IC L5R 4e Distant Thunder II

lordmcdeath

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Kakita Doijin
She sips at her tea, then continues, "But it is more than that, I think. Especially now. We wear the badges of Imperial Magistrates. And as such, we announce our purpose and our duty even before we have spoken. They look at us, and they see the arm of the Emperor's Law, which judges all, one way or another. They fear us, I think, in the way one might fear a fierce-looking dog that guards a man's house. The dog may mean them no harm, but they do not know that when they see it. And so it is with us."

She frowns into her teacup, then drinks the rest of it. "The cold is making me melancholy," she says, as Okada refills it.
"We can inspire hope as well. In many ways, we are the only chance those not born to nobility have of seeking justice in those times where their Lord either can't or won't provide it. A court of last appeal to the righteous and desperate. And a disruption to the machinations of any with even the slightest hints of power and ambition. For both those reasons we are often feared and hated, in proportion to their own sins and cynicism. We are the mirror the Empire holds up to all we meet, and all too few of those who should be its pillars can meet their own reflection.

As for the assassins, those come to anyone who stands in the way of another with ambition and naught else. Being a magistrate simply means we do that for a wider range of people than most bushi. But given that I killed my first one at eight, my view might be a bit unusual on it. "

Dojin had enjoyed his first cup of tea before he spoke, letting the warm liquid fill him and simply enjoying the fair. The first night in any place was the safest after all, and he often savored those before his natural caution kicked in.
 

Waiwode

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As the Magistrates travel, the signs of the new order are an oppressive presence.

Not as grisly as the long line of Scorpion crucified along the roads leading from Otosan Uichi -- but it is clear that the Unicorn are maintaining order with a swift finality. Few crossroads are free of one or more corpses. Their crime, annotated on scrolls that tatter in the wind, whose ink runs in the rain, list two crimes again and again. Treason. Banditry.

If there is one bright note in all this. There are no burned villages, no scorched fields, no signs of widespread pillaging. The 'yoke' of the Unicorn host seems to be applied reasonably, and as even-handed as possible, where the peasantry are concerned. This will not fill bellies once the Unicorn have requisitioned much of a village's stored rice. But the barges being towed up the Gold River are heaped with food purchased in Crab and Mantis markets, not stolen from the silos and baskets of the local peasantry. The masters of this mission have clearly put some thought into logistics.

Chain gangs repairing roads and dredging near frozen mud from irrigation canals watched by hastily appointed doshin, are another sign that while the Unicorn recognize only one punishment for samurai refusing the surrender the mantle of being Scorpion, peasants who have been found breaking a number of laws have not been treated so summarily.

The Unicorn patrol approaches rapidly. Lances are raised upright -- it is not a mounted charge, but they certainly seem to be headed directly toward the group.

They fan out as they approach, and given their speed it must dawn on the Magistrates that it would take only a command to turn raised lances into deadly couched weapons. However thirty or forty paces away reins are pulled back.

"I am Shinjo Senjuro, Gunso of the Imperial Expedition. Travel in this region is currently restricted, please identify yourselves!"
 

ClassDunce

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Sparrow

Sparrow had found himself following two different kinds of trails all day. The first kind was the easiest to follow, they were trails left by humans, bandits or ronin who were moving through the wooded areas. Like a herd cattle barely trying to conceal their movements through the underbrush. He kept track of those but his primary concern for the day was the other kind of trail.

Animals were consistent. The young Doshin had his bow already out and an arrow in his hand as he kneeled down next to the small creek that the animal trail had led him too. Larger game like deer tended to stay closer to a small water source like this, they need more liquids throughout the day. Sparrow scratched at his neck as he followed deer track from the creek and into the woods around it. The freshest tracks weren’t very old. In fact the ones closest to the water still had water in them. That was promising however there was also boar track at the creek as well. Very large boar. Boar were aggressive and the young Doshin knew he wasn’t outfitted for boar.

The safest bet, if he was just feeding himself and had all day to catch something, would be to climb a tree here at the water hole and wait for another deer to come. There were a lot of mouths to feed now though, he didn’t believe that Jun’Ai knew this would happen when she told Sparrow to protect Kumiko and make sure they all stayed fed but this was the position he was in. The wet tracks were the freshest. So he followed them. He knew he was about an hour ahead of the Ronin Column but he was feeling the press of time.

There were mouths to feed.
 

ClassDunce

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Hiruma Jun’Ai

Jun’Ai watched as the chain gangs were cutting back the brush from the road with a small army of doshen overseeing them. She heard the Unicorn Bushi well before she saw them. It only made sense for a Clan that primarily relied on cavalry and horse archer’s primary goals for taking over an area to clear brush and roads. She pulled her horse to a stop and motioned for Okada to do the same as the Unicorn finally appeared.

They fan out as they approach, and given their speed it must dawn on the Magistrates that it would take only a command to turn raised lances into deadly couched weapons. However thirty or forty paces away reins are pulled back.

"I am Shinjo Senjuro, Gunso of the Imperial Expedition. Travel in this region is currently restricted, please identify yourselves!"
“We’re Emerald Magistrates.” She spoke up as she leaned back exposing her Jitte, along with Togashi’s Fang, to the Gunso. “I’m Hiruma Jun’Ai.” She allowed the others to interrupt themselves. “We have the authority to move through the region freely.”
 

Ebony

Just Here for the Food...
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"We can inspire hope as well. In many ways, we are the only chance those not born to nobility have of seeking justice in those times where their Lord either can't or won't provide it. A court of last appeal to the righteous and desperate. And a disruption to the machinations of any with even the slightest hints of power and ambition. For both those reasons we are often feared and hated, in proportion to their own sins and cynicism. We are the mirror the Empire holds up to all we meet, and all too few of those who should be its pillars can meet their own reflection.

As for the assassins, those come to anyone who stands in the way of another with ambition and naught else. Being a magistrate simply means we do that for a wider range of people than most bushi. But given that I killed my first one at eight, my view might be a bit unusual on it. "

Dojin had enjoyed his first cup of tea before he spoke, letting the warm liquid fill him and simply enjoying the fair. The first night in any place was the safest after all, and he often savored those before his natural caution kicked in.
Hayase smiles and nods, but her smile fades quickly. This is the first Winter (for it is Winter, even if they are not yet in the season proper) that she has not been bound for some court, or more importantly, for home. She does not shirk her duty, but the dark weather, coupled with the dark times, make for a dark mood. She sips at her tea and says nothing more for the rest of the evening.

Moto Hana, perhaps sensing the darkness, or perhaps just familiar with what a proper brooding looks like, rises from her spot near the fire and steps away for a moment. She stretches her legs and walks to the horses, carefully checking each one and speaking quietly, in the True Tongue, to each. The Rokugani ponies that the other samurai ride do not know the Moto language, but they know the tone, and the attention is welcome. Taidama and Narny Gerel, however, crane their necks toward her, ears forward, listening to the quiet reassurances. She does not linger, taking only a short time to ensure that the horses are warm enough, then returns to the fire, pausing only to pick up the case containing her morin khuur.

The tune she plays is not like the one she played in the stables of Kyuden Yogo. It is more like the ones she has heard from the other clans, traditional and very familiar. The notes fill the camp, seeking to banish the dark thoughts, just as the firelight banishes the shadows. She may not know what has put Hayase in such a dark mood, but she knows how to try to dispel it.

“We’re Emerald Magistrates.” She spoke up as she leaned back exposing her Jitte, along with Togashi’s Fang, to the Gunso. “I’m Hiruma Jun’Ai.” She allowed the others to interrupt themselves. “We have the authority to move through the region freely.”
Hayase looks down from Taidama's back at the gunso. "My fellow Magistrate speaks correctly, Shinjo-gunso," she says. She reaches into her kimono and pulls the jade badge of office free so that it hangs down against her chest. "We have permission and authority to travel here. How are the roads between here and Kyuden Bayushi?"
 

Angwa

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Kumiko

At this revelation another stands, and gathering her family, walks away.

Ozuka shakes his head. "It is painful for all of us. We were left behind for one reason or another. But she lost brothers, a father, and a mother there."

"Perhaps, with the rest of us gone, there will be enough work for those who remain behind." He wears a sad expression and shrugs.
"I sincerely hope so, yet fear the worst. Those of our station have always been regarded with contempt, and I have little doubt this winter will make such opinions nigh universal, even strengthen them. Whatever sympathy and respect the heimin currently still harbor for us, and from what I have experienced that is not a great deal, will evaporate before long.

I understand their reservations, I truly do, but we are no longer Scorpion or Akodo, buke or kuge or whatever else we considered ourselves part of. We are ronin now, plain and simple, and we must accept that. Still, Ozuka-san, or anyone who is more familiar with them, business will take us to Ryuoko Owari, and I would like to invite the two families who stepped out to tag along. If after that journey they still feel that they can not bear my company, so be it, they can still walk away..."

...but at least that would be on a full stomach and after giving me a fair chance to prove myself.

* * *

One by one she accepts the ronin and their families, providing them all with her impromptu ritual. But it is most certainly not merely for show, she means every word she says. This is her life now, there is no denying it, and going by what Togashi-ue had shown her, she would remain clanless for a great many years to come at least, and most likely for the rest of her life and she was entirely too proud just living of the charity of her friends, that much is sure! No, she had lost her family and clan, but she could create a new sort of family!

"Thank you all! May I introduce those who already were part of this group? Hiriko-san, our priestess and formerly of the Yogo and Amagi-san, born Shosuro. He is mute, so do not expect much banter! Ah, and over there is Miko-san, our... well... quartermaster, I suppose! She can do miracles, you will see, even if they are of a different sort than Hiriko-san's. Finally Sparrow-san is helping us out, and I sincerely hope he has asked the magistrate he serves permission to do so. He is an accomplished scout and hunter..."

* * *

The first couple of days go by in a blur, getting to know all her new companions and allowing them to know her. To be honest, Kumiko felt more alive, more herself, than she had felt since her flight from the capital and fall from grace. Making sure everything is running smoothly, building an esprit de corps, the first training sessions after setting up camp so they could start fighting as a unit instead of individuals, in short, feeling part of something bigger than herself, she sorely missed that. Not just her, it appears, slowly but surely she is seeing more and more smiles!

She is sitting by the fire, feeling content. Sparrow had shot a deer, which she was initially queasy about eating, but really, this is hardly the time for being picky. She did refrain from watching it being skinned and butchered however. Setting her bowl aside she smiles at Hiriko.

"Zeni for your thoughts, my love? What are your first impressions of them? There is this little voice in the back of my head which keeps insisting that I am just happy because I get to play at being in charge again, but I simply can not just sit by the sidelines and do nothing. This is good, right?"

She waves at Sparrow and Miko, who only now, after feeding all the others, fill their own bowls to come join her and Hiriko...
 
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lordmcdeath

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Kakita Doijin

Chain gangs repairing roads and dredging near frozen mud from irrigation canals watched by hastily appointed doshin, are another sign that while the Unicorn recognize only one punishment for samurai refusing the surrender the mantle of being Scorpion, peasants who have been found breaking a number of laws have not been treated so summarily.
Doijin watches the chain gang closely, looking for signs of hunger or the hunt desperation of fear. It was obvious that they had considered their own immediate logistics and the cleared roads would be a force multiplier for cavalry. But winter was coming and this had always been a food exporting region. One had to wonder if someone was making sure the food stores were being guarded and plans were being made to clear land for future crops.

Their purchases were likely to spike food prices across the Empire, increasing unrest and desent among the peasants. That they were governing with an even hand was good. But this wouldn't hold up to organized resistance.

Hayase looks down from Taidama's back at the gunso. "My fellow Magistrate speaks correctly, Shinjo-gunso," she says. She reaches into her kimono and pulls the jade badge of office free so that it hangs down against her chest. "We have permission and authority to travel here. How are the roads between here and Kyuden Bayushi?"
Dojiin merely nods, as he keeps vigilant. If there were any former Scorpions, they could be watching from the bush and counting on the residual loyalty of the peasants to keep their presence hidden.
 

ClassDunce

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Sparrow

She waves at Sparrow and Miko, who only now, after feeding all the others, fill their own bowls to come join her and Hiriko...
Sparrow had taken his time to dispose of the carcass and skin a distance out in the woods and cleaned up in a small stream while Miko prepared the venison for a meal that could feed all of them. He had skinned and butchered the animal away from the Ronin, knowing what the sight of that did to their sensibilities and knowing how they would look at him afterwards. After returning and helping Miko around the fire and seeing that everyone got a share of the food, the two peasants, had made a portion for themselves. When they were waved over by Kumiko they picked up and moved over to them.

Sparrow took a seat, on the ground, and started to slowly consume his food. "There's a lot of people moving through the woods." He said after swallowing down his food. Unlike Jun'Ai, Sparrow didn't talk with food in his mouth. "Staying clear of the roads. Still plenty of game though. I think by the time we meet back with the others this group's going to be in better shape."
 

Angwa

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Kumiko

Sparrow took a seat, on the ground, and started to slowly consume his food. "There's a lot of people moving through the woods." He said after swallowing down his food. Unlike Jun'Ai, Sparrow didn't talk with food in his mouth. "Staying clear of the roads. Still plenty of game though. I think by the time we meet back with the others this group's going to be in better shape."
"Yes, I think they really will be! Ah, as an aside, do you wish to join in the unit training sessions, Sparrow-san? Fighting by yourself or as a soldier in a larger group are vastly different. I believe you may find it enlightening, if only to learn counters to opponents engaging you in such a fashion."

Kumiko smiles encouragingly. Being a soldier, now that is something that was still missing in the youngster's curriculum and she was eminently suited to teach him.

"As for what lurks beyond the roads, yes, I feared as much. It will only get worse, much worse. There are thousands of ronin in Scorpion lands, and they are starving. And just like our Wolves, they will start forming bands soon. Travel will become exceedingly dangerous, and before long they will be able to threaten entire villages. I would like you to coordinate with Amagi-san when hunting. Out there is hostile ground, and that is no place to be alone. I want you two to watch each other's back."
 

ClassDunce

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Sparrow

"Yes, I think they really will be! Ah, as an aside, do you wish to join in the unit training sessions, Sparrow-san? Fighting by yourself or as a soldier in a larger group are vastly different. I believe you may find it enlightening, if only to learn counters to opponents engaging you in such a fashion."
Sparrow looked over at the former Scorpion Samurai as he listened to Kumiko. He was a peasant and Kumiko had introduced him to them by calling him Sparrow-san. She told them he was accomplished and served a Magistrate but not that he served her. They watched as he came back to camp with enough food for everyone and served them from his labor. They then watched as Kumiko, the woman they had sworn service too, had chosen to call him over to dine with her while they were not. Sparrow knew his place in the social order, he at times ignored it however he knew it, and these Ronin not too long ago were Scorpions.

"If you wish me too then I will." He answered as he pulled his copy of Shosuro Furyari's The Mask from inside his sleeve. "Hayase had me train with the Yoriki, with the man catchers and jitte, and I know for a time afterwards Okada-sama was... resentful of me for it. It placed me above my station when I did well against him."

He flipped the pillow book open to a marked page. "I'll train with your wolves." You almost hear a little amusement in his voice as he calls the Ronin wolves, especially since you know that he's kind of adopted the term wolf for himself. He looked back over at the Ronin and then back to Kumiko. "Kumiko-San there's a quote from Bayushi Tangen, he said The best way to defeat an opponent is to convince him he has already won. Do you truly trust these Ronin?"
 
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