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Old 05-16-2018, 11:23 PM   #1
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A youkai eradication mission featuring Star-child Altair & Boy Courage Isamu

"O Divine Wind..."


Sunagakure Genin Isamu and the miko known as Hikoboshi no Natsu had traveled three days from the gates of the hidden village to reach the small town, desperate for a miko to bring back the water to their shrine oasis. Natsu, who had spent a lifetime honoring the kami that bubbled up her own spring was a natural choice – escorted by the plucky and confident Isamu, recruit soldier of the SUNA division. While traveling, they had shared an embarrassing amount of their histories with each other. Natsu’s charisma and warm attitude was infectious, and the way she skirted across the sand dunes like a dancer inspired many to greater heights. She was a miko, a divine guardian and a medium between the material and spirit realms. Rapture danced through her fingers like the wind itself. Their travel seemed lighter than usual, as if the desert itself welcomed the children, guiding them safely to their destination.

"Grant me the power to protect your precious children..."

Although this particular miko had been called many things besides blessed and pure. Sometimes called a witch, the cursed and forgotten child of Sansui and Doshaburi. Other times she was called a sacrifice or a possessed monster. Her beauty and charms sometimes hidden by anxious fidgeting and a cruel coldness. Like the desert, she could protect life and offer a fierce protection to those hardy enough to trust it – or completely eradicate and destroy those foolish enough to test their luck. She was more than a shrine maiden, she was a holy vessel irrevocably bound to a lifelong burden – to carry a shard of Amaterasu-omikami, a terribly powerful and angry mote of energy. His existence seemed to encourage her to seek out trouble in all its forms – particularly when it aligned with her natural nature. The goal of this monstrous beast and his host? It was to find the corrupted shrines of the Wind Country, to purify them by destroying the darkness therein, to restore peace and respite from the harsh reality of the desert. While he wanted to eat away the darkness in a quest for greater power, she wanted to push away the darkness to bring peace to the world.

"In this moment of darkness, let me be your light..."

The pair had arrived in Orikomeru with high hopes that a simple prayer and some simple repairs to the shrine would be enough to put the townsfolk at ease. What they had found was evidence of active and malicious modifications to the shrine itself – ofuda tags that the miko herself couldn’t pry away, crackling with a dark energy visible even to the naked eye. The power around the shrine was so malignant that it made the air itself difficult to breathe, as if it was all being sucked away into the shrine itself. The townsfolk had been distrustful of the miko and her uniform, muttering to themselves that the last miko that had appeared had “restored” to the shrine to this decidedly worse fashion. After pressing for more information, they headed to a small hut tucked away in a rocky outcropping. Without surprise, they had encountered more of the ofuda tags, but these ones did slip away easily for both the oasis miko and her stalwart shinobi companion. Then, the rains came – slick like oil and seemingly from no clouds above. These rains had manifest around them, a swirling tempest – the sound of galloping hooves cracked through the air like pelts of thunder.

"Kiyaku! The Testament to Peace!"

Runes flashed across the miko's body as small flickers of starbursts appeared between her praying hands, and she clutched onto them as they became a golden hilt with a long pink blade, a broadsword of a curious design and a mysterious material. Power swirled around her fists as they danced with conjured moonlight, etching the area around them and pushing back -- just a bit -- the feeling of overwhelming dread that the tempest around them had pressed against them. Her back pressed against Isamu, her companion for this mission, as she assumed her combat stance.

Her voice rang against the noise of the mess about them clearly, unburdened by the horrors they faced. "Their forms are not physical, but if you strike with faith in your heart, you can cast them away anyway. I give you this blessing with assurance -- these summoned beasts are no mere illusion."
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Old 05-17-2018, 04:09 AM   #2
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With faith in your heart, huh?

The boy with flaxen locks leaned his back into the gentle warmth of Hikoboshi no Natsu's body. The prayer shouted in the tiny confines of the hut had steeled the wary genin's heart. When he had torn the first ofuda from a small chest, he had thought that the mission would end there, until his hands had gone sticky-wet, as if the ofuda ink had melted off the paper and cooled like wax in his hands. The sound of stampeding hooves had taken over his senses thereafter, and he felt the hammering hooves in his soul.

But the warmth of Hikoboshi-sama behind him helped Isamu hold his ground. They had squared up against each other's blind spots immediately. He trusted the woman in a way he didn't often trust his shinobi peers. She seemed more sincere in a way. No, not sincere. Resolute.

And that sort of resolution was what kept the coward boy from running away. It tied him to the priestess the way a horse was tied to a carriage post. He was her protection, her escort, and after their days of genuine companionship, he owed her a great duty. He felt this with all the faith in his heart.

"They're coming!" Isamu shouted, his words nearly lost to the thundering hooves. The stampede sounded at first as if it was galloping down a mountain, scores of horses strong, but by the end of Hikoboshi no Natsu's prayer, the equestrian parade sounded as if they were just outside the doors of the tiny hut. He recalled the fearful words, from a dim campfire on their second night away from Sunagakure, where the priestess had told her of her divine duty to save the country of Wind from the evil spirits that sought to bring ruin to their desert civilization. The words had lit a certain fire within Isamu. He had looked at Hikoboshi-sama with a reverence since then, envious of her ability to feel like she had an ultimate purpose in life.

Her purpose alone was worthy enough to protect.

"Stay close, Hikoboshi-sama!" The young man's hands flew together in three fast seals. Immediately, the circumference around the pair shimmered and cast a faceless reflection in the dim, one-room hut. A thin layer of defense, but one that proved important.

As the hooves sounded like thunder in their ears, the thin clay walls of the hut turned to dust from an invisible force, exploding into the ground as they were cleaved down by unseen feet. For one breath, Isamu had no understanding of what had conjured the force.

Upon exhale, his glass circumference panel shattered into even finer pieces of glass dust. Alone, shattered glass was haphazard and evocative of a dropped wine glass. With the force of evil kami barreling through it, the glass outlined the demonic shapes with glittering viciousness. Isamu's eyes could barely adjust to the half-dozen inhuman skull shapes jutting out of ghostly, canine bodies. Not the size of a pet, but closer to a small horse, the evil kami stole a short breath from the boy. He could barely think of what to say.

Instead, the boy growled, as inhuman as the shapes outlined by shattered glass. A kunai knife glittered back in his hand, while the screams of kami could be felt, not in his ears, but in his heart. Without Hikoboshi at his side, he imagined he might have pissed himself. But the scent of the priestess behind him brought him back to himself. He had to have faith.

"Stay back!!" Isamu yelled.

But no matter how loud his faith of heart, the spirits charged forwards.

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Old 05-17-2018, 09:43 AM   #3
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Facing down the nightmares of faith was as much an exercise in willpower as it was guts. As the beasts rushed the pair, it wasn’t just the horrible twisted skulls attached to monstrous forms, but a sudden sense of dread and doom. The appearance of these beasts seemed to demand their omen: “You will die here”, “this is your end”, “you will not escape.” These intrusive thoughts were overpowering, screaming in her own voice deep inside of her head and rattling alongside her brain. Deep down, at her core, a small flicker of light rebelled and stayed firm.

Her blade lashed out, trailing her burning, mystical moonlight in her careful swings of the broadsword, her hands dexterously handling the hilt of the thing with two hands both for precision and added strength. One of the monsters lashed out at her, shimmering as his body was flecked and embedded by Isamu’s glass barrier, and her sword snicker-snacked as it sawed through the hidden jaws, underneath the skull – a wide gaping maw with multiple rows of teeth, two lashing tongues twisting and screaming with their own mouths. Her blade cut through the thing like a wind through a still mist. Both remaining portions of the bisected creature landed and twitched on the floor beside her before erupting and bubbling into a bloody boiling mess.

A soft hand on Isamu’s shoulder as she used his body for leverage and moved to stand side by side with him. The walls of the hut had been destroyed like a sandcastle being kicked over, but the swirling darkness of the spell they were trapped in made maneuvering a challenge. There was a heat in her blade, responding to the turmoil of the outside world, but she clenched her fist down hard over it as she swung one handed in a impromptu chopping arc to nullify an other lurching attack, then she took her hand away from Isamu to lift the blade up and twist and strike with it again. And again. And again.

It didn’t seem to matter – these beasts were non-stop, a waterfall of negative energy and emotion. You will die. You will die. You will die. Her own voice rattling in her head, not even aware she was mimicking the words, saying them out loud, muttering under her breath as she chopped and thrust. Part of her reminded her this was a spell, an ancient ritual made by a powerful witch. This wasn’t real emotion she was feeling, but a forced anxiety – no matter how many of the screaming beasts she cut down, that would never break it.

What are you afraid of?” She finally spat, turning to the boy. “I’m afraid I’ll fail my quest and darkness will take Kaze no Kuni.

The beasts recoiled in her approach, if just for a moment. She cut through an other. “But I am strong. I believe in my purpose.

Light seemed to radiate from her, a warmth that could push back the spell. “Be stalwart, Isamu. What are you afraid of? How can you defeat it?
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Old 05-17-2018, 03:14 PM   #4
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The nonstop rush of many-toothed spectral dog creatures had been eerie, and strangely exhausting from the immediate moment. Every slash of a kunai to topple one dog would be replaced by the yapping maw of another hyena demon. Isamu had deployed thin needles into closest bodies, flying out from a trigger within his sleeve, but still his resolution was faltering.

For a moment, Isamu felt it in his heart that he would die there, having been useless in his desire to protect Hikoboshi no Natsu. His mind was racing with irrational impulses, desires to run away, disappear into the sandy wastelands and never return to his homeland. But why? What was he afraid of?

It seemed, when his own thoughts faltered at the sound of Hikoboshi's voice, that the beasts in front of him faltered for a moment as well, as if they had turned to a glass figurine for a moment. And there was the honorable honesty of Hikoboshi in his ears again. She was so even-keeled, so strong and vulnerable simultaneously. Could he do the same?

A dog snapped down around the arm guards on Isamu's left arm, and the boy felt his heart race even faster. He bit his own lip in return, trying to source out what he was really afraid of.

"I'm afraid," Isamu spoke a truth, and the demons seemed to chatter in excitement. He might just reveal a perfect weakness. The dog's jaw clenched upon his arm held still for a moment. Was this Hikoboshi's power or his? "I'm afraid I'll never be strong enough to deserve this life. I'm scared I'll never be strong enough to save the ones I care about!"

His declaration pushed out against the doom-thoughts that had barraged him. The demon let his arm go. The return to confidence that arrived with Hikoboshi's warmth pulsed through him.

How silly, to be afraid of something like that. The atmosphere in the room condensed itself for a moment, concentrating it's energy around Isamu's body, drawing winds from the world to guide his limbs. He felt the strength of the wind all around him. He would move like the quickest breeze now. You'll never be strong enough, 'Samu-kun. Because being strong enough means you might stop growing stronger.
Kashirajishou; Kasoku
Before the demon could shy further away, Isamu erupted into a spinning kick, completing a full rotation of his body before feeling his foot connect with a spirit that he could barely see without the glass still littering it's body. The dog's skull disconnected from it's body and flew into the world for a second before disappearing back to the world of kami, where Isamu could no longer sense it.

And I'm never going to stop growing stronger.

Kashirajishou; Kasoku Initiated
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Old 05-19-2018, 10:32 AM   #5
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Isamu’s resolution cut back the darkness in a sudden explosion of light – and a path through the tempest was made visible to them. A profane totem was standing a few feet away, although it moved and lumbered as it was strapped painfully to the back of one of the hyena demons – a larger breed, roughly the size of a horse, strapped with muscles and scars – the totem itself nailed deep in with thick, black nails. Natsu’s voice rang out in something between a giggle and an a-ha!

Isamu! I’ll borrow your back, forgive me!

Her feet found purchase in his back, scrambling to his shoulder, before leaping up into the air with her sword held in both hands overhead. She sailed over a small pack of the demonic entities, her blade extending her reach just enough to threaten the totem-bearer, but the slow and obvious attack was easy enough for the beast to move out of the way – but moonlight flared around her arms and fists and the edge of the blade as she suddenly changed direction, obscuring her sudden uppercut. The totem-bearer yet out a horrifying yell from it’s multiple mouths as her divine moonlight seared the skin, black blood splattering out. He moved a few feet away from the miko in a mixture of the dazzling blow and pain.

The tempest between the miko and the genin was clear – their resolution against their fears enough to push back the dark spell just enough so they could keep their eyes on each other. She shifted on her feet and spun in a semicircle to cut through an other one of the smaller hyenas as it leapt at her – but in the line between the two none of the beasts dared to enter. That gave them at least one vector where they wouldn’t have to worry about an attack.

The totem-beast is the true target,” She stated the obvious. “Push back the darkness to find him again. Believe in yourself! This spell overwhelms you with negative emotion.

Her own negative emotions were apparent – as she was cutting and snicker-snacking, a tear was sliding down her face, despite her smile being geniune. “We merely need to focus on the light!

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Old 05-19-2018, 03:40 PM   #6
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Isamu's feet dug into the floor at the pressure of Natsu's feet in his back. His knees bent slightly to offer better support. As the priestess leapt through the air, the young man let himself indulge in watching the beautiful woman move through the atmosphere. It had been a while since a girl so beautiful hadn't made him nervous. Isamu wished he could look so elegant. He knew what Renchishin Hitoko often said about flow and rhythm in their sparring sessions, but Isamu wondered if The Dragon Emperor of Wind Country had ever seen Hikoboshi no Natsu glitter through the air like a moonlit serenade.

His moment of awe broke quickly as the hyena demons filled the space left by Natsu. Multiple-jawed faces nipped at his legs as his own body moved quickly, pivoting just-fast-enough with the bursts of wind that was compressing around his limbs. Yet, he seemed to feel a touch slower than normal. Or rather, felt himself growing slower as Natsu completed her arc of flight away from him.

You can do this... right? Isamu's brow furrowed at the middle for a moment. The quantity of incorporeal demons was overwhelming for a moment. His heart stuck in his throat as he watched the canine things all focus in on him.

As Natsu spoke, Isamu saw the totem beast. He had been watching the priestess' conviction and her target. Isamu's grip tightened around the kunai in his hand. As soon as he received a confirming look at the beast, the other hyenas seemed to respond at once, seven of them lunging from different directions at the boy with the growing sense of dread.

Wheat-colored hair danced underneath the first lunging body, Isamu's lithe body half-twirling as he tumbled close to the ground. Yapping maws barked near his ear. One yelped as a handful of senbon burst into it's open mouth and neck. The silent mechanism of his senbon launcher rubbed against his forearm. The demons seemed to struggle as their incorporeal claws clattered and clinked against the floor.

Some taloned paws found purchase, others found surprise in their movements as they struggled over the terrain. As evil spirits, the corporeal world rarely held power over them. Their trampling parade hadn't even made contact with the dunes of sand they had crossed. Yet here, their movements found obstacle, as the hut's floor glittered with Isamu's spirit.

Hari Seisakusho!

Spilling out from his feet was a spread of glass, immaculately shiny and reflective. Mundane without the presence of the chakra Isamu poured into it, it was that very faith in his heart that made the glass so precarious for the hyena demons to move upon it. It explained how Isamu had avoided the many snapping lunges. Most had fallen just short of perfect.

Isamu's body shook furiously. His body was panicked, his mind pulling at his focus, urging him to run, run, run away! Yet Natsu's voice held him close. He merely had to focus on the light. He hadn't been sure that his chakra-glass would have helped against the demons, and it had. His faltering but present faith had saved him.

He had to believe it would do it again.

"Let me help you!" Isamu shouted to Hikoboshi no Natsu as a hand reappeared from his pocket holding what looked to be a quick-use torch. In the other hand, instead of a kunai, was a match that was flickering with light. The tiny flame caught reflections in the glass floor, until it burst into flames the size of a small head, and the torch swung with fire. The reflection of light glared furiously upon the small platform of glass and sent it's light further out into the atmosphere. The line between Hikoboshi and Isamu was broken only by the body of one beast, with a profane totem on it's back.

There the demon stood, growling. Flanked between two beacons of light and faith.
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Old 05-19-2018, 04:48 PM   #7
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Perfect. The heart of the spell was made visible between the pair, the light between them like the faint lines between the constellations on a starchart. The dark energy on her blade, remnants from cutting away at the various demons that had beset them, dribbled away to nothingness as she holstered her pink blade on the small of her back, parallel to the floor – there was no couch or mechanism for it to suspend here, but the blade was as much as a part of her body as anything else was. It rested there neatly as she produced a red sealing ofuda tag from her robe and held it up between two fingers.

It would be up to Isamu to keep the beast steady while she worked her magic.

Energy flared between her fingers as whispered an incantation into the tag, the paper itself stiffening and glowing with energy as it threatened to come undone with the sheer force of energy. She chanted her spell – offering praise to the divine wind and the gods of the dunes, praying for a safe passage for these haunted and twisted youkai as they were purified – then rushed forward in a sudden dash, slapping the note down on the forehead of the beast.

No time to explain. She lurched for Isamu and tackled him like a football player as her blade shimmered away to nothingness, her rune tattoos illuminating for a sparkling moment before fading to light scaring once again. She pressed the boy down into the ground and covered his face with her arm as she shouted a word for release in the mythic language passed down to her.

Light flooded the room, and there was a sound like an explosion, and suddenly they were both seated neatly in that little stone hut again, the chest opened with it’s evil ofuda tags broken. Natsu’s own tag, red and glimmering with energy, was tightly wrapped around a small stone – some fetish for the evil works of a black miko. The illusion - - or the gate to the demonic realm - - was closed and dismissed. Tenderly, she picked up the stone and placed it in a simple brown cloth, tying it neatly, and stowing it away in a bag on her hip.

After we purify that shrine back in town, I can use it to destroy this artifact. How are you holding up?

She turned to look at him, her face red and puffy from crying - - maybe back here, in the real world, they had simply sobbed at the spell. It was hard to tell the difference between dreams and the spirit realm.

Anything in the box, or was it just a receptacle for evil?
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Old 05-19-2018, 05:15 PM   #8
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As Hikoboshi-sama's arm covered his face, Isamu felt his whole body blush. He was embarassed. Not at the fact that the priestess he was supposed to protect was protecting him, but at the human contact between him and a beautiful woman. He was trying to save this sort of hug for girls he dated.

But the blush was forgotten as his whole body was flooded with a great feeling of hope. He felt the light, even if he couldn't see it through Natsu's arm. And like waking from a feverish nap, Isamu shook awake, exactly where he had been when he had broken the ofuda on the chest. The feeling of Hikoboshi no Natsu tackling him was quickly fading, just as a dream did when trying hard to remember it. But the snickering demons and the shaking of his body were all still vivid, and accounted for the sweat in his armpits and behind his knees as he crouched.

Isamu had been too busy sifting through his memories to take a hard look at the contents of the chest, until Natsu broke his focus. That was when he realized his outstretched right hand had been tapping his right forefingers against his right thumb, as if trying to return feeling to themselves.

Even as he stared at his fingers, he realized he couldn't feel them, couldn't register the nerve endings that were engaging each other in front of him. And he imagined he understood why. Where the ofuda's ink had melted off the tag and onto his hand, where he had felt that cooling-wax feeling minutes ago - or seconds ago? The concept of time in the spiritual realm evaded him - his skin had turned a dark, clay-red flecked with tiny black dots scattered haphazardly. It looked like he had put on a torn glove, one that could only cover his thumb, index, middle finger, and half of his palm.

"Uhhh... Hikoboshi-sama?" Beyond his fingers, Isamu saw into the chest. Two small totems sat in the back of the chest; one a monkey figurine without it's head, the other a praying mantis made of jade, but it's body was etched with tiny characters that Isamu couldn't read. Between the totems lay a wakizashi, one that looked decades old, and ornate. Isamu didn't hesitate before picking up the wakizashi. Lifting it delicately from the box, he could feel a radiant energy within it's sheath. Yet Isamu couldn't feel if it was good or evil. The very power of it distracted the young boy from his right hand and instilled a strange, conflicting fear within him.

"Isn't this the stolen sword the townspeople were talking about?" It had to be. Isamu gulped, while half of his right hand twitched furiously, as if his own fingers were trying to run from his body, anything to get away from the sword in his left hand. "I don't think we should unsheath this."
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Old 05-19-2018, 08:06 PM   #9
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No, I agree.” She was still rubbing her eyes, the undersides still tender from the sobbing during the psychic attack they had undergone. She sniffled a bit as she looked at it. “If that belongs to the heart of the shrine, trying to use it for personal gain would just cause more issues.

She stood up, a bit shaky on her stance, and peered into the chest at the two other totems, and stuck out her tongue at the sight. “These are just normal fetishes, though. Left overs from the spell that activated this one.

She patted the bag on her hip lightly. “I am not one to profit off of an other miko’s items, but there would be little shame in reselling these if you wanted. The jade is valuable, and the monkey might garner attention from someone with more esoteric tastes.

A shrug as she flattened out her garments, checking herself over for injuries or more of that black boiling blood. It was all gone, as if nothing had happened at all. Her blade, mystically hidden inside her body, still stirred – it was real enough to him. “I imagine the miko that created this spell is now alerted to our presence. Hopefully it’ll draw her out to face us.

There’s an old adage about speaking of devils – a sound of chanting broke the relative silence of the hut, and outside energy seemed to stir. Hurriedly, Natsu made her way to the door and burst out with a shoulder tackle against the door, spiraling out to the sunlight and spinning on her heels as she did so, pointing at the direction of the chanting.

A-ha! You’ve met your match, now, evil-doer!

The man, who had been chanting, wore contemporary shine steward clothing – but he was cutting into his own flesh with a wickedly curved dagger and letting the blood pool into his hand, before spilling it all out in front of him. The sand shifted and twisted, and an ogre servant started to crawl out of the pit as the sand itself drew Natsu in closer towards it. She said something that sounded decidedly like a swear, but our heroine wouldn’t stoop to such language, as she scrambled on all fours trying to beat the sliding ground that worked against her, to make herself back to the hut.

Curses! Isamu! I’ve met my match, now!
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Old 05-20-2018, 05:44 AM   #10
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"Hikoboshi-sama! I'll protect you!" Isamu shouted from the hut's tiny doorway, as he threw a disgusted face at the evil priest who had just thrown his own blood on the sandy before them. Isamu feigned hearing the swear word - though he would ask later, especially after having been scolded by Natsu for his own mouth. The boy vaulted forwards to the last stretch of patio on the hut, sans sand, and threw his hands together in a handsign.

Only half of his hands completed the kata. His left hand held the promise for a showering of glass dust. His right hand's pinky and ring finger were pointed skywards, promising. But his thumb and two most important fingers clutched desperately onto the jade praying mantis idol. Isamu didn't remember grabbing it from the chest, but he could now feel the headless monkey in his back pocket as well.

Worst of all, Isamu couldn't with all his will, get his own hand to form the proper hand sign.

"Winds be damned!!" Isamu sword, gulped, and shared a very apologetic look at the diviner scrambling in front of him. This was bad. No fancy glass techniques from the self-proclaimed glass specialist until he figured out this evil spell. He probably should have told Natsu about it already.

Instead, declaring his frustration by tugging the jade mantis idol out of his own hand (with some degree of difficulty), Isamu watched the sand-ogre close the space to the priestess.

"I'm scared I'll never be strong enough to save the ones I care about!" Isamu repeated his earlier mantra, hoping it would do some good as his body propelled across the sand, bolstered by wind. From the looks of it, the ogre cared little for his supposed faith of heart. But that mattered none. Isamu didn't need his heart.

He needed his hand, filled with wind.

As the ogre brought a large fist down towards Natsu, Isamu came between them, feeling his feet sink into the sand. The raised arm smashed into his left shoulder just as his own left hand bore, fingers like a dagger, into the socket where sand-arm met sand-shoulder. He groaned in pain and forced his hand forward, hoping to rend the elemental's limb asunder.

"Nijitekishou; Kizu!"
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