Description: Zach Glenn gets help from a Mysterious Wanderer type. Conversations ensue.
Zach Glenn is in a bad way. He had, in trying to fend off the Butcher Daniel Little, done something he had not realized was even possible. He found out after the fact, that while it was possible, it was also a terrible idea. The psion's body is tearing itself apart from the after effects of essentially weaponizing some of the souls in the Living Forest, while his mind and soul were holding his body together through sheer force of will.
Pain and suffering and agony defined Zach's existence far more than the cramped corner in the castle he had found to hide in. Blood and bile and other foul smells barely registered to him. He could not go back to the Dahlia; Little was using him as a bird dog, using Zach to find her in order to... well...
There were too many far more pressing details for Zach to dwell on at the moment. He was alone. Glen, that shade of a Zach that was, was also absent. Trying to find some help for Zach, after informing the Dahlia of what had happened.
Zach was suffering, and in many ways, more alone than he had ever been in his entire life.
The cramped corner where Zach currently resides is nothing special to look at. Throughout the twisting maze of Shang Tsung's palace, there are countless side rooms and corridors that one might hide in. The one that the X Marine has chosen for himself seems to be a storage area for unused tapestries. Huge rolls of tarp-wrapped silks are stacked against the walls, kept in this dry, dustless room until the day they will be carried out and spread along the stone walls of some rarely used hallway. The lack of dust indicates that the cramped space is likely cleaned regularly, but for now it is dark. Quiet. Still. The single open archway that leads into the space is void of watchers.
Hidden away as he is, covered in bloody vomit and racked with agony, Zach's mind pulses. it is a faint thing. Those psychics who have lived as long as he tend to grow skilled at masking their pain. Failing this could push the pain into the minds of innocent bystanders, or else draw the attention of sadists like sharks to blood. There is safety in control. Unfortunately, there is always someone in the world who is more practiced. More sensitive. Able to hone in on these repressed flickers of agony.
Through the stone arch, a brief flash of misty purple light can be seen. Accompanied by a wave of psychic might, the light is there and gone in a heartbeat, all sense of power soon fading into the darkness. But whatever it was, it was close. Just around the corner. Possibly dangerous.
Booted steps thunk softly against the stones outside of Zach's room, alerting him that whoever summoned that bit of power has not left. In fact, the measured tread seems to be coming closer with each step. Turning into the hall. Approaching the archway. Shadow looming in the flickering light of the torches set in the wall across from the arch.
Backlit by wavering firelight, a tall, bulky figure stands silhouetted in the low entrance to Zach's closet. The figure appears large and powerful, some sort of cloak billowing about it as its head swivels to take in the darkness. Reaching out its left hand, it grips the arched frame beside it.
A soft sigh escapes the figure, shoulders slumping as it steps further into the darkness. Only then do the faintest tingles of psychic power spread throughout the room. Tiny, wire-like strands of awareness brushing across stone, cloth, and body as if exploring the room through touch.
"Zach Glenn?" the figure queries in a relaxed, even friendly baritone. Something in the twang of the words suggests an accent, Maybe Japanese, But comfortable with English none-the-less. "My name is Kenshi Takahashi. I have come to help."
Zach /feels/ it when Kenshi enters the room. He lets out a low groan as he forces himself into something like a sitting position to watch Kenshi's approach, his green eyes burning with an almost fey light. His hair, once a reddish blonde, is now ash white. A faint flicker of gold or purple races from his scalp to the tip before fading to white once more. Sometimes, perhaps a little disturbingly, one of those flickers is a fel green. Zach's breathing is ragged, the pain he is experiencing clear on his face, but his eyes are intent and locked on Kenshi's approach.
Within a second, there is a claymore in Zach's hands, its appearance heralded by a brief flash of sunlight. The tip of that blade, only slightly wavering, is aimed right at Kenshi's heart. Zach may not be in anything even remotely approaching fighting condition, but he's still willing to hurl stubborn defiance when he feels he needs to. He doesn't speak either. This man /claims/ to be here to help.
But the soul shards each fighter has been given, like the one in the slave shackle around his right wrist, were supposed to be 'gifts'. Zach has seen and personally experienced just how much bullshit /that/ was. He's not at all prepared to trust this man who has shown up.
The sudden arrival of light into the dark confines of the chamber brings clarity as to what, exactly, this Kenshi person is. And, the answer is: a man.
Standing at the end of Zach's sword is a tall man of mixed European features, his shaggy black hair and short but somewhat ragged beard flecked with streaks of grey. He has expressive lips that are currently twitched up at the corners in a wry little grin, mirroring his slightly raised brows. The look of 'really now?' holds a note of chiding sarcasm, but it is a gentle one.
Wrapped about the man's head is a tattered crimson blindfold, matching well the sleeveless crimson coat worn open over a suit of samurai-inspired armor. Though the armor holds hints of the old world, the black leather and silvery metal reinforcements give it a distinctly modern flare. The hilt of the Katana that pokes up behind his head is traditional enough, however. Simple brass and wood wrapped in crimson cord.
"I do not think we have time for this." Kenshi states, his relaxed tone holding the same note of wry amusement that can be seen on his face. The impression is that of a parent who recognizes his child is doing something stupid, while understanding that he'll just have to discover the consequences on his own. Still, he makes no move to force the blade away from his chest, choosing to keep his gloved right hand braced against the arch while spreading the fingers of his other in vague surrender. It is a casual enough pose, the swordsman waiting patiently for his wounded counterpart to decide their next move.
Kenshi's patience, his demeanor, eventually reach Zach's fevered mind. The sword wavers, then drops before vanishing in a spray of motes of golden light. Zach's eyes roll up into the back of his head, and he slumps to one side again as he attempts to curl up around himself. He's not going to be much help.
The pain, the sensations are just too much for Zach as he makes no further move to fight the visitor off.
"Ah, so you agree." Kenshi murmurs a touch dryly, stepping forward as the magical sword explodes into motes of light, its agitated wielder slumping over in a pain-wracked stupor. Everything about the blind man remains calm and light, not even his unguarded surface thoughts betraying his true level of concern. Deeper in his mind, tucked away where it cant' be fiddled with, his darker self recognizes the trouble this foolish young man has gotten himself into.
Descending into an armor-creaking crouch before the younger psion's curled up form, Kenshi reaches down to press his palm to the side of the wounded man's temple. The leather of his fingerless glove is cool to the touch, gritty with collected dust . The garment's years can be felt in the thinness of the leather, its pliable softness. This is the glove of a fighter. A glove that has scraped itself raw on the hilt of a sword. It has traveled to many places. Been a part of countless battles.
Gently Kenshi hooks the edges of Zach's mind and steers his attention away from his suffering. Rather than the horrible mind-blasting pain, he diverts the bulk of the younger man's attention into studying the glove. feeling it pressed against the side of his head. The smell of aged leather filling his nostrils. Deeper, deeper. Down into a swirling pattern of contemplative darkness. Lulling him into a sense of relaxation.
Only once this is done can Kenshi drift his psychic attention around Zach's floating consciousness and deeper into his soul. Slowly his mental tendrils spread throughout Zach's being, gathering him up and supporting him, acting as a net to aid in holding all of the pieces together. A net, and a strainer that sorts through his being, seeking out the cause of all this damage.
Whoever Kenshi is, he is no novice. The deftness of his mental manipulations is far beyond the skill of most psychics, likely a talent developed over many, many years.
Zach, for his part, does not resist. He's been fighting his fight for literal days now, without rest, without much in the way of confort. Zach just accepts the support of this stranger as Kenshi goes to work.
There is a sort of ripple through the ether, however, and Kenshi feels a third presence simply /be/ in the room with the pair. The zatoichi might notice a spike of raw psychic force, shaped oddly like a wakazshi, levelled at him.
"Who are you," the spirit asks, his tone suggesting he is prepared to act decisively if need be. "And what are you doing to him?" The shade appears to bear more than a passing resemblance to Zach, albeit a bit shorter, and blonde, and unscarred. The sword in his hand is a translucent violet, with flickers of golden lightning running up and down the blade.
"We are doing this again?" Kenshi queries distractedly, the bulk of his attention remaining focused through the connection he has forged with Zach's mind. Crouched with his head bowed and hand extended, the 40-something ronin is in no position to defend himself. That, or he is in a wonderful position to defend himself, and Glenn is simply not in a position to know it. Either way, he does not reach for the sword on his back, choosing instead to rest his empty right hand palm down atop his armored knee. He does not seem overly worried, however, his distracted response still managing to hold a touch of wry humor.
Deep within Zach's mental landscape, Kenshi's gently questing mind comes across a bright point of vitality that should not be there. A soul, malicious and twisted with selfish hate, that has burrowed into the psion's life force. Like a psychic leech, it feeds off of his energy, attempting to force itself deeper into his being and take control of his body. It is only the strength of Zach's spirit that has held the loathsome creature at bay.
Pressing his lips into a line, Kenshi slips past the first feeding soul, only to come across another. Then yet another. Deep within the X marine's being, a host of opportunistic parasites have latched onto his spirit and are attempting to tear it apart, to feed, and control, and hurt. if it had been only one or two, and if Zach were in a better state of health, it is likely his own internal defenses would have smashed them. Like a psychic immune system, his mind would have either consumed or repelled the creatures with relative ease. But in such a weakened state, and with so many to combat? It is unlikely he will be able to do much about them on his own.
"I know not what you are," the blind swordsman murmurs idly, "but I do not have time. Once I have healed Zach Glenn, then I will deal with you." He does not raise his head as he speaks, blindfolded eyes focused down toward the point where his hand meets Zach's temple. Both versions of the younger psychic can likely feel the sudden swelling of power that rises up from the warrior's vicinity, but not from Kenshi himself. No. Sheathed on the swordsman's back, a roar of powerful voices surges to life, energy pouring from the ancestral blade and flowing freely into Kenshi's control.
As a conductor directs an orchestra, the aging ronin guides the crowd of powerful souls through the connection and into Zach's mind, carefully parting them to flow around the wounded man's fragile psyche. With purpose they charge into his deeper self, amassed like an army with swords drawn and leveled.
Zach shudders under the ministrations as Glen regards the swordsman through narrowed eyes. A moment passes, then another, as the shade watches. Finally, the sword is withdrawn, and Glen sheathes the blade. "How can I help," Glen asks carefully. If he was cowed by the sword on Kenshi's back, the spirit gives no sign of it.
Then he just watches. He's not volunteering much of anything other than a desire to protect the young man in the zatoichi's care.
"You can not." Kenshi replies gently, though distractedly. He has no time to spare for the shorter Zach standing beside him. Whatever he is in the process of doing it is clearly difficult, as suggested by the lines of concentration that have appeared on his furrowed brow.
The amount of energy at Kenshi's fingertips seems less like a scalpel and more like a sledge hammer, but still he sharpens his focus and wields the crowd of souls with the deftness of a surgeon. All at once the swords of his ancestors shoot forward to impale the unwanted visitors, anchoring to them in a near identical way to how they cling to their host.
And then, the pain comes. True pain. Raw, mind bending, soul shredding pain. The agony of it batters against the partial hypnosis sheltering Zach's awareness, attempting to smash inside and consume him.
The pain originates from each of the imbedded souls, radiating out from them as Kenshi reverses the flow of his ancestors and tears them violently free. Such a motion should tear Zach apart, fracturing his soul as a man might be drawn and quartered. But he has a strong soul, and when combined with the mental net supporting him, it is a survivable experience.
In the physical world, an eery green glow begins to flow from Zach's temple and collect around Kenshi's extended hand. Faster and faster his ancestors flow back into Sento, each depositing a fraction of malicious energy into the ever growing mass of green before returning to the sword. By the time the blind man lifts his hand from Zach's body, the swirling mass of softly wailing souls collected in his palm is roughly the size of a basketball. This he flings carelessly away, the ball of energy hitting the far wall before bursting apart, freed spirits screaming off through the walls in all directions.
Zach lets out a scream as he tries to pull away from Kenshi. It isn't intentional; it just HURTSHURTSHURTS and Zach is reacting physically to the pain. Glen starts to move towards his charge out of concern, and stops in a manner that looks a lot like a flinch as the shade realizes the truth of Kenshi's statement.
"Then talk me through what you are doing," the spirit asks. "The only thing I know about what's going on here is that Zach overextended himself when he fought Little."
As the last of the souls disperse to parts unknown, Kenshi's shoulders sag with relief beneath his tattered crimson coat. Brow smoothing out, he returns his hand to the side of Zach's head and carefully strengthens the net holding the younger man's soul together, using the physical contact to insure their connection remains. This task seems to take little concentration, however, freeing him enough to speak openly with Glenn's shade.
"Harnessing the power of others does not use the same skill as harnessing your own strength." The blind man explains patiently. His smooth baritone is now relaxed, matching the loose posture of his shoulders beneath his armor. "It requires calluses. Calluses you must build over time. Without these, some of the souls he tried to use were able to slip his grasp and remain inside him. They knew they could not control him, so they were trying to tear him into smaller pieces. Like cutting steak."
Explanation given, Kenshi pushes down on his knee and rises to his full height, towering over both the shade beside him and the man lying curled up before him. Tilting his face toward his neighbor, he flashes a small, reassuring grin down toward the ghost of Glenn. Despite the blood all over Zach's clothes, his state of near unconsciousness, and the horrible thing he just explained, the elder psychic projects nothing but easy assurance.
"He is supported by a mental net. This will aid his soul in healing the tears. If he does not use his power, and rests for perhaps a week, his spirit will mend." As Kenshi speaks he turns away, already beginning to step toward the low arch leading out of this room. He seems to have no questions for the shade. No, 'Who are you. Why are you here? How do you exist?' it is possible that he might already know. Then again, it is also possible that the answers wouldn't matter either way. When dealing with mysterious men who appear out of nowhere to randomly heal people, it might be best not to ask questions. You might piss them off, and what would happen if they didn't show up next time you needed them?
Glen looks to Zach, then to Kenshi, then frowns. He simply /appears/ in front of Kenshi, not exactly blocking the exit because 'Hey! Spirit!' or anything, but the swordsman seems to respect the fact that the shade exists.
"Then I'll need to impose upon you a little further, Mister Takahashi," Glen says, if both a little forcefully and respectfully. "Because if he has to rest and go a week without using his talents, then he is going to need a place to lay low. There is something using him as a tracking hound, to get to one of Earthrealm's champions."
"I can not protect him." is the ronin's simple reply. Sure it is Blunt and to the point, but his tone is not unkind. His forward progress halted by the spirit, the armored swordsman tilts his chin down and seems to study the shorter figure through his blindfold. All traces of humor have left his face, leaving his expression an odd mixture of apologetic and firm.
"I am needed to fight in the tournament, and am often moving. But there is one you can find. Seek the warrior Baiken. She has strength and fortitude, and is a champion against monsters. This advice is the only gift I can give. Remain strong, displaced one." Having said his fill, Kenshi then lifts his chin and looks away from Glenn's shade, the energy in his sword swelling in a sudden, powerful pulse. Conflicting powers of blue and red surge forth from the blade, one full of noble selflessness, the other hateful rage. combined they manifest in the visible spectrum as a ghostly purple mist, swirling about the armored figure in a sudden tornado of light. For a brief instant, it appears as if the ronin were frozen in place, a brilliant statue of light, but then it bursts apart.
As the residual energy fades away to nothing, it reveals all trace of Kenshi to have vanished. Apparently he can teleport.
And just like that, Kenshi is gone. Glen lets out a sulfurous curse before looking at Zach. He's alive, and not dying. That's progress at least. He considers the man's departing words for a moment, and one thing is abundantly clear.
Glen is still insufficient to the task.
The shade makes a decision, opting to at least give the Dahlia an update on the situation. With a faint whisper of power, Glen also vanishes. Hopefully Zach will be safe long enough for Glen to find him some help.
Log created on 13:28:00 11/13/2016 by Zach Glenn, and last modified on 09:18:25 11/14/2016.