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Old 08-11-2009, 07:58 PM   #1
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Default The Hall of Heroes

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Old 07-19-2013, 04:07 AM   #2
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Default Muramoto Tatsuo Bio - Interview Style

So you had a thing for being the hero?

You could say that. I had it in my head when I was a kid in the Academy that I was destined for greatness because I was somehow special, a cut above the rest. I thought to adopt the warrior way and strike at opportunity. But that’s not how it works. The warrior way adopts you, and opportunity can strike back pretty hard.

Hard times in the Academy?

Yeah. Back then, I didn’t know a thing about limits, breaking points, sacrifice, compromise, hard truths. I was weathering the exams like a good Morimura child, standing tall like the trees of our homeland, and because I was the first shinobi-potentialite in maternal and paternal heredity for a hundred years, I thought I could just cruise by on the wings of destiny. Nuh-uh. I failed. Enter Mom and Dad, Muramoto Midori and Norio, proud members of the Forestry Guild, where the motto, or Way of the Woodcutter, was better than any grandiose nindo I could ever dream up: "In light of day or dark of night, we clear the path for Konoha's might." It's hard to beat material like that.

How did they take it?

‘No son of ours…!’ The magnificent, multi-talented shinobi they wanted was too busy trying to be magnificent and multi-talented to realise that the whole generalism thing was spreading him too thin. See, they’re both specialists in their craft. And I didn’t know what I wanted out of shinobi life. I was soft. Naive. Convinced I was a fighter but with nothing to show for it. So I simply set my sights a little lower and worked a little harder to get there, and before I knew it, I had younger kids calling me the Comeback King. They let me repeat the final year.

A Genin by the age of twelve.

Yup. Whence began the daily grind. I was on fire with enthusiasm, and convinced my initial team to pick up the others’ slack wherever we could to get that extra training, extra experience. But eventually I plateaued. The chuunin exams were that make or break milestone. I figured that if I could come out on or near the top, I could prove that I was that miracle kid, destined for greatness. I knew greatness wouldn’t just come, though. I had to go out and find it. Put in the work to make my miracle come true. I took some time, started preparing early, and when I was thirteen, made a pilgrimage to the nation’s sacred sites, looking for inspiration. Still imagined myself the warrior-type. Figured this was my fabled journey of discovery.

Was it?

Well, Brass gave me one week. Weren’t going to have me out there messing around when I was still in the employ of the country. So it was a short pilgrimage. Had to skip a few destinations. Start at Hi no Tera and strike out from there. Thing is, that first stop wound up being my final one.

I uh, happened across this guy chatting to a monk. Wild white hair, scars littering his body, pack full of swords, tattoos aplenty — an arms master. Asked me if I wanted to die. I figured it was because I’d been discovered eavesdropping, but he was actually asking me a genuine question. And I couldn’t give him the answer he wanted. It was a bit too existential for me, and I’d answered with some generic waffle about staying alive to continue the good fight. Be the hero, you know? Well, this hero got dismissed on the spot, but the stranger did leave a parting gift: told me I wasn’t ready, but to come find him again when I was.


What was ready?

Hell if I knew. Not at that point in my life, at least. I convinced myself I didn’t need his help, nor anyone else’s, because I could help myself. Train my way. Live my way. I shut myself off from family and friends to enact that, but in reality that was the worst choice because the thing that needed strengthening the most was my maturity and mental attitude. Can’t light a flame in a vacuum. Snuffed myself.

…?

—In the Chuunin exams. Sorry. Yeah, I wasn’t ready. Go figure. And, of course, it meant levelling blame at anyone but myself — the swordsman in particular. Falling in the first round of physical bouts to the haunting sound of his words. They scathed me as I washed my hands raw in the locker rooms, battered my ears on the cart ride home and rocked me to a fitful sleep in the many nights that followed. The skill gap between myself and my peers began widening beyond anything I could easily explain away, with Akane taking over as team leader when she was promoted to Chuunin and then Isamu transferring into the field medic training programme.

So you joined the war effort.

I…treated it like a distraction, happy for the chance to direct my rage elsewhere. And yes, I realise that’s not healthy. There’s more than enough rage to go around. Don’t need children on the cusp of mental breakdowns negotiating tense standoffs. But it is what it is, and I was what I was.

And what is that?

A bit of a mess. Likening myself to the Hokage, if you can believe, out combatting evil in the wilds, but unpredictable, shortsighted. I hadn’t yet though of what it might mean to die, or dealt with the likelihood of it happening. I couldn’t die. I was the first in a hundred years…and all that rot. All the things I’d let myself believe…

When did you change?

The war. Everything changes in war. Especially when you’re remorselessly self-destructive, charging into battles against nameless enemies for reasons you don’t understand fully just so you can…hit something, and have an impact. Make a difference to someone, somewhere? How can it not? It’s that or die. Or nearly die.

Go on.

We were sent with another team to knock out an enemy watchtower on the mountainside. Akane led us down into the encampment from the cleared tower but there were complications. Repercussions. The other team had cleared the exit route, leaving myself, Akane and a newly promoted chuunin called Jurou to wipe out any remaining resistance, but what remained were the families of the soldiers we’d killed, and a rumbling further up the valley. Akane wouldn’t leave unless there was a chance they’d survive the avalanche. Jurou had other ideas and high-tailed it out of there, but Akane, she— she chased down a woman and her children who were trying to escape but running right into path of the oncoming snow instead.

I must have spent hours out there in the snowfield, clawing through so much of the stuff my fingers were almost frostbitten when I found Akane’s body, pulled it out, sat with her — what was left of her — and held her in my arms. But who was I to be that person for her? Me, who had blamed her for my weakness. Me, who had held back for fear of death while she had run towards life in the face of death?


When you put it that way—

—you reconsider your priorities. What was death to me now? What was being a shinobi, holding those scales in your hand?

You failed your post-war psych evaluation.

I did. That’s true. Too many of us were troubled by what we’d seen and done. We were children. I took a month to reconnect with myself and returned home to Morimura. There were cousins of mine whose belongings came back instead. I’d saved myself but at what cost? Akane had been trying to save her country from itself, but there was a cost there too. And a lesson. Yeah, she’d defied her orders to leave and endangered herself, and thus her team, but so had Jurou by looking out for his own skin over his team leader’s.

I turned fourteen during my time there, about two and a half weeks in. It wasn't a celebration that I thought I deserved though, so I packed my things and set off the night before to spend the day alone. I don’t think I’d planned it, but one way or another, I found myself walking the steps of Hi no Tera to kneel before the idol, one year older but none the wiser. I could almost hear his voice, chiding me. Then it asked me again: 'Do you want to die, boy?' I did. I wanted to escape. To end my shameful existence. Akane had chosen how to end hers.

And then it hit me. It was his voice. He was there — actually sitting in the room’s recesses, staring at me. And so I answered.


What did you tell him?

I said I did, but I wanted to die well.

A fair nindo.

Fair. Hm. I don’t know about that. It was enough for the swordsman though. Kensai, his name. He dropped a shield at his feet and told me to pick it up.

~Chair creaks~

Not the one I carry. Anyway, I was…explaining how I somehow passed my next psych eval, given how I just admitted to being honour-bound suicidal?

Yes, it is puzzling. But I’m sure there’s a point you turn it around.

Oh yes. Not for a while though. First, the training. Gruelling, strict, disciplined. Attitude adjustment, body conditioning, hand-to-hand, weapons, tactical. At that point, I didn’t know why he had taken me on as his student. I didn’t care. I threw myself into it, trusting in the process, the destined nature of it all. I was soft. And he was not talkative about his past. Ask the wrong question, earn yourself five hundred push ups or an hour of water carrying.

Give the right answer? Earn yourself another lesson. Like the first one. As soon as I plucked that shield from the cold flagstones, I earned a sturdy kick to the chest, then another, rushing me, pushing me down the stairs, across the path, with the monks looking on, unfazed. I was defending out of reflex, too tired to fight back, to the base of a tree, around it, back to the shrine, onto the steps — he was relentless. But I wouldn’t falter either. Only when I found the will to attempt a counter-offensive did he cease and hit me with his words instead:

'You are not a hero, and you will never be immortal. You are just a tool, a weapon, manipulated by the laws of nature in grand orchestration, try as you might to rebel. Your only option? What kind of weapon you choose to be. So what will it be, shinobi?'


Cynical.

Very.

But not…incorrect.

That was my conclusion. When I returned home, I pondered what he could mean, living for the next lesson and a life in which I might find an honourable death, closer to the way Akane must have viewed her reality. I passed the evaluation, and proved myself a man of my words by throwing myself into duties as the tool of the new republic, which I had declared myself to be. I was a scalpel, a sword, a shield, a crowbar, a dressing to apply pressure — whatever Konohagakure needed.

There’s little self-determination in a life like that.

Ahah. Kensai had something to say about that too. He said:

'Do not confuse your own moral compass with that of existence. We give and take life in its endless waltz, the cycle that moves the world. You wish to end it? You might as well try to still the wind or drain the oceans. Nothing is above that.'


Yes, but—

—No buts. You can’t resist the pull of that logic! Even murderers and pacifists have a place in the cycle. Shinobi too. We address the imbalances, helping the world correct itself: wars, peacetime, renaissances, epidemics. The world persists. Chaos and order remain at odds but also at work, with us as their agents, if we have the vision to perceive it. With each mission presenting the opportunity for a closer understanding of this sacred duty, my skills and confidence quickly grew in the absence of self-importance, self-service and the hunt for glory or riches. People didn’t understand my dramatic turnabout. I chose not to think about it or I’d confuse myself! Instead, I prevailed until my new lifestyle and world view had become ingrained as habit.

The whole ‘born again’ thing can be an issue for people. Some believe in you, others think it’s a con. None could argue with the results, but I lost a few friends who missed the dreaming delinquent I’d been before the war. In their place, I gained friends in the ranks. Kensai had set up shop on a little plot of land beyond the Village walls where I could continue my training. He seemed to own the place, even though I’d never seen it before. Kind of…charming, actually. I was fifteen when his attitude changed and he began to open up more. His lessons came more freely then.


Such as?

Let’s see… Oh yeah:

'Live well and live fully, but only so that you might better wield your sword, brace your shield, or learn to stay your hand.'


Interesting.

Yeah. Living fully did seem to fly a bit in the face of dying well, but it was in the service of knowing myself more completely. Knowing how to live. And how not to take a life. The mark of a great swordsman, I was told, lay in being able to discern those moments when the triumphant stroke lay in never having to draw your blade. I was still a genin, but man, I was getting stuff done. I— I…huh. Still couldn’t see the wood for the trees.

What do you mean?

I mean, I never asked Kensai what the price of my training was. Nothing this groundbreaking comes without one. When the toll came due, I wasn’t paying attention to the right things.

What happened?

You’ve got my mission sheet in there. What does it tell you about Teitetsu? My last outing as a genin.

Single shinobi requested, skill sets were a match. Dealing with…smiths encroaching on a local quarry, blockading ore deposits belonging to the Kusanagi guild. It says the guild requested the situation be defused without violence by enlisting a Village shinobi with a direct link to the authority of Hidden Leaf. You weren’t involved in Wildfire?

Someone had to stay behind. Besides, Kensai had promised a special lesson if I remained. And good thing I did! Were it not for this mission, who knows when I’d have been promoted? It was my final test before the Brass.

Now, the offending group had somehow bought a local swordsman who was supposed to be some sort of protector in the region, and wanted him to fight me, steel to steel, to prove the validity of their claim. I proposed a different trial by combat where I would use only my fists and shield in defence of the guild, but if I won, the new smiths would be beholden to every condition put forth by the Kusanagi. I felled him with a science of combat he never could have seen coming, despite his experience and skill.


And the mission was a success. I see here you brought back a little something else?

A pair of trusty arm guards and greaves straight from the Teitetsu forges. Not too shabby.

Good equipment is hard to come by as a genin.

Don’t I know it! But then I was a chuunin and, uh…the day it happened was strange. I was expecting that special lesson from Kensai but, to my confusion, he seemed perturbed by my celebratory attitude. He asked what I had learned from my recent confrontation. I spoke of they way I’d outmanoeuvred the swordsman. He asked if I was proud. I lied and said I wasn’t. He saw through that, then took out a shogi board and beat me soundly in four successive games.

'Pride is a possessive genjutsu,' he said, 'meant only for you. When a child takes their first step in a room of seasoned soldiers, their pride means nothing. When a winner is awarded by a panel of masters in the arts, pride is next to nothing. When one reaches enlightenment, pride will cost them everything. And when nature gives life or rips it away…does she even feel? Should you?'


Ouch. There are easier ways to tell you it comes before the fall.

Yeah, well, that didn’t stop me from letting him get to me again. I was still meditating on the matter later that week when the alarms sounded to warn of the invasion, followed by that other sound. You’ll remember the one. Then I came up against those strange skeletal people, near the hospital. I had never fought so many at once; I was only saved by their lack of free thought and my capacity for battle meditation — serenity through action — despite the waves of counter-Leaf-nin who came after. I’d say things got strange-r after the ANBU, of all people, showed up, but frankly the sacrificial summonings and deadly man-beast-things were on par with that lot being back on the scene.

The Village definitely got more politicised. I couldn’t handle the culture of suspicion surrounding the Sanada, ANBU, Centurions, Hokage… As far as I was concerned, without explicit facts made public, the bare information that we had to go on wasn't enough to form an opinion. Kensai's teaching had probably shielded me from the dangers of that sinkhole. Mistrust, doubt and aimless hate were just more cancers of the soul that I could frankly do without. Most importantly, I didn't take pride in what I'd done; defending the Village had been a necessary action. So when I next faced Kensai to continue my training, we simply greeted each other wordlessly because the averted catastrophe was only another one of nature's balancing acts.


But you couldn’t escape the changes that came altogether. How did you take the restructuring of our divisions?

I like to think I rode that wave with the same kind of professionalism. Hada was the natural choice. Worked well in that joint venture with Omoi infiltrators in Kousai, even if the boss did get away. Shame was something I hadn’t felt in a while.

That’s when Kensai surprised me with what I think was his only attempt at cheering me up. It was an age-old proverb adopted by the Renchishin for their sacred martial art: “When the student is ready, the master will appear.” He told me that, had he never considered me capable of overcoming an emotion like shame, he would never have chosen to train me.

He gave me a mantra to utter whenever I felt the shame or the pride, the weakness or the doubt rise to the surface:

'Let go your earthly tether, enter the void, empty and become…'

Whatever I chose to become, he added, would be up to me, but his lessons, he claimed, were all to prepare me for this relinquishing of human fault, which he trusted I was capable of doing.

Trust is a powerful thing. So’s an elbow to the sternum. He caught me off guard again, this time sending me right through the wall of his shack. He practically snarled, asking what my shame told me to do. What my doubt or disbelief told me to do.


What did you do?

My body righted itself of its own volition. My eyes ignored the fact that a thick layer of dust coated every inch of the lean-to’s interior, my nostrils closed themselves to the stench of decay and disuse all about, and it wasn’t until I had expended every ounce of my strength and stamina in the minute or so that I was able to hold my own against him that I made sense of these buried observations. Sensei didn’t live there. Never had. Never would. I had known the man for three years but he had never once told me a thing about himself. The man had no earthly tether. He might as well have been a ghost.

…Little did I know, I wasn’t far off becoming one myself.

Um…yeah, I had a mission with Seishou tracker named Eiki. We were tailing a rogue shinobi who had ambushed the team sent to take her down. Eiki and I were following her, belly down in a small skiff, closing in on the fishing vessel we believed her to be hiding out on, which was nestled among a number of coracles and outrigger canoes pulled into the bay of Yokuchi no Kagarinai by a recent storm. We had no reason to suspect we were also the subjects of surveillance. Nor that they’d come from above, travel through us, through the boat, taking us down into the depths. Shame caught in my throat as if to stop more air from escaping my lungs.

Let go my earthly tether, I’d say. I had to fight back. I wasn’t ready to die. Punch, kick, head but, stab, lash, elbow…I don’t remember what I tried. Still I sank deeper. They were on our backs, throttling us from behind.

Enter the void, I’d say. This couldn’t be the end of my role in nature’s orchestration, played out to an early finale.

I had to be Empty by then. Pressure and darkness were taking me. My attacker’s feet were scrambling for the surface. I don’t know how, but of all things, I remember the feeling of sinking and accepting what was to come. Then rejecting it.


Damn right. What? I know a good comeback when I see one. Go on.

When I came to, I drank in all the air I could. All I could see was a strange, floating oval above me, and there was a warm pressure on my chest rising momentarily above the burning sensation in my lungs and limbs. Then the oval descended and my field of vision went white, and I swore I heard my mantra whispered from afar. A crash startled me enough to try to move, but I was out of luck. My attackers had found me and immediately started dishing out even more punishment. I remember them dragging me across the floor, throwing me into a wall or two, punching me in the gut. Come back to life only to die again. Except, you know, I was done with accepting that.

The floodgates opened, and all the emotions I hadn't dared let myself feel came cascading into focus: fear; anguish; shame; anger; the joy to be alive; the pride of living; the greed of desiring a moment longer; fury, stronger than the anger aimed at my attackers. I was heading toward an emotional flatline that would probably kill me long before my enemies did. My emotions had nowhere else to go, welling up like a bubble that might burst my heart at any moment. I was shaking. I had to let go. And become…

Fire.

I remember what happened next. I didn’t think. I was overcome with a roaring torrent of instinct. The next hand that came for me? Snapped its thumb. Grabbed from either side? Twisted, slid, palms to stun, fingers to gouge, knuckles to crack, elbows to shock, feet to command the floor. Phantom Step, Lunging Palm Strike, Capture Step, Cross Counter Attack: Asking Hand. Techniques begging to be used were swimming before my mind’s eye even though it was the only one that could see properly. I can only imagine that I must have looked like some kind of crazed, drooling, drunken boxer, for I kept going.

They drew blades? I grabbed a crate, spun it like a shield. The last guy I took down was a familiar face: the mob boss who’d escaped at Kousai. I pieced this all together from my hospital bed, where the fire held a smouldering vigil for the next couple weeks. Kensai had been there. Those had been his words. Had to be. He got me out, resuscitated me, but had then left me at their mercy. He’d known all about my mission. He’d toyed with my life. Eiki died that day, and no one had been there with the care to pull him out. I’d been such a fool.


What of the mission?

A bust, in part. Our target had escaped, but we’d captured the Kousai boss, Kozue, as a result. I’d paralysed him from the first thoracic vertebra down.

Ouch.

Yeah. It didn’t bring Eiki back, though. All it granted me was some time to grieve and time to reflect on my willingness to take the next mission. I had to seek out Kensai first. Found him meditative before the shrine to the life-giving flame at Hi no Tera. I questioned him, but he gave nothing away. Only when I called him out as a coward did he think to move from cryptic answers to disconcerting suggestion. Said I wasn’t this angry when it came to the other things he’d done for me. To awaken my true self. To push me to the edge of life, whereupon it was within my power to choose death or enlightenment.

Enlightenment?

A pretty shitty kind of enlightenment if it’s reserved for me alone. He went on. Said Eiki’s life was of no consequence to the universal construct — like he would know — so he died. I had lived because I was his disciple. How supremely broken is that kind of logic? How arrogant and selfish and prideful is that way of thinking? How hypocritical? He interferes, he…what…designs the mission I get, leading me to an impossible life or death situation, knowing that others will get swept up in it, then rigs the game so I can’t even survive the thing he’s planned? It’s like he didn’t buy into what he was selling. We’re all universal agents, but some are head and shoulders above the others. How does he get to act as murderer, advocate, judge, jury and do-nothing executioner?

It does seem highly skewed.

Right?? It was only when I accused him of perverting his sacred code that he took offence. He held his anger in check, but I knew well enough now what the cracks looked like. Fed me some line about my understanding still being limited to what I needed at that time. That he knew about the greater destinies of yada yada yada.

Of whom?

Ah, I don’t know. Those who believed and those who didn’t. Maybe former students of his? People from the life he never talked about? I didn’t want to hear any more, but he kept pushing the point that I was one of the few people who had come back from the brink of death a true warrior. And I just thought that was crap. I wasn’t a true anything. A true idiot, perhaps, for trusting this stranger enough to let him manipulate me for his own purposes. A lucky idiot too, for being the first in a long line of students who had survived Kensai’s initiation process. So many others, he revealed, had chosen death.

How many kids?

How many broken, vulnerable pawns?

He was no warrior, and I told him thus. He had his hand around my throat in an instant, and I think I caught a glimpse of the lunatic in him.

'Do you want to die, boy?'

But the power clearly didn’t lie in his hands any more. He’d created me, and was proud of his creation. He wasn’t going to wipe me off the face the earth just yet. I played to his ego. Pride, as he'd once said, could cost an enlightened man everything. I could see it plain, and replied:

“Don’t you want to see how it all plays out from here? Kill me and you’ll never know.”


…a bold move. Did it pan out?

Haven’t seen him since. I still feel a bit like Frankenstein’s monster, but I’m in charge of things now. I'm also not nature, which I think he was projecting onto himself. I'm its human agent, so I should be feeling things. I have to hope that he’s not still back there, pulling strings, but if he is, I’ll deal with him when he rears his ugly head. Especially since I do believe in what it was I became. If he seeks to alter the natural order, it's my job to guide it back. He’s my responsibility now.

Even though he could still snap you like a twig?

We’ll see about that. I’ve come a long way since that day at the temple. And the totality that came from emptiness — my path to zen — is my humanity. Something he has forgotten.

I walk the warrior way. And that is my Will of Fire.

Last edited by Calibur; 10-25-2018 at 01:27 PM..
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Old 05-24-2014, 08:28 PM   #3
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Default The Weapon: Shoda Kagero (Chuunin // Hidden Cloud)



Unity Squad 080: NPCs




Name: Saionji Miwa
Alias: "Highwire"
Age: 19
Archetype: Assassin
Shinobi Rank: Chuunin
Military Rank: Corporal
Division: Intelligence - Investigator




Name: Ingakankei Akihiro
Alias: "Beast Mode"
Age: 18
Archetype: Druid
Shinobi Rank: Chuunin
Military Rank: Corporal
Division: Combat - Shock Trooper
Pet: Jun (Clouded Leopard - Chuunin Rank)



Name: Yamane Ren
Alias: "Shrike"
Age: 18
Archetype: Lightning Dilettante
Shinobi Rank: Chuunin
Military Rank: Corporal
Division: Engineering - Field Mechanic

-------------------------------------------------------------

Last edited by Calibur; 08-23-2017 at 08:46 AM..
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Old 10-08-2015, 09:35 AM   #4
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Default Chop Shop // Reformatting

-------------------------------------

For Kam:
Soul Armour - Phantom Furnace
Tiered abilities for advancement in soul forge*
- feet - jets of hot air and sparks from boots (propulsion, blast in kick)
- arms - jets of hot air and sparks from between plates (propulsion, escape, blast from elbow)
- helmet - glowing eyes and short range heat/spark optical blasts*
- chest - smoke vent, covering field of play in white, near-opaque, cloying smokescreen

-------------------------------------

Nunchaku no Jutsu


A: Strength
B: Speed
C: Stamina
D: Tactics
E: Willpower

Style Basis: Iaijutsu/Weapon

Style History:

Nunchaku, often termed ‘nunchuks’, ‘chainsticks’ or ‘danger sticks’ are weapons of force, speed and unpredictability. Yet knowledge of these practical attributes is always preceded by a rather mythic infamy, as rice flails converted by farmers into improvised armaments during a time of revolution. And so, as simple peasants’ weapons, they are often relegated to the footnotes of armouries, their usefulness in modern warfare undervalued and their presence on the battlefield almost nil. Few beyond the shinobi are privy to the unabridged history of the weapon - one which inspired its adoption by the masters of many schools as a form of supplementary training to build coordination, quickness and self-restraint.

Its origin is one of nobility, sacrifice and resilience.

In a time when the domains were united, aristocrats serving the government as officers, tax collectors and the like were known to practise fighting arts as a necessity, their very lives and livelihoods bound to these roles as protectors and keepers of the law. Yet when the prohibitive legislation tied to their positions denied them the chance to scale other government occupations when the economy dipped, most were reduced to beggary before being granted to right to work for themselves as merchants, farmers and craftsmen. Naturally, they were wont to revolt, only to have their rights further reduced, including the privilege of working for the government or bearing arms.

As princes became paupers, they moved into villages to survive this harsh new world, only to be met by the resentment of those already in situ. Defending themselves on all sides, from their new neighbours and the bandits who later arrived to exploit the sudden boom in food production, these ‘farmer princes’ were forced to refresh their fighting skills. Deprived of their traditional weaponry, they resorted to improvising staffs from sticks, tonfa from millstone handles, nunti-bo from fishermen’s gaffs and kuwa from hoes. The nunchaku was one of the few weapons developed by design, compensating for a lack of reach with sheer force and swiftness. While at a disadvantage against longer weapons like swords, it became a favourite against mobs of opponents brandishing short range weaponry and bare fists.

Easy to conceal and carry, it was the perfect tool for self-defence and gaining the upper hand in a street fight. When wielded alone to accompany unarmed techniques, or paired with another, its hardened handles could deliver blunt force while its cord could be wrapped around attacking weapons and limbs to immobilise or disarm opponents. Many centuries later, the descendants of its inventors would ascend to positions of power once more, only this time as shinobi, masters of concealment, with their forefathers' improvised combat mechanics honed into fully established schools.

Style Information:

Construction

Typical nunchaku consist of two equal lengths of wood connected by a rope (himo) or chain (kusari), each section either rounded or given an octagonal cross-section to create an edged effect. The ideal length of each piece will be long enough to protect the forearm when held in a high grip near the top of the shaft (kontoh). The ideal length of the connecting cord will be just long enough for the user to lay it across their palm with the sticks hanging perpendicular to the ground. The weapon should also be balanced so that the practitioner can perform more advanced ‘low-grip’ moves such as overhand twirls. Weight will generally sit towards the sticks’ outer edges for maximum control of swing arcs. The most common materials for the shafts are strong, flexible woods that have been hardened under mud for several years then finely sanded and stained for preservation. However, metal shafts do exist, as do telescopic/retractable handles, nunchaku with knives and scythes on their tips, and those with blades concealed inside the rods.

Style Requirements: Nunchaku (single/dual)

Stage I
Requirements: 4 Strength, 4 Speed
Bonus: +5 Strength, +4 Speed
Specials: 2 Tactics, 2 Willpower

Stage II
Requirements: 7 Strength, 7 Speed, 6 Tactics
Bonus: +5 Strength, +4 Speed
Specials: 4 Tactics, 4 Willpower

Stage III
Requirements: 10 Strength, 10 Speed, 8 Tactics
Bonus: +5 Strength, +4 Speed
Specials: 7 Tactics, 7 Willpower, 6 Intelligence

Stage IV
Requirements: 16 Strength, 16 Speed, 11 Stamina, 14 Tactics
Bonus: +5 Strength, +4 Speed
Specials: 10 Tactics, 10 Willpower, 8 Intelligence

Stage V
Requirements: 20 Strength, 20 Speed, 16 Stamina, 16 Tactics
Bonus: +5 Strength, +4 Speed
Specials: 15 Tactics, 15 Willpower, 13 Intelligence

Stage VI
Requirements: 26 Strength, 26 Speed, 23 Stamina, 20 Tactics, 16 Willpower
Bonus: +5 Strength, +4 Speed
Specials: 19 Tactics, 19 Willpower, 18 Intelligence

Stage VII
Requirements: 34 Strength, 34 Speed, 31 Stamina, 25 Tactics, 19 Willpower
Bonus: +5 Strength, +4 Speed
Specials: 26 Tactics, 25 Willpower, 24 Intelligence

Last edited by Calibur; 07-25-2017 at 03:02 AM..
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Old 08-23-2017, 08:53 AM   #5
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Musical Score: Days Like This

Konkaji Ryuuankamei



Chuunin of Tsuchi no Kuni
Hagane Village | YARI/Scout | Konkaji Clan

Physicality ~ The Lion

A young man of twenty years, long of leg and broad of shoulder, stands with his back to you, a shade over six feet tall.

As you approach, he turns to cast a single almond-shaped eye in your direction, assessing your intentions with an unwavering pupil ringed by a pale brown, almost rose-coloured iris. Moving slightly, he reveals the rest of his chiseled features: a swarthy mask of imperious intensity topped with a crown of sharply styled black hair. You notice that his clothing is quite outlandish, dominated by a high-collared, sweeping, reddish brown coat with dark green and orange trim.

Just below his right ear, behind the sharp corner of his jaw, you catch sight of a small tattoo, thick with tribal lines and explosive angles, but marred by the slim cut of a scar across its upper half. Below his chin, the upper portion of a white tunic is visible, pressed against a powerful chest and secured by a broad belt of black leather. Standard issue military trousers of the same hue flow from there into knee-high, brown leather boots, while an outer belt, festooned with pouches, silver buckles and a hitai-ate, rings the coat at the waist.

He extends his gloved right hand, but not to you. Bordered by a thick, orange cuff, the chocolate brown leather that sheaths its fingers is drawn tight across knuckles reinforced by steel caps. He appears to be searching for something, sturdy yet deft fingertips tickling the air. Gradually, floating white lights coalesce in a wreath about his wrist like fireflies. The man’s mask changes as a gleaming blade appears, his otherwise thick, stern lips drawn tight in a smug grin.

He looks at you again. Time to back away.

Personality ~ The Mask

Kam believes everyone is defined by the masks they wear, and is keenly aware of the way he presents himself to the rest of the world. This has allowed him to come into his own as a Scout specialising in infiltration, using his detached and methodical mindset to select the optimum persona (or Legend Identity) for each situation. Each mask is woven from threads of reality, feeding or shunning the intrinsic aspects of his personality as required to create convincing facades that are never too far from the truth to be disbelieved. Kam is a pragmatist who prides himself on his efficiency and logic, and strives to make use of every discernible trait available to him so that even the oddest of his quirks may be of use.

He makes it a habit of spotting things that others miss, observant to a fault. Often, he will point these out, either leanly or encased in a dark sense of humour, and at times this insight will be a boon to discussion. When this isn’t the case, he can appear arrogant and antisocial. However, this air of superiority is of little consequence. Kam’s resilience liberates him to follow his own moral compass and move at the pace that best suits his own needs, impasses be damned. And with each encounter, he learns, ever the student of human nature, yearning to be truly faceless. To become anyone — anything. His wisdom now extends beyond his years, the product of a mind constantly sharpening its multifaceted edges like a sword collector.

It was why one blade was never enough for him, clan principles be damned. Kam was destined to be different. He takes care of business his own way, favouring the most effective blend of practices to enhance his unorthodox style in nearly all walks of life, combat included. Yet not once will his desire to get things done be impeded by the thirst for glory. To Kam, a job well done is its own reward because a job half done isn’t done at all. And if said job is done properly, then nobody should know that Kam had ever been there. He shies away from the limelight, and never charges into conflict. His movements, like his words, are well chosen and carefully placed to achieve his aims — not the avalanche of rolling rocks and debris, but the pebble at the summit of the mountain, initiating the catastrophe.

Nindo ~ The Hardliner

"I've got my own lines to walk."

Statistics ~ The Mountain

Archetype I: Konkaji Soul Smith
Archetype II: Human Tank
Special: The character gets Kon-Konpon for free.
Stat Merits: +3 to Strength, +2 to Stamina, +1 to Willpower.
Stat Flaws: -3 to Speed, -1 to Control, -1 to Tactics, -1 to Intelligence.

Primary: Physical
Strength: 1 + 3 + 11 = 15 + 12 [Akazano Namakemono] = 27
Speed: 1 - 3 + 10 = 8 + 8 [Baisuu-Tou-Ryuu] = 16
Stamina: 1 + 2 + 9 = 12 + 9 [Akazano Namakemono] = 21

Secondary: Chakra
Power: 1 + 9 = 10
Control: 1 - 1 + 9 = 9
Reserves: 1 + 9 = 10

Tertiary: Mental
Intelligence: 1 - 1 + 7 + 2 [Thread] = 9
Tactics: 1 - 1 + 8 + 1 [GMAP] + 1 [Thread] = 10
Willpower: 1 + 1 + 9 = 11

Techniques ~ The Avalanche

I: Global Ninjutsu

Mental Requirements: Intelligence 4
Chakra Requirements: Power 6, Control 6, Reserves 3
I: Kawarimi No Jutsu (Body Switch Technique)
II: Kinobori/Kabenobori no Jutsu (Tree/Wall Walking Technique)
II: Earth Release Ninjutsu: Doton

Mental Requirements: Intelligence 6, Willpower 2
Chakra Requirements: Power 7, Control 7
I: Daichi Idou no Jutsu (Earth Platform Movement Technique)
II: Rikujou Douyou no jutsu (Ground shaking technique)
III: Konkaji Soul Forge: Teitetsukon

Mental Requirements: Intelligence 2, Tactics 8, Willpower 6
Chakra Requirements: Power 10, Reserves 10
I: Kon-konpon (Soul Root)
I: Seisei-ken (Summon Blade)
I: Konjoumae (Soul Lock)
II: Bakuhakame no Jutsu (Blast of the Furnace Technique)
III: Yousetsutou (Welder’s knife)
IV: Forbidden Sloth Style: Akazano Namakemono

Physical Requirements: Strength 10, Stamina 10
Mental Requirements: Tactics 8
Stage III Stat Bonuses: +12 Strength, +9 Stamina, +6 Speed
V: Multiple Sword Style: Baisuu-Tou-Ryuu

Physical Requirements: Strength 8, Speed 6
Mental Requirements: Willpower 6
Stage II Stat Bonuses: +10 Strength, +8 Speed
Inventory ~ The Student

Item Points Max: 8
[0] Shinobi Kit
[1] Khukuri
[5] Konken: Routaika "The Elder Master"
Item Points Spent: 6
Item Points Remaining: 2

Biography ~ The Protector

The Tale of Nami-Nami

As a child, Ryuuankamei was widely regarded as abnormally normal, average in size, aesthetics and expectations, with no discernible distinguishing features. The other children would tease him, calling him ‘Nami-Nami’. To them, the bright lights of the forge, he was the grey smoke, formless and lingering. Even the runts and under-achievers had more clan currency when he entered the academy aged eight because at least they aspired to greatness, whereas Ryuu seemed content to fade. This wasn’t the case; the young clansman was simply happy in the middle. Polite, reserved and content just to be, he never wanted for much. His mother was incredibly supportive and his father, though busy as a Soul Smith, was able to provide a relatively plentiful lifestyle for the family of three.

He was actually quite selfless, but this was interpreted as weakness. Little did the other children know, the resilience with which he withstood their assaults for years was his standout feature: resoluteness inherited from his father and bravery from his mother. Her comforting words were also a constant salve. It was she who professed that his invisible strength was his sleeping Konken.

She died from an ill vapour when he was ten, ripping away Ryuu’s safety net. Without her as his true north, his compass wavered, as did his morals. He began to exact vengeance on his classmates, angrier than he had ever had cause to be. Angry at the world for pushing him to be a person he didn’t want to be until something had snapped. It felt connected. Depression turned to anxiety then fear. Fear that he would lose what little he had left if he didn’t rise to their taunts and prove them wrong. He didn’t want to; he never had. He had been content with the innate knowledge that his peers were wrong on all counts, happy to weather a storm that would pass. But none of that mattered any more.

Dispelling all distractions, he worked with single-mindedness to outdo each nascent naysayer, showing them up in and out of class until one act of humiliation went too far and earned him the ire of his instructors. They would have expelled him had Ryuu’s father not stepped in to explain the full circumstances and soften their punishment to a period of exclusion instead.

The bullies, exposed and robbed of their easy target, chose to follow suit, demolishing any fledgling friendships the boy might have had by convincing the whole academy cohort to alienate him. Having long since given up trying to forge bonds with the other children, Ryuu didn’t care too much, preferring his own company. The isolation was a welcome respite. He returned to complete his education six months later, in which time his father had stepped up as a parent and a tutor, recognising his son’s latent capabilities and warped priorities. The combination of his mentorship and the Village’s counselling had reigned in Ryuu’s vengeful streak, helping the boy make sense of his grief.

Few though they were, he gradually came to appreciate the people who strove to befriend him. He didn’t make it easy for them, and a good number still feared him, but his Genin team had been selected for this reason. The girl, Isuka Rie, was a free spirit and also something of an outsider, while the boy, Chinen Tora, had been the only antagonist to escape Ryuu’s wrath. There was little trust to be had, but all three had gained enough perspective the preceding year to share a grudging respect for each other’s accomplishments and station. It was deemed a sound starting point.

Ryuu received his Konken at age twelve and realised that his mother had known the truth of his soul all along. He named the blade “Routaika” in honour of the other elder sage who had prophesied its arrival, to remain by his side when she could not, and vowed never to waver again. To remain calm under fire, no matter the heat. His confidence rose but so did his pride. His goals leapt skyward when he realised all he had yet to achieve, and he was careful never to skew or blur the lines he would have to walk to reach those pedestals. As a shinobi he would face many challenges that could threaten his balance. Thus, while his precise knowledge and well-rounded abilities were a boon to each mission, he would always put his own interests first.

A Forbidden Master

The temptation to hold power over another never left him. When he wasn’t seeking to one-up his teammates, he was quietly honing his Konken skills, hoping to perfect his manipulation of the elder master’s talents and, in so doing, gain full control of the blade’s potential. Yet he was still too young and inexperienced to comprehend the magnitude of his task, wielding the sword as if it was part relic, part plaything, somewhere between reverence and frustration. In truth, he had little control over anything in his life. He worked and lived as the Village and his clan directed. So when his team brought the justice of Hidden Stone against a band of Skyhawk pirates led by their lord and captain, Iryoku Hayabusa, recovering a cargo of stolen artefacts and jailing the ringleader, Ryuu revelled in the success. In fact, he was so smitten with glory that he chose to visit the imprisoned captain before the trial and gloat, as was his right.

Despite the long hours of interrogation, the Skyhawk captain met Ryuu with remarkably high spirits — too high for the Genin to crush. Ryuu left, defeated and humiliated, but returned day after day in an attempt to win their battle of wits, as if doing so would prove something. Multiple cross-examinations over the whereabouts of the pirate’s base by the best that Iwagakure had to offer hadn’t broken the man, so Ryuu never would. Yet with every loss, he gained something: perspective. His motivation for visiting soon changed, backed by a growing respect for a fallen enemy, the recognition of his own shortcomings and an eagerness to engage in the conflict of learning hard truths. Hayabusa was plain-spoken but clearly well-educated, tactful and world-weary. He taught the boy lessons almost against his will, very much in control of their conversations, fluidly traversing the rocky landscape that was Ryuu’s limited grasp of ethics and geopolitics until the days before the trial, when their interactions touched on more personal topics.

The pirate became reminiscent, telling Ryuu of the family he would never see again: his brother, the travelling conman; his father, a rather infamous rogue who had recently outlived his second wife; his sisters, twins living in Daichi. Each offered glimpses of a layered, flawed but still human criminal. No simple crook or master villain bent on evil. Like lenses falling into place, each glimpse, story and conversation revealed a deeper kinship — an unexpected friend, mentor and true elder master — but one who would be ripped away with the new day. Without a confession to soften their sentence, the Daichi courts found the pirate guilty on the multiple charges of grand larceny, racketeering, arson, kidnapping, aggravated assault and resisting arrest. Ryuu wouldn’t have refuted the evidence even if it was in his capacity. It didn’t make letting go any easier. Fortunately, Hayabusa had anticipated this, and left a selection of his personal effects for his sole visitor, among them his long, sweeping coat and a letter.

In it, the captain thanked his young friend for the humanity he had shown during those final weeks and bade him continue to be a good man who would trust in his principles and instincts, remain vigilant in light of the many-layered world’s many perspectives, and be wary of the danger of blind faith in any calling. Finally, he asked that Ryuu carry out one last favour by visiting his sisters, who had contacted him before his arrest with a plea for help. The coat, which had once belonged to Hayabusa’s father, would identify the Genin as an ally. There was no address. The clues pertaining to that subject had been planted long ago, deep in their monitored conversations. The pirate lord’s gamble assured his sincerity, a trust that was met in kind by the young clansman, who set this new goal on the near horizon. As a Genin, he was still bound to his code and the lines therein, and a trip to the capital at that point was simply not on the cards. However, with the freedoms of a Chuunin, it could be.

Graduating the exams became his foremost priority, any boyish dreams of glory replaced by the selfless desire to see the family of an enemy delivered from harm. That need, and the urgency with which it was required, pushed him to succeed where otherwise he might have failed. He scraped by, but passed nonetheless. Few did; the competition was fierce so he had proved himself fiercer. While his few friends and teammates were out either celebrating or commiserating upon their return to Iwagakure, Ryuu packed, taking advantage of the brief respite permitted the administration while they updated his papers and arranged new assignments.

Red Light

Though it took Ryuu nearly two months following Hayabusa’s execution to unpick the wrinkles of clues lodged in his subconscious, he surmised that Iwagakure’s best had made quicker work of the coded wordplay and already beat him to the punch. When he found himself in front of a boarded up building in Daichi months later, he feared the worst. Fortunately, he soon discovered that the tenement’s residents had been relocated to another district. What followed was a day of firsts: Ryuu’s first visit to a Red Light District, his first time in a brothel, his first and next experiences being thrown out of one, and his first use of fabricated identity to further his goals. This dual-layered guise transformed him into a survivor of the Skyhawk operation pretending to be a seventeen-year-old deck hand in search of his relocated family. Hayabusa’s coat was still the key to finding the man’s sisters, but only by making himself thoroughly conspicuous and ubiquitous while wearing it would it work.

When he found a brothel where he was finally permitted to stay, he patted himself on the back for such ingenuity. Yet when he was then led further inside and up a staircase lined with females ranging from his own age of fifteen to more than three times that, he realised that his back might not be the only place to get attention that day. His host, a twenty-something girl with wild red hair and a look of danger, had managed to out-whore the others to claim her prize. Initially, Ryuu didn’t want to suspect her motives. A large part of him wanted her desire to be proven genuine. But the knife held at his groin and forceful hand pinning his chest to the bed moments later dispelled all lustful notions. Well, most.

The young woman’s questions focused so deliberately on the coat that Ryuu realised his quarry had already found him. He stripped away the surface identity to pass himself off as the deckhand, plucking insider knowledge from his conversations with her brother, and satisfying her enough to leave him locked in the room. She returned with another girl, slightly younger and blonde, but otherwise cut from the same cloth. Introducing the blonde as Seika and herself as Shisome, they pressed him for more details, but he was reluctant to reveal his true identity despite their incredibly persuasive attempts. He couldn’t know if it would help or hinder to explain his part in their brother’s capture and execution, so he stuck to his script, even if they saw through parts of it. It seemed to be enough for them to share their plight.

A local mobster had forcibly relocated a number of legal tenants from their buildings to a street under his 'jurisdiction', blackmailing the majority with tax or eviction. Matters were made worse by the arrival of Stone shinobi who promised aid only if the sisters betrayed their brother. Their adamant defiance earned them a place on the police force's black list. Shunned by all, they had turned to Hayabusa, their only hope. And Ryuu was a deck hand. With knowledge that he shouldn’t have. They locked him in the room and left a second time to decide how far they could afford trust him. Later that evening, he was joined by Seika in search of answers. She didn’t interrogate, but simply wanted to know how her brother had fared at the end. She could probably see through Ryuu’s facade but indulged him for the sake of closure. The message meant more than the allegiance of the messenger.

The pair spoke for many hours, much like Ryuu had with her brother, but there was an easiness to conversing with the eighteen-year-old. Seika’s raw emotions exposed her true self, highlighted in stark contrast against the walls of secrecy he had erected. Furthermore, although she was related to a criminal, she did not share his crimes; nor should she share an unfair punishment. Ultimately, it was her idle comment on how well the coat seemed to suit its new owner that dispensed with his remaining reservations. He told her that he was a shinobi and one of the team who had captured Hayabusa. He suffered her punches and kicks to plead understanding of that fact. Not forgiveness. He couldn’t ask for that. All he could ask for was the belief that he knew things because Hayabusa had come to trust him, enough to entrust his own sisters’ safety into the boy’s care. He was there to help, and help he would, however he could. For his promise, he received an angry and tearful kiss, a fierce, unbridled need to which he responded in kind, sealing his promise as if in stone. The next morning, in more ways than one, he awoke as a man.

Green Light

The brothel’s inhabitants lacked the manpower to fight back and so Ryuu, being far from a diplomat, decided to be their sword — their strong-arm. He would fight fear with fear, setting his shinobi trappings aside and assuming the role of a visiting bastard son, enraged by the treatment the women had received. When the usual bunch of the mobster’s underlings arrived later that day to take their regular cut, Ryuu met them as Kam. He put down three of the four men, sending the last one back with a clear message, but trailing him nonetheless. When more were issued to return in force, he followed them back to the brothel, whittling down their numbers on the way with guerrilla tactics and then dealing with the remnants in the street. He demanded that they leave the residents in peace, threatening to take more permanent and direct action if his demands were not met, then disappeared into the shadows before the police could arrive.

The prostitutes made their appreciation equally explicit that night, but even as the youth rested in sated slumber surrounded by a dozen naked forms, hired killers sent to eradicate the danger he posed were infiltrating the building. Picking off the residents one by one, they had killed two of the older prostitutes and a serving girl before Ryuu woke as Kam, who meted out a gloves-off, sword-drawn and fangs-bared retaliation that spilled onto the street from a burning room. Unbound by rage and despair, the young shinobi slayed two of the attackers and viciously disfigured the third. He also received numerous minor injuries himself, including a deep cut across the clan tattoo on his neck, before fleeing from the approaching authorities. He was protected from the fallout by the neighbourhood's residents, who banded together to cover up his involvement with vague yet coherent witness reports of a drunken brawl. However, with the police vowing to maintain a stronger presence in the area, Ryuu could leave town, satisfied that he'd made a difference.

He was different now; that much was also apparent. Things had taken a dark turn, albeit with glimmers of hope among the vestiges of his dying innocence. The single line of his straightforward existence had fractured into multiple pathways, littered with new masks for the many-faceted Kam, born of fire, danger, wrath and desire. And the need to balance the scales. The belief that were was always another way to right the world's injustices. You just had to be prepared to go deeper, even into the shit, to uncover it. He applied to become a Field Operator and spent much of his subsequent time out of contact as an prolific Investigator, immersing himself in an underworld he needed to better understand until it became his ally. His second skin. He favoured deep cover operations, moving from strength to strength as a highly capable sleeper agent. When his travels took him to distant regions, he grew proficient in soaking up their varied cultural identities, perspectives, prejudices and nuanced dialects. Wisdom, he now knew, came at the expense of one's pride in wilful ignorance. Hayabusa had taught him well.

When the Jondori incident shook the country, Kam was one of many operatives dispatched to investigate the once vibrant city for evidence of foul play, though the event was later revealed to have been a natural disaster. Though his findings helped shape the political narrative, they had no bearing on the shake-up to follow, which resulted in a reshuffling of the shinobi divisions. The closest alternative to being an Investigator was a Scout, although changing jobs required that Kam adapt his modus operandi from long-term, deep cover approaches to high impact recon as the point man for infiltration, acquisition and extraction. Though the chuunin had grown fond of his job, he had already acknowledged that there were more ways than one to get things done, and so viewed this new status quo as simply another line to walk, and to master.

Ever the student. The young lion. The hardliner. The mountain. The avalanche. The protector. The Mask.

Appendices ~ The Secrets

Legend Identity I: Keiichi "The Killer"
Legend Identity II: Iryoku Hiro, The Last Skyhawk

Konkaji Tattoo:



Other Info:
  • Kam has developed a habit for smoking exactly one cigarette per day without fail, waiting for a perfect reason to give into his vice. He prides himself in being able to stave off temptation better than most, but accepts his imperfections nonetheless. They make him more human.
  • When Kam became an Investigator, he immersed himself in the corrupted underworld of business. Hence, he is often seen as quite the shady character, even by those who know him well, and seems to know a lot more about certain disreputable topics than a shinobi typically should.
  • Special mention goes to MizaelTengu on DeviantART for his help in reimagining the character and in bringing my designs for Kam's Soul Armour to life. Check out the full suit of Konyoroi armour pieces here.

Missions ~ The Voyage

Preface: All Aboard! (+1AP Yousetsutou)
Prologue: Setting Sail (Doton Edits, +1GMAP Tactics)
Mission I: What Science Has Wrought (feat. Ryuuichoroh Uryu) (+1 Intelligence)
Mission II: The Natsuki Job (feat. Yamakazi Jirou and Kiyama Hien) (+1 Intelligence, +1 Tactics)

Last edited by Calibur; 12-16-2017 at 06:21 AM..
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