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Kakita Zoyu    3

Zoyu barely refrained from inelegantly rubbing her forehead in frustration. Every extra word she heard about Lord Hediji Fuyima revealed yet another who had reason for wanted him dead. She was coming perilously close to exerting her prerogative as a Jade Magistrate and simply declaring Lord Hediji's death was the divine will of the Kami and Fortunes.

When Rin asked after General Yataro's family, Zoyu looked questioningly at her, but Rin shook her head, silently stating she'd speak later. Zoyu shrugged then bowed slightly at Osuno.

"You help in this matter is appreciated, Osuno. May your ancestors look kindly upon you." Zoyu nodded back at Rin, then the two of them left the room. In the hall, Zoyu kept her voice to a low murmur. "Interesting and irritating. What mean you asking after the General's family? I still believe we should question the gate guards next, but we should share what we have found with Shosuro-san and Isawa-san, and see what they have found, if anything, studying Lord Hediji's chambers."

 

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"I have a theory, but i am not yet ready to share it. Let us see what our friends have found. As for the Guards, we do not need to speak with them, they saw nothing. But the General," She sniffs,"We will need to speak with him."

She lightly touches Zoyu's arm guiding her to where Akari and Toshi are poking into things.

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Toshi took note of the absence - as far as could be observed - of magic, and then pocketed the orange bead. It might be stray, but with its position beneath the tile, it might not. So it remained to be seen. He was about to suggest returned when he saw Zoyu and Rin return. "Ah, Kakita-san, Mirumoto-san. Watch your step," he warned, indicated the unfinished cleaning of the blood.

"How were your discussions?"

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Kakita Zoyu    3

"Unenlightening," Zoyu admitted with poor grace, a scowl briefly crossing her pretty face. "Just learned that many would wish to see Lord Hediji Fuyima perish. Rin-san and I believed that perhaps a geisha may have been involved." She frowned slightly. "It does not seem likely, but I will still pursue this line of inquiry by speaking with the guards on duty at the gates last night. We encountered a geisha coming to the castle when we patrolled the town last night, though no guard admitted to letting her in."

Zoyu gave an indifferent shrug, then nodded at Rin. "Rin-san seems to have a theory involving General Yataro." Zoyu pursed her lips for a moment than added, "It may simply be gossip, but Lord Hediji's chambermaid believed he may have been involved with gambling, and perhaps, owed vast sums. He was also eyeing the lands of the Phoenix, but I doubt they would be involved in any way with his murder."

Stepping carefully so she didn't dirty the soles of her slippers in the blood, Zoyu gestured gracefully about the room. "What of your and Isawa-san's searches of the room, Shosuro-san? Have you found anything interesting, or even better, incriminating?"

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"Kakita-san questioning the guards further is a waste of time. They are Crane they would not lie. If they had let anyone in after we left they would be committing seppeku as well."

She looks around the room where Toshi and Akari have been investigating.

"I do believe that the person we saw is the killer but I do not believe that they are geisha. And I do not think the General was involved but I do think he knows who did it, and why."

A heavy sigh then she smiles at Akari and Toshi.

"So what have you two learned?"

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Toshi listened to their words with a sense of amusement. There were some useful tidbits here, yet the girls seemed to not grasp the possibilities. Such though would have been the consequence of their upbringings though. "Forgive me, but there are some clarifications I must seek first. This geisha. Explain to me precisely what occurred in your meeting with her last night."

Edited by Shosuro Toshi

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Kakita Zoyu    3

Zoyu narrowed her mismatched eyes slightly as the Scorpion avoided revealing any of what he and Akari had found, if anything, before demanding more answers. She shared a glance with Rin before acceding in cool tones.

"At the time, it was an encounter of no consequence, Shosuro-san. I, Rin-san, and Kuni-san, were heading down to the town proper after the fall of night, to see what we could see. When we turned onto the road leading to the town, we crossed paths with a woman seemingly heading to the castle." Zoyu shrugged nonchalantly. "She appeared to be nothing more than a geisha on the way to a private assignation at the castle - nothing untoward. We warned her about being out at night and the possibility of Uba, and she claimed to be aware of the potential dangers. She continued on her way and we on ours. She claimed her name was Chiyoko."

Zoyu looked over at Rin. "I do not believe speaking with the guards is without merit." She shifted back so she addressed both the Dragon and the Scorpion. "One may have been previously commanded to allow the geisha in - if geisha she was - and to say nothing. And now his Lord lies dead - shame is a powerful wound that can silence many a tongue. Or the guards may have turned the geisha away. In any case, I shall ask and see. Afterwards - I believe I will seek the House of Cherry Blossoms and the House of Pines and see if there is any such geisha as one named Chiyoko." 

Her grew blandly sweet, a tight smile on her full lips. "Unless, you found something that would render this line of inquiry a dead end, Shosuro-san?"

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Toshi nodded thoughtfully. "If anything" he mused dramatically, "quite the opposite.Come." He walked over to the chest. "Above this chest, we discovered that in this area in the ceiling there is a crawlspace. Any person who would come through would have to be quite slender or thin, but this connects throughout this floor of the castle, I would suspect. Thus, Kakita-san, quite important. Our culprit must know this castle very very well. As for incriminating.... that depends." 

He withdrew the bland orange beads. "Do you recognize these?"

Zoyu took and look and said, "No."

"Ah. In any case, it does not match Lord Fumiya's assortment of traditional Crane blues and whites, so the killer may have left it, or possibly not."

Edited by Shosuro Toshi

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"If you feel we must for completeness sake then we shall. But i do not think any enlightenment will come from it. The same with the Geisha houses, but again Kakita-san i will defer to your wishes."

She watches as Zoyu takes the bead glances at it and with what seems  more like her own way barks a surly NO at Toshi.

 

"Ah. In any case, it does not match Lord Fumiya's assortment of traditional Crane blues and whites, so the killer may have left it, or possibly not."

Rin holds out her hand toward Toshi.

"May I?"

The Scorpion gives a look at the Dragon then hands it to her. Rin lets it sit in the palm of her hand barley glancing at it, she asks the Scorpion a question.

"Would an Okimoto wear this?"

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"hmm" Rin looks contemplatively at the tiny bead which could mean so much in coming to the truth, and she wonders, looking at Zoyu and Toshi, how much the truth really matters.

"If you have no objection I will hold on to this, there are some I wish to question and ask of this."

Not waiting she tucks the bead into her Inro, Then nodding to  Toshi and Akari she gestures to Zoyu.

"We should go if we are to question the guards and walk to the village."

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Noir    2

"If we are considering the colors of the clans, then we must not overlook that the color of the bead is also well within those of the Phoenix as well. On an intellectual level, some may find an assassination of a single person preferable to, or at least more efficient than, the potential loss of hundreds or thousands on the battlefield and the breaking of an alliance. If Fumiya-sama was planning to claim some of the lands of the Phoenix within the valley, then this one death has almost certainly put an end to that plan, as Nobikazu seems to lack the same brash and expansionist tendencies of his father. And the Shiba are renown for their intellect." Kageko reminds the other magistrates.

"If you have a theory, then of course we should investigate it, but we must all be careful not to latch too fiercely to any one theory that other possibilities are missed." Kageko offered politely.

"Also... I cannot perceive Fumiya-sama's spirit, if it lingers. His spirit being powerful enough to evade my detection is somewhat doubtful, but not entirely implausible, though I would think he would wish to aid us in catching his assassin if he were still here. So that leaves me to conclude he has passed on... unless he ghosts of the Okimoto consumed his spirit after killing him, that is. The ghosts of the Okimoto that still haunt this castle have surprisingly little to say on the matter of the murder, aside from Fumiya-sama 'getting what he deserved' in their view." Kageko explains as she looks around thoughtfully.

"From the moment we arrived I could see the restless spirits of the Okimoto haunting this place, but now, with the murder of Fumiya-sama, I have noticed a decline in their numbers. It is likely that Shiro Hideo will remain haunted by the Okimoto as long as the Hideji, or possibly even just the Crane, occupy it. Fuliya-sama's death has seemed to finally put some of the haunting spirits to rest though." the small Lion says with her soft, measured voice.

"It seems we have several leads and people to interview. BI believe that Hatsu-san went to gather the gate guards. He may have completed his task by now. And then who knows what information the town may hold for us. Shall we?" she added.

 

Edited by Noir

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Such casual talk of ghosts is a bit disturbing but under the circumstances necessary.

"Before we go, Kageko-san, these ghosts you see are there any ghosts of  children that do not seem to belong?"

 

 

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Noir    2

Kageko looked a little confused by Rin's question, but shook her head.

"It is rare for a child to linger in this world as a ghost. Usually they do not have much unfinished business or anything of such importance or outrage to keep them from passing on and entering their next life. The ghosts I have seen here in Shiro Hideo appear to be adults, mostly likely Okimoto outraged by the treatment of their lord and his family at the hands of the Hideji or those shamed by being unable to prevent it. Possibly even both in some cases." Kageko answers Rin.

"I can usually see and speak with ghosts, but even as a Sodan-senzo my influence with them is very limited. Any interaction with a ghost is generally on their terms. I have more sway with Ancestor Spirits which are somewhat similar to ghosts, but actually quite different. So there may be a ghost or ghosts of children here, but I have yet to perceive them if there are." the little Lion further explains.

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Kakita Zoyu    3

Zoyu looked at Kageko and Rin askance as they discussed ghosts. While, true, one of her own ancestors did... influence her, and she intended to speak with Kageko about her, Zoyu felt it a private matter. Speaking of ghosts and the ghosts of children so openly felt... if not obscene, it was at least disquieting. But it was also well some of the spirits of the murdered Okimoto had found surcease.

As for the ochre bead, while it could incriminate someone, Zoyu felt it was just as likely purposefully planted to make them cast their suspicions the wrong way. Zoyu was sure the Scorpion were wily enough to do such a thing. She was more interested in pursuing the supposed geisha, Chiyoko. As for this thing of the gambling, she would go through the motions to seek out the den of iniquity, but this too she believed unlikely - if the purveyors of the gambling game had killed Hediji, how would they expect to collect what they were owed.

Zoyu nodded at Kageko in thanks for her insights. "Thank-you for sharing with us what only you can see, Kageko-san," Zoyu replied in soft, velvet tones, then tilted her head towards Rin. "But now, we have some guards to question, then we are off to the village to pursue other avenues of inquiry."

Following Hatsu's direction, Zoyu and Rin found the room where the guards had been gathered, but as she spoke with them, her lush lips pressed tighter and tighter in a thin, straight line. It was as Rin had prognosticated, the guards had seen none but they, or claimed it was so. Even if they had, she could hardly expect them to admit it, after learning that Lord Hediji had banned geisha from the premises entirely.

"You were right, Rin-san," Zoyu admitted blandly, giving Rin a level, nonplussed look.

With a hint of sourness to the curve of her lips, sure that Rin was privately preening at having been proven correct about speaking with the guards being a waste of time, Zoyu and her companions headed back down to the town. With only two geisha houses, it should not take long to discover if there was a geisha by the name of Chiyoko in Jinpachi.

[Asarasa] 9:24 am: Rolling Awareness + Investigation (Benten's Blessing and
Ancestor: Doji Taejime apply) to see if any of the guards appear to be lying.
[Asarasa] 9:24 am: 5k5, 10s don't explode
Asarasa *rolls* 5d10: 3+7+8+8+4: 30

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All through Zoyu's questioning of the gate guards Rin had stood back and looked menacingly at them doing her best to intimidate them into answering The Topaz Champion's inquiries. After all Kegako had made a good point and it was not a good idea to lose sight of the other possibilities after all Rin's own theory was very far fetched but in her mind taken with all other circumstances it , at least to her seemed the most logical.

Once they were finished and Zoyu satisfied but obviously unhappy led them through the gates and toward the town Rin spoke to her friend.

"We should also speak to the head priest. I do not believe that any of the suspects are the culprit. While making such a bold move at such a time could  be seen as a masterstroke of misdirection on the killers part the risks of carrying this killing out at this time when so much could go wrong. No i believe this was done by some one we know nothing about. I think this was a killing of vengeance. and I believe that it was committed by a surviving Okimoto."

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While Rin's feelings on the Okimoto were suggested by her question about the bead, Toshi understood but felt a purely contemporary hand at work here. Not even surviving Okimoto vengeance exactly. But what there was - might be, if he was correct in his suspicions... something very problematic... but conversely, very very useful for the interests of the Scorpion. Again, if he was correct. "Also, we do need to establish answers on the matter of the uba, if they exist, and if so, if they played a role in Lord Hideji Fumiya's murder."

While Zoyu and Rin questioned the guards, Toshi withdrew, to make an addendum to Seppun-sama's letter, he said, before returning as they were ready to go to town. "I will send our message out to Seppun-sama... And Kuni-san told me of a relative in town. I will be paying them a visit."

Edited by Shosuro Toshi

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Noir    2

The gate guards, led by a samurai-ko named Mako, answer the questions the same. They only opened the gates at night for Zoyu, Rin and Taka to leave and did not open them again until the three returned around dawn. Any suggestion of a geisha headed to the castle is also discounted, suggesting that whoever it was you met the night before must have either turned back or continued down the road. Either way, they admit to only opening the gate to let the three jade magistrates leave and then return.

To Zoyu though, it is clear that some of the guards, including Mako, are being deceptive though they manage an appropriate level of sincerity. The sincerity may be enough to satisfy etiquette, but one cannot help but get the impression that the guards, especially Mako, seem to draw a confidence from a feeling that they are almost untouchable. No level of verbal prodding from Zoyu, intimidation from Rin (or even the threat of reporting the to their lord for being uncooperative, if it is made) causes them to waver.

The guards are dismissed leaving Rin and Zoyu to retire to the guest quarters to relay the basics guards' story and discuss where to go from there...

 

"Also, we do need to establish answers on the matter of the uba, if they exist, and if so, if they played a role in Lord Hideji Fumiya's murder."

While Zoyu and Rin questioned the guards, Toshi withdrew, to make an addendum to Seppun-sama's letter, he said, before returning as they were ready to go to town. "I will send our message out to Seppun-sama... And Kuni-san told me of a relative in town. I will be paying them a visit."

"If there are uba in Jinpachi, and the majority of the town seems to think there is, then I would suspect that with word of our presence they are laying very low while we are here. Finding them will be difficult unless they outright attack us, which is unlikely." Kageko offers.

"I supposed we could, in theory, go door to door searching, but that is a very extreme measure. We would be pushing our authority to its limit and we had better find something in the process to justify it. If we found nothing the repercussions would not be good for us. If we got word of a new curse placed on a peasant or the like, then we might be able to find something if we responded fast enough." Kageko thinks aloud.

"Hmm... The guards might not admit to permitting anybody else entry, but a servant may have seen somebody..." the little Lion says to Zoyu thoughtfully.

"If there are no objections, I would like to speak with the servants here while you go into town. I will seek the favor of Benten the Fortune and Agasha Kasuga, the ancestor, to aid me for a short time. He had an understanding, as he put it, 'of the goodness within all men, regardless of their caste'. As such, his favor is often helpful when speaking with the heimin and hinin. When I am done here I will go into town and speak with the locals. Considering the townspeople's appreciation, or at least respect, of the Okimoto, they may be more willing to speak to a lone Lion than a mixed group of magistrates. They may be able to shed some light or offer up some new leads. When I am done, I will come find you." Kageko suggests as she seeks a scroll in her satchel.

Edited by Noir

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"That is a very good suggestion." Toshi approved with a nod. "Now, I plan to visit my relation. Does anyone wish to accompany me?" Pro forma really, Toshi would rather discuss things clan member to clan member - but given the reputation of the Scorpion, even his fellow Magistrates would be suspicious on principle.

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Noir    2

(Jeremy and I made some edits once it was explained that Rin and Zoyu went to speak to the guards alone and that Rin would not not have said her theory about the Okimoto unless she were alone with Zoyu. Somehow we seemed to missed that the two of them went off alone. So in the future, just try to be more clear about such. And just to be clear, Rin and Zoyu went to speak with the guards while the rest of the group went to the guest quarters and waited for them with Toshi writing an addendum to his letter while they waited. Zoyu and Rin then went to the guest quarters when they finished with the guards and relayed that the guards say they did not allow anybody else in or out. So at the moment, everybody is together in the guest quarters and discussing who will go where in town and/or what to do next.)

(Keep in mind  is is late morning at the latest (10am hour or so), so the geisha houses are closed and probably sleeping. The House of the Cherry Blossom opens in the afternoon and the The House of the Pines opens at dusk. The earliest any of them would probably be awake midday, though the geisha houses would still be closed. You -could- go and pound on the doors trying to wake somebody, though it would be very rude (though within your rights) and you would probably be shooting yourself in the foot as doing so would likely not engender cooperation.)

(I'll remove this post once others post.)

Edited by Noir

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Kakita Zoyu    3

Zoyu gave Kageko a tight nod, though a soft grin lightened her irritation. She was winsome and charming and didn't like to think that Kageko might find more talking with the servants than she had with the guards. Perhaps she should have spoken with one of the men alone instead with the Samurai-ko who led them there - men could be such fools, as she had learned from Tsukiko.

"That is a worthy thought, Kageko-san," The snow-haired Crane admitted, agreeing with the Scorpion, keeping her expression clear and interested, as if she knew who Agasha Kasuga was. Zoyu turned to Toshi and nodded, though her mismatched eyes narrowed slightly with a faint hint of suspicion. "If your relation can indeed help us, that would be a bit of fortuitous serendipity, Toshi-san. Rin-san and I have our leads we seek to pursue, but seek Kuni-san to accompany you. He has already heard of this relation it seems and with potential danger about, a courtier such as yourself would do well to be in the company of a shugenja and a doughty Crab. Seeking multiple sources at once, our efforts will be multiplied. Say if we have not learned anything of imminent concern, we met back here around the dinner hour?"

Assuming their assent with a smile, she and Rin headed back to town together. She was pondering how to question the Geisha and their Okasan so early in the day without further antagonizing them, when Rin proposed her theory of who the culprit might be. It sounded like a surviving Okimoto - if there was one - could be a possibility, however far fetched, but Zoyu wondered how Rin come to such reasoning. Was is due just to the bead.

"A surviving Okimoto would indeed be a viable suspect, Rin-san. We shall go speak with the priest then, and afterwards, find something  productive use for our time until it approaches time for the okiya* to open, but before they are accepting custom. They will be awake, with little reason to be churlish or surly, and not distracted with customers and lost koku."

Okiya: Geisha House

Edited by Kakita Zoyu

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Noir    2

Taka nods at the suggestion of him accompanying Toshi, seeing as he had spoken to the monk before and if the path ends up leading to the gambling den, a Crab would raise the least suspicion as their predilection for gambling is well known.

"We will let the ladies talk with the monk for now. The doshin should be able to aid us in locating Ino-san." Toshi suggests to Taka as they set out for the town.

Once in Jinpachi, the doshin are not difficult to find. A pair on patrol near the busy marketplace where the many merchants and artisans peddle their wares is stopped by Toshi.

"Ohayou, Magistrate-samas." the doshin say with a deep bow.

"Ohayao." Toshi and Taka reply with a small, polite bow.

"I am seeking out a kinsmen of mine while I am in town. His name is Shosuro Ino. Do you know of him and where I might find him?" Toshi asked from behind his mask.

The doshin both give several nods.

"Hai. He is often found at The House of the Dancing Traveler, a sake house on the corner of Merchant Street and Wages Road. It is just a few blocks from here, down the street past the Golden Peony Inn. Would you like us to guide you there?" the doshin asked.

"That is unnecessary. Thank you for your assistance." Toshi said politely with a bow.

The doshin both bowed and took a step backwards politely as Toshi and Taka turned and proceeded down Merchant Street, crossing the merchant road cutting through town and passing the Golden Peony Inn which was, judging by the sounds and smells, beginning to serve lunch. A block past the inn sat The House of the Dancing Traveler, medium sized sake house with a banner featuring a man wearing a traveler's hat and rain cape dancing down a road.

Walking into the sake house one could see that it was a successful establishment, well-appointed with expensive pieces of art and beautiful flower arrangements gracing the walls and tables. There were a handful of patrons inside, though having not yet reached midday, business was slow for now. Sitting at a table with what appears to be a ronin, is a Scorpion taking lunch.

The Scorpion looks to be a man in his late thirties with long, black hair tied back and dressed in a fine silk kimono of black, reds and golds. On the table, beside his lunch of rice and fish, sits his mask, a calm, passionless face of lacquered red. The ronin sitting at the table with the Scorpion looks over, having just taken a bite of rice, and lowers his bowl and chopsticks, his actions identifying him as a yojimbo to you with little doubt.

A nicely dressed woman in a floral kimono steps forward and bows, politely blocking further entry to the sake house..

"Welcome to The House of the Dancing Traveler. I am Kiomi." she says with a smile as she makes a fluid motion with her hand, indicating the alcove near the door where a patrons store their weapons.

Once weapons have been placed in the alcove the woman smiles and bows once again and steps aside, motioning to enter..

"Please be seated." she offers as she looks around the room, motioning to the many empty tables. As she does you catch a small nod from the dining Scorpion to the woman, which she returns.

"As new patrons may I offer you some lunch? We have fine, fresh fish, caught just this morning. And perhaps a sampler of some of our finer sake? On the house, of course. The House of the Dancing Traveler is always happy to welcome new friends." Kiomi offers with a polite, gracious smile.

 

 

Zoyu and Rin make their way down the path and road to town, passing the Golden Peony Inn and the marketplace, crossing the bridge to the half of town on the far side of the river and finally spotting the spire of the temple, allowing them to find it easily among the busy streets of Jinpachi.

Though three stories tall, making it one of the largest structures in town, the temple is nowhere near the size of the temple in Tsuma. Seven Torii (prayer arches) line the walkway to the doors of the temple, under which a handful of beggars sit, seeking charity from temple visitors. Several monks serve at the temple along with a handful of young miko (temple maidens) in traditional pure white kimono and pure red hakama, who maintain the structure, sweep, assist with rituals and the like. The heavy doors to the temple are open, permitting a view of the temple interior. Though not as resplendent as that of Tsuma, the temple appears to be well cared for.

As Rin and Zoyu start up the walkway a lone monk can be seen walking down the walkway, stopping at each beggar, offering each a beggar simple rice ball and a blessing, which each accepts with overflowing gratitude.

 

Ohayou: Good Morning

Hai: Yes

Edited by Noir

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"Your friendly offer is welcomed, Kiomi." Toshi thanked pleasantly, adding a little polite nod to the fellow Scorpion with the red mask and his yojimbo companion, before taking seats several tables down from them. "I think noodles, fish and some light sake will be excellent, thank you. And for you Kuni-san?"

Edited by Shosuro Toshi

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Noir    2

As Toshi nodding to the fellow scorpion he could make out the unmistakable mon of his own family on the man's left kimono sleeve, indicating that he was from the Shosuro family as well.

"I will have the same." Taka answers as he takes a seat.

 

Edited by Noir

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Was this Ino or another Shosuro? Regardless, Toshi refrained from any approach or intercession until he could be sure he was not interrupting his relative's business - on the off-chance the ronin was not simply a hired yojimbo. "Are there any particular thoughts you've considered about this late unpleasantness?" Toshi softly inquired to Taka. The Kuni had been very quiet on the matter so far.

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Noir    2

"I am told that there was little love in this town for the man, though they look to his son with some degree of hope." Taka said as he glanced around the room casually.

"There is no shortage of suspects, from the supernatural to the mundane. The result of a man who spent his life making enemies and thinking only of glory, rather than honor and duty." he added flatly.

"The kami may have finally delt out punishment for living such a life. The restless spirits created by his own action may have finally taken out their vengeance. The other group we have heard about, if there are any, may have been sending a message to to leave them alone, showing that they can even get to them anywhere, even their own home. The relationship with his own son was in shambles and the outburst at the end of the banquet may have finally been one too many indignities for his son to take." Take said softly to Toshi, being careful to avoid names out of an abundance of precaution for the moment.

"Then we get to the more unlikely, though possible suspects and motives. The Lion may have sought out vengeance for his clan. For all we know his mother or wife may have been from here even. The Phoenix may have sought to prevent a war with a single death. They could certainly muster magical assistance and would be unlikely suspects. His debtor may have gown impatient.. though a dead man pays no debts, so that is unlikely unless he were sending a message to the rest of the town and castle. The late night visitor may have done it, either for their own motive or to carry out the will of another. The question about the possible origin of the color certainly suggests another theory, but that would seem even more far fetched. There is much to consider indeed." Taka said before leaning closer to Toshi.

"What I keep considering is that if it was done by mundane means, then the list of those who could have known of the obscure path that was taken would be very short indeed." Taka says even more quietly.

A couple of minutes later Kiomi steps out from the kitchen holding a tray with several small sake bottles and cups. She kneels at the table and places a cup before Toshi and Taka, beginning the sake sampling. She picks up each bottle, stating the name and style of sake as well as a brief description before pouring each of the magistrates a sample, demonstrating quite an in-depth knowledge of sake brands and styles. The sake sample range from a very sweet, barely alcoholic amakaze-style served with warm ginger (which Kiomi states is said to be believed to be the closest surviving beverage to the original drink sacred to the Tribe of Isawa) to the junmai-style of pure rice sake with nothing added to the house standard of Sweet Crane sake which is slightly sweeter and lighter than common sake (about halfway between amakaze-style and common sake)..

Kimoi leaves you with a sample of Autumn Dragon sake, a rare and expensive sake imported from Kiken na Roka Toshi (Treacherous Pass City also known as Dragon Guard City) and rises to fetch your lunch from the kitchen.

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"Well put," Toshi agreed, taking a small cup-bowl of the standard Crane vintage and lightly sipping from it. Given Kiomi's glance to the Scorpion again before the rare sake offering, it was clear that his clanmate was, despite the lack of banners proclaiming it, the proprietor of this establishment. It would be fair to say he had arrived, if not at the right place, at a right place certainly. No attempts to get them drunk.

"Which is why my wish to resolve... the town's talk, difficult as it may be, is important. If those individuals exist, they must be considered suspects. If not, then we at least can fairly narrow our list down. Furthermore," and Toshi leaned in a bit more to Taka for this, "I think the geisha Rin-san spoke of is in fact a geisha. I do not wish to elaborate more, not without confirmation. Suffice that if what I believe is true - there will be one if not two to come to the head of our list."

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Noir    2

As Kiomi offers the sake sampling and then fetches lunch, the ronin at the table with the other Shosuro begins to eat his race again, though he glances over from time to time. The ronin eats his rice somewhat quickly while the Shosuro seems to take his time, enjoying his lunch. He motions Kiomi over and she approaches his table and bows.

"How about some music while we dine." he suggests, to which Kiomi bows and rises, making her way to the kitchen only to return a few moments later with a young woman carrying a biwa. The young woman kneels in the corner and begins to strum the strings in a pleasing melody.

After a minute or two the Shosuro says something to ronin who nods and rises, collecting his daisho from the alcove by the door before stepping outside.

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Ah, now he was available. Toshi rose up and approached, making a respectful bow. "Arigato," Toshi spoke over to the older Scorpion, "this really is very generous of you. Please, pardon my confusion - you would be Shosuro Ino, yes?"

"Generous of me?" the older man asked. "I am just a patron of this establishment enjoying some lunch and sake." he explained "But yes, I am Shosuro Ino. Pleased to meet you." he added.

Toshi smiled. "Likewise. I am Shosuro Toshi. I was hoping to speak with you, if you would be so kind."

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Noir    2

"Speak with me?" Ino asked a little confused.

"Hm. Please. have a seat." he offered as he asked as he carefully rested his chopsticks on the side of his plate and pushed it away just slightly in a polite gesture to indicate he was giving Toshi his full attention.

"What would possibly bring you to me, Toshi-san?" the older scorpion asked.

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Nina    3

 

Zoyu and Rin make their way down the path and road to town, passing the Golden Peony Inn and the marketplace, crossing the bridge to the half of town on the far side of the river and finally spotting the spire of the temple, allowing them to find it easily among the busy streets of Jinpachi.

Though three stories tall, making it one of the largest structures in town, the temple is nowhere near the size of the temple in Tsuma. Seven Torii (prayer arches) line the walkway to the doors of the temple, under which a handful of beggars sit, seeking charity from temple visitors. Several monks serve at the temple along with a handful of young miko (temple maidens) in traditional pure white kimono and pure red hakama, who maintain the structure, sweep, assist with rituals and the like. The heavy doors to the temple are open, permitting a view of the temple interior. Though not as resplendent as that of Tsuma, the temple appears to be well cared for.

As Rin and Zoyu start up the walkway a lone monk can be seen walking down the walkway, stopping at each beggar, offering each a beggar simple rice ball and a blessing, which each accepts with overflowing gratitude.

 

Hidden Content

As the two Bushi watch the monk handing out the temples charity a second monk, this one older, approaches them from inside the temple he bows deeply as he comes closer having spied their badges of office displayed in their Obi.

"Welcome to our Temple Magistrate-sama, how may I serve you?"

Rin studies the man looking for signs of martial training, Zoyu acknowledges the bow and with her silky voice answers the Monk.

"Greetings, I am Kakita Zoyu, my companion," she indicates Rin with a nod, "is Mirumoto Rin. As you have surmised we are Jade Magistrates and have been tasked with investigating the crime which occurred at the castle this morning.

Rin offered the monk the writ, as Zoyu continued.

"We would like to speak with the Temples master."

Rin spoke for the first time.

"Also have available any monks who served here during the time of the Okimoto, if any are still here. We may have questions for them"

 

posted on wrong account sorry

 

Edited by Nina

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Noir    2

The monk took the writ and unfolded it, reading it with a concerned look as Zoyu finished speaking and and Rin spoke for the first time. The monk looked up from the writ, concern still clear on his face as he spoke,

"And you suspect one of us?" the old man asked in a bit of surprise.

"I can assure you, none of us wished any harm to Hideji Fumiya. On the rare occasion we would cross paths I would even encourage him to join us and prepare himself for his next life. He may have had his... flaws... any man does, but I am sure there was much he still could have learned to bring himself closer to enlightenment." the monk explained.

The monk looked at the writ once more, almost as if ensuring the same words were still there. His already wrinkled brow furrowed and he sighed, folding the writ back up.

The monk thought for a moment and then nodded to himself before speaking once more,

"We have all been at the temple since before the fall of the Okimoto, though Soji joined just days prior. We have not received a new brother since he joined. I shall summon them." he explained and then gestured up the steps toward the temple with an arm.

"Please come inside. We can gather in the garden. The miko can take care of things out here while you are visiting us." he said and bowed.

Then monk then turned and walked over a young miko who was sweeping the steps and addressed her,

"Hiruko. Please go gather the brothers and ask them to join the magistrates and I in the garden. We will be busy for a short while and are not to be disturbed. You and the other miko will have to attend to the temple-goers by yourselves for a short while." he asked and explained, to which the miko nodded and bowed before hurrying up the stairs to summon the monks.

The monk guides Zoyu and RIn up the stairs and around the temple to the garden. Much like the temple itself, the garden is not opulent or stunning it its beauty, but is serene and well-maintained. Several monks are in the garden, though dressed far more simply for labor in short pants and shirt with their hands wrapped (the Rokugani equivalent of work gloves for physical labor) as they tend to the garden. The monk leads you to a stone bench by the rock garden where a gardening monk stands, raking the sand around a large stone. When finished he looks up and bows with a pleasing smile. The bow is returned by your guide who motions him over, causing him to walk to you with rake in hand.

The miko could be seen speaking to the other gardening monks who bow to her and begin walking over. She then turned and heads inside the temple as two more monks come walking out of it, dressed in the standard garb of a monk, like your guide, with. The monks all form a semi circle with a mixture of curious and concerned looks on their faces.

"Brothers, these Jade Magistrates are investigating a crime and would like to speak with us." the old monk said to the others as he handed Rin's writ to a monk on the end, which drew forth a mixture of surprised and concerned looks.

"Please. We are at your service." he then added, stepping over to stand beside the monk on the end who then handed the writ over to the next monk and so on, passing it down the line until it is finally folded and returned to Rin.

Edited by Noir

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"To enlighten my understanding of a few things - help best found from a trustworthy source." Toshi briefly drew up his orb of office, long enough to communicate its presence and the note of implications to Ino before returning it smoothly to its place. "First, Ino-san, the talk of uba within the region of Jinpachi. While heimin rumors are one thing, the monks, or at least the abbot, believe so seriously as well. What has happened that would raise such certainty?"

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Noir    2

Ino looked at the orb then over the alcove where each magistrate had put their jitte and back to Toshi.

"I do not know. I have heard a rumor of uba from time to time, due to a farmer's poor harvest or a blighted field, I would guess. I have not seen anything terribly overt though, but I am not some farmer and lack the trained eye of a Jade Magistrate. Rumor and superstition can run rampant among the Heimin and Hinin though." he explains.

"If the abbot is so concerned about them, then he may be a better source of information on the matter than I, Toshi-san." he suggests.

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Rin waited somewhat impatiently as each monk perused the scroll, while nearby Zoyu made a display of studying the garden with an elegant grace only she could pull off. Once the scroll was passed back to Rin.

"We have a few lines of inquiry we would like to follow and your temple being the center of Jinpachi is one of the places we think may be able to answer some questions. First there is the question of how someone may have entered the castle undetected. We are aware that there are rumors in the Town of a coven of Uba. Yet no one in the castle has spoken of this with us and we have seen no evidence of their curses in town. Do any of you know when and where these rumors originate and have any of you seen any evidence of these curses?"

 

Rin watches closely to the monks reactions to what she says particularly about entering the castle undetected.

 

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Noir    2

Rin watches the reactions of the monks as she speaks, paying careful attention to their reaction at the mention of entering the castle undetected, to which the assembled monks respond with a mixture of surprise and confusion at such a suggestion. Then Rin moves onto the topic of uba, and the monks seem to get more concerned and serious.

"Some believe the plague eleven years ago was due to the uba beginning to practice their foul ways and in the process tampered with some dark magic they did not understand or control. Others believe the plague was sent by the kami as retribution for the treatment of the Okimoto. It claimed the life of some townspeople and many Hideji, including the daimyo's wife. Either way, since around that time we have heard occasional stories of fields being blighted, food spoiling rapidly and strange illnesses striking. It started very slowly at first, but since then there have been more and more instances every year. The townspeople eventually began going to yoriki and the castle itself, asking for Lord Hideji to investigate, but their pleas seemed to fall on deaf ears." the elder monk (your guide) said.

"Many of the townspeople have come to us with stories of curses. They make offerings at the temple and ask for charms and blessings. The townspeople also visit the shrine of Inari to the west of town, asking for protection of their crops from the uba. The shrine is not an official part of the temple, but we the temple has taken it upon itself to ensure to remains properly maintained. It is one of the duties of the miko. They visit it often to clean it and clear back brush and they have noticed a significant increase in prayers and offerings left at the shrine." said one of the gardening monks.

"Were it not for the offerings of the townspeople to the temple, especially Shosuro-sama, we would hardly be able to do anything to combat these curses. We would have needed to be begging all day just to maintain the temple and would have had no time to deal with this, for when the Hideji claimed the castle, we lost the monetary support of the Okimoto and the Hideji have offered no monetary support to the temple since. We are always thankful for the generosity of the townspeople." the other gardening monk explained.

"We have done out best to combat these curses, offering prayers and blessings, which seem to remedy the individual occurrences, but we have been unable to find the source. We stand ready to combat this menace physically as well, since the Hideji seem unmotivated to do so. We each left our family, clan and previous lives behind, but even we cannot forget a lifetime of training and combat. Should we find these uba, we would deal with them ourselves." said the monk with the rake.

"The uba seem careful though... and patient. They may even be clairvoyant. We thought we may have located them once last spring. We approached the shack in the woods at night and burst in, ready to confront the uba, but they were nowhere to be found. The shack showed signs of recent use though. It seemed they somehow knew we were coming, warned by some dark spirit." one of the monks who came from inside recounted.

"Or they turned to shadow and slipped out into the darkness as we approached." the other monk from inside offered.

"With so many Jade Magistrates in town, I doubt they would be so bold as to make a move while you are here." the monk with the rake suggested.

"Though I had just heard that with Lord Daidoji in town, Lord Hideji's hand was going to be forced to finally look into the matter of the uba. It did not look good for the Crane to have a town claiming to be cursed. The uba may have used dark magic to sneak into the castle and then killed him as a warning, possibly to both the Crane, the Jade Magistrates and even our temple. After all, if they could reach a daimyo in his own castle and kill him, apparently without any witnesses, then who can't they reach?" one of the monks who came from inside the temple said.

"It will not deter us though. This temple serves Jinpachi and its people. If you are here to root out these uba, then we stand ready to assist you, be it by prayer or action." the elder monk offered sincerely.

 

Typical monk at the temple... The elder monk who greeted Zoyu and Rin is dressed like this as are the two that came from inside the temple (minus hats though).

large.m1.jpg.edce621d2c5728c4cbce1f9f3e5 

 

 

Edited by Noir

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Noir    2

Ino looked Toshi over, sizing the young man up for a moment. Though a graduate of the Bayushi Courtier School where he received much training, the older Scorpion could astutely see Toshi still lacked experience.

"No disrespect intended Toshi-san, but in a situation such as this, it is not often ideal to lead with the badge of office. You talk with somebody, be friendly, see what they will volunteer unsuspectingly. People are much more comfortable and even willing to brag when they feel safe. Then, when you reach an impasse or see they are holding something back, you present the badge of office to see if it will loosen their tongues and force them to try and remember what they have told you and how much they ay have incriminated themselves." Ino explains.

"What one may be willing to say unofficially and officially can often be radically different." he reminds Toshi.

"And starting a friendly conversation at first meeting with talk of witches is never good." he says, wrinkling his nose.

"Shall we begin again?" he asked with a charming smile.

 

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Noir    2

Kageko pulled a scroll from her satchel and looked it over for a moment as she began to cast a spell using the Ancestor Magic unique to the Sodan-Senzo of the Lion Clan, summoning forth a venerated ancestor of the Dragon Clan, Agasha Kasuga, and asking for his assistance. The scroll glowed and a blue-white mist seemed to pour from the paper, forming a small cloud on the ground which coalesced into to form an ethereal image of a man. He was obviously a Dragon, judging by the mon on the back of his kimono.

The Lion bowed to the ancestor spirit who, in turn, returned the bow and stepped forward, dissipating as it stepped through the little Lion. Kageko's eyes flashed green for a instant and then returned to normal.

"I am a Sodan-Senzo and I know my elemental magic is limited and not nearly as powerful as your own, Isawa-san. So if you permit, I would ask Benten to favor both of us for a short while, thereby allowing you to conserve your energy." Kageko said with a polite nod to Akari.

"Of course." Akari replied with a smile.

Kageko placed the scroll back in her satchel and withdrew another with a slow, fluid movement. She unrolled the scroll and began to cast another spell, asking for a blessing from Benten, the Fortune of Romantic Love. first for Akari and then for herself. This spell was much more familiar to Akari, Benten's Touch, a common Air spell among the more socially and courtly inclined shugenja.

"Perhaps with the aid of Fortunes and Ancestors the servants and townspeople may be more forthcoming." Kageko said as she replaced the scroll.

She was small and very polite, moving with slow, small, fluid gestures of a courtly trained lady. The hooded robe she wore did its best to conceal her, but raw, exotic appeal still shone through, which was only complimented by blessing of Benten.

"The guards claimed to have not permitted entry to anybody else, but servants and staff may have a different recollection. Since the outer gate is near the stables, it would seem to be a good place to begin." she suggested, adjusting her jitte and slipping the writ into her obi.

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Sunstar    0

Akari nods.   The Sodan-Senzo's Ancestor Spells were always intriguing.  Shame the Isawa can't use them, it would be so useful.

"Agreed, Kitsu-san.  Benten's touch should at least make them see us more positively."  Akari is not as graceful as Kageko, but her movements were still fitting for a lady in her rank and position.

Akari headed for the outer gate with Kageko in tow.  She heads to the nearest staff worker and asks if they know who was on duty the previous night and where to find them.  Since by now a shift change or two has happened.

 

 

Edited by Sunstar

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Kakita Zoyu    3

A faint frown crossed Zoyu's exquisite face as she listened to the monks answer Rin's inquiries. In the lands of the Kakita, no temple would be so neglected by the Lord in charge of the lands it lay on. Yet another possible motive for Lord Hediji's death, though she believed the monks had no hand in it as they claimed.

Her frown deepened as the monks told them of the Uba. Spirits and curses she had little to no knowledge of, but Zoyu began developing a vague suspicion that the lack of success of the monks was due less to arcane means rather than the vagaries of human motivation. When the monk finished speaking with his offer to help them in any way they could, Zoyu dipped her head deeply at him.

"As a Kakita, Topaz Champion, and a Jade Magistrate, on behalf of the Crane, I would like to express our thanks for all you have done for the town of Jinpachi despite the... difficulties imposed by the late Lord Hediji. And should we find the uba, be assured, we will seek you for the aid offered."

Zoyu paused a moment, lips pursed in contemplation, then nodded to herself, as if reluctant but determined to express something distasteful. "I hesitate to make any allusions or sow any hint of distrust, but I would be remiss in our duties if I neglected to say nothing at all. You revealed that all the monks in the temple have served since before the fall of the Okimoto. What of the miko? Did any join soon after or perhaps kept their Okimoto heritage quiet, justifiably, to avoid Lord Hediji's unremitting wrath?"

"And one more thing," she said, for the monks and Rin both, "if necessary, could one of you lead us to this shack of the uba you mentioned? One of our number is a Soden-Senzo of the Kitsu - if the restless spirit of one of their victims has not passed on to the Realm their lives had earned them, she may be able to glean some insight into these Uba or who aids them."

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