Hopes and Fears
Jigano Silversmith
the Sage
Provost of the Loreseekers Soul Shepherd / Outlander Advisor
Portal Guardian
Age: 29 | Height: 6'2" | Race: Attuned x Abandoned | Nationality: Outlander | Citizenship: Hollowed Grounds
Level: 12 - Strg: 30 - Dext: 44 - Endr: 41 - Luck: 42
ISUMA - Mythical - Gryphon (venomous)
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#1
A few whispers had begun to spread throughout the Hollowed Grounds, naught but a handful but Jigano was listening, even if he had been subdued from his encounter with Safrin and his failure in the Spire. Perhaps it would all be for naught; the gods could not be pleased that he had failed to save the serpent and had allowed Wessex passage through the portal, even if the Voice had intervened.

And yet, the souls he had gathered during LongNight still needed to be sent on to their rightful home.

With the Greatwood closed there were only two places to pray, and Jigano far preferred the privacy of the Glade as he arrived on a night with only a cat's-claw sliver of moon in the sky, setting the lantern once more upon the altar along with two candles and a small flute carved from the femur of one of Rory's goats that had recently died. Bone was much harder to work with than wood, but it had been good to push his skills in music again, practicing something other than combat.

"Ludo... Mort," he said softly, hoping that one or both would hear him, even if the other could not come. "Please, I would return these souls to you so that they may rest at last."


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#2


The air is soft and still, echoing across the glade.

But there is no answer.
Spooky Rags


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#3
ludo

Braved the forests, braved the stone
Braved the icy winds and fire
Braved and beat them on my own

No answer at first. It had been some time since Ludo had been permitted to do its work within the Hollowed Grounds and the Greatwood, and whilst he had struck a deal with the daughter of death only recently, it was understandable that some things required a personal touch. Some things like this.

The lantern, full up with souls from LongNight, positively beamed with Ludo’s presence as it arrived; a blanket of darkness and a moon-white mask which seemed to hold a glow all of its own against the bleak skies. “Ah, soul shepherd,” it marvelled, drifting down and around both Jigano and the lantern. “You have done very, very well, sweetling.”

Jigano Silversmith
the Sage
Provost of the Loreseekers Soul Shepherd / Outlander Advisor
Portal Guardian
Age: 29 | Height: 6'2" | Race: Attuned x Abandoned | Nationality: Outlander | Citizenship: Hollowed Grounds
Level: 12 - Strg: 30 - Dext: 44 - Endr: 41 - Luck: 42
ISUMA - Mythical - Gryphon (venomous)
Played by: Cirago Offline
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#4
Patience did not go unrewarded, and Jigano raised his head from prayer, eyes shining as the familiar voice curled and coiled around him. Isuma chirruped joyfully, pouncing after a wayward flutter of ragged cloth as her companion swallowed past the relieved lump in his throat and smiled at the masked god who had finally returned been allowed to return? to the Hollowed Grounds.

"Ludo," he said quietly, gladness in his voice as he spoke the name. "It is good to see you again." He looked to the lantern, and there was both pride and sadness in the curve of his shoulders and the tension in his hands as he folded them into his lap. "I sang for them," he continued softly. "The ones who died in front of me, like Caiside and Roana, and those who had been lost in the dark between buildings and years. As many as I could reach with my voice and the lantern's light... all except one."

Fingers tightened in his lap, twisting into the fabric of his tunic as he recalled the leather-winged demon that had held on to one soul in particular. "The soul of Kiada's lover, Ru'in, was held like a... a bauble. A puppet, by one of the monsters. We... we weren't strong enough to defeat it on our own and free him," he admitted, ashamed of their failure - of his in particular, and the black tar that had coated his wings and sent him tumbling to the ground again before he could even strike a single blow against the dark beast.
Spooky Rags


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#5
ludo

Braved the forests, braved the stone
Braved the icy winds and fire
Braved and beat them on my own

It was good to be seen again, Ludo could only agree with the bard in that respect. And whilst Jigano’s tale was as woeful as it had been fruitful, the masked god bobbed and weaved about the lantern, stirring up the little souls within to a fervour. Home, it seemed to intone to them. It is time for you to go home!

But of course, was there not always one? One tragedy, one outlier? Ludo expected as much... though not for it to be Ru’in’s name to pass from Jigano’s lips. “I wonder,” it said, “that I did not hear this news from Kiada instead.” Was it offended? Confused? Sad? Only time would tell. “There will be other LongNights, soul shepherd. Other opportunities. Be glad for those you did herd - do not drown in guilt for those who wait for you still.”

Jigano Silversmith
the Sage
Provost of the Loreseekers Soul Shepherd / Outlander Advisor
Portal Guardian
Age: 29 | Height: 6'2" | Race: Attuned x Abandoned | Nationality: Outlander | Citizenship: Hollowed Grounds
Level: 12 - Strg: 30 - Dext: 44 - Endr: 41 - Luck: 42
ISUMA - Mythical - Gryphon (venomous)
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#6
He was glad to see the little souls bobbing about, dancing with renewed energy and hope as Ludo called to them, relieved that their cycle of life and death and afterlife was finally back on track. For some it may only have been interrupted by weeks, but for others, those who had been lost within LongNight, who knew how long they had been held back from Mort's realm?

The question had the bard bowing his head, hoping that the masked god wouldn't be too angry with the young warrior woman. "I don't know," he admitted. "But I would guess... that she feels as ashamed and frustrated as I do at not succeeding. Likely far more than me, because Ru'in's soul means far more to her. It may take her some time yet to gather the courage to face you without him."

Ludo's support meant the world to the bard, especially after the trial that Safrin had put him through, and the humiliation of being hobbled by the Voice. His faith in the soul guide hadn't faltered, but his faith in himself had, and the reminder that failing once wasn't the same as failing forever was sorely needed. Better that he had helped some than none.

The talk of lost souls brought another to mind, however. Perhaps even more than one, someday, but for now... "If someone who was Ascended - or an Outlander who arrived Ascended against their will - wished to turn away from the Voice and embrace the old gods, would it be possible for them do so?" he asked hesitantly, thinking of Sam's interest during LongNight of becoming fully human again. "Is there any way to gain those souls back from her?"
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#7
ludo

Braved the forests, braved the stone
Braved the icy winds and fire
Braved and beat them on my own

”Perhaps,” Ludo intoned as Jigano gave his reasons and his considerations - and though there would be time, in the future, to speak with Kiada and learn the fate of the soul caught by the LongNight monsters, its focus remained primarily on the ones that Jigano had succeeded in recovering. Indeed, with a flick of its rags across the lantern face, the chamber opened and the air swarmed with tiny baubles of light.

Drifting up, the souls a flutter all around it, Ludo regarded the shepherd below. “No,” it said, quietly and with an air of finality. “It has never been done. To my knowledge it is impossible - natural life cannot be returned to those who have forsaken it.” Sad, but true, as far as Ludo was concerned. “I have been asked about the retrieval of Ascended souls once before, by the daughter of death. Safrin, too, has her machinations in play for such things. I suggest you learn more from them, for I cannot go where they are kept. I cannot enter the Spire.”

Jigano Silversmith
the Sage
Provost of the Loreseekers Soul Shepherd / Outlander Advisor
Portal Guardian
Age: 29 | Height: 6'2" | Race: Attuned x Abandoned | Nationality: Outlander | Citizenship: Hollowed Grounds
Level: 12 - Strg: 30 - Dext: 44 - Endr: 41 - Luck: 42
ISUMA - Mythical - Gryphon (venomous)
Played by: Cirago Offline
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#8
The finality of Ludo's 'no' bowed Jigano's head with the weight of regret that he wouldn't be able to give his friend better news. He had hoped to find a way, a loophole in the Voice's contract, to bring some of that wayward flock back to the Old Gods. He had hoped to find hope for those who had been tricked or bribed by the Voice... and though it fluttered away to shreds beneath the soul guide's quiet certainty, still the bard held to a sliver of it.

Just because something had never been done before didn't mean it couldn't be done at all. But at the very least there was no simple, easy way for it to happen. So be it. Jigano wouldn't give up looking, but he would put most of his energies elsewhere for the moment.

"The Spire," Jigano repeated, the shame and anger at Wessex and the Voice twisting in his chest as he remembered how the Queen had disoriented him with her strange power, and the iron goddess had trapped and bound even his most powerful of shifts. "I tried to stop one of the Ascended, the one who was brought back after dying to the Spire Demon's claws, from going through the portal after she killed Rae's guardan serpent, but the Voice appeared and stopped me," he admitted, a growl rumbling in his chest. "And she gave her something, some light... some power, I think, as a reward for that murder. Is there some way to shut down or reduce the effects of their upgrades? Some way to defend against them, or at least... at least to protect our blood from their fangs?" He raised his head to look to the soul guide, opening his mind and heart to Ludo so that it could see his memories and how easily he had been overcome by Wessex's biopulse and her use of Loren's copied summoning magic. Showed the masked god, too, the fear that coiled in him at having his own essence used against him by one such as Wessex.
Spooky Rags


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#9
ludo

Braved the forests, braved the stone
Braved the icy winds and fire
Braved and beat them on my own

Before, Ludo would have shown something - anything - in response to Jigano’s mentioning the Ascended. Especially when it came to fighting back against them, or gaining something to protect against their powers. But this time the masked deity remained a blank slate; only the twitching of its rags indicated that it had heard the bard, and in response one of the soul baubles bobbed towards it.

“A ring was made for this one,” it said. “The soldier, with the three boys. The eclipse ring, it was called - it could nullify an Ascended’s speed and senses in close quarters. I believe she passed the ring to the Fallen Star when she died. Is that what you mean?”

Jigano Silversmith
the Sage
Provost of the Loreseekers Soul Shepherd / Outlander Advisor
Portal Guardian
Age: 29 | Height: 6'2" | Race: Attuned x Abandoned | Nationality: Outlander | Citizenship: Hollowed Grounds
Level: 12 - Strg: 30 - Dext: 44 - Endr: 41 - Luck: 42
ISUMA - Mythical - Gryphon (venomous)
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#10
Jigano had not heard the full story of Roana's involvement with the Ascended; at the time Sam had told him about his attacker there had been no name attached to the tale. He had not realized she had a magic ring, but as he regarded her bobbling soul thoughtfully he gave a slight shake of his head. "Not... exactly. If Ronin has the ring then I will trust him to make good use of it, should the need arise again. I wouldn't strip him of his own defenses."

He looked back to the rag-wrapped mask, letting his own fall away to reveal the vulnerability beneath. "I am afraid," he admitted quietly. "Of having my animal shifts stolen from me against my will, of having them perverted and used against me when they are what bind me to the rhythm of this world and the old gods. Even of having my newfound magic turned against me, as Wessex turned Loren's magic against the serpent and I in the Spire. Is there no way to protect my blood against an Ascended trying to take it? To make it... if not poisonous to such an attacker, at least useless for their purposes?" His fingers had curled into fists in his lap, white-knuckled and tense as he searched the porcelain mask desperately for any sign of hope that what he sought was possible.
Spooky Rags


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#11
ludo

Braved the forests, braved the stone
Braved the icy winds and fire
Braved and beat them on my own

“Wise. It is not often that we are willing to part with tokens from the ones we have lost.” For Jigano had only mentioned that he would not take the ring - not whether it’s current owner would like to part with it. Masks could not raise their eyebrows, but of course Ludo still managed it as the Soul Shepherd revealed the truth of what he wanted - fear, and fear for himself at that. It allowed Roana’s soul to bob away back among the others, its rags all a-flutter, its expression mildly puzzled.

“To protect one’s blood would be to change it, to make it unpalatable to an Ascended. That is quite the extreme reaction, I would say. Surely it would be easier simply not to allow an Ascended to get its teeth into you? To defend against the bite?” If they could not get at Jigano’s blood, they could not use it after all.

Jigano Silversmith
the Sage
Provost of the Loreseekers Soul Shepherd / Outlander Advisor
Portal Guardian
Age: 29 | Height: 6'2" | Race: Attuned x Abandoned | Nationality: Outlander | Citizenship: Hollowed Grounds
Level: 12 - Strg: 30 - Dext: 44 - Endr: 41 - Luck: 42
ISUMA - Mythical - Gryphon (venomous)
Played by: Cirago Offline
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#12
Whatever his own relationship to Roana had been - distant and angry on his part, at least, since she had confronted and lead those who threatened Rory at the Spire - he acknowledged that Ronin and she had been friends. If the ring was a memento as much as a defense for him, it belonged on the hand of one who would appreciate it the most. And not least because it could be used to defend Aoife as well, that special, star-touched child.

Ludo's questions were reasonable, rational, logical... and Jigano shook his head, offering the memory of that battle within the Spire to the masked god. How Wessex reacted faster than he could, striking him with fists instead of fangs, thankfully. But then, when Wessex's summoned creature had defeated the serpent, how she had evaded his dragon's jaws. How the Voice had then bound him, holding him helpless and unable to move. How vulnerable he had been, in spite of his size, and how easily Wessex could have bitten him then, violated him and stolen those pieces of his essence that he wouldn't willingly share with an Ascended. "I'm not strong enough," he admitted, a humorless smile on his face as he looked up at the spirit guide. "All my power, all my abilities... and I couldn't catch or defend against Wessex. Especially not if their goddess takes a direct hand again." He paused, tilting his head thoughtfully. "A way to fend off or repel their fangs, though, if there was something that could be done faster than they can move at night... that would also work. Some sort of shield they could not simply knock aside, perhaps?"
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#13
ludo

Braved the forests, braved the stone
Braved the icy winds and fire
Braved and beat them on my own

Memories Ludo could most definitely use and appreciate, and whilst its mask remained as mercurial as ever, there was little doubt that it heard what Jigano was saying loud and clear - internally or otherwise. And yet - it had been punished for its interference last time (punished being its own biased interpretation of events, of course). Still, this was for a cause of defence rather than attack. Its rags billowed in a non-gesture at Jigano’s suggestion.

“Armour is better suited for something which cannot be knocked aside, but a shield would do adequately enough. Like the soldier before you, however, anything you require will need Ascended fluid to create. One cannot create anti venom without first obtaining that which causes the damage.” As a Loreseeker, he trusted the bard to understand as much.

Jigano Silversmith
the Sage
Provost of the Loreseekers Soul Shepherd / Outlander Advisor
Portal Guardian
Age: 29 | Height: 6'2" | Race: Attuned x Abandoned | Nationality: Outlander | Citizenship: Hollowed Grounds
Level: 12 - Strg: 30 - Dext: 44 - Endr: 41 - Luck: 42
ISUMA - Mythical - Gryphon (venomous)
Played by: Cirago Offline
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#14
Armor made something of a conundrum for an Attuned who shifted size and shape at will, unless there was some mystic property to it. A shield, he thought at first, much the same... but Ludo had something special in mind, it sounded like, and Jigano hadn't regretted putting his faith in the spirit guide before. Gaining Ascended fluid would likely be far more difficult now that he had argued so fiercely with Sam, but that didn't mean it was impossible. It would just take a little more finesse now than it would have before...

He drew back from his thoughts, plans already spinning like seedpods in his mind, whirling to find a fertile source of inspiration to nurture them to fruition. "Yes... Isla did the same with the Spire Demon's venom," he agreed with a pang of loss for his medic friend. "I will bring that as soon as I can. Is there anything else I can bring you that would help?" He took seriously the masked god's charge from Leafchange, offering prayer and monuments, and seeking the souls of the lost to be returned to Ludo and Mort. That Ludo was willing to help him in turn was a gift he didn't wish to waste, and if he could do something to make things easier for the ragged-robed patron to aid him, he would do so.


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