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[Arc] Dreams of Kings and Castles: Part III- Invocation Under Starlight Empty [Arc] Dreams of Kings and Castles: Part III- Invocation Under Starlight

This post has in-line assessment comments.Thu Feb 01, 2024 4:08 am
https://www.revivaldawn.com/t2757-arc-dreams-of-kings-and-castles-part-ii-peer-into-the-abyss#18462

Are the dreams of man little more than errant flames, dimly lighting some vast unconquerable dark? Is there any way that these flickering little lights can hope to carry forth the wills that form them? Perhaps so, the wills of the greatest, like bonfires that roar into the night; these fiercest infernos become confluences for the embers around them, each man casts his own into the strongest fire of them all, and hope that their bonfire might keep burning. But which of these flames will blaze brightest? What supernova can hope to rival the sun? Or will all be extinguished by darkness?

Many hours had passed when in the depths of the night, as though propelled forth by an eruption of dust and smoke, the castle was dislodged from its resting place and sent hurtling skywards.

“YOUNG MAN! JURI! RED-HAIR! CARRY ON THE LEGACY OF OUR WORK! SEE THAT THE CASTLE WE BUILT FINDS ITS SEAT IN THE KINGDOM OF GIANTS! YOU KIDS ARE OUR LAST HOPE! YOUNG MAN! I KNOW THAT YOU’LL BE THE ONE TO DELIVER THE WALKING FORTRESS!”

The colossus bore a proud smile across his face as he called up to the youngsters, he and his fellow laborers’ masterwork had done more than simply crawl from its nest, it had leapt forth into the sky like a baby bird taking flight for the first time. Waterfalling from his cataracted eyes, the tears of Sophroniscus flowed to the ground and glittered beneath the pale moonlight; he had never felt more pride than in this moment, and for the first time in nearly a century, he had hope that the great work of he and his fellow architects would see its purpose fulfilled.

It had been a long time since his memory had shone to him with any clarity, everything from back then seemed foggy and distant; but as he saw their great castle sailing toward its destiny, he remembered the faces of his family – he remembered one of the few moments of happiness that they had shared throughout their long and arduous years of labor: the 6th birthday party of Sophroniscus’ goddaughter Juri. The oni girl was still too young to ask questions about her missing father and the elders of the colony fondly reminisced, telling the stories of their fallen comrades who had all been sentenced to their dismal work in The Abyss.

The torrential tears of the giant, along with the chunks of rubble which rained down from the plume of debris tailing the castle, gave ample reason for the samurai who had remained on the island waiting for their liege to begin scrambling for their ship. As the dark black cloud of smoke, dust, and soot rose up from the depths of the abyss, the (admittedly superstitious) men of Wano had to rub at the corners of their eyes to bring themselves back to reality; for a moment it seemed as though some leviathan monster with grasping, wanting, hungering, claws and teeth, was chasing after the fortress as it flew.

Even as the newly forming crew and their unwelcome guests flew in the quaking building, Juri heard her adoptive father’s words unmistakably, and – using the power of her Devil Fruit to stabilize her motion – made her way for the sole porthole which allowed for those within the heart of this strange engine room to see the outside world.

“Papa! I’ll miss you! I promise that we’re gonna make it to the end of the Grand Line! You trust this guy?!...” Juri pointed to Skoll as she spoke, “... then I’m gonna do everything that I can to make sure that he has all the food and manpower he needs!”

Showing a final smile down to her adoptive father, the girl rolled up her sleeves and flexed her muscles before comically punching her hand into her fist.

Raiko couldn’t help but look down on his own men through the window and contrast them with the monsters aboard the ship. The men who had followed him from the New World to stand as unassailable amongst the Blues were as weak as any common soldier, fleeing from danger the moment it presented itself; the giants were something else, with bright expressions, each of them seemed to revel in the larger than life calamity. The monsters were not strangers in this strange land, they had been born to sit at the center of impossible, almost mythological, events such as these.

“You look as though you’re starting to understand my point,” the young lord’s brother chided.

“Shut up. Wait until me and that thing have fought our settling bout to gloat.”

“I only hope that I’ll have my darling brother alive and well to gloat to.”

Lightning Alights the Clouds Near Loguetown and Reveals a Silhouette Looming Above


Like a legion of wardrummers, the thunder that boomed out from the lightning storm seemed to herald the coming of the invading force, it was like something out of a fairytale: a giant castle in the sky…

… or – a giant castle falling out of the sky at the very least. Regardless, most of the pirates heading for the Grand Line knew well enough that strange occurrences like this meant nothing good. Many had heard the rumors of the supposed “castle island,” but all knew intuitively that the monstrous structure was headed straight for Loguetown; it quickly became apparent to all the people of the island, civilian and pirate alike, that they would either have to batten down the hatches or risk losing everything in the ensuing chaos.

Captain Poe was a bit nervous as he conversed with the insanely beautiful lady, the clamorous discord of the surrounding situation did nothing to ease his nerves, the woman looked down at him with her cool forest-green eyes and spoke with a inquisitive lilt in her tone before blowing more air into the bubble of gum swelling at the corner of her mouth, “so, you seen this guy?”

A wanted poster, “Cemetery Ghoul” Asakura Doji, worth 8,500,000 Berri. It was the blind oni that had followed along with the giant who had vexed him. The guy he had seen seemed at least most destructive, if not powerful enough, that he hadn’t thought the monster’s bounty would be so close to his own. If he and the New Raven Pirates were able to fend off the giants, perhaps they could plunder enough Berri to buy a new ship, and increase the renown of their members by defeating a notable pirate.

[npc=pirt]“I did see that man – I don’t know what their affairs are here, but it looked as though a troupe of samurai from the closed country of Wano Kuni managed to enlist him, and a certain giant, into their service. I don’t know what those men are doing here in the East Blue, we’re all fighting to reach the Grand Line and fight for the treasure and those jerks who were already so close to it decided to come back here and pick on the smallest fish they could find.”[/npc]

Luccia smirked, her own story wasn’t so dissimilar; but she was an assassin, that wretched man known as Asakura Doji was traveling with a samurai who ought to have more honor than to use the Blues as hunting grounds.

Marcy, the short lieutenant of Les Dames Terribles, spoke up, “whatever the reason, if you know where they are then…” as the flashes of lightning lit up the sky, the shortstack was suddenly made aware of just how tiny she was as she stared up to the enormous fortress looming in the clouds, the shadow had appeared as though from out of nowhere and its immensity seemed almost impossible in scale, “... uh – scratch that. You guys should take a gander out the window.”

“Ugh. Yeah, you’re right. If I had to guess – that’s where both of our guys are.”

After nervously popping her bubble with the sharp nail of her forefinger, Luccia furrowed her brow and pointed up to the impending disaster.

Splashdown


As the enormous vessel plunged down into the turbulent storm-whipped waters, tsunami waves were sent rippling outward from the center of the buoy-like bobbing of the fortress. As the exhilaration of the moment was (literally) dampened, the glimmer of joy washed away from Doji’s face as he grew to the corner of the room like a wallflower.

Even in the oni’s mind, a storm brews…
Once we’ve arrived there, I have no more excuses. We can’t postpone the conclusion of this battle any longer. I’ll either win, or I’ll die trying. I have to win this, for mom, and the clan – but also for Skoll and this weird girl’s sakes. It’s time to determine whether or not I can truly clash steel with the people of the Grand Line, with a samurai from Wano, he’s still young like I am; we both have something to prove here. Using this sword is beginning to eat at me…

The hungering nodachi’s scabbard shone blood red as it sat dormant, waiting at the monster’s hip for its next chance to feast,

… I don’t wish to be a mindless purveyor of death, least of all amongst those who choose to follow me. I want the people I travel with to see their dreams fulfilled, not to lead them to their untimely demise. I’ve already sacrificed so much more than I’ve meant to try to find my place in history – nothing I can do can atone for the life of that girl. I wonder if I should have left that place. A monster like me would be most at home in that unending darkness.

After sailing toward Loguetown for a short bit, the Blue Oni notices the Red Oni’s dismay…

“Hey, come upstairs,” Juri spoke curtly as she waltzed up to Doji and grabbed him by the wrist.

Nietzche glared at the pair of oni as they made their way out of the castle’s heart. He could only imagine what kind of destruction the savage ogres would cook up next.

“What is it?” Doji spoke to the girl as they made their way up the enormous spiral staircase.

“You tell me, you’re the one with the mopey look on your face,” coming to a hallway, Juri quickly navigated the duo to a sequestered room.

The giant chamber was organized in its layout, however the purpose of the structure seemed comparably obscure; some great mechanism churned at the wall’s side delivering containers of water upward to some unseen delivery point, and returning back down emptied of their contents. Decorative fountains all across the room babbled and swelled, displaying beautiful scenes of combat between legendary monsters and giants, the red-haired oni was blind to the room’s splendor – but the blue-haired girl had enjoyed her visits to this room since she was a little child.

“I like the way this room sounds…” Doji spoke, his ears attuning to the tranquility of the running water, “... it puts my mind at ease.”

“Tch, what, so you’re afraid of fighting that little guy?” Juri leaned up against the wall, looking at the overgrown bastard in comparison to the giant sculptures that surrounded him – whoever this Asakura Doji guy was, he was right at home in these scenes of epic battle. A warrior like that had no place cowering in the face of a mortal man.

“No. That’s not it. What I think I fear most – is that I might never be good enough…”

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 III- Invocation Under Starlight Empty Re: [Arc] Dreams of Kings and Castles: Part III- Invocation Under Starlight

This post has in-line assessment comments.Mon Feb 05, 2024 12:01 am
What is a legacy? What makes one worthy of being handed to the people of tomorrow? The scope of the now-freed castle-turned-boat was truly an impressive feat of engineering and perseverance. But was it accolades alone that made something worthy of being remembered by the next generation? Or was it based purely on pride for a people that Skoll had never met before that he agreed to bring the castle to Elbaf?

Regardless, Soph's words of encouragement to the crew of outcasts were enough to embolden Skoll’s resolve, even if he couldn’t quite grasp why he cared so much.

Wishing to celebrate a triumphant return to the sea, Skoll turned to Doji and Juri, only to be met with the meek stares of Raiko’s underlings. Rolling his bright green eyes, the half-giant was unable to hide his disappointment, not that he was ever going to give them the luxury of politeness in the first place.

Despite the sudden absence of the two oni, Skoll’s spirits remained as high as ever. The feeling of finally succeeding at something after being on the run for so long was one the rockstar had been waiting to revel in.

Of course, there was still much work to be done. Between the pirates that Skoll and Doji had humiliated and the giant’s half-destroyed longship still sitting in the shipyard, some sizable loose ends needed to be tied up before the monsters could actually head to Reverse Mountain.

But all of that stuff was secondary to what Skoll considered his biggest problem.

How the hell do you operate this thing?

Seeing as this was no traditional ship, there had to be some trick to it. Obviously, no wheel could direct this mountain of stone and metal, and there are no sails to speak of either…

Skoll stopped thinking too hard before any smoke had the chance to shoot out of his ears. Even if Skoll knew what he was doing, he still had no clue where anything in this castle was. It wasn’t like Sophroniscus handed the half-giant an owner's manual when he got the place.

The way Skoll saw it, the only way to learn more about something was to jump right in and pray for the best. Swinging the bronze doors open, The purple-haired rockstar set off on his quest for answers.

The Pride of a Pirate


If the egregious deluge wasn’t enough to make most pirates regret unfurling their sails, a mighty wave was sure to change their minds. The masterfully crafted hull of the Treasure Stache was rocked by the relentless onslaught. Had they been any normal gang of thugs, the Mustache Pirates would have surely met their end already.

Standing stalwart on the center of the Treasure Stache’s deck, Captain Ben Pease, scowled at both the sea and storm clouds alike. If either wished to rid this world of him, they were free to take their best shot.

The voice of whatever poor soul stuck up in the crow’s nest was barely visible over the shrieking winds.

[npc=pirt]“Captain! Something big on the port side!”[/npc]

The bald-faced captain pulled out his own spyglass and took a look for himself.

The open sea was dark, but the occasional crack of thunder was more than enough to see what lay in the distance. A stronghold many times larger than his vessel loomed in the distance. But where most men would turn in their chips and flee, Ben Pease forged onward.

Defiantly drawing a cutlass, The Captain shouted into the wind.

“Who cares if those rumors were true!? That fort will fall just like all the others!”

A Search for Answers


Through the increasingly winding and maze-like hallways of the floating fortresses' upper levels, Skoll could finally see the giant’s craftsmanship for what it was. Each room seemed to serve a purpose. From the barracks to the ballroom, it was clear that such a palace was meant for more than a small handful of people.

After a half hour of mindless exploration, Skoll found himself near where the tentative group of spelunkers had started. Sitting in the middle of one of the castle's many intersections was the very same book that had caught his eye before. Although the dark blue cover was faded and torn at the edges, Skoll could tell that the pages were still in near-pristine condition.

Just as the curious giant cracked open the strange tome, a voice shattered the silence, “That book… I’ve seen it before.”

Word Count:
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[Arc] Dreams of Kings and Castles: Part III- Invocation Under Starlight Empty Re: [Arc] Dreams of Kings and Castles: Part III- Invocation Under Starlight

This post has in-line assessment comments.Tue Feb 06, 2024 5:18 am

As the Giant Ponders the Volume, the Fortress Approaches Loguetown


“It doesn’t look like we have long before that thing arrives – but I guess people want to treat this like any other storm, hope that it’ll blow past them and leave the important things standing.”

[npc=pirt]“Most of them anyways…”[/npc] looking out the window alongside the shorter of the strange women, Poe settled his eyes upon the pirate making his last stand down on the docks, [npc=misc]“... it seems we may have a useful idiot or two. Those men were humiliated by the giants as well, it looks as though they’re looking to reclaim their pride.”[/npc]

“We’ll see what good they are,” the Kuja nervously chomped at her gum as she mulled over the possible outcomes of the coming catastrophe. She’d seen how troublesome her quarry could be on his lonesome, Asakura Doji didn’t need any help causing mayhem, and since he’d escaped her clutches in the North it seemed that he’d found friends and – an enormous castle of all things – to help blaze his warpath.

“Ma’am, I’m inclined to agree with the man. We should make the best of this opportunity while we still have it…” as Marcy spoke these words, thunder grumbled down from the sky as though some heavenly chorus concurred, “... I’ve been working on a new poison to put down the oni – I had to pay primo berri for information and ingredients from Mystoria Island; supposedly it’s the homeland of the oni, controlled by one of the four emperors; some of the few flora and fungi with properties truly toxic to them grow there.”

[npc=pirt]“Hmm. I don’t suppose you think this poison would prove efficacious against a Giant, do you?”[/npc]

The notion struck a nerve of curiosity in the inquisitive girl, though she was hardly eager to waste the culmination of her resources and research.

“Hmm – now that you mention it, I don’t know. Why do you ask?”

[npc=pirt]“If the oni hasn’t managed to kill those samurai yet, then we may have somebody to do most of the job for us in that regard; their leader seemed to be keeping up with him quite well, for all I know they could all be dead at this point – but if fortune favors us, perhaps your associate may be given a moment to strike.”[/npc]

Poe gestured humbly to the tall, slender, drop-dead gorgeous woman, before rubbing the back of his neck.

“Hmm…”

With this, the three rogues began conniving a plan amongst themselves that (they hoped) would spell the downfall of the mighty giants.

Meanwhile, Tears Fall in the Fountain Room


“Pfft – good enough for what? Why mope around and let things get to you so much, Red?”

“I’ve already led people astray. Men died thinking they would follow me to victory…” as errant tears dropped from the monster’s blind eyes, he let out a chuckle laced with nihilism and tried to force a smile to his face, “... so I wonder, if it isn’t best for me to let you all go on your journey – if I won't just get us all lost and killed like those prisoners from Tequila Wolf.”

“You won’t get us lost. You can’t…” Juri spoke matter-of-factly, a wide smile stretching across her face as she ran up to the boy and gently punched him in the chest, “... my Papa and his friends built this Castle to carry their dream to a land near the very end of the grand line. You can think however much you’d like about your place in the world, try to follow through on this grand ambition of yours but – look around you.”

A moment of silence passed between the two.

“I can’t do that.”

“Oh. Right. Well – still you understand what I’m saying right? This castle, this world, they have to make you feel small sometimes right? Humans never did, but when I realized that I’d never see my dad again – I realized how small I was, and how big this world is.”

“Naruhodo. You’re saying that you want me to be a part of this dream? Do you think the old man would have?”

“You heard him yourself! What does it matter what I think anyways? You seem dead-set on seeing your dream come true, that’s your burden to carry.”

“Ha. I suppose you’re right,” Doji’s eyes dried, and the smile on his face took on a more solemn and earnest character; though behind him – the graven face of a giant woman still wept like a fountain  – not with sadness, but with joy.

“But for whatever it’s worth, I do think you can do it. I think you and the big guy are more than good enough to be the brave warriors of the sea who carry the fortress to its destination.”

“Brave warriors of the sea – pirates you mean?”

“Aren’t you both pirates?”

“Hmm. Eh – you know, people always called me a pirate ever since I stole that boat back in the West Blue, but I was never sure exactly what it really meant. Most of the other people I met who were called pirates were pushovers, Duke Nox of Lvneel, and now Skoll, are the only two who have given me much reason to believe otherwise.”

“Most pirates are pushovers, he says! Wai-fu-fu-fu–” suddenly ceasing her obnoxious laughter, a sweatdrop of embarrassment rolled from the blue oni’s forehead.

“But still, it sounds like you’ve met a couple of true pirates…” Juri thought back to her adolescent years living near Loguetown, and watching sailors head for the Grand Line, “... there’s plenty of people who can’t cut it, but the strongest little men I saw cross that line reminded me of people like you and Skoll. True pirates are people with big dreams, most sailors are just chasing after treasure, but to really make it out there in the Grand Line? You need a dream that’s strong enough to stand against the most brutal sea in the world – and what’s more, to stand against the most brutal pirates in the world: other people whose dreams can conquer the sea. Those are the only people who can truly survive out there.”

Humans Bickers in the Heart of the Giants’ Castle


As the brothers sat in stony silence, and their two allies nervously fed coal into the engines of the great, hungering, thing. Both could fixate their loathing solidly on the traitor to their species who had made himself subservient to the whims of the giants. The young men had grown up in Wano, a peaceful, secluded, isolated, bastion of humanity that had prospered under the protection of the Kozuki Shogunate and their benefactors; their sensibilities were those of loyalty, duty, and honor – it was plain to see by the striped prisoner’s shirt that he wore beneath his jacket, that Nietzche was none of these things.

“Is something the matter?” Though usually yellow-bellied, the man was on edge; and much of the self-preservation that guided his cowardice had been sapped from him by the abyss. By the loss of all the other prisoners who had followed the discretion of giants and died for it.

“You follow Asakura-chan around. So yes, maybe there is something the matter with you – hardly my business to meddle in the affairs of the insane.”

“Ha, you think I'm mad for following after Doji. Fair enough, I’m beginning to think much the same, but some things are worth suspending one’s better judgment for. What is it that brought you sequestered samurai all the way out here to the Blues?”

The two brothers briefly conferred amongst one another, seemingly deciding whether or not to tell the man of their purpose; eventually, the younger brother spoke.

“Our father died recently, and our uncle didn’t think either of us were ready to head our clan. A wise practitioner of Nitoryu, an old family friend who our father respected greatly – suggested that we ought to go out into the world seek our fortune, and that if either of us could return a piece of the lost history to Wano Kuni we would become the head of the Minamoto clan; and that if one of us died in our journey, then the matter would be settled.”

“Think what you may, I have no great desire to see my brother die…” turning back to his men, Raiko grimaced, “... even if we often fight in earnest, he is one of the few swordsmen I’ve met who can withstand my technique.”

“Seems you may have found another worthy adversary; I hope for your sake that Doji doesn’t settle this familial dispute for you.”

Thunder boomed out through the sky, shaking the floating castle to its very foundations.


“Asakura Doji is nothing but a loathsome brat who thinks so highly of himself as to believe he stands any true chance of standing against the Grand Line, the New World, or redeeming a clan that will forever be marked in history as irredeemable. Whatever faith you’re putting in him, I suggest that you give up on it now, before I put an end to it for you.”

Laughing as he leaned up against the wall, Nietzche withdrew a pipe from his coat, packed it full of tobacco, and took a puff from it – expelling his smoke into the already hellishly hot room.

“Perhaps you’re right to warn me. Call me a gambling man, but I’d hazard to wager that the beast can get me at least far enough to reunite me with my beloved wife and daughter. I suppose we’ll see if I’m utterly mad to place my faith in a man whose blind ambition seems to destroy everything that gets in its way – maybe you’ll be the first thing that gets in his way and comes out the other side in one piece.”

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 III- Invocation Under Starlight Empty Re: [Arc] Dreams of Kings and Castles: Part III- Invocation Under Starlight

This post has in-line assessment comments.Sat Mar 02, 2024 10:16 pm
It was not uncommon for the more well-read members of the DoerenaThe kingdom's high society to say that all it took was a good book to bring them to another world. Skoll never thought they were serious, but when the familiar sensation of sitting atop snow returned to the rockstar, he had little explanation for what else could have happened.

“Dude…”

The half-giant expended a great deal of effort to rip his weary eyes away from the yellowed pages. But when the not-so-well-read rockstar met his gaze with whoever the hell it was that interrupted him, a sense of dread snaked its way to the purple-haired delinquent’s heart. Looming over the seated sleepyhead, a man, if he could even still be referred to as such, balanced on his precarious perch. What were surely once stark black feathers had obviously been singed from the flames that often come with conflict.

“Where am I? Who are you?” Skoll furrowed his brow, “Scratch that. Why are you here?”

Dropping a charred spear to the snow, the black-feathered freak's raspy laugh shook the nearby branches.

“You ask a lot of questions for a guy who falls asleep during battle! I mean, maybe if you didn’t conk out every five minutes you might remember how you got here!”

Just when Skoll found the words to properly fight back against the verbal assault, the lone soldier continued.

"But if I had to answer one of your questions..." Bringing a hand to his chin, the mad soldier sat in thought for a few moments, “... I am just a follower of the Chieftain. Names are for those who still cling to their humanity. I have already left everything behind, just as you will.”

“You must've taken one too many hits to the head if you think we're headed down the same path!” Leaving the ash-covered glade, Skoll set off into the war-torn woods.

“Leaving so soon? Tell me, boy, are you going to finally kill the Chieftain? Or have you decided to turn tail and flee yet again?”

"If I run he'll just hunt me down again, I'm going to end this for good."

"How?"

Skoll held up the weathered book and continued into the misty woods, “With this.”

Scrambling down to the forest floor, the ash-covered warrior followed the young musician, "I've never seen someone try to kill the boss with a book before. I'm coming with you!"  

A cocky smile flashed across the indignant teenager's face.

“Suit yourself.”

A Walk Through the Flaming Forest


It wasn't difficult for the duo of giants to track down the Chieftain. Not that it was a very complicated endeavor. Like all natural disasters, one just had to follow the path of destruction left in its wake.

Blue and black feathers littered the lines of fallen trees, acting as coals for the smoldering flames that gleefully ate at the forest. The ember-laden path ended at the site of the Chieftain's most recent site of conquest. Thatch rooftops had been set aflame, and blood littered the gravel streets. Warriors not unlike the one that accompanied Skoll partied in the town's center. Drunk off a mix of ale and adrenaline, the tribe of troubled fighters only cleared the plaza when Skoll approached their leader.

"Vikikikiki!..." The blue-bearded conqueror pointed his spear at the young half-breed, "... So you finally decided to pick up a book, Skoll! Try as you might, no amount of higher education can save you from your true calling!"

"This isn't a textbook you battle-hungry moron! It's your biography, but I still have to write the last chapter!"

Rising from a makeshift throne, the Chieftain descended the still-burning staircase, "If you insist on doing this, I'll gladly make a fool out of you again!"

Word Count:
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[Arc] Dreams of Kings and Castles: Part III- Invocation Under Starlight Empty Re: [Arc] Dreams of Kings and Castles: Part III- Invocation Under Starlight

This post has in-line assessment comments.Thu Mar 07, 2024 4:24 am
Looking onward, stalwart into the wind, captain Ben Pease of the now bald-faced Mustache Pirates stood at the helm of his ship and gazed out into the darkness of the evening waters ahead. Only by the shakily held beam of their captain’s lantern was a path forward illuminated, and only through the crew’s diligent steering were they able to avoid the spines of rock which jutted up from the shallows. Pease could sense the unease amongst his crewmates, they could see the castle in the distance only by the errant fulgurations of the stormy weather surrounding them; it had been several minutes since lightning last struck, as well as they knew the enormous fortress could be lurking anywhere out there in the dark.

The captain reached for the mustache that was the pride of his stiff upper lip, where there had once stood an illustrious and well-waxed stache of gem-cut precision, now there was only an ill-manicured stubble. A single, manly tear leaking from his eye, Pease twirled the longest facial hairs available to him: the two lengthy and wirelike hairs that had fallen out of his nose shortly after he’d eaten the cursed fruit.

Turning back to his crew, the man put his hand to his chest and spoke to his crew earnestly, “men, I know that our mission seems doomed – but we are fighting for something greater than ourselves! We fight for the dignity of the mustache pirates, to avenge our fallen bristles and show the world that we shall show no mercy to anybody who stands in our way of growing the greatest staches on the seven seas! Our mustaches symbolize our pride as pirates, and these thoughtless monsters have inflicted an unforgivable injustice on us! Let us tear down their pride in turn, and make their plundering of Castle Island moot!”

At just this moment, lightning struck in the sky and illuminated the enormous shadow of the floating fortress looming above the Treasure Stache, thunder followed instantly booming out across the surrounding ocean.

Pease’s first mate broke the following silence with a nervous shakiness to his voice, [npc=pirt]“the captain is right men! There’s no turning back now! We have to believe in our captain, believe in our crew, believe in ourselves – otherwise we stand no chance! We can’t give up before even trying! We’ve already lost too much, and we’re already in too deep! We can’t just let these monsters trample over us!”[/npc]

Flaring his nostrils, the captain’s whiplike nose hairs waggled with excitement, one way or another he knew that he would lead his crew to their destiny.

Meanwhile, Within the Lightning-Struck Castle…


[npc=misc]“What the hell was that?”[/npc] One of the mercenaries hired by the Minamoto boys muttered in the direction of his employers, referring to the shaking of the building, and the oppressive static that hung in the air.

The young samurai’s eyes glanced upward to his hair, which was now standing on end and reaching toward the ceiling. Looking to Yorinobu, Raiko could see that his brother’s longer mane was all the worse affected, “lightning. You can feel it in the air.”

“Pff, what gave it away genius, the instant sound of thunder?”

“He asked in earnest, so I answered. Somebody’s getting antsy, what’s the matter brother?”

“Does any of this bode well to you? I have no idea where the big guy went, and the two horned ones are probably off conspiring to kill us all. I just think you’re being awfully optimistic if you think you can salvage this situation and get these monsters under control.”

Sitting in the corner of the room, Nietzche exhaled sharply from his nose in amusement, seemingly as though to concur with Yorinobu.

Raiko glared back at his brother and then to the umbrella-man before turning his back on the rest of the men and making his way for the stairs that led further into the castle.

The first matter of business is finding that giant purple-haired guy and making sure that he knows who’s really in charge here. I know that I can beat the red-haired one in battle and the blue-haired girl’s devil fruit power is no match for my haki. Little bro might not think that I’ve got things under control right now, but I’ll show him precisely what I’m capable of. One way or another, I will force that giant to submit and work for me.

It wasn’t long before Raiko came across the oversized man that he was looking for.

If the crack of thunder combined with Raiko’s vicious and grating voice wouldn’t rouse the sleeping lad, then nothing would:

“OY! WAKE UP GIANT! You and I have business to discuss. I demand a proper explanation as to why it seems you’re still intent on showing fealty and friendship to that red-haired mongrel rather than the Minamoto clan! My family is more prestigious, more honorable, and more accomplished than his could ever hope to be! The old giant chose you to ferry this castle to its final destination, with our strength combined I know that we can track down a valuable piece of the lost history to return to my homeland. Why not follow me, rule over the rest of these monsters and conquer the seas together?”

Nakama


“So that’s what it truly means to be a pirate…” Juri observed the red-haired lad as he pondered the meaning of the word, “... I’ve spent a long time pursuing the dream of my mother, the redemption of our clan. I trained with another mentor in this sea who made me reconsider my path to that dream, a fire serves no purpose if it does not warm the hearts of those around it. I walked a lonely road until I came to this island. It took meeting people like you and Skoll to make me realize that I could rely on others, this is the first time I’ve felt any true comradery since leaving my homeland.”

Juri clapped her hands in excitement, before hammering her point into Doji’s head, “Comrade?! Perfect! Perfect! Perfect! That’s what you need if you want to lead people! It’ll always be a shame when people die chasing after the dreams of their captain, but if you don’t treat those people as disposable – and if you all chase after the same dream…”

Juri smiled a wild and sharp-toothed grin, “... then those peoples’ dreams never die!”

Suddenly, and with little warning, the mechanical legs below the fortress seemed to find purchase on the seafloor and what was previously smooth sailing turned into a rough and frenetic ambulation that shook the entirety of the ship.

Juri turned her attention to the fountains behind her, the flowing water which normally made for pleasant ambiance was now flooding and spilling outwards into the fortress. But more peculiarly, though her vision was obscured by her long blue hair, Juri spotted a human child scrambling out from one of the basins – but as soon as the little girl had appeared, she had darted past the pair of oni riding a torrent of water that sloshed past like a miniature tsunami.

“Hey! There’s a stowaway! We can talk more about dreams later bro! After ‘er!”

With this, the blue-haired oni gave chase, and her newfound friend followed closely behind.

Outside the Fortress


Following shortly after the explosive sound of thunder, Pease was almost thrown from the figurehead of his vessel, but narrowly managed to tumble ass backwards onto the deck of the ship. Better than sinking like a rock, he was well aware of the drawbacks of possessing a devil fruit power; in a perfect world where he and his crew had never been troubled by the giants, he would never have resorted to eating the fruit, and would have just tried to pawn it off to some poor old sap who didn’t know the joy of an afternoon swim. But now, Ben had forsaken everything that would hold him back from pursuing revenge against the men who severed his stache; a decade’s work of careful grooming had been flushed down the drain in an instant, he would bring those responsible to their knees.

Whipping his nose hairs around the nearby rocky sea stacks, Pease carved out a boulder of sufficient size and wrangled it up above his head. Throwing his head downard, the captain hurled the stone like a trebuchet. The artillery shot of the man-turned-siege-weapon found its mark perfectly on one of the ambulating “knees” of the bizarre structure; and what already seemed like a chaotic landing was knocked into complete disorder.

As the walking fortress headed toward Loguetown, there was no rhyme or reason to its movements, and it was only by the grace of good fortune that the Treasure Stache was not swallowed by the waves left in its wake. Looking back toward the island, Pease seemed all too pleased with his work – though the castle was careening toward a commercial district with no sign of stopping, he was sure that the impact would spell certain doom for the objects of his loathing. Even if the crash itself wasn’t enough to kill the giants, the monsters would all be right where the assassins wanted them.

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 III- Invocation Under Starlight Empty Re: [Arc] Dreams of Kings and Castles: Part III- Invocation Under Starlight

This post has in-line assessment comments.Mon Mar 25, 2024 4:56 pm
Shredded, blood-soaked papers drifted across the flaming battlefield. The Chieftain’s birdlike followers had already fled to the skies surrounding the village. Burned from the smoldering remains of an already forgotten civilization, Skoll couldn’t help but laugh.

“Keep attacking me all you like, Menexenus…” Skoll doubled over as the extent of his injuries began to catch up with him, “As long as I hold this book, You hurt yourself every time you hit me!”

“WHAT!?”

The flames surrounding the two giants seemed to burn even brighter in response to the Chieftain’s rage.

“DO YOU HAVE NO HONOR!? NO PRIDE!?”

Yanking a rusted spear out of the ashen ground, The blue-feathered berserker charged Skoll.

“TO FIGHT WITH SUCH COWARDLY METHODS! ONLY YOUR DEATH CAN MEND THIS!”

Stampeding steps of a long-mad warrior shook the very earth. By the time Skoll had clamored to his feet there was no time left to defend, let alone counterattack.

But that was never the plan anyway.

Throwing the now-pageless tome to the raging inferno, Skoll held out his arms and closed his eyes. After all, he had already been scarred on his back before.

But the Chieftain’s final attack never came. Lit aflame just as the last piece of the book was tossed into the fire, the Chieftain writhed in agony.

“DON’T JUST SIT UP THERE YOU FOOLS! GET HIM!”

Even if the soldiers could’ve intervened, Skoll doubted they would have. They, too, were on fire. Freed from their feathery affliction, they fell one by one back to the scorched village.

“You threw away everything that made you who you are. You gave up on your dreams and desired to drag everyone else down with you. Don’t worry, Menexenus, I’ll figure out what happened to you…” Skoll watched the lavender feathers that covered his arms burst into flame before he collapsed, “... After all… I’m the… only one who can!”

The Giant Issue

Through the loud, unpredictable storm that raged beyond the castle’s walls, Skoll’s snoring was little more than a wayward bassline. With no vocalist or lead guitar to guide his song anywhere meaningful, The rockstar was fine just letting his music be.

However, it seemed that Raiko had no such intention of letting sleeping dogs lie. In tandem with the powerful tempest outdoors, the Minamoto clansmen berated the bassist. Sitting up as if he had been shocked himself, Skoll frantically patted down his hair.

Only after an awkward amount of time spent restyling his purple mane did Skoll acknowledge what Raiko had said.

“The reason I would rather hang out with Doji instead of you?” The bassist lifted an eyebrow, “I’ve met plenty of people like you, Raiko. Men who view me as nothing more than a tool to further their own ends, I could never respect someone like that…” Leaning up against the closest wall, Skoll continued, “... We both may be set on conquering the seas, but I have no interest in lording over the weak. The treasure I’m searching for is something you can’t take out of a chest.”

Throwing his ever-present bass over his back, Skoll began his descent back down to the fortress's engine room.

“Besides, You’re only the third strongest person in this castle…”

Word Count:
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 : 3900

[Arc] Dreams of Kings and Castles: Part III- Invocation Under Starlight Empty Re: [Arc] Dreams of Kings and Castles: Part III- Invocation Under Starlight

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

GRADING


Quality Score (Re)assessment: No

Forgoing quest assessment as Doji no longer exists.

[info]Quest archived upon request.[/info]


REWARDS

Skoll:



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