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  1. Shinjo Kurosawa
  2. In a time and a place, before Snarl's got Nocturnal, there was a certain white haired samurai, relatively free for the day. He was trying to relax, and not go on about doing a bunch of things like his inner self kept telling him to do. But the man deserved some free time damn it. He walked about Kyuden Ashinabagachi, pondering. Many things were happening, and with the rise of the one named Daigotsu, he was a bit worried.
  3.  
  4. And then stop. Wait a minute. He found himself at a wall. Ah, but not just any wall. Instead of the usual drab grey, it was magnificent. A scene of battle, the hordes of the shadowlands as they were repelled from the capital city of Otosan Uchi. He walked back and forth, looking at it, drinking in every detail. It was quite vibrant, each figure that was focused upon so well detailed. The one who worked on this must have been a master in their craft, surely. His steel hues softened as he looked up, in particular, the Eastern Stand. The Lion, Phoenix, and Scorpion valiantly stood against the Oni horde, pushing them back from the capital, and even the spirits of the fallen had risen up to repel the foul demons. This section was what drew him the most, especially since he had witnessed an oni for himself now. A shiver ran down his spine, but despite his thoughts the work of art did instill hope and confidence in him; they had defeated such evil before, they had broken the shadowlands, and they would be able to do it again. @Doji Sachio
  5. Doji Sachio
  6. Sachio had been pacing around, muttering to himself as he took the occasional puff of his kiseru, when he spotted one samurai in particular looking intently at a particular mural. He approached, stopping a respectful distance away and bowing.
  7.  
  8. “Kurosawa-san, you seem moved… is the work to your liking?”
  9. Shinjo Kurosawa
  10. He had been lost in thought all day, but now it was time to wake up. His focus on the painting broke at the sound of someone approaching in his direction and he looked towards his visitor. "Ah, Sachio-sama." And he would also bow, deep, in greeting. Even if they were acquaintances, or daresay, friends, he held the man in high regard. "It is a most beautiful piece," he turned his gaze back to the work of art. "It brings me some certainty, in my soul. Terrible things happened before, but we overcame them. There is still yet hope for man, as dark as it may appear now."
  11. Doji Sachio
  12. He listened impassively to Kurosawa's explanation, then bowed deeply and beamed. "If such impressions are in your mind, then I have fulfilled my objective. Nothing pleases me more."
  13.  
  14. He moved up closer, next to Kurosawa, to look upon it from a similar vantage. "When we stand together, we can accomplish the impossible, no? That first invasion, many thought would destroy the infant Emerald Empire. And through shared cause we persevered. The days corresponding to the siege used to be a grand holiday in Otosan Uchi, were you aware? I thought I'd focus in on the reason for the celebration and bring it to life here, to offer people in the castle a reminder."
  15. Shinjo Kurosawa
  16. Ah, so he did know the artist of this piece. A pleasant surprise. "My faith had been faltering, the past few days. Uncertainty lingering in my mind like a cloud." There was a lot of those clouds in there. "I witnessed something terrible the other day, and it shook me to my core." He looked over to the Crane, breaking his lock on the painting. "This painting is a good reminder of the past, Sachio-sama. Some have forgotten, including myself. I should not make that mistake so easily anymore." A small smile. "Do you think they still celebrate that grand holiday in Otosan Uchi?" The thought amused him enough to bring him out of his funk.
  17. Doji Sachio
  18. He frowned. "Doubtful... it was a failure of the Adversary's, and I do not think him a magnanimous sort who would celebrate his failures. Hmm. Though one hopes there is still observance in secret."
  19. Shinjo Kurosawa
  20. "I hope those that do, may endure long enough that they will be able to celebrate it openly once more." Surely, they could bring things back to normal, someday. His eyes returned to the painting, the warriors almost lifelike as they tore into the dreadful oni armies. "Sachio-sama, if I may ask, how come you are not," he did not know how to broach this subject politely, "married?" He kept his On maintained as best he could. He didn't want to sound like some nagging mother though, so he would definitely not bring up the need for children. "Is it not one's duty, to eventually do so?"
  21. Doji Sachio
  22. "It is so, Kurosawa-san. And please, Sachio-san will do. I am your peer, not a superior." He took another puff of his pipe as he glanced out on the mural. "And in truth, I am now betrothed. Marriage would have been the purview of my lord, to be arranged as soon as possible after gempukku, but... well, circumstances as they are, that was rather difficult. The nakodo here helped me fulfill my duty in the end."
  23. Shinjo Kurosawa
  24. Oh. That was not such a hard question at all. A small sigh of relief; although the memory of the nakodo had been almost terrifying the first time, his actions had worried him even more afterwards. "Congratulations, Sachio-san. I am sure she will be a most appropriate and wonderful spouse. It is most honorable of you to be blessed to perform your duty." His eyes kept forward, but they were not so focused on the painting now. "Do... do you intend to court her? Have you met her yet, or know of her name?" Lots of rapid fire questions for he certainly has an interest in the matter, especially from the Crane perspective.
  25. Doji Sachio
  26. "Yoritomo Misaki, a fierce warrior of the Mantis. Courtship is... a private matter, Kurosawa-san. The joy and the mutual respect comes in the discretion one applies to the endeavor. Some even find fame in such discretion, oddly enough. As we are betrothed, though, I believe I can freely admit we have been sharing poetry, though I have not yet seen here, only a likeness. She yet resides on the Islands of Silk & Spice."
  27.  
  28. He chuckled. "Many questions, Kurosawa-san... do you plan on courting someone, yourself?"
  29. Shinjo Kurosawa
  30. Was he so obvious?? His expression didn't change but internally he was screaming. "A Mantis?" That was odd, to him. Yashiro marrying a Mantis made sense, for their clans were friendly enough. But a minor clan wife for a Crane- he stopped this line of thinking. Who was he to think he knew better than a Nakodo, who's job was to ensure these matches were perfect? He only wished he had bit his tongue like this much, much earlier. "It sounds exciting, and dangerous. Er, her life, not marriage." Actually the thought of a boat sounded horrifying but he was trying to stay positive here for his homeboy here. He took notes though. POETRY.
  31.  
  32. This simple question was so loaded, and he did not quite have an answer. "I.. it is complicated, Sachio-san." He said, far too shyly than he had intended and now he was further more deeply examining the painting.
  33. Doji Sachio
  34. (Argh, sorry for the delay)
  35. He nodded. "It ever is, Kurosawa-san. Courtship, as such, is more often shared with lovers... regardless of the marital status of either party. But it is in maintaining discretion as to the object of your affection - while declaring that love and affection - that you elevate courtship to an art. Marriage, on the other hand, is a duty, as we have both acknowledged already. If the Lady Benten blesses that union, all the better. But it's hardly a prerequisite."
  36. Shinjo Kurosawa
  37. The Unicorn hm'd aloud, looking at Sachio once more. "Discretion. I can do that. I would never want to bring shame or dishonor to this woman. She is... very important, to me." He was going to try to do things the right way..! "We are both single; I could not imagine... interfering with another couple's duty." The words sounded as if he was almost embarrassed at the thought. The Daidoji had brought this up as well. Maybe his view on things was far too simple and naive. But he could never do that kind of thing. "But... is poetry the only way to court properly, discreetly?" A questioning look; he couldn't imagine singing with discretion, or using his sword with discretion, in the name of love. But he was not a very good poet, there had to be an alternative.
  38. Doji Sachio
  39. "Any token of regard would do," Sachio mused. "Showing your regard, your affection, your passion, in a restrained way is the object of the dance. The gesture can be public as long as its target, so to speak, is kept anonymous... especially important if that person is married to another. Not that I would recommend dancing together. Outward, ah, physical displays of such affection only serve to cheapen the complex game."
  40. Shinjo Kurosawa
  41. He cupped his chin in his hand in thought. What kinds of regards could he give? He could sing; so long as he did not go over the top or say her name that was one method to all this madness. He already figured that a public display of affection was out. But meeting her in private, alone, would look suspicious as well. This was a special kind of hell. But he would endure it. "Other than through song and other art, I cannot imagine much else. Could I not spar and declare my love for this person? I hold a sword far better than I hold a tune."
  42. Doji Sachio
  43. He chuckled. "What do you believe the choice of swordplay, employed in the taking of life in one's duty to their lord, tells a prospective lover? And what is it that you wish to tell that lover?"
  44. Shinjo Kurosawa
  45. Oh his heart. His eyes widened, and the man quickly turned away as if Sachio had slapped him. While in 99% of circumstances it would've been funny, it instead affected him the wrong way. A moment, and then: "You're right," the man admitted, his voice a bit thicker than before. "A sword is... really not a good way to show your love for someone. I had imagined more that, I would show that person I would be willing to fight for them, to protect. But I can see how such could be misconstrued." He was practically choking on the irony here. "I was blessed with the ability to sing, so I shall likely do that instead."
  46. Doji Sachio
  47. He smiled. "A fine idea, Kurosawa-san. The instinct to defend is a commendable one, but it is a matter of duty, is it not? And to take life, to destroy, is all too simple. But to create, to bring new beauty into this world, that is a challenge. And when the seed of that beauty is love for another... well, imagine how that other would react, faced with it?"
  48. Shinjo Kurosawa
  49. Kami grant me strength, he thought to himself. A deep breath, and an exhale. It didn't quite work. Another deep breath, and exhale. Kurosawa was still a bit rattled, but he could at least put on a show that every thing was all right. He turned to face the wiser man once more. He didn't know, hardly anyone knew, and it was foolish for him to say something about love and swords. "I was taught some songs about love, Sachio-san, but I have never composed any myself..." he trailed off as that, too, stung. It was like throwing his whole body into a spiked flower bush, all this talk that kept reminding him of his past. He peered at the Crane. "I would hope that they... feel loved in turn, from what I have created from their love..?" Was that the right answer?
  50. Doji Sachio
  51. "A good answer, Kurosawa-san. Imagine being a wellspring of inspiration for another, unlocking a part of them that they usually conceal far, far behind their on. It is moving, powerful. And if you need help with composing, I'd be willing to offer. Though we'd need to make sure the sentiments are your own, of course."
  52. Shinjo Kurosawa
  53. He thought for a moment about that. No one had written any poems or anything about him before, so he was likely to be extremely flattered if someone actually did do that for him. A smile broke out across his lips; and maybe the target of affection would feel that way as well. "Truth; she has made me feel a way that I have not in a long time. Her presence brings peace to my soul." Hey, five years was long for a twenty one year old, that was like a quarter of his existing there. "I will try to compose my own. But I will invite you to read them prior so I do not make any mistakes, Sachio-san."
  54. [ you are free to join us if you wish, Hello ]
  55. Doji Sachio
  56. "I would be honored. I'll even try to blunt my commentary from the, ah, Kakita Academy standard."
  57. Shinjo Kurosawa
  58. Well. Now he had to compose a love song that didn't mention a name. He was surely on his way to becoming a master of courting in no time. "I appreciate your willingness to soften the blow. But I can take it; do not hold back for me. I want this to be the best song they have ever heard." Maybe if he had not missed the sadane round, he would have said otherwise.
  59. Doji Sachio
  60. A chuckle. "Very well. You've already got some talent with your voice, now we'll test your songwriting ability. I'll wager you didn't think this would be part of your training," he said with a wry smile.
  61. Shinjo Kurosawa
  62. "You flatter me, Sachio-san." Kuro was a huge sucker for compliments, and now he was determined to make a song that 1. Kairi would enjoy and 2. Sachio wouldn't rip to shreds. "My sensei told me to always be vigilant and expect everything and nothing. But it is true I never expected that courtly ways and courting would be something I would have opportunity to learn." Frankly he never imagined anything like this. "It is... most pleasant, to have this opportunity. I am grateful to have such good fortune to have met you."
  63. Doji Sachio
  64. "Ah, thank Kairi-san. It's thanks to her, after all. She has a habit of bringing people together."
  65. Shinjo Kurosawa
  66. "It really is," he couldn't help but agree with the most natural sounding tone that he could muster. DISCRETION. "It is another thing I can be grateful to her for, among many."
  67. Doji Sachio
  68. "Ah yes," Sachio said with a nod. "She's an extraordinary person, isn't she?"
  69. Shinjo Kurosawa
  70. He had to look away from this conversation, thank the Kami for this painting right here. "Kairi-san is truly a gift of light, in these dark times." He said more softly.
  71. Doji Sachio
  72. "In that sentiment, Kurosawa-san, you will find no argument or lecture from me."
  73. Asahina Kairi
  74. As if right on cue, Kairi just so happened to be walking by.  On her way to check on the children no doubt.  She had changed her path to pass by Sachio's mural so that she could update the children on its status each day they couldn't come by to see it.  Today was one of those days.  "Sachio-san.  Kurosawa-san.  So nice to see you both here." There was no need for formalities among close friends, but she did bow of course.
  75. Shinjo Kurosawa
  76. The man froze as if he had been struck by lightning, stiffening where he stood. What. A. Coincidence. Slowly, the Unicorn turned because he could not believe his ears. But it was true; Kairi had joined them. "Hai, Kairi-san." He never knew if he was being appropriately formal or not, so he gave a bow as well. "We were just... discussing you. And all the good you have done in m- our lives."
  77. Asahina Kairi
  78. She thought about that for a few seconds.  "Discussing me?  Should I leave and come back a different time?" Truth be told she wasn't expecting that at all.  "I've done nothing more than anyone else you should know."
  79. Shinjo Kurosawa
  80. "No," he spoke a bit too quickly. He was going to blow it. He cleared his throat and gave a moment to focus himself. "Not at all, cousin. We enjoy your company. Have you had rice today?" His even, calm tone was only betrayed by his eyes, which were still bright at her appearance. But at her humility he couldn't resist a small smile. "You have done so much. Just the other night you saved the Lion magistrate's jaw." He definitely couldn't forget that night at all.
  81. Asahina Kairi
  82. "Oh......well I'm a doctor.  I couldn't just not do anything."  She played with her hair as she spoke, tucked a few strands behind her ear then pulling them back out.  "Nothing special.....I suppose.  Look at what Sachio-san is crating here.  That is something.  Or how you bravely leave the safety of the walls to protect others.  That is something."
  83. Shinjo Kurosawa
  84. "Your work is honorable, cousin," he said with more affirmation. "But more so than that, it is how you perform your duty. Tirelessly and without complaint, you serve the patients and the children nonstop. How many years have you been here now, at Kyuden Ashinagabachi? You have saved so many lives by now." She was the real MVP. "Myself, my duty is dangerous, but I do not go out to battle every day. And I have only been here a few months."
  85. Doji Sachio
  86. Sachio shook his head, returning from wherever he'd zoned out to, bowing reflexively.
  87.  
  88. "Kairi-san, greetings. As it was said, we were discussing your good works around the castle and beyond. And how indispensable they are to the cause."
  89. Asahina Kairi
  90. "Six.  Six years Kurosawa-san."  She wasn't sure if he actually wanted her to answer, but she did anyway.  "I appreciate that you......well.....appreciate my work.  I am happy to do it, to have a purpose."
  91. Shinjo Kurosawa
  92. He looked at Sachio, then Kairi. It was as Sachio said; the sword brought death. His art, her healing, brought life and creation and joy. And he brought death. Yes, his skills could save them, but only through more death. This began to weigh on his mind slightly. "You two are invaluable to the resistance. Without you both, the castle would be far more bleak."
  93. Doji Sachio
  94. (Gah, passing out, sorry team...)
  95. Shinjo Kurosawa
  96. ((no problem homie, thank you for posting with me all day))
  97. Asahina Kairi
  98. (sleep, sleep)
  99. Doji Sachio
  100. "Most generous of you to say so, but I simply-" he paused. "Well, I suppose I haven't been ordered to create anything around the castle, but in such matters I have to fall back on the duty instilled by the Academy. In carrying it out... I can keep it alive," he said a bit slowly, as if making his own small realization.
  101.  
  102. "And all of these things are complementary, are they not? Culture and faith are bolstered by those willing to risk their lives to defend them, and they are themselves bolstered by both, having something worthwhile to defend."
  103. Asahina Kairi
  104. "You see, Sachio-san acts with no orders, only the will to create and perhaps make this life a bit better for those around him." She nodded at that, sure of it.
  105. Shinjo Kurosawa
  106. The young man seemed a bit distracted now. The sword and the brush were both equally important to a samurai; he full well remembered the story Chiaki had told, but until now he hadn't realized how imbalanced the scales were in his life. Kurosawa had always imagined only a life of a warrior, but what was he without his sword? Was he only a weapon of destruction? Merely a tool of death and nothing more? The two samurai in his presence that he looked up to the most inspired him, in this moment. He would become something more. An inkling of an idea on how to heal, and how to create, begin to take seed in his mind.
  107.  
  108. He bowed deeply to them now. "Kairi-san. Sachio-san. Thank you for your words and inspiration. I shall take my leave, for I have much to think about." He stared purposefully at Sachio for this next part, not daring to let his eyes slip. "I will begin to work on my courtship soon, Sachio-san, expect me again for tea sometime. Perhaps we can have it under this painting. May you both walk with the winds at your back."
  109. And after it was appropriate, he would take his leave.
  110. Doji Sachio
  111. Sachio bowed to the departing Shinjo. "Spirits keep you, Kurosawa-san."
  112. Asahina Kairi
  113. She returned his bow.  "I apologise for interrupting.  Be safe Kurosawa-san." She stopped and something finally caught her attention. "He will begin to work on his courtship soon?"
  114. Doji Sachio
  115. "You heard correctly, Kairi-san." He took another leisurely puff of his kiseru. "The young man has found himself smitten, and wishes to properly court the one who draws his affection. He came to me for advice in how to do so."
  116.  
  117. He shook his head. "Curious, how a confident warrior can falter at the prospect of self-expression. It is a vulnerability few are willing to expose."
  118. Asahina Kairi
  119. "Oh.... well I can see why.  He is desirable.....I mean a nakodo would find him desirable for a match.  I believe he mentioned something about a Phoenix....." She trailed off looking up into the sky at nothing in particular.
  120.  
  121. "I will agree though, he does not have enough confidence in himself in certain areas."
  122. Doji Sachio
  123. He glanced over to Kairi. "It's a welcome change, in some ways, is it not? Decisive action is important, doubt a poison, but... understanding one's limitations is also critical. Only in so doing does one know what they need to overcome, and then seek to better themselves."
  124. Asahina Kairi
  125. "True, I believe there can be a fine line between confidence and arrogance.  We shouldn't be afraid to acknowledge our weaknesses, I do it all of the time...... unfortunately." That did make her smile.  "It is all about bettering ourselves."
  126. Doji Sachio
  127. "Very fine, indeed. And the quest for self-improvement... it's a neverending journey, is it not? As Kakita himself sought perfection, so ought we all."
  128.  
  129. A long pause as he looked over the wall again, then back to Kairi. "And you, how does your life's journey fare of late?"
  130. Asahina Kairi
  131. "It moves along Sachio-san.  The life of a doctor, of a caretaker, they move along.  It can be....draining at times, but I feel like what one takes from me, the other gives.  If I see too many sick and injured patients in a day, the children fill me with energy and joy.  When the children get on my nerves, healing makes me remember what I have and what is good."
  132. Doji Sachio
  133. "A delicate balance, in a time where much is demanded of us, no matter the vocation," Sachio mused. "It is good to see you are not overly taxed, especially with how many battles our samurai have seen of late."
  134. Asahina Kairi
  135. "I would prefer more time for art, but that is not what my duty is.  Before.....all of this.....I wanted to practice sculpture and gardening.  I spent a little time dabbling as well, but it was not meant to be.  One day perhaps.  In the meantime I will live vicariously through your art, Sachio-san."
  136. Doji Sachio
  137. "Ah, you need not live vicariously, Kairi-san. Perhaps we can incorporate it into your time with... well, probably not those you treat for injuries, but those may be lessons the children would enjoy?"
  138. Asahina Kairi
  139. "Would you give the children lessons?" There was hope in her voice. "I have tried to keep them up on the arts, they have regular calligraphy lessons.  I would like for them to be able to paint to express themselves in that way.  Well, I let them paint, but there is no real structure as I never really learned myself ."
  140. Doji Sachio
  141. "Sumi-e, ikebana... perhaps they can benefit from the simple joys of gardening or sculpture... and give you an opportunity to enjoy the same."
  142. Asahina Kairi
  143. "I only wish for the children to have a complete education, the arts included.  I've stuck to a more history heavy curriculum so far, I want them to know where they came from and not to keep as much alive as I can."
  144. Doji Sachio
  145. "And if their education happens to dovetail with your own self-improvement, Kairi-san?" he asked with a wry smile.
  146. Asahina Kairi
  147. "Why, then we should all be better for it." She returned his smile.
  148. Doji Sachio
  149. "Then it's settled!" He gave a small nod, confident of that. "I'm curious... what is your usual medium when you sculpt?"
  150. Asahina Kairi
  151. "Oh, well it has been some time Sachio-san.  But clay mostly, sometimes I would get to sculpt from stone as well.  But that was long ago."
  152. Doji Sachio
  153. "Ah, then perhaps you can offer some advice to a fellow sculptor! I'd previously been approached by Agasha-san about a desecrated shrine to Inari, and the question had been posed of how to create new statues for the shrine without having to transport heavy stone across the province. With Mushorai-san's suggestion of working together to help East Paddy Village, I think I have come upon a solution."
  154. Asahina Kairi
  155. Well now that had her curiosity.  "I'd love to hear it of course.  It upsets me to hear about desecrated shrines though."
  156. Doji Sachio
  157. He nodded. "Inari's, in particular, seem to be a target of such desecration. But rather than a large stone statue, I'd considered using wood, in the fashion of Mantis artisans." A pause as he considered something else with a bit of a smile, and he continued. "And rather than a single statue, a... progression, of sorts. Easier to assemble smaller works that combine into a single tableau. I was considering four aspects of Inari, each tied to one of the seasons, to one of the elements..."
  158. Asahina Kairi
  159. "Brilliant, Sachio-san.  That sounds like carving as well.  Interesting, very practical.  Stone would obviously be out of the picture, too heavy."  She stopped to think.  "Well, I don't have any experience with sculpting or carving wood, but if you need my help I will gladly offer it."
  160. Doji Sachio
  161. "Of course, Kairi-san. It'd be an honor. And the consecration, as well. The shrine itself could be a lesson of Inari's many facets, to help people remember, and perform proper veneration... when the Fortune fully returns to us."
  162. Asahina Kairi
  163. "And they will, so it would be nice if we kept their shrines not desecrated."  That she was stubbornly sure of.  "It would be a good opportunity to show the people how to perform such rituals."
  164. Doji Sachio
  165. "And there we go, another possible lesson. The world's full of them, and not all of them so grim," he mused.
  166. Asahina Kairi
  167. "Very good.  You seem to have things well taken care of.  I can only hope to be so organized."
  168. Doji Sachio
  169. "Hah! You flatter me, but let's not confuse an opportunity recognized for being organized."
  170. Asahina Kairi
  171. "I suppose that is fair.  It must be in how you present the issue." She nodded at that. "You'll let me know when you begin then?  As I said, I don't believe I have the necessary skills, but I will help if I can."
  172. Doji Sachio
  173. "Of course, Kairi-san; I'd welcome the help. And when the time comes to visit East Paddy Village with Mushorai-san, your presence will be indispensable."
  174. Asahina Kairi
  175. "I will be ready then." She looked one last time at the mural so that she could tell the children what had been added. " I should leave you to your work.  Besides, if I stay any longer the children will come looking for me, and I don't want that.  Be safe Sachio-san." With that she gave her fellow Crane a bow.
  176. Doji Sachio
  177. He returned the bow. "Spirits keep you, Kairi-san."
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