Hideaway Strath taigiroku
Akashingo

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#1
All Welcome 
fireflower glen
early morning


for the first time in weeks satsu sleeps deeply.

when she wakes she has sweet honeysuckle on the mind, remembering the pale dawn over the hills of her father's han; that same dawn snaking through the boughs of the forest.

sun-shafts catch golden motes of pollen.

satsu rises, stretching cat-like from repose, and a sense of foreboding creeps up through her chest.

she wards this off with a yawn and a shake of her shoulders; a subtle carmine glow wakes slowly with her, though satsu had yet to notice.
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Kyn meanders along on his morning patrols. The sun is just peaking out from behind the mountains and bathing the land in a beautiful fiery orange. He’s wandered into where the bright green of the grass mettles with tall, blood red flowers. It’s quite beautiful this time of morning, but he might have just spotted something even more pleasing to the eye. 

Satsu. Their newest member besides the stone cold War that is. Though war excites him with her power and icy behavior, Satsu drawls him in in a different type of way. Much shyer and reserved she is. Makes it much easier to get her flustered. 

So he stops in his tracks and watches her stretch. The enticing curve of her lithe form has him shamelessly enraptured. He decides that it’s too weird to stare for so long, so he approaches. Parting he sea of ruby flora, the Grandmaster sidles over to her with a casual stride.

“Morning, sunshine. Like your new home?” He wonders aloud to her. His own voice deep from misuse due to his own early rise.
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around her stand red baubles. some have opened, petals peeling, like the sun. some have been open too long and are dark like dried blood, withered too, and smell deeply wrong.
satsu observes these as she slowly comes to herself. she decides she likes the budding ones more than the others. they remind her of roses bundled tightly.

morning, sunshine. for a beast so large he knows how to move. satsu does not sense his presence until he is nearly atop her, and shrinks down among the stalks of the flowers hips-first.
her new home is quite different from the old; she nods politely.
there is much for me to see.
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His eyes watch her as much as they watch the beautiful flora around them. Sun like orbs taking in the summer scenery and the new life that blooms as the weather grows hotter. 

He hums a sound of acknowledgment when he looks back to her once more. “Maybe I could show you around a bit?” 

It’s a polite offer to possibly spend a bit of time with a pretty lady. He’s horrible, he knows this, but why not try his luck?
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a tour? with the daimyo himself? oh—; a flicker of surprise upon her face before she turns reticent.
satsu thinks she can act the part around her superiors. alas, her only experience has been in practice with the other women; and besides that, around her father, who would only see her in private.
this is different.
—i would like that, a feint, but the girl must accept. she draws shyly alongside him and is soon eclipsed.
if he is the mighty tiger, she is a lily petal caught in his wake; slight by comparison and easily trampled.
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Oh— 

The Grandmaster’s lips quirk up into a smile that shapes his face handsomely. It lacks the usual mischief or smirk, for now it’s merely that — a smile. He can’t help but watch as she reals her reactions in. So conservative, so secretive. He rather likes it.

I would like that. 

He would too. 

So as she moves, he steps aside to give her a bit of space — ever so respectful. He towers over her and he dips his chin to his chest to look down at her better. 

“Perfect.” He hums as he begins walking through the sea of tall flowers.

After a few paces he looks up towards the mountains. “So,” He begins casually — conversationally. “this is the Strath. There’s only one entrance into our territory and that’s the northern gates. We’re safe from an attack, but in the wrong situation — trapped.” He says it casually though, the barest hint of a warning hiding beneath his tongue. 

He walks a bit more, abruptly changing the subject of their home.

His eyes peer down to her curiously, a small interested smile curling his lips skyward. “Tell me, Satsu. Are you loyal?” He references to him and his pack. Even to her old pack. He needs to know.
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she does not remember passing the northgate. it never occurred to her that they were so contained here; now she considers the value of it.

we're safe from an attack, but in the wrong situation—
no; she could not fathom this place falling to anyone. he was glib with his humility and satsu found it did not suit him.

these people—giants! barbarians! though not cowards.

—satsu. he says her name with a grin twisting his lips.
are you loyal?

warmth floods her face. apprehension coiling around her throat. but she nods; what else can she do?
loyalty is important.
what would happen if the opposite proved true?
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The brindled giant regards her carefully within the next few precious seconds. Her answer — something he actively seeks with his gaze, is more important to him than she would know.

Loyalty. It’s what makes a pack — a family. Loyalty to ones brethren makes a man, but also breaks a man. Or in this case, a woman. For in the time of old for his life previous pack of Saints, loyalty meant everything. If one did not have loyalty, they had death instead. Though Kynareth is much more lax than his father, Mehrunes, had been with the pack, loyalty still means just as much. 

So when she nods her pretty little head and admits that loyalty is, in fact, important — a much more satisfied look overcomes the Saint.

Good. He thinks maliciously, with only a hint of regret for putting her on the spot like that. His mind supplies him with the thoughts of the two who had betrayed him. Along with Sasha — the one, his previous love, who had successfully gotten his entire pack slaughtered in cold blood.

“It is.” Is all he says calmly. Never betraying his darker thoughts. “If you are loyal to me, then I am to you.” He mentions subconsciously, without even thinking. Because it’s true. He cares about nothing but his pack. Anyone else could burn in a fire. 

“You know,” He begins with a chuckle. “when Nyra first joined, we had an alliance with the very pack we’re going to war with.” His eyes are trained to the horizon as they walk, only occasionally flicking towards Satsu. “She ragdolled one of their pups because he attacked her knowing she was an ally. They wanted me to bring them her head to keep the alliance.” It’s then his eyes meet her own. “I declined the offer. I would kill for my pack. So I expect the same in return. Within reason of course.” He ends softly.
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kyn-dono appeared satisfied by her response.

as he spoke of alliances, the topic shifted to war. it did not surprise satsu that the tiger lord of the nanban would seek such a thing; what surprised her more was the cause.

satsu gasps softly in hearing it.

she harmed a child? and for this, you seek war against the wronged family?
were this the han of her father—!

but it was not; satsu's understanding of this place and its people remained limited.

before the man can answer, she is bowing,
sighing an apology gomen,
you hunger for blood, while i have never tasted it.
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When he explains further on the war, Satsu seems surprised. Showing this with a cute little gasp. He’s not insulted by her next words whatsoever. She just doesn’t understand. Not from Kyn’s point of view at least. Many others have a hard time understanding his point of view a lot of the time anyway, so he doesn’t hold it against her. 

Then there she goes apologizing in her interesting language. A word he knows now, for she informed him on it during their last meeting. 

He shakes his head. “Do not apologize.” He hums in understanding. 

“One could call them ‘the wronged family’, but to me betrayal is betrayed. Especially when it comes from someone you're supposed to trust.” He says the words softly as if reliving the wretched experiences he’s had with betrayal. “The price for such betrayal is high. The only thing that can compensate for it is death.” 

The Saint sighs then, looking ahead of them and pointedly not at Satsu as he opens up some to her. “I take it so seriously because the entirety of my old pack was slaughtered because of it.” A soft pause ensues before he continues. “My ex wife, Sasha. I believed I was in love with her. Had even gotten her pregnant with what was to be my first litter. She blew the whistle on us, had these two legged monsters known as humans come kill us and then left. Only one or two of us survived. I was one of them.” He goes quiet, deciding not to look at the woman next to him, but listening intently to gauge her reaction. Hoping she understands where he’s coming from if even just a little bit.
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kyn-dono tries to explain. satsu imagines he has had many chances to do so with others, judging by the quick manner of his explanation. the absurdity of his "strike first" policy cannot be expunged by any measure of explanation however.

the family did nothing but defend themselves.
the fact that the daimyo's second-in-command had attacked a child aside, there was no reason for an adult to cross from one han to another, and certainly no betrayal on the part of the family.
this man, this wound collector.

satsu wondered if this was the same mentality that got her father killed.
had he deserved to be usurped? did her brothers deserve to be slaughtered? had they been betrayed or had they done the betraying? to satsu, it sounded as though kynareth did not understand how the concept worked; but she was ignorant too, having never experienced such a thing.

i do not understand.

from the sounds of it, betrayal was commonplace for kynareth. this was not so for satsu.

i, i mean — it is terrible what happened. i know that much. it is amazing that you survived, kyn-dono, sir. you have built yourself up to something great again. she was fumbling, wanting very much to be respectful for the tiger lord's evident prowess and the immensity of his loss, but at the same time, satsu openly disapproved over his tactics.

—but in knowing how that feels, and having rebuilt your han to such a grand scale, why would you take all of that and choose violence? would it not be better to be peaceful. you are a warrior and i am not; perhaps by virtue of that ignorance i will never understand.

she fell silent then, contemplative.
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I do not understand. 

He doesn’t say anything to that. For a moment he wonders if she has ever experienced any type of betrayal in the way he has. It almost makes a spark of anger from within the swell of his breast. Of course his face and eyes betray no such thing. 

Satsu is quick to stammer into her explanation of how he built the Saints back into something grand. He nods to that, agreeing with her — because he has. Now, the Saints are strong once more. With many members and quite a few litters of pups. Whether they grow up to aid in their cause, he will not know. 

Kyn does not miss the fact that she seems openly against said decision. No, she does not understand, he reminds himself. Yet, she suggests he use his talents for more useful things like alliances. He plans on doing that as well. This woman, Satsu, believes just because he’s stubborn in his ways of war and slaughter an innocent boy that he is incapable of such a thing. Despite what many think, he’s very lax. He’s very capable of being understanding and offering mercy. That is why when he initiates his attack on Ursus, he will give them an ultimatum: set the past behind then and become allies, or face their fate in the destruction of their pack. And maybe — just fucking maybe — Kyn could be willing to speak of an agreement to become neutral once more.

So after a few beats, Kyn looks to her and allows a breathy laugh to escape his maw, a small smile tilting his lips upwards. 

“Satsu,” He begins softly. “You think me such a monster.” He says it how he sees it. “I’m very capable of being understanding, of sparing those who may need it.” He pauses softly. “That is why when I move in to Ursus with my executioners at my side, I will propose to them one last offer of peace.” He says it confidently, smoothly, calmly. “I do not hate them. I only offer back what is given to me. They wanted Nyra’s head for what she did to their son in order to save our alliance. I understand an eye for an eye, but their son did not die. So neither should my overseer.”

He looks back at her then, searching her eyes for any signs of disagreement or maybe to see if she understands him a bit better now. 

He is a merciful god.
Akashingo

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satsu did not know what to say. she did not want to anger him, and did not sense anger from him yet either, but the way he responded made her worry in that vague, belly-dropping way that confrontation always provided.

she did pocket the name of the han as it was given, wondering what sort of people they were, to accept the maiming of a child and then be forced in to a war for defending themselves. surely they could see the danger of a war with kynareth and his band of warriors; how impossible it would be to fight against them.

i... i do not call you a monster. that was his own term for himself. satsu could not tell if he took pride in it, or loathed it. he seemed the type to covet such a title.

do they not have peace now, right this moment? with us here, far from their reach. you are going to refuse them the justice they are owed and then confront them with an ultimatum. no, this was nonsensical. if this were her father's han, if a family's precious child been harmed by brigands, those brigands would be culled as justice.

this was not her father's land; the differences were astounding.

you... go to war, but it is to protect nyra. satsu realized, finally. she harmed their child and they are owed her head, but you wont allow it to be taken. i... i am a fool, doubting you. her face was warm again, her eyes downcast.
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Her words are almost meek as she defends herself not trying to call him a monster, but that is how he took it. Even if she doesn’t mean it, he knows it’s true. Really he is a monster, but he is strategic about it. He can play the good boy, he can manipulate, but it is only usually for personal gain. Well, either for him or his pack. When it comes down to it, he’s rather himself suffer than allow his pack to suffer. He’d offer himself up on a silver platter in order to save their lives. For when he’s loyal to someone, he’s willing to die for such loyalty.

With her next words he cannot agree. No, they’re not at peace. Peace only counts if one doesn’t not want to rip the others throat out when they see one another. That goes for both sides. Neutral would be a better word. Something Kyn may be able to live with depending on how the circumstances play out. 

Yet, Satsu seems to come to some realization with his last words. The reveal of his idea to protect his pack and how far he is willing to go to do so. When she admits to maybe finally understanding, she becomes shyer, not meeting his eyes, but his own best down into hers anyway. 

“Look at me.” He hums down to her saccharinely sweet. Whether she does or doesn’t he would continue. “The only thing I care about is my pack. I would die for every single one of you.” His voice is deadly serious, his eyes just as intense — it’s the serious truth.
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look at me. his command draws her attention, and like a child being berated, she does as she is told. every fibre of satsu's being wants to curl up in to a ball or, better yet, take flight away from him so she can sift through the conversation in her own time.

again he announces his loyalty to his people; again, satsu finds his eyes hard to look at, and the stern nature of his voice hard on her ears.

there is a moment of silence after he has spoken and satsu quivers where she stands. slowly she nods, blinking owlishly at him. okay, yes, i understand. but her tongue is heavy, so she says nothing in reply.
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She’s practically shaking in her boots at his heated confession. He doesn’t mean to frighten her, he only feels way to passionately about such a thing. So when her eyes meet his, he can see the hesitance in them, as well as many other emotions he can’t quite place. So his gaze softens, as well as his face. He blinks his eyes slowly and allows a sigh to fall from his lips. 

His massive head bumps softly against her cheek before he pulls back to look at her once more. “I’m sorry. I don’t mean to frighten you.” He admits. “I just…” He pauses softly. “I just need you to understand that I will take care of you. That I am not as horrible as you truly believe I am. Don’t be afraid to speak with me. If you don’t like something, tell me. I will never silence you for your opinions. I will take care of you if you do the same for me.” 
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it takes all of her focus to stay put when he moves towards her. he touches her cheek, being tender, as if the passion in his voice was only a figment of her imagination, but she still hears it. it rings in her ears. he is so desperate for her to understand and accept him, but that will take time.

satsu does not know if she has the power to do it, even so. he is so unlike everyone she's come across. he is the true barbarian lord, like the stories she was raised upon. it is best to stay quiet and to accept things as they are, for now.

now, she only waits to be dismissed.

you protect your people... at all costs. i understand.
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Satsu doesn’t say anything more, except for a muttering of a confirmation that makes him think she might just understand where he’s coming from. He offers a small smile, hoping that he hadn’t spooked or intimidated her too much, but by the looks of her shy appearance he has. 

So he would dip his head in a soft nod as he agrees. “Yes, exactly. Now, Satsu, I apologize if I frightened or intimidated you. It was not my intention.” A soft pause ensues. “Please, darling, have a good one and if you need me, don’t hesitate to ask.” 

He would hang around a few more seconds to hear her respond, if any, before smiling to her and sidling off back into the forest.