Rewards: 2,500z | 400 XP | 1,000 SP | 4 TP | Fulcrum Incense (Consumable): A single stick of the Yardratian's marvellous meditation incense. When used in battle your Str and Ki are added together and split evenly between the two stats until the end of combat. If both stats were already equal you instead gain +10% to both for the duration of the battle.
Descriptions: There are a number of ways to pass the time on this world and yet one of the chief ones is simply meditation; joining a few of the locals for a session you note an odd scent in the air as they burn an incense you don't recongise. Soon your thoughts wander and time seems to flow on by... but at the end of the session you feel, different somehow. It's only once you comment that one of the locals explains that the incense brings the body and mind into harmony for a short while. Giving you another stick as a gift they suggest seeing what you're capable of under its effects.
Pikkon's skin felt the kiss of fresh air for the first time in a long time. His eyes shot open and he found himself on the unfamiliar terrain of one planet Yardrat. West Kai had some idea what he was doing, sure, but Pikkon's goals were not so clear and direct. Investigate the planet, see if something fishy was going on. Surely if anything of note was going on there would be a warrior from this quadrant sent, the Kai was sending him here on a hunch. He trusted the elder above all others, as he was his master. There was no need to question his motives, and if he asked Pikkon to embark here, surely there was good reason for him to take this hunch seriously.
"Of course, he's a wise old man, albeit a bit eccentric. Such is their nature I suppose..." Pikkon uttered to himself, taking in the scene before him. The land of the living once more. He'd all but forgotten what it felt like. Still, he'd best be careful not to wind up right back where he'd started this endeavor. His fists tightened and he took a few jabs at the air. Everything appeared to be fine. His strength was as it was in the Otherworld, and he'd no noticeable drawbacks from the return. If there were any, surely he'd find out sooner rather than later.
His senses hadn't been dulled in his time away either, as he could feel the presence of a few dozen beings in the distance. A village of sorts, no doubt. Inhaling deeply, Pikkon noticed the air was sweet on this world, at least in comparison of the air on Otherworld. Not to say the air in Otherworld was offensive, just that it was odorless, as if nothing was there at all. Perhaps that was an explanation, as dead beings had no need for air. Pikkon likely only breathed out of instinct, so perhaps the air in Otherworld smelled like nothing because it was nothing.
Pikkon stepped with purpose towards the village. He didn't know much about the planet, and he didn't want to alarm anyone by swooping in like some sort of invader. He was here to investigate, and that meant he needed them to be acting naturally. If he had them on edge, or if they saw him as some sort of intruder, he'd have a hard time finding out anything was out of the ordinary. Or, rather, he'd not have a good base line for what 'ordinary' was if something out of the ordinary were to happen.
As the fighter from the west approached, he could feel the powers more intimately. They were quite calming, as though they themselves were utterly at peace. Pikkon was quite interested. A mortal race so calm and unafraid, as though they'd already made it to heaven. This was truly a strange and different world from any he'd been to. The worlds he'd visited were mostly war torn, full of stress and turmoil. This was a welcome change, but it further raised the question of why he was here. Truly if West Kai had felt something off on this planet, he'd have felt it clearly. Pikkon's brow furrowed as he picked up the pace. He must see these peaceful locals and learn more if he wanted to protect anyone.
His approached landed him on the south side of a small village. The structures were round and quite plain. Windows of blue glass, smooth stone walls, and smaller doorways than he'd been accustomed to. As he found the village center, where the inhabitants were gathered, he began to see why. They were a small bunch, pink and green skin tones. The pink ones had antennae on their faces, while the green ones had pointier ears. They sat, each with a small plank in front of them holding a burning stick of incense. The newly revived fighter's eyes were drawn immediately to them, as they smelled very sweet, and he could feel a calm wash over him as he approached.
"Welcome outsider, do you wish to join us?" One of the men towards the front of the group asked. He must be the one leading this meeting, as the others were facing him with their backs to Pikkon. Nobody seemed to even notice his presence, though if not for having spoken directly to him, Pikkon would assume this leader of theirs hadn't noticed him either, his eyes were still shut.
"You could sense me, of course. I err... sure, I'd love to join. I'd hate to interrupt your meeting." Pikkon admitted, now feeling somewhat ashamed for interrupting their meditation. He'd have never have done such a thing normally, it's just that the circumstances were a bit odd in this case. The man smiled and patted the ground beside him.
"Take a seat." The man insisted, producing another plank from behind him and another stick of incense from his person. "This will help you become one with yourself again, I can tell your journey has been a strange one. Perhaps this will do you some good." The elder explained, lighting the stick, still not having opened his eyes. Pikkon was amazed, and a tad skeptical. Surely these people didn't have some sort of way to see with their eyes closed did they?
"Thank you." Pikkon said with a respectful bow out of habit. No harm, if they could somehow see he'd rather have done it than not. He took his seat next to the man, facing the rest of the crowd with the plank holding the incense in front of him. As he closed his eyes and relaxed, his breathing slowed. He could feel a calm wash over him, the same calming presence from before. As he sat and allowed his soul to be caressed by the soothing scent, he felt at ease. As if everything was going to work out fine.
He saw before him a wondrous landscape, green grass that rolled into the horizon, a bright golden sun warming his skin, and a blue sky with rolling white puffs of clouds. He stared into the horizon of this vision, taking in deep breathes that seemed to synchronize with the breeze. His wonder and worry seemed to fade. There was no more anxiety about his mission, he had no more fear that something was going to go awry, he was confident that whatever it was he could handle.
Time rolled on and the vision got more elaborate, birds chirping in the distance, beautiful winged insects prancing through the air before him. Just as quickly as he'd been pulled in, he blinked and it ended however. He wasn't sad to see it go, as he felt at peace. Not just with himself, but the universe. As Pikkon came to, the crowd was dispersing. Some of them entering homes, and others simply walking off to continue chores of sorts.
"That was unlike anything I've experienced." Pikkon admitted appreciatively. The elder nodded and smiled before turning to Pikkon. As he turned the man's eyes opened.
"I saw as you did. Many of my brother's surely tuned into your spirit as well. You desire peace." The man explained. With a few seconds of digging in his pocket he extended another stick of the incense. "Please take this, a gift. We may not always be around, but peace and tranquility can be a few moments away." The elder smiled.
"Thank you, sir..." Pikkon said with a bow as he accepted the gift with both hands. "I'm sorry I do not know your name."
"Yaki, I'm the leader of this village. We've not had a visitor in some time, so it was good to see one." The pink alien explained. Pikkon nodded, committing his name to memory. "What brings you to us?"
"Well, it's quite hard to say, as I'm not entirely sure. I- well, err... I was sent to investigate the planet for something that may be coming." Pikkon explained, trying not to outright mention who'd sent him. He'd hate to do anything that would implicate his master.
"I see... I suppose that explains some things." Yaki smiled with a slight laugh.
"I'm sorry but, before you said you could tell my journey had been strange, what did you mean?" Pikkon pleaded.
"Oh, it's simple really. I've always been a bit in touch with these things. Not exactly psychic, I won't be able to tell you how you'll die, or where a missing item is. But I sometimes can get vague senses of what people are going through just from their energy." Yaki explained. Pikkon was relieved somewhat to hear that answer, as he was worried a moment the man had read him from the moment he arrived and knew who'd sent him, or even why he was there.
"I see, I'm sorry I wish I could say more, it's a sensitive matter is all." Pikkon said, rubbing the back of his head. Yaki waved a hand dismissively.
"No need for apologies, I understand. These things happen from time to time. I can tell you mean us no harm, and your desire for peace coincides with our own. Whatever you're up to I wish you the best of luck." Yaki excused Pikkon endearingly.
"I'm sure any explanation I give would only raise more questions than I could answer, but I do appreciate the understanding." Pikkon said, looking at the ground before him. He felt the man's hand press on his back, patting him slightly.
"It's okay, son. Our lives aren't always so simple. Peace isn't always easy to acquire. Even those who seek it whole heartedly may never find it, but you, I can tell, have know peace as well as turmoil. You're not destined for turmoil." Yaki assured him.
"I suppose you're right... Oh, my name is Pikkon by the way, sorry. I was so caught up in the effects of the incense I didn't introduce myself, how rude." Pikkon laughed nervously.
"Quite alright, it was your first time. You're on a strange world, and your quest is unsure. I don't blame you for having other priorities." Yaki nodded. "Pikkon, I like that name. You're lucky to have one that suits you, not everyone has the pleasure." Pikkon's eyebrow raised at the remark.
"What do you mean by that?" He asked, confused.
"Well Yaki always sounded like the name of someone more stocky, a hearty man. I'm so skinny it doesn't really fit." He laughed, tugging at his loose fitting robe. Pikkon laughed politely.
"I suppose maybe you're right, your people all seem to beat quite small and fit, however." Pikkon acknowledged. Yaki nodded.
"That may be true, I suppose. It could have always been worse. Could have had a name that sounded like a bodily function or something." Yaki joked as the two shared another laugh. The two carried on for awhile, and Yaki welcomed Pikkon back to join them anytime he liked. The two got along quite well. They talked for awhile about their pasts, the nature of life, and Yaki invited Pikkon to his home for a meal. Pikkon obliged, believing it rude to decline such an offer from someone of his station. It worked out quite well because he hadn't the slightest idea what he'd be eating here on a planet he'd never been to before.
Yaki's home was close to the town's center, the same size as all the others. He explained it was because though he is their leader, he sees himself as their equal. They trust him for guidance, but he doesn't wish to be revered. Their culture didn't have structures that promoted greed and prejudice. All of them were on equal footing, they had the same luxuries, and their lives seemed better for it. Pikkon wished more worlds were like this one, they were clearly evolved past the point of needing things like money and social statuses. Their persistence seemed to come from the desire to do what is good for all, not for themselves.
In an ideal world, that's how everyone would operate. We'd no longer have need for money, or weapons. We would give what we could to those who needed more, and keep only what we needed ourselves. Such an existence would be truly peaceful, although it could be a bit boring. Pikkon would sacrifice excitement if it meant no more pointless bloodshed. He'd seen enough worlds torn apart by war and greedy tyrants for one lifetime, albeit this being a second go at it.
Pikkon was delighted to find Yaki had prepared very simple dishes. Their ingredients seemed to be things he could easily find around, root vegetables that he said were common, fruits that grew from different trees. He allowed Pikkon to sample plenty. Surely this man's kindness would be unending. Pikkon was very thankful to have been dropped so near to this village. It seemed so perfect. A quaint little village on a quiet little planet. Neighbor helped neighbor, for no reason other than the benefit of their neighbor.
The life Pikkon had before, it so much was the polar opposite. He lived for the benefit of others, he fought to free those who'd been oppressed, but he was fighting against people who would take everything for themselves. He'd seen what evil really looked like. He'd had to save people from unspeakable horrors. His wish to see that expelled from the universe was likely shared by most sane and rational people. However, so long as people were still wishing for that, that likely meant evil was still alive and well. Pikkon had great pride in his efforts against Kozuma, however he knew that there would always be a next great evil to face. Perhaps he should have been more diligent about training, in case he ever found himself in the situation he was in now.
Yaki thanked Pikkon for his company, seeming genuinely happy to have a visitor. Pikkon was a bit embarrassed by this, he did nothing but arrive and eat the man's food. He'd not saved them from some assailant, he'd not solved some crisis, there was no labor that he had done. Still, Yaki thanked him as though he'd arrived to slay some giant beast before it wiped out there village, all while finding a missing heirloom and tilling their fields.
"Truly, if there is anything that you could ask of me in return for your gracious hospitality, please. I am in your debt." Pikkon begged.
"Well, it's not exactly a favor. Though I would more so call it a suggestion." Yaki said, stroking his chin as he stared at the green warrior.
"Erm, this sounds less like you need something from me and more like you're going to give me more help." Pikkon admitted, sounding a bit deflated.
"It's just our nature, son. We here like to help all who we can, in any way we can. We want for nothing but to help others, make sure they get what they need for." Yaki explained. Pikkon nodded. He supposed that was true. He can't exactly tout their praises for being such a well functioning society and then complain about the draw back that comes with it. "There's a fella you may want to see. He's probably got plenty to teach you. I'm not much of a teacher, myself. But Pybara, he's a real master of some of our greatest techniques. He'll teach you too, well he'd teach about anybody with a desire to learn I suppose. If you're looking for answers to anything though, no doubt he can at least show you a new trick or two while you're hear. Who knows, he might even know what brought you here in the first place. Strange one, he is. If you go north, you'll see a big hut near the mountains. It's not some lavish home, he's really just a big fella is all. He'll teach you just about anything you're willing to learn from him. Tell him Yaki sent you if he needs any persuading, but I'm sure he'll take you in just fine." The elder explained. Pikkon nodded in response.
Surely a people like these must know some mystical arts. Yardrat is what he called the planet, it certainly sounded quite mystical. This was all quite lucky. Pikkon didn't imagine finding himself in such a pleasant place. Though, that should be no surprise given how tumultuous his life used to be.
Kozuma made life for all who called the west quadrant home a living hell. His demise truly had to be a sigh of simultaneous relief for the inhabitants of any world who'd been touched by his influence. Pikkon gave his life to take that monster down, and he'd do it again if he had to. However, if ever there was a thing to be proud to die for, the cause he'd dedicated himself to was certainly it. He'd only worked with the resistance in the end for a few years, right as they were beginning preparations to take Kozuma himself down. He'd not played a part in the planning, but the execution of the plot banked heavily on him and a few more key figures.
In the end they had won, but Pikkon went down in the struggle as well. Since then he'd spent a lot of his time training under the West Kai, fearful that perhaps one day a powerful threat may appear in Otherworld. However as the years went on, Pikkon believed less and less that it may happen. Though he was just so used to living in a place where bad things would happen. His life before joining the resistance was hell. He'd fought Kozuma's lackeys since he grew big enough to do so. The world he was from, Tokoto, wasn't lucky enough to be spared of his stink.
Yardrat was so different. Tokoto might have been much like it if not for the tyrant Kozuma. Though it was hard to tell, Pikkon was born much too late to live in a world without Kozuma's particular brand of evil. The Tokotian people were meek by nature. He'd not had much time to learn their history before hell became a reality. Much of his life was spent hiding in buried ruins of cities, scavenging at night to get the supplies they needed.
What he did know about Tokoto was that it was an industrial powerhouse in it's hay day. Their technology stretched across all corners of the quadrant. Kozuma wanted to take it and use their infrastructure to produce weapons and ships for his own army, and when they resisted, he decided to crush them. He did so with impunity, sparing none that were seen. He left the planet in shambles, and the Tokotian people did their best to rebuild, only for the occasional hit squad to arrive and wipe out whatever efforts they'd made towards rebuilding. This went on for centuries according to those who would talk about it. It was how life had been for all of them, the Tokotian life span wasn't but a hundred years if they were lucky, and since the original attack, that'd shortened to just thirty years.
Pikkon was an old man by the standards of his war torn home. He was an elder in a sense when he made the decision to join the resistance and take the fight to Kozuma. For being a six hundred year old demon from the darkest reaches of the quadrant, he kept his own against Pikkon, a much younger and more virtuous opponent. If Pikkon had known that the bastard would be so crafty, perhaps he would have seen his final attack coming, the one that killed the both of them. He'd hate to think how his people would react to the news of his death, but he knew their lives would be better for it. They'd grieve, sure. He was one of the oldest Tokotians he knew of. However, being free from Kozuma's strangle hold would surely fix that.
Perhaps it was this somewhat elder-status that gave him and Yaki a connection, or perhaps Yaki could just see much more of Pikkon's past than he let on. Either way, they were alike in a way. Pikkon too would treat a peaceful outsider with as much grace and hospitality as he could afford. The 'us versus them' mentality banded them together tightly, but it meant losing people was hard. When you have a hundred thousand citizens, or however strong the population was before everything, losing one person might only affect those closest to him or her. However when you only have a few hundred, that one death hurts everyone.
Yaki's numbers were even smaller. If one of his villagers were to fall ill, no doubt everyone would be in a worry. Pikkon wouldn't dare to even imagine a darker scenario. Best not to manifest such an ill suiting fate for the kind souls of Yardrat that he'd met. Maybe in a way Yardrat really was a mirror of his own home, a world that could have been if not for Kozuma. Pikkon would love to think such a thing to be true. However, he didn't see any signs of buildings stretching into the skies, or revolutionary technology. These were a kind and spiritual people. He'd liked to think this was like his home, but truth be told he saw few if any similarities, but their ideals were similar. They might have banded together in the light of tragedy, but their bond and desire to help one another was strong, just as it was for these Yardrats.
Pikkon stayed the night with Yaki, sleeping on a makeshift bed on his floor. Pikkon hated being asked to do so, as he'd felt he'd taken so much. A night in the wilderness would have been nothing to him. Yaki was so kind he'd hate to be rude and decline. He woke up early however and left before Yaki could offer him anymore. These people were nice, but he'd begun to feel like he was taking advantage of them. Even if they had plenty to spare, a part of him really never left Tokoto. Supplies weren't easy to come by for his people. If he wasn't able to help with labor that needed done, if he couldn't fill a role for them, he didn't feel comfortable taking aide from them. He was glad to have had the experience, and Yaki had given him a great gift in the form of the incense. Not only that, he'd pointed Pikkon towards one of the masters of this planet, and assured him the man would teach him. He made the decision already not to use Yaki's name to gain any favor with Pybara, if he needed to prove his worth he would, but Yaki had given him enough help. Pikkon wasn't brought back to life to have everything handed to him!
In the wee hours of the morning, Pikkon slipped out, leaving only a thank you note for Yaki to find when he woke up. He headed north, where he'd been directed. Yaki's kindness would not be forgotten, and Pikkon would have to stop by again and thank him before he left the planet. The experience was an eye opener for sure. He'd not known peace in all his years, so to see such an autonomous and peaceful people warmed him a bit. He envied them, they were seemingly so far from the troubled worlds he'd seen. All the world's Pikkon had traveled to, not a one of them looked like this one. So calm and serene. The people he'd met always had one thing in common, they'd known hell most if not all of their lives, all at the hands of one man. It was enough to break a man, but Pikkon's resolved hardened with each new world he'd see tainted by the corruption of that tyrant. Each a new log on the fire that burned inside of his spirit.
The trek from the village brought Pikkon into a forest where he saw plenty of the plant life Yaki both described and allowed him to sample. He passed by some villagers who were already out there, harvesting fruits and roots for their brothers and sisters. They gave him a farewell wave as he passed which he returned. They were so kind and welcoming, he wished nothing but the best for them. He'd hopes to keep their lives as peaceful and untarnished by whatever could be lurking here on Yardrat as he possibly could. They were a gentle species, their small frames were not built for battle like some of the warriors he'd seen in his days. Though, the Tokotians were not known for battle either, but after a few centuries of being beaten almost into extinction, only the toughest survive.
Pikkon plucked a few pieces of fruit on the path, eating them as he continued his journey. It was a good breakfast surely. Fruits like this weren't very common where he came from, so it was an exotic treat that he'd happily indulge in while he could. Most of the produce he'd eaten before leaving Tokoto was freeze dried or by some mean preserved. Picking a piece right off the tree and getting to eat it was a new experience.
All of his experiences here on Yardrat were quite new. The planet seemed to be full of new and wonderful experiences for the Tokotian so far, and he hoped beyond hope that the West Kai's hunch was wrong and he could continue to have a sort of vacation before he left the planet. He wasn't even sure how things were supposed to work here. Pikkon takes care of whatever apparent threat the Kai sensed, then what? Surely he'd only find out when the time came, or perhaps Pybara would teach him a means to communicate with the Kai. It was hard to tell for certain, it wasn't like they had some sort of interdimensional communication device.
Logistics of his mission aside, Pikkon was doing his best to not think too much on it. Perhaps it was an after effect of the incense, but he felt a lot more confident about things. He was laughing off things that he would normally worry about, no doubt a result of years of fighting in a war for the survival of his species. In a way, Pikkon was ready to fight again. His last few years in the Otherworld was a fine change of pace, but a small part of him did miss getting to test his abilities and growth. Though, any departure from the constant bloodshed was a much welcome change.
Really, he did look forward to meeting with Pybara. If he was half as helpful and welcoming as Yaki, then Pikkon should have no problem getting along with him. However, Pikkon was aware that there was very much a chance that Pybara might ask him to prove himself. After all Yaki wouldn't have gave him permission to mention him for no reason. Though, as Pikkon intended not to take advantage of the elder's kindness, he couldn't help but wonder what sort of proving himself he may need to do. Yaki did know Pikkon's nature just by sensing him, perhaps Pybara would do much of the same. Only time would tell.
The trek through the forest was coming to an end as Pikkon could start to see the mountains between the tree tops. Before long he'd broke through the forest's edge. There was a wide field between the forest and the mountain range, and just as Yaki described, at the base of the mountain range was a large hut. Pikkon walked on excitedly, ready to see this master for himself, and eager to prove himself if he had to. It'd actually be pretty welcome to get to do something, rather than have things handed to him. He'd been thankful, sure, but it made him uncomfortable.
The walk from the edge of the forest to the hut took no time at all, or at least it didn't seem to. As Pikkon approached he could feel the master's power, and it was much higher than those at the village, however he couldn't sense it from the forest very well. It seemed like whoever this Pybara guy was, he might have been masking his own power until he got a sense for Pikkon's power. Wise, it seemed, but a strange precaution to take for such a peaceful lot of people. Perhaps Pybara had been burned by unwanted visitors in the past.
Pikkon approached the hut confidently and knocked on the door. He waited for what seemed like an eternity in silence on the doorstep. Still with no answer he called out. "Hello? My name is Pikkon, I'm looking for a Master Pybara? I was told he lived in a hut at the base of the mountains."
There was a long silence again. Pikkon looked around, confused. He could still sense the man inside, what was going on? Was this just a bad time? Just as Pikkon was about to leave and come back another time, there was a click at the door, the sound of a lock no doubt. "Enter." A voice called from inside. Pikkon paused for a moment, surprised. He reached out and pushed open the door with ease. This door at least he didn't have to duck to go through.
As the Tokotian entered, he could see Yaki wasn't lying. Pybara was huge, twice Pikkon's height at least! The inside of his hut looked very much like a dojo. "Pikkon, you said your name was? Welcome. I am Master Pybara. Tell me what it is you seek." The large blue man said with a frank and blunt tone. Pikkon hesitated for a moment.
"Oh, I had heard that you may be willing to teach me so of the Yardrats techniques, and I came to see if it was true." Pikkon said, shifted his stance a bit uncomfortable with how things were playing out. Yaki made him expect such a warm welcome, then having to stand in silence at the door and be treated so bluntly. Pikkon wasn't sure what to think at this point.
"Very well." Pybara said, exhaling deeply through his nose. "I've trained worse students."
(Notes: Pikkon's race isn't named to I came up with some japanese gibberish and the only result for Tokoto was 'soft olive' which I thought was funny and kept it. Also, Yaki is a pun because of the master Soba, Yakisoba noodles brand )
Fulcrum Incense: (Consumable) A single stick of the Yardratian's marvellous meditation incense. When used in battle your Str and Ki are added together and split evenly between the two stats until the end of combat. If both stats were already equal you instead gain +10% to both for the duration of the battle.