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 (Koutetsu) The Hanabi Blade

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PostSubject: (Koutetsu) The Hanabi Blade    Wed Sep 09, 2015 3:14 pm

The following is an ongoing side-plot for Ashidaka Koutetsu. We'll run this until we can't get more energy out of it. As a note, references in parentheses are meant to be out of character reference. For example, Ikaro (Toyotomi) is meant to tell you that the district is currently called the Ikaro, but on the map is listed as the Toyotomi.



Ashidaka Koutetsu walked through the streets of the Ikaro (Toyotomi) in disguise. He was still the interim governor of the Juramashi and it would not do to be seen wandering about the city without the required entourage. He turned down a long street towards the great Enchanted Walls of the Ekohikei. No matter how many times he saw them the walls managed to surprise as tremendous feats of construction.

Long before his arrival, Koutetsu could smell the Agasha's forge. Since getting to know Hiroshi, the Ashidaka had come to expect a certain oddity about the man's persona. He was fully dedicated to his craft, the art of making blades, but his style was as different from the Ashidaka's as a Hida was to a Doji. Koutetsu stood before the small building and let the smell of raging fire, exotic burned wood, and incense wash over him.  He had learned from the first few visits that it was best to get used to the smell before opening the door and being consumed by its fire.

With a deep sigh, a deep breath, Koutetsu walked forward. As always, Hiroshi's devoted servant Kokoshi, slid aside the door just before he entered.

"He is in the back, my lord, as always." Kokoshi gestured to a boiling pot and two cups. "The tea is almost done."

"Is that Kou-chan?! Get back here, Crane! I have made a discovery!"

From somewhere deep within the forge Ashidaka Koutetsu heard a bass rumbling that shook the house. Sparks of all colors flew out in every direction. Something had exploded.




Link to Agasha Hiroshi Image

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PostSubject: Re: (Koutetsu) The Hanabi Blade    Wed Sep 09, 2015 4:24 pm

"You Master never ceases to provide a dull moment," Koutetsu quietly intoned to Hiroshi's servant after a spray of colorful sparks. "If you excuse me I may have to see for myself what your Master has gotten himself into today." The Crane swordsmith excused himself and pressed on past the servant where he was normally received. He walked through the halls out onto the veranda where he circled the small samurai estate to the forge beyond. The Dragon were a truly eccentric and mystifying clan. He knew this very well from his earliest encounter with the Togashi monk in his father's court but his meeting of Agasha Hiroshi only improved his perception of the clan. He could not deny the Dragon had a swordsmithing tradition that he truly respected.

As he stepped out near the forge he raised a hand over his eyes to protect himself from the sparks. "Hiroshi-san! What are you doing back there? You're like to burn down half of the Ikaro," the swordsmith bellowed as he braved the sparks and flames. Having lived and breathed the Ashidaka forges, Koutetsu was not afraid of heat and fire. He had plenty of burn scars himself, small little things that littered his hands and arms from folding steel for so long. While he was wary of what was yet to come, he was also excited at the same time which thrilled him. Whatever Hiroshi had discovered, he hoped it would be as valuable as the vials he had been given.
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PostSubject: Re: (Koutetsu) The Hanabi Blade    Thu Sep 10, 2015 12:48 am

Koutetsu entered the sweltering heat of the Agasha’s forge with no small measure of trepidation. He knew what an explosion sounded like, what the fires of black powder could do, and there was a part of him that half-expected to find Agasha Hiroshi blasted and smeared across the walls. What he found was even more unsettling.

“Koutetsu!” Hiroshi shouted above the din and clamor of his own hammering. “Come. See!” He set down the hammer atop the anvil and lifted a long shaft of metal that glittered in the firelight. All the colors of the rainbow sparkled on its surface. Next to the old Agasha were a series of small copper pots, each one filled with some strange powder, each of a different color. “Do you see what I have done? What we can do?”

The old Agasha was full of eccentricity, but Koutetsu could not doubt his passion for the art of creation, nor his willingness to experiment. In fact, despite that the man was near twice Koutetsu’s age, he seemed to come alive in the act of creation. As the Crane approached he noticed an odd thing missing. There was no sign of an explosion having taken place.

“I have discovered a new technique, one which improves upon our alchemical work with your Ashidaka technique. I fear that style is already outdated, though,” Hiroshi paused for a moment, eyeing his work, then smiled wide, “I can’t imagine this won’t be better.” Hiroshi reached out with his tongs to show Koutetsu the length of misshapen steal. It resembled nothing more than a hard iron cane aside from the glittering surface.

As Koutetsu examined it closer, he noted a long black smear along the back of the unworked blade. The sooty marks of something that had recently suffered tremendous heat. It took a long, slow moment for Koutetsu to realize what he was seeing.

Agasha Hiroshi had crafted steel that could hold the power of Hanabi.

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PostSubject: Re: (Koutetsu) The Hanabi Blade    Mon Sep 14, 2015 6:22 pm

Koutetsu had trouble fathoming how the shugenja could manage to infuse Hanabi into steel. There was surely no explosions inside of the forge but he had surely heard them when he had first arrived. He had surely seen the sparks of color too. However, much to his surprise, there was nothing more than the eccentric Dragon, the sweltering heat of the forge and the copper pots full of colorful powders all around. The Crane swordsmith inspected the steel with a scrutinizing eye - he would take the tongs himself if allowed to and closer inspect the work. The obvious question came to the forefront of his mind.

"What does this do in a practical sense? It sounded like the Juramashi wall exploded again," Koutetsu noted as he looked up from the black stained steel. It still amazed him Hiroshi was whole and he didn't have to call the eta to scrape him off of the wall.

His eyes flickered over the copper pots: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. While he knew the steel had taken on the strength of Hanabi, he didn't quite grasp the breadth of its potential. He already found himself wiping sweat from his brow.

"Should I change to help you here in the forge?"

If needed he could change into clothing more appropriate to the forge as he had before.

"What happens if we take this unworked steel now and forge it into a sword? You said it was an improvement on the previous process, so does it work as quickly? I am testing the formula you provided and already I am weeks ahead of schedule on a project," he murmured as he set the metal on the anvil yet he held onto the tongs. He reached for Hiroshi's hammer and wanted to see what happened...
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PostSubject: Re: (Koutetsu) The Hanabi Blade    Tue Sep 15, 2015 6:19 pm

Agasha Hiroshi reached out and took the blackened length of steel with the tongs and held it out over the anvil. He gestured towards the hammer with eager eyes, full of fire.

Hesitant, the Ashidaka remembered the explosive sound, but when he looked at Hiroshi he could not help but feel the waves of excitement washing over him, contagious. The shugenja shook the steel as if to say "Go on!"

Koutetsu grimaced. The hammer rose up. He took a deep breath. The hammer came down.

And the world exploded.

Koutetsu felt it first. His own inner fire bellowed forth from his center, his chi a raging inferno in his belly. His entire body became hot instantly, beads of sweat dripping from his skull. As his eyes opened from the blink, Koutetsu saw that inner fire made physical by the blade. The whole of the forge filled up with a rainbow of alternating colors. The mad fires licked at everything, reached out to burn, to inspire, to destroy.

Only a few short seconds had passed, but it felt like hours. The inferno vanished. Koutetsu looked down, then turned to Hiroshi. Despite the insanity of it all, they were miraculously unharmed.

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PostSubject: Re: (Koutetsu) The Hanabi Blade    Tue Sep 15, 2015 6:39 pm

What happened had Koutetsu reeling as the intensity of the sensation reverberated through him. The hammer fall exploded and in that instant he felt he was going to die; he felt a pull on him unlike anything he had ever experienced before. Fire burned around him in a rainbow of color but he was neither burned nor singed. All at once it was sudden yet enduring as his soul churned with the magical fire. His understanding of sword smithing was daunted by the prospect of a new method, a new technique, a new process - fundamentally, this was unlike anything he had known before.

Yet he had no idea what it was.

Koutetsu had a bewildered look on his face as he looked down at the anvil. His eyes flickered up to Hiroshi in awe. After a time he found the words for the moment in time.

"What... Is this? What does this do to the forging process? This is clearly some trick of the kami you have invoked, but its effects... Are absolutely bizarre. I have no idea what this will yield but judging from your excitement and the burning sensation in the pit of my stomach, I hope something good."

He dropped the hammer on the anvil and brushed his sleeve across his brow, drenching it in sweat.
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PostSubject: Re: (Koutetsu) The Hanabi Blade    Tue Sep 15, 2015 11:49 pm

Agasha Hiroshi used the tongs to toss the blackened piece of metal into a pile. A large pile. As Koutetsu began to regain his bearings, he noted that pile had more than a dozen pieces of the same blackened steel. A few were even cracked all the way through.

"The process weakens the metal. As it is, it would be impossible for a weapon, or anything we created, using this technique, to be worthwhile. But," Hiroshi paused and set the tongs down on his worktable. He reached back and removed the heavy cloth apron and laid it over a barrel.

"Well," the Agasha began hesitantly, "first let me tell you what I have discovered. And then we can...speak about particulars." The previously intense Agasha seemed a little withdrawn, perhaps even nervous. As he spoke he avoided the Crane's gaze.

"The fire kami of this city have become far more active as of late. Ever since the first day of winter I have felt their call. I am certain every other shugenja attuned to their presence has felt it as well." Hiroshi ran sooty fingers through sweaty hair. It left a long black stain as he stared into the fires of his forge.

"Every place has its kami, its spirits. How could it not? And this place, the holiest city, the Father's Home, this place is more sacred than any other." Hiroshi looked up, eyes flashed with their own fire, his intensity returning as he lectured.

"This place has ancient kami. Powerful kami. Each of various elements, but there is one in particular I note. That one, it seems...angry." Hiroshi lifted a kiseru pipe and began to pack it with herb. Koutetsu had never before seen the man smoke, but somehow, as the shugenja willed the inner fires to burn, the smoke to rise, it felt right.

"They seem angry, Ashidaka-san. In fact, the power I have discovered I believe to be none other than the greatest spirit of creation within the Imperial City. It is ancient. Wise. And it reaches out into the world with a dire NEED. It seeks vengeance for something having wronged it, though I have no idea what that could be."

Hiroshi breathed in the smoke and gesticulated wildly about the forge. "All this was to tap into that power. I believe that I have linked my forge to the the spirit, the O-Ka no Kami. It will require constant spiritual maintenance. I will have to pray, at least once a week, and offer it my greatest desires. It will be arduous, but that ardor will pay off in measure. The fires of creation flow through it, through my forge, and they could flow through you as well!"

He held tight to the pipe. His voice became an intense whisper. He did not look up.

"I can link the spirit to your forge as well, Koutetsu. I can maintain its spiritual link the same as I do mine. Together, we can use its power, for whatever short time the fires flame bright, and we can create wonders of creation. But for this to work, for me to give this to you, I need two things of you..."

Finally, the shugenja lifted his gaze. He had made his way slowly towards the Crane and was now just out of arm's reach.

"I need you to help me with this experiment. To create the Hanabi Blade I require Ashidaka ingenuity and skill. I think, together, that we can make a blade of immeasurable power."

Koutetsu saw the nervousness return. Hiroshi licked his lips.

"And one more thing. If I link our forges to this power; if I continue working with you and use the power of Agasha alchemy to enhance both our techniques, then...I and the Dragon will be doing you a tremendous service. In exchange..." he swallowed hard. "In exchange I would like you consider me as a husband to your sister. I would tie us together, our families, our techniques, our purposes."

He held out the pipe for Koutetsu to take. "What say you?"


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PostSubject: Re: (Koutetsu) The Hanabi Blade    Wed Sep 16, 2015 12:50 am

"The unnatural seasonal warmth we've encountered likely has something to do with this spirit's disposition," Koutetsu quietly noted with a contemplative look. He leaned back on one of Hiroshi's work benches and mulled over the information the shugenja offered. "But if all the spirits are agitated, I can understand the anger of a far more powerful spirit such as this... O-Ka no Kami, was it? Yes, but... Why is it angry? Why is it vengeful? These are the questions I'd like to know."

The Ashidaka was curious why the spirit was reaching out. If Agasha Hiroshi could harness the spirit of creation, he was sure it would only be a flash in the pan; if winter and the unnatural seasonal heat passed, would the power of the spirit fade with it? If the spirit could be appeased, could they do more? As a bushi he knew little of spiritual affairs but he was curious if he could research the matter on some level. He was sure the Blessings of the Eternal Kami would be interested in this insight.

"I'd be very interested in assisting you, Hiroshi-san," the swordsmith offered. "This could be an opportunity to push the limits of my craft. I can't quite master my art without expanding the breadth of my knowledge, ne?" A look of confidence - or perhaps smug, Crane arrogance bled through. Every Kakita valued perfecting their art, even the Ashidaka.

He licked his lips and met the Agasha's gaze with methodical scrutiny. He was not oblivious to the man's age, being twice as old as either of his sisters if not himself. However, he did see the convenience it offered him in removing Ichiko out of a threatening range to his claim and birthright as Ashidaka daimyo. That left Niiko as the sister he'd prefer to see wed and assume the role with a husband if his plotting went awry. The Crane smirked with a devious, fiery glint in his eyes.

"I will consider it," Koutetsu said firmly. "I am tasked with arranging my sisters and given the political nature of this, a marriage would benefit allying our houses. I would actually like to broaden our studies in this endeavor to benefit the Agasha and Ashidaka together instead of just ourselves. Together we can harness something seen but once in a life time... But what if we can usher in a new age of understanding?"

He licked his lips again - the forge dried him out though he should have been used to it. Koutetsu wondered if the unique fires they invoked was the cause of it. He looked at that pile of rods and touched his chin as he considered the potential he found in the Dragon's forge before accepting the man's pipe.

He puffed on it, unlearned in its practice, but found he liked the taste of the herb.

"Let's research this method and learn more about O-Ka no Kami together. I think we can do more than you propose... But we'll start out with the research and see where this leads us."
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PostSubject: Re: (Koutetsu) The Hanabi Blade    Fri Sep 18, 2015 3:14 am

The old Agasha put away his tools and made every effort to appear as if he were only half-listening. He didn't want to seem too eager.

"The Fortunes smiled down upon us when Ejio-san introduced you to me." Hiroshi turned back to Koutetsu with an open face. "If I had made this discovery without someone of your skill around, I don't think anything would have come of it. You see, while I can summon the hanabi spirits into the steel, I do not shape it well enough to contain their power."

Hiroshi took a step forward to look Koutetsu in the eye. The frank expression was unsettling.

"You, on the other hand,” Hiroshi eyed the Crane up and down. “With your Ashidaka technique, you could take my alchemy and seal it within the blade. I want us to work together to harness this power. Will you allow me to bless your forge and link the great spirit? Will you work with me to forge the Hanabi Blade?"


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PostSubject: Re: (Koutetsu) The Hanabi Blade    Fri Sep 18, 2015 3:26 am

The Ashidaka swordsmith gave Hiroshi a firm nod. "Hai, Hiroshi-san," Koutetsu spoke in a low yet sure voice. "I'd be honored to have you bless my forge with this great spirit. To work with you on this sword will be a wonderful venture into the unknown. I'm looking forward to folding steel and creating something absolutely exciting - something that transcends what I can do on my own." There was a touch of Crane arrogance and subtle humility in his demeanor. He readily accepted the man's recognition of his craftsmanship yet heunderstood he was far from the master of his art. He saw opportunity in harnessing something new and breaking the boundaries of his own potential.

"The only problem will be balancing my duties with my other projects. I owe a man a sword and I intend to keep my word. I also have designs to forge a wedding gift though it should take but two weeks to finish that project. So, I think us forging this Hanabi Blade as you call it will take time... But given the nature of this unique experience, taking it slow may be a wise discourse."

He finished smoking on the kiseru and handed it back to the Dragon. Koutetsu was undaunted by the proximity as he tried to exercise an On of stoic resolve. As heir to the seat of the Ashidaka daimyo, he needed to become stalwart in the face of social pressures. With the potential of new allegiances and learning new techniques of swordsmanship, it was worthwhile to endure minor discomfort. He smirked and rapped his fingers on the work bench.

"With all that said... When do we start? I am not oblivious to piety and meditations so if necessary, I'd like to join you in your prayers and venerations, Hiroshi-san, might it better appease this spirit."
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PostSubject: Re: (Koutetsu) The Hanabi Blade    Fri Sep 18, 2015 3:40 am

Agasha Hiroshi smiled and it made him look twenty years younger.

"We can start straight away. We shall go to your forge and I will proceed with the proper blessings." The Dragon began to pack his gear, moving with frenetic energy.

"The meditation process will be strange to you, but I can teach you. You can help me appease the spirit if you learn it well enough." Hiroshi paused, thought, then turned suddenly. "If we are going to have to wait on you to finish a blade for a friend...well...I am impatient to start. I am willing to gift this blade to whomever you choose. If we create it, then we will have unlocked a secret that can be replicated. The first blade can be given as you desire my friend. Let us start!"


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PostSubject: Re: (Koutetsu) The Hanabi Blade    Fri Sep 18, 2015 4:10 am

The thought of gifting Kitsune Sojin, a man whom he was only forging the sword for so that he would not be asked to join the Mondai Ketsu, with a sword using the new forging process left him conflicted. He despised the concept of the Mondai Ketsu but he had began to abhor them less and less with each passing day. Kitsune Sojin and his men performed their duty just as he did; their reputations were both darkened because of it so they were similar. However, it would be convenient to gift the sword to Sojin so he could begin other tasks. The Ashidaka licked his lips and quietly conceded to the convenience of the idea... At least for that moment.

"Let me wash up and we'll make our way over to the Murabai district," Koutetsu murmured.

The swordsmith stepped out of the forge to wash off in the house. The soot of the forge readily clung to him so he washed his face and hair in a water basin to make himself presentable. His ventures to visit Hiroshi were always quiet; he didn't need Kurotema's men following him and reporting on his activities. That was an aspect of the Imperial City he despised: constantly being watched, resulting in a lack of privacy. However, he understood the necessity and the value. He needed to speak with Old Geshiki on the matter later on.

When he was done he waited for Hiroshi to head back to his estate in the Murabai district to meditate. While he did not show it he was quite eager to begin.
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PostSubject: Re: (Koutetsu) The Hanabi Blade    Fri Sep 18, 2015 2:39 pm

OOC

I think this thread is done unless you have something else?

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PostSubject: Re: (Koutetsu) The Hanabi Blade    Fri Sep 18, 2015 2:40 pm

OOC

I think this thread is done unless you have something else?

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