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After the Nine Great Clans united the long-divided lands of Kiyoshu 30 years ago, the empire has entered a golden age of peace and prosperity. However, the will of the samurai lives on! Swordsmen and warriors all around the country still strive for strength and mastery, to compete and reach the very peak of martial skill!

You are Hiroshi Nobuyasu of the Hiroshi Clan, a vassal clan of the Toumi, one of the Nine Great Clans. From a young age, you have been exposed to the way of the sword, trained in the arts of the Toumi School of Swordsmanship. But as fate would have it… You aren’t particularly good at the discipline. In fact, despite your hard work and determination, it would be apt to say that you are rather inept. At best, you are average, no better than some nameless foot soldier. Yet, you are far from discouraged. As one who shows deep passion and appreciation for the blade, your perseverance holds you firm. Never faltering in the face of adversity. Never abandoning the sworn tenets of the samurai.


>My Twitter:
@KismetQM

>KismetQM Discord:
https://discord.com/invite/cfNMQtrErm

>Post Schedule:
I’ll try to post as often as I can, but expect posts to mainly come on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Weekends. If the quest ropes in enough people, I may consider hosting sessions.

>Dice:
There will be light use of dice in this quest. For most rolls, we will use a 3d15, and I’ll take the best out of the first three rolls to determine the outcome/effectiveness of your action. Dice will be rolled AFTER a vote has been locked in.

>Previous Threads:
http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive.html?tags=Kenshi%20Monogatari%20Quest


Have fun and enjoy playing!
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Map of Kiyoshu. Red dots represent the capital of the respective prefecture.
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My fucking dumb ass fucked up the title, please don't mind it.
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Previously, you completed your training at Mekura-Ji temple, having gotten a feel for blind combat and made your way to the Taira capital, Nimmyo. By luck or by fate, you meet Sugawara Yuyo, a regular at the Kentaro Family Inn, who happens to also be the current head of the Higanbana Troupe, one of the most acclaimed Buki-Enso groups in the prefecture. Another chance encounter with one Ueda Akinari allows you to enter the Taira castle as a guest.
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>>4907956

It’s been a week since your arrival at Nimmyo. After leaving Taira castle, you have not heard from Akinari or the Taira themselves, which is to be expected. Both parties are busy with their own matters after all. Meanwhile, Tadatoshi and Iga have been off doing their own thing. You haven’t seen or talked to them much in the past few days while training diligently with Yuyo and the rest of the Higanbana troupe, but that doesn’t stop you from wondering how they’ve been holding up when time allows it. Unfortunately, this is not one of those times.

The shrill screech of tempered steel gracefully swerving through the air comes as a terse prelude to the coming attack. There is a brief pause before the katana reaches terminal velocity, giving you barely enough time to move back with your guard up. What follows is a fast-paced conversation, not of words, but of iron and sparks, following some kind of enforced rhythm. You’re not being absolutely dominated right now, but you can’t say you’re faring very well either. While your opponent is virtually unharmed, you’ve suffered quite a number of small cuts and bruises.

Making sure you’re still well within the space set aside for your duel, and also not encroaching on neighbouring bouts, you pivot to the left in an attempt to better your position.

“Sneaky!” Your opponent comments.

Though his height and frame are a fair bit shorter than yours, his strength is nothing to scoff at, let alone his technique. As if already anticipating your maneuver, he sidesteps in tandem with you, blade at the ready. If your instincts are correct, what’s coming next should be a slash, arcing upwards from right to left. Sure enough, the sheen of his blade traces out a narrow arc, shining like that of a waning crescent.

Yet in the next moment, the ever subtle sound of the shifts in his footwork and breathing - of which you’ve become sensitive to through constant sparring with him - screams to your ears that it’s a feint. The katana changes trajectory mid-attack, sweeping horizontally, its shine illuminating the line of attack like the sun at the earliest periods of dawn.

You dodge backwards, but more blood is drawn around your arm. By this point, your clothes (mainly your sleeves) are blotched with red specks of varying shades. With the gap between you two increasing, another moment of respite arises, one that feels longer than it should...

The rhythm has shifted once, accompanied by a feeling you’ve come to be familiar with in your short time here.

You find it harder to breathe, as if the air has thickened into viscous honey.

The feeling of being caught into a predator’s ravenous sight overwhelms your limbs.

An unshakable premonition that the duel is about to end entrenches itself into your mind.

But all that’s in front of you is Yuyo, with his childlike smile which would make anyone doubt that he could be the source of such bloodlust, such killing intent. His current stance is one of absolute offense.
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>>4907959

Three people please roll a 3d15!
>>
Rolled 5, 4, 15 = 24 (3d15)

>>4907963
>>
>>4907959
Who is IVtari?
>>
Rolled 5 (1d15)

>>4907963
Welcome back!
>>
Rolled 13, 7 = 20 (2d15)

>>4907999
Oh, right, 3d15.
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>>4907999
>>4908005

I'll count your roll as 25 then.
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>>4908009
If you’re still waiting for more people to come in for another roll, you could try mentioning in the QTG that you’re back. That might get a few people interested.
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>>4908035

Was just about to do that.
>>
Rolled 5, 11, 1 = 17 (3d15)

>>4907963
>>
>>4907968
>>4908009
>>4908185

>25
Oh boy, here we go.
>>
>>4908199

This “spell” or whatever it is, you have to find some way to break it. Every duel so far has ended with you being driven into a corner like this. Yuyo’s smile continues to pierce through every fiber of your being, in some sense it’s sharper than even his katana. You take a deep breath, using the precious few seconds you have left to prepare yourself.

The weight of your blade feels like that of mountains.

Your feet feel firmly rooted to the hard wooden floor.

“Move, damn it…” You mutter in frustration.

It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to dodge the attack given the distance and Yuyo’s sheer agility. The only option then, to save as much of your skin as you can, is to block it head on. So with all the will you can muster, you force your blade in front of you.

In a flash, Yuyo is right up in your face. His blade locks with yours for a moment, but with the added momentum of his charge, there’s little you can do to deflect the strike. Instead, your katana is knocked upwards but still held firmly in your grip. Time appears to slow to a crawl as death slowly encroaches toward you. Even so, you fail to see a way out.

Yuyo, using a single swift and lithe motion, drives his blade toward your neck with the flair of a dancer.

All you can do is look away, your mind subconsciously afraid of the gory aftermath… Which thankfully doesn’t befall you.
>>
>>4908321

“Hmmmmm.” Yuyo says, his katana just millimeters away from severing a vital blood vessel on your neck. “You’ve improved!”

It takes a moment for your body to realise that you haven’t ceased living. “Have I?” You reply, still somewhat in a daze.

“Yup!” Yuyo faces to the side. “Don’t you think so, Tomu?”

Eizawa Tomu, martial artist and unarmed expert of the Higanbanda Troupe, and also proficient in healing. He’s the one that’s been taking care of your wounds.

“Maybe a little. There’s still a long way to go.” Tomu motions for you to follow him to the back.

“Ah well, let’s go get patched up!” Yuyo sheaths his sword.

“Pretty sure I’m the only one that needs any patching up.” You say jokingly.

“Nonsense, I’ll come with you.”

Tomu sighs. “Go help the others, Yuyo. We’ll be done in a bit. He’ll need to rest after this, anyway.”

“Aww, fine.” He replies, pouting.

You walk with Tomu, covering one of the nastier open wounds with your hands. Your mind is still occupied with the finished battle. Many possibilities stream in and out of thought.

What if you had attacked then.

What if you fought more defensively here.

No matter how many simulations you play in your mind, it’s always your head ending up on the floor.

“You’re still not treating it like a battle.”

“Pardon?” You respond, confused, and maybe a little taken back, at Tomu’s words.

“Sit down first.” Tomu reaches for the box of medicinal supplies. You wince at the stinging pain when he dabs some medicinal ointment on your cuts. “It’s like I said, you’re not treating it like a battle. You’re treating it like a sparring match.”

“Is a sparring match not a battle?”

“Do you kill during a sparring match?”

His answer leaves you speechless.

“You’ve felt it, haven’t you? Yuyo’s killing intent or whatever you want to call it.”

You roll up your tattered sleeves for Tomu to mend a nick on your shoulder. “I think I have an idea…”

“You gotta fight like that.”

“But I don’t want to kill him.”

“Do you think he wants to kill you?”

“I hope not.”
>>
>>4908323

“I can safely say the answer is no.” He proceeds to bandage up your other arm. “Killing intent is not the same as intent to kill. Get that in your head. Buki-Enso, at its core, is a controlled display of killing intent, just people on a stage trying to kill each other but never truly ending it. I don’t know about you, but I find something beautiful in that.”

With the last of your wounds patched up, you stand up from your seat. “I see. Thank you for your wisdom, Eizawa.”

“It’s all for Yuyo’s first debut. Don’t mess it up.”

“I’ll do my best not to.” You say with semi-hollow determination.

“Good.” Tomu packs his medicinal supplies back into the box and places it back on the shelf. You’re about to leave but are stopped just before you exit the room. “Don’t drop by tomorrow.” Before you can say anything, Tomu continues speaking. “You need time to reflect on what you’ve learnt and more importantly, time for your body to rest. You’re the first person I’ve seen to eat up my medicine box this fast. To be fair, you’ve only been sparring with Yuyo, but it’s still excessive. I also need some time to restock.”

“I’ll do that, sorry for the trouble.” You say, a bit embarrassed.

“Don’t be, just get better so you don’t get hurt as much. There’s a Kabuki performance tomorrow noon around the center of the District of Wisdom. Go knock yourself out if that’s your thing.”

A break does sound good, you think to yourself as you exit the large red gate of the Higanbana training hall. The sky is a faint shade of yellow and orange, a sign that dusk is fast approaching. You quickly hurry back to the inn before the hordes of humans descend upon the streets.
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>>4908324

Back at the inn, the smell of home cooked food relieves some of your exhaustion.

“Welcome back, Nobuyasu.” Rika greets cheerfully. “Is Yuyo not with you?”

“He’s still at the training halls, I left a little earlier than usual today.”

“Ah, alright then. Dinner will be ready soon, I’ll call you down in a bit.”

“Thank you, Rika.”

Tadatoshi returns an hour later, followed by Yuyo. Learning of your coming rest day, Haruya tells you of an art exhibition happening the next day over the dinner table. Apparently, a famous artist is unveiling their work.

The following morning, you wake up to find your tattered clothes in near pristine condition. Rika must have patched it up overnight, you gotta remember to thank her for this. As usual, Tadatoshi is still asleep and Iga is nowhere to be found.


What do you want to do?
>Go to the Kabuki performance. It’s been many years since you’ve last seen one, and it would be good to see how actors approach the craft to help with your upcoming role in the Higanbana Troupe’s performance.

>Go to the art exhibit. Something quieter sounds more relaxing, a nice contrast to the past few days of tireless dueling.

>Conduct your own training.

>other
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>>4908325
>Go to the Kabuki performance. It’s been many years since you’ve last seen one, and it would be good to see how actors approach the craft to help with your upcoming role in the Higanbana Troupe’s performance.
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>>4908325
>Go to the art exhibit. Something quieter sounds more relaxing, a nice contrast to the past few days of tireless dueling.
I don't think the Kabuki performance will translate well to the Higanbana performance.
>>
>>4908325
>Conduct your own training.
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>>4908325
>Go to the Kabuki performance. It’s been many years since you’ve last seen one, and it would be good to see how actors approach the craft to help with your upcoming role in the Higanbana Troupe’s performance.
>>
>>4908325
>Art
>>
Votes will close tomorrow morning in ~12 hours or so.
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>>4908325
>>Go to the Kabuki performance.
In case you want a tiebreaker.
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>>4908325
>Go to the Kabuki performance

I remember this quest. Last time was in a temple begging some blind monks to teach the character how to be blind, though.
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>>4908329
>>4908372
>>4908441
>>4908449
>>4908483
>>4908538
>>4908641

>Kabuki Performance

Writing.
>>
Sorry for not getting the post up yet. Got a fever later in the day and doc said it might be COVID. Might not be able to post for the next few days. Will keep you guys updated.
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>>4909641
Stay safe QM. Have you been vaccinated yet?
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>>4909641
Good luck and get well
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>>4909641
Oof, that's some bad luck right there. Wishing you a swift recovery, QM.
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>>4909644
>>4909700
>>4909773

Good news, just got swabbed and got a negative result. I'll get the post up in 1-2 days once my fever goes away.
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>>4910642
Looking forward QM!
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>>4910642

You’ll let Tadatoshi off the hook today, he seems awfully tired this fine morning. Putting on your clothes and tying your weapons to your waist, you head downstairs. The sun has barely shown itself so the inn is mostly empty except for a feminine figure sitting by one of the tables sipping a cup of warm tea. Her tired eyes tell you that she must not have gotten a lot of sleep, yet she stands up anyway to greet you.

“Good morning, Nobuyasu.”

“Good morning Rika. Thank you for stitching up my clothes, must've taken you a while.”

“It wasn’t too troublesome. A young lord should look presentable when going to events!”

“I suppose you’re right.” You slide open the door and pass on some parting words before leaving. “You have my thanks, once again. I’ll be back later.”

A light mist clouds the street, slowly dissipating with the growing reach of the sun’s rays. It’s still a little chilly with your light dressing, but luckily, the bandages around your arms provide you some extra warmth to ward off the cold. There’s a few good hours until the start of the performance, so you travel at a relaxed pace, taking in the view of this beautiful city which astounds you with new sights each day.

In just half an hour or so, the city starts to come to life. Shophouses open their doors, place their signs, and start announcing prices loudly into the streets. Slowly but surely, like a widening stream, more and more people begin crowding the area, engaging in their day to day business. With your plain blue clothing, you stick out like a sore thumb amongst a sea of colourfully dressed people, all uniquely ordained with their own accessories. You’ve long gotten used to this though.

Strolling through the loose crowd, you feel at peace. It sort of reminds you of the days where your father would bring you to Minashi, the capital of Toumi prefecture. That was over a decade ago, though... You can’t quite recall if the streets were as crowded as they are now or less so, but you can distinctly recall walking with your younger brother, Ieyasu, leading him along so that he doesn’t wander off unknowingly. Yet, this memory does nothing but leave a somber taste in your mouth - for obvious reasons.
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>>4913529

In your brief melancholy, a sudden pat on your shoulder grabs your immediate attention. On instinct, your hands reach for your sheathed blade while turning around, only to let your guard down the next moment.

The man’s mask, covering half his face, shifts with the movement of his lips. “Sup, it’s been a while.”

“Iga… Don’t scare me like that.” The tension in your hands fades. “What’s new?”

“Walk with me first. We shouldn’t stay together in one spot for too long.”

You nod, not knowing the exact meaning behind his words, but your sworn ninja must have his reasons.

“Where’re you headed?” He asks.

“The District of Wisdom.” You answer.

“Let’s go then. You lead the way.”

Iga keeps some distance away, following behind you along with the crowd. After you’ve travelled far enough, he catches up and walks by your side.

“I’ll get straight to the point. Someone or some group is watching your movements.”

Your brow furrows. “Do you know who?”

“Not yet, but going by the type of people they’ve been using for their little “intelligence gathering” - mainly beggars, my guess is that they’re not a major character, likely just some nobody who has it out for ya. Got any idea who it could be?”

“I can’t really think of anyon-'' The unsettling image of that large hooded man you met outside the inn surfaces. “It’s just a feeling, but keep a lookout for some large hooded man. I remember meeting one I thought was familiar…”

“That’s not a lot to go on but it’ll do. Stay safe and remember to use that black bead if you’re in trouble.”

Iga disappears soon after, leaving you with much more to think about on your walk.
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>>4913531

An hour later, you’re about to arrive at the large stage set up at the district center. Even though there’s still plenty of time before the start of the performance, the roads leading to the venue are already pretty packed.

Just as you take that final right turn though, you’re greeted by two imposing Peacekeepers adorned with the Taira mon on their ornate armour, escorting a single person. In their wake and before their path, the common folk hurriedly make way, not daring to obstruct their passage. You have a pretty good idea of who this is. When your gazes meet, all is confirmed when the youth orders his guards to halt and approaches you.

As courtesy would demand, you give the first greeting, bowing. “We meet once again, Young Master Masakado.”

“Likewise, Lord Hiroshi. I presume you are also here for the kabuki performance?”

“Indeed, milord”

“In that case, why not join us in watching?”

“It would be my honour.”

The people whisper fervently as you join the young lord. It’s truly a good thing that your clothes were freshly mended. You can’t imagine showing yourself to Masakado at such a place dressed in tattered clothing. Passing effortlessly through the curious sea of flesh, Masakado brings you to a teahouse where the hosts stand eagerly by the entrance as if awaiting his arrival. After the usual bit of formality and small talk, you’re led to the second floor which has been completely left empty. There is a balcony with a direct overhead view of the stage, on it are two chairs and a table with tea already prepared.

The Peacekeepers stand by the corners of the balcony and Masakado gestures for you to sit, to which you politely oblige. “Thank you for your hospitality once again, milord.”

“A minor matter, Lord Hiroshi. Should one not assist a peer when he is readily able to do so?” He fills the pair of tea cups on the table. “Especially a peer as upright and honourable as yourself.”

“You flatter me.” Pausing, you take a sip of tea, savouring the subtle but rich taste, but not before wafting in the deep aroma of tea leaves. “I am but one who follows the path of the samurai.”

“My point, exactly.” Masakado takes his own sip from his cup. “If I may ask, where did you receive those wounds?”


>”From my training. Just a few cuts.” [Answer vaguely, revealing too much might not be a good thing.]

>”I’ve been training with the Higanbana Troupe. These are just some minor injuries from sparring.” [Answer truthfully, you’ve got nothing to hide.]

>”That is a bit inconvenient for me to answer, milord.” [Don’t tell, you have your own secrets.]

>other
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>>4913534
>”I’ve been training with the Higanbana Troupe. These are just some minor injuries from sparring.” [Answer truthfully, you’ve got nothing to hide.]
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>>4913534
>”I’ve been training with the Higanbana Troupe. These are just some minor injuries from sparring.” [Answer truthfully, you’ve got nothing to hide.]
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>>4913534
>Training with the Higanbana troupe, a most interesting company.
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>>4913534
>”I’ve been training with the Higanbana Troupe. These are just some minor injuries from sparring.” [Answer truthfully, you’ve got nothing to hide.]
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>>4913534
>”That is a bit inconvenient for me to answer, milord.” [Don’t tell, you have your own secrets.]
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>>4913571
>>4913616
>>4913624
>>4914119
>>4914541

>Answer truthfully.

Writing.
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>>4914940

“I’ve been training with the Higanbana Troupe. These are just some minor injuries from sparring.”

Masakado’s eyes widen just for a moment before returning to their usual size. “The Higanbana Troupe? That’s rather impressive. How did you happen to join them?”

“I didn’t join them as a member, only to help with an upcoming show.”

“Still quite the feat. When will it debut, if I may ask.”

“In a few weeks, I believe. They’ve already submitted their proposal to the theatre.”

“I’ll have something else to look forward to in that case, but for now, it looks like…”

The roaring of the crowd, spurred by an actor running across the makeshift hanamichi, draws your attention to the stage. He’s dressed in highly exaggerated blue clothing, finely embroidered with ocean waves. An extremely long and curved katana sits comfortably under a ludicrously large obi tied to his waist. His face is painted white with bold, powerful, lines of red accenting his features. And his hair, left long and untied, sways in the mild breeze.

“...The play is about to start.”

Constantly shifting his gaze around the audience, expressive hand gestures move in tandem with the beating of taiko drums and resonant strums of multiple shamisen. “Ohhh, my homeland is fractured! Divided by warlords, ravaged by bandits!” He bellows with the intensity of a great beast’s roar.

From borh sides of the stage, rows of other actors dressed in complete white rush out, surrounding the main actor who draws his prop katana. He swings the blade, sweeping across his foes who drop “dead” in unison. “ALAS! I, Kusunoki Enmei, must fight to restore peace!” You almost spit out your tea after hearing the main character of the play introduce himself as the Sword Saint. Their personalities - from what you know - to put it bluntly, don’t seem to match up at all… This will certainly be an interesting show.
>>
The Nine Lords have retaken all but the grand capital, Shinkyo, at the very heart of Yamato. The last of the warlords, Tobuchi Ozawa, has fortified his position within the city, ready to fight to the death if need be. The commanders expect a long siege to break out, which could prolong the war for another year. Just the thought of more fighting makes the soldiers feel restless, all but one. Enmei alone tells the lords and their military advisors, “Worry not, milords! I will be back shortly!” then immediately setting out on horseback to the front of the city.

“Tobuchi! You swine! Come and face me!”

Silence, none of the guards on the walls are sure of what action to take.

“Don’t tell me the great tyrant, Tobuchi Ozawa, is just a cowardly turtle!”

Another actor, dressed just as bombastically but with black and white face paint, runs out from the side of the stage. “Who dares call me, Lord Tobuchi, a cowardly turtle?”

“Who else!?!?”

“Just a single lowly swordsman… It doesn’t matter how godlike your skill may be, against my archers, what do you count for?”

Boisterously laughing, the Sword Saint draws his blade. “You fool! Do you think I have not thought of that? That I would rush to my death? No! I stand here fearless, knowing that if you do not come out and face me, you and all your men will die a sure death!”

Perturbed by Enmei’s deception, the warlord eventually leaves the safety of his walls to duel him. The fight ends quickly and elegantly, clearly with Enmei’s victory, marking the end of the war and the conclusion of the play. All the actors come out on stage one final time and bow, receiving the feverish applause from everyone in the audience.

“What did you think?” Masakado asks.

You recall all the memorable scenes. “It was very dramatic. There were points where I thought I myself was on that battlefield thirty years ago.”

“Such is the magic of Kabuki.” Masakado finishes the last of the tea. “Would you happen to be free after this, Lord Hiroshi?”


Are you free?
>”Yes, I don’t have any plans after this.” [Follow Masakado.]

>”Apologies, milord. I have some business to attend to.” [Choose what to do below if you choose this.]


What are you busy with?
>Investigating the group that’s “interested in you. The sooner you nip this problem in the bud, the better.

>Going back to the inn to check up on Tadatoshi when he’s back.

>Visiting the Higanbana Troupe. Maybe you can walk back to the inn with Yuyo and have a nice chat along the way.

>other
>>
>>4915155
>Time is what is made, Lord Masakado. [Follow him]
>>
>>4915155
>>”Yes, I don’t have any plans after this.” [Follow Masakado.]
>>
>>4915155
>”Yes, I don’t have any plans after this.” [Follow Masakado.]
>>
>>4915155
>”Apologies, milord. I have some business to attend to.” [Choose what to do below if you choose this.]

>Investigating the group that’s “interested in you. The sooner you nip this problem in the bud, the better.
>>
>>4915155
>Visiting the Higanbana Troupe. Maybe you can walk back to the inn with Yuyo and have a nice chat along the way.
>>
>>4915155
>”Apologies, milord. I have some business to attend to.” [Choose what to do below if you choose this.]
>Investigating the group that’s “interested in you. The sooner you nip this problem in the bud, the better.
>>
>>4915155
>”Yes, I don’t have any plans after this.” [Follow Masakado.]
>>
>>4915163
>>4915234
>>4915282
>>4915629
>>4915703
>>4915725
>>4915796

>Follow Masakado

Writing.
>>
>>4916517

“Time is made, Lord Masakado.” You stand and leave your seat. “I don’t have any plans after this.”

Masakado rises from his own seat with a pleased yet composed expression. “Excellent, then let's leave at once.”

“Of course, milord.”

You take your leave from the teahouse, but not before Masakado pays the hosts their due payment. Outside, the setting sun signals the people of Nimmyo to light up their candles and lanterns, illuminating the streets with a radiant yellow. Despite them being crowded beyond belief, the evening air is fresh and cool. But that may just be a consequence of the two Peacekeepers clearing a space for both you and Masakado to move through. Having personal guards sure is convenient.

Just like yourself, Masakado himself carries his own wakizashi-katana pair, albeit with a considerably more lavish scabbard. You didn’t manage to take a close look just now, but now that it’s right in view, you have to admit that it’s a masterful work of art. Dotted all around the white wooden scabbard are pink delicately carved sakura petals, found on the Taira mon, very reminiscent of traditional ukiyo-e woodblock carvings - No, on further examination, they are ukiyo-e woodblock carvings!

Somehow sensing your interest, Masakado draws his sheathed blade from his waist. “Want to have a look?”

You hesitate for a moment before giving a response, the scabbard alone probably costs more than everything you have on you at the moment. Declining would be the best option, no matter how tempting it may be. “It’s alright. I don’t know what I’d do if I damaged it.”

“A scabbard is just a scabbard. Besides, doesn’t a truly beautiful piece of art remain beautiful even after it’s been damaged?” Masakado chuckles, holding the blade right in front of you. How can you decline now? Carefully taking the weapon in your hands, your fingers glide gently across the carvings, feeling the fine grainy texture of the white wood. You also notice that his blade is a tad bit lighter than what you’re used to.

“My grandfather personally commissioned it for my fifteenth birthday.” He says with a hint of pride and gratitude in his voice. “It’s one of Master Hiroshige’s works. Come to think of it, he had an art exhibition today.”

Can’t say you can really identify the styles of the great ukiyoe masters, or claim to be familiar with this Master Hiroshige, but it’s undoubtedly a master work.

“I’ve never seen anything this detailed before.” You comment.

“My cousin, Tadanori, has a matching scabbard, but with white petals over black.”

“Quite fitting I would say, for the two young lords of the Taira.” You reply as you hand back the blade, careful not to drop it.
>>
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>>4916653

For the rest of the journey, you engage in minor discussions with the young lord, fully taking advantage of the space being cleared and maintained by the Peacekeepers while you walk. As expected of a member of the Taira clan, he’s extremely knowledgeable about the arts and culture, especially in the domain of music. It’s quite enlightening to listen to his thoughts on the topic, but ultimately, it is not where your interests lie.

At last you arrive, standing outside the Taira castle, its impeccable architecture made even more brilliant standing under the silver moonlight. Masakado dismisses the guards and brings you - not into the castle - but towards a building just adjacent to it. The muffled sounds of sparring boom from within, made crystal clear to your ears after he slides open the entrance. Together with the sight of disciples practicing kata and the distinct scent of sweat permeating the room, you come to the conclusion that indeed, this is the Taira dojo.
>>
>>4916655

Of the two duels currently ongoing, one involves a person you’ve met prior. His sword form is like that of a dancer’s, graceful and exquisite, but noticeably different from that of Yuyo’s. Underneath the fanciful gestures and movements is the undeniable ethos of practicality found in all “real” sword arts. Furthermore, the sense of rhythm you get when fighting with Yuyo is even more pronounced, seeing as you can feel it without even being in the fight.

This is the Taira style, as demonstrated by Taira Tadanori, who currently holds an unmistakable control over the battle. Slowly but surely, his opponent, a boy of slightly younger age, is being driven closer and closer to his limit, forced to conform to Tadanori’s rhythmic offensive. It’s not long until the boy is finally overwhelmed and is assailed by a short flurry of strikes before conceding.

Masakado waits until after Tadanori finishes passing a few words to the boy then speaks. “Elegant as always, Tadanori. How was the art exhibit?”

“It was electrifying. Master Hiroshige really outdid himself this time. I made sure to order a copy of all the prints shown today.” His gaze shifts to meet yours. “Ah, Lord Hiroshi, forgive me for not greeting you sooner.”

“A minor matter, Lord Tadanori. Your technique is a sight to behold.”

“You flatter me, Lord Hiroshi. What brings you to our humble dojo?”

“We were at the kabuki performance. I decided to bring him here.” Masakado interjects. “The blade is our three lords’ shared passion, after all.”

“Is that so?” Tadanori wipes the sweat off his forehead with his sleeves. “Please enjoy your stay, then. Unfortunately, our master isn’t present today, so you’ll have to bear with witnessing swordsmanship of only our caliber.”

His words make you cringe slightly. The caliber he’s talking about probably outstrips yours by a good margin. “It’s an honour to get to view the Taira style this close regardless.”

While the rest of the disciples continue on with their training, you three lords banter for a bit. To your pleasant surprise, Tadanori allows you to hold his blade too, the scabbard exactly as his cousin described it and of equally high quality. It’s weight is also characteristically lighter than yours.

“If I may, Lord Hiroshi, can I request a friendly duel between us?” Masakado asks respectfully. “An exchange of pointers between our two schools.”


>Yes. You’re quite eager to fight against the Taira style. Not to mention that it’ll be a good way to observe the fruits of your training thus far. [Accept. Write-ins for how to fight are encouraged!]

>No. Though not debilitating, you should let your wounds heal up first. It wouldn’t be fair to Masakado if you cannot give your all. [Decline]
>>
>>4916659
>Unfortuantely I've training the morning after this night, Lord Taira and it would be a slight against my teachers if I did not let my injuries rest to their peak.
>However, if you'd like a demonstration of one or more of my school's signiture styles, I believe I could preform once or twice without exasperating my injuries [if this isn't the case, don't offer. I was just thinking sow them the read cutter or returning slash]

>If it is not an insult young lords, then perhaps when my training is ended we can have a duel then, See if I may yet close the gap between your esteemed selves and I.
>>
>>4916659
>Yes. You’re quite eager to fight against the Taira style. Not to mention that it’ll be a good way to observe the fruits of your training thus far. [Accept. Write-ins for how to fight are encouraged!]

focus on our lessons from the temple. He fights rhythmic, so we'll try to get a feel for his rhythm and anticipate his movements, like we anticipated the staff in the temple lessons.
>>
>>4916659
>Yes. You’re quite eager to fight against the Taira style. Not to mention that it’ll be a good way to observe the fruits of your training thus far. [Accept. Write-ins for how to fight are encouraged!]
Die, because we need 30+ on any roll just to keep up.
>>
>>4916691
Going with this.

Did none of you guys think that there might be some sort of animosity between the Higanbana Troupe and the Taira School? Or that there's something weird going on about this?
>>
>>4917419
Not really?

I mean they are a bunch of artists, the Taira school is the school of the regional lords. It's not like Higanbana could operate here while having pissed off the most elite of the elite here something serious
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>>4915155
>”Apologies, milord. I have some business to attend to.”
>Investigating the group that’s “interested in you. The sooner you nip this problem in the bud, the better.
>>
Ignore >>4917928
Yes. You’re quite eager to fight against the Taira style. Not to mention that it’ll be a good way to observe the fruits of your training thus far. close your eyes to use your blindfighting and hopefully avoid being fooled by any feints
>>
>>4917956
No no do not close your eyes that's retarded
>>
>>4917956
that is retarded.

We ain't anywhere near skilled enough for that.

>>4916807
trusting our instincts to dodge and to strike is a better idea though, if you did indeed choose to fight.
>>
Sorry guys, a little tired tonight so votes will run until tomorrow morning.
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>>4916659
>No. Though not debilitating, you should let your wounds heal up first. It wouldn’t be fair to Masakado if you cannot give your all. [Decline]
>>
>>4916659
>>Yes. You’re quite eager to fight against the Taira style. Not to mention that it’ll be a good way to observe the fruits of your training thus far. [Accept. Write-ins for how to fight are encouraged!]
>>
>>4916691
>>4916807
>>4917189
>>4917419
>>4917956
>>4918198
>>4919492

>Fight
4

>Busy:
3

I need three people each to roll a 3d15.
>>
>>4919492
>>4918198
>>4917956
>>4917419
>>4917189
>>4916807
>>4916691

>Fighting

I need three people each to roll a 3d15.
>>
Rolled 2, 14, 6 = 22 (3d15)

>>4919495
Watch THIS
>>
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>>4919497

RIP
>>
Rolled 9, 9, 7 = 25 (3d15)

>>4919516
another day in the life of hiroshi jobuyasu
>>
Rolled 12, 13, 12 = 37 (3d15)

>>4919497
>>4919521

I'll do the last roll to get things going.
>>
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>>4919572

LOL. We are Jobuyasu no longer.
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>>4919572
Holy shit, you should just stop asking for rolls from now on.
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>>4919573

The word “duel” instantly grabs your attention, roiling the samurai blood in your veins, an eagerness you’ve felt many times before.

“Of course, Lord Masakado.” You answer. “To battle with a Taira… There is no greater privilege here.”

“Fantastic. This will be my first time sparring with a warrior of the Toumi school.” Masakado grabs two wooden katanas and tosses one to you. “Do refrain from holding back.”

You grab the coarse wooden blade with one hand, swerving it around to get used to its weight. In truth, you’ve handled wooden blades much longer than you have their steel counterparts, so the feeling of using one is second-nature to you.

“Certainly, but do excuse me.” You unravel the bandages on your arms, exposing a series of cuts and bruises. This revelation somewhat surprises the other disciples present, including the Taira brothers. It’s a rarity to receive such battle scars in this age of peace. Something like this is more commonly seen among the older warriors. Considering that, you guess to yourself that some of the others present might be second-guessing your age.

“Ready when you are.” You declare while stretching your now unrestrained arms.

Masakado nods. “Then let’s begin.”

The two of you circle around the dojo, eyes fixed on the other, prepared to react at the slightest provocation. In this short time that you have, you snuff out all external thoughts, focusing only on what stands before you. Your breaths deepen and slow, soothing even the stinging in your arms. Your stance is firm, neither too rooted or too unstable.

In a matter of seconds that feel more like minutes, Masakado makes the first move, dashing in at moderate speed. Intuitively, you know he wants to seize the initiative, but you won’t let him direct the battle to his will. You rush to meet him as well, at a higher velocity to hopefully throw him off his bearings.

Small splinters of wood are shaved off when your blades lock. Very quickly, Masakado falls back and unleashes a graceful flurry of attacks. Thrusts, slashes, strikes… they’re all weaved together like a well-choreographed dance, all in accordance to a specific rhythm.

One… Two… Three… Four… Five...

One… Two… Three… Four… Five...

The overtly rhythmic nature of his onslaught is more uncomfortable to deal with than you expected. Something about the way he fights subtly makes you want to follow his lead, a dangerous outcome that will bring you sure defeat. You have to resist it, but you need time to figure out how.

Attack after attack, an outsider would find it hard to perceive any difference in advantage gained by either combatant. However, being in the fight itself, you can very clearly feel the shifting tides. Fighting according to Masakado’s tempo is taking its toll on you. It feels awkward, unnatural even. A deft slash to your left shoulder forces you back a few steps, then suddenly… Inspiration hits!
>>
>>4920796

You quicken your pace, rushing immediately in with a horizontal slash. It’s blocked, but you don’t let that stop you from unleashing another sweeping attack from the right. More and more, you up the offensive, hoping to overwhelm him for just a brief moment. At this point, you feel a distinct shift in Masakado’s attack patterns. Your ears pick up a small change in the force of his footsteps. They’re lighter, and also increasing in frequency.

He’s speeding up…

If he prolongs the battle at this pace, you’re not sure if you can keep up. You can already feel some of your movements become sloppy, an unfortunate sacrifice needed for added ferocity. If there’s any time to enact your strategy, it would have to be now.

“If you want to see the Toumi style, then allow me to show you...” You utter under your breath.

Working on pure instinct, you shut off all remaining thoughts. Your accelerated breathing slows slightly, further clearing your mind. Using the push from Masakado’s following attack, you leap backwards, swinging your blade towards his abdomen as you do so.

Returning Wind!

Caught off guard, Masakado’s form stumbles as he deflects your strike. Adrenaline spurs you on your next attack. Holding the blade low to your waist, parallel with your leg stretched backward, you engage every muscle in your leg to propel you forward. Even in the short window available, Masakado manages to react, as expected of the young master of the Taira. Supporting the back of his blade with his other hand to block your charge, he’s pushed a few steps to the side while you land a good distance behind where he was initially facing.

Swaying Grass!

Finally, you gamble everything on this final advance. If this fails, then your defeat is all but assured. Turning around to face you, Masakado finds you crouched extremely low to the ground, in a stance only those familiar with the Toumi style will recognise. Once again mustering all the energy in your two legs, you leap towards him, staying low to the ground. As he enters the very limits of your range of attack, you sweep with your katana, targeting his right ankle.

Reed Cutter!
>>
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>>4920799

You won?

You can hardly believe it, but you know that it was largely due to luck and prevailing circumstances - unfamiliarity with the Toumi style in addition to a fortunate streak of successfully performed techniques. It’s important to keep these things in mind so that you don’t let this victory get to your head.

“Can you stand, Lord Masakado?” You kneel and reach out a hand.

“I should be fine.” He smiles, grasping it and helping himself up. “That was an intense match, more importantly...” He points to your left arm, covered in a few streams of red. You don’t know when, but your wounds opened up sometime during the fight. One of the disciples, an older one, immediately rushes out of the dojo. A few moments later, he rushes in with an old man dressed formally. After whispering a few words, the old man asks you to sit down while Tadanori instructs the other disciples to resume their training.

“Just how did you get your arm in this state, young one?” The old man asks. “It’s going to get infected if you leave it out like this.”

He dabs some medicinal ointment on your open wounds. You try not to flinch at the burning sensation spreading across the applied area as the old man rebandages your arm.

“I’d recommend you to give them a few more days to fully heal, but if you do have to fight… At least wear some protection. A shoulder-guard should suffice, your other cuts seem fully healed.”

“Thank you… I’ll see what I can do.”

Tadanori and Masakado escort you to another room in the dojo.

“Lord Hiroshi, how are your wounds?” Masakado asks in a concerned tone. “I should have put more thought before requesting to duel…”

“It’s nothing to worry about, Lord Masakado. I should be the one to apologise for causing so much trouble. Our battle was deeply enlightening for me.”

“For me as well and now that we’ve fought as peers, please just address me as Masakado.”

“Same with me.” Tadanori adds.

You bow deeply. “I deserve no such honour milords, but if you insist, please also call me Nobuyasu from here on.”

Looking out the window into the pitch black sky, you decide that it’s probably time to head off.

“Thank you for your hospitality, milords. I believe I must get going now.”

Tadanori nods. “Of course, Nobuyasu. Would you like some of our guards to escort you back to your residence?”

“Or perhaps you would like to spend the night and rest here?” Masakado suggests.
>>
>>4920801

>”An escort will be more than sufficient. Once again, I’m in you two lords’ debt.” After hearing what Iga had to say this morning, it might be better not to take the risk. [Go back to the inn with an escort.]


>”If it is not too much trouble for you two lords’, I will be in your care.” The road back to the inn isn’t short and the distance might aggravate your wounds further. Not to mention the crowd. [Stay at the castle for the night.]


>”I have already burdened you two too much. I will be fine on my own, milords.” Whatever trouble may arise, you’re confident in protecting yourself or at least getting away. You can always call Iga if things get really ugly as well. [Go back to the inn alone.]

>other
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>>4920803
>”An escort will be more than sufficient. Once again, I’m in you two lords’ debt.” After hearing what Iga had to say this morning, it might be better not to take the risk. [Go back to the inn with an escort.]
Hmm, what if it's a fakeout and their escort turns out to be an assassin? Then again, what if it's a double fakeout and 'they' expected us to be wary of a treacherous escort?
Might as well go with this.
>>
>>4920803
>Escort
>>
>>4920803
>”An escort will be more than sufficient. Once again, I’m in you two lords’ debt.” After hearing what Iga had to say this morning, it might be better not to take the risk. [Go back to the inn with an escort.]
>>
>>4920801

Just realised I missed out a paragraph at the very start of this post:


A loud thump is heard as Maskado crashes onto the floor, unable to respond to your coup de grace in time. The jaws of the other disciples, Tadanori included, fall slack, and it takes a while for your thoughts to return and register what just happened.
>>
>>4920801
>>”An escort will be more than sufficient. Once again, I’m in you two lords’ debt.” After hearing what Iga had to say this morning, it might be better not to take the risk. [Go back to the inn with an escort.]
>>
>>4920801
>”An escort will be more than sufficient. Once again, I’m in you two lords’ debt.” After hearing what Iga had to say this morning, it might be better not to take the risk. [Go back to the inn with an escort.]
>>
>>4920803
>>”If it is not too much trouble for you two lords’, I will be in your care.” The road back to the inn isn’t short and the distance might aggravate your wounds further. Not to mention the crowd. [Stay at the castle for the night.]
>>
>>4920803
>”If it is not too much trouble for you two lords’, I will be in your care.” The road back to the inn isn’t short and the distance might aggravate your wounds further. Not to mention the crowd. [Stay at the castle for the night.]
>>
>>4920820
>>4920835
>>4920885
>>4920953
>>4920973
>>4921147

>Escort

Will start writing in a few hours after I finish some work.
>>
>>4921993

Sorry guys, won't be able to finish the post by tonight. It should be up by tomorrow.
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>>4922267

“An escort will be more than sufficient. Once again, I’m in you two lords’ debt.”

“Very well, Nobuyasu.” Tadanori says in a relieved tone. “Please wait a moment while we find guards suitable for one such as yourself.”

The two lords bow before exiting the room, leaving you with some time alone to gather your thoughts. The most crucial thing to do now would be to consolidate your gains from the recent match, which is one of the best ones you’ve fought in your life.

The feeling of smoothness, like a flowing stream.

The effortless effort of chaining together technique after technique.

The sensation of relying purely on combat instinct.

You relive the fleeting moments in your mind, simulating and re-simulating each and every microsecond. You’re then reminded of the skillful and moving Shamisen performance of Master Fuyuoto. More specifically, the images evoked by the music - of you imagining yourself moving your blade fluidly, with a quality of softness, yet striking without any lack of force. Perhaps, for a brief moment, you managed to grasp that level of swordsmanship in the heat of battle. The thought stirs a little pride in yourself but though you may have clinched victory, your execution is not without flaws. Meticulous analysis must be performed and subsequently, proper self-criticism must be given. Without a mentor at hand currently, this is the only way to improve.

A while later, the two lords return, this time with two men dressed in Peacekeeper armour, adorned with a mon you have a brief memory of seeing recorded in some book. From the various floral themed ornaments decorating their armour, they’re clearly not your average guards.

“Greetings, Lord Hiroshi. I am Ise Yasuki.”

Finally, it clicks! The mon is of the Ise clan, one of the vassal clans of the Taira, similar in standing to that of the Hiroshi clan. On his armour and scabbard are beautiful illustrations of sakura trees. Contrary to the warm and inviting depictions on his items, something about his fox-like smile is slightly off-putting, giving you the impression that he’s scheming something.

“Greetings... Lord Hiroshi.” The other guard pauses, not awkwardly, but certainly in an unnatural manner. “I am Ise Namiyo.”

He strikes you as the quiet type, but in a cold and calculating way, different from Tadatoshi. You feel a vast gulf between the two of you, despite being in the same room just a few metres apart. His indifferent gaze is like that of a tired wolf staring uninterested at its prey.

“Among the newer generation, these two are some of the best warriors of the Ise clan.” Masakado states calmly.

Ignoring your initial impressions of the two Ise warriors, you smile. “As a fellow swordsman, I can indeed tell that these two warriors are not simple. I will not forget this kindness, young lords.”

“In that case, we wish you safe travels, Lord Hiroshi.” Tadanori says. “If fate allows it, let us spar in the future.”

“Definitely, Lord Tadanori.”
>>
>>4923757

Walking out of the gates of Taira castle, you can immediately hear the bustle of the main street, along with seeing the distant orange glow of artificial flamebourne light. Normally, you’d sigh at the thought of having to wade through an expanse of flesh, but with escorts, it should be much less of a chore. Fortunately, it’s as you expect. The moment people catch sight of the Ise mon, they immediately make way for you. You think to yourself that it might also be the “aura” these two specific guards of yours exude. Even on duty, Yasuki carries that sly grin, and Namiyo his detached yet piercing stare. Heck, driving the common folk away might just be their forte, but you don’t sense any malice. It’s just their natural dispositions, you suppose.

All is well for some time, until you reach a less crowded part of your way back. You’re not completely sure, but at the edge of your hearing, you pick up a few odd footsteps. Maybe about five? They seem to have been tailing you for some time, navigating through a complex network of alleyways to remain out of sight. With the multitude of people around just now, their movements might have been muffled, but now with significantly less disturbance, their advances are becoming much more apparent to your ears. However, they remain at a distance, refusing to show themselves, making you start to question if your senses are correct at all. Perhaps they’re just ordinary civilians traversing less huddled paths...

“Lord Hiroshi.” Yasuki suddenly calls. “My intuition tells me that there is malicious intent hiding around us...” Namiyo grunts in acknowledgement at his statement. Looks like you’re not the only one with a bad feeling. “...But on the grounds of legality, we are unable to act. Lest we and, by consequence, the Taira be seen as paranoid oppressors. So I must apologize for this, milord.”

You know that much, of course. As Iga said, these “spies” likely bear no grudge towards you, just doing what they need to to get paid. Everyone has to make ends meet somehow, and some just can’t do it through normal means, be it cause of poor life choices or bad luck.

“It’s alright, just leave them be.” You respond, not satisfied with the inability to do anything. Iga should be hard at work right now tailing their ringleader. Knowing that at least brings you some solace.
>>
>>4923759

Thankfully, no incidents pop up for the rest of your journey and soon enough, you’re just outside the inn, taking in the mouth-watering fragrance of food wafting out of the kitchen. A little later than usual, but back nonetheless. The two Ise guards bow respectfully, after which Namiyo takes his leave without saying a word. Yasuki, on the other hand, stays behind and continues keeping his eyes fixed on you with his fox-like smile.

“Lord Hiroshi, with all due respect, allow me to give some parting advice as fellow members of high-ranking vassal clans.” Something about his tone unsettles you further. “Keep your loyalties flexible. It’ll save you one day.”

With that, Yasuki too takes his leave. His words don’t sit well with you at all. Loyalty? Flexibility? These two are akin to oil and water, two substances that don’t mix - that shouldn’t mix! Loyalty should be firm and unyielding as written in Bushido!

You dismiss his words without a second thought.
>>
>>4923761

For the next few days, you resume your training with the Higanbana Troupe. Your constant brawls with Yuyo are getting better bit by bit. You’re amassing fewer wounds each day which Tomu seems satisfied with, you think. His expression and mood aren’t the easiest to read. Overall, it’s been a good few days of training.

On this current cool evening, drenched in sweat, you continue to fight. With your katana in hand, a few cuts on your arms, the adrenaline pushes you to your very limits. If there is a speed limit, you’ve probably exceeded it, if but marginally. If there is a maximum to your reaction time to stimuli, you’ve likely broken it, at least somewhat. You need every bit of strength you can get to hold off the bloodthirsty beast in front of you.

Within the next few blows, you are overwhelmed, but not rendered helpless, by Yuyo’s bloodlust.

Panting, you lie on the hard wooden floor, staining it with small drops of red, exhausted and famished from a longer than normal training day. You could really use some food right now. In fact, you can imagine it vividly, the smell of Rika’s cooking… A little too vivid if you must say, making it difficult for you to keep the drool from spilling. Tilting your head to look at the entrance, you can’t believe it. It’s Rika! And she’s holding a basket - the source of that savory fragrance.

“Rikaaa!” Yuyo exclaims almost instantly. “What are you doing here?”

“It’s a bit late and you and Nobuyasu weren’t back yet, so I thought you guys might be hungry.” Rika opens the basket which intensifies the smell of food. “I even made some for the other troupe members. Let’s eat!”

“Yay! But we’ll need to wait for Nobuyasu to get patched up.”

Tomu steps out from the back room with his medicine box in hand. “Don’t worry about that, it’ll only take a minute. Much better than before.” Just as he said, your wounds are taken care of in only a moment’s notice. After that, Yuyo rounds up the troupe members and distributes the food with Rika.

Together with the rest of the experts, you and Rika follow Yuyo to the back to consume your meals.

“This is goddamn delicious!” Kohei says loudly.

Ezo clicks his tongue like an old man. “Chew your food before speaking, you ape!”

All the while, Yuyo laughs at the amusing dynamic. Tomu, though, eats his food silently and you make some small talk with Rika.


>”So Yuyo, can you tell me more about the Higanbana Troupe? I’m quite curious about its origins.”

>”How did all of you come to join the Higanbana Troupe?”

>other
>>
>>4923763
>Tell me about the troupe, I've heard others regard it in the highest of esteems.

>"Dismissing it without a second thought"
You fool Nobu! You moron! You buffoon! Think not of it as advice, but what it means to the man in which it gave!
It says much of him!
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>>4923763
>”So Yuyo, can you tell me more about the Higanbana Troupe? I’m quite curious about its origins.”
voted most likely to die in hiroshi samurai prep school
>>
>>4923763
>”How did all of you come to join the Higanbana Troupe?”

I'm more intersted in the individual backstories
>>
>>4923763
>”So Yuyo, can you tell me more about the Higanbana Troupe? I’m quite curious about its origins.”
>>
>>4923807
>>4923944
>>4924090
>>4924218

I think I'll include both options + the write in. Writing.
>>
>>4924807

You swallow a mouthful of rice. “Tell me more about the Troupe, Yuyo. I’ve heard many hold it in high regard.”

“Hmmmm… What about it?” Yuyo asks.

“Perhaps we could start with its founding.” You reply, taking a sip of your miso soup. “I’m quite curious about its origins.”

“Ahhh, that’s actually the subject of one of our plays!” He says gleefully. “It all started about 300 years ago with my ancestor, Sugawara Furyu…”

---

The auburn colours of autumn dulled his senses as Sugawara Furyu wandered aimlessly through the vast picturesque landscapes of Yoshika - the original name of Taira prefecture. In the past, it’s borders were far smaller, with much territory ceded to the neighbouring lands of Hironao and Genmori. What we today call the prefectures of Toumi and Nakatomi respectively. Yet the divisions between prefectures were vague at best, always growing and shrinking at their fringes, a result of a lack of any central governing power keeping the peace. It was a time of constantly shifting allegiances, ever-volatile power dynamics, drama and betrayal. Many historians would name this part of Kiyoshu’s past the Kosen Period, or Period of Constant Warfare, and it would come to be the setting and subject of many literary and performative works of the modern day.

As a child, Sugawara Furyu had been trained in the arts of Buki-Ensou by his father, who had been a part of an upstart troupe that lasted only a few brief years, but he always felt that something in the art was lacking. Their dissolution came at about the same time as the start of the Kosen Period where a political vacuum in central Kiyoshu uprooted the balance of power. This would lay the foundation for Furyu’s career as a warrior only a bit later in his life when he and his father were drafted into the armies of West Yoshika, ruled by the power-hungry warlord, Daijiro Ono, keen on claiming a part of the spoils in the heart of the country. But first, he would have to conquer the lands of East Yoshika.

Unfortunately, Daijiro’s ambitions would never come to fruition as the bloody conflict between East and West ended in his hard-fought defeat after just three paltry years, leaving the armies of West Yoshika ravaged and derelict. Unlike his son, who had emerged a much different man, Furyu’s father never made it out of the fierce fighting. Alone in the world without any purpose or family, Furyu became a vagabond, walking the lands in his broken armour long since ruined to the point of being unidentifiable as to which faction he belonged.
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>>4925088

On that fateful day in fall, emerging from a forest, Furyu stumbled onto a field of red spider lilies. However, spotting two unknown warriors currently with their swords drawn, he remained in hiding, tensely observing the situation. Looking closely, it could be seen that the two warriors were remnant infantrymen from the East and recently conquered West, so there was no question as to why they were about to come to blows. The relationship between the two of them remain unknown to this day, but upon seeing each other, both were fraught with grief and anguish.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLxliSwb3ck&ab_channel=NaokiSato-Topic

A few words of bereavement later, and they began their life and death duel…

The spectacle - a dialogue of passion and raw emotion, spoken entirely through steel and sparks - captivated Furyu, who was reminded of the Buki-Ensou training of his youth. Equally matched, the warriors fought from noon to sunset, neither giving any ground to the other, each having stained the spider lilies a deeper crimson. The battle was coming to its climax.

At the close of dusk, the two men each charged at each other for one final attack, standing completely still in the aftermath.

A moment, which felt like an eternity, passed before finally, the warrior from the former West Yoshika fell smiling in a blooming gush of red.

His eastern counterpart, dishevelled and clearly fatigued, went to kneel down before his slain foe, weeping tears of sorrow. Furyu, still hidden in the foliage, looked on with anticipation and then astonishment as the warrior promptly committed seppuku with a woeful roar. Deeply moved by this display, Furyu finally realised what he found lacking in Buki-Ensou and founded the Higanbana Troupe to try and recreate the emotions from that scene.

---
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>>4925090

“And that’s how the story goes.” Yuyo states, casually laughing. “Not sure if it's true, but a good tale is a good tale!”

“A riveting tale indeed.” You say, still enamoured by the story. The troupe is much older than you expected. “What about the rest of you? How did you all come to join the troupe?”

Kohei answers first with a mouth full of food. “I used to be a bandit and thought that it would be a good idea to rob old man Sugawara - Yuyo’s father.” He swallows, making his speech easier to understand. “Got my ass handed to me and fully expected to die, but I guess the old man saw something in me and invited me to join the troupe. Been grateful ever since.”

“I didn’t know you were capable of feeling gratitude.” Ezo teases. “Thought that stupid kusarigama of yours knocked out all the courtesy from your small skull.”

“Shut up, at least I don’t fight with a fucking stick!”

“Tch, anyway, I joined about 15 years ago, before old man Sugawara took over as troupe leader.” Ezo stares into blank space with a wistful expression. “Some drunk ruffians were giving me some trouble. There were quite a few of them and I didn’t have my staff on me, but luckily, old man Sugawara was passing by. I thought he was suicidal for trying to take on that many people, but he did it, all with a damn smile! I went to pick up the first thing that resembled a polearm and together we beat up those rats. Next thing I knew, he invited me to join the troupe.”

Lastly, Tomu, who has been keeping quiet this whole time speaks up. “My family owes the Sugawara clan a great debt for giving us jobs and shelter. For decades, the Eizawa have worked under Sugawara as martial artists. Like my father before me and his father before him, I continue this legacy of my lineage. There are many members like this. We all owe our livelihoods to the troupe.”
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>>4925104

The night goes on with more stories told and conversations had, but everything must come to an end. You and Rika begin to make your way back to the inn, accompanied by Yuyo since it’s pretty late. The streets are much less crowded by this time and also less well-lit. You decide to walk along the paths with at least a bit of lighting and activity but at some point, you have to move through an almost deserted and dark area of the city.

Everything seems fine until you spot a large figure in the darkness, standing just a few metres ahead. You can’t clearly make out who he is or what he’s carrying but you have a bad feeling about this.


>Confront him. If he’s trouble then you gotta fight anyway, better to take the initiative.

>Turn around and walk back to the busier streets. Even if he’s out to get you, he shouldn’t have any confidence to act where there’s witnesses.

>Ignore him and get on your way, you’re just being paranoid.

>other.
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>>4925107
>Turn around and walk back to the busier streets. Even if he’s out to get you, he shouldn’t have any confidence to act where there’s witnesses.
>>
A reminder that you can call Iga at any time. Also, if you haven't already, go google "Higanbana".
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>>4925107
>Turn around and walk back to the busier streets. Even if he’s out to get you, he shouldn’t have any confidence to act where there’s witnesses.
>>
>>4925107
>Turn around and walk back to the busier streets. Even if he’s out to get you, he shouldn’t have any confidence to act where there’s witnesses.
>>
>>4925107
>Hold, listen for others behind us with our better hearing.

If there is a man ahead of us, then it stands to reason an ambush would have a man behind us to block our escape.

If there is no man behind us
>Turn around
If there is
>Confront him.
>>
>>4925107
>Ignore him and get on your way, you’re just being paranoid.
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>>4925354
Sounds smart, support.
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>>4925107
>>4925354
Support.
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>>4925107
>>4925354
Throwing my vote in with this.
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>>4925132
>>4925178
>>4925338
>>4925354
>>4925413
>>4925676
>>4925870
>>4926171

>Turn around + following the write in

Won't be able to write tonight, been pretty busy. In the meantime, three people please roll a 3d15!
>>
Rolled 13, 12, 15 = 40 (3d15)

>>4926664
>>
Rolled 4, 5, 1 = 10 (3d15)

>>4926664
Oh ho!
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>>4926665

WTF
>>
Rolled 5, 3, 6 = 14 (3d15)

>>4926664
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>>4926665
Looks like our jobbing days are over.
Thanks for >>4919572, QM!
>>
“Stop.” You whisper anxiously, holding your hand out to stop Rika and Yuyo from walking forward. Just as they’re about to voice their concerns, you hold a finger over your lips. “Just trust me.” You say in a low desperate tone. The two of them are understandably confused but nod. Relieved by their silent cooperation, you close your eyes, clearing your mind of all outside distractions and focusing all your attention on the ambient soundscape.

The distant sounds of night-life.

The chirping of crickets in the grass.

Even the dripping of water from a nearby roof.

You make sure not to miss a single detail. If there are others hidden near you, then gathering any information on their positions is of the highest priority, but thankfully, the immediate vicinity is devoid of any man made noise. From what the limits of your ear can detect, at least. It calms you down somewhat, but the fear of an ambush still lingers at the back of your mind. While you’re doing this, Yuyo has his sword hand at the ready, making sure that Rika is within his range of protection.

For now, you work with the fact that more likely than not, there shouldn’t be any people positioned for an ambush. With this in mind, the safest option is to turn back and walk to where there’s activity. Even if this man is out to get you, it’s highly unlikely he’ll act where there are plenty of witnesses.

“Let’s head where we came.” You utter. “That man… He’s giving me a bad feeling.”

“You sure, Nobuyasu?” Yuyo says in an uncharacteristically serious tone. Taking a moment to observe the large man, obscured by night’s cloak, he turns back to look at you. “He has been standing there watching us for some time… Let’s go...”

“You and Rika turn back first, I’ll move back while keeping my eye on him.”

“Alright… But be careful, yeah?” Yuyo gives you an uneasy smile.

Rika looks relatively unfazed by all of this, but you can sense some wariness from her expression as she moves back with Yuyo. Keeping your gaze locked straight into the darkness, the footsteps of your two companions slowly recede until they’re half as loud. That’s when you yourself begin to move back, taking a small step to the rear. Then another. And another. All while the man still stands unmoving. But by your fourth step, he begins moving towards you, causing all the hairs on your body to stand on end. Every step you take, he takes two. Whenever you increase your pace, he doubles his.

“Halt!” You shout, having had enough of the uncertainty, prepared to unsheath your katana. “State your business!”

At the same time, the man moves into the single sliver of light reaching into the street, making his complexion fully visible, and that’s when you feel the colour drain from your face. It’s the same ominous character you bumped into on your first arrival to the city almost two weeks ago.

It finally dawns on you why he felt so familiar.

How could you have failed to notice?

“Kekeke, I’ve finally found you, little rat!” He screams.
>>
>>4928112

His expression is absolutely one of hysteric lunacy as his walk turns into a manic rush. In his hands is a menacing nodachi, rusted but not lacking in danger. Quickly drawing your blade, you attempt to block the lumbering man’s charge, feeling the full brunt of his weight on the point of contact. Even with your other hand pushing the back of your blade, you’re pushed backwards in a stagger. While catching your bearings, you see Yuyo, now a good distance away, begin running to join you.

“Stay with Rika!” You shout. “There may be others!”

“Shouldn’t you be focusing on yourself?” The burly man jeers. “After I’m done with you, I’ll have fun with that girl over there. Kekekekeke.”

“You…” Dodging another strike, your blades lock once more. “Disgraceful bandit!”

“Heh. And how are ya samurai folk any different, eh?!?”

His strikes begin to get more and more ferocious, and also more slipshod.

“All you damn samurai! You abuse your power and bully with your influence...”

He sweeps his nodachi savagely.

“At least we bandits are honest about it!”

You’re starting to struggle with his almost feral-like advance.

“It was you! You took everything away from me!”

A wail of anger later, he throws a kick at the end of his flurry, sending you onto the ground.

“You took away my men!”

Quickly, you roll to the side to avoid a slamming attack which cracks the brittle cobbled street.

“My women!”

He responds with another kick to your side that you sidestep.

“My money!”

You’ve had enough of his psychotic tirade. His balance wavers for a moment which you fully exploit, circling around him to perform a deep cut on his right calf. To your horror, it doesn’t impede him at all. The crazy fucker is still charging at you with reckless abandon. Taking advantage of his poor form, you duck under his next attack to wound his left thigh. Still, it’s not enough. His rampage continues, drawing the fight into a deadly battle of attrition. You can only hope to keep targeting his legs until he’s too injured to walk, or until the adrenaline wears off.

After more and more attacks, he finally begins showing signs of slowing down, finally in a suitably marred state for you to land a finishing blow. Using Returning Wind to create distance, you fall back and land a shallow cut on his chest.
>>
>>4928114

The man stares at you with bloodshot eyes, like that of a rabid beast.

“Forgoing the honourable path for depraved banditry...” You stare back in contempt, devoid of any sympathy for your opponent. Thinking of all his crimes against the common folk, against the people of Kiga village, and what he was planning to do to Rika, you feel a coldness you’ve never thought possible. A profoundly deep intent surges from the deepest recesses of your mind, seeping into your blade, giving it an almost sinister aura. “Pathetic.”

For a moment, the man appears genuinely perturbed before charging at you. “HIROSHI DOG!!!” He cries, while doing so.

Blade held low, you charge to meet him, arcing upwards when he’s just entered your attack range. He falls knee first then collapses flat on the ground, a fountain of crimson spewing from a line joining his right hip and left shoulder.

It's over.

You feel a stinging on your left cheek which your fingers lightly caress, only to be smudged a deep red. The man managed to cut you, albeit trivially, in his final deranged rush. It’s gonna leave a mark. Your clothes are also covered with large splotches of blood.

Sword drawn, you walk over towards the motionless body of the man. Believe it or not, he’s still breathing.


>End him. Scum like him doesn’t deserve to live.

>Spare him. His life is not yours to take.

>other
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>>4928118
>Spare him. His life is not yours to take.
>"Perhaps you should reflect upon the lives you and your men have ruined, and think about how similar you've become to the samurai you claim to hate."
>>
>>4928118
>End him. Scum like him doesn’t deserve to live.
>>
>>4928118
>hand him over to the law.
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>>4928118
>Spare him. His life is not yours to take
Maybe later, we will become Hitokiri Nobuyasu...
>>
>>4928118
>End him. Scum like him doesn’t deserve to live.
>>
>>4928118
>Reflect on the deep killing intent we just felt, savor it's touch while it is fresh so we can meditate on it later.
>Spare him, Summon the guards.
>"The difference, you disonourable bastard, is bushido. And that is all the difference in the world."

Our first and deepest intent to kill so far. A potent tool, if we can control it. But this is not our domain, so we should defer to the true authorities.
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>>4928118
>End him. Scum like him doesn’t deserve to live.
>>
>>4928695
>>4928248
>>4928575
May I ask for your further reasoning for giving in to the killing instinct?
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>>4928720
He not only tried to kill for the sake of revenge once already but also threatened (to rape or at least harm) an unarmed civilian and friend of ours >>4928114
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>>4928891
Yeah, even if we don't, not sure if Yuyo won't do anything of his own
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>>4928891
He is also disarmed, disabled and lying in the streets of the taria prefecture. We didn't slay him in the heat of combat so it would be murder now, or at the very least disrespectful to the peace keepers of the province.
>>
He's a bandit, he will be hanged anyway. No need to dirty our hands with this scum.
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>>4928249
I'm this ID from mobile, just participating in discussion, don't want to samefag.
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>>4928125
>>4928248
>>4928249
>>4928266
>>4928575
>>4928605
>>4928695

Looks like we'll spare the guy. Writing, though I may not be able to get the post up by tonight cause I'm quite tired.
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>>4929264

You stand in the middle of the deserted street, looming over the listless body of your foe. Both you and your blade are covered with blood and it takes a moment for you to quell your lingering bloodlust. From what you were told last time, the Peacekeepers were planning an operation to exterminate the Takekage bandits, but it looks like their leader managed to escape amidst the chaos, leaving you with quite the dilemma at the current moment. However, you're aware that in the eyes of the law, his fate is under the jurisdiction of the peacekeepers. Exceeding the bounds of self defence would make you no different from the bandit leader's murderous ways. It is not your place to decide his fate.

"Perhaps you should reflect upon the lives that you and your men have ruined… How similar you've become to the supposed samurai you hate." You say as you flick the blood off your blade. You're not even sure if he's able to hear you. Not that it matters. "The difference between you and us samurai is Bushido, you dishonourable bastard. And that is all the difference in this world."

Just as you're about to sheath your katana, you hear footsteps from a large group approaching from the direction where Yuyo and Rika ran off to. Curses! Had they been overwhelmed by the bandit’s accomplices? Unease and guilt grips your heart as you prepare for the worst. None of this would have happened if you hadn’t come to Nimmyo. You can’t bear to leave until you figure out if they’re safe.
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>>4930834

“You there! Put down your weapon and remain where you stand!” A voice - one that you recognise - shouts. But it’s not from Yuyo or Rika. In fact, it’s from someone you didn’t expect to meet. “You’re under arrest. Submit or- ...Lord Hiroshi?”

“Sir Iwasaki.” You return the greeting in a dignified tone and put away your blade.

“Excuse my rudeness milord.” He bows deeply. “Never would I have thought that the person being attacked would be you. Your two companions rushed up to us the moment they saw us.” Sure enough, together with the squad of Peacekeepers are Yuyo and Rika.

“Please rise, Iwasaki. It’s no big issue. I’m just relieved that they’re unharmed. Thank you for keeping them safe.” You reply. “What brings you to Nimmyo? It’s quite the way from Kiga village.”

“Thank you, milord. Me and my squad are tracking down the boss of the Takekage bandits. We recently caught wind that he may have fled to Nimmyo, so we made the trip here.”

One of the Peacekeepers, who moved to check the body before you, speaks up. “Captain, it’s him alright.”

“Good work.” Minato nods, staring at the large puddle of red on the ground. “Did you… do this, Lord Hiroshi?”

“It was in self-defence.” You state. “Thanks to his absurd vitality though, he’s still breathing. But barely.”

“I have no sympathy for a brigand who terrorised my village, but thank you for leaving him alive. We’ll extract all the info we can out of him.”

“That would be for the best.” From everything that’s happened, he seems to have been coming after you for some time. “If possible, could you ascertain his reasons for pursuing me?” You ask with that in consideration.

“Of course, milord, we’ll do the best we can. But my apologies, in the meantime, we require you to come with us for questioning, you and your companions.”

“Certainly.”

Now handcuffed, the Peacekeepers close up the bandit leader’s wounds with what they have and drag his body away. Yuyo stares intently at his cut up form, morbidly focused on the large slash on the front.

You walk up to him. “You okay?”

“Huh?” He’s shaken out of his trance. “Yeah… I’m fine, what about you?”

“I’m not too beat up.” You say, wavering slightly. “I’m so sorry… If only I wasn’t here… Then this wouldn’t have happened. I don’t know how I’d face you or Haruya if Rika got hurt.”

“Nobuyasu… We’re safe because of you. If anything, I should apologize for being such a burden.” Rika steps forward. “So, don’t blame yourself, alright?”

Her words provide you some much needed solace.
>>
>>4930836

The visit to the Peacekeeper base in Nimmyo is brief. They question the three of you in the same room and you’re free to go after an hour or so. Minato is delighted when you tell him about your encounter with his father in Aohana village while you say your goodbyes. Within the next hour, you are back at the inn, all three of you exhausted from the night’s events.

Haruya runs up to embrace all three of you when Rika slides the door open. “You’re finally back! We were just about to go look for you guys!” Sitting by one of the tables is Tadatoshi, who wordlessly heads back up to the room after confirming your return, breathing a sigh of relief.


>Go and contemplate on what happened tonight. You need some time alone to work through everything.

>Head upstairs and talk to Tadatoshi. You feel bad for making him worry.

>Talk to Yuyo. He seemed a little out of it just now.

>Talk to Rika and Haruya. You want to make sure Rika is really alright, not to mention explaining to Haruya what transpired on this night.

>other
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>>4930837
>Talk to Rika and Haruya. You want to make sure Rika is really alright, not to mention explaining to Haruya what transpired on this night.
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>>4930837
>Talk to Yuyo. He seemed a little out of it just now.
surprisingly useless in a real fight
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>>4930837
>Talk to Rika and Haruya. You want to make sure Rika is really alright, not to mention explaining to Haruya what transpired on this night.
After that...
>Head upstairs and talk to Tadatoshi. You feel bad for making him worry.
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>>4930837
>Talk to Rika and Haruya. You want to make sure Rika is really alright, not to mention explaining to Haruya what transpired on this night.
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>>4930837
>Talk to Yuyo
He seems to need some comfort, to understand the difference in our arts.

>Talk to Rika
These two, self explanitory

>Talk to Tadatoshi
We haven't said much to him recently, so some apologies are in order

>Contemplate tonight befoe sleeping
Strike while the iron is hot.
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>>4930844
>>4930914
>>4931007
>>4931234
>>4931356

Post will be up by tomorrow.
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>>4932044

First things first. You have the responsibility of making sure Rika is really alright and to tell Haruya exactly what happened tonight. Looking at your dishevelled state, Haruya’s expression turns again from relief to concern.

“Nobuyasu… How did you end up like that? Are you hurt?” He asks.

You let out a long sigh. Though you don’t feel too beat up right now, you’re sure that you’ll be aching and hurting from all sorts of places on your body by the morning. “I should be fine. It’s a long story…” You reply as you begin narrating the events of tonight, leaving out the more gory details.

“I-I-I don’t know how I’ll ever thank you for keeping Rika safe.” Haruya says, which makes you feel even more guilty. “She’s the only family I have left…”

“It is my duty to protect the people, but… It is I who must apologise tonight. If it wasn’t-”

“Nobuyasu!” Rika calls loudly, fists clenched by her side. “I already told you… Please don’t blame yourself. What matters is that we’re all safe.”

Taken off guard by her strong response, you stay silent for a moment, not expecting her to react like that.

“A lord shouldn’t look so dejected.” She continues. “You slew that bandit and saved countless more people who would’ve fallen victim to him. So… Hold your head high!”

You’re ashamed. Not because of believing that you were the cause of this whole debacle. But because this sixteen year old girl in front of you is displaying more grit than you. Rika is much stronger than you give her credit for. Realising this, you feel stupid for worrying about her in the aftermath. If she was trained a warrior and fought the bandit leader, it would probably be the latter that you fear for.

“You’re right.” You say while raising your head, as assured as you try to be.

“Good.” She says, breaking out into a yawn. “I’m really tired. I’ll see you around in the morning!”

Both Rika and Haruya head to their rooms, checking up on Yuyo at his usual seat along the way. Speaking of the guy, he still looks out of sorts.

You take a seat beside him. “What’s on your mind, friend?”

“A few things.” Yuyo answers. His voice lacks his usual child-like affect.

“Mind telling me?”

“It’s nothing important.” Yuyo stares into blank space, both his hands clutching his sheathed blade close to himself. “You should go rest, Nobuyasu. I’ll see you tomorrow at the halls, yeah?” Something is bothering him, but if he doesn’t want to tell, it wouldn’t be nice to keep prying.

You place your hand on his shoulder. “Sure. You get some rest too.”
>>
>>4933576

The exhaustion fully creeps up on you when you walk up the single flight of stairs. Every step forward your eyes feel heavier. Every inch moved your muscles ache more. It takes considerable effort to open the door to find Tadatoshi laying in his futon with his hands behind his head. You lean against the wall, not wanting to lie in your own futon to prevent dirtying it.

“Sorry for making you worry like that.” You say, not knowing if he’s awake.

“Save that for Iga. He’ll go mad when he finds out.” Tadatoshi utters with his eyes closed.

“Heh, you’re right.” You look out the window to stare at the silver waning crescent up high. “Any progress?”

“Some. I met someone. He told me interesting things.” Tadatoshi places his hands under his blanket. “I’ll tell you later.”

Yet again, you let out another long sigh, slipping down to lie on the floor. That battle… One small slipup and that nodachi would’ve cut you in twain. Even an untrained gorilla such as he could have pulled it off given the opportunity. And that moment before the final strike… Never in your life or in your battles have you ever felt such a sensation. That urge to so readily want to take a life. Is this the killing intent Tomu was talking about?

Is this all the path of the blade is?

The next day, you wake up groggy and drowsy, squinting looks around the room. Tadatoshi got up before you and is nowhere to be found, which might be surprising if you didn’t get out of bed later than usual. You rub your eyes only for them to land on the figure of Iga once they open, scaring you a little.

“Nobuyasu.” He kneels. “Please excuse my ineptitude. If only I had tacked down the bandit sooner…”

“None of us expected him to act that night.” You motion for him to rise. “A scoundrel that exploits the vulnerable to further his interests - It would not have been right to target those used by him.”

“I will not fail again.” Iga stands.

“Perhaps you should rest for a few days, seeing as the current matter has been resolved. You’ve done a good job, a hundred failures are far from enough to condemn you, let alone one.”

“If that’s okay with you, Nobuyasu.”

“Of course.”
>>
>>4933580

Shortly after, you part ways with Iga and head to the Higanbana training hall. You go about your routine as usual but notice something strange. Your duels with Yuyo feel off. They feel less intense and slower, but only marginally. Maybe it’s just him having an off-day. The events of last night are still fresh in everyone’s mind after all. However, after a few more days, it’s becoming more and more apparent that Yuyo isn’t fighting like he normally does.

You can see it, the movement of his blade. Rather than a silver blur, the movement of the katana is clear and sluggish, allowing you to parry nicely into a counter. Your own katana traces an arc that connects with Yuyo’s shoulder, landing a shallow cut.

“Yuyo! What are you doing?!?!” Ezo shouts.

The both of you stop the duel. There’s an unreadable expression on Yuyo’s face, tinged with an iota of melancholy and unrest.


>Let Ezo and the Troupe handle it first then talk to Yuyo. They’ve known him the longest and probably understand him way more than you do.

>Take Yuyo to the back room. The last thing he needs is to get a scolding. ”Calm down Ezo, I’ll take care of this.”

>other.
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>>4933584
>Let Ezo and the Troupe handle it first then talk to Yuyo. They’ve known him the longest and probably understand him way more than you do.
>>
>>4933584
>Take him in the back roo

They have known him the longest, sure. But we know damn well the inciting incident of this because we were there and saw his reactions.

So this is the time for us to sort it out.
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>>4933584
>Take Yuyo to the back room. The last thing he needs is to get a scolding. ”Calm down Ezo, I’ll take care of this.”
>>
>>4933584
>Take Yuyo to the back room. The last thing he needs is to get a scolding. ”Calm down Ezo, I’ll take care of this.”
>>
>>4933584
>Take Yuyo to the back room. The last thing he needs is to get a scolding. ”Calm down Ezo, I’ll take care of this.”
>>
>>4933591
>>4933768
>>4933821
>>4933848
>>4934014

Writing.
>>
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>>4935054

“What happened a few days ago was probably really rough, but there's only two weeks left till the show!” Ezo continues. “You need to get your act together, Yuyo.”

Yuyo looks down on the floor, gritting his teeth in frustration. His sword hand tightens around the hilt of his katana while his other hand is clenched tight, causing his knuckles to go completely white. The tension reaches its zenith when Yuyo drops his blade on the floor and forcefully turns to look at Ezo, but he speaks no words. You place a hand on his shoulder, as if to snap him out of his overwhelmed state.

“Calm down.” You whisper. “It’ll be fine.”

He looks away, kneeling down to pick up his blade and sheathing it before giving you a light nod. Now, you face Ezo with a stern look.

“I’ll handle this.”

“Huh? Just who do you think you are?” He chides. “You-”

Tomu, from the other side of the dojo walks up to Ezo and gives a disapproving stare, filled with such wicked killing intent that it even sends a chill down your spine. That seems to have silenced Ezo for the time being.

“If I have overstepped my boundaries, then I ask that you forgive me, Odabuki.” You bow. “But just for this time, please trust me.”

“Fine. Let’s see what you can do.” Ezo, after a moment of reluctance, acquiesces with a grunt, earning another gaze from Tomu.

“If you’ll excuse us.” You say as you escort Yuyo to the back room.
>>
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>>4935188

You lift the medicine box off the shelf, retrieving a bandage and some ointment. After looking at Tomu fixing your own injuries countless times, you’ve managed to learn a thing or two about healing.

“Let’s get that wound patched up first.”

As expected from the head of the Higanbana Troupe, Yuyo doesn’t flinch even slightly at the pain when you treat his wound, just staring down in an odd sorrow unsuited for someone like him. Your friend may be here in form, but his childish spirit is nowhere to be seen.

“Y’know... I never realised how fragile the human body is.” Yuyo brushes the bandage on his shoulder. “I’ve never seen anyone so close to dying before… To know he was brought to the brink of death by the blade… It scares me...”

Fear. What swordsman doesn’t know it? What swordsman fights without it? Even the most seasoned of warriors hesitate. Even the most hardened of veterans waver. It’s something you’re all too familiar with. Every time Yuyo goes for his signature ending strike, you feel it seep into the marrow of your bones, overpowering your very will to hold your body up. Though you know, at this moment, the fear he’s speaking of goes beyond that of death - something more harrowing.

“I never thought much of the injuries I inflicted. Never did it really cross my mind that someone could die by my sword…” His voice begins to quiver. “But… Seeing that bandit cut up like that… What if I did that to you? Or to the other troupe members?” Overwhelmed with emotion, a fine layer of gloss covers his eyes as tears start to roll down Yuyo’s cheeks.

It’s difficult to see Yuyo in this state and despite wanting to, you’re not sure what to say to help him. You can only present the facts as they are.

“Yuyo, let me ask, have you ever landed a fatal strike on me?”

He looks somewhat perplexed by your question. “No…”

“What about the other troupe members?”

“No…”

“And why might that be?”

Yuyo remains silent for a moment before responding. “I don’t know…”

“Well, it’s because you never intended to.” You answer. “You have a kind heart, and few equals when it comes to your skill with the blade. If you do not will it, will your blade truly act against your friends? Have faith in the skills you have honed.”

“But what if I make a mistake?”

“Trust yourself.” You smile, hoping to at least cheer him up a bit. “In my experience, mistakes happen the most when the mind is clouded and intent unclear.”

Yuyo sniffles, wiping the tears away with his sleeves. “I’m not sure…”

“Maybe some time off to ponder about this would be good.”

“I’ll think about it… Thanks, Nobuyasu.” He replies, a small grin finally appearing on his face.

“Not a problem. I’ll explain to the rest.”
>>
>>4935194

Not everyone is pleased with this new arrangement, but all of them understand that Yuyo needs time to sort himself out. Tomu escorts him out of the training halls and promptly returns.

“Now what are we gonna do with you?” Ezo asks. “Your sparring partner is gone.”

“That’s not an issue.” Kohei says while swinging the chain on his kusarigama. “He can train with one of us.”

Tomu grunts in acknowledgement. “Kohei’s right. What say you, Nobuyasu? Want to train with one of us? Or we can have another swordsman in the troupe train with you.”


>Train with Odabuki Ezo, the polearm specialist.

>Train with Takana Kohei, the kusarigama and short-bladed weapons specialist.

>Train with Eizawa Tomu, the unarmed martial artist, and tonfa specialist.

>Train with another swordsman in the troupe.

>other
>>
>>4935195
>Train with Takana Kohei, the kusarigama and short-bladed weapons specialist.
>>
>>4935195
>Train with Takana Kohei, the kusarigama and short-bladed weapons specialist.
See if we can work on our hearing some more. It'd be really sweet if we could dodge that weighted chain...
>>
>>4935195
>Takana
Short blade is something we need to be aware of.
>>
>>4935195
>Train with Takana Kohei, the kusarigama and short-bladed weapons specialist.
>>
>>4935195
>Train with Odabuki Ezo, the polearm specialist.
>>
>>4935195
>Train with Eizawa Tomu, the unarmed martial artist, and tonfa specialist.

I want to get to know the madman who fights with his fists against blades!
>>
Post will be up tomorrow, votes will run until then.
>>
>>4936322

Writing.
>>
>>4937737

After some thought, you decide it would be best to train with Kohei. To be a well-rounded warrior, one cannot only face other swordsmen. To be able to fight against all weapons is the mark of an excellent warrior and the unorthodox nature of Kohei’s kusarigama will provide you an opportunity to move out of your comfort zone.

“I’ll take you up on your offer, Takana.” You reply.

“Fantastic.” The spinning of his chain quickens. “Let’s stop dilly-dallying then! We only have two weeks left!”

“Indeed.”

The rest of the troupe gets back to what they were doing while you and Kohei get ready to brawl. His whirling iron weight swooshes as it cuts through the air, kicking up small clouds of dust in its wake. Getting hit by that is going to be nasty, and it doesn’t help that the kusarigama can act at virtually any distance in a melee. Despite being short, the sickle is not to be underestimated either. You’ll have to keep highly mobile throughout the battle while searching for openings.

The battle begins with the hunk of metal flying straight towards you at ludicrous speeds. Dodging to the left, you narrowly avoid the attack as you flank Kohei, hoping to strike before he recovers his chain. However, the moment you unleash your swing, he smirks, causing you to regret your decision. As if anticipating your move from the start, he steps backwards, forcefully throwing his chain and skillfully directing it around you. In an instant, it makes contact with your arm which serves as a point for the remaining length of steel to pivot about, eventually binding you in place.

No matter how you struggle, you can’t free your arms.

No matter how you resist, the chain refuses to budge.

You’ve been completely incapacitated.

“Rookie mistake.” Kohei sighs. “You can’t leave the chain unchecked. Either grab it or lock it down with your blade.”

“Understood.” You say while continuing your vain attempts to break free. Suddenly, you feel a strong tug from your confines, sending you spinning towards the ground in an almost comical manner. You foresee this happening many times in the very near future.
>>
>>4937820

The next few days pass as a blur to you, once again getting into the strict routine of constant training. You’ve lost count of how many times you’ve been rendered immobile by that cursed weapon, but at the end of every fight, you see at least an ounce of improvement. With the day of the show drawing nearer and nearer everyday, you can’t help but feel a little worried. You sure as hell don’t want to mess things up for Yuyo, but at the rate things are going, you’re not very confident you can pull off what the troupe wants you to. Wait a minute, what exactly does the troupe need you to do? You know you’re going to be given the main role, but you have not a single clue what that entails. Confused, you turn to Kohei for an answer during a break.

“Say, Takana. What exactly are we going to be doing on the day of the show?”

“Huh? I don’t know.” He scratches the back of his head with an expression that tells you he’s thinking of what to say. “We just get out and fight. Give’em a good show. Tell the story like that.”

“So it’ll be entirely improvised?” You say unsure.

“Eh, not entirely. The fights will be sequenced according to what Yuyo has in mind. But you should roughly know how it goes, seeing as you were actually in the battles we’re recreating.”

“I think I get it. Thank you.”

“Don’t sweat it. The Higanbana Troupe likes to keep it simple.” He continues. “Unlike other Buki-Ensou groups, we don’t have lines, and we don’t act. Everything is expressed through battle.”

Soon, it’s only a week until it’s time for the show. Yuyo hasn’t returned and you haven’t seen him - or any of your other friends - around for a while but Rika tells you he’s been dropping by occasionally at the inn when you weren’t around. Worried as you are, you can’t do much for him at this point, so you’ll just have to wait. Frustratingly, you seem to have hit a plateau. No matter how much more you train, you don’t seem to get any better - a bitter feeling you know all too well. Your improvement over the weeks, albeit diminishing, has been good, leaving Kohei and the others at a loss over your impasse.


>Continue your training routine. There’s no point in stopping so close to the show.

>Take a break for a few days. Constantly pushing against a wall will only leave you exhausted.

>other
>>
>>4937821
>Continue your training routine.
>>
>>4937821
>Take a break for a few days. Constantly pushing against a wall will only leave you exhausted.
>>
>>4937821
>Continue your training routine. There’s no point in stopping so close to the show.
When you hit a plateau, it means you're close to a breakthrough.
>>
>>4937821
>other
switch to another sparring partner for a change
>>
>>4937821
>Continue your training routine. There’s no point in stopping so close to the show.
Remember how we finally dodged Shinran's staff when we were learning the art of blind fighting at Mekura-Ji Temple when we decided to stay for another two weeks? I'm pretty sure we're close to another breakthrough.
>>
>>4937821
>Continue training, but ask for someone to observe your style properly,

>>4938124
We got that because the master pointed out we were ignoring our instincts.
So we need someone to point out the problem
>>
>>4937821
>Continue training, but ask for someone to observe your style properly,
>>
>>4937832
>>4937835
>>4937839
>>4938004
>>4938124
>>4938131
>>4938836

We'll continue training with someone helping to observe our style. Will begin writing later, in the meantime, I need three people to each roll a 3d15!
>>
Rolled 8, 9, 2 = 19 (3d15)

>>4938940
Bonsai
>>
Rolled 8, 11, 7 = 26 (3d15)

>>4938940
>>
Rolled 7, 12, 8 = 27 (3d15)

>>4938940
>>
>>4938946
>>4938956
>>4938957

>27

Not bad, it'll do. Writing! This just passes the DC.
>>
>>4939085
How about announcing DC before rolls QM? Makes rolling more interesting for us.
>>
>>4939299

I'll do that in the future if you guys want. This time we were rolling for how much we were going to improve. The DC was 26, with a critical success for anything above 32 and critical failure for anything below 16. Higher rolls are always better and I like to reflect that in the writing even if we don't meet a critical success or such. Same applies to low rolls.

Also, something came up and had to stop writing the post mid-way but everything seems fine now, so I'll get it up in a moment.
>>
>>4939622

Five days until the show. Yuyo hasn’t returned, leaving many of the troupe members worried, but the only thing any of you can do is wait and hope for the best.

You’re panting, dripping with sweat and a bit of blood. A trickle of crimson flows from your arm, staining your sleeves and dotting the floor a sparse red. Just how many rounds have you fought today? The lack of progress has done little to dull your drive to improve, though. To push through this wall - That is what you’re determined to do. And thankfully, you’re not on your own. Unlike your days back at the Hiroshi castle, you can draw upon the guidance of Kohei, Tomu, and Ezo, who are resolute in helping you through this. You feel that insight is within your grasp.

“Nobuyasu, That strike was too rushed!” Tomu instructs.

Drats! He’s right. In your attempt to seize the initiative, you’ve messed up your footwork. Kohei is in a prime position to disturb your balance. Parrying a strike from his sickle, you fumble a recovery and resume the attack, barely able to push him back. At the shortest range, it might seem that you have the advantage, but against a lighter weapon like the kusarigama, you’re at a natural disadvantage in terms of mobility.

Alas, you’ve lost too much ground. The clear winner of the duel, for the n-th time, is Kohei.

“I don’t really get it.” Kohei says while holding his chin. “I don’t think there was anything wrong with your strategy, but something definitely felt lacking.” He coils the chain of his weapon with expert dexterity. “It just doesn’t flow well, if you get what I mean.”

“Meathead is right.” Ezo adds. “It’s in the execution. Most of it is there, but the sequence is awkward.”

Kohei glares at Ezo on his right. “Who the hell ya calling meathead?”

“Kohei, shut up.” Tomu says in a half-serious tone. “I agree with Ezo. I think you need to place more emphasis on timing, Nobuyasu. Seeing the lines of attack means nothing if one strikes at the wrong time.”

Timing… You realise that’s something you haven’t paid much attention to. From Master Yasashiku, you learnt how to better discover attack patterns. To the more talented warriors of the Nakatomi dojo, this sense of timing might be intuitive. But by the nature of their fighting style, it’s not very important in the first place. For the Nakatomi, ferocity trumps all. However, the warriors in Taira take a much different approach. Rhythm, tempo - these are core elements of many of the styles originated here. To be able to fully exploit poor timing is built into their essence. This might not be the full reason behind your plateau but is certainly a factor and something you should place more emphasis on.

“I think I understand.” You nod, eager to carry out their advice.
>>
>>4939824

Very soon, it’s the evening before the show. Applying your newly gained wisdom over the remaining five days has net you some gains, but nothing major. Even so, you’re beginning to perceive a whole new dimension of swordsmanship.

By now, almost all of Nimmyo has caught wind of the Higanabana Troupe’s upcoming performance. On your journeys back to the inn, it’s all you hear the common folk talk about. The “Young Master’s Debut,” they call it. Usually, the troupe would be riled up, but with the absence of their leader, a somber air permeates the training halls.

“Is he coming back?” One member asks.

“He will. He’s Old Man Sugawara’s son, after all…” Another answers.

The uncomfortable atmosphere is shattered when the large red entrance opens, revealing a figure a head shorter than yourself.

“Boss!”

“Young Master!”

“Master Yuyo!”

The mood instantly rises with Yuyo’s appearance, but he feels different somehow.

“Everyone… I have to apologise for my absence in the past week.” Yuyo says with a rather flat tone. “We’ll do things as usual, yeah? I’ll explain the final arrangements…”

The troupe members crowd around him, some showing expressions of relief, others (the more astute) slightly unnerved. He gives the general gist of the entire performance, starting with your escape from the cell with “Iga” who’s going to be played by Kohei. It moves on to the short scuffle with the guards while retrieving your weapons, then Iga’s battle with the bandit boss, played by Ezo. Finally, it ends after your battle with the two bandit underlings, one of which will be played by Yuyo. This time, Tomu will be directing things at the back, keeping a keen eye for when to send performers out, and taking care of any injuries on the fly.
>>
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>>4939830

“...Any questions?” Yuyo asks.

One of the random troupe members raises his hand. “Yeah, boss! Why isn’t Kohei playing the bandit boss?” His inquiry rouses the laughter of most of everyone present.

Kohei reacts in much the same way, to your surprise. “I thought I was getting a bandit role as well!”

“Oh, it’s quite simple.” Yuyo giggles, a bit of his childlike nature returning. “The ninja uses short-bladed weapons, so who else better than you to take the role?”

“You got a point there.” Kohei replies, a look of obvious pride plastered on his face.

At the end of the day, a good amount of time into the evening, the members return to their lodgings or their homes to rest well. All of them, including you, are to report early to the Chikamatsu Theatre. Eventually, you and Yuyo walk back to the inn as well.

“How have you been holding up?” You ask.

“I don’t know… I’ve thought a lot. I know full well what my capabilities are, but my heart refuses to accept it. Still, I can’t abandon the troupe. It’s the legacy of my clan, and my duty to perform.”

“Well said, Yuyo.” Again, you don’t really know what to say to help, nor can you claim to fully understand him. But as a warrior, you at least have some semblance of what he’s going through. “We’ll give them a show to remember.”

Yuyo smiles wistfully. “Yeah.”
>>
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>>4939830

“...Any questions?” Yuyo asks.

One of the random troupe members raises his hand. “Yeah, boss! Why isn’t Kohei playing the bandit boss?” His inquiry rouses the laughter of most of everyone present.

Kohei reacts in much the same way, to your surprise. “I thought I was getting a bandit role as well!”

“Oh, it’s quite simple.” Yuyo giggles, a bit of his childlike nature returning. “The ninja uses short-bladed weapons, so who else better than you to take the role?”

“You got a point there.” Kohei replies, a look of obvious pride plastered on his face.

At the end of the day, a good amount of time into the evening, the members return to their lodgings or their homes to rest well. All of them, including you, are to report early to the Chikamatsu Theatre. Eventually, you and Yuyo walk back to the inn as well.

“How have you been holding up?” You ask.

“I don’t know… I’ve thought a lot. I know full well what my capabilities are, but my heart refuses to accept it. Still, I can’t abandon the troupe. It’s the legacy of my clan, and my duty to perform.”

“Well said, Yuyo.” Again, you don’t really know what to say to help, nor can you claim to fully understand him. But as a warrior, you at least have some semblance of what he’s going through. “We’ll give them a show to remember.”

Yuyo smiles wistfully. “Yeah.”

Your days at the Higanbana Training Halls are about to end. A thought that’s fused with the pride of having trained your fullest with them and also the longing sorrows of farewell...
>>
>>4939835

The morrow couldn’t arrive any sooner. Once more, it’s strange to see Tadatoshi up earlier than you. It seems he left some time ago. You dress yourself well, eat a hearty breakfast, and carry your blade with conviction.

“Good luck! Haruya and I will snag a seat as soon as doors open!” Rika says to you and Yuyo as you two leave the inn.

Even hours before the show, the space outside the theatre shows much activity, bustling with the vitality of Nimmyo, but it’s still relatively easy to weave through the crowds and reach the entrance. Tomu stands beside it, leaning on a nearby pillar, as if awaiting your arrival. Without any delay, he motions to follow him. Inside, the commotion is even more pronounced as workers move hurriedly to finish preparations. On the right side of the stage are two wooden cages.

You gaze at the palatial architecture, brimming with grandiose artistry. Intricate carvings of sakura trees line the pillars. Complex braids of wood decorate the ceiling. You’re sure of it. It was a true master - a savant! - that must have designed it.

“First time here?” Tomu asks, noticing your amazement.

“Yeah… I’m trying to wrap my head around the amount of genius required to construct something like this.”

“Beats me, I know next to nothing about building.”

He leads you and Yuyo backstage where most of the members are. A few of them are getting in some last minute practice, while the rest make some small talk. Kohei and Ezo seem to be having some amusing discussion.


>Check in on Yuyo and make sure he’s in the right frame of mind to perform later.

>Join in on Kohei and Ezo on their talk.

>Sit alone. You want some time by yourself to clear your mind and mentally prepare for later.

>other
>>
>>4939837
>Check on Yuyo
>Spend the remaining time cleaqring our mind.
>>
>>4939837

Supporting >>4939876
>>
>>4939837
Also supporting >>4939837
>>
>>4939837
>Join in on Kohei and Ezo on their talk.
>>
>>4939876
Yeah let's do that.
>>
>>4939876
>>4940003
>>4940226
>>4940238
>>4940957

>Check on Yuyo
>Spend the remaining time clearing our mind.

Writing!
>>
>>4941460

It’ll be a few hours until the show starts. Tomu runs off to handle some things, leaving the two of you to your own devices. You turn to look at Yuyo, his expression calm and unreadable as he observes the troop members.

“Ready for later?” You ask.

“I guess so. There’s still a lot of time till we go on stage.” He answers, left hand lightly holding the scabbard of his two swords with an inkling of hesitation. “What about you, Nobuyasu?”

“More nervous than I probably think I am. It’s my first time doing something like this after all. But if it’s just fighting in front of a crowd, then it’ll be fine. I’ve lost count of how many tournaments I’ve fought in already. Most of them ended in failure, though.”

“Tournaments…” Yuyo says curiously. “What are they like?”

“I’ve mostly competed in small local tournaments.” You sigh. “The crowd is small and the combatants usually local Peacekeepers and independent warriors from around the area. Even then, it’s rough, many of them are competent fighters in their own right. But for the major tournaments… They’re something else. The Daimyo’s children, the sons of the vassal lords, the great schools - all of them are there to make a name for themselves.”

“That sounds a little intimidating.”

Hearing that makes you laugh which draws an annoyed look from Yuyo.

“What’s so funny?” He pouts.

“Nothing, nothing.” You compose yourself. “It’s just that if you were to compete, I’m sure there’d be few tournaments you wouldn’t clinch.”

“I’m not sure about that… There’re stark differences between Buki-Ensou and actual combat.”

“Perhaps.” You shrug. “But physically and philosophically, the Higanbana Troupe’s training regiment is not inferior to that of any school. Have confidence in your own ability.”

“I’ll do my best.” Yuyo scratches the back of his head, his expression now one of minor embarrassment. “I need to run through some stuff with the guys, so I’ll see you on the stage later, yeah?”

“Looking forward.”

Hopefully you managed to relieve some of Yuyo’s worries. In your heart, you want to battle him at his fullest - to see how far you’ve come this long month.
>>
>>4941752

You find a place to sit alone, basking in the dim light of the candle-lit room, wondering about who might turn up later. Masakado mentioned that he might come, maybe with his family. Tadatoshi will probably show up with Rika and Haruya as well, same with Iga, though he’ll probably be watching from some unconventional location. What kind of performance you’ll give later, you can’t say. And honestly, that uncertainty scares you.

You don’t want to ruin things for the troupe to which your gratitude knows no bounds.

You don’t want to embarrass yourself, your clan, your lord, in front of the whole city.

It only takes a moment for you to notice your sword hand beginning to shiver. You grab it with your other arm. It’s not like you to let your doubts run wild like this. You take a series of deep breaths and close your eyes. It’s been a while since you’ve done this, but the sensation feels like yesterday. From where you’re seated, the commotion of workers and actors is but a muffled stream of noise. Focusing on the sounds around, you slowly relax yourself, gradually entering a meditative trance.

A few hours pass, and in your state of tranquility, you notice a large gathering of footsteps approaching, like a slow stampede. Doors must have opened. It’s about time to get on stage. You open your eyes to find Tomu up in your face staring at you, causing you to jump back in surprise. You didn’t hear him at all.

“How long were you there for?!?”

“Uhh, a minute maybe. I’ve been keeping an eye on you for much longer though.” Tomu replies. “I’m quite impressed. Were you a monk in your previous life or something?”

“Not that I know of.”

“Anyway, hand over your blades.”

His request baffles you briefly, until you remember that you’ll need to “reclaim” your blades for the “bandits” later. With some unwillingness, you hand over your katana-wakizashi pair. The absence of the two weapons from your waist makes you feel naked and uncomfortable.

“There you go.”

“Thanks. We’re on in ten minutes.”

“Understood.”
>>
>>4941756

You walk out on stage earlier than instructed. The large curtains are drawn, obfuscating you from the excited crowd just beyond the thick layer of silk. On the end of the stage, opposite the wooden cages, are your two blades, displayed prominently on a pedestal, the Toumi mon clear for all the audience members in the front to view. While looking for Tomu, a commanding voice grabs your attention.

“A very good evening to the people of Nimmyo, and the various lords and ladies who have travelled here this evening! The Chikamatsu Theatre is extremely honoured to host the very first showing of the Higanbana Troupe’s newest work, written by the eighth generation head, Sugawara Yuyo, detailing the exploits of a hero I believe all of us have heard of by now… The Blue Liberator.” There is a rich charismatic quality to his words. You hear a furious round of applause as you cringe at the statement. “Even at such a young age, his first composition rivals that of his contemporaries. Truly a stellar addition to the centuries old art of Buki-Ensou! And just for today, the troupe will be performing with an esteemed guest whose identity will not be said until the end of the show. For those who know, we implore you to keep it a secret until the end. The performance will begin shortly. Thank you for your patience.”

Another round of applause follows. There must be at least a few thousand people present at this very moment.

“Nobuyasu, come here for a moment.” Kohei says, walking up to you from behind. He’s completely covered in black, revealing only his eyes. “Here’s what we’ll be doing later…” He proceeds to briefly explain the general flow of the first and second act, then directing you to enter the wooden cages. Finally, the curtains slowly unravel, revealing a large crowd of spectators. The common folk occupy the ground floor while the lords and nobles, you presume, occupy the various seats on the upper floors.
>>
>>4941758

A guard, played by one of the troupe members, stands between the cages, looking around in a slightly exaggerated manner before being grabbed from behind by Kohei. There’s a crazed look in his eyes as he drives a wakizashi toward the guard’s neck. You stare in disbelief. A fountain of blood erupts, staining the wooden cage, the floor, and Kohei himself. Speechless, you look at Kohei in fear. Did he just kill him? However, your worries are dispelled after you notice a ripped skin coloured bag in Kohei’s hand and the “killed” guard throwing you a discreet and mischievous smile.

It was a blood bag giving the illusion of a slit throat. Absolutely genius!

Afterwards, you and Kohei open the unlocked doors of the cages and move to retrieve your blades. That’s when three other figures run to the middle of the stage. Two of them are simple guards while the third is Ezo, dressed in the garb of a ruffian carrying a long glaive. It’s not long until all hell breaks loose. The clashing of steel breaks out from all directions as the both of you trudge through this outnumbered scuffle. Soon, both sides enter a deadlock, constantly blocking the other’s attacks, and of course, it isn’t staged. They are striking like it’s a real battle and you’re defending for your dear life.

The battle drags on, until Kohei gives you the signal. The both of you fall back and he gestures for you to “run ahead.” Avoiding a last hit directed towards you from Ezo, you nod, rushing to the left end of the stage, out of sight from the audience. It’s time for Kohei to entertain the masses.

Without you there to limit him, he’s is able to carry out more risky maneuvers, dazzling the spectators with flair you’ve only seen a bit of while training with him. In no time, the two guards are brought down. One with a shallow cut to his stomach, and another kicked a good distance away. It’s just Kohei and Ezo now. The ensuing fight is nothing short of breathtaking, nearly indistinguishable from a genuine duel to the death, retaining a graceful rhythmic element all throughout.

Eventually, the battle ends with Kohei landing a decisive blow on Ezo, causing the latter to stumble and provide an opportunity for Kohei to flee. This marks the end of the first act, drawing the curtains once more.

“Good work, Nobuyasu. Prepare for the next act.”

“Got it.”

Like ants on a hot wok, the workers quickly scurry about to remove the two cages. A large one is placed at the center of the stage in their stead, occupied by actors in peasant clothing. Yuyo and another troupe member are next to go out on stage. When all is ready, the curtains are lifted.

You head out next after receiving Tomu’s cue.
>>
>>4941760

I need three people to roll a 3d15 for our first fight with the guard. The post will continue tomorrow.

DC = 27, >34 for Critical Success, <18 for Critical Failure.
>>
Rolled 4, 15, 4 = 23 (3d15)

>>4941763
>>
Rolled 9, 13, 14 = 36 (3d15)

>>4941763
>>
Rolled 15, 5, 9 = 29 (3d15)

>>4941763
>>4941771
I will salvage the honorable name of Jobuyasu!
I'm happy we get to see the DCs, it gives me a good feeling for how far Nobuyasu has come since his journey started.
>>
Rolled 5, 4, 6 = 15 (3d15)

>>4941763
>>
Rolled 5, 3, 13 = 21 (3d15)

>>4941763
HUZZAH
>>
>>4941763
>>4941771 Critical succes it is
>>
Makes me wonder, how much of Nobayasu's ineptitude pre-journey was just due to his instructors not being able to teach him properly?
>>
>>4942304
Nah, I think it was talked about OOC in the threads somewhere that he wasn't ready for it when he started, and because he fucked up so much he drained his teachers patience too quickly to really benefit.

I wonder if our training lowers DC's or if it raises the difficulty of others to overcome us.
>>
>>4941771

Holy fuck. Writing!

>>4942623
>>4942304

>I think it was talked about OOC in the threads somewhere that he wasn't ready for it when he started, and because he fucked up so much he drained his teachers patience too quickly to really benefit.

That's the gist of it, it'll be elaborated on down the line.

>I wonder if our training lowers DC's or if it raises the difficulty of others to overcome us.

Training lowers our DC, though it'll vary depending on who we face / difficulty of the challenge.
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>>4942624

The guard, wielding a simple katana, charges at you. You do the same, meeting him a few steps away from the center of the stage. His form leaves nothing for you to exploit, but no bulwark is without any weaknesses. The next to attack is you, launching a series of probing strikes to put pressure on your opponent. If there is no opportunity to strike, then you’ll just have to make one. Every swing of the blade, you up the tempo, delicately balancing sloppiness and haste. Normally, expending this much energy at the start of a battle comes with great risk, but you have little choice in the manner. You have to end this as swiftly as possible, lest you end up fighting another uphill battle.

As the guard takes a single step back, you feel the tides shift in your favour, but it would be a rookie mistake to go all-in in an attempt to end the battle with your next attack. Instead, you lighten the assault, a decision that perplexes your opponent, as seen on his confused expression. There is a brief moment of hesitation before he begins his counterattack, throwing a calculated slash at your neck. However, that brief moment is all that you need for your ears to pick up on the subtle shifts in his stance, allowing you to predict the trajectory of his blade with fairly solid accuracy.

In the midst of ducking out of the way, you feel an acute force of will surge through your sword arm. Your vision is unnaturally clear, and your entire consciousness is locked onto your enemy before you. Considering the distance between you and him, there’s not enough room to wind up your frequently used techniques of the Toumi school, but you know of one...

From where you stand, you extend your blade as far as it can reach. Using the diagonal momentum of your dodge, you twist your whole body into a spin. The torque throws you towards the guard, allowing your blade to connect once he enters the boundary of your attack range.

Vast Plains!

This is the first time you’ve used it in a fight, albeit in an unorthodox manner. You’d never have thought to use it like this while incessantly drilling the technique. At the last second, you make sure to switch to the back of your blade, leaving your opponent with only a shredded shirt. He pretends to collapse, as if really suffering a lethal wound.
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>>4942737

For your “felled” foe, you don’t pay much mind. You’re about to engage a far greater adversary. Both of you enter an offensive stance, ready to initiate at the slightest provocation. With stoic visages, your gazes lock, like that of two predators ready to claw tooth and nail for survival.

One moment passes.

Then another.

And another.

The tension heightens with each fleeting second, threatening to cross some unsaid breaking point at any time. The audience looks on in suspense, vicariously perceiving the great psychological war taking place between you and Yuyo. You can tell he holds his katana with confidence, yet something about it doesn’t sit well with you. Unlike the many spars you’ve had with Yuyo before the bandit incident, his blade lacks resolve. There is barely any intent.

This is all but confirmed when one of the candles on the stage extinguishes, an impromptu signal to the start of the duel. Both of you exchange blows. Yuyo’s style is very much familiar to you, the nuances of his attacks, his way of transitioning and linking techniques like a waltz. They’re all on display, but underneath this veneer of technical skill, there is no conviction behind each strike.

They are not as fast as they can be.

They are not as forceful as they can be.

This isn’t how you want your final battle with Yuyo to end… As the battle continues, a visceral grief slowly consumes you. It breaks your heart to see another proud warrior reduced to such a state. You can’t bear to see your friend fight like this - an empty battle underpinned only by dolor and pain.

You feel with every fiber of your body that you need to do something about this.


>Throw everything you got at Yuyo. If he can’t believe in his own skills, then make him believe in yours. “If you can’t trust yourself, then at least trust me! Come at me like you’re going to kill me, because I refuse to insult you by doing anything less!”

>Continue the battle as is and match Yuyo’s pace. Make him snap out of it by showing him how he’s fighting. “If you won’t fight me with all you got, neither will I.”

>other
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>>4942739
>Throw everything you got at Yuyo. If he can’t believe in his own skills, then make him believe in yours. “If you can’t trust yourself, then at least trust me! Come at me like you’re going to kill me, because I refuse to insult you by doing anything less!”
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>>4942739
>>Throw everything you got at Yuyo. If he can’t believe in his own skills, then make him believe in yours. “If you can’t trust yourself, then at least trust me! Come at me like you’re going to kill me, because I refuse to insult you by doing anything less!”
>>
>>4942739
>Continue the battle as is and match Yuyo’s pace. Make him snap out of it by showing him how he’s fighting. “If you won’t fight me with all you got, neither will I.”
>>
>>4942739
>Throw everything you got at Yuyo. If he can’t believe in his own skills, then make him believe in yours. “If you can’t trust yourself, then at least trust me! Come at me like you’re going to kill me, because I refuse to insult you by doing anything less!”
>>
>>4942739
>Throw everything you got at Yuyo. If he can’t believe in his own skills, then make him believe in yours. “If you can’t trust yourself, then at least trust me! Come at me like you’re going to kill me, because I refuse to insult you by doing anything less!”
time to crit fail and kill yuyo for real
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>>4942739

>Throw everything you got at Yuyo. If he can’t believe in his own skills, then make him believe in yours. “If you can’t trust yourself, then at least trust me! Come at me like you’re going to kill me, because I refuse to insult you by doing anything less!”
this is the way
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>>4942739
>Throw everything at Yuyo

I REFUSE this fate!
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>>4942739
>Throw everything you got at Yuyo. If he can’t believe in his own skills, then make him believe in yours. “If you can’t trust yourself, then at least trust me! Come at me like you’re going to kill me, because I refuse to insult you by doing anything less!”
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>>4942740
>>4942741
>>4942750
>>4942753
>>4942764
>>4942829
>>4942908
>>4943595

>Throw everything you got at Yuyo.

I need three people to roll a 3d15. Let me preface this by saying that we will "win" the duel, since that's part of the script of the performance. So this roll is about how good of a fight you can put up.

DC = 29, >36 for Critical Success, <18 for Critical Failure.