"A Samurai has to follow the rules unfortunately"
"Life's unpredictable, Ryo. The Kami have taught me to gowith the flow, and I manage. Still. It's short. Shinko has been my bodyguard for years now, and I know how he feels about me, and I like to give him enough credit to assume he's aware the feeling's mutual. But," she gave an annoyed laugh, "I'm his charge and his master. It wouldn't be proper."
"Life's too short to worry about being proper, Ryo. I think that we'd all be better off if we were just true to ourselves, you know?"
"Happier, anyway." She added glumly with a bit of a shrug, pulling Ryo's head down and giving him another kiss.
Kai closed his eyes and listened to his breathing, concentrating on making each intake and exhale quieter than the last. When he was satisfied he was silent enough he sank into the splits, his cotton-clad legs spread ramrod straight on the floor either side of him. He stretched first; twisting his naked torso to touch his forehead first to one leg, then the other. As he stretched he focused only on his breathing and the feelings in his body.
Mio had taught him that.
Damnit, he winced as he moved too quickly, risking pulling one of the muscles that lined the side of his chest. Thoughts weren't supposed to get in here.
Shari had taught him that.
He shifted his weight forward till he lay spread-eagled with his face on the floor, his arms spread out from him perfectly parallel to his legs. He lifted himself up slowly, supporting his weight on his hands and feet, then pushed all his weight onto his arms and rose slowly into a handstand.
He held himself suspended, listening to the absence of his breath, and allowed himself finally to think about what he'd been avoiding ever since they'd left Kusanagi-to.
Mio was right.
Akemi laughed without humor. "Of course, Ryo."
The next morning the group left for Yamaguchi early. The trip took longer than a straight trip ought to since their boat had to avoid a patch of water who's local Lung Wang had inexplicably declared off limits. On land, too, things were a bit roundabout thanks to Shibayama being what it was and necessary detours to avoid towns in the midst of war and any possible rampaging Oni or other monsters.
Plus people, with good reason, were generally not willing to take people to Yamaguchi.
The group eventually arrived and without incident. The city lived up to both its reputation an Shari's memories of it. The city was extremely densely packed, in some areas literally being built upon itself and sort of almost folding in on itself. The walkways were thin and narrow and made more so by the prostitutes and general rabble that lined them.
Most of the buildings were fairly run down, although some were decadent, opulent, and hideously out of place.
Hopefully no one would shank Ryo for being a doof.
"Finally," Kai remarked drily, "A place where a rag-tag bunch of for-hire goons like us can comfortably fit in. Oh, except for our Samurai." Kai patted Ryo on the arm, "Try to look mean, big guy. Like you betray all that's dear to you every morning before breakfasting on little girls. We'll make a ronin of you yet." He shot a smile at Haru, "Somehow though, you seem to have the 'just washed the blood from my robes' look down."
"So. Shari, this is your old haunt-" the thought came unbidden, a body long rotten drifting to the surface of his thoughts. Master came here, I wonder if she met him. He thrust it away. "Where to?"
Last edited by zizi; 10-10-2011 at 02:16 AM.
"If I so much as draw my sword these lowlifes would go running, we'll be fine." Ryo was all armoured up today, apparently not taking any chances with the scum bags around here.
Shari didn't bother with any sort of disguise. When she had first come here it had been as a loutish, unruly drunken young thug, utterly apathetic about the world around her; And as such she'd been more overweight, less battle-scared and lacking the certain perverted flair that Rin had given her.
Yet, still, it gave her weird memories of wanting to be that sinister, war hardened stranger strolling into town. Now that she was, it only felt like she was regressing back in time. Yamaguchi was as horrible and decrepit as always, and the macabre emotions in her eyes were visible for all to see.
"Just keep to yourselves and don't take any shit. We are mercenaries, alright?" Shari regarded her companions sternly. "I don't know what the organization of the gangs are right now... Hell, I hardly knew at the time... But for now, we just need to start asking around for weapons dealers. Failing that, assassin contracting groups... On these streets, neither should be as hard as it sounds."
She gave a blank glance toward Ryo, then looked over to Kai, agitated and restless. A hand came up to stroke his face, but diverted and grasped him firmly on the shoulder instead, emotions uncertain.
"The sooner we get going, the sooner we can get back out of this shithole. Keep your eyes open."
Last edited by Regantor; 10-10-2011 at 10:30 AM.
The group managed to go about gathering information without incident. Being Yamaguchi, however, without incident meant "they managed to catch some of the thieves who stole from them and were able to get their shit back from them, sometimes without even needing to beat them up first."
They were able to find the blacksmith who made the dagger used by the would-be assassin. His shop was a small one, barely big enough to fit the group, and the Oni the smith employed as a guard wasn't making the cramped space any bigger. The walls were lined with weapons, presumably show, and the ceiling similarly adorned.
"What do you want? Touch anything and my friend here tears off your head and shits down the stump."
What a charming and friendly shopkeeper!
Here's how much gold you all lost to thieves. I had a longer post explaining how I derived these values, but the forums ate my post and I'm not typing it up again, too tired. Suffice it to say there was rolling done, spot checks to be had, and more. Also people didn't try and rob Shari since she's scary and a Monk.
Shari just scowled at him and crossed her arms, trying to look as negative as possible about being inside his little hut of second-rate toothpicks. "Save it. Like this shit is worth stealing. I question what you are even feeding that bulbous thing on with your kind of budget..." She placed the assassin's dagger on the counter as she spoke. "We need to know who bought this. In return, you can have it back... Maybe a bit of cash, too, if you don't take the piss. It's the same amount that my master would pay some heavies with, anyway."
Intimidation and negotiation were basically the same thing, right?
"How much we talking?" Came his immediate response.