Description: Sometimes a chance encounter is destiny in disguise. Other times, it is exactly as it appears.
Time heals all wounds. This is true. Given enough time, the sting can be taken from any insult. Any cut can scar over. But it is also true to say that decay is destruction over time. The gradual disintegration of something that was once whole.
It is unfortunate that so many relics of the old world have fallen victim to the latter function of time. One such relic stands just outside of Southtown's city limits, tucked back a short ways off of the highway atop a once picturesque hill. The bare branches of gnarled black trees cluster around the crumbling stone structure, framing the rotting remains of a fence that used to border a respectful graveyard.
Passed the solemn stone pillar that once beckoned people through the gate, over the toppled headstones that lie partially consumed by weeds or buried beneath piles of busted planks. Through the doorless entrance, half blocked by the toppled shell of a cracked iron bell, the temple lies in savaged disarray. More than half of the ceiling has collapsed, filling the space with piles of overgrown rubble . It stinks of dust and mildew. However, at the center, covered in bird droppings but still miraculously in tact, a simple wooden shrine remains.
Standing before the altar, back to the entrance and tattered crimson coat hanging open over his battered silver and black armor, Kenshi Takahashi observes his surroundings in somber silence. How he does this is likely a mystery to those who have not met him, as his eyes are hidden beneath a ragged red blindfold. But observe he does. There are bad spirits here. Spirits unwelcome to visitors, subconsciously urging him to leave. Spirits that have not been given their chance at proper rest.
Lips turned down at the corners, bearded face long and tired from not enough sleep, and too many concerns, the sword sage draws in a slow breath, attempting to determine just what it is he can do. His ancestors have lead him here. They urge action from their place in the sword on his back. But often their guidance can get murky once the goal is reached. Hundreds of souls all shouting at once, many with conflicting opinions.
Some time after the world-weary swordsman arrives at the destination of his quest, guided by ancient souls and unknown purposes, a second figure breaches the perimeter of the ruined temple. Clad in the obvious trappings of a highschool student, a black jacket and pleated skirt over a white shirt and tie, Ryuko's presence here is perhaps just as odd as that of the psychic warrior, for what value could these crumbling remains of ancient history hold to a teenager? The expression on her face as she casually strides up the broken pathway of overgrown rocks is not one of introspection or curiosity; infact, if anything, she looks rather familiar with her surroundings as if she has seen it all before.
Despite her rather normal, if somewhat expensive attire, two things in particular make the girl stand out wherever she might be. The first is the weapon at her hip. Hanging from a somewhat thick and oversized belt loosely draped around her waist is a full-sized katana, or what looks like one, judging from the shape of the sheathe in which the blade rests. The weapon hangs on the opposite side that one would usually expect, giving away her status as a left-handed fighter. Why on earth a highschool student would be walking around with a weapon is a mystery in its own right, though perhaps she belongs to a kendo club or something of that nature.
The second feature that marks her apart is the pair of technological devices that jut up from the sides of her head like a pair of metal dog ears. Teardrop in shape, they glow with an inner purple light through various translucent apertures along their exterior casting a neon glow atop her dark raven hair. Even more baffling than the sword, these devices seem to provide no obvious purpose, though with the constant march of technological toys, it's plausible that they could be some kind of gimmicky hands-free phone or iPod or something of that nature; regardless, they tend to be quite eye-catching.
The girl wanders up to the front of the temple and offers a slight bow to the entrance of building. Whatever gods or spirits might have once taken residence here are likely long since dead, if they ever existed at all, but a little respect for the past can't hurt. However, she doens't particularly mourn their passing. Infact, she specifically chose this spot because it's out of the way and generally peaceful. Save from the occasional tourist or pilgrim, she has this place all to herself, which makes it an excellent spot to practice. Ofcourse, she could just go to one of the countless dojos or gyms around town for that but after a long day of dealing with the trials of highschool life its nice to get some relaxing alone time.
Her greeting ritual complete, Ryuko moves off to her usual spot, one of the open areas of the yard that is mostly clear of debris. She does not immediately draw her blade, instead going into a series of warmup exercises, stretches, and all that boring stuff that smart people do before exerting themselves to avoid pulling a muscle or something.
If there is anything that can unite the clamoring souls within Sento and cease their bickering, it is the approach of a possible threat. Thin threads of psychic awareness stretch out from the blade, drifting through the air like invisible webs. Though good for detecting particularly stealthy opponents, or those capable of teleportation, they do have a quite limited range. So it is that Kenshi becomes aware of Ryuko's presence before his sword, his sudden alertness drawing the attention of his ancestral spirits.
Tilting his head, the blind swordsman listens to Ryuko's footsteps as they near the entrance, pause, then step off of the stone path and onto the grass. A light flick of his mind in that direction gains him a flash of telepathic insight. An impression of routine, combined with the overblown dramatics and self-importance that is only found in the minds of megalomaniacal villains and teenagers.
While it's true that he and this mysterious girl could likely continue about their business without ever having to interact, Kenshi does not believe in coincidences. Having seen too much of the world, experience the subtle manipulations of the Elder Gods, he is all too aware that this is exactly how they tend to operate.
leaving the anguished spirits to stew in their despair, the greying swordsman turns away from the altar and steps toward the exit, moving with slow confidence despite his covered eyes. Bits of rotting debris crunch and scrape beneath his boots as he nears the fallen bell, reaching out to drift rough fingertips across its cracked lip.
Skirting passed the obstruction, Kenshi steps out onto the front path, coming in full view of the yard. Standing tall and worn, he turns his head slightly, aiming an ear in Ryuko's direction as a quizzical little smirk tugs at his lips.
"When I was your age, kids who came to graveyards did so mostly to smoke clove cigarettes, and write bad poetry." Lifting his left hand, he rests his gloved palm against the door frame as if to check his position, words coming with a relaxed sort of ease. "Sword training is new."
Engrossed as she is in her stretches and musing over the events of the day, it is not until the familiar warning tug at her senses that accompanies moments of danger or uncertainty that she becomes aware of the presence of another person. Blinking her lone eye in surprise mid-way through a stretch, she twists in place to peer back at the door frame just as Kenshi emerges, staring at him curiously underneath the overhanging arch of an arm she has draped over her head.
Her reaction to his arrival and odd introduction is one of amusement. She offers him a grin and stands up straight, turning to face the man properly. Her hands immediately disappear into the pockets on her short skirt, the girl's posture slumping slightly into a gesture of casual nonchalance that comes so naturally to people her age. She takes a moment to absorb his appearance, eyebrow quirking upwards at the obvious battle gear and even more so at the blindfold.
"Sorry, old man, I only have boring regular smokes."
One of her hands reemerges from the pockets holding a small half crumpled rectangular package of cigarettes. If he's familiar with such things and can somehow read the label with his spooky super powers, he'd notice that they're of a rather premium brand, much like her clothes. Ryuko flicks her wrist to the side with a practiced motion and snaps one of the smokes halfway out of the small opening in the package's top, catching it with her thumb before it flies off into the grass. She holds it out towards Kenshi, offering him the butt end.
Though Kenshi's super powers are both spooky and mighty, they do not extend quite far enough to allow him to read. Not in most cases, anyway.
"Thank you, but I don't smoke." comes Kenshi's casual dismissal, the blind man stepping away from the doorway to move a couple of paces closer.Left hand dropping to hang at his side, he keeps his right half lifted, fingers quirked to avoid jamming them if he happens to bump into something he can't sense. Perhaps it is all for show, or simply muscle memory at this point. Either way, it is a very blind thing to do. How that jives with him knowing Ryuko has a sword, or being any sort of warrior, is a mystery.
"I have burned enough luck in my life. Tempting fate further with cancer would be unwise." the sage explains further, left boot bumping the corner of a tall tombstone. Dropping his hand to the top, he finds the edge with his fingertips, sweeps his palm over the surface to check for anything sharp or otherwise troublesome, then turns with a quiet rustle of cloth to seat himself atop it, armor rattling gently. Once seated he tilts his chin toward Ryuko, focusing upon her as if maybe he can see through that blindfold after all.
"Besides." he admits with casual comfort, "I have never liked the smell."
What the swordsman does not say is why he is here. Nor does he ask her. He is nothing if not patient, willing to poke and test a bit. After all, you never know which teenage girl you stumble upon is going to turn out to be a fetishized murder doll built to accept the spirit of a mad psychic dictator.
"Huh, okay then."
Ryuko puts the cigarette in her own mouth and starts to fish a lighter out with her other hand but upon hearing the her unexpected guest has a distaste for the scent of smoke she quickly tucks it back into the package and stores them in her pocket again. She isn't jonesing for a hit bad enough that she can't wait for a while and apparently she's not rude enough to do it anyways.
Instead, she resumes her routine, dropping back into the stretch that she had cut off thanks to his interruption. Her arm pushes up towards the sky and she leans to one side, bending sideways at the waist, the arm draping over her head with the motion. She repeats this in the opposite direction after a few moments, going back and forth.
"Nice and quiet up here," the teen offers as she limbers up. "Usually only see a tourist or two every now and then. Plenty of space and I can find scrap wood in the forest to use for target practice."
Resting gloved hands on his knees, Kenshi considers Ryuko's response as she goes back to stretching. The elder swordsman seems fairly comfortable where he is, seated on a tombstone surrounded by the disgruntled spirits of the dead. But such things have become a distressingly regular part of his life. How long has it been since he left school? Since he was a wandering warrior, challenging any who would test themselves against his blade?
"This place does not unsettle you?" the sage queries good naturedly, "Many who approach it feel a sense of foreboding. It has been abandoned for many years."
Ryuko ponders this question with that verbal offering for several seconds, shifting her stretches to a new form that involves rotating her torso from side to side. The odd devices on her head shift with the movement producing soft whirring sounds as they react to her posture and mental activity. One of her friends at Gedo had referred to them as 'adorable cat ears' when she witnessed this for the first time. Sadly, Kenshi is not equipped to enjoy the odd dichotomy of this teenager dressed like a delinquent sporting her adorable techno ears.
"Nah. Never really crossed my mind. I'm not the kind of person that puts a lot of stock in stuff like that."
Religion has never been something she's had much experience with. Neither of her parents are devout and the students at Gedo aren't typically the sort that share deeply held beliefs with their classmates. If ghosts and gods do exist, she's never seen any proof of it, so until they decide to come bother her directly they aren't really something she's going to worry about.
"What about you, old timer? You don't really look like a tourist? Come to pay your respects to the dead?"
Something about Ryuko's question draws that amused quirk back to Kenshi's lips, the wry little half smile shaving a decade off of his travel-worn features. Lifting a hand to run calloused fingers through his short beard, he puffs out a breath through his nose.
"The dead and I have mutual respect." he states eventually, wry smirk transforming into a mischievous grin, tone equally mysterious. "I think you would be surprised at how many of the ancient stories are true." But, that being said, he drops his hand back to his knee and pushes himself to his feet, the ruby dragon pendant on his sword sash glittering in the afternoon sun.
"Try not to work too hard, Ryuko-chan." Kenshi offers as he begins to turn away, adding an odd twist to the chan. Maybe he's teasing her, or just being some strange random swordsman guy from an ancient temple. Whatever the reason, it remains unexplained as he finishes the turn and is surrounded by a swirling nimbus of misty blue light. The energy pulls sharply inward, leaving a brief impression of a tall silhouette, sword hilt sticking up behind his head. then,that too fades, leaving no trace of the mysterious swordsman.
Even if she didn't have the implant in her head feeding a constant stream of advanced tactical information directly to her brain, Ryuko's mental alarms would be singing like the battle klaxons on bridge of the Enterprise as the man before her simply vanishes in a burst of light. The girl stares at the empty space where the strange wanderer used to be with her lone eye, her mouth dropping half open in a surprised gape. It takes her a couple of seconds to regain her senses.
"What the hell?!"
The girl rushes forward to the spot where Kenshi vanished and tenatively pushes her hands out into the air as if expecting him to still be there but somehow invisible. She's seen shenanigans like that before. The SNF tv show was something she'd grown up watching and she still does. Teleportation is hardly a new concept, but this is the first time she's seen it in person. That quiet voice in the back of her mind that offers advice to her in moments of danger is practically humming with alarm. She doesn't like this feeling at all.
"Okay, cute trick, grandpa," Ryuko calls out, turning her head back and forth to scan the area. "You can come back out now!"
Log created on 14:01:31 09/24/2017 by Kenshi, and last modified on 21:43:41 10/02/2017.