Volume 2, Interlude - Lessons.   Posted by Kaze no Kage.Group: 0
Kaze no Kage
 GM, 1361 posts
Sun 16 Aug 2015
at 06:13
Volume 2, Interlude - Lessons

[outside the Lion Camp | Kedo, Kitsune Shoji, Ikoma Hitori (NPC), Asahina Byako]

Given the recent conflict between the Crane and Lion over Toshi Ranbo*, many of the Lion had chosen to set up camp well away from the Crane owned city of Mura Sabishii Toshi--the closest city to Kin Taiyo Heigen where the tournament was being held.  The rich soil of the Golden Sun Plains provided ideal growing conditions for the Imperial rice fields and an abundance of companion plants that might be overlooked as weeds by those unaware of their beneficial properties.


Kedo and Ikoma Hitori's path to the Lion camp took them past the spot where Asahina Byako and Kitsune Shoji were conducting their herbalism lesson.  But both were interrupted by an angry exclamation.

"How could you!" a man dressed in the colors of the Lion, wearing the mon of the Matsu declared, "after what happened in Toshi Ranbo, how dare you!"

It was the Lion who had caused a commotion in line earlier, that had left upon the arrival of Kitsune Shoji, his brother, and their bear, and now he was bearing down on Ikoma Hitori.

"How dare I what,  Matsu Kanto-san?" Ikoma Hitori replied sharply, stepping between Kedo and the angry Matsu, clearly not cowed by his rage.

"How dare you associate with enemies of the Lion!" he spat, glaring at Asahina Byako and Kedo, "does the blood of our Clan mean nothing to you?"

* see volume 1
Kedo
 player, 618 posts
 Would you stand
 upon the mountain?
Sun 16 Aug 2015
at 07:04
Re: Volume 2, Interlude - Lessons

 Always one to take his duties with exacting seriousness - sufficient seriousness to leave more than one ingenious courtier exasperated and frustrated - Kedo accompanies his charge to the Lion encampment, his stride the usual balanced progression of one who feels no need to swagger or strut to draw the eye but who rather seeks merely to change his place in the world from this one to that.

 One thing he may not do however, is hide behind the lady he has accompanied all this way and as she interposed herself he steps forwards and to one side, taking up a defensive pose without a corresponding motion to draw steel (which would be insulting), choosing instead the far more potent - at least as a weapon of confusion and caution - edge of his tongue as he answers simply "I am afraid you are under a misapprehension Matsu-San. I have done battle against the Lion, yes but they are no more my enemy that the one who taught me to hold a blade or weigh the progress of a battle." - he nods to the assembled tents, indicating the family banners amongst them as he goes on "I have seen Akodo cunning and born witness to Matsu courage - how can I think of them less than fondly when we strove together with such sincerity?"

 Of course... This probably isn't what young Kantu wishes to hear...
Kitsune Shoji
 player, 25 posts
Mon 17 Aug 2015
at 02:40
Re: Volume 2, Interlude - Lessons

Shoji found himself off guard, stooping to the ground, hands covered in dirt.  He had missed the Ikoma and the Lion at first, his attention focused on the pair of small woody mushrooms in his hand.  "They're easy to confuse," he commented to Asahina Byako.  "You can tell them apart, though, if you look at how the caps curl."  His eyes looked up at her searching her face for recognition.

"How could you!"

Kitsune Shoji's attention was pulled away from his lesson, and he rose to his feet, unsure at first if the Matsu, the Ikoma or the ronin even knew that he was there, concealed as he might have been amongst the tall grass.

His hand curled into a ball, a subtle if not commanding signal for Tadashi - his brother's loyal dog - to sit.  Shoji lacked the intimidation of the bear this time, having chosen to leave both the bear and Anju the fox back in camp.  Tadashi's nose could be useful in locating herbs, the others would be a distraction.

"Matsu-san, what luck.  I was hoping to find you!" Shoji exclaimed, moving his way through the tall grass.  There was nothing he could do about centuries of ill will, so he simply hoped to distract by pushing into a tangent.

"The tent, earlier.  You and the Mantis.  He seemed set on..." realizing that they weren't alone, the news wasn't his to share.  "Is there something I might be able to help with?"  The Fox was curious, and that was his real impetus.  That this was the tournament of the Minor Clans, though, granted at least a sliver authority.  A fued between the Mantis and the Lion could derail the tournament.
Asahina Byako
 player, 63 posts
 Crane diplomat
Mon 17 Aug 2015
at 18:04
Re: Volume 2, Interlude - Lessons
Byako examined the mushrooms thoughtfully and smiles. "Ah, I see it; this one's edge looks a bit like a foxes' tail when she is asleep in the snow, but this one is more like when she is on the hunt for a mouse."

At hearing that she was, apparently, someone's enemy, Byako tilted her head curiously. She had heard that the ronin Kedo was involved, somehow, in the battle with the Lion at Toshi Ranbo, so perhaps this Matsu WAS specifically referring to him, but clearly he was only referring to Byako in terms of her clan. Furthermore, neither she, nor this ronin, were actually the target of the Matsu's current aggression; he was focused on the storyteller, but, perhaps, given that there had been some sort of confrontation earlier, the Matsu may have chosen this moment for this confrontation because Shoji was here, and without any of his unusually large protection available.

Byako stepped forward and to the side, within the view of the Ikoma, and bowed politely. "Excuse me, Ikoma-san. Apparently we are 'associating', so I think it would be best if we knew each others' names. I am Asahina Byako. I hope that our retroactive 'association' has not caused you any troubles." Byako then turns to the Matsu and bows to him politely as well. "My apologies to you, if I have caused you or your kinsmen and grief, though, as I ascribe to my family's strongly held belief in pacifism, I highly doubt that I have cost any of your family any blood. I understand, though, that I cannot say the same for my clan, however. Any death is truly a tragedy, and I hope that some day the clans can find a way to avoid destroying so many lives with wars."
Kaze no Kage
 GM, 1370 posts
Fri 28 Aug 2015
at 06:17
Re: Volume 2, Interlude - Lessons
[outside the Lion Camp | Kedo, Kitsune Shoji, Ikoma Hitori (NPC), Asahina Byako]

"Is there something I might be able to help with?"

"You dare ask me that when you stand there with...gah!" the Matsu was rendered temporarily speechless by rage at Kedo's graciousness and Byako's eloquence.  His hand dropped to his sword, and he stood there, grinding his teeth in frustration.

"My brothers will be avenged!" he declared before stalking off.

"It is a fine thing to meet you, Asahina-san," Ikoma Hitori bowed, "my apologies for my kinsman's behavior.  He lost family in the seige and, well, he is having a difficult time accepting the losses of war."

"It seems, Kedo-san, that you will have to put up with my company for a bit longer,"
Hitori said apologetically, "at least until I can find a suitable escort that is equally capable of deflecting a Matus's anger with such aplomb."
Kedo
 player, 621 posts
 Would you stand
 upon the mountain?
Fri 28 Aug 2015
at 09:52
Re: Volume 2, Interlude - Lessons

 Kedo has had precious little to say about Toshi Ranbo - his presence there is undeniable and has been admitted to but of the battle he has, for the most part demurred in favour of declaring the tale one best told by those who had honour to gain in the struggle. There are snippets to pluck from other sources of course - there are a disconcerting number of Ashigaru with crippling but not life-threatening wounds who can attest to the presence of a Ronin to whom massed archery represents no greater threat than spring rain and some few tales from the battle itself... And of course the testimony of Koritome Ichiro, which would have noted that Kedo seems to enjoy taking time out from battle to play childrens board games... And was indecently well informed regarding the command signals that oversaw the Crane side of the battle.

 But nothing from Kedo himself... Until now.

 "Is there any possibility that Matsu Arugake, the crushing hammer of Kyuden Tonbo or Matsu Shigarami who served on the Kaiu wall for three seasons were amongst them? I had introductions of only a few of those I faced and they were the only Matsu to do so." the slim young Ronin inquires, looking perhaps a little troubled in a fashion that could be written off to cowardice by anyone who didn't have a fair idea from the wounded Ashigaru how little Kedo enjoys the act of killing - and just how good he is at it nonetheless.

 Byako's introduction (once Hitori has spoken) earns her a respectful bow but not actual speech (since Kedo has not been addressed directly and knows better than to talk out of turn) until Hitori misses her cue and the Ronin simply, but delicately offers "An honour Asahina-san, may I make known to you Ikoma Hitori, who is spoken of widely for her knowledge of our history."

 He cannot help but sigh chidingly towards the end of the Lion's words to him however, bowing to the inevitable even as he observes "It is far from seemly Ikoma-san. Your fascination with whatever 'mystery' I represent aside I am no fit escort for a Samurai-ko of good family unaccompanied by attendants. My swords can shield you from violence, but no blade was ever sharp enough to cut a whisper from the air."

This message was last edited by the player at 09:53, Fri 28 Aug 2015.

Asahina Byako
 player, 65 posts
 Crane diplomat
Fri 28 Aug 2015
at 15:51
Re: Volume 2, Interlude - Lessons
Byako bows politely to Hitori as she is introduced and then to Kedo "Thank you Kedo-san. And this is Kitsune Shoji, who was being so kind as to induct me into the study of plants and their uses.

Hitori-san, I too have lost family, though in my case it was to advanced age. If some representative of old age were available, I may be sorely tempted to spread a rumor about them that is every bit as sharp as the Matsu's blade."

Kaze no Kage
 GM, 1371 posts
Wed 2 Sep 2015
at 05:09
Re: Volume 2, Interlude - Lessons
"A pleasure to meet you, Kitsune-san," Ikoma Hitori bowed, "while I am always excited by the prospect of dramatic entertainment, I hope you will not take it amiss if I wish the rest of the tournament to be less tragic than poor Matsu-san's story."

"I am uncertain that Matsu-san intends to be subtle about his grudge, Asahina-san,"
Hitori replied to Byako, "he certainly seems to be as open and obvious as any Lion--and I say that as a representative example of that trait in my Clan.  While there are certainly men and women of subtle cunning among the Lion, I do not find myself among them.  As Kedo-san here can certainly attest, I have perhaps an unseemly tendency to over share an excess of information."

"I do not believe either of those Matsu were related to Matsu Kanto, Kedo-san,"
Hitori assured her ronin companion, "but tales of your exploits are legion among the survivors.  Perhaps Matsu-san cannot imagine his siblings being defeated in battle by any lesser personage."

"As for my reputation, I cannot imagine a better guardian than yourself.  After all, it is a well known fact that the Crane trusted you with the reputation of Daidoji Sakura--and that you were immune to her considerable charms."

Kitsune Shoji
 player, 32 posts
Wed 2 Sep 2015
at 22:52
Re: Volume 2, Interlude - Lessons
Finding himself at a loss after the Matsu stormed off, Shoji stood and stared.  He almost missed Byako's introduction.  A bow thanked her for the honor.

"I'm afraid to say, Ikoma-san, that I'm at a loss.  I don't know the tragedy of Matsu-san's story."
He fidgeted, trying to self diagnose if it was his rampant curiosity that wanted him to inquire or if it was his sense of duty to his family.

"I hesitate to ask, but could you tell his story?" It seemed like a safe question of the bard, something she'd be willing to comply with.  "I saw them in the tent - him and the Yoritomo.  Normally I wouldn't stick my nose where it doesn't belong, but the tournament is very important to the Fox.  So I hope you can forgive any intrusion under my desire to keep the focus of the tournament on the competition, not fueds.  While I doubt I can fix it, I hope we can keep the conflict between Yoritomo-san and Matsu-san from escalating.  I spoke to Yoritomo-san in the tent... it sounds like both sides have suffered loss and seek to balance it with blood."
Kedo
 player, 622 posts
 Would you stand
 upon the mountain?
Thu 3 Sep 2015
at 20:37
Re: Volume 2, Interlude - Lessons

 It isn't often that someone can put Kedo off sufficiently to make it show, but when reference is made to 'Daidoji Sakura and her considerable charms' there is a moment of genuine puzzlement that spreads across his features, as though it never occurred to him for a moment to confuse the beauty of the scabbard for the shape of the blade within (which is not to say that Sakura is not well-crafted, only that to extend the analogy the qualities of short, dark and slender have very different implications when extended to steel).

 He dismisses the thought swiftly enough however, simply to answer "I do not know that I should be held responsible for that failure of your imagination Ikoma-san." in a tone not entirely devoid of teasing, cemented by his adding more dryly "Blame for the spreading of scurrilous tales about a Ronin amidst honourable Bushi on the other hand, is rather easier to assign."
Asahina Byako
 player, 66 posts
 Crane diplomat
Thu 3 Sep 2015
at 21:05
Re: Volume 2, Interlude - Lessons
Byako almost replies with a joke about lack of imagination, apparently, being common amongst the clan of the Lion, but decides that discretion is just as much the better part of pacifism as it is of valor. Instead she just smiles a bit, seemingly at Kedo's response.
With her second thought her face becomes more serious: "My apologies for being overly frank, but with the heart of the Lion and the sons of thunder vying for each others' blood, it seems likely that all manner of injustice will bedevil these games until their unhealthy thirst for blood is quenched or quelled. And neither family is known for its cooler heads, nor its keenness to listen to unrequested advice. Both are, however, known for their loyalty to the Empire, so perhaps Otomo Haijime, the Emporer's representative to these games, could be of some assistance in bringing winter to this particular battle."
Kaze no Kage
 GM, 1374 posts
Fri 4 Sep 2015
at 06:12
Re: Volume 2, Interlude - Lessons
"So says the man who defeated a dozen armed assassins, while naked, in a bath house," Ikoma Hitori replied dryly to the Ronin, "the limits of my imagination aside--and I would daresay most imaginations would strain to accept some of the stories I have gathered about you--if my physical safety were at risk, I know who to hide behind.  And as for my virtue, well, I am certain that any number of Crane would leap to your defense, considering."

But before she could wax poetic about Kedo's exploits, Kitsune Shoji asked a question, and Hitori, being who she was, could hardly avoid answering.

"Ah well, the tale is a simple one, or perhaps not so simple, but the facts are known by many," the Lion Omoidasu replied, "shortly before the descent of Winter, the Lion attempted once again to retake Toshi Ranbo wo Shien Shite Reigisaho.  Toshi Ranbo was defended by a reasonably sized garrison of mostly Daidoji trained samurai and ashigaru.  We knew it would be a difficult battle, but we had gathered an army large enough to overcome the City's defenses and planned for a siege that was not intended to be protracted--war being what it is, a protracted siege was also prepared for--thus numbers and superior experience with siege warfare was expected to win the day."

"Due to a confluence of unexpected events and unplanned alliances, the Lion managed to breach the walls but failed to take the City.  Besides the Crane within, the Scorpion and Mantis also sent forces to harry the Lion on the outside of the walls.  In the end, of course, the Crane won the day--which, when it comes to armies, is the truest test of a Clan's mettle in warfare."

"I had come to Toshi Ranbo on unrelated business--looking for a duel wielding ronin of some reknown that was involved at some point with Kitsuki Morimoto.  I never did find him, but I digress.  Afterwards, I took it upon myself to gather the tales of the battlefield--war being a time of both great heroism and great loss, and stories of both being necessary to inspire and caution future generations."


Ikoma Hitori did not say that there were a number of tales she had heard regarding the Ronin Kedo and his exploits on the battle field--among them, holding a position agains whole squads of archers while cutting arrows from the air, and stopping in the middle of the street to play aboard game.

"That is, I believe, the heart of Matsu-san's grudge.  The loss of siblings, yes, but also a battle where the Lion failed to achieve their objective.  If we had succeeded, then their loss would have been heroic.  But having failed, he may be struggling to see death as another failure."
Kedo
 player, 623 posts
 Would you stand
 upon the mountain?
Fri 4 Sep 2015
at 06:34
Re: Volume 2, Interlude - Lessons

 "There were ten, of whom I slew two and captured one. Doji Akibieden and three Daidoji Guards also engaged the foe and saved a considerable number of lives." Kedo points out with painstaking correctness, neglecting to mention that he also wounded two who subsequently escaped, although even he colours slightly at the mention of hiding behind him, apparently taking that as a sidelong reference as well since he remarks "There were only four archers and they were much distracted." in a slightly defensive tone.

 As for talk of Kitsuki Moritomo?

 Well now there he keeps his mouth tightly, tightly shut, opening it again only to observe "I have never understood the desire to declare the failings of a foe - had there been no chance of failure, surely there would have been little glory in a Lion victory? Does not the strength of the foe make all the greater the glory that accrued to those who strove with such courage?", effectively branding himself, Ronin grey or no with his Dragon origins.
Kitsune Shoji
 player, 33 posts
Fri 4 Sep 2015
at 20:46
Re: Volume 2, Interlude - Lessons
As Shoji listened, his eyes grew large.  "Thank you, Ikoma-san.  I've been stuck under a rock this past year, and while I've heard broad details, the detail is captivating."

His eyes flashed at Kedo, and Shoji bowed deeper than he probably should to a ronin.  "My apologies, Kedo-san.  I didn't realize that I was in the presence of an acclaimed warrior."

The Fox shugenja's hand jutted out, ending the life of a fly that was in the process of trying to bite his arm.  "That is another tragedy of war, is it not?  The dead stay dead, and memories linger.  I don't think the Yoritomo or the Matsu will be willing to put this behind them.  I fear this escalating."

Shoji squinted, the light of the setting sun stinging his eyes.  "The Yoritomo swore vengence, and the Matsu seems to want the same.  Do you think they'd be willing to drop this if they hand the chance to settle it martially?  A duel?  Or personal combat?  Its doubtful the Mantis can play both sides - both a minor and a great Clan - for long.  Perhaps they'd be willing to adjust their event, and allow those who wish to settle their grievances."
Daidoji Kasumi
 player, 78 posts
 Beautiful and Deadly
 Twin of Daidoji Sakura
Sat 5 Sep 2015
at 02:32
Re: Volume 2, Interlude - Lessons
"Kedo-Kun!" From ... somewhere, the Daidoji twins arrived. Their identicalness, even down to their mannerisms and the slight imperfections of the Daidoji tattoos, made it impossible for anyone to know exactly which sister was which.

Anyone but Kedo that is.

Having been one of the very, very few that knew Kasumi's true origins -- and being a Samurai with remarkable perception as well -- Kasumi had no doubt that this one could tell them apart.

"How's my favorite riddle today?"

Nothing quite like an inside joke.
Kedo
 player, 624 posts
 Would you stand
 upon the mountain?
Sat 5 Sep 2015
at 07:01
Re: Volume 2, Interlude - Lessons

 Kedo's bow is automatic and fractionally deeper of course, his tone hardly dismissive but simply philosophical as he answers "I have had the good fortune to be permitted to test myself against opponents of no small skill and courage, if there is honour in that then it I share it with them.", apparently meaning every word and unsurprisingly therefore observing with genuine regret that "I do not of myself recall a time when a duel truly ended an enmity so readily - for the most part they simply delay their resumption for a generation, although perhaps Ikoma-san would know of a..."

 That's where the corner of one of his eyes develops a very slight twitch.

 He's a calm fellow is Kedo, sure and certain and balanced enough to pivot an Empire about - or at least a couple of Great Clans - but where one Daidoji Sakura wasn't enough to unsettle him and two was only enough to keep him busy, it's been a quiet nightmare of his for some time now to take the two of them and add Ikoma Hitori to the mix. Manners maketh however, and the Bushi who - for a Bushi - has spent more time than many Ishiken floating in the infinite currents of the void, buoyed and uplifted by his insight turns to offer a deep bow to each woman in turn, "Kasumi-san, Sakura-san. As always a pleasure...", his response to the question a good-natured and unsurprisingly Koan-ic "Much distracted, Kasumi-san.", identifying which shockingly beautiful, absolutely identical woman is which as he has done since they first appeared...

...by not looking at them.
Kaze no Kage
 GM, 1375 posts
Sun 6 Sep 2015
at 06:04
Re: Volume 2, Interlude - Lessons
"That is because you, Kedo-San, are a mature and rational adult, whereas many samurai, given the privilege of their station, are not," Ikoma Hitori noted before noticing the two lovely Crane ladies, "you are...oh my goodness...Kedo-san," she hissed, not quietly enough not to be heard, "an introduction please!" 
Kedo
 player, 625 posts
 Would you stand
 upon the mountain?
Sun 6 Sep 2015
at 06:54
Re: Volume 2, Interlude - Lessons

 "Of course Ikoma-san." Kedo answers automatically, dismissing the conversation in progress to assume a position where he can indicate appropriately, "Ikoma-san, may I make known to you Daidoji Sakura, whom I had the privilege to accompany to Toshi Ranbo as her yojimbo and her younger sister Daidoji Kasumi, whose mystery is as great as her beauty." - which if nothing else demonstrates that a month or two of grinding away shoe leather in the company of an Ikoma is good for teaching a young man courtier skills.

 "Daidoji-sans, may I in turn make known my companion of recent journeys, the estimable and storied Ikoma Hitori, for whom all our strivings and challenges are but the threads of a history yet to be told..." he then proceeds to offer with typically Kedo perspective.
Kitsune Shoji
 player, 34 posts
Tue 8 Sep 2015
at 19:53
Re: Volume 2, Interlude - Lessons
A proposed resolution, it seemed, was not to be had at this moment.  The glorious Kedo, of whom so many stories were told that he - a ronin - had earned an Ikoma bard to speak for him was suddenly distracted from the task at hand.

Kitsune Shoji, for his part, couldn't necessarily complain -- the nature of the twins was distracting.  Identical twins, however, weren't an unnatural thing.

He stood quietly and waited patiently, the ronin having managed an introduction for the bard but not the others standing there made him unsure of whether or not an introduction was pending, or if it was a not-so-subtle indication to get lost.

His eyes cast over to the Asahina, his student for the evening, to ask for a hint.
Asahina Byako
 player, 67 posts
 Crane diplomat
Tue 8 Sep 2015
at 20:10
Re: Volume 2, Interlude - Lessons
Byako dipped her nose and winked playfully at Shoji. Then she positioned herself so she could be seen by the Daidoji twins and could indicate to them Shoji. Then she bowed to them and addressed them "We have not yet met, Sakura-san and Kasumi-san, but we only have barely now met Kedo and Hitori-san, so they cannot, exactly, introduce us. Since I'm your own clansman, I'll take it upon myself to do so! I am Asahina Byako, and this is Kitsune Shoji, my erstwhile sensei. I have only met him today, but he's already taken on the task of teaching me a bit about herbalism. Also, I know he likes animals, so he's probably very trustworthy.
Oddly enough we were all brought together when a vigorously beating heart decided to beat, perhaps, a bit too vigorously and tried to flush away a bit of memory. Now we're all just making platitudes about how to solve the issue, like my favorite; using metaphorical references to people, families, and clans to ease the tensions surrounding the issues at hand!"