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  1. Shinjo Kurosawa
  2. In an open common room suitable for serving tea, around a low table, Kurosawa had prepared a small arrangement of cups, with a small kettle boiling some water and a plain, simple teapot. People might get suspicious if he started to hang out with just Kairi, so he came up with a plan that would surely divert people's attention; he invited the one and only Kenjutsu tournament winner Jirozame Mako to join him for tea via a messenger, as well as Asahina Kairi. But any who stumbled upon would be welcome, for he had some thoughts about something that concerned him that he wanted to run by the Crane anyways. He was seated upon his new, brand new pillow from the kyujutsu tournament, and next to his person, a few burlap sacks from a time ago.
  3. Asahina Kairi
  4. The invitation from Kuro was not really a suprise, though she was nervous.  Just to be safe she actually ran a comb through her hair and set it back out of her face with a few hairpins.  After having to cut her hair for her undercover role, a maiden's foxtail was out of the picture.  Not too early, not too late, Kairi entered with a bow.  "Kuro-kun, thank you for the invitation."
  5. Jirozame Mako
  6. Mako arrives, wearing his Glory outfit today. Mamimi is hot on his heels, clutching his gold sleeve in one hand and his two nodachi to her chest with the other. He looks around the barracks, shrugs, and sits down near the teapot. Once he's seated, Mamimi sets his weapons nearby and kneels at the pot and starts pouring tea.
  8. "What's this about, Kurosawa?" Straight to the point and blunt, as he often is.
  9. Shinjo Kurosawa
  10. The Unicorn was actually a lot more comfortable now with short hair than long, so Kairi's hair was just fine for him. He held his arms out in a gesture for them to sit down. "I am honored you both accepted." He bowed from his seated position as best he could. "I have many reasons for today's occasion. Asahina-san is an expert on the kami; she is a shugenja and I intended to seek her spirtual wisdom in regards to what happened in the cave. As for yourself well, I wished to congratulate you on your victory in the tournament. You still fight well." Somehow his On did not break during this although inside he was steaming harder than the pot Mamimi was working at.
  11. Asahina Kairi
  12. She kept from making a face at the obvious rudeness of the......she wanted to say ronin because Shark didn't make sense.  "I don't know about expert, but I will help where I can." Perhaps she needed to win another jiujutsu tournament to be known for that.
  13. Jirozame Mako
  14. Mako smirks. "Still fight well? I have always fought well, pony-boy. Congratulations on your entry to the kenjutsu tournament, by the way. Have you seen a smith about your custom tsuba? What color saya did you pick?"
  15. Mamimi sets cups for the samurai, starting with Mako of course.
  16. Mushorai
  17. Mushorai is walking by, on his way to somewhere.  He isn't strolling or sauntering, which could potentially stick out;  that's how he always walks.  Today, however, he's got purpose to his movement which is particularly amusing because he slows as he catches sight of the four people sitting for tea.
  18. Shinjo Kurosawa
  19. How the samurai did not explode right now was surely nothing short of a miracle. The things he did for love. His face was still and calm although one could see his eyes harden into steel. "You are far more educated than myself, Kairi-san, and I have been meaning to ask, but my duties kept me from doing so." His bandaged wrists ached in attest to last night's folly with the supernatural and he absentmindedly rubbed them. "And, I do not get the honor of recieving a tsuba. I am content with my ribbon, for I was bested fair and square by your clansman. I did my best, I have no regrets." Boy he was almost choking on this humble pie. As the scruffy man appeared, he waved him down. Maybe he'd pull Mako's aggro long enough for him to make eyes at Kairi more discretely. "Ronin-san; please join us; you are the storyteller who spoke of the Lion and the Crane? I would be honored by your presence among us this afternoon." At his side he had a bag of jasmine tea leaves, the last of it from Daidoji Fubuku, for use today, if Mamimi was going to go ahead and make the tea.
  20. Jirozame Mako
  21. (Oh right. Yeah Mamimi has to make the tea first.)
  22. Shinjo Kurosawa
  23. ((she better not burn it, it's the last of his precious stash))
  24. Jirozame Mako
  25. (If she does, you're more than welcome to duel Mako over it :wink: )
  26. Mushorai
  27. The slow turns to a stop.  " Ehhh?  Yeah.   That's me, I guess, Shinjo-san."  The ronin comes on over and bows to the group.    " Mako-san.  Asahina-san.  Mamimi-san. "  And he parks himself down, never one to pass up free comestibles.
  28. Jirozame Mako
  29. Mamimi gingerly takes the tea leaves and starts making the tea. When Mu shows up she looks around for another cup and sets it in front of him.
  30. Asahina Kairi
  31. "Ah, Mushorai-san.  A pleasure to see you again." She gave him a seated bow.  "I appreciate your praise and trust Shinjo-san. not think I don't see those bandages." She couldn't help but smirk at that.
  32. Jirozame Mako
  33. Mako shoots Mushorai a glare, but not a very long one. He's still riding on the high from winning the Kenjutsu tournament, it seems.
  35. "So we're here about the cave. The one with the broken statue, or the one where we had to run home with our tails between our legs?"
  36. Shinjo Kurosawa
  37. "Ah! It is nice to see you again, Mushorai-san." The Unicorn was so, so wasted the last time they'd formally met, ages ago at the wedding, so he was trying his best to not reveal that he had forgotten know the man's name. Instead, he would bring forth wagashi, definitely legitimately acquired from a servant beforehand and set it on the table neatly, sliding it forth. At Kairi's mention of his bandages he hid them out of sight below the table's edge, eyes averting her gaze. That was gonna have to be explained later.
  39. Thank you Mako for bringing us up to speed. "The first one, Mako-san, where we encountered the tainted warrior," he wasn't going to light the powder keg of it being a shark in front of the explosive man. "Agasha-san seemed to know something was wrong with the statue, but I also noticed this while investigating." He pulled out one of the burlap sacks, styled exactly like the ones used in the castle. "I have reason to believe something larger is going on there than we know, and that we should pay a visit to East Paddy village once again."
  40. Mushorai
  41. " This is a priority?  What, exactly, is the problem in this village?," Mushorai asks.
  42. Asahina Kairi
  43. "I'm afraid I don't know anything about a cave or statue." She was genuinely curious, having not gone out of the castle much.
  44. Shinjo Kurosawa
  45. "There was a Shrine of Inari that had fallen into great disrepair. Within the shrine itself was an ambush set for us and we neatly walked into the trap." He decided not to mention that Fu and himself nearly got themselves killed by going ahead. "This bag was within the shrine where we were ambushed, along with many others. It is not exactly rare. But after some investigation, they look exactly the same," he pulled another bag that was the exact twin of the first, "as this. One of our own bags, from Kyuden Ashinabagachi." He must have sounded like a madman right now. "I cannot piece it all together now just yet, but something is wrong."
  46. Jirozame Mako
  47. "Someone is shipping us bad rice, basically."
  48. Mushorai
  49. " There was tainted rice, in the rice supply drops that we examined, Shinjo-san.  It was part of the larger scouting mission where the peasants were maimed, to remove some sort of tainted seed.  I think there was something wrong with an Inari statue there, too?   And as grave as that is, is it really something we need to focus on? "
  50. Jirozame Mako
  51. Mamimi checks the water and then carefully pours the samurai drinks.
  52. Asahina Kairi
  53. "That sounds horrible.  Maimed peasants?  More shrines defiled?" She shook her head and took her cup with a nod of thanks.
  54. Shinjo Kurosawa
  55. He shook his head. "There was only a few bits of rice in these bags, but they were not tainted. This is a different matter than Sakana Mura and Mizu-umi. No," he shook his head. "Someone knew we were to go to this shrine in Eastern Paddy Village, to seek out something for Hare-san. Someone laid a trap for us and laid in wait. And they had some of our supplies." He just couldn't nail what was wrong, and to make an accusation that there was a traitor would be strong. "I was thinking of arranging a return visit and finding out more. What had happened to the shrine, why were those people there, and why did they have our rice." He tried to sound serious in light of how nuts he sounded with his vague and watery evidence.
  56. Jirozame Mako
  57. Mako shrugs and picks up his cup. "Peasants had some kind of tainted egg in their arms. Oni in the shrine controlled them. The Agasha killed the shrine with some kind of fire ward, and then the peasants were freed, but we never dealt with the eggs."
  58. Mushorai
  59. " Thank you, Mamimi-san," Mushorai says as he accepts the tea.  " So, allowing that this might be a coincidence when they both involve a shrine to the same Fortune, and they both involve bags of rice involving the castle, what do you imagine a return visit finds that changes anything of import, Shinjo-san? "
  60. Shinjo Kurosawa
  61. He took a cup of tea from Mamimi as well, muttering a quiet thank you before taking a small sip. "We did not go for rice, originally. The reason we investigated was that there were rumors of a black scroll in the area." Why the color of the scroll mattered, he had no idea, but to the Hare it did. "The Obsidian empire was mobilizing around the area, which lent weight to the rumor and was worth the investigation in the first place. We may have stopped the bandits who were prepared for us, but it remains that we do not know," he held up his hand and would raise a finger for each reason. "Why were they there? Who would feed us such a rumor, and how would they know it would succeed in getting us to go? Why was the shrine defiled?" A deep breath. "Whoever, whatever is still out there, and they knows our weaknesses and how to lure us out of the safety of our fortress."
  62. Jirozame Mako
  63. After taking a small sip, Mako frowns. "Why does the color of the scroll matter? What's in the scroll?"
  64. Mushorai
  65. Mushorai shrugs.  " Good for them.  We won't be here much longer, anyways.  Though... have you talked to the Hare?  It sounds like they might have a better idea of who could lure them.  It sounds like some sort of personal desire of theirs. "
  66. Asahina Kairi
  67. Kairi listened intently as she drank her tea.  Because she was getting a crash course in the events that transpired there wasn't much she could say.  "It seems anything outside of these walls is fair game to them....and that is troubling."
  68. She set her cup down as she thought about it more.  "Color of the scroll?  Black......oh dear....."
  69. Shinjo Kurosawa
  70. "I have not spoken with them," he admitted, "but that was why I wanted to seek guidance and opinions before I went before them, to not look foolish or be turned away." Yeah, you guys are the practice audience. "I do not know what happens when a shrine is defiled, especially with the state of the fortunes, but it must not bode well. But I cannot speak with the kami or the spirits properly." Again he rubbed his arms, damn spirits. He looked at Kairi (yes!) and raised a brow, wondering if she knew something he did not.
  71. Jirozame Mako
  72. "S'just a statue that's busted now. The Fortunes abandoned Ningen-do, remember? Inari doesn't know, and if she does, she doesn't care enough to do something about it." Mako sets his cup down to be refilled, picks up a piece of wagashi, and sniffs it experimentally.
  73. Mushorai
  74. " Yeah.  I'm all for keeping Inari happy, but a statue to them is sort of the last worry on my mind right now. "
  75. Asahina Kairi
  76. She brought her cup up again and held it in front of her mouth. "The black colored it simply colored black or it's it also called a black scroll?"
  77. Mushorai
  78. " ... what else would you call a scroll that's black? "
  79. Taiko 🥁| Tsi Kenji
  80. ((Depending on how well Kairi knows the spirit realms, they could make the connection between the animal realm and Inari))
  81. Shinjo Kurosawa
  82. ((If I'm messing any details up Taiko please alert me))
  83. Taiko 🥁| Tsi Kenji
  84. ((As could the connection between Meido and Emma-o be made))
  85. Asahina Kairi
  86. "There is a difference here, Mushorai-san.  A very big difference." (I could roll lore: spirit realms for that if needed)
  87. Taiko 🥁| Tsi Kenji
  88. (That or Lore Fortunes.)
  89. Shinjo Kurosawa
  90. He rubbed the back of his head. "I would imagine it was black, but the whole premise of the mission was that it was to find a 'black scroll' specifically." HE WAS SO HELPFUL.
  91. Asahina Kairi
  92. (16 for lore:spirit realms) "So much of this is connected, it will take time to sort out. But if it is THE black scroll......" She wasn't sure how to out it. ".....then it is both of the utmost importance and danger.  It could be a key to ending this." She stopped and took a sip of her tea.  "But this is just preliminary talk, I don't have enough information to say or sure."
  93. Mushorai
  94. " And what would anything, of any importance, be doing at some random shrine in the back end of nowhere? "
  97. Jirozame Mako
  98. Chewing on the wagashi after having decided it was good, Mako grunts. "What's with the emphasis on the? How's one scroll gonna be that important?"
  99. Shinjo Kurosawa
  100. "Please enlighten us, Kairi-san." It's hard being ignorant.
  101. Asahina Kairi
  102. "As I have said, I hesitate to speak on the matter before I have all of the facts and details.  But I have heard tales of the black scrolls, used on the first day of thunder to defeat ......him." She didn't want to speak his name of course.
  103. Taiko 🥁| Tsi Kenji
  104. (Kairi would understand that unlike most other fortunes, there are a few like Inari that have ties to other spirit realms besides 'just' the heavens)
  105. (Emma-O especially seems like they would unaffected and still be at work)
  106. Jirozame Mako
  107. Mako doesn't seem that impressed, because something that took place so long ago is probably full of folk-tales and nonsense, and he's about to say as much but just the implication of the Dark Kami's name makes Mamimi flinch, spilling hot tea on the table and her hand.
  108. Mushorai
  109. Mushorai flinches in sympathetic pain with the servant.  " Yeah, well, they didn't work very well, did they? "
  110. Jirozame Mako
  111. Mako immediately reaches into his kimono for a cloth, grabbing Mamimi's arm and cleaning the spilled tea off it. "Cold water. One of you. Now."
  112. Shinjo Kurosawa
  113. What Kairi said seemed to spark something in Kuro's memory, like jump starting a dead car battery. "There has been mention of The Black Scrolls before. They are critical to the resistance, it was said. A different time than the mission to the east paddy village." No he wasn't eavesdropping god damn he must've just happened to be walking by. "My memory is.. faint, and I don't remember more, but they are important. Now I just need to know why." Damn it Mamimi he was on the verge of a breakthrough, so he was too distracted to really do anything about her accident and agony.
  114. Asahina Kairi
  115. "They did the first time.  Something went wrong obviously....." She was startled as the tea was spilled.  She drank the rest of her tea and prayed to the water kami.  They didn't hear her.  So instead she got up and searched for any water, not because she was told to but because she was a doctor.
  116. Mushorai
  117. " If you need to get defeated more than once, you weren't defeated.  You took a bit of a break. "
  118. Taiko 🥁| Tsi Kenji
  119. A peasant would come wandering in, small package in hand. Looking about as the various groups seemingly on break, eventually they'd stare at the 4 (5) gathered samurai. Seeming to specifically eye the ronin, the man would squint at Mushorai a moment before approaching, bowing down heavily when they got near. "Apologies, samurai-samas, I was told to deliver this to a Mushorai-san." Their hands offering out the parcel.
  121. It was notably wrapped in writing paper.
  122. Asahina Kairi
  123. She returns with a bucket of water, it's not cold, but it is slightly below room temperature and that was good enough. "Put your hand in here." Her medical kit, which she carries with her everywhere is already out.  Herbs and bandages were laid out, the things on the table being cleared.
  124. Mushorai
  125. Mushorai looks up from the medical chaos that was unleashed by the Corpse King at a distance, and says," That's me.  Who sent it?," as he holds his hand out.
  126. Taiko 🥁| Tsi Kenji
  127. "Tsi Kenji-sama, of the forge."
  129. Their hands would keep outstretched as they tried to keep a position below the man they were offering the gift to.
  130. Jirozame Mako
  131. Unsure but willing to try, Mako guides Mamimi's hand into the bucket and makes sure she holds it there for a little while. "What do you have in there for burns?"
  132. Mushorai
  133. " Oh.  Nice." Mu takes the package, fishes around for a coin, and gives the servant a zeni for their efforts.  He then takes a look at the package, carefully unwrapping it.
  134. Taiko 🥁| Tsi Kenji
  135. Unwrapping it would reveal the ronin's commisioned Tsuba, with writing unsuprisingly on the paper.
  137. "Thank you Mushorai-san for giving me more than just swords to repair. Bring the sake when you wish to have it assembled."
  139. The Tsuba would likely live up to more than the ronin's expectations, painted and forged far more perfectly than the previously bandit man had ever seen.  Crimson blending perfectly  against the golden highlights.
  140. (Up to you to describe your fancy boi, 5 raises though)
  141. The peasant would also be more than happy, bowing deeply again to the man before hurrying away, back to his other duties.
  142. Asahina Kairi
  143. "I have everything that is needed, this is not my first burn.  She will be fine trust me. When you are ready, show me the burn and I will treat it."
  144. Shinjo Kurosawa
  145. The Shinjo leapt to his feet as chaos spread around what was originally a tea party, thunderstruck by Kairi's words setting off his memory. "My father spoke to me of the First Day of Thunder and it's day of victory, when I was young." Oh man that only made him realize the old man was gone now, but he didn't have time to get sad right this second. "The great shugenja, Isawa, was critical in the defeat of the Dark Emperor, and sealed him within Twelve Scrolls." Did he finally figure it out? Kinda sorta maybe.
  146. Mushorai
  147. Mushorai holds the tsuba up to examine it closely, the burnished golden edges catching the light with glint-y, nearly audible tings.  The design is simple, yet elegant; the seven virtues of Bushido done in a golden tone that matches the edge of the tsuba, on a field of crimson.  It is of the finest craftsmanship.  "... I owe that guy a really good drink." Mu looks up at the Unicorn.  " Yeah.  And? "
  148. Jirozame Mako
  149. Just as slowly and uncertainly, Mako allows Mamimi to pull her hand out of the water and Kairi to treat the burn.
  150. "So the old bastard is stuck in some scrolls. That's how–" cut off by the glint of gold in Mushorai's hands. "Who did you steal that from?"
  151. Shinjo Kurosawa
  152. Kurosawa paused, also admiring the tsuba. If he hadn't already, he regretted more deeply that he had not placed further in the tournament. It was like a work of art, and the ronin... was kinda scruffy looking. A very sharp contrast that he would not say aloud. "That is amazing." Goddamn it fucking shone and he couldn't take his eyes off of it. What was he talking about? The weather or someshit?
  153. Mushorai
  154. " Won it.  Tsuba from the tournament.  Know a guy who makes sword stuff real good.  I mean, he said he did, and as they say, proof is in the rice pudding.  Freeee-oh.  Look at that shine. " Mu tilts it this way and that to get a nice look at the thing.
  155. Asahina Kairi
  156. A glue-like substance was carefully smeared across the burned area and quickly bandaged. "Leave this covered for now.  It may blister, it it does do not touch it.  Please come and see me tomorrow so that I may monitor you." The medical emergency handled for the most part, she was only half listening to the aha! moment Kuro had. "That is my understanding sat well Shinjo-san."
  157. Mushorai
  158. " Doesn't really have anything to do with anything though, does it?  No way one of them Scrolls would be at some backwoods village.  More likely, they'll get turned by that Daigotsu berk because they ain't happy their well was muddy or something."
  159. Jirozame Mako
  160. Mamimi gives Kairi a whispered "Thank you" before retreating back to Mako's side.
  161. "Who made the tsuba for you? I still need to have mine created."
  162. Mushorai
  163. " Uh...  Let me think.  He's got a weird name. "
  164. Shinjo Kurosawa
  165. He tried to gather his thoughts as he sat back down. The scrolls had been used to seal away the Dark Emperor many years ago in the First Day of Thunder. The resistance believed that they still existed, somewhere. And someone else knew that they would believe in such a thing, and led them to believe that it was somewhere, and laid a trap for the resistance. With this, he felt he had enough evidence to go ahead and bother Hare-san soon and request a mission; maybe not to find the scrolls, exactly, but to try and ferret out the leak in the castle. If there was one. And at the center of it all was East Paddy Village. With that, he would take another sip of the tea, pleased enough with himself for the day. His mission here was accomplished, kinda. "Daigotsu?" He was perplexed by that. "Who is that?" No name had ever been uttered around Kurosawa.
  166. Jirozame Mako
  167. "The horn-masked dipshit who blinded us with maho, took control of a massive oni, and then walked off."
  168. Mushorai
  169. " The masked monster that's the reason we need to get the... heck out of this castle, Shinjo-san.  Big guy.  White hair.  Purple court robe.  His mask was white, had four horns on it," Mu says, echoing and amplifying Mako.  " Not the guy who made my tsbua, though.  That was a Tsi.  Tsi Kenji. "
  170. Shinjo Kurosawa
  171. Oh, that guy had a name? It was certainly a lot better than 'Purple death man.' "Oh, the one from the last mission involving the bloodspeaker cult." His skin crawled at the memory of the maho and miasma blinding him. First time he had not enjoyed magic and it's effects. He wondered why they would have to leave, but let that question remain unasked; they had obviously learnt more than his team had. He drained the last of the tea in his cup before setting it down with a soft clink. "He claimed he would turn the Obsidian Empire into fire and ruin, that night."
  172. Jirozame Mako
  173. "He made a lot of claims. Said something about having the blood of Emperors."
  174. "Right before he stomped off with his sixteen foot tall buddy."
  175. Asahina Kairi
  176. Kairi started putting her supplies away after a smile and a nod of her head to Mamimi.  She had been trying to listen as much as she could, but her patient deserved her attention more.  Now she retook her seat and switched her attention to the conversation at hand.
  177. Mushorai
  178. " Yeah.  Off to turn more villages against us, likely enough.  Can't really blame the peasants, honestly.  Not like we're doing our part. "
  179. Jirozame Mako
  180. Mako pushes a wagashi over to Mamimi. "Depends on what you mean by 'turn'."
  183. Mushorai
  184. " Offer 'em blood magic nonsense, to get control of them.  S'what the cult before him was doing.  Expect he'll do it again, only better, and more, on account of not being some vain idiot. "
  185. Jirozame Mako
  186. "Also having a big ol' oni on a leash."
  187. Mushorai
  188. " Yeah.  Bet a bu he won't use it as a threat, though.  Not overt.  Doesn't need to.  Plenty of villages need help with stuff.  He'll just provide 'em with what they need. "
  189. Shinjo Kurosawa
  190. Ah, Kairi had likely not gone on this mission. "We witnessed something disturbing last night, cousin. The bloodspeaker cultists used," a pause, but fuck it he was as subtle as a brick, "maho, on us. And to summon a being who spoke to us." He cleared his throat before he relayed the message word for word, the sound of it singed into his brain.
  192. "It may be difficult to comprehend, but you have some use to me. You work out of somewhere nearby. I will not seek you out, and I do not seek to add you to my followers. You will be of use because you rise against the Dark Lord. I will replace his kingdom with fire and ruin." "I will consider your decision right now to be the impetuousness of your misunderstanding and give you time to bring this message back to those who make your decisions, this miasma will dissipate soon, and you will have a choice. Leave now, consider your options, return in greater force if you wish to make war with me, or leave by my choosing. In good faith, I will send to you shortly an emissary that will explain my intentions. That time cannot be now, as I was summoned to this place without my intent. Turn and leave, now. It is difficult to make allies out of the dead, but not impossible."
  193. Mushorai
  194. ".... you probably coulda just said,' He threatened us, and he was a wordy cuss', Shinjo-san," Mushorai says after the long, long, long winded quote.
  195. Jirozame Mako
  196. "So he knows where we are, roughly, and is going to come for us."
  197. "But what does that have to do with the cave and the Inari statue? How did we get on this topic even?"
  198. "You think that Daigotsu is gonna start visiting villages and getting them on his side?" The Shark thinks for a moment. "That village is in danger, isn't it." A statement, not a question.
  199. Asahina Kairi
  200. She set her cup down, her face said it all.  I had no idea.  And everything you mentioned before is connected?  It seems as if it would be but in these times it's hard to say."
  201. Shinjo Kurosawa
  202. He shrugs. Mushorai had brought up the scrolls not likely being in some backwood village and Daigotsu. "I don't know what Daigotsu has to do with that village." They are on first name basis now. "We are closer to this new threat than he is to East Paddy Village. I only have suspicions that the Obsidian Empire is up to something there, and even more tenuous suspicion that they have a link to us, one that supplies information that we are willing to throw resources to follow. That's why I wish to return, to find out more."
  203. Mushorai
  204. " Those are your suspicions.  Great.  Worth investigatin'.  What do you know about the village, kid?  What's it like?  What's the elder's name?  How are they for beasts of burden?  Do they have any problem with any diseases?  Bandits?  Do they need supplies to fix anything anything what's broke?," Mushorai volleys off a flurry of concrete questions, the sort that a high falutin' samurai doesn't evidentially consider.
  205. Shinjo Kurosawa
  206. "Questions we can answer when we arrive to investigate the village." He was not the one that went into the village, after all, he was cave explorer with Fu. Mako and Chiaki and Aiko had done the town part.
  207. Asahina Kairi
  208. She was trying to follow as best as she could, but despite being briefed she just didn't have the whole story to contribute anything worthwhile.  So instead she listened and tried to gather as much information as possible.  Perhaps she would go out to investigate at some point.
  209. Mushorai
  210. " Well.  Good luck noticing the second time. " Mushorai stands up, dusts himself off, and holding tight on the new, shiny tsuba, bows.  " Take care, folks. "
  211. Asahina Kairi
  212. "Mushorai-san, be safe." She stood and bowed.
  213. Shinjo Kurosawa
  214. "May the winds be at your back, Mushorai-san." He said with a short bow from his seated position. He would keep the ronin's words in mind when he approached, but that wasn't likely gonna be his primary objective. With that, he took bite of the snack and pondered more, planning on what to say to the Hare-clan.
  215. Jirozame Mako
  216. "See ya, old man. I'll let you know if we figure out what the hell we're even doing."
  217. Shinjo Kurosawa
  218. He'd let the ronin leave before turning to Mako. "How were the villagers behaving? As strange as the ones in Sakana Mura?"
  219. Jirozame Mako
  220. "Nah, they were all moving at once. Real jerky movements."
  221. Shinjo Kurosawa
  222. The Unicorn would likely have to reread the mission report, if there was one. "If nothing seemed to be out of the ordinary, I have no idea whether to be more or less concerned. I'll be sure to visit the Hare-san who guided us on that mission and request a second visit. Any thoughts? Did either of you wish to come along?"
  223. Jirozame Mako
  224. (Hold on-what village are we talking about? The cave village or arm cutting village?)
  225. Shinjo Kurosawa
  226. ((We are talking about returning to cave village.))
  227. ((your answer works technically, although i was confused at first))
  228. Jirozame Mako
  229. (No, when you asked how the villagers were behaving. Sakana Mura was the arm cutting one, I forget the other village name.)
  230. Mushorai
  231. (( East Paddy Village ))
  232. Jirozame Mako
  233. (Thanks. The Sakana Mura village was acting weird, East Paddy wasn't. Aside from the lying.)
  234. Asahina Kairi
  235. "I have to say you have my curiosity.  And I always want to help where I can.  It sounds like something I must prepare for......if I was to come along." She had to think about that; no armor, no weapons.  That left her at a disadvantage for sure.
  236. Shinjo Kurosawa
  237. "Being deployed on missions is exhausting, but in time your body gets used to it." He finished the rest of his treat and just enjoyed being there, this was fantastic. Hanging out with his rival and cousin. "Didn't you say you went out on such a mission once? Tell me, how did it make you feel?" A bit of fire glinted in his eyes. "Was it exciting and dangerous?"
  238. Jirozame Mako
  239. "That one Kuni got a suit of armor somehow. If you can't rely on the kami, rely on steel."
  240. Asahina Kairi
  241. "Both of those things.  And I have two mission sunder my obi as of now.  I.....was nervous and excited and ready and not ready all at the same time." She looked down into her tea cup. "I have my scrolls, the kami haven't let me down yet."
  242. Shinjo Kurosawa
  243. "Nothing wrong with a Crab wearing steel." Was that even a big deal? He had assumed they were usually well armored like their clan's namesake. Surely he didn't mean a shugenja, that would be preposterous. "And those feelings, are normal to feel. They go away with time, as you learn what you're doing and what you're capable of."
  244. Jirozame Mako
  245. Mako grunts. "Be smarter than the other shugenja around, and you'll be fine. And the Kuni was a shugenja, Kurosawa. Guess he doesn't believe hard enough."
  246. Kuzen
  247. Kuzen makes his way into the barracks, carrying his gathered armor over one shoulder.  He pauses at he fixates on the various people already present.
  248. Asahina Kairi
  249. "Right, right.  We must all do our part, whatever that may be.  Sometimes we must go above what we think we can.  I will make myself available and ready."
  250. Shinjo Kurosawa
  251. There was still some tea, and a few pieces of wagashi left. The Shinjo waved the ronin to come sit down. "Hai, Kuzen-san. We would be honored if you joined us for tea. We were discussing the missions we go on." At the mention of a shugenja using armor he looked lost. That was unthinkable and yet here we are. "Is... is he allowed to do that?" Shugenja were still like 90% mystery to him. A nod to Kairi. "Our duty. Like I always tell you I'm doing out of the castle. You will be great in the field, cousin."
  252. Jirozame Mako
  253. As Mamimi pours another cup for Mako, and places one for Kuzen after noticing him, Mako nods. "My dad used to say a lot of dumb stuff that I hardly listened to, but one thing I sorta remember is that you should turns your weaknesses into strengths."
  254. Kuzen
  255. He bows to the group and approaches, setting his armor down as he takes a seat.  "Good evening, I see that you are both still around Asahina-sama, Jirozame-sama.  As far as what you are allowed to do, it really comes down to what's physically possibly, what people will yell at you for doing, and what is a terrible idea."
  256. Asahina Kairi
  257. "Kuzen-san, it appears I am getting into something over my head.  For some reason I feel okay with it.  I don't quite understand."
  258. Kuzen
  259. He adjusts his hat slightly as he looks over at Kairi, "Maybe you were looking for a challenge?  Maybe you need something to push your limits.  Or maybe you're the sort of person who can't rest easily when they know there's problems out in the world that need fixing?"
  260. Jirozame Mako
  261. Mako sips tea too quickly and coughs. "Defeat is to rest on one's laurels. Victory is not to submit even when conquered."
  262. Asahina Kairi
  263. "Perhaps it's all of those things." She took a sip of her tea and thought about that.  The challenges of minding the children and healing were one thing, but this called for something else entirely.
  266. Kuzen
  267. He looks at Mako, almost surprised at an actual bit of wisdom before he nods.  "Humans are creatures of habit, we tend to fall into routines.  But there is a part of our soul that strives for what we do not have.  Not knowing what you are pushing yourselves towards, I cannot say more about your decision."
  268. Jirozame Mako
  269. "The question is this, Kairi," Mako leans in, locking eyes with the Asahina, "are you willing to kill to protect the kids you watch?"
  270. Shinjo Kurosawa
  271. Kurosawa had just been enjoying the relative peace and quiet of all this. It was nice. Moments like this were going to be rarer after the event that had happened a short while ago. Even the Shark was at relative peace. A rare thing indeed. In his mind's eye he sealed away the image of the three of them at the table, sipping tea and conversing civilly. And then Mako had to go ahead and ask that question. "I do not believe such a polite occasion as this, deserves talk like that, Mako-san."
  272. Jirozame Mako
  273. "Really? We were just talking about oni and maho. And since that's what we're up against, and they definitely won't want to talk their problems out, we have two options."
  274. Kuzen
  275. "It's a worthwhile question to ask, though we should also understand if the situation has gotten to the point where Asahina-sama would need to be our first weapon to kill someone... then things have gone quite bad."
  276. Jirozame Mako
  277. Mako shrugs, his father's imparted wisdom from earlier only having one more use left for the day. "Plan for the worst possible situation. If a situation happens where our healer here needs to kill, and she doesn't know what to do, then we're screwed."
  278. Asahina Kairi
  279. "To protect the children?" It was obvious she was torn on that one. "I self defense it would be fine." This was a different time, if she couldn't be a true pacifist, she'd be pacifist light.
  280. Kuzen
  281. "I don't think anyone is expecting you to go out on missions to kill people.  But there are going to be foes that you cannot afford to hold back against, and they can only be confronted with a sword that has murderous intent behind it.  We are far from the days where wars and battles were structured affairs with traditions and accord.  But if we sacrifice our traditions and honor to win, is there anything left of the Empire to save?"
  282. Jirozame Mako
  283. "Would you rather sacrifice traditions or live as a tainted monster under Fu Leng?" Mako asks the question to no one in particular. "Is your honor more valuable than the lives of everyone in this castle?"
  284. Shinjo Kurosawa
  285. Well at least he had the memory of when this was a nice time. "The choice is neither, Mako-san. One can be strong enough to withstand such monstrosities, without having to make ugly sacrifices like that." It was just so easy to say such things, wasn't it? He would look to Kairi. "You will not have to make such a decision. I would never allow such a thing to come to pass."
  286. Asahina Kairi
  287. "I have been taught to defend myself, I would do so if needed.  It doesn't make sense for me to be taken because I refused even that.  But there is a limit.....I suppose." She looked at Kuro and nodded. "I appreciate that."
  288. Jirozame Mako
  289. Mako slams his fist on the table and rounds on Kuro. "Stop fucking babying her! You've been outside! You know what we're up against! You're touched by the moon if you think anyone here is going to stay that sheltered. You really think we can kill the Corpse King and whoever Daigotsu is honorably? Doing what the empire did before? Because, I don't know if you realzied this, but they lost."
  290. Shinjo Kurosawa
  291. "Our fathers may have lost, but our ancestors have defeated such evils in the past." He maintained an even tone as the Shark continued on. "We must believe, have hope it can be done. And we will do it the right way, Mako-san." His eyes flickered up to the larger man. "We shall overcome these turbulent times, as our ancestors did. We shall prevail, as our ancestors did. And we shall thrive once more, as they did." If he had more tea he would've sipped it. "It is not the end, yet."
  292. Kuzen
  293. He takes a sip of his tea before setting the cup down.  "Aiming low is no way to achieve greatness.  Speaking in terms of simple practicality, no we cannot win the war without getting our hands dirty.  But if no one ever dreams to reach higher, to go beyond and do the impossible, then we will always fall short.  The Thunders faced him at the Dawn of the Empire, in the heart of his power and beat him.  We should recognize what we can do, but if we give up entirely on what we believe to be impossible, then we lose."
  294. Jirozame Mako
  295. "Our ancestors lost!" Mako shakes his head and turns to Kairi and gestures at her wakizashi. "The best thing you can do in your free time is learn how to use your swords. Or a spear. Or a bow."
  296. Asahina Kairi
  297. She blinked a few times as whatever was on the table bounced once when Makonslammed his fist into it.  Her first instinct was to raise her cup, but his words do make her think.  "I've never held a sword out of its saya.  But as I have said, I have been trained in jiujutsu.  Are people forgetting who won that tournament?  I also appreciate your concern Mako-san and I will agree times force different skills."
  298. Jirozame Mako
  299. "Kuzen's about right, but if anything we should hit the enemy as hard and viciously as possible, put them off guard, and when we have even footing we can act honorably." Mako shifts in his seat and sips more tea. "I'm glad you can defend yourself, Kairi, but how good are your fists against someone with a sword? Or an enemy with armor? Do you want to punch a tainted monster?"
  300. Asahina Kairi
  301. She looked down, not as filled with confidence as she was just a moment before. "I suppose you are right.  I can't punch through armor.  Or outmuscle a rampaging beast.  I wouldn't want to bring anything back with me."
  302. Kuzen
  303. "Keep in mind that a sword is never very effective against a creature that can fly.  And a bow is not very effective against foes who are in your face.  Each of us is like a tool made for a different purpose, do you spend time teaching a hammer how to be a saw?"  He takes another sip.  "The last two foes I fought, both were overcome without a hard and vicious opening strike.  Each one was drawn into the perfect moment and then dispatched.  Not every problem requires a sledge being dropped on it."
  304. Asahina Kairi
  305. "Perhaps I can learn the bow.  There was a proud history of a group called the Asahina archers.  Perhaps that runs through me."
  306. Jirozame Mako
  307. Mako nods. "Practical. My clansman Shinkai is a damn good archer if you need a teacher. Or Kuzen. He seems like he has the patience for it." He swirls his tea idly, considering. "Or just ask any Tsuruchi you see."
  308. Kuzen
  309. "I don't use a bow.  Probably should learn how, but I've always been more of a close range fighter.  But he's right, there's no shortage of skilled archers around here."
  310. Asahina Kairi
  311. "I uh.....snapped my chest the last time I used a bow.  It's safe to say I would be starting with less than no experience in that area.  But perhaps.....I should try again."
  312. Jirozame Mako
  313. "I think they make chest protection for archers. Might want to get some." Mako pops another wagashi into his mouth. "I could help if you wanted to learn swords, but I dunno if either of us would like that. Shinkai and Kuzen would be good choices for teachers in that, too."
  314. Shinjo Kurosawa
  315. He wasn't sure if he should mention his own bow skills; he was certainly not worthy of teaching however. "Kyujutsu is a most practical skill. But not everyone need know how to do it. We rely on each other, as members of a team, forces in an army, to cover each other's flaws with our strengths. Kairi-san may not be trained to wield a blade with precision, but I can. Likewise, I likely cannot strike down a spirit with my blade; with her prayers I'm sure she could do so. No one is an expert in all, or even many fields."
  317. Jirozame Mako
  318. Mako scoffs at 'precision'. "Don't think I haven't seen the way your hand shakes, or the way you hesitate when you draw, or how you force yourself to strike. A kid fresh to the dojo would see it. But you're right about the rest of it. My dad said that mixed unit tactics are more efficient, but you have to have something to fall back on when your main thing fails. Arrows run out, shugenja get tired, and all that."
  319. Kuzen
  320. "It's nice to have options."  Kuzen shrugs and takes another drink of tea.  "Don't have only one option to you.  One approach isn't always going to work."  He rises up to his feet, "Thanks for inviting me over, but I need to get back to fixing up the straps on this armor... if you need me, I'll be around."
  321. Asahina Kairi
  322. "Kuzen-san, thank you for joining us.  Be safe." She then finished what was left in her tea cup and stood.  "You all have given me much to think about.  I appreciate it all, we truly must work together.  Thank you." With that she bows to the samurai at the table and heads off, it was time to check on the children.
  323. Jirozame Mako
  324. Mako nods to Kuzen as he leaves. "We should get moving too. Gotta get food started for dinner. C'mon." He stands, giving Mamimi a sleeve to clutch and rise with. As she gathers his swords, Mako adjusts kimono and seems conflicted for a long moment before sighing. Pointedly looking outside and not at Kairi, he says, "Thank you. For fixing Mamimi's hand." He slips a couple more wagashi into a pocket and leaves.
  325. Kuzen
  326. "Walked out of the last mission without a scratch, I think I've got that part handled."  His mouth twitches and he bows and heads out.  (Time to crash)
  327. Shinjo Kurosawa
  328. He would bow as each took their leave, remaining seated at the table. "Thank you all for having joined me today. " Wow the shark really went there. His fists clenched tightly, but he relaxed them. He could not let Mako just walk away, but he would have to answer for such a statement at a later time.
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