(A/N: guess what? a new story! this is a 13-page story that i did in one sitting, when i was particularly motivated. included in this story is a small glossary that you may or may not read. Revolution is dedicated to the people who are lonely, or are afraid of loving, this Christmas day... i hope this message stirs something in you, that however love is filled with pain, it is the most precious thing in the world, the fulfillment of everything you are. i hope that when you read this, you will be enlightened.)
The Tsubasa Christmas Special
Even if it was only for a time, for a mere minute in eternity, I will never forget you. For that short space in the unending sorrows of the world I have found you… and in that minute, I have loved you—and will do so, again and again, in the immutable revolution of the world. I love you, forever.
4544 Imperial Age, the War of Flowers
The man called only by the name of Shino stared out of the cowl of his hood as the salt spray of the sea lashed across his face, and waves pummeled the Chrysanthemum Fleet's gigantic Ironsides, the assault warships of the Satsuma Union. The clear night was a perfect time for navigation; the blazing stars above looked on as the Union had finally begun its invasion of the last Free City of the southern island chain.
And finally, he thought, I will see you again. Somewhere in that castle, in that throng of defenders, she was there… waiting for a fate she knew naught of yet.
Up ahead, like a torchlight in the darkness, reared the fabled ziggurat of Lord Ishiyama, the impregnable fortress that for countless centuries had always repelled invaders, and would again test its strength against the might of the Union.
The steady drumbeat mingled with the slap of oars on water gave rhythm to their approach to the defended coastline of Ishiyama Island, bristling with catapults and spitfires, able to incinerate a carriage in a single gout of its blue flames. Shino stood silently at Mother Mercy's forecastle, a three-decked war galley of two hundred oars. Behind him, he could feel the restlessness of the legendary Satsuma infantry, of which Mother Mercy carried a part of.
Shino had no real name; even the only thing with which he responded to only meant "Death's Own". He had killed countless times, killed children and babes mewling at their mother's breasts, raped and slain women and cut down men who opposed him. He was nothing but a savage killer, a bloodthirsty beast… but within it all remained a man, faithful to his goal. He had spent his entire life training himself and gorging on blood and murder, yet he knew that when his time came, he would die—and he would finally find her, whatever the cost.
Whatever the cost, he repeated in his mind. To see you again.
Then it began. The spitfire battery on the coast began to unload its terrifying salvo of flames, blue tongues reaching out against the night and turning ships on the first line to cinder and charred flesh. Shino heard screams of burning men jumping to the water, and the telltale splintering of wood and the squealing of heated iron. Shino's head whipped around as the battle commander of the fifth line, where they were in, shouted in the voice-magnifier on the next ship: "Lower mast, fast cruise! Keep lines!"
The drumbeats became more frantic, the rowing faster, turning the water to froth. As the commands were relayed across the other lines, Shino felt his hands tensing and gripped the hilt of his sword, slung on the back of his waist. The sensation of its leather-braided handle gave him comfort, even as he saw Ishiyama catapults smash two Ironsides like child's toys, while spitfires cremated ships and men alike.
The second line came in range, and its array of spitfires peppered the coastal defenses with their own brand of volley. He heard men cheering as those of Ishiyama exploded and went up in columns of blue inferno, and catapults and trebuchets crumbled in the heat of the Satsuma spitfires. But it would not be easy, he knew. The coastline, the only accessible part of Ishiyama, was a sloping beach, and the defenders had made several lines of defense from the shoreline and packed it with men and earthen walls. Shino reminded himself of the good fortune that at least they had destroyed Ishiyama's sea power before, little as it was.
Yet Shino could still feel her hair, that elegant brown that fell in exquisite straightness around her shoulders; he could smell it and see it as he held her close. He could hear her voice, that sweet sound of safety and contentment.
More ships from their side, and more defensive batteries on the other, either erupted in flames or exploded like shattered glass, and still Satsuma's Ironsides went on. The third line of ships, ten in all, have finally reached the shoreline amidst the explosions, and were presently lowering gangplanks to the shallow waters and sands, unloading their men to begin the real assault on Lord Ishiyama's stronghold. Defenders clad in bronze hauberks met them from the first defense line, as archers rained arrows upon them. Men died, and battle was joined; swords and steel flashed in the darkness against the orange blaze of fires and blood.
"Battle speed!" the commander for the fifth line issued from the voice-magnifier. The thunderous drumbeat became this time a continuous cacophony of sound, and the slap-whoosh of the oars, regular as the drums, urged their ship to battle. The last of the third line ships had unloaded its men on the eastern side, where the remains of a stone pier still jutted out the bay; the archers on the forecastles showered the defenders with arrows as the invaders destroyed barricades and stakes.
As the fourth line was unloading its own men Shino saw the Ifubane, the red-and-black flagships of the Satsuma Navy, approaching dead astern, and their ship was veering to the side to make way. These were floating fortresses of the fleet, and carried only one type of infantry—the Satsuma Artificers, the powerful mages able to manipulate matter to their will. Catapults and trebuchets still fell all around them, the smoldering boulders like meteors fell from the sky.
He could smell her blood from the fires around him. When he inhaled, there was nothing but the scent of her death, and when he closed his eyes he could see nothing but her bloodied face, whispering and smiling for the last time.
The ship captain was about to approach him when one of those boulders, the size of a small house, fell right amidships, and from the shock of the impact Shino felt as if his bones shattered, even if it was a little far from him. Mother Mercy cracked and exploded from the middle as the massive stone crashed through her wooden body, the captain flattened to a pulp, and the jolt of the impact sent Shino flailing to the air and then down to the sea. There was even no time to scream; his voice was choked when the shock of his descent to water dominated everything, even the sound of the battle.
He reached his arms to the light as he sank. I'm drowning, he thought. Still he sank. Would this be the end of our fate? Of our curse…? Will I never be able to see her again?
He saw her die, saw her take the sword through her chest, and held her. And cried. He had to see her again, no matter what happens… for he could only see her once before the end.
Shino rose out of the water sputtering and coughing, and beheld the floating remains of what was once a proud ship scattered on the bay. He turned his head to the shore, and saw that other ships had already converged on it, their hulks hiding the carnage happening, and above it all towered the ziggurat, and he could see it brimming with armed men even at this distance. He knew that somewhere… somewhere in that mass… was her.
He must live, for now at least. He must see her again.
He pushed forward, and thankfully he fell near the shore so it wasn't that far a swim. Around him the Ifubane-class were heaving as they forged through flotsam of bodies and ships, and other charred bodies were floating or else sinking. He ignored them and concentrated on his destination. He drove his body one foot at a time, closer and closer to where his heart called, and this time he would not let go; never.
Finally Shino reached the shore just as the fifth line had finished its unloading and the sixth was arriving in their place. He wondered at the alacrity with which the Ishiyama defense lines had yielded. Up to the third had been destroyed and the last, the fourth, besieged, and even though they were losing more men than the defenders, the Chrysanthemum Fleet outnumbered them more than five to one.
As he stood dripping on the sand wet with both water and blood a lieutenant, with a snarling demon mempo, or helm-mask, and a square banner attached to his shoulder approached him and saluted. "Captain Shino, the fourth defense line is about to fall. Your contingent is ready to ride at your pleasure."
Shino smiled thinly, remembering that this 'contingent' was composed of light cavalry and archers on horseback, which would find its use on flanks where the invading force was weakest. "I shall not need the men. Use them to support the sides of the van."
"High Command has given orders, but they do not know the changing face of the battlefield." He clapped a hand on the young lieutenant's shoulder as he walked past. "Tell them I died, and that you made a choice. They will honor you for it."
The lieutenant, speechless, saluted and bowed behind him.
Shino walked purposefully, and around him soldiers milled and thronged for the final push to the Ishiyama stronghold; the fourth line was just a few hundred yards away, and behind that was the girdle of trees that screened the city of Ishiyama. He imagined more of their men would perish in those woods than in this open battle, with hidden archers atop the branches and traps of every imaginable sort sprinkled along the area, but he was past caring who would win or lose. He only needed to see her; it was the only thing that mattered in the world. He walked, climbing the inclined beach, straight to his destination.
The fourth line finally crumpled under the press of the seasoned marines of the Chrysanthemum Fleet, and its watchtowers were soon set ablaze, the wooden palisades brought down, and the moat traversed. Men came shouting and cheering, hungry for blood and victory, as they went to their doom to the dark trees beyond, and the heavy cavalry of the Fleet from the sixth-line ships came galloping about him. Still he walked. He heard the shouts of his men turn to bloodcurdling shrieks as cravens hiding in the dark took them out one by one. He heard the trumpets far behind him signaling that the shores had been taken, and the assault on the city began. But he did not care. The world could destroy itself before him and yet he wouldn't even lift a finger for its aid.
He crossed what was once the fourth defense line, now a burning mass of stakes and mutilated corpses, and paused for a while to survey the dark wood a hundred yards away. Open space separated the defensive line from the first of the trees, and he felt naked and vulnerable; an archer atop one of those trees could put a shaft through his heart at this distance. He must not die before he could fulfill his mission, and this newfound fear for his mortality and purpose quickened his pace, even as more soldiers died as they passed through those forbidding sentinels.
Suddenly a white shadow spurted from the shadows of the woods and streaked across a group of cavalry standing guard near the remains of the fourth wall. He gasped as two riders erupted in a fountain of blood, their horses becoming wild with the scent and bolting away, dragging their dead riders through the loose sand. As the riders regrouped to counter the unexpected attack the white shadow landed, and in that instant, as the shadow looked up, her eyes and Shino's met.
"No…" Shino muttered.
Four archers behind him loosed their arrows at the woman clad in white, yet she stood quickly, spun her naginata behind and in front of her, deflecting the arrows as they came for her. A rider from behind meanwhile tried to hack her down, but she twisted around just as the last of the arrows bounced away and slashed with her own. The rider screamed as the blade of the naginata sheared through the wrist of his sword-hand, and the shadow once again bounded away to the darkness, to the safety of the woods beyond.
The riders, or what were left of them, began to make for that dark forest but Shino's voice stayed them. "Halt!" he shouted, and they reined their horses at his command, seeing a youhei sigil on his breast, which signified an elite warrior paid from the Union's own coffers. He ran up to them, his blue eyes like a beacon in the darkness.
"I shall take care of that enemy. You cannot defeat… him on your own," he said, lying about the shadow's sex. Telling them that they could not even so much as scratch a woman would be like throwing salt in a wound. "Go tend to your wounded." To his side, the squire was helping the screaming maimed man dismount.
"As you wish, my lord," the rider captain said, and moved off to clear his way. Shino however took hold of his reins.
"I shall need a mount."
A few minutes later he was riding atop the captain's swift-footed horse, which shone silver against the streaming shards of moonlight. His left hand held the reins masterfully, while the other was on the hilt of his short lashblade, stashed on the back of his waist, while his eyes scanned everywhere for signs of the enemy. She was here, he knew; the clopping of the horse's hooves as it hurtled through the trees mirrored the beating of his heart, and his bare, sleeveless arms were taut as a stretched bowstring.
Again, his eyes caught the shadow flitting through treetops, and he angled the path of his charger to intersect her course. But she saw him, and before he knew it she darted towards him from a high branch, the naginata swiped at her side in preparation for a slash that could open him neck to groin.
Shino drew the silvery lashblade and leaped from the saddle to meet her in midair, and the motion of the blade generated a wake behind it, translucent and shining, as if it was whip, that could cut as well as any sword. She was too fast, though. Before he could reach her she had already flashed past him, and her descending naginata bit through the soft neck of his horse in another jet of blood. The horse whinnied and fell to its side, twitching and dying, as she landed on the ground, and he on the tree.
Grimacing, he somersaulted down, brandishing his whip-like blade at her, and when his feet touched the ground he sprang at her, fury in his sword and spirit. She evaded every cut as it tore through trees, the shimmering brilliance almost blinding, but she held her own, blocking whenever possible and twisting away. Shino whirled and danced with her in a flurry of blades, to and fro about the dying animal, their blades kissing in flashes of fire and sparks.
Finally he jumped away and she made no move to pursue, but only stared at him. "Who are you…?" she said at last, her voice exactly as he had remembered it ages ago.
He paused, and smiled sadly. "Do… do you know the story of the Sakura Tree?"
She cocked her head. "No. Why would I?"
"Because you will soon find out." He raised the lashblade, and even with such a minute motion, it made a fan of semi-transparent blades that soon dissipated when he stopped moving it. "What is your name?"
She hesitated, but she answered after a little while. "Rei," she said, the name a little more than a whisper. "Yanagi Rei."
"I'm Shino," he said. "And let me tell you the story of the Sakura Tree." Then he sprang at her.
Her eyes widened in degrees as he appeared beside and a little past her, and he swiped the short blade of his weapon, brandishing a banner of pearlescent colors. She ducked by performing a split, and immediately counterattacked by thrusting the point of her naginata at his throat. He however leaned backward, arching his back as far as it would allow, and flipped rearward, his legs stretched out like twin knives. She leapt aside to evade this attack-evasion maneuver, and as soon as she recovered Shino was against her again, waving the whip-like wake-blades from his weapon at her.
"There were once two lovers," he began the tale, in between breaths as he pressed the attack. Rei was only defending, interposing the hardy haft of her polearm weapon against the long reach of his. "They loved one another so much, yet the woman was married to some other, a lord of a small land in those days."
Shino made a quick thrust with his weight behind it, but Rei only spun her naginata to block the abrupt change in attack pattern. Shino continued the narrative. "Now their hearts were grieved and heavy," he went on as he pulled the lashblade in a great arc upward, generating an unfurling flag of silvery, ethereal blade that cut through Rei's defense and tore through the clothing of her shoulder. She winced in pain as she stumbled back, blood welling where the blade bit against her skin.
"Because it was a sin to love someone that you were not promised to," said Shino again as Rei leapt away from a brutal vertical slice that cut a furrow through the ground. "Thus, they only meet in secret under a sakura tree, on a lonely, windswept hill a league from the woman's castle, and near where the man, a vassal of the lord, was tending his parcel of land."
This time Rei attacked. Twirling her naginata behind as if for propulsion, she suddenly rushed at him with her arm held in front of her as if a shield. Shino met her and clashed with her, and the force of their momentum drove them past each other with their blades outstretched. Shino's cloth band wrapped around his forehead was split into two and blood streamed from a shallow wound, while Rei's sash that hugged her waist was torn neatly. And yet Shino continued even as he recovered and made a backhand glancing blow, the whip-like quality of the lashblade slithering in the darkness.
"A year passed since and their love grew," he continued, "until one day an outrider in the service for the woman's husband spied them making love under the sakura tree." Rei evaded the latest attack by jumping to a low-lying branch, and Shino countered by slashing the tree with the wave of his lashblade. The tree groaned as the clean slice severed it, and before it fell down Rei landed on the ground again, and Shino resumed both the attack and the story. "When the lord heard of this, he was exceedingly wroth with his wife's treachery and ordered his entire garrison to find the deceitful lovers, and to put them to the sword."
Shino whirled around and slashed a perfect horizontal divide, the arcing wake making a splendid curtain in front of him. Rei only leaped, and she put the tip of her naginata on that solid, luminescent wake and pushed herself to a greater height in the air, cartwheeling overhead with her arms outstretched as if an eagle in flight. Shino's eyes followed her, and as she tumbled upwards through air her feet found the bark of a tree, and in an instant, her head snapped to his direction, and as if a spring she curled her legs beneath her, and shoved herself from the tree. The force she used to launch herself was so great that a visible flash of light erupted from the tree from her feet, and she was spinning like an arrow, the naginata behind her like a comet's tail.
Shino ground his teeth as he bore the brunt of her attack, blocking her and her weapon with the shorter lashblade, and the momentum drove him backward through the ground. Rei spun and brought a side-swiping kick at his vulnerable body, and even the kick was so powerful he was thrown towards a nearby tree. The impact with which he hit it drove air from his lungs, cracking the wood behind him and shaking it from its foundations.
He fell to his knees coughing blood as Rei approached him warily. "Why do you tell me this story? Why not focus on the fight instead of reliving a memory, a fairy tale from a mother's teat?"
He stood up, wiping blood from his mouth. "I shall not let you call it a mere fairy tale," he said.
"Then what is it?"
He coughed; his time was drawing near. "Do you want to know what happened next?"
She did not answer, and instead crouched slightly, her weapon held at the ready.
"The two lovers, forsaking everything, fled from the riders and the soldiers of their rightful lord," he said at last, his voice wheezing. "For months they went from town to town, made love in starlit pools, slept in underground fastnesses, wished for a family they could never have. And yet, the search for them had already been destined to come to a close."
There was nothing but the faint sounds of battle they had long forgotten, the shouts and screams of men, the ubiquitous rustle of leaves as wind gusted past and the crickets singing their incessant song. Moonlight streamed around and between them.
"One morning, when the man was fishing at a nearby stream to break their fast, the woman was caught by the lord's soldiers, and brought to the lord for his judgment. The man went nearly mad at her loss, and resolved to bring her back through fire and sword."
Rei attacked. Shino countered. And in that endless dance of death and blades Shino, the outcast mercenary searching for the one true rest of his heart, continued the tale.
The man reached the lord's castle and stormed it alone by stealth. His skill with the blade was unparalleled, and there was none who could withstand him. Finally he came upon the last chamber where the lord held his wife as prisoner, and there, in front of the woman they both loved, they dueled to the death.
Blades sang. Their clothes screeched as they were torn open. Blood gushed from their wounds and their breaths became heavy with exhaustion.
And yet the man's love for the woman was greater, and thus he prevailed even against his terrible wounds that would have been fatal. And as he set the lady free, the lord, hate and malice darkening his heart, cursed them: that they would experience the pain of loss and a love too late, of a never-ending cycle of regret and sorrow—and that they would never love one another again, unless it be under the twilight of one's life.
Rei doubled and gasped as Shino's fist found her belly, and yet he winced and staggered away when her blade tore through his chest in a spray of blood.
The man was about to die, and the despairing woman, shedding her tears for a love lost, tried to bring him back, to no avail. He was gasping the last of his breaths, and the man, caressing the face of his beloved, asked her to bring him under the sakura tree, where they first met, the refuge of their unending love against the world.
She carried him, against a rain that washed his blood away, her tears to nothingness. And she lay him there, and she laid herself beside him as days of old, free to spend the last of his time with her. And happy at last, the man died, under the sakura tree where they first met—and where they first found their love.
Tears fell from Shino's eyes. Rei pressed on.
The woman despaired and lamented. She blamed the gods above and the demons below, and mocked humanity itself. For an entire night she wailed for the loss of a love greater than any the earth had seen, and when day broke she remembered the curse of her husband. As the sun rose from the east, she faced the sakura tree, and asked that the curse be fulfilled, the only way with which she could find her love again, and to meet him one last time before she passes from the cruel world.
And the sakura tree listened, and a wind gusted, and the gods heard her prayer.
The wind was howling at that moment, and both fighters—man and woman, arduously exhausted and terribly wounded—surveyed one another.
"Why are you… telling me this…?" Rei asked him for the second time.
"Because every man must die, but not before knowing his purpose in the world," he answered.
"Will you throw away your life just for that purpose?" She straightened; she was less wounded than him, even though both of them were grievously hurt. "What is it that drives you? What is it that makes you live?"
He looked up at her, and saw her… saw her again in Rei's eyes, in Rei's soul. "You," he whispered. "It has always been you."
It was at that moment that some spark of her awakened, some secret memory of the long travails of pain and a life endless. Rei found herself shedding her tears for no reason, as pain that threatened to engulf her in sorrow washed over her being. "No… You can't do this…" The realization was so sudden, so sweet and poignant, so painful and yet so pleasant, that it was like taking off a caulk on an eye and finding that the world, in fact, was in color.
She remembered those countless, treasured times. She knew, and knowing, she wept.
He just smiled at her.
She shook her head and the tears spilled from her eyes like pearls dropping from heaven. "YOU CAN'T!" And with those words, she rushed to him, the moonlight shining from the naginata's bloodied blade, and Shino closed his eyes and spread his arms, waiting for his doom.
Leaves rustled once again, and Shino fell to Rei's arms amidst her screams and sobs, against a time that seemed to stretch to infinity but again so brief, like a fading dream of the morning. And she held him close as he died, blood issuing from his lips, and moonbeam gleaming against his pallid face.
"No… no, you cannot, not when I found you at last," she sobbed, as her tears fell to his face, and he only smiled and reached up to take her face in his hand.
"Remember our promise," he whispered against the dead silence where they were the only denizens of the world. "For I have spent my entire life looking for you, when I killed you before… and now, the cycle is once again complete… I have found you, at last."
"No… please, I can't… I can't do this, not now…"
"The curse has been fulfilled forever since the beginning," he said. "Who knows how many times… both of us died in each other's arms. But I shall never regret it… not once, not even when I die a thousand times over."
"If only I have found you… or loved you sooner…"
"That is the curse… and our gift. We could never love one another again, unless it is under the twilight of one's life… Remember our story, Rei. Remember that once it was you who told me this story as I held you dying… and now, it returns to you." He looked at her and through the haze of pain and death he beheld her as she really was. "This single moment in a lifetime is irreplaceable, for in here is the only time that we can hold each other."
He closed his eyes.
"You can't go!"
"I love you, you who dwell in different names and bodies. Centuries and millennia may pass, yet my love for you shall never perish." He held her hand, and whispered, that undying line of love lost and regained in the deeps of time. "Even if it was only for a time, for a mere minute in eternity, I will never forget you. For that short space in the unending sorrows of the world I have found you… and in that minute, I have loved you—and will do so, again and again, in the immutable revolution of the world.
"I love you… forever."
With those words the man called Shino died, and with those words, Rei Yanagi cried, as the love of her life passed from this world. And another cycle would begin once again, to the unending revolution of the world, to the eternal succession of ages of time. And yet that love shall endure… for it was their curse, their gift, and their love.
The Revolution ends and thus begins, a tale of tragedy unending, and yet of love everlasting.
f i n
Notes on the terminologies used in Tsubasa Revolution
4544 Imperial Age
- is the last year of Satsuma's War of Flowers period, a time lasting nearly a hundred years, since the year 4451 IA. The War of Flowers was a war of succession, where the last king died without a clear heir, and the three noble houses of Satsuma, along with their lesser allied houses, declared their ascent to the throne. The three great claimants were the Houses of Chrysanthemum (Kiku), the Camelia (Tsubaki), and the Maple (Momiji). The Chrysanthemum was the victor of the conflict, and governed Satsuma since.
- or Satsuma Rengou, is an archipelago at the southern end of the continent, resembling Indonesia in real-life geography. Satsuma's customs and language were directly patterned after that of feudal Japan, including the system of lords and vassals. Satsuma was governed by different, often struggling Houses that had autonomy over their areas, but all of them paid homage to the overlordship of the Emperor of Satsuma, of the House of Kiku since the War of Flowers. During the War of the Mages a thousand years later, Satsuma was leveled and sunk, and only its largest island, Salamea, survived the destruction of the world.
- or Ishiyama island, the seat of House Ishiyama, a lesser lord under the House of Momiji. It was the last Free City, one of the over one dozen islands that lords have taken as their refuge after the destruction of the Houses of Tsubaki and Momiji. These Free Cities declared themselves independent from the rule of Satsuma, but all of them were sacked and brought again into the dominion of Satsuma after the War of Flowers. The word "ishiyama" means "intentional mountain".
- is a stepped or terraced pyramid, employed extensively as temples and sacrificial structures in ancient Mesopotamia. The Biblical Tower of Babel was said to be a ziggurat.
- the term for the ironclad warships of the Satsuma navy. In real-world history, it was Japan that first conceived the idea of an armored ship, which they called "Tekkosen". The first Tekkosen was made by the daimyo Oda Nobunaga during the Sengoku era.
- the army and navy of the Satsuma Union. Satsuma boasted the greatest fleet in the world in ancient times, and its marines were the best in the world. They were no great horsemen, though, and they had no knights, which gave them at a disadvantage against the mounted warriors and chivalry of the Empire of Felgarde, which they had long since tried to invade. The Chrysanthemum Fleet and the Chrysanthemum House were patterned after Japan's Imperial Seal and throne, the Chrysanthemum Throne.
- a martial technology in use during the Imperial Age, where a ballast of superheated fuel is ejected at high speed through a barrel, forcing a flamethrower-like effect of high stability and accuracy. They were very cumbersome and it was not until the advent of the fifth millennium of the Imperial Age that they were used in warships. The Elves during the Winter Age later improved spitfires to launch concentrated beams of light, called "Prism Charger".
- the flagships of the Chrysanthemum Fleet, resembling Spanish galleons and the later, larger English carracks. Ifubane-class ships were so large they were said to span over a hundred yards long, and were so heavy that they were more like floating castles than warships. They were propelled using a primitive Azoth machine Satsuma had invented, and were tasked to carry fleet commanders and Artificers in times of battle. The name "ifubane" means "dread engine".
- is a Sword-Mage, or a mage dedicated to the arts of destruction and warfare. Artificers use a magic called "Azoth" that enables them to manipulate visible and even invisible matter, including reality and time itself, to varying degrees and specialization. Because of the sheer power of the Artificers, they were employed in great numbers by the powers of the ancient world, which ultimately led to the War of the Mages a thousand years later.
- or menpo, the masks that protected the faces and throats of Satsuma infantry, with slits for the eyes and nose, and were clasped against the helmets or kabuto. They were usually designed in demonic, snarling faces to strike terror to the heart of an enemy, and are lacquered, instead of burnished or gilded. They were patterned after real-life mempos, a necessary part of the Japanese helmet.
- is the vanguard, or vaward. It is the forward division that in battle would be the first to have contact with the enemy. In conventional military strategy during ancient times, the van contains archers and others using projectile weapons, including mobile and lightweight siege weapons. In maneuvering, the van always goes ahead, while in deployment the van takes the right wing, the center the middle, and the rearguard the left.
- a medieval Japanese weapon usually associated with women, consisting of a long wooden haft topped by a curving, single-edged blade like a katana. A tsuba, or guard, separates the blade from the shaft. The naginata is very similar to the glaive both in purpose and design; it is categorized as a polearm-class weapon, or weapons wielded with long hafts whose fighting discipline is slashing (unlike spear-type weapons, whose forte is stabbing). Examples of polearms are poleaxes, glaives, and scythes.
- in this story, the lashblade is Shino's primary weapon. It consists of a short blade, like that of a Roman gladius, though a little longer. Slashing movement of the lashblade produces an arcing wave on its wake that could cut as if it was the sword, and thus produces a whip-like effect in transit. Because of this, the lashblade has a good effective range and is both an offensive and defensive weapon, but takes a lot of skill and control to use effectively. The lashblade is a fictional weapon, and is an original weapon designed for the Tsubasa stories.
- Japanese for "mercenary soldier". In the Chrysanthemum Fleet, youhei are the equivalent of samurai, although as mercenaries they don't have codes of honor and only fight for financial gain. Nevertheless, their skill is well-renowned.
Sakura no Monogatari (The Tale of the Sakura Tree)
- a love story that has survived even the War of the Mages and is immortalized in song and poetry in Salamea today. No one knows if the story is fictional or not, although according to lore the tale happened even before the first millennium of the Imperial Age. Salamea celebrates a festival in honor of the two lovers at the first day of the Second Turning of the year, characterized by lovers exchanging circular wreaths made from sakura (cherry blossoms), signifying the cycle of the tale. Every year during the festival, cities in Salamea make a play, in remembrance of the timeless tale of tragedy unending and love everlasting.
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