Until Miss Kaizen married Sushito Yamamoto Toroga, the eldest son of his house, House Toroga had no female heirs. Neither did Clan Toroga, as House Toroga was the ruling house of the Clan. The Torogas, Matron Ishikawa Toroga and Patron Kiryoshi Toroga, had three sons who survived child-birth and one son who did not. With not only the responsibility of ruling their house, but also those of the whole Toroga clan, Ishikawa and Kiryoshi had arranged for their eldest son to marry Miss Kaizen so that at an appropriate age the two would take some of their burden by becoming Patron and Matron of the house. Three years later, when the Torogas were expecting another son, they named their unborn child Taosituma. Once the child was born, and discovered to be a girl, the Torogas and their entire clan rejoiced. At the banquet given in the new baby s honor, instead of changing her name to be appropriate for a female, the Torogas lengthened to Taosituma-shina.
Over the next fifty years, Taosituma-shina proved to be quite the little rouge. She was constantly being found watching or listening in surprising places, even when she was too young to understand what was going on. Her curiosity and fearlessness led her to places she shouldn’t be, such as newly explored tunnels. Her parents decided that she would make a good scout, so she began learning to recognize and follow tracks at an early age.
Tao also discovered early on that she seemed to have a natural affinity for spiders. She and her three older brothers were out inspecting a new tunnel with their parents, and Tao grew very bored. She wandered a little ways away from her family and began poking around at the luminescent moss along the tunnel walls. As she moved towards a branching tunnel Tao heard some strange noises coming from it. She moved cautiously and peeked around the corner. She saw a giant spider looking back at her. The two stood still for a few moments just looking at each other. Then the spider moved and the trance was broken. The spider went about its business and Tao slowly sat down to watch it. She was fascinated by this new creature! After a while she stood and moved a little closer. The spider did nothing, so she moved closer again. It then stopped and turned to watch her so she stopped moving.. Tao jumped as she heard “TAO!” exclaimed from behind her. She turned to see her father surprised at the scene before him. The spider started to become agitated. As it sunk in that his daughter was standing in front of a seemingly hostile spider, Kiryoshi began to pull out his weapon. Tao looked back at the spider and saw it was acting strangely from the way it had while she was watching it. She began talking to it and motioning, trying to calm it down. It seemed to settle for a moment but when her father began to approach the spider became excited again. Tao noticed the change and made the connection. “Father, stop!” she said in a stern voice, and then turned her attention back to the spider. Kiryoshi stopped in his tracks, shocked that his young daughter had just given him what seemed to be an order for the first time. He watched for a couple minutes as Tao attempted to calm the spider, noticing that it didn’t give any indication of being about attacking her. The rest of the family then came around the corner to see what was happening. The spider became more agitated. Kiryoshi stopped them and told them to move back down the tunnel. They did as they were told, but he stayed and watched as Tao slowly calmed the spider. Eventually she was petting it with awe on her face.
“Is this really one of the those that created us?” she asked quietly, remembering the story her parents had taught her of how the Vornae were created.
“It is thought to be a descendant of those who created us,” her father replied. He allowed her another moment with the spider before calling her away from it. “Let it go back to it work, Tao. We have to get back to ours too.”
From then on Tao’s parents encouraged her develop her natural talents with spiders, to a point. They wouldn’t allow her to be alone with one. Eventually Tao learned to not only calm a spider quickly but control spiders to some degree and even train them.
One day well before her fiftieth birthday, while digging among the plants in the garden at her home, Tao heard much commotion coming from inside her home. She went inside and saw one of the scouts who had left in the morning had returned early. The woman’s name was Nirosha. She was surrounded by others of the household, questioning her and supporting her as she barely walked. Tao couldn’t get close enough to find out what had happened, so she followed behind trying to decipher the whole story from the many conversations she was hearing. Nirosha was taken to her room and placed in bed. Then everyone but one healer was sent from the room. Tao waited patiently in a doorway down the hall. A second healer soon entered, followed later by a woman bringing food and tea. The two left together, talking quietly. Misu came to see Nirosha. After a few minutes she stepped out of the room to send word to her father. A little later she left to meet her father when he arrived. Finally the other healer left the room and Tao knew no one else was inside. She quickly entered the room and quietly closed the door behind her.
Nirosha was lying on a bed, clutching the white sheets close to her shoulders and mumbling incoherently. Sweat had beaded on her forehead and the cup of tea, long gone cold, sat undisturbed on the table next to her. Tao cautiously approached the woman, trying to understand what she was saying. She looked over Nirosha’s face and was drawn to her eyes. They were unfocused and wild, and full of fear, seeing something that wasn’t there. Tao was about to speak when she heard people in the hall. Just before the door opened she was well hidden under the bed.
Misu entered, followed by her father Ryotoka Kaizen, her brother-in-law Saekkio Kaizen, and the surface elf named Simon Bearheart who had joined Kaizen household after being saved by Ryotoka years before. He was supposedly a member of an order called the Crimson Guard on a different world.
Ryotoka moved to Nirosha’s side and coaxed her to speak. She seemed distant, but she told what she could remember of what happened:
“The scouts and I were um, mapping the northwest tunnels and uh...there were six of us. Standard routine you know for new settlement exploration. Takanishiwa was testing the rocks for a vein of ore, when the tunnel suddenly got very cold We knew we were no where near the surface, so we were suspect of sorcery. I heard a scream from the down the tunnel, and all around us started to glow red blocking out the moss. Suddenly before I could react, they were...all around me. Can't get my sword... no, Hiachi NOOOOO! Running... running. What is that, Hiachi you are bleeding, What are you doing? Put your sword down! P P..lease don't hurt me. He's undead. The others are surrounding me. What is that color those creatures are wearing? it's like blood...
You there! You are with them! Get away from me! GET AWAY!” She shakily pointed at Simon. “The shadows... The shadows are closing on me, have eyes, blue eyes”
And then Nirosha suddenly fainted. The stress of reliving the moment seemed to much for her to bear. After a few silent moments, Simon spoke,
"I have to stop this, these were likely the men that fell during the battle with the Horde. If the Horde has control of the gate, they could continue their conquest with fresh recruits from your world. The gate's are unpredictable as well, they have no restrictions on time. These could have been sent immediately after I went through, or sometime in the future. We were never quite sure exactly how it worked, the Lore-Master was just learning its nuances. Now that I consider it, they may have already won and are moving on to this world! I have to do something!”
Ryotoka looked at Simon and nodded as he said, "We have to do something my brother, we are the Crimson Guard. One voice, one sword, one goal, one will." He turned to Misu and said, "We will assemble a military council tonight from the two houses."
Even though not understanding all of what Simon had said, Tao’s interest was peeked and she was intrigued by Ryotoka’s determined words. “One voice, one sword, one goal, one will," she repeated to herself.
"You know Father," Saekkio then said, "I believe this is unwise. Ever since this outsider has come into our home, bad luck has followed. The servants are fearful of him, your peers question your honor. You give your allegiance to this homeless squatter, whose ideals are not those of the Clan. He thrusts his problems upon us, and we are going to clean them up. Even worse, he has brought his bad luck to our home and now your son's have no mother. I spit on him, he has caused us a loss of honor!"
Simon's expression went blank as the hateful words came from Saekkio. Ryotoka, in a controlled rage, backhanded Saekkio sharply. "How dare you speak out of station like that to me! You have dishonored your mother, Simon-san, and myself! You will commit Sepaku now!"
Saekkio stood defiantly and met Ryotoka's gaze, which almost seemed to be a challenge. Then he quickly bowed and said, "As you wish father I am sorry." He turned and left the room. The others followed shortly thereafter, except for Misu, who lingered by her friend s side.
Tao looked up at her sister, who had helped raise her since she was born. Her face was sad. Tao crawled out from under the bed, knowing she was going to be in trouble as she saw Miss’s shocked face. Before Misu could say anything, Tao gave her a hug and told her everything would be alright. Misu smiled, comforted in that way only children could do. Tao then bowed to the Matron of her house and left before Misu could remember that Tao was supposed to be in trouble.
That night the military council convened at the Kaizen Compound. Tao snuck towards the outside window but stopped when she saw a figure already there. She recognized the person to be Saekkio. He was quietly observing the meeting, and Tao quietly watched him. After a while of listening, he slipped away unnoticed by all except Tao. He headed towards the tunnels in question, and Tao followed at a distance, wondering what he was up to.
The echoes of water dripping from the ceiling reverberated off of the tunnel walls. Saekkio, as silent as a cat, followed the tunnel while Tao followed him, occasionally loosing sight of him. As the luminescent moss lit their way, it became slightly darker for a moment and suddenly there was movement to Saekkio s left. Tao stopped and flattened herself against a dark piece of wall as Saekkio turned to look down the intersecting tunnel. It appeared to be another dark elf, though it's movements were jerky and uncoordinated. Obviously this was what remained of one of the lost scouts. It raised its weapon menacingly. Saekkio kicked it square in the chest making it topple over backwards. He laughed to himself, having no concern for the unfortunate wretch. He drew his sword and raised his shield in case of a real threat. Tao was suddenly aware that she had no defense, but curiosity compelled her on. When she reached the tunnel she peeked around the corner and saw the scout lying on the ground. She ran past, checked to see if she was being followed, and then looked to see if she had lost sight of Saekkio again. Ahead of Saekkio the hallway entered into a large cavern. As he walked a few feet into the cavern, everything around him suddenly went black. Tao froze in her tracks. Saekkio fell out of the shadows, and then slowly got to his feet. Hovering above the ground in front of him was large amorphous form made of shadows. Staring right at it, Tao saw that it had glowing blue eyes. Nirosha had spoke of this in her ramblings.
"Tell us why you come alone, foolish one. Have you come to retrieve your friends perhaps?" The Creature said in gravely voice.
"I have an offer for you," replied Saekkio calmly.
The Creature wrapped a pseudopod-like arm around Saekkio and lift him off of the ground all the while shaking him violently. "What is it you have that I cannot take!" It screamed. Tao cringed. Saekkio, obviously shaken, said,
"What do you know of the Crimson Guard?" The creature’s reaction was to squeeze until the breath burst from Saekkio's lungs. Gasping, he managed to get out "I can deliver two crimson guard members to you." The creature relaxed its grip enough for him to breathe. Saekkio continued, "There is a war party headed this way shortly, they will be well armed."
"We do not fear them, for our army has already begun to replenish its ranks with your fallen," the creature hissed.
"I will tell you where they will strike from, and what tactics they will use and deliver these two right into your hand. What I want in return is to personally kill the Dark Elf Crimson Guard member, and to take his bow. Secondly, I want a safe escape to the surface world. This place bores me so, I need to leave and start my own path," Saekkio explained. Tao couldn’t believe what she was hearing. Saekkio wanted to kill his own father and was suggesting an alliance with the creature!
"We, the Chorus of Shadows, agree with your terms," the creature mused, as many small faces appeared and smiled wickedly amid its shadowy form. As Saekkio relayed the plans he had heard to the creature, Tao silently crept away. When she felt she was far enough, she began to run. She didn’t stop until she was home.
She came in yelling for Sushita and Misu. Instead of finding them she was caught by her other two brothers, Nakamora and Ishido. As they took her to her room, they told her she was in big trouble for going off by herself after her bedtime. She tried to tell them all she had seen, but they wouldn’t let her get a word in. After being left locked in her room so she would go to sleep instead of disappearing again, Tao tried to find a way to get out and warn someone. Her parents had her window sectioned into smaller panes a long time ago, as soon as they realized she would climb out it after being put to bed. She went to it anyways, but found no one outside. After a while of thinking, she positioned herself so as to be behind the door when it opened. Then she screamed, loud and high. When her door opened and someone ran in, she was ready. She ran around the door, grabbed the handle, and closed it behind her. She was around a corner before whoever it was came out of her room.
Tao moved quietly and quickly, trying to reach Sushita or Misu before being found again out later than she was supposed to be. Twice she saw people and tried to tell them, but they wouldn’t listen. She was able to get away before being taken back to her room. Then she changed her mind, realizing she might be too late to warn the war party if she first went to Sushita and Misu. She made her way outside and then to the entrance of the tunnels. She looked around and saw no one. Maybe they haven’t gone yet, she thought. But as she turned she noticed something on the ground. She looked closer and saw tracks on the ground. She looked around and saw many more than belonged to six people. The group had already left.
Tao ran back down the tunnels she had traveled earlier. Soon she heard the sounds of battle ahead of her. Too late! She cautiously approached the fight, hoping to be able to reach Ryotoka before he was killed. But she discovered she was on the wrong side. The enemy was right in front of her.
The battle was furious and confusing, many had fallen on both sides though the Dark Elves seemed to be winning. Suddenly The Chorus of Shadows appeared right in front of Tao. She screamed, revealing herself to all. Using a powerful Horde ritual, the fallen warriors rose in an undead state to serve The Chorus of Shadows. Then it seemed to stare right at Tao with those blue eyes and an arm lashed out and grabbed her. Taking the success of the ritual as his cue, Saekkio stabbed his sword deep into his father’s back as Simon looked on in horror. In this moment of distraction for Simon, The Chorus of Shadows instantly appeared out of crevice in the cave wall. It's maw opened fully to swallow Simon whole. The War Party, furious and spurred on by this atrocity, redoubled its efforts. The Chorus of Shadows escaped down a back hallway, with Simon engulfed inside of it. Saekkio retrieved the bow, Scorpion, and then dragged his father’s body down the escape tunnel. Tao was left shaking next to the wall into which The Chorus of Shadows had seemed to disappear moments before.
Eventually the undead were destroyed. Tao hadn’t moved since being dropped, and she still didn’t when someone finally noticed her and went to help her. She was carried back to her home and a very worried family. For two days she didn’t leave her bed. Sometimes she talked incoherently, sometimes she slept, sometimes she trembled, and often she had mood swings. After a time she began to return to normal. She would still occasionally speak of blue eyes and shadows, or go from being happy to sad or calm to mad, and vice versa. But as time passed her episodes became fewer.
The Dark Elves had suffered heavy losses in the battle, but the greatest loss came to the Kaizen family, with Saekkio's betrayal. This murder stopped the Kaizen family clan in its tracks. There were now no more adult members of the family and Clan. Misu brought her younger brother-in-law to the Toroga house to be raised until he was old enough to claim his right to become Patron of house Kaizen. The boy, named Kyokai, was only three years older than Tao. Over the years, the two children became good friends.
As Tao grew up her curiosity and eavesdropping nature staying with her. For a while in her early childhood she had an imaginary friend named Nashi that she would blame anything bad she did on, but she eventually outgrew that. She only ever learned to use one kind of weapon, being more interested in learning herbs and alchemy. She was a natural tracker, and even learned to cover tracks as she moved, among other skills. Even though she was sneaky, and developed quite a temper, she was good natured at heart. Kyokai spoke often of the Crimson Guard and its ideals, and Tao liked what she heard. To her the Crimson Guard seemed noble and honorable.
But there was a secrect Tao had that she never shared with anyone, not even her best friend Kyokai. When the Chorus of Shadows had picked her up with the intention of swallowing her, Tao felt the touch of many different minds within it. After images of those people stayed within her mind for a time, causing her babbling. Her supposed mood swings were different personalities taking control of her. Eventually Tao’s mind was able to win out and drive the others off, but the damage had been done. Tao thought herself fully healed, but Kyokai’s influence proved other wise. As the two grew up, their friendship deepened. They studied, played, and worked together. Yet Kyokai was not a typical Dark Elf. Having been partially raised by a surface dweller and with Crimson Guard ideals, Kyokai was kind, selfless, and very idealistic. All these he taught to Tao, whose social nature enjoyed and emulated but whose Dark Elven nature and training despised. It didn’t take so long after the two first met, only weeks after Tao’s contact with the Chorus, for Tao’s two different natures to begin to conflict. Within a couple years Tao’s mind had split into two distinct personalities, one learning from Kyokai and one learning to be a very traditional Vornae. The two existed together for a long time, with the social personality taking Taosituma-shina as her name and the traditionalist taking Nashi-matusitao as hers. The two thought of each other as twins, and each tried to teach the other to be more like herself. Nashi was learning what she needed to be the Matron of the Clan for when that time came, while Tao was learning to be open-minded and friendly with all. Nashi saw Tao as being very nieve and too trusting, and so took it upon herself to protect Tao from her own faults by taking any blame that came Tao’s way and by trying to teach Tao. But Tao wasn’t interested in Dark Elven politics or even being Matron one day as her birthright guarenteed. Instead she wanted to make friends and enjoy herself. But the only truely close friend she ever had was Kyokai, who Nashi disliked because to her he was the cause of not only Tao’s faults, but also Tao’s existence.
Eventually the two could no longer exist togther. One night they fought, over what neither remembers, but in the morning Tao woke up to find herself in control alone. She was very afriad for she barely recalled the time before she and Nashi, and didn’t know what to do without her. Kyokai came looking for Tao that morning and found her in her room very upset. She tried to explain what had happened, but all she could get across was that she and Nashi had a fight and that Nashi was gone. Kyokai did his best to comfort Tao. From then on she began to look to him to fill the place Nashi had had in her life of being her protector. As far as anyone knew Nashi had been an imaginary friend of Tao’s, and once she was gone everyone was happy.
A few years later Tao was playing around with some alchemy components, as she was known to do, and ended up setting off a Feeblemind gas on herself. After ten minues the effect wore off and a very confused Nashi found herself sitting among a makeshift alchemy lab. She quickly found out by talking with people that everyone thought Nashi was gone, and so she did her best to pretend to be Tao. A few times someone would comment how Tao had changed and that she was taking her studies more seriously, and Nashi would smile. Only Kyokai sensed something was wrong since Nashi intentionally did not make time to spend with him, but he only thought Tao was ignoring him for some reason he couldn’t figure out.
Then came training to resist sleep effects. During this time Tao and Nashi discovered how the other existed while one was in control. When one personality was dominant and in control the other was somehow locked away within their mind, as if sleeping. Apparently anything that weakened the mind would allow the subdued personality to gain dominance over the other. When this happened the two could feel that the one had been released and then the weakened person was subdued and locked away. Occasionally the two met in a dream or meditation and were able to talk and discover what was happening to them. Eventually Tao became dominant, and using what she and Nashi had learned from each other Tao was able to keep herself the one in control. Tao never told anyone about Nashi, thinking she had things under control and there was no need to. Whenever a personality change had happened, everyone else simply saw it as Tao’s temper flareing or changing. Tao was around a hundred and twenty years old when she gained dominance over Nashi for what she hoped was the last time.
During the years of Kyokai's childhood and adolescence, he proved to be a talented archer and tracker. He also had a natural affinity to weapons. Many among house Toroga were pleased with Kyokai's abilities, and when he reached his adulthood they awarded him with a grand ceremony. It had now been well over a hundred years since Kyokai was that young child who, after being raised by the Crimson Guard ideals, was brought into house Toroga. With those instilled morals he was fairly unique amongst his people, though well respected for his station. The day after his grand ceremony he departed the Toroga Clan searching for his justice, his chance to bring the souls of his father and Simon to peace. Just before he left he took Tao aside. “Today I am going to seek justice for my Father’s and Simon’s deaths,” he said. Tao shuddered at the memory. “If I do not come back, remember what has been taught, and honor our memory. If I die, the Crimson Guard needs to live on in you, Taosituma-shina." She nodded and answered, "I understand. I will remember, and honor, and be Crimson Guard. One Voice One Sword One Goal One Will.”
Four years later, Tao also reached 150 years of age and she too received a ceremony. Her parents intended her to begin studying at Ansatsu shortly thereafter, as they had seen to it that she was already accepted into the College of Political Sciences pending her birthday. But in the last three years no word had been received from Kyokai, and no one publicly mentioned his disappearance. Tao sought an audience with her brother and sister, the Patron and Matron of her house, and with her parents, the Matron and Patron of her clan. She finally voiced the worry over Kyokai’s safety that no one else would. She had decided to go and try to find him on the surface world, the last place he was known to have been. Now that she was an adult, she told her family of her plan, and that she would leave in a week’s time. Her brothers Nakamora and Ishido decided to join her, partly out of concern for Kyokai, partly out of concern for Tao’s safety, and partly at their parent’s urging. They too were worried about Tao’s safety. They would have preferred to send others, but Tao wouldn’t have it. She insisted the Crimson Guard would look for Kyokai. Nakamora and Ishido had grown up listening to the ideals of the Crimson Guard just as Tao had. They were willing to accept those ideals. Just before the three siblings left for the surface world, Tao inducted her brothers as she had been by Kyokai.
On the surface world Tao and her brothers spent months looking for Kyokai, talking people who knew him and going where they said he was last known to have been. They were slow to adapt to the sun enough to even travel in daylight. Eventually they made their way to Ravenholt City. Tao had warned Nakamora that if she was ever slept, feebleminded, charmed, or began acting strange after some encounter to waylay or sleep her, and let her sleep, and that she would would wake up just fine. He asked her way and she said, “Do you remember my temper?” He said he did. She said that sometimes she couldn’t control it and she while on the surface she just wanted to make sure that didn’t happen. He agreed. While searching Ravenholt a badit hit Tao with a sleep gas poison, which she resisted. After the person was killed Nakamora had who he thought was Tao slept as per her orders, before Nashi knew what was happening. When she woke up as Tao they continued on their search for Kyokai.
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Tao and Nakamora eventually found Kyokai on the island of Kyrlateth in the capitol of the Kingdom of Aldra. Ishido had stayed behing in Kincora to follow another path that Kyokai may have of gone. Once reunited, Kyokai began showing them the ways of the surface world. The next day Tao also discovered a strange creature on the island called Draxen. Draxen seemed to be a cross between spiders and humaniods. But what fastinated, and annoyed, Tao was that her affinity for spiders didn’t hold true for Draxen. She couldn’t control them at all, not even to calm them. So she began examining them to see if she could determine if she could learn to calm them as she did spiders. The Prince Evik Sarios and a Lord of Aldra found out what she was intending to do. Before she knew it, Tao had Royal support and her curiosity became a full blown study of Draxen. Also that same day, Tao was invested in the new celestial circle created in Ryland, Aldra’s capitol.
Over the next few months Tao became friends with three Highlanders from Clan Silverwolf, a Biata, a Gypsy Tavern Keeper, and the Prince of Aldra. Tao spent as much time as possible in Aldra trying to learn more about the Draxen. Each time she thought she had a way of observeing one so that she could learn from it how she might communicate and calm a Draxen, something would happen to prove her wrong. She would only leave the island to travel to Kincora when it was prearranged for her to meet someone there. While on her first visit to Kincora a few weeks after finding Kyokai, he was met by a house of Dark Elves who claimed to be from Clan Kaizen, come to find their Patron, Kyokai, whom they had heard was on the surface nearby.
Soon the Gypsy, Janos Hunyadi II, was acting around Tao as no other man had. She began to wonder if he actually had feelings for her or if he was just acting as Gypsies do. She spent weeks try to determine this but finding herself getting no where except into careing more for him. Then Kyokai approached her and said Hunyadi had asked him if he might court Tao. Kyokai said he told the Gypsy to ask her himself, but that he had his blessings.
Later that day Tao was hit with a feeblemind gas poison during a fight. Ishido had taken ill earlier that month and Nakamora had gone to look after him. Tao had told no one else about her problem with Nashi, and so Nashi became dominant and remained so. Hunyadi took the moment after the battle was done to ask who he thought was Tao if he could court her. Nashi said “No.” After a few hours of talking with Kyokai, trying to figure out where she was and why she was on the surface, Nashi made a mistake which revealed herself to Kyokai to not be Tao. But he didn’t remember Nashi from so long ago. He wasn’t sure what to do, and Nashi didn’t know how to get home to Draelonde, so nothing happened for a while. Then Kyokai brought Nashi to meet two Biata friends of his who agreed to help him. Nashi would not let the male near her, but allowed the female, Kelsea to help her try and find Tao’s memories of where Nakamora was and how to get home. While they were in Nashi’s mind, Kelsea was able to contact Tao while distracting Nashi. Tao told her how to bring her back, a sleep spell. When Kelsea left Nashi’s mind she promised to try again later to help look for the memories of Tao’s that Nashi wanted. Kelsea than told Kyokai what she had learned. He attacked Nashi, and cut her down in the hopes that it would bring Tao back. But he didn’t understand that for Tao to return, Nashi’s mind needed to be weakened, not her body. Kelsea healed her, and Nashi woke up angry and told Kyokai he deserved Seppaku for what he had done. Nashi then ran off before anyone could react to it being her and not Tao. She ran to the woods behind the town and immediately counter tracked herself before hiding under a building. Kyokai, the Biatas, the Silverwolfs, and Hunyadi all came looking for her, but couldn’t find her. Distraught, Hunyadi attempted to kill himself and was dragged off by Kelsea. Soon word came that the Prince wanted everyone on the field to help fight in the emminant battle. They all left their search for Nashi, and once on the field Kyokai committed Seppaku. He was immediately given a Life spell and arrested for his own murder by the Prince.
Nashi waited until much of the battle had died down before venturing forth. She knew she had to get away but didn’t know to where. She was eventually cut down by a group of shades and bled out. Her spirit, being half Tao and half Nashi, eventually went to ressurrect in the healer’s circle. The ressurrection was extremely painful as it decended into an all out war between Tao and Nashi for dominance, with the ressurrection guide calling upon Tao’s memories of her friends to aid in her fight and Nashi’s responce of calling upon her memories of her family and Dark Elven allies to aid in her fight. Nashi woke up from the ressurrection surrounded by now her enemies, and also Kelsea. Kelsea tried to reason with Nashi to accept a sleep spell and let Tao return, she almost begged at one point, but she would not cast it without Nashi’s permission. And Nashi would not give permission. Eventually Gilcori, the Guildmistress of the Healer’s Guild, had enough and cast a sleep on Nashi, who resisted it. So Gilcori cast another, not realizing that evethough the first had been resisted it still allowed for Tao to gain dominance. When Nashi woke from the second sleep, she tried to pretend to be Tao, but Kyokai’s mention of Hunyadi caused Nashi to falter and be revealed. One more spell and Tao was dominant again.
But before she woke up, the male Biata, Galeon, who had great mind powers, entered Tao’s mind to determine who was dominant. He convinced Tao to let him lock Nashi away in a way that wouldn’t be breached if her mind was weakened again, just until Tao could decide what she wanted to do about Nashi. While Tao looked on, Galeon released Nashi from where Tao had her held and into what looked like her home in Draelonde. He then took on the form of their father, made Nashi believe he had just been murdered, and sent her off on a hunt deeper into Galeon’s trap to find the murderer. Once Nashi was inside the created Draelonde, he sealed her in until the time when Tao decide what she wanted to do. When Tao awoke, she sought out Hunyadi and gave him permission to court her.
Two weeks later Kyokai disappeared. Tao feared the worst, but hoped for the best. She sent out messages to all the places she thought he might be. She went to Kincora hopeing his spirit had gone there to ressurrect, if that was necessary. He was gone for twelve days when she recieved a letter from a Dark Elven friend saying Kyokai had died permanently. As she read the letter over and over again, Tao’s world began to crumble, for Kyokai had been the center of it since she was a little girl. Nashi, inside her fantasy that she thought was Draelonde, described it as “Eveything began to crack. The walls, the ground, even the air seemed to have cracks running through them. Then a scream came. It was Tao, it sounded like her. And the cracks split and the world seemed to shatter and fall like broken glass. I saw Tao huddled in the middle of the crumbling world. I ran to her, and tried to help her. But all I could do was keep her from being hurt by the falling pieces. When they fell on me they didn’t hurt at all, but they caused her great pain. I was able to save Tao, who she was, but not her memories. Her world crashed around us. Then I woke up.” Nashi then found the letter and read it. Though she never liked Kyokai, he had still been a big part of her life and the news of his permanent death shook her, and Tao emergered but not strong enough to subdue Nashi. For the first time in decades the two were again together sharing control. But only Nashi had any memories, Tao awoke as if for the first time ever.
Nashi spent the next two days trying to rebuild Tao’s memories while also trying to keep Tao from getting them into trouble. That Friday was a gathering and many people had come to Kincora. Nashi looked for Kelsea to help her rebuild Tao’s mind, but Kelsea hadn’t come this time. Instead Nashi met a female Dark Elf named Karasu, who had sent the letter and was a friend of Tao’s. Karasu blamed herself for Tao and Nashi’s problem and wouldn’t be convinced otherwise by either Tao or Nashi. Nashi also met a male Dark Elf named Fury who was of Clan Kaizen. Since he also thought his Patron dead, and his house was not around, he had taken Tao to be his Matron, temporarily at least. Nashi did not dissuade him, but she did not tell him of her and Tao either. Instead he became very confused over the mood swings she seemed to randomly have. During the time of Nashi rebuilding Tao’s memories and Tao learning more about herself and her past, Tao discovered she loved Kyokai, and not just as a best friend and brother as she had thought before.
That Saturday Kyokai’s spirit came to the Healer’s circle to ressurrect. After a strange ressurrection, he was told of Tao/Nashi’s condition. Also of the meeting of Vornae that was to be held that night over the issue of Tao being courted by a Gypsy. Nashi had arranged a meeting with a human female named Anastasia who had mental powers, in place of Kelsea, to help rebuild Tao’s memories. Anastasia was able to bring Kyokai and Karasu into Nashi and Tao’s mind also. With thier help, they were able to rebuild all of Tao’s memories of being on the surface. Once that was done, and a few other things, everyone left Tao and Nashi’s mind, some forcefully.
Now that Tao remembered all that had happened since she came to the surface, Nashi felt they were ready to face anything at the meeting. What she did not expect was that Duke Ishidu of Nebulande had arrived and intended to address the same issue of a Gypsy courting a Dark Elf while he was in town. Nashi offered her cabin for the Duke’s use and the meeting was held. During the meeting Tao did her best to speak as well as she could using Nashi’s strength for courage. Both Tao and Nashi looked to Kyokai for guidence as neither had delt with anyone as high ranking before. During the meeting everyone found out that Clan Bokenjen had been dissolved on Emperor Jared’s order. Being that both Clan Kaizen and Clan Toroga answered directly to Clan Bokenjen, they too were dissolved. Nashi’s world was centered around her birthright of being Vornae destined to be Matron, just as Tao’s world was centered around Kyokai. When she heard that her Clan had been dissolved, Nashi’s world crumbled and she was gone, leaving a scared Tao who had no idea of what to do. She turned to Kyokai, who also wasn’t sure what to do, for support and strength. Then a battle broke out in front of the cabin and most everyone inside went to help. Kyokai left Tao eventhough she tried not to let go of his hand.
Only Karasu remained behind in the cabin with Tao, who began to cry in sorrow and fear. Karasu tried to calm Tao reminding her to be strong. But Tao wasn’t without Nashi or Kyokai. Karasu got Tao to stop crying just before the Duke and the other Vornae retuened. When Kyokai entered he saw something was wrong, as did Duke Ishidu. The Duke asked what had happened, and Kyokai tried to explain as vaguely as possible. Duke Ishidu looked at Tao and asked her if she wanted help. She said yes. He asked if she wanted to be strong. She said yes as that was what she lost when Nashi left her. The Duke took Tao by the hand and led her into the shadows. They seemed to travel through shadows eventhough there was nothing benieth them to walk on. It became very cold, but soon it wasn’t uncomfortable to Tao. The two emerged into a large cavern covered in shadows with a small fire in the middle. Around the fire sat three women. Duke Ishidu kneeled and so Tao did the same. The three women were the Shadow Lords, called the Silent Ones. One was past, one was present, and one was future. They began talking to Tao, asking her questions, except for Future who barely spoke anything the whole time. The women fixed Tao, all her memories, and Nashi. They then combined Tao and Nashi into one person. They worked through all Tao and Nashi’s memories, clouding over bad memories to take away their pain or fear. By the time they were done Tao was whole again with Nashi, and she was unafraid and strong. Past and Present asked Tao/Nashi if she wished to serve them and the Shadows, but Future interrupted and said Tao/Nashi wasn’t ready for that yet. Duke Ishidu then brought Tao/Nashi back to the cabin in Kincora just as another battle broke out. All joined in.
After it was done, Duke Ishidu had Hunyadi brought before him. After talking to him for a bit he had Tao/Nashi approach as well, for Hunyadi had a question to ask of her. He asked what she felt for him. Tao/Nashi replied that she cared for him. He asked how, as a friend, as a mother, as a lover? She said she cared for him more than a friend, but not as a lover. His heart was broken, and Tao/Nashi felt horrible. But the issue of a Gypsy courting a Dark Elf was settled. The Silverwolfs said that wasn’t end, that where there’s a will..., but Tao interruped and told them that was the end, for she loved another.
Now that all matters were settled that could be settled in Kincora, Kyokai, Tao/Nashi and Karasu left for Myanthea. Master Fury was left behind to cover their trail and get word to his Matron of what had happened. The three were heading to Myanthea to ask the Phoenix Guard for protection since Tao/Nashi and Kyokai’s clans were gone and the families of both clans were now clanless. Tao/Nashi was acting very strange while they traveled. She was much more sensitive to light than before, refusing to travel during daylight, and she was much more tolerant of the cold, so much so that she wouldn’t get close to the fires when the three camped as they were too warm.
During their travels Kyokai spoke with High Lord Knight Timitsu of the Royal Imperial Clan of Kyotoka from Draelonde, who let him know that both Clan Kaizen and Clan Toroga were accepted into the personal Clan of the Emporer, Clan Ryotoka, for protection. That having been done, the three turned from Myanthea to instead head for a small gathering the Silverwolfs were holding for friends who were going to help a Highlander clan under attack in the North, and had invited Tao/Nashi, Kyokai and Karasu to attend. By the time they reached the meeting place, Tao/Nashi had begun to settle her new combined personality. She took TaoNashi as her name, to reflect who she now was.
Word soon came from High Lord Knight Timitsu that he had formed a new clan for those formerly of Kaizen, Toroga, and some members of Bokenjen. Kyokai named it Toshiro and took position as its Patron. He was also named an ambassador to the surface from the High Lord Knight. Since he would be traveling the surface and be away from the Clan for stretches at a time, he named Ishikawa Toroga and Kiryoshi Toroga, TaoNashi’s parents, as Matron and Patron during his absences.
TaoNashi discovered herself to be a well balanced mix of Nashi and Tao. She had Nashi’s strength, courage, and faith in herself. She had Tao’s social nature, calmness, and what others have referred to as “wisdom.” However she also had negatives of both; Nashi’s temper and Tao’s emotions. Upon going the group gathering with the Silverwolves and seeing everyone again, TaoNashi found Tao’s feelings towards people and her own were very similar, except for a couple individuals. Due to Nashi’s influential dislike of Kyokai, TaoNashi could not love him, except as an older bother. Where Tao was unable to love Hunyadi because her heart belonged to Kyokai, and Nashi had no feelings either way about Hunyadi, TaoNashi found she was falling in love with Hunyadi since there was no other to hold her heart from him.
During that weekend, a magic stick was found and determined to be full of Chaos. It was agreed that the item should be destroyed, if possible. Micha decided the way to destroy it was to throw it in the bonfire that had been built. When he did so the stick was destroyed, but in doing so it exploded and the chaos was released in a wave that tainted three or four of the people standing closest to the fire. The result of this was utter chaos and a break down in the Crimson Guard. People fought among themselves as those tainted were trying to be dealt with. Terrian and Sparrowhawk were both lost, him to death and her to a rift. The taint eventually faded in those infected, but not before an infected Hunyadi charmed, necroed, and raised TaoNashi as Undead. But before her death count was up, Hunyadi’s love for her overcame the taint and he was able to cast a Life spell on her.
Once everyone was clean of the taint and those who needed to ressurect did, except for Terrian who’s spirit was in his spirit linked sword, the group pulled together enough to attempt to save Sparrowhawk who was determined to be held trapped in a cave. They entered the rift, which caused Terrian’s death, and passed out on the other side of noxious fumes. When they woke up, more of there number was gone. They fought strange gnome-animal like creatures while trying to find their friends. A Chaos being appeared during this time and, unknown to the rest of the group, Hunyadi made a deal with the being. All of the people, including the captured ones, would be allowed to leave unharmed in exchange for Hunyadi’s servitude until his last life. Once all were convinced there was no way to break the deal without losing Hunyadi since he had already been marked, they returned through a gate opened by the being to Tyrra. TaoNashi was the last to go, and she asked for a moment alone with Hunyadi. The being agreed. TaoNashi and Hunyadi decided she would kill him and then cut off his right hand, in which his spirit would be, to take through the rift with her. She propped him up with a large fallen branch, killed him, took his hand, and was through the rift before the Chaos being knew what she had done.
One the other side, a Life spell was given to the hand, which came to life but without a body. It was just a hand. But being it contained all of Hunyadi’s spirit, it still retained his casting abilities. So it Lifed itself and a body formed. However, the Chaos being apparently discovered what had happened and Lifed the body on the other side. This created two Hunyadi’s connected by one spirit, or so the theory goes. He described it as existing in two places at once. The body with the Guard started out with only spirit in the right hand. Eventually it spread to he rest of his body, but that took days. It was later proven that what happened to one Hunyadi also happened to the other, whether it be a silence spell or death.
Now that all were found except Terrian, the group tried to determine how to get him back. For a couple minutes his spirit could be sensed in the area. Then in disappeared. At this point Micha, who had originally destroyed the chaos stick and been the first tainted and the only one re-tainted, was found to be sensitive to the chaos. Between Micha and Hunyadi, it was determined Terrian had passed to Ategenos (the Highlander afterlife) and taken the chaos taint with him, which was now spreading there. A call for help came through Micha, and Hunyadi was able to find a ritual that would allow everyone to go physically to Ategenos. In order to do so, each person had to be a component in the ritual, thereby giving up something of themselves. TaoNashi’s was “the love of a good woman” and Hunyadi’s was “last year of memory.” After the ritual was done, it turned out that instead of losing her love for Hunyadi, TaoNashi lost the hesitation she had in admitting her love for him. Until the ritual she would not allow herself to admit her love, not even to herself, because she knew it was wrong for her to take a Jochu as her mate.
Once the ritual was completed TaoNashi found herself alone surrounded by blinding white light. She remained in that place for what length of time she didn’t know. What turned out to be days later, she and some of the others were released back to Tyrra. They weren’t sure why, why they weren’t in Ategenos. TaoNashi though she might be dreaming, but in case she wasn’t she acted as if she wasn’t and sent letters to people she needed to communicate with. She and Hunyadi also talked. She again admitted her love for him, and both were upset over his guaranteed loss of memory to come. Hunyadi asked if he could “know” her before then, he felt he had to before losing her. Thinking that she was also going to lose him, possibly forever, with the memory loss, she agreed. TaoNashi thought that there wouldn’t be any harm in sleeping with him just once. What were the chances that she would actually become pregnant? she reasoned. She had been a virgin until that point, what were the odds that the first and only time it would happen? It turned out they were 100% as she did become pregnant.
Soon the group entered Ategenos, each by his own path/dream. TaoNashi was surrounded by darkness and comfortable warmth. Time seemed to pass as a river, minutes flowed into days flowed into months flowed into years. Soon TaoNashi knew she was pregnant with Hunyadi’s child. As the time came near, she felt Nashi leave her and Tao returned. When she woke in Ategenos, Tao and Nashi found themselves physically separated! Tao was due any moment to deliver. Over the next day those who traveled to Ategenos gathered themselves together and tried to find the Silverwolves as well as the components to perform a ritual to return to Tyrra. But Chaos still reined among the group, and people kept being distracted by there own problems or the effect of Chaos tainting or luring them with power. Tao gave birth the next night to a full sized male Drae, with claws. The child was born being able to speak and cast, and it charmed those who would have killed it before they could react. Over the next day he engraciated himself to Tao. He even won a place in her heart by proving himself to be kind, caring, and agreeable to the lessons Tao taught him. Such as that casting Chaos is harmful, wrong, and evil, even though he had the ability to do so to heal others. He also loved his mother, and proved it by trying his best to save her from Lord Chaos and her sister Nashi’s attempts to turn her to chaos. She eventually named him: Kokoronoko, which means Child of my Heart, and gave him her family name of Toroga and clan name of Toshiro. Tao felt abandoned by both Kyokai and Nashi, as Kyokai did not return her love and Nashi was no longer a part of her. She turned to both for strength and help, but neither did the way she needed it. Only Kokoronoko was there to support her, help her, comfort her, and convince her things would work out when she had given up all hope. And her love for him deepened, despite her realizing he was a Chaos creature who’s father was not Hunyadi but the Chaos that had control of part of him at the time of conception.
In the end, the components were collected, all who could be found were rounded up, included Hunyadi and his double, nicknamed Beta. The ritual was performed which opened a gate back to Tyrra. When Nashi and Tao stepped through, TaoNashi emerged on the other side quite shaken for having just been “slammed” back together. Terrian and Sparrowhawk turned out to be dopplegangers and ran away as the real Silverwolves, who had resurrected in Kincora earlier approached.
Instead of the gate closing, it began to form into a permanent one, and on the other side a legion of creatures wearing the Horde colors/symbol could be seen. They emerged through the gate and the Crimson Guard fought as many as they could before the legion ran to the hills. Lady Pain, who had been quite nice and helpful to Tao in Ategenos, and Lord Chaos emerged behind the Horde. They decided a game would be played in exchange for destroying the gate to prevent any more of the Horde from getting through. This game was to see whether they could destroy Tyrra as the Horde had with Altyrra, or if the Crimson Guard could stop them.
Tao and Kokoronoko had parted in Ategenos, after Kyokai, Nashi, and Karasu convinced Tao that he couldn’t come with her or he would be killed. When the two parted in tears, Kokoronoko ripped a scale from him armor and gave it to his mother to remember him by. She, having nothing to give him in return, cut a lock of her hair and gave it to him. When TaoNashi was able to get her bearings about her back on Tyrra, she found she still had the necklace and scale from Kokoronoko. Some said everything had been a dream, but TaoNashi believed otherwise, and she recalled Kokoronoko’s last words to Tao. “I will find you, Momma Tao. No matter where you go, I’ll find you again.”
Then Kyokai began acting slightly strange. Not feeling much herself, when Hunyadi asked her to Waylay Kyokai she did so without a second thought. The Waylay had no effect, except for Kyokai to turn to her and say: “You have betrayed me.” He then walked calmly away. He walked to the forest and called for Lord Chaos. When he appeared, Kyokai asked if he had the ability to gate. Lord Chaos said yes and asked where Kyokai wanted to go. He said to Draelonde, and the two disappeared. Kyokai then became the self-named “Betrayal Kaizen.”
The Crimson Guard and the Silverwolfs and friends all gathered two weeks later in Aldra. There TaoNashi inducted Rasha, Karasu, and Hunter as members. The Guard also discussed how they wanted their group to operate, and who would lead them. They agreed to be a type of family, and chose Terrian as the Patriarch and TaoNashi as the Matriarch.
As for her friends and new family, TaoNashi had now found a place to belong on the surface and people who accepted her. Sparrowhawk then asked TaoNashi to be her sister, and bear the colors of the dead highlander Clan Hawk that was Sparrowhawk’s birth clan. Knowing Sparrowhawk’s history, and other things no one else knew about Sparrowhawk, and feeling as she did, TaoNashi agreed. With the acceptance into the Crimson Guard of Hunter, and the growing friendship between her and TaoNashi, and the fact that Hunter was also from TaoNashi found more than just a friend. Hunter was pregnant with Rasha’s child. And being Sarr, Hunter and Rasha could tell TaoNashi was still pregnant. But only ten weeks had passed on Tyrra since TaoNashi became so. Still TaoNashi became very conscious of Hunter’s safety, and Hunter seemed to appoint herself TaoNashi’s protector. Hunter began to keep close tabs on TaoNashi, making sure she and the baby were safe. TaoNashi is happy with the relationship. Both Rasha and Hunter agreed to keep TaoNashi’s pregnancy a secret until she was ready to tell others. Rasha, strangely enough, was the first, and at this time the only, Jochu to earn TaoNashi’s respect. Respect is something hard to earn from TaoNashi, more so than trust. As for Terrian, he and TaoNashi have a love-hate, conflicting culture, and butting-heads-personalities relationship. But TaoNashi realizes he is an effective leader in battle, and somewhat knowledgeable with handling people. As for Karasu/Yukina, TaoNashi thinks she is weak in resolve and control, but would never say that to her. However, TaoNashi knows Yukina is very trustworthy, more so than most. TaoNashi has even discovered that Karasu, who is the chaos version of Yukina, has a sense of honor she won’t violate, so much so that Karasu holds to her pledge to never harm TaoNashi or any of her family. The rest of the Crimson Guard: Clayton Silverwolf, Micha Strong, Malacar Alexander, Jerek Dakeyras; and also now Asylin and Elena, all these people TaoNashi considers friends and even almost family.
However, despite all the people around TaoNashi, friends, family, and even lover, TaoNashi feels quite alone. She misses her true family, and misses the company of her own kind. Homesickness. This causes bouts of sadness in her sometimes, and a desperate need to be among her own people. Everyday this longing grows, the loneliness and sadness grow with it. It has already once threatened to consume TaoNashi, but she has been able to contain it, for now. She tries to subdue these feelings by interacting with others, with Jochu, laughing with them and enjoying herself. For a time it works, but how long it will keep working, she is unsure. Even Hunyadi’s love has a limited effect on these feelings of hers.
She refuses to return home until the Kyokai/Betrayal issue is dealt with. Also, she has a responsibility to the Crimson Guard to fight the Horde. And she wouldn’t dare return home pregnant without knowing the race of the child.
Even the child within her gives her no comfort or alleviates the feelings of loneliness. She is too worried over what to do about it, how others will react, and who she should tell what when about the child.
In Aldra it was discovered that a group of Dark Elves reside underground on the island of Kyrlateth. As with other elves on the island, they only have a human life span. They also are not matriarchal, but all are equal. Still, they have houses, clans, and are extremely devoted to honor as the Draelonde/Nebulane Dark Elves are. TaoNashi is hoping to be able to visit their one and only city sometime soon, hoping it will help with her homesickness.
In Kincora, TaoNashi met with Duke Ishidu again. This time he called for her, Yukina, Remlin, Shoshoto, and Kobai to work together. That was all TaoNashi wanted from the time she first met Remlin, Shoshoto, and Kobai, but they seemed not to care either way what happened with her. To her surprise, amusement, and happiness, once the Duke said this, Remlin and Shoshoto began to show signs of interest in TaoNashi’s well-being. The Duke also offered her a place as ambassador in the new Embassy being built in Kincora. She accepted.
* OOG: This Character history has been written with elements of the Crimson Guard plotline, all taken from Matthew Greybeal's character's history (Kyokai Kaizen). The plotline can gotten through Kirk Charest, Elenaro@earthlink.net, and was implemented by Johnny Rotundo, Clint Heilman, Eric Deans, and a group of others whom deserve credit.
The plotline was run by Jonny Rotundo. Please get information through Kirk on how to reach him.