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» L5R: Steel & Honour, Chapter 8
Jimbo Cactaur
 Posted: Feb 27 2011, 01:19 AM
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Disarmed, the man in black has no recourse as kiyoshi's blade streaks toward him, indeed it seems as if he is unaware of the Fox, his hate-filled gaze locked on Buntaro. His eyes flare from burning embers to full fledged flame as the samurai's steel cuts through the soft flesh of his gut. The katana slices cleanly for a moment, then slows hard on something, lodging firmly. A gout of black liquid, stringy and thick, oozes around the trapped blade, hissing against the metal.

The burning red eyes turn from the Mantis to Kiyoshi, and Buntaro, previously frozen in place collapses to his knees with a long painful sigh, his eyes and ears dripping bright blood. The ronin uses his free hand to smack across at Kiyoshi's grip, causing to sword to fall from his hands to the ground in a puddle of smoking black gunk.

He tries to lock his deadly gaze on Kiyoshi next, but a whisper of wind betrays the flight of another arrow. He staggers back, a foot of green fletched arrow protruding from his neck.
"I swear," The ronin gurgles through his own blood, spitting violently, "I will see your families dead at my hands, and their entrails fed to my offspring, and so will you!"

The Tsuruchi nocks another arrow in his massive bow, drawing it back and taking aim.

Ryoko forces the yielding ronin to his feet with her sword point, then, quick as a blink she hammers him with her tsuba in the face and delivers four other hits to his abdomen with her fists. He slumps down unconscious.
"He might be of use to us yet Toku-san, and I find I do not have the stomach of a magistrate. He should be handed over to the authorities to be named for his crimes."

Nik'rr'tck sniffs the air and gives out a keening wail, turning every which way and looking up into the trees. He has a look of panic in his eyes. "Jiro, families tomorrow is here! Death-death!!" He crouches down even lower to the ground, broken blade held ready to fight off his invisible assailant.

Shika gives a plaintive little howl before loping off toward Kaede, a wolf nearby answers a few moments later.
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Chronocide
 Posted: Feb 27 2011, 10:50 AM
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Kitoshi scrambles to fetch his katana in no elegant manner. As he hurries to the side of the Mantis., Kiyoshi sharply flicks his katana trying to dislodge the black filth from his blade..
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Greg
 Posted: Feb 27 2011, 11:08 PM
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Kaede pauses to listen to the wolf howl before shrugging, and heads back to the edge of the tree line. It takes him a moment for him to assess the situation, but the black ichor alerts him to the gravity of the situation. Uttering a quick prayer to his ancestors, Kaede rushes down the hill to join the battle at hand.
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Itinerant
 Posted: Mar 1 2011, 01:53 PM
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Reijiro looks around, caught offhand by the sudden turn of evens. He withdraws his sword and crouches low, next to the Nezumi. His eyes ceaselessly scan the trees.
"What do you smell, Nik'rr'tck?"
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Jimbo Cactaur
 Posted: Mar 2 2011, 01:33 AM
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Nik'rr'tck spares just a glance at Reijiro while he scans the forest. He finally focuses on Kiyoshi and Buntaro's fight with the man in black. "I smell-smell the Terror that destroy Green-Green-White warren and kill-kill my family. It same," He says, pointing toward the fighting, "but not same."

The Tsuruchi lets go of his arrow, his string twanging. Wind whistles through the green feathers as it cuts a deadly path toward its target.

In the second that the arrow flies across the gap the ronin's features begin to contort. His mouth suddenly widens, the skin of his cheeks stretching and tearing, revealing a triple row of needle sharp points, two canines the most prominent. His head also elongates, the red embers of his eyes burning hot are matched by two more pairs up the sides by his temple. Out of the cut in his abdomen a thick black arm emerges, covered in dark fur and thick, bubbly carapace. The five hook-like claws on the end of the furred hand dart out, swatting the arrow from the air.

The ronin stands there a moment, grotesquely transformed, and another furred arm slowly emerges from his abdomen, tearing the pale human flesh further. He looks hungrily at Buntaro, who is barely conscious and supported on one side by Kiyoshi. The whistle of another arrow distracts him and he raises a black arm to intercept it, his carapace deflecting it easily.

Seeing himself now outnumbered four to one with the pending arrival of Kaede, and possibly others, he makes one last threat. Raising his still human arm he points at Kiyoshi,
"It was your cousin, little fox, who set me free and from whom I took my name. I smell the same blood in you to know it is true. As I devoured his soul he cursed me with the last of his will, that I would never harm a member of the Fox clan," Here he chuckles, a hideous sound, "But it seems that the Fox clan is no more, and have no such restrictions on me regarding the Mantis! Your whole family with offer their names for my offspring before the end, I promise you. I Oni no Hamato!!!"

Another arrow streaks toward him, and Buntaro stirs from his near swoon, regaining his grip on his katana. Oni no Hamato raises his arm again to deflect the shot, but this time the arrow bites deeply through the armoured skin of the demon. With a shout of rage he leaps away in the direction of Kaede, hooked claws tearing air like a typhoon.

Ryoko swallows hard and calls to Reijiro,
"This doesn't look very good, perhaps we should move out of the way."

Nik'rr'tck screams and bares his teeth.
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Chronocide
 Posted: Mar 2 2011, 06:44 PM
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Kiyoshi removes his pack and offers it as a prop for Buntaro, though he doubted Buntaro would take him up on it. "Rest for a moment, we will need your vigour shortly."

Kiyoshi rises and inspects his katana, he offers a silent apology for the filth it has and will be dealing with. Kiyoshi inhales deeply. When the fell thing leaps Kiyoshi charges the beast to intercept. He shouts, a slight stutter of fear now added to his usual accent. "Inari prootects her followers!" He sincerely hoped she would.
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Itinerant
 Posted: Mar 3 2011, 10:12 AM
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Reijiro swears under his breath, thinking fast. What good is the party to me if they're all dead?
"Nik'rr'tck, feel free to stay, your valor has proved enough in previous fights. But I shall attempt to help in this one." Reijiro swiftly but silently moves to the fight to lend a sword.
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Greg
 Posted: Mar 3 2011, 09:34 PM
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Upon seeing the ronin's grotesque transformation, Kaede hesitates for a moment. While he and his companions had managed to defeat an Ogre in combat only a couple days before, they had nearly lost two of their group in the battle. Now, looking at the creature's four muscular appendages, and misshapen grin, it seemed obvious that this Oni was far more vicious and deadly, than any mere Ogre. An Oni's claws could do much more than tear flesh. Still, It was his duty to either slay the Oni, or die trying. Of the two options, Toku Kaede preferred the idea of slaying the Oni.

With a shout of defiance, Kaede Charges towards the beast, and at the last moment, tries to jump out of the way, spinning around in mid-leap with his katana in an attempt to slice off one of the Oni's arms.


This post has been edited by Greg: Mar 3 2011, 09:34 PM
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Jimbo Cactaur
 Posted: Mar 6 2011, 02:21 AM
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Despite his efforts Kiyoshi's blade still has remnants of the black ichor clinging to it tenaciously. It seems, however, that so far the filth has not damaged the steel, but simply smoked and stunk.

Buntaro sags onto the offered support, shaken and pale. As Kiyoshi sprints away he offers a word of caution,
"Bachiatari was a seasoned and powerful warrior, this demon who slew him and wears his skin is as powerful as it is devious, do not fail." He struggles to draw breath and coughs up dark red blood, but his sword remains in his hand.

As Kaede and Oni no Hamato close on each other the demon shouts,
"Out of my way! FOOL!!!" His voice is no longer anything like a humans, but more like the sound of a thousand flints striking a thousand steels formed into words. His six eyes flare red again and both left arms sweep out, hooked claws tearing through the skin of his human-clad hand to match the ones already on their deadly way to Kaede's chest. The strike would have both disemboweled and decapitated the samurai simultaneously but for his quick leap and turn. Instead half of the claws find their way into the unarmoured skin of the Monkey's back, tearing him out of the air and sending him through the air across the clearing. He barely misses hitting the trunk of a tree and rolls to a stop in a heap, his katana stuck blade first into a rotting stump a few feet away.

Oni no Hamato continues his charge into the trees without slowing, a thin black line bubbling on his shoulder between two organic armour plates where Kaede's blade hit home.

Kiyoshi, sprinting after the monster, feels the rush of air beside his face marking another arrows passing. It thuds into the demons furred back without much visible effect. The Oni has nearly fully shed the human disguise, allowing his true form and power to show; longer legs, more muscular arms, and a thick, leathery tail. Just a few bits of the man known as Bachiatari remain, tattered shreds of dead skin hanging like a cloak about the fleeing abomination.

Ryoko backs away from the rushing Oni's path, shocked at the ease with which it flung Toku Kaede aside. She sees Reijiro for some reason moving to engage it and wants to shout a warning to him but holds back, simply watching to see what he does.

Shika bolts from the scene when Kaede is tossed aside, disappearing into the bushes without a sound or trace.

Oni no Hamato eyes the two ronin as it runs, the male to his right, and the female to the left. He angles right weaving around trees with cat-like fluidity. A few steps more and he will strike out and destroy another frail human. He fails to notice the grey-brown fur and rage filled eyes of the maddened Nuzumi until a second before the little beast jumps.

Nik'rr'tck keeps low to the ground, using his natural camouflage and the forest terrain to keep him out of sight from his target. He is deathly quiet, the screams from a moment before steeling into single-minded purpose. He watches detached as Kaede is swatted aside and the Oni turns toward Reijiro, planning his own interception and revenge. The demon moves as anticipated, quickly and with intent, but the Ratling is there, leaping up at its face broken katana and teeth bared.

The jagged blade punctures the middle eye on the left side and Oni no Hamato screams in rage. The demon skids to a stop, claws tearing into the soft earth for purchase, shaking Nik'rr'tck free from his grip on his weapon. He swipes blindly at the ratling but misses as the creature rolls to the side. With the demon stopped Kiyoshi has a chance to catch up to it.

Dazed, Kaede looks around. None of his bones feel broken and the adrenaline keeps him from feeling the minor bumps and bruises, even what should be a wall of fiery pain from the raking wounds on his back is simply a dull ache.

The Mantis archer nocks another arrow and tries to aim a shot.


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Greg
 Posted: Mar 6 2011, 03:48 PM
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Kaede lurches back onto his feet, and quickly runs over to his katana. Using one foot to push against the stump, kaede quickly yanks the sword out. Turning back to where the Oni charged into the forest, Kaede quickly dashes after it, swinging his blade wildly to clean some of the filth off of it, as he yells in determination. "Hhyyaaaaah!"
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Chronocide
 Posted: Mar 7 2011, 10:28 AM
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Every fibre of Kiyoshi's being told him to run. It took all he had to keep his legs moving and his blade straight. There were two things to which Kiyoshi focused his mind to bring him strength: faith in Inari, and that which the oni had said earlier. "...he cursed me with the last of his will, that I would never harm a member of the Fox clan."
The time had come the nezumi had provided an opportunity. "As far as I am cooncerned..." Kiyoshi brought his katana across the oni's thigh in a pushing strike. "... I am a member of the Fox clan!"
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Jimbo Cactaur
 Posted: Mar 10 2011, 12:37 AM
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Kiyoshi's thrust blade scrapes along the hardened skin of the Oni's thigh, suddenly catching at last and digging a black, oozing channel into the corrupt flesh. He sees past the demons leg to where Nik'rr'tck is scrabbling in the leaf litter for another weapon, his own still stuck in the creatures eye. Two of Oni no Hamato's arms come swinging back with incredible speed, knocking Kitsune Kiyoshi away in a double-backhand. The wind is knocked out of him as he lands a dozen feet back, but his sword is still in his hand.

Nik'rr'tck finds a heavy stick and smashes it over the Oni's knee. The wood is rotting and bursts apart and the ratling quickly casts it aside and dives through the demons legs. A second later ten razor sharp hooked claws shred the ground where he was.

Oni no Hamato reaches up to its eye and pulls free the Nezumi's broken weapon, black blood running down its misshapen face. A startling pink tongue emerges past the triple row of teeth and licks at the wound as the Oni surveys its opponents.

Reijiro forgotten at the moment, he stalks toward the fallen Fox, nearly stepping on Nik'rr'tck. An arrow streaks toward it and embeds itself in its shoulder, the terrifying creature doesn't slow.
"Perhaps I should just kill you now, feeble human. Inari cannot protect you from the likes of me, and your pitiful cries beg me to put you down." Its mouth opens even wider than before, a twisted Cheshire grin full of pain and death.

A trio of glinting objects whirl through the air, down toward the Oni. Two bounce off its carapace, but the third buries itself deep in the hole where the ratling took its eye. It looks up into the leafy canopy for this new annoyance but sees nothing. Another trio of blades flies at it from another direction, this time two of them hit home in the small of its back. Its five remaining eyes flare in anger.

Ryoko is just ready to depart and leave the great samurai to their honourable fates when she notices a creaking in the branches of the trees. She looks up an notices a black and white shape moving quickly from tree to tree. Her eyes follow it to where it stops, barely visible as it stands motionless. It throws some weapons at the oni, and then quickly moves to another vantage and throws some more, distracting the deadly creature. Curious she moves closer to get a better view.

She sees a slight figure dressed in a somewhat strange kimono of white-black lithely standing on a supple branch high in a tree. She attempts to make out the figures face and creeps closer. The mystery figure looks directly at her and she sees that the face is covered by a Hakuko mask.

Yoritomo Buntaro is standing shakily, holding both his pilfered blade and his own recovered one. The bleeding from his ears has stopped, but his skin is pale and clammy and he struggles to take a few steps at a time.

A massive roar from Oni no Hamato pulls everyone's attention back to the desperate fight. Everyone except the Tsuruchi who is frantically trying to wedge open one of the crates on the riverbank. Toku Kaede is just about at the Oni when it roars, and a chill of terror runs down his spine accompanied by a feeling of hopelessness. Kiyoshi, crouching in front of the demon has to fight to keep his grip on his katana.

The silence that follows the hideous roar is palpable, and it is as if time has slowed to a stop as the demons red eyes lock on Kiyoshi's.
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Chronocide
 Posted: Mar 10 2011, 06:01 PM
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Kiyoshi flexes his fingers testing his grip on his katana, trying to keep his action subtle. Diving left or right would mean being swatted promptly out of the air, and he knew not what was behind him nor did he have the luxury to look. Kiyoshi let his body slump slightly his breathing was deep but quiet. He faced the Oni through blurred vission trying hard not to meet its eyes.

"Come on... bring your foul head a little nearer... I know you want to wrap your jaws around my skull... Just stretch your neck out a little more... And I will skewer it upon my blade."

*italics are thoughts if that wasn't obvious
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Itinerant
 Posted: Mar 11 2011, 08:49 AM
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Reijiro, having bid his time long enough, has finally circled around behind the beast. He quickly unsheathes his sword and whispers to himself something to the effect of, "here goes nothing..." and charges towards the Oni's backside, intending to cut the tendons on his legs to immobilize the beast.
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Greg
 Posted: Mar 11 2011, 05:57 PM
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Kaede stops dead in his tracks. Struggling against the unnatural fear, he tries to steady himself, assuming a defensive posture, but what courage he had in his charge has now all but left him as he witnesses the sheer monstrosity of the Oni's true form. Out of the corner of the his eye he spots Reijiro sneaking behind the creature to strike at it from behind.

Kaede struggles to think of something clever to say to keep the creature's attention away from its flank, but in the split second available, nothing truly comes to mind. Again he tries to yell out a fearsome battle cry, but the air his fear catches Kaede's breath in his lungs, causing his voice to waver, as it did during the year of his Gempukku. His shout comes out shaky, and uneven, more resembling a scream of terror, than a roar of defiance.
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