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Re: Komorebi: The Ronin

PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2020 6:56 am
by mrblah
Spoiler (click to show/hide):

"Hunting, huh?" Repeated Daichi with a questioning look. "You say that like ya come 'round all the time... heh! But if you want, sure! We'll make sure to ward off the big threats while ya do your thing, girl!" A fist beat against his chest as the man grinned at her, his allies all but doing the same with an equal amount of enthusiasm, sans the man's son. Regardless, plans were made, and soon after the group finished their meal, they started prepping for the hunt ahead. The group gathered again toward the edge of the camp as Daichi looked them over, making sure everyone had their supplies and were ready. He would, of course, take extra time on checking his son, who tiredly bore the attention with an air of annoyance. "... Right! Everything's good to go. Set sail, men!"

Despite Daichi's words, the hunters weren't actually heading into the waters, but passing through the nearby rivers northward to get deeper into the forest. Typically, a ways away from these parts, one could find some wildlife such as deer, boars, and bears, all creatures hunters like to hunt, though this time their target would be deer. They'd been camped near a well known part of the forest that deer commonly travel through, so finding a few to pick up shouldn't prove difficult by any means.

... And so the time passed. Kagehoshi and the group had successfully tracked a deer (she hadn't done the tracking herself as the hunters were actually pretty competent at that) and managed to kill one thanks to her tripwires and planning that kept the deer in and close, allowing them to easily slay it with a well-placed bolt in its neck, courtesy of Daichi. As they were cheering and heading over to check their kill, they inadvertently scared off another deer nearby... so Kagehoshi and a few of the men, including Daichi's son, rushed off to go get it.

She lost them about awhile back. Their stamina and speed wasn't on par with the slippery deer's, but Kagehoshi was trained for this and also had her new Oni heritage to boot. Catching up to the deer was easy... or so was her thought until it burst out of a bush to surprise her! The sudden, surprising maneuver caught her off guard and made her slip right on the edge of a hill, and she tumbled down it to a lower level into the forest. Thankfully, the fall wasn't long and she didn't get hurt from it. Dirtied and lightly bruised though she was, this was nothing compared to her typical mission, so Kagehoshi had no trouble walking it off... still, though. She'd been separated from the hunting party. This part of the forest, she knew, was a bit deeper in even if she wasn't too sure where she was exactly... but she was, at the very least, still a ways away from the Deep Woods. Things should be fine—

Kagehoshi is forced to immediately dive into the bushes as she heard the sound of panicked breathing and footsteps. Just a few seconds after she hid, a mouse Yokai came barreling into the area with wild eyes, looking this way and that as he tried to take a small breather. As a former Ashikaga herself, Kagehoshi knew he was probably being hunted for either exorcism or pacification, and in either case, fooling himself into thinking he had a moment's chance to breathe was the worst decision he could've made.

"Hah! Haah..! Uh... h-huh—" Two figures descended on the Yokai from the sky, barreling down on top of him and pinning him in a textbook submission hold. "Aaahh!! AAAAHHH!!!" Even so, the doomed creature struggled and cried out, scratching at the ground as the tamers quickly pulled the Yokai's claws together and slapped a sealing paper on his wrists. The art took hold, binding him in ways Kagehoshi knew he couldn't break in a thousand years, and following that... as the mouse Yokai openly screamed, the two tamers quickly began the painful ritual of pacification. They started with his legs, and unspeakable horrors followed. Sights she was used to, of course... but with her now on the other side of the battlefield, could she feel so unchanged?

As she was distracted with the sight, Kagehoshi hadn't seen nor heard someone else sneaking up on her from the side... until she felt its hand grasp hers gently. Her attention was turned to a similar mouse Yokai, a tall creature at least two heads taller than she was, and she could see it plainly from their positions crouched! "It's not safe here..." The Yokai spoke in a calm, feminine voice—though her sex was plain to see judging from her oddly maternal look and the swell of her clothing around her chest. "Come with me." With surprising strength that brokered no argument, the mouse pulled Kagehoshi away just as the tamers were finishing up, and she dashed out of the bushes, pulling the former human with her. She wouldn't stop moving until they were well away from the tamers, her movement and forcefulness clearly spurred on by the fear of getting caught. Even if Kagehoshi tried to escape from her during their rush away, the mouse Yokai seemed far too panicked to let her go... and she had an iron-clad grip.

"... This is far enough. This is..." A sigh of relief came from the creature. Immediately, she seemed to deflate, crumbling to the ground on folded legs. "Goodness... that was so very close. What would a creature like you think, to come so deep into Ashikaga territory? They'd value an Oni slave, young one." She shook her head. "... You could've been as that poor Kyuso ended up. You would not want that fate."

Wait. How could she tell she was an Oni and not human?

Spoiler (click to show/hide):

Izumi steps into the inn, a bit of a quiet place in the early morning that it was. The crackle of a lit fireplace was probably the loudest thing in the inn, second only to the bard playing a flute in the corner, a bored man who watched everyone with an equally bored look... but, that had nothing to do with her, now did it? She was looking for work. Four possible targets cropped up in sight, easily viewable thanks to the sparse area; she could see a blonde older woman with a troubled expression, her gaze shifting to the clock ticking on the wall; a rough-looking bald man shouting cruelties and harsh words at a small three-man group of younger folk who all carried sullen looks, a drunk screaming at the bartender with slurred words (had she noted that the fireplace was the loudest thing in the inn? Make it second loudest); and finally, a tall, sophisticated merchant with an intent gaze on anyone and everyone. His sharp eyes turned to her as she was looking to him, and she could see the corners of his lips raise as he looked her over... and beckoned her over. Seeing as he was obviously the wealthiest in the room, Izumi approached.

He wasted no time. "Here's the deal. On my way to the Inazumi Savannahs, I'd encountered a large group of bandits who attacked my caravan in full force in an attempt to rob me. My men were capable enough to beat them off, but not before they got into my stash and stole away my best merchandise! You have no idea how much they'll cost me if they keep their dirty, thieving hands on my goods... but I can't spare any of my men after the battle— the bloody good-for-nothings are all too hurt to get into another fight so soon! That's where you come in, miss."

"While I'm resting in this inn with my worthless bodyguards, I would be ever so grateful if you were to track the men down and take back my goods! Just so I know you won't double cross me... I can assure you a hefty pay if you can get it back. At least 290zł is on the table here, should you prove... capable." The merchant brought his arms into his sleeves and leaned back against his chair. "I'll bump it up by 90zł if you get me the head of the bastard who stole it! What say you?"

Quest Name: Wealthy Merchant's Treasure [S]
Objective: Find the thieving bandits' camp and take back the merchant's treasure.
Side Objective: Bring back the bandit leader's head.
Danger Rating: Medium

Rewards: 290zł
Extra Rewards: 90zł, ???

exalted/Miho Ran
Spoiler (click to show/hide):

Nothing seemed to come of it. Perhaps, she figured, it was the wind. With her hunger leading her in the direction of town, Miho got moving... and after a short walk, she arrived. The hustle and bustle of the village—Nohwasan, she remembered—was still light thanks to the early morning. Villagers were coming out to start their day, with young children rushing about in play, strong men carrying their supplies to and fro, and the occasional sound of a dog barking out in the distance. A peaceful sight, to be sure. Much like how her old home used to be...

There need not be any reminiscence. The inn was nearby, just a few steps down the road and a turn to the right. Miho crossed the road and headed right in, hoping to find that familiar environment of an old innkeeper tending to the counter, the smell of cooking fish over a fire, the rowdy laugh of the town drunks playing some game of theirs, and the calming crackle of a fireplace, always lit no matter the day. She did indeed find those things. The atmosphere should've been welcoming and friendly, but there was something more in it that she could apparently see, plain as day to ruin her plans. A red sight, like blood, staining the bar the innkeeper was cleaning... the familiar armor of a Taira Samurai.

She knew the odds of seeing one. Knew there was danger in staying near a village for so long, and knew what could happen now, in the same building of a clansmen she supposedly betrayed. Suffice to say... the odds proved to be against her at this moment. Her only saving grace was that the woman's attention was turned to her drink and not to Miho herself. This should allow her the chance to sneak away without need for a chance meeting...

"Wah!" Miho bumped into someone on her way out. A short, chubby boy sat on his bottom, looking up at her with watering eyes. "Sniff... sniff... wwaaaahhh!!" Oh for the Gods' sake—

The Taira Samurai turned to her with a sharp gaze, her mug lifted to her lips. Everything seemed to freeze as they locked eyes.

Spoiler (click to show/hide):

The drunk mercenary hiccuped with a frown, his arms falling down glumly. "Ahkago... y'can't really be mad at me, are ye? I wasn't doin' nothin'..!" Jiraiya lifted his foot from the other young man and sulked off with crossed arms and a light glare. She could hear him mumbling about never being understood like a child as he went his way. Meanwhile, the innkeeper was tending to the two with a glare at Jiraiya's back as she helped the other man up. Akako saw her chance to apologize in order to save face and took it... with the innkeeper merely looking nonplussed. "You wanna apologize? Keep that drunk bastard on a tight leash and don't cause any more trouble. No people around here need the commotion..." So the innkeeper said. At the very least, she made no moves to kick Akako out, so her apology must've been sufficient in cooling the innkeeper's temper... at least to her.

Still. If that situation did anything, it further highlighted a serious flaw with keeping Jiraiya around, even if he's supposedly strong. It might've proved a better play to try to find another mercenary to take his spot... and with those thoughts in mind, Akako would indeed search. She looked around the room to spot anyone particularly eye-catching... and there were four she noted as definite mercenaries, if only one of them looked particularly strong.

There were two men in the back talking to each other. They both carried a hook each and wore a metal mask over their faces, and their dark clothing and general look of roughness indicated that they were a pair of serious... assassins, probably? A very tall man sat at a table with a few mugs too many stationed around and an equally large hammer on his back. Then, probably a very decent choice, a younger man with a katana was eating his breakfast ever so simply at the bar. He looked apathetic and uncaring, like the world didn't really interest him much. Looked pretty rugged though, with his torn hakama and his scarred eyes.

Still. Those three paled in comparison to the certified most interesting person in the inn. A man who kept all the way in the back, his arms crossed and his head bowed as if he were sleeping or waiting for someone... yet, whether it was because of her new nature as an Oni or just of his own merit; the man exuded power in a way Akako just couldn't place. He didn't look particularly impressive. He wore dark robes and carried a simple black katana. His hair was well kept, but graying on the sides, indicating his age. Someone like him shouldn't have seemed so intimidating, yet...

Those were her options, regardless. If she had any intention of replacing Jiraiya here and now, she only had these four to consider. Meanwhile, Jiraiya was still sulking in a table nearby, his obvious glare focused on her as he waited for their departure, supposedly.

Spoiler (click to show/hide):

"H-huh? Ah..!" The woman looked up with shock at Mizuki's sudden approach, shrinking in at the intimidating sight of the warrior with her gaze very pointedly looking to the Oni's eye patch. "Um... I-I'm terribly sorry, ma'am, I... it's just— an issue of mine. I didn't mean to bother you! Really!" She bowed her head several times in her rampant apology, the words spilling forth from her to excuse her actions and quell Mizuki's 'anger.' "Y-you see? My lover— my ex-lover, he... I-I broke things off with him after realizing how much of a terrible person he really was and I've been trying to live my life happily and forget about him since but— I mean, recently I think I've been seeing him following me and someone left a message at my doorstep telling me to be here at this time a-and I just I think he's going to do something and I-I'm worried!" That's easily apparent. Though, part of that likely stems from Mizuki's presence.

"I-I told the guards but they didn't think anything greatly of it s-so... I don't have anyone to turn to, and I'm afraid he would've done something if I didn't come..." The woman started to calm down some as she vented her problem to Mizuki, though... that wasn't by much. Instead of looking afraid, she just looked nervous again, like a distant fate troubled her... which was the case. Her gaze shifted to the ground as she paused in her words, then it turned back up to Mizuki.

"Ma'am, would it— would it trouble you greatly if you stayed nearby when I met with him? J-just... in case he tries something. You look strong! So if he does and you step in, I... h-he was a wimp, I mean. He'll definitely give in... a-and I'll pay you, too! One... 90zł!"

Quest Name: Ex-Trouble [S]
Objective: Keep the client safe from her ex-lover.
Danger Rating: Very Low

Rewards: 90zł

Lazy Kitsune/Katsu
Spoiler (click to show/hide):

Collaboration needed for the following scene.

Re: Komorebi: The Ronin

PostPosted: Sat May 30, 2020 1:51 am
by Mark3000
Mizuki didn't seem less annoyed by the girl's explanation. Instead, her ire was redirected from her to her ex-lover. The dumb bastard probably didn't know when to call it quits. Mizuki continue to eat as the woman talked, only paying the faintest of attention. That was until she asked for her protection, even offering a reward.

"And what's keeping me from robbing you blind here and now?" Mizuki said in a dry tone as she finished her food. She let the statement hang in the air for a moment to get her reaction before letting out a chuckle. "I merely jest. I'll accompany you on this rendezvous with your ex-lover. Hopefully he's not too much of a wimp. My blade arm needs a workout." She said with a smirk as she prepared to leave with her when the time was right.

Re: Komorebi: The Ronin

PostPosted: Thu Jun 04, 2020 12:30 am
by Blue56
Izumi had low expectations for the inn in a backwater town like this, and those expectations were certainly met as she surveyed the inhabitants. Loud obnoxious men were the first thing that drew ones attention, and so they were the first that she ignored. Men who couldn't keep their mouths shut often couldn't keep their coin purses shut either, and she was here for coin first and foremost. No, the person that Izumi spotted first was the merchant. He was easily recognizable to her, who's family were merchants and who had spent so much time dealing with merchants. She couldn't use her family name to her advantage her, due to her situation, but if it was coin she was after, she could tell this man had it. When the merchant beckons her, she doesn't hesitate to walk over and hear him out.

Retrieving goods from a bandit camp should be simple enough, and the price was certainly right. And an assassination on top of that? Yes, this quest was well suited towards her indeed. When Izumi answered, she did so in a much more pleasant tone than she usually spoke with. This man was her employer now, for however long, so she would treat him as such. This merchant clearly valued competence and disliked wasting time based on how he had spoken thus far, and Izumi adjusted herself to match. "Of course, I would be glad to be of assistance." She replied, giving the merchant a respectful bow. "If I could trouble you for some more information, I believe it would help me complete your request. First, to track these bandits, I would need to know where you were attacked and what direction they fled in. Second, I would like to know how many, if you could give a rough estimate. And finally, to retrieve your goods, I would need to know what they are, or at least how I can identify them as yours." If the bandits were few enough, she could easily kill them all herself, but if there were too many, a stealthy infiltration would be the ideal option. She would prefer to take the lethal approach, as that would help her fulfill Agares' quest as well, but she knew better than to force it and risk failure.

Re: Komorebi: The Ronin

PostPosted: Thu Jun 11, 2020 11:43 pm
by MiscChaos
Akako says nothing to Jiraiya, merely looks at the person under his feet with such a cutting look on her face, it’d very easily get across the message of “Are you a complete fucking idiot?”. When he sulks off like a damn 3 year old, it’s all she can do to restrain a sigh. Honestly, what on earth was she thinking when she took this man on to be her bodyguard? He’s untested, unproven, and utterly unreliable for anything except ruining her reputation. And drinking a town dry, she can’t forget that. No, it’d definitely be for the best to get rid of him. Especially before he acts on his perverted stares and tries violating her since there’s no way she’d ever consent to sleeping with him. But first, she has to try salvaging what she can. The Innkeeper takes her apology with more grace than she really expected seeing as the woman’s son was on the receiving end of a beating because of Jiraiya. She really expected to be told that her stay would become extremely limited. “Thank you for your grace in this matter, madam.” She says with a bow. It isn’t usually in her character to act like this, but she’s learned how to act with pissed off customers and using that to allow a place to stay isn’t any real difficulty.

With that taken care of, she scans the room to see if she can find a replacement for Jiraiya within the room. She immediately dismissed the two sitting next to each other. She needs bodyguards, not assassins. Assassins would be great if she needed someone disposed off, but their fighting style would not be conducive to keeping her alive. Or rather, if she was kept alive, it’d be because they eliminated the threat fast enough. If the threat avoided their quick kills, she’d be in horrible danger since Assassins are not meant for prolonged combat. Besides, they seem like a package deal and if Jiraiya has taught her anything, it’s that men can be pigs. Escaping from one rapist is much easier than trying to escape from two.

She also immediately dismisses the man surrounded by mugs. She’s dumping her current bodyguard because of his drinking problem! She doesn’t want to pick up one with the same issue!

While the young man seems promising, she doubts her ability to entice him well enough. He doesn’t seem to care about the mass majority of things and the only thing she’s really willing to part with is money. If she were willing to sell her body to keep a protector around, then Jiraiya would likely have much less of a problem with her. She also likely wouldn’t have had to leave her home because she’d be easy enough that she’d taken up at least one of the “suitors” she had trying to take advantage of her smithing expertise. They were a far sight better looking than Jiraiya, that’s for sure.

So of the available options, the last looks like the best one. He seems to wear power like an aura. Not quite like the way Miko’s demon did, but she’d immediately be wary of anything that held that much power to begin with. He’s also advanced in his years, making the hormonal attempts to violate her much less likely. Her only problem now is whether she has enough to offer him to secure his services. There’s only one way to find out and she’d be a poor merchant if she let an opportunity slip by because she was too scared to grasp it. She decides to walk over to him. “Good day, sir. I dislike wasting time, so I’ll cut to the chase: Would I be able to hire you as a bodyguard while I travel? I am a wandering blacksmith attempting to make my say to Soudai.” Short, sweet, and to the point. Akako’s usual modus operandi. Might as well figure out if he’s willing before she starts haggling.

Re: Komorebi: The Ronin

PostPosted: Sat Jun 20, 2020 4:16 am
by Nobudi
Kagehoshi's instincts drove her to immediately snap her left hand onto the back of her right hand. There, it tightly squeezed and remained still, save for the tremors generated by how tightly she gripped her hand. She glared at her would- be kidnapper with equal parts questioning, confusion and suspicion. She had spent the better part of a few days among humans with barely a notice of how suspicious her situation was, and in came this youkai, who saw through her inhumanity at a glance.

"How?" she blurted out without a though. She then sat back and frowned. Damn, she had been too impulsive and now she had outted herself to a complete stranger.

This situation was completely out of her depth. Actually, everything past her transformation into a monster had been completely out of her depth. This was all uncharted territories for her, and she had no one that she could possibly rely on to help her out of this nightmare of a situation.

She slowly shook her head. Focus.

She looked at the mouse youkai and said with no small amount of open suspicion, "I could ask something similar to you. How are youkai surviving this close to Ashikaga territories? Is there a way in and out of these lands safely?"

She paused and mentioned, "They wouldn't bother with capturing me. The Ashikaga would rather much kill me then to let me live a slave." After all, there was no higher shame in the Ashikaga than to becoming a monster. To be a kin of the Head himself and to be a monster was simply one more slap to the face to the clan.

Maybe it would be a boon to her to use this opportunity to escape the lands. It wasn't as if there was any unfin-

Kagehoshi's eyes widened and she got up off the ground in an instant. Her hands snapped away from each other and she stammered out, "T- the hunting party. I- I have to check on them!"

A part of her was screaming to leave this all behind. They'd probably be safer if she left. The other part of her was roaring to ensure they were under no harm. She didn't want them to be executed if the Ashikaga had encountered them.

"I- I have to go now," she said as she pivoted, aiming herself towards where the camps and hunting areas were. Damn her bleeding heart. This was probably going to get her killed. But what choice did she have to prevent any misfortune from occurring to the ones who sheltered her?

This was for a debt to be repaid. Safety be damned. And most likely, herself be damned.

Re: Komorebi: The Ronin

PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2020 12:05 pm
by exalted
Miho froze as she came around the corner and saw the armoured woman, her heart skipping a beat. She knew she had to get out of here quickly, she couldn't risk the other Samurai possibly recognizing her. Her Father's dojo had been remote and they did not frequent the court much, but there was always a chance they had passed each other or word had slipped to any pursuing hounds.

She hissed a curse a she stepped back and suddenly felt something bump into her and then the crying, looking down in shock at the child. She quickly glanced back to see if the Samurai had noticed her exit only to lock eyes and...


The sound of her palm spanking the child echoed around her, an exaggerated deafening sound in her ears.

"INSOLENT BRAT!" she barked, taking in a deep breath to puff herself out, "You dare touch a samurai! If you were older I would take your head!"

She stomped into the inn and sat with impertinence and sat at an empty table with a huff, desperately trying not to crack or let her panic show. There had been no chance to hide her sword from the other Samurai, anything but her bluff would have given her away as a fugitive or bandit carrying a stolen sword. No, the only way safe way was to be bold, bloody and resolute, like her father had taught her, deception through truth.

Re: Komorebi: The Ronin

PostPosted: Fri Jul 17, 2020 7:07 am
by mrblah
Spoiler (click to show/hide):

"W-what?!" The woman shrunk back, her arms pulling away as she looked to Mizuki with newfound fear... and she remained stuck in such a pose until the Oni laughed it off and continued. "A-ah... ahahaha..." Her fear didn't really seem to fade. She must've been the easily scared sort.

Still, once Mizuki finished her statement and said what the woman was hoping to hear, all of her fear faded away as she nodded enthusiastically with a grateful look. "Th-thank you, miss! Thank you truly, I... I just didn't know what to do..." She shook her head. "He'll come here. I'm waiting for him, so... you can stay nearby and watch us. Y-you'll probably see if anything's going wrong, so if he tries anything or... gets intense, please step in to handle him." The woman offered a mere nod to Mizuki. Once the former Taira warrior stood and moved elsewhere, the woman would look to her space and nod, before resuming her wait.

... Not too much time passed before a man showed up who looked the part of an obsessed ex-lover. Totally plain, raggedy clothes befitting a commoner, unkempt hair and the kind of look that screamed creepy. He glanced around the area, inching in just a bit... and freezing at the sight of Mizuki's client. She didn't seem to have noticed him... or, more accurately, she noticed him immediately and was pretending not to. Regardless; the man approached.

... They were talking now. It was a clearly awkward conversation, with Mizuki's client never once looking at her ex and the man himself staring solely at her. She could see his expression shifting overtime, his expression screaming of desperation as the woman's seemed to harden as she made a stand for herself—


"What do you mean 'what am I saying?!' Why can't you just give me another chance, I... I'm changing for the better!!" Oh boy. Looks like her time's coming up.

Spoiler (click to show/hide):

"..." The merchant gave Izumi a reevaluating look. "Hn. Take the road. Head southwest from here and travel toward the Savannah. It's just a few minutes into the journey, before you reach the Kojibetsu Battlefield. The bandits attacked us there then fled west. We lost sight of them as we had to tend to our own after the attack... but you should be able to find signs of their path." A sigh. He closed his eyes. "There had to have been... at least 6 men—they held a numbers advantage over mine and attacked strategically. My stolen goods were works of art; paintings and calligraphy. Several scrolls of such, along with some tapestry... but I only care for the scrolls. You'll recognize them when you see them, lest you've a terrible eye for the arts."

Izumi considers the information she's given carefully for a moment. From the sound of it, the bandits operated fairly close to this village. Security must be as unimpressive as the village itself if they were able to do so unopposed. Six targets, potentially more, certainly more than she would want to do battle with at once, but depending on how they spread out, she may be able to pick some of them off silently. And if all this merchant needed her to recover were some scrolls, that would be easy enough for her to carry back to the village on her own.

Anything further, she would need to learn by observing the bandit camp itself. "I understand. Thank you for your time, good sir. If there is nothing else, I shall take my leave and return when the task is complete." Izumi tells the merchant, keeping her tone polite and professional as she bows and turns to leave. She would head southwest as he had indicated, keeping a close eye out for signs of an attack or any other bandit activity. The sooner she had enough coin to depart from this wretched place, the better after all.

So she went. From the village borders, following the road southwest toward the Inazumi Savannah as directed. The walk was uneventful and quick. Nothing happened in-between the time from leaving off to the road, to spotting the looks of a far old war zone from back during the days before the Yamato's rise to prominence. Battles were fought all the time. The warriors of all the clans fought with gusto, killing and slaying, raping and pillaging as they pleased, and that bloody history of the land was still present to see in the many battlefields like these. Dry, dead earth. Skeletons littered the field—some armored, some with rotting cloth. Brittle and old blades stabbed into the cracked ground or simply laid at the bodies of others, and the ominous stench of decay offered the final note to the unholy resting place. Izumi was just a minute away, so now was the perfect time to diverge from the path.

After all, there were signs of a struggle here, too. Flickers of blood were in the dirt, and the grass was noticeably trampled over. The beaten road had been trampled with more hooves than could be counted, but the marks of freshly scared animals running for safety were much more notable when there was blood by the hoof prints. Looks like their tactic was to kill the horses... but of course, whatever archer they had fucked up the shot and merely got a glancing blow.

No need to investigate the area any further. As mentioned, the trampled grass provided a decent trail to follow, and just a few steps into the forest, Izumi saw red in a few blades of the grass. The bandits didn't last the fight unscathed. Depending on how many were injured, she might have an easier time dealing with them.

Before she traveled any further, the former kunoichi had to pause. The forest was quiet. The air was still. The trees here were taller now, with green, leafy tops that could easily hide a body or two within them.

Odds were, if these bandits were tactful enough to try to disable horses to ambush a caravan (even if their archer screwed the plan), they'd be wise enough to set some scouts nearby, especially after a failed attack with witnesses. Someone had to have been sent out to spy.

exalted/Miho Ran
Spoiler (click to show/hide):

"Aah—" The boy had sunken even further at the strike, falling back onto an arm and raising a hand to his stinging cheek, a stunned look crossing his face as he tried to piece together... and as he was preparing to wail harder, a stout woman suddenly rushed over and wrapped the bawling child in her arms. "My boy!" She cried out, her eyes traveling to Miho with a look of fear and repentance. Seeing as she wasn't interested, walking away as she were, the woman simply held her crying child and moved elsewhere.

The whole debacle had been observed by the samurai. Her eyes narrowed... but she returned to her drink, a gruff nod aimed Miho's way in acknowledgement. It seemed she bought it! The gambit had paid off, though now the inn was a little quieter. Common as the sight of a samurai pushing their authority was, you couldn't help but operate a little more stiffly when it happens in your view... but that proved beneficial, too. No one would look her way wrong after her proclamation of being a samurai. Simply put, Miho had the time to herself. Though, a little ways away and coming closer, she could see that wouldn't be the case for long.

"W-would you happen to need any refreshments or food, miss?" The inn no doubt was trying to save face after that 'unpleasantness' a samurai had to deal with, so a certain employee — the daughter of the innkeeper, guessing from the worried looks sent from said innkeeper — was sent to mediate with a kind smile. She was most certainly pretty, for a commoner. Her countenance was fairly clean and she conducted herself surprisingly well, even reducing her mistakes to one nervous stutter at the start. She was bowing her head slightly and held her hands together before her, a typical pose of demureness. "We'd like to apologize for your earlier inconvenience, so if there is anything you need at all, we offer it free of charge!" The innkeeper's daughter offered a kind smile.

Spoiler (click to show/hide):

"Oh, dearest. I've lived for far too long now... to not tell the difference between a newborn oni and a human? Well, would not you consider that a sorry fault? Kyuhu~" The mouse answered with a light pitched giggle, her hands pulling in to clasp together as her expression looked lightly amused. "At my age, you become very sensitive to the Energy of all Things. I can very well call a human from a yokai!" With her statement made, Kagehoshi's kidnapper pulled herself up, confirming those assessments that she was quite tall. At least, taller than the young oni, herself.

"As for your questions... shouldn't you know?" The yokai asked with the tilt of her head. "Dearest, these lands are locked tight. Escape may have been possible in the earlier times before the Ashikaga became so mighty, but now... I'm afraid there are too many unknowns. I've seen many yokai foolishly fall into many traps in attempting to leave. I only survived through experience, quick wits, and luck... no more." She seemed a bit somber as she shook her head. "And I would be rather surprised if they let a catch like your kind slip from their fingers. Those... the Ashikaga are nothing but pragmatists. Ethics and morals? Why, even for the cruelest yokai..."

Sigh. "No. There is no dwelling on it. Better we never hear the answer to the question, would not you agree?" The mouse nodded assuredly to herself. She was carrying well along on without so much as a word from Kagehoshi. "Well! We should not dally, dearest. Better we talk in the comforts of my—"

Kagehoshi's outburst paused the yokai in her words, and she stared at the girl with visible confusion... or, sort of visible. Considering the inhuman face. "Hunting party?" The mouse tilted her head again. "Dearest, what ever do you speak of—wait, what??" As Kagehoshi turned to sprint off, the mouse would only take a step forward to stop her, a hand coming out. "W-wait! It's suicide to remain out in the open, you can't..."

The oni would be quicker than the mouse could protest. Or maybe the yokai didn't really want to stop her? Either way, Kagehoshi was sprinting off to try to get back to the party.

Running along, she would miraculously come across nothing dangerous on her way back to where she'd fallen. No yokai, no Ashikaga... but similarly, she encountered no signs of the hunting party, only forest and more forest. Had they not noticed her disappearance, or were they searching for her? How did the hunt go? Or... in the worst case, did they have an encounter with a yokai or the Ashikaga? The situation was a total unknown to Kagehoshi. But it wouldn't be long before some semblance of an answer would come to her.

"... so we weren't really trying to intrude or nothin'." Is that... "Really! You tamers or ninjas or whatever get too paranoid. What, you think we're Yokai, too?"

A sneaky pass into the brush gave her an audience role in what looked like an encounter between Kagehoshi's hunting party and the two Ashikaga tamers from before. They were perched up in the trees, their animal masks staring down at Daichi as he gesticulated and spoke with an easygoing tone. It was worth noting that he wasn't with the entire party exactly. His son was missing. But more importantly than that, this situation didn't seem nearly as comfortable as Daichi looked, and Kagehoshi could easily tell why. The hunting party had strayed a bit closer to Liazhou, in the Deep Woods. While the Shaded Ashikaga territory wasn't restricting visitation, that particular area was heavily guarded and denied all non-Ashikaga entry, even if you were a high-ranking officer from the Lord's army himself. Such dignitaries would be redirected to Zheng.

"Hunting in these parts..." One spoke up in response, yet oddly, the voice trailed off— "Is dangerous." And their sentence was finished by the other? "Yokai about." Left started. "You'd better stay out." ... Is this a gimmick?

"C'mon! We can handle some Chimi 'n Spirits! It's you guys who're worrying us now, you know? Why you finishin' each other's sentences?" Daichi continued with a hearty chuckle. "Look, we can be out of your hair as soon as I find my boy, alright? There's uh... a girl running around here, too. She's about his height? Not my daughter, just a friend!" Oh. Hm. From the subtle glance of the tamers to each other, she's pretty sure Daichi was starting to tie a noose around her neck and he didn't even know it. Hearing that there's two missing people near their territory?

"We will..." "Investigate this." "If we find your missing friends..." "You will have them."

This confirms the situation flipping upside down.

Spoiler (click to show/hide):

Grey eyes, sharp yet unassuming, turned to Akako as she approached to immediately scan her... and in the span of two seconds, the man closed his eyes with a more reserved look. The blacksmith asked her question, and he merely replied in a gravelly, yet clearly dismissive tone. "... That depends on your coin. I offer quality services at quality prices—even a short trip will cost you half an arm, and by this I mean no offense, but you don't look the type to carry the cost of prosthesis." He didn't seem to think much of her. The way he carried himself was a depiction of pride most mercenaries wouldn't dare carry, yet even the fact that he was selling his blade meant he wasn't a proper samurai... maybe, he was more of a ronin.

"... Still," started the man again as he peeked an eye open, "I will not disrespect your choice to ask. The shortest trip to Sodai from here passes through Inazumi territory. On foot, it'd take a warrior's amount of travel to get there by the end of the week. I do not believe you would be suited to such a march; therefore, by caravan hopping it would be 3 days. 192zł for one day." The man threw a hand forward. "I believe a blacksmith can do the rest."

Akako thinks about her current finances and knows she currently cannot afford the current price. At 172zł a day, it would cost her 516zł total if they did the caravan hop route. She doesn't have enough for even a day. "And we if pursued the warrior's march? I'm attempting to become self-sufficient when it comes to defending myself. I have been told that there is no better option than sink or swim. Traveling across the continent and being forced to defend myself seems like it would be the best way of doing that. I am mostly looking for a safety net that won't molest me in my sleep or something similar. I am aware it would increase our travel time, but would it decrease the associated cost?"

The Nameless Mercenary considered the proposal, a hand raising to stroke his chin as he let out a huff. "In that case, I would be traveling with a budding green warrior, watching over your every move to make sure you do not die in battle, correct? I would be spending much more of my time on this job and I may engage in dangerous situations with no confirmation that you would even have the amount to pay for me helping you once." That same hand moved to move in a brushing motion, his eyes closing again to dismiss the thought. "Even were it to lower my price, I would not gain further benefit with this different route. This deal is less in my favor than yours; no need to even mention the job would not be entertaining."

Akako nods at the Mercenary's assessment. It's always troublesome when dealing with someone else with business sense. She reluctantly increases her respect of the Mercenary. He very clearly is a professional and needs to be treated as such. Meaning subtly trying to screw him over just isn't going to work. He will see through it and will not take on more work for a lesser price. So it'd be best to work with the limitations she's been given. He seems to be firm on his price of 172zł a day, so it'd be best if she focused more on lowering the amount of days it takes. Or just giving up and trying to come up with a way of getting the 516zł she needs to secure all 3 days. Probably a mix of the two. Get the funding to pay the full price, but don't need the full price.

"I see. I'm currently unable to afford your pricing at the time, but I will be back soon. I will be making enough to do so and coming back to secure your services." It'd be for the best to at least afford a day or two and then making up the rest while they are traveling. So, with her skill set, it'd be for the best to look for materials near or in town that she can transform into sellable goods. Or figure out things she can do around town to raise funds. She's very close to affording a day already, so it shouldn't be too hard. The mercenary would simply offer another considering look, before he merely glanced away dismissively. "Hmph. I will be in this inn for the next four nights. If I am approached by another, wealthier client, I may take their offer and disappear without word. Until then, do as you wish."

With their conversation concluded, Akako figured she might as well start on figuring out how to acquire the necessary funds for her prospective bodyguard. Looking around here didn't net too much, though. It looked like the inn was mostly quiet with few of its patrons clearly struggling with an easily exploitable dilemma in the name of monetary gain. Maybe the one groaning man who had his face down on the table and a tankard of booze next to him in the morning. He certainly looked like the kind of person who was having trouble. His clothes didn't make him seem like he was too wealthy though... but what kind of problem that a balding middle-aged man would have that could be so hard to fix? Maybe if not him, she could head out to find something out in the wild or something. See if there's anything that can be done there.

"Akako..." Oh. But before she could so much as decide between her options, the lightly displeased tone of a certain drunkard alerted her to his presence to her side. A somewhat sobered Jiraiya was frowning at her with a hurt look. "... Looked like you were chummin' it up with tough, dark 'n broody... you weren't thinkin' of dumping me here for that guy, were you? Not over just one little accident..? 'm still suuuper strong! Never come up 'gainst something big on the road here, but I could take down a slew of War Spirits and swarms of Akuchu! 'n I'm cheapin' myself down because I just think you're... er, swell! Y'know how lucky you are t' have me?" As if to gesture to himself, the man stretched out his arms. With a hiccup to accompany his action. Still sobering up.

Re: Komorebi: The Ronin

PostPosted: Sat Jul 18, 2020 1:45 am
by Mark3000
Mizuki waited for the woman's ex to arrive. Mizuki wasn't what one would call a good samaritan, far from it. But leaving another woman to a stalker just wasn't her style. Plus this little job might give her a chance to think about her next move. Before her meeting with Miko, Mizuki was content to wander the border and live out her days as a wanted woman. But for the first time in a long time, she desired more.

It didn't take long for the ex-lover to appear, and he was just as shabby as Mizuki imagined. Mizuki and the ex-lover didn't make eye contact, but it was clear each was aware of the other's presence. the former Taira warrior glanced over to the conversation her client and the ex were having, keeping an eye out for any changes either of their demeanor. And it looked like it would come soon as the ex was starting to crack. Non-nonchalantly, Mizuki walked towards the ex-lover and entered his personal space. "It there a problem here" She said in a commanding voice.

Re: Komorebi: The Ronin

PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2020 7:03 am
by MiscChaos
Looking around the inn, Akako has to restrain a sigh. The only person she really sees worth conversing with would be the man currently trying to drown himself in booze. While he could be good for a quick buck, it’s just as likely he already drank his last dollar. She isn’t quite desperate enough to speak to such a man. If resource hunting doesn’t pan out, she can return to the Inn later in the day to see if the selection is better or if she can find someone around town willing to pay for some inconvenience being fixed.

...and of course the drunken oaf is there to ruin her plans before she can finalize her decision. Her lip raises in disgust when the idiot not so subtly changes his word choice while he’s talking. She wonders if he was about to comment on how he follows her because he’d like to know her carnally or if there was some other reason he was trying to cover. Given his history of glancing at her body while she’s working, she’s guessing the former. “If it were, ‘just once accident’ as you put it, maybe I could let it go. But it’s the drunkenness, the leering at my body when you think I’m not paying attention, the damage to my reputation I get by merely associating with you that plays into my decision to look into replacements. Would you keep someone around who is untried, drinks your budget away, and gets you into trouble? Because I would not without good reason. Unless you provide said reason, keeping you around is just bad business. And I don’t do bad business.” Akako says, deciding to just put her cards on the table. She’s never been great at tact or subtle when it doesn’t matter and right now, it really doesn’t. Either Jiraiya will shape up after he figures out he’s expendable or she’ll replace him. Either way benefits her. Judging the conversation over, she turns to follow a path out of town. She needs to find things to craft into sellable goods after all.

Re: Komorebi: The Ronin

PostPosted: Thu Jul 23, 2020 1:17 am
by Blue56
Izumi moves swiftly and silently, along the path but off to the side to stay out of sight of any travelers or bandits. Though the road is littered with remains from battles throughout the ages, the signs of its most recent skirmish stand out to her like a cow in a hen house. The blood stood out to her the most, and helped her piece together how the attack had gone. Attempting to kill the horse was a sound strategy, that would halt the caravan dead in its tracks if successful. Fortunately for the merchant, their archer was either untested or unlucky, letting him escape and giving his guards the chance to retaliate. At least one of the bandits was wounded, hopefully more, as the trail of blood stained grass clearly showed.

Izumi follows that trail, staying low and moving silently through the grass. The sight of taller trees gives her pause, as the probability of a scout being present is not lost on her. Perhaps that very same archer who had botched the ambush, forced to keep watch as punishments as his comrades recover. They would have been able to rest easily had they successfully killed the merchant and his guards, but now they had retaliation to fear. And rightfully so, given Izumi's presence here. Proceeding forward would be foolish, but the trees that potentially hid her enemy could do the same for her. With that in mind she scales the nearest tree and attempts to move forward by hopping from one trees branches to the next. Even if she stumbles upon the scout by accident, she should still have the initiative to take him by surprise and kill him swiftly. And if not, she can proceed to their camp undetected and scout the camp from above.

Re: Komorebi: The Ronin

PostPosted: Sun Jul 26, 2020 2:29 pm
by exalted
"A hot meal," She said crisply and succinct , "And tea."

She tried to focus on her breathing, keeping it steady and not panicking, her fingers clenching underneath the table as she sat. Everything was working, everyone was buying it, just act natural. It was not hard to slip into her old mannerism, her father had never been one for the flashy displays of wealth or privilege; leave that to city samurai, he would proclaim in his simple dress and ate his simple meals. Substance and honour above all else, she could already imagine what he would have to say about a Samurai drinking this early in the morning as she glanced over at the other woman.

She stopped herself before she thought anything else, keeping her eyes moving and scanning the room to stop herself from lingering on the woman, her facade nearly breaking as she thought of the man.

Re: Komorebi: The Ronin

PostPosted: Sun Aug 16, 2020 6:45 am
by Nobudi
Staying in the shadows, Kagehoshi made her way back towards the campgrounds. Hopefully, they were all back and safe. Of course, things were never that simple.

Judging from the information gleaned, she could make a few theories on what was going on. The hunting party had strayed into forbidden territory, which was bad. The pair of tamers were speaking together, but not in unison. She had heard rumors of the other branches and they rumored mystical powers. Among them were those considered 'Two bodies, One Spirit'. Siblings that were bound to each other in ways that weren't visible. Or perhaps it was the ability to read another's mind? There was not a lot to go off of, but she knew that if it came down to a fight, they both needed to go.

Unfortunately, 2 against 1 were not favorable odds to begin with. Combined with the fact that the son was still missing and the Ashikaga were getting close to locating her, she decided to get her priorities in order.

First, she needed to avoid direct confrontation. They had the advantage of knowing the terrain and probably could overpower her with ease.

Second, locate the son and have him rejoin the group. She owed them that much.

Finally, get out of here. The Ashikaga were going to get a scent on her trail soon, and she needed to go.

Satisfied with those conclusions, she backed out slowly and quietly leaving the scene, heading back around towards the paths she took getting here. There was a young man that needed to be found.