Mortal Kombat - What Price for Victory

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Description: Nakoruru finds herself face to face with one perhaps even more out of place in time than she is, though for entirely different reasons. Coming with a request for help and unsettling information, the ramifications of this dialogue will be far reaching.

In theory, the deep chasm that divides Shang Tsung's Island approximately bisects the landmass in two - one half bearing the palace of the Sorcerer Tyrant, the other half a blend of ruined plateaus and forsaken woods. But every time she ventures across the stone bridge here into the forest and land of desolation beyond, the Time Lost Warrior can't help but feel that the Eastern side goes on for several miles compared to the tall cliffs the palace occupies.

Perhaps it this curious thought that occupies her mind as she gazes out across the span separating the palace from the Living Forest across the way. The rear portcullis of the castle exits out onto a stone landing leading directly to the long, flat, mostly featureless bridge that connects both sides. If one wants to travel north or south from the landing rather than across the bridge, there is only a thin strip of rough, hewn rock to move along, clearly not intended for idle walking. At times, the strip of earth narrows to less than a foot, and in a few places, there are small gaps all together where one will have to at least hop to make it to the other side and hope their balance does not betray them to an untimely plummet to the black pits below. With the wall of the castle on one side and an almost certain death from falling on the other, moving along the narrow ledge is not for the faint of heart.

Eventually, the thin strip of jagged, unreliable rock comes to an end, however, widening into something of a narrow balcony of rock that extends out over the pit - a tooth-like outcropping that looks solid enough but affords little in the way of protection from falling out of sight.

It is there that Nakoruru stares across the abyss to the tall, malevolent trees of the hateful forest across the way. Time and time she has ventured across into those woods, each time barely seeming to escape with her life. But for now, she is content to gaze upon the cursed felwood from the opposite side of the chasm atop her small rocky balcony. The winds whip through the chasm as they always do, causing her ankle length white robe to flutter around her legs and her raven black hair to twist and flap against her right shoulder.

And of course, she isn't alone. Joining her on the balcony is a large, grey Siberian wolf, standing at her side to match the quiet warden's study of the distant forest. In the sky above, soaring on the occasionally gale force winds, is a great brown hawk with a white feathered belly, her occasional scree echoing along the deep canyon pass. With the wind such at is it is, the bird can extend her wings and soar in place against it, not having to flap her wings at all to stay airborne.

Now and then she glances down with an impassive steel-blue eyed inspection down into the chasm, but there seems to be no fear of falling, no trepidation that the air rushing around her might send her to her doom in the unseen spikes below. Even in this prison island of the damned, the wind is her ally. There is nothing to fear upon this isolated perch she has found.

Zach Glen, spirit guardian from a different time, had a bit of a problem. His charge, the monster hunter known as Zach Glenn, had gotten himself killed by the Princess Kitana. The young man was once more among the living, thanks to the sacrifice of the Scarlet Dahlia, but something was not right. The young man had utterly lost the use of his voice, as far as those existing physically were concerned. Glen could hear every word, every utterance the once-dead Kombatant made. So could every spirit, shade, and soul in the immediate area. That posed a problem on a lot of levels.

So the Guardian Shade decided to strike out on his own to see if he could find someone. Athena Asamiya would have been a good choice, but Glen had discarded the idea. The young Goddess seemed to young, too inexperienced to him. Rose was, predictably, all but impossbile to locate. The Dahlia had no clue what was wrong. So he quested, he sought. His wanderings brought him across someone he had not, but really should have, expected in the form of Ayame Ichijo as she fought Cassie Cage. The shade's face scrunched up in an expression of frustration and distaste. Many of Glen's charge's problems could be laid at her feet.

"Not only no, but fuck no," he said before continuing on.

He spotted Nakoruru and her companion on the balcony, and recalled the Dahlia's words about the Time Lost Warrior. If she was what the yakuza boss had said she was, perhaps Nakoruru would be able to help. Willing? Well, only one way to find out. He vanishes, reforming on the balcony behind the two mortal-ish observers in a whisper of power.

"What is it you see out there," he asks Nakoruru in perfectly fine Ainu dialect. "What is it that holds your attention so?"

As he joins the duo on the outcropping, it is the protective wolf that responds first, whirling around without jostling the contemplative girl, already bearing teeth as his whole body tenses. There is a supernatural presence about the creature, a sense of a creature at war with itself, eager to lunge, to rend, and to tear, but also possessing a will of steel to refrain from doing just that. At least, for the moment. Up close, the battle scarred creature's features are more apparent, with his right eye a glimmering, seething amber, his left eye occupied by criss-crossed scars in the form of an X. Even his snout bears a deep, horizontal gouge from some past conquest that he survived. That he is not amused at the additional presence on the ledge is abundantly clear, a deep, rumbling growl in his throat.

Nakoruru turns swiftly at the movement of Shikuru, spinning to the left as to not turn into her own wind blown hair, eyes settling on the figure standing before her. Her left hand lowers, resting her fingers lightly on the back of the wolf's head, as if augmenting his own resolve to not attack immediately with her gentle touch. Not every surprise should be answered with violence, even in this cursed place.

She says nothing for a moment, studying the man, seeming to feel no initial obligation to give him answer to the questions he poses and though her right hand does not yet rest upon the blade handle jutting out behind her waist, there is a tension there as if she is still deliberating on what greeting would be most appropriate for one who managed to get so close to her in spite the wariness of her two sentinels.

"I recall a young boy who lived a long time ago who was sitting at his mother's feet and listening to her speak of the majestic mountains that the kamui had shaped, with their frosty glacial caps, their gown of evergreen woods, and great heights from which one could gaze across all the world. Inspired, he was desirous to see one of these mountains for himself and so he rushed from the home and came across the rabbit burrowing into a thick patch of snow, asking him where he could see a mountain, but the rabbit gave him only a confused stare and so he moved on. He encountered the fox beneath a tree, and again petitioned that it show him the way to the mountains, and with a bemused chuckle, the fox vanished into its hole. Finally, the boy came to a high cliff that afforded a view of all the lands of the island and the vast, unending ocean beyond. Finding an owl perched there, he asked the wise bird one more time where the mountains were."

Nakoruru smiles faintly, pausing for a moment, "Foolish boy, the bird told him, you have been atop a mountain all this time, for your village is located on Asahi-dake, the tallest mountain in the world."

The girl breaths in then exhales, her right shoulder shrugging slightly, "The Westerners have a proverb - failing to see the forest for the trees." Her smile returns, a touch wry, "I think I prefer the shorter version."

She glances over her shoulder briefly toward the opposite side of the chasm, "That broken forest is a calling of mine, but when I walk its haunted trails, I cannot figure out what one person can do to save it. It is perspective I seek from here, where its ancient groans of agony go unheard and its impenetrable shadows seem to be rather small things." She looks back toward the shade, eyebrows raised in a questioning way. "And what it is that you seek?"

The less welcoming beast of battle at her side remains tense, not calming in the slightest as the girl explains her presence there. The bird's own circles through the air above have started to close in as well, though she continues to soar on the currents with ease.

Glen's hands move slowly, showing empty palms. The shade appears in a Western style suit complete with a long coat that almost conceals a sheathed wakazashi at his left hip. The shade appears only slightly taller than Nakoruru, though that may or may not be entirely mutable. He smiles faintly as he offers an open hand to the wolf by way of peace offering. It is entirely possible that the wolf could harm him; the creature (much like the being he stands beside) is more than flesh and blood. However, the shade is willing to treat Shikuru with respect as something like an equal.

The man, to the Ainu's eyes, looks decidedly familiar. She had seen a taller version of the man, sans sword, somewhere before. He listens patiently, hearing the tale. Then he looks to the forest with a clear frown.

"It may be that it will take more than any one person, even one sent by the Kamui, can do to heal that place," he says as he looks back to Nakoruru. His words are Ainu, but his mouth is moving as if he were speaking English. "I am looking for someone who can help another," he says after a long moment. "I have heard that you are a Kamui yourself, or at least something very like one. It may be you have the answers I am looking for."

The wolf doesn't seem particularly appeased at the gestures made - empty hands alone do not imply a lack of deadly potential. But the girl at his side doesn't seem to mirror his hostile wariness. Perhaps he is vigilant enough for the both of them. Still, he doesn't lunge, doesn't try to wrest the figure that shouldn't be from this rocky ledge into the abyss, all the while his single eye simmers with a warning glare that he should not get any closer to Nakoruru, visibly armed as he is.

"Perhaps." she answers softly with regards to her impossible task. "But that does not make my obligation to try any lighter in the knowing."

She is quiet as he continues, eyes focused on the familiar yet different individual before her, his Ainu a far cry from the pigeon attempts of the man he shares some likeness with. There is a slight nod of acknowledgement at his first sentence, "So should we all," comes a softly murmured response with no further elaboration.

It is his next sentence that provokes a visible blink of surprise, the sword maiden caught off guard by that, averting her eyes to the side, her brow furrowed. Finally, she looks back toward him and offers another account. "Once frogs had a thick coat of hair like many other animals. One, seeing how villagers gave honors to the sacred bears of the mountain, got it in his head to pretend to be a bear as well. Leaping into the path of the next warrior to cross his path, he croaked his mightiest roar and claimed to be the representative of Kim-un Kamui himself. The hero, Okikirmui, was not fooled for a moment and, reaching out his mighty hand, he tore the thick coat from the frog's back and stomped it flat. And that, as the grandmothers say, is why frogs are hairless and are forced to crawl on their belly to this day."

She shakes her head slowly, "I would not be so presumptuous as the frog to suggest that I number among the kamui or am similar to them in kind." Her wry smile returns, left hand lifting from its light touch upon the wolf's head to run fingers through her tousled black hair, as if considering the price the frog's sacrilege cost its kind for all eternity.

"Even still, we should not bother the kamui to solve our problems but rather plead, in humility, that they provide us with the tools to solve them ourselves. What is it that you were hoping to find from me, wanderer?"

"Maybe that is why we are both here in this place," Glen says politely as he stays in place. He may have deadly potential, but not intent for the moment, and his posture makes that abundantly clear. "Some time ago, you met someone who bears a resemblance to me. It is a part of my purpose to help him through the trials of this tournament. To help when and where I can to ensure that what you call Earthrealm survives. He was killed by the princess Kitana, and was brought back with the help of the woman you know as the Scarlet Dahlia."

Glen looks out over the forest, as if looking for something he does not expect to find. "Something went wrong. He cannot speak with words. Physically, he is fine. When he tries to speak, however, he cannot be heard by beings of flesh. Beings of spirit can hear him as plainly as you hear me now, and he and the Dahlia can communicate from mind to mind from long practice."

He looks back to Nakoruru, troubled. "I do not have the discernment to know what is wrong. I have not made the trip from life to death to life again, and it seems as if you may have. Anything you can share could be of help to me."

Choosing to keep his distance precisely where it is at currently seems to do enough to appease the protective wolf as the creature doesn't become any more threatening with the passing seconds, merely maintaining that same warning presence that he is being watched and that, should he make even the slightest hostile gesture, the longevity of his displaced existence will be put to the test.

"Yes," she answers when he speaks of meeting someone similar to the shade that stands before her now, her voice reserved, as if she's aware of the fact but not sure exactly what feeling to commit to said knowledge. A slight nod is offered as he mentions the death and subsequent resurrection of the fallen knight. She had warned the other Ainu that there would be painful, personal prices to pay.

He describes the symptoms of the mortal voice lost while the whispers of the soul remain and she is quiet, impassive, her neutral expression perhaps difficult to read. "I see." she finally answers, her voice audible over the rush of wind, but perhaps only barely so. Her left hand drops back to the crown of the wolf's head, fingers sinking into his thick, grey fur, and the fanged warden seems to finally settle down slightly though he remains on all four legs.

"I understand why his circumstances concern you. However..." her voice fades out, a long pause hanging in the air before she continues, "If he is physically capable of fighting, and has one who can serve as his interpreter, is... his ailment really of particular importance right now?" Her tone is soft, reserved, and while the idea she puts forward seems almost coldly indifferent, the sincerity of her tone suggests she understands what she is suggesting may not align with what one would have expected to hear from her.

"If we do not find ways to gather power for the champions who remain in the tournament, we will lose, and Earth will be taken by the Deathless Emperor. In the end, what we are speaking of here is the potential for one less tragic voice of agony to be raised to the heavens in our world's final days. Regrettable as his condition may be, is that really where our focus should be in this dire hour?"

Her expression remains gentle even as she speaks with a certain ruthless acceptance of the harsh state of desperation humanity truly finds itself in.

Glen tilts his head to one side, listening carefully. There is nothing logically wrong with her arguement, as ruthless as it might be. He frowns slightly. It is /entirely/ possible that his connection both to Zach and his plight might be clouding his vision on this one. He shoves his hands in his pockets in an act of pure affectation as he squares his shoulders to the woman in front of him.

"You're not wrong," he admits, not even grudgingly, "But he's already thrown what power he could behind the Dahlia. She is, quite possibly, the one person he trusts that still has a chance at winning this tournament." There is something in his voice that would suggest that the shade disagrees with some part of that decision, but the decision was not his to make.

"Perhaps I am taking a slightly longer view in the matter than I should," he finally confesses. "I am not entirely comfortable with leaving him in the position that he is in at the moment. He loves the Dahlia, but I am of the opinion that the relationship is not good for him. I know him well enough that I will not be able to dissaude him on this."

The shade would find he has her complete attention as he speaks, eyes on his most of the time, though occasionally drifting over his stature before coming to rest on his face once more. Her own thoughts are hard to read, her expression at once revealing wearied concern and unbreakable, steel-like resolve. Hers is not a mask of icy indifference, but rather whatever drives her rests elsewhere from the problems the uncomfortable memory that stands before her is voicing.

But she is listening, the young warrior maiden sighing softly, her right hand clutched at the base of her neck, her left hand still resting in the thick fur of the wolf that stands higher than her waist by a fair amount. Closing her eyes briefly, she opens them with a thoughtful glance to the side.

"In my travels, I came across a monestary where two of the resident brothers had gotten caught up in a petty feud, each boasting that he could go longer than the other without speaking. They selected a day beyond which they would see who finally broke and uttered a word first. Months wasted away, with neither saying a word to any of the others within the mountainside compound, seasons came and went with nothing but silence from those two. Finally, a year later, one could take it no more and, surrendering his will to win, spoke begrudging words of congratulations to the other, ending the contest once and for all."

She pauses, eyes flicking back to the one beseeching her assistance in a matter important to him, her mouth forming a faint, sad smile at an unhappy tale remembered. "The other brother could not answer in turn for, in his ambition to prove himself the victor over a frivolous contest, he had severed his own vocal cords. His fixation with victory in the short term left him without the ability to speak ever again and he would endure the remainder of his days a mute."

Nakoruru closes her eyes again, bowing her head, sighing softly, lowering her right arm to rest against her side. Opening them again, she glances at the shade thoughtfully. "Perhaps you are wise to look to the future beyond this abominable affair, to hope and plan for what is to come later after we win here... it is a perspective I may need to consider, to not blind myself to the days that will hopefully follow out of fear for the present."

Without looking up, she moves her left arm out to her side, bent at the elbow, cloth-gauntlet covered forearm in front of her. A shadow blurs past, a flap of wings, and finally the great hawk dives into the young woman's arm, talons securing a hold there. Looking at her feathered companion for a moment, she lifts her left hand to run gentle fingers along the back of its head. "Very well, I may be able to help you."

She leans her head to the side slightly as she pets the hawk, the bird's all-seeing golden eyes on Glenn. Quietly, Nakoruru shifts her own focus back to Zach Glenn's advocate. "But first," her tone shifts, less contemplative and more direct. "You must tell me why you feel his ties to the Scarlet Dahlia are a poor choice for him."

Glen has not, past word choice and body language, tried to get any kind of psychic read on the woman. Mostly because such a thing was difficult when he was flesh and blood. Now that he is a being of spirit? Such a thing is beyond him. He winces as the woman relates the end end of the challenge between the two brothers. "It is important sometimes," he agrees, "To think about after. It is not something that comes naturally to many people, but it can give one something to fight for.

The shade sighs as Nakoruru asks about his concerns regarding the Dahlia. He knows that he may be making a mistake here, even giving words to the concerns. But those words are in the wind now. Nothing for it but to own it. He looks uncomfortable when he faces Nakoruru. "Because I know who she is," he finally says. "I know what she can and has done for the sake of the goals she has claimed for herself." His hands clench in his pockets. "She is a manipulator, who is capable of utterly depriving people of their own choices. He has /seen her/ do exactly that. He knows what I know about her, and has since he could consider the concept of memory. I know how her story can end. /Has/ ended. And in his determination to prevent it from happening, he fell in love with her." Glen looks away, the concern for his charge evident on his face. "I am worried that it will destroy him." In some ways, he thinks, it would be his own fault.


His audience is quiet as he speaks, her expression continuing to be hard to read, friendly yet removed, attentive, yet not openly encouraging him to say more than what her words requested of him. He would find himself scrutinized openly by the two animals present - they may not be so familiar with the concepts of personal space or what it might mean to maintain a bit /too/ much unyielding eye contact.

She remains quiet for a moment, allowing his words to hang in the wind without immediate response, seeming to try and digest them. "Your answer is elusive." Nakoruru finally declares as he voices his concern over Zach's fate with prolonged association with the dangerous Ainu woman. "Your judgements harsh yet vague, and your tenses confusing. Are you a prophet?"

Glen looks downright weary in the face of all of this; his own interactions and desires regarding the Honoka of his time weighing on him just as much as Zach Glenn's interactions with this one. He regards Nakoruru gravely. "Intentional, in a way," he says. "I'm not a prophet. More like a historian." His chest rises and falls, the need for the centering breath part affectation and part psychological need. "Are you familiar with the concept of parallel worlds?" he asks.

"It is not the place of the historian to condemn the living," Nakoruru replies with a edge of wary confusion in her voice. "Each individual forms their own unique thread in the tapestry of time. Being similar to those who have come before is not the same as being identical. Unless you can cite her crimes, I struggle to understand your judgement."

She pauses, hearing his question, her eyebrows raising questioningly. "I have no idea what you are talking about." She glances to the side for a moment of thought before her eyes flick back to meet his, "Your Ainu seems fluent, but perhaps your struggle to communicate is more of a language barrier. If that is the case, I apologize." she bows her head slightly in a moment of deference, giving the man the benefit of the doubt.

Glen actually blinks at Nakoruru's mention of his Ainu, considers, then laughs as he realizes what is going on. "It's not the language barrier. I'm forming my words and ideas in English. It's the language I grew up with. You are hearing those words and ideas in Ainu. It's the language /you/ grew up with." He runs a hand back through his hair as he tries to frame the basis for his concerns.

"Okay," he finally says, a bit animated as the challenges and concepts invigorate him somewhat. "I was born, lived, and died, in a world that is very similar to the one you did. Not completely identical, mind you, but close enough that you can make some accurate predicitions. More than a few people are running around this island that are very much like the ones I remember. There are a couple of really notable exceptions. And this world has some key differences from the one I lived in. Darkstalkers did not exist in my world. There was no Mortal Kombat, either."

Zach frowns. "There was... a series of events in my world. Things happened to cause it to start ripping it apart at the seams. I, along with some allies and a very good friend, hunted the being resposible for all of it. We fought, we won. However, we had arrived too late. The damage done to the world was too great, too far along." Glen stops to collect himself. "Some people had taken actions, I don't know what or why or even how, but they had arranged that /something/ would survive the destruction of our world. There are certain individuals who remember the lives of... their counterparts is the best word I can think of."

"The man that you talked to at the banquet," he says as he gestures to himself, "He looks like me, aside from being taller. He remembers everything that I did. He knows how I remember it, how I /felt/ about those memories. Without knowing it, without me meaning for it to happen, he inherited my knowledge. My memories. My triumphs. My regrets."

"Interesting." is the answer he gets as he talks about how the communication between them seems to be working, which helps her understand finally why the movement of his mouth always seemed out of synch with the sounds he was making. Perhaps she had simply assume dit was some kind of quirk of the Westerner's take on her language. She seems to accept the explanation readily enough, seeing no evidence to the contrary. It was starting to be a marvel as to how many different people she'd encountered on the island with at least some knowledge of the Ainu tongue, let alone even knowing who her people were.

As he continues, she's quiet, the bird and wolf both finally blinking, not seeming to find whatever the two people are talking about particularly interesting. The beast of battle at her side settles on his rear haunches, perhaps deciding Nakoruru isn't going to let him go for the kill any time soon. Mamahaha, on the other hand, flaps her wings once, narrowly avoiding Nakoruru's face, before folding them behind her back and becoming still again.

Meanwhile, the Ainu girl listens quietly the whole time. "That is quite the story." she interjects when he pauses, her tone carrying with it a distinct lack of judgement, skepticism, or acceptance, like she's still trying to make up her mind all together on the matter.

"The idea of other worlds is not strange - we are at war with another one, after all. But they are their own world, distinct, without echoes of our existences there." She considers his words for a moment before continuing, "So you are going to tell me that you know the Scarlet Dahlia from this other life of yours, and therefore know what kind of person she is and what she will do, yes? And that you and the other young man I met are essentially the same individual, living out a similar but slightly different existence. Do I have the understanding of it?"

"Mostly," he says with a nod. "Some of her actions in this world have born some of this out. She ruled Japan for a few weeks, before everything ended. In my lifetime, she killed, or had killed on her order, everyone with anything like a claim to power before declaring herself the Empress of Ezo. She kept the rest of the world at bay with the threat of nuclear weaponry." Zach frowns at the memory. "She was assassinated, before everything ended. It was something I had hoped to prevent, but I was on the other side of the planet when it happened."

He looks at the horizon, then back to Nakoruru. "I said mostly, because I do not know for sure that Zach, the man you met, would have walked my path without my memories. His talents run in a different direction than mine. They make him... not as suited for a life of battles. It's part of the reason why he lost his bearings when that reptile man used his soul shard. The... mental noise of it was more than he was ready for."

She remains quiet again as he elaborates and clarifies, maintaining the same look of neutrality she'd born throughout the explanation. There really is far too much to take in at face value, but perhaps her own circumstances leave her open to the premise. There is a slow blink at the term nuclear, another word that utterly fails to cross the language divide, but it's safe to assume that it's probably something really bad.


She frowns a little, hand pulling back from petting Mamahaha's head to rest against her cheek as the bird begins to preen herself idly. "If I am understanding what it is you hope to convey... The man lost his voice has had two lifetimes worth of memories and experiences, and with all that opportunity for insight and wisdom, with the admonishments your memories would have provided, he falls in love with someone he already knows to be exceptionally manipulative and she is now the only one he can carry on a conversation with?"

Nakoruru inhales deeply, eyes rolling to the sky above, her hand lowering from her cheek to rest flat at the base of her neck. "I knew the kamui had sent an eclectic variety of champions to stave off the end of an unbeatable invasion, but I sometimes wonder at the state of the world today that they would send these."

Lowering her arm to her side, she focuses on the shade before her once more. "But very well. I don't need to hear anymore." She sounds tired now, wearied perhaps by the information shared. Is the Scarlet Dahlia a monster in the guise of an Ainu shaman? "There was in my possession a blessed artifact of the kamui, a large cloth with the power to mend soul and body. It was taken from me by a small..." her voice fades out, trying to figure out what to call the thief, "...creature with four spindly arms and mismatched, mutated eyes."

Lowering her right arm then lifting it slightly, Mamahaha takes the hint and, with powerful flapping wings, takes to the sky once more, her perching time at an end for now. "If you can find her and retrieve the cloth, it might be able to help your..." Another struggle for the right word, "...ward regain his voice, as well as overcome what ever other wounds may be lingering unseen in his soul."

Her brow furrows with tangible concern, "When I last saw her, it was the only article of clothing she had, so perhaps it would help if you found her something else to wear." Just another one of the bizzaro champions of Earthrealm, it seems.

"To be fair, I was not all that old when I died. Zach's actually older now, and in some ways hoping that things are different from what I remember. He's leading with his heart, and it's gotten him in a mess." He listens patiently as Nakoruru as she describes this artifact. He looks a her curiously.

"There are... a lot of wierd creatures out here, by my reckoning. Can you give me more to work with?"

"Well, there will be time for dealing with messes after we finish thwarting Shang Tsung's efforts." Nakoruru considers patientl.

His request actually provokes a bit of a smile from the girl that has thus far been far too somber, "Yes, I suppose there really is." There's a hint of laughter to her voice though it never fully manifests. "She's about my height if she stands up straight, has four arms instead of two, calls herself Sorcha the Mighty Terrible, and is a dangerous beacon of chaotic forces. I recommend resolving things without a confrontation... see if there's something she'll trade for."

The wind picks back up, whipping at hair and clothing alike, and she looks north along the deep crevice that carves its way down the center of the island, as if someone delivered a violent, giant sword slash to the landmass in one final sacrilege to the gods.

Clasping her hands behind her back, she turns to the side then, the wolf moving with her to stand sideways between the shade and his own ward.

"If he is still able to fight, he should be looking for opportunities. Only those in the tournament itself are protected from being attacked. There are many on this island now who have no such protection yet are carrying with them power that could be collected and put to better use. I have no doubt our enemy will be doing likewise and if we are not careful, the tokens meant to give us a fighting chance will be our final downfall."

The advice offered, she falls quiet, her eyes unfocused as if lost in thought.

Glen nods. "I'll keep it in mind," he says amicably, then considers. "I'm sorry," he says. "If I made things difficult between you and the Dahlia. As I understand it, there are not many Ainu left in the world anymore. It'd be a shame if you two had to come to blows over this."

His words catch her off guard, Nakoruru blinking and turning to face him directly then. There's a certain fire to her steel blue eyes, her lips pressed tightly, a hint of red in her cheeks as she struggles with an emotion not often felt. Her hands unclasp from behind her back, clenching at her sides.

"Are you?" she challenges - there's a steel edge to her voice though she remains quiet, just audible over the rushing winds. "You chose what to share deliberately. Either you did the right thing, in which case, apologizing for offering the truth is insincere. Or you should have said nothing, knowing that you withheld a warning that could have been offered and would owe me an apology for that."

Her emotions are riled to a degree rarely experienced, a realization she seems to come to as she turns sharply then, folding her arms in front of her, looking away from him. When she continues, her voice is more subdued but no less resolved. "What comes of you providing the truth is also nothing to apologize for. If you spoke the truth, there are only so many possible outcomes. What's done is done."

Glen walks toward Nakoruru. Gaurdian beast be damned, he's not worried. He stops just short of Shikuru, not wanting to walk /through/ the wolf. His own face is fairly steely. "I spoke the truth," he says evenly. "I am sorry for the trouble it is clearly causing you. The trouble that I /knew/ it would cause you even as I told you. Even if I willingly cause pain, I'm not so heartless as to not feel regret over it."

He glances at the wolf, then back to Nakoruru. "I'll start looking for your cloth. If it's as powerful as you say, I should be able to recognize it fairly quickly."

The beast at her side has picked up on Nakoruru's shift in emotions, glancing up at the girl first, then eying Zach. The hairs on his back begin to stick up, energy building within the creature that would be easily sensed. Perhaps he will get a chance to do what he truly enjoys - to destroy, rend, and tear. Protection is the lesser interesting duty the old warrior holds.

And as Zach steps forward suddenly and without warning or caution, it seems that he's about to give Shikuru just the chance he is hungry for, his teeth bared, ears sharp and forward, hair along his back to inflate his already imposing size. But Nakoruru reaches down quickly with her hand and, with a touch, soothes the rising killing urges that surge within the beast while giving Zach a narrow look that suggests she finds his sudden approach ill-advised at best, unwelcome at the very least.

Disgruntled, but obedient, the wolf stands down, but he continues to give the shade a look with his single eye. "I believe you spoke what you feel to be true or else we would no longer be speaking at all. What I ask out of you is not heartlessness, but rather that you don't treat me as if I'm too weak to handle the truth and do what must be done based on that knowledge. Please, I want no more apologies from you."

She shakes her head, sighing softly as she closes her eyes for a moment and nods as he speaks once more of the cloth she has bid him to locate. "Thank you. It is... well, it was white, a border similar to the hem of my robe. I don't know that I would count on it being white anymore though." she admits begrudgingly as she opens her eyes again. "Hopefully, it will serve to help... your other you. My your endeavors be met with great success."

"That's fair," Glen agrees, his expression softening. "Your ability to handle my wrongdoing does not absolve me of it. But thank you. Fight well. Fight strong." There is another breeze, and inbetween eyeblinks, the shade of Zach Glen is gone.

Alone on the outcropping, Nakoruru folds her arms over her chest, turning to stare across the chasm to the nightmare that calls itself a forest clinging to the edge of the far cliff. On his feet, Shikuru moves to her side to match the girl's gaze, a low growl in his throat for a moment before he falls as quiet as she is.

"I think," the Ainu warrior murmurs, her voice lost in the wind. "There is a hard work for us yet to do. But for now, your rage must stay focused. There will be time enough to deal with other matters only if we are victorious here. Nothing else matters."

Mamahaha's cry echoes along the canyon from above while the wolf remains a silent sentinel. Nakoruru's right hand lifts to her throat, resting lightly there, as she contemplates the mute monk she met centuries ago. There was another moral to the story she had not touched upon in her earlier accounting of it.

For the sake of triumph in a contest that mattered nothing, the monk stopped at nothing to secure his win. Where then is the line she would stop at in order to secure victory in the most pivotal contest in Earth's history? Where is that line?

The question troubles her deeply. But all she can do for now is meditate upon its ramifications, eyes closed, head bowed, allowing the wind to wash over her in its relentless journey through the canyon.

Log created on 22:18:56 10/21/2016 by Nakoruru, and last modified on 15:05:47 10/23/2016.