The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter.   Posted by Little Teacher.Group: 0
Little Teacher
 GM, 4812 posts
Sat 8 Nov 2014
at 06:25
The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter
We should forgive our enemies, but not before they are hanged...
                                                                                                              -Heinrich Heine
Little Teacher
 GM, 4813 posts
Sat 8 Nov 2014
at 06:26
Arata
Hawasi nods absently at your cup. "Another round?"

The two of you retired to a small inn near the gate. The soldiers you came here with have been showing up in small bands having spent their coins in wine, women and song. There is still a half hour before the time set to leave.

Gaijitsu did place his mark on the copies but it is a proposal. The final agreement will need to be drafted and signed by the General. Gaijitsu's signature on the proposal guarantees he will sign the final agreement...provided there are no changes. Hawasi shakes his head. "Please forgive, but that was too easy. He was...too polite." He has expressed this sentiment several times since you left the Keep.
Doji Arata
 player, 949 posts
Mon 10 Nov 2014
at 21:48
Re: Arata
Arata allows Hawasi to refill his drink, but does not pick it up. He smiles amusedly at the officer's concerns.

"You are not wrong," he says relaxedly.
"There was more than that, but I will not spend this evening worrying about what that might mean - I would have better luck predicting the next earthquake. Tell me, Hawasi-san, how do you as a military man view this new proposal that we drafted?"
Little Teacher
 GM, 4817 posts
Tue 11 Nov 2014
at 04:52
Re: Arata
Hawasi considers. "I think I know the village he is refering to. We have scouted it a time or two. It is not an unpleasant place. But it is...exposed. It lies between two hills. This is not a large concern. We have the man power to hold the place easily. It would take a large force to be a threat. And we would know of such a large force coming well in advance. And it does have the advantage of plentiful rice fields. I even believe they have a plum orchard." He shrugs. "There are worse places ro be banished. I just-"

What he 'just's gets lost in the sudden screaming. The sound comes from outside in the street. Two of the city guard seem to be confronting a woman. Well. A thing resembling a woman. The fact she is an eta is obvious. Her robe is poor and she is smeared with what you can only hope of is mud. "NOOOOOO!!!" she screams. "I WANT TO KEEP MY NAME!!! DO NOT TAKE MY NAME!!!!"

A lunatic obviously. One of the guard nods to the other who quickly unsheathes his blade and...well. There's no point in watching any longer. Everything goes silent rather quickly. Hawasi frowns and studies his tea cup. "Another lunatic," he mumbles.
Doji Arata
 player, 950 posts
Tue 11 Nov 2014
at 21:44
Re: Arata
Arata picks up his cup, but his shaking hand loses its grip, spilling lukewarm tea all over the expensive kimono he had picked for the day as the cup goes clattering across the floor.

"Clumsy," he manages to mumble apologetically.
Little Teacher
 GM, 4820 posts
Wed 12 Nov 2014
at 06:04
Re: Arata
Hawasi says nothing but he motions over a maid. She cleans the mess quickly and sets a new cup before you. The mood in the Inn seems to have become sligtly glum.

Your companion shakes his head and then changes the subject. "I was not aware you were a famous poet Doji-sama. Please forgive my ignorance. May I ask to the poem he was refering to?"

(No need to look it up)

You recite the lines though it is a little difficult to put much feeling in them. Lines for a funeral seem somehow...inappropriate at the moment. Hawasi sighs. "My apologies. My efforts to turn the mood seem to have turned themselves back on me." He finishes his cup. "Let me see where those sluggards are. I think we will feel better once we are on the move."

He stands and begins to take a headcount of his men. Perhaps he is correct. There is still enough time in the day to make it back to camp before the sun sets.

A hand reaches over and takes Hawasi's empty cup. A small girl, perhaps no more than ten winters has picked it up. She is dressed like a commoner. Probably the daughter of the Inkeeper helping her parents out.

Oddly, she is staring into Hawasi's cup. "Dead..." she mutters in a small voice. She looks over at you. "The Monk said the tea leaves are not what tell you. It is the lips that touched the cup. Do you see?" She holds up the cup for you to inspect. There is a smear of something red across the rim. At first you think it is rouge, though Hawasi is not wearing any. Only when it starts to run in thin, slick lines do you notice how dark red the smear is. Did Hawasi cut his lip? No. The rim of the cup is smooth. "Look again..." she bids you and holds the cup down for you to look into. It is full of blood. Overfilled actually. Even though the girl holds it very carefully, the blood spills over the sides. It runs across the outer surface and then over her small, thin fingers. At the bottom of the cup it collects in thick droplets that fall onto the floor. The drops make a distinct sound as they hit the tatami mats. Like the crunch of gravel or new snow under a sandal. She leans closer. "There is more of it than you will ever be able to drink. More of it than there is water in the ocean or wind in the sky. There is no container large enough. Do you think you can hold it in your small belly?"

She ihas almost leaned into your face. Her breath is sour. Like the breasts she sucked from were filled with rotted fish and she was weaned on endless nights of sake. Her teeth are the color of river silt. "You can only save yourself Doji Arata. So why try at all?...alright?"

You blink. The girl is standing in the aisle. Not near you. She is holding the cup which is empty. There is no stain. There is no blood. She is looking at you with a worried expression. "Uh...er...Lord-sama? Are you alright?"
Doji Arata
 player, 951 posts
Thu 13 Nov 2014
at 23:18
Re: Arata
Arata stares vacantly for a second, then straightens up and manages a friendly if impersonal smile.

"I am fine, little one," he says with only the slightest hint of vibrato disturbing the controlled timbre of his voice.
"But I think I have had all the tea that I care to drink today."
Little Teacher
 GM, 4821 posts
Fri 14 Nov 2014
at 06:30
Re: Arata
Hawasi comes back as the girl fonishes clearing the table. "I sent out some men to round up the stragglers. They can catch up. We will go ahead and head out. I do not want to have to travel far after the sun sets. Are you ready Doji-sama?"

The walk back is uneventful. You pass by the same scenery you did tjis morning, but now it seems a bit flat. Almost like it was out of some painting. Hawasi makes small talk. It is light enough you can handle it without thinking too much. He does not say anything about your visit to Gaijitsu in front of the others. You do not broach the subject either. Though it is clear the others are curious about your errand.

You spy camp as the sun is going down. There is a tent for bathing and you avail yourself of the comforts it offers. The General sends word she will send for you in the morning. A patrol has failed to report in and she is focusing her attention on that. Before you turn in for the night, you learn the patrol has been found. Tere was an accident and one of the horses bolted. The rider was thrown and had to be carried back. The man has broken a leg but is otherwise fine.

You drift off to sleep. Your dreams are odd but indistinct. You wake an hour earlier than usual. Your mouth feels wretched. Your jaw aches and there is a horrid taste in your mouth. You must have been grinding your teeth in your sleep.

A soldier has left a bucket of fresh water for you outside the flap of the tent you are using. You feel around in the dark and locate the bucket's handle. As you stand, lifting it up, your eye happens to catch the side of the tent across the small lane from yours. There are rips in the fabric. They are long tears, five of them. They reach about a sword's length diagonally across the tent wall. No one else seems to be moving around right now. So no one has noticed.
Little Teacher
 GM, 4825 posts
Sat 15 Nov 2014
at 05:33
Kambe
Koichi hands you the canteen and nods at the river. "Is it just me...or does every city look very much the same?"

He has somewhat of a point. Toshi no Naishou sits on the other side of the river. The walls are defensible but not impregnable. The towers are high enough to fulfill their watch function and no higher. There are a few buildins that rise above the tops of the walls. The largest one you guess to be the governor's palace. But otherwise...it does indeed look like most small cities you have seen since leaving the lands of the Crab.

The only thing of note is what appears to the top of a large temple. You can not see it too well. But if it is a temple, it is indeed larger than one would expect for a city of this size.

Thoug perhaps that is not so unusual. You counted no less than five shrines to various Fortunes just at the end of the dock. Three of them to Fortunes you have never heard of before. And there seemed to be a Fortune shrine every half ri on the road here.

You start to answer but suddenly Kihi holds up a hand. From across the river, somewhere in the city, a large gong is sounding. Immediately everyone else on the dock lowers their head. All cpnversation stops. Even the ferryman out on the ferry has stopped poling the boat and has lowered his head, surrendering his vessel to the current for a moment. Kihi glances around, shrugs, and lowers his head too. You and Koichi follow suit.

You study your feet for the space of five breaths. And then suddenly, everyone around you comes back to life. A woman standing nearby clucks her tongue and looks at the furious motions of the ferryman who is trying to get back on course. "The fool must have known it was almost noon. Baka. Now we will have for him to pole back against the current."

Kihi looks over at her and bows. "Please excuse. This one is Hida Kihi. These are my associates, Hida Koichi-san and Hida Kambe-san. We are new here. What was that just now?"

The woman blinks tapidly and then bows deeply. A commoner, she is obviously surprised to be addressed. "Please excuse Hida-sama. Here I am accusing people of being a fool while acting one myself." Kihi smiles and urges her over the usual nervousness commoners have when addressing nobility. She relaxes slightly. "Oh yes. You were asking about the gong. Every noon the monks at the Temple sound it. Everyone in Naishou who hears it stops whatever they are doing and bows their head so as to reflect on our sins." She sighs. "I suppose I will have to recall my behavior just now tomorrow."

Kihi chews that a moment and then bows to her. "Arrigato. Please excuse my interuption." He handles the goodbyes and then glances at you. "These people seem to be very religous." He lowers his voice. "I however am a Taoist. And Koichi-san is an idiot..." Koichi glares at him. If nothing else you have gotten used to the constant back and forth between Kihi and Koichi. They bicker like brothers. But you pity the one who would try to cut either of them in the other one's presence. Kihi continues. "How much of a Fortunist are you?"
Doji Arata
 player, 952 posts
Sun 16 Nov 2014
at 21:46
Re: Arata
Arata calmly looks around, stepping forward to assess the damage. He scrutinizes the nature of the rips; where they begin and end, the spacing, and whether they are torn rather than cut. After memorizing the scene to where he could accurately reproduce it, he takes a step back before launching himself at the tent wall, purposefully ripping the fabric around the damaged part to unrecognizable shreds as he spills to the ground in an undignified manner.
Little Teacher
 GM, 4831 posts
Mon 17 Nov 2014
at 06:18
Jubei
Godon looks at his cup and frowns. "Please excuse Akodo-sama. I swallowed a leaf."

You are seated on your sleeping mat, finishing breakfast. As you sip your miso soup, Godon delivers the morning reports. Copies of the full reports are by your elbow, but as you have a match with Fizu in an hour, there is not time to read them as you normally would. Since it is never a good idea to see Fizu without knowing the latest goings on, Godon is briefing you.

You tilt your neck to one side to stretch the muscles. This will be your third pillow since you arrived in Naishou. None of the previous ones have been comfortable and for some reason, last night was the worst you have slept yet. Well. Perhaps that was not the fault of the pillow. That Ball last night was a bit more eventful than you may have expected.

Godon continues. "We found the man who delivered the present to Miya-sama. He is a simple night porter who was paid to deliver it. I questioned him myself and believe him. Though I have not released him yet. In brief, he was asked to deliver the package by a man wearing black and red robes with the Scorpion mon. The man was bald, as is General Bayushi-sama. However, he was not wearing a mask. The porter has few dealings with the nobility and so may not have known it was odd to see a Scorpion without a mask. I have men investigating the scene where the porter was hired to see if we can track the client."

He swallows some more tea. "We are making inquiries about this Rice Monk. Apparently he she it or they is some kind of local superstition. Supposedly it is a tale to frighten children. I have asked the men to learn the tale. We are still investigating."

He scratches his chin. "We have men in place to watch both Iuchi Lixue-san and Ide Kemari-san. I heard Kemari-san had a disagreement with Kasuga-san. I took the liberty of asking someone to look into what exactly happened with that."

Godon adjusts his seat. "A rider came in last night. From Iku-sama's deployment. He reported to Fizu-sama already. I do not know the details. But apparently things are not going well."
Little Teacher
 GM, 4832 posts
Mon 17 Nov 2014
at 06:18
Lixue
Music is still drifting through your head as Risa moves to your left foot. Sad that an evening's dance left you achey. You chew on the rice ball Risa brought you for a noon meal and look once more at the ceiling. Last night was...interesting.

Kemari was waiting for you at the gate. His look made it clear he was not in the mood for conversation. He nodded once at you, turned, and walked ahead of you back to the inn. He made a quick, precise turn, bowed once, and said, "You did well. Good night Iuchi-san. " And without a further word, he strode off into the night.

Juhi's spear lesson did not help your feet any. He was waiting for you at the stables and lead you downriver. Behind a small stand of trees he drilled you in basic spear related katas. "I know you have done these exercises before. But I need to see how you move with your weapon before I can offer instruction. You do know it is a spear and not a staff, right?"

You assured him you did. Still he seemed not displeased. "We can work with this, " was his final prononcement on the matter and then he had guided you back to the city.

Risa had a hot bath ready. As well as a letter. One from Doji Ochube.

There were some difficulties. I will be arriving in Naishou by week's end. Can we meet? Please send a message to the Crane embassy letting me know.

For a Crane, this message was almost terse. Difficulties, eh? Why is that not surprising.

You check the date on the letter. He will probably be here today or at the latest tomorrow.
Little Teacher
 GM, 4833 posts
Mon 17 Nov 2014
at 06:22
Re: Arata
In reply to Doji Arata (msg # 10):

(Nicely played...)

The tears are similar to marks left by a human hand. Someone with long nails ripping into the canvas and then slicing across. Though for someone to have done so, their nails would have to be quite strong. As they would have to be.

You land on top of something soft and warm. One of the soldiers. This must be a sleeping tent. Others bolt upright, bleery eyed and shocked as you roll off the unfortunate man's face and come to a rest akimbo to his knees.

You look up. Everyone looks at you. A pot tips over and rolls across the floor. From somewhere outside a cricket begins to chirp.
Akodo Jubei
 player, 63 posts
 Daimyo's son
 Future General
Mon 17 Nov 2014
at 07:43
Re: Jubei
In reply to Little Teacher (msg # 11):

Jubei listens to everything being told to him...and since he didn't have the opportunity to read the full reports, he had to be at least reasonably sure he understood the various situations. His lack of sleep is annoying, but it can't be helped.

"Good. While theoretically possible that he could've taken his mask off to confuse everyone, it's beneath his dignity to do such a thing. It's a fairly bad imposter...does the General have any enemies about? Whoever did this likely knew the results before the move was made. The sooner it's resolved, the better." Besides, if it's resolved due to Lion efforts, Bayushi would then owe them his gratitude. For what it's worth. 'Varied' doesn't begin to cover it.

(I avoided using his name because I wasn't sure which suffix to use on a non clan general.)

On the second topic.

"That one may take a while. In the worst case scenario, he'll strike again, and we'll then have fresher evidence, but in the meantime, let's keep trying to hunt him down."

Legends didn't always have basis in truth, but then, legends were often given by predators to confuse their prey.

He nodded about the Unicorn.

"A disagreement? Interesting. Things don't seem to be overly smooth over there."

And finally, the report. That's likely to have Fizu-sama himself in a bad mood.

"The ronin must be doing well enough to prevent Iku-sama from finishing the job. Still, it's only a matter of time. Unless the ronin found access to more resources, in which case it might really take a while."

He rather hoped they didn't. The sooner the bandit were gotten rid of, the better.
Iuchi Lixue
 player, 861 posts
Tue 18 Nov 2014
at 00:52
Re: Lixue

Relief swept over Lixue, carrying away a worry that she didn't even voice in her thoughts.  Her heart seemed to bounce for a moment in her chest. Finally she had news of Doji-san.

She could almost sense the exasperation rising from the ink.  What kind of trouble could he have found?  Bandits?  Crane politics?  Lixue frowns at the thought, but shakes it off quickly.

She responds immediately, hoping her bath doesn't get too tepid while she attend to the more important matter.  It doesn't seem like she is due for a long soak anyway.

Yes, of course. She wrote neatly--but there was a little decisive flourish.  Doji-san would always be welcome.   She decides to leave things a little opaque in case the embassy staff reads her letter, informing him concisely.  I am staying at the The Three Winds Inn.

Hopefully, anything else could wait for his arrival.

Lixue looks apologetic as she folds the note, trying to make it look unexceptionally neat-and-respectful.   "Do you mind taking this over to the Crane embassy--or having someone trustworthy do so?  Doji-san is arriving soon, I hope.  It would be nice for a message to greet him."

OOC:  Yay!!  Ochube-san!! ;oD
Hida Kambe
 player, 208 posts
Tue 18 Nov 2014
at 06:40
Re: Kambe
"I honor my ancestors as best I can in service to the Crab. My knowledge of the Fortunes is woeful beyond the Seven.

As for the Tao. I enjoy the questions it poses to all samurai and look forward to unlocking the riddles of the Little Teacher when I am unable to serve my family in a useful capacity. For now though they are mysteries on a distant horizon."
Kambe says.

He takes in the town around him. "The piousness of the heimin is impressive, I wonder if the samurai of this city are equally as devoted."
Little Teacher
 GM, 4834 posts
Tue 18 Nov 2014
at 07:00
Re: Jubei
In reply to Akodo Jubei (msg # 14):

(The address for Bayushi Itaru is tricky, given your lineage. But he ranks at the same level as Fizu. I would say he would be a -sama to you)

Godon nods. He moves on to your schedule. "We received an invitation addressed to you. A dinner invitation from a Hida Uko. " You recall the woman in the garden you met on your first day here. She had said something about arranging a small event so you could meet representatives from the Mantis and Toirtise. "She inquired if you would be free to dine at her home this evening. There is no other engagement I am aware of. I can have one of the secretaries draft a reply. Will you accept?"