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[Arc] Dreams of Kings and Castles: Part II- Peer Into the Abyss Empty [Arc] Dreams of Kings and Castles: Part II- Peer Into the Abyss

This post has in-line assessment comments.Tue Dec 19, 2023 2:18 am
Part I:

Crumbling Foundations



What are the works of man in the face of the primordial forces that govern them? However we might plead, time marches ever forward and erodes the walls of our castles, the swell of the sea swallows our ships, and in the end: all is dust. It is the dream of mankind to leave a stain upon the tapestry of time itself, but the tapestry is a great and lengthy one, and mankind’s time is short and limited; so it is that we look to leave something behind of ourselves, something to carry on our name long after we’re gone. We seek to create great and mighty castles, because even once these fortresses have crumbled into ruins, people speak of their majesty for centuries. In the end, are all efforts of man void, blank, and fated for the abyss?

The dreary sky above dampened the men’s spirits in an oppressive atmosphere as they followed their tenuous interim leader up toward the bizarre, unworldly, structure. They were all unsure of whether or not to trust the 13-foot tall woman, but given the circumstances, they had little other option.

“Papa Soph! I’ve found some strange looking men! And even better, they don’t seem to be after your head!” Juri called out to her surrogate father as she and her newly recruited cohorts came to the end of the rocky trail up to the Castle.

There, sitting on a boulder, a massive, white-haired, giant sat with his elbow resting upon his knee, and his chin resting upon his fist; as he heard his spry young goddaughter approaching, with some great effort and the sounds of enormous spinal vertebrae cracking the colossus sat up, looking down to the ragtag menagerie that she had brought to him with a passionless dullness in his near-entirely cataracted old eyes.

“Juri – do you think these men are the ones…” Sophroniscus spoke in a low, drawling, monotonous tone that would have been boring were the men not able to feel the tremor of the giant’s voice in their very bones, “... are they the ones who can free the legs of my men’s ancient work and deliver it to – that island?”

“Not sure, pops! They’ll all be undersized for the job…” the blue-haired oni looked down to the lot of little prisoner’s she’d wrangled up from the beach; most of them stood under half her own height, she surely thought most of them utterly unimpressive by contrast, “... but maybe they’ll be good for something. Before you can even think of entrusting someone with the castle we need to get the thing back up and running, right?”

“Indeed – you lot – do you think you can manage it?...” Standing up to his feet, the elderly giant’s heavy footsteps shook the earth as he walked towards the castle and opened the large, lightly-rusted, iron doors of the balcony that peaked out from the ground, “... that empty pit of darkness claimed countless of my brothers, countless explorers – I am the sole survivor of our exile to that pitch black abyss.”

As the giant’s words rang through them, the men of the pirate crew were overcome by the low and morose gloom of the old man’s voice; it was as though he had lost nearly everything he’d loved in his life, and he knew that he was not long for the world. Still, in the men’s discussions with the oni who had brought them to freedom, they had come to wish to seize a life for themselves; they were willing to put their lives on the line if that was what it took to escape the desolate rock.

Flexing his muscles and speaking for the group, Bjorn spoke up to the giant and volunteered himself and his men, [npc=pirt]“we’ll go down there and do whatever it is that you need us to do, old man! What’s down there that’s got you so shaken up anyways?”[/npc]

“Hmm – it’s funny…” the geriatric giant stared off into the stormy seas for a few seconds, his eyes fixated on some distant unknown point, taking a deep breath of the salty air before muttering, “... I still don’t know what it is; I don’t know if it’s anything at all, it might just be in the nature of that place to take.”

Down on the Island’s Beachfront…
Though Nietzche hadn’t known his newfound crewmates long, he’d gotten to know all of them on a first name basis; everybody seemed friendly enough, if not a bit rough around the edges, they were the kind of men you’d want for a pirate crew. The captain though…

… Here we are lost in the middle of nowhere and Doji is nowhere to be found. When we left that prison, he told us that if we followed along with him that he would help us realize our dreams. But where is he now? Too busy focused on his own ambitions to come rescue us? That’s the problem with people with big dreams, they get so lost in their own fantasies that they’ll sacrifice anything if it means making what they want reality. Were we just disposable pieces in that oni’s game?

On Ill Fated Winds


The Black Galleon cut through the turbulent storm-whorled waters with an ease that stood in stark contrast to the vessels of its most recently “recruited” crewmen. The red-haired oni’s former vessel had sunk into the ocean’s depths before even docking at Loguetown, and the purple-haired giant’s ship hadn’t fared much better once it had actually gotten to the island; its hull was marred with gaping axe wounds that made it look like a monster had torn it to shreds. The giant and luxurious ship that they rode upon was seemingly everything that the oversized “crewmen” might have wanted out of a traditional vessel, everything that they could never have for themselves in their new lives as servants to the samurai's clan.

Doji sat lazily against the ship’s portside railing, tapping his scabbard at any of Raiko's mercenaries who tried to rope him into working the sails for them; he was happy to sail for himself, but working a ship for a bunch of humans like a slave was beneath him. There was only one person who the grumpy oni was in any mood to converse with or humor at this moment, nudging Skoll, Doji inquired:

“Why are ya always sleeping man? Is the land of the dead really that much better than things out here?...” the rōnin chuckled; he’d always found sleep to be a burden, a bleak, empty, abyss, “... I hear people usually have dreams when they’re asleep – for some reason I’ve only ever been able to dream when I was awake. What do you dream about, Skoll?”

Word Count:


Last edited by Doji on Wed Mar 06, 2024 2:37 am; edited 3 times in total
Skoll
Skoll
[tracker=/t2665-tracker-skoll#17174]
Name : Skoll
Epithet : Sleepwalker
Age : 18
Height : 28'8" | 873 cm
Weight : 21,711 lbs. | 9847 kg
Species : Giant-Human Crossbred
Faction : Pirate
Crew : Skoll's Rescue & Raiding
Ship : Woodstock
Crew Role : President | Navigator
Crew Pool : [bel=u] 75,000,000
Balance : [bel] 16,921,875
[[childofdestiny]][[dulcetvirtuoso]][[nauticalalmanac]]
[[improviseadaptovercome]]
Posts : 37

[Arc] Dreams of Kings and Castles: Part II- Peer Into the Abyss Empty Re: [Arc] Dreams of Kings and Castles: Part II- Peer Into the Abyss

This post has in-line assessment comments.Wed Dec 20, 2023 11:43 am
Green eyes glared at anyone who attempted to obtain any assistance from the irritated future idol. Although it went against everything the giant stood for, Skoll had joined forces with Raiko, if only to feed his curiosity and see this “Castle Island” for himself. Of course, that didn’t mean that he was going to help any more than he said he would. Surprisingly, not a single member of Raiko’s crew seemed to have any problem with that.

The sound of the rough waves crashing against the samurai’s ship worked in tandem with the cool gusts of wind to knock Skoll out. Just as the rockstar began to feel the ever-so-powerful embrace of sleep pounce upon him, Doji caught his attention first.

Resting his bass on the ship's railing, Skoll turned to the sea and answered the oni’s inquiries, “The Doerena Kingdom, where I grew up, is a Winter Island. My Grandmother and I were so poor that we could never keep a fire going that lasted the night. I used to be so afraid to fall asleep because I knew that I wouldn’t wake up in the morning If I did. Maybe I’m just catching up on all of the sleep I missed as a kid…”

Taking off his CRIMIN parka, Skoll tied the sleeves around his waist, “While the world of dreams can ferry you to the next life, it is also where a great many of man’s most worldly ambitions were first formed.”

“As for me in particular, I’ve been stuck dreaming of my past and what could’ve been. But ever since I got to the East Blue, I have been plagued with this awful recurring nightmare that I haven’t made sense of yet.”

“... But if you mean to ask what I wish to accomplish in this life?” Smiling, Skoll answered the oni’s last question, “I want to create a world where people don’t have to hide who or what they are.”

Following the end of Skoll’s first interview, Raiko’s ship was only a minute or two away from making landfall on the island. At first glance, the island didn’t seem all too crazy. The only thing of note was the massive chunk of stone that peaked just above the trees.

At this point, Raiko had already started giving a long-winded speech to his men about glorious conquest and bringing honor to the Minamoto- Clan? Dynasty? As a man with no blood family of his own, Skoll wasn’t all too sure what the difference was, if there was any at all. All the giant knew was that he sure as hell wasn’t about to ask Raiko about his family's history.



Skoll wasn’t sure if Raiko’s men were that fast in disembarking the ship or if he had just fallen asleep for the majority of the effort. Regardless, the small invading party was soon past the beach and trekking up a rocky, dirt path. Ancient leaf-covered trees obscured any light that wished to feed the strange mushrooms that littered the underbrush.

Breaking the silence, the half-giant looked to his fellow new recruit, "Soooooooo. Do you have a clan of your own?” Skoll glanced at their fearless leader, “I mean, Raiko never seems to shut up about his family.”

Once Doji had given his answer, the group of samurai plus Skoll arrived at what the giant presumed was their destination. The castle itself appeared to be buried. As if it was unable to stand tall without a ruler of its own. In front of the rusted doors, a giant, who looked older than the castle itself, towered even over Skoll.

Signaling for his men to stop. Raiko stepped forward, ready to draw his blade at any moment.

Word Count:
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[Arc] Dreams of Kings and Castles: Part II- Peer Into the Abyss Empty Re: [Arc] Dreams of Kings and Castles: Part II- Peer Into the Abyss

This post has in-line assessment comments.Fri Dec 22, 2023 12:40 am
Doji grimaced at Skoll’s question, ordinarily he wouldn’t get into much detail about his family’s turbulent history, but the giant had spoken in earnest of his own hardships; in he and Skoll’s budding friendship, the oni found a rarity: a man with whom he felt comfortable commiserating with.

“I’m the last son of my clan, my mother tells me that we were a disgrace to the Land of Wano and that we allowed a precious treasure to fall into the hands of shinobi…” truthfully, Doji resented the far off island and its people for the disgrace of his clan; whatever the severity of his mother’s crime truly was, he had never been made to properly understand it– his mother hardly spoke of it in the first place, “... mom raised me as a last weapon of redemption for the Asakura. Perhaps our clan would have already been redeemed had I not been born weak. I think you and I may have similar dreams; to redeem my clan, I plan to etch our name into history, and to do that – one day I’m going to make a kingdom where everybody is free to run wild and live as they please!”

Keenly eavesdropping, a couple of Raiko’s most attentive samurai murmured amongst themselves. Before they reached the end of the hill, the triad of men caught up with their liege and whispered something into his ear,

“Wait…” as he reached the trailhead, Raiko seemed to recall the name of the clan that his men spoke of, “... the oni is the son of th–”

It was at this moment that the young lord’s attention was drawn to the colossus above, his words were cut (very) short at the sight of the monstrosity, and his instincts compelled him to grasp for his sword; several of his fellow samurai followed suit, and it seemed as though the battle for Castle Island was about to commence.

In an instant, almost the entirety of the Minamoto’s frontline was disarmed, lengths of string wrapped their weapons and wrenched them from their hands; the only one skilled enough to maintain a hold on their weapon was Raiko whose skill in swordsmanship was sufficient to cut the devil fruit user’s strings mid-flight. Wrapping up the stolen weapons into a cocoon of string, Juri threw the samurai’s precious katanas to the dirt as hard as she could, several snapping sounds could be heard from within; tears welled in the eyes of some of the samurai whose precious family heirlooms had likely been crushed in an instant, and a bit of commotion erupted amongst the ranks of the samurai who now feared for their weaponry.

“Yoka-ka-ka-ka-iii!” Doji couldn’t help but cackle at the men’s chatter, his amusement quickly turned to shock as he found his own weapon missing from his side.

“You don’t even know it, but your weapon is already gone,” Juri’s cold remark echoed across the battlefield toward her fellow oni.

“Nani?”

Entrapped amongst the webbing of the blue-haired oni’s strings, the girl held the Muramasa aloft, “What’s some weakling working with humans doing with a pretty weapon like this?”

It was Juri’s curiosity that almost caused her demise – as she unsheathed the weapon, as if possessed by a will of its own, the blade of the nodachi cut through the girl’s strings and plunged into the ground in front of her; if the blade had fallen only a foot or so further, it likely would have impaled her.

A streak of crimson blood ran down from the blue-haired oni’s forehead, fulfilling the sword’s necessary blood sacrifice.

Incensed, Juri cried up to Skoll and Doji, “why are you two weaklings humoring these puny humans?! You know you can’t trust them! Sooner or later they’ll stab you in the back and try to sell, kill, or enslave you! Stand up for yourselves and crush them! If you want to help them in their futile effort, then you’re gonna have to get through me and Papa Soph first!”

“Please – calm down Juri…” the giant laborer picked up his sledge, and beckoned with one hand that the invaders not press any further, “... this doesn’t look as simple as a pair of giants serving these little samurai – I suspect that one amongst you is the man who will deliver the castle to its home.”

Raiko gleamed with anticipation, expecting the giant to proclaim his destiny as the inheritor of the massive structure.

Leaning in and getting a closer look at the younger giant, Sophroniscus opened his weary eyes wide as he spoke to Skoll, “You. It’s you that I – we – have been waiting for…” in the dwindling sparks of the geriatric giant’s memory, he knew that he had not been alone in the construction of the walking fortress, “... our great work is stuck there – lodged in the ground, but if you and your men can free its legs from the abyss below – then I am sure that you are the one to deliver our legacy to the kingdom of Elbaf.”

Raiko’s jaw hit the ground and he began stomping the dirt and shouting at his men; the vein in Doji’s forehead bulged at the fact that it seemed he hadn’t even been considered for the role of giant castle delivery boy.

Just Over the Hill…
Hopping along the trail in the form of an umbrella, Nietzche peeked his eye up to witness the bizarre scene unfolding in front of him, his crewmates were nowhere to be seen, and his captain seemed to be following a horde of samurai; standing above it all were two enormous men, one young and strong-looking, the other enormous but age-worn.

I thought if we followed Asakura Doji that he’d lead us to our dreams through the force of his will alone, but now here he is – weaponless and subservient to some other swordsman, and I have no idea where the rest of the guys have gone.

In the Mouth of the Abyss…


Having made their way through the enormous castle’s halls and descending down to what was supposed to be its true entryway, the prisoners held their torches forward and looked into the abyss; the cave system was vast, and there was no true bottom in sight, only a series of eroded pathways leading seemingly endlessly downwards. With great unease and trepidation, Bjorn led his fellow men forward, holding his torch in one hand and his shillelagh ready in the other.

The pathways were damp, covered in slime, and large sections of them had broken away leaving only narrow outcroppings to sidle and climb across. As the crew finagled their way further into the dark, a number of torches were dropped, sent sailing into the blackness below; the men never heard the torches land and their light only seemed to fade into nothingness as they fell. As they descended deeper into the bowels of the cave, they were overcome with a stagnant and almost intolerable warmth, as though each step they took deeper was another step closer to hell.

What unsettled the men most were the sounds, it was obvious that they were not alone, as a variety of animals could be heard chittering about the abyss; but there was something more, something worse, sporadically echoing up from the pits seemingly unending depths – a deep, wailing, grumbling, and gurgling sound. It was as though at the very bottom of the abyss, something still yearned to escape.

The men grew more and more paranoid the deeper they spelunked, until finally, they saw one of the “legs” they had been tasked with freeing; upon seeing the enormity of the thing, and how deeply it had embedded itself into the cave’s wall, the men were confronted with their powerlessness, and fell into a deep despair. Still, they headed for the massive work of machinery…

… it was in the final stretch of their traversal that some great, feathery, thing swooped down to capture an insect flying above the prisoners, its wings outstretched and talons bared, the thing’s eyes flashed with a demonic fury in the glint of the dim torchlight. Stumbling backwards off the edge of the pathway, one of the men was sent hurtling into the darkness below, screaming all the while until his echoes faded.

Bjorn swung for the monster, but struck one of his comrades stumbling and careening off the cliff-face, it was as though his club had been guided by the darkness itself to bring death to his ally.

A still, cruel, wind swept through the cave, extinguishing what little light remained amongst the men’s torches. A chaotic brawl quickly erupted amongst the paranoid men as they couldn’t tell where the monster had disappeared to, where they were in the darkness, and whether or not they could trust any of their fellow crewmates.

Most of the men simply wound up falling to their death, though a few were killed in the fight itself; in the end, the only man who remained was Bjorn.

Dropping to his knees at the foot of the giant mechanical leg, face filled with tears, heart wracked with guilt, the doomed pirate cried out into the darkness, [npc=pirt]“You’ve taken everything! Why not me?! Why was I the one who had to survive this?!”[/npc]

Word Count:
[/b]
Skoll
Skoll
[tracker=/t2665-tracker-skoll#17174]
Name : Skoll
Epithet : Sleepwalker
Age : 18
Height : 28'8" | 873 cm
Weight : 21,711 lbs. | 9847 kg
Species : Giant-Human Crossbred
Faction : Pirate
Crew : Skoll's Rescue & Raiding
Ship : Woodstock
Crew Role : President | Navigator
Crew Pool : [bel=u] 75,000,000
Balance : [bel] 16,921,875
[[childofdestiny]][[dulcetvirtuoso]][[nauticalalmanac]]
[[improviseadaptovercome]]
Posts : 37

[Arc] Dreams of Kings and Castles: Part II- Peer Into the Abyss Empty Re: [Arc] Dreams of Kings and Castles: Part II- Peer Into the Abyss

This post has in-line assessment comments.Fri Dec 22, 2023 11:43 pm
The rockstar caused the nearby branches to shake with his booming laughter. “Skokokokoko! Maybe if you hadn’t been born weak, you wouldn’t be as strong as you are now!” The giant shoulder-checked a tree in his fit of laughter, causing it to fall over with a resounding thud. Once the bassist had collected his thoughts, he continued, “Sorry. It’s just funny. I’ve had to sail so far from my home, and I never thought I would meet someone like you all the way out here in the East Blue!”

Before Skoll could agree on their shared dream, a spider-like oni had taken action. Looking over his shoulder to his trusty bass, Skoll mused to his buddy, "It's a good thing you don't count as a weapon buddy. Four strings is all you need!"

It was only when the strange oni girl picked up Doji's sword that Skoll even noticed it was also stolen. Although part of the giant wished to warn the oni girl about the cursed nodachi, his curiosity prevailed in the end.

Skoll watched intensely as the blade unnaturally drew blood and lodged itself deep into the ground. It was hard for the purple-haired giant to figure out if it was Doji or his blade that carried an ominous energy. Turns out, it was actually the sword.

Even though Skoll was only paying attention a little bit,  the oni girl's insults hit their mark. Skoll didn't consider himself a warrior by any means, but the claim that a group of puny samurai could cause him any real harm didn't do any wonders for his pride.

"You'd need a hundred samurai to stab me in the back before I go down! And what kinda monster do you take me for!? I don't have to crush anyone to get what I want!"

Before Skoll could work himself up anymore, the senile sculptor intervened. The earth itself seemed to shift to accommodate the elderly giant's movements. Leaning in a little bit in anticipation, Skoll listened intently to each word from his tribesman.

When Soph made his request, Skoll made no attempt to hide his satisfaction. The half-giant knew it wasn't how he was raised, but he felt overjoyed seeing Raiko so upset.

Woods of the Doerena Kingdom | December 14th, 1826


Hidden behind a fallen tree. A group of sharply dressed men shivered. Whether it was from the cold, fear, or a healthy mix of both was anyone's guess. The oldest among them pointed an accusatory finger, “Nice going Scone! We listen to you one time and go sightseeing and this is what we get!”

Scone, a lanky man with gaudy sunglasses, shrugged his shoulders, [npc=misc]“Relax, Shepherd. Once we get the Transponder Snail warmed up I’ll just call for help.”[/npc]

"Oh?" Shepherd's voice would've dripped with sarcasm if the weather had allowed for it, "Unless you have any matches on you, we're shit outta luck!"

The beast's cry rang throughout the woods, interrupting the bickering businessmen.
"I think it's getting closer!" The remaining businessman attempted to hunker down even lower than before. Steadily increasing in speed and volume, a series of stomps grew closer to the sitting ducks. Interestingly, a second set of steps were heard by Scone. Peaking over the fallen tree, Scone lifted his shades to get a better look.

Intercepting the hulking, spotted feline, A teary-eyed teenager tackled the carnivorous creature into a nearby snowbank. Scone watched as the giant lumberjack fought tooth and nail against the feline. While the two massive combatants only battled for a few minutes, the damage they suffered more than made up for it.

Just when the teenager was about to win, the colossal cat set its eyes on the much easier prey nearby. The purple-haired giant dove for the fallen tree. While the bloodied lumberjack was successful in protecting the strangers, there was still a price he had to pay.

From the newfound shade of their giant protector, Scone watched as blood sprayed across the snow around them. After a couple seconds of silence, The nearby tree was crushed as the leopard pounced on top of the giant.

Quickly getting to his feet, the teenager let loose an ear-piercing roar, scaring off the exhausted leopard. As soon as the apex predator was gone, the giant boy collapsed onto his back.

Slowly approaching the barely conscious giant, Scone only had one question.
[npc=misc]“Why did you save us!?”[/npc]

The battered lumberjack paused for a second. With a bold look on the oversized teenager's face, Scone’s savior answered.

“I’m the only one who can!”

A Giant Promise



Meeting eyes with the living fossil, Skoll put a hand over his heart, “I’ll deliver this castle for you old man.”

The vote of confidence from his elder reinvigorating him, Skoll stood proud, “After all…”

“I’m the only one who can!”
Word Count:
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[Arc] Dreams of Kings and Castles: Part II- Peer Into the Abyss Empty Re: [Arc] Dreams of Kings and Castles: Part II- Peer Into the Abyss

This post has in-line assessment comments.Sun Dec 31, 2023 5:37 am
“Pops, what the hell?!” Juri cried in indignation, refusing to believe that her godfather had just entrusted their prized castle to the hands of somebody like the purple-haired giant.

“You say you don’t have to crush anyone to get what you want, you must not want anything very great then! Even if you just want to protect something you have to crush the people who want to steal or destroy it! A million people in this world all want the same things, wealth, fame, power, and you think that you’ll be able to have any of those things without hurting anybody?! Don’t be naive! How the hell do you think that you’re going to be the man to deliver this castle to Elbaf if you can’t crush the people who would try to stop you from doin’ it?!”

Juri pointed toward Skoll with her club as she spoke, it was as though the oni’s kanabō was a gavel being slammed down in the air alongside the girl’s accusation.

Doji couldn’t help but admire the girl’s spirit, the two oni had similar thoughts on the matters of power and ambition: there was no path to greatness that wasn’t stained with blood.

However, after hopping up from over the hill, Nietzche voiced his dissent, “what’s the matter with not wanting to crush everything that stands in your way? You’re just doing what’s easiest for you! When you destroy everything around you, you’re bound to lose something important to you!...”

The doctor turned to Doji after making his contribution to Skoll and Juri’s discourse, “... speaking of which, Doji, where are the rest of the guys? And who are all of these samurai? I thought you hated overly pompous swordsmen like them!”

“Nietzche?! I had no idea where you guys went after the ship sank! Are the others here? I do hate these guys! If the rest of the crew is here then we can beat these guys’ asses and see about freeing this castle from the ground – if we can’t do it then we can just take their ship and leave with it!”

“Ha! Aren’t you speaking a bit preemptively oni?! If you want my ship, if you want to leave, if any of you want to defy my clan…” Raiko gestured toward Skoll, Doji, and Juri with his katana, “... then you’re going to have to defeat me in battle; speaking of which oni, how do you intend to claim your freedom without a weapon, do you really think you can beat me barehanded if I can defeat you with a sword in your hands?!”

Doji waited a moment for Skoll and Juri to finish their conversation before posing a question to the strange woman, “Oy monster girl, give me my sword back; I think I agree with you, we’re in no position to keep serving under these little men. But if I get these guys out of your hair, I want you to join us!”

“Tch – we’ll see how your big friend here fares in freeing the castle from the ground, if you guys can free it then I’ll have no choice but to come along and supervise. Either way, here’s your sword back, feel free to take care of these weak little humans.”

With this, the woman cast the cursed sword toward its owner on a length of string, and Doji eagerly caught the handle of his killing tool.

Sophroniscus Speaks with Skoll as the Swordsmen Prepare for their Duel


“The legs of this old castle are stuck deep within the stone below – The Abyss, its tunnels and chasms are vast and immense…” the old man’s memory was foggy, he could hardly remember the ruler who had sent him and his fellow laborers to work on their impossible task, “... we built the castle in the bottom of that place – a long time ago – and now, it’s almost free, our work is almost complete.”

Pulling a large key from a ring on his belt, the colossus entrusted the oversized colossus with unlocking the future that he and his fellow architects had dreamed of.

“Descend into the castle – at its very bottom you will find the entry into The Abyss, once you’ve freed its legs from the stone…” the giant tapped his enormous finger against the head of the key that he’d given to Skoll, “... find the engine of the castle and jam that key into the lock that separates you from the burner – ignite the heart of the castle and allow the fires of our work to blaze the path to Elbaf!”

A moment of silence passed between the two giants after Sophroniscus made his proclamation before the colossus muttered something back to the giant, “you’ve a kind heart, young man. My Goddaughter has a point, you’ll have to fight plenty – but I don’t think that we have to crush and destroy things just because we’re large – I feel quite deeply that one of the greatest powers of our size is our capacity to build…”

The old man sat back down to the ground, slumping into a tired pile as his decrepit body struggled to hold itself aloft.

“…I hope that when you reach Elbaf – that the people you find there are kind like you. I hope that the king of that place is a good man – and that the castle we built for him will stand mighty atop his kingdom.”

Word Count:
Skoll
Skoll
[tracker=/t2665-tracker-skoll#17174]
Name : Skoll
Epithet : Sleepwalker
Age : 18
Height : 28'8" | 873 cm
Weight : 21,711 lbs. | 9847 kg
Species : Giant-Human Crossbred
Faction : Pirate
Crew : Skoll's Rescue & Raiding
Ship : Woodstock
Crew Role : President | Navigator
Crew Pool : [bel=u] 75,000,000
Balance : [bel] 16,921,875
[[childofdestiny]][[dulcetvirtuoso]][[nauticalalmanac]]
[[improviseadaptovercome]]
Posts : 37

[Arc] Dreams of Kings and Castles: Part II- Peer Into the Abyss Empty Re: [Arc] Dreams of Kings and Castles: Part II- Peer Into the Abyss

This post has in-line assessment comments.Wed Jan 03, 2024 1:01 pm
Gargantuan knuckles grew whiter by the second as Juri challenged his character, “You know nothing of me or my ambitions! I do whatever I want! If I don’t want to kill anyone that’s exactly what I’ll do! A man who only sticks to his guns when it’s easy is no man at all!”

Although he wished to speak more, Skoll couldn't help but notice the man-sized umbrella’s approach. Surprisingly, the monstrous parasol seemed to actually agree with the giant. Grateful that he wasn’t completely surrounded by battle-loving brutes, the rockstar almost wished that he could have given the man-brella a fist bump.

While Doji and Raiko prepared themselves for a rematch, Skoll looked towards Juri, “Not that you’d trust him anyways, but keep an eye on the human. He’ll probably resort to some trickery once he realizes he can’t win.”

Slowly walking away, the purple-haired rockstar approached the elderly giant. Despite Soph’s deteriorating mental state, the old giant was still able to remember much of the castle and Abyss. Skoll brought a hand to his chin, “To recall even this much all these years later…” The rockstar took the weathered key, a slight smile on the young man’s face, Skoll locked eyes with the ancient builder, “I’m glad that you can see things my way.” The rockstar slung his bass off of his shoulder, “It's nice to speak to someone like you, Gramps. I’m glad you can see where I am coming from. Too many people focus on our war-loving brothers.”

Wincing from Soph’s return to a slumped, seated position, Skoll tried to recall the few tales he had heard of Elbaf. Once he was in front of the castle doors, Skoll shook his head, “I have some doubts about the people I will run into there, but I’ll put this castle atop the tallest mountain I can! ”

Leaning up against one of the doors, Skoll called out to the umbrella before drifting off to sleep, “Could you wake me up when Doji wins? I know he probably wants to see— well I guess he can't— Whatever! Just let me know when you guys want to free this castle!"

Word Count:
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[Arc] Dreams of Kings and Castles: Part II- Peer Into the Abyss Empty Re: [Arc] Dreams of Kings and Castles: Part II- Peer Into the Abyss

This post has in-line assessment comments.Sat Jan 06, 2024 2:18 am
“I – right, I’ll wake you up…” the pirate spoke back up to the younger giant apprehensively; though Doji seemed to trust the man, Nietzche was barely sure of whether or not to keep trusting his newfound captain at this point, “... what was your name?”

It was too late, the weird guy had already passed out before the umbrella could even finish his sentence.

Turning his eye to the faceoff of samurai, despite his growing distrust for the oni, Nietzche couldn’t help but root for the lad. Thunder grumbled from the gray clouds above as some faroff lightning crashed down in Loguetown.

Second Bout



As the swordsmen loosened their joints and fell into their respective dueling stances, the young samurai lord couldn’t help but feel nervous as he sized up his bullheaded opposition, even he knew that whether you wanted to call it a fluke or divine intervention he hadn’t won his prior duel against the oni due to any superior merit of his own.

The red-haired creature was terrifying now that he had seen only a fraction of what it was capable of, perhaps he hadn’t been taking the Asakura heir seriously enough in their first fight; he’d have to deploy the most powerful techniques his Shintō Munen-ryū was capable of in order to stand any chance against the monster. Though he held himself to certain formal standards of honor, Raiko was a sophisticated and conniving young man who was content to take any advantage he could get; the words he spoke out to the oni were laden with condescension and derision,

“So the rumors are true then – the last male heir to the Asakura clan is a giant oni bastard. I’ll enjoy putting an end to the traitorous line that allowed the treasured sword Mikazuki to fall into the hands of ninjas! If it weren’t for the dishonor that your mother and grandfather brought upon our nation, the schemes of that evil bastard and his clan would have come to an end before they’d even started!”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about. I don’t know much about any of the geezers in my family, but keep my mother’s name out of your mouth!”

With this exchange of words, the men drew their blades and passed across one another quickly trading places, the loud echo of clashing metal rang out across the field a moment later. Each of the swordsmen stood unearthly still for a moment…

… Doji was the one to be injured in the clash; the sleeves of his kimono, his chest, and the backs of his forearms were seemingly ripped open as the aftermath of the lacerations made themselves evident. Though he had drawn his sword and seemingly only struck at his opponent once, it was as though the samurai had struck the oni with a barrage of ten or more strikes, each fainter than the attack that had originally collided with the rōnin’s.

“Asakura Hanako, the daughter of a clan tasked with guarding a great treasure of our nation. She’s your mother? In my hometown, we think of her as a brat who was allowed to undertake duties and honors far beyond anything she was worthy of, and who squandered that act of trust and failed all of Wano Kuni! Some people even think she worked with that clan of ninjas to ensure that the theft was successful! I wish I could say I disagreed…”

Though Raiko growled like a dog as he spoke of all his bitterness toward the Asakura clan, his swordsmanship was masterfully composed in its swift and seemingly erratic slashes; each motion fell precisely where the samurai meant it to as he parried each of the oni’s counterattacks and drew in for attack,

“... but your monster-fucking whore of a mother is why my family’s temple was burned to the ground! Whether she meant to aid in the crime or not, we all know now that your mother spoke to Fujibayashi Nagato before the night of the theft! The things that man’s clan has done with that sword – and you have no idea what you Asakura scum have done! She didn’t even have the guts to tell you!”

Once he found a gap in the red-haired devil’s defenses, Raiko drew across Doji’s chest with a stroke of his sword; if he’d landed this kata against any normal human they’d have been split in two, it was only for the thickness of the monster’s skin and some strange, unseen, force, that the red-haired oni was able to shrug off such an attack.

“Fujibayashi, I remember her speaking of them – they were the ninjas that stole that treasure from our clan and doomed us all to dishonor!”

“Ha! So that’s what she told you?! Still refusing to take accountability for her own failings, eh?!”

Doji narrowly managed to dodge Raiko’s followup attack before backpedaling dangerously close to the edge of the hill down to the coast of the island. As the samurai pressed the attack and unleashed an onslaught of swift strikes toward the oni, Doji met his opponent’s blade with a monstrously powerful slash of his nodachi; Raiko was sent flying backwards through the air, had he attempted to clash against the monster’s heavy blow his weapon would have shattered into pieces.

“I’m what she did to atone for her failure! She raised me as a warrior, as the last living hope for the redemption of our clan! I’ve been studying the blade since before I could stand! When I left the West Blue, I swore that I’d carve the name of the Asakura clan into history for the better! You really think she would raise me to redeem our clan in the eyes of Wano if she worked with the ninjas who dishonored us in the first place? She never even spoke of them in specific, who’s this Nagato guy you’re talking about?!”

“Fujibayashi Nagato is one of the most formidable ninjas that has plagued Wano Kuni in the last century! What has she done through raising you?! Released some blind monster of ambition out into the world to wreak havoc everywhere it walks and call its actions honorable?!”

“STOP SPEAKING AS THOUGH YOU KNOW ME!”

With inhuman speed, Doji caught up to Raiko in the air and brought his Muramasa down like the blade of a guillotine; it seemed that this attempt at execution would be successful…

… and if Raiko’s body hadn’t moved to dodge the attack by a margin of millimeters just before it had come down upon him, he would have been done for. Though he knew the creature to be blind, as he stared up at the horned monster’s face, it still looked as though some crazed-looking hollow gaze was staring back at him.

“People like you always speak as though you know exactly who, or what, I am! You think my family is bad…” Doji drew the edge of his blade to his mouth and licked it dramatically, disrespecting his opponent grievously in the process, “... believe me, I’m way worse! You think my ambition is blind just because I can’t see what I have to do to reach it?! If defeating this Nagato guy stands between me and what I want, then he’s nothing more than a stepping stone. IF THERE’S ONE THING I CAN SEE IT’S MY DESTINY!”

“You think you’ll be the one to defeat Nagato?! And you claim I have no idea who you are, do you have any idea who you speak of as a stepping stone?”

“Ha! No clue! If he isn’t one then he’ll have to prove me wrong! All I know for certain, is that no matter who it is…” Doji slashed toward his opponent with his saliva-covered blade, flinging his spit into Raiko’s face, “... if there’s a warrior who stands in my way, I’ll beat them! Even if I have to stand back up and keep trying over and over again!”

“Let me be the first to prove you wrong! All it takes is one man who’s willing to kill you to put an end to all of this nonsense!”

Incensed by the insulting spittle that had been rained down upon him, the samurai rained an onslaught of his most powerful attacks down against the oni, doing everything that he could to murder the monster on the spot. Even fate seemed to conspire to smite the oni down in the air once more as lightning struck down at the highest point available for miles: the tip of Doji’s horns.

But something was there in the air to intercept it: the parasol man appeared in the air alongside the samurai’s fierce duel as if from out of nowhere. Though he had been flung into the air by the blue-haired oni’s strings, even if he’d not been there in the air – somehow, someway, the lightning would have found its way to the fruit user; it was an unfortunate side effect of his role as a weather-protection man, his cursed body was as good as a lightning rod.

The last thing that Nietzche managed to cough up toward his captain before falling unconscious – aside from a small plume of smoke from within his charred body – were these words:


“You stubborn son of a bitch, you’d better win…”

Doji felt a seed of guilt begin to grow in his stomach, he felt indebted to his new comrade Nietzche. He’d all but forgotten about the prisoners who had chosen to follow him away from Tequila Wolf, but that didn’t sit quite right with him; he felt as though the only reason he could have forgotten those men was because he never spent enough time to really get to know them, soldiers in armies might be disposable – but Doji would never wish to be the kind of king that disposes of his pawns without second thought – if he was to be any kind, he would be a warrior king, who would rather stand amongst his men in the front lines of battle.

The oni summoned up a portion of the overwhelming strength afforded to him by his bloodline, and put it behind his sword swing downward at the head of his enemy; his bloodstained blade would be more than a tool of massacre, it too could be a tool of redemption, just as he was.

Raiko, in all of the high and mighty enlightenment of his style, looked for the perfect place to put his sword in order to kill the monster; he settled upon the beast’s heart, attempting to lance the headstrong bull like a matador would a charging bull.

In the end, neither of the men were able to kill the other, nor claim victory in any meaningful sense; neither had been able to deliver their attack, as their bodies almost instinctively prevented them from dying an early death. Raiko was perfectly aware of his own observation haki, however Doji had no idea why his own body had seemingly acted against his intentions and kept him from executing the samurai.

What both men were aware of however, was that they remained evenly matched; both of them utterly loathed having such an equal, to have somebody stronger to aspire to defeat was inspiring, to taste victory at the hands of the weak was exhilarating – meeting somebody whose skill was exactly tied with one’s own was just frustrating, like a mirror that showed one everything lacking in one’s self.

“We’re going to settle this one way or another, let’s see if you’re strong enough to brave whatever horrors the oversized geezer has in store for us down beneath the castle. But get this through your thick little skull, I was never beneath you…” Doji wiped his blade clean with a cloth before storing it in its scabbard, though he’d defiled it in service of insulting the samurai he wouldn’t allow his most precious instrument to marinate in saliva, “... you take your three strongest men, and I’ll take mine. Once we’ve freed the castle and gotten back to Loguetown, you can challenge us if you want to take it for yourself!”

With this, Doji picked up the comically burnt Nietzche and threw the poor guy over his shoulder as he began walking toward the castle.

““Hey red-hair! Where’s this third man you’re talking about? I hope you don’t think that I’m coming down there with you! I’m not even a man!”

“Nah, I don’t think so, I know it…” Doji trailed off, refusing to elaborate further as he walked blindly past the girl; but even in their brief interaction, the oni had sensed a similar vulnerability to himself in the girl, a desire to have friends and company her own size who wouldn’t judge her based on the circumstances of her birth.

As the red-haired rōnin sauntered nonchalantly toward the Castle’s “doors,” Juri pouted at him and stood her ground, doing her best not to give into her basic urges and put herself back into the dangerous nightmare of The Abyss; but as her fellow oni made his way further away, she couldn’t help but tail behind him.

““Just don’t think this makes me part of your guys’ gang, b-baka!”

“Tch – you’re such an annoying brat!”

““Who are you callin’ a brat? I’m 22, you look like a baby-faced girl!”

“I don’t look like a girl! I don’t even know what girls look like! I’m 18, but you’re shorter, so you’re the brat!”

““If you don’t know what a girl looks like then how do ya know you don’t look like one? Aaand you’re younger, so you’re the brat!”

“WILL YOU TWO PLEASE SHUT UP! Working with filth like you is already suffering enough!”

For once, the samurai’s input was quite helpful. Raiko put Doji and Juri’s squabbling to a rest as the rōnin walked up to the giant snoozing up against the castle door. Knowing a newfound friend was sleeping in an inconvenient place, the red-haired oni couldn’t resist his more mischievous urges; gently rapping on Skoll’s forehead as though he was knocking on a door, Doji asked his buddy a question with a lightly jeering tone,

“Ey – are you the doorman? Are you ready to lead the way, oh fearless deliverer of the giant castle? What’s the plan, my man?”

Meanwhile, Within the Confines of the Ramshackle Construction


The scale of the castle’s interior was immense, in all of its enormity even a giant would be able to get lost, throughout all of its floors there was a certain solemn majesty in the stagnant air of the building; this structure was a monument of all the ingenuity and steadfast determination of the long-lived, larger than life, lives that had gone into its construction. In the very center of the castle there stood a pillar, wrapped around it, a spiral staircase reached upward to the heavens and descended down to the pits below; this was the connective tissue that bound each of the levels of the strange walking fortress that would come to be known as Gashadokuro. The bottom floors of the structure were neatly and sturdily constructed, but as the levels rose higher and higher, they grew more erratic in their design; it was as though the each floor of the building was more bizarre than the last, with nonsensical designs seemingly brought to life upon a canvas of stone and mortar: siege weapons of all different kinds, entire rooms dedicated to the play of some antiquated games, secret vaults hidden behind oversized bookcases and paintings, hallways leading nowhere mixed randomly amongst actual secret passageways. When taken as a whole, the castle was an eclectic monolith that would one day stand as a bastion of hope for the bizarre.

But as things currently stood, Gashadokuro’s iron limbs were stuck in the earth. The only way to free the fortress was to plunge into the depths of The Abyss, and the only way there was via what was supposed to be the main entrance to the castle – which was currently trapped underground. In order to free their castle, the intruders would have to descend the massive structure’s stairs down to their bottom, and walk out the front doors into an inky and unknowable blackness…

… but the first floor that stood between the Yokai, the samurai, and their (tenuously) shared ambition, was a melancholy mess of maze like hallways; but the sad thing that seemed to make sense of the floorplan were the giants’ possessions that seemed to be littered all across it: massive tools used for construction, oversized journals filled to the brim with dusty old writings, and various large artifacts and trinkets proving that once, long ago, Sophroniscus had not been alone in this place.

Anyone curious enough to inquire with their prying eyes could likely piece something together from all of the journals and scrolls that “Papa Soph” had managed to preserve, a strange history of a task given to a group of prisoners from Elbaf long ago…

Beating deep within the chambers of the castle was the “heart” of the structure, locked behind a heavy bronze door and situated near the front entrance, the engine room of the walking fortress was a marvel of engineering; through selecting from a collection of nearly every Eternal Pose except for Elbaf and a small handful of other notable exceptions, the navigator could effectively choose where they wanted the landcrawler to walk to with little need for manual steering. As long as its engines were kept fed and fiery (presently they were extinguished), the castle could make its way almost anywhere.

But this heart was not yet free, and thus sat locked away, waiting for its inheritor to return. Now it was up to the Restless Rockstar to lead his party down through the strange castle, and into the unknown horrors of The Abyss.

Word Count:


Last edited by Doji on Sat Feb 17, 2024 5:55 pm; edited 1 time in total
Skoll
Skoll
[tracker=/t2665-tracker-skoll#17174]
Name : Skoll
Epithet : Sleepwalker
Age : 18
Height : 28'8" | 873 cm
Weight : 21,711 lbs. | 9847 kg
Species : Giant-Human Crossbred
Faction : Pirate
Crew : Skoll's Rescue & Raiding
Ship : Woodstock
Crew Role : President | Navigator
Crew Pool : [bel=u] 75,000,000
Balance : [bel] 16,921,875
[[childofdestiny]][[dulcetvirtuoso]][[nauticalalmanac]]
[[improviseadaptovercome]]
Posts : 37

[Arc] Dreams of Kings and Castles: Part II- Peer Into the Abyss Empty Re: [Arc] Dreams of Kings and Castles: Part II- Peer Into the Abyss

This post has in-line assessment comments.Sun Jan 07, 2024 4:22 pm
“Rather a doorman than a swordsman, bro! Ska ska ska!” With the pace of a particularly motivated snail, Skoll got up to his feet. It was only when the ready-and-refreshed rockstar looked down that he noticed Raiko’s presence.

“Duuuuuuuuuuuuude…”

The punk’s face twisted into an irritated frown. Even if Skoll wished to act like he wasn’t bothered, he was physically unable to hide his annoyance at Raiko’s presence.

“I’m gonna be completely candid here,” Skoll slung his bass back over his shoulder and shoved the castle’s doors open, “I wasn't rootin’ for you to kill him or anything,” The giant locked eyes with Raiko as the entrance opened fully, “But it would’ve been nice to wake up without seeing that fraud anywhere near me.”

If the Wano native ever offered a rebuttal, Skoll paid no mind. Continuing forward, the half-giant cracked his knuckles, “Anyways! Plan is simple. We’re heading straight for this Abyss and freeing the Castle’s legs before any weird shit happens!”

Following that truly awe-inspiring speech from the teenage star in the making. The Giant-Oni-Samurai-Umbrella alliance proceeded into the stone stronghold. Even for someone of Skoll’s stature, the castle was truly gigantic. Fit for full-blooded giants, the ceilings rose to what was easily over double the half-breed's height. As amazing as the scale of the archaic fortress was, The half-giant had much bigger issues at hand. Just barely visible in the low light, countless construction tools and other curious objects littered the dark, cold floor.

Kicking a stray chisel out of the group's path, Skoll spoke to no one in particular.

“Guess they started building this place before toolboxes were invented.”

A few seconds later, a faint thud could be heard down the hall.

“No shot that was from what I kicked...”

The far-off impact was what really caused the explorers to realize just how much walking they had signed up for. With silent determination washing over the rag-tag group of would-be saviors, They pushed on. The hallways ranged from standard to erratic in their fabrication. Skoll was no true craftsman, but even he could tell no completely sane person designed this floorplan.

Jewelry, books, and various other treasures phased out the tools that littered the floor before. Hopping up on a (relatively) small journal, Skoll studied the torn, faded title.

“Menexenus?” The rockstar frowned, “Whatever the hell that means…”

As expected from someone of Skoll’s upbringing, the rockstar had no hope of recognizing any of the tomes present, not that he hoped to start a book club anyways. A life full of such luxuries was far behind the runaway rockstar now.

An agonizing fifteen minutes passed before Skoll reached a winding staircase. For the smaller ones among them, the stairs were perhaps even more treacherous than the giant items and weapons that they had run into prior. Each step taken with a step of uncertainty, Raiko’s men prayed to whatever gods they believed in (and maybe some they didn’t too)

Finally descending the last of that dreaded spiral staircase, Skoll approached the real gates to the Castle. Facing his newly found friends and foes alike, the bassist addressed the group.

“Past these doors is a place so mysterious and terrifying that it caused Soph’s whole group to completely disappear. If any of you would like to turn back, I won’t hold it against you. But for those among us that are either too stupid or stubborn to turn back…”

Swinging the gigantic doors open, Skoll took his first step into the Abyss

“We have a job to do!”



If the inside of the Castle was as dark as a starless night, the Abyss could be compared to the deepest recesses of the ocean floor. The only light available being from the occasional mushroom that lined the cavern's walls. The air, too, was off. Neither too hot nor cold, it felt as if those very concepts ceased to exist in this place.

The one thing that stood out in this abyss were the ever-present eyes. From the second the bassist entered this accursed abyss, outlandish onlookers ogled the musician. The rockstar could just barely hear them talking, but as much as he tried, he couldn’t listen. What were they saying? What were they thinking? Most importantly,

Why did Skoll hate the attention?

Nothing here made any sense, Skoll’s goal— No, his purpose in life was to become famous! How could he feel queasy from just a few unseen observers? Was it just the nature of this forsaken void to warp the dreams of the living?

Whether from a stroke of genius or a fit of desperation, Skoll realized that there was only one thing he could do to block out the ostentatious voices. Bringing his beloved bass to his hands, Skoll did what he does best,

Rock out!

Each strum of the giant’s four strings sent rippling vibrations throughout the abyss. In sync with the boy’s song, the mushrooms glowed just a little bit brighter. While the added light did little other than show the way, it was refreshing to be able to see anything. Off a ways in the distance, a particularly large toadstool lit up from the music. Under the blurry, yellow light, the previously unseen fork in the road made itself known.

As soon as the second path had been revealed, Raiko, along with his three retainers leapt for the opportunity to rid themselves of the Yokai.

“We’re taking the right path,” The Minamoto clansman leveled his katana at the monsters, “You all might as well go back to the engine room, we won’t be long!”

As the quartet of humans walked off into the Abyss, Raiko’s voice pierced the darkness.

“And don’t follow us!”

Too concentrated on his playing to care, Skoll smiled at the pair of Oni.

“Their loss, am I right?”

Word Count:
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[Arc] Dreams of Kings and Castles: Part II- Peer Into the Abyss Empty Re: [Arc] Dreams of Kings and Castles: Part II- Peer Into the Abyss

This post has in-line assessment comments.Mon Jan 08, 2024 11:48 pm
“Fufufu – literally. They’ll get lost for sure, and I say good riddance to ‘em! It’s strange…” Juri looked down into the darkness and the bioluminescent specks that had flickered to life across it in response to Skoll’s song, “... Papa Soph always said it was pitch black down in here, but it looks like your music lit things up a bit. Thanks – I still don’t know exactly what pops saw in you – but it’s brighter with you around, anybody can see that much.”

“I resent that comment,” Doji muttered as he focused on the faint echoes that flowed throughout the massive system of caves and chasms; the sheer scope of the rough and jagged landscape that surrounded the blind man made it difficult to gain a sense of where exactly he fit in amongst the stony chaos. Eventually the red oni was able to echolocate a certain path that would diverge away from Raiko, and that seemed large enough to allow the giants to begin searching for the legs of the castle.

The red oni was quick to begin blazing the path forward, as the captain walked forward, his companion Nietzche who had been resting hung over his shoulder sputtered back to life.

The doctor was confused as he came to his senses, the errant spots of light amongst the inky darkness made it seem as though he was still seeing stars, but the sound of his captain’s voice was distinct enough that he was certain he was conscious. He only had one question as he roused,

“Did you win, Doji?”

The rōnin grimaced, but now was as good a time as any to explain to Skoll and Nietzche why he hadn’t been able to put the conflict with the samurai to rest.

“No, I didn’t, the fight ended in a draw…” Doji spoke with shame in his voice, “... guys, I know that little samurai seems like his ego is bigger than his capability – but he’s a swordsman from the New World, he’s not to be taken lightly; I’ve been faster and stronger than all but one of the fighters I’ve faced from across the Blue Seas, but he can push me to my limits. If I lost here then you’d all be trapped here with him, and I’m sure he’d try to rope all of you into serving under his clan, if we forestall the final confrontation until we’ve made our way back to Loguetown then I hope you can all get away from him before he starts recruiting again.”

Furthermore, until this point, Doji had managed to conceal the injury he’d sustained back in town; but it became clear that the oni was still erratically vibrating and twitching, as though the shock of the lightning strike had still refused to leave the young man’s body.

“You’re shaking too…” the doctor was still trying to make sense of his surroundings and piece together exactly how to feel in the aftermath of his futile act of self-sacrifice, “... are you afraid of him? What’s the matter with you?”

“I’m not scared…” Doji growled out quietly back at his crewmates as he began treading into the abyss, “... not for my own sake anyways. I’m sorry Nietzche.”

Only by the faint illumination of a number of mushrooms grown upon the skeleton of a long-dead giant did the red oni remain visible to his allies as he made his way forward; it was as though his shame had begun to swallow him whole as Doji was submerged amongst the darkness. As his body shivered in the oppressive air of The Abyss, the young demon was made to question his own strength, his own ambition, and whether he could ever truly be fit to lead others.

Skoll’s bassline stood as the sole point of resounding solace, echoing throughout the emptiness and seeming to form a sturdy sonic foundation for all to rest upon. Speaking back to his giant friend, Doji wondered aloud with a single tear streaming down his face, “what is it about music that stirs the spirit this way? That even in my weakness, your notes conjure feelings of strength. I used to play the flute, but now it seems like I hardly have time to between the battles; how is it that you keep playing that bass in a world of hardship without turning it into a mere instrument of death?”

As the Monsters Meander in the Dark, The Samurai Free One of the Castle’s Legs


“Tobu Zangeki!” Employing one of the most heavy-hitting and time consuming of his techniques, Raiko destroyed the crags of stone surrounding the embedded iron leg with deadly accuracy; as the stone crumbled to the ground below, the sounds of metal groaning could be heard echoing out through the darkness of the cave system…

… the leg of the thing collapsed to the ground like the foot of a (somewhat) colossal elephant.

“Raiko, do you really think we’re gonna come out on top in all of this?” The bespectacled samurai pushed his glasses up his nose as he spoke and nervously darted his eyes from side to side looking for danger.

“What do you mean, Yorinobu? Do you really think that lowblood trash can truly best me?” Raiko spoke back to his studious younger brother with a haughty tone in his voice.

“Hmm…” the young man’s silence spoke volumes, “... besides that, I wonder whether or not taking this place over is going to wind up being more trouble than it’s worth. Even if you do get those monsters under control, the more I see of this place – the more I realize that we’re walking amongst the fragments of a fractured history; what happens when other giants come for this place? What happens if that giant comes for this castle? If I understand the journal fragments I managed to collect correctly, this castle was commissioned to be delivered to the King of Elbaf!”

Word Count:
Skoll
Skoll
[tracker=/t2665-tracker-skoll#17174]
Name : Skoll
Epithet : Sleepwalker
Age : 18
Height : 28'8" | 873 cm
Weight : 21,711 lbs. | 9847 kg
Species : Giant-Human Crossbred
Faction : Pirate
Crew : Skoll's Rescue & Raiding
Ship : Woodstock
Crew Role : President | Navigator
Crew Pool : [bel=u] 75,000,000
Balance : [bel] 16,921,875
[[childofdestiny]][[dulcetvirtuoso]][[nauticalalmanac]]
[[improviseadaptovercome]]
Posts : 37

[Arc] Dreams of Kings and Castles: Part II- Peer Into the Abyss Empty Re: [Arc] Dreams of Kings and Castles: Part II- Peer Into the Abyss

This post has in-line assessment comments.Wed Jan 10, 2024 11:25 pm
“As much as I hate to say it, Raiko is strong. But not where it counts.”

Only when Skoll switched to a slower, calmer song, did he continue,

“He has no problem relying on the whims of fate and clinging to the coattails of others. That’s why he will fail.”

The giant looked to his fellow outcasts,  “People like us often have no choice but to look out for ourselves first. Take it from someone who met you both at the same time, Doji. A pirate like you would fit in way better in the New World than a poser like him! Skokokoko!”

Skoll’s laugh was even louder than his music, too absorbed in his own world to pay attention to the umbrella man’s concerns, The rockstar carried on with his playing.

Only paying attention when Doji asked his question, Skoll smiled,

“Throughout every sea, every culture, music is constant.”  The half-giant’s strums reverberated throughout the dark expanse. The blurry, yellow and blue light of the fungi flickered in accordance with the music,

“If man’s eyes are the window to his soul, his ears are the door to his heart. A man like you who relies on his hearing should know that more than most!”

Skoll kept his rhythm going, “No matter how hard life gets, I refuse to give in and take the easy way out! The moment this instrument of mine takes a life, my music becomes tainted!”

As Skoll finished his explanation. the band of Yokai wrapped around the corner of their current path. Skoll wrestled with an obnoxious, nagging sensation at the back of his head. The giant came to a stop, met with what he could only assume was one of the castle’s legs, Skoll stated the obvious,

“Gonna go out on a limb and say that’s one of ‘em.”

Inspecting the mass of iron, Skoll turned to Doji,

“You’ve been fighting a lot, bro. I’ll handle this one!”

Placing his bass on the ground, the mushroom’s light gradually ceased. Stepping over a sizable skeleton, Skoll approached the metal leg, “Jeez, this thing is lodged in there pretty good…” Whether the Abyss was playing tricks on him, or his mind was just filling in the blanks, the very wall of the cave appeared as if it had gotten ahold of the castle with stony hands of its own.

Ducking under the iron leg, the purple-haired giant gripped the underside of the metallic limb. The rockstar’s body screamed out in pain as he stepped forward. Bit by bit the rocks that surrounded the marvel of giant ingenuity broke away.

All the while, the once blocked-out voices of the Abyss snaked their way back to the rockstar. The discordant, unnatural voices clawed at the giant’s psyche. Bursting through cracks caused by deep-seated insecurity, doubt flooded into the young musician’s mind.

“Are you really going to go all the way back to the New World after you ran away?”

“You were always the biggest guy on stage, why did you have no fans?”

“Do you really avoid conflict because you care about other people? Or are you just afraid that you’d enjoy fighting too much?”


Fighting a battle on two fronts, the rockstar could only think of one thing to say,

“YOU…  DON’T…  KNOW…  ME!”

Fissures formed along the barely visible wall. With the last of the stony hands that held the castle’s leg gone, the weight of the leg was left to Skoll. As if the weight of every giant that died for this castle rested upon Skoll’s shoulders, the bassist barely avoided buckling under the pressure.

Sweat beaded down Skoll’s face. Even if he was twice as big, mere men, no matter how big, were not meant to hold this kind of weight. Scrounging up all the might that his heritage afforded him, Skoll jumped to the side. The leg's collision with the ground was almost as loud as it was quick. For a split second, an intense amount of light beamed from the mushrooms. While it would have been nice to see, the sudden bright light was easily worse than the usual darkness.

Retrieving his bass, Skoll rested it on his shoulder,

“Well... Onto the next one!”

Word Count:
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[Arc] Dreams of Kings and Castles: Part II- Peer Into the Abyss Empty Re: [Arc] Dreams of Kings and Castles: Part II- Peer Into the Abyss

This post has in-line assessment comments.Sat Jan 13, 2024 8:34 pm
Doji meditated on some of the last of the giant rockstar’s words as Skoll set the axe down and the steady rhythm came to an end, the easy way?...

In the depths of the darkness, the devil drummed his fingertips along the scabbard of his cursed sword, muttering quietly to himself “... I guess it is the easy way, isn’t it?”

As Skoll set forth to free the leg of the castle from its stony confines, Doji sat with this notion; the idea that his way of life, the wuxia, the way of the warrior, was easy – most warriors would have laughed at the mere suggestion. However, always the contrarian, the rōnin found himself coming to quiet agreement; conflict came naturally, to stay the urge to resort to death and bloodshed was an act of discipline much greater than battle itself. Though Doji knew the path ahead of him was stained with bloodshed, he knew also that his sword could be more sparing; in his journeys across the Blues, Doji had been vicious and unrepentant in his pursuit of his ambition, it was because of this single-mindedness that he had forgotten many of the things that brought him happiness in life.

Kicking back and relaxing as his giant friend did all of the heavy lifting, the young oni rummaged through his pockets looking for an item he had not made use of for some time, and much to his surprise he found it: his old wooden flute. As Skoll’s strength surged and he freed the leg of the castle, the sound of Doji’s shakuhachi echoed all throughout the darkness of the caves; for the four monsters the red-haired oni’s song was clear and pleasant, but as it wound its way through the tunnels the notes grew ghastly and distorted. Playing the instrument, the swordsman’s shaky hands began to steady as he remembered the motions of the melody.


Doji was blind to the surge of light that pulsed all throughout the immediate cave system, but Juri and Nietzche were not; as the mushrooms nestled amongst the rock glowed and highlighted Skoll’s steadfast feat of strength, the eyes of all who could see it sparkled in amazement.

“Wo-hoah! You just pulled it straight out of the rock! Maybe pops was right about you!” Juri exclaimed, jumping up and down and pointing in amazement hoping that her fellow oni would take notice.

Obviously, he did not, but at least the blind man’s music filled the air.

“It’s so bright! What’s going on with these mushrooms?!” Nietzche was made to shield his eyes a bit from the massive surge of light, making his way over to the wall of the cave, the science-minded man plucked one of the specimens from the wall; even uprooted, the fungus continued to pulse with light, and the agitation of motion only seemed to let fly a cascade of glowing spores that fell from the mushroom cap’s underside like sprinkling stardust.

None of Nietzche’s comrades answered his question, and so he proceeded to stash a couple more of the mushrooms away in his bag for future study.

Meanwhile, as the notes of Doji’s flute permeated the inky well of blackness, he took in the echoes as they rebounded to him; it was not by the edge of his blade that the oni came to understand the texture of the abyss, but by the sound of his song. As his playing came to its conclusion, the red-haired warrior stood up abruptly and spoke to his fellow spelunkers.

“I know the way forward. I heard where the next leg of our journey was, nestled amongst the crevices of these stony tunnels. It shouldn’t be too far of a walk from here, but I heard something stirring from out that way as well; whatever it is, it’s at least the size of one of the smaller people,” as Doji spoke he gestured in the direction of the route toward the next leg.

“So there’s something tiny causing a ruckus out that way?! Sounds like no problem!...” Juri ran up ahead and began leading the group before turning back from her excitement to speak to Skoll, “... sorry for doubting you big man! I still don’t really get what your tryin’ to say exactly – but if you’re this strong, if you don’t want to destroy anybody who stands in your way, that’s your choice; with strength like that they’d be dumb to get in your way in the first place.”

After a bit of conversation, it wasn’t long before the monsters came upon the last leg of their half of the labor; the foot of the castle stood embedded in the floor, incapable of rising up and taking the first steps of its journey. However the source of whatever strange noises Doji had heard quickly made itself evident in the faint bioluminescent light; a shadowy figure leaned up against the leg of the massive work of iron.

As the group approached, Bjorn could hardly believe what he was seeing; he’d thought that the red-haired captain of the prisoners’ ill-fated voyage had gone down with the ship and drowned, but he was standing here in the flesh: Asakura Doji. Upon seeing the accursed man who had claimed to be his salvation, the very last of the man’s fragile psyche shattered; hoisting up his shillelagh and charging toward the group Bjorn began wailing like a banshee.

[npc=pirt]“Why did you abandon us, Doji? I thought that we were all going to sail together! THAT YOUR STRENGTH WAS GREAT ENOUGH TO LET US PURSUE OUR DREAMS!”[/npc]

The red oni didn’t even need to draw his sword, for the blue oni’s strings ripped the club from the man’s hands with ease.

“I can carve a path forward for you – I set you all free from that prison, but I can’t give you the strength to take what you want from this world…” Doji disregarded the little man, even as he swung his fists at the oni’s legs, “... that’s something that nobody can give you. But still, I’m sorry that I failed you, where are the others?”

[npc=pirt]“They’re all dead! It’s all your fault! Things went wrong, and I swung my club and hit one of them and…”[/npc] though he had cast the blame onto Doji, his own actions still weighed heavily on the madman’s heart, [npc=pirt]“... before I knew it I was the only one left. It all seems like a blur.”[/npc]

“I didn’t know you thought of us as – a crew. I’m still not sure what it means to live as a pirate, or what it would mean to lead a pirate crew; but if we’re all going to sail together into the Grand Line, then I will protect you.”

[npc=pirt]“It’s too late for that now, Asakura!”[/npc] With great ferocity, the man continued his onslaught against the oni’s shins.

“Bjorn, please – calm down!” Nietzche began walking toward the Kumate with one palm outstretched, and his other hand hidden behind his back.

[npc=pirt]“It’s him or us, Nietzche! We need to bring this devil down before anybody else dies for the sake of his grand journey!”[/npc] With this, Bjorn extended a hand as though to offer a handshake.

The umbrella-man was all too eager to accept the lunatic’s peace offering, taking his hand and seeming to pledge his allegiance against Asakura Doji, promising his fellow ex-Tequila Wolf inmate to help end the monster’s reign of terror before it could truly begin.

But there is no honor among thieves, and Nietzche didn’t get his medical license revoked for nothing; pulling his free hand out from behind his back, Nietzche revealed his scalpel shortly before jabbing its razor sharp edge into the insane man’s kidney.

“You’re the one who killed the first members of our crew, Bjorn…” Nietzche stroked his mustache as he looked at the stains of blood that marked the entirety of the confiscated shillelagh, “... I’m not going to give up on the crew that easily.”

It didn’t take long for the already adrenal man’s system to go into shock in reaction to the wound. As his body hit the cave floor, Juri let out a long whistle.

“Yeah…” the oni girl leaned up against the iron leg before gesturing to the three pirates, “... I think I got the wrong read on you guys entirely. Asakura-sama has got a man who’s willing to kill for him, and you’re the guy who pops says is going to deliver his life’s work to Elbaf. I don’t wanna miss any of this! Hey, big guy! If you need my strings I’ll help you pull this leg out!”

Word Count:
Skoll
Skoll
[tracker=/t2665-tracker-skoll#17174]
Name : Skoll
Epithet : Sleepwalker
Age : 18
Height : 28'8" | 873 cm
Weight : 21,711 lbs. | 9847 kg
Species : Giant-Human Crossbred
Faction : Pirate
Crew : Skoll's Rescue & Raiding
Ship : Woodstock
Crew Role : President | Navigator
Crew Pool : [bel=u] 75,000,000
Balance : [bel] 16,921,875
[[childofdestiny]][[dulcetvirtuoso]][[nauticalalmanac]]
[[improviseadaptovercome]]
Posts : 37

[Arc] Dreams of Kings and Castles: Part II- Peer Into the Abyss Empty Re: [Arc] Dreams of Kings and Castles: Part II- Peer Into the Abyss

This post has in-line assessment comments.Thu Jan 18, 2024 12:49 pm
“Of course he was right! I agreed to deliver this castle, and I intend on keeping my word!” Despite the giant's confidence, it was clear as day how exhausted he was, at least, until the mushroom’s light faded once more, leaving only the sound from Doji’s flute to fill the void.

The purple-haired punk tilted his head at the blind oni’s proclamation, “Woah! You echo-whatever-it’s-called like a bat!?” Skoll slung his bass over his back, freeing his other hand, “Dude that’s sick!”

A few seconds later, Skoll processed the second half of what Doji had said.

“If it’s a person we need to help! I can’t imagine it’s healthy to stay down here for a long time, lead the way Doji!”

While the band of boisterous monsters traveled through the next set of towering tunnels, Skoll’s eyelids grew heavier by the second. The only thing that kept his campfire of consciousness burning was the spark of a new conversation.

Juri’s apology was unexpected, but welcome. Yawning, Skoll agreed with the blue oni, “You’d think it would stay that way as you get stronger. Look at guys like the Yonkou or Shichibukai, they’re so strong that people want to fight them just for the fame that follows! Ska Ska Ska!”

The space between each booming laugh of Skoll’s grew, While Skoll’s body continued to follow the oni, his mind had left for the world of dreams.



The half-giant ran through mountains that pierced through the constant overcast, rolling plains home to impossibly enormous bison, even barren canyons carved by powerful rivers. No matter how much distance Skoll created between himself and that accursed village, the Chieftain was never far behind. Ranting and raving, the blue-bearded berserker made his disapproval no secret.

“If you were half as good at throwing a punch as you are at running, this would be over already!”

“Don’t complain, cardio is good for old-timers like you!”

Eventually, the two reached a massive forest. Trees even wider than the most pot-bellied of giants towered above. What gray light found its way through the canopy did little to help the visibility. Skidding to a stop, a confident smile flashed across the punk’s face.

“This is where you're going to lose!”

“Change the scenery all you want, I’ll keep winning!”



All too quickly, Skoll found himself back in the Abyss. The frustrating thing about dreams is that one can never choose their destination, or plan a return trip. To make matters even worse, Skoll was quite a ways away from any pen or paper large enough to write down what he had just experienced, not that he had any ability to read or write in a place this gloomy.

Pushing his annoyance to the side, the punk finally realized that the rag-tag group of oversized explorers had reached their second leg. Whether it was the awkward feeling of intruding on an argument not meant for his ears or the still-groggy state that Skoll found himself in, the giant remained quiet for the entirety of Doji and Nietzche’s talk with their apparent crew member. Just when Skoll thought that Nietzche had the situation under control, the umbrella-man opted to end it for good.

“Guess even the little guys’ still a pirate at the end of the day…”

Before Skoll could dwell on the death of the maddened prisoner-turned-pirate, Juri brought his attention back to the matter at hand.

Gears shifted in the former lumberjack's head. The leg was noticeably more embedded into the cave than the previous one, and since it was already resting on the ground, there was no way to lift it up and carry it out like before. A few more moments of contemplation were enough for Skoll to come up with a solution.

“Have you ever made a rope?”

A few minutes of stumbling around in the dark was more than enough time for the unlikely duo to put the rockstar's sudden idea into action. Skoll stood back as the blue oni raised her hands into the air. At first, it was hard to tell what was going on. Slowly but surely, thin strings joined together to form two ropes fit for a giant.

Picking up the mass of densely packed string, Skoll placed the stark-white cable over his shoulder. Leaning forward, Skoll started counting down.

“Three…”

“Two…”

“One…”

“Go!”


Skoll and Juri pulled with all the fervor of a most passionate priest. Rock shifted and the iron leg groaned in protest, but like everything else in this world, the cave and castle were both impuissant against the power of teamwork. Breaking through the last of the stone that had swallowed the leg, small rocks and sparks alike flew into the dark expanse as the leg came to a stop.

Dropping the rope and turning to Juri, Skoll held out a fist.

“Let’s go! That’s two down from us!”

Word Count:


Last edited by Skoll on Tue Jan 30, 2024 3:44 pm; edited 3 times in total
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[Arc] Dreams of Kings and Castles: Part II- Peer Into the Abyss Empty Re: [Arc] Dreams of Kings and Castles: Part II- Peer Into the Abyss

This post has in-line assessment comments.Sat Jan 20, 2024 5:06 am
A bright toothy smile lit up Juri’s face as she bumped her comparably dainty fist against Skoll’s, “now we just have to hope that those tiny swordsmen aren’t too weak to hold up their end of the bargain!”

Nietzche grimaced as the red-haired monster that had freed him from Tequila Wolf dug a grave for another of the “liberated” prisoners, the fate that those men had been freed to live out was not an enviable one (partially at his own hand); the ex-doctor was forced to wonder if he would be the exception, or if he would join the growing pile of bodies left in the oni’s wake.

Doji however, was less concerned with the death of the ex-con; in his sense of blind justice, a loyal ally had killed a maddened traitor, the matter was as simple as that. Much like the other oni, the red-haired lad was more impressed with his comrade than anything else, however Nietzche’s affirment of loyalty was quickly overshadowed…

… the completion of Skoll and Juri’s Heraclean labor caused the entirety of the cave to tremble and groan to support the weight of the structure above, the sound of crumbling rock could be heard from below as bridges of stone snapped away into rubble – like muscle fibers tearing in an attempt to carry a weight far too heavy. It quickly became evident that the castle was hardly still stuck, with only a single limb rooting it to the walls of The Abyss it seemed as though the four-legged fortress was all but ready to walk onwards to its destiny.

While his fellows were preoccupied with the quaking of the earth around them, and even as he toppled to the ground, Nietzche’s mind was still most unsettled by the killing. In the faint light of the dark, the only thing that the doctor had seen in his friend’s eyes was the fury of a wounded, prideful, animal; he had once sworn an oath to protect life, but in that moment he felt that the only humane thing to do was to put an end to Bjorn’s madness before it could fester – to end the man’s suffering more mercifully than the red-haired ogre would have. The former doctor couldn’t help but wonder if he was doing the right thing following the path of someone who invoked such fear in him, but the thought of seeing his family again allowed Nietzche to justify the sacrifice of his humanity; one day he would return to Prodence and see his beloved wife Salomé and daughter Cici again, even if it killed him.

The jolting in Doji’s body slowly began fading into mere tremors, he had leaned on the strength of others and they hadn’t disappointed him. The rōnin jumped and skipped amongst the shivering of the earth, approaching Juri and Skoll with a wide and goofy looking grin on his face.

“Awesome work! Skoll, I’m sorry that we still have to rely on Raiko and meet up with those puny samurai. But once we’re done with all of that…” Doji grimaced up to the giant, “... when I put that arrogant little shit in his place, are you ready for this journey? We’ll all be the stewards of this fortress, I don’t know what that old man said to you, but once we’ve taken this thing into the Grand Line – what do you want to do there? I’m surprised a guy like you found your way out into the Blues in the first place.”

Meanwhile, the Samurai Stare Down the Last Leg of the Journey


“I don’t care who they built this thing for! It’s an astounding seat of power, it should belong to our clan; if you all think so little of me that I will lose in battle to that blind troll, then let us all draw our wakizashi and serve ourselves the sentence of the honorless and the craven this instant.”

“Brother, you’d really rather put us all in the way of that devil’s progeny than give up on your fantasy of sitting at the throne of this fortress of doom?”

Raiko’s other two men remained silent as the brothers exchanged in their discourse, to interrupt the family matter seemed like a good way to end up on the wrong end of a katana.

“You speak as though my victory is an impossibility! As though it’s my destiny to lose!...” As Raiko and his men surrounded the last lodged foot of the fortress, the young leader brandished his blade at his brother, “... the destiny of our clan is victory, glory, enlightenment. You should know that as well as I do Yorinobu, we are the last inheritors of our clan’s discipline, why should we settle for a position any lower than that monster’s?”

“You think of things in such childish terms, as though it’s a zero sum game. We can leave this whole foolish endeavor behind and sail onward into the East Blue, amongst all of the weaklings of these lesser seas we should have no problem acquiring all of the resources our clan needs to establish a new school; these monsters are something else, they’re more fit for the New World perhaps even then we were, it’s best we get out of their way, let them blaze their path in the new world, and hope they burn out.”

“Draw your sword then! If you wish to lead in the carrying out of our father’s mission! If you wish to pursue this path of toothless modesty for our noble clan then prove to me that this is the way of enlightenment; illustrate to me the virtue of your patience, show us all the fruits of your meticulous labor Yorinobu! You know that I have always been faster, stronger, more stubborn, and hardworking than any of our siblings – that is why father chose me as heir!”

“Tch – fine, if you won’t listen any other way,” with this, the purple-kimono’d Minamoto brother drew his blade from his scabbard and readied himself to clash with his brother, the prodigal son.

The moment he drew his sword his older brother was upon him like a wolf leaping toward its prey with fangs bared, the force of his sibling’s blow made it immediately clear that he was taking this duel deadly seriously, if Yorinobu hadn’t blocked the slash it would have ripped clean through his torso. As the two remaining users of the Shintō Munen-ryū clashed blades the stone of The Abyss around them became a canvas of violent collateral aftermath, both swordsmen were practiced “breathers” so cleaving their weapons through the rock itself was as simple as drawing a knife through soft butter.

Raiko’s chosen lieutenants exchanged a nervous look between one another before retreating into the mouth of a nearby tunnel. The walls of the cave that surrounded the battle between brothers looked as though they were beginning to crumble and slide into the mouth of The Abyss, and stalactites began falling from the ceiling – if the samurai stuck around they would have most likely been impaled, and it was only for the brothers’ superior speed that they were able to evade the spears that rained down on them as they fought.

“Put a rest to this Raiko! We’re meddling in the affairs of giants! Do you truly yearn for an early grave that badly?!” The younger of the two siblings swung his sword for his brother’s chest, coating his sword in a sturdy and stable armament haki.

“You dream too small my brother! Whatever distinction you see fit to draw between us and the great and powerful of this world, I promise you that I will sever it!” The force of the older brother’s swing was brutal and decisive – like the blade of a cleaver chopping through a sturdy length of rope – his brother’s sword was shattered into pieces as Raiko’s superior ambition, and his superior use of haki and the Shintō Munen-ryū, proved utterly overwhelming.

In that moment, the battle was over, and as though following the tides of fate the rock surrounding the walking castle’s leg crumbled into rubble, along with much of the cave system that had made up the surroundings of the samurai’s clash of wills.

Extending his hand down to his defeated younger brother, Raiko picked up Yorinobu, “we need to back off, good fight little bro, we got the job done in the process.”

With this, all of the samurai leaped away from the fourth leg and retreated into the darkness of the tunnels, with their work done they would soon have an uneasy reunion with the monster and would be able to see what the walking fortress was truly capable of. As the warriors left the dark and stony scene of their combat, the rock gave way entirely sliding into the darkness below and leaving the leg hanging freely above an empty hungering blackness.

A deep, gurgling, groan, echoed all throughout the cave system with an unsettling large volume. It was as though some massive thing was wailing out a abominable lamentation from below.

Word Count:
[/color][/color][/color]


Last edited by Doji on Tue Jan 30, 2024 11:58 am; edited 1 time in total
Skoll
Skoll
[tracker=/t2665-tracker-skoll#17174]
Name : Skoll
Epithet : Sleepwalker
Age : 18
Height : 28'8" | 873 cm
Weight : 21,711 lbs. | 9847 kg
Species : Giant-Human Crossbred
Faction : Pirate
Crew : Skoll's Rescue & Raiding
Ship : Woodstock
Crew Role : President | Navigator
Crew Pool : [bel=u] 75,000,000
Balance : [bel] 16,921,875
[[childofdestiny]][[dulcetvirtuoso]][[nauticalalmanac]]
[[improviseadaptovercome]]
Posts : 37

[Arc] Dreams of Kings and Castles: Part II- Peer Into the Abyss Empty Re: [Arc] Dreams of Kings and Castles: Part II- Peer Into the Abyss

This post has in-line assessment comments.Mon Jan 29, 2024 12:56 pm
“What do you want to do?” is a question that has plagued the teenage rockstar since his embarrassing retreat from the New World. Truthfully, for the longest time, Skoll didn’t have a clue what he wanted. And so the runaway rockstar sailed as long as he could. If he hadn’t been able to put that small fortune he had earned from touring towards smuggling him all the way to the East Blue, Skoll would surely have been apprehended by now.

At least, that’s what the rockstar used to have thought. But recently, it almost seemed as if everything in the bassist’s body was telling him to jump back into danger. When Skoll had first awoken the morning after that fateful afterparty, he had rushed for help only to be blamed for the destruction that took place. Why was it now, after he had met other people who had been branded as monsters, that Skoll felt as if he could charge back into the Grand Line with all of the reckless abandon that he used to be so proud of?

Solemn green eyes peered out into the tenebrous cave.

“Believe me, I didn’t end up here on purpose. I got framed, backstabbed by the people that I trusted the most…”

Skoll lumbered forward, leading the way back through the series of barely lit tunnels.

“Those self-absorbed assholes didn’t even bother hearing me out before they put a price on my head!” The rockstar clenched a massive fist, “I want to know why. More importantly…”

“I want to show them all the mistakes they made counting me out!”

In tune with Skoll’s determination-fueled proclamation, the Abyss had something to say as well. Much farther below than any of the monsters had gone, an all too familiar sound could be heard everywhere.

Stone breaking apart.

If the volume of the current situation wasn’t enough to grab the Yokai’s attention, the flash of light that followed was sure to do the job. Three times as bright as the last two times, white light blinded all those who could see. Skoll slammed a hand into the wall of the tunnel. If the impossibly huge cavern wasn’t already showing signs of collapse, the mini-crater that Skoll created might have been cause for alarm.

Pulling his mask over his eyes, Skoll booked it for what he could only hope was the way out.

“JUST FOLLOW ME GUYS!”

No matter how fast the troupe of troublesome trespassers moved, the Abyss, or whatever was hell-bent on bringing them down was never too far behind. Stepping stones much too weak to support Skoll broke apart like stale cookies. While this might have been an issue for any “normal-sized” man, standing over twenty-eight feet tall had a few boons, long strides being one of them.

Alas, Skoll’s surprisingly quick pace mattered little when face-to-face with a true force of nature. Sharp, stinging, pain pulsated from his temple. The ‘Abyss’, whatever it truly was, was back, not that Skoll could confirm it ever left in the first place.

The influence of this accursed place flooded the prideful punk’s psyche. The same images and emotions brought themselves forth. Visions of people cowering in fear, empty stages, and war-torn wastelands. Unlike the last time, however, Skoll had no time or energy to push these worries to the side.  It was strange, the more Skoll confronted these possible realities, the more content he felt. It was almost like…

There was never anything to be afraid of.

Turning on a heel, Skoll lifted his mask and gazed directly into the blinding abyss. A cocky smirk spread across the teenager's face as he held his bass at the ready.

“There’s nothing you can show me that I haven’t already seen before! We may both be monsters, but you're nothing like me!”

Thanks to the perfect acoustics near the castle’s doors, Skoll’s attack boomed with all the ferocity of a feral dog.

“SILVER BULLET!”

Thanks to the shoddy footing he had found himself on, Skoll was also sent flying backward. Crashing into the floor of the castle, while a bit painful, was many times more comparable than being trapped in that god-awful cavern.

When the oversized rockstar opened his eyes next, he was met with three Raiko’s scowling down at him.

“Didn’t expect to see you here!”

“Didn’t expect to see you here.”

As the extra Raikos disappeared, Skoll finally had the evidence to prove that even just one arrogant samurai was enough.

“Open the door, Giant. We’re only half done here.”

“Whatever…”

Grabbing hold of his bass, Skoll inspected it for any damage. As usual, the oversized instrument carried on without a single scratch. If only he had that same level of unnatural sturdiness. At least he was faring better than Nietzche, who seemed to be frozen with fear near the castle’s entrance. Thankfully, Doji and Juri needed no help from the living umbrella to close the entrance. Despite launching such an attack at whatever creature was in there, if there was ever one at all, Skoll was glad the doors were closed.

Unhooking the key from his belt, Skoll approached the heart of the castle. Gargantuan, bronze doors stood steadfast in their protection of the once-walking fortress. The half-giant put a hand on each door and pushed. The high-pitched creaking of the massive hinges was the only thing more obnoxious than the brewing animosity between the monsters and samurai.

Pointing at a sizable mound of fuel, Skoll called over his allies and Raiko

“There’s some coal in here, let’s see if we can get this thing running!”

Standing in front of the once-dead engine, Skoll couldn’t help but curiously study it while Raiko and Juri resupplied it with the fuel it so desperately called out for. The construction, the design, and even the very metal that it was composed of, all seemed to

Once the engine had as much coal as the group of monsters plus Raiko could feed it, Skoll returned the key back to its true home. Through the wide, metal grate of the burner, fire erupted and filled the engine room with its warm orange light.

The half-giant turned to a certain red-haired oni, who was waiting at the lone lever in the room.

“Hit it, Doji!”

For a second, it seemed as if nothing had happened at all. But just when Skoll was about to start complaining, the castle was sent hurtling upward. The passengers of the flying castle found themselves in the air for but a second. Like all things in this world, what goes up must come down. In that same vein, the bigger something is, the harder it falls. When the now-mobile fortress crashed into the sea, So too did Skoll crash into the stone floor of the engine room.

With no words left, Skoll could only laugh as the castle left its prison behind.

“Skokokokoko!”

Word Count:

Part III - Invocation Under Starlight
Gray
Gray
The Conqueror / Black Fist
[tracker=/t131-tracker-gray-starks#504]
Name : Gray
Epithet : "The Conqueror"; "Black Fist"
Age : 49
Height : 10'2" (310 cm)
Weight : 1043 lbs (473 kg)
Species : Cyborg Human
Faction : Pirate
World Position : Lurking Legend (Former Yonkou)
Crew : Black Fist Pirates (Destroyed)
Ship : Sangria's Vane (Destroyed)
Crew Role : Captain (Former)
Devil Fruit : Pressure-Pressure Fruit
Bounty : [ber=r] 5,000,000,000
EXP Bonus : +0.20 (to all allies)
Income Bonus : +0.20
Shop Discount : -30%
Balance : [bel] 25,000,000,000
[[strollingdeath]][[baneoftheweak]][[riseandshine]][[childofdestiny]][[freakofnature]]
[[punchoutguru]][[dulcetvirtuoso]]

[[improviseadaptovercome]]
Posts : 3907

[Arc] Dreams of Kings and Castles: Part II- Peer Into the Abyss Empty Re: [Arc] Dreams of Kings and Castles: Part II- Peer Into the Abyss

This post has in-line assessment comments.Wed Apr 10, 2024 9:00 pm
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