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 Summoned to Justice [Koutetsu]

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kpsmith
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PostSubject: Summoned to Justice [Koutetsu]   Fri Dec 18, 2015 2:44 am

While in the eyes of the Kakita family Koutetsu had been absolved of his birthright to serve the Ashidaka as heir and Lord, the swordsmith still had a measure of power in his temporary position as Reagent - even as restricted as it was. In the long year since he had arrived in the Imperial City a great many burdens, hardships and woes had plagued him that had changed him as a samurai. He was much less the naïve and idealistic young samurai and more the tormented grim soul, hardened and learned beyond his years. He had seen more conflict - bloody and conniving - than he had seen his entire life in the Father's Home. He had suffered betrayal, heartache and loss in the same measure he had found the true meaning of duty, honor and sincerity. His eyes had a fire no one could deny was not there before his arrival nigh twelve months past.

In a bid for solidarity within his house Koutetsu summoned his sister to his abode within the Murabai district. He had less authority by the day but with the menace of Bayushi Akedare unresolved he needed to launch a final offensive. The machinations of the Scorpion were as a strong poison; where Niko had been physically manipulated through poisonous droughts, Ichiko had been mentally manipulated through poisonous words. How could he redeem his family honor, save those who were of his own blood when his very kin were among his enemies? Ichiko could not deny his summons - his station was far too lofty to simply ignore. Any delay in seeing her brother would only stall the inevitable. Family justice needed to be served whether she liked it or not.

So, he sent for his sister with his most loyal retainers, a detachment of strong and able bodied heimin and a palanquin to deliver her across the city. There would be no refusal.

The once heir to the Lord of the Ashidaka, the then Reagent of the Ashidaka - Vassal of the Kakita, Karo to Doji Kurotema - Ekohikei Governor of the Chisei, renowned swordsmith and swordsman waited for Ashidaka Ichiko in the Murabai estate in a private room to receive his sister. The man's disposition was unreadable; his On was a mask of stone. Within the chamber where he wore splendid Crane silks the Twilight Blade rested behind him on a rack. He prepared himself as a courteous host - fresh tea would be prepared. His face, neck and hand was free of bandages to reveal the full extent of burn tissue left on his body like a badge of Honor.

There was no mask, no smoke and mirrors, nor lies. Koutetsu waited in a terse silence with a resolve prepared to endure the ages. The Lady Ichiko had much to account for and answers would be had.
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PostSubject: Re: Summoned to Justice [Koutetsu]   Wed Dec 30, 2015 11:02 pm

Kakita no Ashidaka Ichiko stepped from the palanquin wearing an air of pride around her like a cloak. She looked up into the waiting entrance, held high, and smiled ruefully. Servants preceded her entrance and announced her. She was expected and would act as a guest, act as one meant to be present.

When she entered Koutetsu’s receiving chamber she was a woman he no longer recognized. It wasn’t just age that had changed her from childhood – he had seen he since then, had engaged with her. It was something else. Something deep within Ichiko had been hidden from him all these years, but especially these past few months.

Pride welled out of her like a light. There was no humility to her, no abasement, no fear or shame for the actions she was summoned here to be held accountable for.

“Brother.” Ichiko smiled and held out her hands. “I have a gift for you.”

From within the folds of her obi, Ashidaka Ichiko produced a thin silk mask. It was black with spidery red and white veins of cloth running through in a strange design. Koutetsu was student enough of heraldry and had seen that symbol often enough in his idle thoughts that he recognized it immediately.

It was the symbol of the Shosuro House.

It was Bayushi Akedare’s mask. Or, one of them at least.

“His very first gift to me, my brother. He lies quite often, but I believed him when he gave it. He said it was his first mask. Made for him by his mother.” Ichiko held it up to the light pinched between her fingers. “I should have known then that he’d be too weak to finish it out.”

Koutetsu’s sister shifted her gaze back to her brother, eyes hard, smile wide. She dropped the mask on the floor. “Any man who cannot keep his emotions in check after only a single night of lovemaking is too weak to carry out the plans necessary to rule.”

She stepped forward, onto the mask.

“You wanted to speak with me?”

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kpsmith
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PostSubject: Re: Summoned to Justice [Koutetsu]   Thu Dec 31, 2015 3:32 am

With the unrelenting quality of worked stone Koutetsu sat and watched as Ichiko produced the mask and then let it drop to the floor. His eyes were hard, dark things - like uncut onyx - as they gazed upon a woman he had once known as a girl. In their youth he had loved her and Niko so much but in the year since he had arrived within the city he wondered what he felt for the Ashidaka before him. In a break from his stoic resolve Koutetsu leaned back and looked at her in the light of the office - he looked at her with memories of the past swelling within his head.

"Do you remember when I would take you and Niko to the market? When I'd buy you mochi and you would smile for it? I miss those days - before Akedare, before father and before this city," the lonesome Crane spoke in a wistful voice, fond of those naive years in their youth.

He sighed and shook his head before he indicated to the seat beside him, not across from him. "Tea?" He would pour a cup for her and himself. The fallen mask stole none of his attention as his stone faced resolve returned with focus on her.

"Let it be known Akedare is an example of what happens when a man's reach exceeds his grasp," he quietly declared to her. "And what then, my dear sister, would you rule? You orchestrated with Akedare the validity of my claim to the Ashidaka House as heir to our Lord father. You removed Niko from a position to be eligible to lead our family and made yourself the sole candidate. Yet, I still hold sway over whom you will wed. Still you have backed me into a corner.

"I will remark your will to rule impresses me. You have betrayed your siblings, your lover and your Honor. The question is: do I have the right of it, or do you need to correct my interpretation?"

Throughout Koutetsu maintained a sense of calm as if they were drinking tea over a normal social call. Yet dark undertones hung over them: family shame, lies and deceit, dishonor discourse and other unpleasant ideas. The House of Ashidaka was in turmoil and a war had been waged in the shadows to bring them together in that moment. He marveled at not how much she had done and changed, but how far he had come since he last left her. Koutetsu looked at her as he swallowed his pain. Were the truly not unlike?
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PostSubject: Re: Summoned to Justice [Koutetsu]   Tue Jan 19, 2016 2:27 am

“Dear brother,” Ichiko folded her sleeves together and turned her gaze to the wall, viewing a minor piece of art.

“Kou-chan,” she breathed deep, eyes closed. The faintest hint of a smile lit her features. “You accuse me? You who have obtained a reputation of the darkest sort?”

Her head snapped, eyes wide, lips peeled back in a snarl.

“The Blade of Execution? Advisor to the murderous Kitsune Sojin? Servant to none other than Doji Kurotema himself.” She scoffed. “Don’t feign surprise. You know what he is. But did you know he spoke to me, before all of this?”

She waited for a long second, pausing for effect.

“Oh yes. It was after I had decided on my path, of course. A path to take what I wanted. But his words helped shape the direction. ‘You must earn your station. If it is given, it means nothing.’ And he was right!” She took a step closer, accusing him with her eyes.

“Look at you! You wile away the time making swords and letting your enemy live while I work, fighting tooth and nail, with the training I have earned, to take what should be mine. You who do nothing for it do not deserve to rule.”

Ashidaka Ichiko spat on the tatami. There was a deep silence in the room, if only for a time. Then she whispered.

“Father was a coward. Niko…Niko fell deep into a trap of her own making. I,” Ichiko’s eyes closed tight. “I pushed her along, I did. For that my soul is damned. But she could not rule. And you should not. So go ahead, dear brother.” Ichiko opened her eyes once more to stare at him.

“Go ahead and disgrace Akedare. Ruin him. Ruin the man to whom I am so closely connected. Along with him you ruin me and my reputation. You destroy your family as certainly as any accusation you’ve made of me could have done. And in the end you will reign over the Ashidaka from afar, an absent ruler in a distant capitol playing at politics. You control my fate. You control my future.”

Ichiko drew up ramrod straight. “Do your worst.”


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