The Beast Blade
Beast Master: Supreme
Tamara sat at her desk that night, appraising the Beast Blade to which she has now been entrusted to. A three-foot long katana, sheathed in an ebony scabbard carved with the symbol of the four Celestial Beasts - the Snake-Tortoise, White Tiger, Green Dragon and Red Phoenix - There's something now about this sword; Tamara could feel it. Before her battle with the Eater of Souls at the Beast Shrine, it was merely a sword, albeit a very old one, even though its edge remains keen, as if it were new. But now, there is something different about it. Tamara felt a strange bond between the blade and her, something which she hasn't felt in the past. The Beast Blade seemed to generate its own aura, prompting Tamara to unsheathe its blade. The blade left the scabbard with a gratifying SHHHHLINK; and to Tamara's surprise, the steel was warm to touch; the blade seems to have a life of its own. "What the-" Tamara's surroundings seemed to fade away, until she found herself staring into a black void. "Is this what grandpa spoke about... the power of the Beasts unleashed?" As though to answer her query, the Beast Blade shimmered and glowed as a halo of blue flame sheathed its edge. Then came a roar in the distance, as four mythological creatures manifested themselves from the darkness of the void. The Snake-Tortoise, Green Dragon, White Tiger and Red Phoenix. The creatures encircled Tamara, who was stunned by the magnificent spectacle. One by one, the creatures transformed into four sparkling clouds of mist, which the Beast Blade drew into itself. "Wow..." Once again, Tamara's surroundings gradually came back into existence, and the girl found herself alone in her room. "Oh my... grandpa's simply got to hear this!"
The Beasts Unleashed
Beast Master: Supreme
- Ranged Attack Only
- Target Seeker
- Ranged and Melee Attack
Grandpa! Grandpa!" The first thing Tamara did after school the next day was to look for Ryuuchi at the temple. Tamara ran down the courtyard, not realising that her actions already had some of the acolytes staring quizzically at her. "What is it, Mara?" Tamara skidded to a halt, almost bumping into her grandfather in-law. "Grandpa, last night... regarding the Beast Blade..." Ryuuchi just smiled. "Ahh... it must've caught you by surprise, I see..." Tamara gasped in mild astonishment. "You mean, you already knew what happened?" The old man nodded. "Yes, I was anticipating that, so much so that I could hardly sleep last night. Congratulations, Mara. The Celestial Beasts acknowledge you as the master of the Beast Blade and have named you as the Guardian... what you witnessed last night was that the Beasts have infused the blade with the full power of the Beasts Unleashed. Only the Beast Blade can call upon such power, and you alone now wield this power in your hands." Tamara looked at the sheathed Beast Blade in her hands, and nodded as a certain understanding dawned on her. "The Beast Blade feels warm to touch because the spirits of the Snake-Tortoise, White Tiger, Green Dragon and Red Phoenix live within the blade, instilling it with a lifeforce of its own. The covenant between you and them allows you to not only channel their energy through every stroke of the Beast Blade, but you are even able to summon the Beasts themselves into this world in times of need. Truly, this is a great power you wield in your hands..." Tamara knelt reverently before he grandfather in-law. "And I promise to use it wisely. As successor of the Beast Blade, I shall not tarnish it with acts that you disapprove of."
Sword Master: Superior
Later that day, Ryuuchi strolled along the cobblestoned garden path, the sound of running water in the nearby pond... the idyllic rustling of the trees' branches... the melodius chirping of the birds... sounds of nature that soothes and invigorates him. "Haiyaa!" A warcry caught the old abbot's attention, who only knew too well who it was. Tamara, wearing a headband inscribed with the words "Fighting Spirit", in kanji, practised several samurai swordplay techniques with the Beast Blade, shouting an ancient warcry as she fights off imaginary opponents. Ryuuchi smiled and nodded. His grand daughter in-law has clearly shown much improvement over the years; her strokes and moves are swift and sharp, packing the precision of a surgical laser, each and every stroke meant to be a death blow to any youma, demon or hellspawn that meets the bite of her blade. Tamara smiled back as she realised that her grandfather in-law was watching. The old man leapt forward, with a sword of his own in hand. "You're doing great, Mara. How about a little sparring with old grandpa?" Tamara nodded sheepishly, still mindfully aware of how she used to get hit on the head by a bokken so many times in the early years of her training amid her grandpa's shouts of "Mara, keep your guard up!"
Advanced Sword Techniques
Force Field: Supreme
Tamara's grandfather in-law made the first move, deep within the girl's heart, the old man's voice rang out, "Mara, keep your guard up!" CLANG! Tamara skilfully fends off his blow with the flat of the Beast Blade. There was a brief pause as Ryuuchi beams with pride, before the sparring session continues with increasing intensity. Tamara had always looked up to her grandfather in-law, and indeed he lives up to his reputation as an ex-Guardian. The old man's sword strokes were just as swift and precise as his grand daughter's; Ryuuchi kept up on the offense, but every stroke of his blade was met with that of his grand daughter's, her defense skills with a blade almost seems like an impenetrable shield. "Hey, I didn't disappoint you, right, grandpa?" Ryuuchi just smiled as he recited a few mantras. "Uh-oh!" Wisps of primal eldrich force colaescled on the old man's left hand; thrusting out an open palm, a wriggling greenish energy bolt flew from his hand. Tamara brought up her blade, and stooped into a defensive stance. There came a resounding CLANG as Tamara deflects the blast with the Beast Blade, but the force of the impact threw her off balance, as the girl stumbles and almost falls. "Hmm... your defense still needs more practice. Let this be one more lesson to you, Mara. Now, you really ought to be on your way home."
Rapport w/ the beasts
Communicate with Animals: Standard
The following weekend, Ryuuchi decided to pay a visit to the Ellis household in Khazan City. "Coming..." Tamara's mother hurried from the kitchen to answer the knocks on the front door. "Oh, dad... it's you." Ryuuchi nodded. "I guess you've came to see Mara; she's upstairs, in her room." Tamara's father looked up from the newspaper he was reading and called for his daughter "Mara, your grandpa's come to visit!" No reply. "I think she's busy with something; she hasn't come downstairs since this morning." Ryuuchi smiled. "Ahh, nevermind. I'll just go upstairs to look for her." The old man knocked on the door of Tamara's room. "Mara, it's me, grandpa." "Oh, do come in." Ryuuchi entered, and the first sight that greeted him was that his grand daughter in-law seated at her desk; the front window of the room was open, and a few sparrows perched on her window sill while several butterflies flew around outside. "Oh, hi!" Tamara looked over to the birds and butterflies at the window. "Hey friends, this is my grandpa." Ryuuchi nodded as the animals greeted him. "Ahh... having a little chat, I see. Now, haven't seen you do that for quite a while now..." Tamara nodded. "Yeah, besides commanding the Celestial Beasts, I also figured I should build a rapport with the animal kingdom. It's a little thing I've come to appreciate; they're a really interesting bunch... they tell us about all sorts of things. I could just talk, and talk, and talk... I mean, there's just so many things to learn!"
Ryuuchi and Tamara walked down the stairs. "Apart from being able to control the power of the Celestial Beasts, another notable talent a Beastmaster has is the ability to learn the secrets of the animal kingdom that is made possible through his rapport with the animal kingdom, doing what the animals can do in nature, like..." Tamara nodded as she listened; despite being the new Guardian, there is still much to learn. "Mara, dessert's ready!" Tamara's mother announced jubilantly as she emerged from the kitchen. Father sprang from his couch. "And what might that be?" "We're having mango pudding-" "Mom! Look out!" Tamara pointed to a toy car lying on the floor, right in her mother's path. "Wh- ahh!" Tamara's mother stepped on the toy car, and slipped. "Careful!" Tamara leapt forward, rolled a few times upon reaching the base of the stairs, and sprang forward like a cat, catching hold of her mother before she fell. "Whew!" Tamara's mother heaved a sigh of relief. SPLAT! "Ugh..." Tamara groaned as the mango pudding landed on her head. "Darn..." Ryuuchi chuckled softly and shook his head. His grand daughter in-law seems fond of using her newly-learned Feline Grace. She may be graceful as a cat, but she still is an inexperienced kitten by comparison. "Little brother needs to learn not to leave his things lying around..." Tamara grumbled.
Ears like a bat
Tamara bid her parents goodnight, as she prepared to turn in for the night. It has been an eventful and rather exhausting day, and she really needed some rest. However, the night fliers tell her that something is amiss. The crickets' chirping indicates that someone - or something - greatly disturbs them. Tamara listened intently to her surroundings, calling upon the animal spirits to grant her with ears like a bat. The sounds she hear are mentally translated into images that take shape in her mind. Her mind sees a car's travelling, and that was confirmed by the sound of engines revving. Footfalls were heard... another image forms in her mind. A pair of feet, running... no, those feet obviously do not belong to a human. Listen. The mental image sharpens. A row of houses, one of them with an elm tree at the front yard, a shadowy figure running down the street. It just ran right past the Ellis' house! "Hellspawn... I'm not going to let you harm anyone tonight!" Tamara narrowed her eyes as she summoned the Beast Blade, which swiftly flew from the foot of her bed and into her hand. Silently leaping out of the window, Tamara vaulted over the fence and began to pursue her quarry down the deserted street.
[Flashback, one week ago] "So, you were saying you saved this dog from its abusive master?" Ryuuchi asked. "Whoa, down boy! Down!" As the dog, a large German Shepherd, jumped up and began licking at the old man's face. Tamara nodded. "Yeah, and his name was 'Smokey'. That guy's ex-master was a real jerk! He had Smokey's front legs and hind legs tied together, and kicking him over and over again. I tried to talk him out of it, but he said, 'it's my dog, and I'll do anything I want with it.' In the end I was forced to buy Smokey from him out of my own wallet. Two entire month's savings, gone, just like that." This was when Smokey spoke up. "Cheer up, Mara. I must admit that your act has greatly moved me. You hardly knew me then, but you did not hesitate to come to my rescue; that was very noble of you. Maybe you consider it to be doing me a little favour, but to me, I owed my life to you..." Ryuuchi nodded. "Well, do unto others what you want others do unto you. Acts of bravery, small they may seem, they always mean a lot, I am sure you will be rewarded for your heroic act. Never fail to do good to anyone in need, for who knows, they may just return your favour at the right time and right place..." [Cue present] "Say your prayers, Beastmaster!" the hellspawn sneered as he approaches Tamara Ellis, pinned to a wall by a gob of glue-like slime. "Curses... if only I can get my sword arm free." Tamara struggled against the glue-like substance, but to no avail; she was stuck like a fly on flypaper. Ryuuchi, tied up and hung upside-down from the warehouse rafters, could only shake his head sadly. "Sorry grandpa, I tried..." Tamara apologized. "Oooh... decisions... decisions..." the hellspawned looked at Ryuuchi hanging from the ceiling, than at Tamara pinned to the wall, looked at Ryuuchi and then at Tamara again. "Now, which one of you would have the privilege of seeing the other die?" The hellspawn strode up to Ryuuchi, and grabbed the old man's head in its clawed hand. "Hands off my grandpa! If you're to kill him, you'll have to get past me!" The hellspawn grinned evilly, and then walked over to Tamara. "Well, miss Ellis, if you insist..." This time, it was Ryuuchi's turn to shout. "Hey! If you're to lay a talon on my grand daughter, it's OVER MY DEAD BODY!" Tamara and Ryuuchi continued to bicker for a while, regarding who should die first. "My, my, what a scene... okay then, so I'll grant your wish; BOTH of you die at the same time!" With a snarl, the hellspawn began charging up two orbs of black flame on its hands. "Tell my mom and dad I'll miss them..." Tamara whispered. Then it happened; so fast, that neither Tamara, her grandpa, or the hellspawn holding them prisoner knew what hit them. Half a dozen dogs crashed through the windows, catching the hellspawn offguard. Two of them threw themselves at the foul creature, bringing it to the floor. "Smokey!" Tamara exclaimed as the familiar German Shepherd dog came up and began chewing away at the gluey substance that kept her pinned. "We're Smokey's friends!" another two of the dogs added. "Thanks for all you've done for our buddy the week before. This is the least we could do to repay the favour." At this statement, Ryuuchi nodded. As he had always said, do good to others, and you'll never know when they might repay the favour. A smile of confidence came upon Tamara's face as she worked her sword arm free. "Get off me, you mangy mutts!" the hellspawn yelled as it discharges a telekinetic wave, sending four of the dogs flying, crashing into the nearby walls with painful yelps. "Thanks for all you've done for me..." Tamara's voice wavered with emotion. "We've done our part..." Smokey groaned. "Now make that bastard pay!" The hellspawn noticed too late, and never had a chance as Tamara's leapt forward and struck the abomination a mighty blow with the Beast Blade, splitting it from the shoulder to belly and swiftly consigning it to oblivion. Tamara Ellis breathed a sigh of relief as she stood over the hellspawn's smouldering remains. "Thanks everyone... if it weren't for you, I... I don't know what to say... except that I can't thank you enough."
Perception without Sense
Danger Sense: Supreme
[The Beast Shrine, Inner Sanctum] "Owww..." a dazed and battered Tamara Ellis wobbled around as she struggled to stay on her feet. The wisp paused momentarily in its attack and hovered silently in the air, a pale blue and glowing spherical mass the size of a football. "Are you okay, Mara?" Ryuuchi - who was overseeing the training session - asked. "If you can't go on anymore, we'll just call it day... you can always continue some other time" Tamara replied with bated breath as she wiped the perspiration off her forehead. "I'm fine, grandpa, I'm fine... just carry on..." Tamara took a few deep breaths, telling herself to calm down. Though she wondered how was she able to hit something she couldn't even see, let alone catch? Ryuuchi shook his head sympathetically; from the looks of it, if Tamara doesn't defeat her opponent today, there's no way she's giving up. Either that, or she'll just collapse from exhaustion eventually. "Mara my child, let grandpa give you a piece of advice for situations like these... pay attention now." Tamara nodded. "I'm listening, grandpa." Ryuuchi continued. "A person's existence is made of three members - body, mind and soul - or as others would put it, the heart. The physical organs required for sensory perception is in the body, the senses they provide is in the mind. Right now, you are only using your mind and body. Sense with your heart, not your mind." Tamara scratched her head, with the befuddled look on face indicating she didn't really grasp what her grandfather in-law meant. Ryuuchi sighed and went on. "Well, think of it this way; no normal human can possibly dodge a speeding bullet, since if you are to dodge a bullet, you must move faster than one. But how is it that there are normal people who can avoid gunshots? The key is to predict when the attacker is going to pull the trigger, and from which angle he will aim at. Given a normal human's speed, it is necessary for him to act before the bullet even goes airborne..." This time, a glimmer of confidence appeared in Tamara's eyes. "Thanks, grandpa. I think I know what you mean..." Tamara focused her thoughts; to be free from the distractions in one's surroundings, to perceive without the use of senses... The wisp began to move around the Inner Sanctum at a breakneck speed, unnaturally silent despite its incredible velocity, until it appears to an untrained eye to be nothing more than beams of light dancing all over the place. This time round, Tamara did not flinch. Instead, she stood calmly, predicting the wisp's next move. "I... I see it!" It came like a bolt out of the blue; all of a sudden, for a fraction of a second, the wisp's attack was clearly telegraphed in Tamara's subconscious, as the girl sidesteps its flying ram attack with fluid grace. "Ah!" Ryuuchi tried to say something, but he found himself dumbstruck. It all happened so fast, even he himself was caught offguard. Tamara was getting the hang of it - everytime the wisp attempted an attack, Tamara could get a certain feeling that alerted her of an impending attack, almost to the point where she could see it coming before it even happened. Slowly, but surely, Tamara smiled confidently; it's as if she's developed some sort of intuitive alarm system. The wisp launched itself forward, but Tamara was already expecting it. At the same instant Tamara ducked beneath the wisp's attack, she struck out with the Beast Blade, the blow of hers smashing the wisp into tiny spots of eldrich energy. "Oh man... it's finally over..." Tamara slumped back against a wall, breathing heavily. Ryuuchi said nothing, but smiled at his grand daughter in-law's swift learning ability.