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09:49:51 PM 02/24/20

08:08:33 PM 02/24/20

11:07:32 PM 02/23/20
Wedding was awesome guys. I am still chuckling when I think of the reception afterwards.

05:25:05 PM 02/23/20
Thank you all for attending the wedding. It was an adventure!

02:03:45 PM 02/23/20
Nature Night will start one hour from now, to give folks more time for post-wedding festivities.

12:26:57 PM 02/23/20
Nature Night begins in about 2 hours from the time of this post. That will be 2:30pm CST (GMT -6).

I'm gonna start it 30 minutes later than usual to give folks time to go to Sage and Conrad's Wedding. If it runs later, we can always slaw the start of Nature Night some more.

Please check page 1 of the Nature Night: Phase 4 thread to see the map to the Wild Grove where we meet !

I will be on as Malam. Please shoot a tell to me with any questions.

04:59:59 AM 02/23/20
Sage's and Conrad's wedding will begin in Lumenshire in about 7 hours from the time of this post about 18.00 GMT (10.00 PT) Feel free to use Jiztroyir's portal in the Crossroads. Bring your own knives!

04:11:39 AM 02/23/20
Hey, Bee, I apologize for not answering you faster as you were asking about the Harpers. IU got distracted with some RP. Feel free to hit me up as Evendithus on the Discord or here on the forum.

01:15:09 AM 02/23/20
I can see the rest of the sentence now, but before the second half was blank.

11:11:25 PM 02/22/20
It looks fine to me! Is the page not loading fully or something?

Moderators: The Site Master, Squidget, Bonesly, Cuchuwyn, Just Miggen, jewwe, scratch_flannigan, Warlord Kro, Oberon, ChaoticDrow, Alanonas
Author Post
07:46:24 PM 03/18/16

Registered Member #1536
Joined: 09:15:58 PM 02/14/10
Posts: 94
Enter: the Demon

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It is the third day. Fighting, non-stop.

“I am impressed, I must say. But sadly you progress no further. Die here and now!” The General leaps straight for him with deadly agility.

Lao stands there, battered, beaten, and vulnerable to attack. His left eye swelled shut on the second day, and blood pours down his nose. He pushed through the first fifty opponents without so much as taking a scratch, but a hardened master from the West proved a capable match. A well-timed knee broke Lao’s orbital bone, narrowing his field of vision. Each opponent became more difficult to eliminate than the last, yet somehow he made it through the first 99 challengers, and now stands face-to-face with a General of the Royal Kingdom. None of the villagers would have ever believed one of their own could have made it this far. The Kumite is a notoriously grueling test of martial discipline. 100 unarmed martial artists. No rounds. No rules. No time limits. A small, borderless platform rose 10 feet high into the air. Young Lao, on the verge of defeat, remembers why he fights:
It is his village: small, isolated, and growing more dangerous every day. He opened a dojo to teach the villagers to defend themselves, since the guards of the Royal Kingdom wanted only to collect tax without performing any duty to maintain the peace. The kingdom guards posted in his village were often drunk, and one night an officer got into a scuffle with a villager who was merely tending his flock. Surprisingly, the shepherd so out-classed the guard that he fled, embarrassed. The next day, the guard returned with more of his men, including his commanding General, and killed many villagers. There was a revolt as guard and villager alike swung club, fist, and even blade. Amidst the bloodshed, the young master, Lao, arose, challenging the General to single combat to end the violence.

“Surely you wish to give your village at least some sense of false hope. One swoop of my blade and you are surely dead,” spat the General.

“Then, fight me in ‘The Kumite!’”

Those still alive or conscious gasped, freezing in place. The Kumite is a journey of honor for a true master.

“You fool! You think you are worthy of such an opportunity? I will face you in the Kumite, if you prove yourself. Yes, I will face you, as the 100th Fighter!” the General mocked.

“I accept your terms,” Lao said eagerly, slapping his sides for a quick bow.

“Your challenge is insulting. When you fail, I will return to claim the heads of the rest of your village as a warning for those who dare challenge a General of the Royal Kingdom!”

No! I have come too far to quit!” Lao shouts as he widens his stance along the blood-soaked canvas.

The General’s attack is quick as lightning; however young Lao thrusts both arms in his direction, palms flat. The entire platform explodes into flames. When the dust settles, the platform is barren and the wood is charred to a crisp. There is no sign of the General. The on-lookers fall silent, and the lower ranking guards are clearly shaken.

A villager exclaims, “He incinerated him!”

“He fights like a demon, possessed!” yells a guard just before fleeing the village. Many more soon follow.

[ Edited 01:24:26 PM 05/10/16 ]

Crauser: (Unexpected Acquaintances) Along for the Ride; (Preferred Customers) What happens in the alley...; Women and Children, First; The Things We Do...
Lao Sho Quan: Enter: The Demon
Ahab Blackwell: By Demons Be Drunken // Nine(9)ty-Nine Bottles of Rum
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11:02:50 PM 03/29/16

Registered Member #1536
Joined: 09:15:58 PM 02/14/10
Posts: 94
"X" Marks the Spot

[ image disabled ]


But did he save his village? He did defeat the general in the Kumite, and the rest of the guards of the royal kingdom did flee the village. But that was some time ago. But how long ago? His vision is blurred as if he has not opened his eyes in a long time.

“Where am I?” he questions in the dark room.

“You are safe, sir,” answers a hooded woman, carrying a rag and a bucket of water. “You are in the Temple of the Stone Circle,” as she dunks the cloth into the bucket.

“How did I get here?” asks the old man, struggling to sit up.

“You were found near the landing, just east of the Crossroads. You were in pretty bad shape,” she replies. “Please, save your energy. Your wounds are far from healed.” She twists the cloth tightly, and gently applies it to his forehead.

He lay back, acceptingly, and closes his eyes. A vision of magical rune-inscribed stones flashes within his mind.

“Ah, yes. I remember, now.”
He had only just arrived at the port in Webster’s Landing. Weary from a month-long voyage at sea, he was perhaps a bit too eager to reacquaint himself with land. It was dark – not that it matters to an old man with diminishing eyesight, however finding his way in this strange new land was the least of his worries. The nighttime brings, along with the cover of darkness, an array of shady characters, and there was no shortage this night. A one-eyed pikeman lumbered across the deck as if it were his alone, cursing at anyone who “got in his way.” A couple of sea-wenches hung around the ferry, offering services which to some may have seemed too good to be true; and, it likely was – being that a robust, scowling fellow stood uncomfortably close, listening to any conversations the women had with potential customers. The old man maintained his careful stride, and almost made it off the docks and into the small port town to seek shelter at a nearby inn, however something interrupted him: a little girl.

“What are you doing out at this hour of the night, child?” he asked.

“Clarence. He’s gone,” she sniffled. She had obviously been crying a while.

“Who is that?” the old man asked. “Your Brother? A friend?”

“He’s my puppy,” her lips quivered. “He ran away.”

“Oh, dear child. I’m sure he merely caught the scent of some of the fresh fish carried on board the fishing boats in the port. Why don’t you go home and get into bed. I will go and find Clarence for you,” he urged.

“You promise?” her little eyes showed a glimmer of hope.

Cross my heart,” he made a gesture swiping an “X” across his chest. “Run along.”

She abides, and scurries home with a bit of a hop in her step.

“You can come out now. Show yourself,” the old man demanded.

A slender man revealed himself from hiding behind a large crate.

“Clever. You knew I was here, didn’t ye?” the man’s voice was hoarse and his teeth were rotten.

“You were shrouded by nightfall, but the darkness does not cloud the sound of your footsteps,” the old man replied. “What do you want? I have no business with you.”

“With me, maybe not. But maybe they’ve got some business with you,” the man teased, pointing a small shank near another stack of crates.

Two more brigands crept out from hiding behind the crates, and then two more from behind a barrel. They seemed to be coming out of nowhere. They were all armed with clubs or crude, rusted knives. The old man took count. He was surrounded, and all the “ordinary” traffic had vanished.

Foolish. I should have known better than to let my guard down so close to port, he thought.

“I do not know these men, and my quarrel is not with you,” the old man asserted.

“We’ll be the ones to tell ye who’s got a quarrel with who,” said the man with rotten teeth as he reached for the old man.

In the blink of an eye, the old man stood dominant over the unconscious, would-be assailant. Confused and alarmed, the group closed in on him.

“Not yer lucky day after all, is it, old man?” harked a fat man as he fired a crossbow.

The old man caught the arrow with a single hand, and broke it over his knee.

“Luck will have nothing to do with your defeat,” said the old man, readying himself in a crouched stance.

“Get him!” yelled the fat man, angrily.

The old man summoned the strength of his youth, and he fought hard. He deflected another arrow before delivering a flying side kick to a beak-helmed archer. He ducked under an attempted backstab and uppercut the would-be attacker. He sidestepped a lazy slash and chopped a man in the neck with the side of his hand. Their attack abruptly relented.

“Had enough, then?” the old man offered.

But it wasn’t the surprising skill of this old man that eased their attack. A large man, a head taller than the lot of them, was passing by. He was well-armored in plate and leather, donning a massive claymore across his back. Only the cherry of a smoking pipe could be seen underneath the deep hood that concealed his face. The old man kept his crouched stance, and turned to face the hooded man.

“We-we’re sorry, sir! Is…is he one of yours?” trembled the toothy man, regaining consciousness.

A moment of silence. The old man did not need to see the man’s face to know he was being scrutinized, picked apart limb by limb. He could feel it.

“No,” said the hooded stranger. “He’s all yours,” as he casually strolled away, trailing an eerily minty smoke.

The pulling of strings and a whizzing of feathers through the air – the old man turned to deflect another barrage of arrows. He caught one in each hand, yet a third one buried itself into his sternum. Blood dripped from his lips, and he dropped to a knee.

“’X’ marks the spot, old man!” laughs the fat crossbowman.

“I told you my quarrel here is not with you. I have one final fight within me, and this is not it!” the old man choked, as his palms began glowing like a blinding sun.

The docks erupted, sending ember, ash, crates, barrels, planks, fish and brigands all into the salty water below with a series of splashes and sizzles.
He sees a flashing image of the magical stones once more.

“Yes, I remember now…crawling to shore, near death. There is something special about this island. It binds me here, as if saying my fight is not finished,” moans the old man.

“It seems finished to me,” conjects the hooded priestess.

She is right, he thinks. “I must continue to recuperate and regain control of my Ki if I am to seek him out.”

“Seek who out?” she asks.

“I must rest if I am to lessen my burden upon you,” he dodges.

“At least tell me your name,” she begs. “You owe me that much.”

“My name is Lao,” he states, “and I owe you much more than that.”

[ Edited 01:24:54 PM 05/10/16 ]

Crauser: (Unexpected Acquaintances) Along for the Ride; (Preferred Customers) What happens in the alley...; Women and Children, First; The Things We Do...
Lao Sho Quan: Enter: The Demon
Ahab Blackwell: By Demons Be Drunken // Nine(9)ty-Nine Bottles of Rum
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08:10:52 PM 05/07/16

Registered Member #1536
Joined: 09:15:58 PM 02/14/10
Posts: 94
The Second Circle: Awakening the Animal Spirit Within

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It was a path he could not unwalk. The General had accepted his challenge and demanded his own terms. The Kumite was to be held one month from the New Moon. Soon young Lao would face the General immediately after facing 99 other martial artists. His challenge inspired the villagers, and his dojo filled with many new students. One became two, two became ten, and so on until young Lao needed to recruit his star pupil to aid him in the lessons. The weight of his task grew heavier with every new student. Though full of talent and determination, Lao was still just a young master. What he felt was a feeling of apprehension rather than that of trepidation. What if he failed? His students, his dojo, and all that he loved would come to an end at the hands of this spiteful General. He could not let that happen. He must win. The only way to ensure the survival of his village and his dojo was to defeat each and every opponent at the Kumite. But he could not hone his skills properly by teaching the influx of new students. Most of them had never balled a fist in their lives. They were farmers, craftsmen, and tradesmen. Amateurs at best.

“There will be a time to teach,” he told his students. “Just as there is a time to learn.”

Putting his dojo on hold, he disappeared one night into the mountains. There he would spend day and night fighting for survival. The wilderness offered ample opportunity to nourish his body as well as his mind. Day after day, he had to withstand the wicked winds and harsh elements of the tropical climate. He learned that hiding was often more critical to survival than was killing. Deep within the jungle, he would meditate with the coming and going of the sun, absorbing its warmth to fuel the fire within; that which he would need to burn brightest come the New Moon. Perched high above ground, up in the trees, he would sit, and listen to the bustling wildlife that knew no horrors of man – no greed, no envy, no pride, no honor. Only survival. He would listen to the bears foraging, and sometimes chasing their much quicker prey over great distances until they slowed and eventually dropped due to exhaustion. He would listen to the boars uprooting trees with the great strength of their tusks. He would listen to the patient birds of prey that soared overhead awaiting the perfect moment to strike. Nature was his teacher, and he would listen, yet he could not hear its approach.

Meditating for days, or maybe weeks, with his eyes closed tight, he listened to lesson after lesson. But suddenly all fell silent, and he could sense the presence of another. It was no man, nor beast he heard down below. Alarmed and curious, he still could not break his meditative state. It was pivotal to his preparation. He sought to understand without seeing. He needed to know without knowing. His eyes were closed, yet he felt as if a shadow had passed over him. He felt the wind blowing through the trees, yet it was stronger than before. The current shifted directions as if he were being circled. The wind blew at his side, and then to his back. If he were submerged in a body of water, he would be certain a shark or serpent were circling him. But he was up in the tallest tree he could find, cross-legged out along one of its many branches, far from the reach of any shark, and no snake could move with such quickness. What, then, what could it be? The current shifted once again, and blew at his front. It abruptly relented, and came now in spurts, as if some silent beast was breathing only a few inches from his face.

His heart lifted as the jungle itself seemed to whisper to him all the secrets of its grace. It’s him. The panther spirit of his village. He knew it more now than ever. All this time he thought he was observing the jungle, when in reality it was observing him. The people of his village feared the mountains, for legend has it that a panther appears from the deepest shadows to take those with tainted spirits to the land of shadows. Man, woman, child – it made no difference. If your spirit was tainted, it would come for you in the night. But, if you were pure, the panther would whisper to you all the knowledge your heart desired. Young Lao thought himself all the wiser, and, until now, he had dismissed the villagers’ fears as mere superstition. Yet here he was, his eyes closed and his mind filled with certainty that he was face-to-face with the panther: this Whisperer. Still he sat there, legs crossed, unmoving, and his heart filled with only the purest desire to protect that which he held most dear. He felt the sun set as the warmth left his skin, and he could feel a cold shadow blanket him. In the distance he could hear the sound of his village Gong echoing up through the chasms and trees, signaling the New Moon. He opened his eyes, and saw he was alone.

[ Edited 01:22:23 PM 05/10/16 ]

Crauser: (Unexpected Acquaintances) Along for the Ride; (Preferred Customers) What happens in the alley...; Women and Children, First; The Things We Do...
Lao Sho Quan: Enter: The Demon
Ahab Blackwell: By Demons Be Drunken // Nine(9)ty-Nine Bottles of Rum
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09:12:46 PM 12/03/16

Registered Member #1536
Joined: 09:15:58 PM 02/14/10
Posts: 94
The Third Circle: Elemental Encounter: Balance and Trust

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Peak trust in one’s practice and performance.
Perception and reaction.
Choice and commitment.

Crauser: (Unexpected Acquaintances) Along for the Ride; (Preferred Customers) What happens in the alley...; Women and Children, First; The Things We Do...
Lao Sho Quan: Enter: The Demon
Ahab Blackwell: By Demons Be Drunken // Nine(9)ty-Nine Bottles of Rum
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