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 Whispers of Violence (Akira)

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TheDiddler
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PostSubject: Whispers of Violence (Akira)    Tue Dec 08, 2015 5:00 pm

Akira looked down over the Juramashi District from atop the Southern Wall. Wind whipped about him and it should have been cold, it should have caused him to bundle up against the freeze.

Instead, he felt the hot, dry air and thought of kindling used to start a fire.

The message flapped in the breeze between his fingertips and drew his attention back to the present.

Kitsu Okura had been trying to contact him for at least a day, perhaps two. Akira could not remember with everything else that was going on. But this message wasn’t from Okura, at least not directly.

A servant had delivered it, a loyal Lion who felt his master was in danger.

I found him rocking back and forth in his room after a nightmare. I do not seek to share my master’s personal fears and weaknesses, but it has only gotten worse. He spoke of you as a shugenja who might be able to help.

The wind whispered its hot and hateful message. Akira turned and walked to the inside of the Southern Wall and looked down into the Chisei and the Ekohikei. It looked quiet. Peaceful. But in the shadows and in the alleys and in the tunnels a war raged.

He spoke of whispers. He didn’t make sense at first, but after a time I could understand. He spoke of a dark power, a great Prophet tapping into a secret ‘fifth spirit of power’ within the Father’s Home. Okura said the Prophet would “use the Mother’s power, use her blood to fuel dark magic.”

He spoke of spirits of violence.

He whispered of the a great and terrible fall.

Akira felt the note tug at his fingertips and looked back over his shoulder at Toshisoto. The warm wind blasted his face with its fury. If he strained just right, he thought he could hear them, the whispers of violence on the wind.

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PostSubject: Re: Whispers of Violence (Akira)    Tue Dec 15, 2015 2:23 am

Spirits of violence. the Man laughed. Not a customary, polite laugh. No, this laugh came from deep within him. He laughed from his core. This poor Lion is plagued by spirits of violence, and so he reaches out to Kuni Akira? Oh, dear. How little he knows. The Man summoned fire to consume the note as he walked, casually letting the burning paper drift away in the wind. With how upset O-Ka no Kami was these days, it made such tasks quite simple. If he took time to consider it, the Man would discover he actually enjoyed it, the fire. It just made sense.

As the ashes mixed with the wind and dissipated, the Man reflected on the words he had read over and over in the Lion's letter. Nightmares. A dark power. The Mother's blood. He grinned again as he contemplated the Lion he would soon meet. The Lion who had requested to see Kuni Akira. Kuni Akira was said to be a shugenja who might be able to help. After all, he was Kuni Yori's most advanced student. He was credited with more days beyond the Wall than all of his peers, even amongst the Hida and Hiruma clans. He was appointed as an Emerald Magistrate and assigned to the Inner City of Father's Home. It was even rumored he had communed with some of the great kami of Otosan Uchi. An ephemeral moment of grief passed through the Man's mind as he walked, realizing he would have to disappoint the Lion.

Kuni Akira died upon the Southern Wall. After months of giving his all to protect the people of the Emerald Empire, going to lengths beyond the wherewithal of any of his peers, he was at last slain. Time and again he offered himself in exchange for others to save this City, the spiritual and symbolic center of all that he held dear. For if Otosan Uchi fell, the heart and soul of Rokugan fell with it. What then is the point of the Kaiu Wall and the last thousand years of sacrifice paid by the Crab Clan? What is the point of stretching your mind to the breaking point in order to understand the depravities of Jigoku that fester within Ningen-do? What is the point of forsaking all that you want out of life for all that must be done with it?

Those who had encountered Kuni Akira took note of his unusual face paint. He styled himself after a wish doll, a tradition of his clan. It began in the aftermath of his apprentice's death just a few years ago, Akira felt compelled to redesign his mask. He understood the design would be off-putting to those unfamiliar with the custom, but it held a great significance to him. It was his way of telling the Empire, "I am here for you. I will watch out for you. I will keep you safe." He felt honored when Kuni Yori had given his blessing on the new design.

He was also known for wearing simple roughspun clothing, the dark blue of the Crab with a basic white trim. The Crab mon in red on his back, and nothing else - save for his marking of office hanging from his waist. Even for a Crab, Kuni Akira seemed particularly frugal when it came to material possessions. But that man died as another sacrifice in a pointless conflict being fought within the Imperial City.

By his own political appointment, Kuni Akira had become allied with the Mondai Ketsu and proclaimed an outlaw by the commander of the Imperial Legion. This political conflict between the two groups created an overwhelming distraction from the real problem, the missing spirit of Winter. The victor of this conflict was irrelevant in the end. The only reason Kuni Akira cared was because if his side lost, so too did his hope of saving Rokugan. And so, in the midst of Kitsune Sojin's folly atop the Southern Wall, Kuni Akira intervened. Intervened and met his fate. It was the wrong wall, thought the Man. He deserved better. So much better.

The Man knew Kuni Akira well. He could recount with perfect clarity a thousand horrible memories of Akira's life in the South, of the chaos of war, the horror of Oni, the grief of fathers for their dead sons. He could describe, in excruciating detail, what it felt like to be a part of the ground and commune with the Rumbling Lord. Any time the Man looked upon or thought about Ashidaka Koutestu, he relived that tense moment when Akira spoke with the Spirit of Creation and offered a part of himself to it in the hope of finding where Winter had gone. Were he gifted in the art of poetry, the Man might put ink to paper and elaborate on the exquisite agony of tasting the Mother of Winter's blood.

The details were there, inside the Man's head, but they were now devoid of emotional attachment. They were stories now. Stories he had memorized. Internalized. But they were not his stories. All that mattered now was the resonant bass that was Namazu Daimyojin, the caustic tongue of O-Ka no Kami, and most especially, the frigid terror of Fuyu no Okaasan. They mattered, and they mattered above all else.

Walking with a conviction that would deter all but the most ardent of interlopers, the Man traversed from the Southern Wall to the home of Kitsu Okura in the Lower Juramashi. He wore robes of a simple roughspun fabric, stark white with black trim along the cuffs and seams, lacking any mon. His hands, when visible, were covered in black gloves. His head and face were clean-shaven. All of his skin visible above his clothing was coated in white theatrical make up. Both of his eyes were painted black, as was the tip of his nose and his nostrils. The crease of his lips, too, had been blackened. A long thin line extended from either side of his mouth, shadowed slightly above and below to mimic a skeletal façade. The look was accompanied by black shadowing along his neck which mimicked the bones which lay beneath.

Approaching the abode of Kitsu Okura, the Man afforded the servants all the appropriate protocol required of a visitor. As is custom, he presented a chop. He didn't have one of his own. Not yet. Perhaps when the conflict died down, he could see to that. For the time being, he would use the dead man's.

"Kuni Akira to see Kitsu Okura," he lied. "I believe he is expecting me."
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PostSubject: Re: Whispers of Violence (Akira)    Tue Dec 15, 2015 11:58 pm

Posted on TheDiddler's behalf.

Akira found him in the garden of his home. It was modest, as befitted a shugenja of the Lower Juramashi, but it was clean. Pure. Simple.

The Kitsu knelt on white sand before a small shrine to the spirits of his family’s namesake. Akira recognized the sand as the same used for judgment of criminals in the Imperial City. The would-be offenders would be forced to kneel in the hot sun on baking sand as judgment was passed.

Okura looked like a man being sentenced.

“The Prophet knows you are coming.” Akira’s eyes shifted up to Okura’s face. The Lion was whispering, almost as if to himself, but he seemed to know Akira was there.

“I reached out into the spirit realm. I thought to use my powers, the unique skill of my clan, to aid you. I touched…something. Something dark and powerful and as yet unborn. It will not come soon, but the Prophet speaks with its voice.”

The Lion’s voice was raspy. Scratchy. As if he had been whispering in pain for hours. He was clean, now, but Akira could see the dirty stains on his kimono, the dried sweat.

“He knows you are coming, Akira-san. The Prophet has set a trap. He follows a dark and twisted path disguised as the road of man. He has tortured her. Subjected her to all manner of degradation. Used her blood and abused her body. She is the Mother of Winter and when she is saved, if you can save her, she will not be pleased.”

Okura fell to his face in the sand. Akira saw a tiny puff dust up around him.

“I have touched the darkness and I know not what the future holds for me, yet I know it will not be good. It will not be pure. It will be a life of pain.”

Okura whispered something else. Something that Akira strained to hear. As he leaned close he felt his heart leap to his throat.

“There will be a demon. The Crane knows the path and on that road the corruption waits. You must prepare.”
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PostSubject: Re: Whispers of Violence (Akira)    Wed Dec 16, 2015 11:19 pm

"Get up, Okura." There was no sympathy in the Crab's voice, but no malice either. He spoke as a stern father might address a child.

"Here before your ancestors, you choose to wallow in your own weakness?" he gestured to the shrine, though he knew Okura wasn't looking at him. "No. I will not allow it."

The Crab held out his right hand for the Lion to take as an aid in standing. The contempt he felt for this man was profound, but his potential utility as an asset was worth a little pandering.

"You are Kitsu Okura. In your veins flows the blood of creatures which ruled this realm before our very existence. As shugenja, you posses abilities that most cannot fathom. As Lion, you are strong, you are fierce, and you are above reproach."

The Man knew he lacked the persuasive talents of someone like Doji Ejio. He would stick to facts, not flowery language. If this Lion was to be saved, he would have to do it himself. All the Crab could do was outline a path. With nothing else to use as a guide, he continued speaking to the Lion as though he were a Crab.

"I thank you for your assistance in this matter and for all that you have shared. I confess I do not wholly understand the nature of what you can do, Okura-san, but I recognize it for the miracle it is, and the value of the information it has provided."

He took a step back, still facing the Lion. "I challenge you, on your honor, to recover from this experience and grow stronger. You have seen into the abyss and learned that sometimes it gazes back at you. I have had similar experiences in my own family's training and they changed me forever."

He let a moment of silence float between the two priests before he continued.

"You speak truth, Okura-san. Your life will not be pure. Your life will be filled with pain. Consider yourself lucky you were born a Lion, then, for had you been my brother, these truths would have found their way into your heart before your gempukku."

"Thank the Fortunes, then, that at the same time you come to this point in your life, you now have a Kuni you might call on as a friend." The Man was shocked when he heard these words come out of his mouth. It almost sounded like Kuni Akira speaking. But he died, thought the Man.

Roll, Just In Case
10 v Kitsu Okura // Sincerity (Honesty) // Void Point for +1k1
I already subtracted 5 for Disturbing Countenance. I didn't assume I'd get any bonuses, and wasn't sure if you wanted a roll. Provided just in case.
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PostSubject: Re: Whispers of Violence (Akira)    Wed Dec 30, 2015 10:57 pm

Kitsu Okura stood and stared up at Akira like a man out of his wits. Somewhere in those eyes the Kuni could see the strange visions that Okura had glimpsed. He could see a hint of the darkness coming and he felt a cold chill.

It passed as a fleeting moment.

“You are right, of course, Kuni-san.” Okura took a step back and brushed himself off. “The Lion, too, learn the tragedies of pain and suffering, though not in quite the same fashion as your brethren along the Wall.”

Okura looked around at the shrine as if searching the shadows for a glimpse of his ancestors.

“The images, the darkness…it fades with time. I have told you what I know and you have blessed me with a truth as well.”

The Kitsu faced the Kuni, chin up, eyes red and watery. “I cannot stay in this city. I have to reconnect to the hidden ways of my family. I have to leave. You have given me hope that I can reach some accord with my torn soul and make a peace out of this disaster.”

The Lion bowed, deep and low.

“I will stay until you have found her, but not a moment longer, Kuni-san. What would you have me do?”


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PostSubject: Re: Whispers of Violence (Akira)    Thu Jan 07, 2016 9:23 pm

The Kuni gave a slight nod of approval.

"For now, stay, and do as you have done. I understand if you no longer seek out the spirits for information, but if you would, stay until we have found her. Anything that comes to you might prove vital to our success."

"In the meantime, make what preparations you can to return to your home." He paused, ready to excuse himself, but something held him there. The thoughts of The Man were quickly becoming unfocused, ephemeral. "And know, Kitsu-san, that your sacrifices will not be in vain. We will save her. We will save Otosan Uchi. And all will know of Kitsu Okura and the role he played in saving the Father's Home."

With that, the Crab let decades of samurai training take over, following the rote etiquette of excusing himself from Kitsu Okura's home while his mind was elsewhere.

It took only a few minutes of walking in the Juramashi for him to realize that he needed solitude. For most, Otosan Uchi was the worst place in the Empire for that. For him, it was not terribly difficult to come by. He moved quickly into a more-or-less empty pathway between two buildings, uttered a few well-practiced words, and sank into the ground below him.

In the depths of stone beneath Otosan Uchi, Kuni Akira could think. Kuni Akira. It was the first time in what felt like an eternity that he had thought of himself thusly. The confrontation on the Southern Wall and the resulting maho had broken him. Not wholly, and not beyond repair, but he had been shaken in a way that he hadn't in decades.

Time seemed to stand still as he floated gently through the stone below the great Father's Home - or if time moved on, it didn't seem to matter. The priest was alone with his thoughts, surrounded by the warm embrace of the earth. Akira reflected deeply on everything that had transpired with him in the last year. The horrors of the Wall that nearly broke him. Those horrors, and the valiant and selfless act of an eta who he hadn't bothered to learn the name of beforehand, had changed him. It had made him see the true beauty of the human soul and had shattered his preconceptions about it. Your place in the Celestial Order did not define your soul.

Despite how much his mother had tried to tell him that the roles of the other clans were paramount to the Empire, he could never truly believe it. Not for a lack of trying, but when you grow up a Kuni, you are forced to see the world in a very specific light, and Crab Culture at large does not lend itself to thinking highly of the rest. The machinations of the fools, as he called them, in Otosan Uchi, he once felt were useless, a distraction. Having been a part of such dealings for months now, he started to understand. The capture and torture of Fuyu no Okaasan was surely the greatest of them all.

The lessons of his mother, his father, they had not prepared him for this assignment. The decades of studying under Kuni Yori, they had not prepared him. He was strong, but ultimately, he had been broken.

No, he thought, I was not broken. If I had broken, I would be on par with Kitsu-san, or worse. I gave way. Somewhat.

He had floated about underneath Otosan Uchi enough to feel the change when he entered the Ekohikei. He decided not to go straight home. Instead, he meandered a bit, letting thoughts casually drift into and out of his mind. The priest was pulled out of his reverie by an abnormal, but familiar, warmth. Akira realized he had unconsciously traveled to Ashidaka Koutestu's estate, or at least, underneath it. He could feel, not with his body but with his soul, the heat of O-Ka no Kami in the forge.

A rare smile crept across Akira's uncharacteristic skull-painted face as he realized his situation was a bit like the labors of his friend Koutestu. Much like the Crane makes marvels out of raw materials by applying heat to burn away impurities, Akira, too, had been subjected to his own crucible. What had come out was a man who understood the game in which he was now a player. But Kuni Akira would not play the game on the terms of men, for men were often weak and short-sighted. No, Akira would take his advice from those stalwart companions he has had throughout his life. He smiled again, indulging in the embrace of the earth around him.

Hours later, Kuni Akira would be seen emerging from his residence in the Chisei dressed in his typical roughspun blue robes and wish-doll face paint. He still felt like he needed an outward change of who he had now become, but that could wait. The Crab scratched at the short black hair that was returning to his head after his ... conversation with the Spirit of Creation.

He departed the estate and went to attend to his magistrate duties.

END SCENE FOR AKIRA
(Unless you have more for him?)
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