Court of the Fallen
What the hand dare seize the fire? - Printable Version

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What the hand dare seize the fire? - Jigano - 08-13-2019

It was dark by the time the bard walked slowly through the Settlement, heart heavy and steps dragging at the news he carried. Dirt stained his clothes and smudged his face, though he had paused to wash his arms in the Oasis on the way back when he had finally given up digging. He leaned heavily on the staff he now often used, and the trembling of his fingers might have been from exhaustion, or grief, or any number of things.

He turned his face away from lanterns lit for late-night shoppers, feeling Isuma trembling inside his shirt, where the bedraggled gryphlet had finally retreated when he had given up hope and stumbled away from the pit he had dug. A pit to nowhere, a monument to another failure, but he had tried anyways, even if in the end it had come to nothing.

He hesitated before the door to the Monster Hunter's Guild, knowing there would be cold welcome within even before he told the King what had happened, but he hadn't heard of any other place to take his tale, and he had no desire to return to the Launceleyn Manor.

Taking a deep breath, he finally pushed open the portal and stepped within, eyes still red and raw with grief. "Is Ronin here?" he called, a courteous tone marred by the roughness of his voice.

RE: What the hand dare seize the fire? - Ronin - 08-14-2019

Given that it was dark and Ronin was in no fit state (physically - and mentally as well, lately) to entertain, he was most certainly around when Jigano came in through the door. In fact he had just gotten his screaming daughter back to sleep, the hunter feeling somewhat soothed by it; probably one of the best states for Jigano to find him in, truthfully.

Glancing up from where he had just walked into the guildhall proper from one of the side rooms, he raised an eyebrow at the sight of the bard looking so... well. Shit, put bluntly. He looked how Ronin felt.

"What is it?" he asked, his voice low and quiet in the sleepy guildhall. "If this is about any more kingmaking, I'm sorry - I don't have the energy to talk about it right now."

RE: What the hand dare seize the fire? - Jigano - 08-14-2019

He hadn't seen Ronin since the debacle in the basement, thanks to his attempts to avoid the town and the people in it. Jigano was shocked to see the changes in the King since that day, the effects of his sickness - or perhaps his kingship - weighing heavily on the soldier. The terse greeting was still more courtesy than he had expected, however, and he couldn't find a flicker of anger for the blunted barb. He only shook his head, shaking hands closing more tightly around his staff for support.

"No... It's... it's Edy," he said instead, voice as soft as Ronin's because the words refused to come now that it was time to speak them. Once he said it, there would be no taking them back, no returning to how things had been before that afternoon. "She's..." He choked on the final word, squeezing his eyes shut as the image of teeth and brilliant flames remained burned into the back of his eyelids, reliving the moment over and over again. "There was a landshark," he managed finally, the shaking in his cold fingers traveling to his shoulders. "And fire and then... she was gone, and I couldn't find her." Bobi, too, and he felt Isuma's shock and grief intertwined with his own for the friends they would not see again until they traveled to Mort's domain.

RE: What the hand dare seize the fire? - Ronin - 08-19-2019

Not kingmaking? Well colour Ronin surprised. He furrowed his brow, wondering at the state of Jigano and his reasoning for coming - only when he mentioned Edrei, at first the hunter thought he understood. So Edy had finally tracked him down, then? He imagined the fiery woman could put the bard in such a way, though it didn't say much for his muddy hands and clothes. Well, if Jigano expected sympathy from Ronin--

But no. Jigano continued, and the colour drained from his face (there wasn't much there to begin with). "What?" he said softly, already sweeping across the room to grab a coat. Sugar swooped down from the rafters, settling elegantly on his shoulder and trilling at Ronin gently. "Show me," he said. "She might be buried yet." Even though in his head he knew, with the mention of landshark, that it would not be so.

RE: What the hand dare seize the fire? - Jigano - 08-19-2019

He shifted his hands on his staff to try and still their shaking as Ronin gathered a coat and made ready to leave. He never knew how to deal with grief, but mostly he was still in shock, and he nodded grateful agreement to the sliver of hope that Ronin offered, however improbable he already knew that it was. "Yes," he said quietly instead of protesting. "I was near the barrier scar, looking for signs that the blight was crossing over from the Greatwood..."

When Ronin was ready, Jigano led the way, Isuma crouched on his shoulder and giving Sugar only the barest peep of greeting, too subdued by mourning to offer anything more cheerful to her friend. The bard's steps were far from his usual confident stride as he led the way into the darkened streets and through the town, his eyes shifting instinctively towards a fox's pupils to guide his steps beneath the chilly stars. "I dug for... for awhile, I don't know, I lost track of time. Until it was too dark to see much in the hole anymore. She was wreathed in flames the whole time. It shouldn't have been able to survive trying to eat her." The words fell like a mantra or a prayer, hopeless hope of 'shouldn't haves' and 'couldn't haves' that would undo the past few hours echoing like silent screams in the sepulcher of his mind.

RE: What the hand dare seize the fire? - Ronin - 08-19-2019

Nodding quietly at Jigano's explanation, Ronin exited the guildhall quietly and skirted around the side of the building. When he returned it was with two shovels, and he hoisted them upon his shoulder and set off after the bard. "And did you find any?" he asked softly, as if that was suddenly the most important part of what had happened. Ronin hadn't seen any blight crossing from the Greatwood, unless it was in people, and that in itself almost spoke to the cause of the plague.

He had no lantern to guide his way, nor a fox's sight, but starlight still emanated from the former captain as they walked through the darkness; testament to his feelings about what had (or hadn't, but probably had) happened to Edrei.

"I have heard that they can eat anything. Who is to say what would have happened once its jaws were around her..." He shuddered, well aware that he was speaking as though she was already gone. (And she was, he knew it, even if he was telling himself there was hope).

RE: What the hand dare seize the fire? - Jigano - 08-19-2019

He blinked at the shovels, glancing down at his dirt-encrusted hands and then up again with realization. The bard shivered at the strange, hazy memory of the afternoon, seeing only the earth beneath his paw-hands as he scooped it out and flung it away, digging, desperately digging, but too late too late toolate to do any good. Silently, he held out a hand, offering to take one of the shovels if Ronin would let him. The king was sick, after all. Dying. He shouldn't have to carry heavy things, at least not on his own.

And Jigano didn't know what else to do.

"Nothing," he said, grasping after the distraction, knowing it for what it was and grateful for it. "No sign of the blight on the plants within the barrier, nor any of the animals that looked like they were from here."

Ronin's glowing form was a different sort of distraction, a magic that was at once strange and yet achingly familiar to the former kitsune. He had once been able to summon dancing lights in such a manner, foxfire motes that responded to his thoughts. That had been something like a lifetime ago now, it felt, and he turned his attention quickly back to the trail he cut, using the Spire's outline against the stars as a reference point to guide his distance and direction in the frosty leafchange night.

"It happened so fast," the bard agreed bleakly. "There was no warning. One moment Edy was walking away and the next..." Teeth and fire. No blood. No screams. Nothing left of the friend he had let down. Nothing left of the friend he had been unable to save.

Would he see her face again, when next he went to pray at Ludo's shrine?

RE: What the hand dare seize the fire? - Ronin - 08-21-2019

Ronin could only raise a brow at the man who looked near enough as bad as he did, if not a touch worse from the trauma of the night, but he passed one of the shovels across nonetheless. He grumbled a note of resigned acknowledgement at the confirmation of what he had suspected; that the blight was not interested in the fauna of the Hollowed Grounds, or the animals. The people, however, seemed to have taken on a mutated version of the monstrosity, and... well. Here they were.

Huffing out a sigh as the streets turned to earth beneath their feet and they headed for the outskirts, Ronin ran his fingers through his hair with his free hand. "I ought to have put up more warnings," he muttered. "I had placed markers where the landsharks were most commonly seen, and all of the farmers had been made aware. But perhaps there should have been more."

Too late now, of course - and Ronin wondered why he wasn't more upset. Edrei had been his soldier, his friend - had called him captain long after the word lost all value. She'd become a fellow ruler, then, and now...

Now she was all gobbled up and with the blight pumping through his veins, he found it hard to care. "Show me where it happened?" he asked softly.

RE: What the hand dare seize the fire? - Jigano - 08-21-2019

"We were right at the barrier's edge, there were trees..." Jigano shook his head, hearing the need in his companion's voice to have done something more. Could have, would have, should have... "I'd only seen one once before, in the middle of the open fields. I would never have guessed one would come that far out, that close to the edge of the woods." They were like lightning; unpredictable, elemental, and able to strike without warning. How did anyone defend against something like that? Edy's fire magic was the strongest he knew of, and even that hadn't saved her. How could anyone else survive, where she had fallen?

Staff in one hand, shovel resting on his shoulder in the other, Jigano led the way through the dark, retracing his path with only a few pauses to orient himself, extending his vulpine senses to catch his trail when they got close to the area where it had happened. It was almost unnecessary; a large hole had been roughly scraped from the earth in the wake of the landshark's dive, fresh earth thrown back in a frenzy of desperate digging. Jigano shuddered as he drifted to a halt at the edge of the pit. "Here," he said softly. "This was the last place I saw her before the teeth..."

RE: What the hand dare seize the fire? - Ronin - 08-23-2019

Ronin hummed an agreement about where Jigano had seen landsharks; he'd only known them to be central to the fields as well. But then again, with the hunter helping to take protective measures against the monster, perhaps it had decided to swim further afield for its next meal. That he might have inadvertently contributed to what had happened did absolutely nothing to abate his guilt, though Ronin did shift the shovel uneasily on his shoulder as they came to the pit.

"I worry that if we disturb the pit too much we might attract another landshark," he confessed; by looking at how far Jigano had already managed to dig, and how compact the earth had become... well. It was a story that told itself. "So she's really gone, then." He hadn't believed it, even when he'd known he was coming out into the fields on a fake rescue mission. But it was hard to deny it now.

RE: What the hand dare seize the fire? - Jigano - 08-23-2019

"I... wasn't even thinking about that," he admitted faintly, realizing now that Ronin had mentioned it the danger he had been in. He took another shaking breath and then shook his head in disbelief. "How many are there?" The question was likely rhetorical, but it was easier to focus on than the lost friend who had disappeared beneath the earth. The shovel slid from his shoulder, thinking against the ground at his feet and he leaned on it, his face bleak as he stared down into the hole that marked the fiery Queen's grave.

"It doesn't seem possible," he said softly. "She was so... so fierce. So strong." He shivered again, shaking hands tightening on the shovel before he looked over to Ronin, blue eyes red-rimmed and face haggard with grief and illness. "Should there be a memorial? She was a Queen, but... more importantly, she was a friend."

RE: What the hand dare seize the fire? - Ronin - 08-23-2019

"I don't know," Ronin confessed. "They live far beneath the earth as far as I'm aware, and they rarely come to the surface. Given the fact that attacks have only become more frequent as of late, you could surmise that there's at least a breeding pair. And that they were successful." He wrinkled his nose. As much fun as it was to discuss the landshark ecosystem, it really wasn't about that.

Letting his own shovel thud into the ground, Ronin's shoulders slumped and he sighed. No tears would come, though, something he would later attribute to something more sinister than shock, and he shoved his hands in his coat pockets. "I'll take care of it," he said quietly. "The Festival of Lights is coming soon - we'll honour her there as well. For now, we ought to go. I'll need to let the surrounding farms know about this, but I'll not mention details."

RE: What the hand dare seize the fire? - Jigano - 08-23-2019

Jigano grimaced faintly at the discussion of land shark matings and the likely source of the recent attacks. Normally he would have pursued the knowledge with an eager curiosity that bordered on the morbid but now... now, he only wished that the sharks had been a bit less successful in their breeding, and had instead stayed sleeping beneath the earth.

He glanced over as Ronin's shovel joined his, as the last false hope drained from the King's face and left two weary, grieving men mourning the loss of a young woman who had been a friend to them both in different ways. "The Festival... yes," Jigano echoed sad agreement, a lump rising in his throat at the realization that he would have to make another lantern to join the two he'd already planned. "If... if there's anything I can do to help with... with any of it, I will," he said quietly, though he knew he had lost a great deal of trust over the issue of the kingship. "Spreading warnings, or... or anything to do with a remembrance for her." As angry as she had been at him, she'd probably prefer he stay the hell away...

Then again, as long as he brought plenty of hard alcohol to the party, she might eventually forgive him. She had been funny that way, and gods he was going to miss her cackle as she contemplated wicked mischief and tried to make him blush.

RE: What the hand dare seize the fire? - Ronin - 08-23-2019

The lanterns, yes... Jigano would not be alone in making an extra, even if Ronin was unsure of the custom regarding them. If it was one soul per lantern, that would be a little sad... for Edrei, fiery and passionate, and pressed a little of her soul into everything she did and everyone she met. It only felt right that there were blooms of lanterns to remember her by.

"I will," Ronin murmured with a nod, though he really wasn't sure what he was agreeing to or whether he really would involve Jigano with any of the necessary business. "Thank you for coming to find me. I would... probably head home now though, were I you." So saying, Ronin heaved the two shovels back up and propped them over his shoulder, turning back towards the fields.

"See you at the Festival," he said, before shrinking away into the enveloping darkness. The world, in his wake, was a little less bright.