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5-Headed Snake God
Jun 12, 2008

Do you see how he's a cat?


It's a warm spring morning, and the new armour known as the Steel Arrow is preparing for its maiden voyage. Throngs of people gather to board the vessel, or just get a look at it. It's truly a history-making day. But I'm getting ahead of myself. To really understand the day - what's going on within the teeming crowds - we have to look back a bit. So let's have a look at our prologue, the Zero Act.

Kitamura Jyo
The cold and rain seep through your clothes, down to your very skin. The Black Fang Bandits have been hounding the village of River Pass for weeks, and you, ever the righteous soul, took it upon yourself to do something about it. For three days, you've been following their trail, steadily catching up to them. It's only a matter of time before you're able to find them and take out their leader, Zai the Blade. After that, the rest should scatter.

Your thoughts are interrupted by the sounds of voices carrying through the rain. The bandits must be just ahead. Now, how to approach them?

Konoe Mitsuko
Your training in the arts of war is proceeding well. Even your father is impressed with your progress; at this rate, you should be named Warrior General of Yasushi within the year. For the time being, however, you hold no formal military rank, and must content yourself with acting as your father's shadow. Today, you find yourself preparing to attend a strategy session. The Yasushi military is planning a joint assault on a Marashina stronghold, aided by Lord Kuga's own military forces.

As you prepare to enter the meeting, your father pauses and turns to you. "Remember what we discussed yesterday," he says quietly, his tone calm and firm. "Pay attention. Do not speak unless addressed. Look for flaws in the plans discussed. Understood?"

Lu-si
It's a cold day in the city of Kashira. There's nothing to do, which isn't unusual. You sit on the side of a busy road, basket in front of you, silently asking all passes-by for whatever money they can spare. As usual, few do. You're lost in your own thoughts, barely paying attention. The earth is loud today. No one else seems to hear it. They never do.

Someone drops a sizable number of coins into your basket. You look up, and see Fat Shen, who nods to you before moving on. He doesn't say much to you, but he usually has a few coins to spare. As he starts to move on, he bumps into someone a burly man whose torso is studded with red jewels. "Hey, rear end in a top hat!" shouts the burly man, shoving Fat Shen. "What's the big idea?! You tryin' ta pick a fight?!"

Kuwabatake Hana
It's hard for you to find happiness much these days. The guns at your hips ever remind you why you were forced into this business in the first place. Still, there's a certain satisfaction that comes from victory. As you push open the door to the dilapidated storehouse, you shove your quarry, bound and gagged, through the door, causing him to fall at the feet of your employers. The Red Lotus group might not have a lot of power, but they're pretty generous with their pay. Your latest catch, the con man Ten-Finger Maru, should earn you a hefty bonus.

One of the men in the storehouse looks down at Maru, then up at you. "Five days? You're getting slow, girl."

Tenou Kaede
The road really isn't so bad, all things considered. As long as the weather holds, a night under the stars is a perfectly pleasant way to spend the night, especially when you can fall asleep charting their movements. Still, there's a lot to be said for the comforts of civilization. So when you came to the village of Arase, you decided to take a stop at its local teahouse. It's nothing fancy, but it's inexpensive, and a cup of hot tea is quite welcome after a week on the road. The place is busy enough that one more traveler draws no attention from the other patrons, so you're able to drink in peace.

A commotion from a nearby table draws your attention, however. There's too much noise for you to make out much, but you definitely catch sight of some long, black hair and hear the phrase, "How 'bout a kiss?"

Tatsumi Yabu
The Taizen royal palace is a daunting structure. You've visited no small number of castles and palaces - hell, you live in one - but still, this structure takes your breath away. Whatever wealth the Tatsumi clan might possess, the Kuga clan's own prosperity puts it to shame. For a moment, you've almost forgotten why you're here. But there's business to be done. Lord Kuga Naotada himself has called upon your lord, but for some reason the man elected to send you in his stead. Curious.

As you approach the gates, you're accosted by a pair of guard. "Halt, sir. Please state your business at the royal palace." At least they're sharp enough to recognize that your dress marks you as someone of authority.

(Include your character name in each post, and include either a link to your sheet or the sheet itself in your first post; you can link to it in other posts as well if you like. During combat, keep track of your Health, Soul, and Wounds in each post; between combats, you can just update your sheet.

Be sure to follow all the plot threads so you can hand out Aiki chits as you feel is appropriate.)

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BattleCattle
May 11, 2014



Tatsumi Yabu<--sheet

Yabu's age may have whitened his hair and deepened the creases in his face, but his voice has only deepened with decades of use. He took a final puff from his tobacco pipe and removed it from his lips upon the guard's approach, and once they questioned his purpose, he presented his seal of office, and said...

"I am Inspector General Tatsumi Yabu. I have arrived on behalf of my lord, Tatsumi Shinji. It is my honor to hold audience with our Lord, the Incorruptible Kuga Naotada."

He bows slightly, minding his own station, and those of the guards before him.

---
Starting Fate Roll: 6d6 25
+2 Kiai (Starting with 3)

BattleCattle fucked around with this message at 01:25 on Aug 19, 2014

LizardBeam
May 17, 2005
Not an AmphiBeam

Tenou Kaede

Kaede sips at his tea, the warmth and aroma of it a kindness after his time on the road. It is not the best tea, but certainly not bad, and better than no tea at all. He sweeps a few stray strands of hair behind his ear as he considers the village, both from what he has seen outside and by those he observes in the tea house. It seems a small enough settlement that the chances of finding a rare scroll or other intellectual artifact are rare, but large enough that finding work should be no problem. He has enough money to last, but always wishes to avail himself to those who might have need of his services. One thing he has discovered in his travels, there is never a shortage of troubles in a place where mankind conglomera- his thought is cut short by a ruckus at a nearby table.

He sighs. It is not his job to handle such matters. Yet he never seems to be able to avoid meddling. He stands, smoothing his travelling clothes as he does so, and moves to get a better look at the situation at hand. He has a rough idea by context, but it wouldn't do to barge up to, say, an ornery samurai, without at least some kind of plan.

Should we take care of the starting Fate roll? And do we want to use orokos for rolling, GM rolling, or the honor system?

Starting Fate roll: 5d6u3 1 Ouch.

LizardBeam fucked around with this message at 16:50 on Aug 18, 2014

Chaos Triangle
Dec 9, 2007
DO NOT TRUST

Kuwabatake Hana

Hana manages a brittle smile. "You wanted him alive, didn't you? I wasn't the only one hunting this bastard, you know; the North Winds wanted him too, but only from the neck up. If I hadn't taken that detour through Oboro to shake off pursuit, you'd be lucky if I got him back to you at all, much less still breathing." In truth, she'd been annoyed at how long the job had taken her as well- but she wasn't about to admit that in front of them.

She looks around the room pointedly. "So, am I being paid or not?"

Starting fate roll: 4d6u3 3

Angling Dragon
Nov 15, 2012


Konoe Mitsuko

“Of course, Father,” Mitsuko says, nodding respectfully. “I won't disappoint you.” Her eyes drift from her father's face to the greatsword seated across his back. It was a beautiful blade, one she'd admired many times in the past, but more important was its symbolism.

It was the blade of the Warrior-General of Yasushi. The blade that embodied the resolve of the Yasushi people. The blade that had aided ten generations of Konoe leaders through war-torn times. The blade that, with her father's blessing, she would be next to wield. Today, more than ever, she felt her dream was close to reality...

Mitsuko shakes her head, snapping back to reality. Here she was, before an important strategic gathering, daydreaming like a teenager. A general is calm and collected at all times, she reminds herself; she can't have the military leaders of Taizen think the Yasushi military would eventually be headed by some absent-minded girl. Breathing deeply, Mitsuko resolves to handle the meeting with perfect form.

“Ready when you are, Father.”

3 Kiai no matter what, but let's roll anyway.
Starting Fate Roll: 3d6u3 1

Angling Dragon fucked around with this message at 22:38 on Aug 18, 2014

EclecticTastes
Sep 17, 2012

"Most plans are critically flawed by their own logic. A failure at any step will ruin everything after it. That's just basic cause and effect. It's easy for a good plan to fall apart. Therefore, a plan that has no attachment to logic cannot be stopped."


Jyo Kitamura

(Two Kiai to start with.)

The rain didn't bother Jyo anymore. The nomadic lifestyle involves a lot of inclement weather, and ever since he nearly froze to death in a blizzard two years back, the rain didn't much affect him. His walking stick sank slightly in the damp earth with each step, it's fortunate he'd gotten it lacquered last month in return for driving away a group of unemployed mercenaries-turned-robbers. It's easily the best walking stick Jyo's ever had, the weight and length were perfect for dealing with minor threats without having to spill blood. He makes a mental note to use a cherry wood branch again the next time he needs a replacement. His grip tightens as he hears the voices through the rain. The sheets coming down reduce visibility drastically, so Jyo suspects he'll be within striking distance before he's noticed. He exhales slowly, opening the Path of Broken Earth. He'll close the distance instantly once the time is right. He'll need to be fast, as they've taken the village chief's daughter, and there's no doubt that they wouldn't hesitate to use her as a hostage. As the blurry forms of the bandits come more clearly into view, he stays silent, waiting for them to notice his approach. Jyo's reputation precedes him wherever he goes, so their shocked reaction to the blade on his back should give him just the opening he needs to knock these three out before they can call for help. The rain should provide all the cover he needs for this operation, hiding their unconscious forms and muffling the blows. He strides ever forward, awaiting the predictable look of terror that all bandits display when they first realize that the Legendary Wanderer has come for them.

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.

Lu-si

Lu-si's smile for Shen fades as the samurai gets angry. She bundles herself deeper into her rags and tries to look uninteresting.

There wasn't much she could do, and besides, Shen was one of the biggest, toughest people she knew. He'd be fine.

Fate roll was a big fat zero, so I'll take the three starting Karma.

5-Headed Snake God
Jun 12, 2008

Do you see how he's a cat?


Yabu
You make your introduction and present your seal of office, and the guards bow respectfully. They hurry to open the gate, and a servant leads you to Lord Kuga's audience chamber. He's a young man, but despte that he carries himself with authority. Even seated, he leaves no doubt that he's well aware of his station.

Emotion Matrix: Yabu -> Lord Kuga: 2#1d6 1 4

That's 14: Pursuer, which is silly. I'll offer you 2 Aiki chits to shift that to 25: Admiration.


After you've made your obeisance and given leave to rise, the lord of Taizen spends several moments examining you. "Tatsumi Yabu, was it? I was not aware that Lord Tatsumi had decided to send another in his place. Did he tell you why?"

Kaede
You move quietly across the room, doing your best not to draw attention to yourself. The commotion is being caused mostly by a trio of men. They're not warriors, by the look of them (though two of them do have knives at their belts); more likely they're ordinary men, possibly drunk. The three of them are standing around a woman. An utterly beautiful woman, dressed in elegant clothes quite unsuited for travel.

Emotion Matrix: Kaede -> Woman: 2#1d6 5 2

52: Master. Not terrible, but we can do better. I'll offer you 2 Aiki chits to change that to 43: Love at First Sight.


The woman is doing her best to ignore the men (she's clearly not interested in them), though that is becoming increasingly difficult as they get more grabby.

Hana
The man gives you a flat look, then nods his head to one of the others. The second man (a guard, no doubt) produces a small pouch and tosses it to you. It has the familiar weight and jingle of money, and if you bother to count it you find that it contains the agreed-upon sum. Once you've indicated your satisfaction with it, the leader nods. "Got another job for you, if you want it. Big one. Double the usual fee, including half up front."

Mitsuko
"Good." Your father pushes open the doors, and the two of you enter the meeting room. Two men - soldiers, from the look of them - are already present. Your father approaches the older of them (obviously the commander) and shakes his hand. The two obviously have a lot of history. You don't know him, but your father seems to think well of him, so he has that in his favor. "Ashina Harutsugu. I haven't seen you since the Azai Campaign."

"Konoe Daichi! Still alive I see!" Commander Ashina laughs heartily. He turns to you. "And this must be your lieutenant."

"Yes. Allow me ontroduce my daughter, Konoe Mitsuko, future Warrior General of Yasushi."

"A pleasure," the commander says to you. And allow me to introduce my aide, Honjo Sadamune." The gestures to the other soldier, a much younger man who gives you a crisp bow. "Sir!"

Emotion Matrix: Mitsuko -> Sadamune: 2#1d6 5 2

52: Master. Orokos seems to like that one today. I'll offer you 2 Aiki chits to switch that to 63: Worthy Rival.


Jyo
You stride into the clearing, supremely confident of how the bandits will react, and how easily you'll be able to handle them. The three of them are quite boisterous, and it takes them a moment to notice you - but when they do, they react pretty much exactly as you expect. Even as they reach for their spears and swords, you've already closed the distance.

Feel free to narrate your scuffle with the bandits. Since this is the Zero Act, don't bother rolling dice; you're out of their league in any case.

Lu-si
It's extremely fortunate that the samurai doesn't seem to have noticed you. He seems quite angry, and quite dangerous. But his focus is on Fat Shen. The bulky man is bowing repeatedly and making apologies, but the samurai clearly wants none of it.

The earth rumbles. It's almost deafening - why does no one else seem concerned?

You watch what comes next as though everything is moving slowly. The samurai expands, his muscles ballooning out. People scream and scatter. Shen turns to run, but a powerful hand shoots out and grabs his shoulder. Despite the distance, you're sure you hear bones cracking. The samurai draws a katana, a gemblade, and brings it down on Fat Shen's back. Blood sprays. Another strike. More blood. Again and again the samurai brings his blade down on his helpless victim.

The earth screams.

5-Headed Snake God fucked around with this message at 07:25 on Aug 19, 2014

Chaos Triangle
Dec 9, 2007
DO NOT TRUST

Hana

Hana's eyebrows shoot up, then abruptly lower again. This is suspicious- though her employer, Genbu the Frog, paid fairly well, you'd never guess it from dealing with him; in fact, to hear him complain, one would think he paid every mon out of his own blood. More tellingly, she'd never once seen him offer payment up front in three years, much less without negotiation. Either this is suicide, or the Red Lotus is desperate indeed. Perhaps both. Still, double her usual...? That is too tempting to ignore.

"Go on."

Chaos Triangle fucked around with this message at 10:24 on Aug 19, 2014

EclecticTastes
Sep 17, 2012

"Most plans are critically flawed by their own logic. A failure at any step will ruin everything after it. That's just basic cause and effect. It's easy for a good plan to fall apart. Therefore, a plan that has no attachment to logic cannot be stopped."


Jyo

With what, to the naked eye, appears to be a single swing of his walking stick, all three bandits collapse in a heap, unconscious. A nearby group, just barely within visual range, is the next to fall. Unlike the first, Jyo gives them no chance to react, striking almost silently. He moves as though the enormous sword he carries with him were made of paper. He had been told there were roughly fifteen bandits, and he'd taken down seven. The remainder were huddled around a fire, its light a beacon through the pouring rain. Fire, though it illuminated the area around it, worked to further conceal anything outside its light from those standing near it. Jyo used this to his advantage, approaching far closer than he had to the other groups. It seems the bandits had at least some honor, they were keeping their captive near the warmth of the fire, as well. Jyo circled around the bandits until he was behind the pair nearest the girl, and took them down so quickly that he'd eliminated a third and fourth bandit before the remaining four noticed what was happening. They could only frantically flail for their weapons as Jyo descended upon them, though not before they'd cried for help. Jyo looked at the fallen bandits, and realized Zai the Blade was not among them. He took up position near the kidnapped girl, waiting for the head bandit to investigate his men's distress.

He'd heard of Zai the Blade. He was supposedly the leader of the Black Fang, but in reality was more like a weapon they simply turned loose on enemies. He had once been a soldier, the stories say, and when he lost an eye, he received a mechanica replacement from his lord, a Kou-type eye, a quality much higher than any soldier could normally hope for. It's said that when Zai first saw through his new eye, that was when his fate was sealed. The next day, he cut out his other eye and insisted that his lord's craftsman implant a second improved eye, forcing him at swordpoint when he refused. He had to flee his homeland after that, but he continued to seek out the most talented mechanica engineers, forcing them to replace more and more of his body with machine parts, all of them of the Kou class. His new body was specialized around the use of the Grudge Blade for which he's since been named. Having lost nearly all of his humanity, barely able to even speak, Zai is capable of only simple reasoning as he is led around by his followers, but the one part of his soul that still lingers at full intensity is his insatiable bloodlust. Jyo hopes that this Zai is as strong as they say, so that he might finally have a foe worth drawing his true blade for. It's been so long since Jyo has needed to use the Murasame that he's taken to practicing with it while traveling, to make sure he doesn't forget how to wield it. His hand reaches up to Murasame's hilt as an unmistakable whirring sound becomes audible through the downpour.

EclecticTastes fucked around with this message at 13:30 on Aug 19, 2014

BattleCattle
May 11, 2014



Tatsumi Yabu

Yabu took a puff from his pipe, and enjoyed the moment of silence that only a society with a healthy respect for the elderly can inspire. Finally, he answered...

"I believe you've received word already, but my master has fallen ill. It is severe enough that it is unwise for him to travel, especially so with no heir, should the unthinkable happen."

Another moment passed in silence. "It is not unheard of for me to travel in my lord's stead, you know. I performed the same duty when my former lord was alive. Ah... How long ago was the last time... Twenty, maybe twenty five years ago? You were a small child then, so I do not expect you to remember. Ohoho~, though I was still an old man, back then."

A gentle smile crossed his lips as he reminisced. "Ah, but I digress. I have served my house faithfully for three generations, and my lord trusts me to be his voice abroad when he is bedridden. Your father and I trusted each other, as well. I hope, in time, we can come to trust each other as fellow servants of our nation."

Lord Kuga can faintly sense Yabu's Admiration.

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.

Lu-si

The last thing Lu-si remembers about that day is poor, poor Shen's face as part of him hit the ground, and how surprised he looked. The earth remembers the rest. It remembers most things.

The earth remembers shutting out the sha around the samurai and how he withered when he was cut off from his spirit rider. It remembers lending some of its strength to the girl, one of its chosen people. It remembers the little oni shaking to her feet and the snap of the fragment of sha as it clipped through the air, and the samurai.

It remembers giving her a gentle push in the other direction, and setting her down gently, before taking a rest itself. To do this work was tiring, these days. Quite a lot tired the earth as of late.

Angling Dragon
Nov 15, 2012


Mitsuko

“The pleasure is mine. Commander Ashina, Mr Honjo.” Mitsuko bows to each man in turn as she addresses them. Having paid her respects, she tries to assess the two soldiers in front of her. Commander Ashina was an open-and-shut case; her father respected him, and that was good enough for her. The younger Sadamune sparked her interest though.

He seemed polite enough, and well-versed in decorum to be part of a meeting like this. She'd heard of many powerful warriors in Commander Ashina's forces, and to be made his aide in spite of them said a lot about Sadamune's martial abilities. She could see it even now; something about his posture, his stance, showed his battle-readiness without exuding any actual aggression. It seemed like something he'd perfected for use wherever he may be.

A master of maneuvering in and out of court then. Mitsuko swore to herself that if Sadamune was the standard of soldier Taizen possessed, then for the pride of the Konoe clan, she had to surpass him.

Worthy rival sounds good.

LizardBeam
May 17, 2005
Not an AmphiBeam

Tenou Kaede

Kaede pauses for a moment, stunned by the beauty before him. He feels a stirring in his chest, feels as if the earth itself has moved. He collects himself - now is not the time to stare, lest the poor lady be further harassed by these ruffians. He approaches, openly now. He pushes down the anger rising in his chest - most of it is irrational, he's certain, but there is a core of righteousness to it.

"Excuse me, friends. I cannot but help notice some agitation," he begins, his voice clear but not over loud. "A tea house is a place of relaxation, quiet conversation. Perhaps you should return to your table, have another cup of tea, or seek to occupy yourselves elsewhere?" He does not wish to be rude or provoke the men, but he realizes this is mostly a function of their obstinance. There is also, though, that undercurrent of reproachful anger, and he continues without thinking, "Preferably in a way that does not have you haranguing people who obviously do not wish for your attentions."

Taking those chits.

5-Headed Snake God
Jun 12, 2008

Do you see how he's a cat?


Hana
"You've got your ear to the ground; I'm sure I don't need to tell you about our recent... problems." The man coughs somewhat nervously. He's clearly not used to admitting weakness, and the Red Lotus' recent loss to the Smoke River Gang is a definite sign of that. "Part of our, uh, agreement was that we hand over a traitor of their who defected to our side." He produces a piece of rice paper with a sketch of a fairly nondescript middle-aged man on it. "Name's Toramaru Jubei. Bring him back alive. Smoke River has some punishment in mind for him.

"Any questions?"

Jyo
Haha, okay, that's a bit heavy on the detail. Especially since I'm about to contradict it.

As the last bandit falls, you look around for the girl, only to find that she's not there. As you come to this realization, a voice calls from behind you: "Right, that's enough." You turn, and see one last bandit - a muscle-covered monster carrying a gemblade katana in one hand. In his other arm is the mayor's daughter, and the sword's blade is at her throat. Although there's no sign of mechanica anywhere on the man (though he is wearing an eyepatch), there's no doubt in your mind that this is Zai the Blade. He's huge, and there's an almost palpable aura of bloodlust surrounding him.

Emotion Matrix: Jyo -> Zai: 2#1d6 3 4

34: Deep Impression. No good. You can have an Aiki chit if you change it to 44: Fear. Maybe you've finally met your match...


"That's some blade. You must be the kid they call the 'Legendary Wanderer.' That was pretty good, what you did to my men, but I think you're done now." He presses the sword's blade against the girl's neck, drawing a few drops of blood. "Drop the stick and the sword, or I give my blade a drink."

Yabu
Lord Kuga nods. "Good enough. If Lord Tatsumi puts his trust in you, that is enough for me." The lord of Taizen stands and motions for you to follow as he heads out of the audience chamber, into the palace gardens. You hear a shamisen being played somewhere within, though you cannot place its source. At length, Lord Kuga speaks again. "I'm sure word is buzzing all across the nation about the recent cease-fire with Marashina, and about a pet project of mine." He smiles. "In truth, the two are somewhat related. The world is changing, Sir Tatsumi, and I mean for Taizen to keep up with that change. Without saying too much, my trip to the treaty signing will not be by royal procession, as is common. I mean to take another route, something I suspect will be a hundred times more dangerous, and I would have you accompany me." He gives you a meaningful look, as if trying to read your answer from your expression alone.

Lu-si
The last thing you remember about that day was the fate of Fat Shen. It follows, then, that when you regained your senses, lying on a small pallet of straw, the day had already turned.

You're not sure where you are. It's dark, but you can see sunlight creeping in from under a door on the opposite side of the room. It's only when your eyes adjust to the gloom that you realize you're not alone. A human man is sitting propped against another wall in the small building. He's dressed plainly, his face concealed by a straw hat, his head bowed in sleep. You don't think you know him, though that's not unusual. Since he's asleep, you could probably sneak out without alerting him - though you're still pretty exhausted, and it's been a long time since you got to sleep on anything softer than dirt.

Mitsuko
Ah, two posts in and I hosed up, which I guess is what I get for posting while sleep-deprived. I got his name backwards - it's Sadamune Honjo, not Honjo Sadamune.

"Lieutenant, ma'am," replies Sadamune, somewhat icily. He's showing you proper decorum, but only just. Your failure to address him by rank seems to have upset him. Perhaps he's simply high-strung. Neither your father nor Commander Ashina seem to notice, however, and the four of you gather around a table to discuss plans for the upcoming battle.

The planning session is mostly uneventful. Ashina and your father to the bulk of the talking. They ask you and Sadamune for input on a few occasions, but for the most part they're sticking to established battle strategy. What you remember most about the session is Sadamune, focused and sharp, ever ready for the unexpected...

...Which seems especially germane now, out in the field. The meeting remains sharp in your mind even now, as you stand by your father's side while he directs his armies in the field. The fighting has mostly subsided, and a messenger is giving a report. "-flank collapsed. The ashigaru were routed by the enemy cavalry unit, but kijin reinforcements from our allies stopped them and kept our center intact long enough to take out the enemy main line. They're in full retreat, sir." Your father nods and dismisses the messenger, then turns to you.

"That was closer than I would have liked," he says with a frown. "We owe our lives to whoever led that kijin unit."

Kaede
The men turn to you as you approach and try to defuse the situation. "...'Scuse me?" one of the men says. He leaves the woman alone to focus on you, which would be fortunate if he weren't about twice your size. How did you not notice that before? "I don't think you're involved here, friend." He shoves you to emphasize just how good of a friend you are. "Beat it." The woman, for her part, seems mildly perplexed by your actions, if the look on her face is any indicator.

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.

Lu-si

This isn't the first time Lu-si's awoken in a strange place under bizarre circumstances. She's more concerned with her friend Shen. He'd always come by every day, making sure she had enough to eat and an out of the way place to sleep. He never hurt anyone unless they started it. And now he was gone.

The stranger in the room is immaterial compared to the loss of Shen. Lu-si rolls over on the straw and sniffles softly to herself.

EclecticTastes
Sep 17, 2012

"Most plans are critically flawed by their own logic. A failure at any step will ruin everything after it. That's just basic cause and effect. It's easy for a good plan to fall apart. Therefore, a plan that has no attachment to logic cannot be stopped."


Jyo

(I'd actually planned ahead for either outcome to that bit of detail. And I think I'll pass on the chit and move the Emotion Matrix over to 15: Nostalgia. Jyo's fear died with his squad.)

The wanderer shook his head in disappointment. Looks like the stories were just that, probably spread by Zai himself to keep people too afraid of him to attempt to fight back. It was a good story at least, if Jyo's life were ever peaceful enough for him to settle down, he'd have to remember to share it with his children. He spoke to Zai as he began to disarm himself. First, he dropped his walking stick. "You know, there is a proverb you may be interested in, Zai the Blade. If, while traveling along the road, you meet the Buddha, kill the Buddha." He unslung Murasame from his back and laid it gently against one of the logs the bandits had been using as seating. "If, while traveling along the road, you meet your father, kill your father." He removed his saber from his belt, laying it next to his other sword, as he reopened the Path of Broken Earth. "And if, while traveling along the road, you meet yourself..." Jyo pulled his cloak closer to himself, and felt the power fill his legs as his ninjutsu was completed. "Kill yourself." With the power of Shadowflight and Broken Earth, and without Murasame weighing him down, Jyo could move faster than anyone could react at this range, not even himself.

Jyo still had what was left of Captain Fujiwara's gemblade katana hidden on the back of his belt. It was snapped right through the lowest soul gem slot, leaving only the last foot of the blade, making it easy to conceal. As soon as Zai responded to Jyo's mantra, he'd make his move. There would be a blur, but only for the blink of an eye, and then he would be in front of Zai, and Zai's sword arm would already be cut and thrown back, to keep the blade well away from the girl. It's funny, Jyo thought, he hadn't needed to use this technique since before he started wandering. Of course, he used a knife back then. Karin had gotten careless, a guard had her restrained, with a gun trained on Jyo. It was as close as he'd ever been to failing a mission, but that's when he realized the reasoning behind his ninjustsu's perplexing mantra. The enemy wouldn't realize what was happening until it was too late, especially when they didn't even realize they were facing someone trained in the Shinobi Arts. Of course, Jyo realized, now was no time to get lost in memories, and he brought himself back to focus, awaiting Zai's response, at which point he would be be cut off mid-sentence, quite literally.

Chaos Triangle
Dec 9, 2007
DO NOT TRUST

Hana

Hana's mouth twitched at the mention of the Smoke River Gang. "Ah. Yes." That explained it. Though they'd been around for a long time, it was only in the last several months that the Smoke River had started expanding their operations, coinciding with the death of their old head- though the new leader had remained oddly anonymous, they were clearly hungry to move up. What's more, the amount of muscle they'd been bringing to bear was completely out of line with their expected level of power and influence- several notorious enforcers had been bought out or defected, and even wilder rumors abounded, like that they employed ninja, or even ayakashi. Nonsense, of course, she was sure of that. Not her business anyway.

Toramaru... The name sounded vaguely familiar, but not enough for Hana to place it offhand. He didn't look like muscle, so if the Red Lotus had seen fit to poach him he probably controlled some territory- gambling or drugs, most likely. "Where was he last seen? Any known hangouts? Family? I assume he had some authority; are any of his lieutenants still around, or did the Smoke River already get to them?" She tried not to think about the inflection on the word punishment.

Chaos Triangle fucked around with this message at 02:26 on Aug 21, 2014

BattleCattle
May 11, 2014



Tatsumi Yabu

Yabu's brow furrowed. Were he a younger man, he would ask about the details of the mission before accepting: The hows and whys, especially why Kuga would risk so much travelling so far beyond the walls without the protection of a royal procession. He knew better than to ask, though. Through all his years, it has never proved beneficial to appear insincere in the sight of one's Lord. Times change, but honor and duty are steadfast. It's best to accept the mission and sort out the details afterward.

Besides, this was why he was sent here in the first place.

"Of course, it will be my honor to accompany you, my Lord." He said, bowing low. "My soul and my sword are sworn to your service."

LizardBeam
May 17, 2005
Not an AmphiBeam

Tenou Kaede

Kaede lets out a breath, something between a sigh and an exhalation from the force of the shove. He straightens himself up, maintaining what dignity he can in this situation. "It involves me so far as we are both a part of this society, and it is all of our duty to tend to its physical, mental, and spiritual health as well as we are able. As such, when I see someone not only upsetting those around them by forcing themselves upon others, disrupting the local flow of sha with negative thought and action, but then being indignant when called to task on it, I feel the need to help in any way that I can." He smiles, "You see, it is not just the young lady I am worried for, but you. If you insist on a path of violence and disregard for those around you, very well. Merely keep in mind that by lashing out, you hurt yourself most of all."

Angling Dragon
Nov 15, 2012


Mitsuko

“Agreed, Father. It seems the Squalling Winds deserve their reputation.” Mitsuko states while nodding solemnly. While the cavalry, a staple of the Marashina military, had been anticipated, the mercenary Dragon Knights had not. Even word of the Winds involvement had unsettled the troops and though she had managed to rally them and reform the ranks, it seems that the center units had been routed by the sheer relentlessness of the enemy's charges. “Still, that means the actual Marashina troops here are fewer than expected. The Winds will not be happy with this loss, and if we can drive the wedge we've created in further, we can sour their relationship and press our advantage against a weaker Marashina force.”

Putting aside any future manuevering, Mitsuko remembers that none of it would be possible if not for the kijin unit. She recalls the strategy meeting, ignoring her missteps for the time being, and notes the name of their saviour. “The Kijin Chief would be Ashina Akio, Father.” she says, somewhat surprised. Akio was the nephew of Commander Ashina and had been absent from the meeting itself. Called “Demon Eyes” for his deadly sha-powered mechanica, and spoke of by his uncle mainly in back-handed compliments about his aggressiveness, Mitsuko had thought he was unreliable at best. His performance here certainly showed why his uncle fielded him as an officer.

“Even though we're allies, it's a bit frightening to have a unit that effective on the field.” Mitsuko chuckles softly while continuing. “A unit that small turning back a cavalry charge; those kijin definitely should not be underestimated.” While drawn to the idea of such an heroic moment, she knew she had a higher duty as future commander to prevent her people from falling into those situations at all.

5-Headed Snake God
Jun 12, 2008

Do you see how he's a cat?


Lu-si
"I'm sorry about your friend," says the stranger. His voice is soft, and he seems genuine about what he says. He stays silent for the next several minutes, leaving you to your sorrow in peace. When he does speak, it's to ask "Are you hungry?"

Emotion Matrix: Lu-si -> Stranger: 2#1d6 4 3

43: Love at First Sight. Definitely not appropriate. I'll off you 2 chits to change that to 54: Goodwill.


Jyo
You're welcome to move the Matrix result; just be sure to pay the 3 Kiai. But I'll offer you 2 chits to change that yet again to 64: Thirst for Your Blood.

Zai opens his mouth to respond, but his words are lost as you burst into motion. Then several things happen, and it's only in retrospect that your mind catches up and makes sense of them. Zai reacts to your movement; he's not quick enough to parry or counter your attack, but the shift in position changes the situation entirely. Moving too quickly to adjust the angle of your strike, you bring it down. The attack doesn't take of Zai's arm, but it does remove his hand. Unfortunately, it also cuts into the girl, severing her own arm at the shoulder. Blood sprays, both Zai's and the girl's. Zai grunts; the girl screams.

In the aftermath, several more bandits arrive, apparently drawn by the commotion. Zai glowers at you, the hate evident from his expression, but he begins to back away, clearly worried that you'll ignore the girl and finish him off.

Hana
"He didn't have any lieutenants. He was an information man: he dug up rumors and found his people good jobs. He probably had his own informants, but no one we know of who was loyal. Just hired types. Last word says he was headed for the capital. Don't know why."

Yabu
Lord Kuga smiles. "Excellent. Then you are hereby charged with the protection of my person, as well as the cargo we will be transporting." He nods to the side, and as you turn your head, you realize that the shamisen music stopped several minutes ago. Standing in the direction your lord indicated is a woman, incomparably beautiful. Based on that, and the fact that she was refered to as "cargo," you'd be inclined to guess she's a kugutsu. "This is Autumn Dawn. I am offering her to the lord of Marashina as a peace offering." The woman nods to you but doesn't interrupt.

Emotion Matrix: Yabu -> Autumn Dawn: 2#1d6 6 2

62: Chaos. I'm okay with this.


Lord Kuga turns back to you, his expression serious. "Taizen cannot afford continued conflict. We don't have the men nor the resources for a protracted engagement. Autumn Dawn must make it to the treaty signing."

Kaede
"Well, let's see about that." Before you've really processed the meaning behind that response, the man's fist connects with your face, sending you sprawling. The blow causes no serious injury, but it leaves you dazed for a couple of minutes. During that time, you're dimly aware of some cries of surprise, some shouting, and someone dabbing your bloody nose with a cloth. As your vision stops swimming and your ears stop ringing, you can see that the woman is holding the cloth, and another man is leaning over, looking down at you with a frown. "That," says the man, "was incredibly foolish." He offers his hand to help you to your feet. "Still, it was brave, if nothing else. Not many would anger three men for the sake of another."

Emotion Matrix: Kaede -> Man: 2#1d6 1 4

14: Pursuer. I'll offer you 2 chits to change that to 12: Acquaintance. Maybe you met him when serving the Tenou family?


Mitsuko
"Actually, Ashina's unit was tied up in another engagement," says a voice from your right. You turn your head; it's Lieutenant Sadamune. "The unit that saved your ashigaru was called in by me. I thought you might need the assistance." He bows politely to your father. "Sir."

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.

Lu-si Aiki: 3

Lu-si doesn't roll back over to face the man in the straw hat, but she does wipe her eyes and start looking for a way out.

"How do you know about Shen?"

EclecticTastes
Sep 17, 2012

"Most plans are critically flawed by their own logic. A failure at any step will ruin everything after it. That's just basic cause and effect. It's easy for a good plan to fall apart. Therefore, a plan that has no attachment to logic cannot be stopped."


Jyo

(Deal, I'll put three Kiai down to move it to Thirst for Your Blood, I've got plenty of reason for it now.)

Zai had thrown off Jyo's aim. He wasn't as used to using the broken sword as he was Murasame, and now his hands were stained with the blood of an innocent. He could do nothing except stare blankly, shocked at what had happened. And then, everything went blank for the Legendary Wanderer. The next thing he knew, he was covered in blood, Murasame was in his hand, and the remains of the bandits were strewn about the camp. Zai the Blade was on his back at Jyo's feet, alive, but clearly terrified. Taking in what had transpired, Jyo gave Zai a hard look, and brandished Murasame in his direction. "Your stolen money, goods, all of it. I'm taking it back with me. You cost an innocent woman an arm, and you will pay to replace it, or I'll take your head as consolation."

EclecticTastes fucked around with this message at 17:01 on Aug 22, 2014

Angling Dragon
Nov 15, 2012


Mitsuko

Mitsuko follows her father's greeting with a polite "Lieutenant." Despite praising the unit's actions moments ago, she finds Sadamune's involvement slightly annoying. If only in her own mind, her performance now seems inadequate. Still, a victory is a victory, and he deserves due credit for his part in it.

"That was excellent judgement, Lieutenant. We owe this victory to you then. I assume that means the fighting went well for your units?"

Chaos Triangle
Dec 9, 2007
DO NOT TRUST

Hana

"I see. That should be enough, then." Hana frowned as she turned away. The capital? That was... An odd choice, at first glance. Too many eyes, too much chance of getting caught- if the Red Lotus was desperate enough to pay her twice her usual rate, there was no doubt the Smoke River would have their own men looking out for Toramaru as well. Either he had connections her employers didn't know about, or was planning something. Either way, it looked like her best bet was to look for leads once she got there.

She opened the door to leave, then paused and turned back. "Oh, yes, I believe you mentioned something about half up front...?"

BattleCattle
May 11, 2014



Yabu

Yabu gave Autumn Dawn a once over. She certainly is pleasing to the eye, as should be expected from a living work of art. She seems to be well trained in music and court manners, so she'd certainly make a fine bargaining chip depending on her temperament... Which can only paint a bigger target on his lord's head. He wondered if she's really valuable enough to decide a whole war, but Kugutsu appraisal really isn't in his line of work. He scowls slightly. Either way, this only complicates his already complicated work. Even though he can more than handle the job, unforeseen details are still a pain to deal with.

Still, she is easy on the eyes.

"I understand. Has she been briefed on the details of our journey?" He asks, implying that it would be rude to bother his Lord for such information. He's seen men lose their heads trying to interrogate their lord out of turn.

LizardBeam
May 17, 2005
Not an AmphiBeam

Tenou Kaede

Kaede comes to, a blurry vision of beauty in front of him. It takes a moment to register the man, his words and hand extended in good will. He takes it, struggling to recall where he knows the man from. "I suppose it may have been foolish, but I achieved my goal and they did not." He looks to the woman, pausing to thank her before continuing, "They were not nobles or samurai, and we are in a public place. They would not kill me, and any altercation would quickly be broken up before any major injury could be inflicted." He touches his nose, winces. "As such, they traded their objective of bothering the young lady here, to mildly inconveniencing a stranger." He grins, trying to disguise that his nose really hurts, "Whereas they have left, the young lady is well, and this place is peaceful yet again. Thus, victory." He does not feel the need to mention the bonus of being able to meet the object of their attention.

He bows to the both of them, "It is good to see you again, --"

I figure Kaede has a good head for names, so he'll say it there. Taking the chits for Acquaintance

5-Headed Snake God
Jun 12, 2008

Do you see how he's a cat?


Lu-si
"Your friend? I didn't. But the way you reacted... He was no stranger to you." He smiles wanly. "Are you hungry?" he asks abruptly. "I have a little food."

Jyo
Zai nods, keeping himself remarkably calm for a man who's just lost a hand. "Yeah yeah, sure!" He nods off in the direction from which he came. "There's a cave over there. All our stuff's in there. It's yours." He begins climbing to his feet, warily, and backs away. You don't have time to chase him, not if you're going to save the girl.

As you trudge back to the village, the girl unconscious on your back, you wonder how things came to this. Zai is hardly a unique creature; men like him prey on villages all over Taizen. And really, there's only one man responsible for the security of the nation. Kuga Naotada... It seems

This is the end of your Zero Act. Your Destiny is "Emotion: Resentment toward Lord Kuga." You can change "Resentment" to "Hatred" if you feel that's more appropriate.

Mitsuko
Sadamune nods. "Indeed." It's hard to say whether he's affirming that the fighting went well or that you owe him your lives. "Your pardon, but I must take stock of my losses and report to my commander." He gives the two of you another curt bow, turns, and departs. Turning to the side, you see your father nodding, clearly impressed

A few years later, as you lay bleeding and broken, your body decimated, you recall the scene vividly. Sadamune Honjo broke your enemies and saved your forces almost alone. And now you share their fate. Even if you survive this, how will you ever earn that kind of respect from your father?

This is the end of your Zero Act. Your Destiny is "Goal: Surpass Sadamune."

Hana
One of the men tosses you another bag, similarly heavy with gold, and you head off.

Days later, you find yourself in the capital, and the whole place is abuzz with activity. Apparently, the lord of Taizen has unveiled some new kind of armour, one designed to carry civilians. And it's headed right to Marashina. It's not hard to figure out why Toramaru Jubei would have come here. Quick transport to another country, with a crowd of people with no papers? He'd be able to escape easily. And so you find yourself among the crowds, trying, futilely, to find someone who looks like your target.

"What?! Papers?! How dare you?! I am Sanjou Kiyomaro, and I demand to be treated with more respect than this!" It's a man's voice, but only barely, given how shrill it is. You quickly locate its source: a well-dressed man, obviously noble, arguing with some guards. After a moment and some profuse apology, the soldiers let him on the train. You only get a glimpse of his face, but it strikes you immediately. His resemblance to Jubei is remarkable. Maybe he's hiding in plain sight? It would be bold, but nobles get private passage. It would give him all the peace he needs.

Emotion Matrix: Hana -> Lord Sanjou: 2#1d6 1 3

13: Desire. Well. I'll pay you two chits to move that to 33: A Warning!


Yabu
"Indeed," replies Lord Kuga, leading you through the garden. "Allow me to brief you as well..."

This is the end of your Zero Act. Your Destiny is "Goal: Protect Lord Kuga & Autumn Dawn."

Kaede
"-sir," you finish. The man is Sadamune Honjo, captain of the Taizen palace guard. He's also the bodyguard to Taizen's lord, and you've seen him a few times when Lord Kuga came to visit your master. He's not what you'd call a friend, but he's always struck you as a decent sort.

"Well, you aren't lacking in bravery," he replies, looking you over briefly to make sure your injuries aren't serious. "Hmm..." He taps his chin thoughtfully. "Ah, yes, I remember now. You're Tenou Kazuo's adpoted son, yes?"

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.

Lu-si

Lu-si has heard about these types. Shen told her to stay away from them. Poor Shen...

If you were lucky, they were Phoenix sect evangelists. If you weren't... there was a reason she kept a little knife hidden in her belt.

"I don't want your food," she rasps. "I want you to leave me alone. Go away or I'll scream."

Chaos Triangle
Dec 9, 2007
DO NOT TRUST

Hana

Hana cursed as she tried to elbow her way through the crowd, but it was too late. Sanjou was gone almost as soon as she'd spotted him. He'd be locked in a private room long before she could get on the train, and if he was Toramaru, there'd be no way he was coming out until they were out of the country. Still, it was too big a coincidence to ignore. It might be difficult, but she'd have to confront Sanjou before the train stopped. The good news was, as long as it was still moving, he wouldn't be going anywhere. She started moving toward the doors; there was no way she'd find Toramaru in this crowd, and he would have to be on this train. Easier to search once it had left. She'd find her target, drag him screaming back to the Red Lotus and get her payday. And then maybe, just maybe, she'd get out of this godforsaken business once and for all.

Her hand strayed toward Hiroko's gun without thinking. Soon enough, sister, she thought wistfully. Soon enough.

5-Headed Snake God
Jun 12, 2008

Do you see how he's a cat?


Lu-si
The man seems equally surprised and concerned. "If you're sure," he replies gently, then I'll go. "But I can hear your stomach growling from here." He holds out a couple of plain - but nonetheless tantalizing - rice balls.

Hana
Unfortunately, by the time you've made your way to the frnt of the crowd, the "nobleman" has already boarded the Steel Arrow - and you're not allowed into the nobles' private compartments. Still, passage is free. Getting passage as a commoner should be easy enough, and ocne you're on board... The leap of logic isn't far, and you're already putting together a plan as you board the armour.

This is the end of your Zero Act. Your Destiny is "Goal: Bring in Toramaru Jubei."

5-Headed Snake God fucked around with this message at 13:11 on Aug 31, 2014

LizardBeam
May 17, 2005
Not an AmphiBeam

Tenou Kaede

"Yes, sir. Tenou Kaede. I am glad to see you well." He bows again, then turns to the young lady, "And I am glad to meet you, miss...?" There is a hint of a smile on his face as he asks, the very act of looking at her filling him with some small joy.

Sorry, this weeks was crazy busy.

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.

Lu-si

Lu-si gives the straw-hat man an astonishingly cynical look for someone so young. Then she draws in a deep breath and screams like she's being flayed alive.

Pretty categorically rejecting this gesture of human kindness.

5-Headed Snake God
Jun 12, 2008

Do you see how he's a cat?


Kaede
"Ah," says the captain. "This is lady Autumn Dawn." The lady gives you a polite bow. "So, how is your father these days?"

Lu-si
The man frowns and quickly departs the room, leaving you alone with your misery. All you want is to be alone right now; you don't need him around. Still, as silence settles back into the room, part of you can't help but feel guilty. He did try to help you, after all. Now, surrounded by silence, you can't help but wonder whether being alone is really such a good thing.

And I reject your rejection. Well, sort of.

Anyway, this is the end of your Zero Act. Your Destiny is "Misfortune: All alone."

LizardBeam
May 17, 2005
Not an AmphiBeam

Kaede

Keade's smile fades. "Ah, I guess you have not heard. I am afraid he has passed, along with his liege."

5-Headed Snake God
Jun 12, 2008

Do you see how he's a cat?


Kaede
"Ah." Sadamune bows respectfully. "I am sorry He was a great man." As he straightens, he gives you an oddly scrutinizing look, then continues, "Forgive me for being so forward, but would your services be available. I seem to recall your father mentioning you having some training as an onmyoji, and my lord is in great need of them these days. Lady Autumn Dawn and I are returning to the capital; I would be happy to bring you with us.

For you, as a wanderer who just stumbled upon a myserious beauty, there can be only one answer.

This is the end of your Zero Act. Apologies for not letting you give the response yourself, but it's run a bit long and I'm sure the other players are getting a bit impatient. Your Destiny is "Emotion: In Love with Autumn Dawn," which I'm sure surprised no one.

EclecticTastes
Sep 17, 2012

"Most plans are critically flawed by their own logic. A failure at any step will ruin everything after it. That's just basic cause and effect. It's easy for a good plan to fall apart. Therefore, a plan that has no attachment to logic cannot be stopped."


Jyo Kitamura - Intermission

Clouds hang heavy in the sky, blocking the moon from view this night and fully obscuring the shadowy forms moving swiftly over the Marashina countryside. Four kimen suit armors are followed by a full-sized, meikyo model, each a custom job. In the lead is Captain Dan Fujiwara, in a heavily modified TK-17 "Tanto" Kimen suit, the same model used by Taizen heavy infantry. The three following him each wear a unique model derived from the Tanto, but more heavily modified to enable covert operations. Kenta Yamada keeps pace in the "Kama" model, specialized for rapid movement and melee combat, designed to dash in and take out targets before anyone knew what hit them. Following behind are the sisters, Karin and Keiko Takahara, in the "Shuriken" and "Kunai", a long-range sniping model and mixed-range skirmisher, respectively. Bringing up the rear is the team's insurance, Jyo Kitamura in the TY-22 "Wakizashi" model yoroi armor, a slimmed-down model derived from Taizen's primary frontline combat armor, the "Katana". It was meant to provide fire support for the team without sacrificing much in the way of stealth capability. Together, this squad is the primary operational unit of Taizen's Yorio Special Tactics Division, a secret military outfit charged with performing tasks deemed politically inconvenient if Taizen were to be seen as directly responsible.

Tonight's orders are simple. Burn down a small farming village on the border of Marashina and Taizen, make it look like bandits. This will apply pressure to Marashina and force them to accept less favorable terms in the ongoing peace talks with Taizen. The team moves quickly, quicker yet because they have the freedom granted by total darkness, courtesy of the fortunate cloud cover. Soon, the village was in sight, and the team takes cover in a nearby copse of trees, to coordinate the actual attack. Nobody could be allowed to see them and survive, so care would have to be taken if civilian casualties were to be minimized. It wasn't until the shell from a Howling Dragon Mortar reduced Kenta to a smoking crater that any of them realized they'd walked right into a trap, set by their own superiors. They heard the warnings, the insincere offer of leniency if only they'd just step out into the searchlights the Taizen armors were shining around outside the treeline. It was sheer chance that Kenta had been near one of the view gaps in the trees that led to a clear line of sight to the surrounding meadowlands. Karin panicked first, running out and bowing in a plea for mercy, the last the team saw of her was her suit vanished beneath the lead armor's foot. Keiko, naturally, lost her head at this, and launched herself towards the assailants. She was cut to pieces by a hail of bullets as she tried to avenge her sister. The remaining squad members remained hidden, until the leader of the Taizen soldiers announced that all the other YSTD members had been killed, their secret headquarters razed. Captain Fujiwara told Jyo to run, but he refused. The Special Tactics Division was the only family he'd ever known, better they die together. And so, the two remaining squad members of the Yoroi Special Tactic Division attacked, an effort as doomed as those making it.

Ironic, then, that the shots that destroyed his armor left Jyo almost entirely unscathed. Nearly a fully day after the trap had been sprung, the remains of the YTSD had not been moved, their killers not even showing enough respect to conduct burial rites for their victims. Jyo regained consciousness to find that the one bullet that would have struck him had instead been blocked by his Meikyo mirror, which now lay in two pieces. The worst injury he'd suffered was a bump on the head when his armor went down. With effort, he was able to crawl out of his ruined cockpit, and survey the area. The sun was entirely too bright, too cheerful for what he saw that day, the remains of his closest friends left to rot. Captain Fujiwara's armor, oddly, was empty. Jyo assumed he'd been taken for a more public execution, or perhaps proof that the team had indeed been wiped out. He saw the broken remnants of the captain's sword, and picked it up without thinking. He then noticed his squad's standard still hanging from the bullet-riddled chassis of his armor, so charred that their insignia was no long visible. He took that, too, draping it over his shoulders as a makeshift cloak. Lastly, he pried the blade from the hands of his armor, the weight nearly toppling him. He remembered what the captain had told him when he was given the Wakizashi. The blade it carried had been specially forged for his use by one of Taizen's most talented swordsmiths, and was considerably stronger than the average sword of its type. With these three things, tokens of friends lost and vengeance due, Jyo Kitamura made his way to the nearby village, posing as a wandering salvage hunter, having just picked over the fallen armor about a mile outside of town. Nobody questioned his story, why would they? He was only a teenager, he didn't seem like a threat. And to the people of Marashina, he wasn't. But he swore, one day he'd return to Taizen, and he'd make Kuga Naotada pay for what he'd done. And now, about a mile outside a small village on the Marashina border, near the rusting remains of a destroyed armor, four grave markers can be found, their origins known to none but one man.


Jyo awoke with a start, his memories replaying themselves in his dreams like angry spirits. He was on the road, having just left town. He found his welcome thoroughly worn out when he returned a kidnapped young woman with one limb less than she'd left with, and he couldn't possibly blame them for it. He sighed heavily, staring up at the stars, trying to will a good night's rest upon himself. Of course, he already knew, on nights when the ghosts of his past visited him, he would not be getting much sleep. Perhaps once Kuga Naotada has been brought to justice, Jyo's dreams will finally be peaceful.

5-Headed Snake God
Jun 12, 2008

Do you see how he's a cat?


Act One: All Aboard!
It's a warm spring morning in Taizen as the Steel Arrow makes its debut. It's practically a holiday, as nearly everyone seems to have left his or her job behind to come see this new marvel of transportation. Many seem skeptical about its future, but to gaze upon the vehicle itself, it's hard not to feel a sense of awe.

Yabu/Kaede
"...Autumn Dawn and I will be in the last of the private cars, adjacent to the guard post. Move about as you require, and let me know if you learn anything important, Lord Tatsumi." Lord Kuga Naotada is just finishing with his instructions for the inspector-general. "Now then, where is..? Ah!" He gestures toward an approaching figure in a crisp military uniform, a gemblade katana at his side. With him is a man Yabu does not recognize, though based on his dress he's like an onmyoji. "Lord Tatsumi, this is the captain of my personal guard, Sadamune Honjo." The captain gives you a respectful bow. "And who have you brought with you, captain? One of the mechanics?"

Sadamune shakes his head and motions for Kaede to introduce himself.

Emotion Matrix: Yabu -> Kaede: 2#1d6 1 2

12: Acquaintance. This is fine.

Emotion Matrix: Kaede -> Yabu: 2#1d6 6 3

63: Worthy Rival. I don't see Kaede viewing Yabu that way. I'll offer you 2 chits to change that to 61: Deja Vu.


Jyo (+Lu-si)
Finding Kuga Naotada was easy enough. After all, this is an important event. He could be nowhere else. Unfortunately, it's dealing with him that's the problem. Security is quite tight, and even if you could kill him and get out, that isn't the point. That wouldn't reveal his crimes to the world, nor be a just punishment for what he's done. That's going to be a trickier matter, and it's going to require you getting about the Steel Arrow without being stopped on account of your weapon

So instead, you've sneaked aboard. The arrow has two cars for baggage, despite only having a handful of noble passengers. Even away from home, they simply cannot live without their luxuries. Your gaze sweeps across the room, looking at all the excess... And lands squarely upon someone else with the same idea as yourself. Crawling in through the door is what looks like a young girl, though you can't make out much else in the dim light.

Emotion Matrix: Jyo -> Lu-si: 2#1d6 2 1

21: Loyalty. Nope. I'll offer you 2 chits to change that to 32: I am Salvation.

Emotion Matrix: Lu-si -> Jyo: 2#1d6 4 4

44: Fear. Works for me. A brooding guy with a huge sword is pretty scary.

I don't have anything for Mitsuko yet, but you'll be appearing soon enough!

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grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.

Lu-si

Lu-si freezes at the sight of the dire-looking man. She reaches for her knife with a trembling hand.

Yeah, fear's aces by me.

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