Shikabanegami - Part the Third










                    ‘Runil, Runil, come play tag with me!’


                    Runil forced himself to a stop as the young Nord girl dashed in front of him, smiling a wide smile full of slightly crooked teeth. The headstone dug into his shoulder and he staggered.


                    ‘Morwen, my dear,’ he groaned, shifting his feet. ‘I’m rather busy at the moment.’


                    ‘Nnnn,’ Morwen pouted. ‘You’re too old to be moving heavy things around. Pa says that white-haired geezers should just stay at home and eat hot porridge.’


                    ‘Did he now?’ Runil bent his knees, using his legs to help support the headstone’s weight. ‘Well, I say that feisty little girls should learn some respect for their elders!’


                    Berit came to his rescue, a second, smaller headstone resting on his own shoulder. ‘All right, lass, enough bothering the old mer,’ he grunted, tottering and almost falling. ‘If we’re not careful, we could drop these on you, you know.’


                    Morwen let out a high-pitched little shriek, followed closely by a giggle as she pranced back towards her house.


                    After they plopped the headstones down in front of the new graves, Runil and Berit moved another three pairs towards the cemetery. Runil took the larger one each time.


                    ‘You know,’ Berit huffed, heaving the last headstone onto the grass. ‘For all your claims of being old and frail, you’ve still got quite the fire in those bones.’


                    Runil sighed tiredly, rubbing the muscles on his arms. If only you knew.


                    ‘I try to stay healthy,’ he said, dusting his robes off. ‘And besides, you’re no spring chicken yourself, yet you’re still lugging around that monster sword of yours.’


                    ‘Ach, I’m not even half a century old,’ Berit grinned, flexing his biceps. ‘I reckon that makes me… what, four times younger than you?’


                    ‘A little more than that.’ Runil tried for a grin himself, but the facial muscles on the left side of his jaw remained dead and unresponsive, so he settled for the lopsided smile that the villagers were beginning to know him by.


                    Berit’s grin soon faded when he turned his gaze to the graveyard.


                    ‘Eight newly dead of plague.’ The grizzled Nord warrior scowled. ‘Tell me, priest, is Arkay so displeased with us that he would claim so many even after the War?’


                    Runil felt his mouth tighten. ‘Who can know the mind of a god?’ he answered, helplessly, uselessly. If he had only spent more of his years studying Restoration actually learning how to heal the living instead of sanctifying the dead, he could have helped some of the men now lying in the earth. But perhaps this was Arkay’s way of telling him how things were. Without death there is only stasis.


                    And besides, I am done with magic.


                    The funeral rites lasted from sundown at six until nine in the evening. They left Runil feeling drained, as if emotion was a part of his body that could be exhausted. He left the bereaved mothers and sobbing widows in front of their loved ones and walked out of the cemetery, heading for the tavern.


                    Before he could take a single step inside, however, Berit stepped out, shaking his head at him.


                    ‘I wouldn’t go inside right now if I were you,’ the Nord said, wiping his brow. ‘Trouble’s brewing.’


                    ‘What kind of trouble?’ Runil said, feeling for the dagger strapped onto his hip. A part of him ached for his old sword, but… No, I have wreaked enough havoc with that blade.


                    ‘The elven kind.’


                    Runil narrowed his eyes and Berit raised his hands.


                    ‘Hey, hey, don’t bristle. You’re different, priest, and most people here usually see that. But there’s eight fancily dressed High Elf dandies inside who’ve been buying all of our best wine at ridiculously low prices, and now they’re talking all kinds of shit. Add to that how we’ve just buried exactly eight of our own people today… you’d just make things worse if you went in there, Runil, and that’s the truth of it.’


                    Runil sighed. ‘All right. I may as well get some early sleep, then.’


                    He turned and headed back towards the Hall of the Dead, fumbling in his pocket for his key. Then he frowned as he approached the door. I thought I locked it on my way out.


                    He pushed inside, turning his nose up at the familiar scent of dust and embalming fluid. Never enough time to clean up properly these days. Maybe he ought to consider getting a full-time assistant.


                    One of the lanterns in a particularly dark corner of the Hall had gone out. Runil frowned again. I oiled that one just two nights ago.


                    The shrine was as he had left it. He checked the big, fat candle burning in front of the idol to make sure it would last, then reached out with two fingers and touched the symbol of Arkay, closing his eyes reverently and murmuring a quiet prayer.


                    A small draft blew in through the raised slits high on the rafters. Torchlight swayed.


                    Behind him, in the corner under the extinguished lantern, a shadow flickered.


                    ‘Hello, old friend,’ Runil said, and reached for his blade.








    4E 4


    The Summerset Isles



                    ‘There’s the traitors! Halt! You are under arres-’


                    Runil threw himself bodily into the guard, bearing him to the ground. ‘Listen to me!’ he shouted, wrestling to stay on top. ‘You have been misled! Eldafara is the traitor, not us! She has you all fooled!’


                    The noise drew a patrol of two other guards, who rounded the corner brandishing their weapons. Uttering a hasty apology, Runil punched the downed mer in the face.


                    ‘Are you trying to draw their attention?’ Takarro hissed. The shinobi flicked open his claws, ten sharp, deadly points springing out as he tensed his legs.


                    ‘Takarro, wait-’


                    But the Shadeclaw was already moving. The two guards came at him from the front. He caught the first cut at his head from the side, batting the blade away with his palm. His left claws flashed under the Altmer’s trachea and in one fluid, backhand stroke, he slashed them across the windpipe and the jugular vein. Blood sprayed across the walls as air escaped the dying elf’s larynx. The second guard only had a cudgel. Takarro caught him by the wrist and shattered his elbow with a knee strike, then pulled him forward into a high mawashi-geri using his chin as leverage. The kick broke the Altmer’s neck, sending his head cracking one hundred and twenty degrees counter-clockwise.


                    ‘No!’ Runil yelled, running forward as the two corpses tumbled to the ground. ‘You didn’t have to kill them!’


                    ‘They were going to do the same to us,’ Takarro said calmly, gesturing at the guard Runil had left motionless on the floor. ‘You’re fine with brain injuries so traumatic they leave the target in a coma, but not with “killing”?’


                    ‘They had families,’ Runil spat. ‘They were just doing their jobs.’


                    Takarro whirled to face the Dux Decuria. ‘Families? Just doing their jobs? That fits the description of most of the people you will ever kill as a soldier. As an officer of the Imperial Legion, you must understand this if you are to ever succeed in your command.’


                    The two glared at each other for a few seconds, then Runil averted his eyes. ‘It’s… still not right,’ he mumbled in a broken whisper.


                    Takarro softened. ‘Fine,’ he said. ‘If you want to avoid more bloodshed, then stay close to me, and do what I do.’


                    Runil nodded grimly, and he followed Takarro’s movements as the shinobi dropped his centre of gravity, ducked into the shadows, and slunk off using the wall as cover. Altmer were naturally lithe and graceful, and though he lacked Takarro’s experience, the two managed to make it to the other end of the campus without being spotted.


                    ‘What do we do now?’ Takarro said, keeping his voice low. ‘I could simply slip away and spend the remaining year I have left on my journey observing the city from a new perspective. I have learned a great deal here already. But you would not like that, I think.’


                    ‘Like Oblivion I would,’ Runil growled. ‘I will not be ousted from my position by the ravings of a madwoman. I’m going after Eldafara, and I’m clearing our names.’


                    Takarro hesitated, then nodded. ‘Very well, Runil-do. For you.’


                    Runil smiled, giving his shoulder a shove. ‘Thanks, Ceyener. You might be a cold-hearted sonuvabitch, but you’re a cold-hearted sonuvabitch who’s always been on my side, and I’m grateful for your sticking by me.’


                    Takarro returned the smile, then took a long sniff of the air and turned his head westwards. ‘Let’s leave the sentimental talks for until after we get out of this mess. I’ve caught Eldafara’s scent. Shall we begin pursuit immediately?’


                    Runil tapped his chin. ‘Do you think we can make it safely back to my room? I have gear there we can use.’


                    ‘Most probably,’ Takarro said after a moment’s consideration. ‘The guards are still sweeping the kitchens, so the bulk of security will be on the north end of the campus. If we take the stairs up here, we should be able to avoid most patrols. But once they find out we’ve slipped through their search and are no longer in the immediate vicinity, our rooms are the first place they’ll look. Let’s move quickly.’


                    They reached Runil’s quarters without incident. Runil unlocked the door, then opened it.


                    Cyra was inside, sitting on his chair and looking at them with eyes red-rimmed from crying.


                    Takarro tensed and Runil held out an arm in front of him, warding him away from his fiancé.


                    ‘Runil, what happened?’ the Altmer girl said, standing up, her voice trembling. ‘They’re saying you’re a traitor, a member of the Beautiful, and that you murdered five cooks down in the kitchens. Tell me that’s not true?’


                    ‘By Arkay, of course not!’ Runil exclaimed, wrapping her in his arms. Cyra did not resist, laying her head onto his shoulder as he told their story.


                    Takarro looked between the two of them, impatient. ‘Give her the concise version, Runil-do. We must-’


                    ‘Ah,’ came a malignant whisper from the door. ‘Here you are.’


                    Takarro spun towards the familiar voice in complete shock. Eldafara had snuck up on a shinobi?


                    Then he saw the Professor’s robes flapping noiselessly around her body and understood in an instant. Muffle spells to mask her sound signature, strong wind to carry away her scent. Two of a Po’ Tun’s most powerful senses eliminated. I’ve been careless…!


                    But the realisation came too late. The Hurricane thrust out her hands and Runil’s room was ripped apart with pure air pressure, tornado-level winds pinning all three of them against the furthest end of the wall.


                    Runil’s right hand trembled and began to glow.


                    ‘None of that!’ Eldafara motioned with her arms and the winds swirled into a brutal cyclone, sucking the air from their lungs.


                    Cyra fell unconscious first, making a series of desperate gasps and becoming limp. Runil looked like he wanted to scream, but all he released was a strangled little choke as his eyes rolled back into his head. The light in his hand faded, leaving spots in Takarro’s vision.


                    ‘Well, young Master Ceyener, what will you do now?’ Eldafara taunted.


                    Takarro would not have wasted time replying even if he could. There was not a single drop of air in his lungs, and the precious little oxygen remaining in his alveoli was trickling away fast, even with the metabolic mutations brought about by the Clear Flask. His consumption of the Red Flask meant that his blood could maintain its oxygenated state for far longer than a normal humanoid, but it almost felt as if the Hurricane’s winds were sapping him even of that. A black film gathered at the edge of his vision and he felt his organs shutting down one by one, diverting additional energy from the digestive and urinary systems towards his brain, heart, and skeletal muscles, keeping him just alive enough to-


                    Fight back!


                    With a burst of strength, Takarro forced one hand free of the wall and hurled a volley of lightning bolts towards Eldafara, who smiled and conjured a ward with one hand, weakening the winds enough for Runil and Cyra to slide down the wall and for Takarro to catch his breath.


                    ‘Very good,’ Eldafara said, and for a moment she almost sounded like a teacher again. ‘Fire and ice would simply have been blown away by the winds. Lightning was the right choice.’


                    Dropping to the floor, Takarro raised his claws and rushed towards the Hurricane, casting continuous lightning bolts as a distraction.


                    Eldafara snorted. ‘Transparent tactic.’ She dropped her ward, letting the weak magic spark off of her as she clenched her teeth, shoved both of her hands forward and, with a concentrated blast of wind, threw Takarro backwards head-first into the wall.


                    There was a nasty thud as his skull met the stone and sent his brain bouncing back and forth inside his cranium. Takarro felt a burst of pain. Then he felt nothing at all.



                    ‘You,’ Eldafara was saying when he woke up. ‘Have been a couple of naughty little boys, haven’t you? Running around, snooping, ruining our plans. I knew those elves you butchered. Good mer, strong mer, all working tirelessly for this country’s future – cut down like dogs! I will have blood from you for that.’


                    Takarro took stock of his surroundings, and did not like what he saw.


                    He, Runil and Cyra were locked inside three suspended cages. They were hanging over what looked like an altar, freshly carved out of stone. He could still see the chippings. The entire setup was in a chamber carved into solid rock. Takarro’s whiskers twitched as he sensed the air pressure. We’re most likely underground. There was an idol looming over the altar. Takarro couldn’t get a good view from his angle, but he caught a glimpse of curved fangs and a darkly grinning skull. He might not be as well attuned to the arcane energies as the three Altmer, but he could still feel the trickle of dark power emanating from the altar.


                    A shrine to Molag Bal. Takarro felt dread crawl into his stomach. Eldafara meant it literally. We’re a blood sacrifice.


                    He was about to try getting free with magic, but then he noticed a shimmering barrier between the bars of his cage. An examination of the two other cages revealed the same barrier arranged tightly around the frame. Runil had a couple of burn marks on his cheek that weren’t there before. Takarro deduced that the barrier reflected incoming spells, and since they were confined in the cage, there was no way to force the barrier open without hitting themselves in the process.


                    ‘Emeroth, why?’ Cyra said weakly, rubbing her temples. Takarro saw her slide a nondescript finger onto her hair, nudging out a hairclip. ‘Why ally yourselves with these-’


                    ‘Cultists? Fanatics? Criminals? Terrorists?’ Eldafara shrieked. ‘Is that what you call us, simply because we see the larger picture, because we’re willing to expand our horizons and lift ourselves from the shackles of our past?’


                    Runil caught Takarro looking at him and imitated a cuckoo with his lips.


                    ‘It is necessary for the Altmer race to learn and study the knowledge of all denizens of Nirn! Only then, only by besting them even in their own fields, can we truly rise above them and reclaim our positions as gods!’ Eldafara continued, demented laughter spraying from her lips along with spittle. ‘My wind magicks? I tore them from the minds of the best mages in the marauding tribes of Hammerfell! The Legion thought they were using me? Ha! I was there to observe their tactics, beating them at their own game, nothing more… a sentiment you should understand well, Ceyener, no?’


                    ‘Is that why you have us here?’ Takarro asked. He’d noticed what Cyra was doing with her hands. I need to keep Eldafara’s attention. ‘To gain more knowledge? More power?’


                    The Cahoth laughed again. ‘But of course! The Beautiful will at least be getting something out of this. Tonight Molag Bal shall drink the blood of virgins! Well, two virgins, at any rate.’ She shot a loaded look at Runil and Cyra. Takarro understood. With the couple’s strict adherence to traditional principles, it was a fair guess that they were still… unused.


                    Takarro smiled. Cyra was almost done – he could hear the tumblers on the lock clicking into place. ‘Does that mean you can just let me go?’


                    ‘Of course not,’ Eldafara scoffed. ‘I’ve heard rumours of Shadeclaw blood, how different it is in chemical composition and how it’s a thousand times richer than the blood of regular mortals. Bal shall feast this eve, and he shall reward me with unimaginable-’


                    ‘Oh, shut up,’ Runil said. ‘If you’re going to kill us, get on with it. Or are you trying to bore us to death?’ Takarro shot him a furious glare. Don’t goad her!


                    Eldafara stood straight, looked at Runil indignantly, and then, to Takarro’s utter dismay, said, ‘Well, now, there’s an idea.’ And she left the chamber.


                    In a stroke of luck, she did not see Cyra slip the hairclip back onto her head. Several minutes later, the sound of grinding stone filled the cavern. Takarro wagered that was the entrance.


                    Runil let out a long breath. ‘She’s mad. Stark staring mad.’


                    ‘Mad or not, she will likely be returning with additional ingredients for the sacrifice. And a very sharp knife. Cyra-ko, how goes it?’


                    Cyra grinned at him, still looking slightly dizzy from oxygen deprivation. ‘So you noticed? We’re fortunate the Professor didn’t. Let me just…’


                    She gave her cage a little push, and it swung open with a creak.


                    Runil looked at her, laughing in disbelief. ‘You picked the lock? Isn’t that supposed to be your job, Takarro?’


                    Takarro mirrored Cyra’s grin. ‘Your betrothed is a woman of many talents, Runil-do.’


                    The Altmer girl clambered gingerly out of the cage, dropping to the floor more heavily than Takarro would’ve preferred. He cast a nervous glance around the cavern for any approaching threats before turning his attention back to Cyra, and as a result, the words that he should’ve said immediately came out five seconds too late.


                    ‘Well done, Cyra-ko, but be careful and watch where you step. There could be-’


                    There was a swish, followed by a loud twang. The sound of a spring-loaded wire being tripped. And then a barrage of darts spat out from hidden pipes, filling the cavern in the pattern of a cross, right over where Cyra was standing.


                    For a split second, the three of them simply froze, paralysed in their horror. Then a blackness spread across Cyra’s veins and she collapsed to her knees, writhing and thrashing. In a corner of his mind, Takarro heard Runil cry his fiancé’s name. A thick scent reminiscent of beetles and decaying leaves wafted into the Shadeclaw’s nostrils, and he felt cold certainty fill his chest as snippets of Tsukikage classroom textbooks flashed across his numbed mind.


                    Batrachotoxin. Secreted as cutaneous fluid by the golden frogs of Black Marsh. Used primarily by the An-Xileel to coat their darts and arrowheads. Minimum lethal dosage: three times ten to the power of negative six angaids.


                    Cyra was dead. Her body was simply catching up to the poison’s effects.


                    ‘Runil,’ she rasped, reaching for him. ‘My beloved.’ Then she keeled over, one final, fatal convulsion racking her petite frame. And she was still.


                    A wail of anguish burst from Runil’s throat and he slid down the bars of his cage, clutching his head in misery and rocking to and fro. Takarro felt his heart ache as he watched. After all he’s gone through during the fall of the Crystal Tower… now he has another loved one to bury.


                    ‘Runil-do…’ he began, then the Altmer cut him off as he drew in a deep breath and raised his head like an angry cobra.


                    ‘Don’t’, Runil snapped. ‘Not right now. Right now we focus on getting out of these cages and skinning that bitch alive.’ He summoned a great fireball into his hands.


                    ‘No, wait! You’ll kill yourself if you do that while inside the cage!’


                    ‘What other choice do we have?’ Runil shouted. ‘The barrier reflects Magicka, I can sense it. If I angle the spell, I might be able to survive with minimal burns-’


                    ‘The curvature of the cage itself will deflect the flames right back at you! Failing that, the air pressure pulse from the blast will rupture your internal-’


                    Runil roared incoherently, and Takarro braced himself for the explosion. Then, to his infinite relief, the High Elf closed his fists and the fireball faded.


                    ‘All right,’ he said hoarsely. ‘What are our options?’


                    ‘You said that the barrier reflects magic. How about using ice? Most parts of the frost are physical.’


                    Runil shook his head impatiently. ‘Magicka is the conductor. The cold won’t pass through so I can’t freeze the locks. I could send ice spikes through the bars, maybe, but that’s pointless.’


                    ‘Physical… through the bars.’ Takarro’s eyes lit up. ‘My smoke isn’t composed of Magicka.’


                    Runil turned sharply towards him. ‘It isn’t?’


                    ‘It is my essence itself, far more substantial than simple energy, as much a part of my body as an arm or a leg.’ And with that, he filled his cage with as much of the black smoke as possible. Tendrils began leaking through the bars.


                    Runil sat up, seeming to forget some of his grief in his excitement. ‘A cave like this should have plenty of small animals.’


                    Takarro thought so too at first. He spread his smoke out into three large circles, searching the entire chamber. He even tried to get his smoke out of the cavern, but the large boulder that served as an entrance had left them sealed in airtight.


                    ‘Nothing,’ he said after half an hour, his voice hollow. ‘Absolutely nothing.’


                    ‘What? That’s impossible. Life is everywhere, even in this unholy place!’


                    ‘It’s precisely because this is an unholy place.’ Takarro jerked his head towards the shrine of Molag Bal. ‘Any animal capable of thought has fled this cavern. All that’s left are mindless insects, worms and other invertebrates, and I can’t possess creatures without a brain!’


                    ‘What about Eldafara herself?’ Runil asked desperately. ‘If we wait until she comes back, and you send your smoke into her head…’


                    ‘We’ve been through this before!’ Takarro shook his head. ‘A sentient being’s brain is too large and their willpower too strong for the limited volume of smoke I can bring inside their skull to overwrite their active nervous signals-’


                    He stopped.


                    Willpower… limited volume… active nervous signals.




                    Active nervous signals.


                    Takarro was silent for ten full minutes as he sat on the spot, gripping his knees with his hands.


                    I can’t do this to him. He’s lost enough already.


                    But Eldafara would be back soon, he was sure of it. They stood no chance against her in open combat, and she might even be bringing reinforcements.


                    What is the first tenet of the shinobi? Master Yasha seemed to bark in his ear. What is the first thing you learn as a kit? What is our first rule of engagement, the iron-clad law that must be upheld, to ensure that intelligence is always preserved, and passed on?


                    The answer, he knew, had not changed for two thousand years.




                    No matter what he did.


                    ‘Runil,’ he said softly. ‘I’m so, so sorry.’


                    And he snaked a single tendril of black smoke towards Cyra’s corpse.


                    ‘No.’ Realisation dawned in Runil’s eyes, and he began tearing at the bars of his cage like a rabid wolf. ‘No, no, no, no, no, no, no!’


                    Takarro’s smoke touched Cyra’s face, cradling it gently, like a mother stroking her daughter.


                    ‘You know!’ Runil screamed, his voice flooding with the agony of betrayal. ‘YOU KNOW!’


                    Takarro split his smoke into five streams. Two drifted up Cyra’s nostrils. Another two curled around her ears. The last one began seeping into her mouth.


                    Runil went insane. He raged, pleaded, wept; he kicked his feet like a boy throwing a tantrum and kept pounding on his cage, trying to shift it with brute force. His hands wrenched at the bars until the skin began to come off his flesh.


                    ‘Takarro,’ he begged. ‘Please…’


                    The black smoke whisked inside Cyra’s skull, and Takarro opened her eyes.


                    Runil howled a howl of desolate terror, squeezing his eyes shut as tears flowed down his cheeks and sobs wracked his shoulders. He beat at his breast as if he was trying to rip out his own heart, then collapsed insensate to the bottom of his cage.


                    Takarro forced himself to keep going. Possessing a corpse was very different from possessing a living being. He had to activate each area of the brain personally, bringing it from the cold stillness of death to his own facsimile of life. This was better, in a way. He did not have to feel Cyra’s fear as she died, the pain of the poisoned darts, or her consciousness fighting his. Her spirit was gone, departed, leaving only the shell of her mortal body for him to borrow.


                    Thank you, Cyra-ko, he murmured into the void. And then he spread himself over her cerebral cortex and her temporal lobe.


                    A second set of senses flickered to life in his mind, and he winced at how the poison had ravaged her system before he remembered to withdraw from her pain receptors. Cyra was only a little taller than he was, if slightly less well-built, and he found that her body was quite easy to move – far easier than animals of another species. Two arms, two legs, bipedal locomotion. It was almost as if he had cloned himself.


                    Takarro raised her legs, then made her flip straight up onto her feet. My spatial awareness and sense of balance is mostly transferred over, he observed. Good. That means I can execute basic shinobi acrobatics and martial arts moves even in this body.


                    As he walked her around the room, he soon came to the conclusion that there was no way to escape, or to free himself and Runil from their cages. That left one option.


                    I need to take Eldafara out.


                    But Cyra didn’t carry a weapon, and her muscles were untrained and unmodified. Takarro had serious doubts that he would be able to instantly dispatch Eldafara with her hands and feet, so that left…


                    Claw techniques.


                    Cyra didn’t have claws, though, and her fingernails were worse than useless. He was going to have to improvise.


                    Takarro walked his corpse puppet over to the side of the cavern, where the rock flared out, rough and jagged. Then he raked her fingers with as much strength as her arms could muster – which was a surprising amount with her pain receptors turned off – into the ragged surface of the rock. All of her fingernails snapped off, along with most of the skin on her fingertips. Gibbets of red and pink hung from the digits. It was a grisly sight, but Takarro kept working, shaving and scraping away at the flesh, until all that was left of the last joints of Cyra’s fingers were whitish protrusions of sharp, serrated bone.


                    Now she had claws.


                    And it came to him then, the cold, deliberate, calculating determination that a shinobi always experienced in the moments before an assassination. The familiar sensation of killing intent filling him, Takarro walked Cyra back over to the spot where she fell, made her lie down on top of her mutilated hands, then tucked the string of black smoke that tied her to him along the shadows of the cavern, making it practically invisible. After that, all that remained was to wait.


                    After what felt like an hour, the stone entrance to the caverns rumbled open, and Takarro heard Eldafara’s footsteps ring out in a slightly different pitch. She changed her clothes.


                    Sure enough, the Cahoth strode into the sacrifice chamber wearing the white robes and ceramic mask of the Beautiful. And as Takarro had expected, the first thing she did when she saw Cyra’s corpse was to gloat.


                    ‘Idiotic little girl,’ she sneered. ‘Did you really think I wouldn’t leave traps here?’


                    She leant over the body, examining it, turning it over.


                    Goutfang, Sixth Stance. Masser’s Hook.


                    Cyra sprang straight up where she was lying, her new claws of bone flashing towards her former teacher’s head in a semicircle, catching her mask by the eye slits. Eldafara screamed as Takarro tore the porcelain mask off her face along with her upper eyelids. The Cahoth reeled back, scrabbling at her eyes.


                    Rawlith Khaj, Third Rotation. Secunda’s Arc.


                    Takarro lowered Cyra’s centre of gravity towards her knees, steadying her as she whirled to the side, away from the wild gout of fire that Eldafara, now blind, was conjuring out of desperation. Shifting her footwork and adding another step to the motion of her body to build momentum, Takarro swung her right hand forward. Their claws pierced Eldafara’s throat in three different places.


                    The Hurricane gagged, drowning in her own blood. She stumbled, eyes weeping crimson tears, and fell face-first onto the floor. She twitched twice and was still.


                    Takarro allowed himself three seconds to breathe, then checked outside to see if there was anyone else. Confident that no reinforcements would be arriving, he walked Cyra back towards Eldafara’s body and patted it down until he found a key. Then he made her carry it to his cage – it was a curious thing looking at himself from this perspective – and unlocked it with two turns of her wrist. Her maimed fingers made it a little difficult, especially since the cage was suspended a few feet in the air.


                    Runil did not budge when he opened his cage and lowered him slowly to the ground.


                    ‘Runil-do,’ Takarro said, shaking him lightly by the shoulders. ‘It’s done; it’s over. We’re free.’


                    With speed that would have surprised even a master Shadeclaw, Runil brought his hands up to his neck and began strangling him.


                    ‘Necromancer. You violated her.’ His voice was a hate-filled whisper. ‘You defiled her. You forced yourself into her.’


                    ‘Had- no- choice-’ Takarro choked.


                    ‘I BEGGED YOU!’ Runil thundered, his eyes wide and bloodshot. ‘I BEGGED! AND YOU RAPED HER!’


                    ‘Runil-do- please-’


                    ‘WHY? WHY? HOW? HOW COULD YOU?’


                    ‘I’m- your- friend-’


                    ‘Friend? FRIEND?’ Runil’s hands closed over Takarro’s neck with so much force the shinobi was sure that even with his strengthened bones, his spinal cord was about to snap.


                    ‘Please- don’t- make- me… Cyra…-ko…’




                    Survive. No matter what you do, no matter what you have to do, always survive. Endure.


                    A shinobi endures!


                    Takarro jerked backwards, forcing Runil to extend his reach, then punched upwards in an uppercut, breaking the Altmer’s straightened right arm. The limb flopped dead to the side. Runil did not appear to notice. He kept throttling him with his left hand alone, but his grip was now weak enough for Takarro to draw in a single breath. He loosened his shoulders, built up his measure of strength, then clapped Runil on the temples. The deranged High Elf staggered, then fell to the floor, unconscious once again.


                    ‘I’m sorry,’ Takarro said as he backed away. ‘I’m so sorry…’


                    And then he did what a Shadeclaw did best. He fled.


                    He found his way back to the Academy and wrote a hasty letter to Headmaster Ondrion, explaining some – but not all – of his circumstances and making sure to thank the Altmer battlemage in the most courteous language his pen could muster. Then he picked up his gear from the armoury and, without looking back at the Academy he had spent two years in, sped away in full sprint. The sun had set by then, and he no longer had to worry about attracting attention.


                    The night swallowed him as he ran.






    4E 22


    The Summerset Isles



                    Ondrion of Alinor had the most luxurious quarters in the entire Battlemages’ Academy. It spanned almost the entire area of the top floor, had an entire games room, a separate, fully staffed kitchen, and a bathing pool larger than most public bathhouses.


                    Naturally, soaking in the pool was one of the Headmaster’s favourite things to do. He was using rose-scented water for tonight, complete with a sea of floating roses. A few errant petals clung to his skin as he rose from the bath. He brushed them away as he towelled himself off and wrapped his robes around his body.


                    As instructed, his tea was waiting for him in his office, piping hot. Ondrion smiled, closed the door to the baths behind him, and sat down in his desk, taking a good, long sniff of the fragrant steam.


                    Then he frowned, pushing the tea away.


                    ‘You’re still here, aren’t you?’ he said. ‘Show yourself!’


                    A dark chuckle came from above him, from the shadows atop a chandelier. ‘You are very perceptive, Ondrion-ri.’


                    Takarro dropped down, landing noiselessly, perfectly in front of his desk. He took off his hood and cowl.


                    ‘Well, well, look who it is,’ Ondrion smiled a viper’s smile. ‘I was wondering who the Imperial monkeys would send. Should’ve known it’d be someone who knew the school layout. Enjoying your visit to your alma mater, Ceyener?’


                    ‘Not as much as you seem to be enjoying your new robes, Headmaster,’ Takarro said, in a voice equally frigid. ‘Black and green suits you.’


                    ‘Yes, better than Legion colours ever did,’ Ondrion sneered.


                    ‘Is that so?’ Takarro gestured at the steaming tea on the desk. ‘Your drink is getting cold.’


                    ‘Oh, save it.’ Ondrion’s sneer widened. ‘I may not always know poison when I smell it, but I know exactly how I told my servants to prepare my tea. They wouldn’t have dared defy me, so that only leaves one explanation.’


                    ‘How wise of you.’ Takarro made no sudden moves, knowing full well that all Ondrion had to do was snap his fingers to obliterate him on the spot. The Headmaster had two weaknesses, though. He was afflicted with the signature arrogance of his kin. And he liked to talk. ‘With all your wisdom, then, Ondrion-ri – you must know why I’m here.’


                    ‘The documents, of course.’


                    ‘Of course.’


                    ‘That little brat of an Emperor has some gall, making demands of us! As if you Shadeclaws didn’t hand the information over of your own free will.’


                    ‘That was when you were still part of the Empire, Ondrion-ri. When we had a reason to cooperate.’


                    ‘Well, too bad,’ Ondrion mocked. ‘All that juicy intelligence on your home, dear boy - all now ours to keep.’


                    ‘Then I suppose we should count ourselves lucky we never told anyone where Tsukikage actually is.’


                    Ondrion shrugged, a taunting smile stretching across his lips. ‘Our Jerall expedition teams shall find the village soon enough.’


                    ‘Oh, you think so, don’t you?’ Takarro laughed for ten straight seconds. With each second, Ondrion’s smile shrank, until it turned downwards and became a snarl. ‘Well, as pleasant as this talk might have been, the documents aren’t the only reason I’m here, Headmaster. You see, I have orders to purge the Academy. Every single faculty member here has been marked for assassination. And of course… that includes you.’


                    It was Ondrion’s turn to laugh. He laughed long and hard, throwing his head back and massaging his belly. ‘Ah… foolish little cat. Can’t even see that his superiors have sent him here to die. Do you honestly think you stand a chance against me? I have plied my craft for centuries! I-’


                    Ondrion stiffened, freezing in place as every single muscle on his body locked up and began to cramp.


                    ‘Of course I don’t stand a chance against you, Headmaster. That’s why I kept you talking, kept you breathing, in your lovely, airtight office.’ Takarro chuckled again, tapping the cup of tea on the desk. ‘I killed you one minute ago, when you took your first sniff of these fumes. It’s a pity you don’t always know poison when you smell it, Ondrion-ri. You would’ve recognised the scent of Digitalis Draconis, a foxglove mutation first discovered, if you can believe it, by dragons in the late Merethic Era. This particular variant is known as Digitalis Draconis Terriblis, cultivated with the combined efforts of the Blades, the Shadeclaws, and Imperial scholars. When powdered and steeped in hot water, it is quite lethal when inhaled. Well, lethal to normal men and mer, at any rate.’


                    Ondrion was already on the verge of death, his neck having constricted so violently it was rupturing his carotid artery. His locked muscles kept him rigid and upright. From the outside, it simply looked like he was sitting there with a very large bruise spreading down the side of his face.


                    Not seeing a reason to waste good tea, Takarro took the still-steaming cup and quaffed it. Delicious. Then he went over to Ondrion and took his pulse in three different places, confirming the kill. To make doubly sure he was dead – one could never be too certain with powerful mages – he placed a hand onto the Headmaster’s chin and tilted his head forward, then deftly slid a kunai between the Altmer’s first and second vertebrae, cracking the two bones apart and severing the spinal cord.


                    Yeah, I think he’s dead now.


                    He went over to the window and opened it, letting three other Po’ Tun inside. Like him, they were clad in grey tunics and armed only with short blades. ‘Primary target down,’ he reported as they flitted into the office, fanning out into a traditional shinobi offensive formation. ‘Kill confirmed.’


                    ‘The Headmaster is down already?’ One of his men sounded surprised. ‘Nice work, Captain.’


                    Takarro accepted the praise with an inclination of his head. He pulled his cowl back on. ‘Moving on to secondary targets. Remember, the rooms are insulated from sound both inside and outside. Don’t be too eager to retreat if you fail to eliminate your marks in their sleep. Their neighbours won’t be alerted even if they start hurling spells.’


                    ‘As you say, Captain. And the documents?’


                    ‘Likely in the Records Office. Third floor.’


                    ‘Understood, sir. Heading there now.’


                    ‘If you find any other information on Imperial military installations, secure them too.’


                    ‘Captain? I thought our only objective was the intel on the village.’


                    ‘I know. But many Blades gave their lives to get us this opportunity. Let us repay their hard work and sacrifice by making their jobs a little bit easier.’


                    ‘Yes, sir.’


                    ‘All right. You have your orders.’ Takarro yanked his kunai out of Ondrion’s skull. He did not sheathe it, though; there would be plenty more killing to do tonight. ‘Scatter!’





    4E 100


    Elsweyr Confederacy



                    The Po’ Tun of Tsukikage might have used the twin moons as the namesake of their village, and their motion across the skies of Nirn as a basis of martial arts and philosophy, but unlike the Khajiit of Elsweyr, they did not assign religious significance to the two celestial objects.


                    Which was why Takarro shared none of his feline cousins’ fear and panic as he looked up at the night sky, now black and blank, temporarily robbed of Masser and Secunda. He did, however, feel a slight twinge of unease as he leapt from tree to tree. If whatever we’re up against is powerful enough to do this…


                    Then a series of new smells reached his nose as he made to the rendezvous point, and he stopped on top of a branch. There are Altmer in the forest. Thalmor presence.


                    He unslung his kusarigama from his hip, then continued forward more slowly and cautiously, taking a higher position on the treetops. His blood ran cold as he came up on the clearing that the Legion had picked out.


                    The camp had been ransacked. Tents were burning. Corpses littered the ground. The men of the Sixth Legion had all been slaughtered, and a similar number of dead Thalmor soldiers were scattered on the ground. In the centre of the clearing, a lone Blade was battling five opponents at once, his katana and wakizashi whirling around him with such speed that it looked as if he was wielding ten swords instead of two.


                    Takarro saw Mamushi and Koumin alight on branches near him.


                    ‘Captain,’ Koumin said. ‘We should assist.’


                    It felt rather strange to hear his own wife refer to him as ‘Captain’.


                    ‘Right,’ Takarro said, raising a hand. Mamushi placed a hand on her own katana, and Koumin nocked an arrow to her yumi. ‘On my signal…’


                    Below them, the Blades operative dispatched one of his opponents. It was an adroit bit of swordplay, and Takarro spared an instant to admire the Breton’s handiwork. He had blocked an oncoming slash with the wakizashi in his left hand and, in the exact same motion, thrust his katana forward into the Altmer’s exposed left flank, a manoeuvre only possible thanks to the Blade’s flawless footwork. Split-second reaction, simultaneous attack and defence. Perfect zanshin, even better form. I should look into inviting him as a guest instructor for nitouryu lessons.


                    But that could wait. ‘Now!’ Takarro flung his hand forward, and he fell upon the Thalmor from above, Mamushi following close behind. Before they had even landed, Koumin’s arrow found its mark in their second-leftmost opponent, the shaft sprouting out of the base of his skull.


                    He lashed out with the chain on his weapon, the centrifugal force of the fundo wrapping it around a footmer’s neck. Takarro snapped the chain like a whip, pulling the High Elf towards him and stabbing him through the eye with the tip of his scythe. By design, his kama was more effective against armour, so he took the enemies from the front to allow Mamushi a flanking position. She took a robed mage unawares, slashing him across the abdomen with a single iai, her draw-cut so rapid it left the air itself bleeding. Koumin drew and shot again, sending the last Thalmor spinning back towards the Blade with an arrow in his shoulder. The swordsman promptly swung out with his katana, beheading the hapless elf in one stroke.


                    ‘Michel-to?’ Mamushi said gleefully as the decapitated head rolled away in the dirt. ‘It is you! By Furiya, I haven’t seen you since that night in Sentinel!’


                    ‘Ah, Lady Mamushi,’ the Breton said, in a voice much more subdued. Is he blushing? ‘Yes, it has… been a while.’


                    ‘I keep telling you to drop the “Lady” and you never listen!’


                    ‘Should we leave the two of you alone?’ Takarro said dryly.


                    ‘No, Captain. Sorry, Captain.’


                    Takarro bowed at Michel, flicking his kusarigama into his left hand. ‘It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Michel-do. Your swordsmanship is truly impressive.’


                    Michel’s face darkened. ‘It wasn’t enough to save these men, though. If only we’d arrived a few minutes sooner…’


                    ‘I would not dwell on it,’ Takarro cautioned. ‘You can get lost in such thoughts very easily.’


                    The Breton paused, then nodded.


                    ‘How goes the investigation?’


                    ‘We’re no closer to finding out what’s causing the moons to vanish than we were two years ago,’ Michel said, the burning tents throwing shadows across his angular features. ‘We also have no idea why the Thalmor are here all of a sudden. They’re trespassing on the province!’


                    ‘Technically, Michel-do,’ Takarro reminded him. ‘We’re not supposed to be here either. Our presence here is formally disavowed.’


                    ‘Right,’ Michel said darkly. ‘If anything happens, we don’t exist.’


                    ‘The Thalmor are likely here to take advantage of the volatile social atmosphere to leverage-’


                    Takarro’s nose widened, followed quickly by his eyes.


                    ‘Captain, is something wrong?’


                    ‘This scent,’ the Shadeclaw whispered. ‘This aura. I’ve not felt it since…’


                    He was far more skilled in the arcane arts than he had been a century ago, and he sensed the bristling spikes of Magicka a full second before his comrades did.


                    ‘Take cover!’ he roared, throwing himself to the ground as a strobe of bright, pure light filled the clearing, transforming night into day. He was familiar enough with the spell that he knew to cover his eyes – even then, the light was powerful enough to shine through his hands, and for a brief moment he saw the outline of his bones set against his transparent flesh.


                    Koumin and Mamushi had not reacted as quickly. They lay stunned and motionless on the ground, their nervous systems overwhelmed by the intensity of the flash.


                    ‘Old friend,’ Runil said.


                    ‘You… fool!’ Michel yelled, desperate bravado filling his voice as he flailed around the clearing, staring around wildly with sightless eyes and trying to find his katana, which he had dropped. ‘Do you even know who stands before you?’


                    Runil did not look away from Takarro, who stood slowly, warily, tossing the fundo on his kusarigama from his right hand to his left.


                    ‘A necromancer and his three useless lackeys?’ the Altmer sneered. You never used to sneer like that, Runil-do. His former classmate was dressed in full glass armour. He did not have a shield – leaving one hand open for spellcasting, as he had always fought. In his right hand he gripped a sword infused with crackling energy. The blade was two inches wide, with a single ray of golden light running down the fuller. The crossguard was a curious, circular design.


                    ‘Dawnbreaker,’ Takarro said, his throat dry. ‘So you worship Meridia too these days?’


                    ‘Not exactly,’ Runil smiled thinly. ‘But we share a common passion. Eradicating undead... and killing necromancers.’


                    ‘Surrender,’ Michel yelled, still blind. He’d managed to find his katana, and he raised it in front of him. ‘You face more than a mere necromancer! You face the Shikabanegami himself-’


                    ‘Be silent, cur,’ Runil snapped, slashing at the Blade’s arm. To Michel’s credit, he reacted quickly for a man deprived of the use of his eyes. He caught the first blow on his sword. Then Runil slid Dawnbreaker down the curve of the katana and cut off two of his fingers. Michel fell back, clutching his hand, and Runil ran him through.


                    ‘This,’ the battlemage chuckled. ‘Is why normal swords have crossguards. Legendary Akaviri swordsmen indeed.’


                    ‘Truly a great display of skill,’ Takarro said in biting tones. ‘Butchering a blind man.’


                    ‘A Ceyener lectures me about exploiting weakness,’ Runil sneered again. ‘This world holds endless wonders.’


                    Takarro began inching around him, trying to get on Runil’s left side. ‘You’ve grown acidulous in the past century.’


                    Runil tracked his movements and turned himself, keeping the angle between them constant. ‘And you’ve simply grown old,’ he shot back. ‘Your fur was once jet black. Now it’s snowy white.’


                    ‘Family trait.’


                    ‘It seems like you’ve claimed a new title, too. Has something to do with your… blasphemous degeneracy, I take it.’


                    ‘Shikabanegami? I believe you’ve studied enough Eastern Akaviri to know what it means.’


                    ‘Shikaba...’ Runil mouthed the syllables, stopped, and stood still, his face contorting in his fury. ‘God of Corpses. You dare? You dare?’


                    Takarro grinned savagely. Throughout the course of their conversation, he had been funnelling wisps of smoke all across the clearing, taking control of dead bodies in Runil’s blind spots as they circled each other.


                    ‘Yes, Runil-do.’ The Shikabanegami raised his hands. ‘I dare.’


                    Seventy-five corpses rose from the ground. Some were clad in the steel plate of the Legion, others in the gilded golden armour of the Thalmor. All were an extension of Takarro’s will. His new puppets surrounded Runil, closing in with weapons drawn.


                    ‘A petty trick!’ Runil bared his teeth, eyebrows two vertical slashes of self-righteous outrage. He raised Dawnbreaker above his head and the sword glowed even brighter. ‘Back, all of you! I hold the sacred-’


                    Six Legionnaires raised their gladii and hacked at him with balanced, precise blows. Likely not the fumbling, staggering undead Runil was used to.


                    ‘You can’t turn them, Runil-do,’ Takarro gloated. ‘I did not bind their souls-’


                    Runil slashed straight above the Legionnaire’s heads. Dawnbreaker flared, burning away the smoke connecting them to Takarro’s hand, and the corpses collapsed immediately. Takarro yelped and stared at Runil in astonishment. I… felt that.


                    ‘Mere puppets dancing to your string,’ Runil snarled, sweeping Dawnbreaker around him in a circle. A wave of energy emanated from the blade, severing his bond with every single corpse in the area. ‘You can’t stop me with these, Takarro.’


                    Takarro hurled a fireball at him. Runil simply let the flames curl around his ward.


                    ‘And your magic…’ the Altmer threw back a fireball of his own. The explosion sent Takarro flying off his feet and into a tree, where the trunk actually cracked. ‘Is as weak as I remember!’


                    Takarro sent a wisp of smoke whisking into Michel’s nostrils, trying to take control as rapidly as possible. Then he grunted in pain as Runil stabbed the Breton again, sending a wave of cleansing power through his system, burning him away from the corpse.


                    ‘What did I just say?’


                    Runil had to stop to purify Michel, though, and that lull in his offensive gave Takarro enough time to sprint over to Koumin and Mamushi.


                    The Altmer was about to attack again. Then both of them jolted up as Takarro felt something shift in the fabric of reality, like a housekeeper smoothing out a crease in a blanket.


                    Above them, in the night sky, Masser and Secunda sprang back to life, illuminating the clouds with their silver glow.


                    ‘Behold!’ Runil’s eyes widened in boyish glee, and he thrust Dawnbreaker triumphantly into the air. ‘We have brought light back to Elsweyr!’


                    ‘You sad, deluded fool,’ Takarro said bitterly, throwing a smoke pellet at him. Runil slashed at it reflexively, then cursed as the resulting cloud of smoke enveloped him, obscuring his vision.


                    Takarro picked up Koumin and Mamushi, slinging them onto each of his shoulders.


                    Then, as he had done a hundred years ago, he turned tail and ran.





    4E 174

    The Alik’r Desert




                    Unaka and Jorra stared at him. ‘Grandmaster-ri, you can’t be serious.’


                    ‘But I am,’ Takarro smiled sadly. ‘The Empire has to hold this position, or the good Legate would have captured Fort Hazir for nothing. That’s the whole point of having you lure him here. The Eleventh Legion can’t afford to lose another Cohort to Runil-do.’


                    ‘That’s exactly my point!’ Unaka said frantically. ‘He massacred an entire Cohort! That’s four hundred men! Even Bengakhi-ra can’t do that!’


                    ‘Which is why I chose these cliffs for the battleground. The Battle of Crimson Dunes took place here. Seven hundred corpses are buried beneath these shallow sands.’


                    ‘Takarro-ri, he can cleanse them in an instant,’ Jorra babbled. ‘Shinobi aren’t supposed to fight in open combat. Let the Legion’s mages deal with him.’


                    ‘None of the auxiliary battlemages in Hammerfell have lived as long as the two of us have,’ Takarro sighed. ‘And the rest are too far away, fighting in the other provinces. No, it has to be me. If I spread my Kugutsu over a large enough area, even Runil-do won’t be able to purify them all at once.’


                    ‘What if he can?’ Unaka wailed. ‘You told me once as a kit how much he had grown in a hundred years. It’s almost been another hundred years! Let us stay with you, at least, so we can-’


                    ‘My dear Unaka,’ Takarro said, as gently as he could. ‘You’re not even half a century old. Don’t worry, I have grown too. Perhaps even more than he has.’




                    ‘Come on, Unaka-ko,’ Jorra said quietly, taking her by the arm. ‘Takarro-ri is right. We’d just get in the way.’


                    The pair flickered away into the shadow of the sunset, leaping from the cliffs and disappearing from sight as they hurtled down, down, down towards the ravine below. And Takarro was left alone.


                    He folded his hands on top of his legs, closed his eyes, and began to meditate. The sun continued to set, dyeing the evening sky a flaming, raging red.


                    A cry came from across the dunes.




                    The Thirty-Fourth Grandmaster of Tsukikage no Sato opened his eyes.


                    Again came the cry, echoing across the vast plains of the Alik’r.




                    A lone figure appeared on the horizon. A cloak flapped behind it.


                    He stood, the white robes denoting his station billowing around him in the wind. The cry rang out for a third time.




                    The elf had already drawn his sword. Dawnbreaker gleamed in his hands bright as a summer star, flashing in the distance as he marched forward. Takarro remained rooted in place, waiting, waiting as the shadows lengthened and stretched out from his feet, waiting as Runil made his way across the scorching sands.


                    ‘Takarro.’ At long last, Runil stood before him. He too had grown old. His hair, once golden yellow, was now matted with grey. The bags under his eyes were wrinkled, and there were lines running over his forehead and jowls. Yet his posture was still strong, and his gait steady.


                    For a while, the two of them simply stayed that way, gazing at each other, one wreathed in the daylight lingering over the land, the other veiled in the shadow of the dying sun.


                    ‘Hello, old friend,’ Takarro said, and reached for his blade.

















10 Comments   |   A-Pocky-Hah! and 5 others like this.
  • The Sunflower Manual
    The Sunflower Manual   ·  March 8, 2018
    *looks at Phil-jo and Lissette-ko's comments and starts bowing back and flailing around making panicky babbling noises*

    Thank you so much, you two! This made me very happy.
  • The Long-Chapper
    The Long-Chapper   ·  March 8, 2018
    Wow, this was a brilliant read, Harrow. Like Phil said, very well constructed plot and the use of characters was great. I cannot come up with stuff that good. *bows to you*
  • Paws
    Paws   ·  March 7, 2018
    This has all been so impeccably set up! Establishing Eldafara's character early on in chapter one, resolving that in such imaginative and unanticipated style in this chapter, while never having that thread eclipse the overall plot - which just heads towar...  more
  • Karver the Lorc
    Karver the Lorc   ·  March 7, 2018
    So much stuff going on here. I already told you on Steam, but I´m gonna
    repeat it. That moment was Cyra was just shocking. I mean, one moment it
    goes this way and then just bang, completely other way, my brain being
    so shocked I had n...  more
    • A-Pocky-Hah!
      Karver the Lorc
      Karver the Lorc
      Karver the Lorc
      So much stuff going on here. I already told you on Steam, but I´m gonna
      repeat it. That moment was Cyra was just shocking. I mean, one moment it
      goes this way and then just bang, completely other way, my brain being
      so shocked I had no idea what´s goin...  more
        ·  March 7, 2018
      Though if you think about it, Karves, it does deconstruct the typical "lockpick ex machina" cliche.
      • Karver the Lorc
        Karver the Lorc
        Though if you think about it, Karves, it does deconstruct the typical "lockpick ex machina" cliche.
          ·  March 7, 2018
        Lockpick ex machina cliche? Not familiar with that. What is it?
        • A-Pocky-Hah!
          Karver the Lorc
          Karver the Lorc
          Karver the Lorc
          Lockpick ex machina cliche? Not familiar with that. What is it?
            ·  March 7, 2018
          Basically is that old cliche where a guy in trapped in a jail cell or imprisoned and he just so happens to carry a lockpick. 

          Kinda like how a player just so happen to have a lockpick with them when they get arrested by the guard...  more
          • Karver the Lorc
            Karver the Lorc
            Basically is that old cliche where a guy in trapped in a jail cell or imprisoned and he just so happens to carry a lockpick. 

            Kinda like how a player just so happen to have a lockpick with them when they get arrested by the guards and thrown into ...  more
              ·  March 7, 2018
            Ah, yes. Now I understand. Yup, that´s why I had Grulmar stuff a lockpick up his... ehm in CA xD
  • A-Pocky-Hah!
    A-Pocky-Hah!   ·  March 5, 2018
    The tale of a tragic hero. Tell me did Takarro ever held any regrets on that day?
    • The Sunflower Manual
      The Sunflower Manual
      The tale of a tragic hero. Tell me did Takarro ever held any regrets on that day?
        ·  March 5, 2018
      Takarro has many, many, many regrets. This day is one of them. He would also say that he's no hero, either.