, Mount Enzo





Finally, her great quest had begun! She would do her best to ensure this whole thing didn't burn the city to the ground, albeit she was but one maiden. That meant she would have to participate, even if it meant summoning a servant for the sake of protecting this holy position. Well, holy for the Buddhists anyways, but sacred ground she could make good use of to secure herself a vantage point from which to view things. The anti-spirit barrier here was strong, such that she wished she could study it more, but all the same it was important to get started early. She'd already set her things to the side, going into the temple to 'talk' to the monks in a way only magecraft would allow in order to 'convince' them to let her stay on the grounds.

Yet as she walked out of the temple proper, the Shrine Maiden could only but sigh and rub her head.

This whole "Holy Grail War" thing was already a messy concept, and since the "Big Incident" years ago the other Subspecies Wars in Japan after then had given her family good time to study and clean up after them here and there otherwise. While they had the time at least. In time her father, who wasn't a fighter, had even been able to eventually acquire the blueprints for the ritual and dedicate them to paper and study and being locked securely in the family's vault. Anything to get a more clear idea of what they were dealing with. It was hard to learn more, however, as the creators of the ritual seemed to be pursing every possible outbreak to put it down and reclaim what was theirs.

Blech.

It was welcome to put down the atrocities going on, but all the same these "Three Families" should have begun to reclaim their materials earlier! It was their fault for letting them get out of hand, for letting a foreigner stomp in and defile their grounds, and for taking so long to get their butts moving! All their work had brought, once the details were leaked by the thief, was chaos. Likewise, said blueprints were something of an oddity to herself at that, though they weren't necessarily useless either when it came to their potential. Some tweaks here and there, perhaps and the idea of a ritual protecting her family's land with powerful spirits tied to the land and such could perhaps be realized! It was a theory she'd posed to her father, who had been more open than her grandfather about the concept. It was worth study, at least, and seeking to avoid the same mistakes of the past this knowledge had brought upon the land since.

Yet this was no Subspecies War, this was the original reborn from the ashes of decades. A more potent ritual than the others, and more stable, which came with greater potential for devastation in turn. It was terrifying in that sense...genuinely. What lengths would be sought to achieve it would be up to be seen, but if the past was any indication then she would need to expect everything and anything.

To that end, setting up shop on the mountain would be a good thing. She just had to transform this temple to Buddhism into a proper house for the gods. Not like the two were utterly unfamiliar with each other anyway. Would be just like old times in a sense! Blast Emperor Meiji and his 'reforms'. Still, it would be part of her workshop preparations, of which she'd need to begin immediately.

'Archer, I will begin work on setting up a workshop here. I have 'spoken' to the monks and gained permission to live here for the time being. Being sacred grounds, this place will be very useful for my craft...but we must keep an eye on the entrance into here.'

She moved to summon her servant half a day ago, the earliest chance she'd had to summon to be frank, at her family's shrine. Catalysts had been few and far between, but she'd managed to procure...something? Seller had been shady and seemed desperate for cash, even said something about it being tied to a 'hero with connections to the sun' to sell it, but all of this had made it cheaper to buy at least. Ridiculous foreigners.

Though this was definitely not the "Brave of Yamato" she'd summoned, though those hopes had been so small it was laughable, the situation wasn't so bad in reality.

@Reflection

(@Cu Chulainn@SSW Followed Cu's instructions to not already have a workshop, so I have arrived there to set up one to be fair as instructed. Hopefully I did not get any of this wrong. Do let me know if I did. ^^;

Intent is for Suteki to use the whole of the daytime period to set up at Ryuudou Temple, creating a basic workshop at the very least. If there is room to set up more beyond that, let me know and I will DM you both to talk and see what would be acceptable.)




Rider


Intersection of Miyama Town, Foriegn District, and Fuyuki Park

- TO -

Fuyuki Park





He had tagged along in his spirit form as requested, but all the same the Prince was somewhat glad that his master could not see him. He stood close and nearby, just in case of some brazen daytime attack, but all the same the hero hoped that none were so foolish as to do so. Either way, being prepared for any occasion was the best option.

Still, sad eyes hidden from view or perception by his master briefly glanced for a second upon the man-...no, the child who had summoned him into this conflict. The Prince's heart had gone out to him, but not perhaps for the reasons his master may or may not have assumed. He'd never asked, frankly, why his master thought he'd answered the summons a few hours ago. For the moment being he wanted to leave it that way. For now, just keeping him safe would suffice. Learning, then, he prayed to the heavens above would come more swiftly for the younger one he now watched over.

He did agree this place was beautiful, though, but it could just as easily become a grave. Anywhere could become such a thing. Even the inside of the greatest fortress could become one's deathbed. But more about the matter could be discussed later.

'I will keep watch as you seek direction, for I linger nearby. I implore caution, however, in your work.'

It was the lone mental message he sent his master, before continuing standing watch as promised.

@Letter Bee
Leannah





The catgirl drug herself groggily out of the snow pile, wiping the mess off of her face and spitting out any snow that had made its way into her mouth. Her muscles ached with an incredible tiredness, though the sting of her burned right half seemed to lessen a bit in contact with the snow. At least she had that much going for her. She was only a bit exhausted, however, which meant she could at least try to find her way...ah...wait, where was she?

Letting out a long sigh, the catgirl looked about herself in the forest area she'd arrived in, before trying to listen in with her improved sense of hearing. Eventually, though, familiar-ish sounds of people from afar touched her cat-like ears at the very least. Ah. The village! She was some distance away, but close enough to be able to figure out where she was. That was good at least! Maybe.

But wait, how long had she been gone? The Sage had said time flows oddly in a divine realm, so it could have been hours, days, maybe even weeks or months! Truth be told, the catgirl had no idea, but there was one way to find out.

Making her way toward the village proper, or at least in the direction of the sounds of people she'd heard, Leannah would eventually make her way to the find herself seeing a small cabin from afar. And glimpses of stumps at that! The voices were louder though, though she couldn't make out the words due to her tiredness, so onward the catgirl moved until she found herself emerging from the trees and into the cleared area proper-

-...oh. Oh! That was Lazhira sitting on a stump! And she could see Narkissa's face from here!

The catgirl moved toward the duo, but ultimately running was out of the picture for her at the moment. Crap. She really was out of energy at this point, for the most part at least.

"Hey...Hey...HEEEEEEY!!!"

She tried shouting out to the duo, albeit having to build up the energy to do so, whilst waving her arms to try to get their attention. For a little she hoped it would work, only for one of her feet to catch a stray root and send her face-first into the snowy ground once more. This time, she simply rolled over on her back, spitting out the snow and ground debris mixed in with it.

"Ok...that one...was on me this time." she mumbled quietly to herself.

At least it felt nice on the burns.

@Click This @Rune_Alchemist

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