Chief's Writing Thread

Questions, skill improvement, and respectful critique involving game writing.
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KomiTsuku
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Re: Chief's Request Thread

#46 Post by KomiTsuku » Sat Dec 08, 2012 11:40 am

specialtantei wrote:Sci-fi? Sounds delicious! I'm waiting to see what you can do with the three of them at the same time :). I'm still open to requests myself so feel free to bother me too :lol: .
Oh, part of the fun is finding a common theme or event to tie all the images together. Getting that start is one of my weaknesses.

I'll see if I have something fun and new to dig up.
Heartless-Star wrote: Just a solely off the image thank you. :)
Works for me! I've already got an idea for this one, though it is likely going to end up a bit on the sad side.

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Re: Chief's Request Thread

#47 Post by Heartless-Star » Sat Dec 08, 2012 2:35 pm

I dont really mind X) Im really interested what you going to write :3

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Re: Chief's Writing Thread

#48 Post by KomiTsuku » Sat Nov 16, 2013 10:11 pm

A year later, Old Chief Komi is back to practicing his writing. If anyone could give me their thoughts on the first part of The Halberd and The Fox, I would be grateful.

----------------------------------------------------------------------
A soft growl from her fuzzy pillow woke Li up with a startle. Despite having lived with the massive tiger for years and serving as a guardian along side him, waking up to a tiger growling at her was still a shade unnerving. Though Ren would never do anything that would cause harm to her, primal instincts still won out over logic when her consciousness was not at its peak.

“Good morning, Ren.”

Li opened her eyes to the world, taking in the rising sun in the distance. There was something calming about waking up with the sun, her shield against the darkest spirits of the night. It had only been two days since one of those spirits had tried to claim her life. Even though she had came out victorious in the scuffle, the young spirit guardian was still spiritually shaken from the battle. Standing up and stretching, Li looked around for the young monk who had shaken her so.

The man with the long black hair hidden behind his ceremonial caretaker robes had seemed so innocent, so pure of heart. Finding out that he had allowed himself to lose his charge, adopt a vile grule spirit, and then willingly allowed that spirit to take possession of his body... Ren told her that she could trust the man after she had slain the spirit, but any soul who would care for a monster that had the blood of the innocent on its claws could not be so pure. Even though she had agreed to let him accompany the pair, Li could not help but watch him with the utmost care. If he tried to stop her or bring harm to Ren, she would be ready with weapon in hand.

Saka was not around, strangely enough. The monk had been late to rise for the past few days. Had he simply awoken early today and decided a morning walk was in order or was there something more sinister afoot. Li rolled up her blanket before securing it on Ren's back. If they needed to travel with haste, she did not want to worry about losing her few supplies along the way.

“Good morning!” Saka called out as he approached from the woods. Calming herself, Li knew that the likelihood of something evil happening in the presence of Ren was low. The tiger wasn't reacting aggressively like he had that first time. “I brought some breakfast!”

“That sounds great.”

Gathering near Saka, Li peered into the small tawny bag that the young monk pulled off of his belt of cord. Inside were a small handful of pale blueberries that couldn't have been bigger than the tip of Li's pinky finger. “Berries again?”

“I also got some leaves to brew a nice tea.”

“Berries and leaves aren't going to sustain us on long hikes or if we get attacked by rogue spirits, Saka.”

“I'm not going to kill innocents for you.”

“I want to survive, Saka. You need something solid in your belly to properly train and fight!”

“A true monk doesn't need the flesh and souls of the creatures to survive.”

From the very first meal they had shared together, this had been a hot topic between the duo. The first night that Li had brought in her catch, a rabbit, Saka had began to retch and ended up running into the forest until Li had cleaned up. The spirit guardian couldn't understand how the young monk could survive on such an insubstantial diet. While she admired that resolve in him, it hadn't served her well when it came to having a solid breakfast before another long day of traveling.

Behind her, Li could feel the slight rumble of the earth as Ren stood up and walked off into the forest. “Where is he going?” Saka asked.

“Probably to get his breakfast. If you wish, you could try and convince a tiger not to eat meat. I'm sure you'd be quite tasty.”

Saka wouldn't be baited in by her jabs. Instead, they ate the berries in silence and waited for the tiger to return.

----------------------------------------

It was late in the afternoon when they finally reached the small village that Saka had pointed out. Though not a large village, they had to have an inn. The thought of a soft bed out of the elements was an enticing one. Li patted Ren on his soft head and hopped down. “Come on, Saka. Let's go find some supplies and a place to rest for the night.”

“Why can't we ride Ren into town?”

The question brought back several poor memories of times she had tried that. “Most villages don't take kindly to large tigers lumbering through. Ren tends to accidentally cause damage to stands and buildings.”

“Like how he smashed up my shrine?”

“You don't have to come with us, Saka.”

“I will not back down from my duty, Li.”

Nor would she. Her sworn duty was to protect the world from those spirits who threatened the order. Some day, she was sure, that he would understand that it meant the she had to convince some spirits with her weapon, then that was what had to be done. Saka was not wrong, simply misguided. Before that day she had met Ren, she might have believed the same thing Saka did. Those days were long gone now, the true world of spirits shown before her.

As the duo walked into town, Li began to wonder if perhaps this was a town that did not exist in that world. The dirt paths were in ill repair, holes littering her path. No voices, either human or spirit, could be heard. She had truly walked into a void of life. In her heart, warning bells were ringing and fear was starting to creep into her heart. Her hand crept towards her blade before getting turned away by a light slap on the wrist from Saka.

“These people are scared enough without a potential bandit prowling their streets,” he said quietly. “Don't frighten them or it will be another night sleeping under the stars.”

“They are not the only ones who are a trifled scared, Saka.”

Saka gives me an encouraging smile. “A spirit guardian who travels the land with a giant tiger can get scared?” he chuckles. “It's nice to see that you have a human side, Li.”

Li sighed, unable to retort. If Ren were here, he'd be nipping at her hand for showing hesitation. Those who faced the darkness had to be fearless, else their emotions could be used as a weapon against them. Base emotions were what had allowed Saka to take in a grule and treat it like an honorable spirit; he wouldn't understand what a girl raised by the elders of the Tiger spirits had learned long ago... even if she couldn't quite perform it yet.

“There's the inn,” Li pointed out, trying to get the topic away from her shortcomings. “Let's go get dinner and a room.”

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

The inside of the inn was almost as vacant as the outside. The small tavern that was connected to the rooms was empty minus a short boy with long reddish-brown hair polishing the same mug again and again. Li thought she saw movement in the corner, a pair of sharp green eyes staring out at her from the darkness. When she took another glance, the pair of green was gone, disappearing into the void. If it was simply the reflection of a bottle or a person walking past, she could not tell.

“It's peaceful here, isn't it?” Saka asked.

“Is it peace or trouble?”

“Trouble.” It took Li a moment to realize it wasn't Saka talking, but the boy at the bar. “Are you here for the bounty?”

“Bounty?” Li asked. Her mind instantly drifted to the nearly empty coin purse in her pocket. “What sort of bounty?”

“Always eager to kill, are you?”

Li shook her head. “No, always eager to keep good food in my stomach and something other than Ren under me as I rest.”

The boy stared at Saka for several long moments, his face emotionless. Before Li could ask about the peculiar behavior, it finally broke into a wild grin. “Qiao! Qiao! Come downstairs! Our prayers might be answered!”

The sound of plates clattering in the back echo through the tavern. A split second later, a tall, lanky girl wearing a bright robe of fuchsia came running out of the back, looking around with a frantic on her pale face. The purple hue of the robes bothered Li a little bit. How a worker of a inn could afford the pretty robe that easily cost several gold bullion didn't make sense. Still, the warm smile and enthusiasm on her face showed a joyful girl, perhaps a trustworthy one.

“A monk! Oh, brother, our prayers to the spirits have been answered!” She ran over, almost knocking over several chairs, to grab Saka's hand. “I am Lady Qiao. We've been waiting for someone like you for so long! Xiao, get him something to drink! Some of our finest!”

“While I am grateful for your hospitality, could you please share some with my companion?”

Qiao blinked, as if seeing Li sitting there for the first time. “Oh, umm, yes. Of course.”

“I'm still upset with you, Saka.”

“As I am with you, but we are companions, are we not?”

Even though he was more of a forced companion than a chosen one, Li had allowed him to come with her. “Thanks for thinking of me, Saka.”

Out of the corner of her eye, she could have sworn that Qiao was glaring at her. The look was one of annoyance, unfitting for a inn worker... Perhaps Qiao was the owner, which would explain her rich robes. Still, that creeping fear wouldn't go away with Qiao staring daggers at her. The only source of comfort was that a spirit guardian with her armament would be more than enough of a challenge for an angry innkeeper.

The man, for seeing him up-close made Li think that he was at least over the age of responsibility, set down a mug of purple liquid with a fruity smell in front of her and one in front of Saka. Li cautiously took a sip and was almost overwhelmed by the sweet draw of the fruit drink. “I-I-It's our village's specialty,” he said with a shy stutter. “Do you like it? I make it myself.”

“I like it. I've never tried anything quite like it before.”

“Really?” he said, a smile blooming on his face.

Qiao gave her brother a tap on the shoulder. “That's enough for now, brother. We have business to take care of!”

Li's eyes narrowed, the luscious drink forgotten in the moment. “Does it pertain to why the town seems so... dead? I couldn't feel any spirits anywhere in your quaint village.”

“That's because there are none left. Ever since that... beast... arrived, things have fallen apart. The spirits that once drove our land have disappeared! People, good people, have vanished! Everyone is afraid that they are going to be the next ones. Please, we need your help to banish the spirit! Out little village has little it can offer you, but I promise warm beds and a good meal!”

Saka look tense as he thought over the offer. For Li, there was no question about it. A rogue spirit that had turned on both man and spirit alike was a threat to the land. If it ensured both the town's safety and warm beds for them, Li would not hesitate to pick up her halberd. “Saka,” she said, “I think we should help them.”

Leaning over her juice, Xiao grabbed Saka's hands. “Please, kind monk! Only you can banish the spirit and save us all.”

“I make no promises, but Li and I will help convince the spirit to stop its crimes. I fear you simply are misunderstanding it.”

Again, Saka just couldn't see that there was only one way to deal with monsters. Li bit her tongue, but said nothing against him.

“Wonderful! You are a true hero!” she cried, grasping Saka's hands and nearly knocking Li's drink over again. “My wonderful, strong monk! The legends are all true!”

“We haven't had a chance to introduce ourselves,” Li interjected, trying to get back into the conversation. “I am Li Mengli of the Great Tiger Temple. This is Saka of the Third Western Fox Spirit Shrine.”

Once again, that hateful look crossed Qiao's face as she heard Li's homeland. If anything, the look had sunk to even levels of unrestrained annoyance. Li prayed that Saka had noticed the strange behavior of the innkeeper. She would have to be on her guard for anything foul.

“My name is Qiao, the innkeeper of the Traveling Guardsman. This is my brother, Xiao.”

“I-i-it's a pleasure to meet you, Li.”

“Stop looking so awkward, brother! Come, Saka! We shall go look for the beast while my brother and Gee stay here.”

“It's Li, and I am not staying here! If anything, I would be more useful for removing an evil spirit than Saka.”

“What does that mean, Li?” he said. “You would simply murder it without a second thought.”

Li tried to remember some of the calming techniques she learned as a young girl, but none were helping. “You let a grule possess you! What if the spirit influences you to turn on us?”

The monk was keeping his calm demeanor a lot better than she was, but the anger was starting to seep into his face. “There is no such thing as evil spirits, just misguided ones.”

Qiao sighed. “Alright, if you will stop arguing, you and Xiao can help as well. Keep her out of trouble, brother.”

“O-o-okay.”

She was being treated like a child! Li wished Ren was here to hear how this woman was treating her. The tiger didn't like anyone coming close to Li, much less disrespecting his guardian. Li sighed, knowing she was being childish and egotistical, but it was annoying. “If anything happens to either group, yell for help. We'll meet back here at sunset.”

“Try to stay safe, Saka.”

“Try to be rational, Li.”

Without another word, Li grabbed Xiao's soft hands and pulled him away from her angry companion's presence. She was going to find this evil spirit, put an end to its actions, and save the town. Those strange green eyes floated back to the forefront of her mind as she strode out into the fading light of the day. Did it know she was already hunting it? Li steadied herself, weapon in hand. Much to Saka's dismay, Li could feel in her gut that a fight lay ahead of the young spirit guardian and she was prepared to win once again.

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Re: Chief's Writing Thread

#49 Post by Geckos » Sun Nov 17, 2013 6:55 am

The story continues! I'm wondering if we should call it the Tiger, the Fox, and the Halberd. Hee.

Looking forward to the new scenes.

P.s. Li, don't drink the koolaid! XD
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Re: Chief's Writing Thread

#50 Post by RunicV » Mon Nov 18, 2013 4:23 am

The story continues~!

I really like the next set of events, haha. But I'm starting to hate Saka more and more. He's really a very unlikable character.

<3
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Re: Chief's Writing Thread

#51 Post by KomiTsuku » Thu Nov 21, 2013 12:17 am

Geckos wrote:The story continues! I'm wondering if we should call it the Tiger, the Fox, and the Halberd. Hee.

Looking forward to the new scenes.

P.s. Li, don't drink the koolaid! XD
Too wordy for my tastes. Nice and simple, unlike this writing style for me. I miss dialog sometimes.
RunicV wrote:The story continues~!

I really like the next set of events, haha. But I'm starting to hate Saka more and more. He's really a very unlikable character.

<3
That's the self-righteous for ya.

---------------------------------------------------------
Anyway, back to the next part. As before, I'd love people to take a gander and give me some feedback.

As they walked through the deserted paths through the town, Li was a little glad that she had let the group split up. Xiao was certainly more friendly and supportive than Saka ever was. At first, there had been that awkward silence that Li had dreaded, but soon they were swapping stories like old friends.

“He voluntarily let himself be possessed by a grule! What sort of monk allows that?”

“You wouldn't?”

“Of course I wouldn't! It killed people! It's my job to stop that sort of thing from happening!” Li sighed. “I hope your sister doesn't listen to his babble about trying to understand or cuddle with a monster.”

Xiao laughed. “Don't worry, Li. She might not look it, but my sister can handle herself. I can as well, so don't worry about if something tries to attack us.”

“Then why do you need us?”

Xiao's face pale face turned as red as the setting sun. “Ummm... well.... we should keep looking.”

Why did they need Saka, more specifically? If it was a simple problem of a wayward spirit, you would call for guards or warriors, not a monk. If they could fight, why did they need Saka? Something felt off about the whole situation. Not for the first time, Li wished her charge was here. Ren would be able to root out the problem without any hesitation. The old tiger knew more about the world of man and spirits than she did, even if he had spent years in the temple.

Then she saw it. It would have been almost impossible to not have. Standing at the opposite end of the path, sitting in the middle of the road, was a cream colored fox. Even if seeing such a sight was not normally odd, the three tails slowly drifting back and forth in the wind was setting off warning bells. A fox spirit. A kitsune. Even from this distance, she could see its glassy white soul gem tied around its neck with a thin red ribbon.

“That's it! That's the thing that keeps attacking us!”

That seemed peculiar to the young spirit guardian. Fox spirits, while tricksters and thieves, were not the type to attack other spirits. Li searched her memory for stories of rogue fox spirits attacking people, only remembering a few about those that would prey on the pretentious.

Before she could think of any more stories, the fox rose its tails above its head, each tip glowing a dark purple, almost as if fire had engulfed it. The foxfire, she could hear Elder Dongli saying. Beware the magics of the fox. Li knew what the fox was doing. It knew what she was here for, it must have been watching her this entire time.

“It's challenging us, Xiao. Are you ready?”

Xiao pulled out a small wooden staff the length of his short forearm. Li couldn't imagine it being deadly or dangerous, the request for help now making more sense to her. “I-I-I'm ready,” he stuttered, clutching his thin stick.

Li readied her weapon, adopting a defensive stance. The purple flames danced back and forth, taunting her. Any second it would charge for her, trying to over take her outstretched polearm. As long as she could keep her distance, Li knew she could protect herself and the young man cowering behind her.

Then it was gone. It took Li a moment to realize that it wasn't charging her, but was making its escape. Proving the wise fox theories correct to be sure, but that was her meal ticket sprinting away! “After it!” she cried.

“O-o-o-okay!”

Clutching her weapon, Li sprinted after the creature. The neglected roads were proving to be a hazard for the young spirit guardian. Thought she had once held the title of spirit walker, rocky roads were not spirits nor could she walk them. As she sprinted around the corner, nearly tripping on a large rock, she caught sight of the panicking fox turning a corner. So, it thought it could out run her. Four legs or not, the thoughts of a warm dinner with more of that sweet juice drove her on.

“Wait! Li!”

She rounded the next corner and found herself in a dead end with the fox staring straight at her. This was it. She had it now. But as she drew her weapon again, Li could have sworn that that the fox had a smile on its thin lips.

“Give up, kitsune! You aren't escaping!”

“Aren't I?”

The kitsune laughed, its tails once again flaring up again. In the glow of the purple light, Li saw what the tails were trying to hide from her. Next to the corner of the building was a stack of barrels leading to the roof. Sprinting forward, she knew she couldn't let the fox escape. The fox tensed up, and like she had thought, went bounding up the wooden barrels and on to the tile roof. Li sprung on to the barrels in a way that she knew would make even Ren envious. Her hands grabbed each barrel, pulling her up and closer to the taunting fox.

“Wait! Li, I can't jump that high!”

Li felt her footing slip on the slick roof, but she kept sprinting after the laughing fox. Fears that a wrong step would send her falling to her painful demise haunted her mind, but she knew there was only so far the fox could run. In a second, it would run out of-

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Pain shot through her legs as she tried to pull through the darkness that threatened to consume her. Broken tile lay around her, shards of shattered clay that had almost ended her. It took several tense seconds of testing her arms and legs before she could pull herself back to her feet. The fox had been smart enough to drag her over that loose tile, but Li wasn't going to give up yet.

“My, my. That was a nasty spell. Are you alright?”

Li looked up at the young woman watching her from a broken stall across the road. The woman's green eyes glittered as she smirked at the fallen Li. “I'm fine. Did you see a three-tailed fox spirit go this way?”

“The fox? Oh, yes. It ran that way,” she said with a smile, point towards the tall inn. “You should hurry before it escapes!”

“Thank you!”

Li hopped to her feet, wishing her legs didn't hurt so badly. Perhaps the spirit was hiding in the inn again, waiting for her to come back. The spirit seemed cowardly, unwilling to fight her face to face. It would be ill of her to let her guard down and be jumped by an ambush.

The thought of a trap was a persistent one. As she rounded the nearest street that Li hoped would lead her back to the inn, the thought sounded louder and louder. Fox spirits were notorious for being tricksters, clever and wily. It had let her think it was pinned but escaped with ease twice before. She couldn't go charging off without thinking things through first. Tigers were both clever and ferocious. Brute strength was the way that ended up with injuries and humiliation.

Something about that woman bugged Li as she reflected upon it. Not only was she the very first person that Li had seen on the streets of this town, but she had the fortune to be there when Li had fallen. That long mane of orange and brown hair was almost identical to the unique color scheme that the fox had bore. And those eyes... those emerald eyes that had sparkled with the glint of mischief. The stories of fox spirits who could transform themselves into young women were numerous and detailed. It would certainly be a trick to have stood right in front of Li and knowingly sent her the wrong direction.

But if it wasn't, Li was setting herself up for failure. The fox could be long gone by now. If she wasted any more time in her hunt investigating women who had the misfortune of having the same color hair as a fox, there was no warm bed in her future. The whole situation reeked of oddness. What was a fox spirit doing here anyway? It hadn't seem to be wanting to fight or kill her. If it had wanted to commit any of the crimes it supposedly committed, it could have done them and more when she had almost knocked herself out from the fall. Where was Xiao at anyway? It all felt strange. Li knew she had to be careful from here.

Creeping back towards where the woman was standing, chuckling at some hidden joke, Li thought out a new plan with haste. There would be two ways to check if the woman was the fox that were quick enough that she wouldn't lose much time if her quarry wasn't the woman. The first would be to search the woman to find the soul gem that the fox carried. In the stone lay the soul of the fox and all of its powers. Without it, the spirit would be nothing more than an old fox with wisdom and tails. The only problem with this plan was that Li would appear to be nothing more than a common bandit trying to pilfer jewels.

The next plan would be less reputation damaging should it fail. The fox had only three tails, less than four hundred years of life. Hopefully, it would still be easy to spook. With a loud bang or crash, Li could scare it and hopefully it would lose control of its guise. Not too far from where the woman was standing was a broken metal pipe from an irrigation system. With a good hit from her weapon, it should ring out across the town. Li moved over as silently and hastily as she could, bring her halberd back for one good swing.

The noise echoed out across village, almost causing Li to jump despite knowing it was coming. The woman jumped, letting out a loud yelp. From the back of her robe, the three orange and cream tails sprung out and began to flail wildly. Two long ears, the shape of the fox's, perked up out of the nest if orange hair. Li smiled, complementing herself on not falling for the fox's trickery.

“Hello again, kitsune.”

Even caught off-guard, the kitsune still had that taunting smile on its face. “My, my, my. The others weren't nearly as persistent. I never expected this much out of you. This is fun.”

“Why are you doing this?” Li asked, barely holding back the confusion from her voice.

“If you want to find out, why don't you catch me?”

In a flash, the woman was gone, reverting back to her natural form. The tails glowed purple once again, the fox throwing down the challenge again. Even though pain still spiked through her leg, Li knew she couldn't quit now. Hurting people and destroying the livelihood of a town wasn't her idea of fun. The fox had to be stopped.

Li took a small step forward, which was all the fox needed to turn tail and flee down the road. She was prepared for the sudden turns, but the fox didn't seem to be trying to shake her this time. Even though it was running faster than it had before, in a clear move of desperation, it was only making a straight line towards the edge of town. While Li's legs were burning, they were longer and much faster than the smaller fox. She'd be able to catch it before it got too far into the woods outside of town.

Then the fox's new planned dawned on her. Li wouldn't be able to maintain her sprint through the trees. Even if her boots were up to vaulting through the brush, her injured legs might give out on her or led to an easy slip up. The hiding places in those woods were numerous; and one of them could let the fox evade and possibly commit another murder... Where was everyone else? Nobody knew where she was going. The grim thought haunted the spirit guardian as they approached the woods. Li knew she had to change the situation before it got dangerous.

“Ren!” she screamed, praying that her true companion could hear her. The fox didn't even give her a backwards glance at the cry. “Help! Ren!”

Just as she had prayed, the elder tiger came sprinting out of the treeline straight at her. His loud roar rang out, giving Li the strength to push herself to the limits. For a split-second, the fox froze under the lethal gaze of the tiger. In that moment, Li flung herself onto the fox, wrestling it to the ground. Purple flames wrapped around her, scorching the exposed skin and causing a burning pain to engulf her body. Thinking fast before the fox burned her grip away, Li yanked off the gem tied around the fox's neck and flung it towards Ren.

The fox stopped struggling, the flames died down. It turned to look at her with surprised eyes. “Now, now. That wasn't very nice. I don't throw your soul around like it was a rock.” It nimbly slipped out of her grasp and trotted over to where Ren was standing guard. “Quite rude. Now, Mr. Tiger, please step away so I can have it back.”

Ren growled, the threat being clear to even those who didn't know his subtle noises. Li strode over, confident, and plucked the gem from the tiger's protection, making sure not to get too far away from him. The gem's radiating warmth was strange, though Li admit that she had never had the chance to hold a soul gem before. “I'll be taking this.”

“Why?”

The fox's question was so calm and curious that it took Li a moment to recompose herself. “As long as I have this, you won't try to escape or use your magic on me.”

“Why?”

“So that way I can take you back to the innkeeper and she can decide what we are going to do with you.”

“Why?”

Ren let out a ear-splitting roar, voicing the annoyance that was creeping into Li. “Why are you asking so many questions? You know what you did.”

“I'm afraid I do not know what sort of crime I committed that warrants stealing my gem. You seem to be wise and you are accompanied by the loud one. You know what happens to me without my gem right.”

“That's not important. What is important is that we bring you back.”

“I will surely die if you take it from me,” the fox continued, ignoring Li. “What petty squabble is worth my death? My gem is worthless to you, but it is everything to me.”
Once again, the fox wasn't making any sense to Li. First it ran away instead of engaging her in a fight, then it was playing ignorant. Was this another one of the fox's plans? “You killed innocent people and ran that village into the ground. Surely you see that as a serious crime.”

The fox cocked its head and looked at her with an even more curious look in its eyes. “I beg your forgiveness, but you seem to have me confused with another resident of the village. My only crime is leading having fun with tenacious hunters like yourself.”

“Then you can explain it back at the inn. Let's go.” Li started to walk back towards the village when Ren walked in front of her, blocking her path. “What's wrong?”
He gave a soft growl. Li smiled and patted his side. Even if he was much older and wiser than her, Ren was still overprotective sometimes. She was about to chide her charge about it, when she saw the long scar she was patting. The reality that Ren had seen more danger and more battles than she ever had was true. “I'll be cautious,” she finally said. “If anything starts looking dangerous, I'll come running for you.”

“Can I have my gem back now?”

“No.”

“If you insist on returning, we should be on our way.”

Something was wrong. The thought couldn't shake its way out of Li's head. All she could do was hope that her blade would be enough to see her through to the other side. If the fox was right, she could be walking back into a dangerous situation. Saka was still inside the village as well. Even though she wasn't fond of the monk, she couldn't just abandon him. With the gem safely in her pocket, she and the fox started on their way back to the inn, the setting sun falling in her eyes.

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Re: Chief's Writing Thread

#52 Post by KomiTsuku » Thu Nov 28, 2013 11:17 am

I'm going to finish the epilogue today. Like before, it would mean a lot to me if anyone gave me some feedback. My threads always are very lonely...
Li chased after the tails of the fox down into the abyss. Every step built further dread into her heart. Trying to build up her courage, Li wished that constant drumming of her heart would be silent. She was charging headlong into a trap without any clue of what to find at the bottom. Ren wouldn't be able to help her here and Saka was still missing, though he was of limited helpfulness. This wasn't the first trap she had stumbled into, but it was the first one she voluntarily put herself in.

Finally, the darkness parted. It took a moment for her eyes to adjust to the blinding light of the room. Before her lay a sight that nearly drove her to sprint back up the stairs. Blood... so much blood. The cold stone floor and walls may have been white marble when they were first laid, but now they were covered in the dried paint of blood. How many had been slaughtered in this room? Terror gripped Li's heart and it was a few seconds before the light nip on her legs from the fox shook her out of her stupor.

The spirit guardian knew that the blood shouldn't be the thing that should drive her to panic. In the middle of the room, unconscious and surrounded by corrupted symbols sketched in blood, lay Saka. He appeared to be unharmed, but she knew that physical damage wasn't the threat here. The greatest threat lay with a pulsating black and purple orb that was descending towards him. Though she couldn't identify what it was, it caused the hair on the back of her neck to tingle.

“Ishala Acirema hitwa imok ukust!” a feminine voice bellowed out. On the side of the room stood Qiao and Xiao, both holding wooden staffs. Li thought it had just been a weak weapon of protection, but a dangerous thought now haunted her. She had heard only the faintest rumors before of magics that would tap the spirits and manifest them as powers to be wielded by the trained. She had prayed that such foul defiling of the spirits was nothing more than gossip, but there was little else to explain what lay before her.

“You may want to stop them before they complete the ritual,” the fox said with a smile. “I would prefer any berries I can get from the boy to not be tainted by evil.”

It was right, Li had to act now before that orb of darkness entered Saka. Whatever lay inside it was a force that she dare not dream of fighting by herself. “Stop this!” she screamed as she charged out with her halberd.

“Xiao! I thought you said you killed the guardian!”

“I...”

“Brother, you will be punished after we are done here and the master is awake,” she said, the venom dripping from her words. “Welcome, tiger. If I would have known you were coming, I would have brought refreshments other than a pool of your own blood to drink.”

“Stop what you are doing right now! I will not tolerate you befouling the spirits and committing whatever evil you are committing!”

The innkeeper smiled. “You wish to stop me without even knowing what we do here? You are nothing more than a naive child. Brother, please rid me of this pest.”

Li kept an annoyed sigh to herself as the young man approached. The drunken louts at the bars were always willing to describe their plans in great detail before she and Ren stopped them. Why couldn't this madwoman be just as straightforward?

“Why didn't you just run, Li?” the redheaded man asked. Li could see the faint glimmer of tears glistening in his eyes under the light of the glowing orb. “I didn't want you to get hurt.”

“Then stop this, Xiao. You can just step aside. I don't want to have to hurt you either.”

Xiao slowly raised his wooden staff against her. “I'm sorry,” he said so quietly that she almost didn't hear him. “I have to do this.”

Li readied her armament, ready to charge the thin man down. A stick was no match for the forged blade that Li wielded. She made her first step forward when the tip of his staff glowed the same dark purple as the orb.

Then she heard the shrieks. Cry of pain and torment engulfed her. Though she couldn't make out the words, Li could feel the agony ripping through the air. It took a few moments to figure out that the sounds weren't coming from her head or the staff, but from shadows emerging from the blood-stained walls and floor. The sacrifices... Xiao was raising the spirits of those who had perished to the sick duo. The thought of disturbing the dead was almost repulsive enough to make her lose her stomach.

One of the monstrosities lumbered towards her. Li knew that she would have to defend herself and prayed that the spirits of the fallen would forgive her for what she had to do. “I'm sorry, too, Xiao.”

Li stepped forward and sliced through the fallen spirit without a moment to regret. The blade cut the shadow in half without making a solid connection, giving Li hope for a quick fight. She turned to engage another one when she caught the fallen shadow moving out of the corner of her eye. The vanquished spirit was pulling its shattered body back together again. In a second, the shadow was reformed and advancing on her once again.

“W-w-w-what is that?”

“You can't defeat the shadows, Li. The darkness is... too strong.” The tears Xiao had been holding back now streamed down his face. “Why didn't you let the fox save you?”

The kitsune! It was the height of disrespect to beg for help from a spirit you had just accused of murder, but Li was desperate enough to risk it. She started to turn back towards the door when she felt a heavy weight land on her head. The fox bounced off of her head, leaping over the line of shadows, landing on the surprised Xiao's face, and finally landing on the pedestal with Qiao.

“Why can't you just go die, beast?” the woman screamed.

Li knew she had to make the best use of the momentary distraction. Her blade hummed through the air as she cleaved her way through the shadows. Xiao was very slowly trying to pull himself back up to his feet. Li darted forward, bringing her blade back for one definitive swing that would end the defiler's spells.

Staring into his soft face frozen in sad resignation, Li couldn't bring herself to complete the attack. Ren wouldn't have hesitated, he would have torn the throat of an enemy who had just tried to kill her without a moment's hesitation. To her surprise, Li couldn't do it. Even though he had defiled the spirits of the dead and was attempting some horrible incantation, the young spirit guardian couldn't bring herself to kill him. There was kindness inside him, some good still left in his spirit. To strike him down would taint her blade and her soul forever. She had not killed a human yet nor did she want to start today.

An image of Saka begging her not to kill the grule flashed in her mind. Had he been somewhat right? Was there a chance that it could have been redeemed? Was there a kernel of truth in Saka's beliefs? Just like now, it had tried to kill her. It had been her call, and she felt that killing the spirit was the only way to cleanse it. Why wasn't it the same here? Why the the crying boy make her heart ache instead of fueling the rage. Remorse, she supposed. That shred of goodness. Perhaps, if they survived this, she would ask Ren for guidance. Until then...

Li spun her blade around, knocking Xiao to the ground with the hilt of the pole. A powerful wind swept around her, flinging her back into the middle of the chamber with Saka. Remorse was now her emotion. Remorse that she had allowed herself to get distracted in the middle of the fight when the corrupted sister was still fighting. Remorse that she had landed on her legs, which could barely move now. Of course, she thought with a grim laugh that it wasn't going to matter in a few moments.

“You fool! May your spirit feed the shadows!” she cried in delight. All around Li, the spirits reformed, more numerous and towering than before. Above her, she could feel the heat of the shadow orb descending upon her. Plan after plan flashed through her mind, but none that would give her a fighting chance to get Saka out of this. His unconscious form lay sprawled out under her, useless in this fight. There was almost a zero chance that she could fight her way through the shadows, even without trying to carry Saka's heavy body.

But leaving the monk behind wasn't a option. Though the title still wore loosely on her, Li was a spirit guardian. There was no way she could leave behind her strange, pacifist companion behind to be devoured or possessed again. Li would fight. Even if she couldn't win, the spirit guardian of the Great Tiger Spirit wouldn't cower in fear and accept death. She would fight.

Pulling herself to her feet, Li felt the light bump of something in her pocket. The clear orb was still her pocket. Li remembered her promise to the fox, a promise to protect it until she could clear its name. If death was her future, Li didn't want to carry a broken promise with her. Standing at the bottom of the stairs, green eyes staring through the darkness and shadows, was the fox. There was no cocky smile, just an emotionless face. With a mighty throw, Li hurled the gem over the towering specters towards the fox, who nimbly caught the gem in its mouth.

It was done. All that remained was to bring her foe down and save Saka. Li readied her weapon, bringing it to bear on the grinning woman clad in purple. “Prepare to fall, you-”

Li's words were stopped short as the shadows vanished, consumed in purple flames that swept around her. The flames danced like a whimsical bard, devouring all that stood before them. “A very heroic speech, to be sure,” a woman's voice called out. Li spun around to see the kitsune's human form chuckling in front of her. “However, a wise fox once told you that the best battle is the one not fought.”

Hope flared in Li's heart, as bright and strong as the ones shielding her now. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Xiao mouthing for her to run. With all of her strength, Li pulled Saka up and dragged him across the smooth, bloody floor. Her legs ached, threatening to fail on her, but she refused to stop.

The fox gave her a wink. “They are gonna break through my flame in a moment, but I think you have enough time to give your boyfriend over there a kiss goodbye.”

“Help me carry Saka!” she cried.

With the fox's strength, they carried the young monk away from that bloody nightmare and back into the day. Li could hear the parting cries of rage echoing off the stone, but she dare not stop to hear what they said. They had to get back to the forest as fast as they could and be rid of this place. Though she knew nothing of her next actions, Li knew there would be no safety for her until they made it back to the cover of the woods.


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