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Hekasu's knuckles are white as he grips the reins with every ounce of strength he has. He remembers to keep them lowered so the pony has its own lead, which he hopes will be enough for it to follow the group along.

I'm good with either, though Hekasu would absolutely not complain about the opportunity to get off the pony and rest some. Did you need a skill roll for me riding?

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Posted (edited)
 

We'll see about XP once you get to the end of a meaningful chapter.

Hekasu - yes, you and aruzhan have been riding for a decent distance, one wounded and one saddle-less. We'll call it TN1 Survival in both cases to avoid a bit of fatigue, probably endurance (earth) for you and balance (air) for aruzhan.

If you're stopping someone could in theory attempt a medicine check to reduce severly wounded to wounded, but you can only do that once - well, once for "outside assistance" and once yourself - in a given time period, so it might be worth waiting till the inn.

Narratively at least, though, a stop and a breather wouldn't hurt, especially since Hekasu is a reluctant horseman at best.

 

Edited by Magnus Grendel

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Posted (edited)

After just over an hour's ride, the quartet of ronin are now relatively deep in the woods. Aruzhan, who has been coping well on Wildfire despite the lack of saddle and full tack, has been looking for a place to stop - Hekasu has honourably refrained from commenting on his wound, but it's clear to her and to the others that he is in no small amount of pain and could do with a chance to rest.

As the group rounds a gentle bend in the road, the former Unicorn notices that a large tree has fallen backwards, ripping down the brush and undergrowth away from the road. It is easy to miss since the undergrowth covers most of the gap, but a pattern of light shows the missing canopy beyond.

Brushing away an overhanging willow branch, and looking at the countless tiny holes in the torn stump, it looks like the base of the trunk has been eaten through by some particularly determined termites or wood-ants, and Aruzhan can only thank the spirits the tree fell away from the road, not towards is - the laden horses could hardly be expected to climb over the thick bole and it would have blocked the road as effectively as a deliberate barricade.

Beyond the stump and the fallen tree, the gap opens out into a small but comparatively well-lit clearing around a rocky patch of ground, where the bushes and trees have been unable to establish themselves - save a few determined spruce saplings poking out at odd angles from cracks - and a lot of thick ivy covering it almost entirely. The entire clearing is small - the whole clearing, tree-line-to-tree-line, is little more than a hundred metres square, and most of that is the rocky scramble, with a couple of metres of grass and gorse between it and the trees, where the undergrowth plants have received more light than normal through the clearing.  The only real exception to the low, if rocky, ground is a stomach-high termite mound at the edge of the rocks.

The forest is dense, making movement through it slow and noisy - and with the gap caused by the falling tree, it has essentially only one entrance, making it well-lit and fairly secure.

 

Hekasu - take a couple of points of fatigue for failure.

Aruzhan - well spotted.

 

 

Edited by Magnus Grendel

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Yoshi stretched after dismounting. Looked worriedly at Hekasu. Then he strung his bow. "I'll keep an eye out for trouble. Bandits. Or other travelers. Plus we don't want to miss the Crab samurai." Yoshi casually cradled the bow under one arm. Ready to use it, but not immediately nocking it with an arrow. "Let me know if I can help with anything else."

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There are a couple of things you might notice about the clearing as you enter. Hekasu, Kenshin and Aruzhan may each attempt either (but not both) of the following checks.

  • TN2 Theology/Sense (Void)
  • TN2 Labour/Survey (Water)

(Yoshi is excluded as I'm assuming he's staying on or near the road to keep watch rather than going into the clearing)

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(( void 2  i rolled one blank one explosive success with strife..  Theology 2 added one blank and one success. The explosive success gives a 3rd success.  So the total is 3 successes, 1 strife on the theology void roll.))

  After walking a circle around the clearing Aruzhan sets out her bedroll and begins to meditate, taking in the ambiance of this beautiful clearing.

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"Lovely clearing. Thank you, Aruzhan-san." Hekasu does his best getting off the pony and finding a nice spot to sit. For a moment he looks around at the area, enjoying all the detail he can take in from the nature around him.

Fatigue: 2/6.

Labor 0/Water 3: 1521230551_ExplosiveSuccessSmall.png.2cc1518491343_StrifeSmall.png.6434e11e967f01521230551_ExplosiveSuccessSmall.png.2cc1518491343_StrifeSmall.png.6434e11e967f0, [blank]. Keep the two.

Resolve explosions: 792424631_SuccessSmall.png.f580b7641c8c81518491343_StrifeSmall.png.6434e11e967f0792424631_SuccessSmall.png.f580b7641c8c8. Just keeping the success only.

Resolve strife: 2/8.

Resolve success: 3 against TN2.

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As she meditates, Aruzhan begins to sense a spiritual presence very strongly in the clearing. She feels no sense of hostility, but nevertheless it seems unable to communicate properly. She gets the sense of several centuries of age. Inclining her head to seek the source of the presence, she opens her eyes....and finds herself looking squarely at the termite mound.

Hekasu makes his way to the edge of the rocky scree that forms the bulk of the clearing, and - gently, trying not to over-exert himself - pull away some of the ivy to find some flat stone he can sit on and which offers something to lean back against, allowing him to rest and enjoy the sun. Surprisingly, he finds a good spot on his first try - though the ivy proves quite stubborn.

Slightly winded, Hekasu settles down and leans back in his improvised seat, stretching his shoulders and spine, and bracing himself against the corner of the stone. It takes a moment to register what a perfect right angle the corner is, but once he does, he starts to look across the stone scree, noticing precise right angles everywhere on the scattered lumps of what he is becoming increasingly certain is years-old, maybe - given the wizened but determined tree saplings which have fought there way between chunks of stone and now poke out at odd angles like scattered bonsai plants - centuries-old rubble.

The two ronin turn to one another, and both start to announce their discoveries simultaneously.

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Posted (edited)
 

rolled an explosive+strife, and 1 opp. Rolled an extra black for the explosive for a success+strife. Keeping the explosive and the opp, so total: 1 explosive success, 1 success, 2 strife, 1 opp 

 

using opp to resolve 1 strife [\spoiler]

Edited by Von3679

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“Well let’s find out.”  Aruzhan collects some herbs from around the clearing and places them on a flat stone. Praying quietly, she burns the herbs and welcomes the spirits of void to come and chat with her.  (( I’m trying to use commune with spirits void. Void 2 theology 2 I rolled one opportunity with strife, one success with strife, one blank and one success.  I’ll keep the success and success with strife.  I’m just trying to get an idea of the general nature of these ruins and the spirits around here.))

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Posted (edited)

Understanding comes, slowly. Aruzhan senses the faint, lingering traces of family ancestor spirits - this place was a home, once, but centuries ago, and whoever may have once lived here is long gone.

The ronin shujenga feels a pull towards the termite mound, however, and she stands and walks respectfully towards it. The dried mud is shot through with holes, with columns of blind but industrious white ants scrabbling up and down it carrying fragments of leaf litter like heimin labourers returning to a town. Under the mud spire, however, is another shape, which protrudes through the mound as worn but clearly artificially shaped grey stone in a few places.

Respectfully, Aruzhan reaches out and brushes away the mud from one corner of the stone - leaving a few termites scattering away from her hand in seeming panic, and, moments later, a small formation of fractionally larger soldier termites emerging from a nearby hole, jaws flexing as they hunt for any threat to the nest like patrolling bushi responding to an alarum bell. The ronin has no need to risk any irritating bites from the tiny insects, though, as she has already revealed enough of the underlying shape to identify it.

The stone is a small shrine; a stone lantern and a small stone statue which has been steadily enveloped by the terracotta spire of the termite mound. Only two corners of the lantern and a hooded, bearded, kindly-looking old face are now visible above the mud. An inscription on the edge of the lantern proclaims the shrine to be dedicated to Shiroari, Fortune of White Ants.

 

 

Hekasu/Kenshin

if it's a family home it goes almost without saying it was a samurai home - heavy stone foundations of this size means a building of multiple stories and maybe even one that was partially fortified.

This place can't have been too big on a samurai scale (at maybe ten metres square it's floor area is quite a bit smaller than Sora's mansion and closer to Shingen's border post - though if it had a second story and no internal courtyard it might have been roughly the same area inside as the Flint Quay Village mansion) - and it's positively pokey on the scale of even smaller palaces you two have seen to the North, but it's way too big to have been a peasant dwelling - or a peasant building at all unless it had been some sort of communal building for a large settlement.

 

Aruzhan

Commune With The Spirits is a TN1 Theology check, so that's success with one bonus 792424631_SuccessSmall.png.f580b7641c8c8.

Using the Sense The Kami boon - "Detect all spirits and uses of their magic by shugenja within a number of range bands equal to the ring you used plus your bonus successes" - you sense the presence of spirits within range 3 - assuming you're more or less central in the clearing you'll cover most of it.Using the void ring, you "appeal to the departed, such as ancestor spirits, and other non-elemental supernatural presences" - which as it happens is exactly the right choice.

Knowing anything about Shiroari specifically is rather unlikely but possible, but you might well be able to figure out the essential elements of the Fortune's history from the rather unpleasant purview the Fortune is responsible for. This is a TN3 Theology/Recall (Earth) or TN2 Theology/Theorise (Fire). In either case, your passion for History will apply.

Edited by Magnus Grendel

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(( I rolled theorize and got 1 success with strife, 2 opportunity, and 1 opportunity with strife.  I ‘ll just keep the two opportunity, which I don’t really have any plans for.  I can “extrapolate the motivations and desires of another character in the scene or wider situation.”  would the spirits count as a character in this case?))

”Shiroari..  the fortune of white ants.. Perhaps not as well regarded as he deserves.”

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I guess so? Guessing at the motivations of a spirit you've never heard of is going to be tenuous, though.

Assuming the termites were directed - tackling a full-grown oak is no small task and will have taken years - then clearly the spirits wanted someone - maybe but not necessarily you - to find this clearing.

Perhaps more relevant is the motivation of whoever built the shrine. No-one is going to venerate termites. Heimin fight ceaseless battles in rural villages to contain and exterminate the destructive insects. So it seems wierd anyone would go to the trouble of making a shrine - and the scale of the shrine is even more odd; this isn't a temple. It's not even a decent sized roadside shrine like Seido Hikora; it's a little bottom-of-the-garden shrine next to what feels like a former family home, where you might expect a shrine to a family's ancestors. The only way that makes sense is if the mortal subseqently proclaimed as Fortune of White Ants was an famous ancestor or close relative of whoever lived here when the shrine was built.

Hekasu and Kenshin could try the check too to see if they have better luck. Theorise is the sort of "maybe if" where inspiration is helped by a sounding board, so with appropriate narrative description, one of you assisting the other is possible instead of making two seperate attempts.

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"White ants, eh?" Hekasu tries to scoot himself a bit further away from the shrine, his pen-name coming to mind. "Well, clearly the stones of the house survived, if not any lumber. I wonder if such a Fortune was named by the Steel Chrysanthemum?"

Hekasu uses ones of the characters for "tree" as his 

nom de plume. This is my attempt at an assist, hoping that Kenshin has a better Fire ring than Hekasu.

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