Gatac 2013-11-03 02:40:21
Boota huffs at that. "Fine. If you're so eager for a living witness, I swear to focus my revenge on you, Kirika Kamura. Now sheathe your blade!"
punkey 2013-11-03 02:46:49
Kirika moves Crane's Dance away from Boota's neck - but does not sheathe her blade. "I have other business to attend to here, but you are free to go, Boota. Know that the day is coming soon when I will come for you - and your mistress."
Gatac 2013-11-03 02:51:04
Boota huffs and turns to leave as the attention rolls back over to Lady Sarano, who has watched the exchange with her smile slowly disappearing. Having five samurai surrounding you tends to do a number on your confidence.

"Now hear me out!" she says. "There's need for bloodshed here! What do you want: money, information? I'm sure we can find a solution!"
punkey 2013-11-03 03:47:56
Kirika steps directly in front of Sarano. "What we want is this place cleansed of its evil." Kirika takes a deep breath, and looks back into Sarano's eyes.

(Kirika's Sense Motive: 1d20+14 = 20)

If there's something Kirika has seen plenty of, it's the corrupt trying to save their necks. Sarano's no different. Nothing on her face or in her voice that tells of inner turmoil or reflection. The only thing she regrets is getting caught. Kirika's thoughts turn to the servants - no, the slaves whose lives Sarano's house ruined. Almost immediately, the tattoos tighten, like chains around her wrists and a collar around her neck. The spirits of the place howl in brief anguish as Sarano sits there trying to cut a deal for forgiveness. But the burning fury of Kirika's ancestors is clear: no forgiveness, no mercy. Justice has come, and its edge is sharp.

No, Kirika tells the spirits. Not for you. Justice for ourselves is petty vengeance - justice must be for others. And she has not had a chance to recant. Everyone deserves a second chance.
They rage for a moment, tattoos growing tighter and hotter, until they relax and she hears her father whispering in her ear. "Your choice."

Kirika's eyes refocus on Sarano. "You...have been found wanting. You have no remorse, no regret for what you have done to your victims, your slaves." Kirika feels her heart start to race. "We will take this place from you, burn your secrets, and turn your wealth to your victims. You will leave this place, never to return, and if you are found to be rebuilding your evil empire elsewhere, punishment will be swift and final." Her hand tightens on her sword. "Or you will die here, today. Your choice."
MikeS 2013-11-03 16:04:50
Gatac wrote:

Boota huffs and turns to leave as the attention rolls back over to Lady Sarano...

Takao blocks the High Lord's path with his blade.

"I think you should enjoy the hospitality of this place a while longer, Boota-sama. Of course, the flavor of the hospitality will change after tonight."

He then awaits Lady Sarano's reply to Kirika's challenge.
Gatac 2013-11-10 10:55:06
Boota grumbles but steps to the side with Takao. Sarano looks at Kirika, then to her pet ocelot, as if to say “Come on, do something!” The ocelot, in turn, looks Kirika over, then turns to Sarano and gives her “No, fuck you” look before laying back down.

“ can’t just take everything from me!” Sarano whines. “How will I live with no home and no money?”
Kirika raises an eyebrow. “If you have any money that was not gained through the subjugation and misery of others…”
Sarano looks to Mira and Joku, who both turn away from her. “Is this how you thank me?” she snaps at them. Neither replies, and she turns back to Kirika. “Will you at least leave me my clothes?” she asks.
“Enough for traveling,” Kirika replies, then looks Sarano in the eye again. “And you forswear any activity that puts your gain above the basic freedom and survival of others?”

(Kirika Sense Motive: 1d20+14 = 25)

“I...I will...never hurt anyone again,” Sarano stammers. It’s clear that she hasn’t had a sudden change of heart or seen the light, but the fear for her life now has pushed her over the edge, and the fear of what Kirika will do if she ever hears of Sarano again will keep her in line.
Kirika’s hands tighten on Crane’s Dance as she feels her ancestors constrict themselves around her again, but she manages to complete her deep breath, and sheaths her sword. “Then you will need travelling companions.” She turns to Ichi. “Bring ten of Sarano’s ‘servants’, please. They should do nicely.”
“Hrph,” Ichi scoffs. “I’ll see what I can scare up.” He trundles off, but not without brushing past Sarano. Sarano shrinks back into her throne at that, desperate not to give any of the samurai surrounding her an excuse to strike.
“Please,” Sarano whimpers. “They’ll kill me as soon as you turn away!”
“I will leave your true judgement in the hands of your victims, Sarano,” Kirika replies. “I will ask them to hold off on killing you long enough to consider which is better: a life of their own, either helping you learn the mistakes of your former ways and ensuring that you truly are contrite, or the short-term relief of striking you down. It is up to you to convince them you are worthy of sparing.” She takes another deep breath. “I hope that is justice enough,” Kirika says, more to her ancestors than anyone physically in the room.

Sarano shakes her head, but has nothing left to say. The old woman bows over, defeated.
MikeS 2013-11-10 23:06:53
Takao turns to Kirika: "A word with you, in private, if I may?"

"Watch these two, please", he asks of Yoshi.

After Takao and Kirika have stepped away from the others, so they can't be overheard, Takao says quietly: "I know that it feels right to pass judgment of Sarano to her heimin, but all that will be dispensed is revenge, especially if Karla has any say in it. The likes of us, we can judge the bandit lord, and even the pirate captain, but not a rightful lord. If we want to be better than Ikishi, we need to be lawful as well as just, wouldn't you agree?"

"Only a liege lord can judge the daimyo. Though he isn't confirmed on the throne yet, both you and I believe that Toshi will eventually be emperor, and it would be on him to judge any lord in the realm. I say let him pronounce the sentence on Sarano, and set an example here on what will be justice and law in his realm. Of course, he will do so in seclusion, and we will enforce the sentence so that he does not have to reveal himself now, but it will be made public in time."

"We captured Kei. She poisoned Sidewinder with a dart, but Copperhead has him now, and he should be fine. In the interest of maintaining an element of surprise with Lady Ikishi, we must keep Sarano, Boota, and Kei in our power for a while. If Ikishi learns of our exploits now, then she is warned, and our quest becomes next to impossible, especially should we decide to infiltrate her organization. If we can convince these three here to maintain normal communications, we should get more time to prepare our action against her."

"Oh, and Yoshi. I met him in the palace here. He claims to be a member of a secret organization that serves that throne, and he expressed interest in recruiting me. I don't trust him yet, so we should not speak any secrets in his presence. We can ask Homi-sama where the allegiance of this organization lies, and I may join Yoshi to the capital separately from the rest of you to see if allies can be found here."

"What do you think?", he finishes.
Gatac 2013-11-11 11:31:37
Yukio steps near to the conversation, offering her own thoughts. "I'm sure Toshi will support and legitimize whatever choice we make about Sarano," she says. "And if Kei is still alive, we don't need Sarano or this mansion. She can keep reporting to Ikishi from a place where we can watch her. Only Boota must be let go, but how do we ensure he says what we wish him to say?"
Admiral Duck Sauce 2013-11-11 14:50:55
"With this," Toshiba answers, stepping quietly around the entrance. He has a travel satchel of paperwork, some of the ink still drying from where he checked and rechecked his calculations. "Let Boota's crimes shackle him to our cause now, as his chains once tied him to Sarano and Ikishi. He will help us, or we will publicly present the evidence of his treasonous fraud and tax evasion. He will be ruined or worse, and should he attempt to struggle, it will only damage Ikishi further. However, I think that he will cooperate, given the path of honey weighed against public ruination, poverty, or even execution."
MikeS 2013-11-12 14:38:05
"Your timing is impeccable!"

Takao looks over to Boota and says:"That's one problem solved, then. I think we can convince Kei to work with us. She is terrified of Ikishi, and if we can offer her a reasonable out, she will take it."

"As for Lady Sarano: the judgment will be most effective if it aligns with the Imperial Law. While the lords are given great leeway on how to treat and abuse their heimin, Sarano has gone beyond regular cruelty, and sentencing her for Cruel Abuse of the Emperor's Subjects does not sound too out of order. As for punishment: exile or jigai are most prevalent for women. We should bear in mind that until we have a new Emperor, Sarano could return from exile at any time and resume her reign of terror, unless there is a new lord who could take over legitimately right now."
Gatac 2013-11-12 14:50:39
"Among Sarano's vassals, my father is the most powerful and respected," Yukio says. "If he were to take her place until the throne can revoke her title and establish a proper succession, I doubt many would find fault in it." She looks to Kirika. "On the topic of jigai: I will grant death to those who seek it, but the Lady still clings to life, and we are not murderers. Exile it shall be, then."
MikeS 2013-11-12 14:59:00
Takao ponders: "Lord Matsumoto is an honorable man and would be a much better lord to Sarano's heimin. What can we do right now to legalize the succession? The last thing we want is Sarano to return to this castle in a few months' time with an army of several other daimyo, and to claim that Lord Matsumoto has usurped her title. At the very least, it seems necessary to enforce exile somehow, which will be difficult for us. Perhaps we could send her away on a ship?"
Gatac 2013-11-13 12:36:39
The answer presents itself when Ichi returns with a selection of white-clad servants. From the looks of them, he’s brought six slaves, three fresh-faced “normal” servants who have apparently not done anything bad enough to be hated by the slaves, plus Karla, who’s thrown some furs over her shoulders and is toting a woodcutter’s axe in her right hand with alarming ease. She throws a disconcerting grin at Sarano, causing the old woman to flinch away, but her second look is owed to Kirika, with a more reasonable glance.

“The swordman says you want Sarano escorted,” Karla says to her. “What are your intentions?”
“Sarano has expressed remorse for her actions,” Kirika replies. “And I have decided that she deserves a chance to prove that she has learned the error of her ways. She will give up her manor, her clothes, her possessions, and her money, and go out into the world to make her own way. And I would ask the ten of you that Ichi has asked to come to make sure her change of heart is genuine, as you all probably must need to do the same, now that this horrible place is ended. Take Sarano with you and let no one forget what she has done, but allow her the chance to build a new and less wicked life. If she proves to all of you she has repented, then if you wish to take your leave, please do - and if you are convinced that she is merely waiting for a chance to poison you all in the night, then her life is yours to take.”

Kirika looks over the group of ten servants. Few seem thrilled about watching over Sarano, but the notion that they get to shame her and tell their story to anyone who will listen seems to appeal. This has been a house of secrets for too long - the tale must spread, and standing here now when the others have already fled, the former slaves and servants look at each other, knowing that they will carry out this grim duty, too. Karla gives the others a nod, as if to say that she’ll be taking care of that last clause when the time comes.

“She will live as an example,” Karla says. “I have more pressing revenge. What of the pirate? Where can he be found?”
“Would you rather discuss that in private, or -”
“Now,” Karla says, hefting her axe. “Speak.”
Kirika nods. “He can be found in the house of the Lord Matsumoto - but, I would ask that you listen to what I have to say, and truly consider it. Please.”
“More of your talk!” Karla spits. “Be quick about it, then.”
Kirika sighs. “First, I want to know what Olafsen has done against you. You said that his father and brothers had wronged you, but you did not mention what Olafsen had done.”
“We have never met, so he has not had the chance to wrong me personally,” Karla says. “This is about my family, not me.”
“And what has Olafsen done to them?”
Karla’s eyes narrow. “That does not matter. I swore to avenge myself on his entire family. I do not care which blows he struck, whose blood is on his hands. What matters is that he shares the blood of those who took everything from me. It is my right to end them all.”
“Your right, then?” Kirika asks as she steps towards Karla. “You claim the right to end the life of a man who has loved and lost to tragedy? Who has seen the evilness of his ways and his family, and has turned his back on them to find a new life of peace? Who has put his own life in considerable risk to help others put a stop to a great evil?” Kirika stops in front of her. “You claim the right to take the life of the man who told us about this place of evil and gave us the tools to put a stop to it?”
Karla stares at Kirika for a good long while - long enough to make Yukio’s hand glide closer to her sword. Finally, she speaks. “Is he a good man?” she asks.
“It is too early to tell - but he deserves the chance to prove that he can be one,” Kirika replies.
Karla nods. “He owes me blood - but perhaps not his life. I will seek him out and see for myself.” She ponders these latest turns for a second. “What is your stake in his life?” she asks.
“He has already provided what aid he can to me, I think,” Kirika says. “But I believe that he is in the process of becoming a better man, and as you might have noticed, I believe in second chances.”
“I understand,” Karla says. “It seems to make you strong. That is good.” She pauses for a moment, as her eyes wander and her face grows softer. “Second chances,” she murmurs.
Kirika lets Karla have her moment before continuing. “You will find Olafsen either in the house of Lord Matsumoto, who lives in The Forge to the southeast of here, or on one of his properties. And, if I may make a suggestion? Matsumoto does not trust Olafsen either, not entirely. So, he might be amenable to a skilled fighter who demonstrates a strong and true moral guide and has an interest in watching over Olafsen - as long as you prove yourself to be fair and even-handed. He might even let you two have it out - I can’t imagine Olafsen would object too much, either.” Kirika cocks an eyebrow. “Would you be interested?”
“It sounds good,” Karla says. “I will speak to him.” After a moment’s thought, she adds “What do I say?”
Kirika smiles. “That story that made your hard eyes soften, the one about second chances? Tell Matsumoto that story - and when you do, reflect upon if and how Olafsen, or anyone, might be deserving of the same.”
“Hm,” Karla says with a nod. “Good luck with your quest.”

The burly northwoman turns towards Sarano, then takes a half-step back and swings her axe-arm upwards. Sarano had just enough time to scream before the axe comes down - on Sarano’s throne, splitting the chain that holds the ocelot. Before either Sarano or the ocelot can react further, Karla seizes the chain with her free hand. “Komdu!” she barks at the ocelot - the cat cowers, casting a last forlorn look at Sarano, then trots after Karla in lieu of being dragged behind her.
“Is that yours?” Kirika asks after Karla.
“It is now,” Karla replies.
“Treat it well, then,” Kirika says. “And I will see you in the future at Matsumoto’s court, I hope.”

Karla smirks. You get the impression that she has a substantially different idea for what constitutes treating the ocelot well than the ocelot does, but it’s more to the tune of “working for a living” than “animal cruelty”.
“Until next time,” she says.
punkey 2013-11-13 12:47:50
"And as for you," Kirika says as she turns on Boota. "What do you have to say about the Oni's...proposition?"
Gatac 2013-11-13 15:55:11
Boota has followed the little show with Karla and Sarano and the ocelot quietly, and he hardly seems his boisterous self when he answers Kirika's question.

"I can only offer you lies," he says. "Once I return to the capital, Ikishi's men will watch me closely, and I will not meet you there or do anything else I would not have otherwise done - for if I am caught helping you, Ikishi will move against me, and she threatens more than my reputation. I will tell her whatever you want her to hear, but your story had better be good - because I'm not going to maintain it against her suspicions. If she demands the truth, she will have it." He looks around. "A simple 'yes' or 'no' from you will suffice for the moment; you'll have time to spin a tale while I prepare to leave. Rest assured I have no intention of slipping away; I would have left these lands months ago if I thought I could evade her assassins."
punkey 2013-11-14 13:11:16
"And what of the secret army you are assembling in the Firelands?" Kirika asks Boota point-blank.
Gatac 2013-11-14 13:21:09
" did you?" Boota stammers, then finally shakes his head. "It is not my army, these are General Noronu's men. For now, they train and prepare, stocking weapons and supplies - but a word from him would suffice to see them march on the enclaves of the foreigners...or the capital. What Ikishi has sought to do with intrigue, Noronu intends to back up with force. It would not surprise me if his ultimate plan was to put these men against Ikishi herself. Much as she may pull the strings of us all, true power sits at the tips of spears and the muzzles of gonnes. And without unity in the empire, there is no one who could stand up to such power on the battlefield."
punkey 2013-11-16 05:58:55
Kirika nods. "Very well, then. Make yourself comfortable in the courtyard, High Lord. We will let you know what we decide."

Once Boota is out of earshot, Kirika returns her attention to Ichi, Mira and Joku. "And what about all of you? Can you be trusted with what you have seen here tonight?"
Gatac 2013-11-17 02:58:53
"Oh, please!" Mira begs. "I just want to go home!" Joku nods, and they both shuffle around, as if trying to hide behind each other, which isn't easy when you're literally surrounded by scary samurai.

"Hrph," Ichi scoffs. (Making that sound must be his hobby.) "I don't care about all that crap! I need a roof over my head and wine in my cup. Words fall easier out of empty mouths, so what's my silence worth to you?"
punkey 2013-11-17 03:25:00
"Well, how is your swordsmanship?" Kirika asks. "We meet many lords and ladies that could use a samurai with experience and skill on his side, and a good word from us could help you find another employer."