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» L5R: Steel & Honour, Chapter 9, Unknown Path
Jimbo Cactaur
 Posted: Apr 6 2011, 12:22 AM
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The journey upriver is swift and comfortable, for everyone except Reijiro. None of the party have ever traveled by water and while Kitsune Kiyoshi and Toku Kaede are able to adapt to the motions easily, Reijiro is not. He finds himself as often over the railing heaving forth his lunch as he might be huddled in his sleeping area trying to let exhaustion claim him. The Mantis sailors laugh openly at this, of course if he were not a ronin they may show a little more respect.

The weather clears after the first day, and bright sun shines forth from the clouds, although with not as much intensity as in the summer months. The Mantis are in good cheer despite the circumstances surrounding their passengers arrival, two of their fellows lay dead in the hold, waiting for a priest to put them out to sea.

The first day they are shown around by the courteous, but quiet, Tsuruchi Akinori. He makes sure all their needs are met and that Goro is placed comfortably. They are instructed to ask for him if needed, then he disappears into the rigging to do his duty. Yoritomo Buntaro quickly sequesters himself in his cabin as soon as they are underway, and does not appear until the next day and only then to bark orders for a little while, before handing a letter to a passing fisherman in a boat and returning to his quarters.

Yoritomo Fushou is effectively in charge as first mate and he doesn't seem to have time for any strangers. He informs them that the ship is heading all the way to Ryoko Owari Toshi, but will also stop at the village just east of Ginasutra if they would like to disembark.

They have been under oar and sail now for two days, and, this being the third, Ginasutra is just beyond the next few bends in the river. Buntaro summons them to his cabin to discuss certain events.


"Welcome friends, sit sit." He motions to various low stools spread around his chart laden desk. "Firstly I must say that I am very grateful for your assistance in the woods back there, I believe that I owe you all my life. For without your timely intervention those dirty ronin would have run us through and that terrible Oni would still walk about in his disguise.

"I must also mention that I hope river travel goes well with you. I myself am not a fan of it, the open seas are my home as much as the Isles of Silk and Spice, and this foolish riverwork is not to my taste." Although he is very much your superior his attitude suggests that he is expecting open conversation. It is only he and Akinori in the room with you three.
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Chronocide
 Posted: Apr 7 2011, 05:17 PM
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"I doo not believe we have yet exchanged proper introoductions Yoritomo-sama." Kiysohi bows from his kneeling position "I am Kitsune Kiyoshi in service of the Kitsune Family. As for oone oowing another, the Fox oowe much to the Mantis, it is my humble honour that I am afforded the oopportunity to reduce that debt. Likewise I cannot in good conscience ignoore a clansman set upon by bandits."

This post has been edited by Chronocide: Apr 7 2011, 05:20 PM
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Greg
 Posted: Apr 8 2011, 04:11 PM
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Kaede also bows. "I'm always pleased to lend my blade to a worthy cause. It's a shame that the Oni was able to flee before we could slay it. Hopefully with all that jade you and your crew put in it will keep it wounded enough that others can put it out of it's misery."

"Anyhow. I think it might be a good idea to accompany your ship to Ryoko Owari Toshi. A big city of it's size and reputation may contain what I'm looking for."
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Itinerant
 Posted: Apr 9 2011, 12:45 PM
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Reijiro bows as much as his weak stomach will let him, "It is an honour." He merely says. Knowing his place, intends to remain silent for most of the conversation. Nodding and agreeing in the necessary places. Though in truth, he doesn't trust his mouth to be open too long with all this bouncing and churning of the river. Reijiro rather fight another Oni than stay on this dreaded boat for much longer. He miserably tries to appear attentive in the conversation.

This post has been edited by Itinerant: Apr 9 2011, 12:47 PM
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Jimbo Cactaur
 Posted: Apr 9 2011, 11:35 PM
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Yoritomo Buntaro returns the bows with a small one of his own, a slight smile tugging at his lips. " I admit, Kitsune-san, that I have not had many opportunities to deal with our newest family in the past, but you have given me every reason to hold them in high esteem. Yoritomo Naizen-sama was wise in offering your clan our aid."

He turns to Kaede now and chuckles loudly, "I admire your courage and enthusiasm Toku-san. That demon is not far from my thoughts now, and there might be a chance that any of us will encounter it again. It is certainly still our responsibility." He pauses, scratching his stubble in thought. "I have sent word to a contact I have in Nihai Tower, though the Scorpion hold no lands on the west side of the river they do regularly patrol there. I have given him the information I deemed prudent to keep watch for this threat. But Moshi Kinyo seems to think that the Oni continued west toward the Shinomen Mori and the shadowlands swamp rumoured to exist there. I am not so certain."

He beckons Akinori over and whispers in his ear. The Tsuruchi bows and moves to the door of the cabin, opening it and allowing another to enter. "We may just find out if this demon had a lair, and what it's plans were. It was good of you to simply knock this one bandit unconscious, dead tongues tell no tales after all."

A Mantis bushi drags in a man tightly bound with ropes. His garments are tattered and torn and the side his face appears to be crushed and swollen. Dried blood covers one eye and his breathing is laboured, but he is conscious and whimpers when he is dropped to the floor beside Reijiro.

The bushi places a tonfa underneath one of his bound arms, twisting him into a kneeling position. Buntaro stands and walks around his desk.
"Do you think he will have anything worthwhile to say? Or should we feed him to the fishes and be done with his filth?"
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Greg
 Posted: Apr 11 2011, 08:00 PM
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If Kaede recognizes this ronin as the one that he and Ryoko had fought:

"Our absent companion had told me that she would prefer that this one see justice served at the hands of a magistrate. I would prefer to follow her wishes despite her mysterious absence. Though..." He looks down at the ronin in mild contempt. "It may be good to learn how he came to come under the employ of an Oni. Perhaps he may know where the beast's lair is, or if he has any more followers."

This post has been edited by Greg: Apr 11 2011, 08:00 PM
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Chronocide
 Posted: Apr 11 2011, 09:50 PM
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Kiyoshi studies the man closely, wondering just how much the ronin really knows. Even the Nezumi's sharp senses did not seem to fully identify the man in black as an Oni, at least not until he had shed his skin. Kiyoshi's thoughts flashed back to the man he had cut down, and was glad he had spared him this future. But no; such thoughts where conceited, to claim that an act of convenience was one of compassion was surely a base offence.
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Itinerant
 Posted: Apr 12 2011, 10:23 AM
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Reijiro studies the man intently. He appears pathetic, like a dying animal unable to lick his wounds. Reijiro doubts the ronin would even need much persuading to venture forth some information. On the other hand, judging from experience, it's not as easy to procure information with such a ragtag bunch of interrogators. Especially those with soft hearts, he shifts his direction towards Kaede, Or as honourable as Kiyoshi...

In another time, this would have been his specialty--he would have gladly lent his expertise. But here, it would undermine the others, and cause Yoritomo-sama, dishonour. No, and at any rate; here in the light, he himself is just another ronin. But a Mantis Bushi--much less one of Yoritomo's position--would be far more effective.


This post has been edited by Itinerant: Apr 12 2011, 10:24 AM
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Jimbo Cactaur
 Posted: Apr 13 2011, 01:09 AM
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Buntaro nods in agreement with what Kaede says, "Indeed, that is my thought as well." He focuses his attention on the prisoner, his voice becoming louder and carrying an air of authority only hinted at in the battle with Oni no Hamato.

"I will ask you these questions once only. Answer them truthfully and I will show you mercy in the form of a quick death." He pauses to let his words sink in to the trembling ronin. "The man you followed in your attack on us, the one in black, he was called Bachiatari, was he not?"

The ronin struggles to get words out and ends up merely nodding 'yes'.

Buntaro leans forward and asks another question,
"Did you know of his nature as a creature of Jigoku?"

The ronin shakes his head.

"What was the objective of your attack? What did you hope to accomplish?"

The ronin looks up slightly, then brings his eyes to the wooden floor again. He coughs, a bloody sound, and speaks. "We wanted to steal your cargo and sell it. Bachiatari thought we could make good money on it."

"Was Bachiatari always that honourless?"

The ronin grimaces in pain as he tries to think back. "No, we used to earn our money by helping at villages that needed us."

"When did you start turning to banditry?"

"About one month ago Mantis-sama." He says as he coughs up a mouthful of sticky blood. After a moment of trying to clear his airway he begins breathing again.

"Where was Bachiatari when this change took place?"

The ronin must think for a moment or two before he tentatively comes up with an answer. "We were camping in some caves in the mountains west of Kyuden Suzume. After that Bachiatari decided to gather more ronin and raid a nearby village. He killed Horiki when he protested and the rest of us just followed him out of cowardice."

Buntaro scratches his chin, thinking about past dates and analyzing the ronin's story.

The prisoner, feeling the weight of silence, attempts to fill it with feeble excuses,
"We didn't want to do anything wrong, he was always so convincing and when he got angry..." He shudders.

Buntaro looks at Akinori, who nods, then he looks at the others in the room.
"Would you be able to find those caves again?"

"The ones in the mountains by Kyuden Suzume? Yes, I think so."

"Then you have just saved your life, for now." Yoritomo Buntaro says with distaste. "Put him back in the hold, and keep him alive until we can do something about this." He gestures to the bushi holding the prisoner down and the man pulls the ronin up and out of the door.

As soon as the door is closed again he asks everyone,
"So, do you think he was telling the truth?"
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Greg
 Posted: Apr 14 2011, 09:57 AM
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Kaede find the information not too difficult to believe. "That works for me. I wish to track this Oni to it's lair and finish the Job."
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Chronocide
 Posted: Apr 14 2011, 12:04 PM
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"I cannot say whether he was lying or not, thoough he has certainly been given enough reason to. Of coourse even if he were lying would that change what is to be done next? Even if it is a trap and these caves are in fact the hideout of the remainder of the bandit foorces who lie in wait for us along with the ooni, is that not all the more reason to goo and put an end to their havoc?"
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Itinerant
 Posted: Apr 15 2011, 09:05 PM
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"I agree with Kiyoshi." Reijiro simply says.
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Jimbo Cactaur
 Posted: Apr 18 2011, 12:36 AM
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"Bravely put." Buntaro says with a smile. "I myself am inclined to believe what he says. I do not think that he would have any reason to lie to us at this stage. Moshi Kinyo believes that he is free of the taint so likely he was only in league with Bachiatari as a bandit and was never exposed to the vile Oni. He knows full well that the punishment for banditry is death, I doubt he was trying to save his own skin. I saw some small glimmer of honour in him I thought."

Buntaro scratches his chin in thought, "Though you may be right Kitsune-san, this may still be a trap set for us to blindly charge into. But we are no Lion! There is cunning in our clans, enough to triumph over any foe."

There is a knock at the cabin door, and Yoritomo Fushou enters. He looks at Akinori and then at Buntaro, makes a slight bow with his head, which Buntaro returns and then leaves.

Buntaro clears his throat,
"On to other matters now, thought no less important. This ship is needed in Ryoko Owari Toshi as soon as possible and will be there for some days, about a week and a half. As much as I relish the idea of chasing down the demon immediately I am under strict orders which I must follow. If you wish to sail back downriver with me in order to deal with Oni no Hamato for good you will have to wait until my business is finished in the city. I hope this doesn't inconvenience you, but as I said, my orders are strict. Also, I was wondering what you wished to do about that monk we took aboard? Our shugenja seem unable to do anything to help him."
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Chronocide
 Posted: Apr 18 2011, 05:21 PM
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"You have struck upon a reason for oour travel. We are accompanying the good monk to the monastery at Shinden Oosano-Woo; where we have it on good authority they will be able to treat him. If you were to drop us off a Gina-Sutra I should imagine a trip to to the monastery and back might be well timed with your return from Ryookoo Oowari Tooshi"
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Greg
 Posted: Apr 18 2011, 09:11 PM
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Kaede spends a moment in contemplation before speaking.

"A good idea. Though I think Shika-Chan and I will be accompanying Buntaro-San to the the City of Lies. While I'd like to accampany you in taking Goro-San to the monastery, I have a feeling that my quest leads me further upriver for a while.

I'll regroup with you when the time comes to track the beast to it's lair. I too, swore that I'd see the Oni sent back to the depths of Jigoku."
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