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Big Eyes, Small Mouth (BESM): In the Shadows of the City - The Shrine and beyond


Justin OOC

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Skye grinned with relief to see the other students, but that relief faded when she realized that it wasn't all of them, not yet. "Where are the others?" she said, her eyes looking for a lanky form and refusing to admit that she was doing so. "Should we go looking for them? They could be hurt or trapped."

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Ken looks to Lindh,

"Please go aloft and see if you can spy them anywhere."

To the team,

"We should head in the direction of their search zone. It's our best hope. We should also be strong enough together to face most anything evil that is countering our patrols."

The more weary Ken looks, the more handsomely etched his features become, taking on an almost otherworldly charm.

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"We found five of the three-headed oni dogs," Keiko panted. "They were too much for us. Only it's worse...they used to be people. We heard them talking to each other. They were people who gave themselves to the demons and became demons themselves."

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"Wait..." Skye breathed, her pale skin somehow blanching further, "we've been killing people?" Her big blue eyes were wide with shock, and the tears that welled there spilled over her cheeks without resistance. She looked absolutely sickened at the thought.

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"How do you know?" Skye asked, then shook her head. "They might be able to be saved. Maybe the ones who haven't been eating others. We can't just write them off! They're not demons! They're living beings and if they were human, maybe they can be again." She around the room, still crying. "Aren't we even going to try?!"

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Lindh looks to Skye and looks over her. "Truly the blood of the Lunar Priestess flows in your veins. She was among the greatest forces for good in the last war, and among the only voices for compassion. Even she knew however, that once a human becomes a demon, there is no return, no going back. the only thing that could be done was to grant them the final release and wish them peace."

"If you are going to be a part of this Skye, then you must be able to shoulder this burden. For what it is worth, humans aways turn at the lesser cerberus class or higher, so the little ones you've been killing were simply fodder demons. You have yet to kill something that was once human. Only things that have feasted on them."

Shewalks away afterwards and nods to Ken. "I will go up now, and see if I can spot the other team. I will need to draw upon more of your power though."

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Keiko tilts her head as if listening to something only she could hear...then incredibly, she smiles.

"Okay then. We'll just have to capture one, bring it back here, and see what can be done."

She pauses, then says to Skye, "Just remember, these demons...it's not like vampires, where someone can be forced to become a demon. They asked for this. They wanted the power. They willingly eat and kill people now. Even if they can change back to a human..."

The miko looks away, her expression unreadable.

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Ken wasn't killing people, he was asking Lindh to kill people and she did so willingly. What did that make him?

But ... did these once-people deserve to live?

"Skye, these people would eat us all. They would devour your mother. Even if we redeem their bodies, it is their souls that are twisted by their own hunger for power."

"Keiko, how do we determine who is to die?," Ken says in a close to pleading tone. "Whatever they once were, these demons are a threat to everything now. They have to be stopped, but how do we know we are doing the right thing?"

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Listening to the bicker all this time Karoi steps up from the back where she'd been keeping (or trying to at least) a watch for any enemies to become brave enough to ambush the team.

"Enough." She says flatly. "A demon is a demon, and they will all die. Hesitate if you wish, but my blade can not save all of you and I claim no responsibility to those of you who chose to have moral doubts while a three headed demon dog was barreling down upon you."

"We will fight, or we will die."

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"I'm not objecting to fighting," Skye said heatedly, even as the tears continued. "I'm objecting to killing people who could be saved! They were human once, and could be again. They might be able to find salvation from their sins, in the end.

"I don't even think that they can all be saved." Skye's fingers clenched around her fans. No one was thinking about this! They were all kill-kill-kill. "But if we can save even one, isn't worth trying?"

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"Not all can be saved, Skye, and we've no way of knowing which are lost and which are redeemable." She approached the German girl letting her air of superiority wash over her. "Would you go out there then, have us capture them all? See which ones are worth saving and which aren't? They made their choice Skye -to serve the demons- and for that they sold their soul. If you want to 'help' them then we need to discover the source of this evil and destroy it. If it takes them with it, good, the world is better off without the souless mongrels."

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"Skye," Keiko said. "I remember reading that in order to change, a person has to -want- to change. I know that's true of becoming a demon. A person has to choose to take the darkness in."

"The only way then for someone to be saved would be if they chose to turn against the demon they became, right? Maybe that's how we can tell. I mean, if a demon is just attacking and killing, that would mean they're not making any effort to change. But if we come across a demon who speaks to us and seems to be making a real effort not to be a demon...maybe then we would show that one mercy?"

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It wasn't what she said, though Kaori was making good points. It was the arrogant air with which she said it, as if she were right because she said it. But she couldn't be right - if she was, Skye couldn't do this any longer. She could kill someone and know that it was ok because they were bad. All humans deserved a second chance.

"It might be easier, to do it your way," Skye said, "but doing so makes you no better than the demons. At least they are being evil for power. You're doing it for expedience."

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After listening to both Kaori, Keiko, and then Skye, Ken turns to the pale-haired German girl.

"It is not expedience. It is the only road left to us. Remember the words of the Ancient and see with clear eyes. We fight, or we die. If we die, the evil will spread beyond this city to the rest of the country and then the world."

"They will spare NO ONE, so we must kill those who threaten the innocent and get in the way of our path to find out who is behind this ... and kill them."

"It is not an easy decision, but witholding your strike in battle will not only risk death for yourself, but for your companions."

"You have a choice. Your choice should be to live."

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Originally Posted By: Skye
"It might be easier, to do it your way," Skye said, "but doing so makes you no better than the demons. At least they are being evil for power. You're doing it for expedience."


Kaori's face flushed with anger. Somewhere Keiko was trying to talk sense but the German had gone too far. "Listen well, gaijin, because if you insult my honor again I will not hesitate to take action." Onimaru was heard sliding slowly from it's scabbard, before snapping back within suddenly.

"Those who made their choice did so willingly. Should we try and save them there is nothing stopping them from doing so again and wasting our efforts." She was closer to Skye than Skye felt was safe, especially considering how angry she apparently was. "Sacrifices must be made for the greater good, and if we can cut the evil at its source we save millions in the time it would have taken us to save tens, or hundreds your way. We have a duty to the many and it should be our priority when compared to the few."
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"EVERYBODY STOP!!"

Keiko's shout was surprisingly loud given how quiet her normal voice was.

She takes a deep breath and says more quietly, though in a sort of gasping, hitching way that suggests she's near tears, "Neither of you is wrong...you're both right. The ruthlessness of Kaori is a weapon we will need."

"But the compassion of Skye is why we need it. Please...you should be honoring each other. Not fighting."

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"Ruthless?" Kaori's eyes narrowed. "Is it ruthless to free these damnable creatures from an existence they sold their soul to obtain. Are you people that stupid!" Her voice rose into a shout across the entire shrine.

"Selling your soul does not make you a good person! And devouring people does not make you good! One can not find salvation with out a soul!" She clenched her fists and stomped her foot as hard as she could. "UGGGHH! You people make my brain hurt!"

She stomped away, fists still clenched. "Save all you like, but do it without me. I'm going to find the source of this evil and destroy it myself."

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"No, Kaori," Keiko demurs. "But it's ruthless to say that they must be killed at any price. When you say 'sacrifices must be made,' that is ruthless. You don't understand though...it's not bad that you're ruthless. It's part of what you are, and part of why you were chosen."

"And the demons aren't good people, but they still have their souls. Bad people can change. There is such a thing as redemption. I don't think it will come up very often...but it's not a bad thing to recognize that it can happen."

"The point is that our differences is what makes each of us special and important. You should be thanking Skye for being what you can't be. And Skye...you should be thanking Kaori for being able to do what you can't."

She bows deeply.

"I know I am deeply grateful to both of you."

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Ken looked at Kaori leave then turned looking for some solution in Keiko's eyes. There was little time to lose. The boyishly handsome young man, his eyes burning with a belief in the Cause, ran after Kaori. He caught up to her side and spoke in a quiet, thoughtful, and almost reverant voice.

"Kaori-sama, we can not do this without you. Nor can you accomplish your noble goal without some of us. Please come back. Skye-san will learn what must be done. If not ... may ... may it be my life that turns her around."

He knows he courts death, or worse, a humiliatingly sound thrashing in front of all his companions. Ken reaches out and puts a hand upon he elbow, gently trying to halt her progress.

As he does so, he says in a voice barely above a whisper, eyes filled with an innocent urgency,

"Kaori-sama, I fear that if you leave, you will die."

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With reflexes faster than poor Ken could have hoped to have matched, Kaori caught his wrist and twisted it back around him 'chicken winging' him with enough pain to drop him to his knees. She was not being gentle about it in the slightest as Kens face warped into a visage of pure agony. Keiko knew, with her knowledge of the healing arts, knew that if she applied just a fraction more pressure, she'd either break his wrist or dislocate his shoulder, it just depended on which gave out first.

With her and Ken facing Keiko and Skye, she glared at them, heedless to Ken's agony.

"My family was taken by those beasts!" Kaori shouted. Her anger causing Ken to wince in pain. "My mother and father, taken! And you want to help them?"

She released Ken, letting him fall to her feet gripping his arm still in pain. Her eyes moistened as her teeth clenched. "I will not rest until I have them back. For every demon you save, a hundred will fall to my blade and I will find the saved and cut their black hearts from them as well. I will take, and take, and take from these demons until they give me back what was taken from me. Onimaru will drink deep the pain havoc I will have wrought until I get my family back, and woe to any of you who get in my way."

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"Kaori," Keiko whispers.

There was more to say...so much more. Warnings about the road she was on, and how she couldn't have her family back, so the emptiness would just keep demanding from her until it swallowed her. Pointing out the pain she might cause to others, like Ken, only worse.

But everything she'd said until now had only made things worse, in spite of her just trying to help. Could anything she said now make it better?

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Skye shook her head, her face showing both pity and anger. Kaori was clearly blinded by hate. She couldn't even see the possibility that a demon willing to turn back to goodness might have critical information about her parents. "I'm worried about the others," she said, her tone making it clear she saw no reason to talk to Kaori any longer. She wiped her tears away and walked for the door. "I'm going to find them." As the others started to say something, Skye said, "I can fly, with the fans. I'll be safer in the air than a group of us on the ground. I'll be back soon."

She had to get out of here. She had to make sure that the others were ok. At least there would be no argument about saving them.

With a snap of her fans and a murmured command - which she was really tired of - she rose into the air, ignoring attempts to call her back. She really needed to be away from Kaori right now. If she stayed, she'd say things that would get her thrashed or worse.

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Lindh felt Ken's pain and saw Kaori release him and practically roared. "HOW DARE YOU TOUCH MY CONTRACTOR?!?!?" Light blazed in her hands as she drew back her bow.

"You Demonspawn Filth! I've held my tongue long enough!" As the arrow or raidiant light begins to form in her hand another bellow is heard.

"THAT IS ENOUGH, CHILDREN!!!!!!!" The Ancient One steps out from behind the Tori. Lindh lands, dissipating the arrow, but not droppeing her bow. "Ancient One...."

"Silence, Servant. I came here to see how you're doing and find you bickering and provoking each other. I knew this would not be easy will children but I never thought it would be this bad."

He looks to Ken. "Grow stronger, because you are weak, Lindh is weak."

To Keiko. "You are the Solar Priestess, the purifying light of the sun is within your sphere of influence. If you cannot harness the light within you, what hope do you have of taming the power of the sun?"

He looks To Lindh. "You say Far more than what you should to anyone other than your master. Your Purpose is to be his shield and sword, yet he's been injured twice while you've been there. That either shows a lapse in your judgement, Or a drastic redefining of the Master and Servant Bond. I am not pleased with Either."

His gaze rests on Kaori. "You are powerful, ruthless and arrogant. The true essence of the samurai way." His sarcasm and disdain were evident. "Your belief in that you alone are strong enough to be victorious is arrogance of such a level as to cross the line into stupidity."

"He let you keep Onimaru, Kaori, not because you won it, but because he finds it sporting. You were allowed to win."

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"I certainly appreciate your grasp of the obvious," Kaori's tone was filled with as much ire as the old man's. "Ancient One. I was there, I'm well aware. That's not to say the part where he told me I could keep it didn't give it away. Your counsel certainly is wise indeed."

"I want my family back," She hissed at him. "All these fools want to do is help the enemy, not vanquish them, because none of them can fight! Keiko, great for keeping them at bay, but useless if they get close, and they get close more than not! Skye doesn't have the mentality to handle the stress of combat, and Ken is completely worthless!"

Here eyes watered as her voice cracked slightly. She was shouting now with little regard for who may hear her. "I'm spread too thin. I couldn't save my parents from these demons, and now I have these others to worry about. I can't do it, I can't protect them all, I'm not strong enough! I'm not. Better I die alone, than have the failure of their blood on my hands as well."

Fists clenched and with flushed cheeks Kaori added, "Now if you've come to help, then do so. If not, your presence is wasting as much, if not more, time than our bickering."

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Kage quietly finishes rolling up his sleeves to wear he feels they'll cause the least trouble in a fight and says, "Hey, I'm not stopping you. Any of you." He pauses to brush off his pants before he goes on, "Capture, kill, avoid, whatever you feel is best. I understand you all need to satisfy your need for whatever feels like justice to you. I mean, just a short while ago, I felt like jumping those ex-humans myself. I decided against it because I'd have no back-up."

Kage looks at Kaori and takes a few steps in her direction, still speaking to the group. "I can only hope you all know the story of the 47 Ronin. If you don't, well, I'm very surprised. But, any way, their lord dead, they had nothing left to fight for but their own honor. Now, bushido would have them attack the man who lead to their master's death, of course, but they waited. Waited until they could guarantee success." He turns and walks in the direction of the Ancient One. "Now, had they attacked and been killed without any thought or organization, I don't think we'd remember how many there were. The waiting while they had nothing was difficult, I'm sure, but... Well, no need to explain that." Kage looks over the group once again. "Job one is to find the rest of the group. Keep up patrols so we can gather more information on these things and figure out the best way to hit them, then hit them with everything before they know what to do about it. Anyone willing to back me up on this?"

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"I am not saying we spare them, Kaori-sama," Ken says through pained breath. "I only want to cut out the evil at its source so that this nightmare can end."

When Kage finishes, Ken can only add,

"Let us get on with Job One - finding the others. Things are getting worse all over."

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The Ancient One looks at Kaori. "Do as you wish, child. I will not waste my time with you. Perhaps you can save them, but I don't think so." He looks to the others then vanishes.

Lindh looks to Ken. "The others are engaged about twelve blocks to the south of us. We can go to them and then to whereever else we need to go tonight. They're doing well enough."

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Jim has already experienced how little thought and control Kaori puts into anything except her sword strikes and o has deliberately stayed out of the discussion, even to the point of physically standing back away from them.

Seeing the Ancient One leave, with similar thoughts towards Kaori as his own, Jim can only wonder what is to become of her and how long before she ends up little better than those they oppose, or indeed if she will end up joining them.

Moving back into the group he addresses Keiko first, "The same as before, we do all we can to oppose and destroy this demonic invasion and those that lead it."

Turning to include Ken and the others, "Yes Ken, we should meet up with the others and see what we can do to help clear up this infestation tonight. Perhaps Kaori would like to lead the way?"

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