Oriental Adventures, Rokugan

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Boss Frost

Original poster
Honesty. Courage. Compassion. Courtesy. Sincerity. Duty. Honor.
In Rokugan, these are more than simply words.

It's been over one thousand years since the Day of Thunder, the day when the Kami's Lost Brother, Fu Leng, was defeated... all but one of the Thunders died that day defending Rokugan from him, in the area now known as the Shadowlands... The Shadowlands grow more and more powerful every day, and even the mighty Crab clan are slowly being forced to give ground. Dark days are being heralded...

Not that this has stopped the Clans in their attempt to pull power out from each other. Petty squabbling to all-out war throughout Rokugan between these Clans has Rokugan in a perilous position... though only the Crab know this, tight-lipped as usual.

This will play a great part in our tale of magic and samurai... but our story does not start there, on the battle between Law and Chaos... Good or Evil...

Our story starts miles and miles away from the Shadowlands, on a road in Lion lands that connects Renga Murai, a city constructed entirely of stone, and Tonfajutsen, where the smith Gozuki first developed a fighting style that turned farming implements into peasant weaponry.

It is early summer, and the warmth of the sun's rays is a delightful mix with the cool breezes that commonly pass through here. Most of this road is surrounded by flat farms, peasants toiling away even now, more than happy to stop and bow at passing samurai, and kind enough to ignore the odder passer-by.

Blessed be the farmers of Rokugan.

This is a merchant's trail, rough and worn with use, though very clean - the sky is clear and blue, and the smell of many farmers' wives cooking breakfasts is clear in the air this fine morning.

It's almost... too perfect to last...


Bei decided that he liked it here.

It felt good to have the sun caress his luxurious red pelt, it felt good to feel a breeze that didn't threaten to blow him into the dirt. It felt good to step forward in his bare feet, with no fear of stepping on point rocks. It felt good to be 'free' in the world again...

...As for the farmers, it felt good to have them stop at funny looks before going back to work, rather than him having to explain himself to each person among the way.

A breeze passed by, rustling the green-and-brown outfit, which clearly clashed with his fur. The mon of the Dragon blazoned across his heart. For a moment, he stopped, looking up at the sky and thinking of his own 'Old Man'... taking the necklace of prayer beads from his neck, he clacked them in his hands, rehearsing teachings in his head as he walked down the path...

He'd not have as much freedom with the samurai as he did with the farmers. Monk or no, he enjoyed the peace that came with Truth, and the peace that came with those laborers around him accepting enough to remain indifferent.

He'd have a long way to do before he could feel comfortable resting again.

Once again, a breeze passed, as he walks calmy down the middle of the road, flicking a weighty prayer bead occasionally...
Ryoko was making great time. Her halberd was slung over one shoulder, she was setting a brisk pace and the weather was perfect for travel. It was nothing like the weather back home but she was learning that different didn't mean bad.

Dressed in leather with her pack and her waterskin, the barbarian was enjoying the feel of her muscles stretching and her lean body moving. She would have preferred to have brought a horse with her but all in all, it was better to just enjoy things.

Ryoko was humming a battle song to herself when she noticed someone walking toward her. A closer inspection revealed it to be ... a fox in a Dragon monk's robes?! One was bound to see much stranger things as she travelled, yes?

"Day to you, Monk," she said.
A lone samurai is an unusual sight, even within their own lands. The sun glinted gold off of the finishings of Kiyoshi's armour as he walked away from the great city, the farmers only stopping their work to make the usual signs of respect before turning back to their toil. Kiyoshi didn't look to either side, his eyes where focused on the road ahead, black headband blowing in the breeze but otherwise no movement over than the steady, trained march, and the occasional glance, lasing only a split second. Every inch of his suggested a soldier on a mission, and everyone knew knew better than to distract a lion samurai from their goal without reason.

Two figures where a little way ahead, neither bore the lion's colors, making then honored guests to their lands.... the monk, was of the dragon clan... and....... a barbaric warrior of the unicorn clan...

he marched up to chem without changing his pace. "Greetings, honored monk.... and to you... warrior?" he couldn't keep the slight tone of contempt for the unicorn barbarian out for his voice, though his demeanor suggested nothing less than greeting fellow warrior.
The fox gazed peacefully on the two, offering them a smile and a respectful, low bow. "Good day, Samurai. It is very good meeting you." The deep-voiced monk states with a slight accent, brought on by the odd facial features of the fox - it didn't suit the common Rokugani tongue. His black-tipped ears flick twice, and the constant clacking of prayer beads in his hand could be heard as he looks from one to the other.

"Three meet on the road
One of earth, two of fire's birth
Only time will tell."

Spouting off a short haiku, he calmly looks from one to the other, offering a peaceful smile. "Travel as well? I not have place to go but everywhere. Road is kind on bare feet. This is Lion's Den, is it not?" He spoke in a sort of broken form of the Common tongue, obviously not quite used to it... or not not that bright.
Ryoko snorted. "So you know what a warrior is. And I thought those weapons of yours were just for show" she purred. She could do without the Lion samurai. To think her luck was holding so well, avoiding men whenever possible. Especially Lion men. They weren't Lions, they were kittens.

The barbarian turned her attention to the monk. "Me, too. Just travelling and seeing the world. Utaku Ryoko. And your name, Monk?"
Kiyoshi immediately stiffened then closed his eyes and relaxed. "I would expect someone from the uncivilized regions of you clam to not recognize the importance of the ancestral daisho." he glared at the upstart is eyes flashsh an then closed as he tried to find his center..... "Apologies monk, but as you can see she shows no respect for a samurai on his own lands.
Ryoko was going to ignore the Lion. Apparently old age was getting to him. Which was good news for him or she'd have given him a thrashing here, in front of his farmers, as wise as that was or not. She did smile a bit sheepishly at the monk and bowed. "Sorry, Brother Monk. I meant no disrespect. Would you like some company? There are bandits everywhere and I'm always looking to meet new friends."

She finally glanced at the Lion with a small half smile on her face. "I'm sure your children will be here to show you the way home, Lion elder."
"Such angry words. Must two warriors lash out at each other even off the fields of war?" He raises a finger, scratching the line of his own cheekbone in an idle manner, the signet ring of the Togashi family flashing in the sunlight... "No need for anger and fury, or the viper's venomous tongue. The poison is unfitting of Lion and Unicorn, is it not?"

He offers another deep, gentle bow, his forehead nearly touching the ground as he does. "My name is Bei. I come from Dragon lands to learn, like the others of my temple, after our sensei passed of old age. I thank you for your hospitable actions towards a lonely spirit, honorable Lion and Unicorn." His eyes check their outfits, looking for the mon that would signify their family - he didn't want to insult them by implying that their families were beneth notice, or that he didn't know them. "I would enjoy your company."
The lion bowed towards the monk....his face impassive. "Those of the dragon are welcome to travel through here as they wish." he didn't notice as a letter slipped out of his bag and fell to the road as how bowed low. "As are those trusted allies from the Unicorn clan...." he said keeping his voice civil, inclining his head, his body only bending slightly. "I am Matsu Kiyoshi, bid you safe.... and speedy travels." with one last look at the uncivilized brute of a woman he turned and resumed his march.
Bei's keen eyes detect the dropping piece of paper a few moments after his ears did. Quickly walking forward, he scoops up the note. He gives a respectful bow to the female, "Prease excruise my momenrary absence." He speaks with a thicker accent, mimicking his old sensei. He turns on his heel, sprinting with the speed only a monk could after Kiyoshi.

"Honorable Samurai." He states when he catches up to him, kneeling and placing the note on the ground nearby. "You drop this." Rising to his knees in the bow, he rushes back to Ryoko, bowing. "Forgrive my absence." He mimics his lord once more, not even out of breath from the excursion. "I have met no trouble with bandits thus far. They do not bother poor monks like myself." He smiles wistfully, looking up at the blue sky, before looking back to her. "Forgive my distracted nature. I am not familiar with so many colors and things besides gray and rock."
Ryoko shot a wicked grin at the Lion samurai's back. Someone was awfully grumpy. No doubt he usually kept that katana sheathed in his ass for safe-keeping.

Studying him from this angle, she was able to see he wasn't much older than she was. But he acted twice his age. Stupid Lions. All restrictions and rules. She preferred the carefree, wandering life of an Utaku any day. She was looking up at the sky when Bei returned, then she looked at him and smiled. "I'm in no rush. I come from a place much more harsh. It's nice to enjoy what you can now."

Ryoko reached to her side and offered the monk her waterskin. "Water?"
Kiyoshi stood letter in hand for several seconds, a contemplative look on his face, then turned back to the others and walked strait up to the monk, now simply ignoring the woman. "Honored Monk, Bie... If you would kindly offer council...." he glanced at her before turning slightly away "Excuses us if you would warrior." He opened the letter and showed it to the monk... "This is a letter from my lord... and I am unable to see how his wishes may be achieved."
Bei offers a foxy grin back. "It good to not be in rush. Slow pace is best. Let you see what others do not. Let you hear bird in sky above and let you see the scurry of the rabbit below your feet. The farmers have tough time ahead, I feel many rabbit below feet now."

One of the farmers, overhearing this, wanders over to where the two had been standing earlier, putting his ear to the ground. He calls over a few of his friend, confirming the fact that there were rabbits burrowing under there, and they begin to dig it up to get rid of the pests. Bei acts apathetic to this.

...His attention turns upon the other samurai, and smiles. "I am no wise man. Though I will give you what counsel I can, honorable Samurai." He offers another deep bow. He looks... nervous, for a moment, looking at the letter... after looking for permission from the man, he looks upon the letter... and takes it, seeming to struggle with the words.

His lips move as he struggles with the text - it wasn't that he couldn't read, he simply was not very good at it. Biting his lower lip, he tries his hardest to still look wise, like his master would, despite the fear gripping his heart that he looked terribly foolish.
Ryoko smiled. She liked this monk and there weren't many she had found she liked along the way so far. It might have been in part that he was a Fox but it might not have been. She watched the farmers dig for the rabbits as Bei helped the elder Lion.

Ryoko put the water back and walked some steps away. While she waited for the monk, she might as well stretch a bit. One leg out, place her foot on the knee-high boulder along the road, lean toward the boulder, lean back. Then repeat but with the other foot. The halberd she had placed on the ground beside her.

Next, she stretched her arms, one arm over her head, hold. Then put that arm down and hold the other arm over her head and hold for a few seconds. "Mm ..." She rotated her shoulders and twisted a bit.
Kiyoshi waited patiently at Bie read, standing a little back but seeing the monk's difficulty politely pointed at the relevant sections. "He wishes for me to fight the shadows, and believes that all clans will be necessary." he was worried that he would sound a fool for even thinking it was possible. He spoke softer so that only Bie could hear "It was Lord Hakoda's final edict."
Bei gets an alarmed look, his eyes pointing straight up atop his head like twin mountain ranges. It was quite a task! He opted to stay quiet as he thought... finally, he slowly moved down, folding his legs under him and closing his eyes in thought.

The wind blew over his steadily...

...Once again, the wind blew over him, the sound of the workers toiling to unearth the rabbits.

A few more moments of silence...

The workers unearth the rabbits, pulling them from the hole and doing away with them.

The smell of a stewpot wafts into the noses of those nearby.

A moment later, Bei smiles up at Kiyoshi. "...No solution." He chuckles in an embarrassed manner, rising to his feet and dusting off his knees on the way up. "I no wise man. No wise man at all - young monk... but..." He nods. "It noble quest. I will offer you much prayer..." Then, impulsively, states, "Maybe you travel outside Lion lands. Find one of each Clan to be friendly-friend... and with each, meet the Emperor..." He nods, then offers his bow. "May the spirits be kind."

He turns, walking calmly back to Ryoko. "We go now? I hear city made of stone ahead. I want to see it."
Ryoko turned as Bei approached. She nodded. Instead of bending down to pick up the halberd, she slid her foot under the center and then kicked her foot up, smooth and quick. The halberd flew up into the air and she snatched it.

Doing stretches always served to energize her. The smell of the stewpot caught her attention but she turned it elsewhere. The rabbits were the farmers. They were on their land, Lion's land, no matter how much she might wish otherwise. There would be other opportunities to hunt for game and eat.

"I can handle big places with lots of people packed in them. But not for long." She gave him a sideways glance, curious. "Brother Monk, where do you come from?"
Kiyoshi suddenly looked very tired, he nodded slowly and tucked the letter away. "Thank you honored monk, may you find what you seek in you travels, I wish you luck." he turned and began walking away from the city. No solution was right, no solution and no way out of the quest assigned to him, not without dishonoring his entire bloodline, past and future.

For a moment the facade cracked and the feelings of despair and shame rose to the surface and his pace faltered, he turned back towards the city, the two figures side by side on the road, the strange monk and the disrespectful wanderer, for a second he couldn't bear the though of traveling the long road alone.

"Wait...." he called out, regaining his composure and running to join them.... "Perhaps if I might be permitted to travel with you... I know these lands and might make your journey easier."

He turned to Ryoko, "While in lion lands it would be better to show respect, There are many here who would stand my one of their own..... even against an ally"
<DIR>Each step took her a bit farther from the nightmare. Tae had been on the run for days and rational thought had not been present at its start. The sight of red staining her flesh and torn clothing had been the last straw, he would hurt her no more. Maybe she was surprised at how warm and flowing the blood had been. Or maybe she secretly had liked the way it had a salty tinge to it…or more likely…it had all sickened her. Body and soul. The irrational disease that held her mind seemed to be growing as well. At first she had kept to the shadows, but as she ran despair clawed its way in, causing her to stray. The echoes of mind games were in her head. Still picking at her, sending her to no longer care if she were spotted.

So now she walked among farmers, growling aloud distastefully at how stupid she was being. Being in human form this made her appear quite insane, as if the wild hair and sunken eyes didn't alone. One of the farmers did a double take at her as she stepped close to a mound, looking as if he were saying a silent prayer. Sadly, she did more than step on the mound. Tae, with a bitter laugh at how pathetically she was, collapsed face first into the worked earth. Exhaustion had taken toll, she paid by way of a black out.

Further down the road, in a restaraunt in the middle of town, two men sat, one laughing amicably, the other grinning, both content and surrounded by several young women. One wore a flowery coat over black garb. He had two swords with him, though he wore no symbol of a clan, marking him as a ronin. He had dark brown hair and the start of a beard. He held a cup of sake in one hand, the other supporting him as he reclined, smiling at his companion. The other, more boistrous of the two, had long silver hair, light gray eyes, fair skin, and a blue courtiers outfit covered in river birds, as well as a katana and wakizashi, marking him as a member of the Crane Clan. This man was known as Doji Kuroma, and was the son of the head of the Crane Clan. He too was reclining on one arm, but in the other, instead of a cup of sake, he held the entire bottle. Kuroma was laughing at a funny story he had just told, as were his female companions. He now leaned over to a particularly beautiful young lady and whispered to her, "I happen to be seeking someone to help me continue my family line, and only the fairest beauty will do. So tell me, are you the beauty that I seek?"