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 (Akira, Ejio) Crab. Crane. Fish.

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MrFeldspar
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PostSubject: (Akira, Ejio) Crab. Crane. Fish.    Thu Oct 29, 2015 9:10 pm

- I imagine this scene taking place after The Oni Warai but before The Forge of Fire, meaning Akira has been in town for about 9 or 10 days. -

The quarters appointed to Kuni Akira were befitting an Emerald Magistrate of the Ekohikei, as well as a karo to the Chisei Governor. Akira hated them. Garish displays of wealth and privilege infested the structure with the lavishness only a Crane could produce.

Akira felt uncomfortable enough growing up with a father who ran multiple iron mines and one of jade as well. The man hadn't be gifted (or cursed, as it were) with the traditional Kuni affinity for the kami, and instead was trained by the Kaiu Family. He had taken to their style of schooling quite well, and his family had been rewarded for it. Their homestead was likely a hovel in the eyes of a Crane, but ironically Akira felt it was too much. He appreciated art but failed to see the utility in having possessions simply to have them. It seemed a waste. His father may well die of laughter if he saw where Akira lived now.

Upon moving into this new home in Otosan Uchi, Akira ordered his servants to "declutter" the establishment. He knew better than to destroy or deface any of these borrowed belongings. Instead, he appointed a few rooms in the rear that were unnecessary and had them turned into make-shift storerooms. He kept a room in the back for his bedroom and office, a room in the front for entertaining guests, and didn't much care for the rest.

The Kuni looked again over his preparations. The table was set to entertain Doji Ejio upon his arrival. He had already blessed the tea and rice, and a bottle of sake just in case the Crane should desire it. His polished stone plates he used for his sushi were already set up on the table, he had but to make his final selections for what cuts of fish would most please Ejio-san.

Akira knew he was out of his depth in a place like Otosan Uchi. Everything felt off here. The people were different, the fashions, the dialect. Everything he knew, practically, about the world was hundreds of miles to the south. He would need friends to survive this place. He had already met the rest of Doji Kurotema's karo and they seemed a good lot, but Akira knew he couldn't keep them at arm's length, as much as he may want to. They can teach you much that you could never learn on the Wall or back in Yugure Yama.

The Wall. In the week since he had been here, there had been several moments were he felt like a coward. He knew full well why Kuni Yori and Hida Kisada had pushed for his reassignment away from the Kaiu Wall and furthermore, Akira knew their decision was the right one. That didn't stop him from feeling as though he had betrayed all his brothers and sisters still standing vigilant against the darkness. They fight and die to keep all of this safe, and here I am, setting a table and entertaining a guest.

The Crab gave himself a once over. He wore his typical dark blue robes with their simple white trim and had a fresh coat of paint on his face somewhat obscured by his long black hair. He placed candles about the room in such a fashion to create a muted but welcoming environment for his guest. I should do well to remember my manners, Akira told himself as he thought he heard a servant greeting the Doji from not far off, he is the son of the Emerald Champion after all.
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PostSubject: Re: (Akira, Ejio) Crab. Crane. Fish.    Thu Oct 29, 2015 10:19 pm

Doji Ejio, son of the Crane clan champion and the Emerald Champion, smirked as he followed the servant into the new home of Kuni Akira. At first glance, it reminded him of his friend Koutetsu's home in the Juramashi when they first met. Sparse and empty, but large, though it was obvious that the decoration had moved in the opposite direction than with his friend. He somehow doubted that he could convince the Kuni to drape the walls in finery but perhaps it could be amusing to try. Even as he thought it, he took a sheet of paper from his sleeve and began folding it into form while he walked. His practiced fingers completed a simple crab which he tossed into an adjacent doorway and let fall without comment as he followed the servant into the dining room to meet the strange new magistrate.

The Doji lord took in the immaculate paint covering the Kuni's face and had to admire the effort it must take to do it properly. That alone might have been worth noting from an artistic standpoint but the approach to the meal was what truly drew his attention. And of course, the sake. He bowed in greeting and smiled warmly as he approached the Kuni.

"Good evening, Akira-san. Thank you for inviting me into your home. Hopefully I will prove to be worthy of the preparation."
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PostSubject: Re: (Akira, Ejio) Crab. Crane. Fish.    Fri Oct 30, 2015 1:47 am

GM Note: Please remind me when this is finished so I can check it over.

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PostSubject: Re: (Akira, Ejio) Crab. Crane. Fish.    Sat Oct 31, 2015 2:17 pm

Kuni Akira smiled and return the bow. "Please, Ejio-san, have a seat." He gestured at the plated position at the table opposite his own. When his guest had made himself comfortable, Akira followed suit.

"I do not pretend to know what manner of tasks keep a man such as yourself occupied, but I am thankful we were able to find a time convenient for us both to meet." As Akira spoke, he gestured to their attending servant to fill their cups, and then he began his ritual of preparing to make sushi for an honored guest.

"Last week when I met with you and the rest of Lord Kurotema's karo, I was grateful for the ways in which you appreciated my craft." The Kuni made eye contact where possible and appropriate, keeping much of his focus on exactly where he placed the plates, his knife, and the fish before him.

When he was comfortable that everything was in place, he delicately held his knife and offered a prayer to the fire kami in the room. He could feel their presences in the coals, warming the stone slabs he used as plates. Now, he asked them to bless his knife that he might make his next several decisions with the utmost clarity (Mental Quickness).

"A learned man such as yourself is no doubt aware of the reputation of my family, Ejio-san," Akira looked up at the man and smiled, hoping to appear affable but no doubt coming across strange as usual. He held the knife delicately in his right hand and moved his left above the fish selection, palm hovering just above each piece. The Crab considered each piece for a long moment and ultimately settled on the swordfish.

"The Duty tasked to each Crab by our Emperor is, for many, a heavy one to bear." With his left hand he transferred the cut of swordfish onto the otherwise empty plate directly before him. "As such, we are highly encouraged to take up a skill or an art that takes us away from our typical duty and allows the mind to refocus." Akira set the fish down gingerly on his preparatory plate and cocked his head slightly to the side, evaluating the intricacies of the cut, the way it followed the innate musculature of the animal.

"My father is a student of the Kaiu and longed to have me try my hand with designing various fortifications. My mother, a shugenja born to the Phoenix, thought I might take to poetry or painting." Having finally made his decision, Akira made a single decisive cut through the fish. He gently took that which he chose not to serve and returned it to the plate with the rest of the fish. Now, his eyes narrowed and he scoured the cut he made for the slightest of imperfections. He found two and with a pair of quick, precise cuts, the parts he deemed unworthy were removed.

Satisfied with the progress so far, he returned his choice cut of fish to the plate still being warmed by the coals. The temperature wasn't quite right to be served yet.

"I tried them both, and many other tasks as well, but ultimately it was cooking that took hold. I think perhaps it was the simplicity of it. We take from the Earth and we take from the Water and we put those gifts into our bodies so that we might continue on in this life. We do it every day - multiple times per day. But how often, Ejio-san, how often do we truly appreciate all that has transpired to create this nourishment?" With a quick turn of his wrist, Akira used his knife to flip the cut of fish that was now warming. "I am a man of faith and of particular connection to our blessed kami, and too often I neglect to appreciate the gifts they provide every day."

Akira set the knife down and scooped a palm-full of rice into his right hand. He molded it into a stout rectangle with a curved top, using the natural curve of the underside of his fingers as a guide. The rice formed, he set it down onto the plate intended for his guest. He then again picked up his knife and used the metal to remove the swordfish from the stone plate. His hands worked in unison to lay the warmed piece of swordfish perfectly onto the hand-shaped block of rice.

The Kuni set down the knife once again and grabbed a small brush that had been sitting in a bowl off to the side. The end of the brush had been resting in an orange-bronze glaze that, when Akira raised the brush, appeared to have a syrup-like consistency. Akira used a light touch and gently coated the top of the swordfish in a single, purposeful stroke.

Satisfied his creation was ready for its intended recipient, Akira picked up the plate with both hands, prayed softly to the kami once again, leaned forward, and set it in front of Doji Ejio (Commune (Water)).

"Ejio-san, I crafted this sushi utilizing all that I know of the craft, but also all that I know of you. It is my sincere hope that you find this offering of but a simple handful of rice, a cut of fish, and a touch of sauce to be as complex as all your days in Court. I hope I am able to show you the beautiful complexity Earth and Water hide all around us, each and every day."

All Of The Rolls
(26) Mental Quickness / ML2 Fire / TN 15 / 8k3 / Target: Akira's Sushi Knife (+3 Intelligence)
(31) Commune (Water) / ML1 Water / TN 20 / 8k3 / 2 Called Raises to Enhance to Natural Flavors of the Fish
(58) Craft: Cooking (Sushi) / TN (?) / 10k8 / 4 Called Raises to Make It Amaze-Balls

Note: 9k4 Craft: Cooking (Sushi) --> +3 INT --> 12k7 --> 10k8 (Right?)
Note: 5 Ranks in Craft: Cooking let me call (Void+1) Raises
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PostSubject: Re: (Akira, Ejio) Crab. Crane. Fish.    Mon Nov 02, 2015 10:01 pm

The Crane artisan didn't even attempt to hide his pleasure at the first bite. His eyes closed and he savored the taste, focusing on the texture and the flavor. He took a deep breath and grinned at the Kuni before him.

"That, my friend, is... I don't even have words for it. Impressive. Most impressive."

Ejio took a drink of the offered sake and nodded slowly before continuing.

"This is magnificent. Tell me, how is it that you learned to do something such as this? I say that with genuine curiosity, Akira-san. The Crane have the finest chefs and we pride ourselves on indulging on the finest of everything yet I have never encountered something this fine. I find it unusual that I would find such a talent bearing the mon of the Crab."
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PostSubject: Re: (Akira, Ejio) Crab. Crane. Fish.    Fri Nov 06, 2015 11:05 am

Akira gave a subtle bow to his guest. "You honor me, Ejio-san. I appreciate your interest." He began work on two more pieces of sushi for his guest, and would follow that up with a pair for himself.

"After my trials with other crafts and ultimately finding cooking, I sought to truly pour myself into the task. It took several years to cultivate what I suppose you might consider my personal style of making the food, between how I select the cuts of fish and mold the rice. For the former task, I found some similar lessons learned from my ... normal duties. For the latter, it was simply trial and error over the years."

He was silent a moment as he put the finishing touches on his new creations for Ejio and then offered them to his guest. He then began work on some for himself.

"I eventually felt that I had reached a point where I could not get better, not without ignoring my demands as a shugenja or to my Clan. And it just so happened that I was having a conservation with a Yasuki friend when he suggested to me that perhaps I could ask the kami to help in a way that was beyond my own capacity. He renewed my passion for the craft and I once again poured myself into the task."

"I suspect I am alone amongst the Crab in my attention to detail for something as pedestrian as the creation of food, as you well know we are not a people for finery. I could very well spend my time drafting schematics for reinforcing mine shafts or composing haikus, but such was my fate that I should find a knack for what you have seen and tasted today."

Akira took a small drink from his sake cup. "Splitting effort between so many different tasks was time-consuming, but also rewarding. And for better or for worse, my path in life has thus far not provided an opportunity for marriage, allowing me ample time to perfect recipes such as this," he gestured toward the bowl of orange-brown glaze to his right. "I consider myself fortunate to now have individuals in my life who will take the time to appreciate my work."
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PostSubject: Re: (Akira, Ejio) Crab. Crane. Fish.    Thu Nov 12, 2015 8:48 pm

Ejio's warm smile was designed to be welcoming but it had the added benefit of also being genuine.

"It is always a pleasure to find work that is worth appreciating. I find it no end of interesting to see such gifts come from unusual places. There is a Yasuki who makes these amazing little pots. Not traditionally artistic, but I like how it brings beauty to utility and every day life."

The Crane took another, deeper drink from the sake in front of him.

"It is a shame that you have not had the time to pursue a proper match, though. Perhaps now that you are here in the Father's Home, the opportunity will arise. And, of course, there is always the possibility of having another pursue it for you. Luckily for you, I have plenty of experience pursuing women."

A smirk danced across Ejio's lips before he added, "I even have a reasonable amount pursuing them for other people."
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PostSubject: Re: (Akira, Ejio) Crab. Crane. Fish.    Tue Dec 15, 2015 2:09 am

"If you are offering such a service for me, Ejio-san, I would be in your debt. It is certainly one aspect of life in which I am a novice at best."

The Kuni began absentmindedly tidying up the remnants of food before him. "I had always assumed that someone from my family would be a burden, at best, to another family. What family wants to impose the Kuni Madness on one of their own?"

Akira paused briefly. "I assure you, Ejio-san, that affliction is not something that I carry." He smiled. "At least, not yet."
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PostSubject: Re: (Akira, Ejio) Crab. Crane. Fish.    Sun Jan 03, 2016 11:46 am

Ejio nodded in response to Akira's question, confirming the offer as he watched the food disappear with a sense of sadness usually reserved for the end of a magnificent play.

"Yes, of course Akira-san. There are plenty of wonderful options for you within the city. In fact, I have one in mind already. And I know that they would be thrilled to have your knowledge and skills added to their family. As for now, it has grown late and I must attend to another matter before sleeping. This has been a magnificent meal and I look forward to the next time I am allowed to partake. In fact, I have a party coming up that I would be honored if you would attend and prepare the food. It will definitely go a long way in announcing your presence to the city. With perhaps a little less terrifying drama than your initial impression."
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