Not Without Honour

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by KageKaioh, Mar 1, 2015.

  1. [​IMG]

    • For generations, the Kanegawa clan has taken great care in ruling over the people of Yaku, earning them high esteem in the eyes of the Shogunate, as well as those living in the region. A key part of the Kanegawa’s successful reign is their loyal army, made up of skilled and fearless warriors. At the top of these ranks are the Daimyo’s personal military attendants, his most trusted samurai. Though these samurai come from far and wide, they are the best, and serve their Lord faithfully.

      However, the peaceful ruling is in danger, as rumors of a terrible plot to end the Daimyo’s life have reached the ear of his most trusted men. Their only goal now is to root out this assassin and protect their lord, no matter what obstacles may fall in their path. However, fate is a cruel mistress like no other; the dastardly plans have wrenched all power from them. Can these men and women of honour bring themselves to do what no samurai should in order to save their Lord?

    Kiyomizu Hiroyuki [KageKaioh]- GM, Active
    Suda Yurie [FireJay]- Active
    Nishi Norisane [Tone Deaf]- Active
    Kikuichi Kirihime [VerbalAbuse]- Active
    Kuroki Makoto [PetticoatLane]- Active
    Yoshanai Kaze [Daws Combine]- Active

Kanegawa-dono (Kanegawa Haruyasu)
The second son of Kanegawa Yasumitsu, known for his kind and just heart. He cares for all of his subjects and rules fairly, as most of the Kanegawa family has for generations. He has seven samurai that make up his personal guard.

Yashagami Tesoru
Loyal adviser to two generations of Kanegawa Daimyo.

Kiyomizu-dono (Kiyomizu Katsuro)
The first son of Kiyomizu Hiroshi. While his father was known for his wisdom and calm nature, the current Daimyo is a cruel and aggressive lord. He has made Ryuu-Tousho a wealthy prefecture, though not at great costs. The people there are unhappy; fearful of him and the ten ruthless samurai that make up his personal guard. He is the father of Kiyomizu Hiroyuki.

Kikuichi Nagato
Second-born son of the Kikuichi family, brother to Kirihime. He is a samurai in Soragawa-dono's army.

...More will be added as the roleplay progresses...

  • 1. Be polite- OOC fighting will not be tolerated
    2. No power-play or godmodding- there will be fighting, but this is a realistic roleplay.
    3.Characters will die if the situation seems to fit it. They cannot live through everything. Same goes for injuries, they will happen and they will inhibit your character if serious.
    4. Two paragraph minimum- this is an intermediate roleplay, meaning posts that move the story forward and work on character development are expected. Time constraints and writers block can and will be worked around.
    5. Not really a rule but asking questions is encouraged!
    6. Non-rule number two- Have fun! We all roleplay because we enjoy it, let's keep it that way.

    • Like Like x 1
  • [​IMG]

    It is a brisk spring morning; the hazy, golden light of the sun has cast its rays over the fertile fields, trees and rivers of Yaku. The city of Kintaiyo slowly wakens in the shadow if the beautiful Kinto-jo, home to their Daimyo and his family. All along the streets, artisans and merchants begin preparations to open their storefronts, the smell of food and sound of industry snaking through the city as a new day is heralded by the ringing of temple bells. In the fields and orchards that surround the city, farmers march to carefully tend the budding trees and tender crops.

    Kinto-jo itself is just starting to come to life; all around the sprawling complex, servants begin their daily tasks as the castle's residents stir. Kanegawa's samurai await their Lord's beckoning, taking this time for personal pursuits and training as they do any other day. All is calm and peaceful, the quiet prefecture reflecting a sense of safety for all... save one, whose troubled sleep has left him with a restless mind.
    • Like Like x 1
  • Cool eyes stared, unblinking as the sun slowly rose over the horizon, transfixed on the scarecrow-like straw and wood target that lay one hundred yards away. Steadily, the lean man brought up the great bow in his hands, smoothly drawing back the silk and sinew string. For a few heartbeats, he stood frozen in the early morning haze; then, with a sharp twang, the arrow was loosed. Fletching whistled low as the projectile sailed through the air, moving right past the target and embedding itself into a tree a few dozen feet away. The archer gave a small, dissatisfied sound and lowered his daikyu, eyes narrowing as he attempted to analyze the mistake. Though he strived to find another answer, he knew the truth behind his inaccuracy.

    Hiroyuki had been out on the packed earth of the training grounds since the sky first showed a sign of lightening, attempting to either blot out or find meaning in the bizarre visions that occurred in his sleep. Hiro did not dream- in his sleep, his mind terrorized him. Nightmares had always plagued the man, and he was adapted to it. This dream- no, not a dream... this vision, disturbed him more than any horrific construct his resting mind had thrown at him.

    Sharp motions lacking the man's typical fluidity brought another arrow to the bowstring, frustration becoming more clear as his brow furrowed. Nocking the shaft and pulling back, he slighted along its length. He forced himself to then hold this stance until his muscles burned from tension, mind replaying the nocturnal scene for the dozenth time. It was impossibly realistic, he could still remember the sensation of... No, do not give into it again. There had to be foul play present in this situation. This man, an unbelievably beautiful man draped in exquisite silks, appeared in a haze; a haze Hiro was positive was still clinging to the air when he woke. Though at first he had given in to the sensual tone, he had known then that something was not right- a sensation that proved correct when the man spoke. He remembered drawing his blade in response, but attacking was useless. The dream dissolved into nothingness and wakefulness took him. Despite this sudden snap into reality, the man's words repeated in his mind: You must kill Kanegawa Haruyasu. What the overbearingly sexual creature had said was akin to heresy- surely he, a loyal servant to Kanegawa-dono could not have dreamt something like that!

    Thunk. The steel head sunk deep into the painted eye of the target, shaft quaking from the force of the blow.

    What to do about this "dream"? He had no proof it was anything but, and he would have to admit then that his subconscious wishes his Lord dead, which would only lead to his own death. Another arrow was plucked from the quiver and smoothly drawn into place as he considered his options. He could tell the other members of the Daimyo's guard... but to what end? Such a rational person suddenly proclaiming a vision and paranoid suspect of their Lord's safety would not be taken well, he was sure. He could blame it on a bakemono, or even mononoke, but that would hardly help him convince another; he would sound like he was grasping at straws.

    Twang. The arrow loosed, the sound of the bowstring snapping muffled as it scraped along Hiro's pale forearm. No show of pain was granted to the weapon, instead, the warrior simply glanced to the reddened skin. It was an amateur mistake, one he was thankful no one had seen. Though he was disappointed in himself for this poor performance, the accident settled into his mind that he needed to confront whatever this was. He needed to tell someone- it would eat away at him if he did not.

    With that decision now cemented into his mind, he continued his repetitive practice, making sure his accuracy and form was perfect before anyone else set foot in the training grounds.
    #3 KageKaioh, Mar 3, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2015
    • Like Like x 2
  • Kirihime awoke earlier than most to pay her respects to the spirits at the town shrine. Her return trip was never as physically gruelling as the trip up - the near-daily workout made her and those under her command an extremely mobile infantry unit. Perhaps that was a blessing brought on by the trial of the trip, as set forth by the spirit, Hachiman. Indeed, descending the steps made things easier. Her legs hardly tired anymore. She'd done it for years, stopping only when bed-riddenly ill, or when at war or on assignment.

    She returns to the castle usually around when the others awoke - save for the others who practiced regular Kami worship at the castle - and comes home to the sight of her fellow warriors training and their servants preparing breakfast or a midmorning snack for their lords. Firstly, she would come in to see the inner garden. A place of peace for her, she would occasionally tend to it herself for catharsis, although the servants kept it healthy when she didn't require the outlet. She had proposed raising a few crops in the garden to doll out to the poor and hungry. Though the garden wasn't large enough to feed all of the people, it'd raise loyalty to their lord for the small amount it could help.

    Now to the training area. The indoor grounds had a direct view of the outdoor area, allowing her to practice her unique kenjutsu. Employing her odachi in a way that made it effective was a difficult task, one which she had, in all honesty, mastered by mistake - as many techniques were discovered. Battojutsu was extremely difficult, sense the scabbard to her odachi was worn in the style of the tachi, on her waist, instead of on her back. Tactics relying heavily on battojutsu depended on her back or left side being to her attacker, although she had developed a technique that allowed her to parry strikes from any direction. As such, when engaged, she will never sheathe her blade until all of the unit she is fighting is either well routed, captured, or fallen. She always presents herself to the enemy unarmored and weapons sheathed, then strikes relentlessly, using her superior maneuverability and long-standing skill with odachi to defeat the enemy, often several years her elder. While she rarely has the chance to capture an enemy officer (whether it be due to her outright slaying them or they commit seppuku), she does try to spare who she can, especially younger officers, and they are bound and sent to her lord so he may decide what to do with them.

    First and foremost, kenjutsu requires a good move to start off with. Battojutsu can save one's life and should be one of a warrior's strongpoints. She had previously attempted other methods and even tried wearing her scabbard at different points, but the Nanamagari Kawasu ("Seven Bend Exchange" or "Spiral Parry") always remained the most effective technique. Even then, she was required to wear the scabbard loose enough to allow it to move with her draw, but close enough so she could run without it beating against her thighs. She was focused on this for awhile, trying to enhance the effectiveness. Hold the blade as vertical as possible, let them not have the cutting edge, lest it be dulled (although Shirowari is a masterpiece, said to be blessed by Amaterasu and tested against the Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi and gifted to Kirihime after she became a samurai. Nagato's blade, Bishamon, was instead blessed by Susano'o and tested against the Kusanagi). She would practice it for awhile, refining an already well-choreographed technique.

    And then she would practice combat. She had three stances. Her default held the blade horizontally, the handle against her cheek as she looked down the blade. Her legs were spread wide. Her position ready to attack. On the defensive, she held a more traditional kendo stance, but dug the hilt into her stance down by her knee. She could easily pierce or parry from this stance. Finally, her last stance was more effective on slower opponents. She used one hand, the blade propped across her shoulders. She could pierce from this position, or use leverage from her shoulders for a powerful slash. Her free hand was placed in front of her as a warning. Her experience with ninjutsu gave her the coordination to slap aside blades headed for her without cutting her, or even grasp at a horizontal slash by grabbing the back of the blade. This was largely ineffective against faster foes and large groups.

    But as she was practicing, she lost focus since she was quite well-versed in this part of combat. Her mind wandered until she took a break, resigning to her fate of lost focus. She walked around the training area, and noticed Kiyomizu-san struggling with his bow. Were it swordplay, she'd be worried that he was sick or injured, but archery required a clear head. He was troubled. She wondered whether she should approach him.
  • Twang. Thump. Twang. Thump. The sound was soothing, largely regular in its intervals. Yurie, as per usual, had woken up before the sun and eaten first thing. She had been listening to the practice in silence for some time, not bothering to go outside. It wasn't as though she could lean against the wall like some rough man, or sit impertinently in the doorway with her legs crossed smoking a pipe, so instead she had developed the habit of sitting seiza in a secluded corner right inside the indoors training area. As an albino, the samurai knew that she would be immediately recognizable by anyone who saw her, but that didn't mean she couldn't use the skills her family taught to make it less likely for people to notice her. She sat very still and very quietly, as if she had become part of the wall. Her eyes closed and she let the regular sound of an archer reverberate through her ear canals without much fuss, neither for nor against the practicer. She'd just liked the sound. It was an idle way to spend her mornings, listening to whoever had gone in to practice first, but she liked it. It was a peaceful start to a morning.

    Her own weapons she laid next to her, closer to the wall. The sounds of a pair of feet adding their clamor to the training grounds, however, forced her to open her eyes. It was time for her morning training as well, but she wouldn't be doing it in the archery range. Floating upwards relatively gracefully, she reattached her short swords to a sash around her waist, and took up her large yellow fans, one in each hand. She was wearing clothes a bit lighter than the usual kimono, in the fashion of her clan, which made it easier for women to move about. Gliding into a deeper area of the indoor training room, she closed her pink eyes, getting rid of the distraction of painfully fuzzy shapes. She let out one long, quiet, slow breath, keeping perfectly still, both fans still closed but held in front of her. For a long moment, she simply stood there, drinking in the distant sounds of others getting up to practice and birds singing, clearing her mind. Then, she snapped open her fans, at the same time snapping open her eyes. In a great swish of motion, she began swinging her fans. Above her, to each side, swaying to a rhythm the rest of her body seemed to know, though no one else could hear. The fans sang through the air viciously, reducing her ability to hear - it was a trade-off she'd been willing to take. In seemingly one motion, one fan swept upwards open as if to knock aside a strike, and the other flashed below it, ready to deliver a blow to the side. Even when she dodged imaginary enemies, it was done with flair and style. She knew well that it was harder to maintain this in a genuine battle, but this would have to suffice for now, until someone else came to spar with her.

    The white-haired girl continued dancing in this manner - a dance that defied everything everyone else had decided for her the minute she was born, a dance that was her armor, not just her technique - waiting for the time to come when she would have to use it for something beyond herself.
  • Kaze's eyes opened to the sight of that wonderful ceiling he was so fond of. Man, he enjoyed that ceiling. So sturdy and smooth. While he wasn't sure why he had such an attraction to the ceiling, he was sad to have to break eye contact. He sat up, hid fingers moving to the scar on his face as his shoulders have off an audible pop, causing the Samurai to grit his teeth in discomfort. This was something he was never a fan of, in the mornings, but he had to deal with it, if he was going to train like he did. He turned his attention to his hands, which were wrapped in bloodstained bandages. At least another day until he could have another full training session. Which meant he would have to limit himself, again. Damn... Nothing he hated more than being forced to hold back. If he was going to restrain himself, he was going to do it on his own terms, and purely for fun. This just felt like work. Well, it sort of was. Unless he was out fighting, he was training. Speaking of....

    His knees gave him just as much resistance as his shoulders, but he would have to deal with that, for now. They didn't have a say, in all this. None at all. After a quick bath and a shave, Kaze dressed in his usual blue robes and black pants, sliding his personal breastplate over the garment as he secured his gauntlets and shin guards. The gloves came on next, followed by the shoes. Soon after, he was knelt by the shrine he had built, head down and eyes closed. He hated the public shrine. It made him nervous, which was not something he needed. He opened his eyes and looked to the pictures on the end table. There were three, each hand drawn by one of the best arrests in the Hoseki prefecture. Two were portraits of his parents. His stoic father and his beautiful mother. The third was of two people. One was Kaze's sister, who was currently working as a handmaiden to some noble who knows where. The second was obscured by burn marks. As if this picture had been salvaged from a fire. Of course, that wasn't the case.

    Next were weapons. The matched swords he made use of sat in their all black sheaths, ready for the day's use. His Kaiken, however, stood erect in a special, ornate stand. He ran his fingers over the blade, frowning. In pristine condition. Just like his father kept it... No. This was no time to be sentimental. Sentimentalism was a poison, and he would have none, of it. He took the knife from it's stand and slid it into the hidden sheath under his breastplate. With that, he made his way out into one of the many Gardens, around the palace. First things first. Food. He made his way to the nearest source of food and brought said food, said food being a bowl of Miso soup, back to the aforementioned Garden. He took a sit under a particularly shady tree and began his breakfast.
  • The morning was cool - and classically spring.

    All around the Kinto-jo home, morning birds had begun to wake and give their lyrical salutations to the rising sun as they flitted about in the brisk morning air. With the birds, so too woke many residents of the home, each setting about their daily business - and Kuroki Makoto was no exception.

    Morning had always been his time for offering and meditation, a chance to clear his mind of sleep and dreams - and prepare for whatever challenges the new day might have in store. As such, the man had risen from his bed and prepared himself to leave his quarters, clad in his usual green and black attire, leaving his length of grey hair down about his shoulders and back. Though his destination was near the outdoor training ground, the samurai carried no weapons - having foregone his blades for incense and thread-fine tendrils of smoke followed him as he strode through the corridors.

    As he made his way out into the grounds, the samurai passed a handful of servants whom he greeted with a smile and a silent nod of acknowledgement. In return, each of them bowed in respect before carrying on with their duties - the silence still unbroken. Over the past few years, Makoto had developed this silent routine and he was glad that everyone had become accepting of it; at first the servants had quietly fussed over the man's refusal to take breakfast - and even more so when they discovered his mornings were spent in reverence of the wild spirits of Okamimori's dark forests. Time, however, had tempered their worries and they now greeted the warrior with ease and respect.

    Having reached the outer grounds, Makoto carried himself past the training areas to the very edge of one of the well-kept gardens. There, growing low over a small gazing pool, was an impressive maple tree with vivid, fiery leaves. Since his first day under Kanegawa, this particular location had been a comfort to the warrior - and he had been back each day since, halted only by absence from the palace. Seating himself on his knees beneath the blazing canopy, Makoto delicately placed the incense he'd brought near an uplifted root. He then closed his eyes in silent, meditative prayer to the spirits - the only sounds in the garden being the soft singing of birds interrupted by the intermittent clack of the sōzu.
    #7 Perfect Neglect, Mar 4, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 4, 2015
  • As the day's light grew stronger, Hiroyuki's eyes narrowed. Too little sleep had left him sensitive to the brightness, which added just another problem to the fairly long list. Were he a normal person, he would show signs of exasperation or stress. Instead, he simply stared down the abused wooden target with typical indifference as another arrow was drawn. Wood and sinew creaked, a satisfying sound to the archer as he sighted down the shaft's length. He was about to let the arrow fly when movement caught his attention. Quickly lowering his weapon, he turned to greet Kirihime with a shallow bow, a tad agitated with himself for not noticing her presence sooner.

    "Good morning, Kikuichi-san." He said, voice low and polite as ever. As he spoke, he subtly shifted his posture, turning his arm so the rash did not show while casually brushing his long hair back over his shoulder with his free hand. Though he did not regard himself as particularly self-conscious, he did not want any of his colleagues seeing such an injury. He did not need the other samurai to think he was unfit for duty, and making a simple mistake like that was surely cause for some questioning. No, he needed to remain as normal as possible until he could confront them about his concerning vision. It should not be that difficult for him to do... should it? He had never had cause to outright lie to them before.
    #8 KageKaioh, Mar 8, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2015
  • Though neither knew of this fact, Hiroyuki was not the only one who had awaken to a sort of vision. Nishi jolted upright suddenly awake. Completely alert as if he was just awoken to the sounds of battle his ragged breath was forced through clenched teeth as he slowly aloud himself to calm. He continued in this state for several minutes before he could even out his breathing, wiping away the cold sweat on his brow. Ever so slowly he pushed himself off his soft cot, moving on about his morning, changing into his usual attire and pulling his hair back in a tight bun for the day as his mind fit the bit and pieces of what he remembered from his nightmare.

    The first thing he could remember was darkness. Not the inky black that hid behind his eye lids, instead of the dark creeping shadows that occupancy the moon and its stars. he had dreamt of a frozen forest, coated in snow. Running through the trees, the dream so vivid that he could of sword he felt the hot sticky sweat drip off of him as he ran. He had ran for what seemed like years before finally breaking into a clearing in the trees finding the sight of a murder. The snow once white and pure was drenched in blood and through no body could be seen his own sword unmistakable, was driven into the earth at the center of the bloodbath, coated in the crimson substance.

    As Nishi sat finished preparing to exit his room and greet his other samurai, he pondered over the possible meanings of such a dream. Not once since his childhood had h had such a vivid illusion. It had to meant something but what he could not figure out himself. The question left him with no answers and in a melancholy mood. After several minutes of thinking he sighed in defeat and donned his blades, determined to ask Kirihime-sama later in the day. Without further ado Nishi left his room determined to go throughout the day without further incident. Moving through the building toward the training grounds were his colleagues would be at this time in the morning, he got there without incident save the first servant Nishi encountered running off after respectfully greeting him to grab his ritualized cup of sake.

    Nishi had barely paid the man any attention as he finally entered the outdoor area that was their training grounds. Scanning the open space he picked out Kuroki in his normal spot by the pond and moved to join him as he did every day. Though his late rise would be out of the norm He took his normal spot 10 feet away sitting in a peaceful silence only broken by the silent arrival of a servant placing an ochoko on the ground beside Nishi steam coming off the hot substance. Another thing out of the norm, instead of drinking the sake immediately he allowed it to sit there as he sat in silence with his fellow samurai making no move to grab the saucer.
  • Kaze spotted two of his fellow Samurai with ease. That was bad. Were he an assassin, he could have shot both of them with poison darts and been on his way to Kasegawa-dono within seconds. He half considered tossing some pebbles their way, but he didn't want to risk either of them knowing how to throw knives. He didn't know his colleagues well. Being as paranoid as he was, he never really talked do any of them. Speaking only lead to trouble. And, while trouble was a great conversationalist, Kaze didn't need the company. He stood with his bowl and quietly made his way out of the garden. Wouldn't want to disturb them.

    As he made his way out to the training fields, he caught a glimpse of Hiroyuki-san. The only real thing Kaze noted about the man today was the nasty rash he was trying so hard to hide. Clever boy. Trying to hide your weaknesses. But you didn't count on keep perception, and Kaze had some of that to go around. He wouldn't draw attention to that, now. That would be just mean. Instead, the Samurai drew his matched swords and took a seat by the elevated training area, waiting for someone to spar, with him.
  • Kiyomizu-san turned to acknowledge her and she gave him a polite smile. "Don't let me distract you, Kiyomizu-san. Pretend I'm not here." She bowed slightly and moved her practice outdoors, next to the archery range. She had her sword, after all. And it'd help her focus to have her distraction near would help it from nagging at her thoughts. Sword out, stance up. Her sword is longer. Keep her distance from the enemy. Watch him. Since there was no enemy, she imagined one. About five steps in front of her.

    Her eyes still held to Hiroyuki's form. She watched as she tried to focus on her training. Her opponent could keep form if he wasn't firing, but otherwise she wouldn't practice as hard. Still, she kept up the charade. Perhaps he'd tell her if he so pleased. Of course, he wasn't the only distraction she had to deal with. Kaze was about, and no doubt he's looking to stir up trouble. Kirihime stepped up her guard.
  • Norisane sat there in the grass, his legs crossed under him, trying to clear his mind. Yet no matter what he tried, how hard he focused on the serenity around him. His mind kept being pulled in some direction as thoughts of his nightmare this morning plagued him. It was very strange for something to bother Nishi enough to stop him from meditating, a ritual he has done every morning since arriving in this castle. Instead of trying any longer he stood, shaking his head in frustration and instead looked for something else to fill the time before they were to meet their lord. He quickly found Kirihime moving through her stances with her longer sword.

    Deciding that now was probably the better time to bring up his dream with her then later, he moved toward her. Circling around her he stopped in front of her, just out of reach of blade. Making eye contact with her, he offered a small smile before slipping his Katana out of its sheath. Holding the grip away from him, just below his belly button. The blade angled up slightly, the cutting edge showing toward her. He set his feet ready for her to strike, all the while racking his mind for some way to bring up his dream without sounding deranged. Finally he simply decided to ask for a moment alone after their bout, instead focusing his mind on the image before him.
  • Hiroyuki gave another shallow bow as Kirihime left, not bothering to respond verbally. As she moved to the nearest martial training ring, he crouched down next to his yebira, the standing quiver that typically held two dozen arrows. After a quick count of the feathered ends, he reached into the pouch at its side, pulling out the typical archery effects he had neglected to don when he began training. A tingling wave of pain ran through his hand as he tugged on a three-fingered glove, raw fingertips protesting at the sensation of the silk and leather. Ignoring this mild annoyance, he slid a silk sleeve over his right forearm, obscuring the rash completely. A stronger wave pain was the response to this action, but it was once more ignored as he dusted his hand with charred powder and took up his daikyu once more.

    As he stood, he glanced across the training grounds. Though much of the area was obscured by the bamboo wall that protected the martial training rings from stray arrows, he could see Norisane step up to engage a rather absent-seeming Kirihime. Further out, he could see Kaze. Just a glimpse of the man put him immediately on edge, his posture becoming firm and assertive as he watched the unstable samurai. His eyes narrowed slightly as he mentally scoffed at his indecency. He sat at the challenge grounds, blades unabashedly drawn, looking for a fight- it was shameful. One does not bare his blade without a threat or opponent present. His time should be spent training, not inciting pointless battles.

    Breaking his gaze away from Kaze, he quelled the rising anger within him. He could not let it distract him; he had enough on his mind already, and the man was hardly worth it. He picked an arrow from the quiver and brought up his bow, letting out a slow breath before drawing the string back. Tired muscles protested, a dull ache attacking his arms, shoulders and back as he pulled the impressive weapon to its full tension.

    Twang.... Thump.
    #13 KageKaioh, Mar 14, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2015
  • A quiet mind made for a steady form.

    The thought was a sort of mantra Makoto had focused on ever since he'd begun his training many, many years ago - and it had never proven wrong. As such, after his prayers to the spirits, the samurai settled his mind into meditation and cleared away unnecessary thoughts so that he might begin his daily training refreshed and fully prepared. The morning was beautiful and still - and his meditation was wholly undisturbed - save by the absence of Norisane. The man very often ventured out to the garden Makoto so loved - and would meditate nearby, though there had yet to be any sign of him thus far this morning. That wasn't to say the man hadn't simply chosen to train instead, and Makoto peacefully shifted his mind back into calm clarity.

    The fine curls of smoke were slowly fading from the burning incense when Norisane finally appeared - and his stay was brief. As the man left the garden, seemingly frustrated, Makoto opened his eyes long enough to watch his departure with a quizzical look. Odd, he thought to himself as he glanced over to the untouched saucer of the man's ritualistic morning drink. Clearly, something was troubling him.

    Slowly, Makoto plucked the burnt-out incense from the ground and got to his feet as the sōzu clacked again. It was about the time he would conclude his meditation, anyway, and he collected the untouched saucer before exiting the garden. Depositing both the spent incense and the saucer on an ornate bench, the samurai started toward the archery range at a leisurely pace. Hopefully, Norisane would feel comfortable enough to share what was causing him such unrest, though Makoto did not wish to push the issue. Perhaps the man just needed to collect his thoughts in a more active manner; despite his penchant for meditation, the samurai understood that some stress simply needed to be worked off in one manner or another.

    As he approached the training ground, he withdrew a long band of cloth from his nagajuban and pulled his hair up, gathering the mass of grey at the back of his head before fashioning it into a sort of bun and securing it with the cloth. How others, namely Hiroyuki, managed to train with his hair down, he would never know. Collecting his yebira from the small structure that housed the extra targets and archery gear, Makoto donned the three-fingered glove on his right hand and slid his left arm from his sleeve, securing the extra fabric at his waist. He had always practiced the bow with left side bared and without a guard on his forearm, though he was perfectly content to wear the protective glove - a comfort not generally used in Okamimori. Shifting the quiver to hang over his shoulder, Makoto retrieved his daikyu and carried the effects toward packed earth that served as the training area.

    Wholly unsurprised to find Hiroyuki present, the man smiled and softened his steps as he approached. Drawing nearer, however, disclosed that the other archer was struggling with his task. While the younger man was generally fluid and steady in his form, he was moving with rigid actions - clearly tense. Closer inspection would also reveal an arrow lodged in the tree behind the man's target - a mishap rather uncharacteristic of the other.

    Norisane's actions, coupled with Hiroyuki's obvious tension, were giving the peaceful morning an undue sense of apprehension.

    Closing the distance between himself and the other samurai, Makoto lightly laid his quiver near Hiro's and turned to face the man with a knowing smile. "Should I be concerned over you and Norisane-san being at odds," he asked, his voice tempered with a pleasant tone, "Or are the two of you coincidentally tense this morning?"
    • Love Love x 1
  • Hiro was tempted to pause as familiar footsteps approached, but opted not to, instead focusing on removing any sign of distress from his body. He knew Makoto would know regardless- the older man had an uncanny sense of empathy. The blue-eyed man swore the talent bordered on supernatural at times. Still, he was determined to not show any hint of his concerns to Makoto, at least for now. Taking in a deep breath, he relaxed his stance, shoulders loosening as he nocked yet another arrow.

    Of course, as the sagely samurai spoke, the lie was undone. He honestly had not expected it to turn out differently, but at least he could say he tried. Actually hearing how easily Makoto had spotted his distraction, he was sorely tempted to pull him aside and explain everything, or at least try to. He settled for finishing his shot instead. Drawing back and taking aim, he held for just a few heartbeats before letting the arrow fly. Satisfyingly, it struck precisely where he had desired- what would be the underside of the shoulder joint on a living target, a weak point in any man's armour.

    Finally, he turned to look at Makoto, eyes unconsciously roving over exposed skin for a moment. "It is a coincidence- I do not know what may be causing Nishi-san stress." He answered, brushing back the silken locks that had fallen over his shoulder. The response was honest, but his tone was a bit guarded, despite his low voice lacking some of the rigid formality it typically had. Being around Makoto usually helped him, but he was feeling so uncertain about this vision that he almost wanted to walk away, to avoid the obvious question of how he was. Again, there was the urge to tell Makoto, but the fear of being misunderstood made him hold back. After all, he did not even know how to go about telling someone- where was the proof, the reason or rationality? It was an increasingly frustrating thing for him, as he could not make a logical decision regarding any of it... was there even one to be had?
  • A challenge? It wasn't a problem, as sparring tended to be more effective than solitary practice, but there was some question of lethality. "I hope you brought bokken. I've no intention of harming you nor being harmed myself if one of us is distracted. I could get a pair if you'd like." Kirihime stowed her blade and went to set it against the castle wall, inviting Nishi to do the same.

    Not waiting for him to answer, she ran inside to fetch the training blades. A short time later she came back out, holding two wooden swords. One was sized like an odachi, the other, a common katana. Keeping the odachi for herself, she handed the bokken to Nishi and readied her stance. The bokken was lighter than Shirowari, by far, but still hefty enough for her techniques. "What makes our blades doesn't matter. If it breaks, it will be a testament to our strength. Do not hold back, Norisane-san, and I shall give you the same honor."
  • Kaze sighed. Nobody was going to fight him, huh? No matter. It would get ugly, if he actually fought somebody. He stood and took a deep breath. Shadow sparring it is. He closed his eyes and imagined two opponents. One with a spear, one with a katana. Open his eyes, and there they were. Imagination was something that was never on short supply, but he knew that he wasn't going to be running up that spear. A shame. He loved doing that... Alright. He assumed a fighting stance, a grin spreading along his face. Time to have a little fun...

    The spear guy came first. A single thrust, aimed for the samurai's breastplate. Kaze spun to the left, using his katana to knock the pointed head aside. The sword came to decapitate Kaze, but the samurai's second sword came up to block the blade. He angled both blades to slide either weapon against him up towards his head. Or where his head would be if he hadn't ducked. He launched a kick into the sword's knees and flipped his katana into a reverse position. He slipped his kaiken out of his breastplate, moving it into his katana hand. The blade flew up into the phantom spearman's chin. He spun around and buried the knife into the shadow swordsman's chest. He was victorious. He sat down, trying to calm his breathing before he went entirely berserk. Which would have been bad.
  • Yurie got on with her practice immediately. She went straight into the center of the mat and closed her eyes, to give them some reprieve. This was a luxury she would not have in battle, she knew, where she would have to see her opponents in order to fight them, but on a daily basis, she tried to close them as often as possible, to lessen the headache of straining them throughout the day. She took a deep, calming breath, but did not take out her weapons. Instead, she began practicing some martial arts footwork. It was her firm belief that you could not do advanced training properly unless you made sure to keep up with your basics and never get sloppy. As much as she had made her work with her fans her own, she had started out with martial arts after all. She moved around the room in a routine of kicks, jumps, and some just basic stances. Hand exercises she no longer did, as that was what had changed the most in using fans. Despite keeping her eyes closed, she never wavered. She knew where things were, all she had to do, was keep a precise mental image, and keep trying to circle around to the center, in case her gauge was off by a little bit. Stay calm, remember how to breathe and in what manner, be silent but not timid.

    As she drew nearer to one wall, though, she could hear Kiyomizu-san and Kuroki-san speaking to each other in mild tones. So she listened, continuing to practice, she kept her ears sharp to hear what they were saying. It was good practice, after all. Kiyomizu-san admitted that something was wrong. Yurie did not feel comfortable around the older Kuroki-san, but she knew him to be a discerning man, able to see to other people's hearts. Or perhaps it was this particular trait that so unsettled her about him. She continued listening, a bit intrigued by this conversation, and curious to see if Kiyomizu-san would open up to Kuroki-san. She felt it was unlikely, but perhaps not.