Description: Light and shadow are merely two sides of the same coin.
Testament is afraid.
It doesn't happen often. As old as Testament is chronologically, there's not a lot that scares him. But right now? Testament is scared. That's why he's beeing hanging around the lower areas of the island. Underground it's harder to see the sun, so he figures a sun god wouldn't be hanging around here. Because he's actually trying to avoid Kotal.
Why? Because he knows he messed up. He knows he lost his nerve in the battle with Charlie. And he also knows that Kotal knew instantly that something was wrong. He needs to figure out an appropriate excuse. He can't let Kotal know that it was because Testament just plain lost his nerve. And he's not sure if Kotal will buy that it was the gem that Charlie displayed.
But it's not really because he's afraid of what Kotal will do to him. Kotal could put him through just about any physical torture and he'd eventually recover. He's just afraid of disappointing Kotal. The memory of the disapproving glares of the Holy Order... they're still very fresh. The look of frustration and dismissal when THEY realized he still had his self-awareness... he remembers those too. And he doesn't want to see that look on Kotal's face.
Currently the Gear is sitting on the floor in the curve that the staircase makes as it spirals down into the chamber. He's out of the way of foot traffic, not to worry. He sits upon the floor, knees brought up to his chest and his arms around them, head angled down so his forehead rests upon his knees. A strangely childish and almost vulnerable position. Dangerous here on Shang Tsung's island. And strangely... he's without his raven this time.
There is no place the sun cannot touch. A star of such incandescent heat that its searing light can still be seen and felt when its millions of miles away from Earth-- it takes more than mere walls and soil to block it. Like the sun, evading Kotal is an exercise in futility; as Ryu discovered, it is as if trying to prevent the sun from rising. All Testament will accomplished with running away and hiding from the glowing gaze of Huitzilopotchli is to momentarily hinder him.
Indeed, the darkness that covers Testament is all too quick to relinquish its comfort upon the Gear. A light approaching slowly at the end of the tunnel begins to dispel the darkness within the bowels of Shang Tsung's islands. At a distance, it may appear as if someone is walking towards Testament is holding a torch or a flashlight. However, as the figure comes closer, it will be revealed that it's actually the figure itself that is glowing, using his entire body as a source of light. Kotal's approach is fitting for a deity of the sun. Even his mere presence seems to be anathema to the night and the shadows flee from the presence of Huitzilopotchli.
Kotal is not necessarily known for his compassion. Although in the past he has been known to take under his wing those warriors that the Emperor discards or otherwise would simply execute, the Aztec -can- be just as ruthless as the leader of Outworld. Testament is right to fear the wrath of an angry God.
But Kotal finally finds the Gear curled up in a corner, knees hugged to his chest as if he were a small child, and no raven companion to be seen.. the Aztec's gaze is not that of indignant fury.
"Why do you hide from me Testament?" Comes the fatherly tone from the warrior. He's taking -that- tone again, the one of a parent that knows their offspring is trying very hard and failing to hide something from them. But rather than call them out on it, they'd prefer if their child confesses to it themselves.
And in response to that voice, Testament freezes utterly. A choked sound of surprise is ruthlessly bitten off into silence. One can almost hear him mentally cursing his luck in his hiding place being discovered. He pauses, calms. Stands in that oddly boneless way of his, as if he's more being pulled to his feet by an outside source than of his own volition. It's a moment before he can turn to face Kotal. But he finally does. "General," he offers with a nod, by way of greeting.
Why is this so hard? Because, ironically, the tone is an understanding one. That's harder to face-- knowing you've disappointed someone and they're NOT angry about it. Kindness and understanding was always in short supply during Testament's life. Oh sure, Kliff was understanding and kind... but when there's one voice speaking softly amongst a sea of jeers and insults, it kind of gets lost in the noise...
This time Kotal does frown, though perhaps not why Testament expects him to.
"I am not your General." The Aztec explains calmly and continues advancing until he is well within Testament's striking distance. "Call me by my name." If there is to be lashing out here then the circumstances do present ample opportunity for that.
The frown doesn't stay there for long though, nor does the Aztec seem to be in any rush to punish Testament for his apparent failure. He does, however, cross his arms across his broad chest and continues to stare down at the Gear.
"You didn't answer my question." That -tone- its so much like a disappointed father. One could swear that Kotal must have had children at some point since he seems to be far too proficient in this kind of situation. As understanding as Kotal seems to be, he knows exactly just what buttons to push for someone to feel guilty about failing him.
Testament nods to the request. "Apologies. Kotal, then?" he asks. He doesn't strike out, no. Nor does he move away from the wall formed by the staircase behind him. He's rather inadvertently let Kotal kind of block him in, it seems. Of course, he can teleport too, but that's beside the point.
And oh he wants to teleport so bad at that tone! But he doesn't. Because he knows it'll just delay the inevitable. He emits that strange, choked sound again, and turns his head to look away. His hair covers his face, but that's not of much use. Testament isn't really that great of a liar, in words or actions. He's never had to be. And it's hard to concentrate on keeping a mask up when one's not sane enough to care.
Eventually though, Testament sighs. Still not turning to look at Kotal, he notes quietly, "My sub-par performance in the battle versus Charlie. I... lost my composure at the end. He and I have... history."
A simple nod is Testament's answer to his inquiry of how to address Kotal. One must remember that the Aztec warrior is a legitimate deity, and though he does happen to work for mighty Shao Kahn as one of his Generals, to address him by that title when one is not one of his soldiers is somewhat belittling for him. Supplicants and worshipers should address their God by name. That Testament isn't one of his Aztec warriors is besides the point, Kotal certainly seems to view the Gear as one.
Teleporting would also be highly problematic for several reasons. Mainly, because though Kotal has managed to keep his composure until now, further attempts by Testament to evade him would surely piss him off. Not to mention that at this distance, the Aztec is quite capable of reaching out and grabbing the Gear to prevent him from leaving. There's strategic reasoning why Kotal decided to corner Testament. Like seemingly all of his actions it seems to be planned ahead of time and calculated.
Case in point, Kotal doesn't even let Testament look away and use his long hair as a curtain to hide his facial features. The imposing Aztec warrior reaches forward and grabs the gear by his chin, gently, but firmly, forcing him to look up and meet the glowing sun god's gaze. "What kind of history??"
It's a bit strange for Testament. Being brought up closely tied to a religion that placed its god so far above its supplicants that its worshippers were not even allowed to SPEAK the god's name, for a god to ask to be referred to by name is... weird. But one thing he knows is, when a god tells one to do something, one does it. Particularly if it isn't something particularly troublesome. Saves one a lot of trouble down the line.
Like that whole teleporting bit, and the reason Testament doesn't do it here and now, despite being blocked in by the much larger Kotal. Because he knows Kotal's patience only stretches so far. Besides, 'delaying the inevitable'. And he'd rather not have this talk when he's incapacitated, or in a teleport-proof cell or something like that. He'd also rather not see just how inventive Kotal could get in figuring out how to keep him in one place!
And suddenly Kotal's making him look up! That choked sound happens again, and Testament winces, baring teeth a little. It's not a gesture of challenge, though, and fades quickly. A question needs an answer right? Particularly when Kotal's glaring at him like a teenage girl who smells of male aftershave after a long date! Testament sighs. "Some time ago I made an attempt on the UN building. The people who did... this to me said they were from the UN. Charlie Nash was amongst the defenders. And then I found him later and we fought. He is... confusing. He seemed like he was trying to talk... through me. If that makes sense."
Kotal listens carefully and releases Testament's chin when he discovers that this so called history with the one known as Charlie Nash isn't too troublesome. "I see." Comes his response with that ever present all knowing tone. Strange if he really is all knowing that he has to ask questions, but who said deities around here are completely without flaws? One only needs to look at Lord Raiden to know they do have a tendency to blunder.
"I know well of what you speak." Continues the Warrior God once his doubts have been clarified. "People of strong convictions will always tell you that their path is just, and that their way of righteousness is the only road that can be taken." He seems far too familiar with what it means to be a Hero.
"I know this much because I used to think such things." And there comes the truth of how personal this whole business of Mortal Kombat is to Kotal.
"I often took the same tone on the forces of Outworld, in my days of fighting for Earthrealm." To think, that the warrior who is now essentially leading the invasion used to fight for the other side.
"He is wrong, of course." Comes Kotal's conclusion. "Such is the inevitable folly of those who think that humanity can be saved in its current form. A hundred lives I have lived holding the same values, and a hundred times have I been proven wrong."
"That is why Testament, you must not allow his honey coated words to cast the seed of doubt in your mission."
"Can you promise me that you will do better next time?"
That and maybe Kotal did just want to hear it out of Testament's mouth. There's something to be said for hearing problems in the sufferer's own voice, even if the one listening already knows what the problem is. But now that it doesn't look like Kotal's about to put his fist through Testament's teeth, the Gear is a little less reluctant to look at him. So he maintains the gaze even when he's no longer being forced to meet it.
And he nods to Kotal's words. "It's completely corrupted," he agrees. "And that corruption needs to be pulled out by the roots." People will die in the pulling-out of the corruption. But it's that old analogy regarding removing a limb to save the patient. Ironically, Kotal has made him begin to see that humans CAN be good people... but not as they live now, in the horrible, crowded, stench-ridden cities.
And Testament nods to the question. "I will do the best I can," he promises. "I suspect that gem that appeared in his forehead had something to do with it, too. A Shard, you called them? His appeared all of a sudden. That was... unusual." Kotal would probably have seen it, yes.
"Exactly." Kotal's eyes widen and the glow of the sun radiates within him. It brings him such a resolute feeling when fellow warriors understand his perspective. Because indeed, unlike those monsters of Outworld and their Eternal Emperor, he does not seek the total annihilation of humanity.
Humanity can be saved!
But first, it must be destroyed, so that it may rise anew, pure, innocent, easily molded into the shape and form it was always meant to be.
"That is all I can truly ask." The warrior then places a hand on Testament's shoulder when he finally promises Kotal to stand resolute in his ideals. "Try your best. I will tolerate nothing less from you." A stern father this one. He means well for his surrogate child but still expects nothing but his best. It is a tone that Kotal seldom takes with anyone but Testament; ever since he met with the Gear he quickly figured out that Testament may fight like a Demon, but he thinks like a child.
"Perhaps it was the gem." The Aztec then lowers his hand from the Gear's shoulder and gives him a more focused look. "Perhaps not."
"The Shards were never meant to affect the Kombatant's performance to that extent. If it moved you so deeply, the it must have triggered something within you.."
"Something that affected you in the past."
Testament understands that perspective, yes. It's ironic that Testament could see what humanity could be, and come to like it so much, in such a dark and dismal place. But yes. Kotal's acceptance of his words does make Testament feel better. The tension leaving him with the sigh is clearly visible.
It really is kind of frightening, from a mortal perspective. But it's very true. Testament is still mentally a teenager. Minus all the weird hormone stuff. Then again, it makes sense-- he was about sixteen when he was turned into a Gear. It makes sense that his body hasn't aged since then. And with him being thought of as a monster since it happened, he hasn't really had much time to grow up mentally.
Though the tension comes back when Kotal says the words 'perhaps not'. Testament blinks. And then the mention of his past? That gets that choked sound again. This time Testament's gaze finds the floor. And it takes a moment, but this time the Gear has the courage to speak up without being prompted. "...I was... weak, when I was younger," he admits, with great reluctance. He emits a sound like a hiss. "I couldn't stand the sight of fighting. Seeing people die made me panic."
And there it is.
The bane of even the most hardened warrior.
It is easy for one such as Kotal to dismiss such a thing. For Huitzilopotchli, who's very essence seems to be /made/ of Kombat, it would be a ludicrous idea to think that he would be ever be satisfied of blood, of War, of Konflict. There are times where his thirst can be quenched, yes. It is always momentarily. It is an inevitably of existence that Kotal will rise away to demand War from all just as the sun itself will rise the next day. Such is his existence, for he -is- War itself.
And yet, he is aware that others don't have this apparent immunity to long sustained violence. Even fellow immortals such as Testament can suffer from the deep terror that grips at the soul after witnessing far too many acts of violence. Even the toughest handles for weapons eventually break after prolonged exposure to battle.
In Testament's case, it seemed that something within him broke before he had been tempered into a warrior. His body was nigh indestructible. The same could not be said for his soul.. even now, Kotal could see it in the Gear's mannerism. The movements of a scared boy who had been forced to grow up too quickly.
"I see.." All seems to be understood by Kotal when Testament confesses to the weaknesses of youth.
Other deities such as Shao Kahn would scoff at this admission. To admit this kind of weakness was nauseating to the horrid creatures of Outworld. They who exist solely to suffer the agony of eternal warfare. They would reproach Testament for his weakness and shun him for behaving like a coward despite his apparent power.
Not Kotal. He is the God of Warriors, and he knows his flock.
When the handle of weapon breaks, you do not simply keep hitting things with it.
You mend it.
"Come." Kotal motions for Testament to come closer, arms slightly extended. The boy's soul had never been mended and that made him wholly insecure about himself, that much was clear to the Aztec "I told you before, Testament. You need not fear harsh judgment from the likes of me."
"Let the remains of the past be forgotten. None of it will matter in the bright future we will forge."
Perhaps it's more accurate to say that Testament's soul was broken before it was even fully made. Taking the pieces of a stained glass window and breaking the before they're even cut. And then just allowed to grow itself back together incorrectly. Like a fractured limb that isn't properly set before being allowed to heal. The bone never functions properly again. Particularly not when it continues to take abuse, and not just from others.
Testament hated himself more than anyone back then. Too weak to help the people that saved him, too weak to even to pull his weight in the Holy Order. He was an embarrassment to the Holy Order. Let alone Kliff, who was the one to rescue him. Who adopted him. Gave him a home. Was it any wonder he'd taken that opportunity to get stronger when it had been offered, without asking any questions?
But Kotal... what is he doing? He's calling Testament over and reaching towards him. What's all this?! Is this... a hug? Is Kotal about to crush him for his weakness despite the kind words?! Only one way to find out, the Gear supposes.
Testament steps forward.
There are those school of thought that say that in order for something to heal properly it must be utterly destroyed first, only then can it take shape into that which was supposed to be. Kotal certainly appears as one that would adhere to this logic, for that is the very same thing he intends to do for Earthrealm. From the ashes of this corrupted world shall a new era unfold for all, humanity and Darkstalkers alike.
And yet, Testament has been broken far too much. A broken soldier is worthless to Warrior God, what good does it make if a person is strong if they refuse to fight?
If the Emperor where to look at Testament now, he would surely crush him. Pathetic, worthless, all this power, and all this fear. Naught but a fail experiment in the eyes of the cruel warlord.
Kotal sees untapped potential. It is only a matter of mending that which has never been shown kindness before. Total Huitzilopotchli is indeed a god of war, he is also a god of the sun, a god of vitality, endurance, growth.
When Testament steps forward, it is not the crushing grip of an enraged Aztec deity that embraces him, but Kotal's welcoming arm as he gently hugs him; offering the warmth of the sun that had been for so long denied to the Gear.
It's true. When one uses the 'break it to make it' school of thought, one actually has to rebuild the thing that was broken. And perhaps that would have worked with Testament, way back. But in Testament's case, the rebuilding never took place. He was broken and never rebuilt.
As ever, Testament is confused by kindness. He is a monster, monsters aren't deserving of kindness are they? The life of a monster is pain, quenched only by blood. He knows this and has accepted it. It's why he's tried to stay solitary, to lessen the impact. Because as much as he tries to tear it away, there IS still some human in him, and that part of him grieves for the loss of contact with the humans that he hates so much.
It's weird. There's a part of him that balks at Kotal's very presence-- it always has. Testament is a creature of darkness, and so the light of the sun is something he tends to flee from. But you know what? Most everybody could just plain use a hug every now and then. And seeing as it's been a while since Testament's gotten a REAL hug? The Gear relaxes, and there is a sense of the dark thing inside him quieting. Temporarily. It's always temporary.
That doesn't stop it from being a single comforting moment in a lot of long years...
Log created on 16:19:57 09/24/2016 by Kotal, and last modified on 23:09:42 09/27/2016.