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"Well, I feel a bit relieved if we're not going to have a showdown with a spirit. I had begun to, ah... wonder, slightly, when it looked like an entire horse disappeared!"

Hekasu looks back at the water, "Well, define 'drinkable.' You could probably scoop a cup of it and pour it into your mouth... but it's going to be chewy."

 

Hm, I do not see "scrutinize" as a skill. Analyze is an Air approach to scholar skills, though? On my 3 air dice, I get a success, an exploding success/strife, and a blank. Let me know which skill and then I can decide my keeps.

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Yes, air(scrutinise)/survival is what I meant to write, sorry.

I'd note that the crud is pretty much entirely on the surface; push the bucket under the surface to fill it and you should get clean-ish water. Hekasu may fancy himself a courtier but I'm assuming as a ronin he'll know the practicalities of drawing water from a well without getting a mouthful of algae. It would only takee a second's experimenting to see whether the water underneath is clean enough to be the source used to sluice off the shrine (not that Hekasu has actually looked inside).

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"Though, the water beneath the surface might just be good, especially with a bit of boiling..." He grabs the bucket, looking at it, "I do think this was used recently, though." He glances to Aoi to see what reaction the man has.

Survival is 0 so my roll above is it. So keeping success and explo/strife.

Resolve explosion: Opp/strife. I'll keep it.

Add 2 strife (6/8, after removing the two from Aruzhan)

Resolve opp: Learn Aoi's demeanor and current strife. (that or convince him to pay me 10% more for this water.... yeah lets go with demeanor)

Resolve success: 2 v TN2. Boom!

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Hekasu pushes the base of the  bucket across the water to enlarge one of the in the floating scum, dips the bucket under the water, then lifts it out, tipping the top few inches of water back into the well.

Several small water striders slither away from the splattering droplets - which must look like vast boulders to them, Hekasu's poetic half abstractly thinks.

Two continue to float lazily in the path of the water droplets - clearly, on closer inspection, already dead and strangely blackened and burned.

Hekasu half turns to mention this when an errant water drop catches on of the surviving water striders on the back of its carapace. The insect already had a tiny drop of waxy residue that had landed there previously and set. When the water touches it, there is an almost imperceptible hiss and a flare of greenish flame across its back.

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"Baka!" Aruzhan charges toward Hekasu with a wild look in her eyes as she tries desperately to swat his hand from his mouth before he can taste the water.  With too much ground to cover, she only manages to meet her target after the deed is done.. so she swats him again and growls..  "It's easier for the Kami to prevent a fool from getting poisoned than it is to cure the fool later!"  Seeing that Hekasu hasn't spontaneously combusted in front of her, the Shugenja sighs as she centers herself.  She mumbles a quiet invocation, using "Kiss Of The Pond Woman" targeting Hekasu.

the invocation should be earth ring (2) and Theology (3).  My ring dice are 1 blank and 1 opp.  My skill dice are 1 blank, 1 success, and 1 exploding success w/ strife.   At this point my assumption is that Aruzhan didn't get the invocation off before Hekasu might have to make his check, so the best option for me is to keep the opportunity and the exploding success w/ strife.  The exploding success gets me another exploding success w/ strife.. and that exploding success gets me an opportunity.  I ultimately get 2 successes, 2 opportunity, and 2 strife. If I use the 2 opportunities for Jurojin's balm's 3rd usage, I should be able to remove poisons and the dying condition, and suppress symptoms of disease.

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the water tastes pretty much okay - it's never been intended to be drinking water, just purification rituals and cleaning, so it's probably a bit clay-ish in taste. Even if it's not good drinking water, Aruzhan's invocation will garuantee no stomach upsets...

There is, as noted, no spontaneous explosion when you taste the water, nor is there any taste indicating why one might happen. 

With your higher vigilance, you can see another tiny splat of residue on the walls of the well a few inches above the water level. It's small, and looks like a very thin droplet of sealing wax

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Hekasu drops the bucket in surprise from Aruzhan. "Calm down, mom, it's just a taste. I scooped the gunk aside. I," in the words the GM used, "know the practicalities of drawing water from a well without getting a mouthful of algae."

Hekasu then reaches for his katana, frowns, then looks to the others. "If any of you have a tanto or similar dagger, there's some residue right there." Then he glances at Aruzhan, "but don't worry, I won't touch it directly. I think that's what ignited here, when it touched the water."

literally my only weapon is my katana, so I don't have a dagger.

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"Here, Hekasu-san." Says Kenshin, offering a short-pointed jitte.

"Though I suspect Aruzhan-san was more concerned about the phrase 'burning water' than a stomach-ache when she saw you about to taste it." 

Hekasu takes the jitte and scrapes the residue from the side of the well. Looking more closely, and doing his best to keep it sheltered from the rain under the lid of the well, he examines it. It looks exactly like his first impression - a bead of dry, greenish wax maybe half the size of a pea. The surface looks slightly gritty and a faint smell - unburnt, this time, so far easier to identify - of beeswax and phosphor.

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"Ah, I was fairly certain it wasn't the water. This residue was on the water glider as well. Aruzhan-san, do you know of any ritual that requires this phosphor?" He offer the jitte handle-first to her.

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Aruzhan - obviously given your good theology skill you'd have heard of the Agasha in principle, but have limited knowledge of the specifics. Using phosphor in some kind of alchemy doesn't sound too out of character, though. There's a decent chance you might be able to find a Dragon samurai in town whilst Hiruma Aoi talks to the priests. The biggest problem is that whilst there's the threshold barrier, there's no indication of anything else supernatural here, so even if there has been a ritual it doesn't seem to have opened a way to any other realm, which means that a disappearing horse is a pretty big issue to explain. Even though you can still smell the thing pretty strongly...

...Make a TN2 theorise (fire) survival check.

Hekasu - the one thing the phosphor makes you think of is the burn marks you and Yoshi found on the tree outside Aoi's villa. Make a TN2 theorise (fire) performance or skulduggery check.

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Posted (edited)
 

Okay....so, disregarding issues of the spirits and focusing purely on the mundane and the practical, there's a really strong smell of horse.

So much so that at first you reflexively thought it was still in here and were preparing yourself to be ambushed by assassins, or whatever precise PTSD flashback Aruzhan might have triggered.

Creating some magical horse-shaped animate construct out of water is probably possible - you have a few ideas how you'd go about it but you'd need to research it in a decent library and experiment a lot - but it almost certainly wouldn't have the unmistakeable smell of horsehair and dry dung you've associated with horses since childhood. Unless someone is messing around with near-perfect illusions (in which case you might as well stop investigating because you can't trust anything you perceive), almost certainly the sign of a 'real' horse.

Given that you're pretty confident that by whatever mundane or supernatural means one might have left, there is currently no horse here, that strong a lingering smell is not going to result from riding a horse into a building and immediately out again but rather for leaving it there for a few days as an improvised stable.

Edited by Magnus Grendel

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Ughh.. so simple. I don't know why I didn't think of them just using the shrine as a stable.

 

  Aruzhan ponders the situation..  "If there were a horse carrying a supply of this substance, perhaps it would need a roof over it's head in the rain.  Then maybe the bandit quickly washed out the shrine when they left."

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still doesn't explain where it

went. The tracks lead from Aoi's home here, and the staff saw their 'flaming ghost samurai' rob the villa only a few hours ago - and it was raining then. It doesn't make sense for it to have been there long.

Aoi is still waiting - unless you expect to find something in particular, he's ready to head back into Uimi Mura to get his priest.

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the only other thing I can think to try right now would be to look for burnt splotches, like tracks from the burning substance that might have dripped or been brushed off of the horse.. and maybe see if there's any horse remains or piles of ash nearby. other than that I guess we can go back

  Aruzhan takes a quick look around as she prepares to head back to Uimi Mura.  "well..  This bandit seems rather intelligent and well equipped.  He was smoking, not exploding.. so we must be missing an element.. and he would have either had to wait for the rain, or called it himself.."

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Hiruma Aoi turns away from the shrine, and suggests the samurai should head back. 

"Whatever has happened, I think I should speak to the priests in Uimi Mura. To reach the festival before it gets too late and too dark, I should head off now."

Getting the travelling lantern, he sets off back along the tracks cut into the turf.

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