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07.11.15 - Or perhaps he's wondering why someone would shoot a man before throwing him out of the plane.

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05.11.15 - You fight like a younger man, there's nothing held back. It's admirable, but mistaken. I am the League of Shadows.

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Love Warriors
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#1
Kai worried her fingers at the edge of her braid. Starting here was as good an idea as any, but that didn't mean that she was enjoying the idea of walking up to a total stranger and asking for magic tips. Still, Jake had told her to listen to her ring, and to ask it when she needed help, so that's what she was doing.

When it told her to seek out the incredibly hot elf male at the tavern inside a tree, she had made plans to do just that. Admittedly she was ever so mildly concerned about how her ring had adapted to her personality so quickly- Hell. Kai had almost considered the possibility that someone had hacked her ring- and she was pretty sure that wasn't possible.

Taking a deep breath, she landed right in front of the door, before pulling it open and finding the silver haired elf with the good looks. Striding up to him, she blew a few bits of hair out of her face before speaking. "Hey, I'm Kai. This is going to sound weird but my magic ring which is powered by love told me to look for you for advice on how to use love as a weapon."
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#2
Using love as a weapon.

Arjay, who had been going about a fairly normal day in his inn, turned to look at the (admittedly lovely) girl in the delightfully revealing outfit that had uttered those reasonably alarming words to him. He would give her the benefit of the doubt that she hadn’t meant to say something that sounded quite so blasphemous to him, but it was difficult to reconcile what she had said in his mind. It sounded alarmingly like something he’d expect from those whores who he was sure were enchanting their clients to say… but he didn’t think she seemed like one of them.

Instead, he turned his attention to the ring she had referred to, gazing at it for a moment. He couldn’t feel its touch, he didn’t think anyone aside from the wearer could do that, but somehow he knew it held a power like his sword did. Perhaps it wasn’t quite as personal a power as the sword, but still similar… and it hadn’t rejected her. She wasn’t unworthy of it, which was reassuring. And, in that light, the question was rather a typically human one to ask. ‘What is this power? How can I hurt something with it?’ They always wanted to use the power that lay before them, always wanting to know what it could do to advance them. Well… she would learn, he supposed.

Gesturing for her to follow, he walked over to his usual seat next to the fire, indicating for her to take the one facing it. Picking up the guitar that sat next to it (his only souvenir from the excursion to Luthien’s world), he began to strum idly and quietly as he considered her. “What is love?” he asked. “We must begin at the most basic question, and this is one answer I cannot simply give you.”
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#3
Kai followed behind comfortably enough. Apparently her magic ring wasn't worried about her speaking to Arjay, and she'd take that as good enough for now. She watched him take a seat- and indicate she ought to do the same. With a small shrug of why not, she floated into the seat, choosing to let her feet leave the ground.

Sitting cross legged (rather than showcase how far her feet hang above the ground) She listened attentively. Kai frowned slightly as she considered her response. "Well that's one of the questions isn't it. Life's great mysteries. Love is something different to everyone I'd think." She started, unintentionally playing with the green needle of crystal that she had found after her rescue. She was inclined to believe it had gotten a little bigger, but she was decidedly not measuring it to see if it was a millimetre bigger than yesterday.

"For me- Love is-" Kai started before she paused again, uncertain about how to phrase it. Finally she let out a deep breath and spoke quietly. "Love is running from my universe with my sister, knowing we'll never be able to return, and knowing that it was the only way to keep the rest of our family safe. Love is doing everything I can to teach my sister the things she needs to know in life, accepting that she needs me to guide her- but that one day soon she won't anymore." She smiled softly. "Love is cherishing every single time the idiot ghost that she is gets in trouble, because it's another time I can be there for her. Love is knowing that I will always be there for her."

Kai paused and ran her fingers through her hair with a chuckle. "As for romantic love- I haven't got a fucking clue. For twenty two years I was pretty confident I wasn't capable of romantic love. Still not entirely convinced the other way but perhaps a little more open to the possibility." She continued to play with her hands awkwardly as she allowed him to reflect on her answer. "And I'm sorry, what's your name? Cause I was just told to seek out a silver haired elf- and I suppose it's rude of me to assume that's you just because you look like one. I mean, I look human so I know better than most how much appearances can be deceiving."
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#4
The girl did, at least, have the basics, he supposed, although she was looking at it solely in her own perspective. Her answers, though, were satisfactory. He listened, nodding quietly, and then cocked his head when he was told that she hadn’t even been given his name when she had been told to seek him out. “My name is Arjay Lo’Ran, milady, and yes, I’m quite sure that it was me that you were sent to find.” While he didn’t like to brag on his goddess’s behalf, he was (in her words) the chosen of the goddess of love, after all.

“Love is not a weapon,” he said, simply, and he let that one sink in. “It can, and does, hurt, of course, and can cut a person more deeply than the sharpest sword. To actively use it against someone in that manner, though, is an act of cruelty that can harm you nearly as much as the one you wish to harm. No… Love is the driving force behind nearly everything that people can do. It can make us stronger than we can imagine, or weaker than a newborn field mouse.”

“I believe that it may help if you put out of your mind the supposed different kinds of love. Love is, simply, love. It may inspire us to do different things in different situations, but it is still love, and everyone is capable of it.” His eyes fell on the ring again, and he found that there was only one logical way to understand what she needed from him. “May I see this ring that sent you to me? Just for a moment, obviously.”
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#5
Kai nodded in acknowledgement when the elf introduced himself, completely unsurprised. She hadn't really been second guessing whether he was the person she was seeking out or not- some part of her had known, if only the part of her that was becoming in tune with the minute vibrations of her ring. She had mostly been asking for the elf's name.

She ducked her head with a sigh as he acknowledged her poor wording- something that she had hoped would have been glossed over. She waited patiently while he elaborated before offering a sheepish smile. Kai cleared her throat slightly. "Describing it as a weapon was a poor choice-" She rubbed her temple, letting go of her uniform, and powers, dropping half a centimeter to bounce on her seat. Now that her pohaku had returned to their natural colouring, and her clothes to their more covering state. Shrugging off her leather jacket, the stones took orbit around her. "My- uh. My Jake, refers to his ring as the most powerful weapon in the universe- so I just automatically referred to mine that way. His runs on willpower however, otherwise I wouldn't need outside tutelage." She explained, before her pohaku moved downwards in an abrupt movement and formed long blades extending across the back of her hand and past her knuckles.

"I don't really need help with offensive capabilities. I'm about four times as strong as you'd expect from a human my size- perhaps a little stronger depending on how weak you think I ought to be- but I don't have any use for more weapons. Especially not one that I'm capable of losing- since these stones are physically part of me." She explained with a laugh, waving a stone hand in a 'what can you do about it' movement.

Kai sighed and rubbed her temples again. "I understand that fundamentally, but in practice it's not so clear. It may as well be two different kinds of love- Or perhaps two forms of the same emotion. One of which I believe I am almost fundamentally incapable of. It may be easy for you, but in my culture we have just started to properly accept that not everyone is capable of love in the same fashions. I would ask that you not question my stance on the matter." She offered quietly, having talked time and time again about being aromantic to any number of folks who told her that she was wrong. Just like the people who told her she was just greedy by not choosing one gender to be attracted to. That her stances could be changed by a few fancy words- and that she hadn't tried time and time again to be different.

To only find men attractive. To have a crush on someone. To know what it means when someone says their heart was fluttering. To understand the feeling of warmth that came from being loved and loving in that way. But- Kai had accepted that she just... couldn't. She couldn't be something she wasn't. And if someday she met someone she could love that way- she'd be overjoyed, but she didn't hold hope for it. Well. She hadn't- until she had met Jake. But that was neither here nor there- Hope for potential, didn't spell out actual capability.

Clearing her throat, Kai flushed slightly. "Anyways, Knock yourself out. Ring only works for me." She replied, eager to focus on something other than her ranting. She pulled off the pink ring and flipped it through the air towards the elf. A number of hours spent playing quarters meant that it sailed pretty easily through the air.
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#6
Arjay caught the ring neatly out of the air, then held it up in his hand. “Oh,” he said, apparently impressed with whatever contact with the ring revealed to him. “Oh, I see. Yes, that does make this a bit clearer.”

He held up his hand, and the ring hovered over it, wreathed in violet flame. Regardless of whatever she’d said about it working for him, he seemed to be able to communicate with the thing just fine. “Yes, I see. One of many, all- yes? No, slower, this is quite a lot to process. No. No, I do not. N- Actually, yes. Yes. Hm? Yes, much easier if you show me.” And, with that, he put the ring on. For the barest of moments, his outfit seemed to change, looking like intricate violet chainmail, but she didn’t get much time to examine it. It was just a flicker, then he was back to normal. More telling, though, was the look of surprise on his face, something resembling shock, mixed with ecstacy, touched with agony, which lasted for a longer moment as he stared, eyes glowing violet, past Kai in wonder at something no one else could see. Then, as suddenly as it had started, it ended, the ring slipping off of his finger and hovering again, wreathed in that purple flame again as he recovered himself, one hand unconsciously clutching at his heart as he quietly shivered as if in a daze.

“Yes,” he said, this time to her, “A very impressive ring indeed.” He plucked the ring out of the air, and the violet flames seemed to flow back into his hand as he held it back out for her to take. “Technology that my world could not replicate, although… I suppose with magic… but no. Much better to not try to meddle in such things. That’s what we have gods for, I suppose.” He waited until she’d taken it, and seemed relieved to have it out of his grasp again.

“That ring is a weapon in the same way that an archmage is a man waving a funny staff about. The description might be accurate, but it by no means does the matter justice. The ring is capable of great things, but the more profound things it can do can only be managed by someone who truly understands the force that powers it, which is to say, Love.” He studied her a moment, remembering what she’d said, remembering the missteps in what she’d said, the things she’d pointedly not said. “I can help you with that, yes. I can’t say that the effort will be without its hurts, though.”
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#7
Kai waited patiently as he started babbling at the ring- she had to wonder what he was actually learning from the ring- his end of the conversation was doing very little to make that clear. Then his gear changed and Kai's eyes narrowed quite a lot.

Perhaps it was only a moment. Little more than a flicker really- but Kai's advantages in processing power made it more than long enough for her to understand it. Hell even if she wasn't powered in a way that made it exceptionally easy to do most things- she was IT, it was her job to gather information from things that could last fractions of a second.

In this moment however, she responded by pulling on the bond she had with the ring- though she didn't know whether or not that was the reason the ring slipped back off his finger. All she knew was that the moment it flew back onto her finger, she felt remarkably more at ease with the situation. It didn't matter to her that it was an impressive ring- but it was her one physical proof of a connection between her and Jake and that was an absurdly ridiculous thing to care about, but she did. Adding in that it was the only way she had to go see him that didn't require her to sit around and hope for him to show up- the ring was important to her to say the least.

Kai processed the comment he gave her slowly. She didn't want to rush in blindly to a situation that warranted quite a bit more concern than that. Anything that could cause pain could usually do an awful lot more than just a small amount- and it could hurt the ones she cared for. Hell, for all she knew, it could make her entirely ineligible for the ring.

But then- this was what she wanted. Folding her hands in her lap, a sad smile formed on her lips, her clothes dissipating into the ether as a pair of capris and a bikini top replaced them. (Which almost made her change her mind about the ring. Though at least she had pants now.) "What growth comes without pain?" focusing, she summoned a small crystal construct into one hand, as a matching shaped one floated above the other. "I nearly died in awakening as an inhuman. People have hunted me down with the intent to erase my kind from existence since. Even in coming to the hub, one of my dear friends was killed in the act of escaping with my sister and I."

Kai clenched both hands- one of the crystals dissipating in a flash of violet light. The other absorbed into her palm and encircle her fist in jagged stone. "I am no stranger to pain. And I am not frightened of it."
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#8
Well, the girl knew that this was going to hurt, he’d give her that. And dressed like she was, this was at least not going to be without its little benefits for him (much as he’d not show it). However, he knew that she didn’t really understand what she was about to go through. Who could, really?

“Pain is an old friend to all of us,” Arjay said. “Anyone who claims otherwise is either coddled beyond belief or a liar. That’s not the question. The question is, are you a stranger to love? Do you know the rules?” A quaint phrase, not quite accurate, but a phrasing that most could understand better. Arjay peered around the room for a moment, then shook his head. “No… not here.” He reached into his pocket, withdrawing a small portal carved from ivory, which he held up toward the wall, chanting a spell. A portal appeared against the wall, a space of shimmering light that spread from floor to ceiling, as wide as a doorway. “This will be much better. We won’t want to be disturbed during this.” Standing, he beckoned her through.

On the other side of the portal, they found themselves in a richly decorated foyer, apparently of some vast mansion made of marble and polished wood. A great polished staircase led up to the second floor, and other stairs they could see the barest hint of told that there was at least one floor beyond that. All of the doors were closed right now, though, not giving much of a hint to the other rooms. As she entered, Arjay closed the door (and thus the portal), thinking it best that no one be wondering too hard about a portal against the wall of his inn.

“Yes, much better,” he said, leading her up the stairs and through a set of wide double doors. They found themselves in a wide sitting room, though it felt oddly empty with just the two of them in it. “Now… as we were saying… love.” He made a little twirling gesture with his hand, and those purple flames appeared between them. “Love is passion, inspiration, motivation. It is joy, pleasure, lust, and desire.” He flicked his fingers at the flames, and they glided through the air, entering her chest with a little ecstatic shudder. “It can make us foolish. It is everything irrational.” As he spoke, the flames seemed to fill her chest, a warm, heady feeling that made her heart race, swallowing up her voice in its intensity.

“So, warrior of love… you say you are not capable of romance. Love, however, is truth. So I ask you, in the name of Love… when was it that it hurt you?”
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#9
Kai listened to Arjay speak, unable to stop herself from humming along when he asked her if she was a stranger to love. It took a solid gnawing on the inside of her cheek for her to not start laughing as she thought of the song. "I am and I'm not. I do and I don't." She offered vaguely, worrying her lip between her teeth as she tried to think of a way to explain the first statement before deciding to focus on the latter. "A popular saying on my world is that 'all is fair in love and war.' So I would be inclined to believe that love has no rules. That it defies restriction and does as it pleases."

Following him through the door, not even bothering to uncross her legs, she simply floated through. It was... An incredible place. The kind of place Haoles bought to hide away in when they came for vacation- but not actually live in. It had an air of formality that the surfer had never found comfortable. Less so when she wasn't dressed for the situation.

She almost flinched as the flames neared her. Kai was afraid of relatively little- and fire wasn't among those fears- but she did have a lot of unprotected skin. Forcing herself steady, she shut off her fear for just long enough for the flames to sink in to her skin.

It was then that she noticed how absurdly cold she had been- the growing warmth in her chest so comforting that all of her skin felt like ice in contrast. Her heart was in fact racing- to the point that she almost wished to cover her chest lest it be physically apparent.

When he asked his question, she opened her mouth to spout something pretty but untrue, but found herself unable to speak. And when Kai had her voice back, she had changed her mind to speak the truth. "Never. It's never hurt me. That's my problem. I have been left... Empty. There was no love to hurt me. I love my family, but I was lucky enough that the family I have is a functional unit. We're one family, though we all have our own ideas. So the only pain I've felt from that is the relatively minor bits that come from being separated. For a short time or a long time. But I have never loved in the way people speak of when they tell stories about the emotion."
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#10
The Heartfire was a wonderful, and somewhat frightening power. He wouldn’t be surprised if she felt embarrassed after this, that she’d said more than she wished to. People often wanted to lie about what was in their hearts… he knew that he was really no exception to this, but there was something freeing in speaking one’s heart, in revealing that truth that you tried to hide from the world.

“You’ve been afraid,” he said, not asking, because the answer was obvious. “Your heart burns so brightly, but you’ve run from it. Perhaps you’ve cheapened what you could have done, rejecting loves, rejecting the possibility of loves. Maybe, maybe not, that’s for you to know. Perhaps your reasons have been good, I don’t know. But you have a choice in life. Love… is a risk. It can leave you full, fulfilled, complete, just like you feel now. And when it goes wrong…” He took a step toward her, an apologetic look in his eyes as his fingers made a little twisting gesture… and suddenly that warm, pleasurable fullness grew hot, like a knife pressing into her heart, like lances driving through her chest, though again, there was no real harm done to her. It would take a moment to realize that this wasn’t a physical pain she was feeling, but a hurt of the heart, possibly even of the soul, so acute that it felt like a physical pain.

Arjay stepped forward again, stopping any struggling she might have done, his eyes locking on hers as he caught his hand behind her head, his palm pressing over her heart. As soon as he touched her, the pain didn’t stop, but seemed to ease somewhat, kept from taking its full effect by that old remedy, human contact (if Arjay could be called human). “Look at me,” he said urgently. “Don’t fight it, you have to understand! Yes, it hurts… and if you travel down this road, if you champion love, you will hurt. You will care, and be pushed aside. You will love, and that love will die. It happens, as much as we hate when it does. It will hurt every time… but that pain can only happen if you love, if you are loved.” For his part, Arjay had even learned to find a bittersweet beauty in that pain… but that was something that the girl could only come to after a much longer experience than she had. “What you need to learn is if it’s worth it to feel that pain, when the alternative…” He pulled his hands away from her, backing away… and as he did, the fire went out. That warmth that had filled her, that fullness, that energy, was gone, and the emptiness, the coldness, was even more pronounced now. If emptiness could be a palpable thing, she would be filled with it, like a lead weight dragging her down, that heart-crushing feeling of being completely alone, a heart beating only for itself, with nothing to even reach for.
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