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Unread 24th of August, 2011, 00:19
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[One] A Storm's Wake (Kenjiro, Katsumi, Kaero, Josuke)


It was with a soft whistle and gentle chill that the last minutes of twilight ended, carried forth by a wind as tranquil and forlorn as the inner-gardens. The autumn sky, glowing a diminishing gold, gave way to blooming clouds burdened with grey, and the silence of the households beyond the garden walls made clear the retirement of the village peasants. Incense, burned a short while ago, continued to keel in their holders; the breeze carried their scent throughout the courtyard.

From where he sat, resting gently upon his heels, Akodo Kenjiro considered the garden’s aging cherry blossom tree, and the wilting flora that surrounded it among the lamps and smooth-surfaced stepping stones. It was a scene well-tended, as was his father’s insistence: the arrangement, which sat at the house’s heart, served as his wife's sanctum, and she would often be found sitting among the greenery, her gaze distant, seeing some moment or memory of the past within her mind's eye. Autumn’s touch, which had set upon the place later than usual this year, had done little to damage the beauty of the setting.

A sound, soft but clear, stole Kenjiro back to the present, and he glanced to his right, towards the still and impressive figure of Ikoma Shigeru. The Emerald Magistrate was still, his sharp eyes locked upon some point in the distance, his hands set upon his thighs and his chest rising and falling in slow, gentle breathes. He was listening intently, having noticed, as Kenjiro had, the hiss of a nearby door being pulled open by one of the household servants; the sound was followed shortly by the ginger tread of feet upon the wooden deck outside of the room.

The servant girl Chiyo, Kenjiro’s junior by two years, knelt to one side of the door overlooking the gardens, and touched her forehead to the deck in a graceful bow.

“Teiko?" Shigeru asked.

"He awaits your pleasure, Ikoma Shigeru-sama," Chiyo answered, rising from her bow. Her gaze, however, never left the bracing security of the floor.

Shigeru nodded, and then, very softly, birthed a sigh. "Very well, Chiyo. Tell him that I am ready, and then fetch me my blade." The young girl bowed low, and then hurried from the presence of the two samurai. Kenjiro watched her go, thinking her discomfort to be completely unwarranted, yet not entirely surprising: the Great Clan's Magistrate was favoured by the Bonge for his wisdom and compassion, particularly to those that should normally be beneath his notice; that he frequently honoured the household of Akodo Kenji -- Kenjiro's father -- with habitual visits, and thus had often been sighted by the household's servants, didn't seem to have lessen Chiyo's unease in the slightest.

It was then that the young Akodo realised the Magistrate was watching him closely, those sharp eyes gleaming in the orange glow of candles recently lit. He was not a young man, his forties having nearly waned, but his face bore few wrinkles, and his hair had yet to thin. He might once have been considered handsome, though now his looks had faded slightly, becoming more distinguished with age.

"You have never met Moto Teiko-san?" Shigeru asked. Kenjiro shook his head in response, to which the older Lion smiled sadly. "That is a great shame. He is a man worthy of tale: more cunning than the kitsune, more hardy than a veteran of the Kaiu Wall, and more loyal than an Utaku stallion."

Kenjiro remained silent. He didn't often know what to say to the Magistrate, and yet despite this apparent lack of worldly wit and lore, the honoured visitor had continued to request that Kenjiro sit with him. Their discussions were often one-sided, but Shigeru never seemed to mind; if anything, he seemed merely to appreciate the company, such as it was, and so the summons had continued.

Chiyo reappeared in short order, cutting short the silence that had threatened the small room in the wake of Shigeru's remark. She bowed deeply, shuffled before the Magistrate, and placed at his fore an ancient, yet well-kept, katana. This Shigeru took up in both hands before climbing gracefully to his feet; with swift silence he stole from the room, followed dutifully by Chiyo.

The Magistrate did not go far. Slipping into his shoes, the Lion took to a sheltered spot beneath the aging cherry blossom tree, and then turned eastwards, towards the guest rooms. From the heart of these chambers stepped a short, well-built man, dressed in unblemished white robes; his was a face marred by scar and experience, but though his skin was worn, his eyes still sparkled with vigour, and a hint of laughter. In his one hand he carried a wakizashi, and in the other a thick, crisp looking scroll. Flanking the white-clothed man was Akodo Kenji and Akodo Raicho – Kenjiro's parents.

The newcomer, whom Kenjiro guessed to be Moto Teiko, stepped towards Shigeru; the two bowed deeply to one another, and then, quite suddenly, Teiko laughed. "You look so weary, Shigeru!"

"I should be happier, were circumstances different," the Magistrate replied. He turned then towards the Akodo samurai, and bowed respectfully to them both in turn. "You honour me, by granting my request to have the act performed within your familiar walls. I shall not forget your kindness."

"I have something for you, old friend," Teiko announced, holding out the bound scroll.

Shigeru accepted the paper with a raised brow. "What is it?"

"Memoirs," the Unicorn smiled. "I thought it a finer tribute to my life and experiences than a haiku."

Shigeru smiled, a slight but welcomed gesture, and Teiko stepped past him deftly, turning into the tree's embrace; he descended to his knees before casting one last, admiring look about the beatific garden. "I am happy to die in such a place," he spoke softly.

Taking up his place at Teiko's flank, Shigeru looked towards Chiyo, who hastened to his side with a bowl of crystal water; ladle in hand, she drew the liquid over the katana's edge, causing it to gleam in the light of the moon.

Overhead, a nightingale sang softly.

From his seat, Kenjiro could not see the bite of the wakizashi. He witnessed, however, the pained expression on Teiko's face, and the beads of sweat that trailed down his ruby cheeks, made flush by strain; the old Unicorn never cried out, however, nor made any sound that might betray his agony.

And so it was that the whistled song of the katana could be heard with perfect clarity, as could the gentle thud of the samurai's body as it fell, headless, onto the autumn grass.



The morning was still but a babe, the sun's face gripping the hem of the horizon far to the east, when news came to Isawa Tanaka, honoured Elemental Master of that selfsame family, that respected shugenja and grieving father Isawa Ito had arrived within the city limits. Carried with speed by the grace of the winds -- and his own ripening fury -- across the Clan provinces, Ito had made excellent time on his journey to Kyuden Isawa, particularly since news of his son's death had only been verified three days before.

He was received in short order by the Kuge in a simple chamber that overlooked the winding expanse of the city below; light from the rising sun outside cast an almost hypnotic hue over the assortment of scrolls and parchments that lined the table at the Master of Water's side. But no such ruby glow, regardless of its sedate quality, could ease the pain and anger that simmered within Ito's breast.

"Lord Tanaka-dono," Ito began, making himself prostrate before the Elemental Master. He waited for as long as he could bear before he rose; his gaze remained lowered, for fear that the rage in his eyes might be recognised and seen as a grave insult.

"Isawa Ito," Tanaka answered, watching the younger Phoenix with wisened eyes. "I share grief for the loss of your son."

Ito bowed again, this time to mask the grimace that flashed across his lips. "My Lord is too kind," said he slowly as he risked a glance upwards. "If I may, it is on this matter that I would speak with you." He paused, awaiting a reply or objection; when none was forthcoming, the shugenja pressed on. "I seek justice for my son, and my family. His murder has shamed us deeply. I ask your permission to declare a blood feud."

Tanaka frowned, but otherwise remained still: he had expected something of this sort, but had hoped that Ito's grief would not be so potent as to inspire such an improper request. "Isawa Ryo's murderer has been discovered, and a conviction made. The order was given for him to commit seppuku immediately, to save his family from dishonour."

"Moto Teiko." The name felt hot, bitter, upon his tongue, but Ito nevertheless kept the anger from his voice.

The Master nodded. "The magistrates found him guilty: though he refused to confess, the testimony of a samurai local to the area was enough to bring the matter to a conclusion."

Ito swallowed. "His son still lives, Lord Tanaka-dono."

"And is innocent of the crime for which his father was punished," Tanaka said, his tone possessing a sharp edge. Despite his anger, Ito did not fail to perceive it, and any argument that had been lingering upon his tongue died instantly. "Moto Teiko's shame dies with him, if it has not done so already. To take this matter any further would betray the teachings of the Tao, and speak to the world of an aggressiveness that the Phoenix Clan does not feel, nor believe in."

"But would it not appear equally to be a sign of weakness, my Lord, if we ignored such a transgression?" Ito felt his anger turn cold, not merely from the realisation that he had just overstepped his bounds, but also because of the shame he felt at his own lack of control. On any other day, his honour and etiquette would know no equal, at least as far as his family was concerned; with his son's murder so fresh upon his heart, however, he felt strange, as though detached from the world and his own sense of right and wrong.

But there came neither rebuke nor any other outward show of displeasure from the Master of Water; Isawa Tanaka was instead lost to a deep, thoughtful silence, in which he considered the grief-stricken father more closely. His thoughts were masked by a placid expression; his fingertips caressed the hem of his kimono absently.

"It is not weakness to recognise the value of prudence," Tanaka said at last, "and it is the decision of the Elemental Council that Moto Teiko’s punishment is justice enough." Ito swallowed deeply, and lowered himself to the floor in reluctant submission. "I am, however, thankful for this meeting nonetheless. Your household is not unpopular; that your views might be shared by others is a potential problem that we would soon remedy."

"My Lord, I did not mean to suggest that--"

Tanaka raised a hand, and Ito fell silent, dropping again into a deep bow. "Your motives here are understood, and whilst I know that our samurai would never go against the best interests of the Clan, any lingering fears about the relationship between us and the Unicorn needs to be addressed." The Phoenix Lord turned his gaze towards the sun, now past the sea's lip and soaring higher, and grunted. "I will request that the Unicorn meet with one of our number, to ensure that there is no lingering hostility over this tragic event."

"My Lord."

"You are weary from your journey, Isawa Ito. Remain here and recover, and then carry my sorrow and regret back home to your wife and child."

His heart heavier than it had been on his arrival, Ito bowed one final time. Rising slowly, he carried himself from the room with as much grace as he could manage, and did not stop moving until he had reached the safety of the guest room that had been prepared for him.

Only then did his On crumble, and his tears fall freely.



It was a storm unlike any that had been seen in Rokugan for over a decade. By no means the largest, or most unrelenting, it was feared – and remembered – nonetheless for its surprise assault of the eastern coast; it rolled across the sea, a silent titan, and cut through fragile obstacles such as huts, trees, and minor castles, reaching as far as Reihado Shinsei. Those few Rokugani that were caught upon the sea were drowned, and those upon the land fared little better when not nestled away in whatever delicate safety was to hand.

When the morning came, it was a mournful grey hue. The sun hid its face behind the clouds, and the winds tread carefully across the shore, as though fearful of an uprising. The gathering of the autumn harvest, what little stores survived, was a task momentarily forgotten; the people instead looked towards locating their missing and dead, who lay sewn about the shoreline and inland in a manner most haphazard.

The eta arrived swiftly, and their work was silent. Even they, the lowly hinin, were not untouched by the tragedy: their heads were held low, their movements laden with a melancholy that was slight, but not imperceptible. And when they left, many uttered prayers for the fallen.

With their dead removed, the heimin returned to their labours, and the storm was pushed from their thoughts, though not their hearts. Evidence of the night's destruction was dutifully ignored, save where it required tending, and activities upon the coast began to resemble the norm.

Life went on.



The River of Gold, so usually a welcome vision to the wandering Scorpion, offered little relief to Bayushi Josuke. Alive as it was with furious comings and goings by the merchants and peasants -- a state well-befitting such a major trade route -- the walk along it's edge offered ample distraction from other matters, other thoughts; but not today.

Now middle-aged, the day seemed to have reached a fevered pitch. Heimin blustered about in a kind of daze, brought on by the biting, chilly wind -- a promise of impending winter. The month of the Rooster, weeks ended, had taken with it any sense of leisure, and the Rokugani were hasten to gather their wares, and the fruits of their various toils, in time for the season's transitional celebrations.

The waters sparkled as the sun, weakened by passing clouds, bore down valiantly. Josuke considered those around him, and the indifferent wind that beat upon the nap of his neck -- welcome distractions all, for they bore him away from memories of a past dearly missed -- before he finally roused himself from inactivity with a reluctant mental nudge. It was time he returned to his household; his presence there was long-overdue.

He turned on his heel and started back up the path, the heimin dropping to their knees as he passed. The bushi paid them little mind, but instead turned up away towards the city's seething heart; now and again he would pause to offer due difference to passing samurai of higher station, but otherwise his journey was swift and unhindered.

At last, he came upon his personal domain, and found himself delaying, however fleetingly, upon the steps outside. He considered the place a long moment, and listened for the sound of voices from within. Silence greeted him, and he knew instantly that the Phoenix messenger had already departed. His wife, then, was alone within, alone and waiting for the husband that she despised.

Inside, Josuke was greeted by the servants, who informed him that his wife was awaiting his arrival in the small room reserved for audiences with visitors. He nodded and pressed inside, eager for the day, and this business -- whatever it was -- to be done with.

She offered no thinly-veiled remark of contempt when Josuke entered, but instead bowed her head in silent poise. That alone was unusual, but the Scorpion reciprocated; when his wife offered a slender-handed gesture towards the matting across from her, he sat back upon his knees and considered her at length.

"My brother is dead." Jun'ai's words were spoken softly, but Josuke perceived the hurt contained therein. As little as he liked to admit it, he knew his wife and her mannerisms intimately, and educated as she was in spellcraft she was no courtier.

He nodded slowly -- what was there to say? -- and his wife lifted her chin, fighting valiantly to maintain her On. She was a proud woman. Young and gifted, she possessed great beauty, but her eyes were hard and her mouth hinted at cruelty. Even so, she looked distraught, despite her pretence.

She offered tea, an array of which had already been laid to one side, and then lifted her own cup to her lips, fighting to compose herself behind the familiar motion. Josuke watched, giving the time needed for her to gather herself. He did not ask which of her siblings had perished; she had two -- one older, and one younger, both males -- but was on favourable terms with only one of them: Isawa Ryo.

At last the cup was lowered, and set to one side. Jun'ai wet her lips with her tongue -- a delicate and oddly feminine motion -- and then sought her partner's gaze for the first time since his arrival. There was yet light in her eyes, but also a wetness that betrayed prior tears. "The one responsible for his death has been punished, I am told. My family's honour now preserved, there remains only the matter of paying due tribute to my Ryo-san's memory.

"Husband,"
the word, used so often in place of his name, was not a surprise, though the soft urgency of it's delivery was, "the Bon Festival draws near, and neither I nor my father can attend my brother's place of death, as is our custom." She paused, swallowed deeply, and then lowered herself in a deep bow. "I ask that you go in my stead; that you honour his memory."

For reasons that he did not disclose to his wife, Josuke gave his word that her request would be honoured. Her relief was obvious, as was her surprise, but she maintained both behind an adamant attempt at impassiveness. She gathered the servants together and had them clear away the tea; orders were then given to prepare the ponies for travel the following morning, at which time Josuke would away to accommodate his promise.

Professing weariness, Jun'ai retired to bed; Josuke, however, remained up long into the night, his face lit by the flickering, gold glow of the candles and the distant, silent moon.



The funeral had been a small affair -- a gathering of a few visiting Unicorns, the Akodo family, and Ikoma Shigeru himself -- but Kenjiro could not help feel but feel crowded. He had dutifully attended and remained silent throughout; when it had ended, however, and Moto Teiko had been burned and his ashes moved to a ceremonial urn, Kenjiro had hastened away, seeking solitude. His mother had let him go; his father paid him no mind.

Day gave way to night, and the moon climbed swiftly above the clouds. Crickets and insects sang, and the sounds of the household echoed loudly. Kenjiro, summoned by a quiet Chiyo, hurried to the company of the Clan Magistrate, who had asked to speak with him one final time before he took leave of the Akodo Kenji's hospitality.

Ikoma Shigeru was sat once more in the room overlooking the inner garden. His hair had been washed, and his kimono wrapped in attire more suited to travel. His daisho was to hand, but lay to his right side, as a mark of respect to the owner of the house.

Kenjiro dropped to his knees upon entering, and Shigeru fixed him with a pointed stare. His expression was soft, thoughtful, but the creases around his eyes betrayed his lack of rest. "I am thankful that you came so quickly; thank you for humouring an old man." Kenjiro threw himself forwards in another bow, but Shigeru was smiling to himself.

"I would like to explain to you the reason for Teiko's death, since it was at my order that you were witness to it." The bushi turned away from the gardens, facing the younger Lion more fully.

"I am aware that the servants share whispers and gossip; have you heard any of their words?" Kenjiro shook his head in answer, and so Shigeru pressed on. "They say that Teiko was forced to take his life because of a murder he committed. Though he professed that he was innocent, he was convicted, and was ordered to die."

The Magistrate paused when Chiyo appeared at the door, her hands laden with a tray of hot sake. Shigeru waved her inside, and she placed the tray neatly between them. Two cups were poured by her slender, shaking hands; the first was taken up by the Ikoma, who gestured for Kenjiro to accept the other. Chiyo sat silently to one side.

His cup drained, Shigeru handed it back to Chiyo for tending whilst his focus returned to the young Lion at his fore. "He was in the Crane provinces, for reasons that were his own, staying within a small fishing village that sits upon the eastern coast. It is said that he had words with a Phoenix samurai there, and that he struck the man down from behind when etiquette was forgotten.

"I have known Moto Teiko-san for many, many years, and his character has never been in question. I find it difficult to believe that he would commit so dishonourable an act as the murder of one above his station. The magistrates local to the area, however, would disagree: the governor's son himself gave testimony. One cannot argue against such findings."


Shigeru paused, retrieving his cup, now filled, from Chiyo. Kenjiro remained silent, his own cup sitting neatly upon his fingertips, as he waited for the older Lion to continue.

"It is not our way to question the verdict of those higher on the Celestial Wheel. The matter, for all intents and purposes, is closed, and we're expected to move on with our lives." Another pause, shorter this time, rose between them. Shigeru turned his attention back to the wilting cherry blossom petals, and to the sheltered spot where his friend had last drawn breathe.

"Sleep eludes me. That I know Teiko to be innocent wears heavily on my mind. Though nothing can be done to change what has come to pass, I still wish to know what happened, if only for my own peace of mind; but I am needed elsewhere, and cannot indulge this one, selfish wish.

"I have spoken at length with your father, and asked him whether I might send you in my stead to investigate this matter. He advised that I find another to perform this task, but I am adamant that you would serve just as fine as any other samurai at my disposal."
His smile widened, soft and comforting, and he looked over Kenjiro in a manner that was almost fatherly.

"I will not order you to go, should you not wish to. I ask as a favour, and a favour alone: will you honour an old man's selfish request, and give him some measure of peace?"



It was with no small amount of uncertainty that Isawa Kaero breached the threshold of Kakita Osamu's estate; as a Crane, he played host to architecture and art that were beatific and extravagant, and such visual potency bore down upon the young Phoenix eagerly, reminding her relentlessly of the importance of her visit.

The shugenja could not understand, even now after several days journey, why she was here. Oh, she had been enlightened as to the circumstances and her objective, but not the reason why she was chosen, and by the Master of Water himself, no less. It was not her place to question the decisions of her betters, but her silent obedience could not rob her of curiosity and personal musings.

Kaero dismounted from her pony, and allowed herself one last, parting glance at the fishing village far below at the base of the hill. Even from this distance, the devastation was hard to miss: huts and carts lay broken and sodden, piled neatly though they were by the dutiful peasants; the sky's grey hue cast a melancholy spell over the animals and children, who lacked the discipline of the adults, and remained visibly touched by nature's indiscriminate assault; wooden docks, where boats had previously nestled, were broken in half, or ripped entirely from their bedding and left floating a stone's throw out to sea.

It was a saddening scene, one that conflicted violently with the stoic, untarnished walls of the governor's castle. The wind and rain and thunder had left no markings here, no evidence of it's passing, and the servants who rushed to greet the Phoenix emissary bore themselves with a much more energetic and pleasant air than any of the heimin below. They were well clothed and clean, and the man who lead them did so with an air of flamboyancy that was almost theatrical.

"Isawa-sama," the servant began, rising from his bow, "I have been asked to escort you directly to Governor Kakita Osamu. He wishes to welcome you personally to his household."

The servant clapped his hand once, and two of the servant girls who had accompanied him moved to usher Kaero's pony away to the stables. The Phoenix herself was left in the care of her smiling guide, whose gleaming eyes observed her respectfully as she readied herself for the journey inside.

It was only a short walk to the governor, made shorter by the servant's considerable strides (which, Kaero noticed, remained formidable despite his obvious efforts not to rush on ahead of the esteemed visitor). The daimyo was sat with another in a moderately-sized room at the heart of the estate, already deep in conversation, his expression dark, when the shugenja and her guide performed their bows of difference. After a moment Osamu looked towards the door, addressed his sour expression, and gestured that Kaero should approach; the samurai at his side, a slender woman with hard eyes, settled back upon her heels and fell silent.

"Isawa Kaero, my honoured guest," the daimyo began, his voice rough but strong, "I welcome you to my estate, and pray that your journey was not uncomfortable."

Kaero admitted that the journey had been uneventful: she had missed the storm's fury by virtue of a day, and her passage through the villages on the coast were hindered only by the ruins and debris that came coupled with such a natural phenomenon. Osamu nodded, his smile fading respectfully as he considered the young visitor at his fore. "It is a sad business, but I am glad that you were not inconvenienced by it. I wish I could say the same about the emissary from the Unicorn Clan; she has, however, yet to arrive, through no fault of her own. An unavoidable delay. You will, of course, remain here as my guest until she comes, and your business is concluded." Kaero bowed low, and Osamu pressed on. "Quarters have been prepared for you. Saburo--" he gestured towards the flamboyant servant with a nod, "--will accommodate you. Call upon him should you need anything at all."

Silence followed, and Kaero recognised it as her cue to take her leave. She bowed low in parting, and then gathering herself up gracefully before heading to the door. Saburo awaited her there, wearing his thin-toothed smile; he bowed low, gestured that she should follow him to her quarters, and then hurried off down the corridor. Kaero made to follow, but not before she caught sight of the daimyo in her peripheral: he was, once again, deep in conversation with the white-haired woman -- whose mon, Kaero now saw, betrayed her to also be Crane -- and was speaking in sharp, impatient tones. The woman, for her part, remained perfectly calm and poised, speaking softly and with so little volume that Kaero might be forgiven for thinking her muted.

The castle's interior was alluring to the eye, and the Phoenix's walk through it proved to be pleasant. From some far off room music could be heard, the flute's sweeping tune filtering in through the walls and merging masterfully with the ebb and flow of the waves outside. Servants, of which there were surprising few, dropped to their knees and bowed low where encountered, and then bore themselves away with dutiful speed.

Saburo paused outside of a small, but comfortable room, and turned back towards Kaero. "Your quarters, Isawa-sama," he said, gesturing with a sweep of his arm; "I trust you will find them most comfortable. Should you require anything, it would be an honour to serve you." He bowed low, and then excused himself with a smile, leaving the young Phoenix alone within the impressive room.

Kaero sighed softly to herself, an involuntary expression, and settled herself into her accommodation, listening all the while to the soft, appeasing hum of the music as it drifted aimlessly through the halls, a melody unaffected by the storm or the burden of sadness.

There was nothing for her to do now but wait.



It was considered no small mercy when the heavens opened and bore no damp or fog, but rather warming rays of sunshine and a comforting breeze. Days of weathering pathways sodden by rain beneath the gloomy curtain of a grey ceiling did little to lift the spirits; sight of the sun, and of a sky that carried yet the promise of blue, was a welcome change by any man's standard.

Or a steed's, it was discovered, for the mount upon which Tamori Asano sat whinnied pleasantly, recovering from the disgruntled silence that had seized it for the past two days. It quickened its pace, however slightly, and bore it's rider further with renewed conviction.

Matching pace, Ario touched his fingertips to his own pony's neck, and acknowledged the weariness that yet lingered in the animal. The journey from the High House of Light had been long and tiring, despite the lack of misfortune encountered upon the road. The nearing of autumn's inevitable demise brought with it welcome harvest, and so fewer travelers were seen wandering Rokugan than would otherwise have been expected. Time had been passed between the two men with casual conversation, remarks aimed at the varying scenery by which they passed, and momentary visits to important sites at which their respects were paid, as was proper.

When the storm assailed the eastern coast, the pair were fortunate enough to still have distance dividing them from their destination -- which, they discovered from the lips of provincial merchants, was said to have been very close to the location of storm's focused fury. The news was troubling, however, and they hastened on with greater purpose than before, pausing only where necessity demanded, or when sleep proved too great a lure to ignore.

Every now and again, Asano's thoughts would journey back to the letter that, even now, was tucked neatly within the folds of his obi. It had been addressed to the head of his family, and had found its way into Asano's possession at the order of that same individual. It had been a curious thing at the time, and Asano had been careful to read it twice before he remarked upon it to his lord.

It had read:

Honourable samurai of the Tamori family,

It is regretful that I could not deliver this message to you in person, but my duties carry me far from the welcome sight of Dragon lands, and of your own province in particular. With this in mind, I press on.

Some years have passed since I last had dealings with your honoured family, a statement for which I am regretful, but memories of that time remain with me still, strong as ever before. One such memory speaks of a favourable parting between us, at which time you offered fealty to myself: an honour which, for the longest time, I have sought not to require.

In present days, however, I find that I do indeed require such talented assistance. If you would consent, I request that a samurai who is found fitting to the task be sent upon a mission that I am otherwise incapable of performing.

A young, gifted bushi of my own Clan -- a man by the name of Akodo Kenjiro -- journeys to a small fishing village in the depths of the Crane territories, just north of the Seven Fold Palace, on a mission of my own devising, and at my own personal request. That I cannot go in his stead is a terrible truth, and whilst I do not doubt his skill, I nevertheless find myself unable to render him without aid. If you'd be willing, I ask you to ensure his safety in my place.

I remain, as always, a friend of your family, your Clan, and our glorious Empress Iweko I,

Ikoma Shigeru


The name Ikoma Shigeru was well-known to Asano, for it belonged to the Emerald Magistrate to whom he and his owed a great service. As the letter had mentioned, the Magistrate had refrained from calling upon the Tamori for several years; that he was now acknowledging their pledges, and thus granting them the opportunity to begin repaying his prior kindnesses, had been welcome news to them all. Honour demanded a swift, positive response to the Ikoma's request, and that was exactly what the Dragon Clan provided.

Ario had accompanied him, of course, and though their acquaintance was still yet a fledgling thing, the Dragon found himself welcoming the monk's company. Loneliness was never far away from samurai who had yet to extensively wander the wilderness away from the fellowship of others; that the monk was socially fluent and insightful were thus blessings both, ones that had helped to carry the time more successfully than any incessant speeding would have.

Abruptly, the road turned eastwards, and set downwards at a gentle slope. Ruined fields of grain and rice gave way to a narrow pathway flanked by stones and gravel and a thinning sheet of rain water. They followed this down to a deep dwelling surrounded by greenery, the hint of trees and flora, and a formidable layer of rock, recently turned and sewn by the storm of days past. At the heart of this dwelling sat an array of tents and accommodations hastily erected, several wagons and their bulls, an assortment of heimin, and the occasional samurai. Of these latter folk there were several dressed in light armour, the Crane mon sitting proudly upon their fronts; these bushi turned in the direction of Ario and Asano as they neared, and started towards them immediately.

Respectful bows were given on both sides, and Asano presented his travel papers on request. Once the formalities were conducted, the leader of the Crane patrol said, "I am sorry, Dragon-san, but your journey will be delayed a while longer. The storm has wounded many villages on the path ahead, and rendered the road cruel and hazardous to pony and man alike."

When the Dragon suggested that they might push onward regardless, the Crane shook his head, his expression darkening. "If the condition of the road were the only concern then I would agree, but these lands have fallen prey to honourless ronin--" he almost spat the word, "--who are using the confusion caused by the storm to raid heimin and samurai alike."

Unable to go against the direction of the Crane samurai, Asano and Ario were forced to turn aside. Their ponies, eager for the respite, dipped their heads gratefully towards the nearest patch of grass, their troubles momentarily forgotten in the warmth of the rising sun; their masters, now free of their saddles, started towards the largest of the erected tents, the one from which the heimin kept a respectful distance: the lair of their social betters.

It was warm inside, with a damp air that would soon be vented thanks to the open doors. Candles, as of yet unlit, stood erected at regular intervals about the central room, and futons were tucked neatly to one side, out of the way. Only three samurai occupied the tent: two were Cranes, and they sat together, speaking openly about the up-coming Bon Festival, now fast approaching, and of the winter that would dutifully follow; the third was a young woman with long dark hair, light brown eyes, and a black silk kimono etched with amber patterns and a mon depicting an alliance to the Unicorn. She was accompanied by a woman, equally young, whose red kimono, though beautiful, betrayed her to be a servant of that same Great Clan.

The handmaiden spoke quietly with her mistress, her tone familiar and oddly intimate, though still deeply respectful. "--won't be much longer, Katsumi-sama," she was saying gently, pouring more cha into the cup sat in the Unicorn's hands. "We're but a day's ride from Lord Kakita Osamu's domain."

It was at that time that the handmaiden registered the arrival of the Dragon and his companion. She quickly lowered her forehead to the ground in greeting, and then smiled with obvious reverence at Ario and his humble attire. When due difference had been paid, the servant turned towards her mistress and whispered softly, "Katsumi-sama, the day brings another traveler: a samurai of the Dragon Clan." The Unicorn's expression changed barely; she adjusted her neck, lowering her cup, as though suddenly listening intently.

Her piece said, the servant excused herself and stole from the pavilion. There was a moment of silence, and then came an eager, dog-like bark from beyond the tent's threshold. Katsumi smiled slightly, despite herself: the sound reminded her of Kino, her own dog, whom she had been forced to leave behind in order to ensure swift passage through the various provinces that lay between her home and her destination. Maiko had no doubt sought out the merchant-owned dogs the moment she had abandoned the tent: her childhood friend was a notorious animal lover, more so than even some veteran Utaku.

The soft tread of feet upon matting drew Katsumi's focus back into herself. The Dragon samurai would be approaching, to exchange greetings and other such niceties, no doubt; she adjusted her seating slightly, turning more fully towards the sound of the man's steps, and prepared herself for one more exercise in social decorum.


It was easy enough to stay out of sight in the small fishing village, if not by virtue of his own efforts, then certainly by grace of the debris and rubble that still littered the alleys and walkways of the area's few remaining huts. Heimin wandered by completely ignorant of his presence, their focus given solely to the many tasks that still needed doing before they could turn in at the day's end.

From where he now stood, Josuke could survey it all. It was remarkable just how far along the repairs to the village had come in so short a time, but then, he supposed, the prospect of not having a roof over your head at the end of the day was a superb motivator. Even the children were inclined to lend a helping hand, though many parents merely brushed them away in annoyance whenever they were asked.

Overhead, the last of the cloud clusters shifted, and set free the captive sun. The day, early as it was, gave promise of welcome warmth and comfort, not unlike that which had been experienced the day before. The weather's improvement served to invigourate the masses, particularly the young, who began to run about the street and play among themselves in a manner befitting children their age.

Looking away from the peasants, Josuke chose instead to study the young samurai who journeyed slowly about the village's interior. He was a Lion -- his colours betrayed him as such -- and he bore the air of one inexperienced and untested. This Akodo had arrived in the province a day ahead of Josuke, but despite that the Scorpion was confident that he knew the ins-and-outs of the village more intimately than the young bushi ever would.

The sound of hooves upon mud and wood drew the attentions of both Josuke and the young Lion. They looked towards the main entrance to the village as a short column of ponies passed through the gates: at the front was an attractive young woman of Unicorn breeding, sat upon a horse considerably larger than the others in the procession, and behind her rode a Dragon bushi and a monk; several servants walked at the rear of the party (save one, who rode a pony of impressive breeding and temperament), and a trio of Crane samurai, all garbed in light armour, brought up the rear. Immediately peasants on either side of the street dropped to their knees in submission, and those individuals who stood in the path of the column threw themselves out of the way before they, too, lowered themselves in respectful bows.

This was a practice performed by all, save for one small boy who came level with the line of samurai half-way down the ruined street. He did not bow, but rather stared wide-eyed at the finely-garbed bushi and courtier, unmoving. Instantly the man to his side -- his father, it was safe to assume, based upon their similar dark eyes and hair -- barked a shocked order, and rose just high enough from his own bow that he could slap the boy upon his lower back. Waking from his startled reverie, the boy threw himself to the ground, his body shaking. His father whispered an open apology to the samurai, his bow deep and subservient.



I apologise to everyone for the delay in getting this up, but now that it's done, the game can finally get underway.

Some things worth mentioning:
Books: At present, I am in possession of the Core Rulebook, Enemies of the Empire, and The Great Clans. Whilst these titles offer me a great wealth of information regarding Rokugan, I will obviously be missing the facts and details listed in The Emerald Empire. For this reason, some inaccuracies might arise regarding personalities or setting; where this happens, consider what I have written to be canon in place of the published text.

The Appearance of Player Characters: I apologise for not giving equal mention to all characters in the opening post, but the above approach was necessary to limit any further delays in the game's beginning. Rest assured, however, that I will be working hard to give each character their own focus and attention where possible in all future posts.

Travel Times & Distances: It might occur to you all that I've been deliberately vague where travel times and distances are concerned. This I've done mainly because of a lack of familiarity with the world map, and because of the difficulty in accurately placing each of you at the game's conception (that, and there is an absence of travelling rules in the book). I have, however, tried to be somewhat realistic in the order of arrival: Kenjiro, being the closest to the Crane lands, was first to reach the village, followed by Josuke, then Kaero, and finally Asano, Ario, and Katsumi.

Date of Play: As of the post's climax, it will be the 26th Day of the Month of the Dog. The Bon Festival is to take place on the 28th Day.

Speech Colours: I'd like each player to nominate a font colour for themselves, which he will use in all of his future posts in order to make his character's dialogue easier to follow. Decisions regarding this should be made in the Player's Forum, not in this thread.
The post ends quite abruptly, and this was deliberate: I wanted to not only get the post up when promised, but also to give you all a chance to get caught up in your opening posts (in which you should detail your character's reactions to each scene mentioned above that he/she is involved in, any highlights of their journey to the fishing village, and their activities up until the time of the opening post's climax). Vortigern, Foxtrot, and AbidingDude have also been provided with the opportunity to begin a dialogue with one another, should they so choose, thus allowing them to reach the start of the game with at least a passing acquaintance with one another.

This is an ideal opportunity for you all to get into character, and exercise your creative fingertips. It's also a good opportunity for you all to begin working towards those bonus experience points.

Hopefully everything else will be clear to you all, but if you do find yourselves with questions, feel free to ask them in the Player's Forum.

Last edited by Copper; 24th of August, 2011 at 00:37.
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  #2  
Unread 24th of August, 2011, 11:23
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The road had been long, even with the paces of Suna's long legs.

There had been times, not long past, when Katsumi would have loved such lengthy excursions. Her horseback travels across the Utaku plains had been a welcomed reprieve from the rigors of training and the weight of her family's responsibilities and expectations. While she cleaved to her family's traditions with the utmost pride, the long rides with nothing but the wind in her unbound hair and Suna's powerful gallop beneath her legs had been a carefree commune with the beauties of her ancestral lands. They had always served to reinvigorate her."No Utaku lives without the call of the horizon in her heart," her mother had often told her. Katsumi's heart, no matter how heavy, had always been lifted by the sight of the endless fields of golden grass.

Those times were past.

Maiko, bless her tender heart, had filled the time on the roads with enough idle banter for the both of them. The dragonflies, the shape of the clouds, the coming Bon festival - the Ishiki girl was a font of pleasantry that refused to leave Katsumi's thoughts idle. And while Katsumi often hid behind the safety of her detached demeanor, in truth she was thankful for the younger girl's distractions. There were dark places her mind found to wander when left to itself.

Only when Katsumi heard the hooves of approaching steeds did Maiko fall into humble silence. Katsumi had known Maiko since the early days of their youth, before the circumstances of their respective families had pulled them apart, and allowed her friend a level of familiarity not commonplace among samurai of station. Maiko understood the boundaries of etiquette when in the presence of others, and respected them in public. Perhaps it was imprudent of Katsumi not to keep a more respectful distance with her servant in private also, but she had come to accept the personal relationship over time. The samurai men had their geisha to whom they could turn to escape their burdens, so Katsumi had allowed herself this one friend with which to share hers.

"A tragedy for the Moto family..." Maiko's tone had become uncharacteristically somber at the sudden change in conversation. "My family once served them...we place them in very high esteem."

The news of Moto Teiko's conviction had been I'll-received in the Unicorn courts. The Moto were completely incensed, and their martial pride had raised rumors of feud through the incessant whisperings of the other courtiers. The intervention of the Shinjo family had reinstated some semblance of temperance, but the Moto were not a family that let grudges slide easily.

Katsumi took Maiko's quiet hesitance to mean that she awaited her master's reply. Katsumi weighed here words carefully as she spoke.

"The Moto family's honorable history is beyond question, but we can never presume that any clan is beyond fault. Even the Moto have had...unfortunate chronicles in their past."

There was no need to elaborate, as every Unicorn child grew up with tales of the Dark Moto riders whispered into their ears.

Maiko let these words stand for a long moment before summoning the courage to ask another bold question. "Then you think Moto Teiko-sama could have committed such a crime, Katsumi-sama?"

Katsumi injected her answer with all the sincerity she could muster.

"The Governor's son is a man of station, and his honor is beyond reproach."


The words fell flat and hollow...Katsumi had never been the most gifted of courtiers.

The samurai and her servant continued the day's journey in heavy silence.

Last edited by Foxtrot; 14th of September, 2011 at 10:15.
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Unread 24th of August, 2011, 12:03
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The storm passed over them that evening, its fury like a chorus of raging spirits. Katsumi and Maiko were fortunate enough to have already found solace in a roadside shelter with other distraught travelers by the time the storm found them, and were spared the tempest's full intensity. Though crowded in the small structure, the heimin gave their samurai master and her servant ample room and deference.

Katsumi had heard such natural calamity only scant few times in her short life - the great thunderstorms that only seldom tore across the Utaku plains had left vivid memories of lightning and burning fields imprinted on her young mind. Even those memories, all the more potent having been crafted by the mind of a child, were left wanting by the cacophony of destruction that swept over them that evening. The winds howled like an angry beast, and the rains pelted the rickety walls of the shelter mercilessly. Katsumi had long ago stopped finding signs and portents in natural phenomenon, but if ever a spirit raged against the world of men, it was on this night.

The hours passed sleeplessly, and it was near unto morning by the time normalcy crept back into the world. There were lamentations amongst the local heimin as they emerged from the shelter to survey the damage done to the lands they called home. Some piece of Katsumi wanted to help them recover their lives, but her duty was elsewhere. The two young women mounted their steeds, both still thankfully healthy, and continued their journey across the foreign, wounded landscape.

It was midday when Katsumi heard the clamoring voices of idle men over the next hill...a background noise of meaningless conversation that she instinctively knew would mean delay. A courteous male voice called out to her as she approached.

"Sumimasen, Unicorn-San. The road has been closed."

There was an all-too-familiar awkward pause as Katsumi waited for Maiko to lean to her ear and give her the words she needed to answer.

"May I ask the reason for such caution, Crane-San?"

"We suspect a pack of bandits to have taken advantage of the evening's calamity. We already have reports of them preying on the passing caravans- please accept our apologies for the inconvenience, Unicorn-San."

Katsumi bowed her head in courteous reply. "You perform your duties admirably, Crane-san. We will await your notice."

The Crane led Katsumi and Maiko to a tent that had been hastily prepared for samurai such as herself that had been caught victim of the circumstances. Their differences aside, Katsumi had always heard from the other courtiers nothing but praise for the manner the Crane administered their lands in order. She had not been misled.

Maiko busied herself making Katsumi comfortable now that they seemed overburdened with time. She dutifully prepared cha, humming a soft melody as she did so. A pair of samurai, obviously Crane by the accent they shared with the guards outside, seated themselves in the shelter. Katsumi sent a polite bow their way, but they chose not to join her. She did her best not to appear relieved- every conversation she had carried with a crane had been laden with their speech craft, some motive cloaked in every sentence. Katsumi did not fault them for their ways, but she found such dialogue taxing.

"The Crane outside assured me it won't be much longer, Katsumi-sama. We're but a day's ride from Lord Kakita Osamu's domain."
At this, Maiko stopped to assess the two men which had just entered the tent. "Katsumi-sama, the day brings another traveler: a samurai of the Dragon Clan." With this Maiko humbly left, her soft steps retreating from the place which was to be the forum of samurai.

Katsumi kept her eyes fixed level before her, turning her head slowly to follow the approaching strangers. With a careful, practiced motion she placed the teacup on the matting beside her and then clasped her hands neatly in her lap.

When she spoke to her new company, it was with a soft, but confident voice and a barely-perceptible wry smile. "Welcome to our humble camp of inconvenience, Dragon-san." Katsumi followed her friendly greeting with a respectful bow of her head and waist towards the approaching footsteps, suppressing her mild irritation as a few wayward strands of hair slipped over her face.

"I confess that in my few years I have never had the privilege of addressing a fellow samurai of the Dragon Clan outside of correspondence. I would be most honored by your company."

Last edited by Foxtrot; 16th of September, 2011 at 00:49.
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Unread 24th of August, 2011, 12:42
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Josuke thanked the Fortunes that his travels had so far been uneventful. There were those that held that the journey was more important than the destination, but he wondered if those that stated that had spent many nights in rain and mud with naught but a cloak to comfort themselves with.

He surveyed the damage, softly sighing. A waste, to be sure, but the Crane held their subjects well in hand if they were recovering this quickly. The Scorpion was slightly surprised that he did not see more shugenja about, if nothing else beseeching the kami to spare the village any more misfortune.

A Lion... Josuke had little love for their kind, but this one could not have been the one responsible. He was far too young and soft. Josuke allowed his eyes to crinkle slightly above his mask. It would have been too much to hope for to mix business with pleasure.

He regretted the passing of his wife's brother. He had had a sense of humor so often missing among the Phoenix. In fact, Josuke often wondered if he had received the entirety of it, leaving his other siblings with none.

Josuke observed the procession through the town, eyes narrowing somewhat. It seemed a very cosmopolitan gathering for such a small village, and the Scorpion was forced to wonder what other hands were at work this day. For the moment, he was inclined not to declare himself, but observe and see how they acted.

Last edited by Darius; 24th of August, 2011 at 12:45.
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Unread 24th of August, 2011, 17:31
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Reaching down slowly, Kenjiro took the cup of sake from before him and raised it to his lips, letting the hot drink slowly flow into his mouth, giving himself a moment to think and consider Shigeru's request.

Service of an Emerald Magistrate, even in a less than normally formal manner, was of course an honour, and could perhaps lead to a more official position in the Magistrates retinue. He had always desired to serve the Empire more directly than through his clan, and perhaps this could be a pathway to that. His duties here were not so many that his absence would be sorely missed. His parents, in any case, would not consider his departure a great loss. And Ikoma Sigeru himself was a kindly man, who had showed him respect. He deserved that respect back in turn.

Sayuri though, she was still young, she did not understand why their house had turned quiet and loveless of late. Without Kenjiro she would be scared and alone, his mother had neglected to pay her any more than the bare minimum of attention expected of late. Perhaps he should stay, for her sake.

Kenjiro place his cup down and looked out into the garden. The moonlight dusted the flowers there, gave them an otherworldy glow that was quite beautiful. As he watched, the memory of Moto Teiko last moments came back to him. The tightening of his face in pain. The silence as he refused to call out. The relief of the Magistrate's blade.

Whatever else, an honourable Samurai had died that night. Bushido called to it's own, and Kenjiro knew that were he truly honourable, he would seek to ensure that Teiko's ancesters rested easily with the manner of his life and death. He had been no Lion, but the Unicorn had long been honourable and respected foes of Kenjiro's clan. Sayuri would have to learn what it meant to be Akodo by herself.

And if nothing else, Kenjiro knew without a doubt that Taki would have agreed to go in an instant.

"It honours me to accept, Ikoma-San"

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The village had suffered the wrath of the storm most dearly, but in the manner of Rokugan, life must go on, the wheel still turned, and so it went here.

Akodo Kenjiro walked at a steady pace through the village, looking about him at the work of the peasants. He had never left the lands of the Lion before, and was interested to see how the Crane organised their territories. So far they seemed to be aesthetically pleasing, though lacking in military use and design. No wonder the Crane had to rely on the courts to wage their wars.

Today, however, even the beauty of the Crane's coastal lands were marred by the damage that had been caused the night before. Kenjiro had been more safe than those caught open in the open, staying in the travelling house as he had been, but even so the walls had shock with the fury and intensity of the tempest, Kenjiro could not remember in all his sixteen years such a powerful gale, nor could he recall Osano-Wo cracking the sky with such rage.

The arrival of a new party of Samurai did not surprise him, he had expected the Crane to send some men to observe the damage, but that it also was made up of two Unicorn, a Dragon, a Monk and their various servants did. He watched them clatter in, and considered this new arrival carefully. Such a small place, even with the estate above, and so many guests, this was no coincidence. He stood openly in their sight, met the attractive Utaku's eyes calmly, and waited to see the response.

Last edited by Solar; 25th of August, 2011 at 07:53.
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Unread 25th of August, 2011, 07:48
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Kaero settled into her room quickly enough, the size and opulence of the room not quite enough to make her small quantity of perfectly functional gear and clothing seem small, inferior and drab but just enough to make her hesitate putting her items on display for fear of comparison.

The music drifting down the hall was pleasant enough and its serenity might help her meditate and acheive some enlightenment on her situation. Having changed from her travelling clothes into her more impressive flame red and orange Phoenix robes she settled on the mat allowing the music to aid her in touching the void.

Why had the Elemental Master of Water sent her to this place? She was no diplomat. Even if she was the matter had been settled, the Unicorn samurai was dead the Tao was satisfied, the wheel moved on.

"Why am I here?" The music drifted down the hall it was not helping her attain enlightenment. Doing as she had before she tuned the music out reaching to nothingness, from this point of perfect isolation she spread her conscieousness out around her inch by inch. She took in the silent hum of the potential within the vase of water on the floor beside her, the strength of the earth beneath her, the glow and warmth of lord sun upon the walls of the room and the music on the air around her. Connecting all these was the void, the sunlight reflected from the water the water rested upon the earth and the air chased the cherry blossoms across its surface. every moment and ripple never to be repeated destroyed and reborn from the void over and over for all of time as infinate as the void itself.

Everything has meaning. Everything has cause and everything has effect. As the air pushes the cherry blossoms something pushed the Unicorn to murder, just so the Master of water had chosen her it must be for a reason. Just as the Unicorn was pushed to kill maybe she to was a push to create an effect? Time would tell.

Kaero reached into her travel pack and retrieved her journal and began to scribe her musings in a tongue of her own creation a code based on her favoured exerpt from the teachings of the Tao. After a few minutes of cryptic scribbling she closed her journal and reached for another book from her bag of teachings and stepped out of her room to sit out in the gardens to read before the inevitable ostentatious dinner.
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Unread 25th of August, 2011, 07:54
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The Unicorn and the procession following her drew close, and as they did Kenjiro carefully watched each member of the party in turn, though their speed made proper observation difficult. Certainly they moved quickly and with purpose, likely they had serious business to attend to at the estate, and the Utaku at least ignored him entirely, though whether through pride or because she had not noticed him, he could not tell. Kenjiro had yet to personally meet the Lord, he had arrived late last night and had been forced to take refuge in the travelling house due to the intensity of the storm. It would be an insult to leave presenting himself any longer, however, and he began to turn to follow the procession when he noticed the peasant child staring at the Samurai arrivals before being ulled down by his father.

If the procession noticed the disrespect they did not seem to stop and consider it. Kenjiro knew that his father would have done so, maybe even made an example of him since his brother died. Though never unfair to the lower classes, he had been harsh of late. Kenjiro would have taken action were these his father's lands, but they were not, and the slaying of another Lord's peasants was not his place. He might have brought up the point with Kakita Osamu, but he was here to serve the request of Ikoma Shigeru, not engage in petty sniping.

Ignoring the now prostrate peasants, Kenjiro once more began to walk briskly after the other Samurai, taking care to avoid the mud where it had been kicked up by the horses. So many new arrivals. Perhaps the Unicorn were also here to investigate the news of Moto Teiko. In any case, it would be interesting to see how the sudden popularity of this small fishing village would turn out.
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Unread 31st of August, 2011, 02:19
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Following the shugenja into the tent, Ario bowed deeply to each of the occupants, and gave a respectful nod to the servant. Taking up an attentive standing position at the rear of the tent, he quietly listened and observed. He was curious as to what would unfold due to their delay. It takes a wise man to see an obstacle as it truly is and not as it appears to be, he thought, recalling a the words of Shinsei to his mind.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Riding his pony into town with the Samurai, Ario made a mental note to ask the local clergy if there was anything he could do to help with preparations and the bon festival itself.

Seeing the peasant boy's behavior, he quickly jumped from his pony and strode to where the shaking boy was now prostrate, face gravely serious. He whispered to him in a hushed voice. Ario used a more encouraging tone than anyone seeing his face would have expected, but then, only one person could hear his quiet whisper, and that was the point. Ario urged the boy to pay better attention, lest it be a hot tempered samurai that see him next time, and respond in wrath to the misunderstanding.

Striding back to his horse, and jumping easily into the saddle, face still utterly serious, Ario looked at the samurai. He considered each of them carefully, wondering whether or not he had just preserved the boy's from just such a hot tempered samurai, and whether the boy would learn from the experience.
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Unread 4th of September, 2011, 05:52
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At the head of the procession, the young Unicorn samurai-ko had stopped her horse and turned a curious eye towards the commotion, her face betraying nothing of her thoughts as she passively watched the monk gently berate the child. Beside her on her own Unicorn steed, the servant girl leaned into her ear, whispering something to her master.

When the Dragon finally reclaimed his horse, both the Unicorn women had already continued onward, the samurai-ko having chosen to keep any thoughts she might have had on the exchange to herself.
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Unread 13th of September, 2011, 04:13
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The garden, plain by the standards of most Cranes, was nevertheless a stunning scene, one which bore no sign of damage from the storm of days past, nor any indication that it was anything other than beloved and well kept. It was here that Kaero discovered a sense of tranquility -- something noticeably absent within the narrow corridors of the estate -- and she became quickly absorbed in the etchings in her journal.

A cold wind drifted in through the household, distracting the Phoenix momentarily from her reading. She glanced towards the garden's heart, towards the various trees -- the stunted and the well-groomed giants -- and listened to the breeze's whispered song, the distant cough of the waves touching the white sanded shore. But she heard no music: the flute player, as yet unknown, had ceased their tune, and its absence was a sadness in itself.

Tread upon wood caused the young shugenja to glance back over her shoulder. Saburo offered a smile and a bow, and then said, "Isawa-sama, Governor Kakita-dono asks whether you'd consent to joining him for the evening meal. He is eager to hear of your journey."

Nodding, Kaero rose to her feet and sheathed her journal within the folds of her obi. Allowing herself one last view of the garden, she turned on her heel and spirited away to the corridors of the Crane household.


The procession, unexpected for both its assortment and its size, was not difficult to notice, and offered ample distraction for the peasants, allowing Josuke to remain a forgotten shadow. He studied each member of the procession in turn, noting their clothes and mon, their posture and movements, and also their reaction to the ill-educated child and his haggard and much older companion -- his father maybe? The monk provided the only noticeable response, but his words were whispered and imperceptible.

Leading the group onward with barely a stall, the Unicorn made towards the Governor's estate, passing by the subdued populace and the storm's remaining debris. Josuke followed with at a prudent pace, forever watching the entourage, noting that the young Lion had swiftly joined their rank.

After only a short ways the trio of Crane samurai offered their farewells to the visiting troupe, and made for their own destination. The Scorpion paid them no mind, but instead trailed the procession up to the threshold of the village, beyond which sat the borders of the Governor's small castle. Josuke gave pause then, deciding not to venture any further -- to do so would force him to reveal himself to this curious band, and he as yet felt no compulsion to do so. Instead he turned about and moved back into the village's heart, making a beeline for the local shrine.

It was a humble affair, but even so possessed a modest degree of decoration and flora, as befitting a Cranes' sacred site. When Josuke had last surveyed the area it had been busy, as the peasants flocked to pay their respects in the morning's early hours, but now it was quiet, almost hauntingly so, the inhabitant shugenja away on some business of their own. The bushi stepped inside, his gaze traversing his immediate surroundings, and then came to a sudden stop. Ahead of him, he heard a prayer, almost musical in its sounding, and it betrayed the location of the one of the shrine's resident monks. Josuke waited and listened, peering through the archways of wood and stone, at a rigid figure, humbly clothed and bold of head; the hymn continued for a full minute, after which the monk glanced in the samurai's direction, and offered a bow and respectful nod.

"Ah, Scorpion-san, welcome back." The monk's voice was softer than his aging body should have allowed for; that they had never before met betrayed the fact that the monk had noticed him among the crowded gathering of the early hours. "May I be of service?"


Having moved to her mistress' side at the head of the congregation, Maiko leaned in close to Katsumi and whispered softly to her that they were approaching the gateman at his station. A short man of sturdy stock, he was nevertheless gracious in his movements, and his nod was respectful. He stood before the array of ponies and Unicorn-breed horses, glancing at each rider in turn -- and at the walking Lion samurai -- with a look of obvious curiosity and surprise. But he recovered quickly, and approached each samurai in turn, holding out his hand for their individual chops and waiting to hear the identity and business of each person.




The post is shorter than I had originally planned for, but this is intentional. I realised after looking over my opening post that I had skipped over scenes where you each could provide some detailed role-playing; whilst the quick forwarding of the first post was essential to get you all into the same location in the story, it is no longer a necessity now.

I've cut this particular post into two, allowing you all a chance to not only interact with one another to some degree, but also a chance to interact with an NPC -- the monk for Josuke, and the gateman for the procession. I apologise to elpresidente for not providing more for him to react to in the above, but until the other samurai venture inside there's not a lot of opportunity for me to advance your storyline. Instead, I'm offering you the chance to post about the previous day's meal with the provincial daimyo, in as much or as little detail as you'd like to go into. This post also offers you a chance to hint at any events that took place on your character's journey to the village.

(Please note that Kaero's scene is "backdated" -- it happened the night before the procession's arrival.)

As soon as everyone has posted, I'll get the second part of my own up. In the meantime, I'll get Haraphen and Cheveyo sanctioned, and resume work on their introduction post.

Some other notes:
Do not feel as though you should only post once and then wait for me to push the story onwards. If any of you fancy a few back-and-forth posts among yourselves (a discussion or short exchange between characters) then feel free to do so.

Darius: Roll Josuke's Investigation (Notice) / Perception, using the Dice Rolls (OOC) thread. Be sure to note down any Raises and/or modifiers from your sheet (if such things apply). This roll represents the time you spent observing the procession.

Elpresidente: Roll Kaero's Etiquette (Conversation) / Awareness, using the Dice Rolls (OOC) thread. Be sure to note down any Raises and/or modifiers from your sheet (if such things apply). This roll represents your conversation with the daimyo over the evening meal.
If there's any questions, feel free to ask them in the Player's Forum (OOC).

Last edited by Copper; 13th of September, 2011 at 04:17.
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  #11  
Unread 13th of September, 2011, 04:56
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Josuke nodded, his mask hiding his expression. "I am here at the request of my wife and her family. I need to pay respect to Isawa Ryo during the Bon festival and it is the custom her family to do so at the place where the death occurred." Josuke bowed his head in the semblance of grief, a pang of which he actually did feel. He had liked Ryo, after all.

"I am no monk, nor am I a shugenja, so any guidance you might provide would be most generously appreciated."

Josuke thought back to the procession and the interaction of the child. He wondered at the actions of the monk... for truly the samurai could have turned a blind eye to the infraction better if the monk had not acted at all. By doing as he did, he called attention to the action, thus making it harder to ignore. There was a lesson to be learned there.
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Unread 13th of September, 2011, 05:17
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The monk approached on wiry legs, his hands clasped together before him in a gesture both humble and yet asserting. He was small and yet vast in presence. After only a moment in the presence of the samurai, the monk had already proven himself to be a myriad of contradictions, enough that even a Scorpion would be envious of.

He spoke with the same soft tones, and shook his head. "I mourn for Isawa Ryo: he was not a frequent visitor of the shrine, but he made his presence known nonetheless. A great loss for the Phoenix, I am sure." He finished his descent of the steps, and then continued. "On the matter of paying respect to his memory, I would be honoured to offer my assistance. Unless your wife has other arrangements that should be acknowledged, I should think that the ritual would follow tradition."
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  #13  
Unread 13th of September, 2011, 06:47
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The village child had been fortunate to escape discipline with little more than soft words. Shinjo would have approved of the monk's compassion and wisdom in defusing the episode before it offended the honor of a more prideful samurai. Honor without compassion is merely arrogance in another guise.

From her side, Maiko leaned into her ear.
"Another samurai has joined us from the crowd, Katsumi-sama...a Lion bushi I believe."

A Lion? What business could Akodo have here? Whatever it was, it did not include announcing himself to the Crane, Dragon, or Katsumi, as the warrior choose to follow the group at a measured distance behind. Try as she might, Katsumi could not produce a satisfactory explanation for another samurai arriving at Kakita's estate in the same moments as she...unless it somehow involved her own mission.

Had she been followed? It was a distressing thing to consider - the Lion and Unicorn clans shared a turbulent history of violent rivalry, tempered only by grudgingly mutual respect. But dispatching a single bushi to sabotage the diplomatic endeavors of a rival warrior clan was so uncharacteristic of the Lion that Katsumi discarded the notion. Such machinations were the realm of the Scorpion, whom the Lion disdained as much as the Unicorn did - and if such scheming had been his object, the bushi would not have been so foolish as to reveal himself. Nonetheless, Katsumi was certain Akodo's motive involved herself and her task...

The ponies trailed behind Suna as he climbed the hill to Kakita-dono's estate, the elevated position of the keep making plain that the Crane had eyes for both the aesthetic and the militarily practical. Not far up the slope the road branched off to the south, and the crane warriors divided themselves from the group with a short but warm farewell. Katsumi thanked them for their service, and then let a hand drift into the folds of her kimono to be certain her chop and travel documents were still accounted for. She had only a few moments to straighten her clothing and brush her loose hair behind an ear before the horses stopped in front of the castle.

Katsumi-sama, we have arrived.”

The gatekeeper was a shorter man, barely the height of Suna's shoulder, and Katsumi had to lean down a bit to present her chop to his outstretched hand.

Ohaiyo-gozaimasu. I am Utaku Katsumi of the Unicorn clan, here for deliberations with the Phoenix clan at Lord Kakita-dono's gracious request.” Despite years of training, Katsumi had never quite trained her tongue to shed its Unicorn accent, and she felt curious eyes pass over her. Given that she had spent the night curled in a shed with twenty other people during the worst storm in the Empire's recent memory, she doubted she presented a very majestic image.

Her sensei's voice crawled from some corner of her memory, never one to let an opportunity for discipline escape.
"A courtier has but one first impression to give. Use it wisely." A shame reality so often failed to conform to the ideal world of the classroom.

Last edited by Foxtrot; 15th of September, 2011 at 15:44. Reason: font size; added detail concerning Solar's character
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Unread 14th of September, 2011, 10:28
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"She did not make any such wishes known," Josuke confirmed. "I am curious as to the nature of his death, however. Ryo-san was never a violent individual, yet I understand he came to a violent end. I am curious to know if you can share some details as to what happened."

The Scorpion paused. "Of course, I would understand if you didn't wish to speak of it, but it might give my wife some closure to know how he died."
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Unread 14th of September, 2011, 20:26
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The Utaku's words stirred interest in Kenjiro. Deliberations between the Phoenix and the Unicorn, in a village where a Phoenix Samurai had allegedly been slain by Moto Teiko? That could be no coincidence. The nature of such deliberations would likely take place behind closed doors, but he resolved to pay close attention to the doings of both parties, in the event that they may uncover information regarding Shigeru's task.

Kenjiro respectfully bowed his head when the gatekeeper approached, and removed his hands from where they rested in his kimono, passing the Crane his chop. As he did so, he observed the Samurai, noting his build and stance, the manner of his dress and his movements.

"I am honoured to bear the name Akodo Kenjiro, here to fulfill a request of Magistrate Ikoma Shigeru."

The Lion spoke softly and calmly, betraying little emotion in his voice, though in truth he was somewhat concerned. He was not entirely sure of how public Shigeru wished the investigation, but it was better to err on the side of caution, and he hoped that the Gatekeeper would consider that explanation enough for now.
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Unread 22nd of September, 2011, 20:13
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Kaero, startled slightly by the servants arrival breaking her meditation nods to Saburo "Of course. Lead on Saburo" she turns to look upon the asthetic tranquility of the gardens in an atempt to calm her thoughts before following in Saburo's footsteps.

The Crane are rennouned throughout the empire for their works of art and other noble persuits, perhaps some of their poetry might give her the peace she sought. "Saburo, do the estates of govenor Kakita-dono include a library of the Cranes literary works?"
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Unread 26th of September, 2011, 20:42
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The monk smiled softly, approaching the Scorpion at a leisurely pace, his hands still clasped together at his fore, his eyes still gleaming that potent sheen.

"Her need for closure is understood completely, Scorpion-san, and I am at your complete service." He inclined his head deeply, his smile never abating, and when he continued speaking, it was with the same soft, direct quality of before. "It happened late in the night, I'm told: Ryo-san had chosen to frequent the local drinking house, which is where he chanced upon the Unicorn samurai. Though they gave the pretense of civil tones, as expected, one could tell that there was bad blood between them both.

"I cannot speak with certainty, for I was retiring at the alleged hour of the dispute, but it is said that the two samurai became heated. Ryo-san took to the street rather than dishonour himself with loosened temper. An hour later he was found dead in the street, awash with rain, the bad of his head shattered."

For a moment then, the monk became silent. As he had spoken he had led the samurai through the small shrine, which drew in the smell of burning incense and wood, and the laughter of the sea-born breeze. Birds fluttered overhead and then vanished before they could be sighted.

"The Governor's son had been present at the time of the arguement; he tributed the murder to the heat and ferocity of their thinly-veiled dialogue."



Katsumi was the first to speak, and then Kenjiro followed suit. The last two members of the ensemble, the silent Dragon and his monk associate, voiced their own mission, that they were also there at the behest of the Magistrate Ikoma Shigeru, and caused the gateman to start in genuine surprise. Three visitors, unassociate with the expected Unicorn courtier, and yet linked together by a common patron? Not a surprising occurance in the rest of the Empire, but in a fishing village as small as this...

He gathered himself quickly and nodded them through, handing their movements to the direction of Saburo, a tall slender servant, who had been quickly summoned to the estate's entrance. He greeted them all with a wide, yet respectful, smile, and bowed low to each samurai in turn, starting with Katsumi.

"Welcome, honourable guests," the servant said warmly to them, as he gestured sharply for his entourage of servants to attend to the horses. They surged forwards, eager to serve, but then came to a sudden halt before the impressive figure of the Unicorn breeds. They shared a look, uncertain how to advance -- it was unthinkable that they would touch the flesh of such creatures.

Maiko, who had been whispering quietly to her master since their entrance to the estate, slid from her own horse and intervened, sending the servants away from their steeds with a polite, but forceful, wave of her hand. They inclined their heads and moved on to the ponies, whilst Maiko made to follow, the reigns of both Unicorn steeds in her hands.

With the horses ushered away, Saburo gestured that the samurai should follow him, and then started back up the steps into the estate's interior. Kenjiro followed dutifully, and then came the Dragon and his monk; Katsumi lagged behind momentarily, waiting for her servant to return from the stables. As soon as Maiko came running, the two began trailing their guide.

Saburo was an eloquent man. He spoke of their host's eagerness to receive them, whilst also apologising for the state of the village. The servant otherwise spoke only when directed to, or when asked a question. Within moments their journey came to an end, and Saburo led them all through into the estate's medium-sized audience chamber, which sat the heart of the building. Two samurai already sat in attendance: at the far side of the room, facing the entrance, was Kakita Osamu, looking resplendant in his fine silk kamino; sat in front of him, her colours that of the Phoenix, was the shugenja Isawa Kaero. She did not look around at them as the ensemble entered, but rather kept her eyes downcast, her expression blank.

"My honoured guests, welcome to you all," the daimyo said, his voice warm and accomodating, though his eyes betrayed a weariness that he might otherwise have disguised. He watched as the samurai shuffled forwards on their knees, his gaze flickering towards their weapons and where they placed them; Maiko sat at Katsumi's side, though slightly behind, and Ario sat likewise beside Asano.

"You honour me with your visit, though I profess that I am a little surprised by the size of your party." He glanced between each samurai in turn, and then smiled slightly. He nodded for Saburo send for tea, and then returned his attentions to his visitors. "I expected Utaku Katsumi, her business has been made known to me, but the arrival of the others comes as a welcome surprise to me. You say that you come at the behest of Magistrate Ikoma Shigeru?"He asked directly of Kenjiro and Asano, who both nodded. "Perhaps it's best if you told me more."



Okay, another short post, allowing you all a chance to get up a round of responses. I'll be looking to respond to your answers and descriptions later on in the week (Wednesday or Thursday, depending on internet availability).

In the meantime, feel free to describe your characters observations of the scene, from their entrance to the estate to their welcoming by the daimyo.
Darius: I'd like you to roll Investigation (Notice) / Perception for me once more.

Elpresidente: As mentioned previously, I'd still like you to get up some details of your meal with the Governor -- either put it up as a new post, or edit your old one to include it. Furthermore, I'll be posting a note in your Character Thread regarding an IC matter; be sure to read it before you get anything else up.
If neither Vortigern or AbidingDude have posted by tomorrow, then I will be NPCing their characters permanently (and, as such, will be taking more liberties with how much control I excert on their actions/responses). This statement is given primarily for Solar's benefit, since his character might be interested to speak with Asano regarding the samurai's connection to Shigeru.

If there are any questions, then post them in the Player Forum (OOC) as normal. Let's try and pick up the pace guys, and get some player-on-player interaction going on.

Player Response Deadline: 03-10-2011

Last edited by Copper; 28th of September, 2011 at 18:26.
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  #18  
Unread 27th of September, 2011, 04:04
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Even with her currently disheveled appearance, the size of Katsumi's mount and the daisho tucked into her obi alone were all the proof the gatekeeper required to confirm her identity. The Dragon, monk, and newcomer Lion all followed her.

"I am honoured to bear the name Akodo Kenjiro, here to fulfill a request of Magistrate Ikoma Shigeru."

The Emerald Magistrate? Neither the Dragon nor his monk companion had revealed that their business was of such gravity in the course of their brief conversation at the crossroads...a conspicuous omission that did little to elevate her trust in either of them. If the pair were aware of the circumstances of Moto Teiko's crime, then they had certainly inferred the purpose of Katsumi's own journey - a Unicorn courtier destined for the same obscure fishing village could scarcely be explained any other way - yet they chose to leave her in the dark as to their own purpose until this moment.

Katsumi sighed inwardly...the game had already begun, and she couldn't help but feel her lack of perception had left her at a starting disadvantage. How much more did these three know which she didn't? Would they interfere with the negotiations? Nothing could be done about it now...she would just have to let them play their parts and see.

With the creaking of heavy wooden doors, Katsumi and her fellow samurai had at last arrived at Lord Kakita's home. Hooves on soft, rain-drenched mud carried them into the courtyard, where servants waited to take charge of the horses. With cautious and deliberate motions, Katsumi dismounted Suna, running a hand through his mane and across his powerful neck before Maiko dutifully lead him to the stables. As always happened after time in the saddle, Katsumi felt suddenly naked on foot, as if bereft of some essential piece of herself.

She took the available moment to move her daisho to the right side of her obi. She would likely be asked to part with them shortly, but in the event she wasn't Katsumi still intended to honor the symbolic gesture for her host. Such were the subtleties of court, she always reminded herself. Sensei Ide Takumi had taken particular care to instil this lesson in her with his patient, deliberate voice.


The simple gestures, the unspoken exchanges – these are the sword and spear of the courtier.”

And also of the schemer, the puppet, the conspirator. Katsumi had learned quickly at the Ide school to bite her tongue lest it rouse the ire of her sensei. Even his patience was finite, and beneath it lay pride that did not take kindly to challenges.

A servant who introduced himself as Saburo materialized, his hesitation making it apparent that he was not expecting the other samurai on magistrate business. Interesting. He recovered quickly, however, and offered to lead the group immediately to see Kakita-dono himself. Katsumi repressed a wince of irritation - the first impression her host would receive would be of herself lacking sleep and splattered with mud.

As the soldiers sealed the doors behind the arrivals, Katsumi felt Maiko's comforting presence step into place by her side, and the train of samurai followed the servant into the estate.

It was a considerable walk...even for a small fishing village, the Crane had provided a spacious and luxurious manor. The other samurai seemed eager to engage Saburo with their own questions, and Katsumi felt no pressing need to interpose herself in them.

At length, they arrived at the audience chamber. Saburo graciously pulled back a sliding door, admitting the guests into the presence of his master.

"Kakita-dono waits for you inside at the far end, Katsumi-sama. The young woman beside him is wearing the mon of the Isawa family. I believe her to be a shugenja."

There was a brief pause, which Katsumi broke by removing her geta and placing them neatly aside before stepping onto the soft tatami, Maiko a couple of paces behind. This was a dance she had practiced many times before.

Katsumi took a few paces forward, then made a deliberate show of slowly pulling her daisho from their place at her right hip and placing them on the tatami well out of reach.
She then knelt politely on her knees and offered the most polite bow she could, and offered the introduction she had rehearsed to herself hundreds of times on the long road that had brought her here:

"Hajimemashite. I am Utaku Katsumi, daughter of Utaku Aya and Akiyama Keiji of the Unicorn clan, Lord Kakita-dono. On behalf of my clan and family, I offer our most sincere gratitude to both the honorable Kakita family and the Crane clan for their service in mediating this affair. I also feel impressed to say that I consider it a great honor to meet with the Phoenix as a representative of the Unicorn, despite these tragic circumstances, and pray you accept my humblest sympathies for your loss.”

At this, there was a gentle tug on Katsumi's kimono sleeve. Katsumi chided herself with silent anger. Foolish.

This is my servant, Ishiki Maiko,” she said, gesturing towards the girl sitting silently beside her with eyes fixed deferentially on the floor. “I know it is unorthodox to have attendants present, but I rely on her to be my eyes at deliberations such as these. I hope you will forgive the inconvenience, as this is an unfortunate reality with which I must conform.”

Last edited by Foxtrot; 29th of September, 2011 at 14:27. Reason: reads more fluidly now
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  #19  
Unread 27th of September, 2011, 12:02
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Josuke nodded slowly. "I doubt you would listen to what is little more than gossip, but do you happen to know what they argued about?"

The Scorpion paused. "The Crane was the only witness then?" he asked, then smiled broadly under his mask. "I take it the governor's son is well regarded for his sharp perception and keen insights. What can you tell me about him? Assuming that it is not all the usual gossip. I would hate to be accused of rumor mongering."
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Unread 29th of September, 2011, 04:12
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Kenjiro sat carefully, a neutral expression on his face. The presence of a Phoenix Shugenja was not unexpected, when he learnt of the Unicorn presence he had suspected that the Phoenix would be here to deal with them, likely regarding the same issue that brought Kenjiro to this place.

Utaku Katsumi's words confirmed his thoughts. And, requested as such by the Lord of the house, it would be most dishonourable to try and obfusticate the truth. However, he paused at length before he spoke, wishing to ensure his words were the right ones.

"Kakita-Dono, thank you for your hospitality. It is the... actions of the late Moto Tseiko which concerns my travel here. He was a friend of Shigeru, who has requested that I travel to this place and investigate the circumstances surrounding the mentioned events."

Kenjiro finished speaking, and bowed his head, though he carefully observed the response to his words on the faces of those present, if any.

Last edited by Solar; 30th of September, 2011 at 01:04.
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Unread 4th of October, 2011, 04:42
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"I'm afraid I do not know, Scorpion-san," the monk replied, his smile turned skyward towards the call of the birds. "The two samurai might have spoken with hard tones, but their words were particular and pointed. Whatever their past difference, it is known only to them."

The monk gestured for the bushi to follow him through a low, splintered arch, through which there passed a gathering of children and elderly villagers. They dropped to their feet in Josuke's presence; the monk ignored them and pressed on, his eyes glistening as he considered the broken town beyond the shrine's threshold.

"The son of Kakita Osamu is an honourable son of his caste. But even the elegant crane can sometimes stoop to gather a fish that it is unprepared to catch." He turned fully towards the samurai, and smiled gently. "I have only the greatest respect for the daimyo and his child. Whilst the son himself was not present at the scene of the crime at the hour of its alleged happening, he has deduced that the Unicorn was to blame. Who else would dare have struck at Ryo-san in the middle of the street?"



When Katsumi gave mention to her servant, the Kakita governor gave the girl notice for the first time since she had entered the room. His lip quirked, but when he looked back at the Unicorn courtier it was with renewed interest and a thinly-veiled curiosity.

"If her presence is required then I will, of course, welcome her. You are a guest in my house, and it is in my best interest to assist your duties here in such minor ways." He smiled, and then gave pause, gesturing towards the shugenja who had been still and silent as a statue. "This is Isawa Kaero, the Phoenix Clan's emissary. She, like you, is here to discuss the tragic events that transpired here several days ago.

"But now is not the time for such talk. You all must be weary: Saburo will see that you are all cared for, and tonight you will speak with one another."


As though on cue, Saburo admitted himself to the chamber, carrying a tray of tea and utensils. He bowed to each samurai in turn, starting with his master, and then poured the cha for each of the guests. Maiko was not offered a cup, however, and the Ario was the last to be attended.

Osamu drank deeply from his cup, and then turned his dark eyes upon the young Lion bushi, and the Dragon samurai at his flank. He considered them for a long moment, then gestured for Saburo to shuffle forwards on his knees and pour more of the steaming liquid.

"It is curious," the daimyo began suddenly, watching the youngest samurai closely without seeming to, "that the Magistrate would ask you to look into a matter that I have already deemed concluded. Surely my word -- and that of my son -- is good enough?" His words were soft, but the gleam in his eye was as sharp as a katana's lip. He looked towards the Dragon and his companion, and then back again, his lip twitching very slightly.



Another short post, but this will be the last one before I move us onto the next leg of the story.

Darius, the above also applies to you: I will be looking to get you and the others together as soon as I can, most likely in the next GameMaster post. Apologises for keeping you waiting.

If there are any questions, then post them in the Player Forum (OOC) as normal.

Player Response Deadline: 10-10-2011

Elpresidente, having missed my previous Player Response Deadline of 03-10-2011, now counts as having missed two deadlines. His character, Kaero, will be NPC'd until the player either contacts me and reinstates himself into the game, or until 17-10-2011, when he will be removed from play.

Edit!: I completely forgot to include Asano's explanation about what he is there for, and now I find myself with too little time to include it. Therefore, assume that Asano spoke after Kenjiro, explaining that the Lion Magistrate had asked that he meet with Kenjiro and ensure his safety on the roads (he would not, however, suggest that he was there to protect Kenjiro in the village itself, as doing so would be like accusing Osamu of being unable to protect his guests within his own domain).

Last edited by Copper; 4th of October, 2011 at 04:47.
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  #22  
Unread 4th of October, 2011, 22:26
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Kenjiro, as was his way, did not answer at first, in fact did not move at all. Outwardly he remained calm and still, but inside his mind raced. He knew that he had to satisfy the Daimyo and ensure that he delivered no insult whatsover, for losing his head would not be helpful when it came to carrying out Shigeru's request, or indeed for anything else. Kenjiro felt a surge of anger at the complexity of the courts, this was not a warriors place, but he quickly suppressed it. Being angry wouldn't help him any more than being reckless would.

After a moment, Kenjiro stirred and reached forward to pick up the cup, drinking to cover his thoughts. He placed the cup down, and spoke in what he hoped was a calm and honest voice.

"Lord Kakita-dono, Shigeru does not question the word or memory of you or your son at all, but simply wishes to satisfy his curiosity about the exact details for the records of the Ikoma, which are famed for their diligence and attention to the smallest fact. I am simply here to facilitate this curiosity, such as it is."
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  #23  
Unread 5th of October, 2011, 14:41
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Katsumi allowed her sightless gaze to fall to the tea cup she held in her hands, doing her best to seem disinterested in the barbed exchange the Lion had instigated. Within three short sentences, the young bushi had managed to imply that his host's word was less than true, and this while sitting under his roof and drinking his cha. What could the Emerald magistrate have been thinking, sending this fool to attend to such a sensitive matter? Either this was a piece of some elaborate strategy beyond Katsumi's limited ability to perceive, or someone was beset with lunacy.
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Unread 7th of October, 2011, 06:36
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"How would I know?" the Scorpion replied with a shrug, following the monk. "It just seems... odd. I for one would never question the word of the son of the daimyo, but you would think that there would be more rumors of what had occurred, given how the attack took place in such a public place." Josuke paused. "But that would be to give in to trite gossip, which rarely contains more than a sliver of truth."

The corners of Josuke's eyes crinkled slightly. "Perhaps as a Scorpion I am inclined to see plots where none exist. A downside to being ever watchful and careful I suppose is that sometime you are inclined to see things that are not present."

"Speaking of watchfulness, I understand that there has been recent trouble with ronin in the area. Surely nothing that the local magistrates cannot handle, I hope. Though, I am sure everyone has their hands full, what with the recent storm, and stray dogs might take the opportunity to nip at the heels of their betters."
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