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[Obsidian Steel] Return to the Inner World of the Many Faced Sword: The Pursuit of Answers; Mastering the Many Faces Saga - Chapter 2 - Closed - GrimRPer
Topic Started: Jan 4 2018, 04:12 AM (3,222 Views)
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A few months had passed since Zamari dared to visit the Inner World of his sword. The fight against Retsuka and her minions was hard both physically and mentally, especially considering that he had to fight an evil doppelganger of himself in the midst of it all. Though he was far from fully recovered, Zamari decided that his oath to become stronger and to survive mattered more. To become the best swordsman he could be he needed to conquer Sanzenmen's Inner World. So, he was going to brave it again regardless of the costs. Besides, who said that he had to go alone?

Zamari stood at the top of the very mountain where Retsuka once established her base. He looked beyond its to see what lurked on the other side - the remainder of the Inner World that they had yet to explore. "I wonder how far this place goes." Did it have a definite amount of space or was there intend a point which he could deem it fully explored. At that point it mattered very little as he knew that he was nowhere near close to either milestone. Surveying the expanse he struggled to make out what appeared to be a bamboo thicket in the very far distance. "That is where we'll find him." 'Him' being this supposed elder spirit that Dotama told him about on their previous adventure.

Zamari turned to Chairo who he asked to accompany him once again into the Inner World. To assist him with his troubles. The fox proved himself to be a trusted ally - something that Zamari needed now more than ever. The road ahead was going to be challenging as he assumed there were spirits twice as fearsome as Retsuka.

"Well, here we are," Zamari said, breaking the ice. "I'm afraid it will just be you and I this time." Kamekara and Akuratsufuu came and went as they pleased. He tried to contact them but received no response. Perhaps they did not think it necessary to assist him on this current mission. "Based off what Dotama said this spirit we're looking for lives in a bamboo thicket. I thought I could spot one but it's definitely a ways off. We're looking at a pretty lengthy trip this time around." And he wasn't at all excited for it.

"You still got it together...you know...you're still the full you right?" He didn't know if whether or not coming here again would affect Chairo after what happened to him last time. Understandably, Zamari was worried that he dragged him into a session of self-inflicted torture. "If anytime you feel distressed you can split. I won't hold it against you." If there weren't any objections on Chairo's end then they would continue. The path that lied ahead for the two of them was completely unknown and they would not have the guidance of Akuratsufuu or Kamekara to see them through. It was going to be tough.
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Chairo hasn't come in his traditional robes this time, instead sporting a more casual one: White shorts and a blue shirt with "Live A Live" game's title on the front. the fox kid had been half awake when Zamari had called him to come with him into the Inner World of the Sword. Before they ventured further, he stretched and patted his fluffy tail, only responding when addressed for the time being.

"Well, here's for hoping it will be a calm journey this time. I'm still a bit shaken from last time.", his tail swished about for a bit, his eyes following its motion, before Zamari was his focus. He could understand his friend's concern given what happened last time.

Did Chairo become pale for a moment and LESS human?! Of course, he still remembered what an awful experience that was. "A-Ah I'm fine this time. Still a bit traumatized, that's all.", that didn't seem like "a bit". Regardless, he regained his composure and humanity.

"But let's go. We won't achieve anything by standing here."
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Zamari took a moment to process Chairo's answer. "Fine by me." If Chairo was fully comfortable with tagging along then he didn't have the right to stop him from doing so. "Before we get going we need to assess what lies ahead for us." From his survey, which was by no means detailed, Zamari was able to determine that they had a dense forest lying directly beneath the mountain. There was another river that winded through it and he could make out what the tops of what he perceived to be buildings.

"There appears to be a settlement down there." If they headed in that direction they would reach it long before arriving to the bamboo thicket. "It looks to be a town rather than a village." Based off that assessment he expected a large amount of spirits to be concentrated there. "Well hopefully they're welcoming to outsiders. A settlement is too large of an opportunity to overlook." Never before had he witnessed an actual society thriving within the Inner World. So far it was all pure savagery.

"Let's try and make it into the forest before nightfall." It would take them hours to make it down the side of the mountain. They needed to move immediately if they were to make it by then. Zamari started down the descending trail with anticipation of Chairo following. With Retsuka gone he imagined that the area became a lot safer. They probably would not face opposition for the remainder of the day at least which gave Zamari the relief he needed. They were given the time to converse and he was going to use it.

"I don't blame you for feeling the way you feel," Zamari began. It was odd for him to be the one to initiate the conversation seeing as how he was prone to shutting himself off from others. The valuable lesson that he learned from their previous adventure was that one should not withhold their thoughts and feelings entirely from their allies. He needed to help others help him and he was going to try and do that from here on out. "When we returned my body ached for weeks. While I didn't sustain any notable physical injuries I still felt all the pain." From that he was able to deduce that there was indeed some consequence in the living world from being injured in this one. "Then there were other things...." Zamari wasn't sure how to delve into such details just yet so he opted to refrain from doing so until he figured it out. Also, he wanted to make definitively sure that Chairo was alright to continue. What happened to him last time was so strange that Zamari felt the need to investigate further to make sure that it did not happen again to either of them.

"What happened to. None of us had seen anything like it," Zamari informed Chairo. Kamekara was dumbfounded and Akuratsufuu doubtful when he explained the phenomenon to them both. There were multiple theories that were conjured but they failed to agree on any of them as fact. Zamari needed to hear more from Chairo himself about what happened. "Disregard me if I'm prying...but how vividly do you remember the incident?" With them being in the midst of hunting down Retsuka there was little time to discuss the ordeal when it was fresh. Zamari hoped that it was still possible for him to extract useful information from Chairo.
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"Hopefully more lively than the last one we have been at.", he still remembered last time, the village where they confronted Dark Zamari, and where they met Tama-san. That memory didn't shake him, thankfully. "Well, what are we waiting for?!", his eagerness and warmth had to be appreciated, right?

Listening to Zamari, he gave him a nod and another, walking alongside with him. "Last time was... Very scary. I worried if your wounds would affect you out of here too. And what happened to me was...", it was clear he was trying to hold himself together, his hand still trembled. But he attempted to shake it off.

"I... Partially remember that. It was a familiar grim feeling, so to say. The kind I wish to never feel again. But I was partially there, right?", the kid didn't sound so sure of himself.
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Zamari dwelt on what Chairo told him. "The old Retsuka is gone for good." Thanks to their endeavors there was one less evil spirit to worry about. "I haven't seen the new one around all that much but at least I can say that things are peaceful." That meant that the voices had ceased for the time being. Perhaps that was why he was so talkative - he was finally able to sleep for several nights in a row. Zamari's face showed that he was well rested and carried far less stress. Progress indeed.

"It was strange. The best way I can put it is that you were here physically but gone either mentally or spiritually." Zamari paused to think of another solution. "Maybe this supposed elder spirit will have answers for us." There had better be an elder spirit or else Dotama would have hell to pay.

The trail on which the two of them walked winded down the slope. As they edged on the base of the mountain slowly but surely came into view along with the forest that surrounded it. "Looks like we made back onto low ground." Zamari hoped to never see the dreaded mountain of Old Retsuka for a long while. He looked in the direction which he anticipated the town to be and stopped.

"I wonder what kind of spirits live there." He had an uneasy feeling about the town that sprung on him without any specific cause. "From atop the mountain it looked much larger than the village." Therefore it had to be more secure as well. "We'll have to be on the look out for patrols." The Inner World was a harsh place. The village had gotten wiped out because they had no security. He expected the town to be different.

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"Heh, and I'm glad she has now found a new life for herself as an extension of you. That way she's no longer bound to this world, and can now achieve some of the freedom she pursued.", what a mood whiplash Chairo underwent in a few moments, having been reminded about things he wanted to forget, and then told about someone they encountered last time they have been here.

Pondering about the Elder Spirit. "Maybe it wold be best to not think about that for too long. You remember how my other me reacted to those thoughts, how that broke him.", whether Chairo was afraid that it would happen again or not, he didn't show, but let it sink into Zamari's mind.

As they have come closer, Chairo paused and let his true self show, he became a fox whole as to rely on his senses for a moment to assess the situation. "Hopefully, we won't have any trouble here. After all, Retsuka is now on our side."
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"I'm learning new things about Sanzenmen and the headband all the time." He was able to purify Retsuka into a new form with use of the blade. Although he doubted that he could do so with all of the spirits within the sword, particularly those which weren't combat oriented like Dotama, he figured that if he could at least tame some of them then the Inner World would become a better place. "You're right in that we are a ways off from reaching his supposed domain." Zamari took a glance up at the sky to check the passage of time. It didn't take them as long to make it down the mountain as he thought. "We still have some daylight to spare. Best make good use of it."

For the most part this forest was just like the one on they had traversed before on the mountain's other side. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary - that is nothing seemed out of the ordinary until they passed a rather peculiar tree. Distinctive in that it had purple leaves that set it apart from the green of its neighbors and a trunk striped yellow, Zamari knew to expect something out of the ordinary from it. "Way to be inconspicuous," he sarcastically remarked while inspecting the tree. "I wonder if someone deliberately planted this or if it grew naturally." It was hard to tell such things when in a spiritual world. Weird things were normal.

The air around the tree felt bizarre. It was definitely emitting a strange energy reading. "I think it's best if we let it be." He knew not the capabilities of tree spirits but estimated they were no better than their mobile counterparts. Zamari started to bypass the tree as the sooner they got away from it the better.

The two of them would walk with nothing appearing to be out of the ordinary. Then they came upon another purple leafed tree.

"What are the odds of this...." Zamari was puzzled. He looked back at the mountain in the distance. "It should be further back." But it wasn't. Zamari skimmed their surroundings to see that nothing had changed at all despite them having advanced.

"Oh c'mon...." Assuming that time was passing normally then they were currently wasting it by getting lost. "I don't remember us taking any turns. Do you?" How was it possible for them to loop back around if they were on a straight path? Zamari looked at the purple leafed tree before them with disdain. It had to be responsible for this nonsense.
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For a moment, Chairo felt insecure, maybe it was the atmosphere around them? "But only time will tell what turns and twists this place will take, and hopefully for much better.", the fox of golden pelt kept minding his surroundings, specially that strange tree.

It kept bothering him, specially once they came across it. YET. AGAIN. It shouldn't be there, Chairo silently agreed to Zamari's thoughts of how unnatural this was. "Huh... Uh-huh... Lemme test something... Can you stand here for a moment?", he suspected something and needed to confirm.

"I doubt we took any turns, but lemme check a thing. Just stay there and wait.", Chairo would go ahead, following the route to the town in a straight line, wondering if there was a boundary or something. If he came across Zamari and the tree, he would use his special eyes to investigate for any abnormality.
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Zamari waited patiently for Chairo to execute whatever plan he had in mind. He already had his own theory as to what was going on - that this occurrence was all the work of a spirit who was acting through the tree somehow. What Zamari did not know was exactly how the mechanics of the tree's mysterious power functioned. He would leave that up to Chairo to figure out. Based off what he understood about them, foxes were good at that sort of thing.

"Welcome back," Zamari greeted Chairo upon his return. That solidified it - there was definitely some funny business going on. When Chairo used his absolute sight on the tree he would take notice of strange worms crawling all over the tree's trunk, branches, and leaves. Were these the culprits responsible for their looping back around? If Chairo looked closer he would notice that not all of the worms were the same. Some were plain white whereas the others featured stripes.

"See anything of note?" Zamari asked unable to witness the worms for himself. He was trying his best to hold his patience but his frustration steadily increased. At this rate, their arrival to the town would be delayed another day. He wanted to do everything in his power to avoid that concequence.
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It was just as he suspected... "Either a directional sense illusion or a sort of portal boundary.", Chairo pondered as they got close, "And this tree is fishy. Very fishy.". Upon closer inspection, specially with the aid of his power, the fox took notice of the worms.

"Well, how to explain this... Worms. Up and down this tree. Weird patterns, can't see with normal eyes, are probably part of the spell. ... Normally I'd toss the idea of burning it up, but if the boundary stays, we will roast to death. Plus none of us can use fire, right?", and after saying that, he would try something...

Shooting a burst of water at the tree's trunk. What were the odds of that working? He didn't know, not for sure, but it was worth a shot, to see what were to happen.
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Worms? Zamari immediately concluded that they were responsible for the illusion they were faced with. "I don't have a fire sword yet I'm afraid." It wasn't outside the realm of possibility for him to have one, however. He watched as Chairo shot a burst of water at the tree. As he was unable to see the worms for himself he was utterly useless at solving the conundrum. I wonder why I can't see the worms. Was it because they were above his level of spiritual awareness or deliberately hiding from him?

When Chairo's burst of water hit the tree the worms vanished only to reappear almost instantly. Noticing that nothing happened Zamari decided to offer a suggestion since he could not directly intervene. "You said there were weird patterns on the worms?" Zamari looked up and down the tree and remembered the yellow stripes on its trunk. "Maybe we should try moving them along the tree's surface? Place some of them on the stripes and leave the others on the solid areas of the trunk."

Zamari had no idea if whether or not his idea would work. Leaving Chairo to deal with the worms and the tree he opted to focus on the origins of this illusion. Where did these worms come from? He guessed that the tree was ordinary before their placement on its trunk. They must be some sort of parasitic spirit that infected the tree. What would happen if they managed to somehow dispel the illusion? Most importantly he was concerned about the status of the tree. It wasn't because he was a tree hugger. He needed to grasp the true danger that these worms posed and he intended to use the tree's fate to gauge their effect on humans and other spirits.
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"Bleh, this failed.", what did the fox expect? To wash them away? Maybe if he brought soap and sponge they could give them a scrub too. But the fact Zamari couldn't see them was also weird. "Yep, patterns... ... Maybe your idea will work, lemme see.", and giving place for his human self, the fox began trying to move the worms to match solid with solid, striped with striped.

But he had to wonder: Was this a trap set up by those in town to stop intruders? Or someone else's trap? Hopefully they could get out before a potential opponent were to come out... And also... "Odd we can't see them normally, so maybe they are even a sort of illusion that is here to waste our time. And I didn't see any visible boundary on the way, so maybe sight is not the key... Could it be smell? Hm..."

Could that be it? Chairo held his breath and looked around for as much as he could before he had to gasp in air, to observe for changes.
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Solid with solid, striped with striped. It was a simple puzzle with a simple solution. After Chairo placed all of the worms in their appropriate spots he would witness a reaction from the bizarre tree. The stripes on its trunk disappeared and its leaves shifted from purple to green. Then came the unexpected. The tree started to gradually dissolve from top to bottom. Zamari's eyes widened upon seeing this.

"And there we have it," Zamari said. "Though the curse has been lifted the tree was still devoured." That meant if anything or anyone else was afflicted they would suffer the same fate. "Let's get going." To move forward was the only way to tell if whether or not the dilemma was truly solved. From that point onward they had to be alert. Something or someone was trying to throw them off course.

As they walked Zamari and Chairo would find relief in that they were finally able to progress further into the forest. "We have to keep our eyes open for any more oddities." He frequently looked at both his sides for movement in the adjacent undergrowth. Rightfully paranoid, Zamari anticipated that they were being watched. "I expect that we will come across another barrier soon." And he had the sick feeling that it wouldn't be as simple to solve as the first.

The sound of rushing water flowed into ears. They were getting close to the river. It was like music to Zamari's ears as he needed to lather his dry mouth.

"Seriously...."

As far as rivers went this one was the strangest that Zamari ever saw. It had four currents flowing in different directions. The first east, the second west, and so forth for the last two.

"Do you want to go first or should I?" He imagined that between the two of them Chairo was the better swimmer. He was a manipulator of water after all.
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"That was... Simple, tame... I was reluctant to touch them, after the things we've been through.", Chairo kept the traumatic thoughts away, but the ones of the troubles they faced before remained, "Anyhow, I agree, let's go." However he kept a keen eye for any oddity, just in case.

The calmness was unsettling, even if this was just a forest, the kind of environment he was used to... No, that was not it, the possibility of thme getting ambushed or triggering another trap set him on the edge, Chairo could barely retain his humanity from sheer stress.

And soon there was a calming sound... The river. Ah, how he eagerly awaited for the rushing water. However how puzzling that was: Eyeing the currents, Chairo pondered on whether this was another trick... For such, he had and idea!

Pulling off a layer of the bark of a tree, one thin yet firm enough, he split it in 4 pieces, writing North, South, West and East. then he placed the pieces on their respective currents, letting them go for a moment, wondering if any would come back somehow.
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The pieces of wood that Chairo threw into the river fell into their respective currents with each going in their respective directions. The north piece landed on the opposite bank whereas the south piece flowed into the western current and disappeared along with the west piece. The east piece flowed away never to be seen again leaving only the north piece to remain in sight.

"If we don't time our crossing perfectly we'll at best end up back where we started or at worst who knows where. We'll have to make our way into the northward current if we want to proceed." It was easier said than done as they would first need to bypass the eastern, western, and southern currents which were arranged in rows. That meant they could not access the next current without entering the previous.

"I think I'll go first this time around." Zamari had allowed Chairo to solve the first puzzle so he was going to tackle the second despite not bing so thrilled with his swimming skills. Slowly, he progressed into the water until he was waist deep, clenching onto the riverbank to secure himself from the pull of the eastern current. Focus. Look for the precise entry point into the next current. It was stressful for Zamari as the stakes were high. Also, the longer waited the more his grip on the riverbank started to fail.

"Eh?"

Feeling something swipe against his leg Zamari's grip on the riverbank was instantly released and he was swept down the eastern current.

"Oh shit!"

And there he went.
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"I knew it... Had to check if they lead anywhere we don't want to wind up, and here's our answer... I assume South and West are real bad, but East may lead to where we began, while North is safe crossing.", but if they needed to traverse the others... That would be troublesome.

For a moment he was trying to figure how to get ZAMARI across, but not himself. He had his ace after all. Chairo gave a nod and warned him to be careful, while he eyes his surrounds in hope of finding vines to use as rope.

But didn't take long for something to happen, and the fox failed to reach him in time. "Zamari! Find safety!", was all he could tell, before confronted with making a choice: to use the spell here or not? ... There was no real choice. Morphing into a fox, he jumped into the same current, he tried to swim against it, to no avail.

Just before sinking, he mumbled something: "(Water, Void, Dissolve me!)". In less than a second, he was... Gone. Missing. Probably drowned, right?

Wrong. He was swimming faster within the water, as like water he has become, That would be useful in catching up with Zamari and seeing if there was something tampering with the flow, and those were his plans.
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Zamari thrashed about trying to do as Chairo instructed and find safety. However, the current was too fast for him to do so. "Something hit up against my leg in the water!" That meant that they were most likely not alone and that they were actually being pursued. Unable to save himself Zamari accepted that he was fully snared within the current's clutches and was subject to go wherever it wanted to take him. His only hope was for Chairo to catch up to him in time. Especially since what he heard in the distance only horrified him. The sound of a waterfall.

After becoming like water Chairo would gain a better assessment of what they were up against. Materializing next to him within the water was a face. It did not look as if it were glad to have company.

Almost as quickly as the face appeared it vanished. Replacing it was a watery hand that would attempt to swat at Chairo to prevent him from reaching Zamari.

Yes, even forces of natures were capable of being spirits.
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He could see it, and when he saw, he smirked, however none was to see his smile. The fox moved faster as a water form and chomped hard at what held to Zamari, as to break its flow and grip upon the samurai. And if the two were to clash... It would surely be interesting, to use his new form, his new spell, in a combat situation. What could possibly happen?

Every time he was swatted at, his form simply split and re-merged, to continue to attack the target. "We can play this all you want! Though you will see it won't be so easy to take me down when I'm my element!", his voice was unmaterial, but the source was the general spot where he moved, underwater.

Chairo wasn't letting this water spirit have its way. It was a huge shame he didn't bring something that would be more useful against such kind of enemy, but simply becoming water should be enough, right?
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Water versus water. A perfect match. Chairo successfully latched onto Zamari and once he understood that it was his friend that held onto him he was able to relax. However, the water spirit that they were up against wasn't so keen on letting them get away easily. Yes, it was true that the Chairo would be able to adapt to the river with ease but there was still the matter of control. It was safe to assume that this water spirit could manipulate the entire river to its will. It was also safe to assume that it was the river.

The water around them would thrash against them. As he was human this created substantial discomfort for Zamari as he was forced to hold his breath to prevent himself from drowning. Then there was the waterfall which was drawing nearer, the aggressiveness of the river spirit helping to close the distance gap between it and them at a rapid pace.

The shape of the river water changed shape, raising up walls on the sides to prevent Chairo and Zamari from escaping its grasp. From behind came a forceful wave that would attempt to shove them closer to the waterfall. The idea then came to Zamari of what their enemy's true objective was.

It's guiding us to the waterfall. But for what reason? Curiosity crept into Zamari's head and he obtained the notion that it would be better for them to appease the water spirit rather than fight against it. The tactic relied heavily on his previous theory being correct. Thankfully, Chairo was in his element and Zamari was confident that he could adapt should his upcoming suggestion be wrong.

"Chairo!" He called out to his fox companion. "Go towards the waterfall!" He was sure that he sounded out of his mind but he hoped that Chairo would trust him on this. Besides, adjusting to circumstance would be easier if they reached the waterfall on their own accord rather than by that of the water spirit's.
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A glob surfaced a little next to Zamari, shaped like a fox's head but with no color. It looked to Zamari for a moment, only to "say" "This guy puts a fight, you know.", and then sink in. It was hard trying to keep Zamari from being shaken, but the spirit was trying even hard to sink them or lead to the... "Waterfall?", was it trying to actually dispose of them? ... Maybe.

But that was when Zamari told him to head to the waterfall... Was it to follow the river rather than fight it? "Gotcha! Hope you have some plan in mind, 'cause I have no idea! (And I'll try to improvise if anything.)", Chairo responded, trying to protect Zamari while pushing him further and further towards the waterfall.

Chairo could simply "splat" down there and reform... But what of someone made of flesh and bones?! He didn't dare to think.
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