Gatac 2013-11-17 03:45:21
"I have been cutting down weeds since before you were born, Kamura," Ichi says. "I'm no kensei with a fancy school, but I've spilled more blood than wine, like a real samurai should."
"Disgusting," Yoshi murmurs.
"Oh, shut your trap!" Ichi says. "When was the last time you scrubbed blood off your blade, you mangy dog?"
"The truly superior warrior does not need to kill," Yoshi says.
"Bullshit!" Ichi scoffs. "Step outside with me, Yoshi, we'll see who's right."
"I am not here to duel you, Ichi," Yoshi replies, hand on the grip of his sword.
"And that's all you need to know, Kamura," Ichi says. "Dogs like Yoshi in their fine kimonos with blunted blades in their sheaths, speaking of honor and philosophy, you'll do well to doubt them. You want to see my qualifications?" He draws his blade, and everyone shrinks back into defensive positions, with Joku actually whelping in surprise and fear. "Hah!" Ichi scoffs. He holds his beaten old sword up in front of the shine of a lamp, showing off the nicks and chipped-off segments. "Is this proof enough for you?"
punkey 2013-11-17 03:48:30
Kirika is unimpressed. "Proof enough that you do not take the proper care of your sword." She raises an eyebrow. "And you did not answer my question. Do you want our help finding a new master, one that will ask that you actually work for your roof and wine, or do you want simply to be paid for your silence and be on your way?"
Gatac 2013-11-17 03:57:52
"Hrph," Ichi scoffs. "You use that fancy knife of yours for thirty years, we'll see how it looks then," he says. To everyone's relief, he sheathes his sword again. "New master, listen to you. I'm done fighting for anyone but myself. You want my silence?" Ichi looks down on his hands and begins counting on his fingers. "200," he says.
punkey 2013-11-17 03:59:36
Kirika reaches underneath her kimono and pulls out a sack of coins. She picks a few off of the top and tosses the rest to Ichi. "Two-hundred even. Are you satisfied?"
Gatac 2013-11-17 04:07:55
Ichi opens the bag and sifts through it for some coins, testing if they're real, but instead of counting them all, he weighs the bag by shifting it between his right and left hand. "Hrph," he finally scoffs. "That's enough." Then, without any further ado, he turns and walks away.

Once he's out of the throne room, Yoshi shakes his head. "One of these days, I will hear that he has been slain, and sleep easier for it."
"Heavens, what an...asshole!" Yukio cusses.
MikeS 2013-11-17 12:09:28
Takao was one of the few who did not move when Ichi drew his sword. He knew the bluster for what it was.

"I liked him well enough," Toshiba adds.

"I've seen his kind before on the road, many times", Takao adds.

"The 200 won't last, not very long, anyway. It's on us to make sure that the silence it buys is long enough. Speaking of which, we should perhaps move to a more private place and discuss what to do next."
punkey 2013-11-19 15:29:22
"Yes, let's," Kirika says. She bows to the still-cowering Mira and Joku. "Have a wonderful life together - but perhaps consider a different form of recreation." She looks back to Takao. "Shall we?"


The group decamps to a small side room, surrounded by cushions and linens. Kirika, for her part, leans against a pile of floor cushions and sighs. "I think we should just keep things simple. The Killer Bees already came and went in their search for information, it wouldn't be hard to embellish the story to a full-on invasion and destruction of this place by the Killer Bees. Sarano blackmailed the wrong noble, and it blew up in her face."
MikeS 2013-11-21 22:31:47
Takao did not sit down, but instead paces a few steps every now and then as he thinks through the problems.

"Yes, that sounds like a good idea. Ninjas raid the palace, the Lady goes missing, the library of dark secrets goes up in flames - anybody who knows the place will know of the significance of the fire." He glance into the round. "We do plan do burn the documents, right?"

Then he sighs. "I hope we can spare at least some of the buildings. Winter is coming, and the heimin have to live somewhere. We need to send a messenger to Lord Matsumoto immediately to make sure he can take control of the situation before a squabble between rival nobles occurs."


"Where from here? Lord Boota seems to be willing to play ball for now - I'm quite sure Ikishi would kill him herself if she got her hands on the letters. We just need to tell him what story he has to tell."


"Kei will require a bit more work, but if we can convince her that we will let her go, whereas Ikishi will kill her even now on the grounds that she might have turned, then we should be able to get her to work with us. The question is what we'd have her do. If our story is that the palace got burned in a ninja attack, Kei is a likely victim. Maybe she should just disappear?"


"Then there is General Noronu's army. That's an unknown quantity. It's a threat, but it could also provide an opportunity, if we could turn it to our own purpose. It would be worthwhile figuring out how Noronu communicates with his officers. Perhaps Boota knows something.


"Finally, there is Shira-dono, the Dragon, whom Yoshi supposedly serves. I'd like to know if Homi knows anything about him. He could be an ally, or another tool of Ikishi's. We cannot let Yoshi leave on his own before we know. If he might be an ally, I should perhaps go and find him in the capital."

Takao stops pacing and looks at the group again, done with his summary.
punkey 2013-11-24 03:45:52
"I don't plan on burning the whole place down," Kirika says. "Just the blackmail. The rest of this place should be aired out, but afterwards it could be used to house Sarano's victims until Matsumoto-sama decides what he wants to do with it. I think the ninja siblings would be best suited for checking out Noronu's army and if he is even there. I can handle Kei, and you seem to have a good rapport with Yoshi already. Seem like a good division of labor?"
MikeS 2013-11-27 01:17:56
Takao nods. "If anyone can convince Kei to change sides, it'll be you."

"Will you travel up to the capital when you are done down here? Should we agree on a meeting place and time?"
punkey 2013-11-27 19:59:18
"We have much to prepare for - a grand entrance for the returning lost prince, for a start," Kirika replies. "This will take some time. You go on ahead, and I will send word as to where to meet us once you're done with Yoshi's master.
Gatac 2013-11-30 10:42:21
"I do in fact know a few things about High Lord Shira," Hiro Homi says. By now, the master ninja's appearance out of nowhere has become a good deal less alarming, and so he simply joins the small circle of discussion. "He is also known as the Dragon, commanding the loyalty of a number of minor lords known collectively as the Dragon's may recall Inaba Aiko's lord, Koto Uratamata-san, was Shira's lieutenant, the Dragon's Claw, before his untimely passing. The first Emperor bested the first Dragon on the field of honor, and from this day on the Dragon has served the throne in defense of the realm against enemies foreign and domestic. The Dragon commands power second only to the throne itself - and Shira could have seized the throne himself with ease, but he is conservative to the bone - and more than likely wary of running afoul of Ikishi's ambitions. I do not know what she could be using to blackmail him, but with every day that General Noronu's troops grow stronger, the Dragon's Wing becomes less of a deterrent to seizing the throne by force. He certainly opposes Ikishi, but it may be difficult to convince him to support Prince Toshiro - a bastard is not the most conventional successor, after all."
MikeS 2013-11-30 16:04:43
"Right then", Takao says, "I think I'll go meet the Dragon and see where he stands. Perhaps I can help him out, if there is a blackmail issue, or I can at least figure out what's going on."

"These troops in the South are sounding more and more like a large problem. I do think that a force of trained samurai could stand against them, but traditional samurai tactics will lose to the gonnes. Perhaps the simplest way of defeating this army is cutting off its food supply. If Boota no longer diverts harvest to the troops, they should get hungry soon, and then they must either march or disband.
If, at this critical time point, the leadership can be weakened, then a disruption of the army is fairly certain."

"We should instruct Boota to report that his stay at the palace here was as usual, and the burning must have happened right after he left. He should then bring his shipments of rice in order, or maybe Lady Ikishi, and the rest of the High Lords, will learn of the embezzlement."
punkey 2013-12-03 02:04:44
"Or, we could see how strong Noronu's - or his lieutenants' - loyalty really is to Ikishi," Kirika says. "Snipping this dangerous shoot in the bud is good - turning Ikishi's hidden blade against her is even better."