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 (Ejio) The 9th Invitation

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TheDiddler
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PostSubject: (Ejio) The 9th Invitation    Wed Sep 09, 2015 3:25 pm

The following is an ongoing side-plot for Doji Ejio. Let's see how things turn out. Very Happy

The offices of the Imperial Advisor were as grand as any would expect, but Doji Ejio still felt a pang of disappointment. As the highest ranking member of the Emperor's Court remaining in the Imperial City, Asako Yoshenga held court in a tremendous office on the lowest level of the Imperial Palace. Ejio knew that no other levels of the structure would be open during the Hantei's absence and to go up, even one floor, meant death.

The room should have been decorated with remarkable beauty. And there was art, but...it was so old. And sparse.

On one wall a large mural, hung by the Advisor's own clansmen, depicted the creation of the 12 Black Scrolls long before they were used to contain the power of the Dark Kami. Isawa himself sat amid a pile of floating scrolls, power flowed from the heavens, and yet, the art was bland. The work sub-par.

At another wall stood a statue of Shiba hard at work copying the first Tao of Shinsei. The marble was rare, the decorative painted lines artfully done, but the work was crude, the work of an amateur.

The doors behind Ejio slid open.

"I see you beat me here. Punctual, as always."

Ejio knew the voice without turning. As he did, he was not surprised to see Bayushi Akedare in full actor dress. The man had a huge black mane, full kabuki makeup in a placid face, and robes that flowed about him to make him look far larger than he would normally. It took Ejio no time to recognize a skillful representation of Emma-O, Fortune of Death. Say one thing about Akedare, say he is good at his art.




The 9th Invitation: because of the rise in political influence of the Artisans of Otosan Uchi, overseer Asako Yoshenga, the Imperial Advisor, grants the artisans the right to choose their 9th opponent (Akedare and Ejio opposed in this matter; Foruku is aiding Akedare)
- Or use the monk that Logan is making

The Many Faces of Bayushi Akedare

Link to Asako Yoshenga Image

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Last edited by TheDiddler on Tue Oct 13, 2015 1:37 am; edited 3 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: (Ejio) The 9th Invitation    Wed Sep 23, 2015 12:06 pm

Ejio was both fascinated by and disdainful of the choice of art within the room. He had met the Imperial Adviser before but never truly held artistic discourse with him. Still, he was certain of many things involving the Adviser's personality based purely on the choice of decor. His fingers came close to brushing the statue, sifting through his art on knowledge to find the creator when his musings were interrupted. Once he took the measure of his opposition, he turned back around to face the statue and inspect the craftsmanship as he spoke.

"I fear my punctuality is no match for your theatricality, Akedare-san. I hope your travel here was safe."
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PostSubject: Re: (Ejio) The 9th Invitation    Thu Sep 24, 2015 12:23 am

"Safe?" Akedare laughed boisterously in counterpoint to his stark features. "Nothing is safe, Ejio-san. Nothing."

The Scorpion actor strode into the room in a wide-legged stance. He set himself opposite his Crane counterpart. Ejio noted with interest that this placed his opponent underneath the mural of the twelve scrolls.

"Our great master has strange taste." As Akedare turned full on to gaze upon the mural, Ejio saw him slip out a mirror the size of his palm from somewhere deep within his robes. He looked down into his own reflection for a full minute whispering something Ejio could not quite hear. His head jerked to the side and suddenly the mirror had vanished within the folds of his kimono.

Ejio noted that despite the significant costume, Akedare was dressed very much in the recent Crane styles. Even the silk of his kimonos were from Crane provinces. Certainly, that heady perfume wafting from his body reminded Ejio of his sister Shizue and her penchant for such things.

A shadow fell over the room from the far end. Another. And another. The doors slide open. Two Seppun guards walked into the room and gestured for the two artisans to kneel.

A third man entered, tall and gaunt, with shadowed eyes and hair of liquid void. He had a strange laughing demon mask hanging from his obi and though he wore a daisho, he carried a yari with a matte black blade.

A fourth man entered. Asako Yoshenga, Imperial Advisor to Hantei XXXVIII, current Regent of the Imperial City.

"Loyal servants of the Empire, please rise. We have much to discuss."




OOC Setting:
As a note, I did not adequately describe where you are at this point. You are in the lowest floor of the Imperial Palace, as is the right of the Imperial Advisor to occupy. However, the room you are is a guest hall. Most importantly, it required you to travel through a side gate to enter the Imperial Palace. Through that side gate you had to walk up a back path towards a set of stairs.

Through those stairs, just before you came into this very room, you had to pass the Meeting Hall of the Sentaku Tribunal. When you passed through those rooms you saw dozens of high-ranking servants of the Sentaku, samurai of all walks, but mostly from the Imperial families, staring back at you from busy stations.

Jei, Yojimbo to the Imperial Advisor

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PostSubject: Re: (Ejio) The 9th Invitation    Fri Sep 25, 2015 2:40 pm

Ejio rose gracefully, his hands instinctively removing any wrinkles in his clothes as he stood. The material needed very little guidance, but it never hurt to be certain.

"Thank you for seeing us, Yoshenga-sama. It is an honor to be within these walls, much less allowed your presence, as well."
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PostSubject: Re: (Ejio) The 9th Invitation    Mon Sep 28, 2015 5:05 pm

“Allowed in my presence?” Yoshenga said. He did not so much walk, as stroll casually into the room, unconcerned with the decorum his station demanded. “Hmm…no, my boy. Allowed is not the word I would use at all. You two have provided hours of entertainment and useful diversion from the problems of this city. It is I who should thank you, yes?”

Yoshenga stopped at the center of the room between Akedare and Ejio. He made a point to look at each man for the span of three-breaths – for some reason Ejio counted it in his head, keenly aware of the action.

“You have caused disruption,” he said as he looked at Ejio. “And you have created a rift, a conflict of action that will only make your diversion more worthwhile.” His gaze settled on Akedare. Finally, he turned to Jei.

“This is my yojimbo. His name is Jei. He is a ronin. Do you think that odd? That I would have a ronin as my bodyguard when I could claim the greatest Seppun to fill that role?”

Yoshenga swept his arms up around the room. “Do you think my choice of meeting place odd? Forcing you past the Sentaku leadership, into this place, this sacred palace where only the most inspired are ever invited?”

The Imperial Advisor let his hands drop to his sides and sighed theatrically. “The Imperial City grows fat with unnecessary bloat. The status quo has set for too long, Ejio-san. The bureaucracy can always use a bit of shaking up, don’t you think, Akedare-san?”

“Jei,” Yoshenga’s voice shifted to a hard tone. “These two men provide for the Emperor a chance to slice away the weak-willed bureaucrats and fill their positions with new ideas, more artistic views. What do you think about that?”

The empty-eyed yojimbo stared back blankly, but did not respond.

“Exactly,” Yoshenga said. “All I hear, all the gossip these days, it whispers in the shadowy corners that ‘Doji Ejio’s artisans will take power. Akedare’s splinter group try to seize it for themselves. Their art IS our culture. Their work our very souls.’”

“Courtiers are a dramatic lot, but their words are true. Your work has inspired the renewal of a fallen position. The Turquoise Championship WILL take place this spring, after the Emperor’s return. There will be a shakeup of the system, a new niche for power.”

Yoshenga turned towards Akedare, then finally settled his gaze on Ejio.

“Who should that balance of power favor? There are 9 invitations and 8 have gone out, 4 to a ‘performer’ and 4 to a ‘crafter’ in each of your so-called factions. Where should the 9th go? And why?”


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PostSubject: Re: (Ejio) The 9th Invitation    Mon Sep 28, 2015 6:37 pm

With the Advisor's gaze settled on him, Ejio took the cue to speak first, his voice well trained, though no doubt not to the extent of his opposition. His eyes took in the yojimbo, a mild curiosity evident but lacking any disdain that might have been typical of the upper echelon.

"The performer's, of course, sama. The nature of the crafter's art is that it stands long after they are gone. The performance arts require a stage and a moment. It would be unfair to not give such beauty more opportunities to shine and be seen before it fades."
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PostSubject: Re: (Ejio) The 9th Invitation    Thu Oct 08, 2015 5:24 pm

The instant the words left Ejio’s mouth, Bayushi Akedare spoke up. Words left his mouth before Ejio’s could settle and it was evident in Akedare’s confusion that he had not expected the Crane’s answer.

“The performers, of course, should…” Akedare paused a moment, eyes narrowed. “Yes. Lord Ejio has the right of it, I think. And for the right reasons.”

Though obviously discomfited, the Scorpion regained composure quickly. “And why would the Lord Artisan not be right? The Crane have the greatest eye for art and its impact on this culture. They created or perfected nearly every single art we currently hold up as honorable and good. Why, even as you say, my Lord Advisor, even I follow in his footsteps.” Akedare bowed his head in solemnity. “Of course it should be a performer. The Crane, in these matters, are always certain.”

Ejio saw the Imperial Advisor’s otherwise placid face twitch at the corner of his mouth. Behind him, the ronin Jei stared, empty-eyed and relaxed, directly at Ejio.

Something about the man felt…familiar. When Ejio stared back during the lull of conversation, he felt the expected malaise wash over him. But unlike other times, he did not feel alone. There, in the emptiness of the world, the ronin Jei stood with him. The two isolated on a field of endless same.

“Well,” Yoshenga’s voice snapped him back to the real world in an instant. “I never thought I could see the day when a Crane and Scorpion could so quickly come to an agreement. If this is your final argument, I have an individual in mind to whom I will send this 9th Invitation.”

The Advisor took a step forward to stand between the two men. At this close range, Ejio could feel a near-palpable heat radiate from the man, like a power.

Asako Yoshenga looked first at Akedare, then at Ejio.

“I expect to see this competition bring out the best in our artists.” His voice dropped an octave and became quieter. “I expect to see a shakeup of the system. The rot grows deep and requires vigorous movement to see it broken loose.”


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PostSubject: Re: (Ejio) The 9th Invitation    Wed Oct 14, 2015 9:40 am

Ejio's slow response was uncharacteristic, but his words did not lack for conviction or sincerity. They were merely a half-second later than his norm which was undoubtedly observed by the Asako, who noted the glance between the Doji and his placid bodyguard.

"My Lord Advisor, I can promise you two things. I promise that this Championship will shape the city for generations and by extension, the Empire. Art is too important, too powerful to go ignored for what it is any longer. My second promise is that you will see many things that you have never seen before this is done."

Ejio bowed and refrained from smirking at Akedare but the sense of a change in active player before a go board was palpable.
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PostSubject: Re: (Ejio) The 9th Invitation    Thu Oct 15, 2015 1:19 am

Akedare frowned at the strange shift in conversation. Points had been scored in a way he had not expected.

He was about to speak when the Imperial Advisor lifted his hand.

"We appear to be all in agreement." Yoshenga looked first from Ejio and then after a long pause, to Akedare. "The 9th Invitation will go out to a special artisan of my choosing, though he will focus on the act of performance."

The Asako's smile grew wide. "I look forward to the strange and new world you two shall bring us when the Emperor returns. Jei, please escort these men out."

With that Asako Yoshenga turned and strode back into the depths of the Imperial Palace.

When Ejio looked to Akedare, the Scorpion seemed different than when he had come in. It wasn't just that he had not gained as clear a victory as he wanted, but something else. A strange shift in his posture, a darkness around his eyes. He whispered without real words to himself and worked his lips in a stretching gesture.

Almost as if he was getting into a character.

Ejio felt the shadow of the yojimbo and looked up into the eyes of the ronin bodyguard, Jei. The man's dark-tipped spear thrummed with barely contained energy.

When Ejio looked into that man's eyes he found them empty, devoid of emotion, and was reminded of a vast and open plain. A plain of gray grass swaying in the breeze. A breeze with no smell, no sound, and whose gentle touch left no mark upon the skin.

Ejio closed his eyes and felt a comfort in that image. When he opened them, the ronin Jei blinked once and nodded.

"This way."


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PostSubject: Re: (Ejio) The 9th Invitation    Mon Oct 19, 2015 2:53 pm

Ejio recalled some of the acting practices he had been learning. Even now, he had to admire the skill and methodology in use just as he abhorred the other aspects of the man he with which he shared the meeting. Still, it was Jei who drew his attention.

Once he withdrew from the plains he found in Jei's look, he exhaled slowly. There was no art in that gray place, but there was beauty. It felt like home. Lonely, but home. With just a nod, he followed as the bodyguard directed, curious about the connection he had never seen before.
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PostSubject: Re: (Ejio) The 9th Invitation    Mon Oct 19, 2015 3:04 pm

The trio strode past back through the Chamber of the Sentaku Judges, all eyes following Ejio and Akedare while faces stayed plastered to their work.

Akedare continued to work his mouth, his jaw, his fingers, all in subtle ways. Ejio noted the strange blinking and coughing sound as acting techniques designed to push him towards a new role. As they reached the gates of the Imperial Palace, Akedare did not even hesitate, but continued walking without so much as a glance back.

Ejio could feel it. He was on the ropes. He was desperate.

"It is as if there are many souls trapped in one body." The ronin's flat voice drew Ejio back from the Scorpion. The dead eyes stared down like hollow pits and the fingers gripped the spear tightly.

"Asako-sama asked me to do you a courtesy and tell you my purpose in serving him. He believes that you will need to know."

Jei looked up at the massive torii arch that framed the gateway. "I was born both blessed and cursed. Sent to wipe out evil in the mortal realm." The ronin smiled a little and though the effect did not reach his eyes, the result was quite disconcerting.

“I do my part to aid in the cycle of rebirth. I enjoy my work. What will you return as, I wonder? Or Akedare? What is the weight of kharma upon your soul?"


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PostSubject: Re: (Ejio) The 9th Invitation    Mon Oct 19, 2015 3:21 pm

Whatever came next would be violent, Ejio had no doubt. Desperate men did desperate things. Akedare was desperate and willing to do grievous harm which Ejio knew would lead to death. Ejio wanted to frown but instead focused on the man left before him.

"I do not know what I will become. Each day here, I have no doubt that the weight will grow heavier. So long as it is lighter for those around me, is that not worth the burden?"
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PostSubject: Re: (Ejio) The 9th Invitation    Tue Oct 20, 2015 12:22 am

The ronin bodyguard pondered the thought for a time. Finally, he nodded.

"I believe our philosophies are not incompatible, Doji-san. If the world is removed of evil purpose, if those who work within that darkness exist no longer, then the burden is lighter for those around us. We are not so different, you and I."

As Ejio looked upon into those soulless eyes it occurred to him that the yojimbo might be right. And the thought was frightening.

"I see no evil in you, Ejio-san. Not yet. But it is there, at the edges, striving to get in." Jei leaned down and peered around the Doji artisan as if looking into his soul. Satisfied with his inspection he leaned back and nodded.

"Let us hope we do not find ourselves in opposition. You would be formidable."


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PostSubject: Re: (Ejio) The 9th Invitation    Wed Oct 21, 2015 9:10 pm

Ejio allowed a small smile, the gesture seeming meaningless but too practiced to remain unused to express the dark mirth Ejio felt.

"Perhaps you are right, Jei-san. If there is no dark, then we could see all more clearly the beauty around us. I suppose I may simply not be strong enough to believe we can rid the world of darkness so instead focus simply on making the contrast more noticeable. I doubt we will be so fortunate as to never be in opposition but it is my sincerest hope that it is always amicable. I am certain that you will be a formidable opponent. Hopefully you will be just as formidable an ally."
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PostSubject: Re: (Ejio) The 9th Invitation    Sun Oct 25, 2015 12:23 am

For a long while the yojimbo merely stood and stared off into the distance.

Ejio understood that pause. He had experienced it often himself.

Finally, the bushi smiled. Or he bared his teeth at least.

"Allies?" Jei stared down into Ejio's eyes, his own black and soulless.

"I do not think death has allies."

With that, the bodyguard bowed low, turned casually, and departed to rejoin his master.


OOC: End scene unless you have something else.

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