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» L5R Steel & Honour, Chapter 13, Path of Fate
Jimbo Cactaur
 Posted: Aug 28 2012, 11:18 PM
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Morning dawns on the castle of water and the Mantis, Crab, Fox, Lion, and Monkey samurai within breathe in the cool air heartily. Yoritomo Buntaro steps up to the entrance of the castle and turns to address his company, "Moshi Kinyo has informed me that the castle will last for about thirty more minutes. Take that time to prepare yourselves for the continuation of our journey. I believe that we are close now, or else our quarry would not have put up such a tenacious fight. From now on we will stay as a single group. Eat, pray, practice your kata, but be ready to go in half an hour."

With an efficiency that only sailors can ever gain the Mantis quickly prepare for another long march, and in half an hour, just as Buntaro-sama said, the walls collapse leaving behind nothing but a light mist and muddy patch of ground.

While final preparations are being made to move out half a dozen Mantis troop down the slope to see to the fallen. Without time or eta to attend them all that they can do is decapitate the bodies to prevent any necromantic interference, and collect the katana they find to return to the appropriate families. One of the samurai returns to the main group holding Reijiro's blade and looking around inquisitively. Reijiro gets his attention and is reunited with his precious sword.

Buntaro and Fushou discuss the fate of the woodsman and his sister and decide to allow them to be brought along for their own protection. The young woman is terrified but otherwise alright, her brother on the other hand is still asleep, and a stretcher is hastily made from some saplings and two Mantis assigned to bear him. Something in Fushou's gut tells him the man will prove useful in the near future.

As the party heads out Kiyoshi notices a standing pile of stones a little way down the track they are taking. They are mostly obscured off to the side, but they are a trackers sign that there is something hidden nearby. He scampers off to investigate and is followed by Kaede. They quickly find Daidoji Ebizo lying among some ferns, ashen white but still breathing. Somehow his wounds have been bandaged.

A whimpering from a little ways away reveals to them a muddy and tired Shika. Her tongue lolls out of her mouth and she twitches as if she is in a dream chasing rabbits. How she survived outside the protective spell all night is as mysterious as how Ebizo still breathes.

Another stretcher is made quickly, and Kinyo tends to the Cranes wounds, which she remarks have been very nicely attended to. Kaede bundles up his little dog and carries her under his arm, she remains sleeping the whole time.

Soon they begin to descend into a long valley. The trees thin out along the floor and grow gangly and twisted, each clutching brown leaves tightly amid the dull green of new growth. At the far end of the valley a bleak hill rises isolated above its neighbours, barren and devoid of life. As the hours pass and the trees continue to thin, even without the prolific sign of oni spawn in the area, everyone quickly realizes that this hill is their final objective.

Every time Kiyoshi stares at it for more than a second he gets flashes of the vision he glimpsed under the waterfall, this is that place.
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redeadlink
 Posted: Aug 28 2012, 11:37 PM
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"The air in this place has an unwholesome feel to it. We should ready ourselves for battle."

Akio had run through his kata that morning, and polished his blade and hammer. He unslings his dai-tsuchi from his back and rests it on his shoulder as he walks.
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Chronocide
 Posted: Aug 30 2012, 07:20 AM
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When last I left Kiyoshi he was unconcious with a dislocated sholder. That seams to be no longer the case. It would be helpful to know what if anything has changed his state.
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Itinerant
 Posted: Aug 31 2012, 08:44 AM
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Rejiro sighs heavily, feeling that familiar sense of unease and nervous anticipation creep over him. He lets the emotion pass and checks his belongings quickly, making sure he is ready to fight in an instant. The comfort of his reacquired Katana is most welcome. A ronin does not have claim to much but his sword. He instinctively stays near Buntaro, feeling the familiar habits of his yojimbo duties, so many years ago.

Reijiro also keeps his proximity close to Moshi Kinyo as well, unsure if she has been assigned a new guard, and feeling that the success of the venture may rest in her hands.

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Jimbo Cactaur
 Posted: Sep 10 2012, 10:14 PM
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So I guess Greg will join us later...

Kiyoshi's wounds were seen to by Kinyo, and his unconsciousness was replaced by wakefulness with the coming of the morning.


The samurai in the main group follow Akio's example, gripping kama tightly, checking that their blades move freely in their sheathes, and expertly swinging the chains of their kusari-gama. Tsuruchi scouts move up and down the line, never too far out of sight of one another and the group.

Shika wakes at mealtime and eats from Kaede's hand, but she lacks the playful energy of a few days before.

Daidoji Ebizo is stable, but Kinyo can do nothing more for him, only time will allow his body to fully heal. The woodsman on the other hand is awake and active, and very protective of his sister. Although he bows and follows peasant - samurai protocol his eyes have a flare of defiance and independence in them. Yoritomo Buntaro allows Fushou to give the man back his axe, after all, every hand in a storm.

Reijiro notices that Moshi Kinyo is looking very tired, and the few times that Buntaro-sama requests a small spell from her the effort leaves her drained.

Kiyoshi's shoulder is surprisingly mobile, it feels to him as if a week has gone by even though it has only been a night.


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Chronocide
 Posted: Sep 14 2012, 11:08 PM
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Kiyoshi continues on with the rest of the group a distant expression on his face. They now know better then to split up, and there is no need to anyway, the path to follow is clear enough. All of this leaves Kiyoshi with plenty of time to wonder; wonder if he (they) will be able to defeat the Oni... Loosing is one matter, but for their corpses to be turned oni spawn, as seems to be possible, their failed attempt may bring even greater danger to the land.

Despite his concerns Kiyoshi is not one to let worry, or doubt show, and hides it under the guise of contemplative thought.
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Jimbo Cactaur
 Posted: Oct 1 2012, 07:26 AM
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The idle chatter of the mantis bushi, so prevalent the days before, is completely missing. The only sounds the group makes are the crunch of their feet on the dry earth, the occasional clank of metal, and steady breathing. Even the two most boisterous members of the company remain quiet, each Hida taking up a flank position and continually scanning their surroundings.

Soon the trees, gnarled and nearly dead, give way to low coarse scrub brush. Flies buzz up from the over perfumed plants and pester the travelers, and a small cloud of dust follows behind them drying out their mouths. Moshi Kinyo is anxious, this place is as dry as a bone, and without water there will be no friendly water kami to petition for another Fortress of Water. Earth, however, is abundant, but the kami are slow to respond to her whispered prayers for safety, as if indifferent to the pleas of man who for so long have forgotten this place.

Ever ahead the hill looms more desolate and foreboding by the hour. It is a blight on the map, a place forgotten by rain and life, no stream issues forth from its skirt, and even the wind passes by without its usual intimate caress....
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Itinerant
 Posted: Oct 1 2012, 09:36 AM
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Reijiro hums, barely audible, walking up the rising slope. It is an almost-forgotten tune from a time long ago. The melody reminds him of his boyhood and earliest memories. Now, it serves as a possible epilogue for his mission. However, the sentiment and song quickly leaves him, it's mirth siphoned by the dismal landscape.

This post has been edited by Itinerant: Oct 1 2012, 09:37 AM
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redeadlink
 Posted: Oct 1 2012, 07:59 PM
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The silence begins to drive Akio to irritation.

"What now, comrades? Surely the lot of you aren't that silent on your ship?"
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Jimbo Cactaur
 Posted: Oct 2 2012, 07:25 AM
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The Mantis near Akio look at him with grim eyes. One, who he doesn't know, speaks up, "True to what you say Matsu-san, but then on our ship we are surrounded by the living sea. Though there are places where the water is as dead as this land, and in those places we pass by silently as well, or not at all."

The group makes steady progress, the hill ahead becoming more craggy and, if possible, more barren. The ground slopes downward ahead and the samurai can see a dark haze ahead of them hovering over the ground.

As they near it they realize it is no haze, but a massive swarm of flies undulating in the still air. There are dark forms beneath them strewn across the ground in a shallow depression, and with the presence of flies everyone quickly understands what they are.

Buntaro calls a halt and discusses with Yoritomo Fushou and the two Hida brothers and they decide to take the long way around to avoid whatever evil festers there, the hill is still their destination.
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Chronocide
 Posted: Oct 3 2012, 08:02 PM
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Kiyoshi marches on silently. It is almost as though the shadowlands have started to spread here as well; like a cancer. He wonders how much time and labour will be required to restore the land, once the oni is dead.
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redeadlink
 Posted: Oct 3 2012, 09:07 PM
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During the pause, Akio begins testing his hammer. Swinging it in ever widening arcs, he grunts with acceptance and continues to wait for something to happen.
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Jimbo Cactaur
 Posted: Oct 4 2012, 10:18 PM
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And something indeed does happen! Even while Fushou is relaying Buntaro-sama's orders and the company is preparing to skirt the edge of the valley to avoid the dark mass, the flies seem to grow agitated. They gather together in a thick, dark swarm and circle the area a couple times, then, without any meandering, they take a direct line toward the gathered samurai.

For a moment no one is certain that what they have seen is possible, but as the cloud gets bigger and bigger the truth of the matter settles in.
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redeadlink
 Posted: Oct 5 2012, 03:09 AM
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"What sorcery is this? I have never seen flies attack like this before. Perhaps they are also controlled by the oni-lord."

Akio is unsure of how well his hammer will fare against a cloud of flies.
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Chronocide
 Posted: Oct 5 2012, 08:33 AM
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"I suspect that you may be moore coorrect then you realize Matsu-san" Kiyoshi readies his sword and look of grim determination spreads across his face.
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