... now they must watch their abundance of luxuries fall away, making room for the tools of survival, and witness this time of relative peace wither into the same fears that harper's ballads had warned them about for generations.
 
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 The Lost Turns -As it was in the beginning -Toshiro

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Eloaene

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Join date : 2012-09-20
Age : 33
Location : Texas

PostSubject: The Lost Turns -As it was in the beginning -Toshiro    Sun Sep 22, 2013 9:56 pm

Recklessly, I searched for something.
It was fine if I stumbled so.
I know I used to look foolish,
just wanting to run ahead without regretting.

The only thing I could trust was myself,
companions were somewhat unnecessary.
That blade faced just about anything.
The fragile wings of puberty weren’t able to take flight.

I wanted to become stronger; to have the strength to live alone.
The truth is that I was just afraid of being betrayed.
You can't change anything by just running away;
That I understand but, there exists that part of me which can’t be changed.

The triumphantly adorned solitude called PRIDE,
It was just a wing used for escaping to useless ideals.
The triumphantly adorned self-assertion called RIOT,
Behind that light, there was no freedom.

I remember the stormy days,
and realize the burden of solitude I carried.
I was tired. In truth I was just alone.
I never wished for it.

Acting strong will just make you forget your real face so,
It's important to extract power and depend on someone else once in awhile.
Being wounded, being injured, being hurt;
During the times when you want to cry,
Face the vast sky and cry out as loud as you can,
“I don't want to forget to myself. I want to be as I am.”

If there were freedom in that cloudless blue sky,
it wouldn't make a difference if these wings of pride are torn to shreds.
I started running recklessly, aiming at the skies.
If I spread my wings, taking to the skies,
I guess the point where I fall is "Freedom".

excerpts from “Miseinen” lyrics by the GazettE





Early in Turn 490
Part 2



During Telgar’s most chaotic period several turns ago,
a man by the name of Toshiro emerged.
Speed. Agility. Toshiro’s were renown, and
unlike other men trained strictly by the guard,
Toshiro’s methods allowed him to effectively
combat multiple opponents at the same time.
Were it not for the control he displayed,
it would have meant slaughter on an unprecedented level.
Quickly, he became widely feared for
his strength and cold-heartedness.
It was during this critical time in Pern’s history that
such a man helped to pave the way for
Telgar’s restoration with many bloody battles.



Toshiro had been many weeks in training, making final preparations to go to work on the field. He’d been put through severe physical, mental and emotional trials in order to make him into the perfect soldier. But, he had not trained with the regular guard squads for long. Early on, it had been decided that Toshiro’s skill far outshined the rest, and the boy, though too young by typical standards, was to specialize in a more distinctive brand of service. Toshiro was to become their greatest hunter.

Having made it through without any bumps along the way, Toshiro had proved the perfect specimen for Telgar’s latest project, in hopes of winning the conflict between the Loyalists and Rebels. He and only a very small handful of others had been selected to run the gamut of training exercises laid out for the course; but only Toshiro and two other young men had made it through those rough few weeks. At least that’s what he’d been told.

Toshiro though, had never met any of the other swordsmen who’d been chosen to follow the same path as he. In order to protect Telgar’s secretive agents responsible for dealing death, and due also to the nature of the risky missions they were to be assigned, they would never be told more than what was imperative for the sake of the mission. So, assigned to different regions of Telgar to carry out their work, it was likely that they would never meet one another. Though they might hear whispers of each other's names, they would never see each other's faces.

So, Toshiro was alone, and at last, arrived at this final week of training. Field exams had been brutal all along, but this was the last of them. Just one step further, and he will have made it. He could taste that small personal victory, being so close at hand.

He didn’t mind that the spring weather had brought with it a lot of rain. The past few days had been overcast and drizzly -just like it was now. But Toshiro liked the rain. The rain soothed him when he felt anxious. He had a sneaking suspicion though, that that little trick wasn't going to work with him today.

Standing before his Captain now, and a Commander whom he’d never met, their scrutinizing eyes fixed on him uncomfortably. For some reason, that started to make him nervous. It didn't help that a man with a hood over his head was also seated before him; only, the man was being held hostage, with thick rope securing him to the chair.

Toshiro’s eyes rested on the hostage, wondering at his identity and why he’d been bound there. How would this figure tie into the final test that would be given him? He had a sinking feeling in his gut about what was going to be expected of him.


The Captain present broke Toshiro’s focus, or momentary lack thereof, by closing the distance between them, “Are you willing to give up your humanity, Toshiro?”

Toshiro brought his eyes back up to meet his superior briefly before correcting his gaze and staring straight ahead, at attention.

Even through the cold rain, he could feel the man’s breath as he intruded within his personal space. “You’ve killed before,” The Captain went on. “You killed a man that you knew, even. In a way, he betrayed you personally, didn’t he? But what about those you will be asked to target in the future? Like this man here.” The Captain stepped back, motioning to the bound figure before them.

So that was it. Toshiro’s suspicion had been right. They were going to ask him to kill the hostage. That was his final test.

Being asked to kill a man unable to defend himself...Toshiro wanted to find issue with that. As a child, unable to defend himself, he’d felt incredibly vulnerable. Pitiful even. Not to mention, it was typically went against a man’s honour to kill a man that held no weapon, or who was unable to fight back. Not being able to fight back...That was the worst feeling to have. Toshiro had struggled his entire life not to live as the victim of others.

Now he was going to play the opposite side of the court? Is this what he’d wanted?

Toshiro should have been able to empathize with the hostage and understand his position, making it more difficult for Toshiro to carry through with the task. And he did empathize! But this was his duty to the hold...if his Captain asked him to kill, he would surely kill. Empathizing too much would only make life more difficult for him here on out.

“Go on. Kill him. And when you’re done, you can celebrate that you've completed the final exam in your training. Your first mission could be tomorrow.” Tempting him with that thought, the Captain stepped aside so that Toshiro could consider his next move.

Unable to see the figure’s face, Toshiro had no idea who it was that had been bound in the chair. It was a man who he knew nothing about -or did he? What if it was someone that he’d known or trained with? Either way, it was a person that he couldn't confirm had done any wrong.

After a moment of inaction, the Caption prompted him, “Do you question the orders given to you? Will you not kill him?”

“What did he do wrong?” Toshiro’s voice was flat and carried no inflection of compassion in it, though there was obvious hesitation for some emotional reason. Otherwise the job would have already been done.

“It doesn't matter what he did.” The Captain’s reminder was to be expected. “That is something you do not need to know.”

Steeling his resolve then, Toshiro clenched his jaw and moved forward, unable to argue the point. Yet, even as he went forward with determination to fulfill the task with absolute obedience, Toshiro wanted to make it as quick and painless for the masked man as possible.

Toshiro could feel his heart begin to race in his chest, so he channeled that energy to draw his blade. For their hostage, that terrible sound of a sword’s release was probably the worst of the frightful anticipation, because unable to know just what death would befall him, he still knew that it was coming, and every second after, in which he was left waiting, was just a cruel tease. So Toshiro didn't give him that chance, to have to wait and see...it was on the very draw of his sword that Toshiro slew the man with the precision of one fateful cut.


Remembering not to look at faces, it was better that the hostage had been masked. But that didn’t help the sick feeling that crept into his gut after that.

Killing a man...was’t as easy as Toshiro thought.





Turn 492


Toshiro had been enjoying a drink by himself at the tavern, passing the time of a dull day spent waiting for kill orders to be issued. Several days had passed, trying to catch onto the trail of another target who they thought had gone into hiding. The first excitement of the day was when one of his comrades rushed in, taking the shot glass from Toshiro’s hand and tipping it back himself.

“Toshiro. We have to go. Quickly! I’ll inform you on the way.”

Immediately on the alert, Toshiro followed the man from the Tavern into crowded streets. It should have been a gleeful scene, because  today, most people about, were attending the festival. Festival-goers from all of the surrounding areas had flocked to Southern Telgar Hold to enjoy themselves. Toshiro though, felt like he walked a path worlds apart from all of it.

He and Jaril, who’d come to fetch him, pressed through the crowds to get to wherever it was they were supposed to be going. Where it was, Toshiro could only guess.

“Toshiro. You’re going to have to get to the south end of the district. Do you know where old Dannroy’s blacksmith shop is?”

Toshiro barely had time to respond before he continued on, “There will be a runner waiting for you there. Take the runner East. If the streets are too packed from the festival, you’ll have to leave the Hold and take the roads the long way around. Near the far East gate, our target popped up. He’s being entertained right now, so I don’t think he’ll go anywhere. But be on the lookout, in case he decides to move.”

They’d been at a jogging pace the entire time Jaril had been talking, and the man finally stopped long enough to catch his breath and look around them, making certain that they weren’t being followed or watched. “When you get there, his fate will be in your hands; but you’ll probably want to wait it out till at least dusk to make a move. If things get messy, then.. you know.. at least it won’t be as hard to cover up.”

With that, Jaril stopped at a fork in the road, ushering Toshiro ahead of him, “I have to meet up with the rest of my team soon, so he’s all yours from here. Good luck.”



Parting ways, Toshiro ran South, making his way to the end of the district where the old blacksmith’s shop was to be found. The people became more scarce as it was obvious that the festival activities were centralized toward the middle of the Hold, closer to the Holder’s residence, where streets were wider and accommodating of more visitors. Of course, the southern-most part of Southern Telgar Hold was under dispute, more frequently brought under siege by the Rebels.

While everyone was enjoying festivities, their attention would be elsewhere...coming this far out on his own, he’d have to be careful.

Toshiro made it safely to the old blacksmith shop though, and went directly to the small, neighboring stable where runners would have been kept. After stepping foot inside though, it was apparent that there had been unwelcome visitors. The shop keep’s body lay sprawled on the floor atop the hay; someone must have known that he was coming.

Toshiro’s eyes had barely left that spot when a dark figured lunged out of the shadows at him. Taller and heavier, the man used his weight to shove Toshiro over backwards, but held onto him by the neck, never letting go. But it wasn’t with his bare hands that the attacker held tight; he used something else. It took Toshiro a moment to figure out just what it was that had hold of him. Some sort of leather strap -maybe part of a runner's tack. Whatever it was, it was now looped around his neck.

Trying to pry his fingers beneath the leather to buy himself a few centimeters of precious leeway, Toshiro found himself struggling just to stand. His attacker had stepped behind him and with as much brute force as he could manage, gripped the strap, trying to pick Toshiro up by it. There was no way that Toshiro would be able to break free of it like this.

Feeling only that intense pressure around his throat, Toshiro’s breath came in sharp gasps. At first it may have seemed that the rebel was trying to strangle him, but fortunes weren’t running that high, and Toshiro understood that the man's actions weren't as kind as that. If he survived long enough, Toshiro would have about fifteen seconds to break himself free before the flow of blood to his brain had stopped and he lost consciousness. But even that outcome was far too generous. The truth of the matter was much more savage… the truth was that rebel was trying to break Toshiro’s neck.

Toshiro’s eyes grew wild, becoming more desperate as his body jerked and writhed, but he was unable to work himself free. So grabbing hold of his sword, he drove the butt end of it behind him and up under the man’s jaw. The force of the blow was jarring enough that his assailant relinquished his hold on the straps long enough that Toshiro was able to roll forward, putting some distance between the two of them.

Coughing, gasping for air, Toshiro kept one eye on the other man. Of course, he was never given the time to catch his breath. While Toshiro was still making his recovery, crouched low to the floor, his opponent rushed forward with sinister dagger in hand, weaving an intricate pattern through the air that Toshiro would have to try to avoid.

Timing it as best he could, Toshiro tumbled aside, moving below his attacker’s arc of attack to re-position himself so that he wasn’t stuck in a corner. But shorter blades were much easier to manipulate and re-direct, so the rebel was quick to follow. A little too quick.

Just as Toshiro came up, prepared to draw his own sword, the rebel was there, meeting Toshiro with another slice of his blade. It was a cut that caught Toshiro just out of intended reach, but its tip still drew a long line from the top of his left cheek, down the side of his face to the lower part of his jaw line. If he’d come out of his roll even a second later, it would have probably caused him the loss of that eye. Luckily, it barely missed.

Toshiro’s left eye squinted, pained by the sharpness of the sting beneath it. And before long, he would have trouble seeing, as his lower eyelid started to redden and swell, his own blood and sweat spilling into it. But his assailant left him no room to worry about such minor injury. The rebel's dagger followed through with an immediate reverse-gripped strike, aimed for Toshiro's abdomen.

Thrusting his sword between them, Toshiro was hard pressed to block the swipe in time. Growling as he tried to lock the rebel’s sword-arm up against his chest, it took all of his strength to do so; but with the combined strength of his legs rising under him, Toshiro had the momentary advantage.

As his opponent brought the other hand around to assist him, Toshiro grappled onto the man's forearm, giving the man a good pull forward and then with a backward shove, threw him off balance. But Toshiro didn’t let him get very far, because even as the other man struggled to regain his footing, Toshiro lunged after him.

Having finally brandished his own sword, its first thrust perforated through the rebel’s chest. Toshiro pressed the rebel until the man's back met a wall and sword threatened to push through it. Pinning the man against the wall with his weapon, Toshiro held that position until he was certain the man was dead.

To tell the truth, Toshiro hadn’t expected to win the fight in such a way, but he was glad it was won; he was injured now, and still had a good distance to ride before he arrived at the lookout point where his target was supposed to be waiting.





Another candlemark had gone by, giving time for Toshiro to travel on runnerback along the outer roads of the hold in order to make his way to the Eastern gate to the city. He left it there in the care of a stable boy outside of an Inn that was still a number of blocks from where he needed to be; but he didn’t want to have to take the runner any further into town. It would be a hassle later.

In order for him not to attract too much attention, not to mention, to avoid infection later, Toshiro would have to clean the blood from his face and do his best to bandage his injuries. Doing all of that as quickly as he could at the stable, it only took him a few minutes before he was on his way again. All caution in mind, Toshiro hurried to make it to his final destination.


More than anything, Toshiro hated arriving at his point of rendezvous only to get stuck waiting to make his move. Of course, he’d caught up to his target in midday, and the streets of Southern Telgar Hold were still unusually crowded due to the festival.

Usually,Toshiro was given better information on his targets ahead of time, so that better planning could be made, but this time, details had been left vague because his target’s appearance had been sudden.


As the hour grew later, Toshiro prepared to make his move, having grown weary more quickly than usual of merely keeping watch over a sitting duck. The injury to his face was a nuisance, and he had to really focus to not let it become a distraction during a dull watch. So, once night had fallen and his target had left the entertainment pavillion, Toshiro was all too glad of it.

From a distance, it looked like Toshiro's target had been drinking. As a man of some importance apparently, he’d been at least bright enough to know he should have an entourage of guards to escort him home. So, he hadn’t yet lost all of his wit. But the entourage was either too few for his status or he was doing his best not to draw attention, by making due with fewer guards. Either way, the complement of body guards looked outright useless to Toshiro, and made not a whit of difference.

Though he was antsy to engage the target, he stalked behind his prey for a while longer in order to avoid creating a scene in busier avenues. One reason that Toshiro was so clean about his kills and typically aimed to defeat his opponent in a single strike, was because creating any kind of scene was something the Guard needed him to avoid, granted that the identity of Telgar’s head-hunters was a highly guarded secret. Their targets also needed to be taken out quickly so as not to risk an alert to their presence, and to limit the time an enemy had to call for backup. So, if anyone were unlucky enough to lay eyes on him, whether the person were guilty of a crime or not, it was likely they would wind up dead.

Granting Toshiro a little more credit than that however, he had more reason than that. Toshiro didn’t like to leave such an impression with women or children. Somehow, he just didn’t want to be seen in that kind of light by everyone he came across. And there was no reason to leave such impressionable minds with that kind of scene. So, needless to say, either way, being observed by others was something he avoided.


Certain that the coast was clear Toshiro increased his pace, drawing both of his  short swords simultaneously. Of course, with quickening steps, he would be noticed before he closed the distance between them, but having enough time to draw their own blades in retaliation gave Toshiro’s victims no more advantage when confronting him, than having no blade at all.

Batting the weapon of one man aside, Toshiro’s first strike was for his intended target; but the cut wasn’t deep enough. Toshiro could tell by the lack of resistance on the blade. Yet still, the man he had come to kill fell, and while holding his wound, crawled backward away from the fight.

Made to face the body guard’s first, Toshiro’s blades whirled in a fantastical display about him, like a corkscrew of razor edges. It took no great feat on his part, to hold them both at bay simultaneously until an opening revealed itself through which he could make a killing blow.

The opening he was waiting for came quickly. Without hesitation, he took it, and the first guard fell.

When he swung back to meet the second, Toshiro was able to successfully disarm the man, sword clattering beyond reach. The guard had little time to react in order to save himself. There was simply no way he could have.

Both of Toshiro’s arms already positioned wide, short swords leveled just above shoulder height, and with scissoring effect, they closed on him, severing the man’s head from his body.


A lifeless head left rolling and the impossible volume of blood that seemed to drain from its host, seemed to have no affect Toshiro. Any man in his position would have learned to put away his emotion when that time of necessity came, only, for survival purposes, Toshiro had stored his somewhere out of reach. Having a completely detached approach, Toshiro must have seemed utterly devoid of emotion, much more dull and dispassionate than when he’d first joined the Guard - which was in truth a frightful thing. His were eyes that could no longer be filled with any semblance of remorse or sorrow, nor pain or hatred. His were eyes that would no longer feel joy or wonderment, nor laughter or any other such substance that humans were made of. Which meant that his...were the eyes of a man that could never be begged for pardon. No matter what the plea, no prey nor enemy would ever walk away from him. The only thing he was capable of, was being merciless.


“Wh-wh-why come after me?!” Toshiro’s target tried to scramble back to his feet -to run away perhaps, as he once again became the focus of Toshiro’s attention. Met by the steady, bone-chilling gaze of his killer though, it was readily apparent that he was not about to be able to talk his way out of becoming more intimate with death.

“That’s not for me to decide.” Voice untouched by any sympathetic inflection, Toshiro stepped forward to approach the man.

Once on his feet, the man backpedaled, crying out to him, “No. You can’t. I’m an important man! My father is a Holder; my family can pay you! And I have a wife...a-a-and a newborn! I have to protect and provide for them. Please spare me! Just tell me what it is you want.”

For Toshiro, the man’s argument didn’t strike any sympathetic chords; there wasn’t anyone like that in his life. Friends and family did not exist for him, and if they had at any point, they’d been pushed to the furthest reaches of his consciousness where he no longer remembered them. It was hard to find a weakness in a man like that. For a man like Toshiro, there was no reason to hesitate in finishing the kill -which he didn’t.

His target had decided it was better to turn and run at that point, but he was dead before he took the first step.


Leaving a gruesome picture in his wake, Toshiro took little time to stop and appreciate his work. Instead, reaching under the collar of his tunic, Toshiro retrieved a folded parchment with large writing scrawled upon it. Dropping it to the dirt beside the body of the man he’d been sent to slay, it was a message to those who would retrieve the bodies later. Watching the note fall to the dirt, the moon-lit gleam of something within the man’s hand caught his eye.

Crouching to wipe the blood from both blades on the robes of his victim, Toshiro sheathed them and then reached to turn over the man’s hand where he could see what was there. It was a ring. A little difficult to see in the dark, he could still make out that it was indeed a signet ring; and upon closer inspection, he could tell that the ring did belong to one of Telgar’s Minor Holds. So the man hadn’t been lying after all? Well then, wasn’t that interesting?

Toshiro left the ring upon the dead man’s finger, wondering if it were possible that he’d just murdered the Heir to some Minor Hold. Somehow, for a moment, he felt empowered by the prospect, but that spark of ego was extinguished quickly. Toshiro’d never slain anyone with that kind of status before. That being the case, he should make his departure quickly from this place. He wasn’t about to be identified as the killer.

Word would be all over the streets by the next morning anyway, so it wouldn’t take long for him to find out exactly who the man was. Of course, it was all idle curiosity in Toshiro’s mind. For his part, none of it really mattered.


----------------------


Those thoughts stuck with him as Toshiro headed toward the Inn where he usually stayed. It was where he'd made his home there in Southern Telgar Hold. And it was there that his Commander would be waiting for him to report back; to hear that everything had gone smoothly.

On his way though, a couple of blocks away from the Inn, Toshiro came by a pillowcrafter looking for someone with which to spend the night. Arm wrapped around her shoulders, Toshiro leaned on her a bit as if he’d been drinking, dragging his feet just a bit; he was tired after a long day hard at work anyway, but it was all a bit of an act to get home without much notice from anyone as to what he was doing out at such late hours.

It wasn’t always that he returned to the Inn with a woman in tow; and women were always quickly picked off by other soldiers staying there. Toshiro had never felt the need to employ them for his own uses -but it always increased the spirits of the rest of the guardsmen who lived there with him, when he brought one by.

Anyway, pillowcrafters all seemed to think that Toshiro was too young, and half the time they figured he had no marks with which to pay them, so simply refused to go along. In both respects, they might be glad to know they'd been right.


Arriving at the door, the Inn’s owner and Mistress came to greet him. Immediately, she seemed skeptical about another woman being brought in. The middle-aged woman barely managed a displeased grimace instead of simply yelling at him. “By Faranth! You Guardsmen are so industrious. Out killing all night and still have time to pick up a pillowcrafter! What am I going to do with you?”

Toshiro apologized before going inside to remove his shoes and make himself more at home. Of course, no sooner had he done so and the other guardsmen, having just finished eating their evening meal, came to lay claim on the girl.

Watching the pillowcrafter go with them, Toshiro left the rest of them to have their fun while he went up the stairs to visit with their Commander.




“I praise you for such a swift execution! Another tyrannical miscreant has fallen. Your actions should allow for peace to be restored to another hold once more.” Though the words were spoken by his Commander with much enthusiasm, as a complement to Toshiro’s ability, there was no sign in the young man’s expression that it had any effect on him. Did Toshiro not take pride in doing his duty?

Toshiro had sat there, staring out of the second-story window of the apartment where meetings were held between officers and briefings were conducted, trying to stem the flow of blood from the cut across his cheek. If the Commander had not known any better, he might have believed that Toshiro wasn’t even listening. But finally, Toshiro spoke up. “He was the Heir of that hold then?”

The Commander answered not directly, but continued to regard Toshiro with an even expression, matched by the 'professionalism' of his tone, “You have helped to restore peace to the lives of people caught under his influence. You did a good deed.”

A good deed? Falling silent once more, almost thoughtfully so, Toshiro continued gazing out of the window. It took him a long moment to say anything else.

“Am I just a murderer? What difference is there between a rebel and myself?” The disaffected voice in which he spoke seemed perhaps timid about the subject.

The Commander offered him the best answer he knew how, because it was possible that there was no real answer. Or perhaps more truthfully, there was no good answer. “The difference? The difference is that you kill discriminately.”

And didn’t that count for something? For Toshiro’s sake, he had to think so.


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The Lost Turns -As it was in the beginning -Toshiro
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