Jump to content
Noir

IC: L5R: Blood and Jade - With A Single Step

Recommended Posts

"Oni!" Taka yelled as loud as he could.

The entire room burst into panic, sending the merchants clamoring and fall over each other to flee out the door while a coup still sat at their tables, paralyzed in fear, their minds unable to fully comprehend what they were seeing before them.

The young magistrates looked at the unholy beast before them as it grabbed one of the Cranes by the neck with one clawed hand, lifting him up high. The Jade Magistrates had heard of oni and read about them in their studied, but the paintings and written accounts hardly prepared them to see one in the flesh. It was a terrible thing to behold indeed, and in the back of their minds they all knew that this things was a literal hell-spawn pulled forth from the Festering Pit itself.

Zoyu though, would rather the Fortunes abandon her than allow her surprise and fear to show or cause her to hesitate. She found her feet in a fluid motion, her mismatched eyes taking in the circumstances of her clansmen in a moment, and she dashed forward, her long hair streaming behind her.

"Ronin-san! Toss us our Blades!" Zoyu called out in sharp control and in unintentional unison with Kakita Kaze as he rushed forward along side his clanmate, each preparing for what they had to do.

Behind them, Rin had spun at the sound and raised her right arm to shield her face as the wall exploded. Seeing the oni and the Crane on the floor, the other in the monsters grasp, she rose to her feet in a fluid motion, her hand falling to her obi almost of its on accord. Her hand came up and in her grasp the badge of her office the Jade orb.

No thought, her mind and body as one, she hurled the orb with all her strength and skill at what she perceived to be the oni's most vulnerable spot, sending the orb hurtling between her Crane companions as they charged forward. The ornately carved jade orb struk the oni in it's face, finding a bit of bone beneath a scant amount of flesh. The other magistrates could almost feel the sound of the impact in their bones. The orb strikes with such force that in an instant cracks shot out down the carvings in the orb causing it to shatter into a cloud of fine jade dust and larger chunks of jade of varying sizes.

The oni's head snapped back, recoiling away from the jade and expressing it's pain and displeasure with a loud roar. Seizing the advantage, Zoyu and Kaze both continue their charge with Zoyu leaping at the man held in the oni's hand, wrapping her arms around his waist and pulling down with all her might, trying to yank him free of the oni's grasp.  

At the same time a sense of calm and elemental harmony steeled over Kaze as he inhaled sharply, sprinting fully at the oni. He was not looking forward to the purification that he would have to perform after this but if it kept it away from the wounded and unarmed, it would be worth it. Kaze launched himself bodily at the creature, ramming his shoulder into it, sending the oni staggering with it's tail now lashing about, trying to steady itself to no avail. The beast toppled to the wood floor, unable to maintain it's grasp on the Crane with Zoyu's added weight, letting him go as it tried to catch itself. 

Toshi took the opportunity to run past the downed oni and toward the alcove where the ronin had just arrived. Hearing the dual, barked orders the ronin grabbed two katana and prepared to throw them. With a snap of it's tail and a flash of terrible limbs the oni found it's footing once more, snorted out a small cloud of spent, blackened jade, and bellowed out a roar of challenge. Now, for better or worse, the magistrates certainly seemed to have it's attention.

Taka had risen beside Rin and held out his hand, calling on the kami of earth and stone to aid him. For several seconds energies swirled in his hand, forming a tetsubo of stone while Akari rushed to the innkeeper's daughter, uttering her own prayer to the kami for the girl, causing the wound to glow with chi and magical energies.

"Out of the way, woman!" Kageko yelled, rushing to the innkeeper's wife, nearly tackling her, despite her small size, and shoving her out of the way should the oni come near or more projectile be hurled through the air.

 

Spoiler

That summarizes Round 1. Please post actions for Round 2 in the combat thread.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Zoyu caught the sheathed blade tossed her way in a fluid motion, then spun, interposing herself between the Oni and the Crane that had been freed from its grasp. Beside her, Kaze caught his blade as well, each of them drawing swords in a flash of steel to strike at the oni. Zoyu's striking face was smooth and serene as she slipped the sword from its saya with a sibilant sound and slashed at the sinister savage in the same, sleek step.

Though of similar balance and curvature to her own blade, as soon as her hand caressed the hilt, Zoyu instinctively realized it was not hers. The horrific Oni was large but surprisingly fast, recoiling obscenely and causing her strike to glance off of its foul hide. When she saw the results of Kakita Kaze's strike, his blade cutting only the thinnest of lines on the Oni's flesh, her dual-coloured eyes narrowed slightly, the faintest of frowns tugging at her full lips.

"My blade, if you would," Zoyu called out to any still in the alcove with a disconcerting calmness without taking her gaze from the terrible Oni towering over her. "The one with sakura blossoms on the saya."

Looking around Rin could see nothing that would serve as a weapon however she did see Toshi almost in the alcove. Choosing her path carefully she darted to where her friend, Zoyu, was already in mortal combat with the hell-beast. "Toshi! Toss me some swords." She called out to the Scorpion.

The oni stompped forward with a heavy, clawed foot and roared in defiance at the samuri before it and their ineffectual attacks, rearing both hands back to swipe with one and then the other at the bushi before it. 

The first claw is brother down at Zoyu who turn aside, letting the claw only pass harmlessly through her white hair as it spun about from her movment. The second claw swiped at Kaze, finding it's mark and tearing into his torso, leaving long rips in his kimono to expose the bloddy and torn flesh behind. It was a glancing blow, but one that certainly sent a jolt of pain through Kaze's body. As the oni swiped it's claws the long, tail extending off the back of it's head shot forward, wrapping around the leg of the Crane it once held, yanking him back toward itself as he kicked ineffectually at the thick, meaty tail.

With the Oni's roar rining in his ears, Toshi reached the weapons alcove as the ronin spun back around to grab at more weapons while Taka and Akari moved forard. Akari's eyes fell the to the wounded Crane as she rushed toward him, noting that he did not seem to be breathing any more as the puddle of blood grew. Taka's eyes stayed on the oni as he stepped close, partially guarding Akari as he raised his tetsubo, preparing to swing.

Finally, back in the private dining room, Kageko reached down and grabbed the innkeeper's daughter, dragging her out of the way and to her mother.

 

Spoiler

This concludes Round 2. Please post actions for Round 3 in the combat thread.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Toshi grabbed Rin's daisho off the rack. It was easy to identify, not only was it the only Dragon daisho in the alcove, but it was a set of swords he knew well. Pivoting on a foot, the Scorpion turned and tossed the swords to the awaiting Dragon while the ronin shot Zoyu a slightly confused look in the midst of the melee. She had thrown her a sword, but the fact she was insisting on her own blade was an odd demand in the middle of a battle with an oni. Regardless, the ronin spun around and grabbed the last Crane katana in the alcove along with her own blade and tossed Zoyu her katana. 

As the sheathed katana arced through the air Zoyu had but a moment to react. She caught a glimpse of Kageko approaching at the edge of her peripheral vision, so instead of re-sheathing the blade she tossed it over her shoulder toward the Little Lion.

"Kageko! A sword for you!" she called over her shoulder. Kageko stumbled on a piece of debris though caught her balance and still managed to catch the katana by the hilt and ready the weapon.

Snatching her swords out of the air, Rin shouted as loud as she could,

"Zoyu! The tail!" 

Her volume was as much so her companion can hear as it is to draw the Oni's attention. Her swords, still sheathed struck repeatedly with great speed, weaving a web, touching the Oni here, there, everywhere. She was not seek to damage the creature, but to keep it's violence aimed at herself, giving her companions time to kill the beast, placing her faith in her skill and her ancestor.

Zoyu reached out, catching her katana by the saya with her left hand while her right hand drew the blade, sending a beautiful, ringing tone of steel through the air. In a single motion she caught and drew the blade, bringing it down on the thick tail of the oni. The blade bit deep and slipped right through flesh, muscle and sinew, severing the tail from the beast's body, leaving it lashing on the ground, gripping the Crane, now at the oni's feet, even tighter and it contracted.

Eyes narrowed in a combination of pain and irritation, Kaze easily flowed from one strike to the next. He could feel the wound tugging, the sharp sting pulsing with every movement. As Zoyu's blade slid through the tail he swung his katana once again at the beast and grunted as his sword bounced off the creatures hide, leaving no trace of a wound behind. Kami forsaken wretch. He found a new appreciation for the Crab growing, if this was what they faced daily.

The Oni let out a terrible roar as it lost it's tail, sending thick, black blood spurting from the wound even as it seemed to be already closing with flesh that was beginning to lengthen and draw out to a point. At this rate it would have a new tail in scant minutes, if not seconds. The Crane had certainly caught it's ire, but the annoying strikes and pokes of the Dragon had to be dealt with first. They were unrelenting and made it difficult to see and focus. It was not difficult to find their origin though, and the Oni lashed out at the source of the sheathed blades annoying it. 

The first claw slipped past Rin's guard with unexpected speed, the tips if it's claws finding purchase across her upper body, just above her breasts, tearing trails of crimson in her flesh and ripping her kimono half open in the process. The second claw came in just as fast, but this time Rin was ready, bringing up her sheathed wakizashi to partially deflect the claw while using her sheathed katana to trike the black of the claw, slapping it away safely on it's new trajectory.

Taka, now close to the oni, brought his tetsubo of earth back over his shoulder and swung with all his strength. The studded war club hit the oni in one of it's meaty arms, but glanced off of it's thick, rubbery hide to no avail.

Akari rushed to the wounded Crane and focused her chi, calling on the kami to aid her in transferring it to the wounded man so that he might survive. Though she was certain she performed the prayer correctly from memory, the kami did not respond, which meant only one thing. The Crane was already dead and had likely been killed instantly.

Over the yelling, roaring and general sounds of the melee, a rhythmic sound can be faintly heard coming from outside and growing louder and louder. It is a sound familiar to all bushi, one that they have heard many, many times. The sound of a group of men jogging in rhythm while wearing heavy armor.

"Thunder Guard! Thunder Guard! Hurry!" Kimetsu's voice, laced with fear and urgency, filtered in from the street outside.

The Oni roars in frustration and reaches both long, clawed hands to its back. With a savage rip and a vile tearing sound, the Oni tears two lump of bulbous flesh from its back and flings them to the floor with a sticky *glop* before it turns and bound out of the hole it made earlier, reaching the rooftop next door with a single leap. For a brief moment is it barely silhouetted against the darkening sky before it disappears over the rooftops. 

Within the blink of an eye, the fleshy masses sprout mouths, two small arms below and on either side of the mouth and four spidery legs, each ending in a sharp claw. As the small beasts snarl at you, their mouths open to reveal rows of vicious teeth, much like the larger Oni. They skitter with phenomenal speed over the debris strewn hardwood floor. One heads toward the Crane, who is now wriggling free of the oni's tail and the other toward the Crane who has been backing away into the corner.

"Help!" the Crane in the corner screams as the small beast charges at him.

 

Spoiler

Thunder Guard: An elite, all-samurai police unit in Ryoko Owari. The name comes from the sound they make as they all jog in unison in their heavy armor.

 

This concludes Round 3. Please post actions for Round 4 in the combat thread.

 

One of the little oni things.

Spoiler

large.VisAid2.jpg.186a1991a40212fbc95057

They are about the size of a medium dog. Maybe toward the lower end of the range.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


Deep in the serene surety of the dance of blades, no surprise or anger broke through the calm smile on Zoyu's face as the tailless Oni fled. Her eyes tracked it for just a moment before dismissing as she made another graceful spin and brought her gleaming blade down on the Oni's spawn scuttling for the Crane struggling from the Oni's tail in an elegant strike.

The glittering edge bit clean through its crusty hide, severing the Oni's spawn in half. Black blood, putrid organs, and a terrible reek spilled forth from the halves of the Oni's spawn.

Rin cursed the Oni as it fled, but the threat was still there. The Cranes, for what ever reason, were still under attack and it is her duty to do what ever is in her power to protect them. Stuffing her sheathed short sword into her obi, she stepped to the nearest nightmare creature, and as it raced toward the cowering Crane she grasped the saya of her katana with her left hand. With a cry of fury she whipped her sword out and struck in a single motion! 

The blade struck true, but the beast's hard skin resisted the edge, making it difficult, but not impossible, to cut. With saya in her left hand she used it as she would the short sword for defense as she made a reverse cut upwards putting all her strength into the blow, gritting her teeth against the pain across her chest. Her sword meets softer flesh and cuts deep. She reverses and strikes but the pain is too much and her blow falls short as the thing skitters away trailing ichor.

Kaze pursued Rin's target, pushing himself into another swing. He winced as the blade passed within a few millimeters of the creatures back. Sometimes practicing against human opponents can come back to bite you. The smaller and faster target proving much more of a challenge to hit.

The last oni-spawn, now badly wounded, still skittered toward the cowering Crane and jumped at him, claws pointed forward and mouth opened wide. Eyes wide in terror, the Crane held out hands in a crude, defensive gesture. Somehow, the Crane managed to catch the little beast as it's jaws snapped at him. He held the creature for the briefest of moments before tossing it away in a panic.

The creature hit the ground and tumbled almost comically before jumping right back to it's feet, snarling and leaping at the Crane once more. Knowing the little beast was too far to strike with her sword, Rin dropped her katana. She grasped the saya of her wakizashi with her left hand and with the right hand drew the blade and threw it at the creature. The steel gleamed a time or two as it spun end over end, striking the creature in mid-leap and stapling it to a wooden beam in the wall. The oni-spawn writhed and let out a snarling, gargling death rattle before finally going limp.

Taka had readied his tetsubo to swing at the little beast attacking the bound Crane as Zoyu sliced the beast in half with a single strike. So instead, he moved closer to Toshi, trying to guard him as the Scorpion grabbed the merchant petrified with fear and dragged him out of the dining room and to the street in case the danger had not fully passed.

Akari stepped over to Rin, addressing her friend, "Please be still a moment, Rin-san."  she said as she called on the kami once more to instill life-giving chi into Rin's wounded body. The prayer took a few seconds, though Rin was not totally still, instead she remained in place but leaned to collect her katana at her feet. When the spell was done, the wounds on Rin's chest were full healed.

An uneasy stillness settled over the dining room for a moment as the Magistrates look for any other threats. A Crane lay dead in a puddle of blood, along with a couple of merchants were were killed instantly when the Oni arrived. The floor was strewn with debris, bits of wood and paper, broken dishes and tables as well as spilled food and puddles of tea and sake. The severed tail and bits of dead oni-spawn quickly began to blacken, go limp and dissolve, leaving puddles of thick, black goo in well under a minute. The sobbing of the innkeeper's wife and daughter drifted out from the private dining room while the sound of the approaching Thunder Guard grew louder outside.

Finally free from the tail, the Crane ran to his clanmate in the corner.

"Are you injured, Mikozo-san?" he asked as he checked the frightened Crane for injuries, but he was still clearly in shock.

Kageko walked over and picked up the saya that Zoyu had discarded and sheathed the katana he held before approaching the Crane and handing it to him with a bow.

"I thank you for the loan of your blade." the Little Lion aid to the Crane who took it and bowed deeply.

"I am Daidoji Bikaru, and it is I that must thank you. Thank you all. We are in your debt." he said with her eyes closed and head bowed deeply. He then turned and bowed to each of the Magistrates and even the ronin.


Outside, Toshi had dragged the merchant into the street where some of the merchants who fled were standing in a group on the other side of the street, watching the events inside through the opened doorway. The old man Toshi was dragging was still somewhat catatonic, but seemed to be beginning to recover as Toshi released him to greet the approaching Thunder Guard.

Five of the ten Thunder Guard entered the inn while the other five set cordoned off the area and began to interrogate the merchants and Toshi.

"What happened here?" one of the Thunder Guard asked Toshi with a firm and direct tone.

 

Spoiler

We are now out of combat rounds, so post freely.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Can your breath comfortably, Rin-san?"  Akari said as she helped Rin up,  genuinely concerned for her.  Her spell was executed Flawless, as it should, but there still may be internal damages as far as she is concerned.

She also looks over at the Crane slain by the oni, sad for him.  Unfortunately she could not get to him in time.  Had she been a minute quicker, he'd probably be alive.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Rin puts a thankful hand on Akari's shoulder. "I am fine Thank you Akari. You Did well." She walks over to where her short sword has pinned the creature to the post. "Zoyu-san! Remind me to thank Kitsuki Jotomon again for her lesson." She pulls her blade free and lets the abomination fall to the floor.

She then looks around the floor for the fragments of her orb. Collecting what she finds.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Zoyu flicked the rancid blood from her sword with an elegant turn of her wrist, the blade seeming to gleam more than it should have under the muted lantern light as she returned it to its saya and fastened it to her obi. She frowned looking about the private dining room, at the blood and remnants of the Oni's Spawn.

Her lips pressed together in a thin line at Rin's comment and she stiffly nodded her agreement. If she was far from being in favour of Kitsuki Jotomon's unorthodox tactic, she could hardly dismiss the efficacy of Rin's thrown wakizashi and even more so, her thrown jade orb of office. "Indeed, I have been schooled this day." Zoyu's faint grin was tight but genuine. "I did not know your arm was so strong and sure."

Zoyu helped Rin recover the shards of her Orb of Office, finding some as slivers and chunks, and other pieces seemingly melted or burnt. Her frown returned as she turned one such piece around in her strong, slender fingers before handing it to Rin.

Zoyu bowed back to the grateful Crane, though not quite as low. "No debt is owed, Daidoji-san," Zoyu replied smoothly, tinged with a hint of pride. "It is the duty of all Samurai of the Emerald Empire to face and repel the denizens of the Shadowlands and Jigoku, wherever they may find them. Though it is regretful that your companion was struck down before he could do so, as I am sure he would."

The fine line of her nose wrinkled at the smell of tainted blood and dead Oni as she glanced the way the Oni had fled. "Faugh! What this one would like to know is how an Oni of such foulness penetrated so far into a city the size Ryoko Owari with no alarms being sounded. And whether it struck here by opportunity or design. It lingers yet in the City and it must be found and stopped."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"What I would like to know." said Rin as she looked over Daidoji Bikaru, "is why the monster was single mindedly focused on you and your companions?" Rin finished placing the fragments of her orb in a cloth which she tied closed. "Do you have any Idea where the thing came from or why it wanted to kill you?"

Zoyu's look of shock and annoyance at Rin's lack of propriety made Rin sigh. "It was after them. Even after we attacked it, continued its attack on Daidoji Bikaru while defending against us. When it chose to flee it left those things," She pointed at the small oni thing lying at the foot of the post, "Instead of attacking Kaze-san or myself, both of us wounded and closer,  they charged across the battle field and risked death to attack them. I would like to know why?"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Toshi coolly presented his jade orb of office, before answering. "I am Shosuro Toshi. An oni and its spawn burst into this tavern. My colleagues slew its tainted offspring, but the main monster escaped. Though severely injured, I have no doubt it is still able to act in Ryoko Owari." The Thunder Guard were an elite, well trained force, Toshi knew.

They would respond properly and accordingly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Kaze scowled as the creatures fled. That was going to be troublesome later. He could feel it. It was enough to almost wish them back to finish it here and now. Flicking his blade once to remove what blood he could, he tsk'd to himself. His sensei would have been appalled at his showing today, wounded or not.

He offered a bow to the Ronin, wincing as a few spots of blood drip onto the floor.

"Arigatou, Ronin-san. This would have been much more difficult without your aid." He offers a small smile, straightening at Rins comment.

"Like as not, Zoyu-san, Rin-san is correct. This was no happenstance. The creature was here with purpose and recognised it's prey." He folds his arms. "It's worrying that it could get this far into the city with nobody noticing it. It itself seemed relatively straightforward in it's approach to problem solving. It had its prey and took the shortest route to get to them. It suggests to me that it may have been unleashed and directed to this point, but perhaps I am being overly suspicious."

Given the plot he had become aware of since travelling with the Magistrates, a little paranoia was understandable, he felt.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Five of the Thunder Guard poured into the dining room from there street ahead of Taka. Toshi could be seen speaking to another Thunder Guard outside for a moment, before walking back in himself. The Thunder Guard all wore heavy armor in the red and black of Scorpion Clan, each with matching mempo and their helms topped with matching red plumes. They had their hands on their katana and surveyed the scene

"What happened here?" one asked in a firm and direct manner backed by their authority.

In response to all the questions, the frightened Crane finally spoke,

“We are simple merchants,” Doji Mikozo says, his eyes still wild with fear. “We haven’t done anything to gain the enmity of an Oni! I’ve never even been to the Shadowlands! I don’t know anything about it! It was awful! Did you see it? Ten feet tall!” 

Kageko turned to the Thunder Guard as the Crane spoke and withdrew her jade orb from her obi, showing it to the Thunder Guard. 

"I am Kitsu Kageko. I and my fellow Jade Magistrates were enjoying a meal when an oni appeared. It appeared to be targeting these two Cranes," she said, motioning to them, "along with their Clansman." she finished, motioning to the dead Crane.

"My fellow magistrates and I, along with help," she explained, indicating the ronin, "engaged it, managing to wound it before it fled and left two small... spawn... to occupy us while it made it's escape."

The Thunder Guard nodded to Kageko and relaxed, prompting the other Thunder Guards to take their hands off the hilt of their katanas.

"Thank you for your assistance. You understand that we must interview you all. It should not take long. We will send for the eta as well to take away the bodies." the Thunder Guard replied, to which Kitsu bowed.

The frightened Crane, Doji Mikozo, rants for a bit but as he calms down, the Thunder Guard begin questioning the Magistrates, inn staff, merchants and the ronin all about the incident.

It was not difficult to hear Mikozo answering the Thunder Guards' questions, and explains that he and the dead Crane, Doji Isamu, are merchants with their friend, and Daidoji Biakru, serving as their bodyguard. He goes on to tell the Thunder Guard questioning him about his day. From what you hear, it’s been relatively routine - he takes simple , though quality, merchandise to a buyer, ‘gifts’ them with the merchandise and receives payment. The merchandise is all for the festival, and seems to be nothing more than an elaborate list of party favors: streamers, fireworks, masks and costumes, and noisemakers. Nothing he seems to have done is questionable, and he provides names and contact information of three merchants whom he has dealt with today. He seems legitimate, and his contacts seem to be upstanding businessmen.

As the Thunder Guard perform their interrogations something else becomes clear - the ronin who had assisted the Magistrates by throwing them weapons was indeed a woman. It was a simple mistake to make with the rate at which all were reacting to the oni at the time, and the fact that she was easily six feet tall with an athletic build. Her hair was golden brown and worn long, barely tide back in a very loose low ponytail.

"Thank you all for your aid." Doji Mizoko says again to his saviors as the Thunder Guard move on to question Kimetsu. "Your graciousness certainly does honor your families, but please know, we are in your debt. Were it not for your swift and courageous action, we would now surely be dead. If there is ever anything that we may do for you, please let me know so that we can try to repay this debt in some way." he added, giving a long, deep bow along with Daidoji Bikaru. The Daidoji collects his fallen friend's wakizashi from the alcove and tucks it into his obi on his right hip.

Each of the Magistrates, the innkeeper and his family and the witnesses are questioned as well by the Thunder Guard, who are thorough, and though one would likely not call them overly polite, they are professional, if a bit stern. The eta arrive a short while later as the Thunder Guard are wrapping up and collect the bodies of the dead Crane and a couple of merchants, loading them onto gurneys and covering them with sheets to carry them away. The Thunder Guard bow and thank the Magistrates for their aid before departing, escorting the two Cranes away.


"The oni did not penetrate into the city. Oni do not wander the countryside, aside from the Shadowlands. As you could see, this oni had a clear purpose as well, making it's origin very clear." Taka said to his fellow Magistrates as he walked over to the alcove and collected his scroll satchel.

The Crab thanked the kami for their aid and opened the stone tetsubo in his hand crumbled into dust, blowing away on the wind. He then grabbed Akari and Kageko's scroll satchels and walked over tossing to them as he spoke again, 

"There is only one way that it would be here." he reminded.

"It was summoned." he said flatly with disgust in his tone.

He reached into his satchel and removed a scroll, slowly unraveling it.

"Summoned for some purpose we have yet to understand." he added before be began to call on kami once more, infusing Kaze's body with restorative chi, healing his wounds.

Though all of the young Magistrates had received training on the subjects of magic, maho and the Shadowlands in general, it was still somewhat new to them. Upon hearing Taka's words though, they now recalled some of their studies...

There were stories of oni occasionally finding their way into this world by way of the Festering Pit, but these oni were generally weak and remained in the Shadowlands or assisted with major assaults on the Kaiu Kabe. But an oni could also be summoned by a maho-tsukai to do his or her bidding, which could lead to an oni being found practically anywhere in the Empire.

"So forget Uba. This means there is a maho-tsukai in this city." Taka added.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"But what does it want, Taka-san?" Asked rin of her companion. "It there was no reason for the attack on the merchants that the merchant knows of then it must be something they have seen or something that they have." Rin frowned and shook her head. "We should not have let the Thunder Guard take them and their things There is more we need to learn."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"If it was summoned, then the maho-tsukai gave it purpose. It could be the death of the Cranes or something else we do not understand yet." Taka replied.

"It is possible that they could posses an item that it seeks, but I have no idea what it might be. They said that all they had was festival goods and that they finished their business and unloaded their goods to merchants. They did not have anything else other than what was on their person." he added.

"They could have seen something or know something, but whatever it might be they do not seem to know what it could be. With how... uninhibited... Doji Mikozo was when he was speaking, I doubt he could have maintained the sense of mind to keep a secret if he knew what it could have been." Kageko said thoughtfully.

"We all heard them questioned. They did not seem to know anything else. As Jade Magistrates we have the authority to investigate, but this is still their city. We could not investigate and protect them, if the Oni is even actually after them. In the care of the Thunder Guard is likely the safest place they could be in the city, for the time being." the Little Lion reminded.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Then we shall entrust the lives of my Clansmen to the Thunder Guard," Zoyu agreed. "At the moment, I wish to follow the Oni as much as we can... did you see? It's tail was already beginning to reconstitute itself. The Festival begins and it will have many victims to hand." She gave the innkeeper an expectant glance. "Kimetsu, are you having a ladder or know where we can procure one?"

Before the innkeeper could reply, Akari stepped forward. "Excuse me, Kakita-san, I may be able to help you in following the Oni with more ease than handling a ladder," she offered. "I can call upon the Kami of the winds to bear you aloft, if you like."

Zoyu arched her brows in surpise, then nodded her acceptance, lips curved wryly. "That would be more acceptable, Isawa-san, thank-you." She paused a moment, musing and asked, "Can your blessing be cast on more than one?"

Akari considered for a moment, then nodded. "It can do so, but more than two would be onerous on the Kami."

"Excellent." Zoyu arched a brow at Rin. "Would you accompany me, Rin-san?"

"Of course," the Dragon swordswoman agreed instantly, as affronted as the Crane at the blatant attack by the Oni.

"Good, good. It will be dark soon. Kimetsu, we will need lanterns," she commanded peremptorily. The innkeeper was quick to provide them a pair of paper lanterns, their flames protected from the wind, hanging from short poles. Zoyu nodded her thanks. "Now we go, before the trail grows even colder than it has."

Zoyu and Rin exited the Inn, Akari behind the two bushi. When they stood below the roof where the Oni had leapt to, the Phoenix shugenja called upon the Kami and with what felt like a gentle but strong caress, the winds swirled about Zoyu and Rin and they found themselves lifted up in the air and then carried to the roof of the building.

Zoyu frowned down at the trail of black blood, leading to the far side of the roof, then looked back down at Akari. "Maintain your prayers, Isawa-san, I do not think this will be the only roof upon which we will be seeking Oni spoor."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Zoyu and Rin inspected the roof, following the ever dwindling trail of blood as the sun began to set. Rin had to work a little more to maintain her balance on the steeply angled and shingled roof, while Zoyu moved about with seemingly ease. The trail led them to edge of the roof, but just barely. From there the pair decided to make the best use of the brief aid of the kami and were carried aloft once again to the next rooftop where they found a dislodged shingle, but not another drop of blood could be found. As they inspected the other rooftops in the vicinity, though they failed to find any more blood or broken/dislodged shingles. For as big as the oni was, it seemed to move with near catlike grace and if it did linger somewhere, watching them, then it was well concealed.

Disappointed, the pair returned to the street where the others awaited them before entering the Apple Blossom once again. They gathered at a table where Kimetsu had set out fresh tea and sake for them. With the Thunder Guard now gone and the bodies removed, the Innkeeper set about trying to clean as best he could, uttering prayers as he did so, fearing the ghost of the slain Crane might haunt his inn. His wife was not to be seen, likely back in their quarters tending to their daughter. The girl was still injured, but would likely recover in a week or two.

"I did not expect you to find much considering how rapidly that thing was healing. It could have been waiting though, biding it's time for the right opportunity to attack either use or the Cranes again. So it seems that at best we have a very general direction of 'deeper into the city'. We are in the lower corner of the Merchant Quarter, so that helps some, but not much." Taka said, considering what little information they had on the oni and it's summoner.

When the magistrates sat down the innkeeper rose and approached them, motioning to the ronin to draw near as well. His usual smile and jovial demeanor were gone now, replaced by calm, quiet sincerity. He kneeled down and bowed deeply, laying his hands flat on the floor as he closed his eyes and pressed his forehead to hardwood, giving the most respectful bow one could offer.

"Please, I do not wish to disturb and I am sure you have more important things to tend to, but I would be remiss of I did not thank you all. I may be a storyteller, but even I lack words enough to express our gratitude to you all. Our daughter, Kiaku, is our only child. She would be dead were it not for you. Were I to live for ten lifetimes I would still lack the time to thank you enough. We are in forever your debt. Whenever any of you are in Ryoko Owari, you will always have rooms here and the finest meals we can prepare, as our guests. If there is ever anything that we may do for you, please do not hesitate to ask. And please do not be offended by these meager offerings. I know that these things can in no way can repay our debt to you, but I am just a humble innkeeper and cannot offer much else." he said to the magistrates and ronin, with eyes closed and his forehead still pressed to the floor as he strained to maintain his composure and keep himself from crying, even though they would be tears of gratitude .

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Zoyu frowned with frosty, reserved anger as Taka voiced what actions, meager as they were, could be taken to deal with the Oni. "This does not suit me, Taka-san, waiting for the Oni to strike as it will. If it seeks an opportunity to attack, then we must encourage it to believe one is being offered, soon and towards us, so that we may finish it once and for all."

"It was our duty, no more, Kimetsu. It was for honour that we confronted the vile Oni," Zoyu replied a bit haughtily when Kimetsu made his heartfelt offer. "My only regret is that we did not slay it, preventing any further atrocities it may commit in Ryoko Owari." The elegant Crane politely offered the traditional two refusals before graciously accepting the innkeeper's humble gift. "I must accept, to do any less would be to diminish the affection you hold for your daughter."

She dipped her head mildly, signaling her acceptance, then nodded slightly more deeply towards the tall, silent woman. "We are grateful for your aid as well, Ronin-san," Zoyu murmured in clear, dulcet tones. "Your quick action in the face of unexpected danger does you credit and as a Jade Magistrate, I am not unmindful of that. May we know how you wish to be addressed, so we know to whom we should offer our thanks?"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Rin had been staring into her cup of untouched sake, not paying a great deal of attention to the tavern keepers speech. She had been galled at losing the trail and being forced to return to tavern and the inactivity which followed.

"You honor us with your thanks Kimetsu but your other guests and your child have needs as well I think we can look after ourselves for now." She hopes she doesn't sound too rude but she wishes to be left alone so she can discuss what they need to do and such things are not for other ears. The innkeeper dismissed from her thoughts she turned her gaze upon the ronin and appraised her.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Kimetsu nodded many time swiftly and back away.

"O-of course. Apologies." he said to Rin before backing away far enough to turn and see about cleaning up his inn once more.

 

The tall woman bowed to Zoyu in return and then finally spoke.

"I apologize for my simple attire and the confusion that it may bring, but I am no ronin. At least not anymore, thanks you all of you." she says as she offers a deep and respectful bow.

"I am Okimoto Jorihime no Matsu." she said as she straightened back up to her full 6' height.

She held up her hand which had odd tan lines with her fingers, thumb and arm from the wrist up being much more tanned than the rest of her hand. She then turned her hand drawing attention the Okimoto mon tattooed tattooed on the back of it, which caused Kageko's eyes to noticeably widen. The tattoo was clearly many years old, the ink having faded to more of a dark grey than the vibrant black of a fresh tattoo. The woman looked to be at least in her mid-twenties, and though she carried herself with dignity, she certainly looked as if she had lived many hard years as a ronin. 

"I do apologize, but I have no better as the coffers of my family are better spent elsewhere at the moment." she said as looked down at her simple kimono briefly.

"It is by no accident that I am here though. I have been seeking you out for some time, and finally caught word in Tsuma that you were traveling here for the festival." she explained.

"I did not approach earlier because I did not wish to disturb your feast. I have come all this way because my honor demands that I offer my thanks to you all. Because of you, the Okimoto no Matsu live once more within the Lion Clan and I once again have a lord to serve." she said, bowing deeply again.

She withdrew her sheathed katana from her obi and unsheathed the sword part way, exposing just a few inches of the blade and the Okimoto mon stamped into the steel. 

"My family has been part of the Okimoto nearly from it's founding, and this daisho has always been carried by a member of my family since that time. Over the centuries of service these blades have become infused with the duty and honor of my ancestors and have come to do their job well. Swords are meant to cut, and these blades let little stand in the way of them doing their duty, be it mundane armor, magical protections or foul nature of the spawn of the Shadowlands." she said as she re-sheathed the blade.

"If I and my swords may be of aid to you, I offer my assistance." Jorihime she said with a final, polite bow.

 

Spoiler

This was a basic introduction of Jorihime into the game. She will be played by Ironlady from here on. Enjoy 

For those who did not know (or remember), the Okimoto are a vassal family of the Matsu.

Vassal Families are branches of a major family and still show respect to the 'parent' family. Family daimyo typically create vassal families, often as a way of honoring one of his own by giving them a family name. Vassal families are occasionally ronin 'families' that a Family Daimyo of a clan may accept into their family as a vassal family. In these cases, the ronin family often become ji-samurai (see below), but occasionally a family name is granted to them as a vassal family. Vassal families have their own family daimyo who swears fealty to the daimyo of the parent family (as they are technically part of the parent family) and they control some of the parent family's land, holding it in trust for them.

Members of vassal families honor their parent family when introductions are made.

For example:

Okimoto Jorihime is a member of the Okimoto family, vassals of the Matsu. She would be introduced as "Okimoto Jorihime no Matsu" ("Okimoto Jorihime of the Matsu House"). After introductions are made however, one need not reference the Matsu again when addressing her or speaking of him.

A member of a vassal family can be addressed by the 'parent' family name as well. Both are perfectly acceptable. So she could be called "Matsu" or "Okimoto". 

The only exception is when in their own lands they should be addressed by their own family name. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Kaze nearly winced at Rin's curt dismissal of the innkeeper. Perhaps a little bit too straight to the point, even if she spoke truth. He would thank the inkeeper himself later and perhaps apologise for the dismissal. But that was for when things had calmed down slightly. 

He offers a polite bow to the Lion, admittedly slightly confused over her comment. Dredging up what little he could remember of his history lessons. Okimoto was not a name he was particularly familiar with. He vaguely remembered something about them falling on bad times, but that was it. The magistrates had clearly helped her with something, though. He mentally shrugs. It is likely something that would be revealed in due time, and if not, he could ask Kageko. 

"I doubt an apology is necessary, Okimoto-san. It was most fortuitous that you were seeking us out when you were. Your quick reactions saved us no small trouble."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Akari looks at Zoyu and nods.  "Agreed, Zoyu-san.   The more we wait the odds of innocents getting caught up in this increases."  

She thinks.  "Taka-san, you are somewhat more familiar with how creatures of their ilk operate so to speak.  How do you suppose it will act now that we've chased it off?"

She nods to Okimoto-san.  "Pleased to meet you Okimoto-san."

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"It will do whatever it was summoned to do. Right now, we do not know what that task is. All we know is that it, in some way unknown to us at the moment, involved those Cranes." Taka explained.

"Or the summoner at least thinks it involves those Cranes." Kageko added.

"Sometimes they are incredibly intelligent and devious and others are blunt, direct and unimaginative. They can vary from keenly intelligent to animalistic. As Kaze and Rin pointed out though, it does seem to have a level of cunning and intelligence, so it might not use such blunt and straightforward tactics in the future." Taka considered aloud, nodding to Okimoto in greeting.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A crash rings out from the doorway of the inn and heads snap to look at the source of the sound while hands drop to rest on blade hilts. Kimetsu bends down quickly to retrieve a large tray which he was using to collect and carry out smaller debris as a man steps through the doorway.

“I’m sorry, sir,” Kimetsu stammers, “You startled me, lord. I’m so sorry... I’m sorry... Please, let me assist you...”

The man smiles at Hametsu understandingly, and over Kimetsu’s frantic apologies, you hear the stranger say cheerfully, “No, no, innkeeper, that’s not necessary. I am fine and do not wish to keep you from your work.” 

He removed his straw hat and revealed a mane of white hair, pulled back into a high ponytail. He was tall and athletic, his clothing characteristically elegant and pristine for a Crane, but not too fancy or elaborate, and on his hip he wore a full daisho. His smiling eyes and ready grin were mischievous, rather than stoic and elegant like many Cranes, and his natural charisma is obvious to all.

The Crane approached the Magistrates and bowed.

"Good afternoon. I am Doji Yuzo." he said, introducing himself.

One hand slipped into his obi and withdrew a large, golden coin minted with the Crane Clan mon on one side and the Doji mon on the other, the badge of off od the Doji Magistrates of the Crane Clan.

"The Thunder Guard tell me that I have you to thank for saving the lives of my clansmen. The death of Isamu-san is unfortunate, but things would have been much worse were it not for your bravery and swift action." he said as he looked around the debris-strewn inn as Kimetsu tried to clean it up and make it presentable once more.

"I have come to investigate this death and attack on my kinsmen. Would you please explain what happened?" he asked as he began walking around the dining room, looking at signs of the battle with the oni that took place. "And Please, I mean no disrespect. I am listening to you, but the light is fading and I have found that one often sees more under the light of Lady Sun than those of a lantern. I seek only to be efficent with our time."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Rin scowls as another intrudes on their investigation. She is not sure how to proceed with this newest distraction and she does not wish Zoyu to become embroild with a Crane official. She catches Toshi's eye and indicates that he should respond to the Crane magistrate.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Of course." Toshi took the cue from Rin and bowed respectfully. "This inn was attacked by an oni - evidently summoned by some wretched maho-tsukai. For whatever foul purpose, it focused on attempting to kill your kinsmen. My colleagues drove it off, but it and the summoner must be found and extinguished."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Kaze raised one delicate eyebrow at the explanation. Short on details didn't even begin to cover it. Giving an irritated huff, he straightens up.

"We had been sitting down for an evening meal. As the food was being brought out, the creature made its appearance through that wall" he nods in the direction of the hole. "It's entrance had injured the inkeepers daughter and killed Isamu-san. We engaged the creature, which showed a surprising determination to reach your remaining Kinsman. Single minded, almost. It only ceased it's attempts to reach them after blades bit deeper than it was expecting. It was surprisingly resilient. Once Zoyu-san removed it's tail, it decided to flee. It detached two smaller... spawn from itself and fled through the hole it had made previously, ascending to the roof and fleeing properly while we were distracted with the smaller ones."

He nods to the remains of the smaller Oni.

"We managed to dispatch them, but they showed the same determination in reaching Doji-san's friends, almost ignoring us in their haste to advance. Some of the others present may be able to remember more, but that is as best I recall it. There was little time to assess things more deeply."

He lapses back into silence, offering the Crane a bow. Being deliberately obtuse would serve no one here.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Doji Yuzo listened to Toshi brief summary and Kaze's more detailed account and nodded, glancing over at the stains left by the dead oni-spawn and severed tail that Kimetsu was now getting to scrubbing at with a brush and bucket of water.

"Then it seems by the grace of the Fortunes that they chose to dine at the only inn within the city that happened to be hosting a half dozen of the newly reconstituted Jade Magistrates. Had they chosen another establishment, they would certainly be dead now.." he said as he finished looking around and turned his attention back to the Magistrates.

"Again, on behalf of the Crane Clan, I thank you." he said, bowing deeply.

"We each have our own investigations to conduct. I must look into the attack and murder of my kinsmen and bring the culprit to justice. As a Magistrate, though only one of my Clan and not Imperial, am also obligated to do what I can to find and stop this oni and maho-tsukai. And your duties as Jade Magistrates are clear. You certainly possess greater knowledge and skill in battling this oni and likely maho-tsukai than I do. I have lived in this city for many years though. I have knowledge of the people here and their relationships, as well as the city's workings and it's ways. It would seem we both share the same goal, and though not required, it would be mutually beneficial to work together, and you would have the gratitude of my Clan.." he explained simply.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Humph You are right Doji-san. What matters is finding the one who brought the oni here. Assuming the oni was not simply stupid then your kinsmen were the targets. So either it was an act of vengeance for something that they did or were perceived as doing, an act of cold blooded murder for something they were feared to do or know, or it was murder with the intent to take some thing from them." Rin steps into the center of the room and gazes around. " Doji Mizoko and Daidoji Bikaru did not seem to know why anyone would attack them in such a manner. Which leaves me to speculate that in their dealings they may have acquired something that the witch desires and is willing to commit evil and kill for."

She folds her arms and scowls some more. "Assuming that the merchants were the targets." Rin looks at Zoyu and Kaze. "It is possible that the Oni was told to kill the Cranes in the inn and targeted the wrong ones!"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Zoyu was not particularly pleased to encounter another of the Okimoto, but wishing to remain polite yet unable to give voice to a lie, she merely dipped her head in greeting. "That is a very fine looking blade, Okimoto-san," she commented in a soft murmur. She had seen only a few inches of the katana, but Zoyu had a fine eye for blades. "I'm sure it will earn you much honor in dutiful service."

Still suppressing her annoyance at dealing with another Okimoto, Zoyu was silent as Doji Yuzo made his entrance, though she didn't conceal her study of him over the rim of her tea cup. Charming and roguishly handsome, she reminded him a bit of her sensei, Kakita Toshimoko, is not nearly so attractive to her, or possessing his unconsciously inherent assurance of self.

When Rin asked her question, Zoyu bowed her head in agreement. "That is a very valid line of thought, Rin-san." She looked the question towards Taka and Kageko as the ones best able to answer among the Magistrates. "Is such possible?" Then she arched a brow at Doji Yuzo. "You are far more familiar with Ryoko Owari than us, Doji-san, where would look for a maho-tsukai in the city?"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"It is entirely possible that the oni or summoner were mistaken and the wrong Cranes were attacked. We were dining in one of the private dining rooms and the other Cranes had just walked in, after all. It could be an terribly unfortunate case of being at the wrong place at the wrong time." Taka acknowledged.

"Right now, we just do not know though." Kageko added.

Yuzo listened and nodded and addressed Zoyu's question,

"Anywhere. Correct me if I am wrong, as I am certain you would know better than I, but as I understand it literally anybody from any level of society could be a maho-tsukai. There is no one place to look right off the top of one's head. I am afraid that this will take some serious investigative work and probably more than a little luck." he said as he began to consider the facts as they were known so far.

As Yuzo thought for a moment a young boy rushed through the door of the inn. The magistrates recognize him as one of the eta that was at the inn earlier, assisting some older eta who collected the bodies. His face soot-stained and his bare feet are bleeding from a long run over rough terrain.

“The crematorium.. .” pants the boy, obviously out of breath. 

His eyes are wide and his panic is clear.

“There are bandits, at least a dozen, attacking the crematorium and trying to steal the bodies!” he says as he points out the door, in the direction from which he came. 

“Please, samurai-sama," he begs as he collapses to his knees and drops his head to the floor, "they are attacking my father... the bodies we just collected... please help us!”

"They would defile Isamu-san's body!?" Yuzo asks in shock and confusion.

"The crematorium you say?" he says and tosses the straw hat he had already removed to the side. 

"It is maybe a five minute from here at a steady jog." the Crane explained.

Yuzo then drew his sheathed katana from his obi to hold in his hand to make the run a little easier.

"It is across the Dragon bridge and through the eta village. I know the way, but we must hurry if we are to catch them." he says as he moves to the door.

 

Spoiler

Who stays and goes is up to you, but if there are a dozen bandits then you need all the numbers you can get (and possibly magic too). If some wish to stay behind then Yuzo will suggest everybody stay together and go to the crematorium, but he will not push the matter as time is likely of the essence.  

No roll is needed by anybody if you proceed at a steady jog, which takes about five minutes.

If asked, Yuzo can go faster and make the trip in about half the time at a full run. (He did not want to suggest it as he was not sure if all could keep up or not and did not want to be rude).

At a full run no roll is needed, but if you do not have the Athletics skill then you will be winded. Winded characters are -1k0 to their attacks, spell casting and physical actions until you rest (and do nothing else) for 2 full actions.

Again though, Yuzo would suggest that everybody stay together. He is the one that knows the way so people need to stick with him.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Zoyu frowned as the boy gasped out the trouble inflicting the crematorium. The timing was very suspect of course, possibly a distraction so the Oni could continue its nefarious assignment. But being unable to track it down, this was their only potential lead at the moment in finding the Maho-Tsukai. She nodded at the Doji Magistrate.

"I will accompany you, Doji-san, if you will give me just a moment," Zoyu said, her voice smooth and sure despite the dire exigency of the situation, considering how the Oni had leapt away. "I must retrieve something from my chambers."

Not waiting for any assent, Zoyu rushed to her room with unseemly haste and returned not a minute later, bow and quiver slung across her back. She nodded at Yuzo. "Proceed, I will follow."

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Taka and Kageko nod and rise from the table as well, the Little Lion fast on Zoyu's heels to fetch her own short bow.

The waiting seemed to get to Yuzo, but he hid it very well. Besides, if the boy was right about the number of bandits, then he could hardly charge in alone. Once all were assembled he started down the road, jogging at first.

"I do not know how much longer the bandits might remain, so we must make haste!" he said as he broke into a run. The streets were mostly empty now as people were in their homes eating and preparing for the start of the festival, so thankfully there was very little traffic to negotiate, allowing Yuzo to quickly lead the magistrates through the streets and over the bridge and into the Leatherworkers Quarter.

The Leatherworkers Quarter had a distinctive smell thanks to all the human refuse that’s hauled through the area day in, day out, every day of the year. However, the stench is relieved by the prevailing winds (in this, perhaps, the eta are fortunate to be outside the city walls). The houses here are simple mud and timber affairs, but they’re farther apart than those in the Fisherman Quarter. In fact, many of the leatherworkers grow flowers around their homes in an attempt to freshen things up. The clay soil makes this tough if they don’t fertilize, but since the fertilizer is the cause of the problem, most content themselves with unimpressive blossom.

The unpaved roads, mud covered buildings, and the inhabitants undyed garb (eta aren’t allowed to dye their clothes) give the place a overwhelming sense of 'brown', which makes the brightly colored kimono and kamishimo of the magistrate stand out sharply in contrast. As the magistrates pass, the eta drop to their knees and bow deeply, pressing their head to the ground.

Smoke can be seen rising to the west, from the far side of the quarter and as the magistrates draw near panicked screams find their ears. They round a corner as caught their first sight of the crematorium which was now half collapsed and on fire. The whole area was a mass of confusion between the burning building, panicked eta running and screaming and sword-wielding bandits yelling at and intimidating the eta. it was difficult to get a good count, but there seemed to be at least a dozen bandits.

Through a large hole hacked into the wall of the crematorium the magistrates could see where the bodies are kept to the side of a giant kiln used for cremation. The body of Doji Isamu and the dead peasant merchants were lying on the floor,  their shrouds ripped open and their clothing rifled through. One of the bandits was still searching Isamu's body while another was checking shelved and boxes, dumping them on the floor. The eta who collected the bodies lie dead as well, apparently cut down by the blades of the bandits.

"Damnit! It's not here!" one of the bandits yelled from inside the crematorium as several of the bandits outside could not help but notice the magistrates running around the corner.

"Samurai are here!" on the bandits outside yelled.

"Take'em out!" a voice yelled out. 

"Run!" exclaimed another.

The mixed.. commands? suggestions? ...seemed to confusion the bandits for a moment, though swiftly some made up their minds one way or another. Several took the best semblance of a kenjutsu stance that they could muster.

"Use the bodies!" one of the bandits yelled, causing the bandits inside to hack at the hands of the dead merchants off of their corpses. 

 

Spoiler

Due to the time spent waiting, Yuzo elected to run. That means it took about 2.5-3 minutes to reach the crematorium. Anybody with the Athletics skill is fine. Anybody without Athletics will be 'winded' (-1k0 to attacks, spellcasting and physical actions, but not initiative) until they rest for 2 actions unless they can make a Stamina roll TN 10.

Everybody please roll initiative and post results in the Combat Thread.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Kaze frowned at the boy. Bandits after the corpses? Clearly they thought whoever the target of the attack was was carrying something of value on their person. No time to think on it further. Maybe they would be able to capture someone for interrogation.

"A moment" he bites out, in turn sprinting to his own room, returning rapidly with his Nodachi clutched in one hand. He had had to forego his armour once more, as it would take too much time, but he would be going into this expecting the worst, and prepare accordingly. The long, finely wrought blade a comforting weight in his grasp.

He sprints along beside the Doji Magistrate, blood beginning to pump in anticipation. Bandits? He could handle bandits.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Drop your weapons and surrender yourself for the Emperor's justice!" Yuzo proclaimed loudly at the bandits as the line of samurai, virtually all of them with weapons drawn, approached the shaky line of bandits that had formed.

Over the shoulders of the bandit line they could see a couple of bandits in the crematorium hand now sliced off the hands of the dead peasant merchants. The first one rose and reared his arm back, ready to throw the hand of the dead at Zoyu.

Zoyu's delectable lips curled in a snarl of disgust as the bandits handled the dead bodies and even more dishonourably, seemed intent on using severed extremities as twisted missiles. Doji Yuzo maybe have given them a moment to surrender, though they didn't even appear to hear the command, but after witnessing their foul tactics, the striking Crane woman didn't even consider doing likewise.

Nock-Draw-Release came in one fluid, instinctive motion and the soft exhalation of breath. No sooner was there the sharp twang of a bowstring when a spiraling watakusi arrow buried itself into the base of the throat of one of the bandits inside the crematorium who was holding a severed hand to throw. The bandit's eyes went wide and he dropped the hand, both of his own grasping at the gaping, hole of torn flesh that was once his throat as he fell to the ground, gurgling for a moment as he choked and suffocated on his own blood.

Jorihime unwrapped the cloth around her right hand once more, revealing the Okimoto mon as she charged one of the armored bandits, swinging her sword in a savage cut across the chest, the blade took on a small bit of light and sliced through the Bandits armor. Rending him.

"Let it be known that an Okimoto is your doom today Bandit!" she snarled and held up her katana, ensuring the other bandits would see the tattoo on the back of her hand.

A bandit with a tonfa came at Yuzo as he approached, hand resting on the hilt of his sheathed katana. The bandit brought his arm back to swing as Yuzo drew his blade and dragged it across the bandit's chest from right hip to left shoulder, splitting him open with a crimson gash of sliced flesh. The bandit's blow lost all force as he fell to the ground, writhing in agony.

It was then that Yuzo caught the motion out of the corner of his eye as the dead hand came arcing through the air at him. He batted it away with the side of his katana, silently thanking his training as a Doji Magistrate for keeping him so aware of all his surroundings.

Kaze walked toward the bandits almost casually, drawing his massive no-dachi from it's saya as his gaze met that of one of the armored bandits, who's eyes wide wide at the side of the enormous blade. The bandit shook his head once, trying to cast of the fear and came at Kaze, letting out a battle cry as he brought up his katana to strike at the Crane. 

Kaze raised the no-dachi above his head with a dual grip and brought it down on the bandit, shattering the poor excuse of a katana the bandit wielded on it's way down to his head and through his torso, exiting near the bandit's right hip, halting him in place as his body fell to ground in a mangled mass.  

Rin ran into the foul smelling area with the rest of the Magistrates swords at the ready. Sometime during the run she had drawn them but no one could say when.

She paused when she saw the bandits forming a weak line, but only for a moment. 

“I am Mirumoto Rin! Stand and you will die! Run and you may live!”

Giving them no time to think, she stepped into the line her mind and body one with her swords her focus turned inward as her awareness opened outwards. An armored bandit slashed at her, Rin parried it easily with her wakizashi and steps under his blow her own sword slashing down and across. The armor offered little resistance to Rin's razor sharp katana and the bandit's intestines spilled onto the ground as he collapsed to his knees dead and for all the world looking as if he bowed before the mighty samurai.

Rin stepped thru the line slicing her sword across the next bandit's back as she completed her turn. He screamed as blood sprayed and he fell face down arms writhing uncontrollably, his spine nearly cut through. Should he survive, which was doubtful, never again would his legs function.

Akari unraveled her scroll and begain a pray to the fire kami causing small sparks and then embers to flicker around her. As the prayer continued and the magic began to grow the embers begain to turn to swirling flames dancing about the Phoenix shugenja. Her prayer continued as the first wave of bandits fell, hinting that whatever she was asking the kami for would be powerful indeed.

The remaining bandits looked at the fallen comrades with wide eyes, their fear evident for all to see.

"RUN!!!" one of them yelled at the top of his lungs. 

The command was met with no resistance at all as he, the two other bandits in the skirmish line and several from inside and behind the crematorium turn and run, scattering like roaches. 

As one bandit turns Taka's tetsubo comes into his view and crashes into the bandit's chest. The sound of breaking bones was audible as the bandit fell to the ground, coughing and screaming in pain. 

The bandit next to him turned to run and looked down as the pain in his back reached his chest, only to see head of Kageko's flesh-ripper arrow sticking out of of gaping wound. The bandit fell to his knees and then fell forward onto the ground, dead.

Toshi sniffed, as the line of bandits came to grips with the Jade Magistrates and allies. Desperate, amusing in their attempts to drive back the samurai with the pelting of dead flesh... pathetic. But under the situation, curious all the same. They would need to spare a few for interrogation. Not the first one within range of Toshi's wakizashi, as he sliced through one bandit's belly as he attempted to flee.

The entire skirmish line of bandits lay on the ground before the samurai, each of them dead or swiftly approaching that state as six bandits burst out from (and behind) the crematorium. Four run into the maze of alleys of the eta village while another two go running roughly toward the Wretched Gate (which leads to the Firshermans Quarter).

Yuzo points with the tip of his katana at one of the bandits fleeing into the eta village.

"That one's mine!" he cries out, grinning with the thrill of combat.

"Get the others! They may know something!" he says as he leaps into a run, chasing after his man.

"I'll see you in an hour at the Apple Blossom, or I'll tell of your bravery to my ancestors!" he yells over his shoulder as he disappears at a full run into the eta village with an exhilarated laugh at the thrill of the chase.

 

Spoiler

Please see combat thread.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Rin and Kaze set off after the two bandits heading North toward the Wretched Gate and the Fisherman's Quarter beyond it. The bandits are not terribly swift, but their knowledge of the city aids them greatly is allowing them to duck through confusing streets and alleys of the Leatherworkers Quarter, making them difficult to follow. Rin and Kaze knew that it would take every bit of their superior fitness to catch them. The streets were virtually empty though, as the locals were mostly in their homes dining and preparing for the festival, so at least the bandits did not have crowds to hide in. Rin and Kaze pushed themselves to catch the bandits, with Rin's fleet feet allowing her to out distance Kaze and begin to quickly close the gap between her and her quarry while Kaze closed as well, just not so swiftly.

As the two bandits made it through the Wretched Gate they more clearly split up with one running deeper into Fisherman's Quarter while the other turned East toward the Bridge of Drunken Lovers and the Merchant Quarter. Without even speaking the two samurai split off, each have selected their quarry already. Rin continued onward while Kaze made the turn toward the bridge.

 

Chase #1 - Rin

Rin's bandit headed toward the docks of the Fisherman's Quarter, hoping to lose his pursuer among the warehouses and fisheries. Rin was undeterred though and continued to gain on the bandit rapidly and relentlessly. Realizing he was not going to outrun the Dragon, the bandit ducked into one of the dark buildings with fish hanging outside to dry. He took in a big gasp of air and held his breath, trying to be as quiet as he could in order to hide in the darkness, knowing Rin would be through door in just a moment.

Rin ran through the door and stopped, surveying as best she could in the darkness. No other doors were open, nothing seemed to be moving and there was nothing to hear as well. Steadying her breathing and calming herself Rin proceeded forward, wary of an ambush, which came faster than she expected. The bandit leaped out behind a stack of crates and shoved the Dragon with all the strength he could muster, catching her off guard and sending her tumbling back into a barrel of fish guts that remained from the processing of fish that day. The thick, slippery goop washed over her shoulders in a disgusting wave, spilling all over her and onto the floor. The bandit turned and fled, his sandals slipping a few times on the slippery mess.

It was clear to Rin that she could not get to her feet in time to continue the pursuit as she caught the bandit's silhouette in a shaft of light. The Dragon pushed the distractions of out of her mind and centered herself, once again drawing on a lesson learned just that day and flung her wakizashi through the air, end over end. The bandit's silhouette disappeared into the darkness while her blade glinted for a moment as it passed through the shaft of light. The sound she heard next was unmistakable... steel sinking into flesh, then a wet, gargling followed by a loud thud.

Doing her best to shake off the mess as she could, Rin found her way back to feet once more and after a few precious steps on the slippery floor she slowly approached the bandit. Her eyes had better adjusted by now and she could see him laying face down on the floor with her wakizashi suck in the back of throat, knowing from the depth of it that the point of the blade must have exited the front of his throat. She grasped the hilt and retrieved her sword, then used her sandal to kick the bandit onto his back. Carefully she used her blades to open his cloth and search him, always mindful not to touch him, but all she found on him was a tanto and a small pouch containing maybe a half dozen identical coins. Rin opened the pouch and held up one of the coins in the shaft of light where she could see it was a koku originating from the Crab Clan.

 

 

Chase #2 - Kaze

Kaze gradually closed in on the bandit as he crossed over the Bridge of Drunken Lovers and entered the Merchant Quarter. Looking over his shoulder the bandit could see the no-dachi wielding Crane so steadily gaining on him. He wold have to confront the samurai, but did not wish to do so where he could use that huge blade with ease. He would need to get indoors, into a multi-story building so that the ground level would have a low roof as to make the no-dachi unwieldy. The bandit quickly found was he was searching for and ducked inside the open door of an empty inn, once which Kaze recognized too... the Apple Blossom.

As Kaze entered the inn he could see the bandit standing now, katana drawn and facing him. Finally getting a good look at the bandit in decent light, Kaze could see that this bandit was not only dressed better than the others, but his kenjutsu stance was also decent, hinting that he may indeed be a ronin. 

Behind the bandit Kaze could see the innkeeper, Kimetsu, holding the broom that he had been using to sweep the floor with as a bo staff now, standing between the bandit and his wife. It was obvious by his stance and grip on the broom that he was a woefully incompetent staff fighter, but the man did stand courageously between the bandit and his wife.

"Let me go, samurai. You have greater concerns than me. Otherwise I will end your pain right now.." the bandit snarled, spitting on the ground as he leveled his katana at the Crane with something of a fanatical gleam in his eyes.

Appraising the bandit warily, Kaze stops outside of the range the bandit can easily reach him from, still blocking the exits from the room. He glances down at the blood still staining the front of his haori, and back at the bandit.

"Your concern is touching. But I see little reason that this would stop me from dealing with you "

The room had a low roof. Not good for using the Nodachi, but there was nobody else present, so he could strike horizontally if needs be.

 "You can waste your time with me, or deal with the oni that is on the loose. Your choice, samurai. There may be but a single blade in this city with which to combat it, so I would be looking for it, not wasting time with me."

At some unseen twitch both combatants lunge forward and steel rings against steel, the slash of the nodachi catching the edge of the ronin's katana with such force that it knocks it from the bandit's hand and, sends the other sword sailing through the air, where it lands point down and quivering in the floor.

There's a split second of surprise on the bandit's face before he settles into a jiujitsu stance, backing away from the 5 feet of razored metal and toward the innkeeper clutching his broom like a bo staff. With his attention focused on the Crane wielding the no-dachi, the bandit failed to notice the quick stab at his feet and twist of the broom, tripping him and sending him to the floor on his back. In an instant Kaze was standing over the bandit with his blade to the bandit's throat.

"Fetch some rope!." Kimetsu ordered his wife who ran outside and quickly returned with a length of rope.

 

 

Chase #3 - Toshi

Toshi picks one of the fleeing bandits and sets off after him as he runs into the eta village. This bandit, though smaller, does seem to be relatively swift and knows the Leatherworkers' Quarter well. Toshi is very cunning and perceptive though and never loses sight of the bandit as he weaves through the dark, empty streets. After a short while the bandit's lack of stamina starts to become apparent and so he makes a daring gambit and leaps into a eta home. Toshi's ears can hear a scream from inside the simple home and when he enters he sees the bandit is holding an eta boy in front of him, with a knife to the boy's throat.

"I.. I just wanna get away. Leave and I will let the boy go, unharmed." the bandit offers.

Toshi holds his position but makes no move. 

"Answer my questions, and I will." the Scorpion replied.

"I have nothing to say to you, samurai. Leave! NOW! Or the boy dies!" the bandit threatened, tightening his grip on the knife.

"Now, now. I'm sure you'll rethink this..." Toshi said calmly as he pulls out a handful of coins, jingling it to get the bandit's attention... and then he tosses them into the criminal's eyes.

The bandit flinches and the eta boy reacts surprising quickly, elbowing the momentarily blinded bandit in the gut and squirms free, leaving the bandit armed, but now without a hostage. The bandit steps forward, lunging at Toshi who drops his wakizashi to the ground, ducks down and grabs the bandit's forward leg, pulling t toward himself to hyper-extend the limb before bring his elbow down on the knee, filling the air with the sound of crunching bone. The bandit screams out and drops his knife as he falls onto his back in agony.

'Your clan's Kobo Ichi-Kai juijitsu is very efficacious, Taka.' Toshi thought to himself as he rose once more, standing over the crippled bandit. Toshi picks up and sheathes his sword, and gestures to the coins still on the ground when speaking to the eta.

"A gift from Daikoku." he says.

Toshi then grabs the bandit by his leg and begins to drag him from the home.

The boy's father runs over and drops to his knees, pressing his head to the floor bowing and thanking Toshi while his wife grabs her son and the both of them kick at the bandit.

"Please lord, allow my son and I to carry him for you. It is the least we can do." the eta man offers, to which Toshi nods.

 

 

Chase #4 - Jorihime

The bandit Jorihime selected a little faster and bigger than the others, and knew the Leatherworker's Quarter well, but Jorihime was going to let nothing stand in her way. Despite his speed and fitness, Jorihime began to run down the bandit, much like the namesake of her Clan. The bandit passed a large stack of wicker baskets and pushed it over behind him, filling the narrow alley with them. Without even slowing Jorihime leapt over them, he feet finding the ground once more, carrying her even closer to the bandit.

After several turns through streets and alleyways the bandit spied a taller building with a rickety staircase on the outside. He scampered up the steps with Jorihime hot on his heels and grabbed a pile of fishing poles that were stacked at the top, throwing them down the staircase to obstruct the Lion's progress before he turned and ran once more. What he failed to see was the determined Jorihime clear the tangle of poles with a single jump, landing on the staircase past them without missing a step. 

At the end of the walkway Jorihime could see the bandit jump through a window into a dark room. Without hesitation the Lion jumped through the window and landed on her feet a catlike grace, catching the bandit who was laying in ambush off guard. He leveled his katana at the Lion and took a step back cautiously.

"Look. Y-you do not need to waste time with me. Give me your word of honor that you will let me go, unharmed, and I will tell you everything I know." the bandit offered, realizing he was very unlikely to escape his pursuer.

Jorihime considered his words for a moment and then nodded, deciding that willing information was more valuable than what could be pried from a captive, if he could even be taken alive.

"You have my word." she said flatly.

"We were hired to find the Cranes and steal their swords. I think one of their swords is magical. We heard of the oni attack, so we went to  the crematorium, hoping to find the swords with the bodies. We thought the 3 bodies were the Cranes, not just one of them and two peasant merchants. I dunno who hired us, but the man was very nervous and seemed to be in a terrible hurry to get the sword." the bandit explained, still somewhat wary.

"What did this man look like?" she asked.

"Small, nervous, thin beard and mustache. Around thirty or so." the bandit recalled.

"He paid well. FIVE koku EACH!" he added.

"I see. Quite a hefty sum... And what were his instructions once you'd found the weapons?"

"I do not know. That was discussed with the boss."

"And where is your boss? Has he been slain?"

"I don't know. You Dragon or Crane friend was chasing him, last I saw."

"Where did you meet your employer?"

"An inn, by the waterfront."

"Do you know it's name?"

"I do not remember. We moved from place to place as we would get kicked out, and I was pretty drunk."

"How unfortunate. Is that all the information you have?"

The bandit nodded quickly, still maintaining his guard.

"Very well then, you've given me your information. Be on your way..."

 

 

Chase #6 - Yuzo & Zoyu

Zoyu runs after Yuzo, bow in hand, as he chases after the bandit, through the eta village, leading the pair on quite a chase as he tries to lose them, though often only managing the ditch one of them who then calls over the other. Finally, in desperation, the bandit ducks into one of the nicer looking buildings (for an eta village) and the screams of women echo from inside. The Magistrates chase into the building after him and realize it is (what passes for) a geisha house in the eta village. The 'geisha' are rather old and unattractive and are screaming as the bandit runs through. The bandit has knocked over some little tables behind him, hoping to slow down the Cranes, while he is being chase by the old okasan (Madame), who is swinging a heavy stick at him, yelling at him to get out.

"Get out of here you oaf! You cannot just barge in here! Hey! That was expensive! You're gonna pay for that!" the old woman yells as she swats at the running bandit who turns and runs up the stairs. The Cranes head up after him, but at the top of the stairs her stops and grabs a 'geisha' who peeked out to see what the commotion was about. With a grunt of effort he shoved her down the stairs at the Magistrates. The 'geisha' was not what one would call a 'small' woman and Yuzo, though he tried valiantly, only managed to break her fall... with his body

Zoyu, on the other hand, had no intention of catching the woman and effortlessly jumped over the pair as they tumbled down the stairs. She reached the top of the stairs and could see only one door open, with a scream coming from the room beyond it. Zoyu darted to the door and entered room, spotting a frightened 'geisha' in the corner. The window was opened and the bandit was pulling his leg through, making his escape to the roof. For a split second Zoyu considered her options. She could take a shot at him with her bow, climb out the window onto the precarious roof trusting in her cat-like balance or try to grab the bandit's leg and pull him back into the room.

With a decision made, Zoyu dashed forward and grabbed the bandit's ankle just as it was about to disappear out though the window. The bandit, a young man, let out a startled scream of panic at her grasp on his leg and looked back at the Crane.

"Let me go and you can have this!" he offered as he pulled a scroll from his belt, waving it.

"I will have that and you as well. If you cooperate, you make retain your life." Zoyu replied as she tried to pull the man back in through the window.

The man did his best to resist, making it difficult for Zoyu.

"I'll throw it and you will never find it!" he threatened, making a fake throwing gesture.

"If you throw it, your life is forfeit." Zoyu countered.

"If you catch me, I am dead anyways! I swear I will throw it!" he threatened once again.

"If you cooperate and prove useful to our investigation, you will retain your life. If you fear reprisal, we may even protect your hide." Zoyu offered.

Zoyu sincerely meant it too. She was not trying any tricks to not technically lie or some such. If he handed over the scroll and cooperated with their investigation, she would spare his life, and even arrange what protection she can if he fears reprisal from his nefarious master. With the favor of her Ancestor, and the fortune Benten as well, the young bandit considered her words and finally relented, allowing Zoyu to pull him back inside.

"Impressive," Yuzo said from the doorway, "I would say that you missed your calling as a courtier, but that mantel of the Topaz Champion you wear so well certainly says otherwise."

As Zoyu pulled the man back in Yuzo walked over and reached out, taking the scroll from the bandit. He opened it wide for both him and Zoyu to see, and looked at it for a moment.

"It's gibberish." he said.

Indeed it was, but the scroll was clearly divided into four sections, each for a different clan. Crane, Scorpion, Unicorn and Crab, but the writing on it was indeed gibberish.

"Some manner of cipher perhaps." Zoyu sighed. "Maybe our Perceptive Scorpion can be of use."

Taking a more direct route, Yuzo turned to the bandit.

"What is this?" he asked.

"I do not know. It was handed to the boss when we were hired. Boss just handed it to me to hold onto for him. I don't know what it is, I just figured it was important though." the bandit answered.

 

 

Gradually the Magistrates all returned to the Apple Blossom, where Kaze awaited them with his captive.

 

The first to return was Rin. She was wet and reeked of fish guts. Her appearance in the doorway brought Kimetsu over quickly.

"Mirumoto-sama." he said, bowing deeply, "It is so good to see you again." he said, greeting her.

"If you seek a bath, then of course my inn is at your disposal." he offered.

"But... one of the finest bath houses in the city is just down the street. It can surely service you better than I can. Please allow my wife to guide you there. And it would be her honor to clean your kimono for you as well. So permitting, it will be waiting for you in the morning." he added.

Rin looked at Kimetsu silently and then turn to go saying, "Tell the others where I am when they get back" as the innkeeper's wife led her down the street.

The others returned soon afterwards. Jorihime was empty handed, while Toshi arrived with two eta who carried a wincing and sobbing bandit with a obviously broken leg. Zoyu and Yuzo returned with a captive of their own as well, followed shortly by the shugenja who had remained to oversee the crematorium. Taka had given chase, but he too returned empty handed. Finally Rin returned, freshly bathed and wearing the fine kimono that was part of the kamishimo set gifted to the guests of Doji Noriyaki when they had arrived in Tsuma for the Topaz Championship.

Kimetsu brought over fresh tea and sake to the Magistrates as they gathered at a table just as the distant sounds of fireworks reached their years, signalling the start of the Festival.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Kaze accepted the Tea with a murmered thanks, the tension slowly bleeding out of his shoulders. Kimetsu had volunteered a stable to act as an impromptu cell for the Bandit. He had taken the time to clean his swords, watching vigilantly over the prisoner who sat in stony silence, refusing to speak and let slip any more than he already had.

Raising the tea and appreciating the aroma that wafted up, Kaze let out a slight sigh of contentment before beginning.

"The Bandits seem to be seperate from the Oni, at least somewhat. From what I could get from my friend outside. I can't confirm anything of course, but from what he said, it sounded like they were seeking a particular blade, being carried by a Crane. Apparently one of the few, if not the only in the city that could combat the creature. Seems there might be more to the tought that Isamu-san died because of a mistaken identity. He refuses to speak to me any more, but thanks to Kimetsu-sans help, we managed to capture him with no damage. I felt that the Magistrates may be able to get more out of him. No courtier am I, to ferret out secrets so." the corner of his mouth twitches up in vague amusement. "Has anyone else found any more? The Ronin is surprisingly disciplined, but perhaps the other Bandits...."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Hmmp. Then why go to the crematorium?. I think Toshi-san should interrogate this man." Rin sits and takes a cup of tea. "Also perhaps we should check on the other two Cranes. Us running all over the city could have been a diversion to facilitate the assassination of them."

She drinks her tea.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jorihime nodded in agreement with Rin before speaking. 

"I have some more information to share. The bandits were hired by a small man, in his 30s with a thin beard or mustache. In an Inn down by the waterfront" 

She then took a slightly too loud sip of her tea. Her social skills were far too poor from being a Ronin for as long as she had.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Frowning in thought, Kaze mulled over the information.

"That strikes me as odd. The Ronin I captured. He had a glint to his eyes. It was more than simple money driving him to act the way he did. I wouldn't quite call it fanatacism, but he was dedicated to whatever it was that had set them on this path."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Zoyu murmured her thanks to Kimetsu for the tea, then sighed after taking a sip when she heard the muffled pops and cracks of fireworks. She supposed it would be some time still before once more her eyes fell upon the lovely Bayushi Tsukiko. The call of Duty came before the call of the Heart, no matter how difficult.

She nodded towards Rin. "Checking on the other two Cranes sounds most reasonable. Not that I believe the assault upon the crematorium was a diversion for an assassination, but rather in case Doji Isamu did not have what they were looking for. Yuzo-san and I have also subdued one of the bandits, who I believe will be cooperative when questioned."

She turned her mismatched eyes towards Kaze. "Could what you call dedication be fear? The bandit seemed quite sure their failure would be met with death. I not only had to allow him to retain his life, but swear that he would be protected to secure his cooperation. As well," she reached into the voluminous sleeves of her kimono and pulled out a scroll and slid it towards the Scorpion, "he had this, handed to him directly by his superior. It seems divided into quarters, each one aligning to a clan: Crane, Scorpion, Unicorn, and Crab, but is otherwise intelligible. I believe it has been encoded in some fashion. Are you able to decipher it, Toshi-san?"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

×
×
  • Create New...