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Legend of the Five Rings Play by Post

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The hiemin finishes loading up several packages of what appear to be woven but as yet undyed heavy-duty cloth. As he does so, the two children - breakfast presumably devoured - barrel past him and park themselves in comfortable spots on the wagon. The man's wife follows across the yard, a stern finger wagging - evidently the older boy is expected to help his father heft the wagon back up the ramp from Pleasant Mooring to the junction with the Merchant Road. 

Other guests are starting to emerge from the inn, and with a last bow, Tamago rushes off to attend to the next guest in line - in this case, the masked Scorpion Kenshin spoke with the previous evening. 

Kenshin and Aruzhan also mount, the former Unicorn samurai stepping calmly into Wildfire's saddle with a comfortable ease, and the two fall in behind Hekasu and Yoshi. 

 

The rain has been light enough that the path remains easy enough for the horses to manage without trouble, and a few minutes later the quartet of ronin are leaving the derelict gateway, and the white chalk of the Daidoji Merchant Road crunches under your horse's feet once more.

 

We're going to end scene there. Obviously you can recover to 1/2 composure and endurance, but also you can recover twice your water ring in endurance - if required - for a very restful night's sleep

Getting from here to Uimi Mura is not hard - it's the next thing on the road, so it's no feat of navigation, but the faster you get there, obviously the better. 

It's a distance march, rather than a charge, though, so we'll call it TN2 survival/endure (earth).

 

 

 

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Well, that'd be second-guessing the distribution that Aruzhan made, and she's the best one to know the correct distribution. I guess since we have a clear road to follow, I'm not sure what the check exactly represents other than "we ride along the road better if we roll better."

Maybe sharing a story about a traveling monk of Ebisu? A wizened lass who heard of a worn temple far from her home, and set upon the road to assist in its repairs. If that works, I'll make a story for my next post.

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Yoshi briefly considers the idea of putting extra bags on Hekasu's mount or even his lap.  It would have been so much more comfortable in a private room last night ...

No. That would be petty.... 

::I roll well. Earth 3/Survival 1, producing 2 dice that come up with Success with options, an explosion with strife, and a success. I keep 3 success & 2 options. I spend the 2 options to remember an important piece of information not directly related to the task at hand (and maybe establish a modest preparatory action. Anything related to learning more about the bandits in the woods, the weirdness of the space trade or where Yoshi might find quick and easy work at next village would all be cool areas I'd love to pursue..."

"Road on this stretch seems to be in excellent repair. I think we're making good time."

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The four ronin make good time along the Merchant Road. As they pass through the woods, they keep a sharp eye on the trees, careful to note any signs that might indicate a bandit presence.

To pass the time, the quartet share stories and snippets of gossip overheard in the inn, including a rendition of a story from Hekasu. 

As Yoshi and Kenshin discuss the Crab Clan merchant's comments about the spice trade, Kenshin remembers something he heard some time ago; The Crab merchant mention his customer was an Imperial samurai named Seppun Kunitake, who had "been granted Seppun Wakita-sama's former post at the Imperial Histories". Kenshin recalls her name from a rumour he heard - that someone by that name, serving the Imperial Chancellor, had recently taken their life, but that it had been hushed up and no-one outside the capital knew why. According to the rumour her death poem implied she was being pressured into something, and took what she saw as the honourable way out.

By late morning, the horses emerge from the rapidly thinning woods at the top of a small rise. The midday sun is bright despite a gentle shower, which patters on the leaves - larger drops occasionally working their way through the canopy and dripping onto mounts and riders. The land ahead drops away through a scrub-filled meadow into a flat plain, full of well-tended rice paddies, whilst in the centre is a sizeable village, looking about half again the size of Flint Quay, only a few minutes ride away.

At the moment, the village is closer to three times the size of Ito Sora's domain - outside the outskirts of the permanent buildings is a tented marketplace, stabling and storage yards and roped off practice fields, archery ranges and performance areas covering area at least as large as the village itself. At the centre is a large field where - as best as Yoshi can make out from the distance - a large group of performers are performing some kind of dance with long, yari-length poles strewn with streamers of white cloth, giving the overall impression of clouds on the breeze.

Next to the square is an open wooden structure vaguely reminiscent of the skeleton of a shrine - lacking walls and roof. A large blue banner, whose Mon can't be seen from this distance but is presumably Yasuki, hangs in pride of place.

The distant sound of gongs, firecrackers and the hum of commerce and celebration is just faintly audible.

 

 

The story sounds good. Something to lighten people's hearts is a sensible way to 'assist' - I hadn't thought about that.

15 hours ago, Hida Jitenno said:

I'm not sure what the check exactly represents other than "we ride along the road better if we roll better."

Essentially a combination of making good time and arriving in a good shape, so it would definitely help with the latter. Since you're not making a check yourself, Hekasu will be lightly bruised, battered and considering whether the Moto tradition of grilled horsemeat kebabs is spiritually such a bad idea after all, but it will let Yoshi roll and keep one extra die).

6 hours ago, Void Crane said:

I keep 3 success

You've definitely made good time, then! I'll let you roll (or at least squelch promptly...) into Uimi Mura for late morning.

6 hours ago, Void Crane said:

I spend the 2 options to remember an important piece of information not directly related to the task at hand

The preparatory action is not really that useful for you now; if you want to do something for later, go ahead and do it. Spending 1211841275_OpportunitySmall.png.acf413431211841275_OpportunitySmall.png.acf41343 to establish an action is more for establishing you did something retroactively at the point it's actually needed - if making a check for enduring the elements "now, since I bought a waterproof straw cloak when we were in the market at Flint Quay Village...".

As to things to remember, fair enough. Yoshi is probably fixating a bit on the bandits (at least until the four of you clear the woods!) so having things pop into your head would make sense.

  • Kazama's ronin were in Hiuchiishi Ganpeki Mura because they were wanting to winter there. The battle happened because Sora and Koharu 'objected'.
  • You don't actually know where they were coming from or going to. Sora never said, if he knew. They certainly fell back south into the forest once they were beaten.
  • Kazama's men had recently been re-equipped, well and at great expense (not just horses, but horses from the same source, all freshly re-tacked.
  • You never actually saw the arrow-head which was stuck in the boar, but come to think of it, to cause a serious bleed like that it must probably have been a flesh-ripper head, and the thickness suggests a heavier war-bow or crossbow. Again, that's pretty lavish equipment for a bunch or ronin.
  • As a ronin more used to the practicalities of things than some highborn samurai, if a mercenary unit suddenly appears accoutred by their patrons with impressive new wargear, the default questions are "why?" and just as importantly "where did the money come from?"

As far as Uimi Mura and work is concerned:

  • Your best bet for paying work is Ide Arban - Sora's letter should get you an introduction and if he's honest about the size of the caravan she'll probably always be short of competent guards.
  • The best way to get a posting - aside from asking - would be to impress her in one or more of the tournaments attached to the festival. Winning isn't a requirement (indeed if there are high-ranking clan competitors present at what's normally a rural backwater fair it'd be far from a foregone conclusion if it was) but putting in a creditable performance instantly backs up Sora's recommendation of your conduct with a demonstration of your skill with steel.

 

Kenshin - since it was never mentioned before, I was going to pull it forward now. If everyone's chewing over stuff they've heard, it might well come up.

 

 

Edited by Magnus Grendel

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"And once the last stone was laid, she realized 'now, I have arrived.'" Hekasu smiles faintly, then turns his attention towards the festival. "And indeed, so nearly have we. Let's see our way to completing our delivery for Ito-sama before we part our own paths."

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As the horses pass into the open, the gentle shower begins to dampen the horse's hair and tails, and their riders' robes. The ronin notice that the loose surface of the merchant road is allowing the water to drain away effectively without forming the muddy puddles they are used to - no small amount of ingenuity as well as simply money has gone into its construction.

They reach the market outskirts within a few minutes, and the comparative peace of the journey through the woodlands is swept away by the noisy chaos of the festival. Under canopies, clusters of firecrackers pop and snap, and small shrines burn sticks of incense of a dozen different fragrances. The crowds of peasants part respectfully as best they can out of the path of samurai but even so the 'streets' between rows of stalls and tents feel cramped, and Yoshi notes the rich grass that has grown on the meadow over the long summer is being trodden down steadily underfoot - within a day or so, if the rain keeps up, it is likely to be little more than a mud track.

Passing the performance field, Aruzhan pauses for a moment to watch the dancers as they weave around one another to the sound of frenetic drumming, spinning their 'clouds' high and low, the effect of a gathering cloudburst becoming if anything more pronounced as the clean white ribbons become damp and patchy with the rain. Next to her, Kenshin looks across the field at the tall, shrine-like pavilion, clearly studying the smaller banners to either side of the Yasuki mon and the samurai sat beneath them.

Towards the end of the 'street' the ronin are currently passing down, the tents become much more extravagant pavilions, and it is there that the retainers of Great Clan samurai are likely to be found.

As usual, if you want to try a different skill/approach not listed here, explain what and why and we'll discuss.

Survey (Water)/Government TN2 to size up the various people in the grand pavillion

Scrutinise (Air)/Commerce TN2 to assess the market

Theorise (Fire)/Culture TN1 to come up with ideas on how best to contact Ide Arban.

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Automatically Yoshi's eyes scan the market as the ronin make their way forward...

::Air3/Commerce2. Yields a blank. 2x success, a success w/ strife, and an option. I keep 2 successes and an option. I definitely spend the option on subtlety.....no reason at all for anyone to, uh, notice me at the moment. ::

 

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The market is bustling, and if it were permanent would easily match the markets in most larger cities. Vendors are everywhere, hawking dried fruit, cooked bird-meat, spices, incense, cloth, carved wood, even - with a noticeable gap around the stall - a temporary forge set up by an enterprising travelling tinker repairing tools.

The more prosperous inhabitants of Uimi Mura form some of the vendors and no small portion of the customers, but the majority of the stalls appear to be villagers from the rest of Yasuki Onodera's territories, or merchants acting on their behalf. Many stalls are centred around a cart, with a 'roof' of waxed cloth to keep the rain off the goods on display - indeed most smaller stalls barely consist of anything else.

 Scattered here and there are occasional stalls clearly managed on behalf of other samurai, discreet family mons declaring their allegiance and their superior status over the heimin merchants crowded between them. The bulk are Yasuki, unsurprisingly, but there are some Daidoji, and even a few Soshi and Ide mons to be seen. The samurai making their way through the market tend (unsurprisingly) to stop at them in preference to the hiemin stalls, and most offer goods suitable for the nobility; silk for kimono, expensive sake, and carved artworks. A large 'stall' bearing scorpion heraldry on the right just before the pavilions appears to have been turned into part inn, part teahouse, and several samurai - many of whom lack family mons and have a general air of ronin - are sat under the awning watching the crowd and examining and maintaining a rather eclectic selection of bows.  

 

Yoshi listens to snatches of conversation as he passes and notes that - whilst the merchant he briefly eavesdrops on is expressing outrage at the prices quoted for spices - they seem far more reasonable than those implied by the merchant he spoke to in Pleasant Mooring Inn. Besides which, like Flint Quay Village, quite a few of the merchants selling hot food have clearly used some on their food. He is mildly amused to see that one stall manned by a short but heavyset-looking northerner is selling bowls of noodles accompanied by something matching Arzhan's description of 'hikiniku'.

Edited by Magnus Grendel

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Hekasu looks around, trying to figure out where Arban might be at. "Hmm, I suppose if I wander enough, I'll find her eventually..."

 

Fire/Culture: [blank], [blank].

Edited by Hida Jitenno

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Hekasu ponders how to find the Ide Samurai, but is distracted and loses his train of thought as he sees a samurai at a stall ahead bow and be handed an elegant-looking bottle that he is certain bears the mark of Friendly Traveller Village.

8 hours ago, Hida Jitenno said:

Fire/Culture: [blank], [blank].

Wow. Hekasu's not big on markets, is he? (Also Ide Arban is a she).

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"Actually, I'll catch up with you in a moment, Yoshi-san. I see a lead to my primary mission."

Hekasu dismounts and leads the pony over to the stall that caught his eye. "Greetings; was that the exceptional Friendly Traveler Sake that I saw but a moment ago?"

Yeah, so it would seem. I feel like I'm failing about half my rolls or so lol.

Edited by Hida Jitenno

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"Hmmm? Okay. I'm heading over toward the big pavilion. I'm sure that one of the Unicorn there must know of Arban-sama." There is a beat as Yoshi pushes forward. "I thought that Arban was ... a woman? Am I wrong about that?"

Maybe Hekasu is already lost in the crowd as Yoshi calls out his last question....

"Well okay then." Yoshi takes a deep breath. "On to the pavilion. I wonder if the honorable Ide Arban is over there?" 

::Water2/Government0. I roll one success with strife  and one option. I use the option to negate the strife.::

 

 

 

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"Greetings, honourable samurai-sama" says the stall attendant, bowing deeply to Hekasu. "You have a keen eye - and are quite correct." He gestures across the stand showing his master's wares - a selection of different sake brands and various elegant drinking sets.

" I have several small bottles of Friendly Traveller Genshu Sake; my lord took delivery of them from Oshuko's representative here only today. Can I interest you in some?"

Kenshin and Aruzhan nod to Yoshi, indicating that they will remain at the crossing - and seek somewhere to stable the horses if needed - as he heads around the field towards the grand pavilion, pausing as a stream of slightly damp and breathless dancers streams out of the side gate to general applause. For the moment, he remains hidden in the crowd as he takes stock of the pavillion.

Despite his height, the crowd does much to block his view. The ronin is not really able to pick out many people he knows amongst the two dozen or so samurai in the grand pavillion. It takes him little imagination to assume the elderly samurai sat squarely under the Yasuki family mon in the front and centre of the pavilion is Yasuki Onodera himself - which would make the rather nervous-looking young girl next to him wearing a startlingly beautiful hairpiece of a gold-and-ruby bird taking wing his new Phoenix-born bride. Various important looking Great Clan samurai - including several Crane clan samurai and at least two Unicorn clan members Yoshi can see - cluster around behind him, half-hidden by Onodera's dais, dropping into private conversations now the performance has finished, whilst impeccably dressed servants materialise from the folds of the pavilion to offer refreshment.

A tall, young samurai wearing a Yasuki mon over a second, smaller family mon Yoshi doesn't recognise seems to be directing matters from the sidelines. It's less of a certainty but Yoshi mentally notes him as Nobuto Tohashiro, the Yasuki vassal and Onodera's seneschal for the region. Unsurprisingly, there is a line of guards - elegantly dressed in formal robes, and discretely positioned, but arguably more obvious to a trained warrior like Yoshi because of how hard they are trying not to be obvious - separating the grand pavilion from the rest of the crowds. More worryingly, stood casually by the side entrance to the pavilion, and supervising access to the pavillion, alongside a group of imposing-looking yojimbo who've remained outside, is one samurai Yoshi has no difficulty identifying whatsoever; Yasuki Aki of Shiro Kaotsuki no Higashi.

 

You can leave your horse with the other two if you like - Hekasu has said he's keeping hold of his - The assess was TN2 so that's a failure - but it's only a shortfall of one, so obvious people are still obvious, and Yoshi's doing better than Hekasu's

"If I think about this logically and concentrate maybe I will oooh sake!"

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"Interest, certainly; unfortunately, my master has dispatched me here to acquire more than a few small bottles." Hekasu spreads his hands apologetically. "But if you were to point me to Oshuko's representative, I would certainly be sure they knew who recommended them."

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Yoshi is happy to leave his horse in the care of Aruzhan.

"Well I already knew she would be here. No reason to panic." Yoshi mutters softly. But also no reason to meet her just yet either. Better after the competitions and I maybe look better after defeating an opponent or two. Or humiliate myself as a fool. He thinks.

Yoshi turns back toward the marketplace and starts looking for one of the merchants with the Ide mon. Perhaps I can get the information I desire another way.

 

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The stall attendant's smile broadens, and he gestures down a side 'alley' that cuts behind the samurai pavilions, directing Hekasu to a merchant named 'Soji Third-Key' who is here to represent the Friendly Traveller Village Sake Company.

"I'm certain he can arrange whatever help you need, given time," the attendant says. "And...if you would let him know my lady's name, I am certain it could only do good. I manage this stall on behalf of the estate of the honourable Yasuki Niku-sama, who is sadly absent from the town at this time."

 

Yoshi - finding an Ide merchant won't be too hard but finding a helpful one might be a touch harder, especially trying to get their attention long enough to interrogate them when you've no interest in buying anything, and when you're asking for directions to a much wealthier, more successful competitor...

I'm not going to make you roll for finding one, but I'd suggest getting the information once you find one is a courtesy check. Either TN2 with charm (water) to get by with a smile and a kind word or TN1 with deceive (air) to imply you're a potential customer to get their attention

Edited by Magnus Grendel

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This should be easy enough, Yoshi thinks.

...

"Most honorable merchant. These knives are delightful. I think i saw some just like these once offered by the Ide Arban-sama. You aren't related to that great samurai are you?"

...

"Spices! What is it with the prices of spices?!? They're too high, you can't find them, and then all the farmers are seasoning their food with them! How I wish Ide Arban-sama was around. I bet she could explain this to a poor confused ronin."

...

"Oh the parasol is very beautiful indeed. And I just happen to know a beautiful Yasuki lass ... who it would treasure it if a a tall ronin were to make a gift of it to her. But I have business with Ide Arban-sama to complete first. A ronin needs to be mindful of his coin purse at market. I strongly suspect though that favorable terms are at hand. Do you know where she might be? The sooner I finish that piece of business, the sooner I could return..."

::Air3/Courtesy1. I roll a blank. 2 options. &  a success with strife. Courtesy is my Worldly Ronin skill at level one. I keep the success, the options and ignore the strife. Both options go into the Yoshi-as-ninja-fund to be very subtle. Someone might remember a big ronin asked about goods, but its going to be very hard for anyone to discover I was asking about Ide Arban sama::

::Also if possible I keep and ear out for the gossip of the market.::

 

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Through a few false starts, Yoshi determines that - unfortunately - as a great clan samurai of some standing, Ide Arban is most likely currently one of the unicorn guests of Yasuki Onodera in the Grand Pavillion. However, an adopted ronin-turned-Unicorn bushi by the name of Suio no Ide Bakin, who is the head of Ide Arban's substantial Caravan Guard and one of her most trusted vassals, can supposedly be found in the canvas inn that Yoshi noted nearby.

As Hekasu finishes talking to the stall attendant, he sees Yoshi coming back the other way. Kenshin and Aruzhan see him a moment later, and move to rejoin the other two.

Yoshi is being very careful to linger behind stalls and join conversations in crowds between them, Hekasu notes - which conveniently blocks him from the view of the Grand Pavillion's side of the exercise field - where some sort of friendly kata demonstration competition between various local dojos appears to be beginning, as a group of blue-clad children bow, heft their ornately carved bokken and begin working their way through a simplified form of Tiger Stalks His Prey.

Indeed. Yoshi the diplomatic ninja strikes again....

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"Why yes indeed. I have learned that Suio no Ide Bakin, who is the head of Ide-sama's caravan guard, is right over there in the canvas inn right over there. The honorable Ide-sama is almost certainly in the pavilion. I choose not to attempt to go in. I had the thought that we would be more likely to gain easy admittance if we did well in a tournament or two." 

"I think we should pay our respects to this honorable Suio-san. Or sama?" ::Yoshi sighs:: "Sama. And make some preliminary plans and arrange an audience later. Then compete. What say you Hekasu?"

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