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 (Koutetsu) A Meeting with Matsu Murabai Part II

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kpsmith
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PostSubject: (Koutetsu) A Meeting with Matsu Murabai Part II   Sat Sep 19, 2015 1:24 am

Ashidaka Koutetsu wrote a letter to Matsu Murabai. The letter was sealed with his personal mon.

To the Honorable Matsu Murabai,

Greetings and salutations. It is my sincere hope your ancestors have smiled fondly upon you today. How has life treated you since our last encounter? I have found my own day to day duties and activities a whirlwind of interest. No doubt words of my exploits have reached your ears these past months. The Imperial City is truly unlike anywhere else in the Empire.

To get to the heart of my letter, I have information regarding our mutual friend Doji Yunagi you may find interesting. If you would like to entertain my humble company, I'd wish to speak further on the matter. I look forward to meeting you soon.

Signed,

Ashidaka no Kakita Koutetsu
Regent of House Ashidaka
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PostSubject: Re: (Koutetsu) A Meeting with Matsu Murabai Part II   Wed Sep 23, 2015 5:03 pm

Ashidaka Koutetsu walked through the Murabai district with a tickle at the base of his skull. Despite the location of his forge, despite his history with the governor of this district, he could feel a palpable hostility washing over him. From the moment he stepped into Murabai’s district, two peasant doshin and an armed Matsu magistrate began to follow.

He sighed. It wasn’t surprising. Matsu Murabai’s response to his letter hadn’t come until after the events below ground in the Kenka Murab. After the night of blood. After he had killed Onishikawa and became the “favorite of the oyabun.”

After he had slain Matsu Mikiu.

What else could he expect from Lady Murabai except a general sense of hostility.

Koutetesu paused at the gates of the Murabai Court, the seat of government. Lady Murabai spent most of her time here even in her leisure. All around the Crane could feel the hot eyes of Lion baring down. Even the peasants, who strained under their backbreaking tasks of setting targets for archers, preparing food, and cleaning; even they seemed to bear him ill will.

A young ashigaru gestured for him to follow towards the central courtyard. Two dozen Matsu warriors stood in formation, dressed in light summer kimono in the strange winter heat. A kiai shout and all moved at once, in unison, in perfect harmony with each other. They were practicing jiujutsu drills.

Koutetsu looked to the front expecting to see Lady Murabai leading the exercise. Instead, he caught a glimpse of her in the midst of her clansmen. It seemed that while she was in charge of the political situation she remained aware of her limitations. She was no teacher. She was a deadly strategist and bushi.

The Crane waited patiently until the Lion finished their drills. Matsu Murabai took a towel and wiped gleaming sweat from her brow and the exposed portions of her chest and upper arms. She took up her swords from a rack, situated them carefully, and let down her sleeves. Somewhat properly attired, she walked to Ashidaka Koutetsu and bowed as was appropriate.

“Konbanwa, Koutetsu-san,” her voice was calm, controlled. “Have you eaten rice today?”

Before he could reply, the Matsu governor began to walk purposefully towards the court. “As I said in my reply, a karo of the Ekohikei will not be turned away. It would be improper to refuse you. But I have much to do. Speak as we walk, please.”


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PostSubject: Re: (Koutetsu) A Meeting with Matsu Murabai Part II   Wed Sep 23, 2015 9:29 pm

Koutetsu was not surprised he had received such a hostile response from the district. While the nature of his activities were illegal, he was sure there were whispers spoken throughout the city. What frusterated him, however, was how his hand was forced. He had no desire to slay Mikiu yet she had called him out before he could escape the clutches of the Imperial Legion. This left Koutetsu notably irritated; while the nature of killing left less of a distaste in his mouth, he still despised drawing steel and performing the act.

Koutetsu inclined his head to the Matsu and quietly replied, so only she could hear him, "Hai, I took my morning rice, Matsu-sama." He didn't object to her suggestion to walk and talk. After all, he had little leeway there. He felt he was three feet from death, even in the district he had called home since inheriting the forge in the Murabai district. It was an entirely unwelcome sensation he wished would go away yet knew in the back if his mind was doomed to linger. His infamy grew whether he liked it or not - much to his displeasure.

"I know I am not the guest you were expecting to receive nor am I the Crane. You are a keen and observant woman, Matsu-sama. Might I ask you a question?"

Whether he let his question serve a rhetorical purpose or not, he pressed the conversation.

"Bushido places great burdens on us and at times, not every virtue can be upheld in a given moment. What happens when Honor and Compassion come into conflict? Would you ever falter and announce you have no Honor even if your Compassion is a kinder discourse?"

It was a philosophical question on Bushido and an analogy to his hand being forced to slay the young Matsu. Koutetsu looked Murabai in the eyes as they walked, hoping, searching for her response. He knew it was a dangerous move bit he wanted someone to understand the pained choice he had to make. Killing was still not easy... But it didn't weigh on his conscience either. The Ashidaka watched her carefully, hoping there was more to his visit than just his meeting regarding Yunagi. He wanted to discuss his father, his own growing woes... But doubted she would provided him the counsel he needed.
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PostSubject: Re: (Koutetsu) A Meeting with Matsu Murabai Part II   Mon Sep 28, 2015 5:07 pm


Matsu Murabai listened, but did not respond at first. Her silence brewed to a pregnant pause as she walked purposefully toward an obvious goal. Koutetsu started to fall back out of respect, but the Matsu’s eyes flashed.

“Our meeting is not done,” she said. “I have no time in the day after this. If it is your wish to continue our talk, you will follow.” The lady Matsu, soaked in sweat from the morning exercise, covered in dust and dirt, entered the bathhouse and waited for Koutetsu to follow. Form inside he heard her speaking, her voice getting farther away.

“There is no conflict in Bushido for the true student of honor. This is what the other clans do not understand and the Lion excel at so perfectly. Compassion is not kindness. Honor never demands that you forget Compassion in its pursuit. These are the idle musings of a samurai trying to fit reason to past actions. There can be no regret.”

Her words were almost lost on the Ashidaka. He could hear her disrobing within.

“What victory is achieved through the pursuit of vengeance? Is vengeance the same as justice? Is regret of past actions reason enough to pursue present aggression? These are the questions the Matsu must ask and most would answer, in response to the Crane specifically, that there is honor in blood debt…”

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PostSubject: Re: (Koutetsu) A Meeting with Matsu Murabai Part II   Mon Sep 28, 2015 11:08 pm

Koutetsu acted as an obedient child and followed Murabai into the bath house. He realized this opportunity to speak with her was all she would afford him for a time. With the enmity of the Lion he wouldn't have another chance any time soon. So, the Ashidaka stood within the hallway of the bath house and leaned against an interior wall as he listened to her. The Lion were many things but they were not foolish regarding matters of Bushido. Despite the Lion's wisdom, he was unsatisfied. Though he felt no answer may have pleased him.

"I have no regrets," Koutetsu resolved himself to say. "What's done is done, answered as honor demanded of me. When the time comes, I will answer any consequences with the honor I meted out in the first place." While the Matsu family - and the Lion as a whole - were poised to strike him down at a moment's notice, he would stand ready for their challenges. He was, after all, a Kakita. The wrath of the Matsu was something he was not alien to.

"But I did no come to beseech your wisdom, despite how valuable it is to me, Murabai-sama," the Ashidaka spoke.

"No, I come to speak regarding out mutual friend, Doji Yunagi."

He paused to let that name sink in. There was obvious sarcasm in the way he casually referred to him as a 'mutual friend' to her.

"I know you have no love for him and you have given me reason to share this sentiment. Since we last spoke I have come to learn Doji Yunagi was the harbinger of my father's shame. We share a common enemy in this regard, Murabai-sama. I suspect he is plotting to move against you... I have been informed he may very well use my father's shame against me, might he leverage it to his own agenda. He has eyes above his station... He may not gain entry to the Ekohikei, but your district is easier prey..."

He leaned his head back against the bath house wall. "I have recommended to Kitsune Sojin that he should use the Yunagi district for his execution grounds... That should stoke the man's ire. He is like to lash out soon... So, I am curious: how might you cut down a problem before it arises?"

The Crane rapped the bath house wall with his hand. It was a double edged question: how would she move against Yunagi if she knew he was plotting against her? How might he move against Akedare who had already made the first, second and third moves?
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PostSubject: Re: (Koutetsu) A Meeting with Matsu Murabai Part II   Thu Oct 08, 2015 5:25 pm

Koutetsu marveled at the constant state of readiness in the bath house. Such a large room, built solidly into the earth, filled constantly to the brim with steaming water, would require significant work. But cleanliness was important to the samurai and if the Lion trained daily as he saw them today, they would use it.

“It is strange to me to hear a Crane speak out against another Crane. Such things would never happen in the Lion.” She sank naked into the steaming pool. Her body was not unpleasant. Toned, muscular, and though her age was apparent, her confidence more than made up for any shortcomings.

The main thing Koutetsu noted were all the scars.

“Of course Yunagi is plotting against me. He plotted to have me taken from the battlefield in the first place. Your clan, not mine, wanted me as governor in the Toshisoto,” Murabai closed her eyes and rested her head back against the lip of the pool.

“So my clan maneuvered to have Yunagi serve subordinate to me, in the only district of the city of its like. A region filled with hinin and heimin, eta and peasants, merchants, and other necessary, if undesirable servants of the Emperor.” Outside, Koutetsu could hear other Matsu waiting to enter.

“I assume you came to me because you know we share mutual enemy, but consider this, Ashidaka-san,” Murabai’s eyes opened to stare at him through the steam. “The Lion are at war with the Crane. The Matsu have an ancient blood-feud against the Kakita. You and I are but extensions of our families, servants to the greater duty. How can we openly help one another without bringing shame to our clans?”

There was a long pause. Murabai took a deep breath. Her chest rose and fell in gentle rhythm. Just when Koutetsu thought the meeting was at an end, Murabai continued.

“Yet only a fool of a general would waste opportunity. This day, I have no hatred for you, personally. Your information is useful. I will watch for Yunagi and when he makes his move, the Lion will be prepared. We will strike, hard, fast, and with a certainty that shall leave no Crane unable to stand against our fury.”

“You ask me how to cut down a problem before it arises. You answer with your own actions. You came to me because we share a mutual antagonist.” Murabai lifted a hot towel and prepared to drop in onto her face, but before she did, she smiled with a clear viciousness. “Find your enemy’s weakness. Find his other enemies. Prepare carefully and when you strike, do it in a way that leaves nothing to question, nothing to chance. If Yunagi moves foolishly, you will see the Matsu reaction. If you move foolishly, I am certain Lady Matoko will do the same.”

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PostSubject: Re: (Koutetsu) A Meeting with Matsu Murabai Part II   Fri Oct 09, 2015 1:56 am

"If your fellow Lion was behaving dishonorably, you would be the first to speak out against them," Koutetsu spoke firmly to Murabai. "Bushido demands we do not stand by and allow such behavior to persist. The Lion know this above all; you should not be surprised either - I gave you my word I would avenge my father's shame."

"There is no shame, no dishonor, when standing beside another in a matter of honor. Sometimes there is greater honor in putting aside differences to reach a common goal. I am Crane as you are Lion, and that will never change. A samurai alone can measure his own honor. I will stand for what duty and honor demands of me and I have a familial obligation to rectify a shame that haunts my family. If I cannot cleanse this shame, who will? My sisters do not possess the knowledge of steel to take the matter upon themselves. As firstborn and heir, that is my burden."

He spoke with a tempered conviction, quietly speaking so only she might hear him. Despite the situation, he adverted his eyes at every opportunity out of courtesy. However, he tried to steel his resolve by catching her eyes now and again, accenting those firm declarations. He shifted, his arms folding tightly across his chest, ignoring the sound of samurai gathering outside.

He craned his neck and rolled his shoulder a moment thereafter.

"I am aware my Lords may be displeased with me working with a Lion against a clansmen, but when the truth of his dishonor is revealed, none shall question it and it will be forgotten. I am ready for the risks involved. I only ask that you inform me if you move against him. I... Need to know, to confirm, my father's shame has been vanquished," he spoke in a low, tempered voice.

Sincerity Roll
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PostSubject: Re: (Koutetsu) A Meeting with Matsu Murabai Part II   Sun Oct 11, 2015 4:31 pm

The Lady Murabai dropped the hot towel atop her face as she listened to Koutetsu's words. Her response was so slow in coming that Koutetsu was certain the meeting was at an end. Then, she lifted the cloth enough to speak.

Behind the Crane, dozens of other Matsu, male and female alike, were wandering in, disrobing, and prepping for their baths. Not one failed to give him a dark look as they walked by their Crane enemy.

"You will know if I move against Doji Yunagi by the volume and pitch of his screams. I admit, Koutetsu-san, that you have intrigued me. Your talk of honor and your conviction is admirable. But in the end, we are enemies. Even with a mutual opponent, little love can be shared between us."


Investigation Roll

OOC: Murabai's roll was greater. Since Koutetsu was not trying to lie, the result is not too harsh. Instead, she is simply...unimpressed with his raw emotion and honesty. With failed Sincerity you are unable to move her to greater desire to help you.

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PostSubject: Re: (Koutetsu) A Meeting with Matsu Murabai Part II   Tue Oct 13, 2015 1:54 am

"In another day, another time, I could see us as brothers and sisters in arms. It is still my hope I might one day foster greater friendship with the Lion, ancestral enmity not withstanding," the young Kakita spoke in a perfect, even tempo. He afforded the elder Matsu a deep bow and for the first time that encounter, really let his eyes meet her. He looked to her and let his gaze linger long enough it was palpable. Before the moment bordered into impolite discomfort, Koutetsu quietly left the bathhouse with little more to say. What could one say to another committed to being their enemy? It was a shame in the Imperial City there were few he could truly count upon as allies.

END SCENE
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PostSubject: Re: (Koutetsu) A Meeting with Matsu Murabai Part II   Wed Oct 14, 2015 5:20 pm

Please remind me of this entire scene as we move forward in the game.

It will have ramifications later.


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