“There are many things one must know before speaking with the maiden of sorrows. One is that all the sorrows of the world cannot encompass the compassion of the smallest child. The second is that the maiden does not exist, and she is but a lie. Suffering is inevitable, but it can be mitigated, it can be changed with the right gods. It can become joy with the right people.

Why must we suffer? That is not the right question. Our existence here in this world presupposes suffering. The second we are brought into this world, we are brought into this world through suffering. Even in suffering, we must find joy, we must find love. We must live with the suffering and enjoy the suffering. We must meditate upon the interdependence of all things—which includes suffering. In the same way the food you eat comes from the meat of pork cooked upon a fire by a skilled chef, or the boat lute produces sound by the vibrations of the string carried by the movement of the winds as it is plucked by the musician’s hands. So must suffering be there. Suffering is inevitable, for we live in a suffering world. Therefore we must make it easier for each other. We must be kinder to each other. We must love each other. We must do this until we are better than we were yesterday. We must do this until we reach our place beyond heaven. We must do this until we find Glory.

Until Glory.

Until Glory.”

– Sri Layawataya, Sage of Kadkit, Balyan of Secrets

The doors burst open, and in arrived a woman with hair of deep emerald. As with all bamboofolk, some of them have more pronounced plant-like traits. This particular Lunate Knight—whose helmet she had shed—had hears sharp at the point, shaped like a leaf, and their eyes were the azure color of blue peaflowers.

“Her Highest Royalty!”

She carried with him the slumped over form of a man with flowing white hair, and beautiful dark brown skin. Muscular, but covered all over with bruises, and even a few cuts.

The Sultana’s eyes widened. “Is that mine own son? Who would dare?!” And her voice rumbled like thunder. 

Binayaan looked at Patima and Gurang Huna bewildered. Her eyes said: “Did Bakong have something to do with this?”

And of course, her answer came: “Your Highness,” said the emerald haired woman. “The Prince was showing his bride price to the bride. He was doing it out of courtesy. “

“He need not do that,” said the Sultana. “The bride price requires the living guardians of the bride.”

“Yes, but the Sultana’s son is lavish and predisposed to sharing his riches with those he wishes to love,” said the woman. “It ended in disaster, Sultana. Bakong han Muyang Kalayo of the Rajahnate of Gatusan rejected his offer to be wed. He was stunned after fighting and being beaten by Sampong Baha.”

“The Blade of Dimantag.” The Sultana straightened where she floated. The calm azure was replaced with an angry golden hue. She turned to Binayaan, who was looking miserably at Gurang Huna and Patima. “THOU IS AT FAULT! Thou seekest to destroy Akai!”

It was Patima’s turn to speak. A premier Strifesinger, though she did not play in the Sultana’s personal coterie or orchestra, or even fought alongside the Sultana as a Lunate Knight, her voice still commanded compassion and patience. She was one of the best Strifesingers to walk the Sword Isles. 

“Holiest of Holies,” she spoke, and her voice was ambrosia. The Sultana turned to her. “You have every right to this claim. You have every right to believe this as well, and in different circumstances I would share your zeal at this very moment for Akai. However, let us take our time and due patience. The Invincible Gun Princess I have fought alongside with for the longest time. She has no delusions of dismantling the Holy Lunar Empire of Akai.” Her voice lilted, soothing, but not condescending. It was firm, but not establishing herself as the moral high ground.  

“Explain this with the haste of the gods, before I strike you all where you stand with the brightest of thunderbolts! Dost thou not seekest to destabilize this Sultanate so that Gatusan can swoop in and find victory?”

Binayaan spoke up now, again, and her eyes were fierce like tigers. 

“My sister, Your Majesty, wishes not to be wed. She wishes to roam free and be a warrior. She wishes to be Kadungganan.”

The Sultana narrowed her eyes. “She does not wish to serve her father?”

“Nay. She wishes to be on her own.”

“Then what stops me from killing her?” The Sultana’s fury was abating, but the momentum of wrath was undeniable. “What stops me from striding onto the earth, clad in the visage of my Sun-Cleaving Royalty, and showing her the scorn of the moon?”

“You already know why, Your Highness,” Binayaan said. “Bakong is the Princess that shall kill the Hero.”

The Sultana breathed, as if she was supposed to lash out, but then composed herself. For a moment, she was more than a Goddess. For a moment, she was mortal.

Then: “Bring the Prince to the healing house.”

“Thy will be done,” the woman Lunate Knight replied, bowing, and she left with other Lunate Knights that had accompanied her. 

When the doors closed behind her, a voice rang out from the shadows. “Your Holy Highness,” a woman clad in silks, graying hair braided into fierce locks, feet slipped into intricate paduka, stepped out from the dark; it was as if she had melded into shadow. 

Sri Puasa, the Gold-Lined Lionbreaker. “If I may.”

“Proceed.” The Sultana’s exhaled, and the dust motes suspended on moongleam scattered. 

“Everything you have heard is true. Bakong han Muyang Kalayo is my niece, she is the daughter of my sister, the Goddess of the White River Devi Puraw, deep in Sulad.”

“I remember thy demon lineage.” There was stress in her voice, her patience and wit stretched thin.

“And remember my place as the Sultana’s strategist as well,” replied Puasa, and she grinned. In the veiled darkness of the gloomy scene, Puasa’s eyes looked like globes of gold. “If y0u kill Bakong now, you risk war with Gatusan, which will not end well due to the great predicament shown to you now with Virbanwa. Additionally, killing Bakong would render us unable to defeat the Hero of Prophecy: she is the Princess in that song, after all.

“If you choose to kill Bakong and strike down the Sky Galleon, then you risk  war against both Gatusan and Virbanwa. A war on both sides of that nature… Akai will not survive.

“If you give the Bands gifted to you by the Demon Swarbhanu, then the Hero will leave, I am sure, to search for the other Regalia. However, with every step he takes, the closer he becomes to becoming the God Weapon he so truly is. However, that gives us time to mobilize, to mount an offense, to craft whatever weapon must be needed to truly dismantle the Prophecy.”

“Why do we not take this Bakong to Juskalis and get all of this behind us? If she is destined to defeat the Hero, then let her!”

“She must fulfill it yet,” replied Puasa. “The princess does not wield the violence to fulfill her divination.”

“Then that divination is fallible.”

“Nay, Sultana. Every divination only falls into place if we let things happen. The princess trains in her martial arts as we speak. I’ve consulted the bones: she will become a powerful warrior, but she needs time.”

“Is that a luxury we possess, general?”

“Some luxuries we must make for ourselves.” Puasa walked over to the front of the Sultana. She bowed to Binayaan, Patima, and Gurang Huna. “I am willing to do that myself.”

“It is better to wipe out those that threaten our Striving and our piety to Goddess,” the Sultana said, without much emotion. She said it completely matter-of-factly, a determination. 

“Have we the strength to do that?” asked Puasa. “The 78 Lunar Princes and the 150 Moonsilver Warlords are caught up in their own machinations. If we wish to perform our act of Divine Striving, we must needs gather our troops and have the proper time to outfit them and ready them all. Declaring war now while we are not ready will simply be a parry that the enemy wants, to dig its blade deep into our rib.”

Silence. The gravity of the world seemed to shift at that moment. Everything centered the Sultana.

Then, after a ponderous turn of the moon, she said: “Propose to me thy path of action.”

“I leave with Bakong, and we train her in the arts of war,” Puasa said. “We will travel for the House of Wisdom in Ba-e, where the metal buddhas dance within sacred fires, stupas pierce the sky and cross ideological blades with monolithic pagodas.”

“And what of her marked blasphemy against my son? What of her decision not to honor the wedding proposition?”

“As one of the Sultana’s holy strategists, I implore the royal highness to avoid war with the Rajahnate for now. Establish trade connections, still. Rajahnate warriors are some of the best in the Sword Isles. They will be a great boon if we convert them to our side.”

The Sultana pondered for a moment, looking at Binayaan. Then she said, “Thou knowest that I cannot have such indignation leveled against at me. In exchange for this, thou shalt be my son’s new bride, in exchange for the payment that is thy sister.”

Binayaan hid a smirk. She knew this was coming, and she usually didn’t plan things in advance. “I accept. I shall be one of the brides of the Katchil.”

The Sultana waited for her to continue.

And Binayaan did continue: “However,” she said. “Allow me to travel to the shores of Baik Hu with my warriors, to find a proper offering for my new husband, and to elevate his status yet more.”

“Thou sayest this to squirm out of this obligation,” the Sultana said, and at that moment she did nothing but smile. Her wrath quelled for now, she became serene like the moon. No doubt a thousand thoughts swirled through her mind at that moment, no doubt she had too many things to keep account for. “I shall accept, upon the condition that thou keepest thy word, and that thou return here and be one of the wives of the Sri Raja. No doubt if he does not find you lovely, comely, or beautiful, he will simply seek yet another wife of import and beauty.”

“I would want nothing more than that.”

“But once he is thy husband, remember that thou art his property.”

“I prefer not to think about that for now, with all due respect, Your Highest Majesty.”

Puasa clapped her hands together. “It’s settled, then! Binayaan leaves Akai for the Continent to delay the marriage for as long as she can. I bring Bakong to the House of Wisdom.”

The Sultana lifted her arms, and glorious bands of gold from her arms and calves floated into the air, before falling into Puasa’s hands. “And I shalt part with the Kedu-Rahu Bands. For now.” These were seemingly made out of moonstone and also gold, but a radiant kind of gold. A supernatural gleam. Binayaan had heard stories of the rare sungold, a much rarer variety of gold found only where the gods of the sun had tread upon Gubat Banwa, or deep in the caverns of giant volcanoes or within the thickest of forests, where the gold (forged from the heat of the sun) fell like tears from when the sun was struck with great violence.

“So I’m giving this, huh?”

“I shall make ready, in the all too familiar case that the Hero goeth back on his word, and unleashes havoc upon mine city despite gaining his end of the bargain.”

“What will you do if he breaks his bargain?”

“I shall summon the Blade of the Moon upon the earth.”

* * *

As they walked out, Puasa kept the Kedu-Rahu Bands within a silken satchel. Binayaan sighed. 

“I thought I’d get more of a vacation here, in Akai.”

“Destiny hounds us all,” replied Puasa, shrugging. “Let us make haste to my home first.”

“You will not give the Bands directly to the Hero?”

“The Hero is clad in ritual and civility. He will wait. We walk to him on the morrow.”

Binayaan stretched as they reached the bottom of the great moonstone stairs. “That is all well and good. The night is deep and dark, now. I need some sleep.”

“I sense that Bakong has found her way to my longhouse. It is best that you all rest there: your compound seems compromised in the time being.” As she spoke, a Lunate Knight whistled and landed in front of them, lowering one of the wings of the sarimanok. They clambered upon the sarimanok’s saddles, and they flew toward the great house.

* * *

Kawilankayu awoke from dreamless sleep. Her wounds and health did not allow her to slumber. She awoke with a jolt, a sharp intake of breath. She had been dead all this time. The inhalation was to prove she was still alive.

A torch hung somewhere within the house, illuminating the room. With a twist of her head, she saw that it was deep into the night: yet the sky was that deep azure hue because of the moon illuminating it with their horns.

Kawilankayu gripped her bed. The lulling movements of the sea were gone. They were in Jambangan.

She rose to a sit. She saw Masuna sitting in a lotus position, eyes closed, breathing slow. Asleep, guarding her.

She looked down. Her wounds have been addressed, smeared in poultices and herbal remedies. They were fading away quickly, the work of a Mender. Though this was not the first time she had seen a Mender’s work, she couldn’t help but be impressed. Was this the work of Masuna? She knew Sug did not heal, and neither did the young boy Mito. 

She looked at Masuna. His hair tied up above him. He had sustained a new scar, running down his eye. 

I ought to kill him right here.

But he saved her life. And now he knew that he was right. That he is a sword and she was a woman. He knew from the very beginning, and that eviscerated Kawilankayu to her core. 

Oh, to be seen for what we want to be.

To be seen for what we want to be is to be seen for who we truly are, she remembered her balyan caretaker saying, while they oiled her hair and bundled it into a chignon above her head. When she has to present and perform as Datu Batumingaw in Put’wan.

In truth, Batumingaw did not even know why she was so hostile to Masuna. It’s not like she hid the fact that she was a woman when she went on her travels outside of Put’wan—at least, this far away from Put’wan. She did not like dealing with blades, with swords. How can I be my Sarripada’s Armored One if I am so easily eviscerated by a sword?

She looked around. Her kalis lay on a wooden rack. Still gleaming, still with a dragon swallowing its blade. With a flex of her kinaadman, of her puhon, with an uttering of mentala, the kalis danced from the rack and flew to her hands. She gripped it as if to wring all the stress from her. Then she put it aside.

She did not have much in the way of clothing. It was just as well—she was not in Put’wan any longer. She reached over and took a cloth and tied it about her chest, then she took another heavier textile square cloth and wrapped it around her as a shawl. The night was cold.

It had been a few days since she has bathed properly, in the fresh rushing waters of a river. And so she did. Clad in her shawl, she made her way to the river illuminated by bulanbukad. She bathed in a similar river of stars. She watched as the ominous silhouette of the Virbanwan sky-galleon hovered overhead. Like a sword ready to come down, sa judgment. 

What am I getting myself into?

But she remembered, then, that she needed to be ready for all kinds of tribulation if she wanted to be a Warrior-Queen. If she wanted to be Harihara, Ardhanarishvara. She did not know what kind of fate and destiny she walked into by coming here to Jambangan, but she knew that at least now she will do it of her own accord.

After I kill the Moon-Haired One, I will kill my mother, she thought to herself. Demons danced around her head. This was not the path of a pious son. This was not the compassionate mind of an enlightened sage. But she reveled in these thoughts. Even if she cannot bring herself to do it—why can’t she? It would be as easy as killing a rat—she enjoyed the thoughts all the same. Her mother was her prison. Her freedom lay right before her. 

And yet she could not take that step. 

Often the hardest thing to do is to take the next step.

She returned to the cottage and wreathed herself in shawls. She wore a pudong, belonging to a man, but the embroidered flower shawl of a woman. She wore a man’s paruka, but wrapped herself in the smock and skirt of a woman, fabricated by Put’wan’s very own weavers, embroidered with dragons and eagles. She wished she could do that, she wished she knew the way of the needle and of song and of epic and of poetry: all things she would’ve learned as a binukot. Womanhood stolen from her to placate the demands of the world.

She wore her kalis on a hip sheathe, bound to her by an interlinked chain of gold. 

“Kawilankayu?” Masuna’s voice was hoarse and cracked, like too-dried palm leaf.

She forced herself to turn around. She willed herself to don her armor once again. “Masuna Kulisat. While we within closed doors you may refer to me as that. But beyond it, I am still youe datu, and I am still Batumingaw.”

Masuna had opened his eyes, breathing, low, quiet. He no longer had his kampilan with him. He looked nothing like when she first saw him. “My datu,” Masuna bowed. “Forgive my trespass. How is the prince feeling?”

Kawilankayu walked over to the raised platform where her bed had been made. She sat down and shrugged. “Fine. Good. A few dull aches here and there, but nothing too bad. I suppose it was you who remedied me?”

Masuna nodded. “It was my duty, as kawal and healer.”

“You are a strange man, Masuna, you understand this? You are skilled in the ways of the sword, and I have seen your swordsmanship. You fight far greater than I, and yet you have indulged yourself in the secrets of the spirits, and the silent arts of healing.”

“I have dedicated my entire life into the arts of war,” Masuna replied. “That includes healing. That includes conversing and disputing with the little gods of violence.”

“You truly have honed yourself into a blade.”

“I am to be wielded.”

Kawilankayu exhaled. A long one, as if tired. Or perhaps, relieved? “You’ve proven loyalty to me. You’ve saved my life. I cannot be anything but thankful.”

“I am merely doing my duty,” Masuna replied. 

Kawilankayu rose to her feet, walked over to Masuna, grabbed his chin, and then jerked it up so that her eyes met his. “I speak to you warrior to warrior, not as datu to his servant. I thank you. I am in your debt.”

Masuna exhaled, loosened, melted in her grip. His hand reached up to grasp Kawilankayu’s, and she did not pull her hand back, despite her instincts raging to do just that. He gripped her hand, and nodded. “I am still your servant.” Masuna’s voice cracked. A raging grin built up behind Kawilankayu’s facade.

“You have no choice. You are mine: my blade, to wield. Remember that.”

Masuna swallowed, nodded. 

“Good.” And out of pure reflex, because she cannot entertain whatever was bubbling from the pits of her stomach, she let her nails—though they were trimmed—bite into Masuna’s cheeks. Masuna closed his eyes. 

Kawilankayu let go, letting Masuna’s hand linger on her wrist for longer than she thought she would want. Then she said: “Refer to me as Batumingaw, and as the man I must present to be, whilst we are here in Jambangan.”

“Why? You have already shown yourself,” asked Masuna. His face regrouped, he gathered his wits unbelievably fast. He pulled his mask together quickly enough for Kawilankayu to doubt any genuineness in what he has just expressed. “Do you not wish to be a King on your own terms?”

“You have already pared me down to the core and carved a fool out of me,” replied Kawilankayu. “You may refer to me as Kawilankayu, but for the time being I must be Batumingaw, here.”

“You can leave your mother. You need not be king.”

“I MUST be king, Masuna,” she replied. “I must attain royalty.”

“And you choose to do it in the terms of Put’wan’s hierarchy? And according to your mother? What is a king but one who creates his own structures? One who realizes the broken structures of those of old? One who builds merit with gods and compassion to become more virtuous than the one who currently reigns.”

Kawilankayu scoffed. “You forget yourself again. You are stepping out of line.”

“If you want to wield me, would-be Rani,” he said this as he rose to his feet. “Then you must learn that I am not a single-edged blade.”

Kawilankayu turned to him. “The dog bites.”

“All that armor, datu. All that reticence… you will only destroy yourself. When you have been wounded you must remove your armor lest you endanger yourself the infections of disease gods. In your bid to protect yourself you have made walls that you yourself cannot escape. In your reticence you indulge in self-destruction.”

“Just because you have eviscerated me does not mean you may talk to me in any manner that you wish. I am still your datu.”

Masuna exhaled. Kawilankayu could feel his heat, though they were standing a few feet apart. “Forgive me.”

“Good.” Kawilankayu had half a mind to unsheathe her kris and run it through him at that point, suddenly regretting every point of vulnerability she had opened up.

Then Mito flew in through doors flung open. “The Moon-Haired Girl! The Moon-Haired Girl!” And he was rushing to put on his armor and helmet and axe.

Masuna blinked, looking at Mito, confusion slammed against his face. Kawilankayu saw Sug walk in, gasping for air.


“Datu!” She gasped, then inhaled air. “You are awake!”

“What is the child blabbering on about?” Kawilankayu pointed at Mito.

“The Moon-Haired Princess!” Mito reached up and took the helmet from the table. “We know where she is.”

Kawilankayu saw Masuna’s face turn pale. Blood receding from him.

“Where?” he asked.

“In this warlord’s longhouse! Come, we’ve no time to waste!”

“Warlord?” Masuna shook his head. “No. We cannot risk any diplomatic incidents. If that is a Warlord’s house then surely she is kept safe by the Sultana herself.”

Irritation bubbled up from within Kawilankayu. When she is her true self, she felt her emotions like a flame within her. “No, we go.” She already her full regalia on. “It is better if we pay her a visit.”

“At this time of night?” Masuna asked, again. “They will think we are assassins.”

“You speak against me, Masuna Kulisat? You are nothing but a filthy kawal. Remember that clearly.”

Masuna scowled. Kawilankayu continued: “Let us go. Put upon your armors and weapons. Let us pay a visit to the Moon Haired One, while the night is still young.”

On any other night, Kawilankayu would have waited for the morning. But the moon showed his horns tonight, a sure sign of good omen. Most of all, Kawilankayu was desparate to see this Bakong han Muyang Kalayo. Desperate to see the one Masuna loved so much. The one that she must kill to rise in the ranks of royalty.

* * *

Binayaan, Puasa, Patima, and Gurang Huna arrived at the longhouse. Her guardsmen took the sarimanok and fed it, while they entered into the longhouse. 

“Binayaan! Iyaan!” Bakong rose to her feet. Binayaan grinned her fanged grin. 

“You’ve made quite a mess, I see.” Dark circles radiated underneath Binayaan’s eyes. Her fatigue was eminent.

Sam’baha, cloaked in beautiful textile cloth, walked in through the door after them. “Oh good,” she said. “I thought we’ve been found out by the Sultana.”

Puasa shook her head and asked for alcohol. The servants brought it quickly: a giant porcelain jar with a straw. She sipped. “You have.” Everyone took their seats, visibly tired for the day. Patima and Gurang Huna exchanged pleasantries with Sam’baha, muttering that it’s felt like a thousand years since they’ve last met.

Binayaan sat down and drank the alak as well. “A stunned and dazed Sri Raja Katchil Massik was brought into the Lunar Palace right after we had a talk with Juskalis. I don’t suppose you’d know anything about that?” She side-eyed Sampong Baha, who grimaced.

“He was attacking Bakong.”

“I know you’re just doing your job,” Binayaan said, shrugging. “But things have become a bit more… complex now.”

Bakong looked up. The fires of determination blazed again, in her eyes. “Who’s Juskalis…?”

“The Hero of Prophecy,” said Binayaan, and she took a long hard draught from the alcohol. “And we’ve just found out that you are the only one that can kill him.”

“Which  means you must be kept alive, despite having committed such blasphemous acts as not agreeing to the arranged marriage.”

Bakong bit her lip, but nodded anyway. “What is the plan, then?” She turned to Sam’baha, whom she noticed was listening deeply and intensely to Binayaan. Her hands trembled, her heart felt like a cold hole. But she knew she had to keep moving. If not, then she would freeze, and then die.

It was Puasa who spoke: “You’re coming to the House of Wisdom with me, deep in the forests of Ba-e. There you will learn the arts of war and fighting in earnest, on top of your burgeoning skill as a Heavenspear. You will not be beholden to be wed to Sri Raja Katchil Massik any longer.”

A notable breath of relief from Bakong.

Puasa continued: “Your sister, Binayaan, has taken that for you. She will wed the Lunar Prince.”

Bakong’s eyes widened, her mouth opened. “Sister?”

Binayaan winked and pantomimed shooting her with a gun.

Puasa pushed on further: “However she will be setting out for Baik Hu in the soonest possible time so that she can avoid this responsibility for as long as possible.”

Sam’baha laughed. “How long can you outrun him?”

“I will just shoot him if he gets too close,” Binayaan said, shrugging. “By the time I get back from Baik Hu, Akai and Gatusan will probably be at odds anyway.”

“Oh, gods.” Bakong gasped. “Then I will not see you again for the longest time, sister?”

“Calm, Bakong. It’s not as if you won’t be seeing me. When I return to the Isles, I’ll make a beeline for the House of Wisdom, first and foremost.”

“Not that that’d be hard,” Sampong Baha said. “Ba-e is one of the foremost port towns that Baikhan merchant ships visit.” Binayaan nodded, pointing at Sampong Baha in agreement.

“We will be leaving as soon as possible,” Puasa said. “There is no time to waste.”

“Do we know who’s going off with who, then?” Binayaan asked. “I know Patima and Gurang Huna will travel with me.”

Patima stood and placed a hand over her heart. “Forgive me, Binayaan. I cannot leave my home at this moment. With all the threat against it, it boils against my Divine Striving to leave it behind for faraway lands. I wish to be here should  lightning strike it.”

Binayaan nodded. “I understand completely, Patima. I wish you the blessings of the gods on your endeavor. Gurang?”

Huna nodded. “I’m going with you. I have only been to Baik Hu once my life. I wish to see it before these old bones give in.” And he laughed.

Puasa spoke: “I will be going with Bakong, of course. Bangahom shall walk with us, and Lambitung as well. Our demonservants cannot be too far from us.”

Bakong turned to Bangahom and Lambitung, whose rapt attention was on Puasa. Bakong reached her hand out and Bangahom took it, gripping it hard. “Are you okay?”

“There is dread filling the air right now,” Bangahom said. Lambitung nodded at that: he could feel it too.

Bakong tensed up even more than she had before. She turned to Puasa. “We should leave as soon as we can, then.”

Puasa nodded. “We will. I have to give the Kedu-Rahu Bands to the Hero of Prophecy first.”

Sam’baha raised an eyebrow. “That is the Kedu-Rahu Bands of the Six Godly Regalia, is it not?”

“If we do not give it, then Jambangan faces certain doom. If we do, we buy ourselves some time.”

“I see. I understand the machinations of it. Ah, the raveling threads of the Golden Web Tapestry.” Sam’baha turned to Binayaan. “Datu, I hope you will understand, but I am pledging my loyalty to Bakong for the time being. I cannot go with you to Baik Hu.”

“Wow, giving up Baik Hu for my sister?” Binayaan smirked. “Her hold on you must be larger than I thought.”

Bakong blinked, furrowed her brow, and then looked up at Sampong Baha. She was actively avoiding her gaze.

“I can reach Baik Hu whenever I want,” said Sampong Baha. “That is but a stepping stone for my Great World Raid.”

“I understand you, Sampong Baha. No need to justify yourself to me any longer,” Binayaan replied, waving a hand dismissively. Sam’baha sighed, relief. “Besides, my sister will surely need a protector. And a teacher, perhaps?”

“I shall teach her the ways of the Skysea Raiding,” Sampong Baha said, her face a stern line of resolution. “I shall teach her to rejoice in the glory of combat.”

“I thank you,” Binayaan said. “So it’s settled, then. Gurang Huna and I make for Baik Hu. Sri Puasa, Bakong, Lambitung, Bakong, and you, Sam’baha, make for the House of Wisdom in Ba-e.”

Everyone nodded. A firm sense of determination filled their hearts. Another flame, this one small yet, still to be fanned, still to grow into what is must become.

Then there was a knock at the door.

Bangahom shot to her feet. “No. Don’t.”

Bakong turned to Bangahom, grasped her hand.

Puasa narrowed her eyes. She rose to her feet and clasped her hands together. Her eyes turned bright gold, and her hair unfurled from behind her. She wore no armor, but Bakong knew she had the strength of thousands. “Step away from the door.”

She made her way to it and opened it. 

Lightning flashed.

A murderglave was on the other side, clad in that light-eating armor of darkness, of depicting fanged lions and cruel dragons biting into skin. A giant panabas flashed down toward Puasa. The Gold-Lined Lionbreaker blocked it with her head, fracturing it, and then punched.

The silhouette of a giant fist slammed against the murderglave, sending them back and away, into the night. The giant fist was accumulated energy, sending all those behind the murderglave flying back as well.

The room erupted into a whirlwind of kinetic energy. Patima and Gurang Huna rose to their feet, Binayaan kicked the table they sat around to shield Bakong. Bangahom leapt to the air and created a solid mandala shield from her kinaadman, and so did Lambitung. Sam’baha grabbed two of Puasa’s swords—a simple chopping sundang—and brandished them.

“Virbanwans,” Binayaan snarled.

When the dust cleared, they could see, standing by the courtyard, encircled by a halo of blood and corpses—the Puasa’s own guardsmen—the Hero of Prophecy, clad in nothing but that angel-winged cloak.

* * *

Let us continue, until glory.

When Masuna, Mito, and Kawilankayu arrived at the scene, they had intended to speak with whatever guardsmen to confirm whether Bakong was truly within the longhouse. Instead, they arrived with the door blasted open, a coterie of murderglaves and assassins, and the Hero of Prophecy himself standing amidst a halo of corpses, arrayed about him like a ritual sacrifice to God.

“Is that…?” Kawilankayu furrowed her eyebrows. 

Masuna had no doubts. Surrounded by Virbanwans, wielding a giant blade, wreathed in angel feathers. “The Hero of Prophecy.” At that moment, Masuna wondered if he could defeat the Hero of Prophecy on his own. If he could do that, he might be able to fight Makagagahum, might be able to free his parents from the sights of that God.

But he could not risk it. Not right now.

From within, they heard: “Bakong! Leave!” Masuna’s heart dropped.

“God’s Blade comes for you!” shouted the Hero of Prophecy, his voice shaking, as if in praise or in wailing. The murderglaves leapt into action, and the woman within, whose graying hair arrayed her like horns, leapt out of the longhouse, striking and parrying. She swatted the murderglaves’ weapons like they were flies, parried dagger strikes from assassins teleporting in and out of shadows. She moved as if she had a thousand thousand arms.

The Hero of Prophecy turned to where Masuna and Mito were. “Swords of the Star,” he spoke, and the voice was rapturous. “Go, and fulfill your duty to God.”

Mito leapt forward. Masuna, knowing that he should take an opportunity like this, hesitated. 

“We go,” said Kawilankayu. She ran in after Mito.

Masuna set his jaw. No other way out of this. He unsheathed his ginunting—a forward curving blade, to replace his kampilan—and strode in upon heels of wind.

He saw the Hero of Prophecy find an opening in the demon woman’s defenses and he swung his blade. A trail of black—as if the blade painted the night sky into the world with every swing—followed after it. The blade cut deep into the woman, and she groaned. Her wounds burnt with light, demonic breath seeping out of it in deep magenta tendrils.

Then the Hero slipped past her, wings allowing him to move through the moongleam.

Bakong is going to die, Masuna thought, and the emotions that roiled within him left him wanting to puke.

The winged form of the Hero of Prophecy was struck by lightning, however. Coming from the sky, as if the Thunderbolt of Jamiyun Kulisa himself, was Guro Karakasa, lance slamming into the ground, sending dirt and dust billowing into the air. The strike parried the Hero of Prophecy, turned him away, and he had to retreat.

“I’ve been looking everywhere for you, Bakong,” said Karakasa, rising to his feet. “The compound was deserted, and now I hear you’ve rejected your husband?! How very quaint.”

From within, Bakong yelled out: “Guro Karakasa!”

“Run, child! We will fend him off!” 

Let me sing to you of the battle enlightenment Masuna had attained, not just too long ago, only when his last master died. His mind expanded to encompass the battlefield. His mind expanded to follow the lines of violence.

Sam’baha leapt out of one of the windows of the longhouse bringing two assassins with her, impaled onto her swords, slamming into the ground. She ran after the Hero of Prophecy, and the Hero moved like a white lightning bolt, striking through her. Once, twice, thrice, moving through her like lightning moved through the air. Each strike, Sam’baha kept her ground, deflected each strike and struck back in the same breath. Her blades were tornados, whirlwinds of steel.

Binayaan was out as well, slamming a murderglave with a sweep of her arquebus, firing as she did, sending an array of bullets flying in every direction. She fired and shot and kicked and leapt into the sky, summoning bullets of pure kinaadman, sorcerous will, letting them blossom from her like an unfolding lotus, a veritable bullet hell.

Yet for every murderglave she slew, for every assassin she struck down, another took its place. Soon, Virbanwan lancers burst through the pall of the thick forestry, lance-steel shining in the gaze of the horned moon. Soon, Virbanwan arquebusiers and cannoneers arrived, and they began firing cannonballs at the Kadungganan.

Sam’baha did well to leap away from the cannonballs. Binayaan shot three bullets into each cannonball as they arced through the air, shattering it into a million pieces, letting the fragments incapacitate other knights. Guro Karakasa would fly directly into the cannonballs with the speed of lightning, smashing it into smithereens, and then leapt into the sky and slam down into the firing line, completely it.

Patima was there now as well, singing a mournful Akainon dirge. As she did, the other warriors felt their hands move quicker, they felt no fatigue as they fought. She plucked her boat lute and sound notes leapt from them, vibrating in the light, imbued with the strength of her will and spirit. Sam’baha parried an attack, kicked and shattered a kneecap, stepped in and threw that man into a wandering sound note. The note exploded in a shattering bang of dissonance, and the man slammed into the ground, embedded by an invisible sonar god.

 Gurang Huna was out as well, uttering phrases of pure power, mantras of disruption and destruction. With each mantra, a murderglave slammed into their ally, or ran into the spear of their comrades. Whenever a warrior would strike at him, he would utter another twisting, snarling mantra, and step back: that warrior would rush past him and attack one of his allies.

Puasa was still at the midst of the melee. She was not tiring. She was reveling, she was in her element. This was what she was incarnated to do. Violence. Annihilation. From her first entrance into this river of suffering. She parried and struck, caught blades with a stray foot, slammed her iron-skull against cannonballs to shatter them, caught the fragments to turn them into daggers, pierced and cut and stabbed and perforated. There were none that were free of her striking. A few lances were thrust in her direction, and she bent backwards to dodge them, letting her forearm slide along the shaft of the lance, and then she used that same lance to skewer three assassins behind her; she twirled around, bringing the lancer with her, slamming his body around in a circle, in a mandala of violence. She struck like lightning spilling out of a grail.

They thinned out the Virbanwan warriors. Sam’baha would wade into the melee of warriors, parry one attack, striking with the pommel of her other blade in the same breath. Every strike she did was lightning meeting the earth. Strike, strike, parry-strike, counterstrike. Even as she was surrounded, she was faster than any mortal martial artist. The One Without Equal made every defense an attack, anyone that dared strike at her would be cut.

When too many surrounded her, she let out a roar, and she leapt into the air. As she arced over the heads of her enemies, she twirled like a corkscrew, a monsoon, and the steel decapitated heads and destroyed lances.  When she hit the ground she immediately flashed her blades about her, parrying and striking, never missing a beat. She cut through the enemy lines, a knife through water, and the blood that sprayed and sanctified the ground was the ripples and seafoam. The ululating song of Patima, singing about the dying throes of a god they once served, now with names and qualities changed so that they resembled more the Lunar Goddess that they now served, filled her with the killing intent and reservoir of vigor to keep going.

But even with her ceaseless well of energy, the waves of Virbanwans did not end.

Masuna’s mind shrank back into a pinpoint view as Mito dove into the window that had been left open by Sam’baha. As he ran, Kawilankayu uttered a saying, and she leapt up, leaving behind a shadowy afterimage of herself, which she stepped upon to get enough height to vault into the house. Masuna took this opportunity to step onto that clone as well, and as he dove into the house it dissipated.

The kawal rolled as he entered into the house but was immediately met with a surging gust of force. He flew back and flattened against the wall. The wind knocked out of him, he fell to the floor, punching the hardwood slats. He looked up and he saw a girl, with the hair the color of pink sunset.


Masuna blinked. He brought himself up to his knees. “Who are you?”

“It’s…” she raised her fingers into a clawed gesture, and then clawed at Masuna. A raking pain erupted across his face, as if he had been slapped by a feral cat. “It’s me. Bangahom.”

“Masuna!’ Bakong’s voice was like a singularly flensing line through the pall and chaos of violence. He raised his head and saw Bakong behind a mandala shield woven out of pure spirit. “Masuna, it’s me!”


There was a silence, impossibly. The sounds of fighting echoed outside. There was the sound of steel being broken, another cannonball let loose, another demonic screech, another grunt, another utterance of an ululating dirge.

“That’s the one we’re to kill!” And Mito was in the air, axe raised, ready to slam down upon the open form of Bangahom. She used funnels of wind to try and get out of the way, but Mito was ceaseless. His axe slammed into the hardwood, and then he rushed forward to tackle her, brought his axe around and slammed again, planted his feet and then threw his axe. The thrown axe flew towards Bangahom, and then Kawilankayu uttered a bending word. A mandala with ancient surat script erupted behind the demonservant; the axe rebounded off of that, and struck Bangahom square in the back. Demonic essence burst forth behind her like unfurling lotuses.

“Ow! What the fuck!”

“Bangahom!” Bakong’s cries were horrid. 

“You useless, worthless assassins. I’ll make you fucking regret that!” And her mortal skin burnt off, like leaves caught in wildfire, revealing the form of an ancient black tiger. Wreathed in a mane of burning flame, and a tail turned into a lance. Bangahom’s unsheathed form.

Using its tail-lance, she struck at Mito, who parried away the first two strikes, but was not quick enough to catch the other three. He managed to dodge as quickly as possible to prevent the most amount of damage, but the lance still opened wounds against him, one strike punctured deep into his chest. The armor caught the brunt of it.

Kawilankayu rushed forward, slid underneath the large bulk of the tiger demon, and let loose a savage palm against Bangahom’s torso. She then uttered her Firebird Mentala to turn into flame, just as Bangahom slammed down with a paw, and she struck Lambitung’s shield. The shield faded away against the flame, like water fizzling and vaporizing. Lambitung scoffed and uttered a word, and slammed a palm against Kawilankayu as she was in mid-air, and she flew back, crashing against one of the hardwood pillars carved intricately with the stories of ancient Akai. She groaned as she hit the ground, but no bruises. He saw mentala coursing all about her: a protection spell.

Bangahom turned and struck at Bangahom, which Mito leapt in front of and caught with his bare hand. Then, with his other hand, he swung his axe straight down, chopping off the tiger demon’s paw. The tiger demon roared in anger, and Mito pressed, his eyes burning bright with bloodlust. He ran up the tiger’s giant arm and leapt onto its back. Just as he was about to cleave down his axe, an invisible force pulled him away. 

It was Lambitung, performing motions that looked like he was puppeteering with invisible string. Mito flipped in the air and threw his axe against the wall he hurtled towards; the axe struck blade first, and then Mito landed beside it on the wall. He pivoted to Lambitung, and was like lightning, too fast for Lambitung, who was not a warrior. His axe bit deep into Lambitung’s stomach, letting diwa seep into the air, exploding out of him like a blossoming azure lotus. His eyes burned bright. He watched with a golden eyes. His halo of goodness would’ve seeped through.

Lambitung smiled. “How quaint. You are strong, I shall give you that.”

Mito turned and threw his axe at him. Lambitung caught it with a flick of his finger, holding it suspended in midair with invisible hands. He turned to Bakong. “Run, princess. Now.”

“What? N-No, I can’t leave you here—“

“We shall be fine!” yelled Lambitung, and his calm exterior melted away. Or, nay, it cracked, like porcelain showing the serpent within. “Save yourself. You’ve not developed your violence enough to participate in this bloodshed.” Lambitung’s hair began floating about him, like a halo. 

Bakong swallowed. “Fine. I will place my faith in you.”

“Upriver,” Lambitung said, turning to Mito. “You will find a safe place there. The Garden of the Moon.”

Bakong nodded, and she turned and ran. Mito saw her booking it, and he leapt up, only for Lambitung to throw his axe against him. The axe clanged with metal, sparks in the air: Masuna was running, he had thrown a dagger and knocked the axe’s trajectory out of whack.

Mito caught the axe.

“I’ll chase after Bakong,” said Masuna.

“Nay,” Lambitung moved. “You will chase no ward of mine.” With a flex of his spiritual power he summoned two spears. “Come.” He grabbed both spears with his hands. Masuna felt a pang against his spiritual senses, that sensitive part of him that he had fine-tuned during his training with Dagna. This being was not atrocity. Did he bear the blood of the gods?

Masuna didn’t miss a beat. He dashed toward Lambitung, and Mito did too after he hit the ground. Lambitung faced them. His lances clanging and clashing against Masuna’s sword and Mito’s axe. They were a monsoon, a tornado, every strike sending sparks into the air. Every strike a piece of lightning from the sky brought down here into the earth.

Lambitung managed to hook Mito by the neck, and in a movement threw him toward one of the pillars. There, Bangahom embraced reckless abandon: she surged forward, claws enveloped in mystic flame, in demonic diwa, straight toward Mito.

But Kawilankayu was there. And the demon tiger struck Kawilankayu, full speed. Her body melted away, liquid shadow; Kawilankayu was above the tiger, uttering another mentala. Catching his breath, Mito burst forward and cleaved deep into the tiger’s side, and then with the force of the mentala, he leapt forward, bringing his axe, sundering the entire left side of demon Bangahom.

Then Kawilankayu performed three mudras, alacrity, blade, and diamond, and two more shadows leapt out of her suspended form, cutting once, twice, before Kawilankayu herself came down upon Bangahom’s head, dragon kalis digging deep into the tiger’s skull. 

Bangahom roared.

Lambitung cursed. With a similar roar, he unleashed an attack against Masuna, but Masuna’s defense was nigh impenetrable with the lighter heft of the ginunting. Though Lambitung’s lances were lashing serpents, Masuna was a hawk in a thunderstorm, dipping and diving and leaping as needed. He dipped in when an opportunity arose and every strike was a clean hit, drawing blood, leaving a nasty gash. No blood spilled, however. Only that blossoming of azure spirit.

Lambitung’s strikes became slower and slower, due to the fatigue of the attacks. 

“What do you hope to achieve, knight?”

“Death,” replied Masuna, and he rushed forward—Lambitung’s lashing lances had been goaded to strike from two open angles, and Masuna slipped right in. His ginunting chopped the bamboo shaft of one of the lances; the blade struck the ground—Masuna twisted it, scoring the hardwood slats, and then struck up, empty hand slamming into Lambitung’s chest in the same instant. His ginunting cut into Lambitung’s stomach, and then the push caused the blade to savagely tear it apart.

Lambitung staggered backward. Azure diwa erupted from the woundf.

Mito rose to the sky, axe high above him, and then struck down, lopping Bangahom’s head.

Lambitung raised a hand and summoned an invisible lance of force to send Masuna slamming into the wall behind him.

Kawilankayu and Mito rushed in at that moment, with Kawilankayu materializing out of another firebird. “Go, Masuna Kulisat! We shall handle this god-blooded. Go! Before Mito changes his mind.”

Lambitung, now with only one lance, summoned lightning to crackle about its shaft. “Forgive me if I must incinerate you.”

Kawilankayu smirked. She was in her moment, right now. She did not have to think about kings or queens or successions or royal dynasties. In this moment, it was victory or death. She reveled. 

She rejoiced in the glory of combat. 

So did Mito, she knew. Mito had attained that enlightenment, at such a young age.

“You cannot incinerate fire itself!” Yelled Kawilankayu.

A small diamond materialized on Lambitung’s brow. His clothes billowed about him, as he summoned the winds. “Come, then.”

Masuna took the opportunity to get on his feet and leap out of the window, and run upriver.

“Sorcerer of little tricks,” Mito said. “Even a sorcerer dies when their heads are lopped off!”

Lambitung scowled. “I am no sorcerer. I am the spawn of gods. I am diwata-blooded.”

“Even a diwata dies when their heads are lopped off!”

Kawilankayu danced again, performing an intricate kata, holding another mudra in her hands, and summoned a dark green mentala to envelop Mito, and what looked like a translucent’s turtle shell slammed upon Mito’s back.

Then, she performed a last mudra, and she took upon the visage of an eagle-owl.

Lambitung struck her where she stood; she disappeared in a flurry of feathers.

She reappeared above Lambitung, kalis flashing. Lambitung parried her strike, and they engaged in another intense clash, a kinetic back and forth, lance against kalis. Just when Lambitung found an opening, Mito was there, stepping onto the lance, leaping above him, and cutting down. Lambitung managed to evade this, but most of his hair was chopped off, impossibly.

Kawilankayu used this opportunity: with the lance moved out of the way, she performed a mudra and dragged it down the length of her blade, whetting it, sharpening it to the cutting edge of civet cat claws, and then she cut. All this in a single motion. When she struck, claws erupted from the sharpened blade, puncturing Lambitung’s waist.

Kawilankayu barked out a laugh, and she continued the cutting motion, so that her scratching dance ended with her pointing her sharpened blade at Mito. Surat erupted from it, blossoming hibiscus, the word REND. It imprinted itself upon Mito’s brow, and turned into a vertical third eye with the slits of a cat’s irises. Mito himself grew whiskers, his eyes turned blood red.

Lambitung cried out, turned and lashed out with a kick, and Kawilankayu was sent through the hardwood walls of the house. Mito attacked as well, but Lambitung caught the assault with a mandala of spiritual shields; he then turned around and slammed the Datu Slayer through the hardwood slats and into the cold soil underneath.

Both Mito and Kawilankayu rose to their feet. “Gods damned diwata-blooded,” Kawilankayu muttered. She rose to her feet, took some of her blood, and flicked it into the air, followed immediately by a mudra. “Smoke and Bamboo Style.” And she vanished into the shadows cast by the blood.

Mito burst out, a giant grin on his face, from underneath Lambitung. He engaged Lambitung in a melee, and so did Kawilankayu, reappearing in another flourish of owl feathers. Their steel clanged against each other, reverberating through the night.

* * *

Bakong ran up the river.

At first,she wondered if she could go back there and fight. She wondered if, with what little knowledge of her art she had, she could launch in there and deal the finishing blow and fulfill the prophecy.

But she knew she would just be a distraction, a hassle. She had a larger chance of being killed. It will not be worth it. Protect myself, she thought. Hesitation is defeat. If I cannot protect myself, how can I protect others?

And so she ran, ran up beside the river of stars. The horned moon was at its peak, shining down on everyone tonight. Despite being just the horned moon, its gleam illuminated everything, allowing her to rush through the lightly forested riverside. 

Eventually, panting, arms and feet bloodied, she arrived at a garden of lunar blossoms. The Garden of the Moon.

It was beautiful. It was less a garden, and more so the surface of the moon. Walking upon it was like walking upon its gleam, was like finding light in the darkest of nights. The soft glow of the bulanbukad seemed to heal her, seemed to soothe her wounds. She walked into the midst of it, reveled at the safety, at the embrace of the moon. 

Is she truly safe, here? She had been running for a good while. She didn’t quite realize how long she had been running. She just kept running until she saw the gardens of the moon. 

She hoped it was good enough, here. She did not want to keep running. 

I should have practiced more. But she knew that blaming herself would get her nowhere.

So what was she to do?

* * *

Masuna ran up the path upriver, ginunting unsheathed, at the ready by his hands. His breastplate fell away from him, battered and destroyed by the skirmish earlier. He will not need it. He knew this. Had she been training her martial art?

Running up the river was running up beside the night sky, that river of stars.

He saw the silent clearing beside the river soon enough: a muddy riverbank soon breaking into a moonstone garden. In the midst of was a clearing large enough to house large beds of lunar blossom. No doubt seeds from up the mountain were carried down there regularly.

Walking into its midst was walking onto the moon’s surface.

In the middle of it all was Bakong. She caressed her arm.

Masuna strode into the gardens of the moon. “Bakong.”

The moon-haired princess shuddered, shivered, turned. “Masuna.” Her eyes widened, as if in this dim light she wanted to take in more of him than ever.

“You’re safe.”

“It has been such a terribly long journey,” Bakong said. The tiredness in her voice was palpable. The urge to go to her and kneel and hold her was almost intoxicating, almost ritual to the gods. “I am glad you’re all right.”

They stood a good few feet away from each other. A cold wind blew, sending shivers down their spines. In the distance, the faint sound of booming explosions. Whether it was from the moon markets or from the assault being performed on Puasa’s Longhouse, neither of them could tell.

Masuna could see the faint striations on Bakong’s arm. “You’ve been practicing?”

Bakong nodded. “You have new clothes.”

Masuna nodded as well. Bakong smiled, small.

Then, Masuna said: “You saw what we did there.”

“Are you allied with them?” She tilted her head to the side. Her smile was the saddest thing Masuna had ever seen.

Masuna almost did not want to speak, for he thought if he did, his voice would shatter, and so would he. “Makagagahum the Almighty has appeared to me in one of my worships. He gave me an ultimatum.” His voice wavered.

“You are one of the 87 Swords of the Star.”

“Either I kill you, or he destroys my family.” Masuna bit down hard, on his lip, until he tasted blood. “I could not let Makagagahum destroy—“

“Hush, Masuna, my faithful kawal. My royal knight.” Masuna tilted his head to the sky. Though his blood spilled from wounds, though he felt his bones ache, tears streamed from his eyes. 

“Forgive me.” When he looked at Bakong, he saw that Bakong was crying as well, though she kept smiling.

“You came back for me.” Bakong’s smile faltered. “Even if it wasn’t for the reason I thought it would be. You came back for me. I would never have loved a better guardsman.”

“The gods are cruel,” Masuna said. “All my life I have been subject to their whims. Yet now, witness me. I am destroyed and shattered. I am a blade so sharpened that I am brittle and chipped.”

“You have been a shield to me, Masuna.” Bakong stepped back. “You have been a shield to me for as long as you were with me. You were never a sword to me, Masuna.”

“Forgive me, your highness.”

“It is all right.”

Silence. Another cold wind. Petals of the lunar blossoms flew to the sky, and then fell to the ground.

“What will you do now?” asked Bakong.

Masuna took on his stance. “Kill you. Finish my mission.”

“Show me, then. Show me what you fight for. Prove your conviction.”

Masuna looked at Bakong and saw a woman he had not known before. “Very well.”

Masuna flew forward, twirling his blade. Bakong unbound and leapt backwards, flying into the air, and summoned her trident, flashing out of her demon arm. She met each of Masuna’s strikes with a thrust of her own trident. Purple lightning met azure flame. Clash, twice, thrice. 

Masuna was on the offensive, of course. He was the one that wanted to kill her, after all, right?

Bakong parried Masuna’s strikes away and melted into a battle meditation. At this point, she relied purely on muscle reflex. At this point, she knew that overthinking things would not help at all. Her life was on the line. She should fight, now. If she dies here, then she would have been glad to die to one she loved so much, and after fighting with all her strength.

They met again, in the midst of the field. A flurry of blows, an exchange. A cut here and there, but they were fine. The sound of gold against steel echoed a cacophony, something that resembled a haunting kulintang. It was harmonious, in a way, their violence. Strike, parry, avoid, deflect; clang! Clang! Clang!

Masuna slipped in, crossing his legs, and then struck again. Bakong avoided it by flipping over him, still unbound, and struck with her spear five times as she flew in a slow arc overhead. There she became the lightning to Masuna. Masuna was struck by the first blow, deep into the shoulder, clearly surprised at what she had learned, but readily blocked the four other blows.

Masuna struck back, a double-slash to knock her out of the air—to which Bakong reacted with a twirling spear back at Masuna. Blade strike slammed the trident butt first, and then the trident head—which then lashed out. Bakong’s violence sang. The trident bit deep into Masuna’s cheek.

Masuna pushed it away easily, sliding his blade in between him and the trident. Bakong kicked off of him, and she floated away, a flurry of cloth. Masuna leaned forward, and then burst into action, and then struck a thousand blows in the span of a few seconds. The area where Bakong almost landed in became a field of blades: each bukanbulad was torn up, chopped, sliced, turned into little motes of the moon, which exploded in the arena.

This was the end of Bakong. But from deep within the depths of her soul, where the realm of dreams connected her to the gods, her mother was there.







“If there is anyone to die upon the gardens of the moon then let it be me! Let the gods witness my slaughter!”

Devi Puraw was standing before her, erupting from one of the petals that had been chopped up. “Then you will never change the world, child. You will die and fall into the cycle of life, death, and rebirth once again, though you will never remember anything. You will never be free of the cycle of days. You will never end suffering. Peace will never be achieved! And the Hero? The Hero shall annihilate all that you thought you loved. Your sisters, your nation, all those that has ever stood up for you.”

“Let them! I do not want to live here, suffering and alone. Let the world burn away without me.”

“FOOL!  DULLARD! Do not be foolish: there is no one to replace you. There will never be another Bakong han Muyang Kalayo. There will never be another Princess who shall Murder the Hero. If you die here, that spells the end of Gubat Banwa.”

“Oblivion is better than the suffering we must face.”

“Nay. Glory is better than suffering. Even Glory stands beyond oblivion, child.”


“The final thing only few achieve. True Glory. To live imprinted upon the world, to become one with the world and also beyond it. To be the thing from where causality arises. To be emptiness and beyond emptiness. To be interdependence, JAMIYUN KULISA’S NET. Beyond nirvana, daughter, is Glory. Anyone can gain Glory.”

“Glory. Is glory beyond kings?”


“Is glory beyond gods?”

“Far beyond.”

“What is Glory?”

“Ultimate reality. And you will never taste it, and nor will others that suffer in this world. If you wish for suffering to end: not just yours, but for others, then find Glory beyond Heaven.”

“How will I do that, mother?”


Bakong was not there. 

Masuna looked behind him, but that was the wrong move. Above him, like lightning, Bakong changed the direction of her movement, quickly flying toward Masuna, and her trident cut down, skewered down. Masuna saw it at the last moment; he danced away in a quick parry, but his live hand was caught, and Bakong’s trident opened a deep gash on his wrist.

Masuna fumbled.

Masuna was the one here with the intent to kill, right?

Bakong spun around on her trident planted to the ground, and kicked Masuna away. He had fumbled, he was wide open. He flew backwards, twisting, striking the ground. But he kept his handle on his ginunting, and as he spun he chucked the blade into the earth behind him, and he landed atop its handle, which also stuck out of the earth.

He straightened. 

“Guro Karakasa has taught you well.”

Upon Bakong’s brow, an eye erupted open. Diamond shaped, within was the crimson eye of the Demon Goddess of the White River. Horns erupted from her brow, a visage of a horrible tusked asura. Two more sets of arms erupted behind her: two were in the mudras for lightning and fire. Two were folded together, as if in prayer. Scarlet power emanated from her, fused with a dark green hue, giving her the illusion of a crimson spider lily erupting amidst brambles.

This was 「YAWABUDA MUBUSWAK NGA BAKONG」: that is to say: DEMON BUDDHA BLOSSOMING SPIDER LILY. And in her hands was the thunderbolt of violent enlightenment.

“I implant upon you the muscle reflexes of my old Kadungganan body,” whispered the Devi Puraw to Bakong. “Now, prove your Conviction!”

Bakong bolted forward, faster than the thunderbolt, and struck Masuna five times, criss-crossing across him in the shape of a star. Masuna had to block each attack with his bare hands, and lacerations erupted from his forearms, his biceps, his shins. The last attack he parried by flipping and unsheathing his sword from the earth, and parrying the attack upside down.

Bakong floated, somersaulting in the air, and Masuna unleashed the Violent Bodhisattva Realm Technique once again, moving with such harmony with the blade that a thousand cuts materialized in the span of a single second. Again, the field before him was chopped, turned into fine motes, turned into a million tiny moons.

This time, Bakong parried every single hit with her live hand.

After parrying, she flipped up and struck down with her trident, striking Masuna’s blade in midair once, before striking again. The second strike converted straight into a spiralling attack, sending Masuna straight down, down, down to the earth.

When the dust cleared, Masuna was on the ground, but without any cuts. Bakong looked beside her, and saw that an entire quadrant of the gardens of the moon was, as if a giant cannon had exploded from within it. It looked like a thicket of hibiscuses trying to flee.

Sword Judas. A technique he didn’t think he’d be using at all, ever since he defeated Ginoong Sanghati.

With Bakong distracted, Masuna kicked at her knees; she buckled, and he rose to his feet, straight into a cross-legged stance, and then pushed with his hand, moving it as if he had a shield. The push sent her flying back, but she unbound in the last second and avoided slamming into the trees at the garden’s rim. She twisted in mid-air, a heavenly dragon.

Masuna rose to his feet, performed a mudra, and then summoned three floating blades. They blazed a deep purple, the color of lightning when it first erupts from the thunderclouds. Lawana Shrikes. With a snap of his finger, he sent the three blades flying towards her, and then he leaned forward and dashed toward again.

Bakong perfectly parried the three blades, the motion flowing into her throwing the trident at Masuna. It flew with the speed of lightning, and Masuna deflected it with a flick of his wrist. The trident spun in air, and Bakong moved—quick as lightning—right next to it to catch it, then struck five times from that direction. Masuna parried two, suffered two punctures into his chest and cheek, and then he used the last strike to slide his blade up the golden shaft of the trident and score a clean slash against her chest.

He converted that into another Violent Bodhisattva Realm Technique. This time, it was far too close to be perfectly parried. The only reason he never used this technique was because of its destructive capabilities. He would’ve destroyed houses, barges. 

And he could not do it without a sword. Many of the swords he used with that technique would shatter.

A thousand blade cuts struck at her in a single second.

Impossibly—and perhaps, with a lot of exertion from Devi Puraw—she managed to parry much of the strikes, but the others struck at her, cleaving into her flesh, ripping at her hair, cutting into her face. The last strike sent her flying down, crashing into the earth. Blood stained it.

Masuna turned to her and readied his stance again. He waited for Bakong to rise up, he waited for her to unbind herself again from the laws of the earth.

“What do you wait for, Masuna?” Her voice was steel, but frail. Her antifragility burst forth, a newly planted flower.

“Your Conviction.” Masuna readied his stance.

“You are yet to feel it,” she said, raising her trident and her knee, “even in the heat of our fight?”

“I feel it. But I will not kill you while you are down. I shall grant you a death honorable. A death to be sung. That is the least that I can do.”

Bakong bit her lip. “Will we ever see each other again, Masuna, after this?” And for a moment she was broken.

“My princess,” he replied, and he pressed lips together. At that moment, they were both broken. “If the gods are good, then maybe we will meet again in the next life.”

“This is the end, then.”

“I’ve missed you, Bakong,” Masuna said. “I am proud of what you are becoming. Your strikes, your movements. You believe in something, now.”

“Is there any way that we can cease our fighting?”

“It is either you or my family, Bakong.” Masuna’s voice cracked.

“And you choose your family.”

“I cannot let them die to that God of Hegemony.”

“I understand. So this is not a battle of love, then. This is a battle of Conviction.”

Masuna nodded. “My conviction is steel, stronger and more pliable than my love for you, which is sharp and brittle and hurtful.”

“I understand,” Bakong dipped low. “If I am to be left alone in this world… do you think I will survive?”

Masuna nodded, again. “Without a doubt.”

Bakong smiled, tears blurring her vision. “Thank you.” She twirled her trident, and then rushed to the side, moving too like the lightning. She moved erratically, criss-crossing against the gardens of the moon, while Masuna summoned more Lawana Shrikes. She was moving much too fast for him to see, and so he dipped into the Sword Judas once again. 

At the last moment, she rushed toward him, and struck him from all sides. Masuna countered by sending all the Lawana Shrikes to parry the blows. On the eighth strike, Bakong shot up, straight into heaven, becoming a shadow upon the moon, and then flew down. She was plummeting thunder. She became the vajra wielded by Jamiyun Kulisa.

A dragon erupted from her, encircling her, surrounding her, becoming the spear that was her. Lines of spirit essence trailed behind her as she became a comet.

The Heavenly Dragon Spear struck true, and Masuna performed Sword Judas to parry the attack.

Her third eye gleamed bright crimson, and a wrathful visage over took her. She flipped in air as Masuna parried the strike, and six five more tridents erupted from each of her six hands, and she struck down again. 

Masuna parried all six arms, but the last arm—the true arm—broke through his defenses, skewering down, down, down.

Masuna was a blade, though. And he struck upward, to cut at gods and demons alike.

Bakong fell through, slamming into the ground beside him. As if something that had tethered her to the sky was cut.

The demonic visage dissipated from her, and all that was left was a wrathful Bakong, determined to live. She rose to her knees, crying, groaning, roaring. She was a wrathful wailing asura screaming into the night. 

Her entire right arm, her demon arm, had been cleaved off of her.

Witness this, then:

She knelt before the body of Masuna:

The kawal’s arm still had his Ginunting held high, yet the

Trident skewered straight down his body, 

Impaling him to the earth, now 

he is an effigy to the gods of violence.

A demonic arm, detached from its body, clung 

to the trident, Bakong wailed in anger and pain and determination, the blood

blossomed from her wound.

* * *

The corpses of dead Virbanwans piled up so high that it created a platform for them to fight upon. Though fatigue never set in for them, Patima was getting tired. And yet more Virbanwans still fought, in the name of their God and King.

Puasa said: “They’re still coming, and Juskalis is still strong. His Gahum wavers not.” She turned to Karakasa. “Heavenspear! Sam’baha! Find Bakong and then go to my barge, quickly. They should be working to get the ship sailing. Find the karakoa with the garuda figurehead!”

Karakasa nodded. “We should go. Puasa can handle this.” 

Sam’baha nodded. “To Bakong.”

Karakasa grabbed Sam’bahas hand, and then they shot up into the sky. At that moment, thunderclouds gathered, which was just as well. Karakasa could stride across the thunderclouds.

The others continued the onslaught. Juskalis found an opening in Binayaan’s shots, zoomed in, quicker than shadow, and kicked her in the gut. As he brought his sword down to execute her, Gurang Huna uttered a mantra, and his sword slammed into a floating script engraved into reality.  Then, Puasa herself leapt up, using Binayaan as a springboard, and kicked him twice: once to strike his blade away, and the other to push him off. 

Then, at the crest of her jump, carried higher by demonic diwa, she pressed her hands together and bellowed: “THE HUMBLING CLAWS OF SIVABUDDHA: BODHISATTVA OF VIOLENCE!” Behind her, the six-armed wrathful form of Sivabuddha, the thrice-thunderbolt bodhisattva of Violence and Heaven-Skewering, manifested, revealing the horrible visage of a temperamental being that even Gods cannot overcome.

With her humbling claw, she struck down at Juskalis, who had been struck wide open. The giant claws would’ve killed him for sure, or at least brought him into critical condition, if it wasn’t for his angel wing cloak suddenly unfurling, turning into a solid form of the angel Rapael, taking the attack for him.

“My beloved…” Juskalis reached out.

“Return to the ship. Your time is not yet done. Let me do this for you, let me show you my love one last time.”

The Humbling Claws utterly destroyed Rapael, shattering his phantasmic form, into a thousand cutting fragments: many of which cut Juskalis himself. In a rage, Juskalis lifted the Gleaming Saiva Sword high, and brought it down upon the earth.

The blade cleaved what ever was before him in half.

The visage of the Sivabuddha was bisected, protecting most of the warriors behind it, as well as Puasa. Though the blade still bruised the Lionbreaker deeply. 

A powerful blast of wind sent the Kadungganan flying back, slamming into the longhouse. The cut had created a void that had to be filled by gods. 

Puasa rose to her feet. “Binayaan, Gurang Huna, leave now. Take Patima to a safe place. Set sail, now. You have prepared?”

“I’m sure the servants have seen to it.”

“Go. I will keep Juskalis occupied.”

“Will you make it out alive?” asked Gurang Huna, with a tinge of hope in his voice.

“Of course.”

Puasa strode forward, claws becoming those of the Sivabuddha’s again. Juskalis raised his blade, and leapt forward. Puasa parried, and they inflicted violence against each other. As they did, Binayaan took Patima and Gurang Huna and slipped out. Onto safety. Onto another day.

* * *

Mito struck down, axe smashing the hardwood slats of the longhouse. He was tired now: all of them were. Lambitung’s evasion was sloppy. He stepped on Mito’s axe and struck down with his lance, but then Kawilankayu was there kicking the lance away. “Let’s end this, shall we?”

“Be my guest,” Lambitung said, and he thrust his lance at her.

She parried it, converted that into a Flying Sword Spell, letting her kalis dance into the air by letting it go right as she opened Lambitung’s defenses. Then Mito kicked Lambitung in the chest, knocking him back. A quick dancing movement, and Kawilankayu summoned a firebird to strike squarely in Lambitung’s chest.

The embers of the firebird came together behind him, and Kawilankayu was there; a shadowy clone of her still standing where she summoned the firebird. She performed a quick stunning strike: three fists against the back of his head, then she uttered a mentala. 

Another shadow of her leapt out of the shadows and grabbed the Flying Sword, cutting down. A gash down Lambitung’s chest. The second shadow clone flipped over that and kicked his head, stunning him completely.

Finally Mito was there, in his signature pose, enacting the ritual act of


Lambitung’s body fell to the floor. His diwa turned into liquid, seeping back into the earth. A god indeed, to return to the earth like that.

Breathing heavily, Kawilankayu and Mito walked to each other. Exhilarated still, of course, but the fatigue crept up to them like the claws of the underworld.

“Masuna,” Kawilankayu said, and they ran upriver.

* * *

Karakasa, carrying Sam’baha with him as he soared across the thunderclouds, slammed into the gardens of the moon. Seeing the crying, bawling Bakong beside the now dead Masuna. The effigy to the gods. 

“Your arm!” Sam’baha rushed forward and picked her up. She was inconsolable. She could not be spoken with.

“Let us go,” Karakasa said, crouching deep down low, readying to leap into the thunderclouds again. 

“What about Masuna?”

Karakasa sighed. “The boy was a sword. Swords shatter, eventually.” He uttered a prayer of forgiveness and peace to Masuna. “That is all I can give, without the expertise of a priest.”

Sam’baha did the same. Anything to honor Masuna’s memory. She regretted she could not do more. She felt that she will have to repent such a thing, if Masuna ever joins the clouds of ancestors.

Then, with Karakasa, they leapt into the thunderclouds.

Finding the barge with the garuda figurehead was easy enough. They landed down and immediately set to work. They hired three Menders to work on Bakong’s wounds, to staunch it. Beside the large karakoa was Kiyam’s merchant ship. 

“What happened?!” Kiyam was an anxious wreck.

“Will you follow us?” Guro Karakasa asked, as Sam’baha went with the menders to make sure Bakong was okay. Sam’baha began giving out commands as well, telling everyone that they should set sail immediately, and everyone worked to prepare the masts.



Kiyam nodded. “I’ve just loaded with trade goods from Akai. I’d make good money there.”


“But what happened?”

“The Hero of Prophecy arrived. Masuna is dead. Bakong killed him.”

* * *

Kawilankayu and Mito found Masuna’s corpse soon after. 

“No.” Kawilankayu walked up to him, but her knees failed, and she fell onto them. “No, no no no. You are still to be wielded by me.”

Mito scoffed. “Even in death, you will not let him rest?”

“He is not yet done. He cannot leave me, yet. He cannot leave me.” In her eyes were lunar blossoms sunken deep into ponds.

She stepped forward and fished out an intricately filigree’d box. She gestured for Mito to remove the trident, and to throw both the trident and the demon arm into the river. As soon as Mito removed the trident, it disappeared into the arm.

Then, Kawilankayu opened the box, and took out the Black Raptorling. That monstrance of witches and ghouls. Into the corpse of Masuna’s mouth she dropped it down.

The corpse of Masuna twitched.

* * *

Puasa caught the Gleaming Saiva Sword and locked it underneath her arm. “Take this, you indignant shit!” She summoned one thousand asura arms and slammed it into Juskalis’ side, forcing Juskalis to buckle. She could not disarm the Hero of Prophecy.

As he buckled, she punched him one last time, letting go of the Sword, and he flew backwards, into another pile of Virbanwan corpses.

Then, she took out the silk satchel she had hid away and tossed the Kedu-Rahu Armbands before him. “Let it be known this day!” Puasa bellowed. “Virbanwa attacked a Warlord of Akai unprovoked!”

The watchers and messengers that hid away, and those other guardsmen that managed to survive within the longhouse, all fled and escaped, and Puasa knew that the truth of the matter will be known.

With that done, she leapt onto the river, and ran down it, rushing down to the docks as quickly as she could, leaving everything behind for the fulfillment of a divination.

Juskalis groaned. He would heal. He knew he would. But his anger, his wrath, was a blossoming flower. He took the bands and wore them, and picked up the sword. “Let us return home. The Millennium Kingdom awaits.”

When he wore the bands, the third of his eyes flashed open. Arrayed across his brow like a diadem. His halo burst out, and Makagagahum’s wrathful visage erupted from behind him, a banner of his glory. All the Virbanwans who would’ve lost faith then and there bowed and prostrated themselves before true power. 

The Hero shall win, yet. 

All Heroes must travel the abyss, after all, for their Journey.

* * *

Masuna awoke to conversation. In truth, he would’ve thought that he would’ve awoken again to the Ashen Star God. But he did not feel the halo of his sins bearing down upon him any longer. He was free of his wretched duty.

He opened his eyes. He was sure he was dead.

Dagna was there, smiling. 

The beautiful person that was Dagna was once said to have been more beautiful than the Rajah Batara Ambasi’s queen. Dagna was once said to have had beauty unsurpassed in the Isles. He smiled when he saw Masuna wake.

“Ah. There he is.”

“Sri Dagna? How… how is the noble one here?” Masuna felt like he had walked through three billion hells. His body did not feel right. He could not move.

“I was already on my way to Jambangan, to see the marriage and all that. How serendipitous then, that I arrived the morning right as that grand event took place.”

“Grand event?”

“Corpses upon corpses of Virbanwan troops, scattered about the Lionbreaker’s Longhouse. Diplomacy will be a different beast from here on out.”

“What about Bakong?”

“Gone. The marriage did not push through, I’ve heard. I’ve been told, however, that Binayaan is taking that duty of marriage, though she must first go on a tour of duty to Baik Hu. Yet the Third Putri is alive.”

Masuna coughed. Horrible, heaving coughs that wracked his body.

“As for you, little lightning,” Dagna said. “We have to return to Gatusan. I’m bringing Mito with us.”

“I must return… to… the Raja?”

“Nay, to witches,” Dagna said. “You are… let us just say your nature is fundamentally changed. I will… explain it all in due time.”

Masuna swept that away. “How about K—Batumingaw?”

Dagna smiled again. He straightened. He was clad in robes that resembled a peacock’s rainbow feathers. He wore the garments of a woman, as he always did, and silk slippers to protect his dainty, uncalloused feet. His robes fell about him and trailed on the ground. He wore layered plates of gold and jewelry painted with the faces of the many gods of Gatusan on top of the peacock rainbow feather robe. He looked like he was here for ritual.

Kawilankayu walked in, her head veiled and covered by silk and sarok, though underneath it her hair had that same deep tinge of purple. “Batumingaw is dead,” she said. “I am just Kawilankayu, now. I grieved for him in my own way.” She removed her sarok and veil, revealing her hair—chopped, falling only to her chin, now.

She continued: “I will be joining you to Gatusan. Your high priestess here has promised us utmost gratitude and glory. A path to royalty?”

“And maybe more,” Dagna grinned again.

Kawilankayu walked toward Masuna. “I will go with you, Masuna,” she said, and there was pity in her words. “To the ends of the earth. Where my sword will take me, his queen shall follow.”

“I am… to be wielded.”

“That’s quite enough for now,” replied Dagna. “You rest, Masuna. It is only in sleep you will actually heal. We are leaving on the morrow at first light. You will be carried by servants. You will heal on the trip back home. We cannot stay here for too long.”

Masuna understood. Kawilankayu reached out and covered his eyes, and Masuna slept.

* * *

In the vaunted halls of the throne room of the Batara Lakan, the Hero of Prophecy stood, clad in newly forged armor of starlight and flame. A beautiful armor that looked more like carapace than steel. It gleamed wherever he want. His pudong had been fashioned into a halo. A cape billowed behind him. His sword kept safely in a sheathe, his bands of gold incorporated into the starsilver carapace armor.

Knights and warriors stood at rapt attention.

The Batara Lakan spoke: “The Lord is halfway to finishing his prophecy,” he said. “Halfway until we conquer and bring about the Millennium Kingdom. Share with us the Wisdom of God, Sword: what is the next step we must take?”

He looked up into the stars, and his tears were blood. “My power beckons. Our next step is to kill the one that tries and stops us. We must venture deep into the underworld and kill the Demon Goddess of the White River, Devi Puraw.”

“Glory be to God.”

And the warriors echoed the chant. 




* * *

Bakong sat by the prow of the figurehead of the ship, watching the sun set. She was wreathed in healing poultices, tattooed profusely with rejuvenating mentala. She sat on a chair, made to be as comfortable as possible, and stared out from behind the garuda figurehead.

Find Glory Beyond Heaven.

“If that is what it must take, mother,” she muttered to herself.

Her entire right arm was covered up in gauze and healing poultices. She moved it sometimes, even though she knew it was no longer there.

Sam’baha was there. “What’s the next move, Bakong?”

She looked down upon her arm. “I do not hear or feel my mother anymore, Sampong Baha.”

“We will have to speak with priests in Ba-e to find out what had actually happened to you. Sri Puasa had half a mind to tell me, however, that with the loss of your arm, your spiritual strength would be diminished.”

She nodded. “The demonic diwa, that essence of atrocity… it runs still in my blood, but it has been ripped from me. I am not whole, anymore. Who am I, if I am not whole?”

“You are Bakong han Muyang Kalayo, the Hero-Slaying Princess. If the moon loses its half, it does not become less of a moon.”

A quiet moment. Then, Bakong said: “Things are hard, Sam’baha.” 

“They are. But you remember what the river does? It keeps flowing.”

“And so must we.” The fatigue penetrated every word Bakong said. She spoke slower, in a tone hoarser than before. “I will do what Aunt Puasa says. I will fulfill my duty. I will slay the Hero of Prophecy. Maybe then I can contribute to the lessening of this world’s suffering.”

“Your goals are always so noble, Bakong.”

“I only seek to eradicate hardship in this world. I think everyone should be happy. I think joy should be the thing that runs our world, not hatred and money and spite.” She closed her eyes to stop tears again, but all she could see was the impaled corpse of Masuna. “I cannot have peace. I cannot have enlightenment and joy unless everyone else has it. I cannot have Glory unless every single living being in this world has it with me. Whatever I or any others have suffered cannot be continued, the wheel must not flow forever. The river must empty into the sea. The Circle must be broken.”

A silence. The wind was a welcome friend. Never gone.

“That’s much easier said than done.”

“I know this to be true,” replied Bakong, wiping away at her tears with her arm. “And so we do it one step at a time.” She looked up at Sam’baha, and managed a smile: “The river eventually reaches the sea, does it not?”

* * *

Every story, no matter how long it must be sung, must have points of emptiness. Else your eyes and ears will be fatigued, and the diwata do not appreciate an audience that is not as rapt as them. Somethingness arises from nothingness, besides. Therefore rest, and the rest of the song shall be continued in due time. 

The Warrior travels back to his hometown, though perhaps he will not be at home for much too long. His life is unequivocally changed. He is a blade that has been shattered.

The Hero makes his way to enact vengeance upon the very thing that caused his God pain. His vengeance is just and swift. Virbanwa rides behind him, the Great Beast of our times.

The Princess travels to the most important location of her song. The region of metal buddhas and merchant-scholars. There she will learn much more about the world she wishes to bring joy to. There she must learn to become more than she is. She must become violence.

The sun sets at this point of our song. Let me lie, o diwata, and let the lie continue. Let me love and let me live. Let my very essence be the joyful affection of mortality and violence. Let this world hear the song of the Hero-Slaying Princess, and let us glean respect and wisdom from the the poems of our traditions.

Let us not forget where we came from.

The thunderbolt strikes us in the times we least expect. Therefore let us rejoice in the glory of combat,

Until Glory.

Until Glory.


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