Murder of Crows: Prologue

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Re: Murder of Crows: Prologue

Postby kenmadragon » Tue Dec 31, 2013 10:03 pm

Hanata Iori
HP: 1 Cond: Oh boy, that question.

Hanata turned at the mention of his name, finding himself faced with the rather beautiful young woman - though average compared to others in the room - dressed in the scarlet reds and oranges of the Phoenix. Surely enough, the mon of the Phoenix was upon her elegant kimono and the mention of her name were sufficient to prove that this young woman was of the famed Phoenix.

But the question she posed, was troubling. It was events like this that Hanata did not like to discuss. Though proud of his true history, it was one he was not allowed to mention. But he was still uncomfortable with the false history that had been 'discovered.' Still, he needed to answer the lady, an ambassador of the Phoenix, and he had great respect for the Isawa shugenja. So Hanata decided to play it off.

"My family legacy is one of complexity, likely better left for the theaters and plays." Hanata smiled at the young woman. "But, my affiliation with the Tokugawa is a rather different matter."

Gesturing to the satchel of scrolls, he said, "I am my Lord's shugenja. That is my affiliation. As to how?" Hanata's gaze grew a little distant, though still present to the young woman. "When I was still a learner, my Lord showed me great kindness. Indebted, I now serve in his court."

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Re: Murder of Crows: Prologue

Postby Horsenhero » Wed Jan 01, 2014 1:06 am

Bayushi Katsumoto

Katsumoto allowed the ghost of a smile to cross his lips at Sonoko's insult, though he showed no other reaction.

"It would be my pleasure to walk with you to Tokugawa-sama's hall. Perhaps we may even present that united front during our entire time here. We can certainly be assured the assorted envoys from the other clans will do so."

With a flourish, he gestured toward the Crow Clan great hall with his fan, before snapping it back shut and sliding it into his sleeve.

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Re: Murder of Crows: Prologue

Postby EnigmaticOne » Wed Jan 01, 2014 9:29 am

Kitsuki Satoshi
HP: 1 / LP: 3

It took time enough for Satoshi and Michiko each to have their extravagant courtly dress prepared. But the importance required it so, for the pitch black obi and kimono, the combed and groomed hair bound appropriately.

When they descended into the court, Satoshi and Michiko paid their respects to Hideyoshi before beginning to slowly circulate through the room. Satoshi breathed through his nose slowly and quietly.

As his training had taught him - empty the mind of distractions, and sense his surroundings in detail.
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Re: Murder of Crows: Prologue

Postby Hound » Wed Jan 01, 2014 3:34 pm

Atusko

The general's eyes widened for only a fraction of a second, "You are of the Brotherhood? Fascinating. Have you met Lady Ikoma Hana? She would be eager to meet you..." The old man, realizing the fruitlessness of his pursuit, was clearing Atsuko along...

Inu

The crane woman smiled "I so love traveling, and you are so right, the excitement of a destination can blind many to the pot holes of the road. Thankfully Cranes fly far above such dangers."

ALL

The Scorpions were the last of the great clans to enter, no one said anything of it, yet those carefully studying the Cranes and the Lions noted the smallest sign of annoyance. For some this meant a slightly tightened jaw. For others, it simply meant they looked away and did not bother to even acknowledge them.

Moments later, as if they had been waiting for all the clans to gather, the Iweko envoy entered. Kitsuki Satoshi was the most surprised(though that doesn't mean you showed it) when his bother, Iweko Keigo, an Iweko through marriage, turned out to be the lead of the envoy.

He wore the Iweko colours, Lime green with gold and black trimming, following behind him was his personal servant carrying a finely decorate box about 2 feet long, 1 foot wide, and half a foot tall. The servant's had was constantly turned down, not daring to look anyone in the room in the eyes.

Keigo approached Hideyoshi first and the two bowed at the waist. While Hideyoshi was a Daimyo in his own home, Keigo was the Representative of the Empress, it was only natural for Hideyoshi to show him proper respect.

"Tokugawa Hideyoshi-dono, thank you for taking us into your home." Keigo said, his voice was just loud enough for everyone in the room to year, but still low enough to not be considered a yell.

Hideyoshi smiled and returned with the same volume voice, "We are honored to Host one of the Imperial family. This visit will be a story told for generations"

"On behalf of the Empress herself, I bring a gift, a token of her appreciation in your service to the Empire." Keigo motioned for his servant to approach, who instantly fell to his knees before the Daimyo and opened the box, humbly presenting the gift.

The inside of the box was lined with red velvet, and sitting upon a red cushion was a folded paper fan. Keigo motioned to the item, "This fan was used by the Empress herself during the last Go tournament where she took the Championship, defeating all the clan Champions of Go. She said this fan kept her calm and cool during a difficult and stressful time where one wrong move would have cost her the game. She prays it brings you the same fortune."

The Daimyo smiled, and so began the traditional gift giving ceremony. The Damiyo refused the gift, saying things along the line it was much to great a gift for him. Keigo pushed him a second time. Hideyoshi refused it a second time. After Keiko pushing on him for a third time, the Crow finally accepted the gift.

"This is truly a great honor, accepting a gift the Empress herself used. Thank you, Iweko Keigo-dono."

Dinner

An hour or so later, everyone was seated at the great table. The food was the best the Crows could offer. To Unicorns, the Crab, the Mantis, and the Crows, it was a true feast. To those from wealthier families, it was barely passable. Particularly the Cranes, the Lions, the Scorpions, and the Iweko would find the food below par, though they knew the sincerity put into the food and none of them openly said anything about it.

Polite conversation was done through out the meal, but it was the Lion's General, Akodo Matsuri who first broached the topic that was on everyone's mind.

"Ida has been lucky, having little problems with Bandits, but I fear this discovery will change things. Soldiers may be the first requirement to a proper establishment." He had had a tad too much Sake, and was a bit more open than he should have been.

The crane woman smiled, her cheeks were also flushed. This was something no one had expected. The Crow's sake was more akin to "moon shine" then traditional Sake. It was far stronger than most had expected. Doji Kuzuha took another sip of her sake, "Soldiers are easy to obtain, but ships are much harder. Gold, though pleasing to the eye, is worthless. Too soft and too heavy for weapons or armor. Yet the round eyes love it. They are practically the embodiment of greed, and would happy trade Iron and other valuable resources for it."

A mantis piped up, "Yes, but you need the right ship. You need proper cargo ships that can withstand long voyages at sea, and well trained sailors to carry it."

A crab grunted, "Putting the horse before the cart, aren't we? First the gold must be dug from the earth. The ore must be purified and melted down into bars and slips for travel and easy exchange."
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Re: Murder of Crows: Prologue

Postby Coyotzin » Thu Jan 02, 2014 11:13 pm

Inu and Atsuko
HP: 2 Cond: Eating and watching.

Inu smiled and nodded. Continuing down that path would be pointless so he refrained and let the young woman have her victory. In his mind, the image of cranes flying too high to know the needs of crows remained unused, but it was still amusing.

Atsuko simply shrugged at the general's suggestion. Was that... malice? Relief? She wasn't as good at reading people as her master, so she just stood there and took the general at face value and waited to be introduced, and that's when the Scorpion people arrived. Her eyes on them let the Lion walk away. She didn't try to hide her staring, just having a slight frown.

And the frown remained up into dinner. She kept stealing glances at the Scorpion man. She couldn't decide yet if she was fascinated or repulsed by his appearance.

Inu noticed, of course, but he knew Atsuko. Inexperienced and trusting she could be, but not a fool, and very disciplined. It would take more than a pretty face to drive Atsuko away from the Shintao.

Neither of the monks were drinking the sake so both their heads were clear, so Inu simply sat back and observed the flock of vultures descend upon the daimyo, trying to out-carrion the crows.

"Atsuko-chan." He leaned over to whisper in his acolyte's ear. "When Bayushi-sama isn't stealing your eyes, observe everything. This is how the Clans wage war without drawing a single blade."

Atsuko snapped her head, embarrassed at her own behavior, and nodded, listening to talk of boats and guards and metallurgy.

"Ah... the Lion general." She whispered to Inu. "I think he tried to court me."

"Did he? Oh, my." Inu smiled, but kept his voice quiet. "You are wearing Crow colors. He probably thought to assail the Takegawa household on two fronts. That means courting a Crow maiden while convincing her daimyo for another deal. Clever, yet unfortunate. You did well, child."

"Did I?" Atsuko frowned. "What did I do? Master, why are we really here?"

"To make sure the Takegawa make the best choice for themselves." Inu winked and returned to pay attention to the dealings.

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Re: Murder of Crows: Prologue

Postby Horsenhero » Thu Jan 02, 2014 11:45 pm

Bayushi Katsumoto

Katsumoto watched and listened to all the other clan representatives and could barely conceal his contempt. They were all so obvious...well, the Crane was obviously drunk...but the others may well have composed haiku expressing their greed. From the mantis it was to be expected, but the others?

Taking a small sip of plum wine, he was eschewing the local sake after seeing its effects on his Crane counterpart, he turned to the Crow Daimyo.

"Tokugawa-sama, it is obvious to me that you have much to consider here. It is the sad truth that economics is the dirtiest form of war. Fortunately war has stratagems that are applicable once one discerns the battlefield. It is for that purpose, I feel compelled to lend you this..."

Katsumoto pulled a copy of Akodo's "Leadership" from his kimono.

"...it is one of my favorite editions, but you may keep it as long as you like."

And yes, it was a dirty trick to circumvent the gift giving ritual by making the gift an open ended loan, but it wasn't the ritual that was important. What was important was that the Scorpion made no overt play for the Crows' newfound riches, that they freely offered counsel that was neutral and that the Lions' noses were tweaked, because it was he not they that offered up the wisdom of their founding Kami.

Not his worst opening gambit.

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Re: Murder of Crows: Prologue

Postby Coyotzin » Fri Jan 03, 2014 12:57 am

Inu and Atsuko
HP: 2 Cond: Knight to Bishop Three.

"How delightful!" Inu spoke aloud, surprising his young acolyte. "Is that a copy of Akodo's Leadership? Fantastic! Pardon my presumptuousness, Tokugawa-dono, but do you mind if I borrow it first? It has been a while since I read it, and I'm sure you have your own copy you peruse frequently..."

"Master! What are you doing?!" Atsuko hissed quietly, staring at the two Scorpion envoys intently.

"Later, child, later." He replied, never losing his smile. It had been a very risky, but very nice opening by the Scorpion, but Inu was leveling the field to avoid any nasty consequences for both the Crow daimyo and the Scorpion ambassador. Tokugawa would remain entirely free of any debt to the Scorpion, whatsoever small, and the Bayushi man wouldn't imply his host had not read such a basic work of Rokugani literature.

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Re: Murder of Crows: Prologue

Postby Hound » Fri Jan 03, 2014 2:10 am

The Crane woman, Doji Kuzuha smiled as she watched the Monk snatch the book. "My, my... that book does bring back memories. I first read that as a young child. What an interesting choice to have on your person, Bayushi Katsumoto-san." She smiled sweetly, "You must be a well prepared person."

"I think it was quite sweet." Sonoko the other scorpion cut in, "Even if one does not need to re-read it, keeping it as a momento to remind you of what you have read is quite brilliant. Especially when it's something to remind you how best to serve the empire to your fullest."

"I think it is a wonderful instrument to illistrate my point." Akodo Matsuri cut back in, "My honored family wrote that fundamental literature. The first and foremost greatest concern for any leader, is to protect those below your station. To protect people you need trained, seasoned warriors. You can not simply put a spear in a farmer's call him a guard or a foot soldier."
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Re: Murder of Crows: Prologue

Postby EnigmaticOne » Fri Jan 03, 2014 7:06 am

Kitsuki Satoshi
HP: 1 / LP: 3

Satoshi watched the opening barbs begin to sneak in back and forth, the interest in gold becoming less than subtle... and even Bayushi Katsumoto and Akodo Matsuri were making somewhat veiled implications about the state of Ida's forces.

"That is true, but your great ancestor also made clear that 'a truly wise rikugunsokan understands the limits of courage, and the power of a fully belly.' Ida is never short of courage or of full bellies, I assure you all."
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Re: Murder of Crows: Prologue

Postby Hound » Wed Jan 08, 2014 5:39 pm

Akodo Matsuri smiled kindly at Kitsuki Satoshi. "Ensuring your people are well fed falls under the umbrella of protecting them. However I understand your sentiment, Kitsuki Satoshi-san. However, my point still stands. If Bandits are allowed to roam free, they will not only steal the Gold, but the food from your own people's mouths. Increasing Military presence is key to ensuring a safe and prosperous Ida."

"I think that is enough talk for the dinner table." Hideyoshi set his glass down and took control of the room. "You have all traveled far and the trip has been hard. I invite everyone to rest early tonight. Tomorrow I will be hold private meetings with everyone. I hold you all have a peaceful night, and enjoy your stay. We have a grand rock guardian, a small Sakura tree orchard, a meditation garden, a Kendo practice room, and a library. You may use anything in my home, my servants will see to your every need."
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Re: Murder of Crows: Prologue

Postby kenmadragon » Sun Jan 12, 2014 2:16 am

Hanata Iori
HP: 1 Cond: Taking a Walk

Hanata Iori ate quietly as the envoys and other nobles and the monks made their gifts and their talk. He could speak up, that he knew. But at this juncture? Hanata knew enough to keep silent. It was the smart thing to do.

So, at the end of his meal, he bowed to his lord who bid it's close, and got up elegantly and silently. He knew that he would not be needed for quite a while, and decided that it would be best to take a stroll. Something to calm his thoughts as he tried to make sense of all that was going on. Hanata knew he wasn't the best man for the politics of the court, but it would do him well to understand them, no?

So he puzzled out the situation. Easily enough, the situation was simple. Ida had recently come into a great deal of gold. Ida was small, not very prosperous or influential. The gold gave it an edge. Everyone else desired that wealth. So, all clans and even the Imperial family wished to have a direct hand in that stream of wealth. But the Daimyo and the rest of Ida - Hanata included - did not wish to be taken over by any of the larger clans or be servants to any of the larger clans, save the Empire itself. Ida was small, but it's people were used to that, and the hard work of a small land ruled by the Crow Clan was what they were happy with. These great clans cared little for the people, that Hanata could sense. These other clans all had gold on the mind.

So, Hanata did walk through the halls of the Crow Palace, though Hanata was unsure if the Palace could be called a true Kyuden, lost in his thoughts as he wandered through the halls. He took care to smile at everyone who crossed his path as he walked, treating all with a manner of courtesy and politeness, as he thought over the situation and what would be expected of him.

Ever the spirit of wind capturing his aimless meanderings, he wandered about the palace, eventually finding himself moving through the gardens. They were beautiful gardens, marvelously grand and large. Hanata smiled as he passed by the flowers on the carefully maintained path. Ever single petal in this garden had been meticulously arranged, and were maintained as such. The colors, sizes, types, aromas, and meanings behind each flower in the arrangement of the gardens was astounding. A work of art in Hanata's opinion. He wasn't sure what the diplomats of the larger clans would say, but that did not matter so much as the sheer beauty of the garden. Spectacular scents arose from a certain patch as Hanata walked by, drawing him to stop and take in the aroma. Heavenly. A glance someplace else dazzled the senses with the sheer array of color, creating a spectacular image that Hanata was sure poetry would be hard pressed to capture. Perhaps a song was all that could do this garden justice, as Hanata looked up to the sky, seeing the orb that was the moon hovering over head. Hanata smiled at the moon, and sighed as he took in the experience of the lovely garden.

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Re: Murder of Crows: Prologue

Postby EnigmaticOne » Sun Jan 12, 2014 11:41 am

Kitsuki Satoshi
HP: 1 / LP: 3

The point of course, had been ignored. What Satoshi had tried to edge into the discussion was the Crow Clan's self-sufficiency. Like Iori independently had concluded, so did Kitsuki Satoshi. The Crow Clan protected their own, kept their lands secure and prosperous enough - under the circumstances.

All the Great Clans saw was the gold, and a Minor Clan which they could patronize. But the Crows would be beholden to no one.

After the courtesies of departure, and the evening turned from dinner to leisure, Satoshi proceeded to the library. There was a small section with a table and board for shogi or go, and any who wished to compete with him there would be welcome.

Another place to scrutinize the envoys. And for now, the time had not yet presented itself for him to properly and privately meet his elder brother. That was the real wheel of chance presented. What would Keigo have up his sleeve?
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Re: Murder of Crows: Prologue

Postby Horsenhero » Tue Jan 14, 2014 12:51 pm

Bayushi Katsumoto

After the meal and the trifling business at dinner, Katsumoto decided to put his ear to the ground, so to speak and discover the true inner working of the Crow stronghold. Most samurai believed it was difficult to discern their plans or really plumb the depths of a lords' power in short order, but they were wrong. It was easy in most places. Only in the mountainous territories of the Dragon, the shadowy paths of the Scorpion, the criminal dens of the Tortoise or the blasphemous lairs of the Spider was it a challenge. The reason was peasants gossip. Loyal or no, peasants gossip. What else did servants have to do with their free time? Treat them with respect generally not shown them and they were thrown completely off guard.

Of course one had to have a reason to speak with servants...and not Geisha. Many foolish bushi and courtiers thought you could pry secrets from Geisha, when the reverse was more likely. Geisha were masters at learning secrets and keeping secrets. Katsumoto made it a general rule not to consort with Geisha unless they were his own agents and even then he assumed they were also acting as agents for another as well. Insurance against being killed. It would be very unfortunate to kill a valued informant of a Lion diplomat, for their Matsu bodyguards might just cut you down in a "drunken brawl". Of course the Ikoma family would apologize and pay your blood price, but the message would be sent and the mistake would not be repeated. Katsumoto made it a point to avoid such mistakes in the first place.

Instead, he headed to the kitchens. Cooks were always garrulous and if you made a show of loving their food, they were even more so.

On the way, he considered his "loan" to Tokugawa-sama and he smiled. The old monk was suspicious of his motives, even though loaning a possession carried with it no express debt, only the expectation that the item loaned would be cared for well. Everyone else behaved ridiculously. The Lion ambassador and others seemed to want to latch onto the loaned book like parasites, somehow claiming their little bit of glory from something they did not think of. The Kitsuki made it a point to quote the book itself, bragging on the Crows' ability to feed and equip their army, thus insuring they would account themselves bravely. To brag about your armies' prowess in the presence of the Lions was pure foolishness. Did he wish to provoke them into finding some imagined insult justifying sending troops? Only the Unicorn and the Crab could hope to match a Lion army on the field, man for man. Honestly, the Crow should have just said "arrigato" and let the others cluck about like hens after seed. It would impress the Imperial delegation far more to display restraint than to be baited.

Ah well, it was time to grace the kitchens with his presence and to fawn over the excellence of the Crow cuisine. Maybe one of the cooks would have a spirited daughter who wanted to indulge in a dalliance above her station? That was another sweet treat worth keeping an eye out for.

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Re: Murder of Crows: Prologue

Postby Hound » Sat Jan 25, 2014 1:14 pm

Bayushi Katsumoto

The Kitchen was still very much alive, several chefs were busy preparing boxed meals for guards on duty, while others were still busy cleaning up after the large royal banquet. Though most were too busy to even notice the Samurai enter, several of the waitresses from earlier spotted and recognized the man.

Three, rather beautiful woman rushed forward and bowed, the eldest one, a woman with a mature woman's beauty, with long straight black hair tied up into a proper bun, she wore just the right level of make up to add to her beauty with out it going over board, she was the first to speak, "My lord, can we be of assistance? Is there something we can prepare for you?"

The other two were much younger, and far less experienced, and with inexperience, came their feverish blushing from being in the presence of such a handsome lord., the two were both rather cute, what one would expect from serving girls. Rarely did lords want unattractive women bring them Sake.

Kitsuki Satoshi

As Satoshi contemplates his brother's motives, a servant arrives with a message from Keigo, as if on cue. The message invites him to Keigo's room for a friendly family chat.

(You can let me know if he does anything prior to going(

When Satoshi arrived he was surprised to see Keigo, his wife, Midori, and Satoshi's wife Michiko were all waiting for him. Midori and Michiko were talking and laughing like old friends already.

"Nee-sama, you are too funny." Michiko said with a smile and a tear in her eye.

"But it's true, in front of the whole court, the Senator came in with the back of his kimono tucked into his small clothes. Everyone nearly died trying not to laugh at the poor man." Midori had tears in both eyes as she told the story.

Keigo chuckled and motioned for Satoshi to join then, "Hello little brother, come join us. I brought some really good Sake."

Hanata Iori

As Iori gazed up at the moon when he suddenly heard the light footsteps of a woman approaching. He turned to spot, Doji Kuzuha. Her face was still flushed, but she seemed in better shape then at dinner. She sighed heavily, as the night air blew over her warm face, which made her smile. It was like looking at a living painting, her unnaturally godly beauty, bathed in moonlight could make most any man weak in the knees.

She suddenly spotted Iori and she smiled sweetly. "Hello, Hanata-san. Pleasure to see you again. Isn't the night air glorious?"

Inu

As the old monk wondered the grounds, observing everything, something interesting caught his eye. A storage room's door was left ajar, yet none of the oil lamps in the area were on, and the keen old man's ears could just barely hear the whisper of talking emanating from the room...

Atusko can either be with you, or off exploring, your choice.
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Re: Murder of Crows: Prologue

Postby kenmadragon » Sat Jan 25, 2014 4:11 pm

Hanata Iori
HP: 1 Cond: Fine

Hanata turned slightly as he heard the footsteps down the path. Recognizing the beautiful woman approaching, a slight smile came to Iori's face, one that turned from amusement to welcome as she neared, for he noted her still flushed from the sake. The sake of the Crow was hardy, and even Hanata had trouble with it at times. It was one of those reasons why he never partook of it with as much exuberance as the lady had. Mere sips were tolerable enough, keeping him level headed.

Yet still, he had to smile as the woman came towards him, her almost supernatural beauty under the moon's dazzling light. An enchanting image. An image set in a beautiful and aromatic garden under a glorious moon, an image Hanata had relatively to himself for the moment. There were some nice parts of this life, though he knew he would need to be careful. As flushed as the fair Doji Kuzuha was, he did not wish for his intentions to be misconstrued. Nor did he wish for either of them to do anything embarrassing.

"Fair Doji-san, it is a pleasure to see you as well." Hanata said with a smile, to show his sincerity. He glanced from Doji to the moon above, taking in a deep breath. Then, continuing to return her sweet smile, he said with a sigh, "The air is always nice at night. But under the Moon, surrounded by the aroma of the flowers, such fresh air... t'is a marvelous combination. How daunting a challenge a poet or artist would face attempting to fully capture the glory of the night air."


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