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    Years Ago, On A Heartless Winter's Night

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    Zev the Reveler
    Gracious Double-Crosser

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    Years Ago, On A Heartless Winter's Night

    Post by Zev the Reveler on Sat Dec 22, 2012 4:21 pm

    Jurai is a planet not well-known to snow, but which receives more than its due when a blizzard comes to pass. The snow and frost strangle all the living things, and the Juraian Royal Trees are the only kind of plants which do not succumb to the snow. Jurai's summers are lazy and hot, but its winters can run the gamut from nippingly cold to long-suffering and cruel. As such, in the Imperial City of Sai-Dai-Rin, the Juraian Royal Family take all of the citizens into their massive palace to protect them.

    Sadly, not everyone can enjoy this life - as King Azusa was soberingly reminded while he was looking down from a window, on the day of a feast celebrating the First Kings, and Masaki Raregroove - the forebearers of the Juraian Royal Family. Azusa laid eyes upon a peasant, borne from a long line of descending poverty, gathering what little meager scraps of kindling and firewood he could pry from the snow. As the pale, withered man went to take his leave, Azusa beckoned his brother Mikihisa to the window. "Brother," he asked, "who is that man, and where does he hail from?" Mikihisa slid his mask half-down his face to get a look - exposing a network of scars that seemed to be destined to forever mar his handsome features. He put on a pair of spectacles to look.

    "I know not his name," Mikihisa said, pocketing the spectacles and replacing his mask, "but from his clothes, he must live in the caves southwest of here, by Masaki's Lake." He eyed his older brother, and sighed. "I suppose it would be in vain to tell you something like 'don't get any big ideas,' Ani?" Indeed, Azusa was already pacing up and down before the window. All of a sudden, he went to the door, and grabbed a fur cloak.

    Azusa declared, "Bring me the meats from the Northern Kingdom, and bring me sake from the Eastern Kingdom. Bring me fruits from the Southern Kingdom, and firewood from the Western Kingdom." Before Mikihisa could begin to respond, Azusa was out the door and down the stairs in a bounding leap. In doing so, he nearly planted his boot in the face of his very own son.

    Zev, as he was now called, expertly dodged. "Dad," he sighed, "Oba-san told us not to spar in the palace on Holy Days. Or...Any day. But on Holy Days, she said she'd wear us out for it." Azusa quickly began to explain his motives. Zev's face lit up. "I'll come too," he said, and being his father's son, he raced down the stairs to prepare before Azusa could protest. Mikihisa chuckled as he walked down after the two.

    Just as the two stepped onto the landing below, they found Zev, knocked into a daze - not from an impact, but apparently because his dear mother had grabbed a hold of his collar as he'd run past. Misaki looked at Azusa. "Kidnapping my son for random altruism?" Azusa wanted to deny it, but knowing better, he nodded. Mikihisa wriggled his way past the outskirts of the group, towards the kitchens, as Misaki stared her husband down. "And you honestly thought," she said, betrayed, "that I would want anything other than to come along?" She hoisted her son back up onto his feet, and clapped excitedly. "I'll grab some extra victuals! Many people live hence who are living a cold, sad night!" More akin to her husband than most knew, she blew out of the room like a gale of excitement.

    Once all of the provisions had been gathered (and Misaki had thrown a decoy to buy them just enough time to escape her strict sister Sagihime), the group set out into the cold. The icy wind scythed to their bones, and the snow caused every one of the few exposed parts of their bodies to ache. When Mikihisa stumbled, and twisted his ankle, Zev wordlessly took his uncle upon his shoulder and helped him keep moving forward.

    For many long and arduous miles they walked, but they never once entertained the idea of turning back. In time, a towering mountain range rose up ahead of them. To their left, it seemed that the sea opened up - in truth, Masaki Raregroove's favorite lake was so huge that one could not see the shore from its opposite side. In due time, they came upon the barefoot prints of a lone man, dented shallow into the snow.

    They soon found this man - the very peasant that Azusa had spotted - collapsed, snow piling upon him. Azusa took the load his wife had been carrying with ease, and the Empress of Jurai lifted the comatose peasant up. As they made their way to the foot of the mountain, to a roughly-hewn door in the rock, Azusa called out. The door was opened, allowing a weary-looking young woman and her many children to rush out.

    Within the small home, a fire was lit, and the peasant was roused to awakening by the warmth. Zev and Mikihisa went to deliver portions of food to many neighbors they were told of, as Mikihisa had thankfully not broken nor sprained his ankle. On that night, Azusa and his family made friends that would last them for their very long lifetimes.

    Thus, heed my words all good men and women, all who hold riches and rank: should you bless those in need with kindness, you yourself shall be doubly blessed.

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