Hidden in the stretches of the Luminous Mountains at the top of one of the most remote peaks where particles of dispersed diamond dust created by the Diamond Maelstrom still float through the air like drifting snowflakes there is a chamber that is considered holy ground by the spiritfolk of Wind Country for it is the crystalline meeting chamber of what was once considered the highest power in all of Wind Country: the Convocation of Lords. Here gathered the mightiest of each Ancient Court-- the eponymous Lords --to discuss matters of importance within their spheres of influence. All matter of topics were once discussed within the iridescent crystal cavern from disputes between lesser and minor lords to the declaration and call for a war host to be formed against the growing rebellion of manfolk led by the slave turned warlord known to the Convocation as Primus.
But all of that was in the past.
Where once many came to gather when called, now only four heeded the call.
Shafts of bright sunlight seeped through the semi-transparent crystals that comprised the ceiling of the gargantuan chamber and poured in from a central gap in the ceiling that hung over a large raised platform of smoothed over crystals which served as the point of attention in many sessions of the Convocation. A thin layer of diamond dust particles hung in the air, drifting down from the gap in the ceiling as a tremendous blue and black figure perched upon that precipice. Silent and unmoving, it would not have been difficult to mistake the large creature for a rock formation as the indigo and black of it's wings made it difficult to distinguish from the rock and crystal surrounding it. Within the tenebrous cover of it's large bat-like wings it was difficult to make out its form save for a pair each of large, muscled arms and legs that were as thick as tree trunks and a pair of burning yellow eyes that shone out from the darkness of its wings.
Beneath where the dark creature was perched, two other figures stood apparently awaiting something to happen. The first of them was resplendent as it was covered from bird-like head to reverse-jointed legs in glittering gold armor that gave both the impression of opulent wealth but also of an intense regal bearing. There could be no denying that the golden creature was one of royal blood from the way it stood to the gilded armor that it wore to the streamers of cloth that it wore from it's mantle that dangled in the air as it moved to the large spear that it carried with it. In contrast to the being that it waited with, the other figure was smaller and shorter-- the most human of the trio with ease. Clothed in a fine suit of raven black one might mistake the figure a human being if not for its head which was that of an animal skull somewhat reminiscent of an antelope or an ox, containing figures of both without definitively evoking either. Within the depths of the skull burned two pin-pricks of red light that made for an unblinking and expressionless stare that any creature alive would have been forgiven for feeling unnerved by.
"Kojin tests my patience by making us wait." Complained the golden avian being with a noise that sounded somewhat reminiscent of an annoyed exhale despite the fact that the beak of its gilded face did not move as it spoke. It's voice was at once both wind and rain, echoing off of the surfaces of the tremendous cavern as it gave voice to its growing impatience.
"Be at ease Tenjin. He will be here." Even as the creature known as Tenjin's voice boomed through the chamber, the rasp of the skull-faced creature was alike to the sound of sand shifting between stones rolling downhill. Lacking the force of Tenjin's voice, there was no less a sense of power to it. "It is he after all that called this session of the Convocation."
At the invocation of the name Convocation, Tenjin release a sharp bark of mocking laughter that shook the cavern like an explosive peal of thunder. His form shook with his mean-spirited laugh causing the trinkets and jewels that adorned his figure to jingle quietly as the armor they were connected to vibrated with their master.
"You know as well as I that there is no more Convocation. There is only we three and--" To punctuate the end of his sentence, Tenjin gestured with the tip of his spear towards the large beast of a creature that still sat unmoving upon the ledge at the zenith of the chamber's ceiling. "-- that one. We are the only ones left that are brave enough to observe our traditions. "
"And what of Mikaboshi? He and Suijin are the last of the Lords."
"You disappoint me, Okuninushi. You would have us consort with the Betrayer? The thought sickens to me to my core." Growled Tenjin, rounding to face the smaller Okuninushi as he spoke. "As for Suijin, she is as unpredictable and capricious as ever. She is as like to be our enemy as she is to be our ally. For now she is preoccupied with pretending we do not exist and I am content with that for the moment. We can ill afford a new foe to grapple with."
Though Okuninushi seemed encouraged to argue with his contemporary, their brief disagreement was interrupted by the whistling of air and the crash of a corpse landing in their midst sending a cloud of whirling glittering diamond dust into the air around them. The corpse was larger than any of them and lacked for any defining humanoid traits. It had a large bony head crest that extended out past its neck and large jaws filled with teeth too large to be used for anything but the act of slaughtering another creature. It's arms likewise were a form of natural weaponry as the slick, taut skin of its body gave way partially down the arm to a pair of large bony scything talons. It lacked legs at all, instead a mass of thick, muscled tentacles which once writhed beneath the creature serving as its method of propulsion. Any other features of the beast were utterly destroyed as burns and lacerations peppered its broken form. The sudden appearance of the slain unbent abomination drew the eyes of both Tenjin and Okuninushi to the entrance of the Convocation chamber where a fourth figure had arrived.
Similar in height to Okuninushi, this one was the most human featured one yet save for the ruddy red-orange color of his skin that seemed to glow with an internal flame that flickered and surged as he breathed. Each side of his burning head shaven, he wore the rest of his long ashen-colored hair was drawn back into a top-knot and a black eye-patch over his right eye. Adorned in what could only described as war-like armor and garb, the creature carried with him a number of different weapons fashioned at various places across his armor but wore a curved blade sheathed at his side that seemed to carry a sense of prominence over the other weapons.
"Ho there, my brothers! I bring you news of glorious battle and victories won!" Laughed the new arrival, the sound of crackling flames in each syllable of his boisterous cadence.
Both Tenjin and Okuninushi were quiet for the moment as the fiery Kojin made his entrance to this session of the Convocation of Lords. None of them were truly Lords but someone had to represent their kind at such a gathering. Tenjin, Kojin and the silent observer that sat above them had all lost their Lords in the past and Okuninushi's Lord preferred to play at being human rather than join her people while they hid in the ruins of what used to be their world desperately trying to keep their traditions alive.
""What manner of unbent beast is this you have brought to us, Kojin?" Growled Tenjin, his eyes drawn to the twisted remains of the insane monster that Kojin had cast into the dust so unceremoniously at their feet.
"It is the reason I have called this Convocation! Why else did you think I would call you?" Grinned Kojin, enjoying Tenjin's already strained temper. It was impossible to say whether his late arrival was orchestrated simply to annoy Tenjin but it wasn't a totally unreasonable possibility. It would not have been the first time that Kojin had provoked Tenjin to violence only for the sport of it. Kojin bore a number of scars from such provocations in the past, hidden beneath his armor and clothing. "Dominus is on the move. I found this--" To emphasize his point, Kojin kicked the unbent creature as he joined Tenjin and Okuninushi in the center of the room with a hop. "--prowling the outskirts around Sunagakure. From the looks of things, a host of these angry beasties showed up on the human's doorstep an--"
"You passed near Sunagakure without our consent?" Tenjin did raise his voice but the anger and power in his words were palpable in the air around him as it began to vibrate with his outrage. "You risk all of us by venturing that closely to their territory. Were you seen?"
"You're not my Lord, Tenjin. And even if you were I still wouldn't be interested in hiding like you and Okuninushi. I'm not afraid of them like you two are." Kojin's eyes were alight with challenge to Tenjin, taunting him to push a bit further. This had been Kojin's meeting but he was hardly above derailing it for the opportunity to battle with Tenjin. It was always an experience that he walked away from with a good story, an injury to remember and a lesson learned about his erstwhile brother's abilities.
"Were. You. Seen?" Seethed Tenjin, crackles of lightning forming around his fingertips as he tightened his grip on the large spear in his right hand.
Kojin only laughed in response to Tenjin's rising ire which forced the usually neutral Okuninushi to step in. This was the way their meetings usually went. Kojin aggravated Tenjin until the Solar Ancient could stomach no more at which point a fight would break out between them with Tenjin so far always standing the superior. It was no secret among the four of them that Tenjin was outwardly the most mighty save for perhaps the winged beast that sat in observation of them but he rarely did or said anything at these meetings. He was rarely even at them, such was his separation from the others.
"Why is this significant, Kojin? We have known about the rising unbent swarm for some time. This monster changes nothing." Reasoned Okuninushi, attempting to wrestle control of the discourse to prevent a battle between the two side-tracking them any further. He was not as impatient as Tenjin but he did have his own reasons to not be away from his sphere of influence for too long.
"It changes everything! The humans of Sunagakure are weakened and distracted. The last son of Primus is dead. Killed by Dominus, by all accounts. They don't have a leader and they are recovering from an attack. Now is the time!"
Of course. What other reason would Kojin have had to call a session of the Convocation if not to push for his agenda of reigniting the war against humanity? Bound by his nature, Kojin was a creature of conflict and battle and spent the majority of his time seeking out such matters. When not recovering from his combats he spent his time either looking for the next challenge to his might that he might throw himself into battle against or alternatively trying to convince Tenjin and Okuninushi that they should collectively declare war against humanity once more. Long ago they had come to the decision that none of them should attempt to take up such a fight on their own believing that only would a single Court be no match for the power of Sunagakure on their own but such an act could reignite the fire in humanity for hunting their kind. They agreed on pain of war between themselves that only a majority vote at a Convocation could convince them to sally forth to war against Sunagakure and it seemed the time was once again upon them to cast their lots in such a vote.
As far as Tenjin and Okuninushi were concerned they had only survived as long as they had by maintaining the illusion that they either had left Wind Country entirely or were dead. Okuninushi had no stake or desire in continuing the war against humanity but Tenjin was something of a middle ground between them. He wanted the destruction of humanity as much, if not more than Kojin, but believed strongly that if they were going to undertake such an act then they needed to be absolutely certain of victory or at least as close to it as possible. Okuninushi strongly suspected that Tenjin outright feared humanity but would never say as much to him for such an intimation would surely only be met with wrath and ruin from Tenjin-- and would likely convince him to side with Kojin in a vote against his better judgement if only to protect his pride. Up until that point Okuninushi had counted himself as fortunate that such a tactic had never occurred to Kojin to employ else he certainly would have done so by then.
"So then you intend to call once more for a vote for war." Whispered Okuninushi, looking for confirmation of his suspicions from Kojin. He wanted him to say it.
"Intend nothing. By the laws of the Old World I call this Convocation to a vote of all present Courts. The blood of Primus grows thin enough to be vulnerable and now is our time to strike. The Flame Court votes "aye"! What say you?"
Kojin was certainly wasting no time. He thought he had a strong case and Okuninushi found himself silently lamenting that the Flame Ancient was correct in that assessment. The Daimyo of Wind was dead. The last son of Primus was dead. Dominus was a threat but more to Sunagakure than to them-- at least for now. If there were ever to be a fresh ignition to the war on humans then this was as good a time as any while they licked their rounds from the recent savage attack on their city.
"The Earth Court votes "nay". You know the reasons." Okuninushi was not interested in the thrill of battle as Kojin was and had no stake for revenge as Tenjin did. He would prefer to live in quiet peace for as long as he could, maintaining the masquerade that they had so meticulously built over the last few centuries.
"No surprise there. Still haven't found a spine to attach to that skull of yours, have you Okuninushi?" Sneered Kojin, his mouth split wide in a vicious grin that showed off the points of his sharp teeth. "Tenjin. Tell me that you see this for the opportunity that it is."
Tenjin was quiet and that was concerning to Okuninushi. Typically the Solar Ancient was quick to follow Okuninushi's vote of "nay" with the reasoning that the time was not right for an attack but it was clear that he was working through the arithmetic of it before casting his vote. The unbent swarm was dangerous but they did not have the stake in grappling with Dominus in quite the same way that they did with humanity. For the people of Sunagakure the stories of the Old World were just that-- stories. But for the Ancient Courts there was no generational gap. "Now" was the same as "Then" for them and for creatures such as Tenjin their indignation and outrage still burned as hotly as it did the day that Primus changed everything with that otherworldly relic of a sword he wielded.
"The time has come for our revenge." Finally rumbled the golden visage of Tenjin after several pregnant minutes of complete silence between the four of them.
"The Solar Court votes "aye"."