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Kasumi the Destroyer

AuraLin's Established Minion

Posts: 33

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Oct 6 11 10:32 PM

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Hello everyone, and thank you in advance for reading. I'd greatly appreciate any feedback you may have; it's been some time since I've done any writing and the style (particularly in the prologue here) is rather...experimental as well. Thanks, and I hope you enjoy my humble project.

---
Ancestral Spirits
Edited 2012-09-01

Strait of Malchor, the Bay of Sirens, Tyria
1562 (Canthan Calendar), Season of the Scion

Kasumi sat cross-legged on the meditation mat in the cramped cabin and concentrated, focusing her mind as the instructor from the monastery had taught her. One by one, she pushed away her outer senses. She closed her eyes, and the cramped cabin around her faded into darkness. She closed her ears, and the howl of the rising gale quieted to silence. She focused farther and pushed away the taste of the morning's ration of rice, and the mixed scents of tar and aged wood and the unwashed sailors. She felt the whisper of silk and the rough straw mat and the rougher wooden boards beneath her, and these too she pushed away, leaving her in stillness.

"To master the outer world, one must first master the inner world." That was what the instructor had said. Her name was Quin, and she taught at the great monastery on Shing Jea island. For a fee, her parents had hired Quin to tutor young Kasumi in the art of meditation, the beginning of the study of magic, while they summered on the island and waited for the autumn trade winds.

That was what the instructor had said, and "Stay in your cabin, Kasumi" was what her parents had said, and so she sat in her cabin and contemplated the inner world as the storm built around the ship, heaving now from to and fro as the waves whipped higher in the gale despite the wind finder's best effort to calm the raging elements. So she sat, and focused, and pushed away the ship and the sea and the storm, and gradually she became aware of another presence in her tiny cabin. Her eyes snapped open. "You must always be watchful, Kasumi" was what her parents had said, before, and young Kasumi was nothing if not dutiful. The room was empty.

Again Kasumi closed her eyes, and pushed away the sound of the gale, the taste of the rice, the smell of the sea, and the feel of the deck, and again she felt a presence with her. With her, and yet somehow terribly, terribly distant. Distant, and yet oddly familiar. Familiar, and somehow comforting.

"In times of trouble or sadness, the ancestors will be there to guide and comfort you." That was what great-grandfather had said. Great-grandfather had been very old, and very wise. Great-grandfather had died last year, while Kasumi and her parents were away.

Kasumi could remember the worry in her parent's voices, and the frantic activity of the sailors as the sudden storm arose around them. Kasumi was young, but she was old enough to be afraid. She thought of great-grandfather and reached for the comforting presence, and the presence spoke.

"Can you see me, child? Can you hear me?" That is what the presence said, and eyes tightly closed, young Kasumi nodded, and she knew why she had thought of great-grandfather. "I can hear you, sousofu," she said, and then she thought that perhaps the spirit could not hear her across that terrible distance between them, not if she spoke the words aloud. "I can hear you, sousofu," she said again, this time in her thoughts, in the inner space she had created by pushing the outer world away.

"You must find the captain." That is what the spirit said. "You must tell her," and the spirit whispered something to young Kasumi across the distance between them.

She nodded. "I will," she thought at the spirit. Kasumi was nothing if not dutiful.

"Go now, souson," the spirit said, and it seemed less close now, less comforting. "Remember that the ancestors are watching over you."

Kasumi was alone in her tiny cabin once again, and her great-grandfather's words held firmly in her young mind, she opened her senses. The wind was roaring, now, and the ship pitching violently back and forth, but she had learned to walk a rolling deck before she learned to walk dry land. She reached for the cabin door and hesitated. "Stay in the cabin, Kasumi," was what her parents had said, but they had also said "honor and obey the ancestors". After a moment's indecision, she opened the door and stepped through.

The ship was pitching violently now, back and forth, back and forth, and the shouted commands of the boatswain on deck struggled to be heard amidst the howling winds. A sailor rushed past, nearly running down young Kasumi in his urgency as she stepped forth from her cabin. She resolved to be quick, and to be cautious.

She made it nearly to the ladder before she was spotted by another sailor, he clinging tightly to a fixture against the roll of the deck. There was a moment's recognition in his eyes, and then another moment an older Kasumi would have recognized as calculation, weighing the life of a ship's passenger and the daughter of the ship's master against his own danger. "Shōjo!" he called out, and loosed his death-grip on the wall.

Kasumi ran, leaping to the ladder with a rabbit-like grace born of youth and desperation and a brief lifetime as much spent between ports as in them. She made it to the top of the ladder just as the sailor's heavy footfalls reached the bottom, one tar-stained hand narrowly missing her ankle.

The sea was a roiling cauldron of sound and fury, the deck rail-slick and treacherous, the winds as unpredictable as they were swift. Below on the maindeck, sailors rushed to and fro, drenched by rain and spray, lowering the great ribbed sails and fastening lines, a carefully synchronized dance amid the chaos of the storm. On the upper deck stood the captain, a woman whose lined face spoke of years in wind and salt-spray. The captain wore a long coat of reinforced leather, and bore a long straight sword in the style of land-locked Ascalon. She had been an adventurer once, and fought pirates and monsters and seen dragons. Kasumi had heard the sailors say so. She had wanted to ask the captain what a dragon looked like. "Do not bother the captain, Kasumi," was what her parents had said.

Beside the captain stood runners, waiting to carry her orders to the boatswain and sailors below. Beside the runners stood the wind master, his hands weaving in complicated gestures, his brow furrowed with strain, his face salt-drenched less from the storm than his losing battle to keep it at bay. A wind master was an elementalist who could create a wind for a becalmed ship. She could also summon lightning and thunder, and talk to fish, and make a wind so strong she could fly. The sailors had said so. Kasumi wanted to talk to fish too. "Do not bother the windmaster, Kasumi," her parents had said.

The bow of the ship lurched downward as it struck a large wave, and the deck beneath her shuddered and groaned. "We need to flood the rear compartments!" That was what the captain shouted as Kasumi reached the top of the ladder. The other man beside the captain hesitated a moment. This man was dressed in fine silk, a faint glow betraying its enchantment against the ravages of the storm. Like the wind master, his hands were smooth and uncalloused, the mark of a merchant rather than a tradesman. It was his cargo in the rear compartments, bolts of silk and sealed clay jars of Canthan spices bound for the markets of Lion's Arch. It was his cargo in the front compartments as well, and in the compartments in between, for the man was the ship's master.

The man hesitated for a moment, then nodded. "Do what you must to save the ship," he shouted, and at a gesture from the captain two of the runners released the rail and staggered for the relative safety of the below decks. The ship's master took a half step closer and clasped the captain's arm, drawing the latter close. "Do whatever you have to. My daughter is on board."

The captain shook her head, her face grim. "These waters are treacherous in the best weather. In this storm? Pray to the gods we spot a cove. If they do not answer, you can soon take it up with them in person."

A cove. That was what her great-grandfather's spirit had said. Great-grandfather had also sailed these waters in his youth, smuggling rice wine and tiger skins into the ports of Kryta. The ladder beneath her shook as the sailor below started to climb, and Kasumi darted forward, almost slipping on the rain-slick deck and buffeted by the winds, which seemed to come from every direction at once. She reached the captain just as a great wave crashed against the side of the vessel, washing over the high deck, and wrapped young arms around the captain for balance against the rushing water. The captain took a half step back at the unexpected embrace and looked down, her eyes wide in shock. "What are you doing, child?!" she shouted.

At this the ship's master looked back, and as another wave neared the ship dove forward onto his knees, wrapping young Kasumi in his arms against the torrent. "Kasumi! I told you to stay in the cabin!" That was what the ship's master, her father, said.

"Both of you need to get belowdecks, now!" the captain shouted over the wind.

Kasumi's eyes opened wide. "No! I promised sousofu! He said there is a cove! I promised!"

"You spoke to grandfather?" her father asked in shock.

Kasumi nodded solemnly. "I closed my eyes like mistress Quin taught me and focused, and great-grandfather spoke to me. He said there is a cove." She paused a moment, her face scrunched in concentration. "He said it was north, and close. But the compass will say west."

The captain nodded, once. "The straits of Malchor play havoc on lodestones." She looked with skepticism at the ship's master. "Does she speak with the ancestors often? She seems far too young." Kasumi's father shook his head, still holding her tightly, and the captain sighed into the wind. "If we hit a reef instead, we're going down. But if we stay out in the open we'll get battered to pieces. I'd rather meet the gods having tried than not." The captain paused another moment, then grabbed a runner and gestured at the five sailors in the stern, struggling to hold the rudder true. "New heading! Bring us about!"

The captain looked down at the ship's master and his daughter. "It's in the hands of the gods now. But your daughter may just have saved us all."
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Fearless Pony Leader Sharei

AuraLin's Fearless Minion

Posts: 383

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Oct 16 11 3:04 AM

Intriguing!
It was somewhat unclear to me at first what the location was, because although there is reference to sailors and a gale, there is also reference to the monastery and her instructor and waiting on the island. Something like "the ship's cramped cabin" would clear that up.
I look forward to the next installment!

MYTH

aka Alleshia, Adria, Last Rites, Nettle, Evita, Aria, Natasha and Takamura


There's more than one right way...

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Kasumi the Destroyer

AuraLin's Established Minion

Posts: 33

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Sep 1 12 3:47 PM

Kasumi 2: Electric Boogaloo!

Alternate Titles:
- Kasumi II: The Wrath of Khan.
- Kasumi 2: The Quickening.
- Kasumi 2: Back 2 Da Hood
- Kasumi 3: The Search For Kasumi 2

Hello everyone! Anyway. This isn't really the story I really, really want to write, but I think I need to progress more as a writer before I can tackle my literary Everest. And they do say that the best way to become a better writer is to write. So I'm re-opening this story, starting with a "completion" and partial re-write of that very first scene.

Here's the sticky wicket - the "main" part of this story is set in the future of the original Guild Wars, but it's a different future than that of GW2. Would that be interesting to people, or just confusing?

As always, thoughts and feedback are appreciated.

Edit:
Since I'm feeling generous, here's a preview of the next chapter, so to speak:

Kasumi Mizushima awoke slowly to the faint call of songbirds. The first thing she noticed was darkness, all around her, deep as pitch and equally opaque. She closed her eyes and opened them, slowly, but the dark persisted. The second thing she noticed was cold, not the surface cold of a winter day but the kind of deep cold that seeps into the muscle and bone and grabs hold, tenaciously, until spring. Her body ached from the cold, and what felt like long disuse, and she shivered. The third thing she noticed was the soft whisper of silk, and through it the unyielding touch of stone, carved to mirror smoothness.

Smooth stone for a bed and thin silk for a mattress; no wonder she ached. Sleeping in her armor would have been kinder; she had many times on her long campaigns, in the mite-infested morass of Maguuma, the stone stillness of the petrified Echovald, the snowcapped peaks of the far Shiverpeaks. Cold. Now the Shiverpeaks, there was cold. Her armor, though, where was it? And the rest of her gear, trophies from the lich and the betrayer and the servants of the maddened god, paid for in blood, some of it hers. She remembered...something, an echo of a dream, a shadow of a memory. She had been offered a choice. What choice? How had she chosen? The memory slipped away; no matter. When she cleared away the sleep-haze from her rest, surely the rest would come back to her.

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Fearless Pony Leader Sharei

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Sep 6 12 3:24 PM

Hurray! Believe it or not, I was just telling Aura, not three weeks ago, that I wished that you had continued with your story. We were creating the new section of the Forum, and since no one had written anything in a long time, I left the fiction section here.

Personally, I have no problem with an alternate future for Guild Wars. I look forward to reading your version

MYTH

aka Alleshia, Adria, Last Rites, Nettle, Evita, Aria, Natasha and Takamura


There's more than one right way...

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Kasumi the Destroyer

AuraLin's Established Minion

Posts: 33

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Sep 6 12 5:02 PM

On that note, the next chapter is ready, posted below with a minimum of further ado. I'd just like to note that all comments and criticism are appreciated, particularly considering I am trying to improve my writing.

~~~
Chapter 2: Awakening

Location Unknown
Date Unknown

Kasumi Mizushima awoke slowly to the faint call of songbirds. The first thing she noticed was darkness, all around her, deep as pitch and equally opaque. She closed her eyes and opened them, slowly, but the dark persisted. The second thing she noticed was cold, not the surface cold of a winter day but the kind of deep cold that seeps into the muscle and bone and grabs hold, tenaciously, until spring. Her body ached from the cold, and what felt like long disuse, and she shivered. The third thing she noticed was the soft whisper of silk, and through it the unyielding touch of stone, carved to mirror smoothness.

Smooth stone for a bed and thin silk for a mattress; no wonder she ached. Sleeping in her armor would have been kinder; she had many times on her long campaigns, in the mite-infested morass of Maguuma, the stone stillness of the petrified Echovald, the snowcapped peaks of the far Shiverpeaks. Cold. Now the Shiverpeaks, there was cold. Her armor, though, where was it? And the rest of her gear, trophies from the lich and the betrayer and the servants of the maddened god, paid for in blood, some of it hers. She remembered...something, an echo of a dream, a shadow of a memory. She had been offered a choice. What choice? How had she chosen? The memory slipped away; no matter. When she cleared away the sleep-haze from her mind, surely the rest would come back to her.

She raised up a hand, carefully, to check for obstacles in the darkness; no need to add a concussion to the fog of her long sleep. How long? The darkness gave no token, and she tucked away the question for now. Immediate problems first, answers later. She sat up carefully, wincing at the complaints of muscles long disused. There it was again, long. She knew it had been a long sleep, but she did not know how she knew. "Why do you believe what you believe?" That was was Headmaster Quin had said, back at the monastery. It felt like ages ago, a past lifetime, but then the monastery had felt like another lifetime since before the destroyers in the depths, before the journey into torment, before the affliction on the mainland. No matter; this lifetime or another, she had no answer, and the darkness was less than forthcoming.

The darkness. This was a battle she could fight. She closed her eyes and focused her mind, pushing back the lingering mental fog, and concentrated on the spirit world. "Spirits of the ancestors," she murmured, "grant me sight beyond sight," and the darkness exploded into colour. Vibrant reds, brilliant greens, stunning blues - as the spirit world was the source of life, so too was everything it touched made brighter, or darker, according to its nature. As a child, she would gaze into the near spirit realm for hours; today, she had a purpose. Anyone with the right connection, the right training, or the right mental state could gaze into the spirit world, but looking back out was more difficult. It seemed fitting, since it mirrored the journey of the spirit itself, the miracle of birth and rebirth and the ease of return into death. The door of the spirit world could open both ways, for a price.

This trick she had learned from a sunspear archer in Istan, a natural ritualist who used his second sight to hit the bulls-eye on a target at fifty yards while blindfolded. By turning the spirit sight upon itself, a ritualist could see the real world reflected in the spirit realm, reflected clearly enough to loose an arrow or dodge a sword. So simple that almost any ritualist could duplicate the feat once he or she learned it could be done, and yet in fifteen hundred years of history no Canthan had discovered it. She supposed that said something profound.

She had shared a few ales with that archer, and a few bedrolls beside. He was captured at the debacle at Gandara, and fed to their pet demons. Not the first she had lost, or the last, but she had not forgotten.

The darkness was no barrier to her now, and the cold stone on which she had lain resolved itself into a marble bier, smooth-topped but elaborately carved, and masterfully so, not the work of a simple tradesman. Her silk garments were of similar make, and in an unfamiliar cut. The rest of the chamber was small, though not claustrophobic, and looked to be worked stone of lesser quality than the marble, though similar workmanship. The chamber looked old; cracks netted the walls, and water stains pooled into a corner festooned with moss. The once-smooth stone tiles of the floor were broken and uneven, and what looked like the root of some great tree had forced its way through near the far ceiling; it seemed that was the source of the water stains. A single stone door faced the bier, sealed shut.

A tomb. She had been laying in a tomb. Kasumi shivered, and whispered a prayer to Grenth, hoping that the tomb was not hers.

So. There was water, hopefully potable, and the faint zephyr of a breeze on her cheeks suggested that the air would not grow stale. If she could not escape this place, she would not die quickly. Or well. If it came to that, she had learned a great deal about the art of death. Perhaps it would be fitting that her final battle be against herself. Best not to dwell upon it, for now.

The door was the obvious exit. Kasumi stood, ignoring the screams of protest from her legs, and felt the cold stone floor against her bare feet. That could be a problem. Brother Mhenlo always said that walking around barefoot was good for the soul. Brother Mhenlo thought he was funny. He was also a monk, and could call upon the gods for healing if he cut open his heel. Bleeding to death from a broken flagstone in some mouldering crypt, wouldn't that would be a fitting end to the hero of three continents. She supposed they would probably leave that part out of the stories.

Still, if this was a tomb, and these were burial robes then - there, at the foot of the bier, a pair of wooden slippers, still serviceable. She slipped them on gingerly. Not a perfect fit, but manageable. One more crisis averted.

The door. She approached it cautiously, the clack clack of her new wooden slippers startlingly loud in the stillness of the tomb. Some burial grounds had traps, magical triggers or cunning mechanical contrivances to deter grave robbers and worse. No one wanted their loved ones to become some rogue necromancer's experiment. The door and the threshold seemed clear of unpleasant surprises; unfortunately, they also seemed clear of latches, hand-holds, or other such tools of entry or egress. Of course. Otherwise it would have been too easy. To be thorough, she ran her fingers along the edges of the door. Solid stone, with nowhere to gain purchase even had she the strength to move the door by main force.

That was disappointing, but if this was how her story ends then she was going to personally kick the gods all the way from the underworld to the hall of heroes. Well, there was still the source of that faint breeze. A few minutes searching around in the not-dark narrowed the latter down to a narrow opening around the tree's root intruding into her prison, perhaps a hands-breadth across and a foot in length, opening out into emptiness and surrounded by a spiderweb of cracked masonry. Now that she examined it closely, the root looked withered; perhaps it had once grown large enough to fill that hole.

At any rate she knew of no spell that could shrink her down to the size of her hand. For a moment Kasumi considered calling out. The far side of the hole was as dark as her de facto cell, though, and judging by the general state of disrepair it seemed unlikely that visitors were a common occurrence. And given her luck, anyone or anything that came was unlikely to be the rescuing sort.

Besides, she wasn't some blushing maiden princess from the old Krytan bedtime stories, some damsel in distress waiting in a tower for her prince to come rescue her. For that matter, she'd rescued more than her share of princes. She remembered one, a scholar-prince from Vabbi with a quick wit and a clever tongue, and colored faintly at the memory before returning her mind to the task at hand.

The root had not been gentle, forcing its way through the masonry, and the cracks in the wall were fairly extensive. Looking closely, the ceiling where the root had entered was in little better shape. If she did enough damage at the right point, it might open the hole enough for her to squeeze through. That or bring the whole ceiling down on her head, but the gods watch over those touched by madness, and Kasumi figured that idea qualified.

If only she had one of those explosive kegs that fool dwarf Budger always carried around - but no, she was going to have to do this the old-fashioned way. It wasn't going to be easy. Unlike the power of the elements, the energy of the spirit world was best used for subtle effects and conjurations, and ill-suited to the sort of whiz-bang-boom that the elementalists always seemed so proud of.

On the other hand, as the saying went, if resorting to magic doesn't solve your problem, then you didn't resort to enough of it, and Kasumi had power to burn. She stepped back carefully to the far corner of the room, then thought better of it and slipped into the threshold of the sealed door. As a final precaution, she tore a long hem from her robe and wrapped it about her eyes, tying it securely behind her head in case the collapse was larger than expected and let in some sunlight. Using one's first and second sight together was confusing at best, and at worst a swift path to madness. She tore a second, wider swatch and tied it about her nose and mouth. Whether it worked or not, this plan was going to make a lot of dust.

Her preparations complete, Kasumi closed her eyes and focused her mind once more, drawing the energy of the spirit realm through her chakras and into her hands, building like the closing movement of a symphony. As the power reached its crescendo she called out, "Spirits of the ancestors, let your arrows strike my foes!" and loosed the gathered energy as a flurry of ghostly bolts, erupting from her fingertips to strike the weakened stone with the force of a charging bull minotaur.

With a dull roar and an earsplitting crash, the tormented stone gave way in bulk, filling the far third of the room with rubble and the rest with a clattering hail of stone fragments and a sea of dust. Kasumi hissed as a flying shard glanced off her cheekbone, and gazed up at her handiwork, the dust no more a hindrance to her second sight than the darkness. It looked like fully a third of the ceiling had given way, opening not to a main chamber as she had hoped but what looked to be a cross passageway of some sort. Still, it was better than sitting in her tomb and waiting to starve.

Besides, the aforementioned listeners, were there any to hear, could hardly have missed her little remodeling project. With that happy thought in mind, she clambered up the pile of rubble and into the ruins.

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