brokenworld01: (mythological...)
[personal profile] brokenworld01
So, tonight you get a new BW chapter. With plot (omgnoes!). You thought I'd forgotten, didn't you? kehehehe...

This follows chronologically from Ch.2 and Ch.2a, and probably occurs sometime after Ch.3 ~ Johar and Toril

Ch.4 ~ Kou, Doku, Toril and Others

"Honour guard," Kougaiji groaned suddenly.

"Eh?" Doku replied, not looking up from the map.

Pushing aside the papers, Kougaiji sighed. "Travelling nobility should be accompanied by an honour guard."

"Hmm. That practice seems a little outdated, given the current circumstances. We can travel faster on our own," Doku replied, glancing up. "Besides, you'll have me."

"And you are my General, and deserve an honour guard of your own, sir," Kou said drily.

Doku snorted. "Like hell."

The prince rubbed his knuckles against his forehead. "These are humans we're dealing with, Doku, and --"

A knock at the door interrupted him. Exchanging a glance with Doku, Kougaiji shrugged.

"Enter," Doku called.

The door swung open just wide enough to admit Toril. He closed the door behind him, took quick stock of the room and gave a half-bow from the waist. "Your Highness. General."

"Toril," Doku said, gesturing to the empty chair before Kou's desk. "What brings you here?"

Crossing the room, Toril sat uneasily on the edge of the chair. There were fresh scratches across the sun-tanned skin of his bare arms, and the pungent smell of medicine that spoke of a larger wound.

"Has there been a skirmish?" Kougaiji asked, frowning. Sitting up straighter, he fixed his full attention on the half-breed.

Toril gazed back at him with dark red eyes. "No. Nothing so... concrete. Your Highness," he added.

Kougaiji dismissed the need for formality with a wave of one clawed hand. "Then what is it that brings you to us in such a state?"

Glancing down at the floor, Toril closed his eyes for a moment and frowned. The crease of pain remained when he opened his eyes again. "We're being... watched."

Doku snorted. "When are we not?"

Toril's lips twisted in an annoyed grimace as he flicked a glance at Doku. "I don't mean Gyumaoh's spies. They're clumsy and easy to find. And they haven't gotten anywhere near this close yet."

"'This close?'" Kougaiji echoed.

"Someone marked the walls -- the outer city walls."

The air in the room suddenly seemed to crystallize with tension. "Marked with what?" Doku asked, leaning forward.

Toril shrugged. "I don't know. It looks kind of like engraving, actually, except burnt. And new. Not something some dug out from under the vines."

"What does it say?" Kougaiji demanded impatiently.

Doku frowned. "You're assuming it's some kind of message?"

Toril glanced from prince to general and shrugged again. "I don't know. Can't read it."

Doku stood up quickly, his chair scraping against the wood floor. "Let's go," he said.

Nodding, Toril got to his feet as well and edged toward the door.

Paper rustled on the table. "Wait," Kougaiji exclaimed, digging through the maps and miscellany to grab a clean sheet of paper and a pencil. "I'm coming with you."


Toril led them from the fortress to the outer city by routes Kougaiji would not have even guessed existed. He and Doku were hard pressed to keep up with the lithe young man as he navigated the ruins with the ease of familiarity. Their guide was also taking every precaution in order to assure the prince and general were not easily seen, Kougaiji realized.

"Honour guard?" Doku had mouthed at him at one point.

Kougaiji had nodded, smiling. Toril was certainly making it an easy choice.

Climbing over one last low stone wall, the three ducked through a crumbling archway and emerged on the edge of the city, facing the rolling hills of jungle that led up to the city walls. Kougaiji turned before Toril could point the way, and walked straight to the mark on the wall. From even a short distance, the smell of power was strong enough to raise the hair on the back of Kougaiji's neck.

How had he missed the presence of such power, so close? The skin on his arms crawled as if trying to creep away. Frowning deeply, he stopped before the mark. It was etched, as Toril had suspected, but the edges of the marks were blackened and crumbling like ash.

But when he stopped examining the details and let his eyes take in the whole of the mark, it hit him with the force of a sudden blow to the stomach. Stumbling back a step, Kougaiji went down on one knee, raising a hand to cover his mouth as he tried to slow his hammering heart.

"Kou? What is it, Kou?" Doku asked, crouching beside him.

"Can't you see?" Kougaiji whispered harshly.

Toril watched him impassively, arms folded across his chest.

Doku glanced at the wall again. "I can see a mark, but I don't know the characters. What is it?"

Curling his fingers into a fist, Kougaiji slammed it down against his upraised knee and pushed himself to his feet. "Toushin Taishi. The War Prince of Heaven was here."

Toril smirked, and the expression didn't fall away even when the Prince levelled a glare at him. "Graffitti," the redhead said, sounding far too amused. "Kinda immature for a war prince."

Snarling, Kougaiji turned sharply to face the forest. "I'm not the one you should be looking for, you bastard kami!" he shouted.

"Kou," Doku said firmly, grasping the prince's shoulder.

Shaking him off, Kougaiji teleported abruptly back to the fortress.


"You did what?" Shien asked, mildly disbelieving.

Zenon blew smoke at the ceiling of their small cottage and laughed. "Practised my calligraphy on their wall," he repeated. With his boots up on the table and his chair tilted back on two legs, he looked entirely at ease.

"And what did your write?"

Zenon rolled his shoulders in a lazy shrug and leaned forward to grab the wine bottle off the table. "Just a bit of graffitti. Like the Romans used to do, y'know?"

Shaking his head, Shien sighed. "Announcing your presence is not a wise idea."

"Not mine," Zenon said, suddenly serious. Pointing across the room to where Nataku sat on a heap of cushions, he said, "His."

Shien's normally imperturbable expression became suddenly glacial. "You idiot," he hissed. "Don't you remember --"

"That he was the one that bound that youkai prince's father? Gyumaoh? Fuck it, Shien. Of course I do."

"Then why?"

Zenon's boots his the floor with a heavy thump. "Because I'm tired of waiting. I'm tired of this bullshit tedious routine we've established. Tired of watching the youkai chase each other around and not accomplish anything. We could --"

"We cannot," Shien interrupted smoothly. "We were never strong enough to defeat Gyumaoh. He barely was," he added softly, not glancing at Nataku.

Stalking to the doorway, Zenon leaned against and took another swig from the bottle. "Ah, you don't gotta remind me, Shien. I just hate waiting, y'know?"

Picking up his teacup, Shien turned it a quarter turn and studied the pattern of leaves swirling inside. "I know," he said softly. "But we cannot bend Karma to our whim."

Zenon snorted. "S'not like you've never tried."

"Ah," Shien murmured.

Silence in the cottage then, and another sun setting. The tedious domesticity of their lives suited neither of them, Shien mused, sipping his tea. Perhaps it might have, if Nataku had been at all responsive. But he remained silent and doll-like, more a decoration in their home than --

Something moved. The rustle of silk was unmistakable.

Shien's eyes opened wide as he turned. From the corner of his eye he saw Zenon turning as well. The wine bottle hit the floor with a dull crash, liquid splashing unnoticed over Zenon's boots and pants.

Nataku had risen to his feet.


"How did you find this?" Doku asked. "You don't normally patrol out here, do you?"

Toril shook his head. "No. The walls are too hard to patrol. The lines are out further --"

"I know that," Doku interrupted, exasperated. "So what were you doing here?"

The half-breed glanced out at the jungle. A strange hesitation gripped his features for a moment before his expression hardened and he met Doku's curious gaze evenly. "I thought I heard something," he said.

Doku considered this for a moment before replying. "There are tigers out there." Tigers Kou had forbidden his men to kill unless there was absolutely no choice. Sacred tigers, he'd said, without explanation.

"I know," Toril replied quietly. "But that wasn't it...."

As much as he wanted to ask, "so, what was it?" Doku held his tongue. Toril's reaction was strange for the normally brusque half-youkai. But if he couldn't -- or wouldn't -- explain, there was no good in pressing the issue.

Sighing, Doku ran his claws through his short hair. "Let's head back."


note: the teleporting thing? operates by these rules -- short distances, and they can only teleport to some place they know/have seen before.
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August 2011


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