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Author Topic: Coryn's Saga Arc 3  (Read 12056 times)

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Offline legomaestro

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Re: Coryn's Saga Arc 3
« Reply #120 on: April 14, 2018, 08:34:08 PM »
Review for Old Scars into Open Wounds

0. Why is the song so awesome? You know what, new rule: Thou shalt not post a story without an accompanying song. You've got goodish  taste in music in general but this song has definitely enhanced the experience for reading this chapter Coryn.

1. Between the four of them, Colt, Coryn, Jack, and October had led what could be described as

long and eventful lives. In all this time, they had each encountered, been a part of, or otherwise

witnessed many events that could be classified as ‘miracles’. The definition of what constituted a

miracle changed of course. Certain species would classify flying as a miracle, but such a

classification would make little sense to a people born with wings. Because of this, miracles

depend entirely upon the observer to determine whether they deserve the distinction. Despite this

limitation, it can be universally agreed upon that resurrection from the dead will classify as a

miracle in almost every case.

* Something missing between 'What consituted a miracle' sentence and 'certain species'. If you put a minor story of evolution that builds up and leads to the word 'species' the awe at flight would be more pronounced, especially if you threw an aloof example in the middle of the text e.g Rasputin or something or if you glided at least over the fact that October is not even human (anymore? I don't remember if she's an original vamp or not)

2. Some universes have special attributes which make resurrection less of hurdle of course.

But even in these rare places, bringing one’s self back from the dead is no Sunday drive.

- Good to know that there are still rules out there.

3. Now, the oncoming storm clouds

took on an ominous tone they had not possessed just a few minutes earlier.
- Better written with a forward flowing sense of time rather than revisionary e.g 'clouds rolled over the sky. They gradually took on an ominous tone. OR e.g the gray clouds that floated about gradually took on an ominous tone they had not possessed just a few minutes earlier.

4. Naomi’s arms snapped to her sides as Eva’s strings closed around her midsection. She

cocked her head back to see an arrow of yellow energy pointed squarely at her back. “Don’t

make a move.” Said Camarin. Whether Naomi would try to return to Shiro’s side or not, she

wasn’t going to be given the chance.

- Dun dun dun

  Coryn’s sword fell lightly at his side, and his piercing eyes bored straight into Shiro. It

was without doubt Shiro’s energy that he felt, but there was something wrong to it. He felt like it

was coming from far off, like his body had come ahead of his soul. The feeling was deeply

unnerving, but none of the Five were intending to let Shiro live long enough to find out what was

producing that notion.

- Why, just why do they still want to murder him. Seriously The Five are more lenient to eachother than Shiro. Like he freaked out ONE time. Are you telling me that any of the others have managed to be immortal without screwing over something badly?

6. Blades of ice and steel came at him from above and below, but a twist of the chain sent

his own blades on intercept courses.

- So Kubo Tite. Epic action stuff as always.

7. Coryn spun a kick into Shiro’s side

while he was occupied holding the blade back. The blonde would have to worry about how Shiro

had known what he was doing later.

- Funny, almost never seen Coryn never having the right words to say.

8. Shiro broke free of the ground, but the ice which had encased his lower leg remained, and forced his movements into and awkward cadence.

- For once in my life I read an anime story where the ice guy doesn't just make refridgerator ice that doesn't do anything really damaging or helpful. Jack is proving to be useful in cool ways, man.

9.  Call it petty revenge if you want, but I had

time to kill! You may have stopped my attempt to destroy the Kurousen, but the God War has

broken out, and you sure as hell can’t put a stop to that yourselves!” He let the blade fly loose.

- Man God Wars don't sound like anything fun or even reasonable... Things are hitting the fan I see.

10. “You make me so sad Coryn. You can’t see the bigger

picture of things.”

- Can you please first explain yh

11.  “You four are the first to bear witness to my prophesy. Before I am through, you will lay

dead upon these stones.”

- Just need to comment that the song really goes in at this point. (And several other points in the chapter but yeah here it happened to reach the crescendo and it was so damn cinematic you have no idea)

12.   It was on the tip of his tongue, but Coryn’s concentration was broken when Shiro noticed

his gaze. Suddenly the air was cut off from Coryn’s lungs. His windpipe collapsed inwards as a

great pressure was applied to it.

- One of the first times that I legit almost felt the pain that Coryn or other immortals felt. The whole passage including this sudden twist gave me a visceral taste of the actual pain and action involved in being an immortal fighter (other than Shiros death in CS 2). So if you know how you wrote this passage, repeat this sort of thing and spread this mojo because it definitely hits.

13. The traitor writhed in pain, but as he fell to

his knees, something even more remarkable occurred. Coryn’s energy traveled out from Shiro’s

body, soaring off in tight bands in all directions. It was as if Shiro was being tethered by reality

itself. Some strands disappeared straight into the ground below him, others were lost in the sky


- I've watched enough anime to understand that white energy flows out of Shiro as he loses it, but you assumed that everyone knew what Coryn's energy looked like - is it electric, like water? Is it fast or slow? What is Shiro doing as these currents emanate from him?

14. “Shiro…you haven’t resurrected yourself at all. You’re still dead.”

Shiro looked up at him with distain. He tested out his restored limb as he spoke.

- Dammit I don't even know what's happening here. Is this some DBZ permanent death stuff? If yes then Shiro was madder than I thought. Die man. The afterlife is better than the neverlife.

15. “And baby, there ain’t no way I’m letting that happen!”

- Man there's gotta be a wicked song for this part of the story at least. Although tbh the themesong has still been pretty good so far so yeah.

16.    Jack and Coryn came at him at once. Shiro let himself fall back as Jack swung a newly

formed blade at him. His palms hit the cold stone and he pulled up into a flip as Coryn stabbed

out to spear him. The tip of Coryn’s sword skirted past its target as Shiro twisted, and was

knocked clean of its owner’s grasp as the glowing chain whipped back around and caught

Coryn from the side. Coryn had slid across the courtyard and slammed into the castle wall by the

time Shiro completed his maneuver. Shiro turned his head up and expected to see Jack suffer the

same fate, but was caught at a disadvantage when Jack snapped Coryn’s blade from the air, and

with his own ice saber, met Shiro’s energy-form with both weapons. The white energy was

cleaved through, and Jack turned to his opponent.

I accidentally started listening to this song at this section, and it doesn't fit at all, but for this session it was awesome 'I ain't in no hurry, you go run and tell your friends you're losing touch, fill your friends with rumours of impeding doom'. I imagined it perfectly. Like I saw a Tarantino esque  scene where Shiro is twisting and turning fighting all of The Five and everyone is reacting like the Power Rangers do (With all those small boxes showing their faces in some moments and all their exagarrated reactions when they're attacked)

Guh, never mind.

17. For a moment it was unclear who would win the contest, but Jack had made a

mistake. In his inexperience with the weapons, he had not gotten close enough to Shiro.

- Dammit. Ice guys always lose afterall.

18. This time, Shiro did not have the opportunity to defend

himself with enix, and resorted to blocking October’s rain of blows with his bare flesh.

- Does enix take long to form or was it a matter of resources as in he had already used it to defend against others?

19. With no other recourse, Shiro took a gamble. He

concentrated as much energy as he could just above his solar plexus.

- Did Shiro seriously think he could take everybody on? If even one of his attacks could get blocked then what the hell is he doing? He risked so much, and he's going to get his ass kicked again.  That's not to say that he doesn't deserve it, though. He's shown zero concern or interest for his subordinates so yeah please get beaten in an embarrasing manner.

20. The pair paused for just a moment. Camarin spoke a few words, and together, they

sped off towards the recovering Shiro.

- Idiots...

21.   When the chaos had ended, and Shiro offered to let them serve as

his guard, Alexis had said much of the same as Naomi just had. There was no other hope for

their lives, and when it had come time for Naomi to decide for the group, she had taken the same

path. “He’ll kill us all, either way…”

- Wait a goshdarned minute they were beinge stockholmed the entire time? I thought they joined for a reason! Either nega-morals are weird as heck, or I've got to reexamine how much I feel sorry for Shiro's subordinates.

22. Even if Alexis had been brainwashed and raped.



.... wut.

... Wow, just wow.

... *censored* Shiro.

23.    Naomi forced her foot to get back flat against the ground. As she pushed herself back up,

her black katana formed itself in her hand. As she straightened her back, she caught fire. Scarlet

energy roared around Naomi, and as she dropped into a rushing stance, she concentrated every

inch of it into her blade.

- I-ke, Naomi!

24.  Red fire fueled her

speed, and like a rocket, she closed in.


25.  “I’m going to end you, Shiro!”

- End him.

26. . He blade was already in motion.


27. But try as she might, Naomi

could not match Shiro’s speed.

- dammit

28. The blade had been melted all the way down, and only the half-charred hilt



29.  The madman glared at him for

just and instant, and disappeared in a flash of white.


30.  Coryn did not meet her directly. Instead, he waved the ruined grip in October’s direction,

and started to wander towards the castle gates. October followed quickly after him, and together,

they arrived at the grand doors. Together, they pushed them open, and let in the rain.

- Surprisingly cinematic scene. Totally heard that deluge of rain as the gates opened...

31. Before them,

laying crumpled at the base of the ruined woodcut of Amaterasu, was the burnt form of Naomi

Amano. No movement remained. There she rested, blackened, and still.

- Man, *censored* you Shiro

General Thoughts

- Weird. You've got this thing where you describe actions in a reviewer's voice - they've already happend but you explain how they end up i.e like I said on comment 3. Personally it feels weird to read, especially because I've seen you do more staccatto direct action in stuff like Mortal Combat, but the nature of the chapter made this style of yours quite fitting, so to be honest ignore everything I ever say on that front (I think I mentioned the same on the Bleach fan fic review somewhere, so yeah) This might be something of your own style that you need to nurture rather than avoid.

I hope sincerely that Shiro was always this bad of an asshole. If you turned him into this rape allowing creature of the night because I felt sympathy for his disembowlent then CHEAP MOVE DUDE. But yeah, otherwise I pretty much do want him to end. Bastard has no redeeming qualities anymore.

I wish The Five would talk to eachother more. I assumed when I first got into CS that ther'd be at least fan art or fan fiction or background stories that'd flesh out the relationship between The Five, but the more I read the more I notice that it'll be necessary for this merry group of immortals who've already had every possible emotional drunken party of honesty with eachother to set aside all small talk to deal with the very real threats that confront them in this concluding volume of CS. I don't know how you could swing it, but it'd seriously be nice to have more hints at The Fives' backstories somehow somewhere.

Otherwise it was a pretty fun chapter. And now I think you don't quite need to read more novels, you need to see more television! Or anime. I  mean hell yeah for language you'll get what you need from reading legit prose works, but I don't think anything can give you passion for finishing your story other than imagining it on the big screen or absorbing inspiration from that source. I suggest this very subjectively because I'm rewatching Kill Bill, and it's the first time I've rewatched an old school classic like ever, and now I know the appeal: There is merit to rewatching old classics. It's like doing repetitions (e.g pushups) for the creative brain.

So thankful for a new chapter dude, and so soon! I thought I'd need to be reading this ages later. Good stuff. Keep at it, and cheers!

Offline Coryn

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Re: Coryn's Saga Arc 3
« Reply #121 on: April 14, 2018, 10:37:52 PM »
0. Oops. This may be the wrong time to mention that you weren't supposed to click on the song until after reading the chapter. But if you liked reading to it, all the better. I don't know, I guess I've always preferred to keep song postings out of CS, despite using them almost every where else.

1. I definitely  could have expanded that more, but I was in a rush to get to the fight. Apologies.

October is a born vamp, but it's necessary to expand the scope of who is and who is not 'human' when you get into territory like this.

2. Always rules, even if they don't seem apparent from a real world perspective.

3. The storm clouds we're unfortunately added in towards the end of the chapter when I realized I wanted the storm for the last scene. So I get where this is coming from.

4. Indeed.

5. There's a difference between a single freak out or mistake and straight up turning evil demigod and rampaging across the universe for a couple millennia. Like I've been saying all along: Shiro became an evil *censored* bro.

6. Thanks.

7. Part of this Arc is definitely about fixing mistakes of the past. Mine, specifically. Coryn never came across quite the way I wanted him to. Sure, he's flippant and all that, bit I never wanted him to be some ubermensch who's always on the ball with everything. So apologies if anything you read in this Arc feels slightly like a retcon. (It totally is maybe kinda) although I promise there won't be plot changing consequences. (This is why I always vowed to start over from the beginning when I finished this Arc)

8. Remember that sentiment in a few comments time. Also remember how you said it last time. Jack is valid in all ways. This just wasn't a good day for anyone.

9. Nope. Bad times for all.

10. I think you forgot to finish this one...

11. Again, really glad this worked out, although unintentionally.

12. I'm trying to be more visceral with the combat. Bleach style is good for big, showey scenes, but I've found I really like it when you can feel the pain as a reader.

13. This goes back to my earlier 'sins of the past' comment. I fall so often into the pitfall of assuming anime knowledge. So I need to get a better vocabulary for how these things look. Especially because I do want the movements of energy to differ between characters and points in time. I guess it's fair to say that I always want the motion of enix to match the emotion of the character in that moment. I do after all refer to a person's enix as their life force in a way. So to me it makes sense to tie it directly to their hearts.

14. I recognized this problem while writing, but didn't know how to fix it properly (you don't want to read the first draft on this bit). But in essence, what Shiro is doing is essentially making a marionette of his own body. He's stretched out his soul until he could grab it, but he's still like, totally dead, and now really *censored*ed up because his soul has been spaghettified as well. But as I tried to get across in the beginning, while death can be escaped, it's not easy, and it's certainly not what Shiro has done. It's like trying to reach the remote from your bed, not wanting to actually leave bed, and then getting stuck on the floor with one foot in bed and a hand on the remote.

15/16. Yeah something like that. I was at least trying to be cinematic there.

17. Refer to above comment.

18. Yes and yes. More juice takes longer to build up, and you can't build up any if there's no gas in the tank.

19. Shiro... is not well.

20. Brave idiots.

21. They were coerced, although it's not like their ideologies didn't match up somewhat. But to put a button on the rest of that relationship: Nega-girls are evil, but they had a personal code. Shiro is just plain evil without regard and can't feel emotional connections with other beings but himself.

22. I've been saying that *censored* for years. Although don't think of this as like, an attack on the street sort of situation. More like the abusive partner thing with an incredibly off kilter power balance.

23-25. I'm glad you're feeling it.

26. Oops.

27-29. I mean there was really only one way this was going to end.

30. Thanks.

31. Glad you're finally on board.

Wrap up: yeah, I'm working on that style thing. 'legit prose' as you say has finally taken root in me. Although I do want to draw a balance between the stucato stuff and what you're describing, although to be honest, I can't really see it in there personally. It's just how I've naturally developed as a writer after all. It's in the DNA somewhere, so I'd better nurse it, otherwise exorcising it shall be mighty troublesome.

I get what you mean about the Five interacting, and I take that back to my writing wrongs comment (get it? Badum tish. *Is violently pulled off stage). I swear I shall make them into the immortal buddies I've always wanted them to be. But I can't swear Shiro was always evil. We've already established that he wasn't.

As for getting this one out quickly, well... well maybe like, come back in a week's time for the next chapter? Cause it's like... already written and just needs editing.

Will review stories upon request. My latest arc:

Offline legomaestro

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Re: Coryn's Saga Arc 3
« Reply #122 on: April 15, 2018, 11:43:29 AM »
What the hell did you eat man? You haven't done two chapters in a year in ages ye bastard. Looking forward to it. Because I'm pretty much done nitpicking at your writing style I think I'll just look for typos and grammos and say which parts worked for me... Along the usual questions.

Ah, 10 was 10. “You make me so sad Coryn. You can’t see the bigger

picture of things.”

- Can you please first explain how you're still alive?

What was naturally already answered.

P.S that writing wrongs pun was abomnible... I'll steal it.

Offline Coryn

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Re: Coryn's Saga Arc 3
« Reply #123 on: April 15, 2018, 03:10:38 PM »
Technically it'll be the fourth chapter released this year. I'm really steam rolling it. (We'd be farther if I didn't have so many other stories I'm working on right now too...)

Will review stories upon request. My latest arc:

Offline Coryn

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Re: Coryn's Saga Arc 3
« Reply #124 on: June 10, 2018, 05:28:28 PM »
And here it is. A little later than anticipated, but life led me to taking a few weeks off writing progress. Anyhow, this kicks off the next round of story postings. And the next CS chapter is already 60ish% done, so we're well on our way to the next release period.

(I'm also hoping this chapter reads a little better on mobile. I remixed my formatting a little bit, so I'm no longer jerry-rigging my paragraph spacing. It's been a hold over from the early days (hello there microsoft word 1995). So let me know how it holds up on your end.)



It was, by a rough consensus, their third night out on the dunes of Mars. Coryn had sworn he had marked the position of Phobos when they first arrived. Colt argued that it had actually been Deimos which had been in the sky. October didn’t know which was which off hand, so argued that they both could have been right. Jack had still been asleep at the time, and so did not cast a vote. Shiro, on the other hand, simply offered that it felt like they had slept for roughly two days. So, while it was still a rough consensus, it could still be called a consensus. The group agreed to this much, woke Jack, and went about making the place a little more comfortable for themselves.

   Coryn half walked, half slid down the red dune before him. He had lost track of his coat and shoes hours ago, so sand squeezed up between his toes with every step. Sometimes he would discover an open pocket just below the surface, which would lead to his foot plunging deep into the sand, and he could feel a collection of dust growing in his rolled-up pant legs. Still, his forward momentum continued. October clung drunkenly to his arm. At first, he had accepted her offers to hold his beer while they made the more treacherous maneuvers, but it seemed she was deducting a tax each time he let the bottle leave his hand. While annoying, it was easily remedied. Behind them stretched a trail of empty brown bottles, and between them and that trail, treaded Jack. He had hoisted the cooler onto his back, and was slurring a jaunty tune as he hiked along. More than once on their trek, he had compared the sand dunes to snow dunes. October and Coryn weren’t convinced it was a perfect parallel, but their fair-haired friend seemed unbothered, so they left him to his own beer slinging devices.
   It was a good thing too, that they were all pitching in to the path back. Only after a mile out, had they realized that they hadn’t told Shiro and Colt which direction they were headed in. Or, for a matter of fact, that they were leaving their little base camp at all. The two were engaged in some alcohol inspired play-wrestling at the time, and the trio told themselves it would have been a shame to have broken up the fun. But, they had taken the supply of cold beverages with them, so it could only be a matter of time before Colt and Shiro sprinted after them. Until then, the three gathered weren’t going to be ashamed of finishing off the cooler themselves. It wasn’t their turn to make a beer run, (it was Colt’s), and if he didn’t make the effort to help himself before that, it was his own loss. Although it would be everyone’s loss if he used it as a pretext not to bring snacks back for the rest of them.
   It was doubtful though, that a lack of snacks, or temporary lapse in the alcohol supply would dampen their spirits. Three days earlier, they had survived the fight of their lives, been completely drained of energy, and passed out on the nearest soft surface. In this case, that happened to be a version of Mars from an unknown dimension, well short of their actual destination. Above all however, it had marked the first time the five of them had ever cooperated as a group. They had all met one another at some time or the other. Primarily through hanging around Coryn, but separately on occasion as well. In this instance however, they had each gathered to fight a common enemy. Despite themselves, they found that they had each enjoyed the experience immensely. The life of the traveling immortal will often be a lonely existence, but here they had each found people who they could count on. Not only to fight by their sides, but to be alive they next time they needed an alley, or just a friend. For the first time, each of these disparate individuals found themselves friends who they could share in, and enjoy a life without end with. This was not a conclusion they had reached immediately, but eight hours of ceaseless carousing has a way of putting things in context.
   They crested another dune, and Coryn shook off October so he could make his way back down the side they had just come up. “Keep going. Bathroom.” Jack danced around Coryn as they passed, still singing to no one but himself but for that brief exchange, and Coryn snatched a fresh refreshment from the cooler. As his friends passed out of sight, Coryn turned to the side, unzipped his fly, and let nature take its course. While he relieved himself, he looked into the night sky above, and located the pale blue dot which signified Earth. “Dear…Earth scientists. Please disregard the local atmospheric anomaly on the planet of Mars. It’s just that our beer kept evaporating, and it was like…really cold…and…” Coryn’s thought process trailed off into silence as he finished up. He began to push back up the rise, but before he had taken five steps, October’s voice rang out over the desert.
   “Coryn! Get your ass up here! We found it!”
   Sure enough, as Coryn caught up to the pair, he saw their target. An exploration rover was picking its way across the sand at a little less than the speed of a snail. Jack had plopped the cooler into the sands, and had turned it in to a makeshift chair. October meanwhile, was bothering the robot. She poked and prodded it, testing out each surface and material. Coryn was surprised she hadn’t already accidentally ruined it. The camera ‘eyes’ of the machine were tracking her movements the best they could. While Coryn didn’t know what time it was back on Earth, he could only imagine some poor, unpaid intern freaking out in a lonely control room during the nightshift. By the time Coryn reached her, October had already resorted to making faces and rude gestures to the rover. It turned to look at him, and for an expressionless robot, Coryn imagined he could see a look that said: ‘please help me’ on its rectangle of a face. Coryn shrugged at the machine, and moved over next to October. “I just said I wanted to see it, not that I wanted you to punch it.”
   Her face was the picture of indignance. “I didn’t punch it! I just, jabbed it a little! Besides, it doesn’t look any worse for wear.” Indeed, from the look of things, the robot looked like it had been through a few storms at least. Coryn suffered from a sudden bout of paranoia, and scanned the sky to make sure they weren’t about to be squashed as the poor rover’s replacement came crashing down on to their heads. October was not distracted however, and was now just staring into the camera’s oculus. “Do you think anyone’s watching us? Anyone human, I mean.”
   Coryn reflected back to the intern in his mind. “I think even if anyone is at the controls, they won’t get the signal for a few minutes.” He didn’t know for sure, but it sounded good.
   “Kiss me.” Said October.
   The order gave Coryn a start. October’s advances were usually in jest, but it seemed now that her drunkenness had led her to become deadly serious. Normally he would reject her out of hand, but his usual resilience to the technical existence of their marriage was muted by the drink. And besides, it was a night to celebrate. On tonight of all nights, he owed her that contract. Coryn grabbed ahold of his wife, pressed his lips against hers, and leaned in.
   In Coryn’s mind, the intern came to a stop, a bright red phone in one hand, a telecom radio in the other. Voices shouted frantic words out of them, but he could only watch on like it was one of the great romances of all time. After all, it wasn’t every day you could see two people who had managed to stay married after two-thousand years. Most people wondered how they could stay together for just fifty, Coryn imagined.
   The couple were then interrupted, by a much more concrete observer. Jack’s voice rang out from behind them. “Just so we’re clear. I am watching, and I find it disgusting!” He took another swig of beer before rolling his eyes, just in case his glibness was not completely apparent. October and Coryn broke apart, and Coryn shouted back at his friend.
   “Oh, don’t be shy Jack! Get over here, I’ll kiss you too! We can all be on the jumbotron down at the space center!”
   Jack dropped his bottle and clutched the area above his heart. He spoke with all the cheese of a freshman drama student. “Oh Coryn, I never knew that’s the way you felt about me! I’m coming dearest! Take me into your arms!”
   Coryn replied in kind. “Of course, Jack! Where would I ever be without you!” The pair began to run in fake slow motion towards each other, or perhaps standard drunken motion, but were interrupted as a dark figure crashed into the desert between them. In the resulting sand spray, Coryn was caught by surprise as an arm wrapped around his neck, and took him to the ground. He felt himself sliding down the dune, and by the time the dust cleared, it was clear who the culprits were. Shiro and Colt had finally caught up, and had decided it was the perfect time to give their friends a scare. As it conspired, all five of them were now in a tangled bunch which had come to rest about halfway down the hill of sand. Colt and Shiro were laughing so contagiously that it eventually spread to the other three, and for a time, they simply convulsed on the ground together. Slowly, the laughter petered out, and they rearranged to be a little more comfortable. They took a moment to just catch their breath, and then enjoyed the silence. After a minute of just enjoying the peace with each other, Jack spoke. “Y’know guys, I’ve really had a good time with everyone this last week.” A general agreement went up, and the group reflected on their adventure together. Tales were shared from different perspectives. It was argued who saved who, who actually needed saving, and who ‘had it totally under control, honest’. Finally, when there was a break in the conversation, Shiro said what everyone had in the back of their minds.
   “If it’s cool with everyone, I think we should make this official.”
   Colt cocked his head up. “What exactly are you proposing Shiro?”
   “Well…” Said Shiro. “I was thinking that we should…I don’t know. Make a pact, I guess? We should agree to keep being comrades, and always come to help each other when they need it. I just-” He was interrupted by his own burp, but October went on to finish the thought for him.
   “I was thinking the same thing Shiro. We’re good together, we should keep it that way.”
   “Yeah. Thanks October. So, does anyone disagree?”
   October squeezed Shiro’s arm to show her appreciation. Once more they fell into silence. There were no sounds of disapproval. Instead, they only pulled themselves in closer. The decision understood, Coryn spoke up, his tone clearly jocular. “Alright then, we’ll need a name. I won’t be part of a group if we don’t have something awesome to call ourselves!”
   “The…Magnificent…Something?” Offered Jack.
   “Unfinished thoughts don’t count.”
   “The Colton Lynch Gang?” Presented Colt.
   “No.” Replied everyone else.
   “The Faceless Ones?”
   “Sounds too sinister.”
   “White Roses?”
   “What does that even mean?”
   “White Snake?”
   “That’s a band! And they’ll probably sue us.”
   “The Protectorate?”
   “Closer, but a bit high-handed, isn’t it?”
   “The Rolling Stones?”
   “Also, a band…”
   “Bad Ass Mother *censored*ers?”
   “I like it, but I think it goes without saying.”
   Again, they fell to silence. Together, the five of them stared up at the stars. They sparkled so incredibly brightly on that world without lights, and the immortals on the surface below felt at once unending and insignificant against them. Finally, someone spoke. “Let’s call ourselves the Eternal Five. After all, we aren’t just going to live forever. We’re going to do it together.”

   Coryn racked his memory to recall who had said those words. No matter how hard he tried, he could not place a name to it. Time had obscured the details, and now what remained was drawing distant from his conscious mind. He came back to himself, and remembered he was sitting on the roof of Amaterasu Castle, back in the universe where it still bustled with life. Far below in the garden, a voice was calling up to him, breaking him out of his reverie. Coryn eased himself down to the roof’s edge. From there, he saw Jack standing on the cool stone. His friend gave Coryn a quizzical look, let the question pass from his mind, and delivered his message.
   “She’s waking up.”

Spoilerrific Author Notes
So, this is something of an attempt to rectify some sins of the past (as discussed in previous posts). In the beginning, I only conceived of the Five as being these, immortal friends who team up to fight big bads kind of group. And that concept really hasn't changed on a surface level, but through nearly a decade of emotional maturity and life experience, I've come to the realization that my high school definition of each of them really wasn't up to snuff. So don't think of this as a retcon of any previous work, but more like a reestablishment of what they mean to each other. They're not just some school clique, but it's more like, they are each, each other's soul mate in a way. Every one of them has met countless people throughout their lives, but ultimately the other members of the Five are the people they would like to spend the rest of eternity with if they could. They share a bond that can only be discovered and forged after living an immortal life. It's the platonic ideal of a bond between people, and it's something they could only find in four others after untold millennia of traveling and meeting people.

So yeah, that's kind of the reasoning behind this chapter, and I took the opportunity to show when they all got together on this Eternal Five thing. Hopefully it reads nice and warm like I intended it to.

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Offline legomaestro

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Re: Coryn's Saga Arc 3
« Reply #125 on: June 10, 2018, 05:49:20 PM »
Solid chapter here!  Totally doesn't fall under the classification but I'd say 'A beach episode done right' is the feeling I get from it. The camaradie is quite legit. Also lucky Coryn with a vampire bride. I do have sympathy for whatever intern has to explain.

It did feel wall-of-texty? But the paragraphing is well done so there's no confusion there. It's just really compact. I'll check it out on mobile so it might look better there. And I'm all for this formatting style anyways. Saves paper when printed haha.

I suppose I should've asked a long time ago but do they breathe in space? What prevents them from being horribly deaded by walking on the surface of Mars do they have a Green Lantern esque layer of power protecting them or are they like Superbeings ala Goku and Superman who don't really need to worry about such things?

Also, would piss be liquid or evaporate?

Really was a fun chapter to read, and I risked the spoilerific author notes and yeah seems legit. Also, it makes things sadder for how things turned out with Shiro and all. 

Offline Coryn

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Re: Coryn's Saga Arc 3
« Reply #126 on: June 10, 2018, 07:01:56 PM »
'A bleach episode done right" is the highest praise you have ever given me Lego. Thank you!

I didn't double space once I posted it here, so I can see where you're coming from. It didn't completely destroy itself on mobile though (at least from here) so maybe that's a sacrifice worth making. Then again, I didn't make a lot of perspective shifts this chapter, so I will consider more paragraph breaks when editing the next chapter, as I'm thinking it may have more of the same.

It's not a question I have ever come to a satisfying answer for. But I always assumed that they have a work around. I won't say they straight up don't need air, but let's say they can infinitely regenerate the air in their lungs or something. Ultimately the explanation isn't important how they survive in space, only that they can. Use "enix" as an excuse in the same way people use "magic".

They influenced the atmosphere to allow fluids to exist, so liquid (Science fact: the low levels on atmosphere on Mars cause any liquids to evaporate instantly) so they needed to mess around with it for the beer to stick around. Again, not important how, just that they did. Story telling! *Sparkle sparkle*

Don't go thinking I'd spoil future stuff. I just didn't want you reading it before the chapter. If I ever post something like that, it will be about the chapter I posted with it.

Got to make it sad, otherwise there's no point is there? Shiro could just be a random guy. Nah man. They're out there trying to bring justice to and for their friend, and it's not something any of them really want to do. 'sins of the past' strikes yet again (until I get around to the full rewrite)

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Offline Coach Fro

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Re: Coryn's Saga Arc 3
« Reply #127 on: June 12, 2018, 09:14:01 AM »
You don't know how bad I want to read this right now...

But I gotta finish the first two arcs first, and I'm about halfway through the first one I think. The road is long, but I will walk the path nonetheless.

Offline Coryn

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Re: Coryn's Saga Arc 3
« Reply #128 on: June 12, 2018, 01:47:04 PM »
When did you even start that path? Honestly though, you can definitely knock out an arc faster than you might imagine. They aren't even full length novels the first two. (For reference, 3 is now longer than 1, and is rapidly closing in on 2's record)

Basically what I'm saying, is that it's only going to get worse from here on out.

But seriously, it would be swell to see someone besides Lego enjoying this.

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Offline MahluaandMilk

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Re: Coryn's Saga Arc 3
« Reply #129 on: June 12, 2018, 03:32:07 PM »
I feel that side-eye on me, Coryn. I'll get to it eventually.

Offline Coryn

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Re: Coryn's Saga Arc 3
« Reply #130 on: June 12, 2018, 04:32:38 PM »
It is a side-eye of your own making. I wasn't even holding you in my mind in that moment. Perhaps you simply have a deep guilt you cannot avoid, buried deep in your soul? "Read Coryn's story." It seems to say.

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Offline legomaestro

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Re: Coryn's Saga Arc 3
« Reply #131 on: June 12, 2018, 06:48:02 PM »
On my part I don't do enough to force people to read CS. *Starts working on mass ad campaign*

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Re: Coryn's Saga Arc 3
« Reply #132 on: August 12, 2018, 10:20:52 PM »
And so begins another round of chapter releases. Unfortunately I didn't get a whole lot done in the first half of July, but I was really cooking the last couple weeks. The only downside now, is that this is the first time since getting back on the writing wagon that I don't already have the next chapter and a half already finished. But if I keep up a good pace, that shouldn't delay the next round too badly *fingers crossed* On the bright side, got some real chapter length chapters this round. No skimping on CS this time.



To begin, there was an expectation of light, but no light came. Then there was the expectation of noise, but the world remained silent. Next came touch and taste, but these too failed to arrive.
   Instead, all that came was pain. A splitting, unforgettable, unforgiving pain.
   It was not the kind of pain that you only felt in a single spot. It could not even be localized to a definable portion of the body. This pain was total. It covered all flesh, cut into it, slicing its way down into the very core of the soul. The agony built and built, until there was nothing to do but writhe in it. Finally, after what felt like years, the pain disappeared, replaced by an unceasing numbness. Both were torturous, but between the two, the numbness was vastly preferred.

   Only now, did the light come, and behind it, the rest of the senses slowly filtered in.
   At first it was just light. No distinct images could be discerned among it. But, as unused nerves awoke, so did the surroundings. There were hospital beds lining a long room, each of them empty, except for one. Windows were drawn open, and cool, but fresh air flowed through them. Machines hummed and beeped silently next to the occupied bed. On one monitor was a pulsing line, each leap the beat of a living heart. The bed’s occupant watched the heart chart its path across the display. Slow and steady. Then, without warning, the realization came. The heart beat was that of the viewer who lay in the bed. That heart beat was theirs. They were alive.
   Naomi Amano, was alive.
   She knew exactly where she was now. It was not a long process of elimination before she reached the correct answer. Despite this truth, she was also awake enough to realize that she was alone in the room. Naomi was neither guarded, nor, as best she could tell, restrained. She moved to push herself up into a sitting position, but her body did not want to obey her commands. Naomi tightened her core, and with great effort, rolled up into a sitting position. Her muscles screamed at her to stop, to lay back down and return to a drug filled sleep. But years of battle had instilled within her the ability to override the urges of the body, and Naomi could not convince herself that this was no battlefield. She grasped the railing of the bed with her right hand to steady herself. Her head did not want to turn, but by pushing against the rail, she pivoted her torso to the left, and could see a door at the end of the long room. Naomi could not tell if there was anyone outside of it, but it was the only way out of the room that didn’t involve jumping out of a window. So, she decided it would be her escape route. Naomi engaged her legs. At first there was no response, but gradually the feeling came back into them. She slid the railing back with great effot, and gingerly slipped her legs out from beneath the bedsheets. Their weight helped pull herself upright as they dangled off the side of the mattress. Naomi paused for a moment, breathed deeply, and stepped up.
   At least, that was the plan.
   The moment Naomi put an ounce of weight down on her feet, both legs buckled. She swung up her left arm to keep herself from bashing her face on the tiled floor, but it must have still been sluggish, because her head hit    the ground cleanly. Worse still, the rapid descent ripped from her body the needles which had connected Naomi to an untold number of tubes. They tore her flesh as they came free, and blood welled up from the fresh wounds. Naomi cried out in pain. To muffle the sound, she buried her face into her hospital gown, which had bunched up around her chin during the fall. As the involuntary howl subsided, Naomi listened. All was quiet for a moment, but sure enough, she soon heard footsteps outside the door. The poor girl directed her gaze through the feet of the hospital beds. She watched the doors swing open, and there appeared a set of legs. Naomi thought to hide, but there was no place to go. Whoever was coming down the aisle would know who she was, which bed was hers, and likely, the state that she found herself in. For the time being, they had nothing to fear from her. So, Naomi continued to lay on the cold tile floor, and waited to be discovered.
    The pace of the newcomer slowed as they approached her location. Naomi heard a loud crunch as they were about to round the bed next to hers. She turned her head to meet the stranger, and no sooner then she had, did Coryn Sken appear from around the adjacent bed, a freshly bitten into apple in his hand. He halted his advance, and for a moment the two simply locked eyes. Coryn finally broke the deadlock with another bite of his apple. And with his mouth still full, he spoke to her. “The doctors were right. You really do look like you’ve been beat six ways from Sunday.” Naomi was immediately enraged, and she swiped at him with her left arm, as her right was trapped beneath her. The man seemed to be in range, but she didn’t feel the strike connect with anything. Naomi figured that the arm was still waking up, but she could not get a good view of it. It was then that she came to the realization that a bandage was covering the left side of her head. She hadn’t noticed it in her confusion, but the sensation of the wrapping pressing against her skin was now present to her mind. Above her, Coryn shook his head. His face was half pity, and half amusement. He didn’t strike Naomi as the kind of person who would laugh at a helpless prisoner, but even she had to admit that she likely looked ridiculous. Coryn knelt down, and grabbed her under her right elbow. Naomi found herself lifted back into her bed like she was a child, and did her best to relax herself as Coryn began reattaching the various tubes and sensors. As the fog in her mind continued to clear, it had quickly revealed that escape was an impossibility.
   Coryn spoke as he finished his work. “I’m surprised to see you so lively. Most people aren’t up to doing much after spending three weeks in a coma.” So, it had been some time after all. Although Naomi was surprised to have woken up at all. She watched Coryn as he stepped back. He was without his coat or weapons, and his clothes were fresh looking. His own wounds had healed, whereas Naomi was stuck hospitalized, still feeling like she should be dead three times over. On that subject, Naomi said her first words to him. “Why am I alive?”
   The question turned into a pregnant silence. Coryn seemed to contemplate it as he reclined on the adjacent bed. He took another bite of his apple before replying. “I admit, I didn’t think you were alive at first either. You looked like a hunk of burnt meat when we found you. I’ll show you the pictures later. But, you’re too stubborn to die outright. You were taking your time with it, and the meantime, we intervened.” He let this sink in for a few moments before continuing. “And if I do say so myself, we did a half decent job of keeping your heart beating for the trip back. The doctors here took you the rest of the way.” He bit into his apple for a third time, and left Naomi to her thoughts.
   She did not like his answer. It was not complete. “That’s just how. It’s not why.”
   Coryn’s face was unreadable. “Because we decided to. That’s why.”
   Naomi hated that devil-may-care attitude he was exuding. She didn’t like her life being decided upon by the whims of immortals. Shiro had given her that existence for years. “Show me.”
   Coryn raised a brow. “Show you what?”
   Naomi forced her neck to turn to face him. “Show me how bad I was.”
   The blonde seemed on the verge of denying the request, but he conceded the point without a word, shrugged, and moved to the screens. After a moment at the holographic interface, images began to form around the bed. Naomi knew that it had to have been herself, but there were no outward indications that it was. All she could see what exactly Coryn had described.
   It was a form vaguely recognizable as human, but aside from that, it only looked like black char, with bright pink occasionally seen in the depths of deep cracks. The pictures must have been captured by the doctors as they were preparing her, and they appeared in most of the shots, often blocking off the camera. Finally, Naomi came to an image that looked down on her directly. It reminded Naomi of an autopsy photo, but that was not the detail which caught her eye. Undeniably, it something which had not been clear in the previous pictures.
   Gingerly, Naomi wrapped her right arm over her chest, and placed her hand down on her left shoulder. Even though it was staring at her in the face, it took this moment for the truth to solidify. Naomi grasped the stump where her left arm should have been, and squeezed it so tightly that blood appeared from beneath the bandages. As the pain sharpened, she released her shoulder. Her curiosity aroused, she slowly dragged her hand up the left side of her body, following the bandage. Naomi felt below the surface of the cotton. Her skin was rough and painful to the touch. Where once an ear had been, she could only detect a ruined lump of cartilage. Her hair was clearly gone beneath the bandage, although she could feel short strands once she got closer to the top of her scalp. By Coryn’s description, it was likely the result of a few weeks of growth. Finally, drew her hand back down her face, and brought her fingers over her left eye. When they arrived, she found nothing. Naomi traced the rim of the hollow pit with her fingertips. At last, her strength for the venture gave out, and Naomi let her arm flop down beside her. Coryn closed out of the images, and Naomi’s view cleared. They sat in silence for several minutes, before Naomi found the power to speak. “How?”
   Her voice was craggy, and Coryn could hear suppressed tears in her voice. “You didn’t really get to meet her, but there was a woman we brought to fight Shiro with us. Claire, is her name. She got messed up bad. We brought in some medical equipment from the Alliance to help fix her. It’s not able to bring you out of a coma, but it does wonders for patching up wounded flesh.” He stood up from the bed. “You’ve spent most of the last month floating in a tube of chemicals as it put you back together, stitch by stitch.” Coryn reacquired his apple for another bite. “So then, what do you plan to do?”
   Roughly a thousand thoughts flew through Naomi’s mind, but thanks to whatever drugs were being pumped into her, she couldn’t concentrate on any of them. Half of her was still trying to understand how the ruined human which she had seen could have ever been her. The other half was still demanding that she escape in some way, preferably with a middle step in which she killed everyone around her. Ultimately, she could only decide that she needed to fall back asleep. Naomi’s muscles began to relax without her input, and it did not take long before Coryn picked up on what was about to happen. Intentional or otherwise. As he began to leave, Coryn was stopped by Naomi’s voice. It had grown tired and small, but was still audible. “Just…one last thing.” Her eye met his. “I feel…like I’m missing something…”
   Naomi had been feeling a sense of loss since regaining consciousness, although she could not place her finger on it. It was something that went beyond the loss of her comrades. She felt like a part of her soul was now absent. Coryn drew his mouth into a thin line as he processed the statement. Yet again, he seemed to vacillate on giving her an answer. When he decided on the affirmative however, Naomi wished she had held her tongue. Coryn reached around to his back pocket, and produced the ruined hilt of her katana. “I’ve been holding on to it. When we got back I asked about it, and they told me that your abilities are directly linked to the sword. And with it destroyed, well…” He gingerly set the hilt into the bed with Naomi. “There’s no one who can fix it.” Coryn walked away, only turning back before crossing the threshold into the hallway. “Your powers are gone, Naomi. Your fight’s over.”
   The doors slid shut behind him, and Naomi lay in silence. Tears streamed down from her good eye, wetting the sheets. She expected herself to be angry, spiteful. But as she fell into a restless sleep, all she felt was broken, and defeated.

   The room was now very cold. Naomi was vaguely aware that she had been slipping in and out of consciousness for some time. Occasionally it would be light outside, occasionally it was night. From the orange light coming through the windows, it was now either early morning, or evening. Naomi reached up, and took a rough measurement of time based on her own progress. The bandages on her head had been removed, revealing dark, rough scar tissue. A medical eyepatch graced her empty socket, and she estimated that her hair had regrown to be roughly a half inch. All of it together brought Naomi to believe it had been around two weeks since she had awoken the first time.
   She hadn’t been sure what had happened, but it seemed she wasn’t fully recovered from her coma. Naomi didn’t have an experience in that field, but she was definitely sleeping for multiple days at a time. Her body was telling her all she needed to know, on that front. For the first several minutes, she felt as stiff as a stone. Upon her initial revival, adrenaline had filled her veins enough for her to move, but now that at least part of her mind had processed her predicament, no such help existed. Slowly but surely, she forced her digits, and then limbs to awaken. They felt better this time around, and Naomi guessed that her doses of sedatives and pain killers had been reduced. A relative lack of equipment around her, and tubes in her, confirmed this. What surprised her, was that she still lacked bindings. Even with Naomi’s powers stripped away, they should have restrained her. She, would have restrained herself, if the situation was reversed. Perhaps they were more kindhearted than she gave them credit for, or far more likely, they had already accepted her powerlessness. That was something Naomi herself was still grappling with.
   Her neck was once again under her control. Naomi tilted her head to the side, and discovered what was chilling the room. She knew his name was Jack Frost. She knew that he commanded an innate ability to form and manipulate ice. But aside from the scant information she had discovered in battling him, she knew almost nothing about him. Shiro had been tightlipped when it came to any of his old friends. Even though it had become part of his reason for being to kill them, he had not chosen to share details. Naomi knew better now, but when Shiro first instructed the four girls to help him attack Coryn and steal his energy, they basically went in blind. That initial victory was a fluke, in the end. But that first time had led her to overestimate her chances. And now, it had cost her. Looking at the man before her though, she was once again beginning to reconsider her opinion of him.
   Jack sat in a back turned chair, facing Naomi’s bed in the same spot Coryn had stood when she last was awake. But his form was limp, one arm dangled in the air, and the other formed a makeshift cushion between his head and the chair’s back. He was completely asleep, snoring gently as if had accidently fallen asleep while reading a book. And with every breath he took, freezing air rolled out from his mouth and on to the floor. It was beginning to have a pronounced effect on the climate of the room, and Naomi pulled up the thin hospital blanket as far as she could. She couldn’t conceive how someone could peacefully sleep in a room so frigid with only a thin t-shirt and trousers. Naomi was convinced that it was the cold which had roused her, so she went about waking the sleeping immortal. “Hey! Wake up!” Her voice was hoarse, and unused. She tried again, this time with better results. “Wake up! You’re going to kill me with this cold!”
   This finally seemed to penetrate Jack’s sleeping mind, and he began to stir. The temperature of the room began to improve almost instantly as that which was producing the chill disappeared. It was almost as if Jack was unconsciously sucking the cold back into himself. Perhaps it was simply a part of his biology, or maybe he was conscientious of his sleeping habits. In either case, Naomi was thankful for the reprieve. She spoke to him once again as he rubbed the sand from his eyes. “Do you always freeze people in your sleep.”
   “Only when I’m not in my own room.” Said Jack with a wink. Or perhaps it was simply a spasm as he cleared out the last of the sand. Naomi couldn’t tell for sure. He continued. “I guess you’re awake again huh? Your vitals were up, and it was my turn again to take watch duty, just in case you came around. Guess I’m lucky?”
   Naomi returned her head to a neutral position facing the ceiling. “Maybe so…”
   The pair sat in silence for a while. Naomi occasionally heard Jack’s mouth open as if he meant to say something, but it took several minutes before he committed. “If you’re feeling up for it, would you like to go on a walk? The doctors here said you weren’t likely to relapse into the coma if you fully woke up again. So, maybe leaving you in bed isn’t the best idea.”
   Naomi hated the mundane way he said it, but replied. “My legs don’t work right now. I’m not strong enough to move them.”
   “Oh!” Said Jack, as slight look of embarrassment appeared on his face. “I mean, you’ll need a wheelchair, obviously, but I can push it for you. On account of the…well y’know.”
   She did, and she disliked him dancing around it. “On account of only have one arm. Yes, I do know.” Naomi turned back towards him. “I thought you immortals could heal people with enix. Isn’t that how you stay alive in the first place?”
   Jack was not expecting to be confronted by such a question, but he took a moment to form his answer, and replied. “Well, sure, kinda. I mean, healing yourself is easy. You just sorta…make your body the way it was before you got hurt? Like, you make it remember how to be whole, and then it fills in the rest? I don’t know, it’s hard to explain.” Jack knitted his brow in thought for another moment before continuing. “So, fixing your own body is simple, but it’s a lot harder for to fix other people. We can heal moderate wounds, assuming all the original…bits, are still around. But it’s not the same as creating parts of another person from scratch? And you…well…that was beyond our expertise.” He took another moment, as if he had lost the thread of what he was saying. “Coryn said he told you about the tank, right? It’s got all these capsules full of raw materials, and it can read your DNA and then sorta, clones the parts it needs? I don’t really get it, but hey, results are results.”
   Naomi leaned in towards him, her face full of malice. “Then why don’t I have an arm? Where is my missing eye? And why is my left side still covered in scars?”
   Jack looked guilty, but he pressed on anyway. “To be honest with you, we decided that we’d prefer you went without.”
   Even guilty as he otherwise looked, Jack’s eyes were set. The white-haired man may have played a good fool, but there was obviously something beneath that jester’s crown. Naomi stared him down for a little while longer, before relenting, and relaxing back into the mattress. “That’s the first sense you’ve made all day.”
   Jack, for his part, felt a tinge of relief at this sentiment, and sprung up from his chair. “Let me go find that wheelchair. It’ll do you some good to get some fresh air. You’ll see.”

   Ten minutes later, Naomi was loaded up into the wheelchair with her various accoutrements, and with Jack as her helmsman, she exited the hospital wing for the first time in over a month.
   Jack greeted and smiled at nearly everyone they passed. Naomi noted how he ignored the looks the castle staff gave her while they were being addressed. She didn’t begrudge them for it, but it brought into stark realization how alien her landscape was. Most were looks of apprehension, but some were of clear disdain. It seemed that the general population had not been consulted when it was decided to bring her in. Naomi pondered how much sway the four immortals actually had with these people. She knew some of their history with them, but the details had eluded her. In any case, they seemed to trust them enough to let the Five do it. That, or they were fearful of what would happen if they denied their whims, but Naomi let that idea pass from her mind. Power and intimidation were how her own version of the Tomoshibi were run. She doubted that the same was true for this one.
   Naomi kept expecting to see a face she knew. Not among the workers, but one of the three girls which stood in for those she had grown up with. Even after losing hope in each of them, Naomi was not ready to confront her loss. Although the priestesses of this universe felt like cheap imitations to her, an imitation may be all it took in that moment to tear her the rest of the way down. Naomi relented to her own inner torment, and kept her eyes affixed firmly on the ground in front of her.
   The rest of trip through the castle passed uneventfully, until Naomi found herself being wheeled into the open air. She recognized it as the courtyard behind the castle, and despite herself, lost a breath as she marveled at the well-kept state of it. Images of childhood drifted back to her as the smells of fragrant flowers hit her nose. In her past, the rear courtyard had been a small refuge of peace when she was very young, and had not yet grasped the trajectory of her life. She had quickly been broken of that longing, and Naomi did not regret losing it. Still, this was a potent reminder of things she had thought long forgotten. Anger welled in the pit of her stomach, but she had to let it go as the chair came to a sudden halt.
   Jack had parked her near a small fountain, and under the shade of a tree. Naomi hadn’t noticed her at first, but an older woman stood before the pair. Her hair was already white, but she was yet to completely lose all the youthfulness in her face. Jack gave her a quick wave, and the chair shuddered as Jack kicked down its brakes. “Mornin’ Chiyoko! What brings you out so early?”
   Chiyoko smiled back at Jack, but betrayed nothing. “Please Jack, I’ve been up since four. It is you I am so surprised to see out and about.”
   Jack laughed a little at himself. “Well you got me there. But I was on watch duty this morning, and she’s feeling so good I decided to take her out for a spin.”
   “That’s a very relative term…” Thought Naomi. She still hurt, immensely, but it was no longer unbearable. Each bump in the chair had sent ripples of pain through her fried nerves. Even if their machine could fix her on the surface level, it left much to be desired in long term healing. She felt no urge to let them know her discomfort however, and only acknowledged Chiyoko with a grim stare. The older woman’s expression refused to yield however. It denied Naomi any sense of victory. Chiyoko turned to Jack without losing an ounce of composure.
   “Jack, have you had breakfast yet? I’m sure young Amano would not mind if you left her be for a little while.”
   Jack was slightly taken aback by the proposal, on the one hand, he knew he was supposed to be keeping an eye on Naomi. On the other, he knew she couldn’t walk, much less try to escape or hurt someone. He stepped back from the chair, waved himself off with a word of parting, and disappeared back into the castle. Naomi found herself utterly alone with Chiyoko, and as soon as it was clear that Jack was gone, the old woman’s veneer dropped like a stone. Gone was the warm smile, replaced with a stern look which, had Naomi not experienced it from her own trainers, caused her to shrink back into the thin leather of the chair. Instead, Naomi leaned in, and asked what had been on her mind since first laying eyes on Chiyoko. “What do you want from me?”
   Chiyoko studied her quietly, the whole time she showed nothing of what she was thinking. Finally, she spoke. “My name, is Kamisaka Chiyoko. Do you know who I am?”
   Naomi at first considered lying, but decided it would not advance her purposes to do so. There was nothing she had worth hiding from this woman anyway. “No. I’ve seen your name recorded as one of the former head priestesses, but no, I have never actually met you.”
   “Dead?” Chiyoko said matter-of-factly.
   “Head priestesses didn’t last long in my reality.” Replied Naomi.
   “Serves her right.” Was Chiyoko’s only response.
   It was then that Naomi knew that this was not a woman to be trifled with. The Tomoshibi of her world were built on the bones of the strong. If Chiyoko had been powerful enough to claim that title in Naomi’s world, she would have no trouble doing the same in this one, if it had come to that.
   “Just so you are aware.” Said Chiyoko. “I do not begrudge you for doing what you’ve done. It is my understanding that with the way your life has played out, there really was no alternative. However, now that you are under my protection, I want you to be aware.” The older woman bent down, and spoke directly into Naomi’s face. She dropped her voice down so that it was barely more than a whisper. “If you betray our trust, or endanger anyone in my charge, I will not hesitate to dispatch you myself.”
   Naomi believed her. She would have told Chiyoko this, but the head priestess was already heading back inside. When the doors shut behind her, Naomi was alone. And for the first time in a long time, she truly felt that way.

   The next thing Naomi knew, she was being jostled over the bottom of the door frame which led back inside the castle. She sprung back to reality with a start. It felt like she had been asleep for days, but as she took in her surroundings, she realized it couldn’t have been more than twenty minutes. Naomi hadn’t even noticed dozing off, but she figured such a thing wasn’t unnatural for someone in her position to do. Jack was once again steering her through the halls, and she could hear him gently humming to himself.
   For the rest of the trip back to the hospital wing, Naomi remained silent. Her thoughts were still jumbled, but slowly, they were beginning to form something whole. She didn’t know what that whole would be yet. No matter how she approached her situation, it always felt like pieces of the puzzle were missing. There was no hope of going back to her previous life. It felt the same, she thought, as when Shiro had first conscripted her. But this time there was no Shiro to tell her how to behave, to make her a slave. This time her future rested entirely in her own hands, and that scared her more than anything.
   An angry pit grew in Naomi’s stomach as they approached the door to her room. Having had a small taste of life outside of it, Naomi found herself wanting to delay her return as much as possible. So, as Jack was about to push her through, Naomi stopped him. “Jack.” She hesitated. “I…can you show me to the other woman you were treating here?”
   Jack seemed mildly amused by the suggestion. Naomi couldn’t tell if he thought it was a joke or not. But no matter what he thought, he gave a shrug, and answered her with an affable ‘Sure.’

   The room that Jack brought Naomi to was only a few hallways down. It was a private suite, unlike the communal recovery room Naomi found herself in. Once fully inside, Naomi took in the visage of the woman she knew only as ‘Claire’. She had a vague recollection of the woman, based on what Coryn had told her, but nothing more than that. Seeing her now though, Naomi found it to be situation of high strangeness. Naomi had only ever seen these immortals as being nearly indestructible, and yet one lay in a coma before her. The room’s relative lack of medical equipment spoke to Claire’s constitution, but even that did not compensate for the conflict of expectation versus reality.
   As Naomi studied Claire further, noting the loosely tied hair, tightly trimmed nails, lack of make-up, it was hard to imagine that it was the same highly done-up fighter from a year ago. Naomi didn’t suspect she was being lied to, yet she pressed further. “Why hasn’t she woken up yet? Was the damage that bad?”
   Jack had stepped up beside the chair, and gently massaged his shoulder. “It’s hard to say, isn’t it? That machine can physically put you back together, but it can’t fix what you’ve got going on in your mind. If you ask me, I’d say Claire’s wrestling with herself, based on what I’ve learned about her.” He shook his head. “I guess she had some beef with Shiro from when he first went bad. She let it get to her, and it nearly got her killed.” He gave her a half smile. “But Coryn would be the expert on that. The rest of us only just met her during that debacle with Shiro. We didn’t really get the chance to bond.”
   Naomi looked incredulous. “Coryn just brought her in at the eleventh hour?”
   “It was an eleventh hour kinda day.” Shrugged Jack. “She’ll get better eventually, but until then, we gotta let her rest. C’mon. Time to head back.”
   This time, Naomi did not fight her urges to stay out of the recovery room. She could already feel herself drifting back to sleep. But there was at least one thing galvanized in her mind now: Even immortals could be ruined by their emotions. If she didn’t get away from the Five soon, she might just get dragged down along with them.

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