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[[Last_Breath_of_Winter:Main_Page|(Go Back to Main Page)]]<br>
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==Life 1- Ionus Paktrichter==
==Life 1- Ionus Paktrichter==
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==Life 3- Reckoner Boundless Aphelion, Chosen of Endings==
==Life 3- Reckoner Boundless Aphelion, Chosen of Endings==
What can I say for working in the Bureau? The work was tremendous: personal training, away missions, bureaucratic hoop marathons... Thank goodness for the erratic turning of the skies, or you might realize just how long you were working! And yet, you knew what you did really ''mattered.'' No one thanked you. Gods, no one even noticed, if you were doing your job, but you knew. We had been gifted with the ability to see the true workings of the world, and that obligated us to its constant maintenance.
I was a Chosen of Saturn, a Chosen of Endings. My specific department was the handling of relationships. Love triangles unraveled, conspiracies dispersed, dangerous nations overthrown, troublesome rumors crushed... like a gardener, I trimmed away the sickly that the whole might thrive. And, as I recall, I was very good at it. But, then again, I suppose I was destined to be.
The Violet Bier of Sorrows is not the department to gain the greatest number of party invitations, but I still managed to have some good friends. My closest friend was undoubtedly Crimson Banner Executioner, a fellow Reckoner. Crimson and I spent a great deal of time together, partly from joint projects, but often in our downtime because we were the only two that didn't... well... creep each other out. Also, there was Akemi. What a beautifully obstinate woman. It still boggles my mind how someone could be so charming and yet so very, very wrong. There was only one thing we all had in common: The Bureau. Destiny summoned us because it needed us, and we each answered the call. And, when we could fight our way past the quagmire of the System, we really did some good.
I was a Gold Faction member. I knew... I know that if we can just get the Solars back in, with some safeguards from past mishaps, we can set Creation straight. The Five Score Fellowship keeps the ship afloat, but we simply didn't have the capacity to stabilize Creation. I heard horror stories: Bronze propaganda flows through the streets of Yu Shan like rainwater. The Old Guard had made a choice. It was wrong. Those of us not lost in past could see the need for a change, but swaying millennia old codgers is a feet bordering on the impossible. And, because of that, I often suffered. No one would strike out at the Gold Faction directly, but we certainly weren't afforded many opportunities. Everything from mission choices to seats at evening shows was a battleground to try to crush the Golden spirit. I'm sure Akemi and Crimson suffered for their affiliation as well, though it may very well have softened the barrage on myself. It wasn't until the very end that I realized how far the Bronze was willing to go and how deep the corruption had become...
===A Lesson===
Aphelion landed in a sprawl on the floor. With a spinning flip, he returned to his feet, staring into the ancient man across the dojo. The old master, Iron Masked Ivory, was turned away from the young Sidereal, apparently quite occupied with tending to a row of bonzai trees resting on the rear banister of the patio perched above a massive garden on the farther stretches of Yu Shan. Aphelion rolled his weight to the front of his feet, shifting his weight back and forth to ensure ease of movement. Ivory continued about his gardening with a soft half smile.
"You have a young man's energy, but you must learn how to be still."
Aphelion's bobbing came to rest. "But, Sifu, you said I must keep my center moving to maintain balance and unpredictability."
Ivory nodded sagely as gingerly swept away some small clippings. "Yes, but that does not require you to move as well. Let us practice."  The hairs on Aphelion's neck prickled with the sound of Ivory's rapping on the banister. A mob of spirits poured from the crannies of the hall, launching themselves upon the student. Aphelion's violet eyes narrowed, their color matching perfectly the soft glow from his forehead. Silently, he delivered a leaping kick to the forward approaching opponent, using its face as a springboard to launch into a backwards somersault. Ivory watched quietly from the top of the steps, a mildly nonplussed expression on his face. "Well, you are learning to be silent."
A brief incredulous look was all Aphelion could afford his teacher before returning his focus to the multi-limbed swordsman to his front. With deft movements, he slid between the spinning blades, a soft grin creeping over his face as he twisted between sword blows while backstepping from the foe. Ivory nodded sagely,"You begin to see the Joy in Adversity. Good, but are you aware of your surroundings?" With a sharp stomp, Ivory knocked a lance from a nearby wall, and sending it flying at Aphelion with a kick. At the very last moment (or perhaps shortly after), the student's eyes cut over to see the incoming spear. There was a flash of purple light, a haze of motion, and the spear was lodged firmly in the side wall. The spirits paused briefly to look at the wall and then back to the student in a three point stance in the center, a dark blood stain growing along the right side of his dōgi. The mob moved in for the finish, but Aphelion launched straight up to the support beams of the roof, crouching behind a cross beam to provide some measure of cover. Laying flush with the beam, Aphelion slowly peeked over the edge. His eyes widened in surprise as he heard an all to familiar voice whispering in his ear.
"So many offshoots you learn, young one, yet you miss the all-important cause."
Aphelion rolled off the side of the beam to avoid his master's incoming blow. Hooking the tips of his feet on the edge of the beam, the student whirled around the support, landing on top standing. "What...?" asked Aphelion. Noticing his master's eyes narrowing, he quickly added,"Sifu." Ivory straightened his beard thoughtfully for a moment... and then launched into a flurry of attacks. Though he moved with inhuman speed, his words came soft and slow, as if discussing philosophy by the meditation pool.
"You are quiet, yes, but not silent. You have greatly improved in avoiding the enemy's strikes, though still very vulnerable. Your awareness of your surroundings is fair, but fundamentally limited by your lack of understanding." Aphelion frantically blocked and dodged the never ending barrage of attacks. Styles switched mid strike between the two as they bounded from support to support. Finally, in an effort to move to more tactical ground, Aphelion launched a counterattack. Ivory gave a half-amused look as he began blocking his student's feet and fists.
"You must finally come to realize what we must all know, my student." With a sudden sharp blow to a pressure point, Ivory rendered Aphelion motionless.
"You do not exist."
Whether his current condition or the question yielded Aphelion's questioning look, Ivory chose to elaborate.
"As long as you separate the idea of yourself, mastery will be impossible. No one can hear that which is not there. They can not strike the non-being. That which is seen by no one falls squarely to your knowledge." Ivory paced thoughtfully along the narrow beams as he spoke.
"We have given up being for Creation. We are the empty spaces between chaos and order, destruction and preservation, dark and light. Our dying, like our living is no great matter, because no force can stop the nonexistent. It is only the product of our motions that matters. Ours is not sacrifice, but the necessary flow of Destiny."
Aphelion eyes rolled back as he fought for consciousness. After a moment, Ivory struck his student again, releasing the Essence block he had created. "Go now, Aphelion, and ponder this. We shall work further tomorrow."
===A Day at Work===
===A Day at Work===
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"I have it right here. Let me see..." Messanim shuffled through the papers on her desk. "Aha! Here we are! Looks like a hiccup in the South. Some odd love affair with a Varang warlord, Red Wind..."
"I have it right here. Let me see..." Messanim shuffled through the papers on her desk. "Aha! Here we are! Looks like a hiccup in the South. Some odd love affair with a Varang warlord, Red Wind..."
Aphelion nodded. "Okay, I'll get started on this. Also, send Crimson a yes for dinner. Anything else?"
Aphelion nodded. "Okay, Anything else?"
Messanim slipped from behind the desk,"Well, there's the normal stuff... another racial split forming in the Haslanti, a Ledaal falling in love with an air nymph, oh here's one about..."
Messanim slipped from behind the desk,"Well, there's the normal stuff... another racial split forming in the Haslanti, a Ledaal falling in love with an air nymph, oh here's one about..."
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===An Ending===
Wind gazed around the cave, clearly ill at ease,"I don't like this place, Spider" His circlemate Raven grunted in agreement.
I nodded to the two young Solars,"It's not my ideal choice, but we needed to slip from the eyes of Heaven. Still, we will want to leave the Shadowland before nightfall."
''Many things were not my ideal choice at this point,'' I thought. ''By now, it was likely these two sparks were low on Keyak's agenda. I have to find a way to expose him! Conspiring with the Deathlords? It's worse than treason! I have to reach the others- someone who will listen.''
I cleared my head. I had to do my job first. I could find an escape later. "Listen to me. Records show there should be another spark being released a ways south of here, just north of Lintha territory. No doubt there will be a Wyld Hunt force released, but with the recent conquests of the Bull to the north, it should be a much more manageable force. With your help, she may be able to escape."
Raven nodded,"Should be manageable. Got a name?"
"The paperwork references a 'Jakayla'," I noted,"I have on good authority she's a twilight. Now, if you stick to the eastern trade..."
Wind whipped around,"What was that?" Raven's ears perked up as he began more actively assessing the environment. The tension was palpable as we stood in perfect silence, listening for the slightest cue. For countless time, the only sounds were the dripping of the stalactites and gentle ebb of the waves into the cave's mouth. The pale bioluminescent glow of the pools rippled along the walls.
Suddenly, Raven shouted,"Wind! Behind you!"
But, it was too late. A blade seemed to coalesce from within Wind's chest. Behind him stood a faceless figure who I knew. It was Crimson.
Raven went for his blades, but I charged to intercept. "No, run you fool!" I cried. I must credit Raven's resolve. With a clenched jaw nod, he darted out the cave mouth at blinding speeds, vanishing into the mists. I had only a second to admire the young Solar's speed before I found myself springing from the path of an all too familiar blade.
"Crimson, what are you doing?! It's me!" I dropped my resplendent destiny as I parried the next strike.
The two words that followed shook me to the core. In a calm, emotionless voice, Crimson replied,"I know."
The fight raged on, but Crimson had always been my martial superior. Though I could harm him to some extent, he had come prepared and forearmed. I knew my only chance was a retreat. Springing off the flat of Crimson's blade, I soared for the cave mouth. It was only then I saw the kegs of firedust.
The was a blinding light and a thunderous roar. I remember slamming against an uneven surface and landing in what I can only assume was the pool in the middle of the cave. Either the water or the concussion left my vision wavering as I looked up at the faceless figure I had once called friend. His stillness was offset by the falling rocks of the collapsing cave. He drew back his blade, in preparation to strike. I tried to speak to him, to ask him why, but my mouth seemed so distant. I can't remember seeing much then, but I do remember a distant sting.
I have no idea how much passed, but two events happened in rapid succession that have totally altered everything. The first was a loss. I remember the color draining, my senses losing acuity, and most importantly, I felt my... self diminished. I felt waves of doubt, of weakness, and pain, but none of the flows of Creation. On some inherent level, I was less.
Before I could come to understand the loss of my spark, another presence entered my world. Though I saw nothing, I could tell its serpentine form. I heard without hearing a voice that carried on the waves of the infinite, or perhaps more accurately, infinite loss. I remember feeling as if it slithered about me, but there is no way to know what was true in that moment. As it coiled around me, it felt vile and oppressive, as if crushing me, yet on some inexplicable level, oddly comforting in its all-encompassing embrace. Then, it spoke to me.
"I can give you the chance to avenge yourself," it said,"I can give you ''power'' you need to cut those who would hurt you." The mad malevolence of the voice erupted in a sound between laughter and scream. "You know the costs, but what challenge can it be to give up a life that never really was? Join us, and taste victory!"
It felt like a voice outside myself when I heard my "Yes." These were my deepest enemies, but I had no other choice. I knew I ''must'' set these wrongs right. The tyranny of power had run too long and gone too far. The corrupt would bleed for their crimes. The sickly would be trimmed from the righteous. I would destroy them if it costs me all I was.
The laughscream blasted me again, and I felt an impact to my chest, and something crawling through me. It felt like ice water in my veins, yet burned in my chest and eyes. I felt more than heard myself scream.
And then there was Blackness.
And then there was Blackness.
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Cord Tearing Bat- Prominent Guild merchant who suffered a large economic loss at the hands of Ionus.
Cord Tearing Bat- Prominent Guild merchant who suffered a large economic loss at the hands of Ionus.
Crimson Banner Executioner- Bronze Faction Chosen of Endings. Best friend of Aphelion
Akemi- Bronze Faction Chosen of Serenity and love interest of Aphelion
Akemi- Bronze Faction Chosen of Serenity and love interest of Aphelion

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