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 Crane Machinations... and Tea

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Posts : 67
Join date : 2014-09-14

PostSubject: Crane Machinations... and Tea   Sat Jul 11, 2015 1:25 pm

• Kyle Patrick Smith
A period of time after Koutetsu met with Matsu Murabai, the Crane swordsmith sent a letter to Doji Ejio inviting him to his estate for tea and conversation. The nature of the letter was straight forward though Koutetsu mentioned in his words for the need of a confidant in the Imperial City.

6/27, 1:05pm
Jason Weeks
Ejio arrived a period of time later, well dressed and carrying the letter that arrived to request his presence. His thoughts bounced around his various projects within the city, his allies, his friends, and whatever else was consuming his time. It seemed that more than ever before, he had too little time to simply create. He knew that in its own way, what he was doing within the city was a form of creation and he could see how courtiers considered what they did an art but it lacked the same sense of beauty that he sought. Ejio presented his chop to the servant at the door and waited for his host, his mind fading from such thoughts, focusing on the pattern of the tiny garden taking root in the courtyard. The shapes of the flowers entranced him, the petals stealing his attention from the world around him.

6/27, 2:58pm
Kyle Patrick Smith
The third son of the Crane Clan Champion was received by a servant of the Ashidaka household. The servant accepted Ejio’s chop and ushered the artisan into a small receiving room which was sparsely decorated. In the months that Koutetsu had been at the estate it seemed he spent little time at home as the theme of a lack of decoration persisted throughout the household. Ejio would only wait for a short period of time before footfalls announced the arrival of the master of the house. Ashidaka Koutetsu, firstborn son and heir to the Ashidaka daimyo, slid open the door to the room and entered. He offered the artisan a respectful bow due to his station and gestured for Ejio to stand.
“Come, Ejio-san, I have prepared tea for us on the veranda. The day is pleasant and I would not forsake it by speaking behind closed doors,” Koutetsu spoke. He still carried a tired air about him as before but despite all the woes that hung so heavily upon his shoulders, like some dark nefarious mantle, his eyes shone with a look of confidence. He smiled meekly at the man before he led him to the veranda overlooking the budding garden. There a small table had been moved with a fresh kettle of White Needle tea, a tray of mocha, and two large boxes on the table besides. Cushions were available for their comfort.
After his companion was seat he would join his guest. He carefully folded his legs beneath himself and nodded to the artisan. “Tell me, Ejio-san, how does the day find you? It is my hope the Fortunes bless you,” he spoke as he offered to pour his friend a cup of tea.

6/28, 2:54pm
Jason Weeks
Ejio eyes the sparse surroundings as he passed, considering not for the first time if he should be sending artisans here to decorate or leave Koutetsu be in his choice of décor. Or lack thereof. Ejio exchanged the proper greetings and followed Koutetsu outside. The Ashidaka was right, the day was quite pleasant and the warmth helped drive away the darker thoughts the city brought. Even the dour Crane seemed brighter.
“The fortunes bless those who seek their blessings. And occasionally those born rich and or beautiful. How are you this bright morning, Koutetsu-san?”

6/28, 4:34pm
Kyle Patrick Smith
After Koutetsu poured his companion a cup of tea he proceeded to pour an additional cup for himself. The tea steamed from the cups and the swordsmith lifted his cup up so it might cool down, blowing gently on the surface. Wisps of steam rolled off of his cup. He considered Ejio’s question briefly before he responded, “I have spent the last week in contemplation, dwelling on my own Fortunes. Overall I am rather pleased with this morning—“
Koutetsu gestured to his garden as he spoke with Ejio. “As you can see, my garden is beginning to bloom. Where I have despaired, I have sought to channel my energy into something… More,” he spoke, his tone measured, tempered. Meditation, gardening, sake, and geisha were beginning to come together in a manner that eased his woes. “When my hands are tired I find that working the soil, and cultivating the flora can be peaceful. Do you like it?”
The garden was nothing compared to the gardens at Kyuden Doji. There was a small sense of pride about him. Even as an accomplished swordsmith being able to create in any form instilled a sense of accomplishment. Again he gently blew on the steamy tea cup and returned his gaze to his guest.

6/28, 6:09pm
Jason Weeks
The garden was small and rudimentary compared to many that Ejio had seen but it held a component that many master gardeners never accomplished. The small blooms in their early stages held a measure of the one who was grooming them, beckoning them from the ground. Ejio could see Koutetsu’s touch in the arrangement of the plants throughout the garden, he could see it in their stubborn growth despite the heavy rains this year. He nodded in appreciation of the work Koutetsu had done.
“You have done very well. It is an honor to stand within its boundaries. I see Gurin has been a good influence on you. I will have to thank him. Have you had a moment to discuss with him matters beyond the plants?”
Ejio took a sip from the tea, enjoying the subtle flavors but admittedly missing his favorite tea house at the same time.

6/28, 7:08pm
Kyle Patrick Smith
“I haven’t found the time to burden others with my woes. I’m sure that’s why the city has an abundance of geisha houses,” the Crane spoke, the hint of a smirk present on his lips. For all his weariness he still managed to play the part of a dashing Crane. When the tea finally cooled enough to take a sip he took a drink and murmured in appreciation. The blend was one of his favorites though he knew it didn’t appeal to everyone. He would set his cup down and gesture to one of the two boxes beside the table.
“Though I recently met with someone within the city whom only added to them – my woes that is. I met with a samurai my father trusted regarding my inquiry upon Doji Kurotema,” Koutetsu spoke pointedly. “Through this meeting I learned a great deal regarding my father but unless the tale need be repeated, I’ll offer you brevity. Years before now my father was betrayed by Doji Kurotema and Doji Yunagi. These machinations as they were led to my great-grandfather’s sword being broken…”
At that point Koutetsu reached for one of the boxes and set it on the table. He carefully removed the lid to reveal a dismantled sword with a break in the middle of the blade. The break was not ordinary in that two slivers were missing from the steel from where some sort of weight was applied to the middle of the blade. Koutetsu leaned back as he allowed Ejio to inspect the blade. There were many questions and not enough answers but he could wait. After all, for Koutetsu there was much to discuss.

6/28, 7:45pm
Jason Weeks
The levity left Ejio’s countenance as Koutetsu presented the shattered blade. He looked upon the broken pieces and a sadness at the destruction of such a well-crafted piece tore at him. Still, he did not spend much time observing the broken art before him. Instead he looked upon the man, knowing his own skills were in observing the person, not the sword. He could read the sincerity in Koutetsu; the pain beneath the surface.
“That is a grave, grave accusation, Koutetsu. Not that I disbelieve, I am simply stating the obvious. What is it you intend to do with this information?”
Ejio’s tone was curious, but even. Today suddenly felt like it would be far heavier than any that had come before. A turning point.

6/28, 9:50pm
Kyle Patrick Smith
“I intend to prompt Doji Yunagi to confess of his misdeeds,” Koutetsu spoke quietly as he sipped from his tea cup. “I am led to believe he is a boastful man full of pride who would yield the testimony I require to conduct further actions. As I am told, Doji Kurotema is far more calculating and would not easily yield that information. My father and my great-grandfather’s sword – an heirloom of House Ashidaka – was used a stepping stone for their gains. I don’t fully grasp how… But this…”
Koutetsu paused long enough to retrieve the second box sitting next to table. Just as the first, he set it before Ejio and removed the lid. Within laid the Blade of Execution, a beautiful Kakita Blade if not for the legacy of death that now surrounded it. The swordsmith seemed grimmer for its presence as he looked over the sheathed sword with a wary eye.
“I did a great deal of research on this sword. It just happens to have been forged by my ancestor, Ashidaka Koen, whom wielded three hundred years ago,” Koutetsu explained. “It is believed the sword was not wielded honorably… And in time its possession was passed, and then lost. It was found in a criminal’s hands who attempted to slay Doji Kurotema. While it was broken after the attempt, I reforged it but… It never was truly whole.
“Do you believe in curses, Ejio-san?”
Koutetsu looked up to Ejio with a frown as he placed the lid back over the box covering the Blade of Execution. “I… I cannot explain it, but that sword has an effect on me,” he spoke as he placed the boxed sword aside again. “And I have found myself at an impasse with it as once I have tried to break it but failed. Do I destroy a relic of my family? Or do I let it persist on Ningen-do?”
• June 30

6/30, 8:55pm
Jason Weeks
“Whether it is truly cursed or the emotion behind what the blade has come to be to you is the cause, the effect is the same. We live in a world in which we see the impact of the kami and the fortunes, though, so of course I believe in curses.”
Ejio eyed the blade both with a wary eye and an appreciation for the craftsmanship required to craft and repair it. There did seem to be a malice to it but Ejio had no skill with the Kami to know what otherworldly matters may be at play. Still, it was not something he cared to test.
“I do not pretend to know anything about curses or your particular craft. I know when I am sculpting, when a mistake is made, I have two options. I can scrap the entire affair and begin anew or I can reshape my perspective and create something entirely different. With a blade, I don’t know how much material is lost in the forging, but it seems to be reasonable that even if you did not succeed the first time, there is still an opportunity for a second, supposing that will help break the curse. Hopefully you have a more reliable source on whether that is a plausible route or not. Second…,” Ejio laid a finger near the original blade lay, broken and incomplete,”… we need to find the other two shards. I think we know where they are, too.”
Ejio took his hand away and sipped again from the tea, watching Koutetsu intently.
• July 1

7/1, 7:58am
Kyle Patrick Smith
He swordsmith looked at the box for the first sword and frowned as he considered it resting on a sheet of white fabric. He doubt shards from its breaking were in any one's possession. The Blade of Execution was whole but it was corrupted. He didn't have the heart to break the sword, melt it down and reforge it anew... But he knew in time it would be necessary. How low had his family heirlooms fallen? For all things considered, he had one and a half swords and if he was lucky he could melt them down and forge an entirely new sword. When the realization struck him his eyes widened ever so slightly. Nonetheless, Koutetsu did not like the prospect.
"Regardless, I feel the way I came into possession of the Blade of Execution may have been orchestrated," Koutetsu explained. "Its too convenient to possess a lost family heirloom in the manner I have. Doji Kurotema had a hand in breaking my great-grandfather's sword and in breaking Ashidaka Koen's sword. To what ends he has done the later, I do not know but this sword has a foul spirit about it which will only bring ruin to me in time."
The swordsmith shook his head slowly as he longed for days before he arrived in the Imperial City - before his post as an executioner, before his sister's jealousy and before knowing of his father's shame.
"So, knowing this I then ask of you: might you be able to help me facilitate the confession I need of from Doji Yunagi? I know not how to pry such information from the man but as one of my few friends here in the city, I know not whom I may turn to. You are far more clever with words than I and seem to be growing a large circle of allies here. I know not what I may offer you in return but another debt might my family Honor be tempered anew."

7/1, 8:42am
Jason Weeks
The tea cooled as Ejio stared at it, his mind trying to bend around the situation Koutetsu presented. Ejio wanted to believe the best of people, but he knew full well that not everyone lived up to his expectations. This city made it abundantly clear every day and he knew his friend to be too honest to have brought him something he did not believe in. His own interactions with Kurotema had left him feeling less pure, especially the party. Had anyone died from the attack, Ejio knew it would have been his name that was trampled, not Kurotema’s. It seemed that simply devious was not the depth of Kurotema’s deprivations.
“I will help you. I am not sure I can get Yunagi to confess, but I can try. He has spent many years on machinations such as these and to be honest, I spent the majority of my time training in other things than the art of the courtier. Still, I will do my best. As for Kurotema, that will be considerably more difficult. My father thinks highly of him and that alone makes being in opposition dangerous. As for what I want in return, it is this.”
Ejio tapped beside the Blade of Execution and continued.
“Reforge this. Fix the curse. If we are to be friends, I would rather not be concerned that you are eventually not going to be you and I have already had to counter rumors regarding your character and your role as Kurotema’s executioner. I have a shugenja friend, a sodan-senzo. I can have him declare the blade unable to be used for its current purpose. Perhaps if it is cursed, it may be inhibiting the ability of those who face execution by it to enter Meido and be cleansed of their former life. That should buy you the time and opportunity to fix the blade properly, perhaps even with his help in the purification if necessary.”
• July 2

7/2, 8:29pm
Kyle Patrick Smith
"Thank you, Ejio-san. You do me a great service in the friendship you are able to afford me here in the Imperial City. In the Father's Home, I truly have few whom I can call friend," Koutetsu confessed with a glimmer of sadness in his eyes. He sipped his tea and sighed. Despite the sadness that lurked beneath the surface, a small smile touched his lips. He considered Ejio a moment as he traced the rim of his tea cup with his finger.

7/2, 8:31pm
Kyle Patrick Smith
"Tell me, Ejio-san, are you familiar with a verse from the Tao: Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves? I fully suspect there is a level of danger involved in this affair, Ejio-san. As such, I have another matter I wished to bring to your attention after listening to you and Kinotu-san speak at the geisha house."

7/2, 8:35pm
Kyle Patrick Smith
"As I set upon this path, I have an obligation to see to it my affairs are in order in preparation of the worst," the swordsmith spoke quietly. "In that way, I'd like to find a suitable bride to benefit my family and give me an heir. I've been told the Imperial City is a place as any to find such though before now I've had little interest in the pursuit."
• Sunday

7/5, 4:21pm
Jason Weeks
"It is my honor to count you among my friends, Koutetsu-san. Especially here in this city where murder and betrayal seem to be common themes. I am grateful. But you are right, your course of action is incredibly dangerous. For both of us. I will, of course, do my best to mitigate the danger and any repercussions, but there will inevitably be some that I fail to see or simply cannot avoid. Some of those could go far deeper than simply death. I know you are aware of this, but I feel better having stated it openly. As for your question, yes, there are brides to be had here. If you are looking for both benefit and heir, I would advise a second or third child in an Imperial family. If not that, then we can see who is available who suits your tastes."
• Sunday

7/5, 11:03pm
Kyle Patrick Smith
"The question is how many Imperials would be willing to marry their daughter into a vassal family," Koutetsu murmured as he rubbed his chin thoughtfully. For a moment the Crane lordling thought himself less than the heir he was. In the Imperial City he was still a small fish in a large pond, far removed from what he was used to in the Ashidaka lands.
• Friday

7/10, 12:24pm
Jason Weeks
"There are more Imperials than you think. And the answer is plenty. You have the benefit of being from the Crane and there are always reasons to want to tie yourself to the Crane. Not to mention, there are no other environments in the empire that match the Imperial setting quite so well as that of our clan. We will find you a bride. What I need from you is to make sure as little damage comes to your reputation as possible while I am doing so. I will do what I can to fend off the machinations of others but I will need help."

7/10, 1:19pm
Kyle Patrick Smith
"Easier said than done, Ejio-san," Koutetsu sighed. "I have done naught but my duty, only to have my name dragged through the mud."
The Crane frowned and let his eyes settle on the garden. He had meticulously cultivated it with care, creating life in place of taking life. The symbolism was important to him and provided a sense of balance; in darkness he found light, in despair he found happiness, in discord he found harmony.
"And you, Ejio-san...?"
The Ashidaka cocked a grin.
"As the son of Satsume-dono, third son or otherwise, your future is no doubt far more pleasant when it is time to court a Lady, no? The Empire is at your fingertips."

7/10, 1:46pm
Jason Weeks
Ejio grinned in response to the inquiry.
"Yes, well, sometimes having too many options can be just as problematic as too few. Though you are definitely not lacking for options. It becomes a matter of waiting for the right moment and taking full advantage of the offered leverage. But I am a third child, so I will not retain my name. My father would not accept an offer from within the clan without an incredible reason.
Ejio drained the tea, exhaling slowly as his thoughts continued before becoming words.
"Do not worry too much about the rumors and the character attacks. I will handle those as best I can and we will ensure you have a match worthy of your family. If I can find a rabbit a home with a Unicorn governor, I am sure you will be at least as well arranged. Oh, as an aside, you will need to visit Agasha Hiroshi, a swordsmith in the Toyotomi district in the near future. He has something for you that might make life easier."

7/10, 2:34pm
Kyle Patrick Smith
"Peculiar," the swordsmith spoke. "I was not aware of the name. Of course with the hours labored over Chi-Yomi-sensei's forge, I am not entirely surprised. I have found myself not as well versed in the city as I perhaps should be. It amuses me a Kaiu forges the Emperor a sword once a year... And now my Sensei must forge 100 more after spending her life forging 200..."
"I'll see to him," Koutetsu spoke with a nod. Servants swept out rooms around the veranda, kicking up dust into the garden as they conversed. He watched as the estate seemed more lively in that instant than it ever had. He mulled over his thoughts as he considered a proposal. As birds chirped from the roof and boughs of his trees, Koutetsu rapped the table.
"I came into possession of 100 exquisitely forged swords," he noted. "If such a time you require such a gift, enlighten me. I would part with one as a favor owed."

7/10, 2:49pm
Jason Weeks
Ejio nodded slowly, a grim turn to his lips at the mention of Chi-Yomi's plight, understanding that her burden for excellence was far greater than most could ever understand. The discussion of the blades seemed like it should have been a brighter note, but he could sense that while a point of pride for Koutetsu, it was also darkened by the situation.
"I would be honored to be able to gift one of your blades. Should the opportunity arise, I will ensure it is given over to someone deserving. Do not worry about owing me favors, however. Your friendship in this place is all I require. If I can help you, I will. I have a feeling that the paths we will follow here in Otosan Uchi will not be the bright, glorious roads we expected when we were assigned and it will be good for the both of us to know there is someone here who does not weigh each word offered and cling to every kindness as an opportunity to advance an agenda. By the end of our adventures here, I doubt very much that we will be who we were when we arrived."

7/10, 2:59pm
Kyle Patrick Smith
"Nonetheless the offer stands," Koutetsu replied. "If I continue living off of your kindness with naught a repayment made, Ejio-san, I'd feel uncomfortable. But think for now. The sword will be remade in name and its shadow will flee with the dawn."
remade in time*

7/10, 3:10pm
Jason Weeks
"It is appreciated, Koutetsu-san. But there are worse ways to make a living."
Ejio smirked, hoping that Koutetsu understood that he did not really consider Koutetsu to be doing any such thing.
"I will be glad to see that shadow gone from your blade. We will write it a more glorious history before we are done."

7/10, 5:37pm
Kyle Patrick Smith
"Hai," the Crane nodded in agreement. "I will see to that."
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