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

    "Oh, I agree," responds Kamiko, "I do hope you can hold your drink. The least conspicuous way to learn would be to partake, no?" The shadow of a smile could be made out through her veil. She then pointed out the nearest sake house, not far from the docks...to serve the thirsty sailors, no doubt.
  3. L5R: Blood and Jade - With A Single Step

    Though not a sailor, with her dancer's grace and swordswoman's poise, Zoyu had adjusted to the motion of the boat with elegant aplomb. But it had amused and not quite scandalized her that Rin had so readily, almost eagerly, joined the sailor's in their work. The Crane might treat their peasants well, but they did not take their tasks upon themselves. The snow-tressed Crane nodded at Kageko and Kamiko. "We may do both at once. We are new to Ikoma's Eye, no? Well, then, we are simply looking for an establishment to suit our needs. We are particular sorts, interested in a particular Sake while we are here. Come, there must be a district that caters to visitors or the sake enthusiast."
  4. L5R: Blood and Jade - With A Single Step

    Kamiko let her veiled gaze linger on the bottle, which she then tucked away into the sash of her kimono without further comment. With a parting bow to the crew of the ship, the Scorpion shugenja followed the other samurai at an unhurried pace towards the town.
  5. L5R: Blood and Jade - With A Single Step

    After they leave the boat Rin pauses and and gestures for Shosuro Kamikoto join her. She reaches into her Obi and pulls out an empty sake bottle, which she hands to the Scorpion. She taps the embossed front showing the brand of Sake, nods and winks, then whistling a sea shanty walks off to join Zoyu.
  6. L5R: Blood and Jade - With A Single Step

    "Ah, I've put you on the spot, Captain. Please accept my apologies. Thank you for your suggestion as well." She gave Kageko a nod. "Our friends may wish to keep a low profile, but I'm sure if we keep our eyes open we'll find them soon enough. Lets find a place to stay and decide where to go first."
  7. "If you seek dry sake, then I am certain that any of the sake houses found within the city will suit your needs. Unfortunately, I cannot recommend one, for I am not very familiar with Ikoma's Eye as I am with posts such as City of the Rich Frog or Ryoko Owari. And for that, I apologize, Shosuro-sama." Captain Michiyo answered with a polite smile and small bow. "If you seek a local variety, then I am sure that the sake houses could assist you in locating the brewer." he offered. "Hmmm.., Considering our quarry, it may be best to do what investigation we can through more casual means, lest we tip them off too soon to our presence and allow them to surry off into the night." Kageko mused.
  8. L5R: Blood and Jade - With A Single Step

    "Dry," agrees Kamiko. "Dry and has a generous capacity...enough to fill a large order within a short period of time. Is there a particularly famous brewer here perhaps? A renowned local recipe?"
  9. Captain Michiyo nodded to Rin. "And if I or my men may be of any assistance, you have but to say the word." he offered and bowed to Rin before turning to Kamiko's question. "That would depend on what you like in a sake. Unfortunately, I am not as familiar with Ikoma's Eye as I am with other ports, but there are many sake houses within the city." Captain Michiyo said, motioning toward the city. "Though I have heard that generally those of the Lion Clan prefer very dry sake. I am certain other varieties can be found here as well, of course. Is there any specific type you seek?"
  10. L5R: Blood and Jade - With A Single Step

    "I would trust a sailor to know." Kamiko glanced at the captain and asked lightly, "Where's the best place around here to find sake?"
  11. L5R: Blood and Jade - With A Single Step

    Rin smiled at the Captain. "It has been a good voyage and I thank you for all that you have done for me. I count you as a good friend Michiyo-san." She bows "I will send word of where we are staying. I do not know how long this afffair will take or where we will be going after. If you find you need to sail do not delay on our count, but do let me know when you are sailing I may have messages I would like you to carry for me if you are going to where i need to send them." She smiles broadly and clasps the good captain on the shoulder. Then departs the ship to join her companions at the horses. "So here we are. Do any of you know where we go now to finish this?" Rin asks of her fellows.
  12. The trip of the River of Gold took several days, each filled with activity on the deck of the ship as the Tortoise adjusted sails to make best use of the wind and aided their trip up river by rowing for hours with large oars. The current was rather lazy in most spots, allowing for a relatively quick tip of days up river, rather then weeks overland. The to call the accommodations 'spartan' would certainly be an understatement. It was painfully clear that the Steady was no passenger ship.The majority of space was allocated to cargo, with the peasant sailors sleeping in hammocks or on straw mats on the deck, while the Magistrates were given room in the cargo hold and mats to sleep on, though the Captain also offered to anchor in a town or village each night if possible, but doing so would increase their travel time by days. Even though Captain Michiyo offloaded most of his cargo to make space for the Magistrates and their horses, space was still at a premium and contributed to the general crowded feeling on the ship.There was a smell too. The combination of horses and sweaty, peasant sailors, for whom bathing was not a daily activity, mingled with the scents of their gaijin influenced food as they cooked, giving the ship a unique aroma. The Captain and his First Mate were the only Tortoise samurai on the ship, with the rest of the crew comprised of peasant sailors in service to the Tortoise Clan. Even though the Tortoise, and their peasants, were not generally attractive, by Rokugani standards, one had to admit that they were fit and strong from their life spent aboard ship. They were more outgoing and gregarious than most samurai as well, and often passed time singing while, gambling on games of chance, paying instruments and singing folk songs, or simply talking with their passengers, if the Magistrates were so inclined. It did not take long to see that even though the crew was mostly peasants, the Tortoise samurai treated them virtually as equals, which was only seen as even more odd for a clan who's daimyo had always been the Hantei Emperor. For the Son of Heaven to rule over a clan of apparently mixed blood, who accepted in ronin without question, treated their peasants as near equals, gambled, served as merchants and even favored the weapons of peasants over the daisho was certainly a difficult thing to grasp. They certainly honored and respect the Hantei though, and it was that duty to their lord that earned the Magistrates, handpicked by the Emperor himself, a berth on the Steady and their willingness to go out of their way to assist them. It should have come as little surprised though, that Rin, all throughout the voyage, worked alongside the sailors, paying for her lessons in sailing with sweat, sore muscles, and bruises from the work. The Dragon samurai-ko seemed to be at ease among the Tortoise, happily working along side them, learning their songs of work and terminology as much as she was able, while also relaxing with them when the wind was cooperative. Perhaps it was the lack of pretentiousness of the Tortoise, or maybe it was the simple satisfaction in the fruits of a days hard work, but for whatever reason, the other Magistrates had rarely seen their Dragon companion at such ease. Kitsu Kageko happily shared information abut their destination over the course of their trip as well. Built at the base of The Mountain of the Seven Thunders, at one point Kyuden Ikoma (Ikoma Palace, aka "Sacred Watch Palace") served as the outpost on the furthest edge of the Empire, hence the name Sacred Watch Palace. With the return of the Ki-Rin, now Unicorn Clan, that changed, but the name still remained. The Venerable Plains surrounding Ikoma's Eye are some of the most fertile land in the Empire, and thus provide much rice and rain for the Lion Clan. The palace itself was home to the vast Ikoma Libraries and served largely as the major point of diplomacy for the Lion Clan. The city surrounding it, known as Ikoma's Eye, was built up as a place for visiting diplomats to be housed until their could be seen by the Ikoma and boasts a large number of tea houses, geisha houses, and theaters as well quite a few sake houses and breweries. Within the city the dojo for the Omoidasu (Historians/Bards) of the Lion Clan can be found, as well as well as the Hundred Scars Dojo, the training place of the Ikoma Brawlers who carry on the traditions of Ikoma, prior to his service to Akodo, who she warns often serve in many establishments of the city, keeping things safe and peaceful. There was once another pass through the mountains besides Beiden Pass, named Shinnomen Pass, and it led right to Sacred Watch Palace. Many centuries ago, Akodo was the last of the Kami, and while visiting the palace heard of a large shadowlands army marching through the pass. So he gathered what few men he had at the palace at the time, and marched into the pass to meet the shadowlands army. They knew it was a battle that they could not win, but every moment they halted the progress of the shadowlands army was more time for reinforcements to gather at Sacred Watch Palace. For each Lion samurai that fell, many times more shadowlands created were felled with them, but it did not take long for Akodo to see that they could not possibly mount a proper defense to an army of this size. So Akodo summoned the last of divinity and let out a mighty roar that caused an avalanche, wiping out the entire shadowlands army and sealing the pass. Finally, after several days, the ship reaches a fork in the river. With a smile Captain Michiyo calls out, "My friends, further up river once can find The City of the Rich Frog, but if you look down this other fork in the river, to the south, you will Kyuden Ikoma! Gather your things, we will be there soon!" The crew burst into hightened activity as the ship turns and makes it way down the other fork, heading to the South with the aid of the current, while drawing quickly closer are walls and towers of Sacred Watch Palace, and the small structures of the sprawling city of Ikoma's Eye all around it. On the opposite bank of the river stands The Mountain of the Seven Thunders at the fork in the river with the rest of the Spine of the World Mountains behind it, serving as a virtually impassable barrier coupled with the swift current of the river at their base. In under an hour The Steady is docked at Ikoma's Eye and the crew sets about offloading the Magistrates' horses while Captain Michiyo addresses the Magistrates himself. "If you like, we can remain in port until your business is concluded, in case we may be of further assistance. If when your business s concluded, you have no further need of us, then we will be on our way." he suggests with a smile and a bow, adding, "Besides, I think the crew could use some time in the city." with a wink to Rin.
  13. Actially i have a post written. Forgot to post it. And tjen sick and everything else popped up. Eill post tonight.
  14. L5R: Blood and Jade - With A Single Step

    "Ah, there you are." Shosuro Kamiko's voice was as delicate-sounding and soft-spoken as ever. She offered the ship's captain a courteous bow, then paused on noticing who he'd stopped to speak to. "Mirumoto-san..." she bowed again, more deeply. "Please accept my apology. I did not mean to interrupt. I will ask Michiyo-san where I may set up my things later." In her hands the Scorpion shugenja still had the demon mask, wrapped in a bit of black velvet. She hadn't let it out of her sight once during the trip to the docks.
  15. L5R: Blood and Jade - With A Single Step

    Rin smiled at her friend, the familiar rocking of the ship welcome to her senses. She could get used to this, in her mind she saw herself throwing away all the things which weigh her down and becoming a sailor maybe even captaining her own ship. A fantasy, but a nice one. "Hmm, Michiyo-san we are probably going to Ikoma's Eye, but I will check with my companions and seek their input before the final decision." She sniffs loudly, "I will let you know. Now where do you want me? I won't be carted around the empire without pulling my own weight. So, up in the lines, or on the oars?"
  16. Rin led her companions and, somewhat begrudgingly, the Scorpion twins, through the streets of Ryoko Owari the short distance to the docks. The streets were once again crowded and busy, giving the city a certain vibrant energy as all manner of trade and commerce took place. To the uninformed, it would be difficult to even tell such a dramatic incident had even taken place at the end of the Bon Festival. Some spoke and gossiped here and there about what had happened, the accounts sometimes varying wildly with distortion and exaggeration, as often happens. As the Magistrates walked down the crowded streets though, the people seemed to part for them. Other samurai stood aside and bowed respectfully, while many peasants dropped to their knees and bowed as they passed, only to rise and occasionally cheer or anomalously call out their thanks or offering prayers as the Magistrates passed. Once at the docks, Rin searched for a moment and located her quarry docked and taking on a few goods in sacks and barrels. A mildly portly man, with a long, thin mustache, oversaw the loading of the cargo. The mon on his shoulder was of the Tortoise Clan, and tucked into his obi was a sai. He was not exactly the samurai idea of handsome. His features hinted at some gaijin blood, as did his thin, facial hair, much different from thick mustaches and beards of the typical samurai. And his weight, though not considerable, was still beyond what most samurai would consider acceptable. Everybody knew that the Tortoise Clan was reviled by some Clans, while others often just regarded them with a mild disgust. They were tainted with even more gaijin blood than the Unicorn Clan, and it was know that they accepted ronin and peasants into their ranks, further soiling their reputation. In addition, they were a clan of merchants, not warriors, shugenja, or even artisans. They dealt with matters of commerce daily and always sought a profit. They even showed their peasant influence by favoring the weapons of peasants themselves. The fact that the Crane, Crab or even Mantis had not already wiped out the Tortoise was known to be owed to one thing. The Emperor. Though a Minor Clan, since their inception after The Battle of White Stag and Battle of Raging Seas, the Emperor, by tradition, has been the Tortoise Daimyo. To seek permission to duel a Tortoise would mean asking the Emperor himself, something which few are willing, or even able to do, and nobody would dare to seek to eradicate a clan with the Hantei himself as their daimyo. So with the protection of the Emperor himself, the Tortoise Clan is generally tolerated, though rarely liked, by most samurai. "Ah, Rin-san! It is so good to see you this fine day." the man said to Rin with a polite bow, somewhat strangely using her given name, which would normally indicate a closeness or friendship. "And these are your fellow Magistrates?" he asked as he looked to the others. "You as well, Michiyo-san." Rin said and bowed. "And yes, they are." "Ah! Then welcome! Welcome!" he said with a deep, respectful bow before Rin began introductions. Once she had introduced them all to him, the somewhat portly man bowed again. "I am Michiyo, Captain of the Shikkari (Steady). It is an honor to be of service to the Jade Magistrates, the saviors of Ryoko Owari, especially hand picked by the Hantei himself! Even the Topaz Champion herself! You honor me and my humble vessel. Please, board and we will depart at the earliest possible convenience. I do apologize for the accommodations though. Unfortunately, this is not a passenger vessel, but I have taken every measure to accommodate." he said, motioning to a narrow gangplank leading to the ship. The ship itself had dual masts and oars. It was just large enough to be seaworthy, as long as it stuck close to the coast, but also just small enough, with a shallow enough draft, to be able to navigate the many rivers of the Empire. The addition of a half dozen passengers made space somewhat cramped, but the ship had taken on little cargo to compensate. The crew were primarily peasant sailors of the Tortoise, with Michiyo and his first mate overseeing them. Once all were aboard and settled in, Michiyo approached Rin and asked, "So, do we have a destination? City of the Rich Frog or Ikoma's Eye? You need not decide between the two right now, if those are the possible destinations, but I will need to know before the fork in the river."
  17. L5R: Blood and Jade - With A Single Step

    "That would be most kind," Zoyu replied, a pleased curve to her lips as she dipped her minutely towards the innkeeper. Holding the sleeve of her fine kimono clear of the page with elegant grace, Zoyu inked a courteous missive of gratitude to Kitsuki Jotomon for her gift and lessons, adding that she hoped to visit her dojo again at a later time when she passed through Ryoko Owari once more. The lovely Crane spent a longer moment considering her letter to Bayushi Tsukiko, her lips pursed in thought. Once more, duty calls To save the City and You, Till I return, dream Zoyu contemplated the words for a moment, then nodded. She sanded the ink to dry it then shook the sand free neatly back into its pot. She folded the letters with precise strokes, inked who they were addressed to, than handed them to the innkeeper, adding where she believed they could be found. "I am most grateful." Zoyu hefted her back on her shoulder and nodded at her companions. "Thank-you for your indulgence. I am ready to depart now."
  18. "Of course, Kakita-sama." the innkeeper said with a bow and then shoot a look to his wife who disappeared for a few moments and returned with a small, slanted tabletop writing table. Withing a drawer at the base was several sheets of a paper, an inkpot, a stick of ink and a brush. She placed it on the table and bowed before backing away. "Please, be my guest. If you are in a hurry and so wish, I will hand deliver your messages myself." the innkeeper offered.
  19. L5R: Blood and Jade - With A Single Step

    "May your journey be swift and sure, and may the providence of that foul mask be made clear at its end," Zoyu said, offering her well-wishes to Taka, Akari, and Okimoto as they left to make their preparations South. Zoyu collected the few belongings she had brought to Ryoko Owari and made her way downstairs. She was about to make a request to the innkeeper when he presented Kitsuki Jotomon's gifts to her and Rin. She studied them with clear praise and gratitude. She was a swordswoman and daughter of a bladesmith, she knew quality when she saw it, held it. She dipped her head towards the innkeeping, thanking him for delivering them. "Kitsuki-sama has made an impression on these ones as well," Zoyu replied smoothly, a ghost of grin curving her red lips as her mismatched eyes cut to Rin for a moment. "I wonder how long it may be before the wakizashi earns an impression of its own by being thrown and hitting its mark. If possible, could I be provided with paper and ink? I would like to write a missive expression my gratitude for Kitsuki-sama's gift and well as a letter to one other." It was cruel that she had just reunited with Tsukiko and now was leaving the city. Duty was heavier than a mountain, lighter than a feather, but always, it called, regardless of the heart's yearning.
  20. "I think that may be the best course of action. It seems these moon cultists were rather sure of the success of their plan, and rightly so. Had it not been for the Shosuro... acquiring... the masks, and our fortuitous presences in Royoko Owari for the festival, and at the same inn as the Cran merchants, it world have almost certainly succeeded, so they had every reason to celebrate with the sake they most enjoyed, so the sake is the best lead we have at the moment, if somewhat vague. Akari-san, Okimoto-san and myself will bring the large mask we collected to Tsuma for safe storage and study, and likely eventual destruction. I believe I can arrange for swift travel with a Yasuki vessel. There are many here in Ryoko Owari, and they can be.. discrete. Given what has happened, I think I shall then return home and seek to learn the ways of the witch-hunter to better assist us, as well as inquired with my Clan to see if they have seen anything like the large mask. I must say, it troubles me.." Kuni Taka said as he rose from the table and bowed, excusing himself. The twins sent for their things with the other packed, cutting short their several day in Ryoko Owari that was meant to be reward for all of their hard work. The irony was not lost on them. As they gathered downstairs, the innkeeper stepped forward, holding two sets of bokken daisho. "Kakita-sama. Mirumoto-sama. I did not wish to interrupt your private conversation earlier, but these arrived while you were out." the man said, bowing his head and offering up the sets of wooden daisho. "They are gifts from Kitsuki Jotomon. She wished to present them herself, but I informed her that you were out on business, so she left them with me to deliver." he explained as they each took a set. The sets were finely made and balanced, and each had an inscription carved into the blade. On the katana 'blade' was written, Do not practice until you get it right and on the wakizashi was written, Practice until you cannot get it wrong "It would seem that you made an impression on Kitsuki-sama." Kageko mused with a faint smile.
  21. L5R: Blood and Jade - With A Single Step

    Kamiko paused just long enough to survey the others at the table to see how they were reacting to Rin's impetuousness. On seeing general assent, she nodded. "We took the precaution of bringing what we will need with us," she said. "Lead on."
  22. L5R: Blood and Jade - With A Single Step

    Rin stood as the silence grew then took a deep exasperated breath. "Gather your things if you wish to come, we will be going to where the wine is made. The swordmaker has a varied clientele, and is not likely to leave his forge if we find nothing at the breweries when go go find him. These dogs, drank this wine religiously, one does not develop that sort of attachment to wine if it is not something you have been familiar with for a very long time. I believe that the chances of finding something that will lead us to the end of this mystery will be found there. So let's go we have a ship to catch I want to be on the next tide."
  23. "A makers mark?" Kageko said in surprise as she looked at the mark, hoping beyond hope to place it somehow with her rather extensive knowledge of heraldry "That is brazen indeed." After looking at the mark for a moment she passed the mask along for any of the others to examine. "So what is our destination going to be? North by river to Ikoma's Eyes or City of the Rich Frog, or south by road to the lands of the Bear to speak with this smith?" the Little Lion asked.
  24. Yeah. Was one of the first questions I posed to Noir. "I wonder how many flavours of special dice they're gonna force you to buy in order to play it". It certainly tanked any interest I might have had in the system. Shame. 4th Edition was a magnificent system.
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