Never deal with dragons

MikeS 2014-07-24 23:02:20
Takao's face remains impassive.

He is amazed at how much Lady Ikishi was able to find out about a lowly samurai, how quickly she deduced the turning moment of his life. But she could only see it through her eyes, eyes focused on gain, revenge, and status. She could never fathom that the killer was meaningless to him, that instead the existence of the weapon itself had triggered the musha shugyo, and that he didn't care to take revenge, but to figure out how a caste of professional warriors would deal with this peasant weapon that threatened their existence. He had never thought about it in these terms, but it suddenly came to him that this was how he felt about his quest.

"What would you want for that information?", he says slowly. "And what proof do you have that it's him?"

Gatac 2014-07-25 01:00:00
Ikishi nods. "The night after the deed, he went and got drunk in a nearby guest house," she says, "and finally, just as the owner made to throw him out to close for the night, he confessed it to him. One of my agents was there to hear the story and made note of the man's name and appearance. Just one of the many secrets my eyes and ears have gathered over the years, filed away for fortuitous moments like this where they might become useful."

"His name is yours," she says, "if you only confirm for me that this Kirika Kamura is truly the daughter of Ameda Kamura. If you have further things to say about her that may be useful to me, I am willing to...make your search for the killer considerably easier. A name means little, and he may have changed it in the intervening years - but my agents, given enough time, can track down anyone."

She smiles at him. "What do you say, Takao?"
MikeS 2014-07-26 14:06:31
Takao frowns. "I am afraid I do not know the answer to your question. I have, of course, heard of the sword master Ameda Kamura. I have met a Kirika during my travels, but I cannot even confirm that it is the same person you speak of, much less that her father was Ameda Kamura."

"Is there anything else you would trade for the identity of my sensei's killer?"
Gatac 2014-07-26 16:26:34
Ikishi frowns. "I'm afraid my interest is rather singular," she says. "Are you just that loyal, or am I mistaken about your motivations? Interesting in any event; the more I learn about you, the more I learn about the kinds of people you would call friends."

"Or, as it sometimes happens, perhaps I've been misinformed," she adds. "Perhaps you just don't have anything to offer me after all, then." She rises from her chair. "Tell you what, Takao. Why don't you enjoy our hospitality a bit longer. You'll have a roof over your head and three square meals, you'll be in a safe place where you can't cause me any trouble, and I hear that a bit of peace and quiet does wonders for the memory. Who knows, maybe you'll even realize that it's better to be on my side than any other."

She nods her head.

"If you do change your mind, your hosts will gladly hear whatever you have to say," she says, then rises and turns to leave. "Oh, one more thing," she says. "Your friend, the ninja? Turns out I don't need him alive. Do you?"
MikeS 2014-07-26 19:08:29
Takao shrugs. "He made it abundantly clear that he believes in an 'each man for himself' world. Like most mercenaries."

He watches the criminal mastermind leave, then settles back onto the ground and stares into the space in front of him. He is listening carefully for any activity of the guards, however, to get a sense of their routine for these visits, and for their daily routine in general. Finally, he lies back down and takes a nap. A knowledgeable observer might say that he's been in situations like this before, and doesn't feel like wasting strength or giving his guards any clue of what he might do next.
Gatac 2014-07-29 11:06:14
Ikishi departs without further ceremony, and the mill settles back into its previous routine. The woman serves rice pudding for dinner, but the rest of the day runs past with no further events of note.

It is only when night has fallen and both the woman and the swordsman have retired for the night that Takao's waiting and seeing is disturbed by a scraping sound - Kichirou works his way closer to him, lifting as much of his own chain as he can to reduce the clanging it makes when it slides over the floor.

"Hey!" Kichirou whisper-shouts. "Hey!"
MikeS 2014-07-30 18:15:58
"Psst!", Takao hisses back. "You don't want to wake them up!"

"OK, here's the deal: we never talk when they're watching. Let them think we don't get along. If they think we're talking, they'll watch us more carefully and make it harder to get out. So, you're Kichirou. I'm Takao. Why are they holding you here?"
Gatac 2014-07-31 12:06:08
Kichirou frowns. "I am High Lord Hetechi' friend," he says. "As long as this bitch has me here, Hetechi will do everything she tells him to."
MikeS 2014-08-01 00:06:19
"I see... Well, you got any useful skills besides being someone's best friend?" Takao says the last two words without emphasis or missing a beat.

As Kichirou replies, Takao moves slowly to the hole through which his chain disappears and gently tests how quietly he can move the chain.

"They ever leave you alone? Must have, since all three of them came to get me. Or is there a fourth?"
Gatac 2014-08-02 04:17:25
"Well, I'm a scholar," Kichirou says. "I am also an excellent dancer, poet, I do some great calligraphy, I play a mean game of go..."

As Kichirou recounts his many talents, it becomes achingly clear that he's never been in a fight or made a living outside of the homes of nobles. He's surely a great companion, but as a prison break buddy, he leaves a lot to be desired.

"And yes, they do leave me alone, for hours at a time," Kichirou says. "But recently they've been gone for days, and just leave some food and water for me. It's terrible." He shrugs his shoulders. "What can I do? The chain is far too sturdy to get off and there's nobody who would hear me shout for help."
MikeS 2014-08-02 15:17:49
"Dancer, huh? Show me." Kichirou thinks at first that Takao is joking, but there isn't even a glint of humor in his eyes.

"But... there is no music, and what about the chain?", Kichirou protests.

"Work with it. Show me the footwork."

Kichirou starts with some cautious steps, but gradually gets more into the flow, and moves back and forth in the holding area, incidentally giving Takao a good idea of how loud the chain moves and how far it reaches. Eventually, there is a holler from the guard quarters:"Stop rattling the damn chains!"

Takao nods to Kichirou. "Enough for tonight. We've just found our daytime activity."
Gatac 2014-08-20 14:47:39
"1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8!" Kichirou counts out as he leads Takao through the basic steps of his courtly dances. Takao's anything but a natural, and schlepping the chain around with them isn't making things any easier, but slowly, he's getting a feel for how far he can step without compromising his own stability.

"Hells sakes!" the gonneman cries after an hour of dance practice. He looks to the swordsman and the woman, but finds no sympathy. "Fuck the lot of you," he mutters, then storms outside to cool off.


With a nod from Takao, Kichirou clutches at his belly and cries out in faux pain before letting himself fall to the ground, writhing around. The response is swift - the swordsman steps up with his weapon but stays out of the pen, while the woman comes rushing over with little apparent regard for her own safety. She kneels besides Kichirou, rolls him onto his back and sweeps her hand over his belly - only to frown a few seconds later.

"You're in perfect health," she says, then gets up again. "Do not waste my time with your games."

She wanders back out, and Takao feels the swordsman's look on him before he, too, turns away and walks back to his chair.


It's difficult to reckon the hour or the day, but all told, the swordsman is clearly there the least - he shows up regularly enough in the morning, stays for lunch and then leaves again after checking up on everything. Sometimes he's there in the evenings, too. The gonneman usually stays, but when the swordsman is there in the evening, he frequently leaves - and once or twice, they leave together, no doubt on a mission. If the woman leaves - which she does infrequently, and Takao never actually sees her sleep - it's always with the swordsman either staying behind, or all three of them going at once. Somebody's making a point of not leaving the gonneman alone with the prisoners.


"I hear them!" Kichirou hisses as he tries to keep steady standing on Takao's shoulders. With all three of their jailers gone, it's a rare opportunity to really test how far they can get, and this time, the aim are the crossbeams above them.

Kichirou has been hearing Ikishi's lackeys return ever since the two of them started this escape attempt. Takao's getting the impression that the young scholar's nerves are not the steeliest, and with a silent push upwards, he urges Kichirou on. The scholar reaches for the beam above, wraps his arms around it, and then tries to pull up his legs, too. Tries, and fails, as the chain stops short of reaching - Kichirou almost falls off the beam from the roughly aborted swing, but Takao's able to catch him.


Trying to force the chain out of the hole in the ground is proving futile. Even levered over Takao's strong shoulders, it won't budge, only yielding the clang of metal on metal for his efforts. If only they had the keys to their shackles - or a tool to pry up the iron plate that protects the retention mechanism beneath the floor - or maybe even a blade to cut off a There has to be a way.

There has to be.
MikeS 2014-08-30 16:27:17
With the guards' responses tested and their routine reasonably well known, Takao can now dedicate himself to exploring the rest of the prison.

At a glance, it's a tough one to get out of. No obvious weaknesses, no tools. The cell itself is barren, with wooden walls and wooden floors. There is a chain with a lock on a manacle, and while the extendable nature of the chain might at first look like a weakness, nothing is apparent yet. The base plate would be another good point of attack, with a tool to pry it up.

But it's a wood construction, and an old one at that, and close to water, increasing the probability of rot. The next few days, Takao dedicates every single unobserved moment to skimming every square inch of the prison for loose boards, nails that are sticking out and could be pulled out, and tests the strength of the boards with thumps from his hands and feet. Kichirou is lifted up once more, to see if there may be forgotten tools on top of the beams, or anything else that he might see that's invisible from the bottom.
Gatac 2014-09-14 06:39:54
(Takao's Investigate: 1d20+17 = 32)

When Takao set to going over his prison in detail, he wasn't fucking around. Call it obsessive, but after two days of testing every board in secret while their guards are out on missions, Takao finds one that must have been put in at 4:45 PM on a Friday - with a soft groan, the board yields to his calloused hands and comes up from the floor, nails and all.

"What are we going to do with one board?" Kichirou asks.

What indeed - while it would make for a crude weapon at best, it could just as easily serve as a lever to work on getting more of the floor removed, possibly gaining access to whatever's holding the chains in place, and maybe even a route to the old drain into the canal, letting them escape into the water without anyone standing outside the mill being any wiser. On the other hand, a loose nail set into the locks of their manacles, struck sharply by something hard...Takao digs into the dirt beneath the floorboards, finally turning up a nice, fist-sized stone.
MikeS 2014-09-21 20:35:29
"This, my friend, is a treasure, the key to our release", Takao replies. "Now we can work in earnest. You need to stand guard, so that they don't see what we're doing."

Takao begins with testing how difficult it is to remove further boards. Getting to the other side of the chain plate is definitely a goal. Takao watches that the boards can be replaced without anyone noticing that they've been pried up. If that's not possible, he will stop with the boards for now and work on the manacle locks instead. The big idea, of course, is to work on the break-out attempt without their captors noticing any changes.


The next time the woman is the only one watching them, Takao calls over to her: "Hey! What's keeping you here? You don't deal much with the others. It's almost as if you are a prisoner, too, only without the chains." Takao has been watching the woman for a while to get an idea for what her deal is.

OOC: Sense Motive:1d20+26 = 43; if she in fact doesn't seem to be here against her will, Takao won't say that.
Gatac 2014-09-22 14:15:12
The woman regards Takao with a stare that slowly softens over the next few moments until he's sure that there must be a wistful smile behind the mask.

"I am a prisoner of myself," she says. "My presence here safeguards many lives, and I gave my word that I would serve Lady Ikishi. Nothing would be easier than for me to run away and disappear - but I know what suffering that would cause. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of one."

She clears her throat.

"If I wanted to run away, I would do it on a night like this, where there is nobody to see me. The city offers little shelter from Ikishi's agents, and I don't have any friends who I can trust to keep me hidden. I would probably run to the north - I have heard tales of a dense bamboo forest in the swamps that many believe is haunted." Her eyes turn directly to Takao. "But if I wanted to run away, I would also hasten my preparations. Ikishi's enemies are forming in the south and it cannot be long until she turns her full attention to everyone here, if only in the form of a full inspection of the mill. I would be very afraid that she might find things that the others have not noticed yet."

The woman then rises from her chair.

"Pardon me, but in speaking of such things I have summoned some troubling thoughts," she says. "I cannot remain centered like this. It is necessary that I go and meditate in the peace and quiet outside. If you need me, be sure to shout very loudly so I might hear you in my trance. I'm sure the others will bring news of Lady Ikishi's orders when they return in three hours."
MikeS 2014-09-23 01:01:10
Takao nods.

"Only one of us here really needs to run. While we're talking hypotheticals: if I wanted to find dirt on Lady Ikishi's operations, where might be the most fruitful place to look? And if someone wanted a few minutes alone with our friend the gonneman, say, for a rematch, where and when would be the best place for that? But, finally and most importantly, if one wanted to help a lady with her heart in the right place, who would those people be that she is protecting, and how could one help her put these people out of Ikishi's reach?"

"I understand that Lady Ikishi has been very creative in establishing leverage against those who would oppose her. Lord Hetechi's lever is Kichirou, and we'll restore order to that bit tonight. You don't have to bear the burden alone, my lady. There are others who will help."
Gatac 2014-09-23 01:10:48
"In my experience, secrets are found in locked basements, and drunkards spend nights in taverns," the woman says. She begins to walk out, then looks back to Takao one last time. "Do not presume too much of me, Shinmen Takao. If you should escape, the Lady Ikishi will order you hunted down, and I will be among your ene- your opponents. If you do not wish this outcome, act accordingly." That said, she walks out, leaving Takao and Kichirou to their own devices.
MikeS 2014-09-24 00:47:19
Takao watches her leave, then shrugs.

He turns to Kichirou. "You heard the lady. If we want to go, we have to go now."

Takao first tries to break the manacles with the nail and the rock, but should that fail, he will put a lot of effort into tearing up boards to at the very least extend his reach. If there is a way out of the mill through the floorboards that cannot be seen from the front, then that is the way the duo will use to escape.
Gatac 2014-10-02 06:29:44
(Takao's Athletics: Roll 1: 1d20+19: 1d20(17) 19(19) = 36)

Takao starts working on his manacles as Kichirou looks on.

"You don't expect me to swim out of here, do you?" Kichirou says, the incredulity on his face slowly replaced by dawning terror. "Okay, but we're not going to the swamp! Tell me we're not going to the swamp!"

Just then, Takao's latest strike finds its mark and drives the nail deep into the manacle lock, snapping it open! Takao immediately sets to work on Kichirou's shackles.

"I can't believe that worked!" Kichirou says. "Oh, Gods, we're really doing this..."