Seven Devils

Gatac 2016-12-21 13:26:10
As Toshiba and Takao plunge towards the ship, Toshiba notes with faint detachment that it's moving at quite the speed despite its sails hardly flapping - the midday breeze is not strong enough to drive anything of note. Smoke rises from the stern - probably one of those fire engines you've seen used in both Lord Shira's little boat and the Devilfish. As if that wasn't enough of a show of the ship's technical virtues, you can make out faint shouting and running about on the deck, and just as Toshiba wonders if the sailors are pointing up at him the first gonne shots echo and bullets whizz by. (Fun History Fact: the first weapon specifically designed to bring down flying objects was the Krupp Ballonabwehrkanone of 1870.) Momentary ineffectiveness of the fire nonewithstanding, this could make for a bit of a hot landing, then. Still, it's good news - kind of? - that Ikishi's men now think enough of you that they're willing to brazenly and openly violate Lady Ishikawa's weapons ban rather than be caught flat-footed again. Too bad about the soft breeze, then: none of the harbor guard ships stand a chance of catching the ship to bring the crew to justice.

---

Downtown is in pre-lunch rush, which is to say that even the most drunk of drunkards are now stumbling their way out of the taverns and public houses, making way for the crowds that want to avoid the crowds that always form when there’s lunch and why is it so hard to get a nice quiet table in a decent place anyway, do you have to be a scholar’s cousin or something? Fortunately, social strata are of less concern in the Noodle Shack, a truly fine example of egalitarian eating where carriage drivers rub elbows with the people who run this city. What brings them all together is the savory smell of modan-yaki, cabbage and batter and noodles and whatever toppings you want. There's no line at the counter, but even if there was, Tsukareta would be stepping up directly into first place. It's good to be a High Lord.

"Hey," he says by way of greeting, cutting off the "Welcome to Noodle Shack, can I take your order?" shpiel halfway through 'Welcome'. "Yes," he adds, "can I get two to go with extra seaweed and ginger?"
"Certainly, High Lord," the counter girl replies. Tsukareta nods quietly, then drops some coins on the counter. Exact change, of course.
"Lord!" Kirika says, stepping up behind Tsukareta and bowing deeply. "I was on my way to your road test facility to see it for myself, but, well, here you are! What brings you out today?"
"Oh, Lady Kamura!" Tsukareta blurts out, giving her a cursory bow, but more from surprise than impoliteness. "I was...I am going to the road test, too, actually. You know, we poured some new liquid stone mix yesterday, I have to go see how it has cured overnight. I would have preferred checking earlier before the sunlight had a chance to heat it up and distort it, but I had some very persistent petitioners this morning.” He's saying all that slightly too fast, like you'd expect from someone who's running way behind his own demanding schedule and knows it.
"Something new!" Kirika says. "We should get this to go and head out there together!" She looks over his head to the counter. "Extra pepper flakes, please!"
"Certainly, Milady," the counter girl replies, repeating the order to the cook, who quickly adds two dashes of red flakes to half of the mass on the metal griddle before him, then takes his spatula and quickly cuts the mass into four squares, sliding two each into separate waxed paper satchels that the counter girl takes from him and hands over to Tsukareta and you. "Thank you for your custom!" she chirps, bowing deeply to both of you.
"And thank you!" Kirika replies in an equally chipper tone.

While Tsukareta busies himself trying to pick up his double order, she leans over and looks out to Tsukareta's carriage - and Copperhead standing next to it. Deadpan and seemingly utterly unconcerned with his appearance out in the open, Copperhead holds up a...tool? It's a bit hard to tell at a distance, especially once he fades back into the shadows, leaving no trace of him having been there a moment ago.

"Yes, ah," Tsukareta says as they walk outside. "I'm afraid we don't have any signs put up yet for the test site, and the road is a little rough, so if you'd just follow my carriage..."

It's a good thing Kirika's standing behind him as he tries to climb into his carriage, because as soon as he puts his whole weight onto it, the front left wheel shears off with a mighty BWARP! Kirika catches Tsukareta as he all but jumps backward to clear the carriage, and after a brief moment of straightening himself out, he wordlessly hands his food order to her and walks over to the damaged carriage.

"Hmm," he mutters, inspecting the damage. “Ah!”
"Well, that's...surprising!" Kirika says. "My carriage is parked around back, we could ride together. You need to hurry to make your inspection, after all."
"Yes, yes," Tsukareta says. "Yes, take a look at this!" He waves her over enthusiastically, and Kirika has little choice but to approach and bow down to look at what he's looking at. "I knew this would happen!" he says, beaming proudly. "We need to get some better ore or we'll never catch up with Hanse metallurgy."

Kirika takes a good look at the damage. A metal mounting bracket has sheared off at the point where it’s bolted to the wooden frame, compromising the wheel mount. The weight and sudden shift of it then further damaged the wheel’s hub and bent the axle. This carriage is going nowhere fast. (Fun History Fact: Research into material fatigue has been ongoing since at least 1837!)
"Oh my. That is unfortunate." She loops her free arm under his and leads him inside. "My carriage is this way!"

"Yes, ah, of course!" Tsukareta babbles, clearly used to being dragged hither and thither. "I am, um, quite embarrassed, Lady Kamura," he adds. "I was hoping to get at least ten more days out of that bracket, to be quite honest. But the failure mode is exactly as I predicted. I really do wish we had the time to dissemble it." He settles down a bit as he climbs into Kirika's carriage with her, feeling every bit of the momentary jolt as it starts moving. "Yes, see, that's exactly it," he comments. "Standard suspension is so rough. If we could alter the geometry and make bigger, softer springs..."
"You could have a gentler ride, and we could more easily enjoy our lunch and have some tea?" Kirika says. She gestures to Sidewinder, sitting next to her and opposite Tsukareta in her sumptuous - and borrowed from Hetechi - carriage. "And this is my personal valet."
"Oh, we could indeed," Tsukareta says, nodding to Sidewinder. "Ah, uh, hello," he blurts out. "Didn't quite...see you there."
"Happens," Sidewinder replies.
"Um," Tsukareta says, looking first at Sidewinder, then at Kirika. "Maybe I should...tell your driver where to go, exactly?"
"He knows the way, I told him about your test facility after the party," Kirika replies, and nods to the driver - the same Shadowwatch rickshaw driver from before. "You know the way, yes?"
"I got it, Ma'am," the driver says.
"I...I see," Tsukareta says, clutching his lunch a little tighter. "If you...if you don't mind me saying so, Lady Kamura, you seem...quite prepared for this trip."
"I was very excited to see your facilities," Kirika replies. "And, well..." She smiles and looks away a bit. "I tend to obsess and over-prepare for things that interest me."
"I see," Tsukareta says, then takes a deep breath, as if to cleanse himself of the previous topic. "So, uh, while we’re here and have nothing better to do, I was wondering: what's your favorite road?" He affects a smile. “You can tell a lot about a person by their favorite road, I find.”
"Oh..." Kirika says, thinking quickly. "Well, there's one that leads to one of my family's properties. It's not as grand or proper as anything you have, but...it has the advantage of age. It's maintained well, and travels some challenging terrain, but the wagons never slip. You know every stretch, every tree along it."
"Hm, yes, aesthetic value," Tsukareta says. "but I do not believe in 'challenging terrain'. All too often it is a simple excuse for laziness or lack of engineering. Oh, there was a hill, we had to go around it - nonsense!" He scoffs audibly and deliberately. "You're not a disciple of that ghastly mainlander Fei Chung and his ‘Natural Path’ dogma, are you?"
"No, no, more an admirer of the ingenuity of those seeking to surmount a challenge that they lacked the equipment to overcome through sheer brute force, and were forced to use their minds and creativity instead," Kirika replies.
"Hm," Tsukareta says, unpacking his lunch and taking in the smell for a moment. "Lady Kamura, I...freely admit I'm not as comfortable around people as I am around machines, but even I can tell that your interest is not in the roads I build. So I am forced to ask...what is your interest in me?"
"You are a very, very talented man," Kirika replies. "One that will doubtlessly improve the Empire in many ways. My interest is in the improvement of the Empire, Lord Tsukareta - an interest I think we both share."
"That depends on your definition of 'Empire' and 'improvement'," Tsukareta replies cautiously.
"I agree," Kirika replies, and looks him in the eyes. "What are yours?"
"Improvement means a goodbye to the inefficiencies of our current age," Tsukareta says. "Millions toil for their own bare sustenance only. Effort is duplicated thousandfold where it would be better concentrated in a few places. What we have right now is not Empire, it is a mingle-mangle of regions, islands and cities that mouth the same pledges and trade the same coin. I want to bring all these people together so that everyone will experience the abundance we are creating in the capital. A rising tide lifts all ships. And then the Empire will be whatever places we may reach with our ships and our roads, as the people everywhere will realize that to join us is to know what it means to be rich."
"A noble goal - although I would ask if wealth and happiness are the same thing," Kirika replies.
"That's..." Tsukareta says, taking a deep breath. "Pardon my Hanse, but that is töricht," he says. "That is a question I expect from a first-year scribe whose dedication to women and sake is stronger than his desire to think about more than simple-minded platitudes. I've heard enough well-taught philosophers chew my ear off about the honesty and dignity of hard labor, but I haven't seen any of them at my construction sites digging ditches. Sentimentality like that has no place in sound economic planning. I can’t tell you what makes anyone happy, but I can tell you that toiling all day and starving all the while leaves little room for happiness. Making people wealthier gives them the freedom to pursue whatever they decide makes them happy."
"I never said that they weren't closely related, my Lord," Kirika replies with a smile. "But I know a few people that are very wealthy but not exactly happy. Some of them might be very troubled about something indeed." She raises an eyebrow at him. "Wouldn't you say?"
MikeS 2016-12-27 13:39:31
"Drop me off when we get close enough," Takao calls to the Oni.

"Either right into their lines, or right behind them. Maybe do a flyby first and let them fire a volley. Even a skilled gonneman takes a long time to reload his weapons, and I'm not seeing much firing discipline down there right now."
Admiral Duck Sauce 2016-12-29 15:00:49
Toshiba sees the gouts of smoke and feels more than hears the balls whip past. He nods to Takao and banks for his approach from the bow - the vessel's speed plus his own combine to provide the shortest possible window for someone to get lucky and shoot him, plus the rear ranks are going to shoot through the front ranks' blackpowder smoke as it's blown off the stern. Toshiba flares hard at the last second, groaning with the strain, and lets Takao go.

"Take it inside as quickly as you can! Their gonnes will lose their advantage!"
Gatac 2017-01-18 08:04:37
(Toshiba's Acrobatics: Roll 1: 1d20+15: 1d20(2) 15(15) = 17 NOT THREADING THE NEEDLE
Ominous Die of Ominousness: Roll 1: 1d20+1: 1d20(19) 1(1) = 20 TOUGH ENOUGH)

Toshiba darts through the gonnefire and towards the hard deck, lead whizzing past his helmet as he gets eyes on wood grain and the white in the eyes of the terrified sailors, and feels that gentle voice in the back of his head telling that, maybe, it is time to PULL UP. (Fun History Fact: Ground Proximity Warning Systems are mandated for all commercial aircraft by the FAA since 1974.) This aeronautical feat is greatly decomplicated by deploying his payload (read: Takao) into the festivities, and as he arches his back and the fire boots push him into a climb, it looks like everything -

Well, everything looks like the main sail, really.

Toshiba's going a bit too fast to avoid it, but the lack of commitment to hitting it full speed cuts the flame and sees him land in the sail, flailing for the rigging as his ds/dt on the y-axis briefly becomes negative. He hits the deck in a tangle of ropes and patches of fabric, just in time to see an officer in Hanse-inspired finery lead a charge of six sailors with sabers against our heroes.

(Toshiba is considered Entangled: -2 to attack rolls, -4 to Dex-based skill checks, speed halved, may not Refresh or Run. He can fight like this, or spend a Full Action freeing himself to end the impairment. And I guess at this stage it is time for

INITIATIVE!

Toshiba: Roll 1: 2d20.hi+20: 2d20.hi(15,7) 20(20) = 35
Takao: Roll 1: 2d20.hi+14: 2d20.hi(6,15) 14(14) = 29
Mooks: Roll 1: 1d20+10: 1d20(12) 10(10) = 22
The Captain: Roll 1: 1d20+14: 1d20(2) 14(14) = 16)

---

Kirika's barb is a pointed question, and it finds its mark in Tsukareta, who turns away and instead glances outside. "This is not the way, Lady Kamura,” he says. “Should I consider this a kidnapping?”
Kirika shrugs, and takes a bite of her lunch. "This is excellent, Lord. I see why you favor it."
Tsukareta pauses for a moment to take in Kirika’s nonchalance, but finally seems to figure out that there’s not a whole lot he can do about it, so he turns back to his lunch. "It reminds me of my childhood," he says quietly, chowing down on his own portion.
"How so?" Kirika asks.
"We used to have them on special occasions," he explains. "My mother would never skimp on the ingredients. We could have had them more often if only she'd stretched the batter, or not insisted on the seaweed...we saved for that seaweed. But she never skimped, and so we always looked forward to them. It made us feel like rich people." He looks to Kirika. "I support them now, you know. They can afford to have it whenever they want, but she only makes it when I come visit. They don't want to forget who they are, they tell me. I don't argue with them. I just think of all the times we could have had it, all the mothers that go to bed hungry to feed their children. All the ways in which we have let the people down by avoiding changes, whether out of laziness or personal interest or hidebound infatuation with tradition. I want to build a better Empire, Lady Kamura. Because if this was a better Empire, my parents would not feel the need to remember this hunger."
Kirika nods. "That, I agree with. You will find no argument from me."
"What is your argument, then?" Tsukareta asks.
“At what point does the cost of change grow too great?” Kirka asks. “Is an Empire enriched in wealth but gained at the cost of great suffering truly wealthy?"
“And what great suffering is that?” Tsukareta says, full of conviction. "My work will benefit millions of people.”
"I'm sure it will," Kirika replies. She leaves the "but" unsaid.
"It is certain," Tsukareta affirms. "The numbers don't lie, Lady Kamura. With rice harvests as bad as they are, we must increase our productivity quickly by whatever means necessary."
"No matter what," Kirika replies dispassionately, eyes on her food.
“No matter what nostalgic infatuation you might hold for pastoral fantasies,” he says.
"No matter what - or who - is in the way," Kirika replies, and takes a bite.
"People like you are in the way, and we’ve been...we've been more than reasonable about it," Tsukareta says. "We've paid fair prices for every piece of land. We've offered well-paid jobs. We've explained, over and over, how this will benefit everyone. I am...I am not fond of force, Lady Kamura, but eventually stubbornness must yield to reason, and if it does not, it must...it must be made to."
"Because you are making their lives better," Kirika replies, and looks out the window. "At least, the ones that are left."
“I know I am," Tsukareta says, holding back both grief and anger. "I've seen you. I've heard all about you, how you've....you've only just gotten here, and turned the others to your side with...with sweet words, talk of honor and justice and goodness. But I won't....I won't be turned. I won't be...weak, like them. I don't need a parade or a statue, I'll settle for knowing that I tried to set a broken bone, no matter how much it hurt."

As the argument rages, the carriage slows its pace, and the bumps on the road soften. Kirika looks back inside. "An Empire is not a body to be healed, Lord - and people are not an obstacle to be paved over." She looks towards the door as the carriage pulls to a stop. "We're here. If you would, Lord." She gestures towards the door.

Tsukareta silently finishes his meal, then puts the remains aside and climbs out of the carriage. They stand before what seems like an abandoned farm - the implements that were light enough have long been carried away, while a heavy wooden plow is still stuck in the soil. Tsukareta scans the scene before him with obvious unease, but his voice betrays little of his inner world. "And what now, Lady Kamura?" he asks. “Is this what you wished to show me? A poor farmer’s home, abandoned for a better life elsewhere?”
"Now, I have some people that wish to speak with you," Kirika replies, and holds the door to the plain farmer’s house open. Positioned on the edge of the Capital, it's out of the way enough that no one would suspect much of anything.

Tsukareta looks at the house. Considers how likely it is that this kidnapping is a pretext for killing him somewhere out of the way where nobody will ever find his body. But he’s watched enough of those ninja stage shows to know that, of all the places they could have gone, this is not a particularly good one for a murder. After a moment's thought, Tsukareta sighs. "I'm not getting out of here until I've gone into that shack, am I?" He meets Kirika's eyes. "So, who exactly wants to see me, then?"
"The broken leg," Kirika says, and gestures for him to walk back towards the shack - but doesn't lay a hand on him.
"I already regret this metaphor," Tsukareta mutters, but finally walks back to the shack, past Sidewinder and into the building.
Admiral Duck Sauce 2017-01-18 13:27:43
"Could have gone better," Toshiba growls, cutting free of the sails and rope just as the mob of crew reaches him.

(let's burn the full-round action to get free)
MikeS 2017-01-19 00:30:17
(LANDING:

Acrobatics: d20+6 = 19 good enough, I'd say)

Takao the Payload lands with an elegant roll, and a bunch of sailors are about to have a really bad time!

Mizu leaves its saya in a flash as Takao ends his roll standing, and the symphony of slaughter begins.

(ACTIONS:

Takao will Quick Draw his blade, use Think Ahead to boost his attack roll to +27, then use All-Out Attack to drop the to-hit bonus to +23 and add +8 to damage, as well as half the margin he hits by, for a total of +13 damage, for the first six or so attacks, then it goes down to +15 to hit and +5 to damage , +0.5 times the margin. He also has Cleave and Charge, and does not pay to activate crits. I will use AD for any misses. Let me know where he stops.)
Gatac 2017-01-25 13:08:02
(Okay, Toshiba spends a full action to free himself. He's good to go now.)

There's a lot of ropes to be caught up in when it comes to the rigging of a sailing ship, and Toshiba ought to know, as he spends a few seconds cutting what seems damn near all of them to untangle himself. As he rises to his feet, blade in hand, the mainsail flaps perilously loose above him, only a gust away from sweeping across the deck or wrapping around the mast, neither of which would do much for the ship's forward speed or crew comfort.

(Takao can't really miss with his first six attacks, but let's roll this out...actually the only reason I'm even bothering to roll attacks is to see if they crit so I don't have to roll damage saves.

Attack #1:
Attack Roll: Roll 1: 1d20+23: 1d20(1) 23(23) = 24 and I bet you're glad FantasyCraft doesn't have an automatic miss on a 1...
Damage: 1d10+13 = 18
Damage Save vs DC 19: 1d20+6 = 16 GAK!

CLEAVE!

Attack #2:
Attack Roll: Roll 1: 1d20+23: 1d20(4) 23(23) = 27
Damage: 1d10+13 = 22
Damage Save vs DC 21: 1d20+6 = 21 Barely!

And thus, Takao's second half action attack begins.

Attack #3:
Attack Roll: Roll 1: 1d20+23: 1d20(20) 23(23) = 43 GET REKT

CLEAVE!

Attack #4:
Attack Roll: Roll 1: 1d20+23: 1d20(4) 23(23) = 27
Damage: 1d10+13 = 17
Damage Save vs DC 18: 1d20+6 = 19 Scraped by!)

That's two mooks down and a third fucked up real good.)

Mizu drinks deep of its first victim despite the hasty, sloppy cut, taking him out of the fight in a single stroke. That's gonna leave a scar, if he can keep his guts in long enough to get sewn up. Victim #2 loses his left hand in the first strike and before he can wonder if chicks dig hook hands, Takao twirls the sword into a return stroke that takes his goddamn head off. Pretty sure they don't make prosthetics for that. It's gotten so bloody that by the time Takao sinks his blade into the shoulder of Unlucky Contestant #3, the sailor's considered lucky that he's still standing and screaming.

(And now the mooks each draw their weapons - let's go with the equivalent of machetes because I think it's a better fit for what a cutlass is supposed to do than the stats in the book. Weapons drawn, they each get one attack, so two are gonna go for Takao and two for Toshiba.

Mook Attacks:
Roll 1: 1d20+12: 1d20(12) 12(12) = 24. Roll 2: 1d20+12: 1d20(4) 12(12) = 16. Roll 3: 1d20+12: 1d20(5) 12(12) = 17. Roll 4: 1d20+12: 1d20(15) 12(12) = 27

One guy actually manages to hit Toshiba! oh noes)

Mr. Sword-in-Shoulder flails at Takao with his own saber, accomplishing nothing of note. It's only Takao's needed efforts to free the stuck blade that let the next sailor off easy as he runs shouting at Takao, eyes closed and cutlass swinging through nothing but thin air. The contingent that broke off to face Toshiba doesn't seem much more competent, with one of them swinging at Toshiba and only hitting mast, but then one lucky son of a bitch sneaking up on Toshiba from behind raises his saber and brings down a mighty blow, aimed squarely at the ninja's spine!)

(Mook Damage: 1d8 = 8 oh NOES!

And it's AP 2, too! oh my GAWD...

...

...actually, no, fuck you, mook. Still not enough to overcome Toshiba's DR.)

Let's clarify some things. One, this isn't some wimpy mass-produced pig-iron Saturday Night Special "katana" that would blunt on bamboo and shatter against a shoji; this is good hard Hanse steel, a heavy utility blade made for chopping through fools. And the aim is true, too. There's no faulting the aim, that's right where you want the blade if you're the kinda guy who hacks through other people's spines. Rude, but effective.

And yet, there's a clang and a spark and then nothing. Toshiba hardly even felt that, and the sailor looks dumbfounded at the pristine armor before him and then at the burred edge on his own sword. Then he realizes that Toshiba not only rode into this battle on feet of fire, but he's also wearing armor that laughs off the best damn sword blow this dude has ever managed in his life.

It's time for some brown pants.

(And finally, the Captain - the good Captain - uses a full action to enact a Battle Plan: "Crush them!", for a +2 bonus to every mook's melee attack rolls.)

"What are you standing around for!?" the Captain bellows, swinging his big fuck-off saber over his Nice Hat as he tries to rally the ship's crew. "Keep attacking!"

---

Three different groups of stunned and scared faces meet Tsukareta - one, tanned and weathered by the sun, clothed in garments stained by dirt, the next, the robes of those that attend to shrines and temples, and the last, the threadbare and hard-worn clothes of the Burakmin. "Oh gods," one of them gasps, but all of them quickly stand and bow deeply. "Lord Tsukareta," they say.
"...hello, everyone," Tsukarata replies, returning the bow. "You may be seated." He looks to Kirika. "I have been...invited to listen to your grievances." He adds a muttered "Apparently."
"Oh, no, no, Lord," one of the Burakumin says. "We...we simply want a place to live again, Lord. Ever since we were made to leave, we have been sleeping in alleys and under the docks."
"Well, there are plenty of other houses in the city," Tsukareta responds. "What of your compensation? You were paid for your properties, were you not? Where did you spend that coin?"
"...we were only given 50 silver each, Lord," the Burakumin says. "It was all we were told our homes were worth."
"Hrm," Tsukareta responds. "That was the market assessment at the time, wasn't it - I will agree that it is not much money. Still, we cannot simply order the owners of other houses to lower their prices." He thinks for a moment. "And while I can conceive of a certain...public need for dwellings that you can afford, we have no land to build them on within the city."
"Not anymore," Kirika says behind him.
"These lands are urgently needed for infrastructure improvements," Tsukareta counters. "They were the cheapest property in a suitable location. I'm sorry for your plight, but I cannot simply will more land into being. What would you have me do, carve islands out of mountains?"
“Of course not, Lord,” the man says, bows again, and sits back down.
“What can you really take from someone that has so little, I suppose,” Kirika says, and nods to the temple caretakers. "What do you hope for?" she asks.

One of the caretakers stands up and crisply bows to Tsukareta again. "If the lake could be lowered, Lord, that would..." One of the other caretakers breaks into tears, but the woman next to her steadies her. "That would be good. Just...maybe thirty feet."
"That would defeat the entire point of building the dam," Tsukareta counters. "The dam is urgently needed to control the river's flooding downstream. Your valley is simply not suitable for a village, so close to the riverbed. Your temple was thrice flooded in living memory already, each time you labored mightily to restore it, and for what? Surely you must see that it would be better to rebuild it in a safer, more convenient location. Our infrastructure development program has finally granted you the coin to do so. Who will care in a few years that it is not exactly the same temple? You cannot pray wading through water."
"Yes, of course, Lord, but we cannot rebuild the temple without travelers, and with the temple not just flooded but entirely gone, they have stopped coming," the caretaker says. "I know you promised business, Lord, but...we did not expect the lake to take the temple from us."
"People will come to see the lake and the dam!" Tsukareta counters. "It will require years of further work and geological study to ensure that it works properly. Who will house the workers and scholars and visitors? You stand to profit from this! Your future is assured, you only have to grasp the opportunity."
"We...we are on the other side of the lake, Lord," the caretaker says. "What few come stay near the dam."
"Then it would be wise for you to move," Tsukareta says.
"...to where, Lord?" the caretaker asks.
"Closer to the dam," Tsukareta says. "Just...just come to my office and we'll find a suitable parcel. I'll even trade you in kind for the same area in your current village. If you act swiftly, you can still find good land and help shape the settlement there before others do."
"...but the temple, Lord," the caretaker says. "We cannot leave it."
"It will be underwater!" Tsukareta snaps. "What part of this do you not understand? Your temple is not more important than the good of the Empire! I'm sorry if this sounds harsh to you, but it is the truth."
"...yes, Lord," the caretaker says, and takes a seat.

Tsukareta snorts as he turns to the farmers. "And I suppose you wish to tell me of your historic rice paddies?"

The farmers simply sit, too terrified to stand or speak, and keep their heads bowed.

Tsukareta turns to Kirika, by now in full swing. "Is this what you meant to show me? All I see is denial and despair. I cannot help these people if they will not help themselves."
"And how would they do that?" Kirika asks, and walks over to the farmers. "They have had everything taken from them." She takes a knee next to two of the older farmers. "Go ahead," she says, putting a hand on the old man's shoulder. "Don't be afraid."
The old man stands up slowly, but still manages a firm bow. "A thousand apologies, Lord. We...my Kumiko and I...we only need a small plot of land. For our son."
"And a house and tools and an oxen and a wife and kids to help the labors that will chain him to that small plot of land for the rest of his life," Tsukareta counters. "Your son is better off working in a factory."
The old man's face turns confused. "He is dead, Lord. Your samurai..." He clenches his hands as his eyes moisten, but he does not move from his respectful stance. "He tried to keep them out of our house."

For the first time, Tsukareta is at a genuine loss for words, his expression blank as he tries to process what he's being told against what he knows is...what he thought was true. “He...he was killed?” he mutters.
"We simply ask to bury him before our land is covered by your road, and then..." the old man turns away to hide his momentary lapse from stoicism. He wipes his eyes, and then returns to his upright posture. "Then we will move on."
"...no," Tsukareta says, fighting a tear. "No. There will be...there will be no road that covers his grave." He looks away. "I am...I am sorry for your loss." He struggles to wipe his eye, briefly turns back towards the room to continue, but after a moment, he simply blurts out "Excuse me", bows and then makes for the door.

Kirika bows to the confused crowd. "Thank you. Thank you very much, all of you," she says, and follows Tsukareta out.
Gatac 2017-02-11 11:21:51
(ROUND 2!

Toshiba uses Shank! to dispose of Mook #6 before him, then moves towards the Captain.)

Brown Pants still looks shocked to his core when Toshiba's hand seems to fill itself with a knife, and before the sailor can dodge it, Toshiba shoves the blade through the sailor's eye socket. His latest nuisance disposed of, Toshiba power strides towards the Captain, drawing a new knife.

(Takao continues his blender impression best as he can. Also, I just realized I forgot to add 0.5 the margin of success to Takao's damage rolls, so...uh...Mook Three, you're dead.

"What?"

You're dead. Fall over.)

Takao sets foot against Mook #3 to free Mizu and get another strike in, but the first thing they teach you in medical school is to never pull out the blade - it might be blocking a severed blood vessel. And in this case, it's not just a "might be" - if you thought the arterial spray from the wound was bad before, brother, you ain't seen nothing yet. Fighting his way forward through the literal red haze, Takao slips past the collapsing sailor to his comrade.

(Next!

Attack #5: Roll 1: 1d20+23: 1d20(7) 23(23) = 30 HIT!
Damage: Roll 1: 1d10+13+5: 1d10(3) 13(13) 5(5) = 21
Damage Save vs DC 20: Roll 1: 1d20+6: 1d20(20) 6(6) = 26 OH COME ON

Okay, these mooks seem to not want to die. Second half action:

Attack #6:Roll 1: 1d20+23: 1d20(12) 23(23) = 35 HIT!
Damage: Roll 1: 1d10+13+7: 1d10(3) 13(13) 7(7) = 23
Damage Save vs DC...uh, 32: Roll 1: 1d20+6: 1d20(12) 6(6) = 18 NOPE

Mook #4 is deader than disco.

CLEAVE!

Attack #7, no longer thinking ahead: Roll 1: 1d20+15: 1d20(7) 15(15) = 22 HIT!
Damage: Roll 1: 1d10+5+1: 1d10(4) 5(5) 1(1) = 10
Damage Save vs DC 15: Roll 1: 1d20+6: 1d20(14) 6(6) = 20 SURVIVOR!)

Chop! That's a chunk out of his arm, and then Chop! there's a chunk out of his guts, and #4 is no more, either. With blood on his face and the powder smoke of more gonnefire drifting over the deck, Takao's carefully orchestrated dance of destruction slows down, 'only' managing to take two fingers from the next unlucky contestant with the rebound swing.

(One remaining mook, who can only desperately swing twice at Takao:

Mook Attacks: Roll 1: 1d20+12: 1d20(5) 12(12) = 17. Roll 2: 1d20+12: 1d20(14) 12(12) = 26 ONE HIT!

Grr, forgot the +2 from Crush Them!...but it makes no difference.

Mook Damage: Roll 1: 1d8: 1d8(4) = 4

Soaked by Takao's DR. Suck it, mook!)

Mr. 8 Fingers figures that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and roars into action, taking two wild swings with his good Hanse Entermesser. The first goes wild, the second barely scrapes over Takao's shoulder armor. Let us reflect on this moment, then, and conclude that today is just not a very good day to be a sailor.

(The Captain draws his own sword and then tries to threaten our heroes. As he has the Menacing Threat quality, his attempt targets both Toshiba and Takao.

Captain's Intimidate: Roll 1: 1d20+23: 1d20(16) 23(23) = 39 OOH MAMA

Honestly, I won't roll Resolve - Toshiba has no ranks, even Takao has no chance to resist a roll that high.

HERE COMES THE STRESS DAMAGE: Roll 1: 1d6: 1d6(2) = 2 (sad trombone)

Toshiba's Will Save vs DC 11: Roll 1: 1d20+8: 1d20(11) 8(8) = 19 NOT FAZED!
Takao's Will Save vs DC 11: Roll 1: 1d20+14: 1d20(15) 14(14) = 29 WHY DID I EVEN ROLL THIS

In conclusion: the Captain wasted a half action inflicting two points of Stress damage on you, neither of which really did anything because you easily made your Will saves. And this, kids, is why you don't use Threaten.)

"SUCH BOUNDLESS SLAUGHTER!" the Captain bellows, drawing his own sword at Toshiba's approach, and is that a smile on his face? Okay, that's a bit freaky. But considering what Takao and Toshiba have already gone through, "a bit freaky" hardly registers anymore. All that matters is finishing the fight.

---

Outside, Tsukareta is pacing back and forth, arms crossed in front of his chest, furiously talking to himself about his plans. When his eyes fall upon Kirika, he stomps up to her, tears of anger on his cheeks. "How many?" he asks her. "How many dead?"
"I honestly don't know," Kirika replies. "Many of them know others that lost someone when they were forced out, if they did not lose someone themselves." She fixes him with a stern look. "Did you honestly expect that forcing people out of their homes would not result in lives lost?"
"Shira assured me it would all be....it would all be orderly and above board! We calculated the values, we counted out the money at the treasury, we…he never told me what he had his people do here! All I heard was that everything had been settled. I did not fully believe him even then, but...who would...who would stand before a samurai and beg to die rather than follow a lawful order?"

He doesn't wait for Kirika's answer, stomping off to go back and forth again. "This doesn't make any sense," he mutters to himself, over and over. "We had it all planned...everything was going to plan..."
"Whose plan?" Kirika asks. "Yours, or Ikishi's?"
"Mine!" Tsukareta screams into the noon sky. "My plan! I made the plan! I only...I had to involve Shira for the legwork in clearing the land, but..." He turns to Kirika. "I never wanted anyone to be killed. I...people die, they...die every day. But I never wanted...I never wanted anyone's blood on a sword with my name on it."
"Would your parents have given up their land at the tip of a sword?" Kirika asks. "You said yourself, it was all they had. Take that away, and what then?"
"You can..." Tsukareta mutters. "You can...start over? Can't you? You can change. You can take the money and go somewhere else and do something better than..." He trails off. "No matter. It doesn't matter. It doesn't matter why. Something wrong was done here, more than I intended, more than I thought...more than I wanted to believe." He wipes the tears off his face. "If you would please see me to the council chambers now, Lady Kamura, I have a few things I need to say."
"Of course, Lord," Kirika says. She knocks on the door and waits for Sidewinder.

The hatted ninja exits the shack, glancing to Tsukareta brooding in the distance before turning to Kirika.

"Every man's got a line, I guess, even if it's a weird one," Sidewinder says. "Ain't it convenient when you can sleep sound on the cries of the poor, s'long as nobody's spilling actual blood."
"He never had to see what he was doing," Kirika replies. "And denial goes a long way. Make sure they are taken care of, please. I have to take the High Lord to his council meeting."
"Got it," Sidewinder says. "And if you don't mind me sayin' so, the prince ought to know about this. Looks like we got us one more High Lord to replace when the dust settles."
“I hope the White-Sashed Swordsman is responsible for this, not Lord Shira,” Kirika mutters. “We will have to ask him when we return to the city - we need to know where else Ikishi had people removed.”
“Well, he don’t remember the Swordsman stuff so good, I heard,” Sidewinder says. “But then I don’t got a problem believing he’d order a shakedown like this even just being himself.” He spits on the ground. "Samurai gonna samurai. No offense."
“Let’s hope Takao’s assessment of the High Lord is correct,” Kirika says. “If not, he will have some explaining to do.”
"Reckon he does," Sidewinder says. "Well, you best get going before the smart fella digs his own grave with that pacin'. I'll catch you back at base when I've got everyone inside taken care of."
"Stay safe, Sidewinder," Kirika says, and turns back to Tsukareta. "Your carriage awaits, my Lord."
MikeS 2017-02-25 11:22:02
Takao stabbed and slashed his way through the sailors. Slash the arm in the forward thrust, cut the neck in the reverse, cross-cut abdomen in the upswing, sever the head on the down stroke. Like all styles, the Seishin Dageki Ryu did not assume that the opponent would fall to the first attack, and added economic follow-ups, but Takao usually did not need them. The foreign sailors were not moving rationally, and never quite were where they were supposed to be.

No matter. Having disrupted the group of gonnemen, Takao drew his own gonne and set sights on the captain. What did Ueki call this? A 'sparrow'? He pulled the trigger and filled the air with lead.
Gatac 2017-03-26 07:16:03
(ROUND 3!

Toshiba grapples the Captain to try to take him out of the fight before he can pull out any other tricks:

Toshiba's Athletics: 1d20+14 = 31
Captain's Athletics: 1d20+6 = 21 CAUGHT!)

Toshiba doesn't have time to figure out what the hell the Captain's deal is, but he does know that he's probably their best chance to get someone who knows what the hells this ship was sailing for, and in any event Kirika will probably want to talk to him and try to turn him and Toshiba has even less time for trying to explain why he shanked the most important source of intel on this ship, so less lethal it is. He tackles the Captain to the ground and uses his advanced ninjutsu training to straddle him and punch him in the nose. You know, as a proper "how do you do" between two sailors.

(Takao uses Quick Draw to draw the Sparrow gonne and gets to work on the Captain:

Takao's Attack #1: 1d20+12 = 14 MISS!
Takao's Attack #2: 1d20+12 = 26 HIT!
Takao's Damage: 3d6 = 9

Captain's Damage Save vs DC 14: 1d20+7 = 23 Resisted!)

Takao's becoming cognizant of the limits of swordsmanship - he's over here, and there's a dude with a big knife trying to hack at him, but what he really wants to do is put some hurt on the Captain. Firearms to the rescue, then, as Takao draws Ueki's fancy-named repeating handgonne and, between blows, tries to draw a bead on the Captain. Sadly, the flintlock design has just enough lock time that between him pulling the trigger and the gonne actually going off, Toshiba rushes in from the side and pushes the Captain out of the path of the bullet.

The phrase "Stop helping me" comes to mind.

But Takao's difficult to discourage, and in any event it is time to test whether Ueki's fanciful claims about the "repeating" nature of this weapon are true. So Takao pulls the trigger again, and what do you know, the damn thing spins by itself, the flint carrier locks back and then slams forward again, and the gonne fires a second shot, this one right into the Captain's leg.

(The last remaining mook keeps attacking Takao:

Mook Attack #1: 1d20+12+2 = 21 MISS!
Mook Attack #2: 1d20+12+2 = 25 HIT!

Mook Damage: 1d8 = 6 Soaked by Takao's DR)

Speaking of the dude with the big knife, well, bless his heart, he just keeps trying. Takao brushes his first strike aside, but the second comes just after his shot - and glances off his armor. The dude with the big knife steps back after that, and Takao can see in his eyes that the man is seriously questioning a) what he's doing and b) whether he should be here at all.

(The Captain tries to free himself:

Captain's Athletics: 1d20+6 = 9 SAD!
Toshiba's Athletics: 1d20+14 = 26 RAD!

Toshiba chooses the Injure benefit.

Toshiba's Damage: 1d6+1+1d4 = 5

Captain's Damage Save vs DC 17: 1d20+7 = 26 Resisted!)

"UNHAND ME, MISCREANT!" the Captain bellows, trying to push Toshiba off him - an effort which only marginally shifts their relative positions, but does get him a fresh new cut on his arm as Toshiba strikes to disable.

Toshiba chances a look around; the distant gonne-fighters of the crew are no longer preparing to shoot at Takao and him, mostly because they're running to take shelter from -

BAM! Chainshot thunders overhead as the coastal defense artillery starts its efforts to stop the ship before it gets out of range. Insofar as the ship doesn't really need its masts because it's not sailing so much as steaming right now, this is annoying, but not really germane to the fight. However, insofar as a chainshot hit could topple said masts onto the deck and crush anyone beneath them, things have just gotten a bit more exciting.
Admiral Duck Sauce 2017-03-27 11:41:02
"Parley?" Toshiba growls to the captain. "We all get out of range of those honorless bushwhackers upon yonder shore, then we get back to killing each other?"
MikeS 2017-03-27 17:38:11
"You've got him, right?" Takao calls over to the Oni, deflecting the persistent sailor's next blow and then shooting him in the face.

"Why don't we just abandon ship, then? He'll think twice about struggling when we're up in the air. Wait, I'll be right over."