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Music / Re: What are you listening to
« on: October 24, 2017, 09:46:02 PM »

Kojima Mayumi.


Develop Your Story / Re: Death By Ex-Girlfriend (COMPLETED)
« on: October 20, 2017, 10:42:21 PM »


Aika Crisis is ready to go, but getting some good art for its cover would be quite expensive, obviously. If any of you Yandere-loving manko-raiders want to pitch it, I'd be most grateful. (Though I really don't expect to meet the goal lol)

break Room / Re: Just Putting it Out There...
« on: October 17, 2017, 04:26:09 PM »
I just couldn't even look at it anymore. I don't think I'll be digging that idea up from the grave again  :ninja:

Uh oh, did I kill off someone's favorite character?  :hmm: I sure hope I didn't but I've killed a lot :ohmy: Between gearing up to put DbEG out there, I've also been trying to drum up another idea around my usual, favorite themes. I really want to capture the warm and homely feeling of Anzu again, with the same kind of development of drama and cruel twists. Ah well, I'm sure it'll come to me.

Writing this one was a good mental workout. Just figuring out the big TWEEST took days for me to wrap my hear around. a Three-way identity swap. What on earth was I high on

break Room / Just Putting it Out There...
« on: October 17, 2017, 03:54:30 PM »
I had Sincerely Your Dearest Phantom removed because, well, for as much praise as it got, I didn't like it. Like, at all. But I realize that I kind of burned down the parade on that one with its swift removal. There's no way in hell I'll ever get back to writing that story, but I can at least tell you THE SHOCKING TWEEST

Yes, the world Shiya and whatever the other girl's name was a digitized simulation, one made of the collective conscious of thousands of other people. In the real world humanity had nearly come to an end and the Earth was torn asunder as the sun began to die and morph into a red giant. Humanity was only able to build a few Celestial Arks (Basically giant space-travelling ships) to save roughly 1 million people while the other billions were all killed.

Shiya and Whatsherface were able to get on because Whatsherface's father was one of the people working on Japan's Celestial Ark. He was also the one who invented the digitized space that everyone on the ship would live until their arrival to a hospitable planet, as well as the AI guardian of that space, Daedalus. Shiya was gravely injured as she first got on the ship, but was treated with prompt medical care before having her consciousness uploaded to the alternate world. Whatsherface had an organ complication and would certainly die in short time while in the alternate world. All 50,000 or so people on the ship were sent there, as it was meant to be a form of morale control and body preservation.

However, Shiya's body continued to suffer from complications during her extended time in her Chamber of Respite (the terminal by which people's minds are uploaded to the digitized world). There was one occurrence where Shiya collapsed in the digitized world because her comatose body was going into shock in the Chamber of Respite. This was when Yonaka collapsed in the classroom as Shiya (I just remembered her name lol) was cradling her. On that day, Yonaka's Angel was born and initiated the scene with the solar eclipse and mass rapture of souls into the dark orange sky.

Got all that? Notice the error in detail there? Okay.

Here's the truth.

In that scene, the one known as Shiya was cradling an unconscious Yonaka as the angel went on its rampage. Yonaka revisits this memory from Daedalus as she realizes something isn't right with it. Without telling her, Daedalus has it so Yonaka revisits the memory as she experienced it when it happen, so she's essentially reliving it. Yonaka could see what appeared to be Shiya cradling her, with her vision greatly blurred and POV taking place from the side (She thinks its an outer body experience like the first visit of this memory). Some surviving students came into the classroom to offer help, laying Yonaka on a row of desks until she woke up again. One of the students then says "But...what about her?" They all turn around and look directly at Yonaka. No, not the one on the table. The Yonaka witnessing all of this, having no idea that she's experiencing it exactly as it happened, and not as a mere spectator. Do you recall the angel that was detected by Daedalus in the classroom? Yonaka is experiencing all of what happened from her body.  :ninja: The one we've known as Shiya all this time was not the cute blonde either. Shiya was originally in Yonaka's body, and the angel they would both later despise was actually the blonde cradling who you knew up to that point to be Yonaka, but was actually Shiya at the time.

Right, so we have a 3-way identity swap here. Here's what happened. The story began after this swap occurred. Let me put this bluntly. As you Know them = How they were

Yonaka = Shiya

Shiya = Angel (forgot her name too)

Angel =Yonaka

The angel that served as the antagonist was Shiya's actual best friend and step sister in the real world. They boarded the Celestial Ark together and entered the simulated world together. Yonaka was a friend of theirs and a sort of role model to Shiya (who was the real source of the angel). Following that classroom incident, the Angel, turned the series of misfortune and loss of life in her favor. The less minds Daedalus has to tend to, the easier it is to simulate the world and tend to the person's body. Since Angel's father (the one you thought was Yonaka's father) was the keyholder of Daedalus, control over him and the world went over to her after the father himself died and released an angel.  Daedalus, under her command, diverted all of the ship's power to keeping Shiya stable, but it was clear she wouldn't last long.

And so she devised her master plan. A reckless, insensitive, and cruel plan.

Angel needed to save Shiya, and that would only be possible if she could receive a new body. She devised a plan where a mental switch would occur in the digitized world, where Shiya's consciousness could be tampered with, swapped out, and placed in her body. This was to fool the angel that was still loose in the world, throwing the heat off of Shiya herself in case it tried to destroy her. While this would happen, Daedalus would tend to her organs in the real world. This is the "Transfer" that is referred to in the story. However, Tenshi (Just remembered Angel's name too!) didn't quite want to die in all of this. So she switched her own consciousness with Yonaka's before doing any of this, without consent as Yonaka was still unconscious. Tenshi tampered with both of their memories, not just their bodies.

Yonaka = Received Tenshi's memories as her own and Shiya's original body, thinks she has been Shiya's best friend this whole time and inherited Tenshi's intense will to save her at all costs, bearing the brunt of the Transfer's consequence in Tenshi's place and becoming the decoy for the angel originally released by Shiya.

Shiya = Inherited Tenshi's original body and retained some of her own memories, but does not remember anything beyond her first day in Daedalus's world, helplessly thinks its the real world.

Tenshi = Stole Yonaka's original body, maintaining her memories.

The world is recreated with the populace that was killed during the disaster simulated by Daedalus instead of, you know, actually being alive. Daedalus is tasked by Tenshi to act as Yonaka's guardian for the sake of the plan to save Shiya, knowing full well the two would have to fight against each other. Daedalus, being the loyal AI he was, successfully fulfilled this role and followed Yonaka. While the first transfer between all three gave Shiya a new body, the second transfer between Yonaka and Shiya ensured that Shiya's original organs would be transferred to the new body in the real world. Otherwise, Shiya would've died from Tenshi's original, faulty organs.

From then on, Tenshi continued to play her role as a villain, provoking Shiya's sense of self throughout the story, fighting against Daedalus and his system, and outwitting Yonaka. In the final cour, Tenshi was to reveal all of this to Yonaka as well as a few other things.

1. Tenshi reveals that Angels are the manifestation of the subconscious will of self-preservation, in a world designed to do that for you. Thus, the angels are naturally destructive in this world, seeking to break free and set others free through rapture so they can freely fight to preserve themselves. Daedalus was supposed to mitigate this, but couldn't keep it under control when Shiya panicked as she neared death in the classroom. Her subconscious fought viciously to break free and maintain itself.

2. Tenshi gained her angel powers by devouring the heart of her father's angel, the one crucified in the church. She and Daedalus managed to grab hold of the angel's corpse after the father died in the first disaster. She decided to absorb the heart after Daedalus discovered it is the nucleus of the instincts that drive the angel. With his help, she was able to balance her own sense of self and the angel's inherent will to break free from the false world.

3. Tenshi reveals that she has played her role as a villain because the "voyage" as she vaguely refers to it, is nearly at an end. At this point, she is confident she has already won, and that Shiya will be perfectly fine now.

In the final chapters, Yonaka is completely destroyed. Everything she knew about herself was a complete fabrication. She remains at home, silent, naked, and too numb to even think of suicide. Tenshi confronts her again, apologizing for what she had done to her and thanking her for playing her role. Also at this point, Daedalus is gone and has not reappeared for some time, despite Yonaka's rather emotional pleas for his company.

With the world unguarded, Tenshi releases Yonaka's angel (though, it's really Shiya's angel), from the moon and initiates the end of the world. The moon approaches the earth just as it did the first time, but then splits open like a dissected eyeball, covering the world in blood. The souls of those that were raptured out come down as angels and begin rapturing the humans still left in the digitized world (yes, there were still thousands of them way outside the town Shiya and everyone was confined in).

Yonaka and Shiya watch all of this from the roof of a skyscraper and Daedalus finally reappears, explaining the role he took in all of this. He also leaves Yonaka with her final responsibility by explaining what Tenshi meant when she referenced the voyage. The Celestial Ark, low on power but still chugging it to its destination, was nearing arrival of a hospitable planet. Soon, there'd be no need for the alternate world. It was up to Yonaka to accept what had been done to her and give Shiya the push of bravery to step out from this eggshell world and awaken in the real world.

A lot of action, blood, and trippy visuals later, we reach the prologue scene where Yonaka and Shiya lie together on the beach, truly and completely alone in the world. Shiya, knowing the truth of everything now, has to make a choice. Stay with Yonaka, who has reached the end of the transfer and will die soon, and wander the desolate fake world alone. Or, wake up, leave Yonaka behind, the fake world behind, and live her new life on a new planet. It's here that Shiya understands the "I am you" dynamic presented in the prologue. Yonaka is trying to say that, through Tenshi's cruel actions, she inherited what was originally Shiya's body.

Tenshi appears in front of them, taking Shiya in her arms and carrying her off in the Fetal Moon. Daedalus sits with Yonaka on the bloody beach, the world locked in eternal, scarlet night. Its implied they remain there together until Yonaka dies.

Shiya and Tenshi wake up in the real world, the transfer successful. Tenshi had stolen Yonaka's body and gave her own to Shiya. They awaken next to each other, slightly malnourished with their hair and nails grown out wildly. A holographic letter sits in wait for Shiya as the Celestial Ark's door opens and lets in the light of the new world. The letter is the one Yonaka mentioned in the prologue, written during her final hours in the fake world. Whether or not Shiya or Tenshi are alone in the new world is left up to interpretation.

So there you have it. Yonaka was the subject of the transfer and was cruelly designated to act as the decoy for Shiya's angel, and as the last person who would remain on and die in the digitized world. The ship is also mostly a necropolis after it lands. All of its inhabitants except for Shiya and Tenshi were killed off (So that Daedalus could stay with Yonaka a little longer until she dies).

What a convoluted mess. I really just took the "identity swap" TWEEST from 6 Cataclysms: Guilty Rat and intensified it. I'm a hack lol

MR Pub / Re: Chit Chat 2017
« on: October 13, 2017, 12:59:31 AM »
Mombot's my fave

Develop Your Story / Re: Death By Ex-Girlfriend (COMPLETED)
« on: October 05, 2017, 04:48:53 PM »
Ring a ding ding, folks. I know keeping up with this story can be tough on MR. So, if you're just starting out on Aika Crisis, this PDF is for you! Hopefully this makes it a little easier. I'll be doing the same to War Cloud and all the other arcs, though that may take me another year to complete. Don't even get me started on the 63 chapter titan that is Senkumo War Stories  >:(


Music / Re: What are you listening to
« on: September 30, 2017, 01:16:23 AM »

General Manga writer discussions / Re: Me?! SELL MY WRITING?!?!
« on: September 29, 2017, 09:10:56 PM »
Alright folks, it's been a while. So, as I may or may not have mentioned, DbEG was never meant to be published like that  :ninja: That mindset gave me the freedom to write it however I pleased without any fear. But since the idea of getting out there came to me, I finished all the editing only to realize that it was in a weird format that probably wouldn't carry over well to, say, kindle.

So, I, being the absolute madman that I am, have gone through nearly the entirety of Aika Crisis editing, adding parts, removing whatever I thought was meh, and converting everything to traditional quote and prose. It was as tiring as it sounds. I'm currently finishing chapter 11 and will only have chapter 12 after that, so I'll be able to put it together pretty soon  :clapping: As in, I'll have it fully converted by tonight.

Aika Crisis is coming soon, fellow Raiders

Develop Your Story / Re: 6 Cataclysms: Red Rose Chronicles
« on: September 25, 2017, 03:31:22 PM »
Just As You're Told
Fate, the ominous demonic being, wormholed to the secluded, rural home that Yato was raised in. He was the only one up, sitting outside with his blanket wrapped around him, enjoying the sunrise as his parents and sister slept. Yato was startled by Fate when he appeared to slip in front of him from another dimension. He could see in his face that something was wrong with him, that he wasn't human. He immediately sprang up and began to panic, falling back and knocking over the table sitting on the porch. Fate moved quickly with the Art of Mercury to cover Yato's mouth. And stop him from alerting the others.

Fate: I doubt you remember me. But that's okay. In a few moments, you will remember everything. Come with me, Yato. It's time for you to wake up.

Fate snatched Yato from his home, teleporting him to an abandoned temple built underground close to the Asaji border. Sand fell through the wide, circular crevice above like drops of water as the area was illuminated in orange indirect light from the sun's light reflecting off of the sand. Fate helped Yato get on his feet, noticing how confused and bewildered he was.

Fate: Speak, boy. You're making me nervous.

Yato: I...I don't know what to say! Where are we? How did you take me here?!

Fate: I am your ally. An old acquaintance, in fact. Your true name is Yato, and you belong to the Order of the Phoenix Demons.

Yato: Listen to me, I don't know what you're talking about, so please just take me home! You have the wrong person! Just take me home and I won't tell anyone about this! Please!

Fate: Fine. See that archway over there? There's an engraving on it. Touch the engraving and you will return home.

Yato: What's your game? How is touching some ancient engraving supposed to get me out of this hole?!

Fate: The same way I was able to get you in. Lay your hand on it if you want to go home so badly.

Yato thought this may all just be a dream. Surely, he thought, that if he touched the engraving, he'd go home and the dream would be over. It would all end and the strange man in the black cloak would go away. He'd wake up on his porch, shake the dream off, and make breakfast for his sister. His naivety allowed him to think this way, and he walked over to the archway and found the engraving Fate spoke of. It was a series of concentric circles and symbols that Yato had never seen before. Nonetheless, he laid his hand on it and closed his eyes.

Fate stood right behind him and strained his Eye of Nibiru, which glowed a haunting blood-red over Yato's shoulder. The engraving also began to glow red, and Yato suddenly jolted and fell to his knees in agony. He was screaming as if his entire body had been lit on fire. His eyes glowed red like Fate's as his memories came back to him, forcing their way back inside his mind and into the soul from which they originated.

In a few minutes, the agony was over. His eyes returned to normal, and a smile stretched across his face. Fate extended his hand to help him up, and Yato happily grabbed it firmly. He shook his long, thick, blonde hair of sand and made a simple request.

Yato: Fate. Water.

Fate: Have you forgotten?

Yato: Ah. You're right.

Yato clasped his hands and produced a ball of drinking water from his hands.

Yato: God bless the Art of Neptune.

Yato hydrated himself and splashed some of the water in his face. He wet his rib-length hair just to make sure it was cleaned.

Yato: Isn't this a little early? I thought Luxaura specified to activate the seals between the ages of 18-21?

Fate: Time is not on our side. You were raised a farmboy, so I'm not surprised you don't know.

Yato: Yeah, and who's fault is that, asshole?

Fate: It wasn't an insult. I'm aware I'm the one who's responsible for that. It was easier to have you in a secluded area in Northern Vevoskovia, since we'd always share the general area. I wanted to be sure that you were awakened first, since you are the errand boy, after all.

Yato: You sure know how to piss a guy off. So, what's going on?

Fate: Vevoskvoia and Syvia might go to war. Sankadesh and Asaji might also be joining in. I don't think I have to say much more than that.

Yato: *censored* me into a cupcake, are you serious? How could it get that bad?

Fate: Human arrogance.

Yato: *censored*. So, I'm the first one to be awakened huh? Who's next?

Fate: Luxaura, the current prince of Vevoskovia. Since Roy is in the Deshavi Black Ops, I'll handle him last.

Yato: Understood.

Fate: Damn it...

Fate held his hand over his eye.

Yato: What's wrong?

Fate: I didn't realize opening that seal would use so much of the power stored in my eye. If I'm not careful, I'll run out before I can awaken anyone else.

Yato: Will it be a problem?

Fate: No. I should probably cut down on the teleportation. I'll take you back to the hideout with it, but after that, I'll be traveling with the Art of Mercury and the Art of the Moon.

Yato: Alright! Let's go then. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'm pretty excited to be seeing Nadena and Inadora again.

Fate and Yato were teleported out of the hole and back to the hideout, where Nadena and Inadora waited for them.

Fate: He's back.

Inadora: That was quick!

Nadena: Yato!

Nadena ran into Yato's arms, who was overwhelmed by Nadena's love. They both fell onto the ground, happy to see one another.

Yato: Man, you never change, Nadena. You're always so excited!

Nadena: That's a good thing right? I'm just so happy you're home! I waited 17 years!

Yato: It's good to be back, Blue!

Inadora walked over to Yato with his Phoenix Demon Cloak folded neatly in her hands.

Inadora: Welcome back, dork. Time to put this on again.

Yato: I'm happy to see you too, Ina. Did you miss me?

Inadora: You just got back and I already want you gone.

Yato: I love how you pretend you don't love me. But I can see right through you, darling. I can see right throu-

Inadora: Put on the damn cloak and piss off!

Yato: Okay, okay.

Yato put on the Phoenix Demon cloak for the first time in 17 years.

Yato: Oh man! Feels good to don the Lotus Flower again. Though, being awakened at such a young age has made this a little too big. The sleeves are overgrown now. Ah well, it's all good.

Fate: Tonight, I will see about Luxaura. Yato, you are to stay put unless ordered otherwise.

Yato: Come on, I'm already on house arrest?

Fate: It's just until I can get Luxaura to come with me without having to rely on teleportation. We may need you on our way to Providence.

Yato: Oh, I see. Well, just let me know.

Fate departed from the hideout, making his way on foot to central Vevoskovia, where Luxaura, or Mori, as he was named, was waiting. Later in the day, Tokahev, who was traveling in a convoy of carriages, finally arrived in Asaji. The sun was almost beginning to set over the beautifully barren Asaji desert. The cities contrasted with their surroundings. They were like living, breathing oases amidst the lifeless deserts. Their roofs were often domed and painted with gold. The buildings in this particular city were built with stones and bricks, and many of the houses were adorned with awnings.

The streets were busy, yet clean, and the bazaar was especially bustling with people and money. Tokahev was granted access to a private road that would lead him to the king's personal residence, one away from his palace in the capital. It was a mansion much like Tokahev's but had much more plants lined up in the courtyard, as well as hand carved, wooden statues of Dhazi, female monks, greeting guests walking by pressing their hands together and kneeling on one knee.

The carriages stopped and Tokahev was let out and greeted by women from the Daijin Aiiwa Yozuruu, Asaji's special forces. They dressed much like regular women with classical head garments that hooded their heads and wrapped around their chests. Their arms were bare, and white shirts were worn under their garments. They had belts that had cloth that draped down to their feet, which were protected by sandals. As the wind blew, the cloth parted, and thin, flowy, tan pants could be seen under them.

The women of DAY were usually a variety of light and dark skinned, influenced mainly by which region of Asaji they were raised in. With the variety, their beauty was unquestionable. Heavy eyeliner and hints of blush were the only cosmetics used by them. They were all slim, fit, and toned for their jobs. The chief of the king's security Luna, greeted Tokahev with respect. She wore her hair in thick braids, had a light complexion, and plump lips.

Luna: We are honored to have you here with us, King Tokahev.

Luna bowed her head to Tokahev.

Tokahev: I'm honored to be here. I'd only ever been to Asaji a few times, but this is the first time I've been invited to the king's residence. You're Luna, right? Jin'Salah told me I'd be greeted by you.

Luna: Yes, please forgive me for not introducing myself. I'm sure you and your men are tired from your long ride here. Please, follow me inside.

A second convoy behind Tokahev pulled into the property.

Luna: Oh, this must be King Salem. You mentioned he was coming with you.

Tokahev: Yes, that's his convoy.

Tokahev watched from the distance as Salem and Sambo jumped out of their carriages to stretch their legs from their long ride.

Salem: Woo! I've been sitting on my ass for the past 7 *censored*ing hours! Which one of you cute ladies wanna give me a massage? I'd hate to die of a blood clot!

Tokahev: Please excuse him.

Luna: Salem has visited us before. We know how he gets. Honestly, the girls don't mind it. He's quite charming, after all.

Everyone was gathered inside and treated to cold glasses of strawberry juice, which served as wonderful refreshments from the long, hot journey. Jin descended from the spiral staircase leading to his bedroom, gazing down upon all the faces illuminated by the sunlight coming from the colored glasses that made up the skylight. The rainbow of color bled everywhere when the sun was bright and gave a warm impression to visitors. Jin was a thick, man of muscle. His beard was long, curly, and worn proudly. His jet black hair was kept relatively short, never going past his shoulder blades.

Jin: So, which one of you is the king of Vevoskovia?

Jin continued to walk down as Tokahev stepped forward.

Tokahev: That would be me, your honor.

Jin and Tokahev now stood together in the circle of light coming in from the skylight. Both of them splattered with yellow, red, pink, purple, blue, and green. Jin held his tongue for an agonizingly long 90 seconds before abruptly unsheathing a concealed short sword and pointing it at Tokahev. Tokahev responded as soon as he saw Jin move and unsheathed his own short sword. Both of them stood in the colorful light, pointing their weapons at each other. DAY pulled out their weapons when Tokahev drew his blade, and Sambo, Salem, and the SOE did the same when Jin pulled out his. It was a grand stand off. Jin judged Tokahev's every move.

Jin: You have good form. You're not trembling. Your eyes are focused, steady, and determined. This is not your first time looking into a man's eyes as he's about to kill you, is it?

Tokahev: I've been threatened before. This isn't my first time pulling out a weapon to defend myself. I see you have good form as well. You have very precise and steady hands.

Jin: My father trained me in swordsmanship. You?

Tokahev: My father died in a war. I never knew him. I only had my mother. Picked up the blade of my own volition.

Jin took one last, hard look into Tokahev's eyes. Salem, the SOE, and DAY were all pointing their weapons at each other, waiting to see what was going to happen next. If anything bad happened here, it would be an act of war. Jin and Tokahev lowered their weapons and laughed together, to the confusion of everyone behind them. Both weapons were sheathed, and everyone else stood down. Jin and Tokahev hugged as if they were old friends, laughing as they both understood each other in just those few, tense minutes.

Jin: Absolutely wonderful, King Tokahev! It is a pleasure to meet you! Welcome into my humble abode! Please, all of you, come in! Let us drink!

Sambo: What....what just happened?

Salem: I think Jin'Salah was scoping Tokahev out. Making sure he wasn't weak or lack resolved.

Luna took a deep breath out.

Luna: I was so scared! I didn't know what the hell was happening! He's never done that in might sight before! My apologies! Our master drew first!

Sambo: Not at all. He damn near gave me a heart attack, but it looks like they've already become great friends.

Everyone was invited into the living room, where they sat on plush seats and were served whatever food or drinks they wanted by DAY.

Jin: My father spoke kind words of Queen Kalina, may she rest in peace. I just wanted to be sure her son was on her level. Sometimes, I find tense situations bring out the true character of men.

Tokahev: Well done, Jin. Absolutely well done!

Samba watched over the property with his optics from a vantage point. What nobody knew was that Tokahev had Samba write a simple seal on his chest before departing. It utilized the Art of Venus and would allow Samba to hear everything that Tokahev heard. He was also spooked by the incident earlier, but breathed a sigh of relief when it was all in good intention.

 For now, it seemed like the visit to Asaji was a success. The day passed by into night, and from night into the dark hours of the morning. Many of the men were sleeping except for a few, including Salem, Sambo, Tokahev, and Jin. The day proved to be exciting and it was clear the Asaji were on Vevoskovia's side. The group began wrapping up their talks.

Jin: You have my word, Asaji will continue to cooperate with Vevoskovia and Sankadesh. I really don't know if things can be resolved peacefully at this point, Tokahev. With all respect, we have no intention of dealing niceties with them anymore since their agents stole from this country.

Tokahev: I understand. I will do what I can when I go back and talk with Prince Solomon. Will you be coming to the Ball of Lords this weekend?

Jin: I probably won't be able to make it. I have much to do here since everyone seems to be putting their forces on high alert now.

Tokahev: Don't worry about it. I'll put in the good word for you in front of all the other lords!

Jin: You're a laugh and a half, Tokahev. Best of luck to you. And god help us all. Ladies, please walk them out and wish them farewell.

Tokahev: Everyone, wake up! We've got to go! We're on a tight schedule. Farewell, Jin. Thank you for having us.

Salem: Thanks for the treatment, Jin!

Jin: Farewell, everyone! Safe journeys!

The tired men went back into their carriages and began the journey home. The women of DAY waved and blew kisses as they rode away into the dark morning. Many of the men decided to get some shut-eye, since the sun will surely have risen by the time they made it back to Vevoskovia.

Tokahev: Samba. It was successful.

Those words echoed in Samba's head, giving him a relieved smile. Vevoskovia had attained another ally.

Speaking of allies.

Fate had finally made his way over to central Vevoskovia and stood inside the Menlayev Manor, over a sleeping Hita and Mori. Fate had no intention of risking Mori alerting his parents about his presence. So, he began inserting visions into Mori's head with the Art of Venus. These visions were Fate's own memories of Luxaura and the many things he accomplished over the course of a thousand years.

His conquering of the Heralds of the End, destroying the Syvian army and captured Omni clans, The Great Quake, and the ousting of Neo from the Phoenix Demons. For now, Fate would peel back, but stay close to Mori. In due time, he would convince Mori to travel with him to unlock his true self. The fact that Mori was apparently the more keen brother worked all too well in his favor. It would mean he would have a lot of questions about his powers, being forced to stay at home for most of his life, and the disappearance of his older brother. Fate would have all the answers he'd need. Fate slipped away through the wall and into the night, having planted the seeds of wonder within Mori's head.

By sunrise, Tokahev made it back to Vevoskovia and asked to be dropped off at Castle Asane. Salem was dropped off at a hotel where he would stay until the Ball of Lords was over, and Sambo was dropped off to his personal residence. Shortly after the SOE carriages left, Samba appeared at Castle Asane and met with Tokahev in the kitchen.

Samba: Well, that went well. You making breakfast?

Tokahev: Yeah. I'm exhausted, but I've got to stay up. I'll make you something too.

Samba: You don't have to, really.

Tokahev: Come on, think of it as my treat.

Samba: Alright. I'll have whatever you're having.

The aroma of sweet breakfast food filled the room. The sky was still a very dark blue, so the kitchen was lit with candles for extra light. The sound of someone landing on the railing outside on the patio startled them both until they turned and realized it was Katya, who was dressed decently this time.

Samba: Katya, you're up early.

Katya: I wanted to see how the meeting with Jin'Salah went. So?

Tokahev: It was a success. He's on board with us if push comes to shove.

Katya: Good. Looks like we can officially count Asaji as allies. But you still need to do something to prevent a war from happening in the first place, my lord.

Tokahev: I know. That's why Prince Solomon is already on his way here. I immediately started the journey home from Asaji so I could meet him here later today. I'm moving as quickly as possible, Katya.

Katya: Makes me curious how your home life is going.

Tokahev: If you must know, my wife hardly even talks to me anymore. Not to mention she's drinking more these days. It's only wine, but it says a lot about her feelings. I can't save the world and maintain my family at the same time.

Katya: One step at a time, then. First, the world.

Samba: Let's just try to move fast. The world is sitting on a live fuse, and none us know what's going to happen next.

Crows began cawing in the sky as Samba looked out the window. One of them landed on the railing and twisted its head like most birds do. Samba couldn't help but feel uneasy in that moment. Like things were just going much too smoothly. Despite that, he would uphold his duties as Tokahev's guardian, just as he was told.

Your Dearest Friend, Isolation
In the intense heat of the Vevoskovian summer, amongst the blooming fire lilies and tall trees, Prince Solomon stepped outside of his carriage and in front of the gates of Castle Asane. With him was Alecta, holding a white umbrella over him to shield him from the heat.

Solomon, now 22 years old, had grown nicely. He was even more handsome than his father and began wearing lavish, white, hand-made clothes for the season. He wore a white, thin tunic with an thin and silky overcoat, and red velvet pants. He kept his hair long, but parted from his face. Bundles of strands of hair touched his cheek, covered his ears, and reached down to his jaw. In the back, it hung all the way down to his hip. Tokahev waved from above, signaling he'd be there to let him in in a moment.

Samba: I'll find a place to hide.

Tokahev: You know what? That won't be necessary.

Samba: Excuse me?

Tokahev: Think about it. The only one who knows anything about you is me. Solomon isn't from here, so he'd never think there was something we were hiding. Just take off your vests and weapons and put them in the closet there. I think it's important that you meet him. I plan to have you around for the Ball of Lords as well.

Samba: You're on to something, aren't you?

Tokahev: Maybe.

Tokahev descended downstairs to let Solomon and Alecta inside.

Solomon: Tokahev!

Tokahev: Look at you! Even more handsome than before! Come in, please!

Solomon and Alecta stepped on to the sparkling marble floors and left their shoes in the hallway, which let in sunlight as one side of the wall held a row of windows that stretched all along the length of the hall, shining on the realistically proportioned statues of nude men, women, and angels.

Tokahev: Ishta Menlayev spilled the money to build this place many years ago. It was designed by Nadena Miyasane and stood as a symbol of the friendship between the Asane and Miyasane clans even after the fall of Omni. He hated the idea of being in Tenzo Palace and just left the place for the Supreme Senate. I began to understand why when I became king myself. Constantly being under the watchful eye of the government can be stressful.

Solomon: So this acts as a separate hub for you? It's marvelous. Since it was financed by the family, I'm guessing you don't have to pay property taxes.

Tokahev: Not at all. Castle Asane is a constant of Vevoskovian royalty because of it. Come upstairs, you two. We'll talk there. There's someone I'd like you to meet.

Samba could hear them coming back up into the room. He couldn't help but take deep breaths and twiddle around with his toes. When they walked into the room, Samba stood and greeted them.

Tokahev: Samba, this is Prince Solomon. Solomon, Samba.

Solomon: A pleasure to meet you, Samba.

Samba: Likewise, young lord.

Alecta: The young lord knows why he is here. To talk about his father, Yandel. On his behalf, I'd like to clear up a few things.

Everyone sat down, ready to hear what Alecta had to say.

Alecta: First, your reports of Syvia arming its troops isn't necessarily correct. However, we will say that our military has seen a boom of recruits in the past few years. Yandel has decreed that if confrontation is the only solution, the troops will be deployed en masse. Basically, Syvia's furry is loaded on a hair trigger. Please do not take that statement as a threat. We are on your side. I am simply stating the situation as bluntly and honestly as possible.

Solomon: In correlation with the increased size of the military, Yandel has had the Syvian Assembly purchase more weapons. This is only natural for such a large force.

Samba: But still, the increased presence of the KGR on the borders has got everyone on ice. You must know how ugly it looks when the military suddenly bloats up like that.

Solomon: We understand. We cannot stop civilians from joining of their own free will. It isn't like they're being conscripted. With all of that out of the way, I will say this. The reaction from the other nations has already worn at my father's patience.

Tokahev: So there is a possibility he may actually arm and mobilize his forces?

Solomon: Yes, that's still a very real possibility. I also don't want our nations to be embroiled in war, but I don't exactly know what Yandel is plotting. He's been excluding me from joint sessions with the Syvian Assembly and the Board of War.

Tokahev: At your age? That's madness! He's up to something. Every young lord should be included in meetings like those.

Solomon: I must be honest. My father has grown increasingly paranoid. First, there was the massacre at one of his properties during Kalina's reign. Dozens of people slaughtered. Then, there was the SOE/KGR clashes at Koga. The slain student. The killed protesters. The massacred refugees. Not only that, but he's taking coincidences throughout history as if Vevoskovia had something to do with it. Like the earthquake that killed the first Syvian king after the start of the Second Vevoskovian-Syvian War. He suspects you more than anything, Tokahev.

Samba: I have a feeling your father is lying to you. My guess is that he also suspects you, Solomon. But you're his heir, so he won't say anything while you still hold some semblance of power in the government.

Solomon: I know he's crazy, but...lying to his own son?

Tokahev: Don't be too gullible, Solomon. When a king knows what he ought to do, he will lie to those close to him in order to get it done. I hate to reciprocate suspicion, but I have faith that the SOE's intelligence was accurate. It just looks different to everyone on the outside to avoid any further chaos from within.

Solomon: So that's your position. It is a possibility. You had something in mind, didn't you?

Tokahev: All I want you to do is keep an eye on your father's movements. The more he shuts you out, the more he has to hide.

Solomon: You're asking me to spy on my own father for you. Do you understand the gravity of your proposition?

Tokahev: All too well. But you're one of the few people I can trust. You don't have to do anything suspicious. Just keep your eyes peeled. If you discover anything alarming, forward it to me. I don't buy for a second that all of this was just a misunderstanding.

Solomon: Fine. I shall watch and relay. Nothing more. Not until we have definitive proof that he's arming the troops for war. I will need to investigate the Syvian Assembly.

Samba: Don't do anything too risky. In times like these, dissenters could be locked away.

Solomon: Indeed.

Solomon began to understand the possibility that his own father could be lying to him. If so, it would mean Yandel has tightened an already exclusive inner ring and is making calls in the dark. Solomon and Alecta left the castle at sundown, stopping to stay at a secluded inn until the Ball of Lords was over. Samba acted surprisingly well during the whole thing. He was able to observe Yandel's possible trickery through Solomon's ignorance.

Tokahev: Excellent work there. You knew it didn't add up.

Samba: Paranoia and isolation. They are the mark of a liar and a man who's losing his grasp on reality. I only called it how I saw it.

Tokahev: You're much too modest, Samba.

A knock on the door interrupted them, followed by a woman's voice from beyond the door. Tokahev opened the door after realizing the voice came from Amiya. In fact, it was Amiya and Katya standing together.

Tokahev: Amiya?

Amiya: I ran into Katya on the way here. We were both headed to Castle Asane.

Katya: I only came to see how the meeting went.

Samba: You're a real busy body, Katya.

Katya: B-body? What about my body?!?

Samba: Nothing! Absolutely nothing! It was a figure of speech, I wasn't literally referring to your body so please don't skin me alive and wash me in hydrochloric acid!

Katya: O-o-oh. Okay.

Tokahev: Are you blushing?

Katya: Don't be ridiculous!

Katya was pink like a rose. She couldn't hide it to save her life.

Amiya: You're totally blushing, dear.

Tokahev: Samba, you dirty dog! I think she likes you! Katya hardly likes anybody!

Katya: Shut up, Tokahev!

Tokahev wrapped his arm around Samba and gave him some man-to-man advice up close.

Tokahev: See, I know you're in the Deshavi Black Ops, so you don't really have that kind of interest in women, but let me tell you something. See how Katya doesn't know what to do with her hands? See how she's blushing? See how she's pressing her thighs together like she has to pee? These are all the tell-tale signs that a woman is completely infatuated with you. Trust me, Amiya was the same way when we first met. If you listen closely, you can almost her the sound of water drops!

Amiya: Oh no, you're giving the poor guy advice....wait, who is this?

Tokahev: Oh, right! I haven't introduced you two! Amiya, this is Samba. Samba, my wife, Amiya.

Samba: Hello, my lady. I'm your husband's guardian. I suppose I'd also be protecting you as well.

Amiya's eyes widened as if she fell in love with Samba. He reminded her so much of Hita, he looked like he could've been her son. Sounding like she was about to cry, Amiya gushed over Samba's looks.

Amiya: You. Are. Precious! Come here!

Samba: Wha-

Amiya hugged Samba like she would her own son. Samba could smell her aromatic hair and skin.

Amiya: Look at you! You look like my Hita! I could just eat you up!

Katya: I want to be loved too!

Amiya: Join us, Katya!

Tokahev: Wow, Samba. I didn't know you were already such a ladies man. You got yourself a three-way right there.

Samba: Three what?!

Katya also hugged Samba, who found himself crushed by their faces rubbing up against his and their breasts rubbing against his chest.

Katya: I love you, Samba!

Amiya: I love you too, Samba!

Samba: Okay, I get it! I love you guys too, now would you please let go of me?!

Katya: You're right! We should wait until marriage to touch each other like this.

Samba gasped as Katya's careless words. Katya realized what she just said and covered her mouth, backing away from Samba and Amiya.

Tokahev: Did...did she just...

Amiya: She did....oh my god....

Katya: I uh....uhh.....please just forget everything you just heard!

Samba: Personally, I think you'd make a great wife. You're nice, funny, and you're very organized.

Katya: Oh gosh...I need to use the restroom!

Tokahev: What? Why? You never use the restroom when you're here.

Katya: Out of my way!

Katya ran past everyone and into the bathroom down the hall. Within a few minutes, she came back into the room fully composed.

Katya: Ahem. Excuse me.

Amiya: Gross. Did you even wash your hands?

Katya: I'll have you know that cleanliness is a virtue of the Deshavi!

Amiya: Samba, it's a pleasure to meet you. Feel free to drop by our manor anytime, okay? You're always welcome. Thank you for dealing with my bonehead husband.

Tokahev: For shame, Amiya. For shame. Actually, Katya. It's great you're here again. I need something of utmost importance done.

Katya: Hmm? What is it?

Tokahev: Seraphina. Summon her here.

Samba: Seraphina? Why her?

Tokahev: She's a Syvian. I have a feeling Yandel will utilize the KGR before he uses the main forces.

Katya: You're planning on using her as a double agent?

Tokahev: Precisely so. We will prepare her for that and embed her into the KGR. She'll siphon information off to the Deshavi, and the Deshavi will siphon that information off to me. Do not let that intel leak anywhere else.

Katya: Damn it. To put her against her own like that...

Tokahev: Is she still in protective custody?

Katya: Yeah, she's still with Vera. I can go fetch her right now.

Tokahev: Thank you, that would be lovely.

Katya exited through the window, using the Art of Mercury to make haste with her travel.

Samba: So it's come down to infiltration?

Tokahev: It's the only way we'll get definitive answers. I don't like it either, but she's already been marked a traitor by the nation. As far as they know, she's still at large. She knows quite a bit about the SOE, so that will give the KGR reason to take her in.

The sun continued to fall and the moon began to shine again in a sky dotted by countless stars. Katya returned in the night with Seraphina, who she kept cloaked to conceal her identity to any wanderers. Seraphina, now 27 years old, knelt before Tokahev, Amiya, Samba, and Katya inside of Castle Asane. She still looked young though, like she hadn't aged a bit.

Seraphina: You summoned me, my lord?

Tokahev: I have a task for you. A long-term and difficult task.

Seraphina: I still haven't forgotten that you saved my life all those years ago. Whatever you need from me, I will do it to the best of my ability.

Tokahev: Good. You'll be deployed to Syvia in a Double Agent operation. You will be embedded into the KGR.

Seraphina: Am I to forward enemy intelligence to you?

Tokahev: To the Deshavi to be exact. They will forward it to me, and I will issue orders through them. Think of them as the middle man, the breaker in all of this.

Katya: Come to Deshavi HQ and we'll iron out the details on paper.

Amiya: How long would it take to deploy her?

Katya: I've already formulated a method of doing this. I can have her briefed and deployed within a day.

Tokahev: Perfect. This is a very dangerous task, Seraphina. If your cover is blown, nobody will be there to save you. You're not good enough at the Marluxian Arts to ward off the KGR since you're just an asset for the Deshavi...

Seraphina: So using it to try and escape is prohibited. I understand. I understand the risks and accept the mission.

Tokahev: Good luck to you then, Sera. Do what you need to, Katya.

Katya: At ease. Let's head back to Deshavi HQ. I'll fill you in on everything later, Tokahev.

Katya left the castle with Seraphina, who put her cloak back over herself and shut the door. Samba would later return to Deshavi HQ as well, leaving Tokahev and Amiya to part home together. But Fate had returned to the Menlayev Manor tonight, intent on collecting Mori. The black Phoenix Demon cloak left only the faint glow of his depleting Eye of Nibiru to be seen. Lucky for him, Luxaura was still awake and ventured outside into the courtyard to take a look at the moon. It was almost a golden color, with a ring around it. It looked much like a giant eye in the sky. Hita also walked outside to check on his brother.

Hita: Still up? Something wrong?

Mori: Nah, don't worry about it. I'm just looking up at the moon. It's pretty tonight.

Hita: And so it is.

They sat on the steps of the manor together in silence, listening to the sounds of the crickets chirping off somewhere in the bushes and trees.

Hita: Mori, be honest with me.

Mori: What's up?

Hita: Do you think mom and dad are gonna get separated?

Mori: They always put up a facade in front of others. But you hear how they argue all the time. It's been that way since Marluxia imprisoned and mysteriously vanished.

Mori was too keen for his father's secrets. He had an irking suspicion that Marluxia was broken out of prison by the Deshavi Black Ops and lied to him and Hita to protect Marluxia's secret. But Mori also felt how hard it was to tell Hita that. 6 long years and they hadn't heard a word from him. Hita began to think Marluxia was dead.

Mori: Being our parents was hard on them.

Mori clasped his hands and produced a small flame in his hands the warmed and glowed on his face.

Mori: No wonder they had us home-schooled.

Hita: You seriously kept messing with that stuff? I stopped doing that after we got busted for it when we were little.

Mori: I don't believe we can do this by accident. Nor do I believe we're just freaks who need to be sheltered and protected from plain view of the world.

Hita felt Mori's passion. He smiled, closed his eyes, and leaned back to look up at the sky.

Hita: Maybe you can argue my case when you're king.

Mori: I have no interest in taking father's place on the hotseat. It's clear he's in a rush to retire and pass his burdens on to me. That's how this dynasty seems to work.

Hita: What? No way! It's because your the best out of the both of us. Dad never considered me for the role. He doesn't talk to me like he does to you.

Mori: That's a blessing though, Hita.

Hita: Easy for the better brother to say. Anyway, I'm gonna go hit the hay. Make sure you go to sleep soon.

Mori: Thanks, Hita.

Hita went back inside the manor and up to his room for bed. Mori continued to watch the moon in a melancholy mood.

Mori: The better brother, huh? What a joke.

Out of the darkness ahead of him, Mori was alerted by a helix of flames suddenly heading towards him. As if he were a Deshavi himself, Mori clasped his hands and made a force field with the Art of Jupiter. The flames were extinguished, leaving only heat and smoke in Mori's surroundings.

Fate: Just as I thought. You never backed down from your abilities. From the very thing your parents tried to pass off as a simple mistake.

Out from that darkness came Fate, his skin as pale as death itself.

Mori: You...I've seen you before somewhere, haven't I? You were in my dreams...

Fate: Ah, so you remember me? Your dreams aren't figments of your imagination. They are a look back to the past. Your past.

Mori: That was you just now, with the fire. So, you have the same powers that I do.

Fate: The Marluxian Arts, yes. I know all there is about the Marluxian Arts. It doesn't begin and end with the Deshavi Black Ops like you Menlayevs believe. It's as old as the planets themselves.

Mori: Tell me your name.

Fate: I was born without a name. But I go by Fate. What about you? Do you remember what your true name really is?

Mori: My name is Mori.

Fate: No. No it's not. You, young lord, are the incarnation of the most beloved prophet on this earth. All of those statues in the temples, the verses in the Book of Wisdom, it's all you. You are Luxaura, the Enlightened One. That is why you can do what you can do. I have been watching over you since you were small, making sure that you grew up properly. I see your interest in the Marluxian Arts was carried over, even through incarnation.

Mori: That's who I was in those dreams?

Mori held up his palm and gazed at the symbol of Jupiter, still imprinted on his hand from his defensive move.

Mori: Me? An incarnation. It would explain why I can do it. But why is it that Hita and the Deshavi can do it? It clearly predates my own existence.

Fate: I never said you created the Marluxian Arts. As I said, they are as old as the planets themselves. Judging by how beautifully you were able to block my attack, you have kept practicing with the Marluxian Arts behind everyone's backs, haven't you? I'm impressed. But surely you know of the consequences for using the Marluxian Arts too much during your age? It's the main reason why your parents scolded you and Hita from using them.

Mori: Consequences? I only ever utilized them in small scale. I don't know of any consequences.

Fate: Your body. They eat away at your organs. Use the Art of Mars too often, and your heart will grow weak and fail. Use the Art of Neptune too often, and your kidneys will rot away.

Fate lifted his arm and pointed at Mori with his deathly hands.

Fate: Use the Art of Jupiter too often, and say bye-bye to your entire nervous system. You will grow numb to everything, unable to feel ever again.

Mori had his breath taken away for a moment. How was he to know using the Marluxian Arts could've been deadly? All he knew was the Fate did not appear to be human. His skin was as white as ash, his nails were long and sharp, and his ominous red eye pierced Mori's heart and soul like a god that knew all of his secrets. He had no reason to trust him, but his very existence was a work of curiosity. He clearly knew things that nobody else knew.

Mori: What else can you tell me? About me and the Marluxian Arts?

Fate: Tell you? I can show you. I can give you back the memories you had as a prophet. You knew everything back then. You can regain that knowledge. Come with me, and we will embark on the journey to Providence. Your memories are stored there, where no one would dare go looking for them.

Mori looked back at the Menlayev manor, thinking if he should really just leave everything behind. His brother would be alone, and it would bring panic to the household, perhaps even to the nation at large.

Fate: Thinking about them? They aren't your real family. The only mother you have was the one who gave birth to you a thousand years ago. Would you like to remember her as well?

Mori: My real mother? Damn it...

Fate: Make your choice. The clock is ticking.

Mori: Fate. I don't exactly trust you. But if going with you will explain all of this, I will embark to Providence with you.

Fate: Will the sheltered prince really leave behind his life of luxury for the truth?

Mori: Let's go before I change my mind.

Fate: A wise choice indeed. Let us go then, Luxaura.

Fate clasped his hands, using the Art of the Moon to summon an object he had marked for teleportation earlier. It was the Phoenix Demon cloak. His cloak. Mori remembered the Lotus Flower symbol from his dreams. All of it only starved his curiosity even more. He put on the Phoenix Demon cloak and dressed as Fate's equal. With one more use of the moon, Fate teleported them both for away from Vevoskovia and near the body of water and raging storms that used to be Providence. Temporary trust was all Fate needed. As soon as the seal was activated, Luxaura would be awakened.

Yet another sleeping soul wandered about, not knowing who he truly is. Samba returned to Deshavi HQ finding Marluxia waiting for him in front of the waterfall guarding the entrance. Their reflections in the water were distorted as the waterfall continued spewing water that settled into the lake.

Samba: You look upset.

Marluxia: Nah, just eager.

Marluxia clasped his hands and held a stream of electricity that gave light to the dark area.

Samba: I really would prefer to just get right to sleep. You mind?

Marluxia: Yes.

Samba: Suit yourself then.

Samba clasped his hands and trapped Marluxia into a spiral of water. He quickly got rid of the electricity to avoid shocking himself. Instead, Marluxia engulfed himself in fire that turned the water around him into steam. Neither of them could see the other. Samba paid close attention with his ears and heard the rushing footsteps of Marluxia, charging at him with a chakram. Samba blocked Marluxia's swings with his arm guards. They began to talk during this seemingly deadly game of show and tell.

Marluxia: So, how's it going with my father?

Samba: You know?

Marluxia: Katya told me when Jaya and I realized you'd been gone these past few days!

Samba found an opening that allowed him to take hold of Marluxia's arm and disarm him. With the Art of Earth, Marluxia was pushed back by a blunt, concussive blast that made his bones feel like sand. He knelt, unable to stand. Samba had won this sparring match.

Marluxia: Damn it...

Samba: You're not very good with chakram. You should stick to medium length swords and projectiles.

Marluxia: You win. I admit it.

Samba helped Marluxia up as Jaya came out from the waterfall. Just by seeing them, she already knew what they were up to.

Jaya: Sparring again?

Samba: Until this asshole gets better at using chakram.

Marluxia: I'm almost there! Don't judge a chick for not flying like an eagle!

Jaya: What am I gonna do with you two?! Just get inside before you catch a cold!

Samba: Yes, Mom...

Jaya: Don't even go there. Don't even!

If only the night could be so peaceful for everyone else. The sounds of Tokahev and Amiya searching around the manor and yelling out Mori's name woke Hita up. He came out of his room and saw Amiya from upstairs.

Hita: Mom? What's wrong?

Amiya: Hita! Where's Mori? Is he with you?! He's usually asleep by this time but his room was empty!

Hita: What?! Last time I saw him, he was out in the front watching the moon! That was just a few hours ago!

Amiya: Oh my god! Oh god, no, no, no!

Tokahev ran inside, returning from searching the back of the manor.

Tokahev: I can't find him!

Amiya began to grow even more distressed. Her lungs were taking in and exhaling air almost as fast as her heart was beating. Everything around her blurred into distortion and her vision grew dark. It was difficult for her to speak and communicate as she fell to the floor on her knees, prompting Hita and Tokahev to run to her aid.

Tokahev: Amiya, you've got to breathe! Breathe slowly!

Hita: Mom! Please relax! Dad, go get her some water!

Tokahev: On it!

Amiya lost consciousness in her own home. She relived the heartbreak of losing one of her sons. This time, she had no idea where he was or even if he was still alive. Hita was the last one left. Amiya was later rushed to Deshavi HQ in the middle of the night. A medical team took her inside as Katya probed Tokahev as to what happened.

Tokahev: He's gone! Mori is gone! We don't know where he went

Katya: The prince is missing?! He couldn't have gotten far!

Tokahev: Please, look for him! Use whatever resources you have to locate him and bring him home before word gets out! The Ball of Lords is tomorrow, and if he's not found, the world will know I lost a second son.

Katya: I'll get the Lunar Division on it ASAP! We'll conduct a full search, I promise you!

Everyone was rushed inside as the storms of awakening began to brew. The cursed marks on the chests of Mori and Hita were always meant to bring this kind of misery to the family that would raise them. Fate dealt a cruel hand.

Develop Your Story / Re: 6 Cataclysms: Red Rose Chronicles
« on: September 25, 2017, 03:15:54 PM »
The Power of Loss, the Loss of Power
The sparkling and dainty flames of the dozens of scattered candles and incense sticks around Zenbu began to slowly levitate in the air as he got up from his meditative position on the floor, grabbing his sheathed sword with him. It bore no hand guard, and the chain in the bottom of the handle was hooked into a clasp at the top of the handle. It rattled as it rose from the ground and swung around on Zenbu's back. He took his folding iron fan off of the wall, hooking it to his wrist, both of which were mostly concealed by the sleeves of his snow-white cloak when he stood.

Phaedra: Why don't you come with us on more of these tasks? You're the only one who gets to sleep all day while we do most of the killing.

Zenbu: Precaution. Movement and action are too ample in futility when they are ultimately ineffectual. However, I plan to go out a bit more now. Give me the head.

Phaedra handed over Borealis's head to Zenbu, who held it by the hair with his bandaged hands.

Zenbu: A thorough examination with the Art of Venus will suffice while the brain is still fresh.

Phaedra: Delegate that job to Fate. He's sitting with the Phoenix Demons feeling pretty complacent right about now.

Zenbu: Indeed. Iris, store the head in the archives for now. Keep the room chilled.

Iris: Wonderful.

Phaedra: Aww, is the Shaina clan baby scared of dismembered heads?

Iris: Am not! I'm the one who told your dad to start beheading people after the Diadara Civil War. I just don't appreciate being the designated executioner and corpse disposer.

Zenbu: You Omni Clans... What a shame there are so few of your kind left.

Von: Once you've extracted the necessary information, please take Phaedra with you to the Forbidden Statue.

Zenbu: Don't worry. The Great Destroyer's secrets will be unveiled in short time.

Zenbu walked past Von and Phaedra and wormholed out of the hideout. He landed gracefully, like an angel, on the surface of Callisto, one of Jupiter's greater moons. The massive gas giant, in all of its fear and awe-inspiring glory took up much of the space overhead, like the face of an angry God staring down on the surface of Callisto. Zenbu immediately clasped his hands and erected a bubble shaped shield of Jupiter. This allowed him to breathe on Callisto and covered the entire general area. Ahead of Zenbu, made out of the rocks and metals of Callisto's surface was a massive mausoleum. The front side of it was covered in hieroglyphics, written in a language unseen by anyone on earth today. To the four corners of the mausoleum, there were 4 large towers erected, taller than the mausoleum itself. These were the Towers of Silence, the final resting places of the fallen warriors, lovers, friends, and few family members of the man who once ruled the world. Dharja Zenbu.

Zenbu wormholed to one of the Towers of Silence, standing within its walls and gazing up at the opening above. These towers had open roofs, allowing for the dead to look towards the stars. The perfectly preserved, hardly decayed corpses were laid out on cascading, concentric rings that were built along the walls of the inside of the tower. The bottom level was the smallest ring, and was constructed some few feet off of the ground level. The bodies of deceased children were laid out, uniformly and neatly. Each of their hands were clasped, their eyes closed, and the symbol of Jupiter painted on their foreheads. Zenbu walked up the steps, onto the first ring, and passed by the dozens of bodies of children spanning several generations. All of them had the same father. The second level carried the corpses of women. Wives and, siblings, and warriors alike. They rested in the same position as the children and shared the symbol of Jupiter on their foreheads. However, each of them were given a bouquet of flower in their hands, and even more flowers were spread on their bodies and through their hair. It was a beautiful, yet sad sight. Zenbu continued to the 3rd ring, the largest ring. It held the bodies of the men. Many of them were old, having fought alongside Dharja during the great 200 Year War that defined their time. They were laid to rest in pure white cloth. Laid to rest with them were their weapons, the purpose of Zenbu's visit to this deathly silent place.

Zenbu: Agzabah has already stolen the Zenbu Ironwork from the mausoleum. But that doesn't mean your weapons won't prove useful.

Swords, war hammers, war fans, chain whips, and all sorts of different weapons imbued with planetary powers were at Zenbu's disposal.

Zenbu: So many choices...

The next morning, back in the Menlayev Manor, Hita and Mori were awakened by the sounds of yelling upstairs. They both stood up from their beds and listened closely.

Hita: It's mom and dad.

Mori: I thought someone broke in at first. I think they've both finally caved to their troubles.

The Menlayev household has always been peaceful and well maintained, even in times of stress. But considering recent events, their jobs as rulers of the country felt like it was at odds with their responsibilities as parents. The beginning of a family divide ensued.

Amiya: I cannot forgive you! How could you hand our flesh and blood over to them?! Marluxia is not some tool for the bloodline! He's our son Tokahev! The first baby boy you ever held in your arms!

Tokahev: Don't even *censored*ing try to go there! This hurts me too, but I had to do the best for him! That's what this is about.

Amiya: Best for him? He's already traumatized about what happened and you want to make him into a full fledged murderer?! How many people do you think he will have killed by the time he's 18? 50? 100?

Tokahev: That's why it's my job, my obligation as his father and as the king to keep the peace do he doesn't have to deploy anywhere!

Amiya: You can't. This is all going to spiral out of our control soon. Once that happens, the minute Marluxia has to go around the world and spill human blood to protect your interests and your safety, you're dead to me. You will have failed him, me, and your other children.

Tokahev:... I'm leaving. Make sure the kids eat.

Tokahev walked away from Amiya and left the manor to continue his work in Castle Asane. Hita and Mori heard it all from downstairs.

Hita: Are they going to be okay?

Mori laid back down in bed.

Mori: Just try to get some more sleep. It's still early.

Hita decided to let the incident pass so he can rest. However, Marluxia was always on both of their minds. While they slept in their beds, Marluxia was awake, cold, and afraid as he was presented in front of Katya outside of Deshavi HQ. Jaya and Samba stood next to him.

Katya: Do you remember who I am?

Marluxia: Commander Katya. You're a hero in the Deshavi Black Ops.

Katya: There are no heroes in the Deshavi. Let's get that clear. Heroes are remembered and glorified for the rest of time. We are not. Most of will die alone, and our deeds will go unremembered. That is how the Deshavi operates. Staying in the shadows of history allows us to achieve the desired results by any means necessary. So then, will you be joining us?

Marluxia: I wouldn't be here if I wasn't. I've already decided between this and execution.

Katya: Excellent. For the next year, you'll be training under me. If you prove yourself valuable, you will form a 3-man squad with Jaya and Samba. This means Locke will be relieved of his duty of chaperoning the squad. Adapt or die, young prince. If you fail to impress me, I'll feed you to the bears.

Marluxia: I understand.

Samba slapped Marluxia on the back as he began to walk away.

Jaya: Good luck, Marluxia!

Jaya smiled and walked back into Deshavi HQ with Samba. As unfortunate as his situation was, Marluxia understood his circumstances. If devoting his life to the Deshavi was the way out, Marluxia was the kind of man to take that way out. He wondered what his mother would think of him, or his brothers. And especially his father, who he was sure he had brought great shame to.

Tokahev sat with Sambo of the SOE in the meeting room of Castle Asane, who wore a white bear fur coat over his shoulders for the weather. The snow picked up again today.

Sambo: It may as well just be an axiom at this point to say that King Yandel is pissed. So are millions of Syvians both inside and outside the country.

Tokahev: Exactly how pissed is he?

Sambo: Is that a joke question? He's increasing the amount of KGR around the borders. That means Vevoskovian immigration might come to a standstill if either Yandel or the Senate will it.

Tokahev: *censored*! My mother worked so hard to set all this up.

Sambo: We need to quell any animosity before it reaches a boiling point.

Tokahev: Let's go meet with the senate. We need to make sure any action they take isn't unilateral.

Sambo: We can take my carriage to Tenzo Palace. You might want to grab a coat, my lord.

Tokahev grabbed his scarf and brown fur coat for the ride to the center of the capital. The wealth and glamour of the city was disturbed by the sound of an agitated crowd ahead. The sounds made the horses pulling the carriage uneasy, and the ride came to a standstill.

Sambo: The hell? Come, stay close to me, Tokahev. We can take the alleys.

Tokahev got out of the carriage, staying next to Sambo as they traveled through the alleys leading them safely to the rear courtyard of Tenzo Palace. On their way, they could both see wha the noise was. There was a large crowd of Syvian immigrants and refugees holding up signs and yelling out to the senate members trying to get into the building. Their shared grief and passion was heard loud and clear to Tokahev.

Sambo: They're protesting. Hundreds of years of animosity is backed behind the recent killing.

Tokahev: Oh no, they're getting much too close to the senators. We don't have enough guards here for a crowd this big!

The guards keeping the crowd at bay were becoming overwhelmed. They slowly had to back up to give themselves some space, but they were gradually pushing into the inner courtyard beyond the gate. Without back-up, the temple guards would be forced to assist. Push came to shove, and the crowd began dispersing into the courtyard like a wild pack of vicious animals. SOE agents armed with crossbows and bolt guns took their positions on the roof of the palace while agents inside shut the entrances and barricaded them. The staff were hastily removed from areas with windows, using the senate hall as a panic room. The head of security for the palace issued a warning on his speaking horn from the roof.

HoS: We understand your anger, your impatience, and your proud drive to do something about those feelings! We will not deny you your right to protest, but you are trespassing into restricted property! If you proceed, we will be forced to resort to lethal measures! Please exit the inner courtyard! This is your only warning!

The plea fell on deaf ears and angered the crowd's impetuous hearts. None of the men were willing to take the risks.

HoS: Take aim! Get the flare ready!

The SOE aimed their weapons at the crowd, and one of them prepped a small, iron apparatus with stylized decorations of a red dragon painted on the sides. He held a canister above the chamber of the launcher, waiting for the order to let it go. Colored flares were used to send messages to everyone on the premises. Red flares indicated complete lockdown and gave permission to the security to use lethal force.

HoS: Drop it! Open fire!

The canister was dropped, and a chain of chemical reactions launched the ignited flare into the air. The SOE began firing into the crowd the moment the flare was launched. Dozens of rioters fell to the ground with bolts lodged in their chests and throats, spraying the courtyard and its beautiful plants with blood.

Tokahev: Oh god, no!

Tokahev could only see the opportunities for more violence this incident could open up. It was like watching all the work his mother did be burned away as several dozen people were left dying on the ground, many of them trampled by others attempting to flee. 46 bodies littered the courtyard. One body was slouched over the water fountain, tainting the water red. Sambo and Tokahev rushed out to the courtyard while the guards began dragging the bodies off of the premises. All of the senators were rushed inside, along with Sambo and Tokahev.

Sambo: God damn it! It doesn't even matter if they were just following protocol. This is just going to keep escalating and escalating!

Their panicked and angered voices echoed through the entrance halls like thunder in the sky.

Vezburn: Those fiends charged their way into restricted property! Were our guards to just sit by and watch as they break right through our doors? They got what they deserved!

Tokahev: Nobody deserves to be shot with arrows and trampled, you warmongering troglodyte! You've pissed over everything we've worked so hard for!

The other senators kept Tokahev away from Vezburn. Sambo stood between them to make sure things wouldn't get too heated.

Vezburn: Kalina was a naive idealist. A wonderful woman, but a blind queen. We should've known the Hammurabi Compromise would burn down like this! Did you know that this isn't the first riot that's taken place? It's been all over central Vevoskovia! Property destroyed, neighborhoods locked down! Both you and Kalina ignored the bigger issue here! There is no peace between Vevoskovia and Syvia! None!

Sambo: This isn't how you solve it, Senator!

Vezburn: Perhaps getting them out of the country will make for a stronger message then!

The faces on the other senators were all too revealing. They were on Vezburn's side.

Tokahev: I will not allow you to do this.

Vezburn: Veto it then. We'll override it. Everyone has seen today that this is not working! The country will tear itself apart, and the Syvians will retaliate! It's all they know, it's their history! I propose a quick, emergency vote to repeal the open border policies regarding Syvian refugees. Get them out!

All of the senate members agreed and rushed to the hall to vote on it. Tokahev and Sambo sat in the lounge, both angry but silent. Tokahev flipped one of the wooden tables in his rage, breaking the glasses and vases sitting on top. Sambo held his shoulder as he sat down to relax, understanding his frustration.

All there was left to wonder, was how much more would be broken apart by the cruel hands of time. There was still much that could be destroyed.

Word of the incident spread back to Yandel, who was briefed in his meeting room by his most trusted KGR agent, Alecta. Alecta was too beautiful for her craft. She donned long, jet-black hair, fierce green eyes, and lips like roses. She wore the standard KGR flak vest and tight, tan long sleeved special branch shirt underneath. Tattooed on her back was the Inodis Tachtussen symbol, serving as the mark of her allegiance to Syvia and its King.

The room was bout in a semi circle, with stained glass all along the side facing outwards from the palace. The room was sunken in purple light from the windows.

Yandel: 46 people die, and they have the nerve to not only blame them, but kick them out of the country. When does the repeal take effect?

Alecta: It took immediate effect, my lord. There should already be thousands of people being pushed back out of the country. What will you do?

Yandel: Let them come home. I will keep any and all Vevoskovians out, however. We will go ahead and put more KGR around the borders.

Alecta: I understand. Will that be all?

Yandel: Yes. Dismissed.

Alecta left Yandel to his thoughts and relayed Yandel's wishes to the Syvian Assembly.

Indeed, there was still much to destroy.

Zenbu returned to earth with Phaedra by his side. It was near the Vevoskovian border, on a windy and rainy night. In this rainy, rocky valley, several refugee settlements had been built. The refugees were scheduled to leave within a week, and were forced to gather their belongings in preparation for their exit.

Zenbu's bright red eyes shined like deathly stars in the darkness of the rainy night. Zenbu had his chained sword on his back, war fan hanging from his wrist, a set of deer horn knives to his sides, and several chakram discs tied holstered behind his waist.

Zenbu: Now then. Begin.

Faster than sound, Zenbu and Phaedra rushed through the busy camp, slaughtering refugees one by one. The only rule was to use minimal amounts of the Marluxian Arts, so there could be no mistaking that these people were murdered.

Phaedra stuck with her kusarigama as her choice killing weapon. Her hands free bloodier as she went around killing every man, woman, and scared child she saw. Zenbu mainly used his sword, but took pleasure in using his variety of weapons to get the job done. Zenbu almost seemed to outmatch Phaedra in brutality. When two children tried to run from him after he decapitated their parents, he threw two chakram discs into the back of their heads, nearly breaking their skills apart when he pulled them out. Guards began to take notice of the intruder, and tried firing arrows at Zenbu.

Four crossbow men fired away, but the arrows went right through him without leaving a mark. He kept walking towards them despite their frantic fire, forcing them to take out their swords. Zenbu's swordsmanship was masterful, proven by his ability to use the weight of the enemy's weapons to throw off their center of gravity and swiftly slash their stomachs, chests, and throats.

The last one charged at Zenbu with his sword, expecting to impale him. The sword went through him like he wasn't even there, giving Zenbu the opportunity to reach for the sword, pull it from his chest and out of the guard's hand, and sever his head diagonally with it. Zenbu and Phaedra continued to the center of the camp, where the bulk of the people were.

Zenbu: Onwards.

Frightened onlookers noticed the two of them standing together with weapons and blood on their hands. They all began to scream as Zenbu and Phaedra rushed towards them, ending their nightmarish screams with their blades. Not even the pounding rain could stifle the sound of their agony.

When it was all done, blood and water saturated the ground, and so did the bodies of hundreds of slain Syvians. Phaedra put back her Kusarigama, and Zenbu wiped his sword on one of the shirts of the dead.

Zenbu: Doing more than this is unnecessary. The two nations will drive themselves to war all on their own now. We can focus on The Great Destroyer.

Phaedra: Damn your foresight. Did you time this massacre for the next moment of tension between them?

Zenbu: Dharja was able to have dreams of the future. Why do you really think sleep is so important to me? You can only dream when you're sleeping. But to answer your question, I did. This is all necessary bloodshed.

Phaedra: So then? What happens next?

Zenbu: There are several possibilities, and they all serve us in the end. My hope is that this will force the Phoenix Demons to hasten their plans. The closer the world is to war, the quicker they will have to wrap up Phoenix Rebirth.

Phaedra: Your cunning is disgusting.

Zenbu: No good things come without sacrifice. Besides, we've killed another bird with this stone. We can restock on corpses for our experiments.

Phaedra: I think this is a job for Iris!

Even still, there was much to be lost. With just one little push, humans can find all the reason they need to kill themselves. It was a truth that was being abused and manipulated by greater minds with inconceivable power.

Now Rise, Our Holy Prophet
The nations still stood six years later, but both were at the brink of total war. The massacre perpetrated by Zenbu and Phaedra killed over 400 people and sent the world into a steady, downwards spiral. Yandel began to grow paranoid, succumbing to both the severity of the events over the years, and his increasingly overwhelming position. Though Vevoskovia extolled its innocence, no Syvian believed them. Along the two nation's borders, the SOE and KGR kept their watchful eyes over each other. Sometimes, there were even false alarms and skirmishes that produced casualties.

Yandel was wise to welcome his fellow Syvians back into the homeland, for they rallied behind him and supported his cause. Now, more than ever in history, Syvia bulked up its military beyond regulated capacity. Sankadesh, Asaji, and Vevoskovia knew that such a large army wasn't necessary to act as a national guard. It was an act of preparation for war. The only things keeping both nations from commencing the war were last minute negotiations that saved lives during moments of conflict. The others were the increasing divide between the pro and anti war factions of the various populations.

The Supreme Senate were reluctant in taking a risk on their re-election. They wanted to stay at the helm of the nation, since Tokahev still, after all this time, still sought peace. That peace was just not possible anymore. Tokahev did the best any Vevoskovian King could do. While he still advocated for peaceful resolution, he gave full authority to the Deshavi Black Ops to operate within Syvia and manipulate the chaos within the country. He accepted that Amiya would be ashamed of him. The world was at stake.

So began Operation Thunderhorse, Katya's methodical plan to pressure the Syvian government to cease their military expansion. Several squads were deployed to the Syvian capital, including the newly formed squad with Samba, Jaya, and Marluxia. The luxurious Syvian capital was filled with plumes of smoke as Samba and Marluxia, now 17 and 21 respectfully, gazed at the chaos from the roof of an abandoned apartment complex. Both of them had grown their hair down to their chests and wore protective vests and black, plain long sleeve shirts underneath. Wrapped around their bare torso was a layer of leather for further protection.

Both of them proudly wore their Deshavi necklaces that bore the symbol of the Deshavi as its pendant. The sounds of society destroying itself filled the air along with the toxic aroma of smoke, fire, and carnage as buildings were set ablaze in the riots. The sun shined with unforgiving heat as it sat directly above the city, and the glass windows along the buildings reflected the bright sunlight into their eyes.

Samba: It should be past noon now, Jaya will be back soon.

Marluxia: Once the body is taken care of, we'll make our way to the hotel and take care of our targets. For now, this dismay is acting as the perfect blanket.

Jaya: Hey! I'm back!

Samba and Marluxia went back inside to meet with Jaya, who tied her bright blue hair back and was covered in sweat and dirt. She brought along the body of a Syvian general she had just killed, and cleared away the objects cluttering the table in the dining room.

Samba: Great kill, Jaya. Marluxia, get the tools ready.

Marluxia grabbed a folding bag full of scalpels, pliers, scissors, cloth, and other supplies, laying them on the table next to the body.

Jaya: Son of a bitch had at least 20 or 30 guys protecting him! He just refused to go easy. How long do we have?

Marluxia: 20 minutes. Let's get this done quick.

Jaya: I can handle the burial myself. You guys can go as soon as we're done here. Given the temperature right now, this big guy is gonna start stinking in less than an hour.

Marluxia took out a scalpel and handed facial masks to Jaya and Marluxia.

Marluxia: Jaya, can you form a tub? We'll need to slit his throat and drain his blood. It won't take long for bacteria and other organic compounds to start traveling through his bloodstream and hastening the decomposition process. Draining it will buy us more time.

Jaya: Yeah, I can.

Jaya clasped her hands and made a deep, concave hole in the ground.

Samba: He doesn't have any hemoglobin ailments, does he?

Jaya: He's clean.

Marluxia flipped the body over, stripped it naked, and flipped it back over again. He slit the throat over the hole, and blood began to gush out from the opening.

Marluxia: Someone work his arms and legs a bit to make sure we got as many pints out.

Samba stood on the table and worked the man's arms like pumps. Then, he moved on to the legs.

Marluxia: He's all drained.

The body was flipped on its back now.

Samba: I'll take out the teeth.

Marluxia handed Samba the pliers.

Marluxia: Be my guest. Jaya, you start gouging his eyes. I'll take care of the hair.

Jaya: On it.

In total concentration, each of them worked on different parts of the body. The purpose was to make the corpse difficult to identify be removing any possibility to identify him via dental records, hair samples, or with birthmarks and tattoos. They wanted the body to be found, but it needed to look like someone tried to hide it. It was all to sow discord in the Syvian government.

Samba: Teeth are out. I'll burn the prints now.

Jaya: Pleas do.

Marluxia: Von Krum Soleais would be proud, eh?

Everyone chuckled at Marluxia's nudge to history. Von was remembered as someone who loved to study death and find ways to conceal the signs of death. Samba burned the hand and finger prints with the Art of Mars. One less way for the corpse to be identified.

Jaya: Eyes are done. We should probably leave a lock of hair on the corpse. We don't want it to be completely unidentifiable. It's naturally blonde and curly. Someone will recognize it.

Marluxia: Good point. Stuff his mouth with it before you bury him.

Jaya: I've got it covered.

Samba: Need any help cutting up the limbs?

Jaya: Nah. I think I've got it from here. Thanks!

Marluxia and Samba took of their masks and took a deep breath, forgetting the room was hot, stuffy, and smelled of blood. Still, it didn't seem to phase either of them. Marluxia especially had grown used to it.

Marluxia: Let's go Samba.

Samba took out a tiny bottle of hand sanitizer, giving some to Marluxia, himself, and leaving the bottle for Jaya to use.

Jaya: Happy killing out there, boneheads!

Samba: See you soon, Jaya.

Samba and Marluxia returned to the roof, ready to move out.

Marluxia: We'll be headed west, towards Golden Spring. The hotel is in that general direction. It'll be built amongst the other hotels in that district.

Samba: Let's go then!

Samba and Marluxia utilized the Art of Mercury perfectly to quickly move around, jumping from rooftop to rooftop and staying above the chaos below. The crowds of anti-war rioters clashed with police and federal forces in violent, bloodsoaked waves. The two got their eyes on the targeted building, noticing there were armed guards guarding the entrance and the floor their VIP was on. Samba and Marluxia laid flat on the roof overlooking the hotel, feeling the heat bouncing off of it and onto their stomachers and elbows.

Samba: Look at that, that's a lot of guards. We could probably bypass the ones on the ground level, but we'd have to break the glass on one of the floors close to the target to get in. We could alert the security team. Unless you're up for going through the glass without breaking it?

Marluxia: The Art of Saturn. God bless intangibility. You've always been better than anyone at it, but I'll take you up on the challenge. Let's get ready to jump.

They both ran to the very back of the roof to give themselves some runway for their jump, keeping the Art of Mercury active.

Samba: Whenever you're ready, my man.

Both of them dashed towards the edge and jumped across the wide street below, across the courtyard swarming with guards, and clasped their hands to activate the Art of Saturn. Both intangible, they slipped right through the glass windows and rematerialized in time for their landing in the hall. They were just one floor below the target.

Samba: You didn't lose a foot or anything, did you?

Marluxia: Piss off!

KGR: Intruders!

A KGR agent standing in the hall ahead yelled out to alarm the other men on the floor.

Samba: Time to go to work.

Samba and Marluxia unsheathed their swords and moved faster than the guard could even see or hear. Before he knew it, both of them impaled him against the wall, and he died on impact. Samba faced the left hall, and Marluxia faced the right hall, both of them in plain view of panicking KGR security guards.

Maluxia: Both sides?

Samba: Yep! Through the rooms!

Marluxia and Samba took their swords out of the KGR agent's chest and slipped through the walls, running through the hotel rooms in the hallways to get around them. Both of them popped out of the rooms behind the cluster of guards, taking them by surprise and killing them swiftly. With the halls filled with blood and bodies, Samba and Marluxia continued upstairs.

Samba: Room number?

Marluxia: 581!

The two of them crept by door 581. They could hear the panicking VIP and his guards trying to calm him down. Samba slipped through the floor and entered the room just below 581. He pushed the glass table in the living room over and stood on it so he could touch the ceiling. With the Art of Mars, he drew a seal that acted as a timed explosion, just enough to collapse the ceiling and bring every one down. In what felt like the longest 10 seconds to Marluxia, Samba ran out of the room and shut the door to shield himself from flying debris and shock. Then, an explosion rocked the room and shook the very walls.

Men screamed as the floor collapsed and the place jolted. Marluxia broke down the door and stood over the hole. He could see everyone dazed and shocked from the explosion and began throwing knives at people, one by one, sticking them cleanly in their foreheads. Samba rushed back into the room and grabbed the target by his neck, a member of the Syvian Assembly. He was already losing blood after losing one of his feet in the explosion.

Marluxia: How you kill him is your choice. Just make it quick so we can get out of here.

Samba broke off a sharp piece of bone from his blown apart leg and stabbed him through the mouth and down the throat with it. The job was done with great brutality, all meant to intimidate Yandel and all other government officials supporting the push for war.

Marluxia: God damn, you didn't have to be all edgy about it, Samba. A clean cut to the throat is enough.

Samba: It gets boring after a while. If you're gonna kill someone, may as well do it creatively. Besides, we have to make sure whoever finds him gets the message. Brutality is how that message is sent.

The sounds of more guards rushing into the floor filled the halls. Samba jumped back up with Marluxia, and the two exited the room, coming face to face with the team of guards to their left.

Samba: Run!

Marluxia and Samba ran out of the hallway, dodging arrows, axes, and bolts coming from behind. If it weren't for the protective vests and leather, they may have been injured in such a narrow space. They jumped through the glass, breaking it on their way through. They landed in a building right next to the hotel, a taller structure by a few meters. Samba clasped his hands and touched the floor, and the place began to shake.

Marluxia: What the hell are you doing?

Samba: Giving them a parting gift! Just run!

The guards could see their targets from the hotel, but held their fire. They looked upwards in awe as the edge of the building Marluxia and Samba jumped into began to pull itself apart from the rest of the complex and began to fall in the direction of the hotel. They ran back down the hall, hoping to outrun the impending collision. It fell and hit the hotel, collapsing the floors above and below, making the whole building look like an M-shaped mess.

Marluxia: That was amazing, you glorious bastard!

Samba: You can buy me roses later!

Marluxia: You jackass, you deserve a night at a  love hotel for that stunt!

All around him could see that Marluxia had already grown accustomed to the life of a Deshavi. Killing was no longer a sin, it was a duty. Like spring without blooming flowers, like women without modesty, Marluxia had a part of his humanity removed so he could serve his country like this. He almost didn't regret any of it. Tokahev didn't feel good about it, but he saw it as a necessary evil. A long-protected evil, hidden away from anyone outside of the Menlayev bloodline. He kept that in mind as he stood before the Supreme Senate in a late session.

Disa: Judging from the events of just the past few years, it's almost as if fate is pushing us into war. Whether we like it or not, Tokahev, that is where this is going. And when that time comes, for the mothers, fathers, and wives of this nation to offer up their loved ones into the Grim Reaper's favorite game, will you stand strong? Will you stand with resolve to purge the enemy? Or will you continue to cower behind dreams and hopes of impossible ideals of peace and coexistence? This very nation was founded to counteract Syvian expansion long ago. You, who bears the names "Asane" and "Menlayev", should know when fate is calling you to defend your nation and bloodline once more.

Tokahev: I never wanted to be like my ancestors. I never wanted to be a repeat of our bloody history. I wanted to be the one man to enact countercyclical change and bring an end to the era of violence that consumed the times of our early leaders, and even this generation. I didn't want there to be another generation of widows and orphans, nor a second World War.

Vezburn: That choice is out of any of our hands now. But the question still stands, Tokahev. What will you do when the hour of war dawns on us all?

Tokahev: I...I don't know. But, I must ask you to hold off with your preemptive and preventive strategies. Give me more time to work this all out. Otherwise, the four great nations will annihilate themselves in a cataclysmic war just to dispose of Syvia.

Vezburn: Tokahev. I have all of the respect in the world for you and the legacy of your family. We do not have much time left. With or without you, this senate will begin arming its forces. We will respond to armament with armament. That is unavoidable. Whatever it is you plan on doing, do it quickly.

Tokahev was dismissed from Tenzo Palace. He was overwhelmed by the situation, as evidenced by his face of defeat and misery. The most powerful man in the world, ironically, had no power in this situation. It pained him so. But outside, waiting for him by a carriage, he met two familiar faces. King Salem and Sambo of the SOE.

Tokahev: You guys? Salem, you never told me you were visiting Vevoskovia again.

Salem: I often think back to when I met your mother, Kalina. And I wonder what she would want me to do for her son. Hope you don't mind my intrusion, but Sambo said it was okay for me to be here.

Sambo: We need all the help we can get. This can get very ugly very fast.

Tokahev smiled and entered the carriage with them, inviting them both to the Menlayev Manor to talk. The ride was peaceful as the full, blue moon shined gracefully upon the land.

Salem: Sankadesh will offer its full military support if confrontation erupts. Asaji is also with us. I think you should travel to Asaji with me and meet the new king. He's quite friendly, I assure you.

Tokahev: You're right. I'll start packing some things and making the proper arrangements. Asaji has every reason to pick a fight with Syvia after that KGR scandal.

Sambo: Ah, they still haven't forgotten that?

Salem: You steal from Asaji, you may as well just find a good tree and hang yourself. The only reason they held back was so it wouldn't endanger the other greater and smaller nations.

Tokahev: I think I'll also be meeting with Prince Solomon soon.

Salem: Yandel's son?

Tokahev: Yes. He's a bright boy, intelligent, sharp, and an honest-to-god visionary. We've always been on good terms, and he's personally against the war. We can use him on our side.

Sambo: It might be a lot to ask a man to betray his father.

Tokahev: We'll find a way. I still have hope we can prevent this from getting bad.

Once home, the three men entered with Tokahev, hanging up their sweaters and taking their shoes off by the door. Hita and Mori, now 17 years old, were surprised their father had brought home guests.

Salem: Well look who it is! Hita and Mori Menlayev!

Hita and Mori were delighted and offered their hugs and salutations to Salem.

Hita: What a surprise! You usually let us know when you're visiting Vevoskovia.

Salem: Ah, you know. Duty calls, right? Sheesh, Hita, you got so much taller from the last time I saw you! You're just a few inches shorter than me. And you too, Mori.

Mori: Mom always bugs me to drink my milk so I keep growing. It's a pain, really.

Salem: Yeah, my mom did the same thing. I got tall without milk though, and you seem to be doing fine without it. I see you're both donning the traditionally long Vevoskovian hairstyles, huh?

Hita: It looks weird on me since I'm a redhead, but Mori looks a lot like Dad with it. Right?

Tokahev: Absolutely. But you're both as dashing as I was when I was your age.

Sambo: Mori? I'm sorry, but I don't think you and I have met yet. I'm Sambo, I work with the SOE in intelligence gathering and espionage.

Mori: Really? A pleasure

Mori and Sambo shook hands. Mori was always taught to have a tight, firm grip whenever he shook another man's hands, to show no signs of weakness and timidness.

Mori: Welcome to our home.

Sambo: A pleasure. I've heard great things about you, Prince. Looks like you're gonna be king when your father either dies or retires, right?

Mori: That's the plan, yes.

Salem: So humble about it too.

Tokahev: We'll be in the study room downstairs. Where's your mom?

Hita: Sleeping, I think. She seemed pretty tired today.

Tokahev: Oh, alright then.

Salem: Wonderful seeing you both again!

Mori: You too, Salem!

While they descended into the study, and Hita and Mori ascended into their rooms, Marluxia, Samba, and Jaya returned to Deshavi HQ to report a successful mission to Commander Katya.

Katya: Beautiful. Now we await for the results of our labors.

Jaya: Ma'am, what if this strategy doesn't work? What will happen then?

Katya: Depends on what the king wants. If he gives us the go ahead to tear Syvia apart in less sub rosa means, then we'll do it. If he doesn't want us involved, then we'll stand by. I have to balance what the king says withwhat I know is right for the country. I've always tried my best to be coincide with Tokahev's plans though.

Samba: I don't know how he intends to shake this off, though. It seems like it's spiraling out of control.

Katya: I agree. I would say we should just go over there and slaughter Yandel and the Syvian Assembly, but that would be falling into Yandel's trap. That was very smart of him to take action following the exile of the Syvians from Vevoskovia. Now he's loved by everyone, excluding the anti-war faction. If he gets harmed in all of this, it may only make the situation worse. No matter what we do, it will probably be tied to Vevoskovia even if there's no proof. That's what paranoia does to people, and to nations as a whole. You've all done great work. Get some rest. Dismissed.

Samba, Jaya, and Marluxia stood up from their kneeling positions and went back to their quarters. All of them stretched their legs and yawned as they walked down the cavernous, torch-lit halls of the HQ. Jaya was given her own room, while Marluxia and Samba shared their own. Often though, Jaya would go to sleep with Marluxia and Jaya, as she hated being separated from them for too long. Marluxia found no issue with killing people by day and sleeping without nightmares in a warm bed by nightfall. The next morning, Samba was awoken by Jaya and saw another Deshavi agent standing at the door.

Samba: What's up?

Jaya: Sorry, but she came here to tell you that Katya is summoning you.

Samba: Crap!

Samba sprang up, slapped himself a few times, and rushed over to Katya's office. Before entering, he fixed his messy hair and straightened his clothes. He opened the door gently and saw Katya sitting on the front of her desk, waiting for Samba.

Katya: No need to kneel. Just come on in.

Samba: So, what did y-

Samba noticed that Katya wasn't wearing much beyond a night gown and underwear. It wouldn't have been so bad if the nightgown wasn't partly see through.

Samba: Did I come at a wrong time?!

Katya: Of course not, I summoned you here.

Samba: But your attire is inappropriate for a summoning! I can see your breasts and underwear!

Katya: And? You're in the most secretive special force in the world and you're concerned about seeing a woman's body? Breasts aren't inherently sexual, and neither are a woman's undergarments.

Samba: Yeah, I get that much, it's just off-putting since I always see you in a more formal manner.

Katya: I summoned you here so you can ravage my body, Samba. Take me from behind and wreck me raw.

Samba: What?!?!?!

Katya laughed and pointed at Samba. He should've known better.

Katya: I'm kidding! Oh gosh, you should see your face!

Samba: Didn't your mother ever tell you not to put spells on a man for fun?

Katya: No, my mother killed herself.

Samba: I...I didn't know that. I'm sorry for speaking so carelessly.

Katya: Don't worry about it. Truthfully, you're the only one I feel like I can be myself around, Samba. So, I didn't mind inviting you when I'm not even dressed. I'm sorry for startling you.

Samba: No, it's fine. You're very beautiful, Katya.

Katya: Really?! Oh gosh, you're gonna make me gush, Samba.

Samba: Don't you mean blush?!?!

Katya: That too!

Samba: You can really be a child, you know that? But, I honestly like that about you. So, what did you summon me for?

Katya: Right. Well, Tokahev dropped by earlier with a message. He wanted me to assign him a guardian from the Deshavi. Up until now, he had refused to do so, but since things are heating up, he wants to be sure he can have someone he can trust. I went through all the files of people I know are strong, and I settled on assigning you. You're going to be Tokahev's guardian.

Samba's face lit up with surprise.

Samba: Seriously? Me?

Katya: All you! He said he'll be waiting by Castle Asane, so drop by there whenever you're ready. It's a huge honor to serve as the king's guardian, Samba. You should be proud of yourself!

Samba: I don't know what to say, but I am truly thankful! I accept this opportunity. Thank you for seeing that much in me!

Katya: You're supposed to be saying that to him, not me.

Samba: Crap...

Katya walked over to Samba and hugged him tenderly.

Katya: You're a wonderful soldier and person, Samba. Let me be the one to thank you this time.

That moment reminded Samba of how a mother hugs her son when he's down, or when he does something amazing. It was a kind of love that had gone missing since he joined the Deshavi, but was now being given to him by Katya.

Samba: Thank you dearly. I'll go see him right away.

Katya: Good. Oh, and Samba. If you tell anyone any detail about my body, no matter how sweet, I will take you to the White Room, skin you alive, and douse your sensitive, bleeding flesh in hydrochloric acid until you beg for death. You will rue the day you laid eyes on my body!

Samba: I won't! Pinky promise! I'm actually really happy, Katya. I'd expect the commander of the Deshavi Black Ops to be cold and reserved. Thank you for trusting me with seeing you like this.

Katya: Keep talkin' and I might just pin you down and never let you out of here.

Samba: Yes ma'am! Bye!

Samba closed the door and took deep breaths outside. Katya was amused by the whole thing. Even the commander needed to be at ease sometimes.

Samba: Damn it, there's only so much temptation a man can take! But I've seriously been selected to protect Tokahev. I hope Marluxia won't be too bothered by this.

Samba hurried out of Deshavi HQ and made his way to Castle Asane. The sun was only just beginning to rise, and the air was still moist and cool as birds flocked in the sky and sang their morning song in a sky splashed with colors of deep blue and a slightly pink orange. Noticing an open window, Samba jumped onto the balcony and walked right into Tokahev's quarters. The king was sitting at the breakfast table eating buttered toast and sausages, happy to see Katya swiftly sent one of her finest agents.

Samba: Goodmorning, my lord.

Samba knelt to Tokahev the same way any Deshavi would kneel to Katya.

Samba: My name is Samba, and Katya thought I was the most appropriate one to be your guardian.

Tokahev: Is that so? I've actually heard quite a bit about you. You joined the Deshavi when you were just six years old, didn't you? You really impressed Katya.

Samba: That's true.

Tokahev: My, my. You really DO look like Hita. How odd.

Samba: Are you talking about one of your sons?

Tokahev: Oh, yes! My mother Kalina was a redhead. It's a recessive gene that's lived on through the family. Sometimes, every few generations, someone will catch the redhead gene, and that happened to be Hita this generation. Marluxia too, though, he's more of a rosy pink.

Samba: I see...

Tokahev: Rise, no need to be so formal. I'm a very relaxed person.

Samba sat down at the table with Tokahev, surprised by his laid-back personality and generosity.

Tokahev: I assume you know why I suddenly called for a guardian.

Samba: Because of the Syvia crisis, right?

Tokahev: That's the short story. I'm pulling out all the stops to try and end this peacefully. I'll be going to Asaji later today to formally meet the new king. After that, I'll be having a meeting with Prince Solomon to see if we can combine our efforts to stop this nonsense. I've also made arrangements to host a Ball of Lords here this weekend. I've already sent out the invitations. King Yandel is getting one too. If that fails, I'll have to use a last ditch negotiation meeting with Yandel.

Samba: And if that fails?

Tokahev: The most horrific bloodshed ever seen in human history will ensue. This is all I can do. I'd like you to come with me on my travels. I'll be leaving for Asaji in just a few hours.

Samba: Really? I can do that. It won't take me long to gather up my gear. We shouldn't expect any threat in Asaji, right?

Tokahev: No, but you should come prepared just in case.

Samba: As you wish.

Tokahev: Samba. This is a very real situation. My methods might fail. If that happens, I will ask you to do things that you may not feel comfortable doing. But I need your word that you will do them for me. I need you to put your trust in me. Even if I tell you to slaughter your own kind. Even if I tell you to withhold information from your superiors. You must do it. Is that clear?

Samba: If it ever comes down to that, you can rely on me to get the job done. I won't let you down.

Tokahev: Perfect. Then, let this be the start of a bright friendship and partnership!

Tokahev shook Samba's hand, delighted to have someone he can trust. Tokahev could never have known just how much history was repeating itself with that handshake. How could he? If he only knew the misery in store for the future, he might not have continued, might not have so desperately tried to prevent a world war. But for now, there was a small glimmer of hope.

Far away in Northern Vevoskovia, in the rocky canyons and caves devoid of civilization, The Order of the Phoenix Demons had created their hideout. The immortal beings hadn't aged at all, nor will they ever. Finally, after 17 years, it was time to enter the final phase of Phoenix Rebirth.

Inadora and Nadena saw Fate off as he prepared to head out.

Inadora: Who are you going to awaken first?

Fate: Most likely Yato. He's closest to us. We're running out of time. I would've preferred to wait a few more years, but we may be staring the 6th Cataclysm in the eye. After Yato, I shall awaken Luxaura. And after him, I shall awaken Roy.

Nadena: Yes! I'll get to see my baby again! Well, I mean, I could always see him, but he'll know he's Roy and he won't look at me like I'm a crazy nutbag!

Inadora: True, but you'll always be an airhead.

Nadena sunk her head in shame.

Nadena: Thanks for the support, Ina. You're the best.

Fate: You're in charge of the hideout while I'm gone, Inadora. If you encounter any Obilisks, shift locations immediately.

Inadora: I know. I'll handle it. You just restore those three for us.

Fate's Phoenix Demon cloak danced in the morning winds. At long last, it was time to start bringing back Yato, Roy, and Luxaura. The three Phoenixes will return, and the 6th Cataclysm will be avoided. Peace through a world without fear, anger, hate, or the weapons that personified them all; The Marluxian Arts.

MR Pub / Re: Chit Chat 2017
« on: September 24, 2017, 02:25:16 PM »
I'll bite.

1) not all labor should equal each other (doctor vs plumber) or should it???

No, it shouldn't. You're going to face a serious problem when you have jobs that hire on the fly and jobs that require degrees, tens of thousands of dollars in tuition fees, and years of studying all pay out equally. The value of a degree and college in general plummets, and yet it will still be a requirement to get those jobs. Granted, anyone who wants to become a doctor will become a doctor if that's their passion, but there's less incentive for others to take all that time and money and invest it in their education instead of just being the plumber who gets paid the same amount.

Realistically, I can't imagine an actual scenario where a traditionally low paying job matches a traditionally high paying job, but the decrease in value of a degree is a real issue. Work has value, and though that value can't be pinned to an exact salary, we shouldn't be in a position where work that requires a specialized set of skills and education pays the same as any other job. Well, unless you believe in Communism, I guess.

2)min wage has not kept up with inflation. ($ is worth less than before) does it matter???

Take a good look at Venezuela if you want to see what happens when a country raises the minimum wage in an effort to put more money in the hands of its people, all while inflation spirals out of balance with the minimum wage itself. But in a more relevant example, let's just go back to the US, I suppose. I'll be going by data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census Bureau.

The idea is that if you raise minimum wage, you're helping the poor earn more money. The reality is that of all the people working at the Federal minimum wage, only 22% are below the poverty line. 68% of those people produce income that's 150% over the poverty line. 62% of these people are in school during the non-summer months. These numbers play out the way they do because most of the people who work at the minimum wage are teens and young adults, with most of them enrolled in school. More than half of the older folks who work at the minimum wage only work part time as a means of gaining extra income, with most of them earning around $42,500 in family income, well above the poverty line of $33,500 for a a family of four. Raising minimum wage means you're increasing the earnings of teenagers and young adults who are already well above the poverty line. You wouldn't really be helping the poor as much.

Seeing as the US already has an inflation rate of nearly 2% (Versus Japan having 0.2%, last time I checked), I'm pretty certain that the only thing you'd get out of increasing the minimum wage is increased prices and unemployment. Prices rise because of the issue of minimum wage not being kept in balance with inflation, and unemployment because your average business will be quicker to fire most of their employees in the face of an increased minimum wage than keep them all. If your minimum wage is at $8, it's easier for a business to consider hiring two people and paying them a total of $16 per hour, but if the wage is at $16, the other person is getting fired. so they're not spending $32 per hour for those two people. And a lot of the businesses that will raise their prices to account for all of this are going to be places like Walmart or your local fast food place, places where those who are actually poor are going to do most of their shopping. At the end of all of it, you would have helped no one.

A weak currency provides issues in international trade as well, but honestly, we pedal the Dollar like a criminal organization. There are goods in this world that you can only purchase with US currency, requiring buyers to get some $ in order to make the purchase. That's probably one of the only things keeping the Dollar from completely falling under at this point, but I digress.

It matters in a multitude of ways, especially considering that raising the minimum wage will most likely the exact opposite effect than intended.

3) majority believe in trickle down economy without citing examples of when it workeD.

Why spend your fortune when you can just can stash it in a Swiss bank or an offshore account free from taxes and government reach? I don't personally believe in trickle down economics.

4) tariffs hurt business which should be eliminated (but what about homegrown products which are usually more expensive? Remember buy American  :sick:)

Tariffs hurt foreign businesses and protect domestic ones. You really don't want to be in a position where your own Automobile industry is stagnating because everyone is buying the latest cars shipped to your country from China or Japan. You'll end up importing yourself right out of being able to send out your own automobiles to other countries while keeping your domestic industries in healthy condition. Keep doing this to other industries, and I'll guarantee you're going to end up with a trade deficit (which we already have with China).

I don't really have any idea or solution for that kind of issue

MR Pub / Re: Chit Chat 2017
« on: September 23, 2017, 10:39:35 PM »
When will people learn that you can't just arbitrarily increase the minimum wage? I could write a book about my economic grievances with several nations.

"People Are Poor, So We Should Just Give Them More Money!: A Child's Guide to Economics"

General Manga writer discussions / Re: Tugging At Your Heartstrings
« on: September 22, 2017, 02:42:06 PM »
You, as the god of your universe, are just as responsible  :ninja: (Not that my hands are clean either)

Anyway, thanks for your advice, Op! I've been adding and reconstructing things in my stories as of late and desperately needed to nail the feeling of sorrow and somber doom during a particular section of DbEG's Letting Go arc. I'm still not sure if my application of this advice is sturdy enough, but it certainly helped me piece everything together  :thumbsup:

Develop Your Story / Re: Death By Ex-Girlfriend (COMPLETED)
« on: September 22, 2017, 05:03:57 AM »
Re-Worked Letting Go Rousoku Finale

The finale to Rousoku's part of Letting Go was originally pretty trash, but hopefully this greatly improves things and nails the helpless misery this part of the story is supposed to capture  :hmm: If having your ex lover explode into a tidal wave of blood, bone, and organs ain't enough....

General Manga writer discussions / Re: Tugging At Your Heartstrings
« on: September 20, 2017, 04:19:26 PM »
Hold on, they all did too?! Op, you murderer!

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