Gatac 2014-11-06 16:08:55
There are some drawbacks to being a living shadow, Kagemaru has found. No more sunbathing, for example - and did food always taste this bland? But there are also advantages, like being effectively immortal and being able to contort into almost any shape, never needing to sleep or eat or drink or breathe ever again. It's that last part where the advantage becomes a bit of a disadvantage, because that makes Kagemaru uniquely suited to crawling into Mura's shop via the narrow sewer drainage pipe that links its fancy foreign-style indoor restroom to a nearby waste canal.

Hey, we never said that being an unstoppable magical ninja warrior was glorious all the time. Case in point...


Man, Shinji's been having one of those guard shifts today. Boss Mura's all cooped up in his office talking like the sky's going to fall on his head, and whoever he's been working for those last few months, it's clearly been really bad for business. That's what has Shinji worried, because guarding Boss Mura is his livelihood, and if that falls through, well, shit, who will hire him then? Sellswords are a dime a dozen these days, and it's a buyer's market at that. Maybe all the ronin and other warriors should just get together and agree to help each other out, you know, maybe regulate prices for contracts, retain an advocate for court cases, or collect money to help those who are out of work? Huh, Shinji thinks, then wonders if Akamatsu and Bikuru would be interested in something like that. But that's talk for another hour; right now, as he stands in that fancy "water closet" they're not supposed to use, he drops trou and prepares to water the bamboo, so to speak.

(Kagemaru's Tactics: 1d20+15 = 23, boosted to 24 via Shadowed
Shinji's Notice: 1d20+10 = 26 SUCCESS!

Shinji evades Kagemaru's ambush.)

It's a good thing Shinji's a cleanly guy who doesn't want to mess up the new place, because that means he looks down at what he's going to piss into, and that means he just barely spots the shadowy tentacle shooting up from the ceramic bowl with designs upon his neck. He flails backward, barely evading the shadow, but...


Kagemaru: 1d20+15 = 32
Shinji: 1d20+11 = 25

Kagemaru attempts to grapple Shinji with his Deft Grab trick:
Kagemaru's Athletics: 1d20+19 = 37
Shinji's Athletics: 1d20+10 = 11 SUCKERED!

Shinji is held. Kagemaru silences him as a free action.)

...that's when a piece of wire shoots out of the side of the shadow, wrapping itself around Shinji's neck. His hands shoot to intercept it, a desperate attempt to untangle himself.

(Shinji struggles...
Shinji's Athletics: 1d20+10 = 21
Kagemaru's Athletics: 1d20+19 = 23 GOOD ENOUGH!

Kagemaru chooses the Neck Snap benefit, causing Shinji to automatically fail a damage save, which takes the young man down.)

Shinji thought the wire was choking him, and that was a mistake. Instead, the shadowy tentacle retracts back into the bowl, dragging the off-balance Shinji with him! The last thing he sees is the rapidly approaching edge of the porcelain bowl, then there's the impact, and then he's out. With the immediate problem taken care of, Kagemaru climbs out of the bowl, fully reformed and so glad that liquids do not stick to living shadows. That guard's going to have a hell of a headache when he wakes up - provided he's not found before then, though in that case the pants around his ankles would probably lead to some awkward questions. At least he's already in this little side room - less work to hide the body.

Kagemaru opens the door just a crack to peer out, searching for his next victim...


(Toshiba's Sneak: 1d20+21 = 33
Guard's Notice: 1d20+10 = 29 NOT CLEVER ENOUGH)

A lot of people think that 'stealth action' necessarily means skulking about in the shadows or staying out of sight, but that does ill justice to the art of hiding in plain sight. Such is what Toshiba is counting on, getting some more mileage out of his bureaucrat disguise as he approaches the two men standing guard at the entrance to Mura's business.

"Can we help you, Sir?" one of the guards asks. Toshiba smiles.


Ugh, so unfair. Kiara perches high on a rooftop overlooking the whole action. Blah blah silently yadda yadda goodwill. Where are the screaming hordes of fanatics, the crowds of enemy mercenaries, maybe an entire rival ninja clan? But no, she's playing backup for this one, the ace in the hole for when this operation needs to go loud. So she keeps her eyes peeled for trouble, and man, does she want to find some.

(Kiara's Notice: 1d20 = 17)

Kiara's not too learned in the art of, well, sitting still and paying attention, but even she can tell that there's a group of black-yellow ninjas vectoring in on their position via the rooftops. RZA's friends?


Kagemaru knows he has to pick up the pace - when the clock strikes the full hour and the bells ring in the distance, Toshiba will make his move, and the less people moving about the inside of the place then, the better. The problem is that the two remaining guards inside - Akamatsu is the thin guy and Bikuru the stocky one, not that Kagemaru knows their names - are being very bad at this whole guard thing, chattering away at each other in the main hallway - and of course watching each other. He'll need to take them both, and fast. But if he still had a jaw under the mask, he'd be smirking now. Where there's a shadow, there's a way...

(First, is Kagemaru hidden from these guys?

Kagemaru's Sneak: 1d20+32 = 45
Bikuru's Notice: 1d20+10 = 15

...I'm gonna go with "yes" on that one. Time to Shadowstrike! Kagemaru enters the stance, then prepares his ambush...

Kagemaru's Tactics: 1d20+15 = 22, boosted to 24 by Shadowed
Bikuru's Notice: 1d20+10 = 11 OBLIVIOUS!

Successful ambush in hand, Kagemaru automatically moves behind Bikuru and initiates his surprise round.)

...and in a flash, Kagemaru flips out of the shadow cast by the fat guy. The beanpole has just a moment to register shock on his face before Kagemaru unleashes a cloud of his shadow shuriken!

(For his free action, Kagemaru uses his Electric Slash ability!

Kagemaru's Attack: 1d20+9 = 21 against everyone in a 30 foot cone, i.e. Akamatsu and Bikuru are in for a shock.
Kagemaru's Damage: 2d8 = 15 Electrical plus 3d6 = 10 Sneak Attack.

Akamatsu's Damage Save vs DC 22: 1d20+9 = 26 RESISTED!
Bikuru's Damage Save vs DC 22: 1d20+9 = 17 FAILED!

Bikuru folds immediately, while Akamatsu must now save again vs the Electrical damage:

Akamatsu's Fort Save vs DC 15: 1d20+7 = 20 RESISTED!)

The shuriken pepper both of the guards, but the fat guy clearly got the worst of it, dropping to the floor with a choked shriek as his nervous system turns into fireworks. Whether it's by presenting a smaller target or by being tougher than he looks, the beanpole stays upright and goes for his blade...


Kagemaru: 1d20+15 = 33
Akamatsu: 1d20+11 = 28

Kagemaru moves in to pummel Akamatsu!

Kagemaru's Attack: 1d20+14 = 27 HIT
Kagemaru's Damage: 3d6+15 = 23 Subdual

Akamatsu's Damage Save vs DC 34: 1d20+9 = 14 YEAH, NO)

Now, normally, Kagemaru should have landed on the slick floor sliding backwards. That would have been badass enough. But no, shadow elemental and all, the laws of physics go bye bye here, or maybe they were never around here to begin with. Instead of sliding back, Kagemaru darts forward, vaulting the Lard Guard and laying into the thin man. Left punch! Right punch! Roundhouse kick! The CQC combo does the trick and sees the last interior guard join his coworker on the floor for an extended nap just as a bell rings in the distance.


Kiara watches as the black-yellow Killer Bees swarm out to establish a perimeter around the scene. They've seen her and they know she's seen them. Now, this would feel threatening to most people, but Kiara's actually smiling. She's not sure if the Gods are looking out for her and sending some entertainment her way just when things were getting boring, but she'd like to believe they do watch out for her. After all, she's always sending them fresh souls to bicker over...


Ever smiled at someone for two minutes without saying anything? Well, that was Toshiba's play, and its usefulness runs out just as the bell strikes. Toshiba doesn't know about Kagemaru's successes inside or Kiara's new playmates or that Konoko's now circling above them, he just knows that the plan he made says it's time for steel to meet throats, and so it goes.

(Toshiba's Tactics: 1d20+11 = 25
Guard's Notice: 1d20+10 = 29 NOOOPE

Man, not the night for ambushes, it seems. With that, it's straight to INITIATIVE.

Toshiba: 2d20.hi+18 = 34
Konoko: 1d20+9 = 29
Guards: 1d20+11 = 22

Toshiba attacks the first guy with a hearty stabbing, going for a Blade Flurry.

Toshiba's Attack: 1d20+10 = 20 Sadly not enough to trigger additional hits.
Toshiba's Damage: 1d6+1+1d4 = 9 Lethal + 3d6 = 8 Sneak Attack

Guard's Damage Save vs DC 18: 1d20+9 = 18 BARELY SURVIVED!

It's no use - Toshiba has to attack him again.

Toshiba's Attack: 1d20+10 = 30 CRIT...of course.

Guard dies because fuck him, that's how.)

He saw it coming - somehow that idiot guard saw it coming. Maybe he was expecting something to start when the bell rang, maybe Toshiba hadn't really fooled him - all Toshiba knew was that his first strike, his trademark belly-opener, only found its target once, and even then only opened up the guard's side instead of striking squarely through his liver. Toshiba has to reangle and, of course, the second attempt is a flawless rib bypass straight through the heart. That takes care of one, but what about -

"KIIII!" Konoko cries from above, and even though Toshiba didn't even know she was back yet, he hears her with absolute and utter clarity: Move now.

(Konoko uses her Coordinated Attack feat to grant Toshiba an immediate Standard Attack. Toshiba attacks the remaining guard, using his Shank! trick.

Toshiba's Attack: 1d20+10 = 18 Hit!

Guard auto-fails his damage save.)

Toshiba ducks under the guard's blow like he saw it coming, then shoots his knife-arm out, passing through the man's defense with the same ease he passes into this city. The knife goes through the eye socket and then turns what little is behind that into mush, taking the guard out of the profession with a terrible finality. It is then that the front door opens to reveal Kagemaru; together, the two ninja drag the bodies of the fallen inside, then close the door behind them. Time to find Mura's office upstairs and knock politely.
Nevina 2014-11-08 12:27:49
Should she stay at her perch and keep watch? Certainly. Would she? Unlikely.

Kiara shifted from spot, flouncing merrily over to her new-found company. "Knock knock," She called out as she slipped from the shadows, her hands held palm-open towards them. Sneaking up on another ninja was never a good idea, but who was she to disregard etiquette and not give a greeting to her guests? She wondered if the meeting with RZA had happened so soon, "Still in the business of making friends?"

Kiara’s carefree approach doesn’t seem to faze the assembled Killer Bees - in fact, one of them steps forward. He’s just a bit taller and more confident than the rest, with a crude white drawing of a skull on his mask.

“Oi, luv,” he calls out to her. “If it ain’t the bloody Red Dragons...or is that Ayami? A bloke gets so confused these days. Now, that friendship stuff, luv, I don’t know if we’re all that. You see, my mates and I, we’re looking for a brother of ours. You don’t know where he is, do you?”

“Red Dragon, Ayami, whichever you like better.” Kiara grinned, apparently impervious to the grim atmosphere of the group. Behind her grin, however, she could feel the inkling of concern. It was safe to assume that things didn’t quite go as planned at this point. “I’ve failed to read the Ninja Daily so perhaps I’m a bit behind on your lost and found section. I do, however, have a knack of catching up on news right quick, and do enjoy a bit of hunting. Who’s this brother of yours?” Please don’t let it be RZA, please don’t let it be RZA--

“You know him as the RZA,” the ninja answers. “We’re proper concerned that he’s gotten himself into a spot of bother, you see. And we don’t leave our brothers behind, now do we.”

"I know all about keeping track of brothers. I've got two whole families to keep up on, after all. You'd hate to see my shopping list for winter solstice gifts.” Kiara frowned then, a turning indicator that she wasn’t all fun and games, “It sounds like we have a common interest. My family wishes to meet with RZA, and apparently you’d like to do the same. I’m all for lending a friendly hand as it’d be beneficial for all parties involved. How about it? What’s the last update you’ve heard?”

“Oh, there’s a funny bit to that, luv,” the ninja says. “Last we heard, good RZA was getting himself a little friendly with you blokes...and the coppers here, too. Funny that you’re looking for him now, isn’t it?”

It is now that Kiara notices that the other Killer Bees are, well, beginning to swarm around her, trying to encircle her.

“I’ll ask one more time, real friendly like,” the ninja says. “You tell me where RZA’s gotten to, luv, or you find out why this one’s called the Ghost Face.”

It really shouldn’t be this hard to hide a smile, but the glee Kiara felt as she watched the bees change stance simply tickled her pink. This is what she had been itching for-- No, no. She mentally tugged on the reins. No, she should make a good faith effort to actually work things out with their hopeful would-be allies. It was hard to keep her hands neatly at her sides, but she managed long enough to focus on the conversation at hand.

...Ghost Face? She turned her snort into a quiet choke, really not wanting to ruin the mood. Clearing her throat, she continued with as sincere an expression as she could manage, “If he’s playing with the coppers, I suspect they’d be the ones to ask. But since we’re becoming such good friends, lets say we go ask them together? Or I could ask for you, since you seem so intent on me being the one to give you the update.”

Ghost Face smiles though his mask. “One problem with that, luv,” he says. “We’re not in this city. And it seems our friend RZA had a very unique sort of arrangement with the coppers. They don’t rightly like us gentlemen of the night, so we can’t go asking them. And I can’t have you jauntin’ about anywhere now, can I? See, luv, the reason I’m asking you is that we’re a dozen blokes and you’re one single little lady. I had myself convinced that you’d find that convincing, and that you’d spit out whatever silly little secrets you’re trying to keep, and then we’d all go on our charming ways with nobody losing a few pints of the red stuff. Now the next thing out of your mouth better be everything you know, or we will gut you like a bloody trout. You got all that?”

“Oh come now, you didn’t think we’d just go up and knock on the copper’s doors now did you? I had something a little more fun in mind.” She gave a shrug, “But this little lady clearly has little more to offer. I mean, I guess I could tell you that I was the one that stole the cookies last time, but that’s about the biggest secret I’ve got on me right now.” Her negotiation and pacification tactics could certainly use a bit of work.

“I’m not one to deny a good fish flaying, but if you’re interested in something more productive, let me know before then.” Kiara flashed another charming smile, beaming all of innocence and little-girlish naivety. Completely harmless.

Ghost Face’s hands reach behind his back. “Cheeky,” he says. “I like that in a target. Let’s show her a good time, boys!”
Gatac 2014-11-08 13:09:49

Kiara: 1d20+15 = 29
Ghost Face: 1d20+12 = 20
Faceless Extremely Expendable Bee-Like Evildoers: 1d20+10 = 16

Kiara's I Stand Alone ability activates - as she's massively outnumbered, it grants its maximum bonus of +5 to her Defense and Attack.

Kiara tries to bullrush Ghost Face, gaining a +4 bonus from her Great Sweep ability:

Kiara's Athletics: 1d20+16+4 = 25
Ghost Face's Athletics: 1d20+10 = 26

Kiara spend an Action Die to boost her roll: 1d8.open = 7

Ghost Face is pushed back ten feet and becomes sprawled! He also, well, plummets about thirty feet to street level.

Ghost Face's Acrobatics check to break the fall: 1d20+14 = 28 SUCCESS!

Falling damage: 3d6 = 11, reduced to 5 due to successfully breaking the fall.

Ghost Face's Damage Save vs DC 12: 1d20+13 = 21 SUCCESS!

Ghost Face becomes sprawled.)

What a self-important guy! Kiara aims to take him down a few notches, literally, and with speed belying the sudden bulk of her spreading wings, she rockets forward and drives Ghost Face back and over the edge of the roof! The loudmouthed ninja, to his credit, doesn't yelp in surprise as he plummets to street level, managing to steer himself through a few clotheslines to lessen the impact on the ground. Still, he lands rather unceremoniously on his behind.

(Ghost Face repositions to lose the sprawled condition, then uses his second half action to try to climb back up.

Ghost Face's Athletics: 1d20+10 = 29 SUCCESS!

Ghost Face ascends 15 feet, halfway up the building.)

Not one to stay on his ass for long, Ghost Face scrambles to his feet and then runs at the house wall, scrambling up to a windowsill and pulling himself up from there. He'll be back in a few seconds - or at least he'll try.

(And now, the grand litany of FEEBLE moves in to attack Kiara! They're each doing a standard move, then the first five guys (literally surrounding her) make their attacks with their ninja-tos - the last two guys gain a +2 because, being on opposite sides of Kiara, they're flanking her.

FEEBLE #1: 1d20+11 = 21 MISS!

Kiara's Combat Instincs activate, and she makes a free unarmed attack on this guy:

Kiara's Attack: 1d20+18 = 20 HIT!
Kiara'a Damage: 1d4+4 = 5, reduced to 3.

FEEBLE #1's Damage Save vs DC 11: 1d20+10 = 26 SUCCESS!

FEEBLE #2: 1d20+11 = 18 MISS!
FEEBLE #3: 1d20+11 = 22 MISS!
FEEBLE #4: 1d20+11+2 = 22 MISS!
FEEBLE #5: 1d20+11+2 = 18 MISS!

Then there's the next group of six behind their friends, who attack using barwhips for the extra reach they need.

FEEBLE #6: 1d20+11 = 22 MISS!
FEEBLE #7: 1d20+11 = 26 MISS! - but he got close, at least.
FEEBLE #8: 1d20+11 = 16 MISS!
FEEBLE #9: 1d20+11 = 28 HIT!
FEEBLE #10: 1d20+11 = 24 MISS!
FEEBLE #11: 1d20+11 = 15 MISS!

Feeble #9's damage roll: 1d8 = 8

Kiara's Vitality is reduced to (snerk) 141.

And NOW everyone else takes 2 subdual damage due to Kiara's Grueling Combatant ability.

FEEBLE #1's Damage Save vs DC 12: 1d20+10 = 19 SUCCESS!

Actually, the others literally can't fail their saves now...but the damage stacks up nonetheless.)

And then it's on, as the Killer Bees attack in a raging swarm, quickly surrounding Kiara at the edge of the roof! One guy gets a backhanded smack upside the head for his troubles, nigh everyone gets a bonk from her flailing wings and short bursts of flame, and one guy...one fucking singular guy...actually manages to hit the human tornado, drawing a neat little line of blood from Kiara's cheek where his spiked chain got a little too close to her head.
Gatac 2014-11-09 05:23:32

Now that everyone is in range, it's time for Kiara to let 'er rip.

Kiara draws Dragon's Will, then attacks using her SPIRAL CUTTER!!! Might actually just be Spiral Cutter trick.

Kiara's Attack: 1d20+19 = 37 This would actually be enough to crit, but given that she's got eleven targets and they're all little people without names, faces or sympathetic backstories, it'd be a waste.)

Actually, it would be a 33, as Spiral Cutter has an innate -4 to hit - not that it matters here.

Kiara's Damage: 2d8+5 = 14

Let's roll some damage saves!

FEEBLE #1's Damage Save vs DC 19: 1d20+10 = 22 SUCCESS!
FEEBLE #2's Damage Save vs DC 18: 1d20+10 = 20 SUCCESS!
FEEBLE #3's Damage Save vs DC 18: 1d20+10 = 13 FAIL
FEEBLE #4's Damage Save vs DC 18: 1d20+10 = 30 SUCCESS!
FEEBLE #5's Damage Save vs DC 18: 1d20+10 = 30 SUCCESS! And one of the few times I roll two 20s in a row, too!
FEEBLE #6's Damage Save vs DC 18: 1d20+10 = 28 SUCCESS!
FEEBLE #7's Damage Save vs DC 18: 1d20+10 = 16 FAIL
FEEBLE #8's Damage Save vs DC 18: 1d20+10 = 11 FAIL
FEEBLE #9's Damage Save vs DC 17: 1d20+10 = 18 SUCCESS!
FEEBLE #10's Damage Save vs DC 18: 1d20+10 = 30 SUCCESS! What the actual fuck, how are they rolling so high?
FEEBLE #11's Damage Save vs DC 18: 1d20+10 = 20 SUCCESS!

FEEBLE #1's now managed to weather three damage saves - but can he stand up to a fourth? Kiara activates Contempt to gain a free attack against him.

Kiara's Attack: 1d20+191d20+19 = 33 HIT!
Kiara's Damage: 2d8+5 = 16

FEEBLE #1's Damage Save vs DC 27: 1d20+10 = 30 JESUS TAPDANCING CHRIST

Due to using Spiral Cutter, Kiara becomes flat-footed at the end of her initiative count.)

Kiara roars into action as she spins into a draw of Dragon's Will, sending a line of sharp steel and flame around her that cuts and singes all in its path! Three ninjas immediately drop to the ground whimpering and clutching at what's left of their (insert mangled body part here). The previously backhanded ninja doesn't seem to have gotten the clue, however, and even though Kiara reiterates her point - this time with the actual point of Dragon's Will stabbing into his thigh - he still refuses to lie down like a good little faceless minion. Aggravating, really.

(Ghost Face tries to climb up to the edge of the roof:

Ghost Face's Athletics: 1d20+10 = 20 GOOD ENOUGH

He then tries to trip Kiara.

Ghost Face's Acrobatics: 1d20+14 = 29
Kiara's Acrobatics: 1d20+18 = 28

Kiara spends an AD to boost her roll again, since there are still eight ninja mooks about to take a whack at her and she really can't afford to be sprawled right now.

Kiara's AD: 1d8.open = 5

Kiara avoids being sprawled, but Ghost Face becomes flat-footed!)

This really isn't Ghost Face's day. He barely scrambles up to the edge of the roof, just in time to see the full might and fury of Kiara on display. The best he can manage is to try to grab for one of her feet and pull her off the same, to hopefully give his brothers in arms a few precious seconds to beat the shit out of her. The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men, however, gang aft agley...which manifests here as the self-same foot of Kiara's making an intimate acquaintance of Ghost Face's...well, face. The ninja almost comes crashing down again as he loses hold of the wall with all but one hand, now dangling over the street by a mere four fingers!

(The ninjas decide to try something a little different and dogpile onto Kiara, trying to grapple her! FEEBLEs 1, 2 and 4 will play the parts of the helper, meaning they only have to hit DC 15, while FEEBLE 5 will roll the actual Grapple against Kiara. Let's see how that works out, shall we?

FEEBLE #1's Athletics: 1d20+10 = 13 FAIL
FEEBLE #2's Athletics: 1d20+10 = 15 SUCCESS, +1 to the overall check.
FEEBLE #4's Athletics: 1d20+10 = 25 SUCCESS, +1 to the overall check.
FEEBLE #5's Athletics, +2 from two successful helpers: 1d20+10+2 = 29
Kiara's Athletics: 1d20+16 = 26

Welp! If being sprawled was bad, being held isn't much better! Kiara throws another AD into the mix.

Kiara's Action Die: 1d8.open = 10

And convincingly escapes the dire fate of restraint. All FEEBLE's involved in the dogpile become flat-footed.

That leaves the remaining ninja to try to attack again with their barwhips. Mind that now that Kiara is wielding Dragon's Will, they need to hit a Defense of 29. This may prove tricky...

FEEBLE #6: 1d20+11 = 21 NOPE
FEEBLE #9: 1d20+11 = 30 HIT! Again! Promote this man! If he survives next round.
FEEBLE #10: 1d20+11 = 30 ANOTHER ONE! Man, what is it with all these high rolls today?
FEEBLE #11: 1d20+11 = 26 MISS

The two inflict a total damage of: 2d8 = 8. Kiara's Vitality goes down to 133. Oh noes!

FEEBLE #6 and #11 take two more subdual damage for missing Kiara, prompting a new damage save!

FEEBLE #11's Damage Save vs DC 19: 1d20+10 = 11 FAIL!
FEEBLE #6's Damage Save vs DC 19: 1d20+10 = 21 SUCCESS!)

The ninja rightfully apprehend that letting Kiara keep whirling around with her big blade and the flames and the wings and the hurting is maybe not a good long-term strategy. Those closest to her decide that the best course of action is clearly to just jump on her and try to pin her to the ground somehow. And with four guys on top of an undeniably badass but still slender ninja, it looks like their dogpile might actually work for a second - until Kiara's wings unfold and knock them all onto their flat asses. This is the cue for the remaining barwhippers to get their barwhips to barwhippin', and while the one guy who actually got a hit in last time repeats his feat and even seems to have inspired his neighbor to similar heights of barwhipsmanship, the other two don't do so well and catch themselves some wing to the face. One of them catches enough wing to the face that he stumbles backward and trips over one of those terrible building-code-violation loose wooden boards, sending him tumbling backwards through a laundry line and off the side of the roof, where said line catches his fall while wrapping itself tightly around him, preventing all escape. Is there a more humiliating loss for a ninja than takedown by laundry line bondage?


This time, for sure! Another round, another SPIRAL CUTTER!

Kiara's Attack: 1d20+19-4 = 26
Kiara's Damage: 2d8+5 = 14

Ah, but now we've got a number of flat-footed targets - that means Kiara gets to add herself some Sneak Attack!

Kiara's Sneak Attack Damage: 2d6 = 9

Okay, so...FEEBLEs 1, 2, 4 and 5 as well as Ghost Face are all flatfooted, so let's see how they fare - and whether #1 can survive his fifth fucking damage save, I mean seriously.

FEEBLE #1's Damage Save vs DC 39: 1d20+10 = 27 NOPE, AND STAY DOWN THIS TIME!
FEEBLE #2's Damage Save vs DC 30: 1d20+10 = 15 NOPE, THANKS FOR PLAYING
FEEBLE #4's Damage Save vs DC 30: 1d20+10 = 19 NOOOOOPE
FEEBLE #5's Damage Save vs DC 30: 1d20+10 = 14 YOU ARE THE WEAKEST NINJA, GOODBYE!

Welp, that clears the board a little - let's see how the rest of the mooks fare, then.

FEEBLE #6's Damage Save vs DC 26: 1d20+10 = 27 SUCCESS!
FEEBLE #9's Damage Save vs DC 24: 1d20+10 = 25 SUCCESS!
FEEBLE #10's Damage Save vs DC 25: 1d20+10 = 26 SUCCESS!

And, finally, Ghost Face:

Ghost Face's Damage Save vs DC 24: 1d20+13 = 23 FAILED!

However, Ghost Face has a rank of Tough, which means he needs to fail another Damage Save to be taken down, and his accumulated damage so far resets to zero.

Okay, that was Kiara's first half action. :D The only bad news for her is that now that she's only outnumbered 4:1, her I Stand Alone bonus drops to +4, slightly reducing her Attack and Defense.

How about another Contempt attack on FEEBLE #9, he of the two hits against a player character? Let's see how he likes them (incredibly sharp) apples!

Kiara's Attack: 1d20+14+4 = 37 HIT
Kiara's Damage: 2d8+5 = 11

FEEBLE #9's Damage Save vs DC 29: 1d20+10 = 23 SEE YOU LATER ALLIGATOR

I Stand Alone drops further to +3.

And for her second half action, Kiara attacks Ghost Face!

Kiara'a Attack: 1d20+14+3 = 23 HIT!
Kiara's Damage: 2d8+5 = 14

Ghost Face's Damage Save vs DC 17: 1d20+13 = 19 SUCCESS!

Kiara becomes flat-footed again.)

Okay, it seems like those fools didn't get the message yet - so Kiara's next explosion of bladework and flame is, if anything, even faster and furious-er. Ninja after ninja falls to her mad ginsu skills, and when the red fog lifts, only three ninjas are left standing, while Ghost Face is left hanging. Kiara fixes the first one by stabbing that annoying guy who's so smug about how he hit her twice - well, actually, he looks a little terrified but she's sure he's smug on the inside - and that's that one sorted. Oh, and just to make sure that Ghost Face doesn't take a nasty fall again, she stabs Dragon's Will through his hand, pinning him to the roof's edge. Safety and courtesy - that's Kiara in a nutshell.

(Ghost Face finally gets to draw his weapon - another barwhip - and then attacks Kiara, using his Entwine trick!

Ghost Face's Attack: 1d20+13 = 29 HIT!
Ghost Face's Damage: 1d8+2 = 7

Kiara goes down to 126 Vitality. She also has to resist a Trip using the attack's result:

Kiara's Acrobatics: 1d20+18 = 35 SUCCESS!)

Clenching his teeth in pain, Ghost Face whips out his...whip, then slings it upwards, banking it just right to wrap around Kiara's neck. Quick reflexes put her bracer between her throat and the nasty spikes, but the attack still draws blood - and then Ghost Face yanks. Kiara's stance hardens as she struggles to unwrap the chain, but she stays on the roof - for now!

(And thus we come to the attacks of the remaining two ninja:

FEEBLE #6: 1d20+11 = 29 HIT!
FEEBLE #10: 1d20+11 = 15 MISS!

Damage: 1d8 = 6

Kiara goes to 120 Vitality.

FEEBLE #10 takes 2 subdual damage from missing. More damage saves!

FEEBLE #10's Damage Save vs DC 26: 1d20+10 = 17 FAIL!

I Stand Alone drops to +2.)

The two remaining ninja whip for her, and in her compromised state, she can only dodge on of the chains. Minor nicks and bruises, all, but these guys are proving a little more persistent than she thought. Kiara grins. This is turning out to be fun. Oh, that chain she dodged? Well, more like grabbed. One quick yank and headbutt later, another ninja turns to his new hobby of close-up roof inspection.


Kiara uses Contempt to take try to take care of the last faceless minion.

Kiara's Attack: 1d20+14+2 = 24 HIT!
Kiara's Damage: 2d8+5 = 19

FEEBLE #6's Damage Save vs DC 36: 1d20+10 = 25 SCHOOLED!

And with that, it's a (snerk) fair fight, so Kiara's I Stand Alone bonus is gone.

She grapples Ghost Face.

Kiara's Athletics: 1d20+16 = 34
Ghost Face's Athletics: 1d20+10 = 16

Ghost Face is held!)

Aw, cute - the last ninja looks like he's thinking about surrendering or running away. But he whipped at her with a spiked chain, and those hurt, and he's a jerk, so he gets one more slap with the flat her blade, knocking him way the fuck out. That just leaves Ghost Face, for whom falling to street level must look pretty good now. Kiara turns around and seizes him by his injured hand.

(Ghost Face can only try to escape now.

Ghost Face's Athletics: 1d20+10 = 25
Kiara's Athletics: 1d20+16 = 18

And so he does. Ghost Face falls again, and again tries to break his fall.

Ghost Face's Acrobatics: 1d20+14 = 26 SUCCESS

Falling Damage: 3d6 = 10 reduced to 5.

Ghost Face's Damage Save vs DC 22: 1d20+13 = 18 FAIL!)

However, as she pulls Ghost Face up, he whips at her again - an attack that goes wide, but makes her lose her grip on him. Kiara can only watch as he falls down, tumbles and finally hits the ground. And then, well, then he doesn't get up again. Kiara's look is drawn to the roof as she turns around to the moaning of her downed foes.

Good gods. What a mess.
Admiral Duck Sauce 2014-11-12 11:29:09
Toshiba nods to Kagemaru once the warehouse doors are closed once again, shuttering their dark work in a crisscross of shadows and faint light from high windows. Sloppier than he planned, but not too much louder. Mura would probably either be terrified, if he heard anything, or oblivious, if they were lucky. Toshiba wonders if the crooked merchant had the guts to kill himself rather than avoid capture. He looks for a way up to the warehouse office.
Gatac 2014-11-13 12:18:03
Apparently, canalfront property in the capital isn't cheap, even for a successful trader like Mura, and so there's not much more to the ground floor to be explored. There's not even a proper set of stairs, just a ladder leading up through a hole in the ceiling.

"Akamatsu?" comes an aging voice - probably Mura's - through said hole. "I think something's happening outside! There's somebody on the rooftops across the canal! Make sure the doors are locked!"

Then, a second later, he calls again. "Akamatsu?"
Admiral Duck Sauce 2014-11-13 12:28:17
Terrified it is, then. Toshiba doesn't reply, he just points Kagemaru to the hole and ascends the ladder as fast as he can.
Gatac 2014-11-13 12:41:02
Toshiba rushes up the ladder, catching a hint of sunlight breaking through the barricaded windows and there's a desk and a fat man and the glint on the short barrel of his gonne -

(Toshiba's Reflex Save, +2 for being in a Pathfinder territory: 1d20+13+2 = 35 SLICK RICK!)

BANG! Toshiba dives under the shot, rolls across the floor and comes up with his knife to the shooter's throat. The man quickly loses control of both his hands and...other muscles, and so the gonne audibly clatters to the ground.

"Gods above!" Mura the Merchant cries. "Spare me, please!"
Admiral Duck Sauce 2014-11-14 13:48:42
"It's the gods below you need to worry about," Toshiba hisses, his ears ringing and nose stinging from the gonne's noisome blast. "We want answers, Mura. A ronin came poking around here recently, name of Takao. Serious man, sharp blade, stick up his ass. I want to know where he is."
Gatac 2014-11-14 13:57:51
"The mill!" Mura croaks. "There's an old mill to the north of the city! That's where they took him!"

Well, that was refreshingly straightforward. But Mura isn't done spilling his figurative guts.

"The ninja, too!" he says. "Just yesterday they came to me and told me to change up my route - they set an ambush for him and they caught him! Now, please, take me with you! When Ikishi finds out you were here..."
Admiral Duck Sauce 2014-11-14 14:38:50
"We move faster without baggage," Toshiba replies coolly. "And I do not have sympathy for you just because you chose the wrong person with which to ally yourself. If you want to survive the coming days, you will go to Lord Tatsuno's guest house on Park Row. The people there will protect you until Lady Ishikawa is ready to hear your confession. Go there now, or you will wish for Ikishi's tender ministrations ere this day is done."
Gatac 2014-11-14 14:44:57
Mura's eyes widen as he realizes that Toshiba isn't kidding. But he doesn't have time to complain - instead, he hastily empties out his desk and starts packing up the barest essentials in money and scrolls for his escape.

"Oh, while you're packing for the rest of your life," Kagemaru says, "is there anything else you want to tell us about Ikishi's plans? The more trouble we can make for her, the less time she'll have to come after you."

"That's it! That's all I know!" Mura insists. "Look, I just let her use my warehouses and I...I took care of her shipping. But plans or secrets, no! I don't know and if I did I'd be dead already!"
Gatac 2014-11-24 12:19:25
It’s a nice day out in the capital, and particularly nice at the 4th Public Square, whose centerpiece is a statue celebrating the Empire’s history that is as dull as it was ruinously expensive to build. True to Ishikawa’s word, many eyes are on Kirika as she strolls across the square, the crowd parting for her and her blade. Unseen beneath her kimono, her tattoos shiver and shift in anticipation as Kirika first lays eyes on Lady Ikishi, seated at a private table with an umbrella slung over her shoulder to block out the sun. Her pale skin and thick red lips only need minimal help from makeup, though her stunning looks are beginning to gather the first hints of wrinkles. Her clothes are actually relatively subdued, considering her station, but her gleaming white teeth do a good enough job of showing off the time and effort she can dedicate to her appearance. With a nod and a smile, she beckons for Kirika to sit down opposite her. Kirika keeps her eyes open for any ninja - or her two loyal agents - as she sits down in the indicated seat.

(Kirika’s Notice: 1d20+11 = 23)

She can’t make out either the swordsman or the gunslinger from the crowd, or any of the myriad places where they could be hiding, but that doesn’t mean they’re not here, either.

“Thank you for coming to see me on such short notice, Lady Kamura,” Ikishi says. “You don’t have to look for my men in this place. You don’t believe that I would have you harmed with so many people watching, do you?”
“Not as much as I believe in being careful, Lady Ikishi,” Kirika replies.
“That’s a good trait to have,” Ikishi says. “I like that about you already. Well, Lady Kamura, there are some things I would speak to you about, but first I imagine you have some questions for me - and I would feel very rude if my first act of welcoming you was to interrogate you. Oh, but one question I will permit myself: would you like some tea, or a snack, while we speak?”
"I am fine for the moment, thank you," Kirika replies. Her hands are straining against the edge of the table as she says so. "I suppose my first question would be who your swordsman friend is. He seemed to know me, or at least my family, quite well."
“Your family is hardly obscure, Lady Kamura,” Ikishi answers. “I am surprised by your question, however. With one of my employees up and gone to your camp, and another clearly already swayed by your words, you seem to know more about them than I do some days. Here I thought you had me and my friends already figured out before you ever set foot into this city.”
"He is very careful to guard his identity, and we have only had dealings twice and only briefly," Kirika replies. "And he does not know of my family. He seems to know my family."
“He did,” Ikishi says. “And now he knows my guilt, too.”
Kirika raises an eyebrow. "Your guilt?"
“Over your father’s death,” Ikishi says, raising her right hand in a ‘Hold on’ gesture as she continues. “I realize that this may very well mean nothing to you, but I am sorry for his death. Kei acted before I had a chance to redirect her, but of course the weight of every deed done in my name must rest on me. He...there is a better world where his death was not needed, and I failed to build it. I am sorry for that.”
Kirika’s tattoos flare up with righteous anger as her grip snaps a piece of the table's trim off. How can this woman - this snake - sit there and plead for sympathy when she had Ameda killed and even admits it wasn’t necessary for her?
Ikishi looks down at the table and the piece of trim in Kirika’s hand. “Very well,” she says. “I would never presume to be owed your forgiveness, but I still hope we can part in a civil manner today. Do you have more questions?”
"Why?" Kirika hisses.
“Because he had knowledge of my plans for the Emperor,” Ikishi says. “He found out that I had blackmailed one of his guards to administer the tonic that would drive the Emperor off the throne.”
"No," Kirika said, shaking her head. "Why...why any of this? Why Sarano? Why Olafsen? Why Ramma? Why any number of horrible things? Why would you inflict so much suffering on so many people?"
“Because I set out to rule the Empire,” Ikishi said. “Everything else followed from creating the path to make the impossible possible.”
"And what gave you the...the right to support the drugging of kidnapped women?" Kirika continues. "To torture poor Ramma and drive him mad? To murder my father?"
Ikishi raises an eyebrow. “Right?” she says. “Nobody has the right to do such things. But I had the will. I did whatever was needed to gather the power and influence for my plan, to steer it through the rapids and past the cliffs of all those who stood against me and tried to stop me.” She looks Kirika over. “What gives you the right to do anything you have done in your campaign, Lady Kamura? What is your answer to your own question?”
"I have been helping those I come across, providing aid to those that need it most," Kirika replies. "A far cry from the effect your decisions have had."
“So what?” Ikishi asks. “Compassion? A sense of balance, a redress of grievances?”
"Kindness, respect, fairness, and justice," Kirika replies.
“Hmm,” Ikishi says. “A question, if you have said your piece for the moment. What if...what if I told you that this can all end very well for you and your friends? That the time of tragedies is over, and that we can all settle this with everyone a winner and no more deaths on account of our struggle?”
"I would be skeptical," Kirika replies. "At best."
“As indeed would I, if my sworn enemy made such a bold claim,” Ikishi says. “Except that the difference between us is that I have no sworn enemies. I oppose people only on relative grounds, whether they currently stand in my way, walk my path, or are simply...willing to step aside. You’ve caused me a lot of trouble, but if I were sure that this could come to an end, I could leave you be. I could make all of your lives very comfortable, as nobles in my court or in lands far away from here where you would never have to hear of me again. All that is necessary for this to happen is that you cooperate with me for a month.”
Kirika pauses. "What would that cooperation entail?"
“That your friend Toshiro abandons his masquerade and comes forth as the true heir to the throne, first,” Ikishi says. “Then, a strategic marriage. Once everything has quieted down, he simply needs to...abdicate. With no male offspring from him, power remains with the Empress. In time, a new marriage, a new heir - all on my terms.” She smiles. “The Emperor is such a guarded creature that his death might be announced with none outside our circle ever getting a look at the body. It would be the simplest task to smuggle Toshiro out of the city and to wherever he wishes to make his home, provided that he is willing to take a new name. Do you see, Lady Kamura? It was a long and bloody struggle to get here, but now, we are in the perfect position to all profit from it.”
Kirika remains quiet for a few seconds. "Would his abdication go like his father's, then?" she asks. "Or like my father's?" She narrows her eyes at Ikishi. "What would you do to make sure he doesn't come back? He is Emperor as long as he lives, so as long as he is capable of returning to the throne, your claim is invalid. So unless you render him unable, your plan never reaches fruition."
“Lady Kamura,” Ikishi says, “you think too extreme. What happened to Toshiro’s father...to your father...happened precisely because they could not, would not cooperate. If Toshiro simply does the few things I need him to do, there is no need to harm him in the slightest. And we both know that it matters not that he would still be alive somewhere - what matters is what the people and the court believes. Indeed, it is actually very prudent to not only keep him alive, but to stay in his good graces, too - you never know when a crisis arises that can only be resolved with a triumphant return. I prefer to keep friends once I’ve made them - you never know when they may become useful again.” She smiles warmly. “I realize this is a lot to take in. And that I am asking you to trust my word in this. But do you not wonder, what if? What if it could really be so simple and painless for all of us? I for one am willing to believe it could be.”
Kirika crosses her arms. "And what do you want all of this for?"
“Are my reasons so opaque?” Ikishi says. “This Empire has languished far too long under the leadership - no, the mere management of the adequate. A family name is no way to guarantee greatness. The best and brightest should lead - and I’ve set out to prove, quite successfully I think, that I am better and brighter than anyone else who would grasp for the throne. This Empire is beset on all sides by threats, and it requires forward-looking leadership, not a mere custodian in a fancy dress who keeps things as they have always been, and stagnates us right into obscurity and decay.”
"And how many of those threats were created by you to justify the deaths and suffering?" Kirika asks pointedly.
“It is true I have poked them,” Ikishi says, “but do not mistake these momentary twitches for the whole of their menace, or even its origin. We are in conflict with others simply because we compete for the same, limited things - land, resources, trade. I created no threats that were not already there - I merely highlighted them. We can try to remain on friendly terms with our neighbors for all eternity - perhaps we will even succeed. But this merely means that someone else with proper ambition will begin the race for dominance in this corner of the earth with a sizable head start. If we are not conquered in his wake, we will be reduced to insignificance. No, Lady Kamura, that will not do. I will not deny myself my potential and yield the stage to brutes and thieves with a tenth of my intelligence and education. This world and the citizens of the Empire in particular deserve better.”

Better. Ikishi’s whole world seems to revolve around this core, that she’s entitled to everything that people can’t stop her from taking. Talking to her reveals a shrewd, well-informed mind utterly dedicated to only its own purposes, with not a second’s thought wasted on how other people are affected, save how that will impact Ikishi’s next moves. Ikishi may understand people enough to manipulate them, but feels no kinship with them. The whole exercise, years of plotting, scheming and murder feels almost like...a proof of concept, something she simply set herself as a goal to have a goal, and to prove that she was equal to the task. It seems clear that, in a way, an Empire with her hand around its throat would run very well, experience growth in power and wealth - but Kirika shudders to think what happens when Ikishi becomes bored with her victory and pushes further, or worse, what she will do to stay in power when more dissent rises. The Empire - and maybe everything around it, as far away as anyone knows - will burn to the ground before Ikishi’s ego falters.

Kirika nods. “The Empire does deserve better. Perhaps better than Toshi’s father, but certainly better than a decade of lost wandering, better than our own people turning against us, better than allowing threats into our home, and certainly better than the betrayal, pain, and suffering you have rained down upon it, Lady Ikishi.” Kirika stands up, her tattoos shimmering in the sun and the cheers of her ancestors in her ears. “An Empire ruled by you would never be safe, never be just, never be right. For the sake of my friends, for the memory of my family, and for the future of my Empire, I must not only decline your offer, Lady Ikishi, but make one of my own.”
“Well,” Ikishi says, her expression darkening. “Don’t keep me waiting, then.”
Kirika looks down at Ikishi. “Even with all of the pain, suffering and death you have caused, all the justice you have quashed and denied…” Kirika sighs, and she can feel her ancestors’ fury pause in anticipation. “I believe in second chances. I believe that no one should be denied a path to redemption or an effort to show them a better way.” Kirika extends her hand to Ikishi, and she can feel her tattoos roil as some flee her proximity while others rush forward to show compassion. Shimmering glows ripple underneath her kimono as she looks Ikishi in the eyes. “You know as well as I do that this coming battle will only lead to suffering. Toshi is not his father, he is wiser, kinder, more connected to the people and our neighbors. He will rule wisely, and bring prosperity and peace to this land. But...you are also intelligent, and insightful, and would help guide us to that better future. Toshi, Yukio, Hiro, all of my friends and allies...they will not understand at first, but if you really want this stronger, better Empire, and show that you can include fairness and justice in your works, they will come around.” She extends her hand one more inch, the hardness and rage gone out of her eyes and replaced with a genuine wish to end things right here, right now. “Please. Stop the suffering. Help us make things better - for everyone.”

(Kirika’s Impress check: 1d20+12+4+2+6 = 33
The GM spends an Action Die to make Ikishi immune.)

Ikishi covers her mouth with her hand, then gives a little laugh. “Please stop embarrassing me and yourself, Lady Kamura,” she says. “Sit down. Do you honestly think I’ve come this far to end up chained to anyone else’s ideas? I appreciate that you seem willing to see reason and compromise - but if there is a deal to be made here, it is on my terms.” She pauses. “I understand this is a difficult decision, and that you might want to speak to your friends before you say anything...final. Go ahead and talk it over with them. Take what time you need. When you’re ready, send a messenger to my estate, and we’ll wrap this up.”
Kirika sighs and lowers her hand. “I wish you could see what your desire for control has done.”
“Oh, I’ve enjoyed our conversation,” Ikishi says, rising from her chair. “I’ve learned a lot. And I look forward to seeing you again.” She bows slightly to Kirika. “Enjoy your stay in our fair city, Lady Kamura.” She turns to leave and saunters off, twirling the open umbrella in her hands.
Kirika sighs and shakes her head. She can feel some of her ancestors calling for her to chase her down and challenge her to a duel right here and now, but she mostly feels the same sad resignation to the ugly, painful battle that’s coming. Dozens of hands alight on her shoulders as she crosses her arms. “And I wish this could have gone differently, Father,” she whispers.
The heat of her tattoos simmers down to a warmth throughout her body, and one more time, Kirika thinks she hears the wind carry her father’s voice.

So do I.
Gatac 2014-11-27 12:19:00
Mura soon makes his exit, and after a cursory search of his offices - lots of paperwork that would suggest shady dealings, but nothing that looks like it ties directly to Ikishi - Toshiba and Kagemaru exit the building, only to find Kiara outside, bloodied and dirtier and generally enjoying herself.

"Hey guys," she says. "Ran into those Killer Bee jerks. It got a little messy. Did you see a mop inside? Maybe a bucket, too?"
Admiral Duck Sauce 2014-12-01 10:55:26
"Yes, but I would not fret about leaving them there," Toshiba replies. "Speed is our ally now - there is an old mill north of town where Mura claims they were holding Takao... and RZA, too, although I wonder how useful he'll be given our sudden disagreement with his clan. Let's move, but keep it quiet until we're clear of the city."
Gatac 2014-12-07 09:00:30
The Mill
3 ri north of the Capital
Yoshihiro 25, Seimei
(Wait! What does that mean? - 25th year of Yoshihiro's reign. - But he's no longer reigning. - Technically there's no successor and he's not officially dead, so... - Urgh, fine. No, I get that part, though, what I meant was the word after that. - It means "bright and clear". - The what now? - Beginning of the fifth solar term. - You realize that means absolutely nothing, right? - It's the 5th Day of the 4th Month. - So...April 5th? - Not...not really, but close enough! I mean, that's what it is now but historically speaking the Japanese calendar was 3 to 7 weeks behind the Western one. - So it's not even really the 5th Day of the 4th Month. - No, that's just what they would call April 5th, which is where Seimei falls today. - Man, this shit is complicated. - You're telling me! - So, uh, what's the time of day? - Uh...Horse? Nine strikes on the clock? Man, fuck this.)
Shortly After Noon, Which Is Apparently A Horse Getting Struck Nine Times Or Some Shit

Leaving the matter of the thoroughly swatted Killer Bees to the local constabulary, our intrepid shadow warriors journey out of the city, passing the tall spirea and bustle of the city core, the verdant extravaganza of Park Row and finally the outer ring district of Royal Heights, which is not very high and - judging from its shabby housing - not very royal either. Thereafter, the city doesn't end so much as it runs out of breath, with more room between the houses and cheap roads giving way to barely trod footpaths. It's a few miles beyond that they find the mill, which quite honestly doesn't look much but shabby and rundown in the full light of day.

(Toshiba's Notice: 1d20+18 = 27)

The Blue Oni's sharp eyes do, however, spot a sign of life: a man dressed in black with white gloves, wearing a full brace of gonnes, is currently perched near the top of the mill, overlooking the area - but facing away from their southern approach. Two alternatives immediately suggest themselves: you could land at a safe distance, proceed with the utmost stealth and search the mill for clues with its guardian entirely bypassed - or you could fly for the roof at full throttle and see if you can't kick the bastard off his perch, which ought to be good for a laugh or two.

Kirika’s thoughts are only accompanied by the quick breaths of the rickshaw driver taking her north, passing through the busiest parts of the capital and some not-so-shiny parts before the tiny alleys stretch out, the houses become low and more majestic, and some green pokes through between them. This trend reaches its apex at Park Row, a picturesque little planned community of small manor houses in a grid of shaded avenues. Though ruinously expensive to buy, most of the houses are open to renters, too, and many nobles avail themselves of their privileged location instead of paying upkeep on a summer home in the capital themselves. It makes a convenient enough base of operations for their quest, too, and after climbing out and paying the runner (with a “tell your friends about us”-sized tip on top), she makes her way down the avenue, with a row of yet-to-bloom cherry trees to her left and a pair of (expensive-looking) geisha passing by her to the right. Kirika nods to the geisha, receiving a bow in return, but they don’t stick around for eye contact - Kirika may have once been one of them, but now her beauty is best described as “striking”, and the tattoos and blade only add to the aura of authority and danger she exudes.

The dedication to conformity in the garden arrangements is quite remarkable; Kirika has to double-check the number on the sign to make sure she knocks on the right front door, but seeing Hiro Homi’s face answer her on the other side confirms that she didn’t get turned around. He ushers her into the house, where the tastefully minimalistic yet expensive decor is somewhat at odds with the piles of heavy gear and other traveling utensils yet to be unpacked.

“How did it go with Ishikawa?” Homi asks.
“And the snake, too,” Toshi says.
“Takao has probably been captured by Ikishi,” Kirika says. “Ishikawa isn’t completely sure, but she knows that he vanished after he went to cause trouble for one of Ikishi’s allies, something about fake foreigner pamphlets advocating attacks against Imperial citizens. Ishikawa herself is on our side, and I think her frustration and fear of what Ikishi is doing is beginning to outweigh her dislike for our tactics.”
“That’s good,” Homi says. “It’s...more than I’d hoped.”
“Ikishi, though,” Toshi insists. “I take it from your expression that she did not experience a sudden epiphany about the evils of her way and an intense desire to make up for what she’s done?”
Kirika sighs. “No. Although, not for lack of trying on my part. I offered her a truce.”
Homi nods. “And what did she offer you?” he asks.
“Surrender, more or less,” Kirika replies. “You take the throne, marry Ikishi, then fake your death and let her run things. Aside from the obvious problem of what happens to Yukio in this plan and that it’d be better long-term if you were to die or be permanently disabled…” She shivers. “Something about her is off. She’s incredibly intelligent, but you look into her eyes and there’s just...blackness. I offered her a chance to avoid all this death and suffering and stand with us to make this a better Empire for everyone, and she just laughed and said she’d never let herself be chained to someone else’s ideas. She only cares that she has as much power as she can accumulate.” Kirika shakes her head. “I tried, but...she has to die.”
Homi nods. “You had to try,” he says.
“Besides, like we could ever trust her even if she agreed to work with us,” Toshi says. “So, yeah, points for trying? But trust me, there’s nothing worth saving there. The world will be better off without her.”
Kirika gives Toshi a hard look. “Everyone - even Ikishi - deserves a chance to prove themselves redeemed, oh thief-turned-Emperor.”
Toshi’s look is just as hard. “And you gave her that chance,” he says. “A noble gesture. But we both know there was no chance it would work.”
“A dishonest offer at a better life condemns both parties,” Kirika replies. “Anyone - thief, grifter, killer -” she says as she looks from Toshi to Homi, “- can choose to be that better person if given an honest chance, Toshi. Even Ikishi.”
“No,” Toshi says. “Not her. You don’t know her like I do, Kirika. You don’t -”
“Toshiro,” Homi says, “I think your point is taken. Why don’t you go find Yukio? She should be coming back from her stroll around the neighborhood by now.”
“...good idea,” Toshi says. He looks to Kirika, where his expression softens and a short “Sorry” escapes his lips.
Kirika nods. “It’s okay, I understand.”
Toshi nods back, then turns and walks out the front door, leaving Kirika alone with the Shadowguard.
“It’s not easy coming back,” Homi says. “And Toshiro is getting the worst of it in the spotlight.”
“I know, I know,” Kirika says, her eyes still following Toshi. She sighs and turns back to Homi. “He...he needed to be corrected, though.”
Homi nods. “You said Ishikawa would help us? Did you come to any specific agreement?”
“Information sharing and lack of harassment for the most part,” Kirika says. “I have a question, though: how secure is her inner circle? Can her appointed officers be trusted?”
“Depends on what level of ‘trust’ you mean,” Homi says. “I think it is wise if the whole of our trust in the police rests in Ishikawa herself for the moment. I am sure that she has hundreds of the best and kindest people on her force - but we cannot be sure of the number of rotten apples among them.”
“But do you think she herself is aware of who is and who is not?” Kirika asks. “I want to be able to trust her, but I fear that her belief in her system - however good-intentioned - may blind her to betrayals from within.”
“My fears are...similar,” Homi admits. “What do you propose?”
“I propose that, while the hornet’s nest has been stirred up, we dispatch blades to spot as many traitors in her midst as we can,” Kirika says. “With her permission.”
“Hmm,” Homi says. “What if she says no?”
“She won’t, because you’re going to ask her,” Kirika replies.
“I’m...not the one you want to handle her,” Homi says. “Get close to...talk to her. You know what I mean.”
Kirika shakes her head. “And I thought you were simply concerned for her after she was attacked.” She gives him a look. “How long have you been watching after her?”
Homi turns away. “Since the fire,” he says quietly. “I had a blade on every High Lord before, but...it was not enough to prevent the attack on her.”
“Hiro,” Kirika says gently, turning the Shadowguard’s head back towards her as a small smile appears on her face. “You didn’t look this flustered with Hetechi and his lover. How long have you really been looking out for her? Not just from Ikishi.”
“For...a considerable time,” Homi says. “It’s no secret that my post is not well-regarded by many, and that I am not a popular man. However, I have eyes and ears everywhere, and I have the Emperor’s ear - had. They may not like me, but they fear me. Ishikawa, however, made herself a lot of enemies even before she started her reforms by talking about her ideas, with force, and arguing with anyone who thought they could talk her out of them. High Lords are supposed to be wise stewards...she was a firebrand talking of tearing her whole resort down and starting over. And it saddens me to say it, but as a young woman from a modestly wealthy house, there was nothing behind her to bolster her stature. Many saw her as an upstart and a poor choice for the position. She made more enemies still when she started her reforms. Soon, both the establishment and the criminals she hunted hated her. I simply...I could not stand by and let her be brought down by the pack. So I stepped in and started...screening her from her enemies.” He sighs. “Obviously, I did not do it as well as I believed.”
“You care about her, don’t you,” Kirika asks.
“Even if I denied it now, you are the last person I could fool,” Homi says. “I do. And I wish to see her safe through the rough seas ahead of us all.”
“And how much do you believe in her ideas?” Kirika asks.
“There are a thousand issues I would argue with her,” Homi says. “But I believe in her. And hells, there are nights when the world she speaks of fills my dreams, and to awaken again is a harsh disappointment.”
Kirika nods. “And that is what you should tell her,” she says. “She believes you to be a devil in the shadows, telling yourself that you are the only force for stability in this Empire. She needs to see the real you, Hiro. You know that she can see through to the truth of anyone. Let her look at you.”
“I may be gathering romantic notions as the years advance,” Homi says, “but I’m not sure she can look beyond the Shadowguard and his deeds. However...she deserves to get a chance.” He sighs. “The end of the road in sight, and still so much to do yet.”
Kirika smiles and puts her hand back on his shoulder. “And the hopeful light of a better future still shines.”
Homi puts a hand on top of hers as a sly smile plays over his face. “It does, doesn’t it,” he says quietly.
Admiral Duck Sauce 2014-12-09 11:13:07
Toshiba waves Kiara and Kagemaru's attention towards the lookout on the mill roof. He's like an evil Sidewinder or something, Toshiba thinks as he spies... well, too many gonnes. "Take him down as quickly as possible," he says to his comrades, "And if you can detonate his powder with your fire, Kiara, that should be good for a laugh. Get his weapons away from him."
Gatac 2014-12-14 10:17:19
Full speed aerial assault it is!

(Firebolt's Notice (untrained): 1d20+3 = 9
Kiara's Blend (untrained): 1d20 = 13

Firebolt remains blissfully unaware of your bleedingly obvious approach. The perils of creating bad guys with no ranks in Notice...)

There are some who would say that it is impossible to be sneaky when flying through clear skies in the middle of the day. But these people have obviously never considered how a lazy and/or distracted target might not deign to turn around and look over his shoulder for the nearly half minute it takes our intrepid team of ninjas to race towards the mill.


Toshiba: 2d20.hi+18 = 38
Firebolt: 2d20.hi+19 = 36
Kagemaru: 1d20+15 = 19
Konoko: 1d20+9 = 18
Kiara: 1d20+15 = 17

Surprise round time! Firebolt doesn't get to take actions yet.

Toshiba attacks with a Blade Flurry!

Toshiba's Attack: 1d20+10 = 18 MISS!

Firebolt is no longer flat-footed.)

No way. There is simply no fucking way that Firebolt should have seen that one coming - Toshiba's landing behind him was nigh-perfect - but the blade that should have struck the bandit between the ribs finds only air as Firebolt twists out of the way and spins to face you in one smooth move.

(Kagemaru breaks out his unarmed attack for a pummel!

Kagemaru's Attack: 1d20+14 = 15 Error!

The GM activates the error with one AD. Kagemaru loses a half-action next turn.)

Steadying himself on Kiara's back as she swoops in, Kagemaru leaps off to try and strike at Firebolt. The jumping attack seems less well-advised, however, when the bandit deftly dodges that, too, and Kagemaru sails right off the edge of the mill's narrow roof. A quick stab of his shadowblade into the wood keeps him from plunging to the ground, but he's lost precious seconds.

(Konoko uses Coordinated Attack to grant Toshiba another attack.

Toshiba Blade Flurries again, as he really doesn't have anything to lose by doing so.

Toshiba's Attack: 1d20+10 = 16 MISS!)

Dutiful Konoko cries out as she sees an opening in Firebolt's defense, but Toshiba's attempts to seize it come to nought as the bandit evades every strike.

(Kiara tries to improve the situation by setting shit on fire.

Kiara's Breath Weapon: 1d20+14 = 23 MISS!)

'tis not an auspicious day, as even Kiara's usually foolproof stream of mystical fire only succeeds in heating up the spring air and singing the roof slightly - another victim of Firebolt's incredible reflexes and nigh-inhuman ability to twist his body away from attack.

So much for a quick takedown. Four (well, three and a bird) against one shouldn't be a tense standoff, no less perched on the narrow roof of this mill, but somehow it is.

"Well, well!" Firebolt says, smirk visible through his mask. "Looks like Takao's friends finally showed up!" He taps the brace of gonnes hanging from his chest. "Do you want to surrender now or do I need to kick your asses first?"
Admiral Duck Sauce 2014-12-14 21:22:47
"Thou art as misguided as thou art overconfident," Toshiba replies, pouring on the Oni, and not necessarily by choice. "Where is Takao?"
Gatac 2014-12-15 13:44:37
"Where you'll never find him, Oni," Firebolt snarls, but whatever his other talents may be, lying's not one of them. The frustration in his voice is all too obvious. As if to cover for it, he raises his hand to beckon you to attack him. "Make your move," he says. "'cause mine's gonna be ugly."