Welcome to Messiah! Please login or register!
Pages [1]

Just burn those new leaves over In which someone tries to assassinate Zhihao Mar 25, 76 194 Views
12 Replies
Started by Zhihao Zhu, May 30, 2018, 05:38 PM
Zhihao Zhu
No title
Knight
47 Posts House Zhu Written by Zozma
May 30, 2018, 05:38 PM / 450 Words
While Zhihao seemed to have hit the proverbial lottery upon meeting Tihaan and being escorted into House Essair, he couldn't stay there forever. The food the ilim had given him was enough sustenance to get him through the night, although he slept fairly lightly. Every sound made his eyes crack open and he kept staring at the doors and the windows, as if somehow, he would find somebody standing there. What sleep he did manage to get was pervaded by a nightmare of one of his father's most trusted men finding him and slitting his throat.

Zhihao woke in a sweat, barely able to breathe.

But he was alone in the room. Everything was fine. After locating a place to bathe himself, Zhihao cleaned himself up, dressed, and... then he wandered for a bit. House Essair still overwhelmed him, if not in size and stature, then in its foreign nature. Everything was just so different. Doors looked different. Tapestries looked different. Even the statues weren't the same. The flooring, too, was not the same.

Homesick. The word crossed his mind and as much as he wanted to deny it, he knew it was true. He only wanted to go back home. But while that had been his original intention--to find a bodyguard to take him back safely--Zhihao had different plans now.

Figuring that finding a nearby temple would be safe enough, Zhihao left the relative comfort and safety of House Essair and made his way back toward the town square. This time, he was highly aware of his surroundings. After hearing what he'd heard from Tihaan and Kass, he had no intention of being caught and used for nefarious deeds.

Ah, there! A temple dedicated to Kirinyaga. He recognized it from the bright flame that shone like a beacon. Smiling, Zhihao bounded up the steps and entered the quiet temple. There were a few others inside. Zhihao showed his respect by bowing deeply. Just as he did, he felt the telltale sting of a dart nicking his cheek. Eyes widening, Zhihao looked up in the direction the dart had come from. Somebody was moving away, heading into a door toward the back of the temple. Indignant, Zhihao looked to the priest at the head of the temple. He wasn't even looking in their direction, he was busy speaking with what appeared to be a mother and daughter.

Taking in a deep breath, setting his jaw, and narrowing his eyes, Zhihao swept up the dart that had hit the wall near him and headed toward the door the would-be assassin had taken.

Haku Tachibana
No title
Ujalin
25 Posts 29 Years Maleish 6' House Tachibana Ujalin Written by incendium
The summer river; although there is a bridge, my horse goes through the water.
Jun 01, 2018, 06:28 AM / 536 Words
In many of his few years, Haku had never much believed in Kirinyaga, and fate. The more time he spent with House Essair, however, the more that lack of belief seemed to shift. Even now, he certainly could not call himself a devotee of Kirinyaga, by any means. Much of his adherence to Kirinyaga's teachings were, most likely, more culturally ingrained, than anything he'd truly thought about, before now. It was, in a sense, what drove him to find, nestled in the town center of Nydema, a temple in honor of the solar deity, to think, for the most part. Haku did and did not believe in fate, and gods, but he did believe certain dominoes, so to say, fell over in certain ways, for a reason. Perhaps not the work of fate, or threads spun by gods, but more cause and effect. His mind, of course, was too logical to believe everything was the gods' grand design, and despite his prodding at the concept of Ytias, Dalmasca's god of light, it wasn't quite the same.

Perhaps he wanted answers. Perhaps he wanted to believe, again, as much as he had when he was a young boy. And yet, that Haku, that dewy eyed young boy that used to be him, was certainly not the same as the Haku he was now. Things had changed. He had, for better or worse, seen the darker side of his homeland, and in some sense, it abhorred him, to know that he was raised there, to know that he was Jihonese, to know that, despite what he thought, before, his people were perhaps more screwed up than Dalmascans, in some ways. Ah, that was inaccurate; Dalmasca was just as screwed up, simply, in different ways.

Amid his thinking, Haku, instinctively still operating as a warrior, let the soft din of the temple filter into his mind, and back out. At some point, however, he became aware of very soft tapping on wood beams, above. Covertly, he glanced up, just in time to watch the dart fire, heard the soft thunk as it hit the wall. Ah, it was aimed at him... he was almost familiar, like he'd seen him before, and yet, Haku couldn't place where. He was, of course, presumably Jihonese, Haku did not deal with Dalmascans very often. What was he doing here? Of course, one could wonder the same thing about him, hmm?

Haku shook his head, scooting around the support pillars, quickly, eventually placing himself between the other Jihonese male and the door, unceremoniously hooking his arm through the other's and dragging him away from the door. "Do you have a death wish?" he asked, in quiet Jihonese. "Assassins are a great thing to chase when you do, at least." Often, that was what they wanted you to do; either this assassin sucked at aiming and missed, or they'd done it on purpose trying to lure this one out of the temple. The latter was much worse than the former.

(ooc: I am a very, excruciatingly slow poster, I pre-emptively apologize.)

Zhihao Zhu
No title
Knight
47 Posts House Zhu Written by Zozma
Jun 02, 2018, 02:20 PM / 263 Words
Somebody wanted him dead? Well! Zhihao could handle it! He could fight them off! Who was it? Where'd they come from? That dart! He didn't even really have to ask; somebody that was either currently or previously employed with Zhu...! The nerve, though--that was the part that stung Zhihao more than the burning scratch on his face. The nerve that somebody would try to--!

His jaw was still set in a hard line when he was suddenly accosted by a somewhat familiar enough looking person. Zhihao could have sworn he'd seen him before but that part wasn't nearly as important as the part where he'd been grabbed and pulled away from his intended destination.

"What are you--?" he asked, but his tongue stilled at the words spoken to him in quiet Jihonese. After a moment, Zhihao stopped struggling against the other's hold. 

"No," he managed finally, when he could find words. His gaze darted toward the direction the would-be assassin had gone, heart pumping hard with adrenaline, fear, and indignation. "I'm not looking for death but--"

But he is, he wanted to say of the assassin. Coming into a holy temple and attempting to murder the next in line for Zhu! It made Zhihao want to chase him down all the more, but he didn't have any means of fighting back and so he forced himself to abstain. 

(OOC: It's all good. I am sometimes too.)

Haku Tachibana
No title
Ujalin
25 Posts 29 Years Maleish 6' House Tachibana Ujalin Written by incendium
The summer river; although there is a bridge, my horse goes through the water.
Jun 05, 2018, 02:26 AM / 338 Words
Haku arched an eyebrow at the younger man, releasing a slow, patient breath. But, what? But he could handle it? But the other guy would be screwed? Unless the guy was terribly good at hand-to-hand fighting, and, he didn't have the build, for that, the other guy would be not quite so screwed. Even so, there were reasons assassins missed. Any decent assassin wouldn't have naturally missed when their target was holding still. This one should know that.

... come to think, he looked a bit like the Zhu pipsqueak. He really should know that.

Eventually, Haku let him go. "Assassins don't just miss," he said, tone low. "He wanted you to follow him, so when he slit your throat, nobody'd be around to see it. I have no doubt you can take care of yourself, but just remember, discretion is the better part of valor." And, at the very least, thinking about it, before diving head-long into who-knew-what, may be a good idea, too. Besides, what was he going to do, glare him to death? He seemed unarmed. Haku decided not to point either of those things out. Either the guy figured them out on his own, or he didn't. He supposed, it wasn't really his problem, entirely.

"Besides, at best, he just slits your throat," Haku mentioned. "At worst, he gets you hopelessly lost, and you end up falling in with the wrong Dalmascans, and by my estimate, about 95% of them are the wrong Dalmascans." It certainly seemed that way. Even Haku had gotten pretty lucky, finding House Asheron, and then House Essair. Those two were the only truly good Houses, as far as he could tell. Every other one was questionable, at best. Even many of the minor houses and the common families were not really the sort he'd like to have a glass of wine with.

Zhihao Zhu
No title
Knight
47 Posts House Zhu Written by Zozma
Jun 06, 2018, 05:00 PM / 214 Words
Why did that have to make so much sense? And it did--it made perfect sense. The assassin wanted to lure him away and murder him quietly. But in a place of worship? It twisted in Zhihao's gut. His wet-nurse had been a real believer in their god, despite how ill some of the faith treated women. But she had strong faith, believing that everything was the way it was for good reason. She would have said that the assassin missed because he was meant to miss. Zhihao being stopped, that was meant to be, too.

Because if he followed, he'd probably be dead. 

Zhihao wanted to know, though. He wanted to know who it was, who was so bold to do something so heinous in such a place of beauty. He wanted to see him face to face. Toe to toe. And he wanted to ask. Why. Who. And again... why? 

"I keep hearing that," Zhihao said. "That most of them are bad." Maybe he should prioritize getting home, instead of doing whatever it was he was doing here right now. "But the House I'm staying at doesn't seem that bad..." 

Haku Tachibana
No title
Ujalin
25 Posts 29 Years Maleish 6' House Tachibana Ujalin Written by incendium
The summer river; although there is a bridge, my horse goes through the water.
Jun 06, 2018, 07:11 PM / 434 Words
Oh, yes, he probably did keep hearing that. It was difficult not to. If you believed the rumors in Dalmasca itself, nobody was to be trusted, because everyone had a little blood on their hands somewhere. It'd snowballed, most likely. One House started playing all the dirty tricks, stabbing people down back alleys to get what they wanted, some had no choice but to do the same, some got caught up in it, some realized it worked, and yet, the end result was the same. Everyone in Dalmasca were lying. Everyone in Dalmasca did something terrible, somewhere in the back of their line, maybe even not quite so far into the back as it seemed at first look. No one here was innocent, maybe not even a good handful of the slaves.

Here it was, if he was ever wondering, what would someday become of Jihon, if it didn't learn how to stop fighting to get anything. Jihon was already half a wreck, and which direction it was headed never did sit right with Haku. That was why he'd not put up a fuss about letting go of his ujalin title. Like hell he wanted to feed into that.

"Most, not all," Haku said. "The one I'm staying with isn't so bad, either. There are a small handful of Houses that are good, but they are drastically outnumbered by those that seek and see only power. And this? Someday, maybe long after you and I are gone, but someday, this will be Jihon, if it doesn't learn to stop tearing itself apart. The boy-child leading the House I'm with seems to think he can fix it. I think he's just going to die tragically, and no one will remember why." It was difficult, to stop the wheels of war, once they'd started to turn, and Dalmasca was, ostensibly, at war on two fronts, one with Macenia and Galace, and one with themselves.

"And Dalmasca, young master, is what hubris and rushing headlong into things brings," he added, giving the younger man a look. ... man, he needed to go get his kids. "Ah, I've forgotten my manners. I'm Haku," he said, nodding a bit in rather belated greeting. Haku Tachibana, of course, which may be more memorable than just his first name alone, but he didn't bother adding that. Most likely, his father didn't claim him anymore, anyway.

Zhihao Zhu
No title
Knight
47 Posts House Zhu Written by Zozma
Jun 09, 2018, 02:15 PM / 237 Words
"That's... sad," he said. Who was the head of that house? A child? That didn't sound like good news. How many young men were heading houses here in Dalmasca...? Zhihao wanted to ask--desperately--but he bit back the questions. Ever since he'd arrived in Dalmasca, he felt like everybody was viewing him as little more than a naive child that couldn't look after himself. Truthfully, he was starting to believe it. Everybody pointed out the errors he made and he couldn't help looking at those errors and agreeing. 

Following an assassin? A trap. Hiring just anybody on to protect him? Foolhardy. 

If he didn't know himself, he would think he really did have a death wish!

"I'll keep that in mind." Because it was true--rushing headlong into things was only going to bring him misery. Slowly, he lowered his gaze, then glanced back up when Haku introduced himself. Zhihao hesitated, gaze wandering to the place where his would-be assassin could still be waiting. 

"I'm Zhihao," he said, not bothering to use the silly nickname he'd introduced himself as in the past while in Dalmasca. Now he did allow himself to ask, "Which house are you staying with, if you don't mind me asking?"

Haku Tachibana
No title
Ujalin
25 Posts 29 Years Maleish 6' House Tachibana Ujalin Written by incendium
The summer river; although there is a bridge, my horse goes through the water.
Jun 11, 2018, 03:03 PM / 406 Words
Yes, sad was a word. And yet, Haku understood, probably better than most thought. One did what they had to, to survive. The best of Dalmasca, they seemed to have been saddled with no other choice, and that was not their own fault, but the fault of this nation, and while there was no sense in placing blame, Haku wondered how it was that no one else seemed to understand the chaos and destruction Dalmasca had become. That, too, though, was probably the fault of Dalmasca as a whole. When given no other choice, it was amazing, what a hume could turn a blind eye to.

There was no sense in trying. Dalmasca could not, would not, be changed, certainly not by one man, one house. Perhaps many of them, but the houses needed to reach a low, so far down, they finally looked up, and realized how far they had fallen. It was not Haku's problem; would that he had a choice, and he did, ultimately, whenever House Essair finally failed, he'd take Xiaodan, and head for the Free Cities. Dalmasca was unlikely to turn on him because he did not fit the typical, expected Jihonese mold, and he didn't think going home was really an option. Maybe for him, if he could go back to pretending he was normal, whatever that meant, but Xiaodan could never go home. He'd just gotten his sister back. He wasn't going to lose her, again.

Zhihao... yes, that sounded right. He didn't comment on it. "A pleasure," Haku murmured. "House Essair, though I spent some time in House Asheron, before. ... surprisingly. My first comment was something about how 'it has boobs,' and the lady of the house still tolerated me after. House Asheron's lead is indeed female." Decidedly female. Decidedly more patient than Haku deserved.

Interestingly, her less overt manner held in contrast over expected brutality, it made Haku wonder if, maybe, given the chance, it wouldn't ultimately be a woman's touch that saved Dalmasca. Because Dalmasca had enough brute force and vicious brutality to go around; it could use to start learning how to be subtler and gentler, like a quietly babbling brook, instead of the crashing ocean tides. "Where are you staying?" He'd said his house seemed decent, too, no?

Zhihao Zhu
No title
Knight
47 Posts House Zhu Written by Zozma
Jun 14, 2018, 12:59 PM / 138 Words
"...'it has boobs'?" Zhihao repeated, his eyebrows shooting up--yet he couldn't disguise his own surprise. A woman who was head of a House? Zhihao would have been shocked as well--though he couldn't imagine those words slipping out unbidden in front of her. Women just didn't have authority over anything, although Zhihao privately thought sometimes that there were some that were smarter than the men who did. Back home, of course. Here in Dalmasca, he was still struggling to recover his bearings. 

Once he set that whole thought aside, however, he realized that Haku had just said House Essair. 

"You're staying there, too?" The surprise was even more evident. "I haven't seen you there. Where do you stay?"

Haku Tachibana
No title
Ujalin
25 Posts 29 Years Maleish 6' House Tachibana Ujalin Written by incendium
The summer river; although there is a bridge, my horse goes through the water.
Jun 18, 2018, 07:51 PM / 324 Words
Haku just sighed. "I never said I always thought before saying something." In many cases, he did, but when he was caught off-guard enough, well, sometimes he wondered how, exactly, he'd managed to become a ujal in the first place. Being realistic, though, his father likely had more to do with it than Haku did, it was just his father's fortune the man wasn't bad at it. Then again, how good or not good he was at it, that was debatable.

Ah, this one was in House Essair, too. Haku was almost disappointed, it meant he'd literally only found two houses in Dalmasca that were decent. That didn't bode terribly well for the nation's future. Sooner or later, it'd destroy itself. Saa. These were things he should think about later.

"Mostly in the infirmary," Haku answered. "My sister's helping the house's healer, and by proxy, I guess I am too." It wasn't like he had friends in the house. Maybe he should change that, but he also wasn't really sure it mattered. Sometimes, he felt like he was more in the way, but he supposed he might. The stupid horse hadn't come back. He didn't feel like he was supposed to be somewhere else, anymore. Apparently, he was supposed to be in House Essair, but he couldn't for the life of him fathom why. Maybe he was meant to help Essair's head of house somehow, but Haku had yet to figure out how he was supposed to be useful to him.

He knew nothing about Dalmasca, except that it was a burning building.

"They're nice people, at least. Weird, though." Very weird. Which ones were slaves and which weren't? Haku had yet to figure out the difference.

Zhihao Zhu
No title
Knight
47 Posts House Zhu Written by Zozma
Jun 19, 2018, 04:22 PM / 242 Words
BUT IT HAS BOOBS? Zhihao almost laughed but then he felt it was too inappropriate. Also, he couldn't tell if Haku was joking or not. It didn't seem like it. Man, he had an awfully serious face, though. For a moment Zhihao scrutinized him and then figured it hadn't been meant as a joke and he kept his amusement to himself. Although... he maybe couldn't blame Haku. A woman? In a place of power? Zhihao recalled his mother, his wet-nurse, his sisters. None of them could pull off what Kass was doing. Zhihao had to be groomed for the position and he still wasn't ready and yet there was a woman, Head of House. 

What's the world coming to? his father would say with a shake of the head, a stroke of the beard, a thoughtful expression. But his eyes... His father's eyes would have been shrewd, sharp, and in his mind... Zhihao could only imagine what went through that man's head. 

"The infirmary! They trust you there?" It was a curious question and not a sarcastic one. Truly, they must trust Haku to place him where their most vulnerable were. "I haven't been given a job yet." A wry smile. "I'm not sure they know what to do with me." 

Haku Tachibana
No title
Ujalin
25 Posts 29 Years Maleish 6' House Tachibana Ujalin Written by incendium
The summer river; although there is a bridge, my horse goes through the water.
Jun 20, 2018, 06:06 PM / 307 Words
Haku snorted. "It's not a job for me, either," he said. "No one told me to. I am a guest, as, presumably, are you. Do you often give guests in your home jobs to do?" That seemed a bit odd to him. It just happened the infirmary was where his sister was, and Haku, already having been separated from her once, and knowing how demure she could be, wasn't terribly interested in leaving her alone too long. Besides, he was relatively helpful, when she and the head healer needed another set of hands.

"As I said, my sister's helping the head healer. She's a healer, too, sort of in an apprenticeship. I just hang around, help when they need it. I'm fairly sure, whether they trust me there or not is of no consequence. If the head healer can't blast my arm off, I'm certain Master Essair could." He said that awfully calmly, but, he'd learned, eventually, the head healer was rather quite something. Master Essair was even more of something, and he never seemed surprised, by anything. He'd known what they wanted the second he laid eyes on the Tachibanas, asked no questions whatsoever, and there was almost no room for argument about where they'd be staying after.

He was, in a word, unnerving, at times. Yet, even with his icy walls, Haku could see he meant well for those in his care. It was something he could respect, even if it was somewhat begrudgingly. Kassandros was like, twelve. Eesh. "If you want something to do, though, perhaps you should ask Kassandros." If nothing else, maybe it'd keep the kid out of trouble, as he was apparently going to get into.

Zhihao Zhu
No title
Knight
47 Posts House Zhu Written by Zozma
Jun 22, 2018, 09:02 PM / 151 Words
"No..." 

He shrugged and slid his hands into his pockets, gaze sliding aside. 

"I don't want anything to do. I'm not a slave. As you pointed out, I'm just a guest."

One last time, he looked in the direction of where he could have sworn the wannabe assassin had gone. With the danger no longer imminent, he didn't feel comfortable either in this place or with this person. 

"I'll find something to do on my own." With a slight nod of the head, he turned away. "Thanks for the save. I guess I'll see you around."

He quickly took his leave, mind racing elsewhere as he left the temple behind. It seemed even the temples here weren't safe.  



Pages [1]