Description: Frei's existence was, no, continues to be an anomaly. Given the gift - and trappings - of flesh anew by unusual circumstances atop an already unusual circumstance, Frei's mystery continues to invite curiosity and speculation in all forms. Unallowed to mourn for what was lost in peace, Frei gives to the cold, dry, lifeless, still wastes a taste of who he was, who he is, and what he may yet become.
By the time their conflict had come to a conclusion, Frei had thought it best to leave.
He had watched the entire thing from a safe distance, in almost total silence, unwilling to interrupt. Two Ainu, battling at the peak of their powers during the tournament to decide the fate of the Earth itself. Considering the culture's dwindling numbers, it was an almost unthinkable occurance, and yet, there it was. Nakoruru, clad in nature's might, dancing ahead of the storm so that it flowed behind her, terrible and inevitable. Honoka, wearing the souls of her forebears like a crown, an eight-pointed star forged entirely of her spirit. By the peak of their conflict, the grey stormclouds over the island had loosed their contents, spreading wind and rain over Shang Tsung's domain like a grey curtain.
When they called each other 'sister' -- not that Frei knew the meaning, given the language, but he was able to read the moment -- he knew he should leave.
For a long time, he walked aimlessly, just placing one foot after the other, trying to work out his thoughts. With no psychic talents of his own, Frei can only surmise, but given his life experience (and that others in his family DO possess that power), he was able to make a good guess at what was happening on that beach. His thoughts went far, far too much to, of all people, Alma Towazu... his close friend, who also wielded the power of the soul. Whose contrast to Frei, spiritually and ethically, was in its own way a source of great comfort to him.
As he walked, he stared up at the sky, trusting his feet to guide themselves, letting his sixth sense for the world around him do the heavy lifting. Honoka... she spoke words that Frei didn't understand, but he knew what was in her heart. Words of fierce resolve, of defiance, of passion. She fought Nakoruru not to hurt, but to make her spirit known... and knowing what he does of the Ainu Guardian, that purpose could not be truly evil and still meet with her approval.
When last he saw Honoka, Frei watched her spirit walk into the next life in the arms of a family she had been searching for all her life. All he had wanted for her, then, was to find a bit of what she had been looking for, in her next life.
His steps came to the edge of the twisted, living forest, and instead looked out over the dimension-ripped fragment of Outrealm, under a cloudless purple sky. For a moment, the feeling of now-absent rain on his skin, cold and clammy though it was, would have been a welcome distraction.
Slowly, he finds a spot of even and empty ground, and lowers himself into a sitting position, knees drawn up, arms encircling them. In their battle, Honoka and Nakoruru put their beliefs to the test with each other. They strengthened their resolve. Just as Frei had done with countless others in another life. Just as Alma had once done for him.
He has a flash, briefly, of Aya and Alma meeting. Of the psychic fighter's smile, his charm, standing there in the winter snow. Aya didn't understand the significance of where she stood, but Frei does. It was where the YFCC stood in the 'old world'. It was where he belonged. Where he and his friends fought... not with hate, but the desire to nurture and protect.
Unaccountably, he leans his head forward onto his knees, and begins to cry.
They are ugly, awful, wracking sobs; none of the gentle tears of someone who's moved through the stages of grief, but the body-shaking cries of someone who has just now realized how precious something now gone was. The scene is unsettling, made all the more so by the seemingly endless, empty expanse around the red-haired man, whose already slight frame seems all the smaller as he draws in on himself, huddling.
"Why...?" he murmurs aloud, voice choked with agony. "All of it gone, but here I am anyway. Why am I still here? Why isn't Aya here? Where is *everyone*?!" Is he angry, or morose? The wavering tone suggests: possibly both.
"Please don't..." he murmurs, hoarse. "Please don't leave me here all alone."
Frei's tears may yet be swept into the rain to be forgotten, much like the many corpses of the fallen and their desecrated remains that are so ubiquitous as to lose impact to the idea that they once all comprised living human beings. The storms that gathered do not wash, nor cleanse, the hazy wastes of the island. They join that soup of misery, a brew that eternally boils on the pot with no end in sight, each tragedy, each regret, each anxiety, each fury continuing to season the stew that all eventually stand to choke upon.
It is not a place for heartfelt wishes to be granted. It is a place for them to be battered, perforated, melted into the same nothingness that comprises the dust and ruin running throughout. What power is there left to grant one mercy, or happiness, in this place of horrors that wishes to expand its reach throughout the unsuspecting Earthrealm?
Shadows grow ever darker upon Frei as despair gives not just weight against his very knees, but against the air he breathes. The stormclouds do not part, seeking their own company in misery.
There is a crack of thunder. To Frei, he will not see the flash of light on the ground before him. Instead, he may yet look upon the silhouettes of those clad in dark violet robes.
To either side.
Only the cloud-smothered sky above, the rotting earth below, the pouring rain, and the stubborn flickering embers of sheltered pyres are left as bystanders to witness what transpires, passive building blocks of the very world being host to those who all have gathered.
Hooded figures betray scant physical details, beyond the complexion of their hands. Hoods leave facial features bereft of any ability to be identified. A fell, chilling energy seems to gather about them in a chain that... does not quite feel complete. It is not clear as to the nature of why there is a break in the circle.
Only that this 'break,' located somewhere to Frei's left, is where a voice speaks.
"There you are." The voice says. There's nothing else to say about it other than it 'says.' It's a man speaking, but that's about as far as anyone can go about describing it.
"The great sorcerer will see you." Even for a lack of character, there is something distinctly... unfriendly. It is not spoken as though a gentle invitation. It is more a coercion, wrapped around a neutral informative statement. The air seems to grow a bit heavier, as they all, in unison, draw ever closer.
"You will come with us peacefully..."
Frei would not need to continue to hear what they have to say, to know that there is an unfavorable alternative to his well-being promised.
What does it say about the state he's in that Frei almost... doesn't hear actual thunder? Maybe it's the way that crying clogs up your sinuses, making the inside of your head feel like it's full of a liquid white noise, or that if someone held you to their ear, they'd hear the ocean. Or maybe he's just got too much on his mind and yet another burst of ominous nature sound, after the storm he just experienced and which may have followed him here, is just one more note in the chorus.
But once people actually appear, and he can sense them, it makes a difference.
It's not clear why, exactly, the 'great sorcerer' might want to have words with this person. There is certainly nothing about him that seems threatening; the red-eyed, freckled face that slowly rises from its resting point on Frei's knees certainly doesn't scream 'danger' so much as 'did you lose your mommy?'. It's the 'there you are' that makes him start to rise to his feet, body responding with what feels like, to him, agonizing slowness after the enervating release of ugly crying. Looking around, he tilts his head somewhat at the hooded figures. Eight. A significant number for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that when Aya awoke on this island, it was in a shack, surrounded by eight hooded cultists, using their bodies to create the bagua trigram for 'seal/bind'.
Yeah that's probably not good.
'Great sorcerer', huh...
Frei turns to face the single speaker in the circle's 'break' point with as neutral an expression as he can manage, but it's entirely ruined by the red-rimmed green eyes and the runny nose, which he is unfortunately obliged to run his sleeve across. The stifling atmosphere... it doesn't put him on what he would consider good footing.
"I might," he says carefully, clearing his throat, "if you can tell me what's so urgent. Otherwise I'd really rather be alone right now," he says, telling a not-entirely-a-lie: he doesn't want to be alone but he doesn't want to be with THESE people. "If it's all the same to you."
No business that Shang Tsung would conduct could ever be an event one would desire to be party to. For the physically and emotionally weary among the Earthrealm champions who may yet be staring at the final days of everything they would have ever known, his summons are not to be seen as a reprieve from the melancholy...
"That's not for you to question." The singular speaker among the eight gathered says, uninfluenced and unmoved by the sadnesses and the stresses spoken under the statements of the sage.
The shadows encroach. A fell energy seems to build in intensity among the majority of the number. The rainfall thins a ways, as though the stormclouds themselves were beginning to fear being in the presence of what could follow next among the eight of them.
"You will be escorted." Forcefully, it would appear, as hands reach out to Frei's direct left and right to try for his arms, to try and lift him up and bring him along their way. Methods oft more attributed to the elite guard, rather than the shadowy priests.
Would Frei allow them to carry on in their attempts to carry him along?
'That's not for you to question.'
The problem with grief is that it's an unpredictable emotional state. One moment you can be pleading, desperate, willing to pay any price to regain what you've lost. Another, you can be in the darkest and most morose place, unable to move, unable to do anything but reflect on your sorrow, on the crushing feeling that nothing will ever be able to make you happy again.
Hands he knows not reach for Frei's body, to bring him to someone he doesn't know or trust, in a place he doesn't want to be, at a time when he is hurting the most.
Sometimes, grief can become rage.
With the circle closing in, Frei has precious little space to move, and even less time to think. But perhaps, luckily for him, he is entirely suited to acting on instinct. Outside of the equivalent of a parlor trick or two, he hasn't TRULY used his chi-shaping skills here. He is not even certain, in the back of his mind, that they will work. But if the altnerative is to br dragged, bound, in front of Shang Tsung against his will, then for the red-haired sage, the decision is barely a decision at all.
Hands moving in fluid, flowing motions, Frei gestures with seemingly little direction, as if weaving something in the air... a rhetorical phrasing that becomes all too literal as tendrils of water, cerulean blue, spiral around him in an unpredictable pattern. When he brings his hands together at torso height, the spirals pause, hovering, as he looks at his would-be captors.
"Respectfully: go away."
His body becomes a spiral itself, hands blurring around him as he spins. The passing strike of his hand is one thing; the sudden outward burst of the helix of water he had drawn about himself -- now akin to a localized crashing wave spreading in all directions -- is another thing entirely.
As he moves, the cyan magatama around his neck shines.
COMBATSYS: Frei has started a fight here.
COMBATSYS: Henchman has joined the fight here on the right meter side.
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Frei 0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0 Henchman
COMBATSYS: Frei equips a dim Cyan Soul Shard.
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Frei [E] 0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0 Henchman
COMBATSYS: Henchman equips a dim Blue Soul Shard.
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Frei [E] 0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0 [E] Henchman
COMBATSYS: Frei successfully hits Henchman with Fierce Punch.
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Frei [E] 0/-------/------=|======-\-------\0 [E] Henchman
The water - pure in its form, its movement natural, its force undeniable - washes outward from the epicenter of a sage who grieves for things lost that will never return as he knows them. A pleasant mist splashes back as they engulf the forms of those nebulously malignant figures. Some seem to disappear underneath the waves that rise above, into, and past them as though they were to melt away on contact with water itself.
The phenomenon could be owed to the coloration of their dress against the violet murkiness that permeates the wastes. Eerily, aside from the roaring water, there is nary a /human/ sound among them. No screams, no pleading, no angered cursing.
Frei may instead only catch the very faint, dim shine of something around foot-level for one of the ones that has the honor of maintaining at least some appreciable visibility as the water flattens out from a lack of container, disperses ever further, and evaporates. A hand claws into the mud, as if hanging on for dear life - or just to struggle to find some leverage to return to their feet.
Not a single speck of wet dirt clings to the dark purple robe of that individual. It soon becomes apparent that this individual may be the only one who stuck around, though similar shapes dot the landscape around the corners of Frei's eyes.
"You... you would dare defy," the carefully maintained neutral voice chokes and sputters as they cough up water. The overbearing dread finds a crack of humor, should Frei find amusement in seeing dignity so casually washed away within the throes of his sorrow and fury.
Fists are raised, circling. The undercurrent of appropriated Eastern mysticism seems to go to the wayside, to movements that seem a little more appropriate for a barely trained street tough back home. Perhaps Outworld has a lot of Metro Cities to call their own, producing much the same ways of lowlives as a universal constant among the realms accessible to Eathrealm.
"You will regret this." A few jabs follow, mostly from the right hand, as sandal-clad feet navigate the muddy earth surrounding the sage of the elements in a counter-clockwise fashion.
COMBATSYS: Frei endures Henchman's Probing Strikes.
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Frei [E] 0/-------/-----==|======-\-------\0 [E] Henchman
Circular movements, the ring of multiple foes, the sense that when one cultist(?)'s movement ends, another begins. Cycles, all of it. A cycle is a bit like a whirlpool; the stronger the circle, the more intense its rotation, the easier it is to be dragged down by it, pulled toward the center, inescapably. Yet at the same time, the cycle's continual movement suggests that it cannot be controlled, or stopped, or steered. Much like Nature itself, which is fond of cycles, an infinite wheel turning forever.
The only way to truly stand apart from a cycle is to dance on top of it. Accept, but not surrender.
Even as the simplistic punches slam into his jaw, Frei knows -- KNOWS, on some primal level -- he never wants to be touched by those hands again. But they do not slow him down, not in the slightest; his attackers must manage their multiple positions, their weaving blows. Frei, meanwhile, only needs to care for himself. As the person who hit him recoils his hand, the seemingly entirely-unaffected Frei gives him an even look. "It's not about 'daring'," he bites out, body suddenly bursting with a corona of scarlet flame.
Nakoruru's not the only one who has the ear of the elements.
His body wreathed in fire, Frei lashes out at his attacker with a palm strike to the stomach. "I asked to be left alone."
He turns, hands gesturing in a different type of motion from before; whereas the previous motions were fluid and soft, this is a single, hard gesture with one hand... fierce and direct. The fire surrounding his body leaps from him, becoming an entity entirely of flame, which dives with a claw-like sweep at a second, nearby hooded figure. "Pretty reasonably, actually."
With a second, snapping gesture, Frei thrusts both palms forward at his original target, the fire clone leaping in from above to attack at the same time, in concert. "You could have said yes."
COMBATSYS: Frei successfully hits Henchman with Kindle the Inner Flame.
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Frei [E] 0/-------/----===|=======\==-----\1 [E] Henchman
The flames burn brightly, scorching a fiery red and orange into the eyes of all who witness. Such is their splendor that it would be the overbearing indigo and purple hues of this land of ruin that would seem out of place before the energy of the world channeled through this extraordinary relic of a time that would have been all but erased completely. Even the blackened scorch marks would stand out to the naked eye from a remarkable distance from the site of this raw display of power.
To Frei's benefit, the one he attacks goes to a crouch as though anticipating a swing coming on up high, an almost adequate raising of fists as though to try and cover their entire person from harm. Imagine, if one will, where what once was meant for the stomach ends up - due to the machinations of the victim themselves - being aligned as such that it goes for the very throat instead.
A plain human face can be made out, however brief, as the hood flips back while the first of the roaring flames wash over their face. Two hands reach up to pull it back over. That looks like a human being from Earthrealm themselves. He does not compose himself in time for that follow-up as one of the other hooded figures finds themselves at bay from the fiery entity flaring out at them.
The original, disoriented and sucking in air, buckles over and collapses to a kneel to another burst of great flame that seems to spread out in absolute defiance of the rain above, or the collected moisture of the ground. Just as Frei shows his mastery of water, so too does fire match, a steam-filled smoke-screen in its wake.
The other figures shuffle throughout the confusion and chaos afforded by the rebellion of the newly reborn Frei. It is eerie in how they communicate - or rather, don't - when they decide to forego human speech. Maybe they were not expecting such a spirited resistance from the former spirit, nor did they truly understand the depths of power he has available.
Through the smoke, a fist lunges forth again from the very corner of Frei's left eye. Is it the same one? The movement of those not immediately in his line of sight have been erratic, erring on caution and self-preservation. It could be that at least one of their number is, indeed, skilled in working and maneuvering around others fighting alongside them. Maybe this is a violent conversation they have had with countless 'guests' of the island over the years, and such is nothing new.
Whatever the reasons, the depths of experiences, or what have you, the immutable truth is now one of them is throwing an almost desperate lunging punch just from the very limits of Frei's peripheral vision.
"You will submit," they sneer, coughing again-- again? Yes, that is the same one, it appears.
COMBATSYS: Frei blocks Henchman's Peripheral Vision Lunge.
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Frei [E] 0/-------/---====|=======\===----\1 [E] Henchman
There is a thick *slap!* sound as the hooded figure's fist slams directly into Frei's outstretched open palm. Considering there's eight of them, there are seven people to confirm, in fact, that the redhead wasn't even looking in the direction the punch CAME from. He just sort of... snapped out a hand and caught it. Frei turns his head toward the person who threw the punch with a raised eyebrow, before opening his hand and letting the robed figure's fist go. The effort has its costs -- his palm stings like the dickens, for one -- but it's nothing he can't handle.
Yet weirdly, when Frei brings his arm back in to get back into stance, he isn't looking at the folks around him with anger or even sadness anymore. If anything, he seems... reflective, or possibly confused. Pensive, even.
While Frei knows Shang Tsung by rumor and reputation only, it seems as if the sorcerer hosting his tournament has no end of powerful servants available to him. Yet Frei is, in no uncertain terms, beating the hell out of these poor bastards. Which is confusing in and of itself. If he REALLY expected to compel Frei's presence, would he have sent... uh, this?
The tiny part of Frei that makes him who he is, the part that cares even about people who try to harm him, asks: are these victims too?
One way to find out.
"Maybe," he offers, bringing his hands to his sides, balled into fists, elbows bent. "But not here, and not now." With a twist of his hips, Frei changes the angle of his stance, and then steps a foot into the ground, *hard*; a gesture that is only saved from being called a 'stomp' because he didn't raise his foot enough. As his foot connects, seven shards of stone rise from the ground around him. Thrusting his hands forward in a swift, sharp gesture, Frei pushes his palms out into the air; as he does so, the shards hover around him, forming a rough circle in midair.
With a final second push, flipping his palms outward, the shards fly off at speed toward seven of the robed figures. Specifically, the ones that HAVEN'T tried to punch him at all.
COMBATSYS: Frei successfully hits Henchman with Shatterheart.
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Frei [E] 0/-------/--=====|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2 [E] Henchman
What could the sorceror's expectations be, in sending these men over? There are countless brutes and warlords under the emperor Shao Khan that could have been sent. It is said, no, understood, that Earthrealm is by far outmatched in a straight war against all of Outworld's very might.
It may be that these eight, altogether, are not weak... so much as that Frei, the one who pierced a barrier of existence that should be impossible, is strong. Pragmatically speaking, to gauge his strength and willingness to fight is a viable theory to make.
As the seven shards rise, the long-dead soil underneath turns, aerating what lies beneath and opening a new possibility - however slim, in such a hostile place - of new, beautiful vegetative growth finding a place to grow where the gaps form from the removed rock, with teasing glimmers of undiscovered riches.
Struck several times by the spinning shards as they circle around Frei, contorting and twisting with every impact that goes around shoulder to ribcage, the one that has been kept in his face staggers back meekly as he launches the lot of them towards those who have gathered.
Each shard strikes into the earth in a great cloud of dust each, obscuring forms and details, the subtle sounds of biorhythms lost to the spectacle. For all intents and purposes, there doesn't seem to be a difference between whether it takes them out, or they simply choose to vanish. They might be satisfied... or have come to understand the gulf of difference in power between themselves and the elemental sage.
Clinging tenaciously to consciousness - or simply being the one among them charged to /speak/ - the damp, burnt, and bludgeoned henchman stumbles with all the relatable signs of human weakness and disappearing strength, struggling with his footing against uneven terrain that could see him topple over if he so much as overcommits to a single punch.
"This... this won't be the end of it," a simply-worded, flatly-delivered promise as their left fist balls up and swings in something resembling an uppercut as they stagger towards Frei, ineffectual in placement in that it's more like it will be violently scraping the side of his face.
If a torrent of water, an inferno of fire, or an avalanche of earth will not convince him to leave... what domains are left for Frei to demonstrate his mastery of to be rid of this intruder?
COMBATSYS: Henchman can no longer fight.
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Frei [E] 0/-------/--=====|
COMBATSYS: Frei interrupts Strong Punch from Henchman with Ride the Autumn Gale.
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Frei [E] 0/-------/-======|
In point of fact, Frei steps forward, so that the blow doesn't reach his face at all. Instead, the erratically-delivered uppercut slams into his solar plexus instead. The redhead involuntarily slumps forward from the force of it, which perhaps not coincidentally brings his face a little closer to the robed figure's body. The others... they're not illusions. Maybe this one is in control of them, but the others are real, too. Did Shang Tsung send them here... what. To test him? To test *them*? It's not as is Frei's still in the tourna--
In his mind, the unanswered question remains: why the blue gem, counterpart to Aya's golden one, around his neck?
With his head at what might be called horizon height, Frei spies it in the distance: a pond of some kind. That seems like the most... charitable option.
Before he can bring his punching arm back, Frei locks a grip on the hooded speaker's wrist. "You know, it's very possible you're a victim, too," the redhead says enigmatically.
In a spiral of movement, he ascends, taking the robed figure with him. Their movement corkscrews upward, dancing on the wind, spiralling upward until, at the apex of the movement, Frei lets go, opening his palm, a burst of wind directing his opponent's flight into, ideally, the pond.
He doesn't so much fall as float to the ground, afterward, touching down toes first, bringing his hands together in front of him, fingertips touching. He still LOOKS like hell -- as if he had been crying and then got in a fight, which he did -- but perhaps now, he also looks like someone who found a moment of peace.
There's something about this whole picture that may not fit, but the end goal remains the same no matter how the course is constructed. It is an instance where only violence can dissuade, as the culture of Outworld tends to revolve around.
Taken by the wrist, the mysteriously aggressive one of the octet seems far too weakened to even manage the mandatory tug against the hold, any strength instead given to spoken word to Frei's enigmatic insight.
"It's my line of wor--" He doesn't quite finish as he's hefted into the air, breathless, helpless, somehow even frictionless as he spins about up and up and up until a last blast of displaced air boosts the movement already built up from the ascent.
He is little more than a petal in the wind to this burst of air, spinning about as the distance grows between him and the sage - appearing to shrink in size as he flies towards the horizon, aligned to the still body of water a ways away.
Frei may hear a familiar scream he might have heard multiple times, in a time that no longer exists. A curious detail that may not be worthy of further concern, for now. It's difficult to make out whether he makes it to the intended landing site at all. Frei may even spot the glimmer of something dimly shining in blue around one of their feet... kind of like a tag, on a string. Hm. It is an equally insignificant detail.
Above Frei, compelled by the winds at his fingertips, the storm clouds part so slightly as to be imperceptible, were it not for a small crack of that sickly purple light that the sky tends to take the color of. This sun(?)light gives Frei whatever warmth and comfort it may be perceived to grant, as the sage is left to his own devices...
The tenth Mortal Kombat tournament promises, above all else, to leave none unscathed.
Just part of the job, huh?
Looking down at his palm, still feeling a tiny cyclone of wind swirling there in the aftermath of his gentle landing, Frei manages a very rueful smile indeed. "Yeah. I know how that goes." He brings his empty palm up to his lips and, gently, blows out a breath. Fly free, little air elemental, or whatever you are.
Closing his eyes for a moment, the redhead closes that open palm into a fist, taking a deep breath, and once again bringing his arm up to wipe away a bit of a sniffle. Not for the first time in his life (lives?), Frei wishes he were the type who was energized by fighting, who finds it invigorating. He never really has; whenever he's found joy in fighting, it's because of its potential for connecting with others, not for the act itself. All he found in this battle was news he'd rather have missed. The toe tags were certainly a revelation he could have done without, thinking uncomfortably to Jedah Dohma's theft of monk souls and the screaming, keening wails of jiangshi staring emptily into the sky.
"You know," he says to nobody in particular, opening his hand and staring at the lines of his palm with a distant expression. "Whenever I used to feel like this, something bad would happen. Seishirou Ryouhara would try to... I dunno, blow up China, or someone would rip the YFCC's front door off, or some nutjobs from beyond time would try to erase history or whatever. And then I had purpose for a while. But I didn't..."
He pauses. DID he enjoy it? Having his brother almost kill his friends? Losing his connection to chi and being forced to kill 26 identical clones of himself? Was any of that FUN? Was it worthwhile?
No. It was the people that were worthwhile. And they're...
For a long moment, silence and stillness reign; he makes no sound, no moves. Eventually, however, he brings the bright blue magatama around his neck up, holding it in his outstretched hand. Mentally, he envisions the gold citrine counterpart that, thanks to its shape, would make a perfect taijitu of blue and yellow.
Green eyes turn up to the purple sky, imagining a more perfect sun.
"Eyes on the prize."
Log created on 20:17:00 11/19/2016 by Henchman, and last modified on 00:54:45 11/20/2016.