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Old 01-24-2011, 02:33 PM   #1
Katahiro
Server: Antonia Bayle

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The air was thick with incense and something else that Katahiro could not quite place, something that should not have been there. With increasing alarm, Katahiro struggled to force his eyes open. The room swam with the familiar haze of incense but the smoke was thicker than normal this morning. Fire!

Katahiro's senses all snapped into focus with an almost audible 'pop' and he took in the scene around him with growing horror. The large sleeping room was full of smoke but whatever was burning was not in the immediate vicinity. His head was pulsing with each heartbeat, a headache he knew to be the result of inhaling too much of the T'cha, an unusually strong incense used by his order to enter a deep trance. Somehow the adjacent storeroom must have caught fire. It was a miracle that he had awoken at all.

He pushed himself to his feet and called out to his brothers in an effort to wake them as well but his voice sounded tinny and thin in the smoky air. None of the sleeping forms around him moved. With his bare foot he nudged Pato, his dearest friend ever since coming to the monastery as a child. There was no response. Katahiro shoved his friend harder in an attempt to elevate his consciousness above the effect of the burning T'cha but when Pato rolled over his eyes were open, lifeless, and cold.

Katahiro's vision swam as his heart began to race with rising panic and he instantly recognized the foreign smell that was in the air. It was the coppery stench of blood, and lots of it. The smoke and T'cha in the air was growing thicker by the second and Katahiro could feel his consciousness slipping away again. He began to move as quickly as he could across the smoky room towards where he knew the door to be, all the while stepping over, around, and on his former friends and classmates. Stumbling and slipping in their blood, he was only dimly aware of how his life had changed. The only world he had ever known was burning down around him. At the moment, however, all he could do was survive.

With a soul startling 'BANG!' the wooden doors smashed open in front of Katahiro. He was closer to them than he realized, the arcing wood missed his nose by only inches. With the sudden rush of fresh air his head cleared considerably and his blinking eyes took in the slight form before him. The moonlight lit her up like a hundred torches, her green eyes sparkling with a hint of merriment that was totally out of place with the carnage around them. Her hair was auburn, curly, and flatteringly framed her somewhat elven face. Her leather armor creaked as she shifted her weight and cocked her head to one side, taking Katahiro in. He felt uncomfortable and judged under the weight of those eyes. He could not hold her gaze for long and instead turned his eyes to the twin swords whose pommels peeked over her shoulders and then to the massive tiger that stood calmly next to her. Her fingers idly curled and uncurled in a tuft of hair atop the tiger's head. The tiger growled softly and Katahiro realized they had been standing still for an indeterminate length of time.

As if on cue a cloud drifted in front of the moon and the girl before him smiled gently. When she spoke her voice was soft and honeyed. “I am sorry for your loss but we must leave this place.”

Katahiro stepped out into the night air and looked around for the first time. The entire monastery was ablaze. Other than the roar of the fire things were oddly silent. Katahiro nodded slowly, the weight of helplessness and sorrow felt as if it might crush him. He did not know where to go.

The girl took him by the arm and led him safely outside of the inferno. Once clear of danger, Katahiro stopped and stared bewilderingly into the darkness.

The girl spoke again, this time her voice was firm and insistent. “Flee into the wilderness. Tomorrow night, light a fire and I will find you.”

Katahiro hesitated, “..but...where?” His befuddled brain tried to find the words he was looking for.

This time there was a firm hand at his back, pushing him onward. Her voice was demanding and offered no quarter. “Run. Run all night and do not look back. Sleep through the day and light a fire tomorrow night. Under no circumstances are you to stop tonight...and light no fires until tomorrow if you value your life.” The tiger gave a loud, angry growl as she shoved him forward with tremendous strength.

Katahiro ran and did not look back.

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Old 01-26-2011, 01:14 AM   #2
Katahiro
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With dawn approaching Katahiro's exhaustion overtook him and he fell to the ground with a pounding head and creeping doubts about the sanity of his actions. The night before was a jumble of confusing memories that he could not begin to reassemble in his current state of mind. After finding a pleasant enough looking tree next to a picturesque brook, he collapsed beneath it and fell into a dark, dreamless sleep. It did not last long.

For the second time within as many slumbers his sleep was interrupted, this time much more violently than the first. A heavy booted foot caught him just under the ribs and flipped him over with such force that his eyes opened while he was still in midair. Any attempt to cry out, vain as it would have been, was unceremoniously stripped from his lungs as he landed squarely on his back. As he struggled to regain his breath the man he now saw towering above him calmly drew his blade and rested the hard, cold tip of it against Katahiro's throat. As Katahiro fought to slow his heartbeat and control his new found breath the figure staring down at him broke into a grin as mirthless as it was toothless.

“This is 'im, boss. It 'as to be!” The man twisted his head, directing his words to someone approaching over his shoulder. As swift as a serpent, Katahiro struck his unsuspecting captor just below the knee, hitting a nerve that caused him to collapse in a jangling, cursing heap. Katahiro was on his feet before the man hit the earth but his efforts were useless. Heavily armed soldiers were emerging from the trees all around him, several of whom aimed wicked looking crossbows at his head. Katahiro reluctantly relaxed his stance. Fighting was no longer an option.

A particularly large man wearing a moon shaped crest stepped forward and motioned to the crossbowmen who lowered their weapons. Shaking his head sadly he spoke to the still writhing and cursing figure on the ground, making no effort to hide his disgust, “Indeed, Appleton, this is who we have been searching for. Shall we turn our backs while you find your dignity as well?” The ring of guards broke into raucous laughter, cut off swiftly with but one glare from their moon-crested leader. Appleton clambered to his feet, retrieved his sword, and slammed it hard into the scabbard giving Katahiro a withering stare all the while.

“Bind him.” The leader barked, then put up a hand to stop Appleton when he began moving to do the task. “Not you! We are too deliver him alive and relatively undamaged. You are in no state of mind to approach him with a rope.” There was a little laughter, but not much, as the men began going about the business of searching and binding their new captive. In a very short time they were finished but one of their numbers had already gone missing.

With an exasperated sigh the moon-crested man called out, “Appleton!!” The nearby bushes rustled and there was more cursing. “Appletooon!!” the leader cried out again, his face turning five shades of crimson.

With a final loud curse Appleton freed himself from whichever briar had been holding him fast and stumbled headlong into the clearing, landing face first on the ground in approximately the same location he had been sprawled out before. This time he landed squarely on the bundle of sticks and kindling that he had just been gathering, bringing forth another ear splitting round of oaths and curses.

“Appleton! What in the name of all the hells are you doing??”

“K-kindling, sir. I thought to get kindling for the fire...” Appleton's voice trailed off under the glare of his superior.

“What fire?” The words came out even and slow, barely holding back the fury dammed up behind them.

“I..the men, sir...” Appleton, to his credit, soldiered on, “We've marched all night, sir...the fire...for...camp...” Appleton, to his credit, lurched his speech to a halt.

“Get up, Appleton. We are marching on.” With a violent kick, he sent the twigs and branches scattering in all directions. “And tonight you will have no fire.”

With the men now growling Appleton's name the party of soldiers led Katahiro further into the wilderness, his head pounding too hard to even comprehend despair.

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