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  2. L5R: Blood and Jade - With A Single Step

    "Perhaps, if you have any intact left for me to examine, I can try to learn more about the magic that went into them," Kamiko offers. "I can do that as we investigate other avenues though."
  3. L5R: Blood and Jade - With A Single Step

    Zoyu tilted her head slightly to the side, considering the question, then shook her head. "If there was something added to the sake afterwards, I am not aware of it, but this one is neither alchemist nor brewer, or even a... prolific imbiber of sake. The merchant I spoke to did say both brands of sake were particularly dry varieties, if that holds any meaning for you." The oddly coloured Crane nodded at Shosuro Kamiko. "Perhaps the disposition of the masks would be a greater lead, but we learned little of them in our first encounter. They seem to similar to the ones we encountered at the Temple of Amaterasu, but we learned nothing of their manufacture or providence. The craftmanship of the masks are quite exquisite however. It may be possible to track down their artisan, if not the one or ones who infused the foul sorcery into them, if the artisan and maho-tsukai are not one and the same."
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  5. L5R: Blood and Jade - With A Single Step

    It was a good question, and one that had slipped past Kamiko. She'd been so focused on the magic that she'd missed the human element. There was one simple possibility of course. They imported not just any sake, but their favorite sake. And since it wasn't local... She nodded at Miren. His insight had not failed them.
  6. L5R: Blood and Jade - With A Single Step

    "Possible, mais pourquoi boire le meme sake? Pourquoi ne pas boire de le sake local?" Possibly, but why drink the same sake? Why not drink the local sake? The thought had been tickling at the back of Miren's mind through most of the conversation. Why create a trail of commonality over alcohol? It was easy enough to acquire, especially in smaller amounts locally, than to make such a single sizeable purchase in one place. In the common tongue, he continued, "Is there anything already known about the sake? Any special property to it or something added after it was purchased?"
  7. L5R: Blood and Jade - With A Single Step

    "If there is a new alliance between the Shadowlands and the Cult, the masks are the most likely path to lead us to that. If you insist that we ignore that, then..." She looks at Miren questioningly, seeking his input. "Le forgeron?"
  8. L5R: Blood and Jade - With A Single Step

    "We would still be most appreciative of your aid," Zoyu amended smoothly, giving Rin a surreptitious glance. "But most esteemed personages... suggested it would behoove us to speak little of that night. Suffice to say, we have seen such masks or some most similar to their like, before. With your greater study, Shosuro Kamiko and the insight of such a one as yourself, Shosuro Miren, do you believe we would be better served seeking this bladesmith or the source of the sake they seem to have partaken of?"
  9. L5R: Blood and Jade - With A Single Step

    "Ah, please accept my apologies," Kamiko said humbly. "Have you decided then not to accept the aid of my brother and myself?"
  10. L5R: Blood and Jade - With A Single Step

    "No, you do not wish to know what happened in Tsuma." Rin stands and goes to her swords, "Great evil was done there and the soul of the Empire was attacked." She places her swords in her obi and takes the magic sword and puts it over her shoulder. She adjusts the ties to hold it in place to make sure it is secure and comfortable. "We overcame the maho used and because of that we were made magistrates, that is all you need to know. Now we either have a boat to catch, or, if we are going the other way, I need to go and Tell the captain of the Steady we will not be needing his services." She turns back and faces the table and asks her fellow magistrates, "Which is it to be?"
  11. L5R: Blood and Jade - With A Single Step

    Kamiko sat forward a little, her eyes intent on Zoyu. "In Tsuma. I would be very interested to hear more of that encounter, if you wouldn't mind. I think it's very unlikely the Cult of the Moon made these masks themselves, you see. Not in such quantity."
  12. L5R: Blood and Jade - With A Single Step

    "The masks themselves, they are of very fine quality. Not the work of a common artisan. There were crafted with cultivated skill, great innate talent, or both," Zoyu mentioned, "though for my part, I could no tell where or by whom they were made. As for the magic infesting them, we do not know if it is by the same hands. The magic is some manner of foul Maho, though it appears any hand may use the mask once it has been infused with its deviltry. We have seen their like used during an... incident in Tsuma."
  13. L5R: Blood and Jade - With A Single Step

    "It is a rare town that does not have any cultists in it," Kamiko said with a little frown as she mulled the names over. "They work in small groups, spread far and wide. I have not investigated Tokuro or the City of the Rich Frog directly. However, it isn't implausible to consider they might train and prepare for something like this far from prying eyes." She tapped a finger on the tabletop for a moment. Once. Twice. "The masks. What do you know of them?"
  14. L5R: Blood and Jade - With A Single Step

    "It would seem then that something integral to the Cult has changed," Zoyu conjectured. "Either they have gained access to a new source of influence or power they believe would tilt the odds in their favour." She nodded at Kamiko, adding to her comment about the Moon Cult's gamble. "Or there is new leadership, or a play for such, in the Cult of the Moon, one or more who are more ambitious and bold. Perhaps a brewing schism based on the tactics they wish enacted." The Crane woman gave the Scorpion siblings a brisk nod when Shosuro Kamiko spoke of swiftness. "Our preliminary investigations have reveals a pair of threads to unravel derived from the weapons and sake found in their possession. The maker's mark found on the low quality blades the zombies were armed with belong to one Yasuragi, a Ronin bladesmith that can be found in a small Village called Tokoro, off the Beiden pass. In lands belonging to the Bear clan. The sake the cultists had were from The City of the Rich Frog and a brewery found just outside Kyuden Ikoma. In your studies, do any of these places have some connection with the Cult of the Moon, however tenuous?"
  15. L5R: Blood and Jade - With A Single Step

    Kamiko nodded. "But in that boldness lies our chance. The Cult rarely uses maho-tsuki directly. I've known that there were some black magicians who had either allied with the Cult, or perhaps converted...but until tonight they moved with the utmost care, protecting what surely must be a rare and precious resource. Tonight was an enormous gamble on their part. They bet everything on a win. Thanks to you, that bet didn't pay off." "The consequences of that can be exploited by us, but only if we move swiftly."
  16. L5R: Blood and Jade - With A Single Step

    "Not with crossed swords," Miren spoke with confidence and the finely honed cadence of a courtier, "but I have fought their influence in court and as my sister stated, she has made a great study of their methods and magic. Usually they are far more circumspect in their movements than to dispatch zombies to a festival. The tactic seemed too bold for their leadership and too clever for their base adherents. It speaks to a fundamental shift in their manners, one I hope does not become disturbingly commonplace in the days to come."
  17. L5R: Blood and Jade - With A Single Step

    Rin listened looking at neither her friend nor the two Scorpions. She had returned only moments before the arrival of the brother and sister, for their relationship was apparent despite the silly masks they wore, and had only just sat down while Zoyu made a quick explanation for what had transpired in her absence, when they had entered. Now she poured herself a cup of sake and drank emptying the cup then refilling it. "^" She burps after draining the second cup. "So according to the other one, the two of you have investigated this cult. Aside form the zombies last night have either of you fought them before?"
  18. L5R: Blood and Jade - With A Single Step

    Kamiko smiled graciously. She marked the Champion's eyes, where and on whom they lingered. Unusual eyes as well, even for the Crane clan. Given her accomplishments, it might be worth doing some digging about that...but that was tomorrow's task. "Yes, Zoyu-san. We do. The Cult is very different than what people expect from maho-tsuki. They are insidious; the slow poison that kills just a little each day. I have made a study of their black magic...my brother has worked to limit their influence in court. However, without status and authority it is difficult to make headway against a foe such as this. They hide behind great names." Her voice was striking, cultured and mellifluous. She spoke more quietly then, "I cannot emphasize strongly enough how much last night's events represent a break from the Moon Cult's normal methods. A brazen full-frontal assault, with undead servants and magic...publicly revealing themselves and their goals has never been their way before. Something has changed in them. It represents a great danger...but also a great opportunity."
  19. L5R: Blood and Jade - With A Single Step

    Zoyu appraised the Scorpion siblings with polite frankness as she finished her tea. Their blue eyes, while not uncommon among the Crane, were rare everywhere else in the Empire and quite fetching, and even exotic in some fashion. They were as pale of complexion as she and dressed in very fine and stylish kamishimo, with complimentary masks ubiquitous among the Scorpion. Zoyu couldn't help but notice the man was very handsome, almost pretty, and very polished in his manner. "We are most pleased to make your acquaintance," Zoyu replied in a low, sweet voice, returning a polite, measured bow. Her mismatched eyes of blue and green were keen with interest, her cerulean kimono trimmed in white and patterned with pink sakura blossoms cut to emphasize her sleek, curvaceous figure and for ease of movement. "This one is Kakita Zoyu, Topaz Champion, and these are Mirumoto Rin, Kakita Kaze, Kitsu Kageko, and Doji Yuzo." The Crane gestured gracefully as she named her companions. Unlike Ujimitsu, her own long hair, elaborately pinned and braided, was naturally a glossy white, save for a lock that was as glistening and black as that of the siblings. "Ujimitsu-san has spoken highly of you both and we would be grateful for any aid in dispatching these troublesome Moon Cultists. Ujitmitsu-san mentioned that you have had experience dealing with their ilk?"
  20. L5R: Blood and Jade - With A Single Step

    Kamiko's kamishimo is black in color, with red trim and a crimson obi embroidered with gold patterns twining along it. Her garb is of high quality, though less so than her brother's. Her mask looks similar to Miren's, though the pattern of the filigree is different in subtly complementary ways to that of her brother's, and the gems are diamonds instead of rubies. Her own eyes are also blue, if a darker shade, and of a more normal shape. She deposits a wakizashi and a weathered, well-made leather satchel at the entrance of the inn. Beyond that, she is of willowy build, slightly shorter than Miren, with long lustrous raven hair and very fair skin. The nails on her pinky fingers have been allowed to grow out, carefully shaped and lacquered with intricate sigils lining them. She keeps them curled out of the way as she approaches and bows respectfully. "I am Shosuro Kamiko, and this is Shosuro Miren," she says, speaking precisely where Miren leaves off with perfect timing. "We are at your disposal for this task."
  21. L5R: Blood and Jade - With A Single Step

    Several minutes later, Shosuro Miren and his sister Kamiko both stepped into the inn. The male twin divested himself of all weapons and approached the table of Jade Magistrates with keen deference and grace. His kamishimo was of the finest cut and bold red and orange cloth, flattering its owner perfectly and lending a courtly air to Miren even in the midst of an inn; the mask he wore was of fine black filigree inlaid with red stones, some opaque carnelian, and others glittery, flashy rubies. The effect drew attention to his unusual blue eyes, but the offset in colors and swirls of metal made the oddity far more beautiful than off-putting. He bowed precisely where and when he should upon approaching the table and said, "Thank you, magistrates, for the honor to work with you to solve this most vexing issue of moon cultists and their unusual cleverness."
  22. L5R: Blood and Jade - The Morning After

    Kamiko's blue eyes met Miren's from over her veil, and through the smokey gauze she could be seen to smile. This was an opportunity in so many ways. Not simply to eradicate the Cult of the Moon and its deranged worshippers...but to make contacts and even friends with these Magistrates who seemed destined to wield great influence. Perhaps, with Fortune, even join their number? "Thank you, Ujimitsu," she replied, setting down her teacup. "We will join them at once."
  23. L5R: Blood and Jade - With A Single Step

    On the Imperial Barge... Withdrawing her hand Rin bows once more but she cannot keep the slight smile from her lips as much as she tries. "Thank you my prince, for giving me your time today and for easing my heart. Until we meet again" After she is off the Barge she makes her way to the Steady to make arrangements for the Magistrates and herself. Once done there she returns to the Apple Blossom.
  24. Ujimitsu nodded again and rose from the table. "I will seek out my fellow Jade Magistrates then. Thank you for your time. Enjoy your breakfast." he said before departing. Perhaps an hour later, maybe less, Ujimitsu returned, looking pleased. "Good news. They will happily accept your aid and expertise and would like to meet with you at the earliest possible convenience. They are at the Inn of the Apple Blossom and await your arrival." the young Scorpion said.
  25. At the Inn of the Apple Blossom... "Thank you. And I have no doubt that Hiju-san will be of great assistance if he is available." Ujimitsu said with a polite bow. "If you will excuse me, I will go inform my friends that you welcome their assistance and that they may find you here." he said before he stood and bowed to each of the magistrates. "Good day and good luck. And again, if you require any assistance, I would be happy to help." he added before he departed the table, gathered his things and exited the inn. On the Imperial Barge... Prince Satorii looked down at Rin's hands resting atop his own. Physical contact, especially of a more intimate sort such as this, was taboo, except maybe good natured things between friends. But, if Rin was not at least a friend, then what was she? Rin was a friend, at the very least, perhaps one of only two the Prince had ever really had, even though Toshimoko was he sensei as well. Like Toshomoko, Rin did not seem to judge him, but simply except him who who is, even if she hold him in high praise. It was a praise he did not want simply for a name though. He wanted to earn it, or at least prove he was worth of it. Around her, he could be himself. Not the Lord Prince, Hantei Satorii, but just Satorii, or at least nearly so. And that was a rare and precious thing for him. Prince Satorii slipped one of his hands out and place it atop Rin's as he looked back into her eyes for a moment, enjoying the silence and stillness of the moment. "Thank you, Rin-san. I have my doubts, from time to time, but you... put me at ease." he said softly, looking deep into her eyes with a faint smile. Then the door slid open a few inches and a male voice could be heard through the opening. "My Lord Prince, my apologizes for disturbing you, but if we must be leaving if we are to reach home in time." said the unseen man. Prince Satorii closed his eyes and nodded, even though the man could not see him. "Very well. Prepare to depart." he replied. "Hai." the voice said and the door slid closed once again. "It seems we both have out duties, Rin-san." he sighed.
  26. L5R: Blood and Jade - The Morning After

    Kamiko bowed her head in recognition of their many storied feats. "It would of course be an honor to work with such as they. With their aid, I am certain this cult and their black magic practitioners can be brought to the Emperor's justice." "If my brother and I can offer any assistance to you in making this case to them, please do let us know. Otherwise we will await word of your success."
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