Entry 255 – Day 380

Entry 255 – Day 380

My feelings for Inifra are hard to discern. There is need, the desire I might have had for any number of women, but also a distance that dulls it. When my minds is occupied with the challenges that face us, or I find my thoughts wandering to all I have lost at home, Inifra is open and near to me. It is when my attention turns to her that she closes herself off. I do not understand it, but I might as well give up trying.

No Bangara sightings or mysterious casualties to report, which is a relief.

Our time with Wudan is continually fruitful. It is difficult for us to mentor him properly, not fully understanding how he interacts with the Atmosphere, but what guidance we give him seems to be working. He is eager, and learns so quickly that it makes me wonder if we truly were all he needed to begin unlocking his power. Inifra takes simple pleasure in watching him try new things. None of us can keep a straight face when he laughs as he learns, not even Timber.

As I spend more time with Timber, teaching her how to dance with a blade, I find myself wondering how Salisir could have been so bitter. How could he have been such a brute to us when he was our instructor? There is a deep satisfaction in teaching someone to do what you love. My pride in Timber grows with every leap she takes in the art.

Entry-255-Quote-teaching

I cannot imagine hurting her. Spurning her on with my own self-loathing. All I want is for her to improve, to become as talented with a sword as I am. It’s odd, but there is a part of me that hopes she will surpass me. I never thought I would feel that way. About anyone.

Is this what having children is like? That is something else that is denied me in my exile. Did Salisir ever have any children? I cannot even begin to imagine what having Salisir for a father would be like, and I survived my mother’s rearing.

We have begun a slow curve towards the northeast, a sign that we are making progress in circumventing Daedric territory. It was just a slight adjustment to our path, but it was enough to encourage me. Just give us another ten days and perhaps we will find some semblance of safety.

Share on Pinterest
Entry 256 – Day 381

Entry 256 – Day 381

Two more men have gone missing. These two disappeared while on the interior of the perimeter. I would be lying if I were to say that this did not put me on edge. There is a level of anxiety within this jungle that never leaves us. There is no respite from that. Things can get worse, however, and they are steadily doing just that.

How those men were picked off while within the perimeter is beyond me, but that is where each was last seen. The first was taken within a few hours of setting out, the second only hours ago. Will the monster continue to harass us? To pluck us one by one from the coop until there are no more chickens to eat?

Even Timber has shown signs of being frightened, and I was beginning to believe that nothing could shake the child.

Entry-256-Quote-Fear-to-Crack

Fear is something that operates along an uneven gradient. Immediate, lethal threats can cause one to panic. But if the mind has no time to realize what is happening, or the threat is simply too large to comprehend, the mind might simply refuse to acknowledge it. Similarly, a subtle or unseen threat may be easy to put out of mind, but keep it on the periphery long enough, with frequent reminders that it is very real, and you will see the fear steadily grow in people until they crack.

That is what I see around me tonight. Something has to give.

Share on Pinterest
Entry 257 – Day 382

Entry 257 – Day 382

The Bangara attacked us at last and I finally understand why the Nantese regard Salisir so highly.

Hembila made the mistake of gathering his troop around us in broad daylight. The midday meal was being prepared. Usually the men filter in one at a time to take their share from the pot and then return to their position, but Hembila was worried that setting them farther out would leave them too exposed. He decided to bring them all in to eat together, and the Bangara decided its real meal was finally being served.

The monster must have climbed one of the trees and launched itself at us, for when it burst into our midst it did so from the air. It rolled, throwing men wide and crushing three on its spines.

Salisir surprised us all. He yelled from the far side of the camp, drawing his sword and bellowing a challenge at the monster. It turned in curiosity, and without hesitation it charged him head on.

Entry-257-Salisir-Bangara-SwordSkill

I couldn’t see exactly what Salisir did, but he made three quick motions with his sword as the monster closed on him. Suddenly, from thin air, a red puff flashed beside the Bangara and from it a spike of ethereal red shot through its neck.

The monster convulsed, then lost its footing. It fell, sliding straight into Salisir on its side. The old man simply jumped up, walking along its length until it came to a stop beneath him.

Quote Entry 257 Bangara SwordSkills

He stared down at us, sword drawn, breathing normally. We were all stunned into silence until the moans of the wounded reached our ears. The Bangara itself suffered an injury through its spine wide enough through which to shove my leg. Not that I tried, but it was sufficient in size.

Salisir knows one of the Great SwordSkills. The bastard knows one of the only things I have left to study with a sword, and he used it to kill a monster that none of us knew could be killed.

I have to learn it. I don’t know how I can convince him to teach me, but I must.

Share on Pinterest
Entry 258 – Day 393

Entry 258 – Day 393

It takes far too long to drop the paranoia that comes with being hunted. Perhaps it is a necessary instinct in the Nanten, but it is a taxing one over which to have no control. Hopefully, in another day or two, we will find our anxiety returned to its normal hum. Currently it maintains the screeching song it picked up in the shadow of the Bangara.

I asked Salisir if he had ever killed a Bangara before and he said only once. The last time he tried to kill one like that, he nearly lost his arm. He agreed with Hembila, Bangara were something best avoided.

Teach me, I wanted to say. Teach me how you did that. Instead I asked him what it was called.

“PiercePunch,” he said. “For reasons I’m sure you find obvious.”

I asked him how many he knew. “Enough,” he said. “No one knows how many there are, but I’m certain I don’t know them all.”

I asked him to define ‘enough.’

“Eight,” he said. So nonchalant. I wanted to punch him in the throat. “Seven if you’re being conservative, but I think that the distinctions between NightBlade and NightGuard enough to be considered two skills.”

Didn’t he realize what a treasure he was holding onto? It was the anger over his flippancy that finally drove me to ask. Teach me, I said.

“Which one?” He asked.

All of them.

He let out a quiet chuckle. “And what do I get in return? You barely speak to me, are hardly willing to help me secure the Oaken Throne, and now you want me to teach you one of the most elusive skills in the world?”

“Not one,” I corrected. “Eight.”

“Then help me.” Salisir’s eyes were so cold, so calculating. There’s metal in them – not just in his look or bearing – there’s sharp steel resting in the very iris of his eye. “You know I want the Batsu, and you know that they will not treat with me.”

“What makes you think they’ll be any different with me?” I asked.

“You haven’t slept with Nianatara and then left her for her sister,” he laughed. “I don’t think she cared as much about that, but I did make a few mistakes when I lived among the Batsu. Nianatara is reasonable. She knows she must fight, she simply has to be reminded how necessary it truly is.”

So he wanted an army.

“I want a nation,” he said. “I want these people united, not behind their own leaders and their own causes. I want them united behind the idea of the Nanten Kingdom. It’s the only way that peace will last.”

We sat in silence for a while. Such lofty goals. High ideals are a lovely way to feel your heart warm just before it’s run through from behind.

Entry-258-Quote-Lofty-Goals-High-Ideals

“I’ll teach you PiercePunch tomorrow,” he said after a few minutes. “The rest after Nienatara agrees to march on Matasten.”

I asked him when he wanted them to march.

“As soon as they can.”

The excitement of learning one of the Great SwordSkills wiped any other questions from my mind at the time, but now that I write this I have so many more. What is he really planning? To march on Matasten with the fragments of armies pulled on in to swirl like Dionus’ glass? How strong are the forces we face? Why not assassinate their leadership?

Perhaps I will ask him tomorrow while he is teaching me. The fear of having Salisir instruct me again is palpable, balancing out if not outweighing the excitement to learn a SwordSkill. I won’t sleep well tonight.

Share on Pinterest
Entry 259 – Day 394

Entry 259 – Day 394

The power of the SwordSkill has left me pulsing with adrenaline all night. I cannot get the sensation out of my fingers, the raw power that ripped through my hands every time I made the motions. It was so simple. How are these skills locked away so completely?

I can’t think of anything else. I have stared at this blank page for the last fifteen minutes. Perhaps it has been an hour. The fire is dying down and all I can see is that puff of red, the quick jut of power, and that feeling that only a vacuum can produce.

He taught it to me in a matter of minutes. I think he was surprised how quickly I picked it up, especially after having told me that most men spend years learning just one skill. I am not most men. Not with a sword.

The weapon itself is an integral part of the skill, its positioning as important as the hands, precision to the motions being key. I chopped down two trees while practicing, and I could have hacked down twenty more. There is no cost of using it, save that it might break the blade if done incorrectly. I used a rusted old sword from Salisir’s pack to practice, and I did see a brown puff leave its surface once or twice. I can also see how it would be impractical in a pinch; you need space and a little time to use it.

Still, my life is changed. I have to learn the rest. There is nothing I want more in the world than to unlock the Atmosphere through dance, to twist my blade and literally hear it sing. I had forgotten this thrill; my desire for more will consume me if I am not careful.

Entry-259-Quote-Greatest-Swordsman

Yet it feels incredible to have a reason to live that is not tied up in duty or shame. I am a swordsman, and now I truly can become the greatest who ever lived.

I cannot sleep. At least I know it will be difficult, but still I must try.

All I want now is to fight.

Share on Pinterest
Entry 260 – Day 385

Entry 260 – Day 385

The display of power yesterday has changed how Hembila’s men treat me. While I was never the target of their insults, they certainly did not withhold any of their disdain from me. Now that they have watched as I felled the two largest trees near our camp, they treat me with nearly unparalleled deference.

Where their respect for Hembila is unshakeable, and their awe of Salisir readily apparent, I am something entirely new for them. Gods it feels good to be returned to my element, even if only for a moment. Let them look on in wonder – none of them will ever rise to the levels for which I am destined.

Still, their respect is not so quickly spread. Dionus remains the sole recipient of their hate. I don’t know what to do for it. He has maintained his own dignity, I can say that much.

Entry-260-Quote-Dignity

We found something new to Wudan’s power today. While practicing with him a little, we discovered that he can control not only the outer distance of his suppression ability, but also the inner boundary. In other words, he can effectively create a bubble, the lining of which is a gap wherein the Atmosphere cannot hold.

While standing within it, Dionus was able to affect the immediate air around us, but he could not reach out past Wudan’s barrier. Nor, when I stepped beyond it myself, could I sense Dionus using his skill.

Entry-260-Wudan's-Suprression-Ability

This is only one step on a path along which Wudan must still travel, but it is a fascinating discovery nonetheless. And I am beginning to see why the Daedra would want him so badly. We struggle to cloak our touch on the Atmosphere even when we are not actively using it. With someone like Wudan at strength, we could use our abilities in full force within his covering and no one beyond it would ever know.

And if the Daedra do not want him for his power, then they want him for the blood that links him to it, and I do not want to know what horrors could be unlocked should they use it.

Share on Pinterest
Entry 261 – Day 396

Entry 261 – Day 396

Another discovery to Wudan’s abilities punctuated the day, this one even stranger than the last. We had guessed that perhaps he was able to amplify abilities, something not unheard of in the histories of magic, but we did not think he could unlock them.

We had played with these ideas before. Our first few attempts were to get Wudan to reach out, to bolster the Atmosphere around us. Initially that worked; I could feel my ties to the Atmopshere strengthen when Wudan put his mind to it. It took him a few attempts, and his lack of concentration betrayed him more than anything, but he managed it.

Entry-261-Quote-Abilities and Ties-to-the-Atmosphere

It was a strange feeling, it still is, to know one’s ties to the Atmosphere. To feel the places in one’s body where the barriers between the Tiers wears thin and the flow of energy pours from one into the next. To feel one’s blood pump, even as it stays within the vein. To know the friction, to feel it grate as no liquid has a right to, the very molecules of it bouncing off each other as they travel toward the heart.

Today Wudan’s concentration held so strong that my awareness ran to depths previously unknown.

I saw a clock turning in my mind, a clock whose hands I could reach out and guide with the simplest suggestion of thought. Around me I knew time responded, smooth as you like, no strain or threat of jitter. My mind was whole. The entire stretch of time both past and future lay before me for the taking.

And then I saw the link. Between the clock and I there was a chain, fastened with a cord I could untie should I wish. And dangling from the base of the clock, more chains. Countless links of ethereal steel sparkled in the half-light of their own existence, twisting in a breeze no one could feel save myself. And then the vision passed.

Entry-261-Abilities Time Chronos

Wudan was breathing heavily. We had never exerted him so completely in his training before, but now we saw just how exhausted he had become. His child’s frame is not capable of containing the power that flows through him, yet flow it will. I know that now, too. He is a Pure, Touched, Gifted. He is even more than all of these things. He has the makings of the Swift Gods about him.

Dionus looked at me with a grin. He had seen his own vision. “I always knew I could command the air,” he said. “I never knew I could do any of that.”

There is plenty of time to discuss what we have seen when we find a private moment. I want Inifra to experience this next, when Wudan is recovered and ready for more exercise. I want to understand what I have seen for myself, but I know where it leads.

I have seen the keys to Chronos, the lost skill of my own expression. I think I can reclaim them.

Share on Pinterest
Page 2 of 41234