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» L5R: Steel & Honour, Chapter 15, Journey of 1000 steps
Jimbo Cactaur
 Posted: Apr 28 2014, 01:54 AM
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Four Weeks ago, the Kitsune Mori...


The energy surrounding Kitsune Madoka is palpable. She rushes back and forth directing her two servants on various tasks. The small manor is already spotless, the floor polished to a bright sheen, not a cobweb to be seen. She checks the candles ready in the lanterns hung about the house, their wicks are trimmed and they are ready in case the meeting goes past dusk. She scans the outer gardens as well, mentally tallying the trees to ensure that they are still in their places. She notices that she is again down to only one black koi, the clever one, in the spring fed pool on the far side of the garden. She sighs. On the smooth stone path she notices some fallen leaves. It is a windy day in the forest, but she reaches for a broom just the same.

A step on the front path brings her attention back around and she gasps and pushes the broom into a servants hands and pushes her servant out of sight. Gathering herself she steps out onto the porch and bows low in greeting to the visitor. He walks casually up the gravel path, kimono partially undone, hair rough and windswept. At the bottom of the step he stops and returns the bow,
"Lovely Madoka-san, is your husband here? I would like to speak with him."

"Kitsune-sama," she responds, "He is waiting for you in the shrine. Please follow me."

She opens the door wide and leads the visitor into the house. She wrinkles her brow in confusion, still not entirely used to the way things are done here. A Daimyo arriving alone, with no guard and no weapons, not even fully dressed it seems. She begins to sigh and then catches herself and clears her throat instead. "Just through there my lord." She bows again and closes the screen after him.

----

Later that day.


"Can you not wait to leave until tomorrow, Tsuki? It is a very long way to Shiro Daidoji, you should have one night of rest before you leave at least." She touches her husbands arm as he packs his things. "It doesn't seem all that important, really."
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bloodycelt
 Posted: Apr 28 2014, 08:59 AM
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"It is very important that preparations begin now;
there are shrines to visit, and pray at;
there are people to notify;
there are duties to hand off;
but of course there are two duties that are very important, and they cannot be handed off!"

He gives her a slight grin, and tugs her obi. "One must honor benten, perhaps now, " he whispers to her ear. "Perhaps a quick prayer to Benten, before other duties are attended to, M-A-D-O-K-A-chan!" He brushes her cheek with his finger, tugs at her obi once more. "And tonight, perhaps one should again try and fulfill family obligation. Ere break of day, a fox must leave on the morrow. A fox that will think of home and his vixen until his return."

This post has been edited by bloodycelt: Apr 28 2014, 09:01 AM
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Jimbo Cactaur
 Posted: Apr 30 2014, 01:44 AM
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Kitsune Madoka blushes.

----

Three weeks and six days ago...

The birds chirp and the crickets hum in the cool morning air as Madoka walks down the gravel path with her husband.
"Are you sure that you have everything you need my love? Do you have candles? Enough money for the inns along the way? We are part of a great clan now but I do not expect the Crane to receive you generously, nor the Scorpion. Watch out for "insert pet's name here" he likes to get into so much mischief. Did you pack spare sandals? And do you have enough rope? You know how expensive it is elsewhere, and it is quite useful."

She chatters on and on, hoping to prolong their time together just a little bit. When they come to the main road she grows quiet. A Fox bushi stands waiting. He bows low to Tsuki and then to Madoka. "My lord, lady, I am Kistune Daizan. Lord Ryoken has assigned me to be your yojimbo during your journey. I am honoured to have this duty." He turns to Madoka. "My lady, I will protect your husband unto my death and beyond if necessary."

Madoka smiles and returns his bow. "My thanks Daizan-san, though I am certain that will not be required, Tsuki doesn't like to cause trouble at all. I'm sure it will be an unremarkable trip." When the young bushi bows she give Tsuki a wry sideways smirk.

The boy, for that is truly what he is, is rigid and tense. This assignment is likely his first to take him out of his clan's lands. He is decked out with the weapons of his trade; his daisho at his side, a traditional nagamaki on his back, and a long yari in his hand. His armour and helmet bulge from underneath his pack's flap, leaving Tsuki and Madoka to wonder if he's packed any spare clothing, food, sleeping materials, or rope.

He stands sharply at attention as Tsuki steps out onto the road,
"Where are we off to first my lord?"
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bloodycelt
 Posted: Apr 30 2014, 08:55 AM
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He bows to his wife, and then begins to walk down the road.
"We must first go to the docks by Kyuden Kitsune, from there downriver to Mira Tsubashii Toshi, after that I am not sure."

He turns to Haku (the fox). "Friend will you scout ahead?"
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Jimbo Cactaur
 Posted: May 6 2014, 10:40 PM
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Let me know if you have a better map than is inside the cover of the 3rd ed book.

Haku leaps up playfully and turns a somersault on the path ahead before darting off into the brush to the left and flushing a grouse. He pops out onto the road much further ahead and then darts across, leaping after a lazy butterfly before landing in the bushes.

The journey to Kyuden Kitsune is not long, only about an hour and a half of meandering and the air is cool and refreshing under the old boughs of the Kitsune Mori. On the banks of the river fishermen cast their nets and a few farmers work their wooden pump together to begin flooding the newly prepared rice paddies.

The two bushi on duty at the small docks smile and bow cheerfully to Tsuki. One of them squats down to feed Haku a small sliver of dried fish and the fox rolls around in the dirt pretending to fight it before getting bored and swallowing it in one gulp. The other samurai instructs a fisherman to bring his boat around for Tsuki's journey downstream.
"I am sorry Tsuki-san, unfortunately this is the best that is available right now. We haven't seen a Yoritomo Kobune this far upriver for at least three months, not that that's a bad thing. But Gekki here is a reliable sailor and his punt is quick."

The fisherman smiles broadly and bows low to Tsuki.

"Do you have any preparations to make in the city before you depart?" The bushi asks.
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bloodycelt
 Posted: May 7 2014, 09:42 PM
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"Preparations for departure were done already. We should depart."
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Jimbo Cactaur
 Posted: May 12 2014, 12:21 AM
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"Then I bid you a fair journey. May you ever be bold in the face of adventure, calm in the face of adversity, and wise in the face of mystery." The Bushi bows again as Tsuki settles himself into the small river boat. "I will pray to Natsu-Togumara for you this day."

The journey downriver is pleasant. The sun is warm and the water cool. The fisherman is a good waterman and navigator and keeps a constant clip even when steering around rougher sections. He laughs in joy as he watches Haku run up and down the deck from bow to stern and back. The playful fox splashes the water whenever he can reach it and always comes back to Tsuki for petting.

At about 3:00, while Haku is asleep in Tsuki's lap the fisherman bows to the shugenja and asks,
"Kitsune-sama, would it trouble you if I cast a line or two to provide for us dinner? These waters are famous for their brown trout."
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bloodycelt
 Posted: May 15 2014, 04:28 PM
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He frowns slightly. "I am perfectly fine with some rice, it would be unwise to offend the river by fishing in it."

Note: I believe his ancestor ban includes fishing. Either case, its rather awkward eating something that can talk to you...
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Jimbo Cactaur
 Posted: May 19 2014, 10:55 PM
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The fisherman blinks at Tsuki and then, without taking his eyes from the samurai, slowly winds up the line and hooks he had been preparing. Once he snags himself with a hook he remembers himself and dips an awkward bow while sucking his finger. "My apologies Kitsune-sama. I-I did not think of it that way. My father always said that the river blesses us and provides us with the fish, I did not think he could be wrong. Forgive me."

He putters around a bit before producing some cooked rice wrapped in leaves. It is obviously meant to serve only one, but the peasant dutifully divides it into two lumps and passes the significantly larger one to the Fox. "Can I eat seaweed though?" He inquires, holding out a thin sheet of dried seaweed for Tsuki to examine.
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bloodycelt
 Posted: May 22 2014, 06:46 PM
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"Hai, and let me share these berries with you."
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Jimbo Cactaur
 Posted: May 27 2014, 11:07 PM
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The fisherman smiles and accepts some of the berries trying quite visibly to show his enjoyment. After the simple meal he pulls out a small burner and lights it up to boil water for tea. A large barramundi breaks the surface of the water and he looks back at Tsuki guiltily as if the shugenja can read his thoughts.

The next day they arrive at Mura Tsubashii Toshi and the Fox disembarks to continue on his way. The fisherman bows low as he departs and offers him a small token of thanks for the experience. It is wrapped in a wrinkled cloth.
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bloodycelt
 Posted: Jun 8 2014, 02:52 PM
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"You honor me, however I must travel light, I cannot accept such a gift."
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Jimbo Cactaur
 Posted: Jun 10 2014, 10:22 PM
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The fisherman grins and offers the Fox the gift again. He seems quite pleased to be involved in a gift giving tradition with a samurai of such rank.
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bloodycelt
 Posted: Jun 30 2014, 01:47 PM
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"Please, I am certain there are more worthy recipients."
Sorry work has been very busy, and it takes me a very long time to think up gift refusals.
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Jimbo Cactaur
 Posted: Jul 8 2014, 12:38 AM
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That's ok. :)

As Tsuki continues his journey down the road toward Meidochi, Haku playfully leaping after butterflies, he opens his palm to look again at the gift the fisherman gave to him. It is a small shard of jade lovingly carved into a delicate fish hook. Its value probably greater than the fisherman's boat and gear.

His thoughts wander as he passes through pristine forests and wooded glades. He has now been more than a day outside of the Kitsune Mori and he feels a disconnect with the familiar spirits there. As the woodlands give way to rice paddies, the most remote holdings of the Hare Clan, Tsuki notices a fluttering in the branches above him. An owl is perched there, fully awake and staring with huge golden eyes down at the samurai and the fox.
"Whooo ooo."
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