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Opening The Black Lotus[Solo|Plot|Training]

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"He who resents his past will be forever bound by it."

It had been two months since Yakuroro fell victim to an arrow loosed by the late former emperor of Kou. Despite many attempts to heal him of the mortal wound, the Imuchakk remains in a state of endless slumber. His flesh has healed but a curse has been left behind, sealing Yakuroro's mind in a dream without respite. The sleeping magician has been in the care of Lady Soushui, preserved in an ice crystal as she attempts to undo the curse. His chimeric son, Akatetsu, stands guard by Yaku's side eagerly awaiting his father's revival. But all the love and effort these two could muster had yet to be enough...




Light twinkled in through a hole in the cave ceiling and reflected off the many ice crystals in a dazzling display. Several specimens were frozen amidst the ice for safe keeping to be used in later experiments, but one stood out from the rest. Standing in the center of the cave was a ten foot tall crystal with the body of an Imuchakk within. His eyes were closed shut and there was no sign of life from his body aside from a writhing shadow upon his chest.

A lizard-like beast with a bone covered head was resting next to the frozen giant when a noise sounded from the direction of the entrance. The beast's head rose swiftly and his eyes scanned the area as tension filled his body. The source of the sound was a middle aged woman dressed in the garb of a Kou noble. Relaxation came over the chimera and his head lowered slightly in greeting whilst giving a soft sound of content. "Grwar..." Akatetsu trotted over to the woman's side with an expectant gaze. She reached for his face to caress it with soft warm hands and comforted her "son" with good news.

"Don't worry Testu, I think I've got it this time."

She smiled brightly but that expression melted away as she walked past Akatetsu. Truth be told, she had no confidence that her latest gamble would work. From behind her, Tetsu looked on with worry as he could see the exhaustion on her face. A woman known for her beauty had been run ragged by sleepless nights. Deep bags had taken up residence beneath her eyes and a certain vibrance she once had was now all but drained.

Lady Soushui sacrificed much of her time all for the sake of the young man encased in her ice crystal. All in order to answer the sacrifice he had made in order to put a stop to a war. Now she stepped forward with wand in hand one hand and a white arrow made of ashen wood in her other hand. A whisper to the rukh made the ice around Yakuroro fade into steam revealing his torso to the open air. Soushui lifted the arrow to the wriggling mass of shadows that consumed the space where Yakuroro's heart should be and she cast a healing spell.

Purple light shone from the tip of the arrow as Soushui placed it against Yaku's chest. The Imuchakk's eyes squinted and the shadows seemed to stop moving for a moment. The arrow which had imparted this shadow began to accept the plague back unto itself. The arrow became black as the darkest of nights, but it could only hold so much. "Something's wrong..." The spell fizzled when no more darkness could be absorbed and yet much still remained on Yakuroro's body. His eyes remained closed and he writhed as though he were in pain but he made no noise. To make matters worse, the dark spot on his heart was growing by the second. Soushui's gamble had only accelerated the curse and by the time she could seal Yakuroro in ice once more it at spread to cover half his face and one of his arms.

Soushui fell to her knees disheartened by the critical failure and Akatetsu approached her feeling fearful of the latest development. Both of them could only watch as the curse mark stopped spreading and stabilized once more...


~Inside The Dream~


How long had it been since he had arrived here? Yakuroro no longer knew. It was a world devoid of color. Only shades of black and white touched his eyes. Oh how the Imuchakk longed for the soft blues and greens of the ocean, or the dusty hues of orange and crimson of a sunset. Yaku tried to focus on imagining these colors. Anything to avoid giving any more attention to the scene before him. But it was no use...he could no longer remember what those vibrant shades looked like. His mind could not grasp them, for it was captivated by the painful reality in front of him.


A little Imuchakk boy surrounded by his village. Their faces black with shadow, but for some reason Yaku felt like he could vividly remember every detail of what they looked like whenever he braved a glance in their direction. This was HIS tribe, and the boy they gathered around was Yakuroro himself. The only figure who was truly white. All the rest had a black corruption on their bodies that flared up as they became more and more heated in their shouts.

"Demon!"


"You're no son of mine..."


"Begone you foul creature!"


"Mark the demon!"


"It's brothers and sisters turned out just fine...how could this be?"



This was all something Yakuroro had already come to terms with and accepted about his past, but he had been forced to relive this scene so many times now that he had given up counting at one hundred and forty two repetitions.

Yakuroro had given up on trying to find a way out of the cycle now as well. After all, he felt like he had no body. As though he were a mere ghost watching events unfold. Even so, somehow he still managed to feel pain every time this event played out before him. Yakuroro watched with grim anticipation as he knew what was next for the poor boy who was tied up to a stake. The villagers parted ways for a strong village warrior. He brandished a red hot brand and uncerimoniously thrust it upon Yakuroro's chest. A howl of pain escaped the boy as agony filled the man who watched, helpless to intervene. Unable to save himself from the cruel fate of ignorant men and women who could not see the blessing they'd been granted by fate.

The mental shock of the pain was just as strong as it had been the first time around. Yakuroro could not bring himself to think as he watched the scene bleed away fading out into black. "No...not again..." Yakuroro thought to himself as his heart clenched knowing full well what was next...


"Listen harder, boy! You've only got half the spell! Bwahahahaha!"

The hearty laughter of an old man sounded as the next snippet of Yakuroro's past faded into view. Everything was still white washed, but thankfully there were no disturbing blackened people here. The only black spots were the marking on the boy's chest and an identical on on the man. This was Buburanku, the man who had taught Yakuroro how to use his gifts as a magician. After being exiled and left to die in a snow storm, it was the light of Buburanku's hut and the guidance of the rukh that led Yakuroro to salvation. These were the happiest days of Yakuroro's life, training under the old eccentric. Learning new things daily and enjoying each moment to it's fullest.

The dream showed Yakuroro each of his own fondest memories of Buburanku, each one being more painful to witness than the last. Those days were gone. Never to return. It was a hole in Yaku's soul that could not be filled. The dream would make it clear why in just a moment as it faded out and in to show the boy kneeling beside a bedridden Buburanku. The elder Imuchakk was not breathing. There was only a big stupid grin on his face bidding the young Yaku farewell. The boy shouted and pleaded, but no tantrum of grief could bring Buburanku back. No amount of crying would undo the reaping of old age. But it was too soon. There was still so much left for Buburanku to teach him...

"If only you had been stronger back then...Life magic could have saved him..."

A voice whispered in the back of Yaku's mind as he watched his master's death. It had been pestering him for months now. Or had it been years? Yakuroro could no longer tell. But every once and a while it would send a message to his disembodied senses. Always reminding him of something to regret. Something to resent. Yaku's mind had grown tired of resisting ages ago.

"If only...I had been stronger..."

WC: 1490



Last edited by Yakuroro on 24/09/15, 05:35 pm; edited 2 times in total


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The disastrous reaction from Lady Soushui's spell had left both her and Akatetsu in a state of despair. The curse mark had always been slowly growing on Yakuroro's body originating from the arrow wound. They had noticed it as soon as his torn flesh had been mended and were concerned about its presence ever since. However its growth had so far been gradual. Nothing like this rapid expansion had occurred before and while the two had no idea what it meant...it was clear that it wasn't a good thing. Akatetsu whimpered looking to Yakuroro's tainted body not sure if the Imuchakk would ever awaken. A look of frustration twisted from Soushui's expression and she slammed an angered fist upon the ground breaking the cursed arrow as she did. "Impossible! I've tried everything, but I've only made things worse..." He words were thick with disappointment and a grim admittance of defeat. Was there nothing else she could do to save Yakuroro from his fate?

"Tsk, tsk..."

The sound of a man sucking his teeth in disapproval sounded from behind Soushui and she turned to look in utter shock. The cave was hidden beneath her personal estate and guarded by magical wards. If someone had entered, she should have been at least aware of it. Akatetsu turned as well and immediately began to growl threateningly at the sight of the suspicious looking stranger.


A well dressed man with pale skin was standing amidst the mists floating along the ice cave's entrance with a staff in hand. His eyes were closed with a frown as he rocked his staff so it tapped his shoulder impatiently. Every feature of his stance spoke volumes of a profound despondency. But the mood seemed to flip without warning as he swiftly turned to fire a mischief loaded grin towards he Kou noblewoman and her chimera companion. A mouthful of perfect teeth shone white as a pair of golden eyes flared in excitement.

"Come now, my dear. Surely you haven't given up. You were SO close to saving your dear blue giant~"

As the enigmatic gentleman mused a teasing tone, Soushui readied her wand aiming it for the center of his skull. Her eyes narrowed and she hurried to her feet blowing a tuft of disheveled hair from her eyes before shouting a demand. "Who are you!? Name yourself and explain how you got in here!" The confusion she was feeling was well hidden by the fiery passion in her voice and the cold glare she was giving the man. But none of it phased his immaculate smile. The response he gave was a deep bow and a tip of his hat as he gave an answer to the good lady's query.

"I am known as "The Contractor" and I got in here by using a door."

The contractor looked up from his bow with an eerie gaze from truthful eyes. "That can't be...The door is sealed and guarded by-" Soushui began to try and call the man out on his lie even though she felt the weight of honesty behind his words. But the contractor cut her off by waving his finger side to side as if she were a child. "No, no, no, not THAT door. That would be far too boooooring~ Not to mention mundane, who uses normal doors these days anyways?" There was an odd mix of seriousness and sarcasm as the contractor interrupted Soushui whilst making a flamboyant gesture with his arms followed by a soft chuckle.

Then, as if to make a point, the Contractor tapped the air with his staff and a rift in space opened up to his side. The Contractor stepped through and another rift opened up behind Soushui and Akatetsu from which he emerged once more. "Didn't you use a method of travel like this not too long ago?" He spoke in a more mild tone, seemingly already bored with the subject as the Contractor was now inspecting his nails with a lazy gaze. Soushui and Tetsu turned around to face him astonished. The magician dropped her wand with wide open eyes as she'd only ever heard of transportation magic like this being achieved by several magicians working together. But this man could perform the feat by himself without any obvious effort.

Jaw agape, Soushui finally took notice of the rukh around the man calling himself the "Contractor". It was like nothing she'd ever seen before. The closest comparison was Yakuroro whom was a king candidate, but the way the rukh fluttered around this stranger was fundamentally different. They weren't JUST excited...there was simply too many of those birds of light for one person. In addition, it seemed as though there was an even mix of white and black fluttering beings of magoi flocking to his person. "Who...are you?" She asked again in disbelief unable to have faith that her eyes were not deceiving her. The contractor smiled again and looked to the woman with amusement.

"I'm the one who knows how to wake this frozen fool. That's all you really need to know...care to make a contract?"




Ever since the curse marks influence and territory on Yakuroro's body had spread, so too had it's power within the dream state. It had started out quiet and distant and had been slowly gaining hold in the back of Yaku's consciousness all this time, but now it seemed ever present. The Imuchakk magician hardly even noticed though. For all he cared, it had been like this all along. It was more important to him that he tried to forget about the things the dream was showing him. Alas, try as he might, Yakuroro was failing miserably at keeping his mind off of it. Now he was on the great plains just outside of Magnostadt entering Marax for the first time with Zadi.

"You thought you were special, but in the end you were just lucky that fate chose you."

The voice insisted as Yakuroro watched himself obtain the power of the djinn simply because he was stronger than Zadi at the time. The vision shifted to Kou and the brotherhood of ash as various quick flashes and the voice persisted. "You did so much work stamping them out, but in the end it hardly affected the organization. They would come to torment you again later in Reim. Once you left Kou it would only be a matter of time before the brotherhood returned." It said in a factual tone. Now that the voice was so loud, Yakuroro was beginning to recognize it, but he still couldn't tell for sure who's voice it was. His thoughts had become so numb, so distant.

"Then there was the black djinn in Heliohapt. How brave of you to stand up to your fears. But in the end, it didn't matter. So many died that day while you were playing hero. You even lost track of your supposed "son" in the confusion."

Yakuroro couldn't muster the strength to offer any sort of defense. "You're right...I didn't save anyone." The magician admitted in a drained tone as his disembodied sense of sight took in the view of a monstrous black beast being slain followed by a panicked silhouette of himself looking for Akatetsu only to found boundless destruction across the city. He would later come to know the source of the devastation, but even then it did little good. Nothing could turn back time and stop it from happening. Somehow, Yakuroro had forgotten about how he brought hope to the survivors. That was a fragile piece of evidence for "results" of his good deeds that his weary thoughts could not grasp it.

From there the dream warped again and settled in Reim where the voice would remind Yakuroro of more failures.

"You brought along the boy, Diego, only for him and Ayero to be wrapped up in danger because of you right away. Not only that, but you promised him that you would help him feed his revenge. Hahaha, a foolish notion. You thought to protect him from his own fate and in doing so, you stunted his growth."

Hearing this made some degree of fortitude boil up from within Yaku's spirit and he lashed out in verbal defiance. "NO! I wanted to carry that burden with him! So he would not suffer it alone!" Yakuroro didn't even know if this was true or not, but it burst forth without any thought behind it. "I just!...I just..." The passion had died down and Yakuroro was left with his thoughts as the only fuel for his protest. They were lacking. The voice burst into a mocking laughter and the dream world was consumed with darkness.

"Bwahahahaha! You mean like how you tried to carry the burden of Reim's people!? You were so desperate to save them from themselves. To prevent a bloody revolution. Look what it got you. They prepared for war anyways! When you failed to get the result you wanted, you turned your back on them and left! That selfishness brought you to Kou and what did it earn you? An arrow in the back!"

The darkness in front of Yakuroro rippled like the surface of a deep pond and a figure appeared within. For the first time since the endless dream began, Yakuroro felt like he could see through the darkness and what was on the other side frightened him.


"You can't lie to me, Yakuroro."

A twisted and corrupted reflection of himself was reflected back at the Imuchakk. He knew why the voice had been so familiar as it became louder. It was his own. Illuminated by only the dullest of light, Yakuroro had to strain to see himself. It was then that he finally felt like he had a body again. A body that moved and the reflection followed. This horrible monstrosity was undeniably what he had become. A crushing sense of horror came over Yakuroro and he screamed at the top of his lungs in supplication for salvation. It didn't matter how he had turned into this beast. Yakuroro simply wanted the nightmare to end.

WC: 1691



Last edited by Yakuroro on 24/09/15, 05:27 pm; edited 1 time in total


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"You rang? I'd love to be of help!"


A cheerful voice in a jovial tune sounded from behind Yakuroro inside the void of shadow. The corrupted Imuchakk stopped screaming with wide open eyes and turned to see the Contractor bowing before him before casting his hand forth as he greeted the monster. "At last we finally meet! I've been looking forward to negotiating with you." He said with a vigorous grin. The appearance of this man and his demeanor had Yakuroro at a loss for words. Part of him thought that it was part of the dream, but this character was simply too much at odds with the general pattern of everything. He was...cheery. Not to mention, his presence was in full color allowing Yakuroro's eyes to feast upon chromatic stimulation for the first time in what felt like years.

A spot light seemed to be shining down upon them now illuminating both the Contractor and Yakuroro as they met. When Yakuroro said nothing and simply stared, the magician frowned and twirled his staff from one hand to the next. "Cat got your tongue? I was expecting you to be a bit more...chatty. Usually I'm much better at reading people." The disappointment fled from the Contractor's expression as he shrugged it away so another grin could replace it. "Oh well, my miscalculation I suppose. Perhaps it's the fault of this lovely play you've constructed for yourself." The contractor looked around as he spoke and rose an eye brow upon seeing the infinite void. "A bit bland, don't you think? I'd have at least had some fires burning in the distance..."

Yakuroro was baffled as he watched the Contractor peer off into the distance with one hand held over his eyes in hopes to see some kind of landmark at the end of the endless shadow. "I...created? What...who...? Argh!" Yakuroro tried to ask questions but he began to feel dizzy and his mind faltered just before a sharp pain began to ring throughout his head. The Imuchakk reached up to grasp his skull with a clawed hand as he doubled over from pain. The Contractor noticed this from the corner of his golden gleaming eyes. He turned back to facing Yakuroro with a sharpened gaze holding a somewhat angered look. "So it's already begun? It's a pity, but it doesn't seem like there is any time to have fun with this."

KILL THEM!

Yakuroro's shadow voice growled into his mind. The tone seeping with animosity.

DESTROY EVERYTHING!

"What!? I don't understand!" Yakuroro said in response, pleading with himself for answers as tears began streaming from his eyes. A sudden feeling of dread and sorrow came over him but he didn't know why...




The contractor had made the following agreement with Lady Soushui:

"I shall wake him. But you must give me your wand and promise to simply stand by and watch, no matter what happens. If you interfere, I will make sure the Imuchakk never awakens."

It was hardly a bargain Soushui could have total faith in, but then again, she didn't have many options. This man was clearly a far greater magician than any she had even known. If he could not save Yakuroro, then no one could. Reluctantly, the Kou noblewoman picked her wand up off the ground and tossed it towards the contractor whom snatched it from the air and tucked it away into his suit for safe keeping. "This contract is sealed. I'll begin my end of the bargain straight away then." He said before turning on his heel to face the ice crystal.

"First, lets remove this pesky ice. It's in the way."

The contractor tapped the ice crystal with his staff and the entire thing melted away into steam in a flash of red light and a burst of heat magic. Yakuroro's body collapsed to the now wet floor unceremoniously and crumpled right away as one might expect of an unconscious body. The black curse began spreading again right away and swiftly moved to cover his whole body save for a single exception. His right eye seemed to be staving off the curse by some miracle. Seeing this displeased the contractor and he sucked his teeth as a result. "Still resisting?...Does he want to die?"

The look was gone from his face by the time he turned around the face Soushui and Akatetsu. "This will take longer than expected. One moment please...oh, and try not to die while I'm gone~" He teased before flourishing his staff and muttering a spell. The Contractor's body began to dissolve from the feet up and the smokey particles he became entered Yakuroro's body through every open orifice on his head. Soushui and Akatetsu watched in confusion unable to do anything as the darkness covering Yakuroro's body seemed to pulse over and over.

Thump...

Thump...

Thump...

The sound of a powerful heartbeat echoed throughout the ice cave and Yakuroro's body twitched. A light of hope shined across Soushui and Tetsu's expressions as they watched Yakuroro's body rise off the ground. But that ray of light was quickly shattered as they realized he was not standing of his own power. Something had lifted him into the air. Something horribly wrong. A massive amount of black rukh suddenly flooded into the cave and encased Yakuroro in a thick shell. When it faded away, there was no longer an Imuchakk present. Instead, there was a black djinn casting an evil gaze onto Yaku's loved ones.


Lady Soushui took a step back and gasped her surprise, "Wha...what?" Akatetsu, on the other hand, stepped forward placing himself between the black djinn and his mother. The chimera bore its teeth and growled threateningly at the demon. He knew that whatever it was, it was no longer Yakuroro. His animal instincts could feel the killing intent pouring from the djinn like a tsunami. It made his flesh feel cold and his muscles quiver, but Akatetsu stood tall and made a loud roar declaring that he would protect Soushui with all his might.

"GRWAR!"

The black djinn's eyes narrowed and steam permeated the air as it exhaled a hot breath before roaring back ten time louder than Akatetsu could ever manage. The woman and chimera both winced and attempted to cover their ears which were left ringing anyways. As they recovered, the djinn's tail came forward pointing at the pair. It had a disturbing face-like structure which began forming a swirling ball of glowing water that was producing a humming sound. They were the target.

WC: 1094



Last edited by Yakuroro on 24/09/15, 05:27 pm; edited 1 time in total


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"I wanted to play with you more, but it seems like you'll have to come to a decision swiftly or else you'll wind up dead." The contractor stated in a sour tone, his mood obviously ruined by the turn of events. "I've a contract to fulfill and it does me shame if my contractee has perished." He took a single step towards the pained Yakuroro and seemed to close the distance between them in an instant. The contractor reached out with one hand and grasped the horn-like growth coming off Yaku's head in an iron grip. Using the horn as leverage, the contractor tugged Yakuroro's face within inches of his own.

"What's...happening...?"

Yakuroro managed to groan his question out through the pain that was still ringing in his skull. It surprised him that he could still speak. A deep ocean-like pressure was beginning to surround his consciousness and it was sapping him of all strength. All will. "I just want to sleep..." Yakuroro thought to himself as his eyelids became heavy. Just as the Imuchakk began to fade, the Contractor slapped him awake. "No, that won't do at all. You want to know what's going on, right? Then open up those large Imuchakk ears of yours and listen well as I don't have time to explain this more than once." An intensity was behind the contractor's eyes that limited Yakuroro from responding in any way other than a wince and a nod.

"Fate has abandoned you Yakuroro. The arrow you were struck with in Kou has inflicted a curse upon you. So long as you cling to the will of Solomon, you are destined to expire today."

The contractor cocked his head to the side slightly as he watched Yakuroro for his reaction. The Imuchakk's vision blurred and he tried to shake it off as he spoke, "That...that can't be true...I'm destin-..." He was aware of the weakness in his defence before he even finished the sentence. The dream had shown him the truth, Yakuroro wasn't destined for anything. Fate had simply been using him as a convenient tool. Now he had served his use and was being cast aside. It made an anger boil in the pit of his stomach.

It was as if the Contractor could peer into his soul as the enigmatic man smiled after Yaku's words had faltered. "Good, you're starting to understand." He let go of Yakuroro's horn and glided back a few steps smoothly before making a deep bow. "I'm here because I have a contract to fulfill, but also because I have a personal interest in the matter." Yakuroro reached up to hold his face where the pain he was feeling was now concentrated, just over his right eye. "Personal interest?" He was still thinking about how angry he was with himself and had yet to realize that doing so seemed to blunt the edge of agony.

"Yes, an interest in seeing what the results will be. The results of one who lived as one of Solomon's most dedicated puppets becoming an independent actor. You've spent the first half of your life saturated in the white. What will the second half be like once it is stained with black?"

Yakuroro couldn't understand anything that the contractor was talking about. His mind was too focused on a growing resentment towards the path he'd taken in life to reach this point. But then a glaring thought struck his mind. It put a halt to all that gathering resentment and scattered it like a pile of dust. "My friends!" Yakuroro shouted, eyes wide, looking up at the Contractor. "They sent you, didn't they!?" It was then that Yakuroro remembered that the trials he'd experienced had led him to people that were worth dying for. Zadi, Lady Soushui, Akatetsu, Diego, Ayero, and the innocent people of the world. How could he resent his fate when it had blessed him with many good allies?

As Yakuroro closed his eyes to lock on to these thoughts, he felt a warmth and strength begin to replace the fountain of anger in his heart. The stronger he focused on that feeling, the stronger his sense of acceptance and peace became. "To know that they would resort to even using the help of a shady character such as you...I had fine people close to me, didn't I?...I can leave the rest of the world to them. It will be in good hands." For the first time in what felt like decades, Yakuroro smiled and opened his eyes. The weakness from before had been blown away and was replaced with a clear serene gaze. The act of opening his eyes was accompanied by an explosion of white ruhk emanating from Yakuroro's body.


As the rukh fluttered past him, the Contractor could not help but smile. "You managed to come back from that state with your own will power?....Hahaha...hehehe...BWAHAHAHAHAAAAHAHAAAA!" The Contractor doubled over with laughter and slapped his knee beside himself with amusement. "I hadn't thought something like this was possible." The contractor said as the dream space around them began to crumble. The darkness being eroded by the light of the white rukh permeating the air. "You're still cursed, but you've bought yourself some time. Perhaps you'll find a way to break it too...that would be an interesting sight in and of itself." He said with a tip of his hat as he too began to dissolve along with the monster-like appendages that Yakuroro had grown.

The Imuchakk was waking up.




"Oh my...that's unfortunate..."

The sound of the contractor's voice was the first thing Yakuroro heard as he opened his eyes. They had been closed for so long that Yakuroro couldn't see at all to start with. But he could feel something strange as he squinted his eyes open. His right hand was surrounded by a wet warmth and a fair bit of pressure. He could feel a pulsing motion, but it was weak and slow..."Gr...Grwar~" Akatetsu's voice! He was close and sounded relieved. "Tetsu, is that you?" Yakuroro asked as his spirits lifted and his vision began to clear.

The first thing he saw was Akatetsu's face. The chimera was making a toothy grin and seemed happy despite a pained look in his eyes. Akatetsu could tell from Yaku's eyes that he was truly back this time and it brought peace to his mind. "What's wrong? Are you oka-" The beast then coughed up a large splash of blood that splattered over Yakuroro's left side. The Imuchakk looked down and spotted his right arm. Following it with his gaze, Yakuroro began to shiver and feel sick. The arm from the black djinn he'd become was dissolving into mist revealing Yakuroro's own hand pierced into his Chimera son's torso where Akatetsu's heart should be.

The chimera collapsed and Yakuroro's hand slipped free of its body leaving him to stare blankly in shock. "What...?" Yaku looked down to see Akatetsu but caught sight of Lady Soushui who was not too far away. The once beautiful woman now had a horrible burn across the entire left side of her face and one of her legs was missing from the knee down. Judging from the stump thigh left behind, it had been melted off with cymatic magic. She was also unmoving and seemed dead from how still and pale her body was. It did not take Yakuroro long to conclude that it had somehow been his own doing. Just like the mortal wound given to Akatetsu had unmistakably been his fault somehow.

The hope and light that Yakuroro had been supported by just seconds again was obliterated in this moment. Why had he survived that nightmare only to see the two closest people to him die right away? Was this fates way of punishing him for defying his preordained death? If so...then Yakuroro had no need for fate. Rather, it was something he needed to destroy. But for now, all he could do was howl out a cry of despair.

"This can't be....Noooooooo!"

Yakuroro cursed not just his own fate, but all fate. The curse mark on his body had receded to almost nothing when he awoke, but now it quickly spread over his whole body. The air in the cave shook as black rukh fluttered in by the thousands.


The Contractor simply watched with glee as a King Candidate fell into depravity. With his goal completed, the Contractor tapped the air with his staff with one hand while he removed Soushui's wand with the other. Tossing the magician's wand back to her, the contractor tipped his top hat as a teleportation circle opened up in front of him. "Contract complete. Your dear King is awake. For the first time in his life...he is awake." The contractor then stepped through the portal and vanished along with it.




Yakuroro passed out in the center of a great hurricane of black rukh only to awaken an hour later. The Imuchakk's eyes opened and he looked around finding his surroundings unfamiliar. There was the body of a large beast next to him and some woman near by. Yakuroro recognized neither, but looking at them made his head hurt. Wincing from the sensation of a knife in his skull, Yakuroro stumbled to his feet and headed for the exit. Once the bodies were out of sight, the pain subsided and Yakuroro realized that he was covered in blood.

"Hmm...I must have been in a battle..."

The Imuchakk said to himself before heading up the stairs. He couldn't remember where he was or how he had gotten there. Nor could he remember anything about the contractor or the dream world. But he could remember his name, that he was a magician Imuchakk, that he was a metal vessel user. There was much about his life that he remembered too, but there were also gaps. Large gaps. Some memories were there, but something seemed to be...missing from them.

Judging it a waste of time to worry about this, Yakuroro emerged from the staircase and through a secret passage to find himself in a familiar looking magic laboratory.
"I've been here before..." Yaku said as he started wincing from a renewed pain in his head. Covered in blood, shirtless, and feeling hungover, Yakuroro stepped into to the lab with only one important thought on his mind.

"I'm hungry..."

Retraining Secondary to B-tier Strength:
WC: 1742/3500


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While Yakuroro felt physically fatigued, mentally he felt refreshed and reborn anew. When he wasn’t thinking about the past, his mind felt serene and clear, like he was able to see things in a new light. He would have to test the limits of his new thinking capacity to the test later though as for now, food took priority over all other things. It didn’t look like he was going to find any in the lab, so Yakuroro began to make his exit when suddenly a magic tool to his side began to light up. ”Hm?...” Curious, the Imuchakk turned to see an orb glowing with purple light as the rukh fluttered around it. The magician approached the crystal ball and tapped it with his finger tip sending it a sliver of magoi that magic tools so desperately craved in order to serve their intended function. An image in the ball began to form and a voice came through from a strange looking tiger-man.

"Yaku? Yaku, is that you?!"

Yakuroro paused and stared at Diego for a moment, unsure of who he was at first. “Oh, you look tasty” The hungry Imuchakk would think to himself, “I’d love to see what his meat tastes like on a kebab from Helio-..." Then it hit him. Thinking of heliohapt reminded Yakuroro of where he had met Diego and thus Yaku recalled that they had entered a dungeon together at one point which led to his beastial form.

"It is you! Where have you been?"

”AH! The boy with the tiger.” Yakuroro said aloud addressing Diego in a manner that would be clear he had trouble remembering the boy. It was almost as if he had forgotten all about their promise. “What business do you have with me, little kitten? I’ve a headache and much to do, I don’t have time to play games so be quick.” He then turned to face the magic tool allowing Diego to see that half Yaku’s body was drenched in blood, but Yaku wouldn’t comment on that if asked about the gore.

"W-what happened to you?" The question would go unanswered as Yakuroro stared out beyond the orb impatiently. "Err...nevermind that, then. Listen, I need your help. I know you told me I should wait to take on Jagang, but I ran into him. He..He killed her, Yaku. He killed Trixie. He tortured me for...I don't know how long. But, I just managed to escape and now I need your help-"

Yaku scratched the back of his head as he listened to Diego ramble on. The magician looked entirely bored as he imagined a juicy kebab once more. When the Fanatiga started to mention how he managed to escape, Yaku would hold up a hand to cut him off and sigh. “I’m starving, you’re wasting valuable seconds that could be spent looking for food. Run along and fix your own problem. Don’t bother me again.” Yaku said before grabbing the crystal ball as he gazed off into the distance. “ ...I have much to do...yes...so much to do…” Diego would be able to see something different about Yakuroro’s eyes. He looked...older now and a certain youthful vibrance had been lost from them. Experiencing several yutes(year minutes) of nightmares will do that to a man. Yaku then tossed the magic orb over his shoulder where it would bounce down the steps settling on the gruesome scene down below in the ice cave. Diego would get a single full second to glimpse Akatetsu’s eviscerated body and a heavily wounded Lady Soushui lying on the ground before the image cut off due to a lack of magoi to power the device.

Retraining Secondary to B-tier Strength:
WC: 2359/3500


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Diego's distraction had been a frivolous interruption, but it had served at least one good purpose. It had placed the depraved magician's mind in line with thoughts of the future and what to do next. His memories were still a mess, but a clear and defined purpose for himself. Fate. It was a cruel and unforgiving master to which all life was seemingly bound. A prison that encased the will of the people turning them into unwitting wardens of their own cells that would gladly maintain their own shackles in blissful ignorance so long as their captivity was pleasant enough. Only those who bore the wrath of fate could open their eyes to the inhumane bondage it really was. For the most part the world was at its mercy, but Yaku no longer marched in step to the tune of that dictator. He would smash those bindings and free the world of its disgusting embrace.

A twisted smile danced across Yakuroro's face and he stepped forward only for his legs to give out. Yakuroro nearly fell over, but he caught himself on a nearby table. He looked down to find that his body was a hardly one an Imuchakk could be proud of. "That's right...I was too proud of my magic. Never took care of my body..." Yakuroro said to himself before grunting back to a full stand. Fate had put him on that path, perhaps so he would be too weak to stand up to its current. Before Yakuroro could change the world, he would have to change himself and shed that useless pride. Muscles would be far more handy in making the world move according to his will.

A quick glance around the room allowed Yakuroro to spot most of his belongings on a rack near the door. His robes, staff, and gourd, were all mounted neatly and clean of any dust or disrepair. 'Hmph...fitting treatment for a King's belongings." Yaku said aloud to himself, not even entertaining the possibility that they had been so well managed out of compassion or friendship, let alone love. He simply snatched his staff from its resting place and held it up to the air.  With a cast of Calling Waters, Yakuroro produced a enough liquid to clean his body of blood before putting on his robes. The flying carpet he'd used as a belt was missing, but a fine green silk sash was there to take its place. It would have to do for now.

Once he was dressed and gathered the rest of his belongings, Yakuroro stepped out of the lab to find a servant girl walking down the hall who looked rather surprised to see him. "Y-Yakuroro-sama! I did not know the mistress had a guest." She made a quick bow to show respect as Yakuroro closed the door behind him. Apparently he had indeed been here before as he thought. Judging by how the girl addressed him, Yaku could tell that he had some sort of good standing with the owner of the estate. Putting on a kind mask and a friendly filter to his voice, Yakuroro smiled and spoke, "Yes, it was an unexpected visit. But your master has informed me that she'll be working herself to death in her lab. I was asked to let you know that she doesn't wish to be disturbed."

Upon hearing this, the maid sighed and rubbed her forehead in frustration. "Again? She's been locking herself in there far too often lately. She won't even let us bring her meals. I worry that she's been working herself too hard..." It was plain to see that she felt concern for her mistress. But Yakuroro was more focused on how lucky he was that the owner of this place was just the kind of person he imagined from looking at the extensive lab. Now it was time to make good use of the dead woman's servants. "I was told that I could expect the best hospitality from staff. Please prepare a feast for me as well as enough supplies to last a month." Yakuroro said in a polite tone. The maid seemed almost excited to be asked to prepare a large meal. To be given orders.

"Yes! Right away, Yakuroro-sama!"

The Imuchakk smiled brightly as he watched her bow and walk away. It wasn't too long before a different maid found him in the study to inform him that his food was ready. Yakuroro was starving and immediately began to dig in as soon as he sat down at the table. Silverware and formality was thrown to the wayside as hungry hands reached out to directly shove food into Yakuroro's mouth. The salads were ignored in favor of protein rich meats and in short order Yaku had managed to eat what felt like five times his body weight. He picked out his favorite foods from the feast and informed the servants that he'd like whatever among them that could be prepared to keep for a long time included in the supplies he asked for.

The next morning, a pack of salted jerked meats and nuts was prepared for the Imuchakk. Yakuroro asked to borrow some money as well and then set out early before there was a chance for anyone in the manse to learn of what really happened to their mistress down in that cave. He set out on the road headed east, deeper into Kou. It was odd, as soon as Yakuroro left the estate, his memory of the area began to flood back as clear as day. It was as if he'd been born in Kou. Each road, each mountain path, each village, Yakuroro's eidetic memory recollected it all from a birds eye view. It was a shame he no longer had his carpet, but he didn't need a carpet in order to train his body. What he DID need however was training tools. The heavy pack of food and gourd full of water at his back were decent weights for walking long distances. But leg work could only get him so far.

Yakuroro's first destination was a blacksmith at the edge of the province. The old man there recognized Yakuroro immediately. He'd dealt with some Brotherhood of Ash members in this town almost a year ago and ended a feud between two families. The smith informed him that ever since, things had been much more peaceful around there. Leveraging the old man's gratitude, Yakuroro was able to get him to forge a large metal slab of iron for Yakuroro. It was hardly something one could call a sword, but it was in the general shape of one and had a handle. Yakuroro asked for one with roughly the same dimensions as Marax's Greatsword. After all, the djinn's powers were magically complex and that had been enough to get him by so far...but Yakuroro had yet to face any other Djinn users. If he did, then they would surely have equally formidable magic. If he could not wield all aspects of Marax's power with mastery then his chances at surviving such an encounter were bleak.

With his new training tool in hand, Yakuroro headed out into the wilderness to begin his training. The staff and magic tools were set aside for now. Hidden in a cave that Yakuroro would be using for shelter for the next few weeks. Alone with nature, Yakuroro began a routine of swinging that metal slab around, running with it, swimming with it, meditating with it, and sleeping with it. Every bit of his day was spent with that mock greatsword at his side. Yakuroro wanted it to be like a part of his own flesh. Something that could be wielded with the same thoughtlessness as his feet when taking a step.

At first, it was clear that the Imuchakk's physical strength was lacking far too much to be able to use the weapon properly. While djinn equipped, Yakuroro was capable of flight and great speed. He'd been able to use these forces to his advantage when using the djinn's weapon so far. But when he had to rely upon his own strength alone, he could barely manage a dozen slashes before tiring greatly. The slashes that he did perform were shaky and uncontrolled. It was a laughable disgraceful display, but this did not weaken Yakuroro's resolve. Rather, it strengthened it. His frailty was like fate's way of slapping him for daring to defy it. How dare he presume to bite the hand that fed him for so long? It was enough to make his blood boil. Yaku used that passion to plow through his fatigue and break past his limits each day.




After a month, Yakuroro's body had become much more used to the greatsword. He was far from a master in its usage, but he could now perform solid, controlled, slashes without the weight of the weapon pulling him along with it. Alas, he could only manage a set of 25 of these steady cuts in a single session before his body tired and his form began to fall apart. Thankfully, with rest, he could manage it again later in the same day. Yakuroro dedicated four sets to each day for a total of one hundred slashes and spent the rest of his time hunting. The food he'd taken along with him had run out and now he had to rely on sweat to obtain sustenance.

Yakuroro could have used magic to produce fruits and vegetables to eat and he did to an extent, but his body craved meat to build the developing muscles. It was a wonder that he could still remember how to hunt. The mountains of Kou certainly weren't the same as the tundra and seas of Imuchakk that he'd been trained to hunt in when he was but a babe. Still so ripe he'd yet to even be exiled or obtain a man's name by defeating a rampaging unicorn. The memories containing that knowledge seemed like it was from another lifetime. But Yakuroro remembered the methods vividly and they helped him trap and corner his prey well enough for his fake sword to handle the rest. It was mostly bears, wild boars, and monkeys that Yakuroro fed upon, but occasionally he would catch lizard-like beasts as well. They were his favorite as they were the largest and could last him several meals, but they were also hard to find.




Another month elapsed and Yakuroro was beginning to feel the results of his training take place. He'd physically changed in appearance becoming much more bulky. He still didn't quite have the look of a normal full blooded Imuchakk his age. Perhaps one three or four years younger who just barely hunted his first rampaging unicorn. But physical looks were hardly something that concerned him. The important part was performance. His measly hundred strokes a day had become a hundred per set and he was doing two sets a session with three sessions a day for a total of six hundred slashes in a single cycle of the sun. It was certainly progress, but Yakuroro could not be sure of just how well he was doing by fighting air alone.

Yaku had begun doing mock battles with shadow opponents in his mind's eye once he could swing the faux greatsword around enough that he could last in a prolonged fight. But there was only so much shadow sparring could do for a warrior. Yakuroro needed to experience a real battle. It was a risky move, but he left his staff and gear in the safety of the cave and left the mountain with nothing but a pair of hakama pants and the greatsword on his back to look for trouble. Bandits were his prey this time instead of bears.

Yakuroro looked for trade roads and then patrolled them patiently stalking wagons and rich looking riders from a distance. Soldiers kept most of the roads safe so Yaku had little luck at first, but eventually he found a path that led through the mountains that was less guarded. As expected, less guards meant more crime opportunities and it did not take long after arriving for Yakuroro to spot a three wagon caravan being assaulted by a dozen brigands. They were former Kou soldiers put out of work by the Emperor's decision to end the country's expansionist policies. Trained fighters with hungry bellies and empty purses. Just the kind of ferocious warriors Yakuroro needed to test his skills against.

The Imuchakk made his way to intervene, playing the part of a hero come to save the day despite knowing full well that he was only there to serve his own selfish ends. The fight that proceeded was hardly even worth mentioning. The Imuchakk's size, the weight of his weapon, the force of his muscles. It was all far too much for a mere human man wielding a simple iron sword. They were like insects holding toothpicks to the giant Imuchakk fighter. Bones and blades broke on impact and after only half the bandits fell, the rest had fled. It was hardly the test of skill Yakuroro wanted, but as far as tests of strength went, it would do. He'd lingered around playing warrior in the woods for far too long. It was time to return to the cave and begin his quest to destabilize the work crushing the workings of fate wherever he went.

Yakuroro cast the iron slab aside and set out once more in order to "save" the world just as he had set out from Imuchakk to "save" it so many years ago...

Retraining Secondary to Strength
WC: 2275/2000
Magoi: 290/300
Abilities Used:
Name: Calling Waters
Tier: D
Cost: 10 Magoi
Element: Water
Class: Supplementary
Range: 10m
Duration: One Turn
Cool-Down: 2 Turns
Description: The magician orders the rukh to gather water from the atmosphere. A 5m sphere of water then manifests in the air in front of the user. Once the sphere forms in the shape of a large blob of water, the user may choose any spot within 10 meters of themselves to drop it. The blob moves at 10m/s and when dropped it  results in a splash of water enough to soak a small group of people or knock over small children and animals weighing less than 60lbs.

[Exit]


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