Live by the Sword

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Amazee Dayzee
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

I am very intrigued at where this story is beginning to go! So since Rowan and Fox are now linked, does that mean that Fox and Rowan have to be near each other and not Fox and Zeke like what Rowan said?
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Krytus The Dreamer
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Krytus The Dreamer »

D-Rock wrote: Thu Jul 21, 2022 2:05 pm It’s really cool how you’re implementing history into this story. Also, the placement of Fox’s new scars got me curious, and very nice implementation of the scars we see on Winter.
Really had to dig deep for that history tidbit but was a nice little callback to where Zeke and Rowan are from.
Amazee Dayzee wrote: Thu Jul 21, 2022 2:58 pm I am very intrigued at where this story is beginning to go! So since Rowan and Fox are now linked, does that mean that Fox and Rowan have to be near each other and not Fox and Zeke like what Rowan said?
Okay, so Zeke and Rowan still need to be within proximity of each other otherwise their conditions worsen to a lethal level. While Rowan and Fox are allowed to be as far apart as they wish it's just anything physical Fox feels Rowan does as well and vice-versa regardless of distance.


Yo guys! Sorry, this one took a while I was having a hard time jumping from where I last left this one off while also being satisfied with the result. I think I got close enough while giving characters here their moment.

Episode 05: The Land Forgotten by Legends
Chapter 02

R: He's awake.

For the past few weeks, Mungo felt an incredible weight on his shoulders.
Knowing Fox was finally awake was the kind of news he had patiently waited for. His patrol route just wasn't the same without Fox by his side. Mungo missed the way; Fox lightened the mood with his jokes. He missed planning what they would do tomorrow. He and Fox had a bond. It wasn't so easily replaceable despite Babylon Police Department's efforts to pair somebody up with Mungo.

"Ticket for you!" yelled a black and white blur. "Ticket for you!" she yelled again before dashing past Mungo. "And another one!"

With a roll of his eyes, Mungo held out his hand. "Talia!" with expert timing, Mungo snagged the husky's collar.

"Yes, sir!" She saluted as she swung back and forth due to the momentum she still carried.

"What are you doing?" Mungo squinted his eyes at the husky.

"Ticketing these unlawful parkers." She responded as Mungo gently set her down, "It may only be expired by a few seconds, but the law is the law. I've got to ticket them for overstaying their welcome."

Mungo rubbed his forehead. "One, we're on break." Talia looked offended and like she was going to say something but Mungo was faster. "Two, those people just parked." Mungo gestured to the human families that had just gotten out of their car.

"Whoops." She winced, her eyes beaming her true intentions. "I'll uh... I'll go apologize."

"Slow down, rookie." Mungo held onto her collar again, saying, "I'm coming with you."

"But sir?" Talia tried to speak up, but Mungo held up his hand.

"I'm supposed to be supervising your first shift. Just because I'm on break doesn't mean I get to ignore you."

A smile beamed on the dog as she raced ahead, leaving Mungo in the dust. The large dog could only chuckle as he calmly strolled to her side. By no means was she a lousy K-9. On the contrary, Talia had eagerness in spades and a genuine desire to do what was right. She wore her heart on her sleeve and wasn't ashamed of it—all were excellent traits for a police dog.

However…

She wasn't Fox. Talia didn't make Mungo laugh the way Fox did. Sure she had her moments of humor, but it wasn't the same. She lacked Fox's intelligence and wit. Where Fox would make a sharp joke Talia bumbled her way into a funny situation. Both were funny in their way, but Mungo just preferred Fox. Two weeks was long enough without him, and to know he was so close to seeing his love once again, for once, made Mungo wish his shift would end quicker. Still, Mungo was a K-9 and had to take his job seriously. For now, that also entailed looking after the BPD's newest recruit.

Once the ticketing mishap was corrected and apologies were issued, Mungo led the way to Heathcliff's. While they couldn't have any soda, it was still a cheap enough place to get some refreshments. Thanks to Talia's earnest personality, the process was much smoother than it could've been, allowing both dogs enough time to get a drink in.

"Again. I'm sorry, Sir." she lowered her head for the nth time.

Mungo shivered as a stray autumn breeze was over him. "L-Look, you're just a rookie; you made a mistake; it happens."

"Something wrong, sir?" Talia's ears rose in concern. "Are you catching a cold?"

"Eh," Mungo casually waved her off. "My breed comes from a desert. Despite my bulky appearance, my short fur doesn't do much against this cold." Mungo massaged his sides as he zipped up his K-9 standard issue jacket.

"Oh, that's wild." her eyes widening with curiosity. "I've never heard of anything like that from Alaska."

"You're from Alaska?"

"Proud of it! I even got my certification there. I was going to sign up for our town's PD, but my dad got a high-paying promotion that needed him to work in this area. So before I signed up with the local PD, he dragged me, my sister, and my other dad here."

"Well, with that many hands, it should’ve been short work."

"You would think, but the circumstances say otherwise. We arrived a week before the autumn festival, but I just put the last box away last night. My other dad and my sister needed to set up shop immediately, which pretty much left all the unpacking to me because it didn’t matter if I was delayed signing up for the K-9 unit. Guess it was for the best; if I hadn’t stayed home that day, I might’ve gotten caught up in the fire. Blessing in disguise, I guess."

Mungo paused when he heard a short mention of the festival. His breath suddenly got heavier and more rapid as images flooded his mind. The amount of red he saw that day, Fox disappearing through his hands, the memories came in waves relentlessly, barely giving Mungo any time to process.

Staggered by the reminder, Mungo found himself resting against a wall. The world seemed to spin around him as he gasped and heaved. Somehow, his legs lost the ability to support his weight, forcing Mungo to grasp the wall even tighter, leaving behind visible claw marks. Everything he heard suddenly became distorted and echoey.

"Sir?" As she tried to support his weight, Mungo could barely make out Talia's face. "Sir? Sir?"

Mungo gagged as he held back his lunch from spilling onto the sidewalk. "I-I'll be fine," he said with his hand cupped over his mouth.

"No, you won't. I should radio HQ."

"R-Rookie."

"But Sir!"

"Are you disobeying my direct order!?"

"I don't care what you do to me; this is for your own good."

As the husky reached for her radio, a crowd of voices gasping nabbed the two officer's attention. Mungo could only get a second to shoot Talia a disapproving look before the husky sped off, leaving him behind. Then, of course, Mungo tried his best to tag along- tried being the operative word.

When Mungo took a step, his uncorrected balance led him back to the wall he relied on for stability. Mungo cursed silently before chasing after the rookie while using the wall as a crutch. It wasn't his proudest moment, but Mungo had no idea what awaited the rookie around the corner. Sure it could be a simple mugging, but it could also be an armed robbery.

Sure Ryujuro's presence has diminished violent crime in Babylon, but it had been weeks since he was last sighted. For all Mungo knew, it could be the worst-case scenario. He wasn't about to let a rookie get harmed under his watch, especially since Mungo had already seen enough red to last a lifetime. So Mungo powered through.

However, when Mungo rounded the corner, it wasn't the scene he expected. Instead, it was Heathcliff's as he knew it, an alleyway behind an authentic restaurant that used boxes as its tables and chairs. As usual, it teemed with pets, but everyone had their eyes focused on the same spot—two female dogs holding each other out of fear while two other dogs were on the floor unconscious.

Talia was more than unchanged. She had pinned one German shepherd dog to the wall as she cuffed and read him his rights. Thankfully since the dog only had his collar on, Mungo deduced that he was unarmed and had no way to conceal it. However, there was something odd about this particular German Shepherd, something familiar. Then, as Mungo approached cautiously, Talia turned to Mungo with pride beaming from her face.

"Standard rowdy bar patron." she laughed as she shoved the dog, a german shepherd, forward. "a little too much to drink, eh buddy?"

While Talia basked in the attention of a fresh arrest, Mungo couldn't help but let his mouth fall agape. "SARGE!?" he yelled in confusion.

"Excuse me?" Talia responded with a confused look on her face.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

"Don't ignore me!"

Fox could only remain silent as an air of awkwardness filled the room.
Fox tried to remain active as he tried to ignore the argument brewing in the room over. He thanked everyone who wished him a speedy recovery over social media. Apparently, the story goes that a wooden support pillar fell on him as he pushed a human child to safety. The influx of well-wishes and "get well soon"s were nice, but ever their cheery attitude did nothing to alleviate the awkwardness. The long shouting match had been going on for nearly ten minutes now, and it was like watching, or in this case, hearing a car wreck; it was hard not to notice.

Thankfully, Fox could draw some comfort in not being the only one who couldn't tolerate the awkwardness. Zeke, who had recovered from his strange condition, was calmly reading a book but a cursory glance was all it took to see that Zeke couldn't focus. His eyes would dart to the sound of Tarot's and Kitsune's argument. As a result, he rarely, if ever, turned a page. On the other hand, Rowan was busy polishing his and Fox's guns. But the dog had been polishing the same part over the course of the argument. Fox was pretty sure any light reflected off of the metallic part would be blinding.

While it may be second-hand knowledge, Fox knew full well what it meant to deal with Celestials. If you're unlucky, you end up with the griffon, Pete. A scheming manipulator with little to no regard for the safety of a mortal. If you're lucky, you get the Spirit Dragon. While she's no less of a manipulator than her brother, she at least pretends to care about your well-being before she asks you to fight on her behalf. Then there's Kitsune.

King seemed to have minimal contact with the nine-tailed Fox despite being a magnet for Celestial activity. As far as Fox knew, he was just the referee for the dispute between Dragon and Pete. Sure, he was also a trickster, but he was also harmless. A prank here or there was annoying but harmless. At least that was what Fox assumed.

Thanks to Tarot practically screeching through the thin wooden walls, Fox had enough to guess the situation. The long and short of it was that Askal mysteriously landing in the museum, and everything that stemmed from it was all part of Kitsune's plan. Up to a point, though. Kitsune countered multiple times, saying someone interfered and altered his plans. He won't specify who or for what reason, just that his plans were ruined.

Since Fox nearly became a casualty of said plans, of course, the husky was livid that the "plan" was kept from him. Fox would've kicked the bucket on the fairgrounds if it weren't for Rowan needing to make a risky play. So now, the two dogs had to live with a physical link for the rest of their natural lives. While it was still a liveable life, it presented unique hurdles to overcome. Unfortunately, it had to wait. Just like Tarot, Fox wanted answers.

"How many times do I have to tell you!?" Kitsune yelled as he burst through the door with Tarot trailing angrily behind him. "I’ll answer in due time. Just give me a moment!"

"A moment!? All I’ve been doing is giving you a moment. When will you stop treating me like a child and answer me straight!" Tarot slammed her fist into a nearby wall.

Kitsune rubbed his temples and had another attempt to deescalate. "Look, I’m just exhausted-

"Exhausted!? YOU!?" Tarot just laughed. “Give me a break, Kitsune. I’m not stupid enough to fall for that ruse. You must be getting desperate.”

"I don't have to justify myself to you; in fact, me letting you stay here and nag me is me practicing restraint."

"Oh wow, how gracious. Thank you for showing us restraint. We’re so grateful."

"You know what!?" Kitsune waved his hand, and a door appeared behind him. "I don't have to take this!"

"Oh, sure! Run away; that's all you seem to be good for!" Tarot yelled hard enough that her voice began to break under the strain.

As Kitsune turned to leave, something finally snapped in Fox. All the time King spent ranting and raving about cosmic forces controlling his life suddenly made sense. He and everyone on the planet had their own lives to live, and knowing that someone from behind the scenes pulled strings to bring everything together just infuriated Fox. Just because they had cosmic powers didn't mean that Celestials had the right to govern their choices.

Fox leaned over to snatch his gun from Rowan's case without thinking about it and took aim at the door Kitsune conjured. A pull of the trigger later and the sound of a gunshot broke Tarot's and Kitsune's argument. Luckily the shot did nothing but leave a singe mark on Kitsune's door, but the stunt finally managed to get the two to stop arguing.

"Hey!" Fox called out, "Remember me, the dog who almost died because of this so-called "Plan"?" The husky threw up his hands to emphasize the word. "Don't I get a say in this?"

Kitsune, who sported a rare look of surprise on his face, couldn't even form a response.

“King told me you like us mortals,” Fox continued, barely holding back a snarl. “and as much as possible, you want us to keep our autonomy, but these plans you've made without our knowledge and consent flies in the face of that idea. Don’t you realize how much of a hypocrite you’re being?”

“Oh gee whiz, another lie. What a surprise!” Tarot interrupted.

Kitsune crossed his arms and rolled his eyes “Tarot,~

“No!” She threw her arms up again. “What am I even saying? You’re a Celestial! You can do pretty much anything you want! WHY ARE WE EVEN DOING ALL THIS WHEN YOU CAN LITERALLY FIX EVERYTHING WITH A WAVE OF YOUR HAND!?”

Tarot, despite facing down a nine-tailed Fox, stomped her way toward Kitsune and jabbed a finger onto his chest. “I’ll tell you why. Because you’re lazy and would rather goof off than fix something you started,”

As Tarot continued to grill Kitsune Fox saw anger begin to well up from within Kitsune, the nine tailed Fox grit his teeth tighter and tighter each time Tarot jabbed Kitsune with her finger “because its so much easier to watch us do it, because you enjoy watching us suf-

“BECAUSE I CAN’T!” Kitsune finally roared, causing the entire room and possibly the outside to shake violently

A quick glance out the window revealed disaster on an epic scale as winds howled to uproot several trees. Lightning streaked across the sky before thunder crackled loud enough to force all the pets in the room to cover their ears. The shaking had gotten so bad that Fox was almost thrown off his bed and onto the floor. Thanks to Rowan manipulating his strings to hold everyone down, nobody fell over, but he could not save most of the furniture. Nick-nacks fell off their shelves, cracks formed on some of the windows, and Fox could’ve sworn he felt a breeze pick up.

Eventually, the disaster passed, and everything seemed to have returned to normal, except for Kitsune. The nine-tailed Celestial simply turned around to face the door he had created and snapped his fingers. If there was a change, Fox couldn’t discern it, nor did he have the time to as Kitsune swung the door wide open.

“You want answers?” Kitsune said in a tone so cold that Fox felt a shiver down his spine. “Fine, but we do it on my terms.”

Fox and Tarot locked eyes before the pomeranian stood up to follow Kitsune through the door. Thanks to the care he had received from Rowan, Fox did the same, albeit with a bit of wobble in his steps. However, when Zeke and Rowan stood to follow, Kitsune held up his hand to stop the pair.

“No.” He said coldly.

“What?” Rowan cried out, “Why?”

Kitsune turned around and, with cold eyes, stared Rowan down. “I. Said. No.”

The chill in his voice when he spoke was unnatural for Kitsune; Fox knew as much. What surprised the husky was who he used the tone on. Zeke and Rowan were close to Kitsune, arguably the closest any mortal has gotten as far as Fox was aware. To speak so coldly to someone he regarded as a friend was just unbearable.

“O-Okay, Kitsune-San.” Rowan shrank away as his ears folded to the back of his skull.

Without another word, Kitsune then vanished through the door, followed by Tarot.

Fox felt his eyes begin to water, but when he reached to rub his eyes, Fox found his fingers were dry. “Rowan?” Fox reached out, but Zeke instead shook his head.

“We’ll be fine. Go Kuya, just promise to give us the low-down later, alright?” The black dog held his brother close as he waved Fox goodbye.

Fox waved to the twin dogs with a weak smile before stepping through the door with Tarot and Kitsune. At first, Fox was confronted with a blinding white light, but as the dog continued to walk, eventually, the light faded to the inside of a quaint building. Judging by its appearance, it looked to be a bar. Most of the furnishings were made of wood, the chairs, the tables, and even the bar at the very back. Wherever they were, it looked nighttime as all of the windows displayed stars glistening like jewels.

Apart from the three of them, there appeared to be no customers. It was an odd place for Kitsune to take them to disclose the details of his plan, but at this point, Fox just needed to know what the celestial was thinking. However, before Fox could even take a seat, his ears twitched to the sound of a bell ringing. Fox turned his head only to see Kitsune making himself at home on a stool by the bar.

"Yo Nuk!" Kitsune hit the bell again, "can't a celestial get some service over here?"

The sudden and effortless change in Kitsune's tone was disturbing. Even Tarot, who had gathered the courage to stand up to a celestial, deflated at the eerie switch on tone. Fox would've called it unnatural, but Kitsune was a Celestial; unnatural was natural.

After Kitsune rang the bell twice, deep-voiced laughter broke the awkward silence as a figure emerged from the back room. What looked to be a raccoon entered the establishment with a broad smile and open arms. And boy did he have a pair of arms. The raccoon almost put Mungo to shame... almost... Of course, personal bias still applied, though the difference was that the raccoon had a gut to accompany his fluffy tail.

"Kitsy." He grabbed the nine-tailed Fox into a bear hug. "I haven't seen you in a few weeks. Don't tell me you're here for another round of my specialty; your previous streak was over a few hundred years or so. So what happened, Kitsy?"

"Ha Ha, very funny, Nuk." Kitsune chuckled as he took a seat.

"No, seriously," Nuk reached under the bar and got three glasses. "When you brought those two over a moment ago, it was the happiest I'd seen you in eons. Oh, carp, was it their time already?"

"Nothing like that, Nuk. I'm just here for a tiny favor."

"Oh? You and I have differing ideas as to what counts as a tiny favor Kitsune-Kun."

Kitsune looked hesitant, almost sheepish, as he rubbed the back of his neck. "I'm going to need a bit of your specialty."

"Of course," Nuk burst out laughing as he turned around to prepare a bottle, "don't worry, Kitsy, I get it. My stuff is the closest thing to medicine for an aching heart."

"I also need something else..." Kitsune took a deep breath before letting it out all at once. "I need your key to Valadir."

Suddenly Nuk tensed up, and his grip on the bottle loosened, causing it to fall and shatter.

End of Chapter 02
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D-Rock
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by D-Rock »

Well, that will be an awkward moment between Talia and the rest of the force, but I’m pretty sure Mungo almost losing it will take precedence.

It’s perfectly understandable when someone has a “rage against the heavens” moment, even more so when a manifestation of it is accessible. But peeling back those layers of playfulness that is Kitsune was very dangerous, though definitely warranted. Now, let’s see what he was trying to bury with Valadir.

I do recall that particular work, no doubt it’ll be a place that Kitsune would rather stay buried.
Faith doesn't change circumstances. Faith changes me.
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Amazee Dayzee
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

Well if Zeke and Rowan have to stay in proximity to each other I guess there are always double-dates unless proximity only just means property where one can be inside and the other can be outside.

Anyway I look forward to seeing what Kitsune is gonna show Fox and Tarot!
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Wrenisprobablyb0red »

Really enjoyed the chapters I missed! Fox becoming one of the kuyas is a pretty awesome touch, and I'm super curious about the dream sequence you opened episode 5 with. I wonder if Fox can use any of Rowan's powers now, or act as like an alternate source of magical energy for Zeke, and Rowan can get some alone time haha. At first I was confused by this line from Nuk: "When you brought those two over a moment ago, it was the happiest I'd seen you in eons. Oh, carp, was it their time already?" The phrasing made me think it was referring to Tarot and Fox, which didn't make a ton of sense, but it's actually referring to Rowan and Zeke isn't it?
I came here looking for (noun), but this is so much better!
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Krytus The Dreamer »

D-Rock wrote: Mon Aug 08, 2022 11:57 am I do recall that particular work, no doubt it’ll be a place that Kitsune would rather stay buried.
I did feel like I didn't use the setting to its full potential with my other works but hey no point in letting it go to waste since it can serve a similar purpose in this story.
Amazee Dayzee wrote: Mon Aug 08, 2022 4:40 pm Well if Zeke and Rowan have to stay in proximity to each other I guess there are always double-dates unless proximity only just means property where one can be inside and the other can be outside.
As for proximity Zeke and Rowan have about half a tennis court's worth of room before they have to come back together approx 10 meters (32ft) still since being separated isn't generally a good idea they tend not to push the maximum distance of their connection.
Wrenisprobablyb0red wrote: Sat Aug 13, 2022 4:24 am At first I was confused by this line from Nuk: "When you brought those two over a moment ago, it was the happiest I'd seen you in eons. Oh, carp, was it their time already?" The phrasing made me think it was referring to Tarot and Fox, which didn't make a ton of sense, but it's actually referring to Rowan and Zeke isn't it?
my reaction.

This one may be a little bit on the short side but I think I'm satisfied with it. I even get to revisit and old work I did and repurpose something I didn't get to fully explore.

Oh and I almost forgot to add an addendum to the trivia section a few chapters ago.

Zeke's Favorite food is called Crispy Pata which is a Filipino dish consisting of deep-fried pig trotters or knuckles served with a soy-vinegar dip.
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Episode 05: The Land Forgotten by Legends
Chapter 03

Fox felt his hackles raise at the tension in the air.
He didn't know what about Valadir spawned the tension between Kitsune and Nuk, but it had to be serious. Nuk had been nothing but social when Kitsune called him. He laughed up a storm, poked fun at Kitsune, and struck up conversations left and right. Yet when Valadir was mentioned, Nuk suddenly lost his jovial nature and clammed up. All Fox and Tarot could do was to take a seat a reasonable distance from the two friends and watch.

"Where are my manners?" Nuk laughed and walked around the bar as if he hadn't heard Kitsune's request. "Fox and Tarot, I presume? So pick your poison, orange soda, cola, tea, or the hard stuff I've got squared away."

"Nuk," Kitsune sighed as he had been ignored.

Nuk then snapped his fingers, causing two menus to appear before Fox and Tarot. At first glance, they contained foreign letters Fox had never even seen before, but a second later, they shifted into Japanese characters before finally settling on English words. Fox was hesitant initially but decided not to refuse the raccoon's hospitality. His grievances were with Kitsune; after all, Nuk had done nothing wrong so far.

"I'll uh just have green tea?" Fox shrugged,

"Fine," Tarot sighed as she set the menu down. "I'll also have the tea."

Once Nuk summoned the tea cups with a snap of his fingers, the drink Tarot and Fox had ordered welled up from the bottom. In addition to the tea, a small plate with three differently colored spheres on skewers appeared, allowing a scent of freshly cooked food to waft through the air.

"Green Tea and a set of Dango on the house." Nuk said proudly with a wink, "Enjoy."

Before Nuk could return to the safety of the bar, Kitsune grabbed Nuk's shoulder. "Nuk, I know what this looks like, but I'm backed into a corner. Please give me the key."

Nuk took a deep breath and sighed as he looked Kitsune in the eye. As Fox studied the interaction between the nine-tailed fox and the raccoon, he noticed how easily he could read Nuk's expressions and body language. Nuk tensed his shoulders but not his fists; his eyes were laser-focused on Kitsune's; his shoulders were spread wide but closed off ever so slightly. It was much different from how Kitsune presented himself, and he wondered how differently Pete and Dragon carried themselves.

"My friend, I hoped you would've moved past that place." Nuk sighed. "It's not healthy."

"Yeah, but I need to prove a point, and sadly I've burnt too much goodwill with these two alone." Kitsune gestured to Tarot and Fox with a nod.

Nuk then chuckled, turning his attention to Fox and Tarot. "What in the multiverse did you two do to back him into a corner? I'm gonna need to swap notes when we get back."

"We?" Kitsune repeated.

"Yes, "we" I've seen what that place does to you, and I can't let you through without me in good conscience."

"But~

"No buts. Either I come along, or you don't get the key and my special remedy."

Kitsune sighed wearily before lowering his head into a bow. "You've got yourself a deal, Honorable Tanuki-San."

"Oh, using my full name, title, and honorifics? Come on, none of this San business. We're friends, Kitsune-Kun." Nuk corrected Kitsune's posture before holding out his hand. "Besides, you said it yourself; this is just a tiny favor."

"Right, Nuk-Kun." Kitsune smiled warmly as he accepted the handshake.

An orange key floated from Kitsune's palm when Kitsune and Nuk broke their handshake. "So You've got my key and your key that leaves two more."

"Oh, I wouldn't worry about that. I've got Pete's and Dragon's right here." Kitsune flicked his wrist, and three keys materialized one blue, one green, and one red.

Upon mention of Dragon, Fox cringed when he heard Tarot slam her palms into the table before rushing over to the two celestials. "What? Dragon? What's this got to do with her?"

"Settle down, Tarot," Kitsune said as he rolled his eyes and casually walked past her. "I said I'd explain myself and why I did what I did, but that doesn't include what happened to Dragon."

Tarot balled up her fists again, "Are you seriously trying~

"Yes, because quite frankly, what happened to Dragon after the game no longer concerns you. Either I tell you what happened to Dragon, or I explain myself. You get one." Kitsune rebutted without even looking back at the pomeranian.

At first, Tarot looked like she wanted to rip Kitsune's throat out, but she took a quick second to calm herself down before she returned to her seat. Considering how late he was to the game, Fox had only an inkling of how Dragon treated Sabrina and Tarot. It was cordial at best, but from what he heard, Dragon wasn't the best leader. Of course, she couldn't have been since Tarot and Sabrina couldn't be bothered to lift a finger when King told them they didn't need to do anything and couldn't be forced to.

When Kitsune heard no response, the nine-tailed Fox held out his hands, causing the four keys to orbit around him and the air to crackle with energy. Strange symbols appeared around Kitsune as he focused, and when he pointed at a space in the bar, the power followed his lead and flowed to the spot. Suddenly a bright light flashed, causing Fox and Tarot to look away, and when the light finally died down, a door stood where Kitsune had pointed.

Fox nearly gagged at the sight. The door Kitsune had summoned ooze black sludge from cracks in its wooden frame. Any intricate decorations the door may have had were either worn away by time or covered in black goo. Underneath the black goo, Fox could only make out an intricate carving of a tree etched onto the door. The only thing that stood the test of time were four padlocks that chained the door shut.

"In hindsight, maybe we should've done this somewhere else." Nuk sighed, "I'm going to have to clean that up later."

Kitsune ignored the raccoon as he wordlessly commanded the four keys to unlock the padlocks. Then, one by one, each padlock fell to the floor and vanished as each key undid them, and each time the locks faded away, Fox felt a sense of dread increase within himself. Almost like they shouldn't even be doing this in the first place. Finally, when the last lock faded, the door eerily and slowly swung open, almost like it was a horror movie. Inside, Fox saw a giant white tree floating in the void, and while Fox was no botany expert, one glance was all the husky needed to tell it was dead.

So hypnotized by the horror of the sight, Fox nearly jumped out of his fur when he felt something slither around his neck. When he glanced down, Fox saw a strange clock hanging by a string that glowed with a warm light almost opposite the dark void.

"Timepieces," Nuk answered preemptively as he floated one over to Tarot. "Time doesn't flow in that world, and if anybody somehow unlocked the seal and wandered in, they'd freeze in place without these things."

"Let's go," Kitsune said coldly as he walked in, his tone returning to the emotionless one he sported before meeting with Nuk.

Nuk solemnly followed his friend, leaving Tarot and Fox to exchange worried glances. Eventually, the two gathered the courage and followed the two celestials into the door. At first, Fox wasn't sure what to expect, but when he stepped through the portal and found himself on a branch, he was even more confused at seeing nine different planets floating around the tree. Each one was unique in its landscape and found shelter somewhere on the tree; some hid along its roots, some on its branches, but only one planet sat atop what used to be the tree's canopy.

While Fox was busy throwing away everything he knew about science, Fox noticed something odd about the planets as they followed Nuk and Kitsune. All of them, including the tree, were devoid of color. While one or two would've been somewhat understandable, all of them lacking color was eerie. Moreover, each world had a giant chain that dug straight through it, all except the one in the center where all chains led to.

"You asked me why I couldn't just wave my hands and fix everything." Kitsune then gestured to the nine planets and their sorry state. "This is why."

"I don't understand. What happened here?" Fox continued to gawk at the scenery, hoping to piece together the mystery himself

Nuk interjected for Kitsune, "Perhaps a history lesson would clear things up. This is Valadir; while most worlds are just one realm, this one is divided into nine and found stability by clinging to this world tree which is an oddity hard to find even in the vast infinity of the multiverse. Because of this exceptional stability, Celestials could act directly on this plane without needing avatars."

"Okay, so you partied so hard that you destroyed not one, not two, not even three but nine worlds all at once. That's got to be some kind of record." Tarot said flippantly.

"Not exactly." Nuk chuckled awkwardly, "Well, yes, there were parties. Initially, Celestials would come from across the multiverse to play around, and because this world could handle celestial activity, there were little to no consequences.”

"Okay, so what happened to all the red tape?" Fox interjected, "I've been around King long enough to know that heaven had several restrictions and rules to keep the balance."

Nuk’s tone shifted to a more melancholic one. "You need to understand. The tragedy here happened eons ago, long before your world ever came to be. Heaven wasn't as strict with its rulings as it is today. Things were different back then. The tragedy of Valadir forced the higher powers of heaven to crack down on the rules."

“And what was the tragedy that happened oh so long ago?” Tarot continued to sound more impatient.

Finally, at Tarot's demand, Kitsune spoke up with a voice dripping with sadness. "The mass extinguishment of souls, Mortal and Celestial alike. Ragnarok."

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Mungo breathed a sigh of relief as he reviewed the statements again.
His findings were unanimous; Ralph wasn't the instigator. According to the patrons of Heathcliff's, Sergeant Ralph was at the bar before the altercation began enjoying a drink, lemonade with crushed ice. The two male dogs were in the process of courting the two females but clearly stated their disinterest. However, because they were under the influence of a few servings of soda, they continued to pester the female patrons, causing Ralph to intervene.

He tried to approach the situation in a civilized manner, but the aggressors ignored him. Finally, when Ralph tried to be sterner, the two dogs were the first to initiate. Ralph was on the defensive, either blocking or evading any punch, but when one of the aggressors approached Ralph brandishing an empty glass bottle, Ralph became aggressive. Everyone who bore witness to the event described Ralph only taking measured responses, and even the servers reported he didn't have a drop of soda before the event.

"There's still something strange about this." Mungo sighed before realizing Fox wasn't there.

"Strange about what, sir?" Talia spoke up suddenly, causing Mungo to jump back in shock.

Mungo took a second to ensure his reports were still in order. "Geez, back already?"

"Yes, Sir. I've confirmed and finished the paperwork for dispatch, and they've already sent someone to finish our patrol route. Its K-9 Unit 7" Talia saluted with a stern face. "If I may ask again, Sir, what's strange? I mean, besides the fact that I arrested the Sergeant. The witness reports state that Sarge was in the right and did nothing wrong. If anything, we should be rushing over there to let him out of suspect holding and beg him for forgiveness."

Mungo gave the command to ease as he shuffled his papers around and made his way to holding. "The incident report is nothing out of the ordinary. However, it's the circumstances around it that's got me curious. Around the time of the incident, Ralph should've been working a shift, but he wasn't. So when I asked around why he wasn't working, I was told he put in a request for leave to celebrate his birthday in two days." Mungo found Ralph's official request and gently pulled it out of his pile before presenting it to Talia.

"That doesn't sound too out of the ordinary." Talia took the paper and studied it trying to discern what got Mungo's attention.

"If there's one thing you should know about Sargeant Ralph, it's that he's a massive hypocrite regarding vacation times. He'll tell you to take a break but never takes one himself, not even for his birthday. So his handler had to schedule his off days and make it mandatory."

Mungo then pointed to the signature at the bottom of the document, signifying that Ralph had initiated the request.

"It just doesn't seem like something he'd do himself." Mungo mused as he scratched his chin.

"Maybe he's finally taking everyone's advice," Talia suggested. "Babylon’s been having less criminal activity because of Suicune; maybe Sergeant Ralph sees it as an opportunity to go without worrying about the prescint.”

Mungo could only scratch his head. "Sarge takes his job very seriously; that's still something he wouldn't have done." Mungo rounded the corner and finally reached the holding cell that had Sergeant Ralph. "In any case, I'll just have a little chat with Sarge before I let him go. I need to confirm some things."

"May I come with you?" Talia stood at attention, trying to present her best side.

"I think it'd be best if I went in alone," Mungo motioned to grab the door but stopped when he saw how disappointed Talia was "why don't you grab us a cup of pet-safe cocoa? We never did our break."

"Understood, sir." Talia saluted before running off.

He chuckled more before turning his attention to the holding room door. Mungo entered to find Ralph sitting politely with his fingers intertwined. Aside from the metal chairs and table, there wasn’t much to the white-walled holding room aside from the one-way viewing window. While it may be an awkward affair, it had to be done, so Mungo pulled up a chair before sitting and setting down the papers.

"Happy advanced birthday, Sarge." Mungo started, "Any plans?"

Ralph said nothing and refused eye contact.

"I'm going to cut to the chase. Can you tell me what's happening? This isn't like you, Sarge, and it's deeply concerning." Mungo leaned on the table to get closer to Ralph.

"What I do in my free time is none of your Business Officer Mungo. You don't see me sticking my nose in your relationship with Officer Lindberg."

"Sir. I'm just concerned. Please tell me."

"I gave you my statements and complied with the arrest. So I don't have to tell you anything more. Please just let me go. My night is ruined enough as it is."

When Ralph leaned back into his seat and folded his arms, Mungo began to sense a pattern. It was in the way he refused to make eye contact, how he impatiently tapped his foot against the floor. Ralph was hiding something, but Mungo still couldn't piece it together.

"Sir~" Mungo then paused as he heard rumbling.

Suddenly the ground beneath them shook violently as the lightbulb grew brighter and brighter until it burst with a loud bang. Mungo quickly complied with earthquake safety and ducked underneath the steel table for protection, but as the tremors continued, Mungo couldn't feel Sergeant Ralph anywhere nearby. Then just as quickly as it had started, the tremors stopped, but the emergency lights were still nonfunctional.

After creating a ball of light in his hands, Mungo surveyed the room and found Sergeant Ralph in the corner of the holding cell, huddled into a ball. In the complete silence of the room, Mungo made out Ralph's whimpering as he hyperventilated.

"Sir?" Mungo approached cautiously, and his voice filled with concern.

Ralph turned to Mungo's voice giving the larger dog a clear view of Ralph's condition. Despite the light shining on him, Ralph's pupils were constricted, his hands were shaking almost as bad as the earthquake, and his tail was tucked tightly between his legs. There was no doubt about it; Ralph was having a panic attack.

"Sir," Mungo tried to approach again, trying to be as comforting as possible.

As Mungo approached, the emergency lights finally flickered to life, snapping Ralph somewhat back to his senses. "I... I... need a moment."

"That's okay, sir," Mungo cooed, keeping his distance, "I'll be-

"Alone." Ralph added quickly, "I need to be alone."

"But-

"That's an order, Officer Mungo."

Once again, Ralph refused to meet Mungo's eyes directly. He knew enough from his training that difficult patients needed time to open up. It might even be tough since Ralph had superiority over Mungo, making it hard for the german shepherd to be vulnerable about his feelings. In this situation, Ralph needed time. Mungo double-checked his surroundings for anything that could cause harm to Sergeant Ralph, and once the larger dog saw found nothing, Mungo stood up.

"I'll... I'll be in the cafeteria if you need me." Mungo sighed as he gathered his papers.

As Mungo exited the holding cell, he gave Ralph one more look as he leaned on the corner of the cell. With an exhausted sigh, Mungo slowly closed the door before leaning on a nearby wall and slowly lowering himself onto the floor.

End of Chapter 03
Last edited by Krytus The Dreamer on Wed Aug 17, 2022 6:11 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Amazee Dayzee
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

Really nice job on the chaptr. It cam out really great!

Also, I still say that there is a way that Zeke and Rowan could make dating work if they wanted to. XDDDDD
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Wrenisprobablyb0red »

Neat chapter! Never expected Sargent Ralph to be involved in whatever magic(k)al madness is going on! I'm a little confused about the configuration of Valadir. Clearly it's based on Norse mythology, what with the nine realms, world tree, and Ragnarok. But how could Fox and Tarot even tell the nine or sweet planets if they were sort of whited out? And what about the configuration makes it more stable and accessible to celestials?
Btw, the Crispy Pata looks very tasty. Somehow almost every chapter of this story makes me hungry? Haha.

Also, nice PFP Amazee. I like Aardvark.
I came here looking for (noun), but this is so much better!
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Re: Live by the Sword

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Thats for saying that about my avatar! It has been a very long time for me to get it uploaded but I finally was able to recently!

Also, once again thank you Krytus for the story!
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Re: Live by the Sword

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The mass extinguishment of souls? The fact that a soul can just be annihilated is nothing short of horrific. No wonder Valadir was sealed off and treated with such fear.

Just what is going on with Ralph? We’ll have to wait and see what is happening beneath the surface. Maybe the pressures of his duty was reaching a breaking point, so that was why he filled out the paperwork himself, but being stuck in the room is letting the cracks deepen?
Faith doesn't change circumstances. Faith changes me.
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Krytus The Dreamer »

Wrenisprobablyb0red wrote: Mon Aug 15, 2022 8:08 pm Btw, the Crispy Pata looks very tasty. Somehow almost every chapter of this story makes me hungry? Haha.
what can I say I'm a total foodie :P
Amazee Dayzee wrote: Mon Aug 15, 2022 2:37 pm Also, I still say that there is a way that Zeke and Rowan could make dating work if they wanted to. XDDDDD
That's definitely a given, though its probably gonna be a double date or Rowan's date doesn't mind Zeke just casually hanging around in the background
D-Rock wrote: Tue Aug 16, 2022 11:30 pm Just what is going on with Ralph? We’ll have to wait and see what is happening beneath the surface. Maybe the pressures of his duty was reaching a breaking point, so that was why he filled out the paperwork himself, but being stuck in the room is letting the cracks deepen?
hmmmmm so many plot points so little time.

Hey guys before you ask no my internet didn't give out again. I just felt like I had a lot of things in my mind and this just felt like a better distraction than being glued to my computer playing videogames. no instead i was glued to my computer writing fan-fiction! MY LOGIC IS FLAWLESS! So yeah anyway enjoy!

Episode 05: The Land Forgotten by Legends
Chapter 04

Fox found it hard to swallow when he heard about Ragnarok.
So much so that neither Fox nor Tarot spoke up for the remainder of their trip through the branches. Eventually, as they followed Kitsune and Nuk, Fox saw a similar door to the one they had entered to get to the realm of Valadir. Except instead of requiring four keys to open, this one was blown wide open, almost like someone was rushing to get out and couldn't wait to open the door.

On the other side of the door, Fox found himself in a lush forest similar to Babylon, or at least what should've been a lush forest. But, just like he had seen from the giant tree, Fox found the world he was staring at devoid of color. There was no wind, and he couldn't even feel a breeze; time really had stopped in this realm. But, unlike his view from the giant tree, Fox didn't see massive chains reaching toward the heavens, nor did he see the planets it held down. It was just like any other sky.

While Fox was aware of the myth of Ragnarok, he wasn't sure if what he was working with was accurate. How did his world have a record of Ragnarok? How was it different from the real thing? Is it any different from the real thing? Sadly, however, instead of exploring to satiate his initial curiosity Nuk and Kitsune instead picked a cozy spot between two trees and simply leaned on it while waiting for Tarot and Fox.

Once Fox and Tarot caught up to the two Celestials, Nuk began once again. "You see, the game as you know it is multi-purposed. First, it allows us to select and train mortals to defend their realm from demonic threats under the guise of playing a game. Second, when the celestial eventually moves onto other worlds, the following they established through their game will subsequently call upon them if a demonic threat arises that they cannot handle. Finally, it is also sometimes used to settle minor disputes."

"Valadir is special," Kitsune sighed as he snapped his fingers. "Think of reality like a sheet of paper. As long as we celestials keep our activity to that of high-level casters, we don't do any harm to the surrounding area."

A piece of paper appeared before Tarot and Fox with a miniature figure of Kitsune standing on it.

"However, when celestial magic is used to its full extent, it exerts pressure on the surrounding area. If we do too much, then well...

The doll of Kitsune began to sink lower as it distorted the paper. Eventually, because of how heavy it was, it tore through the paper and fell to the grassy floor. When Kitsune picked up the piece, Fox noticed that the grass didn’t return to its original shape.

"With Valadir's nine realms stacked on top of each other and the world tree acting as a frame to grant further stability, Celestials had something they have never experienced before first-hand experience."

The diorama reset, except there were nine pieces of paper with a frame to hold everything together. In addition to Kitsune's figure, there was also a figure of Nuk. The two dolls bowed before each other before they began to spar with no damage done to the paper they were standing on.

"Celestials could finally do away with the tediousness of having to put up with mortal limitations and could take care of problems personally. But, unfortunately, Valadir's stability didn't only apply to us. As more and more celestials came to Valadir, demonic forces also took notice and escalated. In response, Celestial forces also escalated."

A few more demonic figures appeared on the paper board, then two figures appeared in response, one dragon and one griffon. As more and more pieces were added, the paper began to strain, but it didn't break. Still, it was very close to breaking.

"Until this point, Celestials and Demons had never met face to face in battle on a physical realm before. Both sides had a vested interest in keeping the realm intact; for Celestials, it was because it was their duty; for Demons, it was because they couldn't use the realm as a foothold against heaven if nothing were left in the aftermath. Both sides assumed Valadir was no different than fighting in places like the void, but when they clashed on Valadir, distortions began to form."

Fox noticed the smell of a starting flame, and before he knew it, small patches of fire spread across the paper. Then the already strained paper suddenly gave way, and all the figures fell to the ground once again.

"Once distortions were impossible to ignore, all the Celestials were suddenly trapped in a conundrum. Should they fight and risk destabilizing Valadir or evacuate mortals to a new realm and allow Demonic forces to seize Valadir for themselves? As far as Celestials knew at the time, the most mortals could handle were pawns of demonic forces, and even if they could handle more, none of the celestials made any contracts with mortals to become avatars."

"All except for one. As it turns out, when Celestial magic is channeled through a substantial enough avatar, and they clash with demonic forces, distortions don't form. Even when facing the higher ranked demons." Nuk chuckled before he noticed the glare Kitsune had fired his way.

"We're getting off-topic," Kitsune said, barely holding back a growl. "I've already explained more than enough on why I can't do things willy-nilly in your world."

Tarot then raised her hand. "But~

"More than enough." Kitsune reitterated in a firm tone. "Now, you also asked why I had to go behind your backs with plans. The answer is simple: I saw Askal headed for a deadly outcome."

"Deadly? What was less deadly about this outcome?" Fox threw his arms out in exaggeration.

Kitsune threw an accusatory finger at Fox. "Don't take that tone with me; I already told you my plans were messed with. I had only intended for Askal to be exposed to the sword for a short duration, long enough to awaken his latent abilities and forge a strong bond with Fido, who would act as his anchor in place of Datu being out of commission."

"Explain." Fox resisted the urge to growl.

Kitsune rolled his eyes. "Had I not intervened, Askal would've only had a passing relationship with Fido, certainly not strong enough to hold back the rage-fueled memories in that sword. I told that dog that he could see and hear strong emotions within objects or people, but it wasn't the whole truth; extreme emotions allowed him to become the owner of those memories. This, however, comes at a price; should he become so consumed with someone else's memories, Askal, as you know him, will cease to exist and become an exact copy of someone else."

"Then why the secrecy? Why not tell us right away what the problems are?" Tarot spoke up, having calmed down a little bit.

"Because you're in a unique position, Tarot." Kitsune folded his arms and leaned back on a tree. "The Game ended, which means you reset back to an unmeddled state, but keep knowledge about the supernatural. If I take a more active role than I already am in helping your budding team, outside forces will call you fair game and take you out before you're even ready. Do you want to know why I had to keep up the secrecy? Because I want to protect you. If you really want to know who messed up my plans and why then I only have one question: Are you prepared to die when you come back to Babylon Gardens?"

Fox knew very little about Tarot. From what he knew, Tarot built her whole life around the demands of her Celestial master, Dragon. But, when the game ended, that life she made crumbled into almost nothing. So it was understandable that she found trust between any Celestial being extremely scarce and to have to do it once more with Kitsune, who specializes in trickery.

He could see it in Tarot's face. She was calculating and consulting any scrap, any tidbit of information or experience to inform her decision. Luckily Fox's decision wasn't so bogged down by personal grievances. So despite not having a pleasant time revisiting someplace that brought back painful memories, Kitsune did it to reassure his goodwill. He explained himself, gave proof, and gave good reasons to boot. Sure he had lingering doubts, but Fox couldn't ask for more until Kitsune was ready to share.

"I'm satisfied." Fox sighed, catching the attention of both Tarot and Kitsune. "I'm sorry I was pushing it, but I needed an explanation, and everything you've given me so far is satisfactory."

"Fox? Are you sure?" Tarot crossed her arms, still deep in thought.

Fox nodded, "I still expect you to share what this is all about when you think the time is right, but until then, this will do."

"Thank you for understanding, Fox," Kitsune lowered his head, "Tarot?" Kitsune then turned his attention to the pomeranian.

She remained silent, still consumed by her thoughts.

"Why don't we give the girl some time to think." Nuk interjected, "I'm not sure what you did, but I can see she needs time to think. Besides, I believe you still have some business to attend to Kitsune-Kun. It’d be rude to keep your guests waiting."

Kitsune nodded before standing up, "You two stay here. While there isn't anything that can harm you here, Nuk or I can't see where you'll be if you get lost. There's also the possibility that you may fall into the void on our way back, so it'd be best if you waited for us."

When Tarot didn't respond, Kitsune and Nuk took it as their cue to leave.

"Oh, and if you hear any voices or see anything, don't follow them." Nuk added, "As I've said before, time here is broken, and while your timepieces may keep you moving, they can also stir up events that happened long ago. For the most part, it's harmless, but following it could get you lost, so don’t do it." With his final warning issued, Kitsune and Nuk disappeared into the forest, off to do who knows what.

Now left alone with the pomeranian, Fox could only guess what was occupying her mind. Even when, by Fox's estimate, more than fifteen minutes passed, Tarot had yet to speak a word. It had to be hard to see your worldview challenged repeatedly.

"I'm gonna follow them," Tarot said, suddenly catching Fox's attention.

Fox rubbed his ears, "Excuse me; you're going to what?"

"You heard me." Tarot growled as she began to walk off, causing Fox to follow her, "I'm going to follow them. It's the perfect time to do so."

"Even if this wasn't a massive breach of trust, why follow them? They're gonna see us com~" Fox then paused as he remembered what Kitsune said prior, "Okay, but it's still a massive breach in trust. Tarot don't do this."

"Kitsune already breached our trust when he made plans behind our backs. Maybe it's time he got a taste of his own medicine."

"How would you even know where they went? You could get lost!"

"I'll just retrace my steps!"

As both dogs continued to argue and walk further away, Fox occasionally heard sounds of nature around him. The only reason why he didn't immediately panic was that it was obviously fake. The sounds he heard sounded like it was being played on an ancient gramophone. It was scratchy, hushed, and hard to make out certain sounds. However, as the two continued to move through the forest, a particular sound finally caught both dogs' attention.

"Kitsune!"

Fox's ears twitched when he heard it, then looked at Tarot, who looked like she heard it too. Both dogs, out of curiosity more than anything, peeked around a nearby tree. Once they did, however, they almost ducked their heads back out of fear that they would've been seen had it not been for the grainy texture on the two figures.

While the texture made it look like Fox was watching a TV show on a CRT TV, Fox could still make out features like fur, tails, clothes, and weapons on the two figures running through the forest. The most obvious one was Kitsune, who wore kimono-looking robs and had a katana strapped to his hip. Aside from the TV textures, the dead giveaway that this wasn't the real Kitsune was that this Kitsune only had four tails instead of nine.

The figure that trailed behind him, however, was harder to discern. Judging from the voice and build, Fox could at least discern it was a male wolf. He had white fur, leather armor, and a cloak but the most striking detail of the wolf was the bow and quiver the wolf had on his back. It was brand new, almost like he had never seen battle before.

"Kitsune!" the wolf called again. "Who's this mortal you wanted to see? We're on Valadir; why would we need an Avatar anyway?"

Kitsune paused so he could shoot the wolf a smirk. "C'mon, Vidar think of the advantage!"

"What advantage? They're mortal. I could even wipe the floor with a mortal."

"Yeah, but you miss every other shot with that bow. Besides, this one is different; I can feel it. It's a hunch."

"You want to allocate some potentially game-changing resources to raise an avatar?"

"Oh, you're right about the game-changing part Vidar. Think about it, most Celestials, you included, won't bat an eye at a mortal participating in the games. It's the ultimate secret weapon. Especially since this one's gonna be the strongest avatar in existence."

"How do you know that?"

"It's called a hunch!"

Then as the two young Celestials continued walking, they flickered out of existence, leaving Tarot and Fox slightly dumbfounded. If that was a younger version of Kitsune, Fox couldn't even imagine how much time it took to grow up to be the Kitsune he knew now. It must've been eons, super-eons even. Unfortunately, Fox didn't get to ponder his comparatively infinitesimally short time alive. From the corner of his eye, the Husky noticed Tarot running off, waving her timepiece around, hoping to reignite events.

"Tarot!" Fox snarled as he gave chase.

As Fox ran, the husky suddenly felt the repercussions of staying in bed for two weeks. His stamina wasn't up to his usual standard, and the forest's uneven footing wasn't helping matters. It frustrated Fox to no end to see how slow he had gotten in only two weeks.

Making things even worse was a strange feeling in his throat. It was hard to tell what it was at first, but when Fox's lungs felt as though they had been set on fire, Fox almost immediately collapsed as he gasped for air. Fox felt like something was lodged in his throat; he could breathe, but at the same time, it felt like he couldn't. Not long after, Fox felt something press against his stomach repeatedly. Eventually, after a few presses, the feeling vanished, and Fox was able to breathe again.

Fox took a moment to collect himself. They were literally worlds apart, and his connection to Rowan persisted. While Fox needed to distinguish the ramifications of their connection going forward, now was not the time. Due to his distraction, Tarot was able to get a headstart and could be practically anywhere by now.

It was no trouble to track her down; her tracks couldn't be erased by anything. Instead, it was the distance that Fox was worried about. With his connection to Rowan, Fox didn't want to risk another choking incident, and yet he still needed to drag Tarot back before either of them made Kitsune angry again. Sadly all Fox could do at this point was to follow Tarot's footsteps and hope he'd catch up with the pomeranian before it was too late.

Fox took it slow as the husky walked with his right hand clutched his left side. Unfortunately, he had no choice; his new shared condition with Rowan posed too many unknowns, and it would be idiotic to risk his life when Tarot was reckless. Still, Fox made his best effort to catch up. His relationship with Kitsune would be necessary for the future, and Fox didn't want to kick things off by creating an enemy when he could have an ally.

Another five minutes passed, and still no sign of Tarot. However, as Fox continued to follow Tarot's trail, yet another distorted conversation played nearby. Sadly despite his resolve to do right by Kitsune, Fox couldn't help but take a peek and listen in on what happened all those years ago.

Once again, it was Vidar and Kitsune. The only difference was that the two Celestials stood before a sobbing wolf pup with clothes straight out of a fantasy movie set. He barely came up to either of their waists and had jet-black fur. The wolf pup struggled to hold up a small dagger and had minor cuts on his apparel.

"This is your ultimate weapon?" Vidar gave Kitsune a side glance which the four-tailed fox only avoided meeting

"Well, don't judge a book by its cover Vidar." Kitsune chuckled before leaning down, "Hey there, little guy, what's wrong?"

"Y-You're not going to kill me?" the pup's face softened slightly.

"Nothing like that! Do we look like killers to you?" Kitsune pouted.

"Yes." Vidar and the pup responded at the same time.

Kitsune straightened up and glanced at his sword and Vidar's longbow, "Okay, fine, you got me there but do we seem like bad folk to you?"

"I guess not." The pup shrugged

"So tell me, young one, why are you out here all on your own?"

"W-Well, I was on my way to my master's garden. My pack always picks on me for being born the runt. They say things like 'tend to the flowers. It's all you seem to be good for.' and it's not like they're wrong. It's all I can do."

"So why are you tending to that garden?"

"Because it's my master's dream to have every flower in this world blossom in our garden one day. I know I can't do much, but I want to try growing what I can. She can't do it herself because she's very sick, so I've got to do it."

"What if I told you I can make your master all better?"

"I'd call you a liar. Many healers from all over have tried but nothing. My master spends most seasons bedridden."

"Okay, let's say I could heal your master; what would you do? How far would you go for her?"

"I'd do anything." The wolf pup took almost no time deciding and said it without a single shred of doubt.

Kitsune then gave a soft chuckle before erupting into laughter, causing the wolf-pup to pout. "I like your attitude, little one! Tell me do you have a name?"

"Uh... My name?" the pup hesitated for a second before finally looking at Kitsune and Vidar, "My name is Fenrir."

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Askal awoke to the sound of a guitar strumming.
The young dog was back in his room, his dark room, and his mind was hazy. So hazy that it was hard to piece together his last memory. Sadly Askal didn't have a lot of puzzle pieces to work with, and when he tried to wrack his brain for the answers, the most he got was the smell of salt in the air and a rush of wind combing through his fur.

His room's only form of light came when lighting flashed briefly illuminated Askal's dark room. The young dog slowly found the strength to pick himself up into a sitting position, but Askal noticed a strange shadow when he did. Mostly, it seemed to pose no threat but was the source of the strumming. However, when Askal studied the shadow closely, he noticed the vague outline of a guitar-shaped object and the motions of the shadow playing the music.

The song oozed sadness depicting a sailor who couldn't return to a home he dearly missed. It detailed his journey and his tribulations to reach his home. The sailor in the song begged and pleaded with a higher being asking to be returned home. However, as the music slowly drew to a close, the lyrics did not mention if the sailor returned home. It only ended with him continuing to beg to be returned home.

Askal was about to bring his hands together for the performance, but the shadow was able to speak first. "How does it feel to betray those you hold dear?"

"W-What are you talking about?" Askal spoke with a dry and slightly different voice than he was used to but chalked it up to not having enough water to drink.

"How did it feel when you ran your blade through them? Was it worth it? Do you have any regrets?" The shadow continued to prob

Askal clutched his head as the image of a raging fire erupted into his mind. Then Mungo's enraged look as he brandished several of his light-based weapons in his direction. Fido was leaning over him, tears flowing. Fox's pained look combined with one of disbelief.

"Wh-Who are you?" Askal growled, trying desperately to hold back the painful images.

The shadow refused to turn around and only continued to speak, "Are you proud of what you've done?"

Unwilling to take the accusations anymore, Askal felt his right hand ball up into a fist. "Get out!" He growled, his body instinctively getting into attack position.

"Can you return home, you heartless Traitor?"

Finally enraged enough, Askal charged at the shadow; his fist pulled back to deliver a devastating blow. Unbeknownst to Askal, blue lightning began to circle his clenched fist as he jumped. However, as Askal closed the distance, the shadow didn't move but simply opened his eyes to reveal three glowing yellow eyes, the third one resting on his forehead. Unfortunately, by the time Askal had noticed the eyes, it was too late, and Askal made contact with the mirror.

Surprising Askal, his fist met with a glass surface which shattered effortlessly as a crackle of energy burst forth from his fist, and a boom of thunder mixed with the sound of crashing. The sudden jolt of power from the impact was enough to jumpstart the lights in Askal's room, causing them to flicker on and horrify Askal. It was a mirror that he punched. There was nobody else there but himself.

"Askal!?" Fido's voice caused the young dog to jump in shock, completely ignoring the blood his fist was dripping. "Are you alright!?"

Askal looked to the mirror, then to his fist then to the door Fido would inevitably come out of. The young dog clenched his eyes in pain as he turned around to open the window. Askal then took one more glance at the door before jumping out into the darkness of the night.

End of Chapter 04

Tidbit: The song used in the 2nd half of this chapter is real and its right here!

Also I keep forgetting to post these here because I've posted these on discord before

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Translation:
Panel 1: Aw you poor thing. Here you can have these loaves of bread.
The sign he's holding up says "Can I have some food please?" but he's holding it upside down with extremely bad handwriting.
Panel 2: Uh..? do you still want it?
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Harry Johnathan
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Harry Johnathan »

I like how you use classic characters we don't see very much in the comic anymore.
Pray for those who have fallen away, to be brought back to God. To their loss they are crucifying the Son all over again and mocking him.
Hebrews 6:6-7 (Paraphrase)
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D-Rock
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by D-Rock »

Tarot’s trust was completely broken by this point, though you’d think having a third party vouch for the dangers would mean something. Maybe like King, she’s lost faith in all Celestials.

Still, I’m guessing Kitsune’s immense guilt is from empowering the one who would signal Ragnarok. If I recall correctly, the original myth stated that Fenrir’s bindings would fall off and be a sign of the final battle.

And they weren’t kidding about these new memories causing heck on Askal.
Faith doesn't change circumstances. Faith changes me.
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Wrenisprobablyb0red
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Wrenisprobablyb0red »

Oh my gosh! I was so busy with school that I didn't see this chapter had been posted. My mistake! I'm really interested in what all is going on in Valadir. Though, knowing about how this doomsday event was a.supposed Ragnarok, the name of Fenrir is definitely pretty worrisome....
I came here looking for (noun), but this is so much better!
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Amazee Dayzee
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

Enjoying how this came out and I am glad I was able to catch up on it! Anyway Zeke and Rowan don't have to worry anymore. Since now I am kind of draw to Vidar.

I like anthro animals that wear clothes. :D
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Krytus The Dreamer
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Krytus The Dreamer »

Harry Johnathan wrote: Wed Aug 17, 2022 5:18 pm I like how you use classic characters we don't see very much in the comic anymore.
Yeah I miss the classic characters.
D-Rock wrote: Thu Aug 18, 2022 12:23 am Still, I’m guessing Kitsune’s immense guilt is from empowering the one who would signal Ragnarok. If I recall correctly, the original myth stated that Fenrir’s bindings would fall off and be a sign of the final battle.
I love all this recycling of myths it's like the hints are there but I get the artistic license to bend, twist and reinterpret it however I like.
Wrenisprobablyb0red wrote: Sat Aug 20, 2022 5:20 am Oh my gosh! I was so busy with school that I didn't see this chapter had been posted. My mistake! I'm really interested in what all is going on in Valadir. Though, knowing about how this doomsday event was a.supposed Ragnarok, the name of Fenrir is definitely pretty worrisome....
There's no pressure to read this just read it whenever you've got time. I don't mind waiting.


Honestly, I had a hard time with this one and it may seem a bit rushed but this was the best I could do given the circumstances. Thankfully though After this I can go back to how I used to write it without having to stop Fox from looking at each flashback and then moving on. I planned for something to happen but I guess I gotta chop off that chunk and move it to the next chapter. Don't be surprised if 06 comes around sooner than expected it's basically 70% of the way done with home much I trimmed from this one.

Episode 05: The Land Forgotten by Legends
Chapter 05


Laughter filled the forest.
Kitsune was hugging his sides as a hemp rope hung Fenrir upside down from his left foot. The young wolf's clothes were torn to shreds, and a stray bit of fire lingered on his shoulder. Surrounding the tree Fenrir hung from were stray weapons and singed glyphs. The four-tailed Fox was beside himself- unable to stop as he rolled on the grassy floor of the forest. Vidar was slightly more composed, but one could easily see he was trying his best to suppress his laughter. The white wolf even turned away from the cub to hide the smile on his muzzle.

"Am I that bad?" Fenrir sighed, still swaying side to side.

"No, no," Vidar snickered, "You did great."

"Are you kidding!? That was hilarious!" Kitsune howled as he slapped the ground uncontrollably.

With a chuckle, Vidar took a knife and undid the rope holding Fenrir aloft. "Don't get too discouraged, Fenrir. Everybody starts somewhere. Besides, maybe we did go overboard with this one. How about Kitsune and I take the rest of the day to restructure your training? You can tend to your garden in the meantime."

"Already?" Fenrir sighed as he was let down.

"But we just started." Kitsune groaned. "Vidar, if you keep coddling the cub, five years will be over in a snap without us accomplishing anything."

Vidar licked his fingers before extinguishing the flame on Fenrir's shoulder. "We don't have much of a choice, Kitsune. But, as much as I hate to admit you're right~

"Oh, do go on about that part," Kitsune said smugly.

"You're right." Vidar sighed with a roll of his eyes, causing the Fox to puff out his chest. "Fenrir has incredible potential, and as odd as it sounds, it's been nothing but a hindrance so far."

Fenrir's ears twitched as he looked at the two Celestials. "I still don't understand; how was that a bad thing?"

"Okay, so when Celestials bestow the status of avatar onto a mortal, usually we'd be able to see what powers you end up with." Kitsune explained as he loafed around on the grass. "It often depends on your personality or state of mind when we bestow the powers. Your case is special because when Captain Loki bestowed avatar status onto you, none of us could determine what you ended up with."

"For all we know, you could have the rarest abilities or something widespread but enhanced to a high degree. We're not sure. That's why we have to take our time with you." Vidar knelt to put his hand on Fenrir.

"What if I'm not ready in five years?" Fenrir's gripped the tattered remains of his shirt tightly.

"A reasonable worry, might I add," Kitsune added nonchalantly.

"Quiet you." Vidar chided before looking at Fenrir with a grin. "To Celestials, five years is barely even a blink, but to mortals, it's worth more than that. You'd be surprised; a lot can happen in five years." Vidar winked

"I still think we should do something a bit more productive, you know." Kitsune sat up with a pout.

Once again, Vidar rolled his eyes, "When you're bound to a timeline, you're really impatient, you know that? Alright, fine, since you're so insistent, we can see to Fenrir's gear."

"Now that's what I'm talking about!" Kitsune folded his legs and sprang up into a standing position before dusting off the stray bit of grass that clung to his clothes. "Alright, little buddy, what kind of damage are you looking to do?"

"Uhh, what?" Fenrir's ears tilted to the side when asked.

"hoo boy, maybe we should take the time to lecture him about weapons and maybe throw in some magic lectures too, just in case." Vidar patted Fenrir's shoulder in reassurance.

Kitsune cupped his hands around his muzzle. "Gee, if only we had a weapons expert and slash or a magic caster just lazing about to help! That sure would be useful!"

"Don't look at us; you're the one who pushed to have an avatar as a trump card. You raise him." a male voice echoed further in the forest.

"But he is kinda cute, though." this time, a female voice sounded.

"DRAGON, NO! DON'T BE FOOLED BY THE CUTENESS!"

Kitsune and Vidar chuckled again as they led a confused-looking Fenrir through the woods.

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It was a staggering display of strength.
Fenrir, no longer the scrawny pup he was, stood proudly as he expertly parried a blow from a stone wolf's sword using two axes. Despite being outmatched in size, Fenrir held his own when it came to strength and didn't falter as the stone wolf pressed harder. Finally, the ground beneath Fenrir began to crack. The black wolf was slowly sinking into the ground. Fenrir's loss seemed inevitable. That is until Fenrir expertly pivoted his footing to the side.

Since the living statue had committed to pushing Fenrir down for an advantage, it had lost; it was no longer balanced. With Fenrir no longer acting as a support, the statue toppled over like it was nothing. Seizing the opportunity he made, Fenrir leaped into the air while brandishing his two axes. In a last-ditch attempt at victory, the statue of a wolf then tried to strike at Fenrir as he plummeted. Unfortunately, due to holding both his axes back, Fenrir had no defense besides his leather armor. While it may serve him well against minor nicks and cuts, against the statue's large sword, however, it might as well be paper.

Fenrir continued to plummet; his mind focused on nothing but victory. He was prepared for the strike aimed at his stomach and did not falter. As the statue's large sword made contact with Fenrir's stomach, the impact of the blow resulted in the stone sword shattering. Liquid-like metal had coated the impact site of the blade, shielding Fenrir from the worst of the collision. Still, the impact was enough to cause Fenrir to drop one of his axes.

With grit teeth and a mighty roar, Fenrir followed through with his attack and drove one of his axes into the statue's chest. The blow opened a large crack in the statue but not quite enough to fully best his opponent. Before the statue even had a chance to retaliate, Fenrir raised his hand, which was slowly being covered in wood along with the upper half of his body, and drove it deep into the crack he had made. A second later, branches sprouted from within the statue, slowly taking it apart piece by piece.

Victory assured Fenrir panted. The black wolf removed his hand from the pile of rubble and fell over. He had a wide but tired smile on his muzzle.

As the black wolf basked in his victory, a slow clap made him sit up at attention. "You're getting pretty good at that stuff, Fenrir." Vidar emerged from the trees.

"Not really; I made a ton of mistakes." Fenrir sighed, "I dropped my weapon during combat, and as a result, my attack on the training dummy wasn't decisive enough." the black wolf leaned over to the axe he dropped and inspected it. "Perhaps I should improve the grips on it with some leather straps, or maybe train my grip strength, or bo-

Vidar karate chopped Fenrir's head before folding his arms. "You won, dude. You don't have to analyze each and every fight you're in, you know."

"But Vidar," Fenrir whined as he rubbed the spot Vidar chopped. "The start of The Celestial Games is on the horizon. I have to make sure I'm ready."

"Fenrir, you already spent your childhood preparing for The Games. You should lighten up a bit. Live a little. Your whole life can't revolve around The Games."

"I appreciate your concern Vidar, but my master's life is on the line. If I can heal my master by participating in The Games, then my childhood is of little consequence."

"I disagree. When was the last time you spoke to anyone from your village?" Fenrir motioned to speak, but Vidar cut him off. "And no planning for a hunt doesn't count. Neither does talking to your master, her parents, or their companions."

Fenrir paused to think. Then he motioned to speak but folded his arms. "I once greeted the guards on my way out of the village." The black wolf shrugged.

"See? Fenrir, most, if not all, mortals get only one life. Only a select few are granted permission to reincarnate, and even then. It's the ultimate reset. Sure, a few traits may carry over to your new life, but for the most part, everything gets reset. Only celestials retain hazy glimpses of their memories. It's sweet that you care so much about your master, but you must also live your own life."

Fenrir sighed as he looked at his reflection in one of his axes. "Vidar... I-

"OUTTA THE WAY!" Both wolves looked in shock to see Kitsune barreling towards them at top speed.

"Is something wrong, sensei?" Fenrir stood up and readied both axes for a fight.

Kitsune skidded to a halt while frantically flailing his arms. "Well first Peukestas, was being a jerk as usual so I decided to play a prank on him. Since he’s already covered in feathers I decided to revise an old classic; I splattered him with glue and threw a bunch of left over scales we had from slaying that wyvern."

"Oh, I'll bet that was funny." Vidar chuckled.

"I still can't pronounce his name." Fenrir sighed.

"KITSUNE!" a roar from deeper into the forest sounded off, causing Kitsune to remember why he was running in the first place.

"Whoops, gotta go." Kitsune sped off, leaving the two wolves to themselves, allowing them to laugh at the situation.

Image

Metal clashed against metal.
Fenrir was desparate, fanatic even. The black wolf held a large axe aloft before bringing it down on a manacle clamped on his wrist. Each time his axe clashed with the metal, his bindings glowed red and instantly repelled the impact of Fenrir's axe with ease. It was an impressive feat considering not just the size of the axe but the growth Fenrir had undergone as well.

His once athletic build further surged in height and mass as time passed, and at a glance, one could quickly tell that Fenrir had participated in many a scuffle. The black wolf's body was a far cry from his younger days as a pup, even more so than it was when he was an adolescent. His armor may have been reduced to only a set of tasses and a pauldron on his left shoulder, but it was of little consequence, considering his abilities.

Fenrir's bulk wasn't just for show, either. Along with the glow of metals clashing, the ground beneath him shook very slightly as well. His growling reflected how deep his voice had gotten, and if a human had wandered into the forest, they would've thought Fenrir a monster.

"Why," Fenrir struck, "Won't," nearby tree leaves rustled as they fell from their branch, "It," small creatures ducked into their homes to hide, "Come," Frustrated, his manacles wouldn't come off Fenrir threw his axe instantly chopping down a tree, "OFF!"

"Fenrir." Vidar cried as he rushed to the black wolf's side. "Please calm down."

A single swipe from Fenrir's arm was enough to knock Vidar off his feet and onto the forest floor. "WHY SHOULD I!? Everything I've worked for, seven years of my life, gone in an instant!" As Fenrir spoke, his shackles slowly became invisible. "Thanks to whatever these things are, I can't use powers anymore. I'm useless."

"Fenrir, I understand you're frustrated but try to understand my father's position. You consumed a high-ranking demon." Vidar pleaded as he stood up slowly.

"So what? Are the Celestials afraid they'd lose to me? I'm a mortal fighting against Celestial beings. I'm already at a disadvantage!"

"It's not about the game. Until now, no mortal has taken down a demon of that caliber. It's unheard of, especially with the method you used."

"So what if I consumed it? I'm in control. I'm still me, but they still decide to take away my powers. My only hope of healing my master."

"Even without your powers, we can still win."

"How with the power of teamwork!? This is no time for grandstanding. A life is on the line; my master's life!"

"I understand your position-

"No, you don't. You will never understand my position because you're a Celestial. You don't have to worry about life or death; instead, you worry about when's the next time you can take a nap. No wonder they call you the silent Celestial."

Silence began to brew between the two wolves. After Fenrir's outburst, neither one could look the other in the eyes, yet neither wolf left. Fenrir's brows were arched into a frown, still seething over previous events, but Vidar's, despite being insulted to his face, was more somber than furious. He looked at the angry black wolf one more time before he stood up and drew a dagger.

Fenrir was quick to assume a defensive stance, but rather than draw his blade at Fenrir, Vidar aimed it at his wrist. However, instead of hitting his own flesh, the sound of metals clashing echoed through the forest as a similar metallic bind appeared on Vidar's wrist in a flash of blue light.

"I understand, Fenrir. More than you know." Vidar sighed, allowing the bind to disappear

The black wolf looked stunned, "H-How?"

"I was foolish, too eager to prove myself." Vidar sat down and invited the black wolf to do the same. "Like you, I was born the runt of my family. Thor, Baldur, and Vali all left their mark on the cosmos and did things that made them legends. Yet no matter how hard I tried or searched, I couldn't do anything worth praise. So then, one day, I did something foolish, resulting in four mortals passing before their time. My father was furious, putting the gleipnir chains on me as punishment."

Vidar poked his bindings to bring them into view once more. "These chains limited my powers, too. I can't do most of the things Celestials can do anymore. I get tired when overexerting myself; like mortals, I need to rest, but I can't pass on. My father told me to live amongst the mortals, and he'd assess if I improved during The Games. I guess he thinks I've got a little more to go if these things are still present." Vidar chuckled slightly.

"My point is, I understand. I've watched, interacted, and lived with mortals for several generations before the games even started. So I know what your master means to you. But, honestly, I was against you becoming an avatar in the first place because The Games don't usually have a happy ending for mortals involved, including the winners. However, you've shown me your resolve these past few years, and I promise that even with your diminished powers, we will win and heal your master.

"Can you even keep that promise?"

"I'll make it happen. No matter what."

Fenrir gazed into Vidar's blue eyes for a moment. There wasn't a twitch or doubt; that was all the black wolf needed. Then, reaching for Vidar's dagger, Fenrir opened his right palm, made a small cut, and returned Vidar's knife.

"Promise me," Fenrir sighed as he held out his hand,

Without hesitation, Vidar took the knife and made a cut to allow gold to flow from his palm. "I promise to give it my all to help you and your master. Whatever comes, we'll face it together."

"As brothers," Fenrir added as he grabbed Vidar's hand,

"As brothers," Vidar smiled as he tightened his grip.

Image

The ground shook violently.
Vidar struggled to keep his balance and had almost toppled over had it not been for a nearby tree. The wolf's usually pristine white fur had cuts of gold haphazardly scattered about. In addition, his attire carried several slashes and cuts that exposed even more splotches of gold. Even more concerning was the fact that Vidar had lost his bow and quiver and needed to rely on a simple dagger for defense.

"Vidar!" Kitsune burst through the plant life, looking almost as beat up as Vidar, "What are you still doing here? We're almost done evacuating the mortals to a safer world. We've got to go!"

"No. I still need to do something." Vidar coughed,

Kitsune was at a loss for words for a single moment. "That wolf!? Vidar, you saw what he did to all those mortals- to your father... he's too far gone."

"And who drove him to that point, Kitsune?" Vidar said sternly as he continued to move forward.

"If this is about trying to avenge your father, save it. Now's not the time."

"It isn't that Kitsune. I've got a promise to keep, and I hope you'll respect that. In fact, I want you to know that none of this is your fault."

"What are you saying, Vidar?"

"You can try to play coy all you want, but I see through you now. Even though Captain Loki granted Fenrir his powers, you still think that if you hadn't convinced him, none of this would've happened."

"Vidar, I don't like where this conversation is going."

"I may never get the chance to tell you, so I'll say it again. Don't blame yourself for what happened here. You may not take my words to heart today, but I hope you will someday."

Kitsune slung Vidar's arm over his shoulder. "Don't talk like that. Dragon will fix you right up."

"I'm sorry Kitsune-Kun."

Kitsune's eyes widened as he felt Vidar unhook his sword from his belt. The four-tailed fox was so surprised by Vidar's action he didn't notice chains forming around his neck, wrist, and ankles. As Kitsune struggled against the weight of the chains, a doorway materialized out of thin air. Then in one fluid motion, the five chains dragged Kitsune through the door, and with a flick of his wrist, Vidar commanded the chains to lock the door he had just sent Kitsune through.

"VIDAR!" came Kitusune's muffled screams as he slammed his fists onto the door. "VIDAR, OPEN THE DOOR! DON'T DO THIS, PLEASE!"

"I'm sorry, I have a promise to keep." Vidar wiped away the tears in his eyes, "Oh and, promise me, Kitsune-Kun... Promise me you'll treat mortals with respect from now on."

"Vidar!" Kitsune continued to cry

"Goodbye, Kitsune-Kun." Vidar took a deep breath and walked off.

Image

Fox stared at the locked door in horror.
From how the nine-tailed fox acted, Fox could tell he had a history with Valadir, but he didn't know it was so... personal. How long had Kitsune been carrying this around with him? How long did he put up with it? It had to be painful losing a friend, even more so when he felt he was the cause.

Fox shook his head. He wasn't there for a crash course on what happened on Valadir; he was there to bring Tarot back before she irreparably damaged their relationship with Kitsune. He had to be close now; how far could she have gotten in such a short time? Even so, she had a profound glimpse into Kitsune's past; how much more did Tarot need?

Thankfully as Fox continued to walk through the forest frozen in time, the aches he felt from his previous altercation with Rowan were slowly beginning to ebb. It was nothing more than a dull pain, but Fox didn't want to push it further than necessary. He had already collapsed once; he wasn't going to do it again, especially when nobody could tell where he was.

On and on, Fox continued to walk, and thankfully the further he went, the fewer visions he had to experience. It meant fewer distractions, and his pace was beginning to pick up. Fox's persistence was eventually rewarded as a glimpse of familiar gold stood out amongst the dull gray hues of Valadir. It was Tarot. Relieved and frustrated simultaneously, the Husky picked up his pace and was about to scold her, but his ears twitched at the sound of bawling.

Fox had been so focused on catching the pomeranian he overlooked the awe-inspiring view of flowers of every species, genus, and color standing out amongst the grays. Some flowers were nestled in bushes, while some grew on vines hung around the trees. It was a flower paradise.

So taken in by the sheer number and color of flowers, Fox failed to notice eight tears in the sky above them. Each tear had a chain going through it, and if Fox angled his head correctly, he saw the other realms through the tears, and just like at the world tree, the chains had impaled the realms.

When Fox traced the chains to their source, his heart sank when he saw a statue depicting two wolves. The larger one had his arms held out as each of the eight chains attached themselves to his limbs, while the slightly smaller wolf had his arms wrapped around the larger wolf's torso. At the base of said statue was Kitsune, the source of the bawling. The nine-tailed fox had lost all composure and had his head buried in his arms as he mourned. The sight was made even more painful because of the several empty bottles surrounding the nine-tailed fox.

"Take a good long look." Fox and Tarot flinched at the voice of Nuk, who slowly approached the two dogs from behind. "I don't know what Kitsune did to break your trust, but I hope you at least see that he cares. He won't let himself forget what he was like back then."

"Is- Is he always like this when he comes here?" Tarot's voice was shaky, and she couldn't look away from the sight she saw.

Nuk shrugged as he folded his arms and leaned on a tree. "Pretty much. When he invited those two over, I thought he was beginning to heal and move on. But then I see how similar those two are to the ones he lost. I thought it'd be a phase, a crutch to finally help him move on, so I let it slide. However, now that I see that he's still like this, I'm not so sure anymore."

"Is he going to be alright?" similarly, Fox found it hard to look away.

"He usually drinks himself unconscious, and then I drag him back to my tavern. Of course, I want to help him, but this is the only way I know how: letting him grieve." Nuk scratched his head in frustration. "If you mortals take an entire lifetime to cope with someone's death, imagine how hard and long it'd take for Celestials who aren't bound by time. So for now, I just leave him be."

Fox felt conflicted, like he should be paying his respects, but at the same time, he should respect Kitsune's space. He already knew anything in his life couldn't compare to the pains Kitsune felt, but Fox could still empathize with loss. Fox could already hear the rebuttal. His loss was temporary; heck he even met his mom a few years back when The Game was active. Could he even offer any sympathies, to begin with?

"I shouldn't be here." Fox backed away slowly, "We shouldn't be here."

"Y-you can go ahead." Tarot sighed

Fox clenched his fist, "I know you had beef with him but isn't this enough, Tarot? When will you be satisfied?"

"It's not that," Tarot growled. "I just... want to be alone with my thoughts. Can I have that?"

"You go on ahead then, Fox; in the state he's in, Kitsune won't notice a thing. I'll make sure Tarot goes a few minutes after you." Nuk sighed

Fox looked at Nuk before shifting his glance to Tarot, who managed to tear her view away from Kitsune and sat while embracing her legs. Uneasy, Fox nodded and proceeded to walk off wordlessly. What he had seen, what he had witnessed, was a lot of information to process. The quiet would help in that regard.

Still, Fox couldn't help but think how much pain Kitsune was carrying with him constantly. The nine-tailed Fox always looked so happy and cheery before the autumn festival. It was hard to believe a smile could even conceal such tremendous pain.

"I'll save you."

Fox's ears twitched at the sound of yet another vision. The husky was almost sick of hearing them at this point and virtually ignored it now that he knew the truth. However, as the voice continued to grow closer and closer, something stood out to Fox.

"I swear. I'll save you!" it was Kitsune, but it was even more distorted than the previous visions.

Fox turned to see the nine-tailed fox running in his direction with both his hands balled up together. Just like with his voice, the vision of Kitsune was even more distorted and lacked most of its color. Almost like this was the last ebbs of time Valdir had before Ragnarok's end.

"No matter what it takes!" Kitsune growled as he ran, "I'll save you!"

End of Chapter 05
Amazee Dayzee wrote: Wed Aug 24, 2022 6:52 pm Enjoying how this came out and I am glad I was able to catch up on it! Anyway Zeke and Rowan don't have to worry anymore. Since now I am kind of draw to Vidar.

I like anthro animals that wear clothes. :D
oh uh... whoops? If its any consolation this was supposed to happen anyway.

Since this is probably gonna be the last we'll see of Valadir in a long while I'll make this chapter's trivia section about Valadir.

-Valadir was originally made to see the background for my first Fanfic on this site "KingdomheartsXHousepets!: Hearts of the Selfless."
-I was going to write the entirety of Fenrir growing up and eventually becoming the world breaker titled "Valadirian Conquest." but it was too complicated so I dropped the story... twice (oof I still feel that to this day.)
-in Valadirian Conquest Fenrir was first named Garm to hide a few things but since that's no longer necessary I decided it was best to drop it and help avoid confusion altogether.

oh and here's drawings of Vidar and Fenrir as the years go by. Though since Vidar's a celestial Time doesn't affect him.

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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

This was definitely a very heavy chapter. Though it did come out very nice! Good work here!
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Re: Live by the Sword

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A lot to take in.

It takes a great deal of trust for someone to open themselves to another, yet Fox and Tarot essentially did the equivalent of barging right in, and what they saw was horrid. Never forget that behind many smiles are tears that most aren’t allowed to see, and it can be a lonely experience.
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

It definitely will be interesting to see where everything goes from here.
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Wrenisprobablyb0red »

I can't help but feel that not only is this a backstory for Kitsune and his motives, but that it's also probably very related to what's going on with Askal, or at least Suicune or whatever. Still a bit confused on the identity thing but I'll figure it out next time we see our boyo. Also this is the first chapter not to make me hungry in some way, haha. Really enjoyed this!
I came here looking for (noun), but this is so much better!
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Re: Live by the Sword

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I mean, considering what Fenrir was doing, food trivia would be a little off-putting to some. :geek:
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Re: Live by the Sword

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I suppose so!
I came here looking for (noun), but this is so much better!
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

I definitely don't think that food trivia would have been appropriate for this chapter either. LOL
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Harry Johnathan »

I like the little ornaments you added in-between scenes. I tried something like that and it looked pretty plain.

Also, giving Kitsune this tragic backstory and actual in-universe reasoning behind Heaven's obstructive and unhelpful behavior honestly gives all the celestials more depth and coherence than the actual comic.
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

I am glad that he went through all of that. It is nice to know that everybody can come up with their own backstories for characters. :)
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Krytus The Dreamer »

Harry Johnathan wrote: Thu Sep 01, 2022 11:57 pm I like the little ornaments you added in-between scenes. I tried something like that and it looked pretty plain.

Also, giving Kitsune this tragic backstory and actual in-universe reasoning behind Heaven's obstructive and unhelpful behavior honestly gives all the celestials more depth and coherence than the actual comic.
Amazee Dayzee wrote: Fri Sep 02, 2022 3:05 am I am glad that he went through all of that. It is nice to know that everybody can come up with their own backstories for characters. :)
Thanks I got it for free from an artist on Ko-fi who shared the download link for Dnd Organization. Not sure If I'm gonna keep it because it might mess with mobile users. I think I'll experiment on the size. For now its back to my Asterisk combo.

If you're gonna make your characters do something drastic then it has to be for a good reason. Sadly that's the entirety of Valadir's purpose.
D-Rock wrote: Sun Aug 28, 2022 8:56 pm A lot to take in.

It takes a great deal of trust for someone to open themselves to another, yet Fox and Tarot essentially did the equivalent of barging right in, and what they saw was horrid. Never forget that behind many smiles are tears that most aren’t allowed to see, and it can be a lonely experience.
Yeah, but necessary for lore building.

What you said about smiles hiding tears makes me remember Nick Wilde's (zootopia) line about not letting others see that they get to you but in a different way.
Wrenisprobablyb0red wrote: Mon Aug 29, 2022 2:51 pm I can't help but feel that not only is this a backstory for Kitsune and his motives, but that it's also probably very related to what's going on with Askal, or at least Suicune or whatever. Still a bit confused on the identity thing but I'll figure it out next time we see our boyo. Also this is the first chapter not to make me hungry in some way, haha. Really enjoyed this!
After looking back on it, it did seem a bit disambiguous so I'm just gonna clarify it here. As Fox was walking away from Fenrir's Garden, the last memory depicted Kitsune running away from the Garden while he said those things not running toward it. What you make of this useless bit of information is up to you but it sure beats me.
D-Rock wrote: Mon Aug 29, 2022 8:53 pm I mean, considering what Fenrir was doing, food trivia would be a little off-putting to some. :geek:
I'll also clarify when they say Fenrir devoured them, I don't mean physically eating them. In this iteration I gave Fenrir powers similar to Kevin E. Levin (Ben 10) which is matter absorption.


Nothing else to say but enjoy the latest chapter!

Episode 05: The Land Forgotten by Legends
Chapter 06

Fido was as far away from a celebrating mood as one could get.
Yet here he was, awkwardly holding a cold can of soda in his hand while everyone around him sang the happy birthday song. Sure on ordinary days, he'd have a small party to celebrate the occasion, but now exactly wasn't the best time. Sadly, it's not like he could leave. On his left was Kevin, a large hunk of a Doberman only outclassed by Mungo in terms of sheer bulk. Getting past him would be a challenge in and of itself. On his right, Terrance, A slender but still athletic English setter with white fur and brown accents. While Fido could slip past Terrance, the dog had enough awareness to know if something was wrong or not.

As much as Fido wanted to duck out, it'd be rude. Kevin and Terrance were his friends, and Fido didn't want to crush their spirit after all the trouble they went through to throw the party together. Plus, it was his house. So it'd be a bit awkward if he just left. Besides, even if they couldn't have possibly known about his situation, the gesture did warm his heart.

It pained Fido to think that, including Ralph, Mungo, and Fox, this was his entire friend group now. Fido wasn't much for attention, but it hurt to see how many left him after his relationship was outed. Still, he couldn't force pets to be his friends. It was their choice, after all, just like it was his choice to love Sabrina.

"GO ON, FIDO, BLOW OUT THE CANDLES!" Kevin cheered with an enthusiastic slap to Fido's back.

Fido chuckled as he struggled to keep his balance and not fall into his cake. "Alright, alright, hold your horses." he closed his eyes and blew them out.

"Cheers!" Terrance held up his can of soda, "Sorry if it's just us tonight, Fido. With you and Fox out of commission, the schedule's been out of sorts for the past two weeks."

"Oh, it's no trouble, guys. I appreciate the gesture, even if it's just the two of you." Fido cut a slice of the cake and handed it to Terrance.

"I decided to play it safe with Sasha, so sadly, no walkies for her, especially not this late. We invited the Sarge, but you know how he is." Kevin took a sip of soda before shuffling another helping of chicken into his mouth and swallowing. "He's always working." Fido offered Kevin a slice of cake, but the Doberman politely dismissed it.

"Yikes, are we really that understaffed?" Fido sighed as he took a bite out of his slice.

"Yeah," Terrance groaned, "You'd be surprised how delicate the balance is right now. But, honestly, I'm not sure how we're gonna handle Halloween."

Fido finished off the last bits of his cake, "If it's any consolation, the vet says I'm almost clear to get back to duty in a few more days." He rolled down the rash guard to expose the burnt skin.

Thanks to the prescription ointment, Fido's arm was slowly healing; it even had stubble growing back. Fido's arm wouldn't even need the rashguard in a few months.

"What even happened to you anyway?" Kevin said through a mouthful of chicken,

"Oh, you know," Fido laughed it off, "clumsy me spilled an entire pot of hot water when I was preparing for Pasta night."

Terrance leaned in, carefully studying the burn mark, "But your whole arm? It looks like you submerged it in hot water instead of spilling it onto your arm."

"Uh..." Fido froze, "Well... you see...."

It's not like he could tell them he willingly submerged it to help out Askal. Sure, Kevin knew about magic, but Terrance was a different story. Even if he were to try and tell a more convincing story, Terrance was a K-9 unit specialized in investigations. Unfortunately, Fido was put too on the spot to come up with something more compelling than spilled pasta water.

Before Fido could speak up, the sound of a phone going off broke up the tension in the air. Terrance and Fido turned their attention towards Kevin, who reached into his collar. He put it to his ear and began having a one-sided conversation. Then just as quickly as it had started, Kevin hung up and put the phone back into his collar.

"Looks like we're needed back at HQ." Kevin set down his plate and began stacking more dirty dishes on top of it. "You too, Terrance."

"What? Me too!?" Terrence groaned, "but it's my day off!"

Kevin shrugged, "Apparently. Yo Fido, is it cool if I leave these on the sink? Dispatch sounded like they needed us pronto."

"Yes!" Fido said a little bit faster than he would've liked, "I mean- yeah, sure, go on right ahead. You guys can leave clean up to me. I'll handle things here."

"Are you sure?" Terrance said, carrying away his plate.

Fido took the plate from Terrance and waved the two off. "Yeah, yeah, don't worry about it."

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Fido breathed a sigh of relief as he closed the door behind him.
As Fido ensured he locked the door, the police dog made a mental note to himself to thank dispatch for saving his tail. Not directly, but just do something nice to pay the good karma forward. Once everything was secured, Fido set off into the night with his scarf around his neck. Now that he was alone, he could finally check his messages.

F: Is everything alright?

F: R U okay?

S: Yeah, it was a shake, but we're both fine.

F: Thank goodness. I'm OMW.

S: Fido

S: Honey, relax; it was just a standard earthquake. We're okay.

F: Oh no

S: What?

F: Kevin and Terrance are here.

F: and they're throwing me a surprise party.

S: That's great! I told you to get your mind off of things.

F: But what about Askal?

S: I'm still here, love. Just enjoy your night. XOXO

No updates. Fido sighed, unsure if it was out of relief or stress. Could anybody blame him, though? Fido literally held Askal as he was about to die. Had it not been for some magical interference from who knows where Askal would've been buried a week ago. Fido knocked on his head to get rid of the memories filling his head. The shower he had to take to get rid of all the red on his fur, the nightmares that came with it.

To calm his mind, Fido flicked to another image on his phone. It depicted an application for basic EMT training for any willing K-9 members. Of course, Fido knew EMT training couldn't have saved Askal from that kind of injury, but it had to be better than nothing.

"What's up?"

Fido flinched and reflexively twisted his body to deliver a devastating punch but quickly stopped when he saw the face of his brother Joey. Like he and Bino, Joey primarily had brown fur and was almost identical to Fido. The difference was that Fido was slightly taller, had more muscle, and had a spot around his right eye. Joey had a spot around his left eye and liked to wear blue accessories like his collar and goggles.

"Jeez, bro," Joey held up his hands, "I was just saying hi."

Fido pulled back his fist and took a deep breath, "Sorry, I've just been on edge lately."

"Then I guess I've come at the right time. Everything alright with your girlfriend?" Joey smiled earnestly, "has she reconsidered taking me in as an apprentice yet? C'mon, let's walk and talk." He then gestured for Fido to take the lead, which he did reluctantly.

"Joey, Sabrina isn't going to teach you magic just because you want some flair in your DnD games," Fido said with a roll of his eyes.

"Aw, c'mon, please? I mean it's all just smoke, mirrors, and advanced psychology techniques anyway; what’s the harm?" Joey inched in closer and beamed his puppy eyes.

Fido inched further away. Something was off about Joey. He was more involved than usual. When it came to interacting or bonding in general, Fido was always the one to initiate, and even when they did spend time together, Joey was always somewhat distant. Now that he was being overly enthusiastic about spending time together, Fido couldn't help but feel suspicious.

Reluctantly Fido picked up his pace. "Okay? What's this about?"

"Well, first off, Happy Birthday to us, right?" Joey proclaimed while touching the tips of his fingers together nervously, "We're another year older, another year wiser, another year closer to our inevitable demise at the hands of ti~

"Joey!" Fido snapped his fingers to stop his brother's spiral into madness. "You’re dancing around the question. What's this about? If you wanted to talk to me, you could've just called. Why the theatrics?" Fido folded his arms as he waited for Joey to meet his eyes.

Joey took a deep breath and exhaled while looking at the sidewalk. "Look. I’ve been meaning to talk to you for a while now."

"Well?" Fido's brow arched as he slowed his pace to match his brother’s

Joey's usual geeky attitude became somber as he refused to look Fido in the eyes. "I just want to make it clear. I'm here to say I'm sorry."

"About what?" concern began to well up from within Fido.

"It's just that one thing led to another," Joey was becoming increasingly frantic, "and before I knew it, I did something... Something I regret deeply."

"You can tell me anything. I promise." Fido put on a smile to reassure Joey.


"I..." Joey shut his eyes and clenched his fists. "I was the one who took that picture of you helping Askal down from the tree and anonymously sent it to one of Bino's cronies."

Fido froze. The warm reassuring smile he put on for Joey began to melt away as he took a few steps from his brother. When he did so, Fido couldn’t help but notice Joey flinch. He had expected that kind of behavior from Bino of all dogs, but Joey? It took Fido all he had not to smack Joey with an uppercut before leaving him in the dust. Why did both his blood brothers hate his relationship with Askal so much? Neither one of them particularly cared when he was around and when he decided to take in somebody who had nothing, they acted up? How was that fair?

Fido didn't need a mirror to know his fangs were bared, "Joey... Why would you do such a thing?"

Joey flinched at Fido’s tone. He clenched his fists and took a deep breath. "Because!” the younger dog paused before finally gathering enough courage to look Fido in the eyes. “I… was jealous.”

Before Fido could fully process what he had heard, a thunderous boom echoed further up the street. Any anger Fido felt toward Joey instantly evaporated when he realized the sound of the explosion came from Sabrina’s house.

"Askal," Fido whispered in despair before bolting toward the source of the sound.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Askal shook; he remembered this place.
The smoke in the air, the distant screams of humans and pets, the clashing of weapons, Askal remembered this scene well. Too well. It was the autumn festival. Askal trembled with eyes shut tightly as tears began to flow.

"No," Askal whimpered as he hugged his sides, "Not here. Anywhere but here. Please."

Out of pure reflex, Askal was drawn to the screams of Mungo as he clawed at the air, searching for the remains of Fox's spirit. Unable to escape from the waking nightmare, Askal continued to quiver, hoping, praying the dream would end. All while Mungo and a past version of himself, no Ryujuro, continued to destroy the festival grounds with their battle.

"Keep your emotions in check." Askal flinched at a voice he hadn't heard before, "There'll be time to grieve later. Instead, focus on the task at hand, analyze the situation and come up with the best outcome for survival."

Askal looked up and saw a silhouette of a dog carrying the outline of a gun. "Officer Mungo's driven entirely by emotion. I've never seen him like this. Not once. If this keeps up... he'll... I can't let that happen. The trauma alone would destroy him."

The silhouette kept to the shadows watching and waiting as the battle unfolded. With each push and pull in the struggle, the figure continued to weigh his options, only resolving to act when necessary. Finally, his opportunity came when Ryujuro and Mungo prepared their final stand. Mungo conjured up his strongest barrier while Ryujuro dove in for his last attack. At first, the wall held, but the figure finally held out the gun as cracks continued to form.

"If I don't do anything, it'll be the end for Officer Mungo." Then, the figure took aim, "I have to make a decision here and now, or I'll regret it for the rest of my life."

Askal saw the silhouette's finger tighten around the trigger, and an eerily familiar gunshot rang out. Out of sheer terror, Askal grabbed the spot on his neck but didn't feel any pain; instead, the world around him slowly faded to black to the point where he couldn't even see his own limbs anymore. Askal was just a consciousness floating in the void.

"He... was just a pup...?"

"I deserve punishment."

"I'm a monster."

A second voice spoke out of the darkness, "We may be looking at the same night, but we see different things. You studied the situation, weighed your options, and fully accepted the consequences of your actions. I admire that."

"Your praise means nothing. I deserve punishment. It's what's right."

"If it is penance you genuinely desire, then I can offer it. Instead of spending it locked in a cell or being put down. You shall take on my mantle and serve the Azure Oracle for the good of all."

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Askal's eyes slowly fluttered open.
Yes, he was cold, but it was easy to tell that he would've been colder had it not been for a torn-up blue jacket draped over his body. As Askal slowly picked himself up, he winced at the pain that came from his right arm. When Askal brought it up to inspect the damage he had inadvertently done to his hand, he found it swathed in layers of blue fabric. It didn't take much to deduce that the jacket was torn up because somebody tended to Askal's hand.

"Finally, you're awake!" Askal reeled as familiar golden fur suddenly appeared in front of him. "Honestly, this who bound to a timeline thing is really getting old, really fast."

Askal tilted his head and rubbed his eyes to ensure he wasn't dreaming. It was Kitsune, but something was off. A brief moment of staring at the fox was all it took to notice Kitsune only had one tail.

Kitsune moved to a squatting position to be eye level with Askal. "I mean, things taking time to happen is such a drag. I thought I was gonna die of boredom... so to speak, cause you know, can't die."

"Kitsune?" Askal clenched his hands tightly.

"That's my name; don't wear it out." The golden fox pointed to Askal with a finger gun.

Memories of that night replayed in Askal's head, "Please, take it from me."

"Huh?" Kitsune sat down and looked at Askal, confused.

"This power," Askal tried to remain strong and keep his tears in check, but they just kept coming. "I used it to hurt so many people and pets. I don't want it. Please take it from me."

"What about Datu?" The playfulness in Kitsune's voice settled down to make way for a calm one. Not angry, not disappointed, just calm.

"I'll find some other way to help Ms. Tarot; I just want to do it in a way that won't hurt any more people."

"See. That's the problem. I didn't gift you those powers, so I can't take them away. I could seal them away, but you won't be able to use any form of magic if I do that."

"But I can't control it. So what happens if I go berserk again?"

"Guess you'll have to practice and study. Don't worry; I hear mortals are good at that sort of thing."

"I can't... I never want to use these powers again. I'll do something else... Something that won't involve me hurting anybody again."

Kitsune leaned closer to Askal, "Listen to me. You may not take my words to heart today, but I hope you do someday. What happened that night isn't your fault. It's mine. I played a stupid game and won a stupid prize. The important thing is that you and everyone involved survived. I'd call that a win in my book. In fact, that's what I admire about you, mortals. As long as you survive, you mortals have the potential to bounce back." Kitsune beamed a wide smile.

"but... I Sir Fox, and Sir Mungo. What would Kuya Fido think of me after this." Askal stared at both of his hands.

"Look, pup, if my, quite frankly, Oscar-winning speech isn't going to convince you that it wasn't your fault, then I'm at a loss." Kitsune shrugged, leaning back, "Though this might interest you."

Askal pulled his legs closer to his torso with a hug, "Whatever it is--

Kitsune put a finger to his lips. "Shhh... Listen." He then pointed in a seemingly random direction deeper into the forest.

Thinking that if Askal humored the fox, then he'd leave him alone, the young dog did as he was told and focused on his hearing. At first, he only heard the sounds of birds chirping and the gentle sway of branches dancing in the wind. However, once Askal strained his hearing, the young dog's eyes almost flew open in surprise when he heard screaming.

Not just any screaming, though. Six voices, two he didn't recognize, but the rest were Pueblo, Ace, Olive, and Rook. He wasn't anywhere close by, but Askal could feel the fear those six collectively radiated.

"No," Askal reeled back. "What are they even doing out here?"

"Looking for you." Kitsune yawned as he leaned to lie flat on his back, "Your Kuya notified everyone you went missing last night, and those six came out here just to find you. Isn't that sweet?"

Askal almost fell over in shock, "Somebody has to do something!"

"Don't look at me," Kitsune sighed as he inspected his nails.

"What!?" Askal flailed his arms. "You're an all-powerful Celestial, right!? DO SOMETHING!"

"Correction." Kitsune stood up and approached a tree. "I'm actually a shred of the real Kitsune's consciousness. He put me in your head when you slipped into that coma just in case anything wacky happened." Kitsune phased his hand through a nearby tree. "I'm practically a ghost in this state."

"I'll go get help! There's got to be somebody!" Askal hastily stood up

Before Askal could get any further, Kitsune spoke up. "I'm afraid not; anybody you do find is way too far away to be able to do anything before that demon gets to those six."

"DEMON!?"

"eh, I'd say it's about a four on a rating of one to ten."

"Could you at least help me?"

"Oh sure, real me, put an enchantment on your left hand just in case something like this happened. Aren't I smart? Anyway, to use it, just flick your left hand out."

Not wanting to waste another moment, Aksal did as he was instructed. However, when he did so, Askal instantly felt a horrifyingly similar weight appear in his left hand. It was Ryujuro's sword.

End of chapter 06
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

Here is hoping that Askal is able to control himself this time. He wouldn't want to go after his girlfriend would he? ;) Now I wanna see a love dodecahedron between Olive/Askal/Pueblo/Kraig. XD Great chapter!
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Re: Live by the Sword

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Dodecahedron has twelve faces.

Anyway, there’s a ton of baggage to unpack regarding all of Fido’s family, it seems.

Wonder when we’ll get to the gunman? Seems to be someone familiar enough with the situation and those involved to calculate their approach.

Nice to know that Askal’s group of friends are that close to him, but definitely not a good time. And Askal needs to quickly realize that a weapon’s morality is entirely dependent on the wielder.
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

Yeah I was pretty much just being tongue-and-cheek when I had said that. Also it was a trope that is on TVTropes so that is where I got it from.
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Krytus The Dreamer »

Amazee Dayzee wrote: Sat Sep 03, 2022 1:51 pm Here is hoping that Askal is able to control himself this time. He wouldn't want to go after his girlfriend would he? ;) Now I wanna see a love dodecahedron between Olive/Askal/Pueblo/Kraig. XD Great chapter!
Oh goodness that relationship chart is going to be extremely complicated.
D-Rock wrote: Sat Sep 03, 2022 2:07 pm Anyway, there’s a ton of baggage to unpack regarding all of Fido’s family, it seems.
Honestly, that last bit of Joey being the one to send that picture was a bit of a last-minute add. I thought it'd be very interesting to explore with him since I've practically ignored him all this time.

Hey guys I'm back! sorry about that I just had a test come up and needed to focus and let time pass me by. Whoops.

Episode 05: The Land Forgotten By Legend
Chapter 07

Askal felt his legs give out from beneath him as the young dog fell to his knees.
The entire forest around him went dead silent as the sword clattered once it hit the ground. Askal could only stare at the blade and remember how much pain it had caused in a single night. The young dog clutched his ears. It was all he could do to keep the screams from overwhelming him. He couldn't possibly pick up the sword again, not after everything he had done with it.

Askal's vision blurred. His breaths turned shallow. He couldn't focus as everything around him turned into amorphous, unrecognizable blobs. Any lights that seeped through the trees slowly began to dim. Before Askal knew it, he was back in a dark void, but this time stray pink flower petals were slowly drifting to the ground elegantly. It would have been a welcome calming sight had it not been for a lone figure standing before him. A dog almost as tall as his Kuya Fido but not as bulky, wearing a strange light blue flowing robe with a cloud pattern.

When their eyes met, Askal froze. Tears began to well up his eyes as a realization hit Askal hard. This was the face of the dog who hurt his friends and family. Suddenly, a sharp pain erupted in his head, causing Askal to grip the sides of his head in a vain attempt to quell the pain. Discordant sounds erupted from around him, from familiar sounds like musical instruments and voices of friends and family to sounds Askal couldn't understand.

With his head erupting with discord, Askal didn't hear Kitsune but felt him collide with his body, "LOOK OUT!" Askal and Kitsune tumbled to the ground as the young dog noticed a flash of red streak across the air.

The next thing he knew, Askal heard wood creaking before eventually giving way to a tree toppling over. While the sounds in his head still plagued the young dog, they lessened to an extent to grasp the situation around him. Ryujuro was in an attacking stance, slowly sheathing his sword to ready his next attack. His eyes burned with a hatred that Askal had once felt before.

"Don't just stand there!" Kitsune grabbed Askal's wrist and began tugging, "RUN!"

Somewhat baffled by the events, Askal followed Kitsune but looked back at Ryujuro, who took his time, "What's going on!?" he yelled, looking back to Kitsune, "I thought you said you were a ghost; how come you're interacting with me right now?"

"No time to explain," Kitsune yelled as he ran through the forest, now awash in pink flower petals. "For now, we need to put as much distance between him and us."

Before Askal could instinctively fire off another question, a wave of flames flew over their heads, narrowly missing its intended mark. Once again, Askal looked back and saw Ryujuro, his blade bathed in fire, slowly marching in their direction. Frantically, Kitsune led Askal through the forest, eventually stumbling across a vast cliff face with a rope bridge connecting two sides. With Ryujuro hot on their tails, Kitsune had no choice but to take the risk.

At first, it seemed like they were going to make it. However, Askal couldn't help but look back only to see Ryjuro holding his flaming sword above one of the ropes suspending the bridge. Horrified, Askal was distracted for a moment. Unfortunately, that moment was all it took for Askal's foot to get caught between one of the planks and for him to trip. Kitsune's grip loosened, but when he turned back, it was too late. With one slash, Ryujuro severed both ropes holding up the bridge.

Immediately, Askal was overcome with a feeling of weightlessness as he began to fall. Due to the momentum and the angle he fell, Askal's leg slipped out of the plank allowing him to fall into the dark abyss of the chasm.

"KITSUNE!" Askal yelled as he fell.

"I'm coming! Hold on!" Kitsune kicked off the bridge he was holding onto and dove straight for Askal, "Grab my hand!"

Amid their free fall, Askal and Kitsune struggled to reach each other. It didn't help that Kitsune had to weave around streams of fire that rained down from above. All Askal could do was flail his arms in Kitsune's direction and hope it would help the fox reach him before they hit the ground. Thankfully even with Ryujuro's interference, Kitsune and Askal locked hands, allowing the fox to pull Askal towards himself. Once close together, Kitsune wrapped his body around Askal, hoping to absorb the impact from hitting the bottom. Strangely enough, the impact never came.

What should've been a hard stop on the rocky floor resulting in a one-way ticket to the good place was instead a pillowy impact that bounced Kitsune's body upward. After a good two or three bounces, Kitsune's grip broke, allowing Askal to tumble onto a strange powdery substance. Askal wanted to stay buried in this peculiar substance to forget his troubles, but once the intensity of a near-death experience finally died down, Askal finally felt the sun's blistering heat.

Slowly Askal picked himself off and shook off the powder, only to be met with a sight he only saw in the movies Fido had shown him of Pridelands. Askal found a sprawling view of a vast desert without a tree to be seen for miles on one side and sparse greenery surrounding a small cluster of buildings near a tall cliff face. Of course, he knew these places existed, but finally to see them in person was a different story.

"Oh no," Kitsune gasped, causing Askal to turn and see the fox in a different state of awe, "What's this doing here? You're not even ready for this one yet!"

"Uh... What?" Askal tilted his head confused.

Kitsune rushed over and grabbed Askal by the shoulders, practically shaking any residual sand off of him, "Be honest with me Askal, did you get into contact with anything from Egypt? Anything at all?"

"W-w-what?" Askal spoke through the shaking, "I-I-I D-D-Don't Kn-now?"

"This isn't good, not good at all." Uncharacteristically, Kitsune set Askal down and began pacing while lost in his thoughts, "I suppose it could happen if- no that's a long shot- but maybe- no- can his mind handle this much fracturing? Ugh, I hate being a shred of consciousness!"

When the fox finally had a break in his rant, Askal found his voice and spoke up, "Kitsune, please." tears began welling from his eyes, "I don't know what's happening. Why is he here, where are we, what's going on?" Finally, Askal broke into full sobs, "I need answers."

Askal tried his best to look at Kitsune so he would take him seriously, but Askal couldn't. The stress of remembering he was the one who hurt his friends, combined with two near-death experiences, was too much. Finally, Askal couldn't hold it back anymore. When tears began flowing, Kitsune dropped everything to be by Askal's side and wiped away a tear.

"You're right." Kitsune sighed, "I'm sorry. I just got carried away. What you're dealing with right now is too much for someone your age. I'm sorry that it has to be you and that there isn't much I can do other than help ease your pain and make the transition smoother. I promise I will help you through this."

Kitsune placed his hand on Askal's forehead. "Got it. We need to keep moving. So I'll answer what I can as we walk." Kitsune placed his arms underneath Askal's legs and carried him piggyback towards the small settlement. "What do you want to know first?"

"Where are we? How come all of a sudden you can do things like pick me up and drag me around? How did I even get here?" Askal snorted to clear the snot out of his nose.

"We're in your mind. It's also the reason why I can interact with things. The real Kitsune put me inside your head, if it's in your head then I can interact with it. When you called Ryujuro's sword, I didn't expect the damage to your psyche to be so extensive that you'd slip into this state."

"So am I dreaming?"

"Not exactly. Remember in Bino's room when I told you that you could experience other's emotions if they were strong enough? Well, I wasn't telling you the whole truth. If the emotions you experience are extreme enough, they imprint on your psyche, almost like you lived through the experience yourself. You can then take on their form, training, skills, etc. The catch is that if you're not careful, these imprints can take over your mind, erasing you from existence. You don't die; you're just gone, extinguished in favor of becoming a copy of someone else."

"Then I was right. I can't have these powers; they're too dangerous to me or my friends and family."

"It's not that simple, Askal. These imprints are here, and if I forcibly rip them out, your mind wouldn't be able to handle that kind of fracture. Datu's condition would seem like a cakewalk compared to the damage I could potentially do."

"So am I just cursed? Cursed to have the spirit of a dead swordsman-

Askal stopped as the noise and sharp pain returned in full force.

"You feel that?" Kitsune grunted as he tried to pick up the pace, "That's your mind ripping itself apart because of these imprints. Remember this; this is an important distinction, that’s not Ryujuro, not really anyway. The thing that attacked us is nothing more than a memory spurred on by residual emotions from the sword. When you deny the imprints as a part of yourself, you give it power. If you give it too much power, it can destroy you to become the dominant personality. Small words like those go a long way."

"So what am I just supposed to accept that a killer--" Another wave of pain, "That I... killed an entire village all those years ago?"

"Atta boy," Kitsune chuckled as he entered the deserted village, "but you're wrong about Ryujuro. He isn't a killer, never has been."

"But the history-

"Is wrong. That's the problem; history is often a one-sided story that lacks the perspective of being there yourself. Time can also affect how people remember a certain event. So it's better that I show you."

"How can you put so much faith in Ryuju-- me? I've only hurt people with the sword. I almost killed Fox."

"You mean aside from the being there all those years ago? Well, it's because Ryujuro and, by extension, you are my student."

"What?"

"Well, not exactly per se. When dragon locked Pete away in his temp-- uh... let's just say since there weren't as many avatars running around as there should've been, the demon population in Japan was getting out of hand. Of course, since I'm a referee, I can't have assets on the board, but that doesn't mean I couldn't teach someone pro bono. So I taught your master, who then passed my teachings down to you."

Askal still had so many questions. However, the answers he already got demanded time to process. It frustrated Askal to no end. Yet, he wasn't even given a choice in the matter; Askal had to live- no- not just live, accept these new memories; otherwise, they would erase him from existence. It was a lot to process, and that took time.

As Kitsune walked through the abandoned town, Askal noticed a few odd details. For starters, there were no people, no animals, and no signs of life other than the plants scattered about. But, it went even further than that. Askal saw how detailed everything was, from the cracks in the building to the uneven ground where beasts of burden dragged carts through. Askal loved Res Auburn's writing, but he doubted the author knew highly specific details of such a place.

"There," Kitsune pointed to a hut, "That's our ticket to where we need to go. I promise you I'll get you out of this mess, but you need to trust me when I say Ryujuro isn't as bad as you think. Just keep an open mind. Okay?"

"I'll try." Askal sighed.

As Kitsune edged closer to the hut's entrance Askal felt odd. It wasn't the discordant sounds again but rather something simpler. Askal felt like he was being watched, which was strange to say in a deserted town. At first, Askal was horrified to think Ryuj- the imprint had followed him all this way, but it was something else. Cautiously Askal scanned the area as Kitsune took his last steps toward the hut. Then he saw it, the source of his suspicions.

A large black dog stood atop one of the buildings clad in sky blue armor made of light. It was hard to tell what he wanted because he was so far away, but he did nothing but stare at the two as they approached the supposed exit.

"Sir Mungo?" Askal mumbled to himself

"We're here." Kitsune announced almost at the same time, "Please pay attention."

When Askal nodded, Kitsune parted the cloth that covered the hut's entrance. All of a sudden, the intense heat from the sun dissipated. The regal light of a full moon was in its place as it caressed a different small town. Instead of stone buildings, there were houses made of wood and paper. The vast desert vanished in favor of a mist-covered cluster of bamboo shoots. Once Askal felt like he had seen this place before but not really.

Kitsune sported a grim look as he carried Askal through the deserted town. It only grew more ominous as the clouds blocked the moon. Another thing that stood out to Askal was how neat the town looked. Everything was in its place; all the doors and the windows were closed, and it felt too perfect. There were no signs that hinted that people lived in this town. It was too clean.

Slowly, the clouds parted, and with the light came a horrifying reveal. The town was stained red with various holes and cuts carved into random parts of each house. Askal could see the bodies, but he smelled the red in the air of dozens upon dozens of people.

"I won’t lose!" Ryujuro's shaky voice came from around the corner, but something was different.

Ryujuro’s voice was scratchy almost like he was speaking through a really old radio, "All these people were living their lives before you came along and took everything from them. In order for their spirits to rest easy, I swear you will meet your end by my blade before dawn."

When Kitsune rounded the corner, Askal finally saw it. Ryujuro, injured and beaten with his cloud-patterned robe in tatters, brandished his sword at what looked to be a geyser of water. Upon further inspection, Askal saw the tentacles that made up the beast as it all led to a single giant eye with an equally large mouth that screeched incoherently at Ryujuro, causing him to cover his ears in pain.

Taking advantage of Ryujuro in a vulnerable state, the monster lashed out with two tentacles. Luckily Ryujuro was faster and rolled out of the way as the tentacle quickly crushed the stone road with ease. Then, before the monster could retract its appendages, Ryujuro jumped onto its tentacles and began running along its surface, causing noticeable ripples in the water with each of his footsteps.

Not willing to give Ryujuro any more advantages, the demon drew up more of its tentacles, lashing out at the striped dog as he got closer. Ryujuro took a deep breath, and when he exhaled, Askal saw brilliant scarlet flames erupt from his sword as he skillfully managed to slash at each tentacle coming his way, allowing them to splatter onto nearby buildings. Once Ryujuro was finally close enough, he leaped high into the air and took full advantage of his momentum to deliver a final blow. Of course, the demon tried to stop him by putting up tentacles to slow his fall, but it wasn't enough. Ryujuro was able to cleave the eye in two before getting stuck in the monster's torso.

As a final gambit to take Ryujuro down with it, the water demon fired off its remaining tentacles at the striped dog. Too tired and injured to react fast enough, the tentacles made contact with him and slammed him into the dirt, causing Ryujuro to cough up blood and fall unconscious as the water began to lose shape.

"This is what really happened that night." Kitsune sighed, lowering his head regarding the lost lives, "The swordsmanship style I taught to Ryujuro and his master takes inspiration from the elements occurring in nature. The wielder must visualize the element clearly within their mind and mimic its movements to the smallest detail. Unfortunately, their visualization is so great that people hallucinate the elements forming around their blades. Because you have mana coursing within you, You're able to bridge the gap and bring forth the elements he visualizes. Since this took place in ancient times, they could not distinguish if it was real or not and unjustly assumed that the scattered water was the smoking gun of Ryujuro's betrayal."

Askal replayed any memory he had of Ryujuro; the anger and hatred boiled within him as it did for Ryujuro. Eventually, it got to the point where Askal forcibly made Kitsune put him down so they could see eye to eye.

"Couldn't you have stepped in?" Askal growled, "You already did it to teach my master; why didn't you do it to save my brother and me!?"

"When I stepped in to teach Ryujuro's master, I did so in physical form as a nameless swordsman. I had to hide the fact that I was a celestial. If I came back, there'd be too many questions, and nobody would believe a nameless swordsman if I took on a different mortal form. Their emotions were too set for me to influence them to see reason subtly, and if I revealed myself as a Celestial, there'd be no end to all the favors they'd ask of me. Sure it may start off small and inconsequential, but an entire nation knowing I was a celestial, would eventually start escalating from healing the sick to stopping famines to winning wars for them. It was too dangerous. I tried Ryujuro; I really did. There was nothing I could do."

Askal clenched his fist and before he knew it hurled it at Kitsune. But, before he could fully connect, Askal's ears twitched at the sound of a strange flute that began playing in his ears. Thankfully Askal's fist stopped shortly before making contact with Kitsune's face as the young dog heard out the music. It was slow and sad as it almost melded in with the breeze whistling. Askal slowly lowered his fast to find an unflinching Kitsune who only stared at him as Askal processed his emotions. The more he locked eyes with Kitsune, the more he understood the feelings behind the flute playing.

It was frustration. Kitsune was there when he watched his students face an unfair judgment, and he had no choice but to watch. It must've been heartbreaking.

"I-I'm sorry," Askal sighed as he wiped away a tear, "It wasn't fair of me to take it out on you."

"Askal- Kitsune reached his hand out to Askal, but Kitsune's hand phased through it instead of making contact with his shoulder. "What?" He stared at his fading hand in horror. "No, no, not now."

"Kitsune?" Askal panicked and tried to grab the fading hand, only to grasp at air, "What's happening now?"

Kitsune inspected his whole body to find even his feet, and the tip of his tail started to disappear. "Something happened to the real me, something that's disrupting his focus. Listen to me, Askal; you need to accept Ryujuro as part of yourself, not reject him. I brought you here so you'd see you're more alike than you realize. If you don't, that imprint will gain more power before finally taking over." Tears were welling up in Kitsune's eyes, "I wish I could help you, but I can't. Please. I know this is a lot to ask of a child, but please save my friends."

Before he could say anything else, Kitsune vanished entirely. Askal tried to feel for Kitsune but again was met with air. Then almost as if he was waiting for Kitsune to vanish, Askal heard the sound of metal sliding out of a sheath. Askal turned to see Ryujuro, in proper attire, wielding his sword, ready to strike. But, though Askal and Ryujuro stood on the opposite side of the town, Askal heard discordant noise again radiating from the imprint. It started slowly at first; Ryujuro took a few tentative steps toward Askal. Askal took a few steps back, intensifying the noise and emboldening Ryujuro to pick up the pace.

Eventually, Ryujuro broke out into a full sprint as he closed the gap further and further. Askal remembered Kitsune's warning and looked at the incoming Ryujuro before taking a deep breath. Ryujuro leaped into the air as his blade caught fire, and once at the apex of his jump, the striped dog fully intended to slash at Askal, but the young dog closed his eyes.

"You've been through a lot." Then, when Askal felt blazing heat in front of his face, he opened his eyes to see Ryujuro's blade hovering inches away, "I hear your anger, your frustration, and hatred, but something else too. You're sad that your brother had to pay the price. I know how you feel. My brother's not looking so good too."

Ryujuro's burning eyes were focused entirely on Askal, "You've suffered injustice, and I swear I'll do everything in my power to ensure you get the closure you need. However, I can't right now. My- Our friends are in danger; a demon is hunting them. I can't do this alone; I need your help. Please."

Askal stared into Ryujuro's eyes, trying desperately to convey his sincerity. Seconds turned into minutes, then into hours as they locked eyes. Eventually, the flames on Ryujuro's sword burnt out, allowing the dog to sheathe his blade. He once again met Askal's gaze before extending his hand.

As he grabbed it with both hands, a warm smile grew on Askal's face. "You're a part of me." Askal smiled with relief as the discordant music ebbed into a soothing melody made by a stringed instrument.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Ryujuro blinked and he was back.
Instead of the town’s cobblestone road, Ryujuro’s paw pads were cushioned by soft grass that danced in the breeze of a cool forest. In front of him lay his sword just waiting to be drawn after years of inactivity. He took a step forward but stumbled not used to being taller all of a sudden, but years of trained reflexes quickly kicked in to correct the imbalance.

“I’m… me.” Ryujuro sighed to no one in particular as he looked at his hands before clenching them.

It was a tranquil moment. Sadly, that tranquil moment abruptly ended when he heard screaming. Ryujuro’s eyes narrowed when he remembered what he needed to do. So in one quick motion, Ryujuro stuck his foot underneath his sword and flung it into the air to easily grab it. Without any more delays Ryujuro took off into the forest with blinding speed.

End of Episode 5
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D-Rock
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by D-Rock »

That’s a heavy power that Askal has. Now we know the truth of what happened to Ryujuro.
Can’t imagine the pain of being forced to be a bystander like Kitsune has been.
Faith doesn't change circumstances. Faith changes me.
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Amazee Dayzee
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

This chapter certainly escalated things a lot.

Then catapulted them into the exosphere. I still enjoyed the chapter though!
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by D-Rock »

Just started thinking, does his ability only work on actual people, or could fictional ones work as well? Might explain why Askal’s such a great actor.
Faith doesn't change circumstances. Faith changes me.
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