Jump to content
Noir

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

Recommended Posts

"There's a distinct difference between fanaticism and fear of death." Toshi opined, taking the scroll Zoyu had passed to him. "The fanatic after all, does not fear death to achieve their objective. There of course, is no reason the group did not have a mixture of both." The contents were a curious collection of letters and numbers, leaving Toshi with little else without a reference source to base his decryption on.

But it was clearly organized in a number-letters-number pattern. The answer came to him after a minute. "I can't translate it right now. However, I can tell it's not a letter or message. This is a list. Most of the things listed repeat in each section. A rare few do not."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"It looks like a receipt. That's just financial shorthand." Kimetsu said as he set down a bowl of cherries on the table and caught a glimpse of what Toshi was looking at.

The Magistrates whipped their heads around at the innkeeper and his eyes went wide. He dropped to his knees with a thud and bowed deeply, pressing his head to the floor.

"A thousand apologies, lords. I-I do not know what came over me. I should not have been interested in your business. Please.. please forgive me." 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There was a moments stunned silence before Kaze let out a barking laugh. Subsiding into chuckles afterwards.

"Ahhh, Kimetsu-san. Do stand up. I think after the aid you have rendered thus far none of us are offended. Please." He shakes his head, fox tail rustling agains his Haori, scoffing lightly. "Seems my thought was half right. I had thought it was some form of Stock lists, but it didn't make sense with the second number. But with Quantity and Price? That does make more sense, though the question remains on what is it a receipt for. Weapons? Food? Men?"

His attention returns to Toshi

"You said you were unable to translate it now. How long do you think it would take you? This is sadly beyond my abilities."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Under normal circumstances, this was a major mistake by a heimin. But Toshi hadn't learned to doubt the validity of physical evidence for nothing from the Kitsuki, or forgotten that despite the precepts of the judicial system, a heimin's word could in true value be as much as a samurai's. Toshi calmly nodded and proffered the scroll. "Well, Kimetsu, why don't you read it and apply your insights."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Kimetsu cautiously lifted his head from the floor, caught off guard by Kaze's laughter and Toshi's invitation.

"Of.. of course, lord." he said, still slightly confused, but slowly beginning to relax once again.

Carefully he accepted the scroll with a polite bow and then looked it over.

"It looks to be a receipt from the Shosuro warehouse up the way. Here, in this first part, it lists the shipment they received. Party favors for the festival it looks like; Masks, costumes, streamers, noisemakers, and fireworks. Then each of the other three sections lists what they sold to each buyer, as well as the quantity and price. According to this, the first buyer was Shinjo Hanato, the second were Doji Isamu and Doji Mikozo and the third was a heimin merchant named Safusa." the innkeeper explained.

"I do not normally deal in such items, and I know that you would never be concerned with such trivialities as money, but the prices seem fair, barring exceptionally high or poor quality." Kimetsu added.

 

Spoiler

I made a mistake. There is no Crab section on the scroll. Instead, that section does not have a clan listed, which is where Safusa's purchase in listed. My bad. Sorry guys.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Rin had only partly been following the conversation as it was above her thinking and gave her a headache, however the list of names Kimetsu rattled off caused a raised eyebrow. "Safusa? Do you know this merchant, Kimetsu?"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"I have met him before, but I think it would be more accurate to say I know of him. He is a heimin merchant and has a little shop on the edge of the Temple Quarter. 'Safusa's Antiques, Artifacts and Oddities' I think the name is. I only deal in items and foodstuffs of the highest quality for my inn, which makes it the best the city.” the innkeeper said.

Kimetsu's face drooped and he looked around at his battered inn for a moment.

"Or at least is was." he sighed. 

"But, if you pardon my saying so, Safusa's shop is mostly junk. Cheap trinkets and baubles. Fodder for visitors to the city, and some say even poor copies of the products of others, made with inferior skill and materials. He is not one I generally do business with." he explained.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Hmm," Rin sets her cup down and stands.

'"We should check this merchant out, something is not right with him being on the same shipping document as those others. Also it would be improper for us to celebrate or rest while a foul murderer and witch are on the loose."  She looks around the room. "Kimetsu, fetch someone to show me where this shop is. Anyone coming?"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Forgive me, lord." Kimetsu said to Rin, "But this is not a shipping document. This is a list of sale by the Shosuro warehouse. They had already recieved the shipment, and then these merchants came to the Shosuro to buy from them so they could re-sell the merchandise themselves."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

"My kinsmen were being taken to the estate of Doji Fuketsu." Yuzo said, "He is a hatamoto to Lord Doji Setsume and his estate in the Nobel Quarter is effectively the Crane consulate in the city. It is not far from here at all, just a few minutes. The gates to the Noble Quarter are well guarded. If there were to be an assassination on them, then the attackers would only have the two blocks or so to the Dragon Gate to do so, and would need to be a sizeable group to deal with the Thunder Guard escorting them. The Estate is a block through the gate, into the Nobel Quarter. If the assassins had a way into the Nobel Quarter, then they could have been waiting at Fuketsu-sama's estate, figuring they would be brought there, and would not need as long a number... Hmmm..." 

"The bandits were looking for a sword on one of the Cranes you say? Hmm..." Yuzo asked and then dropped deep into thought.

"If they thought one of the Cranes had the sword they sought, and then heard of the oni attack and three bodies were taken to the crematorium, then they might have thought the oni had done their work for them and went to the crematorium to steal the swords from the eta." Kagko thought aloud.

Yuzo sat, trying to recall something from his memory and finally spoke once again,

"I remember Daidoji Bikaru saying something about finding a sword... far to the south." he added. 

"They were in the lands of the Crab, and some raiders attacked their merchant caravan. He and the hired ashigaru and ronin guards fought them off and chased them into some swamplands.. near the Crab border of the Shadowlands.. I think."  Yuzo smiled roguishly and added, "You will pardon my memory, my friends. This was some time ago, he told me the story over some excellent sake." 

He thought about it for a moment, and continued,

"He said he found a sword in the muck of the swamp. I think he joked he actually tripped over it, if I recall. It was a very fine sword and in remarkably good condition. So he had it cleaned and polished and when they were back in Ryoko Owari, he presented it to Fuketsu-sama as a gift." he recalled.

"Perhaps that sword was a bit more interesting than I had thought..." the Doji magistrate mused.

 

Spoiler

Hatamoto: Handpicked by daimyo to be their persona aides, advisors and representatives. They are considered to speak for the daimyo. In fact, in many cases when one asks for an audience with a daimyo, they actually meet with one of the daimyo's hatamoto.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Then let us seek out this sword," Zoyu said with a faint hint of eager impatience. "It sounds a good deal more promising than speaking with a dealer of cheap trinkets. May I suggest that I and Rin-san, perhaps with one of our esteemed Shugenja, accompany Yuzo-san to the estate of Fuketsu-sama to speak with him and Bikaru-san and to see this sword. While we do so, Toshi-san can use that cunning tongue of his to question our prisoners further, with Kaze-san and Okimoto-san remaining for protection, in case their superior seeks to end their lives before they can reveal any else they may know. I leave it to you to decide if you wish to question them here, or escort them to the precinct of the Thunder Guards."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"If there was an assassination, then it's probably happened." Taka said nonchalantly, "A few minutes to interrogate the prisoners is not going to make a difference, if you think they even know anything else of value."

"Kaze-san's prisoner seems rather determined to not talk and appears to have the discipline to do so. Likely the only way to get him to speak would be finding and hiring a torturer. Toshi-san's prisoner is not in much of a condition to talk and the prisoner that Zoyu-san and Yuzo-san returned with may be cooperative, but if he did not even know what the scroll was, then I doubt he knows anything beyond what we already know. So I feel there is little more to be gained from questioning them further other than chasing our tails. I think it best to see of the Crane merchants are okay and warn them if we can, but if you wish to question the prisoners further, then so be it." Taka commented.

"With the oni out there, I would advise we stay together though. It may be seeking us for revenge or if it is Zoyu-san's sword it seeks, then it may yet return. With all of out steel and spells we have a much better chance against it. Oni are not to be trifled with and I think we all know that our previous success was due in no small part to luck and it's single-minded obsession with killing those Cranes. Had it decided to truly fight us, we may have still driven it off, but it is unlikely we would all be at this table now." the Crab cautioned.

"In addition to that, none of us know the city as well as Yuzo-san either. and being a Magistrate in this city, his presence may garner some cooperation from locals that our's alone would not. " Taka added

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Akari nods.  

"All sound like a good idea, Taka-san."

Akari thinks.

"Taka-san, your clan has more experience in dealing with this.  Would it be prudent to eliminate the summoner?  Or would that only serve to make the situation work."

She looks around.

"Apologies, particulars of the subject never came up when I was learning spellcrafting."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"The summoner of the oni being killed before the oni could be slain or banished is one of the worst possible things that could happen." Taka said flatly.

"To be brief, when an oni is summoned it must be loaned a name. Any name will not do, as an invented name, which has no significance in the world or for the summoner, has no roots in our realm to which the oni has been summoned. Thus, only the name of a living human being has enough power for the spirit to subsist on. The name has to be loaned voluntarily, which means that maho-tsukai who summon oni often resort to loaning their own name, since seeking someone foolish enough to loan their name to an oni was a virtually impossible task." he explained.

While the oni is here with a loaned name, it is in a constant battle of wills with the summoner (who is assumed to have loaned it their name). The longer the oni is here, the strong it becomes and it will eventually win, unless it is killed or banished beforehand. If the on wins that battle of wills, or the summoner (who loaned it their name) is killed before the oni is slain or banished, then the oni takes the name and a new Oni Lord is born. The newly birthed Oni Lord then usually goes on a rampage to express its happiness, and then migrates south, into the Shadowlands." the Crab said.

"So not to sound overly dramatic, but we likely have anywhere from a few days to a few hours to kill or banish this oni. The summoner might be able to banish it, but the longer the oni is here, the harder it becomes to banish it. And it seems that maho scrolls for summoning oni are much more common than those for banishing oni. So if one of those Cranes might have a sword that can help with that, then I suggest we head there and deal with prisoners later," Taka advised, "Again though, I am but one voice and put more weight on us staying together over any specific course of action."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jorihime nodded when she was given her task. She would do it to her utmost ability, and it was honestly a better choice for her to remain for protection, as she was rather wasted in investigation. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Zoyu gave Taka a level look of irritated exasperation, clearly annoyed that now did they not only need to find the Oni and the Maho-Tsukai with no clear way of doing so, but that through the sorceror's reckless depredations, there now was the risk of a foul birth of a new Oni Lord. And Duty compels me to deal with this issue rather than seeking out Tsukiko. The denizens of the Shadowlands are most inconsiderate...

"Very well, we shall go Fuketsu-sama and seek this sword the Maho-Tsukai seems so wary of," Zoyu decided in a firm tone of voice. "We shall escort my prisoner - and Yuzo-san's, of course - to a precinct of the Thunder Guards along the way, as I gave my word as to his protection. We shall question him afterwards - perhaps Toshi-san can dredge from him something he did not know he knew. I care not what is decided to be done with the other prisoners." Zoyu waved a hand dismissively.

"Make any preparations you need, for I intend to leave soon." Her mismatched gaze turned to the gathered shugenja. "While I don my armor, provided this Oni does not conveniently attack us before or after we retrieve this blade, please give thought on how we may perhaps find this demon while it is inside the City. Can you not speak the the kami, the spirits all about us, and learn of its passage? Or conversely, perhaps find someplace that is devoid of spirits all together, the presence of the Oni scaring them off?"

Her eyes sought out all of them, now. "And then, we must find this Maho-Tsukai, for it does us no good to slay the Oni if he can simply summon another. Provided he is not using some dark sorcery, how has he learned of this blade or that the Crane merchants were in possession of it? Perhaps we can find him based on who knew of this information."

Spoiler

Zoyu is going to don her Topaz Champion Armor, with help, of course. ;)

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"I do not believe any of us have any spells to do specifically what you speak of, Zoyu-san." Taka said.

"Though we can speak with the elemental kami, they tend to perceive very little by our standards, or rather what they find important and relevant is quite different. And beyond that, the spells are brief and would not get us far before we had totally depleted their favor (i.e. ran out of spells). It would be akin to trying to follow somebody through this city only by asking people on the street if they passed, but you can only ask three people, and they were all distracted. 

"And yes, we could possibly find an area devoid of kami, but to do so in a city of this size would take weeks. To do so in one night, with the streets full of festival revelers is a virtual impossibility. And again, doing so would deplete our favor with the kami. We need to find the oni while we have the ability to cast spells to aid us in battle with it if we wish to have a chance at victory." Taka explained.  

"What you suggest we do brings up several things, Zoyu-san." Yuzo said.

"The first being that there is no Thunder Guard precinct between here and Fuketsu-sama's estate, which is just a few blocks from here. Prisoners should be taken to the prison, which is in the other direction. Also, tonight of all nights, the Thunder Guard have their hands full because of the festival."

"Secondly, any of these bandits that we turn over to the Thunder Guard will be executed. They are bandits who assaulted Magistrates and desecrated bodies, including that of a samurai. The punishment is clear. They will be asked for their confession and if they do not give it voluntarily a torturer will be brought in to get it, as is standard. That is the law and I have no issue with that. As a Magistrate, I uphold the laws as set forth by those who have the authority to make them. And though you may be the Topaz Champion and a Jade Magistrate, personally appointed by the Emperor himself, your word does not override the laws of Governor Hyobu, the various daimyo of the Scorpion Clan or the Emperor. If we turn any of the prisoners over to the Thunder Guard, then their fate is certain."

"Now that being said..." Yuzo continued with a small, playful grin, "as a Magistrate, especially one in this city, I know that it is often a matter of managing resources to get the best result as well. So if you want to keep your word to that prisoner, then the only option is to let him go. I have no issue with that either. It is a minor compromise that allows us to more swiftly deal with a much larger threat and allows you to keep your word as well. Who knows, in the future he may even remember such an act and be more forthcoming with information when needed on some other future task."

"Though we may very well be facing an oni this night, I advise against donning armor. It will only slow us down as we are constantly checked to the authority to wear it here and it will draw us significant attention, likely alerting this maho-tsukai to our approach, thereby giving him time to flee or mount a defense. Unarmored, we are just other festival revelers and can move through the crowd largely unnoticed, but armored we are a beacon and announcing our presence. We also do not wish to incite a panic among the citizenry either."

"Aside from that, I also doubt Fuketsu-sama would be pleased to have a half dozen bushi in armor show up on his doorstep." the Doji Magistrate added.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Nor will Hyobu-sama, whom as governor of such a major city of the likes of Ryoko Owari is on par with any of the family heads." Toshi added onto Yuzo's point. "Nor her son, head of the Thunder Guard. In any case, if there is no gain from the prisoners, two if not the third will have to be sent to the prison. We will need one group for that, the other to visit the estate."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"If they are bound and secured in one of the inn's stable stalls, then why split up and spend the time taking them to the prison at all when time is of the essence?" Yuzo asked.

"If we are successful, then they can be turned over in the morning." he explaimed.

"If we are not successful, then they will be the least of our worries." he added with an amused grin.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"I care not about the status of our captives," Zoyu agreed with Yuzo. "And little for the governor and the Thunder Guards with an Oni and foolish Maho-Tsukai threatening the city. We do not have the luxury of an indefinite amount of time. I will deal with my captive now, and then we shall visit Fuketsu-sama to warn him and the other Crane merchants and take custody of this sword."

Zoyu takes her leave to quickly question her and Yuzo's captive, but it doesn't take her long to realize there is little more he knows, rather through purposeful or actual ignorance, it makes no make. She releases him, gives him a koku to be on his way, and suggests he might do well to leave the Ryoko Owari. And then she warns him that if ever she catches word or hint that he has harmed the city or the Empire, his journey to Meido would be a prolonged and painful one.

The lovely young Crane returned to the others, her blade at her hip and bow across her back, her expression determined and resolute. "No more delays. Let us depart for the sword and see about making an end to this."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

With the one prisoner released, the others are left bound and secured in one of Kimetsu's stable stalls to keep until morning. Yuzo guides the the other Magistrates through the streets the few blocks to the Dragon Gate which leads to the walled off and guarded Nobel Quarter. The guards at the gate recognize Yuzo, bowing to him and seeing that the others accompany him, they allow entry without delay.

The Nobel Quarter is the home of the wealthy samurai in Ryoko Owari, as well as the Hall of Justice. The homes range from rather small to quite large estates, as well as the Governor's Palace and odd, gaijin architecture of the Unicorn manor. No matter the size of the homes, it is clear that they are well kept, along with the rest of the Quarter.

"There it is. Up ahead." Yuzo said as he gestured to a home ahead of them.

As the home drew near though, the Magistrates all fought off yawns and blinked their eyes as a sleepiness washed over them. I could just be a natural reaction to the events of the night thus far, with the rushes of adrenaline, or possibly the effect of too much sake. It was difficult to tell, but it was a little odd for it to hitting everybody at the same time. Yuzo let out a long yawn and shook his head, trying to stay awake, and opened the gate, something he seemed rather familiar with, and led the other through to the estate proper. 

The gardens of the home were lovely. Koi swam in a small stream that was fed by a fountain, with the surface of the water reflecting the starlight and the occasional flicker of an exploding firework in the night sky above. A small pathway leads through the garden and over a small, wooden bridge that spans the stream to the home beyond. The house itself is two swories, with an exterior staircase that leads to a balcony that wraps around the entirety of the home. Though it was somewhat small for the neighborhood, the home and estate was clearly the best kept home in the area.

Yuzo's brow furrows as he leads the Magistrates to the front door, which is partially ajar.

"There should be guards at the door." Yuzo said softly over his shoulder.

"Hello? Fuketsu-sama? This is Doji Yuzo. I bring Magistrates and we seek audience with you." he calls out, announcing himself as is proper.

There is no response save for faint scuffling sounds inside.

Yuzo looks over his shoulder as his hand drifts down to rest on the pommel of his katana. He nods to the Magistrates and opens the door cautiously, leading the Magistrates inside. 

In the corridor a Crane guard lays on the floor, motionless. Yuzo glances around at the floor and walls quickly.

"There is no blood." he says softly again as he kneels down by the guard and rolls him over. 

Indeed, there is no blood or visible wounds as the guard appears to be in a deep, deep sleep. So deep, in fact, that he does not seem to rouse in the slightest when Yuzo shakes him and pats his face several times.

Yuzo yawns again as a second, much stronger wave of sleep washes over the Magistrates. Yuzo's eyes drift closed and he slumps over as the Magistrates begin to fall to the floor. Some try to turn and get back outside, but make it no more than a step or two toward the door before falling to the ground.

 

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 


Eventually the magistrates and the guard begin to awaken, though nobody can sure how much time has passed. The night sky can still be seen and the sound of the occasional exploding firework finds it's way to their ears. Finding their footing they rise to their feet, shaking off the sleep as loud, clanging noises can be heard beyond the doorway of the foyer.

Yuzo steps to the door and opens it slowly, as quietly as he can. Peering in, the Magistrates can see the source of the clanging noises... Three small creatures that look identical to the oni-spawn left at the in by the oni as it fled the Apple Blossom are ransacking the house. Nearby, one has lifted a sleeping made from the floor and is looking under her, while another is shredding pillows with it's talons and looking inside them. The third drags a wakizashi along the hardwood floor, leaving large gouges as it scampers and disappears up the stairs.

 

Spoiler

The oni-spawn do not seem to have noticed any of you yet as they seem more concerned with their apparent search of the estate. Everybody can draw/ready a weapon for free. In addition, everybody gets a free action to make a ranged attack or rush to melee range with them if you wish. Either way, you will have initiative over them, with ranged attacks happening first. Please post in the combat thread.

large.VisAid2.jpg.186a1991a40212fbc95057

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1st Floor

Zoyu flowed to her feet, shaking off the imposed drowsiness, her mismatched eyes tightening and a faint frown on her exquisite lips as irritated fury rushed through her balanced control. Always, the Maho-Tsukai seemed one step ahead of them, with them no closer to finding him or his foul demon and ending their lives. She had no idea why he had not had the oni-spawn end their own lives while they had so easily been incapacitated from an unknown and unseen source. Perhaps, he had not had the time, but if so, she assumed the sorcerer must still be close after casting his spell.

Jorihime drew her katana and let out a guttural roar, the thrill of battle made the hair on her back stand up as she smiled, before charging the oni-spawn who was violating the honor of the maid. The little oni-spawn turned to face the door, caught totally off-guard by the Lion charging through the door at them. The one by the maid let out a shriek, it's body tenses as if to try and jump and jump away, but it was too slow. Dropping her blade down into a hard cut, Jorihime swung her katana in a fearsome slash, cleaving the beast in half with a single blow. 

Whatever Toshi had been expected, a spell, sleep and a group of oni-spawn wasn't it. And yes, they were indeed searching for something in this estate. But there wasn't much benefit in letting them go on like this, lest they turn their attention to the samurai. So he drew steel. The Scorpion would have to sting in battle.

While the large and loud Lion charged the oni-spawn accosting the maid, the elegant Crane glided forward on graceful and silent feet towards the one destroying the pillows with Toshi by her side, wakizashi in hand. He slashed at the mildly stunned creature, but his blade did little but scratch the creature's hide. At the same time Zoyu's blade slipped its saya with a whisper and slashed upward in a flashing arc of steel and dark blood, leaving the beast in two, smaller, lifeless heaps.

As she did so, Zoyu called out in calm yet emphatic command, "Shugenja, seek the threads of this spell and he who cast it. If he had not the time to end us, he may not yet be far."

Rin shook her head to clear it and watched as Zoyu and Toshi approach the tiny oni, flanking it, and at the other which Jorihime charges. The scraping clanging sound draws her attention up and she sees the legs and the tip of a blade vanish onto the upper floor. With a flurry she whips her swords out and dashes across the room, flying up the stairs after the little monster.

Seeing Rin rushing upstairs, Kaze draws his sword and moves to follow. The situation was well in hand down here, but Kami alone knew what might be waiting upstairs. Rin had proven herself a capable warrior, but there is only so much a single person can manage when potentially outnumbered.

Akari focused on the flow of elemental energies and the residual signature of possible magic that may have bewitched them, noting how it differed from the usual magic of a shugenja. She raised an eyebrow.  

"I do not believe this was a spell per-say"  She said recognizing the effects more than likely were from either a nemuranai or a Tsangusuri .

"Go with Mirumoto-san! There may be many more upstairs! Taka, Kageko and I will finish searching this floor!" Yuzo says to the others. pointing to the stairway with the point of his katana.

 

2nd Floor

Chasing the little oni-spawn to the second floor, Rin, with Kaze right behind her, pause at the tops of the stairs for a moment.

At the top of the stairs is an open area with a doorway leading to a single room and a hallway with one room on the each side of the hall and a single room directly at the end of the hall (likely the master bedroom), where the oni-spawn appears to be dragging the wakizashi. By the looks of it, the oni-spawn started their search here, with a handful most likely having just recently made it downstairs to search. The bedrooms have been torn apart by the oni-spawns' search; pillows shredded, ornately carved boxes and chests smashed and overturned, bits of clothing scattered about and even the wall hangings lay discarded on the floor. More chittering and rustling can be heard from the rooms though, as at least several more oni-spawn continue their search.

The little oni-spawn drags the sword down the hall and pauses by the opened door on the right. Opposite the doorway the wall is splattered with a myriad of colored paint while bits of broken crockery lay on the floor between the opened door and the wall. The Oni-spawn peeks into the doorway, which elicits a woman's scream, swiftly followed by a vase thrown out of the room and at the little creature. The oni-spawn screeches and leaps past the doorway and further down the hall, avoiding the vase which shatters on the hardwood in the hallway, adding the debris found there.

As the sword-toting oni-spawn reaches the room at the end of the hall, the massive form of the foul oni from the Apple Blossom comes into view. The oni-spawn screeches at it and it promptly grabbed by the larger oni, sword and all. Holding the little oni in it's hand, the larger oni stops for a second and runs its long, dripping red tongue over the length of the sword, then snorts and roars in frustration (which can be heard downstairs as well), snapping the sword in two with one hand. The little oni shrieks in fear and dismay as the greater Oni starts to crush it with one hand, and then it sees Rin and Kaze moving down the hall. With another roar, the huge Oni flings the smaller one at the pair, who swiftly dodge, letting the oni-spawn scream past them and hit the wall by the top of the stairs, bouncing off of it and hitting the ground where it stumbles for a moment before finding it's feet. The larger oni then turns and moves back out of sight within the room at the end of the hall.

Rin rushes down the hall with swords draw, and narrowly ducks a small pot of paint that explodes in a blight blue against the wall opposite the opened door on the right as she passes. Kaze moves with her, though is not quite so lucky as he passes the doorway, getting hit right in the face... with a harmless, wadded up kimono. He pulls it from his head, blinded for a moment as he follows Rin, and then tosses the kimono to the floor just in time to see the larger oni step onto the wrap-around balcony and leap to the roof of the next home with a single bound. 

Rin slams into the balcony railing, just missing the oni as it leaped away. On the other rooftop the oni turned and reached toward it's back with both hands, tearing large globs of knobby flesh from it's back. Realizing what was coming, Rin considered drawing upon Jotomon's lesson once again, but could see that it was an unlikely throw at this distance. The two globs of flesh sailed through the air, one hitting the balcony near Rin, and the other narrowly missing here to land in the bedroom near Kaze. With a snort, the oni turned and headed north across the rooftops, back toward the Merchant Quarter.

Rin watched the oni as long as she could and as far as the starlight would permit, hoping for some clue as it it's destination, but both globs of flesh swiftly sprouted legs, talons and a head, becoming more oni-spawn. Rin turned to face the beast and noticed something across the street. The shape of a man can be seen, leaning against the wall of another estate, his head turning to watch the oni bound from rooftop to rooftop. The man looks up at Rin, then with a strange brief bow, he turns and vanishes into the alleyway behind him. As he passes through a bright shaft of moonlight, she notices that the man's head is shaved and beneath his simple vest and pants, his body is covered with tattoos, while he carries a sword in a blue and white saya across his back. With his next step, the man vanishes into the darkness.

 

Spoiler

Please see combat thread.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1st floor

Zoyu looked down at the oni-spawn in disgust, flicking the dark blood from her blade with a deft motion then sheathed it with fluid and instinctive skill. But no sooner had she done so when she heard a terrible, discordant roar, one she recalled from earlier in the night. Full lips tightened as she dashed up the steps after her Dragon comrade, the Lion in step with her, and Toshi following close behind, even as Yuzo suggested they do the same.

 

2nd floor

Rin was taken slightly aback at the glimpse of the man in the moonlight. She knew full well what he was, but further still the apparently Crane sword on his back just added to the confusion. Her confused musing was interrupted as legs and talon burst forth from the glob of flesh. The newly created oni-spawn hissed at Rin and tensed to leap at her. Rin was growing annoyed with the oni, it's spawn and the general confusion of the night. In the same instant as the creature tenses, Rin stepped forward and and threw caution to the wind, fully committing to her attack, and dispatched the oni-spawn with a single pass of her katana.

Kaze lashed out like lightning, flesh and chitin parting easily beneath his blade, the creature yowls it's irritation to the room, lunging at Kaze who sidesteps the attack with ease. It's second lunge is met with the flat of his blade, the meaty thwack sending it tumbling a foot, where it stops in a tangle of limbs. Regaining it's feet in seconds, screeching it's fury all the while.

At the top of the stairs, yet another oni-spawn crouched. Without slowing or even a hitch of her breath, Zoyu's blade struck like lightning, parting it in twain, as she, Jorihime and Toshi continued towards the balcony where Rin fought an opponent she could not see around the edge of the opening and Kaze stood facing an oni-spawn of his own.

Kaze brought his blade down on the little creature once again. Despite it's wound, the oni-spawn's nimbleness was still rather acute, stopping him from getting a solid cut and causing the blade to glance off it's hide. The creature lunged at him, snapping it's jaws and catching his shin this time. The terrible teeth on the oni-spawn bit deeply into his flesh, sending a jolt of pain though his leg along with a faint burning sensation. 

Zoyu, Jorihime and Toshi came running down the hall toward Kaze, all of them seeing the nasty bite at his leg. As they passed the opened doorway on the right a small paint pot came flying at them through the opened door way, shattering against the wall and marking it with an explosion of color. As the trio ducked the improvised projectiles, they could see the beast snap at Kaze again, only this time he was read and swung his leg back as he inverted his blade, and bought the point straight down into the back of the creature, pinning it to the floor where it writhed for a moment, letting out a terrible, screeching death rattle before going motionless. After a moment, it, like the other dead oni-spawn and their severed parts, begin to bubble and dissolve into a black, tarry goo.

 

The top floor of the home is fairly simple, though crafted with the utmost skill which leads to a strange dichotomy with the home in such a state, having been ransacked by the oni and it's spawn. 

The master bedroom and the stair landing are connected by a hallway with a single door on either side. 

The door on the south side of the hallway is closer to the stairs and is open. A peek inside reveals it to be a bedroom that has clearly been searched by the oni-spawn. Ornate boxes lay smashed on the floor, their contents rifled through. Pillows are shredded, fine clothing is strewn about and even the wall hanging lay on the groudn in tangled heaps.

The door on the north side of the hallway is much closer to the master bedroom and is opened as well, though the wall opposite the door is splattered with various colors of paint and the floor is littered with shards of broken pottery, paint pots, sandals and even a fine kimono. Should anybody venture a peek into the room, they can catch a glimpse of a dressing screen opposite the door with a older woman barekly peeking out from behind it. At the merest sight of -any- motion in the doorway her arm whips around the screen, throwing some makeshift projectile at the source of the motion.

The landing at the top of the stairs is an open area containing a small family shrine which has been knocked over, spilling incense sticks and sand all over the floor as the two halves of the oni-spawn Zoyu dispatched are now puddles of black goo.

The master bedroom has been similarly searched and in shambles, including an overturned crate with the costumes, masks and other party favors for the festival spilled out and searched through. The masks seemed to take the brunt of the careless search, each of them pulverized or reduced to nothing but shattered shards and pulverized. At Kaze's feet, the slain oni-spawn is nothing but a puddle of black good.

On the wrap around balcony Rin stands beside a similar puddle of goo, her eyes look down across the street as she tries to make sense of what she saw.

 

 

Spoiler

Combat is (likely) over. You may post normally for now.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Akari looks follows the others up.

"Everyone, I can say for certain we were probably incapacitated by a nemuranai or a tsangusuri.  Of which kind I have yet to determine."

Akari looks down, somewhat embarrassed that is all she has to report.

"Depending on the item used, we might not even Have a trail to follow.  Incense for example might have already been blown away."

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jorihime wiped her Katana off before sheathing it, taking a moment to shut her eyes and let the pounding in her head subside, her face calming visibly from the excitement and bringing back her normal, relaxed look. 

The Lion then listened to Akami's statement, taking note of the weirdness of the whole thing. 

"Perhaps one of us should attempt to contact the person throwing their possessions?" She said as she looked to the group

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Rin stared into the shadows in which the man disappeared and then across the roofs after the oni which she could no longer see, with a heavy sigh she turned and reentered the house. stepping into the hall to rejoin her companions just in time to see another barrage of small items fly from the assaulting room. "You, in the room, stop throwing things we are Magistrates." She barks in her most commanding voice. "Come out here and tell us what happened here."

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Magistrates?" the voice of a woman, obviously at least middle aged, asked as a woman cautiously peeked out from behind the screen.

"Where's your badge?" the woman, ever cautious, asked.

Toshi withdrew his orb and held it out in the doorway for the woman to see.

"Oh thank the Fortunes!" the said with relief as she came out from behind the screen with her arms around two young women.

The woman was indeed older, her hair now gray instead of the usual Crane white, and though her face had the wrinkles of age, it was clear that she was a rather attractive woman when she was younger. The two women she had her arms around were Cranes as well, both in their late teens and both of them with the beauty common of the Crane Clan. All three of the women were dressed in exquisite kimono with complex and beautiful obi bows. All three had their hair arranged in ornate styles, though the older woman's seemed a little disheveled and worse for wear.

"How many are you? Those dreadful things are everywhere! Are they gone? Have you killed them all?" the woman asked quickly, not really even giving a chance to respond as she looked down down the hall one way, and then the other cautiously.

After a moment, noting the silence that had befallen the house now that the ransacking had stopped, and at the sight of the Lion and two fellow Cranes, along with the others, the woman relaxed noticeably. She then bowed, along with the two young women as she made introductions,

"Please allow me to introduce Doji Soruko and Doji Tohami, the daughters of Doji Fuketsu, hatamoto to the Emerald Champion and Champion of the Crane Clan, Lord Doji Satsume. I am Doji Junichiko, their nanny."

"We were getting ready for the festival, laying out our costumes and painting our masks when we all became very, very tired and fell asleep. I was roused, i do not know how much later, by a loud crash in Fuketsu-sama's chambers. I was drowsy, but trying to awaken when I heard noticed some of those dreadful little things walk past the door and down the hall. I got to my feet, roused the girls, and took shelter behind the screen while I waited for the guards to deal with them. Any time of them tried to come into the room I would throw anything I could get my hands on at them. And when I ran out of things to throw, then I still had this," she said as she patted the ornate aiguchi in her obi, "I would defends them and even take their lives honorably before I let some spawn of the Nameless One taint or kill one of Fuketsu-sama's daughters." the woman explained with a polite, yet stern, tone.

"Did you hear the beast and come to render aid? Where are the guards?" Tohami asked, clearly still a little on edge from the whole experience.

"And grandfather!?" Soruko asked, somewhat panicked.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Your dedication to your charges does you and your family honour," Zoyu said to Doji Junichiko with a nod, but there was a sharpness as she slid her blade smoothly back into its saya and a tightness to her lips. Once again, they were too late, with no Oni slain or Maho-Tsukai found to show for it. "I am Kakita Zoyu, Jade Magistrate and Topaz Champion, and these are my fellow magistrates..."

After making the introductions, Zoyu continued, "Though were are pleased that we could render what small aid we were able, we had hoped to arrive before such was necessary. We were led to believe that servants of the Nameless One were in search of a blade gifted to Fuketsu-sama and had hoped to recover it before hand." Zoyu looked around at the devastation with a frown that did nothing to mar her exquisite beauty. "It seems we were too late."

She glanced at Fuketsu's daughters - though perhaps a bit older than her, they seemed younger. "We just arrived and were too affected by some nefarious nemuranai. We have not yet had time to look on Fuketsu-sama, though we saw but one guard laid low by the sorcery." Zoyu smiled faintly with reassurance and gestured gracefully. "If you would lead us to his chambers, we will learn of Fuketsu-sama's condition, as well, where he make have kept or displayed the gifted blade, it would be appreciated."

Zoyu nodded at the daughters. "Of course, we will check upon your grandfather as well." She turned to Akari. "If we can find some remnant of the nemuranai that may have been discarded, would it be possible to find where it came from or who manufactured it?" Keeping some attention on her answer, if any, Zoyu turned back to the nanny. "Besides the foul creatures, did you see or hear aught else suspicious?"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Fuketsu-sama had left on some business, leaving us to prepare for the festival  He bought an entire crate of masks so we could paint many different designs and then select the one we liked the most."

"Unfortunately, I threw the masks at the beasts, and the paints, and paintbrushes, and anything I could get my hand on. We had only painted a few each before we fells asleep. There are still spares though, in the crate in Fuketsu-sama's chambers." she said as she turned and took a few steps down the hall toward the room where Kaze had battled an oni-spawn.

"Fuketsu-sama had left on some business while we were preparing for the festival, so he may or may not have returned. I am not sure how long we were asleep. I did not notice anything else unusual though. Just the sudden, severe sleepiness, and then awakening to those... things... in the house. " she added.

The shock and disappointment on the nanny's face was obvious as she saw the condition of the Fuketsu's chambers. It was ransacked like the rest, and in the center of the room the crate was on its side. The masks it once contained were scattered about the room in pieces, but mostly made a large pile of fragments next to the crate.

"They are all destroyed." Junichiko sighed, tossing a larger fragment of a mask back in the crate. "I suppose it is a little thing though. We are just lucky that you arrived when you did and that none of us befell any harm."

Junichiko walked over the broken wakizashi and picked up the pieces with a sigh.

"This is not the blade you seek. This was his wife's wakizashi. It was kept on a stand though with the katana that Daidoji Bikaru-san presented Fuketsu-sama. They were kept on display downstairs. I will show you. Please follow me." the nanny requested as she led the Magistrates downstairs.

On the first floor Kageko was looking over the maid that had been sleeping, comforting her, while Taka and the formerly sleeping guard finished their sweep of the grounds. Yuzo, in the meantime, was walking around, inspecting each room and the damage with a thoughtful look on is face. Junichiko and the daughters were clearly relieved to see Yuzo and thanked him by name (without introduction), and then the others as well once Yuzo made introductions for them. The maid set about trying to clean up the mess and get back some semblance for order within the house while Junichiko led the others to a large room where a sword rack sat... empty... with a discarded blue, white and silver wakizashi  saya laying on the ground.

"It is gone! It was right here, with the wakizashi. Those dreadful little things must have stolen it." she lamented, shaking her head.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Rin who had been silent as she thought of all she had seen in the last few minutes spoke. "The sword is not the concern at the moment," she gestures to forstall any questions, "It is either safe or it is not. The Oni is still free and the sorcerer is still unknown. Kegeko-san, this is a special night and our ancestors walk among us, can we not enlist their aid in finding these evil things we seek?"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Zoyu quirked a brow in surprise at her Dragon companion. "The sword is of no concern, Rin-san? The Oni has sought nothing but, it seems, in it's own or the sorcerer's behest. And we were led to believe that they at least believed the sword to be a danger to the Oni. If we can find the sword, we can find the Oni, or perhaps draw it to us. You did not see if the Oni possessed as it fled? Speaking of the Oni..."

Zoyu turned the Kageko and the other shugenja. "I have grown more the mildly irked that the Oni can flee as it will without us able to give chase. It is a foul and unnatural creature - do any of you know of a way, or able to devise one, to contain it? If only for a short while?"

One of Fuketsu's daughters made a distressed noise and Zoyu turned towards then and their nanny, giving them a small smile of commiseration. "We have not forgotten Fuketsu-sama or your honoured grandfather. Junichiko, would you know where Fuketsu-sama may have gone in pursuit of this business of his?"

"Alas, I cannot say," Junichiko admitted apologetically. "I do not know." She turned to Yuzo. "He looked for you, Yuzo-san, and when he could not find you, left to deal with whatever it was the came to his attention."

Zoyu caught Yuzo's wince and cocked her head to the side, pursing her lips. "Perchance, would you know where Fuketsu-sama may have gone on this business of his, Yuzo-san?"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Rin looks sideways at Zoyu obvious irritation in her eye, "As I said Zoyu-san, the sword is either safe or not." She stresses the word safe. "As for what I saw, the Oni headed towards the merchant quarter and I presume the sorcerer. It did not posses the sword."

Rin folds her arms across her breasts and give a questioning look at Kegeko.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


Yuzo shook his head at Zoyu's question.

"There are any number of things that Fuketsu-sama could send me to deal with, but I had nothing pending, so whatever it was must have just come up. And if he was looking to send me, then it was not something so important as to require his personal attention though." Yuzo explained.

"Earth's Stagnation would certainly slow down the Oni, but unless Akari-san knows it, then it is not a spell we have at our disposal. I could trap it, even if just temporarily, with Tomb of Jade, but ideally I would cast a spell or two beforehand to weaken it and assist me as I try to entomb it." Taka answered.

Kageko thought about the question for a moment and nodded slightly.

"Yes, tonight the barrier between our worlds is at it's weakest, but the ancestors are somewhat busy dealing with their families. Those I summon and request the aid of will be able to help more, or longer, than usual, and I can summon some more powerful ancestors than usual as well. I cannot do something like organize them into a search party to find the oni though.

Hmm. I may be able to ask an honored ancestor to bless another instead of me though.It is not something I have tried before, but given the night, it may be worth experimenting.

You see, Shugenja are born with a special gift that allows them to sense and speak with the kami. So a shugenja makes a prayer to an elemental kami, requesting a specific action of them, such as banishing illness or forming a bo of water or bestowing wings of fire.

As a Sodan-Senzo I have the ability to see and speak with the spirits of Honored Ancestors and ghosts, of all Clans and even the clanless. I can make prayers to them, asking them to come forth and bestow their favor on me, just as they would one of their own kin. They are able to do so due to the gift I was born with, though the blessings they bestow are temporary though. As my skill and understanding grows, I am able to request other things of them as well. Tonight though, I may be able to make greater requests than I normally could, such as them bestowing their favor on another besides myself. If they were to do so though, they would most likely limit their favor to those of their own Clan.

Ancestors of note that I could already call upon, that may aid us in out task tonight, are Ikomo, Yogo, Moto Sanjo and Kakita Rensei.

Ikoma understands the world and it's patterns in ways that I cannot. I can consult him and see if there is anything he can make clear to me.

Yogo's knowledge of Maho is well known. He may be able to reveal some bit of relevant lore. 

Moto Sanjo can accompany me for a time and laughs when those with the Taint are near, such as the oni, warning me of their presence. 

And Kakita Rensei.can aid me in piercing the oni's defenses. With his aid, I doubt the Oni's infernal hide would pose a barrier to me.

There are others I can all upon as well, but I doubt they would be of much use in this endeavor. I may be able to call on more powerful Honored Ancestors than normal as well. I will have to think on that and remain observant of those I see. For tonight, thought you may see a street crowded with people and hear the noise of the crowd, I see and hear same people as well as scores of spirits and ghosts as well." Kageko explained. 

 

"What happened here?" a male voice asked with confusion from outside the room.

"Oh! Fuketsu-sama has returned. Please, come with me." Junichiko said as she bowed and guided the magistrates out of the room and toward the foyer.

Standing in the foyer was an middle-aged man in an exquisite, full kamishimo of blues, silver and white with a full daisho tucked into the obi. His hair was white and long, worn in a topknot and a thin beard and mustache adorned his face. Around the man stood three Crane bushi in armor, each of them with a hand on the saya and hilt of their katana as they looked around with keen eyes for any possible threat.

On the ground the maid who had been cleaning was now kneeling and bowed deeply, along with the guard that had been sleeping, as Junichiko and the girls did the same, followed by the magistrates, each showing proper respect to a man of Fuketsu's station.

"Oh father! It was terrible!" the girls sobbed. 

"There was a terrible Oni, Lord. It cast a foul spell over the house, forcing us all to sleep. When we awoke, these disgusting, little creatures were ransacking the house. I sheltered the girls and protected them as best as I could, and just when things looked dire, Yuzo-san and these fine Magistrates arrived. They slew the spawn of the oni and drove it away. I have not often witnessed such bravery and skill as these Magistrates displayed." the nanny, Junichiko, explained, praising the Magistrates.

As Junichiko finished the kneeling guard bowed deeply once again, garnering Fuketsu's attention. The guard stared at the ground as he spoke,

"My Lord. I must humbly ask permission to commit seppuku. I was unable to remain awake and protect your household, and so I have failed in my duty." the guard asked.

Fuketsu stepped forward and rested a hand on the guard's shoulder, patting it lightly.

“No, Naigotai-san. Evil maho magic was at work here.” Fuketsu said in an authoritative, yet comforting tone.

As Fuketsu says this, the servants mutter fearfully to themselves and make the sign of the Fortunes in the air, begging for the kami to take mercy on them.

"Rise, and return to your duty. You have failed at nothing." Fuketsu instructs, prompting the guard to bow again and rise to his feet, returning to his post.

Furketsu then nods to Junichiko who gathers the girls and leads them off. With them gone, Fuketsu turns his attention to the Magistrates and bows to them.

"I am Doji Fuketsu, Hatamoto of Lord Doji Satsume. Forgive the state of my home at this time and join me in the garden. I am certain it is a much more pleasing atmosphere." he offers, motioning with a hand to a door which the maid moves too, kneels and opens.

Fuketsu leaves two of his guards inside as the move is made to the beautifully designed and manicured garden.Once outside, Fuketsu addresses the Magistrates once again,

“You have defended my house and protected my children’s lives. To show my thanks, please allow me to give you a gift.” he says as a guard exits the house, walks over to Fuketsu and offers a small satchel. 

Fuketsu takes the satchel, which is intricately stitched with the mon of the Crane Clan, and.looks to Zoyu to speak for the party.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Zoyu nodded at Kageko, leaving her to decide which ancestor to call upon as the Soden-Senzo would know best. All Zoyu wanted was some way to find and dispatch the Oni and the Maho-Tsukai. She was more than tired at always being a step behind them, nor knowing their true intent.

At Fuketsu's words, the graceful Crane bowed low, hiding a small, proud smile. It suited her quite well to be honoured, as well as her companions, by a hatamoto of the Emerald Champion and her own Clan Champion himself.

"A gift is not necessary, Fuketsu-sama," Zoyu replied smoothly in polite refusal. "Though we are of course pleased to have been of some small service in protecting your household, it was but honour and duty that brought us to your door."

"Honour and duty such as you have all displayed should be noted and rewarded," Fuketsu countered eloquently, once more reaching out to hand Zoyu the satchel.

Zoyu bowed again. "You are kind to say so, but we failed in our task, the Oni escaping us and the sword we sought gone."

"And yet, you succeeded in saving the lives of my daughters, which is no small thing," Fuketsu continued. "This token of my gratitude is the least I can honourably offer."

"There is that," Zoyu agreed, "and we would not dishonour our host in his own home. We can but accept your offer of gratitude."

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

"These are several tsangusuri made by the Asahina. Due to the unfortunate state of my home at the moment, they are the only gifts befitting my gratitude to you all for your brave and swift actions. I hope they may aid you in your future endeavors."

Fuketsu reached into the satchel and withdrew an ornate fan made of black sandalwood.

"When snapped open snapped open, those that view and converse with the wielder of this fan cannot help but be taken aback by prominence of any person who would carry such an exquisite item."

Spoiler

Black Sandalwood Fan - User may roll 2 dice and add the result to their Glory points for one hour (10 points equals 1 rank of Glory). Those listening to the user of the Fan during that time are also struck with awe and respect, granting the user one free Raise toward any and all Oratory, Command and Sincerity rolls for the duration. Single use (1 hour).

 

Furketsu then pulled out what looked to be a key ornately fashioned out of a small fish skeleton

"Occasionally keys or lost or a door may be stuck or locked, even impeding an lawful investigation. This key will open any one door, even if locked or sealed with magic, by pressing it to the door. And since unsavory people may not only lock a door to obstruct you, but they may even further dishonor themselves by the setting of physical traps, this key will ensure they are not triggered. I am told that the magical equivalents are triggered though."

Spoiler

Bone Key - Opens one door, even if locked or magically sealed. Physical traps are negated, magical ones are triggered. Single use.

 

Next out of the bag was a golden pear. It looked more like piece of art than an actual piece of edible fruit.

"Consuming this entire fruit will not only cleanse your body of any and all poisons, but it will even provide a restorative influx of positive chi."  

Spoiler

Golden Fruit - Will cure any poison in a person’s system if the entire.piece of fruit is consumed. In addition, it will heal 1d10 points of damage. Single Use.

 

The last item, a small sun carved from jade, Fuketsu seems to handle with somewhat more reverence than the previous items.

"This item is blessed by the Sun Goddess Amaterasu herself. Not only does it summon her light, but it is said that it has the power to restore a lost soul to Amaterasu's merciful grace."

Spoiler

Jade Sun - Creates a globe of true sunlight, illuminating a 10’ area for 30 minutes. It can be used three times.

 

Aside from these gifts, you are, of course, welcome in my home.

As Fuketsu speaks, a tiny, old man with a long thing beard and mustache meanders around the corner of the house, prompting Fuketsu and the guards to bow deeply to him.

"Magistrates, please allow me to introduce my father, Ujidano." Fuketsu said as the old man approached the magistrates. 

"Has any harm come to you father? Are you well?" Fuketsu asked with clear concern in his voice.

The little, old man just waved a hand off at Fuketsu, apparently dismissing his concern. He did seem fine though, at least with no obvious injuries. He looked over the magistrates for a moment, then breaks out into a wide grin.

"Do you play Go?” he asks in a croaking and ancient voice.  

“I want to play Go, and I will play it with... you.” he says as he points at Rin. 

"Come. Go now." he muttered.

He then turns and totters out to a table lit by a stone lantern, and begins pulling out the pieces and setting them on the board, all the while muttering happily to himself while the others resume their conversation.

 

 

Zoyu accepted the satchel and placed the items back in it, tucking the satchel under her offhand. "If I may ask Fuketsu-sama, what business brought you out onto the streets at this unfortunate time? I only ask because it seems a perfect distraction, taking away those best able to deal with an Oni from the household while it searched for this blessed blade bestowed upon you. If we can learn who roused this business to your attention, we may grow a step closer to find the despicable maho-tsukai inflicting Ryoko Owari." 

"Maho-tsukai? Blessed blade?" Fuketsu asked with a hint of confusion before dismissing it for the moment.

Fuketsu sits at a low table with the magistrates as the hot tea is brought out for all. He picks up a cup and begins drinking the hot tea as speaks of the strange things which are occurring in the city tonight.

“I am not sure I would call it perfect distraction. Actually, Yuzo, I was looking for you. It seemed a job more suited to a Magistrate than a hatamoto, but in your absence, I was forced to accept the duty. You see, one of the Unicorn warehouses in the Merchant Quarter was attacked, and all their trade stock was destroyed. Shinjo Hanato, requested our assistance in looking into the matter."

He shakes his head sadly.

“Festival items? That’s strange.” Yuzo commented.

“What is stranger still,” says Fuketsu, setting down his tea cup, “is that the criminals went to all the trouble of breaking into the building and tearing open all the crates, but didn’t actually steal anything. Crates were ripped open, boxes overturned, and items ruined, but nothing seemed stolen. The thunder Guard seem to be writing it off as vandals. There were some strange gouges in the sides of the crates though.”

In the background, the little old man chuckles happily, and places another piece on the Go board, completely involved in his game with Rin, while fireworks light the sky fairly regularly, marking the official beginning of the festival.

"When was this, Fuketsu-sama?" Yuzo asked.

"Hanato-san figures the break in must have happened just past the Hour of the Monkey."

"I apologize for my absence, but that is about the time that these magistrates and I were battling some bandits who were defiling the bodies of our clansmen at the Crematorium. The bandits seemed to be searching the bodies, we think for a sword, the one that Daidoji Bikaru-san gifted you and is now missing." Yuzo explained.

"Hm. Strange indeed" Fuketsu thought aloud.

"Yuzo knows the way to the Unicorn warehouse if you wish to examine the scene for yourselves. Armed with this information, your eyes may noticed things there that I did not. I have full faith in you and the Magistrates handpicked by the Hantei himself to resolve this matter. I shall make sure to have costumes and masks waiting for each of you so that you may celebrate the festival, if you do so in time. Even with the party favors destroyed, I think I may be able to acquire enough costumes and masks. For those of you who may not be familiar with the festival here in Ryoko Owari Toshi, the grand parade has been planned for the hour of the Goat (2 - 4 am) with the parade ending at  Temple of the Sun Goddess where the Dragon Globe at the Temple is lit by the Sun’s own fire at dawn, bringing Amaterasu’s blessings to all the citizens of Ryoko Owari."

 

 

Rin sits at the table with the little man, each taking turns placing their colored stones on the board. Although its obvious to Rin that the old man is a little senile, he seems friendly and rather happy even. Perhaps it is at the sight of new faces, the action of the evening, the festival, or the possibility of a new opponent for his beloved game, Go. Whatever the case, as they play Rin begins to get the feeling that the little man is manipulating the game, forcing them to a specific outcome. She soon realizes that her only chance of winning is to make a stylized move called “the Tattooed Friend." It requires the player to make a move and trust that the opponent will outsmart himself. Rin considers the situation for a moment and makes the move. With a clap the Go Master concedes the victory to the young Dragon, and laughs with glee.

"You are a good player!" chortles the old man.

“You play well! We should play again... but later. Later. Not now. Too much for samurai to do this night, eh?”

The old man mumbles something to himself in a senile haze and starts to stand.

"You win the game, and you should have a prize. Wait, wait. I have something!"

The cheerful, old man fumbles about in his obi for a minute, then in each sleeve, and finally pulls out a thin statuette shaped like a silver hourglass. The hourglass is broken, and only a few grains of sand rest in its glass globes.

He smiles broadly and reaches over, taking Rin's hand and placing the little hourglass in it..

“Found that for you outside house. You won it, you keep it. Be careful though... don’t sleep your life away!“ He cackles uproariously and waves to Rin as he bows. Then, singing a nursery rhyme to himself, he turns and walks up the outside stairs of the house, disappearing within.

Slightly confused, but watching the old man with an slightly amused grin, Rin looks down at the little hourglass in her hand. She touches a few of the last motes of sand in the glass and a strange sleepiness washes over her, but with a shake of her head it is quickly gone again...

 

 

Spoiler

Tsangusuri: Limited (usually single) use magic items. Developed by the Asahina family of the Crane Clan.

Asahina Family: The primary shugenja family of the Crane Clan. Know for the creation of tsangusuri and general pacifism.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Rin frowns looks after the retreating figure of the grandfather then back into the room with the rest of the magistrates and their new benefactor. She tucks the hourglass into her obi and returns to her friends. She settles into the back of the room trying to catch Taka's eye, when he finally looks her way she motions him over with a nod of her head.

Taka makes his way to the corner with Rin. “Do you need something Rin-san?”

“Yes” She moves to where Taka blocks her from view of any others and replies in a low whisper only Taka can hear. “The Grandfather found this outside.” She pulls the hourglass out and slips it to Taka, “I think is is what put the household and us to sleep, and it raises questions in my mind.” Taka takes the hourglass and raises an eyebrow. “What do you wish me to do?”

Whatever it is you can. Tell Zoyu and the others about it when you get a chance alone with them.”

Taka's brow furrowed with puzzlement. “Me? Where are you going?”

A wicked grin comes upon Mirumoto Rin's lips. “To retrieve the sword.”

She nods to her friend and slips from the room and the house to follow the tattooed man and the sword.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Zoyu tapped a slim, strong finger against pursed lips musingly as she listened to Fuketsu's account. The name Shinjo Hanato sounded familiar, then she nodded sharply, recalling where she had heard it. It had been on the receipt from a Shosuro warehouse, as had several others, some of whom had already been involved in the situation.

"Strange," Zoyu agreed. "Shinjo Hanato's name has come up in our investigation, upon a receipt recovered from the bandits assaulting the crematorium." The paused for moment, sharing a poignant look with Yuzo and Fuketsu. "As has those of Doji Isamu and Doji Mikozo. All were named on a receipt of goods received by a Shosuro warehouse. There may be some benefit in taking a look at the Unicorn warehouse, but as yet, it seems our troublemakers have not found what they seek. I believe we would be better served if we seek out the warehouse of the other name on the list, in case he and his have not been vandalized yet. A heimin merchant named Safusa, if I recall correctly."

Zoyu slung the satchel of tsangusuri over her shoulder then adjust her blade on her obi so neither interfered with each other. "We should depart in haste, if once again we do not wish to arrive too late. If that is what the Fortunes have in store for us, then afterwards, we can take a look at the Unicorn Warehouse, or even the Shosuro Warehouse, whose stock this Oni and its master seem so interested in, though so far, it seems they believe whatever they seek is no longer in their possession."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Rin stood outside and looked up at the balcony where she had stood when she saw the Tattooed Man. She nodded, Yes he could have easily remained hidden in the shadows instead of revealing himself to her.

She looked back at the house where her friends were still talking, discussing, thinking. She scowled. It made her head hurt. She was better at action and wanted to live her life that way not as a bureaucrat or a policeman.

The monk, if that's what he was, had shown himself to her on purpose, she firmly believed that.

No mind.

She set off down the ally the stranger had entered, trusting that either he would show himself again or that the Fortunes would guide her steps.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Then I shall not delay you any further. Good luck in your investigation. May the Fortunes favor you and your Ancestors watch over you this night.".Fuketsu said as he bowed and departed the garden for his home.

"The innkeeper said Safusa's shop was on the edge of the Temple Quarter, so that means it is on, or near, Monk's Edge Avenue. I am not familiar with the shop, but I think I may have seen it before in passing. Either way, it should not be difficult to find. We can exit the Noble Quarter through the Pious Gate. It will avoid much of the celebration and save us time." Yuzo offered.

"I am afraid that Rin-san has gone and dome something a bit brash." Taka reported as he walked back over to the gathered Magistrates..

"She told me that Fuketsu-sama's grandfather found this and gave it to her. It would appears to be what remains of a tsangusuri that was used to put the house asleep." Taka explained as he offered the fragment of the small hourglass for examination.

"She then departed on her own. She seems to think she can somehow retrieve the sword... alone." the Crab added.

Yuzo listened, nodding and examining the fragment of the hourglass for a moment before passing it along. He blinked as a wave of confusion crept over his face.

"She left to... Does she do this often?" Yuzo asked, looking to the other Magistrates.

"With some degree of frequency. She is a Dragon, after all." Taka shrugged.

"So do we wait here or look for her?" Yuzo asked.

"Neither. We will go to Safusa's shop. She will find us there or elsewhere." Zoyu explained.

"If you are sure." Yuzo conceded.

 

-----------------------------------------------------------

 

Rin traveled down the alley where she had seen the tattooed man, following it between two home and out to the next street. At this hour, the streets of the Nobel Wuarter were empty, aside from the occasional small patrol of Thunder Guard. Rin stood and looked around for any signs of the monk's passing or a trail he may have left, but among the cobblestone streets and walled estates of the Noble Quarter, no trail was to be found.

Rin frowned as she stood there and she heard a drop hit the ground behind her and to the left, followed by another and another. Quickly she turned, resting her hands on her swords and looked up to find the tattooed man crouching on the corner of a wall. He was still dressed in a simple vest and trousers, as many Ise Zumi do, but strangely he and his clothing were clearly wet, though had been dripping dry for just a few minutes. Stranger still, he no longer had the sword.

"You waste your time looking for me. Mirumoto-san." the tattooed man said calmly 

"The sword is safe, for now, but could be safer still." he added.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Rin relaxed but did not drop her guard. She cocked her head to the side a slight smile upon her lip. "I do not waste time. You have answers, I sought you. Here you are."
She raises her hands toward him in a gesture of revelation.

"Why is the Oni or it's master after the blade, and can it be used to kill the monster?"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

×
×
  • Create New...