Chapter Four

In Search of a Story

"My name is Angol Fear, and I have come here to pass judgment."

The man with the wooden mask looked at the girl with what she could only assume to be bemusement, and for the ninth time in as many minutes she contemplated simply killing him so that she could inspect exactly how he had bonded the wooden puppetry to himself so intricately.

No, that would not do – he was interesting.

She had come here to fight; to track down the proponents of this power that scarred the universe like a cancer, radiating ever outwards and threatening to drag the rest of existence into its cycle. Such calamities were not unheard of, and if those who had created her were correct in their worries, then her intervention was a merciful alternative to what could have befallen this backwater civilization. She had slain many on her way here; to this cliff overlooking the site of a great battle. She had watched the woman in the armor of silver wolves fight with sword, banner, and mailed fist against her own men; soldiers corrupted by the poison of the evil sword.

The wooden man tilted his head questioningly, and she realized that she had been smiling faintly at the memory.

"You humans are…amusing." She finally spoke. The man's rattling laughter washed over her senses once more, but the being called Angol Fear blinked unassumingly and awaited his explanation. She wanted to know more about this man; who was so different than anyone else, but still one of them – a human. Was that accurate? What were the defining characteristics of a human being? She looked at him again, her creaseless brow furrowing in thought; an alien process that was less the recollection of memories and more the analysis of a fragmented record of colors and monotonous voices reminding her of things she had never seen.

He was floating.

That was what had prompted her to lay down her weapon; the heavy staff of lunar metal she had claimed for herself after a hard-fought battle on a distant world. The beast had snapped her legs and gouged her eye; she had deemed it only just that once she had pulverized its spine in more manners than even the Greater Being would have conceived, that nobody would miss a single tooth, and had carved it into the likeness of her home.

But back to the man; the floating man of wood and laughter, Angol reminded herself, driving the memories away. She had become interested in him because he floated, legs folded beneath him as if his meditation had carried him off of the ground. Sitting across from him in the little crevice on the mountain where she had found him waiting out the blizzard, she had done the same. Yet while she floated with the simple manipulations of gravity, body mass, and magnetic fields, he simply floated.

"Amusing, the girl of frozen skin says!" The man howled, "Yet to our eyes, she is the poetry and humor; rhyme and misunderstanding!"

Angol remained expressionless, working out the man's lyrical manner of speaking slowly. This only prompted more laughter, and Angol glanced at him, feeling some foreign emotion beginning to contest her interest and propose once again that she simply reduce the man to wooden pulp on the canyon floor.

"Tell humble Yoshimitsu, girl from beyond the stars, what practice have you as judge and…executioner, yes? These carved eyes have laid upon so many children these days with weapons taller than myself – carved from twice as much lumber, no less."

"What practice?" She echoed, and began to recount the stories of her travels – or rather, the single long story of her life. She told him of the creature whose teeth had torn her legs and removed her from temple to jaw, and whose tooth she had taken as a prize; of the woman whose skin was made of light and who wore armor simply out of tradition, and of the battle that had lasted for seven days before she had been able to cast her down into the core of a ruined city, beyond the light of the two suns, and whose armor she now wore as a badge of pride. She spoke of the men who wielded sound like lances and tamed it like a warbeast, or the man whose presence alone had scorched the ground within a hundred meters of wherever he stood. She had killed them all, as per her instructions, and never looked back.

What use were memories? Only humans would get sentimental over information irrelevant to the whole of the world.

The man was laughing again, and Angol would have frowned had the gesture been something she knew how to manage. Fear was the only emotion she understood – it was her namesake, after all – it was the primary motivator behind all of natural biological history. Fear was the only variable created by life.

So why then, was the man unafraid of her exploits?

True, the warriors of this world were mighty on the battlefield, and had demonstrated ability far beyond what she would have initially believed capable from a denizen of this backwater spit of rock floating in the irrelevant sector of space. A girl whose life was protected by the air itself and a man who had been killed by a servant of a raging god and had returned to life as cocksure as before; surely the wooden man before her possessed some great skill if these were the enemies he had fought, but still – she was Angol Fear – she had slain champions of entire worlds.

That was why he was laughing.

"Answer the ronin just one further question, porcelain-skinned judge. Did once you visit this world before, hundreds of our years ago, to a place of sand and stone, and happen upon a ragged soul who asked the name of the girl from the stars?" Yoshimitsu cackled, and Angol could practically see the grin on the man's face, wider than even the twisted comedy of his mask. She thought back, matching the picture his words painted to one in particular, and nodded stiffly. Figuring the length of time these people called "a year" and matching it to her memories, then yes, this was a world she had been forced to descend to after the beast had nearly claimed her life; it was here that she forged her weapon, and here that she had first learned of "humans."

"Yes." She said, nodding once more.

"Eyahahahahaaa!" Yoshimitsu howled, nearly falling out of the air as he convulsed with laughter, "Charming Angol, your tale is the truest comedy, and this ronin hopes that many more will hear of this irony than just himself – an audience is so much more acceptable if it is larger."

"I do not understand." She replied blankly, awaiting his explanation. The ronin chuckled and shook his head, leaning forward as if speaking to a small child, though the laughter never left his voice.

"Listen well, child of so many years – all life is the truest story, and for lack of a narrator, it is up to us to read what is comedy, what is tragedy, and what is trash. A hundred thousand stories appear each morning; why not read and be entertained?" He cackled, and this time, Angol very nearly frowned – he was speaking in riddles once more, and this one she had not understood. The man was one step ahead of her once again, though, and smiled sympathetically behind the mask as he unfolded his legs and rose to stand.

"Angol Fear, hear my words, " Yoshimitsu said as she leapt to her feet and hefted her weapon from where it had leaned against the side of their small cave, "I have heard your stories and of your life; yet I do not see any of it as your writing, nor your path as your choosing. Should you ever need aid, the Bandit King Yoshimitsu will be glad to led you his humble service." His voice had changed, as had his voice, and Angol could swear that for the first time, he had sounded human.

"Wait!" She said, raising her voice for the first time in her life, and found herself reaching out with one hand. The man stopped and looked over his shoulder expectantly, and the girl searched herself for the right sounds – the words accurate to the scenery and characters in place, but found no presets.

"Why was my story so humorous?" She managed, uncertain if it was what she had meant to ask. Yoshimitsu chucked, and for the first time since she had arrived on this planet, she was startled by the change that overtook the man. He was hunched slightly and the wooden eyes looked dead; his voice was tired and sympathetic, and the musical rhyming had fled him.

"I am afraid that they misheard your name, girl from beyond the stars – you see, when that man wrote his story of the girl who fell from the sky and promised judgment and destruction…" He paused, chuckling a raspy, tired laugh, and raised a hand to brush back his hair, and for a split second, Angol knew that his eyes were boring into her.

"…he called you Angel."

And the man of wood and riddles howled with the most terrible laughter she had ever heard in her life, and disappeared in a flash of smoke and powder, out into the whirling blizzard, leaving Angol Fear with only he thoughts. Like the blizzard, the war for the soul swords came and went, and left Angol at the end with nothing but her duties – as always, there was nothing else.

So she slung her weapon over her back and began to walk, alone with her questions and her history of nothingness as she searched for the storyteller with the wooden mask.

Author's Note: Alright, so I have finally returned from an extended leave, and I felt like writing a chapter for Angol Fear who, despite her art style not fitting within the game, I found to be a very under-developed character that I would have liked to hear more from. Anyhow, read and review if you like; I would appreciate it, and to those of you who enjoyed these stories so far, I hope that this was worth the wait. I have a few more plans that I will try to write when I can find the time, but for now I'd like to hear some feedback. Additionally, these stories might actually begin to tie together at some point, I have not quite worked with the idea at length, so we shall see!