Noir

L5R: Blood and Jade - Blood for Blood (pt 1)

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Zoyu distractedly nodded her agreement to Rin when she patted the ground next to her, but she kept her gaze on the Kenku, as she dipped her head low in thanks. "I am grateful for the wisdom you have shared with my companion, Tisuri-sama," Zoyu affirmed, then added - if not what she really wanted to ask,  "If I may be so bold and ask of you a boon... You see and hear much, Tisuri-sama, and all with us unknowing. Do you know if there is any truth to the rumours of Uba in this town?"

"Yes, I do." the crow replied with what almost seemed to be a smile on his beak and bowed it's head before taking flight with a flap of black wings and disappearing into the darkness.

 

Dawn...

The first of Amaterasu's rays break over the horizon, making the sky noticeably brighter, even through Rin and Zoyu's eyelids, rousing them both to awaken and make their way back to Hideo Castle, meeting Taka on the way after his meditations at the temple. The gate is opened, allowing them entry and as they step into their quarters where their companions sleep a scream can be heard from high up in the tower. The guards instantly tighten up, looking to the source of the sound. One turns to Zoyu and bows.

"Kakita-san. Please remain in your quarters with your companions so we may properly ensure your safety." he says politely, yet firmly as far, someone shouts in horror, as though chased by an Oni. With a bow, the guards turn and jod down the hallways and around the corner while officers begin to angrily bark orders and people run up and down the hallways, all the commotion easily awakening the sleeping magistrates.

 

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Akari had awoken from the scream, her first reaction is to check to the Wards, but obviously because her flawless spell casting, it served it's purpose throughout the night.

"W-what's going on?"  She said going to Rin, Taka and Zoyu as they return. 

Did they make their move after I went to bed?  No, based on the guards running with weapons in hand it had to have happened more recently 

 the young phoenix thought to herself, clearly overthinking things

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"I do not know Akari-san, but we are not children to be guarded in a closed room . We are Jade Magistrates," She adjusts the Jitte in her obi, and looking at Zoyu, Taka, and the rest of the rousing Magistrates she goes to the guard.

"You will take us to where this is occurring now, if you must guard us you will do so as we move, now!"

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Zoyu glared after the crow in irritated annoyance. She'd have preferred no answer to Tusuri's partial one. Tired and frustrated, Zoyu trudged back to the castle with Rin. Taka only got a perfunctory welcome from Zoyu instead of her immaculately mannered greeting. But once at the castle and the screams were heard, the shapely Crane's mismatched widened in renewed alertness.

Zoyu nodded in agreement with Rin, then slid her saya into a ready position on her obi as she turned a haughty expression on the guard. "As my companion has said, we are Jade Magistrates. As well, we are champions and successful graduates of the Topaz Champion, and I am Crane on Crane Lands," Zoyu expanded in firm, clear tones. "Do not waste any of your number in securing our safety. Instead add us to bolster your own to seek this trouble and end it, I implore. Let us make haste and not quibble."

Zoyu takes several steps in the direction of the screams, then glances over at the guard with an arched, expectant brow, silently asking if he was going to make of issue of it or accede to eminently gracious and reasonable suggestion.

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The guard steps into the middle of the hallway, blocking passage.

"May I remind you that you are all guests in this castle and under the protection of my lord. And may I further assure you that if this matter requires the attention of the Jade Magistrates, then you will be summoned, but until such time, you are to remain in your quarters." he says firmly.

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Zoyu gave the guard a tempestuous look, her eyes bright with deflected ire. Her nostrils flared delicately as she took a deep breath to collect herself then bowed her head in apology.

"You are quite correct, Hediji-san, I forget myself," Zoyu said politely, though there remained a hotness to her tone. "We can but beg forgiveness, our manners frayed by a long night short of sleep. We will of course remain in our guest chambers until you have need of the Jade Magistrates."

So saying, Zoyu gracefully turned on a heel, her disheveled foxtail of whitehair flaring around her then strode back towards her room. Her head was held high with pride, but there was a slight stiffness to her steps from being denied her want.

In passing, Zoyu met Rin's dark, demanding eyes and shook her head, intimating it was neither worth the effort nor the breach of decorum to press the issue. In the lands of the Hediji, it behooved them to follow their rules, unless the dictates of Emperor or the Jade Magistrates compelled them to act... or at least make a believable case that they applied.

Edited by Kakita Zoyu

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Toshi rose from bed as the screams arose. No, given the frantic behavior, it was not the servants reacting to a presumable sleepless Zoyu and Rin. He rose and dressed quickly, his kimono and mask on as he looked out the doorway. Zoyu and Rin were already arguing with one of the guards, Rin more fiercely inclined to press the subject.

He cleared his throat. "Rin-san, he is correct. We may as well return to bed." Since you've been up all night. "With Fortunes willing, we will learn soon enough." While this could well be officially in-Crane matters, there were other lords of other clans, and depending on what was reported, there could be a case for the more Emerald aligned, but still Imperial-granted authorities to be made. Or the straightforward Jade prerogatives.

If need be, technicalities and excuses might be found.

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With both Tosh and Zoyu declining to support her push and with one last look and a nod to the guard doing his duty, Rin returns to the room and her bed without a word.

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The guard bows and returns to his post by the door as the Jade Magistrates return to their quarters.

No servants shown up to help you dress or even bring in breakfast, though the commotion outside does settle down somewhat as you wait for any word on what has happened for several hours...

 

Around mid-morning a Crane arrives at the guest quarters. He is a rather average looking for a Crane, though his hair is black and kept in a top-knot. He introduces himself with a bow,

"Greetings. I am Daidoji Hatsu, karo to Lord Daodoji Uji. Thank you all for your eagerness to lend aid and you cooperation. Please accept apologies, on behalf of my lord, for the lack of service or even breakfast this morning." he says politely.

"Lord Daidoji requests your presence. I will escort you to him when you are ready." he adds and bows, stepping outside into the hallway to wait for you to get ready.

 

When you exit your quarters Hatsu greets you with another bow and leads you into further into the castle where you turn down a hall and see Lord Daidoji's Honor Guard standing at attention. Hatsu leads you to the door and opens in, motioning for you all to enter. Seated at the far end of the room, alone except for a scribe, is Lord Daidoji Uji. His sword rests in a stand behind him and to the left and the air is still and heavy with authority. He waches as you all kneel and bow, taking a seat in a semi-circle around him before he speaks.

"I am sure you are wondering what all of the commotion was this morning." he says as he shifts his steely gaze from other magistrate to the other.

"Lord Hideji Fumiya was found dead this morning, stabbed through the heart." Lord Daidoji explains and waits a moment for it to sink in.

"The presence of the other daimyo within the castle last night makes this a delicate and complicated matter. Being that you all already trusted as Jade Magistrates I am formally requesting you investigate this murder in case another clan is involved." Lord Daidoji asks as  the scribe rises and presents each of you with scroll.

"This is a writ formally stating my request, on behalf of the Crane Clan, that you investigate the matter, should you run into anybody who might be unsure of your authority." he adds as you look over the scrolls, each of them stamped with Lord Daidoji's seal.

"This is a gravely serious matter that I trust you can handle with the discretion and delicacy it requires." Lord Daidoji says, meeting each of your gazes with his own once more before gesturing toward the door.

 

Now that you are investigating, you can see the crime scene, interview witnesses and suspects and so forth.

Edited by Noir

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"Of course." Toshi assented simply, knowing Lord Daidoiji's preferences. This was a serious event - atop determining whether indeed uba were about. And more than a few possibilities for culprits. "Then if you will excuse us, the first place to begin will be the scene of the crime."

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"Agreed."  Akari nods to Toshi.

"Zoyu-san, you have a much better way with words than many of us.  Would you mind leading in questioning witnesses?  Rin-san, would you mind assisting her?  And Shosuro-San.  Would you kindly help me in investigating the scene?"

The normally soft spoken phoenix seems to be in flight so to speak. 

Edited by Sunstar

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Zoyu's exquisite face went as pale and still as a porcelain mask when she found out what had caused the commotion early in the morning. She had found Lord Hediji an odious man, but she had not wished his death, and if... She very circumspectly did not exchange a glance with Rin as she bowed low to the Daidoji daimyo as she accepted the scroll establishing their authority in this matter.

"We shall pursue our duties as Jade Magistrates with honour and insight, Daidoji-sama, so the matter may be solved in a suitable and decorous manner," Zoyu said softly as she flowed languidly to her feet, as if in a dream.

Zoyu nodded at Akari in agreement as she glided towards the door. "Your suggestion is reasonable, Isawa-san. I shall do so." Leaving Lord Daidoji's chambers, Zoyu turned to face Daidoji Hatsu. "Daidoji-san, have any suspects been identified or witnesses come forward? I would like to speak to the one who had first found Lord Hediji Fumiya after the incident, if you could direct me to them."

Her mismatched eyes were hooded as her lips pursed in a moue of consideration. "As well, do you know if the gates have been closed and guarded since Lord Hediji has been found, so as to prevent any witnesses or assassins from escaping?

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Daidoji Hatsu thought for a moment, considering his words before speaking,

"Not to speak ill of the dead, but Lord Hideji Fumiya was a brash man, and known to have had the ire of many, even within his own clan. So the list of suspects may be rather lengthy." he explained flatly.

"I am no investigator, and would not think to suggest how you might do your duty, but if I may be so bold as to make some suggestions..." Hatsu said before continuing,

"It appeared that Fumiya was preparing to make advancements in the valley toward the lands of Lord Shiba Ryotsu. Fumiya's death and the ascent of his son to the head of the family would probably be effective in halting that course of action." he suggested.

Hatsu then paused, looking somewhat conflicted as he struggled internally for a moment before speaking again,

"My lord was sent here, by Lord Doji Satsume himself, to rein Fumiya. The Phoenix are the allies of the Crane and the Hideji advancing on the lands of the Phoenix would endanger that alliance. The Hideji are vassals of the Doji, and though Lord Doji had to reward Fumiya for his success in claiming this castle, Lord Doji was not pleased with the means by which Fumiya accomplished it. Antagonizing the Lion as he did after already securing victory was... well... It does not cause others to look upon the Crane favorably. Suffice to say that Fumiya was told then that his days of conquest were over and we was to advance no farther. When Lord Doji caught word that Fumiya was preparing to advance on the Phoenix, he immediately dispatched my lord." he explained reluctantly.

"Some Lion may carry a grudge as well, due to the treatment of the Okimoto at the hands of Fumiya in this very castle. And, though unrelated I am sure, Lord Ikoma Kazuma was friends with Lord Okimoto." Hatsu added.

"In addition, there seemed to be a tempestuous relationship, at best, between Fumiya and his own son, Nobikazu, who is now the new daimyo of the Hideji family." he pointed out.

"These are just suspects that I, with my limited knowledge of the area, it's history and politics, can think of. I would suggest taking with the servants and locals. They may be more forthcoming than the Hideji themselves about such matters and may shed other light on possible suspects and motives as well. Even in my short time here I have heard talk of the castle being haunted by the dead of the Okimoto who I am sure would seek vengeance against Fumiya, if not the entire family." Hatsu offered somewhat quietly.

"Fumiya was found dead in his chambers at the top of the tower by his personal servant, an old woman named Osuno. She is still shaken up from the discovery. We can take you to her and the crime scene whenever you are ready." Hatsu explained.

"The gates are barred each night and had not opened before the alarm was raised, except to permit your exist last night and re-entry after dawn. The visiting Lion and Phoenix daimyo have both given their condolences, but both left. . They had to return home and did not wish to be in the way while we attended to this matter. We possessed no authority to possibly detain them, so they were permitted to leave. They both set out a few hours ago back to their castles. The Lion to the Southeast and Phoenix to the Northeast. A swift horse should be able to catch either one of them in a couple of hours." Hatsu said.

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Rin had listened through all of the proceeding with little understanding trying to fathom what her possible purpose here could be she was no diplomat, no courtier. She was as likely to make their work harder by misspeaking than offer any insight to their task. Then something Daidoji Hatsu had just said sank in.

"You say the Gates were not opened since our departure last night until our return, how sure is this?"

 

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Rin had listened through all of the proceeding with little understanding trying to fathom what her possible purpose here could be she was no diplomat, no courtier. She was as likely to make their work harder by misspeaking than offer any insight to their task. Then something Daidoji Hatsu had just said sank in.

"You say the Gates were not opened since our departure last night until our return, how sure is this?"

 

"It is what the gate guards said. You can interview them yourself, of course, if you wish." Hatsu answered.

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Many people with motive to see Lord Hediji dead, but still, Zoyu caught the possible discrepancy in Hatsu comment who had passed through the gates, just as Rin had. For the first time since they had learned of Lord Hediji's death, Zoyu caught Rin's eyes with her own. It would not do to chase after the Daimyos from the other clans - if necessary, they would know where to find them. Speaking with the guards seemed to her more likely to lead to insight into the manner of Lord Hediji's death, especially if they could learn something of his activities during the night from the servant Osuno.

"I believe we shall do that, Daidoji-san," Zoyu affirmed smoothly, "but first, I would like to speak with the woman Osuno."

Zoyu regarded Rin with a cocked head and an arched brow, aware she was not one comfortable with speaking with others. Further, they had suggested none of them should travel alone here - and now, there could possibly be a killer still within the walls of the castle. If they were bold enough to strike at a Daimyo, they would be willing to strike at a Jade Magistrate alone. But it would be impolite to say such aloud, but she trusted Rin would intuit her intent.

"Would you do me the honour of accompanying me, Rin-san? Your sharp eye may catch something I miss while speaking with potential witnesses."

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A deep breath as if to center herself and a curt not to Zoyu.

"Of course Kakita-san, I have a question for this woman as well."

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"I will send for Osuno and have her brought outside the daimyo's quarters, thereby allowing any of you to speak with her and inspect the scene as you desire."  Hatsu says before calling over a couple of guards, sending them to fetch Osuno.

"Please, follow me." he asks as he turns and leads you further into the tower, climbing several flights of stairs. As is standard in most Rokugani castles, the the Daimyo and their immediately family occupy the top floor of the tow, with aides, advisors and so forth occupying the floors beneath. Nobikazu's room is near the top of the stairs as well as several largely empty, multi-functional room (that would be occupied by other children normally). Beyond them is a hallway that Hatsu leads you down, with every step causing the wooden floor to creak loudly.

"Nightingale floors." Hatsu comments, "Designed to creak when you walk upon them. A common feature of the approach to the daimyo's cambers in many castles, especially those built by the old masters."

The hall opens into something of a foyer directly outside the daimyo's chambers with tatami mats and futons, bedding for a half-dozen or, so neatly secured on either wall.

"Ten guards sleep here at night, directly outside the daimyo's door and over there," Hatsu points to a corner, "is a small, hidden guard post, through which the guard may observe the hall and sound the alarm if needed. Again, another trait of the old masters." Hatsu points out.

"Personally, I cannot see how somebody could make it into the daimyo's chambers without the nightingale floors awakening them, disturbing the guards on their own, or being spotting by the guard in the guard post. The Lion built an impressive castle, for it's time. The guards asked for permission to commit seppuku and were granted permission by Nobikazu-sama, the new Lord Hideji. So if you wish to speak to any of them, it should be before dark." he comments as the guards arrive with a small, frail, old woman and take her into one of the empty rooms.

"Osuno awaits you in there." he motions to the room the old woman was taken into.

"And here are the daimyo's chambers." Hatsu says as he opens the door.

Fumiya's bedroom is simple, mesuring 12'x12' with scant furniture, just an empty sword stand, ornate, inlaid chest, and a scroll hanging on the wall. A door within the bedroom leads to Fumiya's dressing room, furnished with lacquered chests full of clothes and personal effects. The smell of blood hangs heavily in the bedroom and a servant knees beside a bucket, scrubbing blood from the floor while the tatami mats and futon that Fumiya slept on are absent. Standing over the servant, with arms folded across his chest, is Hideji Yataro, Fumiya's General, who looks up as the door is opened while the servant pauses for a moment, barely looking at you with a sideways glances before continuing her scrubbing.

 

(Note: You have full authority to investigate this murder as you see fit. That means to can search rooms, go through personal effects, interview whoever you like (even the new daimyo) and so on. Being Imperial Magistrates and specifically requested to investigate by one of highest daimyo of the Crane clan, you have rather broad powers and authority in relation to investigating the murder. Though stopping the guards from committing seppuku is not within your power. They are disgraced, having failed to protect their lord, and need to remove the stain of dishonor on their soul.)

Edited by Noir

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"Stop." Toshi stated firmly to the servant. "You will not continue until we are finished." A surprising order, but Toshi stepped over the blood, with a careful hauteur. Truthfully, though he knew the benefits of a testimony based system all too well, as one well aware of the proven successes of the Kitsuki against his own, Toshi would rather follow their ways. Particularly in his duties as a Jade Magistrate. Perhaps it would be so that though he determined to this or that might not be tried, or could not be convicted.

It was of no matter. The Scorpion knew what to do all the same with information gleaned, and having the accurate information to work with for his purposes was Toshi's highest desire.

And of course, it was already difficult enough as of present. The body of the late lord Hideji was gone, the bedding was gone. It was already hard enough to investigate his murder without the near-complete inability to judge what happened to him.

The mask-hidden magistrate stepped around the room, inspecting items, moving and touching various things with care.

[Jeremy] 6:49 pm: Per + Investigation
Jeremy *rolls* 5d10: 4+5+8+3+1: 21

[Jeremy] 6:49 pm: 8 + 5 + 4 = 17 [Roll #1]

Jeremy *rolls* 5d10: 2+6+8+5+2: 23
[Noir] 6:50 pm: 19
[Jeremy] 6:50 pm: 8 + 6 + 5 = 19 [Roll #2]

Jeremy *rolls* 5d10: 1+8+7+8+10: 34
Jeremy *rolls* 1d10: 3: 3

[Jeremy] 6:53 pm: 13 + 8 + 8 = 29

Edited by Shosuro Toshi

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"Until you are done here?" General Yataro questioned gruffly with irritation in his voice.

"What are you all doing here? If we have need of the Jade Magistrates, we will call upon you, but until that time, if it ever comes, this matter is not your concern." he barks with a certain amount of contempt in his firm voice.

As Toshi takes in a breath to respond quiet, little Kageko barely raises a delicate hand toward Toshi, who notices the minute gesture and nods. Kageko steps forward and folds back her hood before reaching into her satches and presenting the general with the writ from Lord Daidoji.

"We have been charged to investigate this matter, on behalf of the Lord Daidoji himself and the Crane Clan." she explains.

The general snatches the offered writ from her hand and looks it over before flinging it back toward her in disgust.

"Fine." he snarls and steps past her, walking out of the bedroom.

"It would seem that Lions are not the only ones murdered within these walls..." Kageko thinks aloud in a bit of uncharacteristic boldness which causes the general to stop in her tracks and snap around, raising a finger toward her and taking in a breath as she neatly rolls the writ once more, looking over the top of it toward him.

"Hrumph." the general settles snorts before turning and walking out of the bedroom in a huff.

Once the general is out of the room Kageko turn to Toshi and bows.

"I apologize, Shosuro-san. I know I have angered the general and his cooperation will be minimal at best now, but I could not help myself. I do hope my brashness has not impeded the success of our investigation too much." Kageko apologizes softly.

 

(Note: I am waiting to reveal the results of investigations rolls, if any, until all those who are doing so (Toshi, Akari and probably Kageko, I believe) have made their rolls.)

 

Edited by Noir

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"No need, Kitsu-san." Toshi's mouth of course, was unreadable, but his eyes communicated amusement. Especially since the General had not exactly demonstrated a desire to cooperate previously in the moments before. What was behind it? A general (a pleasing pun once Toshi realized it) anger and bolted back grief over the loss of his lord? Discomfort given the fact that Lord Daodoiji's writ confirmed the displeasure incurred with the greater Crane Clan? Lord Hideji Fumiya had been plotting to advance on the Shiba lands in defiance of the Doiji's will.

Yataro, after all, would have executed, if not played any role in proposing the deaths of the previous Lion occupants, as Kageko fiercely alluded to. Did he share distaste towards the new daimyo that the deceased did? Quite possible.

Another thing to file away for memory, and for that which would be written - Toshi did need to add a second page to the letter to be sent to Seppun-sama after all.

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As she was led through the castle, Zoyu pursed her lips,noting the Crane decor, but design of the place was decidedly not Crane. When she was shown the room where Osuno was waiting, Zoyu gave Hatsu a gracious nod and a soft smile.

"Thank-you for your aid, Daidoji-san. If possible, would you be able to procure for use all those assigned gate duty last night, including for any postern gates or the like? I believe we will be speaking with them next." After waiting for Hatsu's response, she nodded glanced at Rin, then tilted her head towards the door. "Shall we begin, Rin-san?"

Schooling her face in an firm, but not harsh, expression, Zoyu entered the room, Rin at her side. The woman was of older years, thin with age, her short hair iron grey and white. Osuno was round of face, her dark eyes reddened, the crowsfeet at their corners liberal and deep. She started when Zoyu and Rin entered the room, then bowed low.

"Magistrate-sama, what can this one do for you?" Osuno said respectfully, her voice low and scratchy with age and distress.

"We simply wish to learn what befell your Lord and how, so those involved can be dealt with in an appropriate manner," Zoyu said gently. "This will not take long, then you will be able to seek comfort in the arms of family. You are the one called Osuno, yes? You have a husband, children?"

Zoyu traded some words with the woman, trying to put her ease, though she feared she could feel the impatience radiating from Rin, before getting to more direct questions she had for her. "Now, we are told he was found alone. Do you know if Lord Hediji was expecting... a discrete visitor last night, or indeed, if he was in the habit of receiving such?" She gave the woman a soft, commiserating smile. "I know you are loath to breech the privacy of your Lord, but we are seeking the truth of the matter and so must know all."

Zoyu tapped her chin with a strong, slender finger, musing. "As well, we were informed that none were seen or heard by his guards in the outer chamber. This shiro appears to be a design of the old masters - perhaps like some other shiro, there is a more... unobtrusive passage into the Lord's chambers? One for servants or for when he wishes to... converse with someone without the rest of the shiro being aware. For privacy or security, of course. Are you aware of any such passage, Osuno?"

Awareness + Investigation rolls, Benten`s Blessing and Ancestor: Doji Teahime apply

[Asarasa] 5:49 pm: But 10s don't explode
Asarasa *rolls* 5d10: 9+10+4+1+3: 27
Asarasa *rolls* 5d10: 4+8+9+4+1: 26
Asarasa *rolls* 5d10: 10+10+6+3+4: 33

Edited by Kakita Zoyu

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"I entered Fumiya-sama's chambers shortly after sunrise, like I always do, to help him dress. He is..." she paused and closed her eyes for a moment before continuing, "...was... an early riser. He always had been, even as a little boy. The guards were all there as well and seemed fine." Osuno recounted.

"I opened the door and found him.. sprawled on the floor... in a pool of blood. He was stabbed through the heart. I screamed and ran to him... I.. I did not know he was dead. I hoped I might be alive. His body... it was cold... and growing stiff.  I did not intend to touch the dead flesh, I tried only to help him." she sobbed, visibly shaken and took a moment to compose herself as best she could.

"To my knowledge, he had not visitors nor was he expecting any. Since the death of his wife during a plague eleven years ago, Fumiya had always slept alone. He would... on occasion... visit The House of the Cherry Blossom. But he always traveled there. He felt a castle was a place of warfare, not a place for a geisha. He did not permit geisha within these walls." she explained.

"That door is the only entrance to his chambers. A daimyo has no need to be secretive within his own castle and Fumiya-sama was never a... quiet man." Osuno said as she looks at the floor.

"Fumiya-sama would meet in his audience chambers, and after the banquet he met there privately with Lord Daidoji. It grew heated and I could hear them yelling from the hallway. Lord Daidoji said.." she was cutoff abruptly....

"That's enough, woman!" General Yataro's boomed from through the opened doorway from where he stood in the hallway.

"Servants do not spread gossip or talk about the affairs of their betters. Know your place." he growled which caused Osuno's head to sink in between her shoulders from the scolding.

"I.. I am sorry Yataro-sama. Please forgive me." she sobbed.

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Rin shifts her shoulders and cracks her neck, shifting to look into the hall where the general had barked at the old woman.

"General Yataro, Do you wish to read the writ given us by Lord Daidogi again? I have my copy here."

She holds it out to him.

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The general snatches the writ from Rin's hand and glares at her, his eyes narrowing.

"Tread carefully on a man's grave, young magistrates. You may not always have the protection of daimyo or the Emperor." he says in a low snarl, his voice dripping with intent as he holds up the rolled up writ for emphasis and then flings it back at Rin.

The general glares at Osuno once more before turning and storming down the creaky hallway.

"I will be in my quarters." he growls on his way out before he disappears around the corner past Nobikazu's room, heading for the stairs.

Edited by Noir

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Rin snatches the writ out of the air as it flies back at her, tucks it back into her Obi as she turns back to the old woman and Zoyu and teh rest of her friends with them.

"Osuno, your old lord is dead, but your new lord may still be in danger. You know who we are adn you know that we only seek justice for the one who has been wronged."

Rin makes a vague gesture at the blood stained floor but without emphasis.

"Nothing you tell us will will be used to harm Fumiya-sama further but may allow us to uncover his killer and protect his son, your Lord. Please, Osuno, answer the Topaz Champion's questions."

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Osuno looks at the floor, not daring to lift her gaze at the general as he exchanges words with Rin. When the general leaves and Rin speaks to her, pleading and encouraging her to share what she knows. The old woman is quiet for a few moments, struggling internally. She then nods slowly and speaks once more,

"Lord Daidoji... he... he threatened Fumiya-sama. He said, 'If you do not stop this course of action, you will be cast out and your lands seized, or worse.' Fumiya-sama shouted back at him, 'The role of a bushi is to fight, not talk. Only death can stay my hand!'. Then Lord Daidoji stormed out of the room, nearly knocking me over." she recounted.

"I think I might know what the argument was over as well. I am no bushi, and know nothing of warfare, but I believe Fumiya-sama was planning an attack against the nearby Phoenix clan holdings. 'Only the strong should rule' he would often say, and he believed Lord Shiba Ryotsu to be weak. I have heard the General argue against it though, believing that the Phoenix only showed weakness and were actually much stronger. The general told Fumiya-sama that they needed the support of the heimin and the Clan, which they did not have. Fumiya-sama insisted though, so the general set about planning the assault and sending out patrol to probe for weakness in the Phoenix defense." she offered.

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"Stop." Toshi stated firmly to the servant. "You will not continue until we are finished." A surprising order, but Toshi stepped over the blood, with a careful hauteur. Truthfully, though he knew the benefits of a testimony based system all too well, as one well aware of the proven successes of the Kitsuki against his own, Toshi would rather follow their ways. Particularly in his duties as a Jade Magistrate. Perhaps it would be so that though he determined to this or that might not be tried, or could not be convicted.

It was of no matter. The Scorpion knew what to do all the same with information gleaned, and having the accurate information to work with for his purposes was Toshi's highest desire.

And of course, it was already difficult enough as of present. The body of the late lord Hideji was gone, the bedding was gone. It was already hard enough to investigate his murder without the near-complete inability to judge what happened to him.

The mask-hidden magistrate stepped around the room, inspecting items, moving and touching various things with care.

Hidden Content

 

The Servant stops, her eyes wide and fearful. She sits up and sets the bush aside as Toshi and Akari move about the room, inspecting it. The room is sparse. The sword stand sits empty, the sword most likely having been presented to Nobikazu, the new Hideji daimyo. The lone scroll on the wall seems to be pristine and undisturbed. Toshi moves to the only other piece of furniture in the room (with the futon and tatami mats having already been removed and likely burned), an inlaid chest. The contents inside the chest seem to all be neatly folded and stored with no signs of a thief's quick sear for valuables. Indeed, several personal effects of value remain within the chest.

Toshi and Akari then move too the dressing room, furnished with lacquered chests full of clothes and personal effects. Again, the items and clothing are all neatly folded and stored with no sign of a search and apparently nothing missing. As Toshi carefully searches through a chest in the corner, something beside it catches his an Akari's eye. On the wooden floor, a lone bead rests against the chest, like one used to secure an inro box to an obi. Normally a stray bead in a dressing room would not be that much cause for attention, but this bead is a dull orange-ish color while all of the attire in the chests (and all the attire seen worn by the Hideji for that matter) are of the typical white and blues of the Crane Clan.

Akari points out the bead to Toshi, and having now found something of possible interest, Toshi carefully closes the chest. The chest is wooden and coated with a glossy lacquer like the other chest. And like the other chests there is just the faintest layer of dusts on them, aside from where one would typically touch the chests to open them of course. Toshi notices that the top of this chest in the corner, and with the bead beside it, has a large swath on the top of the chest, 3"-4" wide and perhaps 6" long, wiped clean of dust.

Toshi and Akari look at the bead the top of the chest thoughtfully, wondering what could have made of the clean spot. They look about the room for anything that might be the culprit and it is then that they notice something more... the single ceiling tile in the corner is just barely out of place, and right above the chest with the clean spot and the bead bead...

Edited by Noir

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So, someone may have stepped on the chest, to reach the tile.

Toshi nodded to Akari as they took note of this. Reaching out, Toshi moved the tile aside. "Help me up, please." Hopefully the combined boost would get them a look about what was so special in this spot.

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Akari nods, and helps Toshi up.

"Almost up there, Shosuro-San?"

Akari  said, straining somewhat, but managing to hold Toshi up.

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With a boost from Akari, Toshi's head rose through the opening where the ceiling tile had been. Toshi could see that between the ceiling tiles and the narrow beams that supported them, and the roof, was a small cavity. The void was empty though, no items could be seen stashed within it. The space was vertically narrow, permitting only a child, or possibly a slender man or woman to fit, but it was clear that from this small void between ceiling and roof, one could access every room on the entire floor if they were able to fit and knew where to go..

Edited by Noir

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"Interesting. Thank you, lower me down Isawa-san." When the Phoenix did so, her fellow Magistrate regarded her with a scrutinizing eyebrow. "There's enough space for the right person to fit in there," Toshi said softly, "and I do believe this is how our well-informed killer bypassed the nightingale floors. Someone who has good knowledge of the castle."

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Zoyu shared a look with Rin, then turned back Osuno with a comforting smile. Hearing of the hard words between Lord Daidoji and Lord Hediji was interesting, but it hardly portended anything nefarious. And while Lord Hediji's apparent aggression directed towards the Phoenix was a concern, the pacifistic inclinations of the Phoenix were well known - Zoyu couldn't believe they would stoop to assassination... though someone making it appear as them...

"Thank-you, Osuno, I know this must be difficult for you," Zoyu said gently. "Just one more question, for the moment, where did you find Lord Hediji. I know you said on the floor, but was he nearer the foyer with his guards, closer to his dressing table, elsewhere?"

"I too, have another question," Rin added, attempting to soften her brusque tone. "Are there any servants remaining in the castle from the time the Okimoto ruled?"

 

Edited by Kakita Zoyu

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Nina shared a look with Rin, then turned back Osuno with a comforting smile. Hearing of the hard words between Lord Daidoji and Lord Hediji was interesting, but it hardly portended anything nefarious. And while Lord Hediji's apparent aggression directed towards the Phoenix was a concern, the pacifistic inclinations of the Phoenix were well known - Zoyu couldn't believe they would stoop to assassination... though someone making it appear as them...

"Thank-you, Osuno, I know this must be difficult for you," Zoyu said gently. "Just one more question, for the moment, where did you find Lord Hediji. I know you said on the floor, but was he nearer the foyer with his guards, closer to his dressing table, elsewhere?"

"I too, have another question," Rin added, attempting to soften her brusque tone. "Are there any servants remaining in the castle from the time the Okimoto ruled?"

 

 

Osuno looked slightly confused for a moment as Zoyu's question.

"He was.. He was in his bed.. in a pool of blood... I am sure you can still see the..." the only woman paused for a moment, trebling slightly as she lifted a hand and pointed to the bed room, "..the stain of the blood."

Indeed Zoyu did see a servant scrubbing at a large blood stain in the middle of the room and did hear Toshi command her to stop scrubbing.

Osuno shook her head at Rin's question.

"Not that I know of. Fumiya-sama did not trust them. Some were killed, in the taking of the castle. The personal servants of Lord Okimoto's family, I think. Any others took up jobs in Jinpachi. All of the servants in the castle since the Hideji moved in, they brought with them, like myself." she explains.

Osuno lowers her heard and closes her eyes as she speaks once more,

"There is something else, I think... I.. I am no gossip, nor have I ever tried to pry into the business of my betters, but... " the old woman sighs and continues, "... Fumiya-sama would go to town, to visit the House of the Cherry Blossom occasionally, like I said, but more often he would visit to gamble. I am not sure where, but I believe it was run by a Scorpion... and I think the fortunes did not favor Fumiya-sama much. I had the... impression... that he owed no small sum and the Scorpion was growing impatient..." Osuna shared, somewhat reluctantly.

Edited by Noir

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"Thank you Osuna, you have helped us a great deal, you have honored your Lord." Rin smiles at the old woman.

"Oh, one more thing, Is General Yataro married and does he have any children?"

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"The General was married, but he lost his wife in the plague. His only child, a daughter, married a Fox some years ago, before the capture of Shiro Hideo. I have not seen her in many years, but I think she had several children. They would be grown by now, I would think." Osuno replies.

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Rin smiles at this new bit of information.

"Again thank you Osuno, you have been very helpful, may the Fortunes smile upon you and yours."

She give the servant a slight bow acknowledging her service and nods to Zoyu.

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"So the killer has to be small or at least have a slender build.  And know the castle like the back of one's hand so to speak."

She thinks.

"That could narrow it down a little.  Come on.  Let's go share this with the others"

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"Can you check to see if magic is present?" Toshi insisted. "I would wish to see if there is evidence of that first."

Spellcraft 4k3

Noir saw me roll a total of 38.

Edited by Shosuro Toshi

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Toshi puts his new training as a Jade Magistrate in the detection of magic (Spellcraft skill) to use while Akari puts the trained eye of a shugenja to search for signs as well, though both fail to find trace of any residual magic. It may be simply because none or was used, or it may be because it was used several hours ago and the energies have dissipated by now. There is no real way to know for sure...

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