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Okay, TN3 (wounded) Water 3 / Survival 0: 

1211841275_OpportunitySmall.png.acf413431518491343_StrifeSmall.png.6434e11e967f0792424631_SuccessSmall.png.f580b7641c8c81521230551_ExplosiveSuccessSmall.png.2cc1518491343_StrifeSmall.png.6434e11e967f0. Well heck this might just work. Keeping all three.

Resolve explosions: 792424631_SuccessSmall.png.f580b7641c8c8.  Gee, I think I'll keep it.

Resolve strife: 7/8 (6/8 if this is a new scene, which I don't think it would be).

Resolve opp: -2 strife (Water opp). 5/8

Resolve success: 3 success v TN3. Wherein, Hekasu finally passes a Water check.

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so one die it is then. I roll an opportunity.  I was going to ask for a reroll from passion: History, but what about the first ability?  "After a short time studying it, you can discern the era and context of any object, structure or text you encounter- or else you know for certain that no chronicler of the emerald empire has encountered this thing before."

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Occasionally wincing, Hekasu walks slowly round the perimeter of the ruin. There are definitely no signs of horse tracks heading away from the building. No-one is in sight aside from Hiruma Aoi, and other than the tracks of the two servants, no-one has crossed the open ground since The rains softened the earth; mid-afternoon at the latest, about the same time that the ronin were meeting Suio no Bakin.

Aruzhan: passions remove strife but don't offer rerolls. You're correct that you'll get 'era and context' as a minimum, even with no successes.

Have a think what you want to use the opportunity on, then I'll give the results.

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Aruzhan inspects the columns, and the design of the leaning roof, agreeing with Hiruma Aoi's historical documents that it certainly looks to have been a shrine, most likely to one or more local Kami rather than a fortune or ancestral spirit.

The ruin looks vaguely reminiscent of shrines she has seen in Asahina lands on her travels dating from the fifth and sixth centuries, but it has a distinct style of its own rather than being a simple copy of an Asahina building.

 

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"The architect of this shrine certainly has managed to capture the essence of Asahina aesthetics of 6th century, The ability to honor such aesthetics while staying true to their own unique aesthetic is admirable"  Aruzhan steps into the darkened shrine careful not to slip on the wet floor.

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Hiruma Aoi offers Aruzhan the lantern as she steps inside the shrine.

The ruin consisted of a single room, of which a little over half is accessible without crouching under the collapsed roof. There are no furnishing visible and any ornamentation which may once have decorated the walls is long gone. The air is stale and there is a lingering horse-like smell, but nothing and no-one remains within the ruin.

The dampness visible from the doorway extends into the shrine - almost every surface looks dripping wet - far more than can be explained from the odd drip leaking through a crack in the ceiling tiles.

make a tn2 water (survey)/theology check. You can use your opportunity from the previous failed check to provide 'assistance' to yourself.

 

 

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water is 3, theology is 3, plus 1 (white) assist die. black dice come up as 1 opp, 1 opp w/ strife, 1 success w/strife.  white dice are 1 opp and 3 success w/strife. I keep 2 success w/ strife and one opp.  As this is a water roll, I'll use the opportunity to reduce my strife by two.  Also, would those Asahina shrines, that this shrine is similar to, be likely to have hidden compartments or anything like that

  As the familiar odor of horse flesh hits her nostrils, the Shugenja suddenly stops.  For a moment, she stands perfectly still..  probably for the first time since her gempukku.  Her eyes seem lost in some distant memory.  Suddenly her eyes glance towards the water ahead of her. Finally she exhales and her muscles relax..  "No..  this is Rokugan.  We don't trap our shrines."

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Raising an eyebrow, Hekasu starts to ask about 'trap,' then shakes his head, deciding he's better off not knowing what kind of people would desecrate a shrine that should be open to any who seek spiritual comfort.

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Posted (edited)

Arizona's self-imposed calmness seems justified, as hidden soldiers, wards detonating in magical fire, and hidden spring-spears unaccountable fail to suddenly materialize. Shaking off bad memories, she relaxes slightly.

The shrine appears genuinely empty. The entrance she stands in is the only doorway, and - whilst there might be a hidden compartment for, say, storing incense in one of the wooden walls, there is simply no way that a hidden space large enough to conceal a horse or rider could exist within the relatively thin wooden walls of the structure around her. A second door out could be concealed, but the tracks of the horse leaving would presumably have been seen by Hekasu.

"What is it, Aruzhan-san?" Hiruma Aoi asks from behind her, concerned at her reaction.

As she examines her surroundings, one thing does catch her eye. It is a series of smudged charcoal marks in the door frame, mostly washed away by the copious amount of water that seems to have drenched the shrine's interior. Looking up the side of the door frame, she sees more marks tucked behind the frame. Trying to recreate the pattern in her imagination, the Shujenga realises that some form of spiritual barrier existed until recently on the doorway.

 

 

The marks implied a recent use of something closely resembling the

Threshold Barrier ritual - possibly precisely that ritual, in fact, but taught by a school Aruzhan has not encountered before (i.e. not Asahina or any Unicorn Clan family). 

From Aruzhan's best guess, it would have prevented the passage of animals through the doorway.

From way the marks have flaked and cracked in the few remaining dry spots, it had been there a few days in the late summer heat before the humidity of the rains began, but it is definitely recent, not an intended part of the shrine's design. 

 

Hekasu - given Aruzhan's comments on the architecture, please make a TN2 recall/earth government check. 

You can have skilled assistance, as Hiruma Aoi may notice the unusual fact if you don't.

Edited by Magnus Grendel

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The shugenja turns toward Hiruma Aoi.  "There's too much water in the shrine, the simple drip from the rain leaking in through the roof wouldn't have been like this.  Also, these charcoal markings around the doorway seem to be designed to keep animals out.., but the details of the iconography seems.. well..  it's inconsistent with the ways I've seen used by the Asahina or Iuchi.  Perhaps some local shugenja would know more about this."

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Hiruma Aoi cranes his head over Aruzhan's shoulder at the marks on the doorframe. 

"That doesn't look quite like the way the Yasuki and Nobuto priests draw it, either, but I'm certain you're right. There's something strange about it, though. More than just how it's drawn, but I can't put my finger on what." He says.

To a questioning look from Aruzhan, he gestures back towards the forest and the length trek to his home. 

"There is a sheltered area of the garden where Akimitsu grows seedlings before transplanting them into the garden proper,"  Aoi explains, "because my late Father was a much more dedicated gardener than I was. He had such defences placed to protect his vulnerable new blooms - as a child, watching woodland animals scurry past them as if they couldn't see them was probably what first sparked my interest in the spirit world."

He turns towards Hekasu and Kenshin.

"It still wouldnt make sense why a temporary barrier would be put on a ruined and abandoned shrine. I take it no-one has seen anything else? The spirit must have entered and then just dissolved...into water...but...I don't know. The water seems too evenly spread to have all suddenly appeared in one place. More like it's just been washed...by...all of the people who haven't been here... I'm blathering. Forgive me. If anyone has a theory, I would very much like to hear it."

okay...So Hekasu is busy absent mindedly composing more Haiku and doesn't remember anything; fair enough - and not the end of the world. 

This is basically an investigation - so let me know what you want to look at, theorize about or experiment with and we'll figure out skills and TN, or, if you have no inspiration, let me know and we'll figure out some guidance (which might itself involve checks).

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well..  My initial thought is that the culprit didn't just "disappear", but perhaps used a gateway to a spirit realm.. most likely chikushudo, the realm of animals.  Maybe the ritual was an attempt to make sure nothing dangerous escaped through that portal while the culprit did it's work. (so I'm thinking the barrier might have kept something in, rather than keeping something out.)  Also, would I be able to narrow down the markings to a particular style.. i.e. ancestral, foreign, alchemical, elemental, etc.  Even if I don't know the specific school on sight, perhaps Aruzhan would be able to make some educated guesses based on the situation, location, and style.  It's also possible that someone may have created a water horse which got here and then was dissipated, but that leaves the problem of where the culprit went afterward.  Essentially though, Aruzhan is expecting to see some evidence that a gateway is/was here, either for someone to escape, or to bring a spirit through (perhaps trapping it in the temple in order to force it to bargain)

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I, OOC, basically agree with Inle. But that's way outside of Hekasu's wheelhouse. Hekasu believes that a mortal human bandit was using some manner of disguise to spook the backwater peasants. That theory is falling apart with the "someone came in but didn't come out and isn't still here" discovery. So on the odds that it's spirits at work, he's kinda hanging back while the people that know about that sort of thing do their sort of thing.

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Aruzhan - you can check your suspicions and try to narrow down the style of the barrier with a TN2 Air (scrutinise)/ theology check, with skilled assistance from Aoi.

One thing you'll be able to confirm without a check - once you voice your suspicions, Aoi will realise that what 'looked wierd' about the barrier is that it's the wrong way round - oriented to keep an animal or animals inside the shrine, rather than out.

Hekasu - if think about the shrine, a theorize (fire)/Labour check at TN1 might come up with something useful.

You've obviously narrowed down the biggest problem with a mundane explanation...

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1 ring die comes up blank, 3 skill dice comes up with 2 opportunity and 1 success w/ strife, and the skilled assist die comes up one success with strife..  I guess I keep 2 success w/ strife.

  " I believe the barrier was placed on the shrine in order to imprison something, to make it easier to train or bargain with.  The shrine itself seems almost as if it's been washed, perhaps out of respect or regret, but this is not the way to properly cleanse a shrine. It's difficult to say why the it hasn't yet dried some after being washed.. perhaps the spirits would know." Aruzhan steps away from the shrine and begins retrieving the items she'll need in order to commune with the spirits.. she seems a little disappointed as she does so.

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Posted (edited)
 

the remaining bits of the  barrier look like more of an 'elementalist', 'utilitarian', or 'alchemy' style school - it would be wrong to call the design 'graceless' but it is extremely functional, and doesn't include characters or symbols invoking specific spirits that you might expect. 

Obviously you don't have much of it to work on, so it's possible they were there, but are in the erased bits, but the odds of no scraps surviving seems low.

There are also no signs of the sort of ritual Aruzhan would imagine would be needed to breach the walls between spirit realms - neither the spiritual after-effects nor the ritual implements one might use.

As noted, if it's been washed, it's not been done in a very precise or respectful manner, but rather it would mean a *lot* of water would have to have been used, to the point terms like 'sluice out' would have been more appropriate."

 

Hekasu?

Edited by Magnus Grendel

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"So... The ghost took the Ryoshi no Yari here and then bargained with... something...to escape through another realm? I would have thought some sort of flaming spectre able to escape this realm on its own accord."

Says Aoi. 

"Perhaps the priests at the market would be more helpful if I was to approach them. A scared and babbling heimin is easy to brush off in the midst of the chaos of 'First Cloud' celebrations, but a Hiruma samurai is a different matter. I cannot help wonder if there is still some danger here."

Unless anyone specifically asks otherwise, Aoi is probably going to go get a couple of priests and maybe a doshin to keep watch on the ruin.

 

Hekasu:

disregarding - and that's a big ask! - the concept of a disappearing horse, if there is a mundane explanation for the water, there's only one credible source: the well. Heavy as the rain is, this clearing is fairly sheltered and it's only been raining today.

You didn't pay much attention to it since you were focused outward, but a quick inspection should be able to determine if it's been used recently.

Aruzhan - whilst thinking about different schools, you may make a TN3 recall (earth) theology check to see if you can nail down what was bugging you about Aoi's reliquary earlier.

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Posted (edited)

Hiruma Aoi shakes his head as Hekasu makes his way to the well, responding that the well should be as disused as the rest of the shrine.

Hekasu lifts a moss-covered lid, finding it moves easily enough - the joint is rough but it has not seized, and a few snapped strands of ivy implies it has been opened before - relatively recently. The water in the well is mostly stagnant - a few streaks of green algae and some insects flit or float on the surface - but there is a bucket on a stone shelf which looks at least slightly damp despite the lid sheltering it from rain overhead.

given your high vigilance, a TN2 air/scrutinise check might notice something odd

Edited by Magnus Grendel

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My earth (2)/ Theology (3) check comes up with 1 success w/ strife and 1 opp on the ring dice with 1 success, 1 opp, and 1 success with opp on the skill dice. I keep 1 success w/opp and 1 opp.  I failed the roll, but perhaps my opportunity will allow me to remember a place nearby that I could study the problem (scholar/earth uses)?  I guess I can use my other opportunity to reassure Hekasu with my presence, removing two strife.

  The shugenja turns her attention to the men as they open the well..  "Is there anything in there?  If it's been tampered with, perhaps the culprit is not as spiritual as I had guessed.  Is it drinkable?" Aruzhan puts some items back in her pack, not wanting to bother the spirits quite yet.  "Perhaps in the town I can see more of the local invocations, so I can get a better idea of who wrote these glyphs."  (and just to be sure, do these glyphs look like any of the prayers I might have seen in Aoi's estate?)

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