L5R - Chasing the Winds - A Winter Court 5 Sequel Fic

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Re: L5R - Chasing the Winds - A Winter Court 5 Sequel Fic

Postby KakitaKaori » Fri Aug 04, 2017 3:59 am

Love is confusing, isn't it? Nice Update.
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Re: L5R - Chasing the Winds - A Winter Court 5 Sequel Fic

Postby Kakita_Harun » Fri Aug 04, 2017 7:27 am

It is, particularly if you're an over-thinker like Harun

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Re: L5R - Chasing the Winds - A Winter Court 5 Sequel Fic

Postby Kakita_Harun » Sun Aug 06, 2017 6:48 pm

Might as well put this up now. I'm currently writing the next chapter but my current priority is my game I'm running. Players sort of painted themselves into a corner

***

Two days passed without Harun seeing Asuna. Usually it was not hard to find her, or for Asuna to find him. But after the first day, he went to the Utaku camp looking for her. But when he asked about her, he was told she was not there and offered a cup of tea.
A third day passed with no word from her, and Harun started to worry. How badly had things gone? He had been honest with her as she had wanted, but was that too much? Should he write to her and apologise? She might dismiss it as one of his courtly Crane games. He went riding, hoping to see her but he didn’t. Dejected, he returned to the Shiro.
He was put his horse back in the stables and was just leaving the tenshukaku when he heard someone call out to him.
“Harun!”
He looked around and saw Isanko calling to him. With her was a tall man who wore a fine silk kimono in the pale blue of the Crane. This could only be Doji Sorei, Isanko’s father and Haihime’s husband.
Harun approached them and made a low bow to the Crane kuge while Isanko made the introductions. Again, Harun marvelled at the poise and grace she showed for her age, and when Doji Sorei spoke it was clear where she had acquired it from.
With his perfect white hair and flowing delicate silks, Doji Sorei looked as if he would be more suited to the artisanal halls of Kyuden Doji or the Imperial Palace than the rough, horsey court of Shiro Moto. Yet Sorei had the curious ability to not only stand out in what seemed to be an unlikely place for him, but also looked as if her belonged there. As if somehow there were no place that he would not fit in.
“I was most fascinated by your contribution to the storytelling, Kakita-san,” said Sorei.
Harun made a slight bow in thanks. “Your words of praise mean much to me, Doji-sama,” he said. “Although my efforts were hardly compared with the more experienced storytellers. My art is with the sword, not with words.”
“I liked the story,” interjected Isanko. “But I prefer true stories.”
Sorei gave a little laugh. “I see you have taken your mothers words to heart, Isanko-chan,” he said. “Sometimes there is not much beauty in the truth.”
“How are you finding your accommodations here, Doji-sama?” Harun asked. “I myself found it rather difficult when I when I first arrived.”
“Yes, but you have adapted well,” said Sorei. “A commendable trait to have. However, I must confess that after a number of years in foreign lands, it is pleasing to see familiar ways again.”
“You did say you didn’t like the tea,” Isanko said. “You told mother that the Unicorn must use it to make their saddles.
“Yes, I did say that,” said Sorei with another laugh.
“I must agree with you on that,” said Harun with a smile.
Coming out of the tenshukaku was the ronin Kumo. He didn’t speak, didn’t approach but he did catch Sorei’s eye.
“Forgive me, Kakita-san, but I must my excuses,” Sorei said. “Duty waits, no matter where one finds oneself. It was a pleasure to meet you.”
“And you,” said Harun, bowing to Sorei and giving a small smile to Isanko.
The two walked off, soon Sorei and Kumo were deep in conversation as they made their way inside the tenshukaku.
Harun went back to his yurt. There was still no sign of Asuna. But at dusk, a letter arrived. He quickly tore it open, but it was not from her. The letter bore the mon of the Spider Clan.
The translucent white paper was delicately scented with vanilla. Accompanying it was a white carnation. The characters were carefully written, as if the writer paid close attention.

To Kakita Harun-san, Topaz Champion and son of the Emerald Champion Kakita Karasu-ue from Doji Sorei, husband of Haihime,

Greetings,

I very much enjoyed our conversation earlier today and wish to invite you to dine my wife Haihime and myself tomorrow evening. My wife also expresses a wish to meet you. Apparently, she has some acquaintance with your Unicorn mother.
I very much look forward to the honour of your company should you wish to join us.

Cordially,

Doji Sorei


A formal dinner with a Doji kuge and Kanpeki’s daughter. This was hardly a situation Harun expected to find himself in at the Moto court. He promptly penned a reply in acceptance and sent it off.
From his conversation earlier that day and the letter, Harun was beginning to form an impression of Doji Sorei. But of Haihime he knew very little. She kept mainly to herself and wasn’t seen at many of the events at court. Majid had seen her riding a few times, but that was about it.
But she knew my mother, Harun remembered, Moto Chinua said that they had been friends.
And that alone made Harun take more an interest.
At least at a formal dinner, Harun was in familiar territory. He knew what to do. All students at the Kakita Academy were versed in etiquette, how to prepare for and behave at formal events, the giving of gifts and making conversation. Harun visited one of the merchants to purchase appropriate gifts. He made sure his formal attire was ready. He bathed and trimmed his beard.
The next evening, Harun went in to the walls of Shiro Moto in his formal attire and ran into Majid who was coming out. The Moto’s hair was wild and loose, he wore only a leather tunic that was open at chest and had the arms free. The contrast between them couldn’t have been greater.
Majid laughed. “Where are you going all Craned up like that?”
“Dinner, I’ve been invited by Doji Sorei and Lady Haihime,” Harun answered.
“A formal Crane dinner, that’s one scorpion pit I will gladly forgo,” said Majid. “Listen, the Khan wishes to see us before we leave for the ritual.”
“It’s that soon?” Harun asked.
“Yes, days away,” said Harun. “He did suggest this evening, but I think he will change his mind when I tell him you are otherwise engaged.” He made a mock bow. “Until then, Niwa no Moto.”

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Re: L5R - Chasing the Winds - A Winter Court 5 Sequel Fic

Postby Kakita_Harun » Sat Aug 12, 2017 8:44 pm

Harun ascended to the third floor of the tenshukaku and knocked on the door to the guest quarters. Opening the door for him was Isanko. She stepped back to allow him to enter.
“Good evening, Kakita-san,” Isanko said, making a formal bow. She wore a furisode of pale pink, it was decorated with many small spiders flying free on criss-crossing gossamer threads. Her white hair was lacquered into an elaborate formal style with a kanzashi bira-bira ornament just above her forehead that tinkled as she moved.
“Good evening, Isanko-san,” said Harun, returning the bow.
“We are most pleased to have you as our guest this evening,” she said, the words were spoken well if a little forced, as if she was reciting lines.
Inside, Isanko’s parents stood side by side. Sorei’s attire was of delicate silk of such a pale blue that it was almost white. Perhaps, a tribute to his wife’s clan. He offered Harun a bow.
Standing next to him was Kanpeki’s daughter, the Princess of Ashes, Haihime. She cut a striking figure. Not because of her clothes, her kimono and obi were of fine white silk but were plain to the point of being austere, her white hair styled simply without ornamentation. And it was not because of any grace or refinement in her face, Haihime’s features were not along the lines of conventional beauty. It was the sheer determination that seemed to radiate from her very being. The sheer force of her personality that imposed itself upon all in her presence. In her grey eyes, there was a fire and fierceness akin to a wild animal. But tamed, restrained, bridled and put to use.
Had Harun been expecting a woman with the grace and elegance of a courtier? If he was, he would find her quite different. Beneath that kimono, Haihime had the physique of an experienced warrior, with the scars to match.
Isanko formally introduced Harun to her parents, Haihime took this time to size Harun up.
“A pleasure to meet you, Haihime-sama,” said Harun, bowing low. “I have heard much about you.”
“Good or bad?” Haihime asked. “What you would have heard will depend on who you will have spoken to.”
“Good,” said Harun, a little taken aback by her abruptness. “Moto Chinua-ue told me that you knew my mother, Utaku Yamada.”
“Mmmm, yes,” said Haihime, her face looking a little more guarded.
The moment was a little awkward, but Harun saved it presenting the gifts he had brought. A fan decorated with some maxims of wisdom for Haihime, a box of some of the tea he had gotten from Kousuda for Sorei. The ritual of offerings and refusals of the gifts seemed to lighten the mood a little.
They then went to the table. Like most of the furniture in Shiro Moto, it was gaijin in origin, the top decorated with brightly coloured tiles. They all sat down on elaborately embroidered cushions and in the centre of the table some candles floated in an elaborately patterned glass bowl.
The first course was simple, aburaage parcels containing seasoned rice.
“There is something most curious that I wish to ask you, Kakita-san,” said Sorei, serving sake. “You won the Topaz Championship, quite a commendable achievement, but instead of seeking some high position you elect to go on your wandering year. May I ask why? It is, after all, quite unusual.”
“It is, Doji-sama,” said Harun. “But then, I am not exactly a ‘usual’ Crane.”
Sorei laughed gently, but Haihime followed this up with a question.
“Is that difficult?” Haihime asked. There was no concern in her voice, only curiosity.
“It was,” Harun admitted. “When I began my training at the Kakita Academy, I was met with some resistance.”
“From the sensei?” Isanko asked.
“No, from the other students,” said Harun. A memory flashed before his eyes if Hayate knocking him into a fishpond. “But I persevered, proving myself and things changed for the better.”
“yes, adversity builds strength, builds character,” said Haihime with a satisfied nod, catching her daughter’s eye.
Isanko looked down at the table, her on falling into place across her face.
The next course was brought out. As was tradition in a Rokugani kaiseki, it was sashimi. But this was sashimi that Harun had not seen before, both the flavour and texture were not familiar to him. Still, it was rather pleasant, Though Harun noticed Sorei only ate rice.
Later, Harun was dot discover that the sashimi he had eaten had not come from an unfamiliar fish, but rather was the meat of a lamb.
“Doji-sama, you said that you had recently returned from foreign lands,” said Harun/ “You must be one of the few Crane that can say so.”
“That may be true, but I hope it will not remain so,” said Sorei. “Perhaps one day you yourself will visit Zogeku as we have.”
“I hope so, I have heard much about the place from my Uncle Kousuda,” said Harun. “But I am most interested to hear of your experiences.”
Sorei made a slight motion towards his wife to see if she wished to speak. When it was clear that she did not, Sorei continued himself.
“We stayed some time with the Unicorn at Journey’s End Keep,” said Sorei. “Quite a few Unicorn travelled back with us from there. They certainly have made an impression in the years they have been there. It is curious mixture of both the old and the new.”
“I rather liked the Second City,” interjected Haihime. “So much of it is ruined.”
“Yes,” said Sorei. “We spent a very interesting afternoon navigating the temple district in the most unbearable heat.” He met Haihime’s eye, sharing the memory. Haihime gave a small smile.
“Doji Mushari, the Crane Ambassador, had a difficult task of bringing things to order,” Sorei continued. “But he is capable and up to the task.”
Haihime gave a sniff of disdain. “Herding all those tigers of the Summer Court.”
Sorei smiled. “Yes, perhaps I will just say that the distance between Rokugan and Zogeku had somewhat affected the virtues of decorum and courtesy.”
“You need not go too far for that,” said Harun. He nodded to the window where they could see down to outside the walls of the Shiro. Some Unicorn were wrestling bare-chested in the snow to a large and encouraging crowd.
Doji Sorei averted his eyes, placing a hand over his face so Harun couldn’t see him blushing scarlet. Haihime laugh, a real laugh that changed her whole face and seemed to take away some of her sternness and seriousness.
“I knew it was not a mistake to come here,” she said. “There is something so refreshingly honest about the Unicorn. None of the games, and they are not afraid to be themselves.”
Harun nodded. “I completely agree,” he said.
“Your mother once told me, Kakita-san, that the less you say in court, the less someone else can say against you,” said Haihime, she paused thoughtfully, remembering. “That must have been that winter in Otosan Uchi after you were born. I have not seen her since, and I miss her company.”
“Tell me how you knew her,” Harun said.
“Well, I don’t think she even wanted to know me first,” Haihime said. “But, we kept seeing each other and I was curious about her and the Unicorn, they were so different from what I knew. She didn’t tell me anything at first, but then she came to me and apologised.”
“Apologised?” Harun raised an eyebrow in surprise.
“Yes, she said she had misjudged me,” Haihime said. “She was not the only one to do that, but she was one of the few who spoke so plainly about it, and I liked that.” She paused, remembering, her face softening a little. “After that, we went riding a few times, the Mirumoto sensei tested me against her in the dojo. That was memorable. And we had quite a few talks about bushido, as she understood it.” She looked at Harun. “I spoke with one of the Akodo samurai there about it, I forget his name, but for all the traditions of his clan he couldn’t make what he said interesting. Or relevant.”
“Was it that the duel that my mother faced that made it more relevant?” Harun asked.
Haihime nodded. “To stand up and defend another’s life with your own? It seemed a lot more real when it was actually going to happen.”
“It is the duty of every samurai,” Haihime-sama,” said Harun solemnly.
“So, I have been told,” said Haihime.
The servants brought the next course. Orange-coloured chicken with rice and mint leaves. The chicken gave off a pungent smell of spices. There was also a plate of flatbread as well as small bowls of green sauce placed near each other their place settings.
“Is this something from Zogeku?” Harun asked.
“Yes, they call it tandoori,” said Sorei. “It is a little like yakitori.”
Harun noticed Sorei didn’t eat much, but Haihime and Isanko did not show such hesitation.
Perhaps he is not very hungry, thought Harun. He tried a piece, not knowing what to expect.
He was met immediately by a sensation of heat, like a fire lit inside his mouth. Tears well in the corner of his yes and it was a struggle to keep his face straight. He swallowed quickly hoping that would help. It didn’t.
He tried some sake, it didn’t do anything to douse the flames.
Isanko met Harun’s eyes silently across the table. There was a flicker across her face as if she was trying to supress a laugh. She nodded to the small bowl of green sauce at Harun’s place setting. He saw Sorei tear off a piece of bread and dip it in the sauce. Harun did the same, the sauce was sour and flavoured with mint, but it provided the cooling effect he needed.
When he looked up he met Haihime’s eyes. She had watched the whole thing with barely veiled curiosity. Then she went back to her meal.
Had he passed some sort of test? Harun wasn’t sure, and he wasn’t sure if he measured up in her eyes or even how she was measuring him.

“I’m not sure I would like it,” said Kouta, when they practiced in the dojo the next day, “Dinner with Kanpeki’s daughter, now that sounds more an ordeal than some fiery foreign food.”
“It didn’t take me long to see that Lady Haihime is not her father,” said Harun.
“Then what is she like?” Kouta asked.
Harun paused mid-kata. “I am not sure I do know,” he said. “She has a formidable presence, that is apparent at first glance. And I know she doesn’t have patience for court games and trickery. But here husband…”
“…is a consummate Doji,” finished Kouta. “I have heard my father speak of him. Perhaps next time I will pay attention.”
They practiced in silence for a few minutes. “One thing I can tell you,” said Kouta. “Her daughter Isanko is to be betrothed to the Emperor’s oldest son.”
“Kisteki?” Harun asked. They had known him from the Kakita Academy. He and Arahime’s brother Masarugi were inseparable.
“It’s all arranged,” said Kouta. “My father got it from Chancellor Ide Meiryo. It should be at the Imperial court next winter, wherever that will be.”
Harun’s thoughts whirled as they practiced. So Isanko was the future Empress of Rokugan, and she was clearly being groomed for it. She was only nine years old. Did she know of what was in front of her? Knowing Haihime, Isanko probably did.

Harun still had not heard from Asuna, and it was not for a lack of trying. The Utaku camp knew him by sight now and he didn’t even have to speak before they turned him away.
Finally, in desperation, Harun wrote a letter. None of the flowery prose he had been taught at the Kakita Academy would be of any use here. What Asuna appreciated most of all was frankness.

Asuna-san,

It has been quite a few days since we have spoken. I wish to convey my sincerest apologies for any slight or insult that my words have actions have caused you.
I know I have expressed myself badly, but I have come to care for you as a friend and perhaps even a potential life companion.
However, I also wish to be honest with you and not deceive you in any way about any potential future we have together. I decision to marry you, to join your clan and family and to leave my own is not one that I take lightly. Mainly, because I do not wish for any unhappiness for you for the world.
I would very much like to see you again, though I understand completely if you do not. I very much enjoyed our time together and I wish you only happiness for the future.
But please, I very much wish to speak with you.

Sincerely,

Kakita Harun


The letter was written on plain white paper with no scents or ornaments whatsoever. His words would speak for her much better than any Crane frippery. He entrusted the letter to a shiotome at the Utaku camp and left without asking to see her.
What happened next was entirely in Asuna’s hands.

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Re: L5R - Chasing the Winds - A Winter Court 5 Sequel Fic

Postby Kakita_Harun » Tue Aug 15, 2017 9:33 pm

Got a long update coming with the Noh play which I'm still writing. Hoping to have it up tonight. It's not the last one, far from it as we still have ground to cover

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Re: L5R - Chasing the Winds - A Winter Court 5 Sequel Fic

Postby Kakita_Harun » Wed Aug 16, 2017 7:31 am

Thanks very much to Rhiannon for helping me with the Noh play and Jeanne for her fact checking. I did a lot of research about Noh and I watched a play or two and I have gained an appreciation for it now.


The night was cool but not cold, no snow had fallen that day so it was not much to clear the courtyard so people could sit around the stage. There was food and drink available, a little more traditional since it was the Scorpion hosting. A gong then sounded and everyone then began to take seats on the cushions around the stage.
Harun took a seat in front of the stage with the official guests, next to him was Kouta and a few places down he could see Isanko sitting with Sorei and Janisha. Haihime was nowhere to be seen, but this seemed only a small surprise to Harun. He had heard a little about the play that the Scorpion were to put on. Sozoku, it was called, a mungen or ghost play. And it’s subject, the death of Kanpeki. So Harun hardly blamed her if she wanted to avoid people’s stares.
A hush fell over the crowd as the chorus, musicians and stage hands took up their places on the stage. The flutist and drummer began to play, and the chorus joined in with low moans and shouts. Then at the end of the bridge that connected to the back of the stage, the striped curtain was raised and the play began.
Emerging slowly and deliberately onto the bridge was a female figure. Her mask was of white and plain apart from her red lips, she had long black hair that cascade down her back and in front of her shoulders. Her clothing was in the exaggerated, oversized style of noh, a red furisode with a black obi and haori jacket. In one hand, emerging from the overly large sleeve she held a folded fan.
She was the waki, Harun knew, the traveller who would set the world of the play for the audience.
Harun had seen a fair few noh plays in his time at the Kakita Academy. He had even acted as a stagehand in one production the artisan students were putting on. And he knew well the decorum expected by an audience. That decorum was shattered by the wild applause and cheering of the Unicorn.
Kouta turned to Harun, scandalised. “Even when they like something civilised, they can’t even like it in a civilised way.”
Harun laughed quietly to himself, his smile hidden in his beard. He had been shocked by the outburst, but at least he had had prior warning.
The noise died down and the waki proceeded slowly across the bridge to the centre of the stage. There she stood stiffly and began to sing in the elongated and stilted way of noh.
“I am Kaiko, a daughter of Bayushi,” she sang, holding her fan out from her body so that her long sleeve draped down rom her side and almost touched the floor. “I come to this shrine, far from my homeland to honour my ancestors.”
She sang about her and the Scorpion Clan’s exile in the “land of sand and jewels” which was far from Rokugan and where the “voices of the kami were faint”. She sang of the journey of the Scorpion across the Burning Sands, driven into exile like their ancestors had been. And she sang of her father, Bayushi Nitoshi the Poison Mask, and of the Scorpion left behind.
“Forced they were, to take up the taint of Jigoku,” she sang. “Slaves to madness, slaves to corruption. Such sacrifice, they waited until the time to emerge and act.”
She then opened her fan and began to dance, slowly, stiffly. The drumbeats steady and slow as Kaiko moved. She opened her fan and extended it out from her, turning it in her hands as she turned. Then, at a loud drumbeat she froze.
“What is that I see?” She slowly turned on the spot and turned to look at the bridge as the curtain at the end lifted and a figure in black and red could be seen in the shadows. “Out of the shadows I see a face. Is this the face of my father?” She sang, then turned back to face the audience, looking down so her mask looked sad. “Years since I have seen him, he died before I could glimpse his face once more. Is this my grief that I see him? Or is this his spirit who has not found rest?”
Kaiko moved to the front corner of the stage and knelt beside the pillar. She kept her fan raised, hiding the lower half of her face.
Then from backstage, the shite or protagonist emerged to the ecstatic delight of the Unicorn in the audience. The shite wore several layers of clothing in black and red patterned with scorpions. In one hand he carried a folded fan. His hair was long, black and wild. He wore a mask, but it only covered the lower half of his face.
The Poison Mask, Harun realised. It could only be the former Champion of the Scorpion, Bayushi Nitoshi.
He moved along the bridge and to the stage to the playing of the music and the chanting of the chorus. Slowly, deliberately he moved onto the stage and froze there as the music stopped. For a moment, they stood there in silence.
“Daughter, it has been years since I have glimpsed your face,” Nitoshi sang, his voice low and droning beneath his mask. “I walk in torment; my spirit will not rest. I come to you to confess my failure.”
“Your failure?” Kaiko asked.
“My failure,” repeated Nitoshi.
He began to sing about his time in the Onyx Empire, close to the Onyx Throne and always waiting, waiting for right time to strike. Seeing those corrupted by the taint around them. And then, when finally acting to kill Kanpeki, he had failed.
“Father, tell me how you have acted,” said Kaiko. “Tell me how you failed. Tell me how you died.”
There came a shout from the chorus and a loud single drumbeat. Nitoshi moved to the other pillar at the front of the stage and dropped to one knee. Two stagehands carried out a small dais and placed it at the back of the stage in front of the musicians.
The drumbeats then picked up pace, the flute trilled and the chorus chanted and sand. They sang of the Onyx Empire, of the taint, the corruption and the treachery that lay at its heart. They sang of the calamities that had swept Rokugan. Of war, famine, rebellion and pestilence. Of the blighting of the land and the viciousness of the oni hordes that ravaged the land.
And then, as the drumbeats grew faster and faster, the curtain was raised. And Kanpeki emerged.
There was boos and hisses from the Unicorn when he appeared. Harun almost felt like joining in, but he noticed Kouta disapproved.
Kanpeki wore a horned mask of stark, shining white with wild white hair that stuck out in all directions and cascaded down his back. He wore a number of layers of black, purple and silver clothing decorated with patterns of spiders. He moved slowly across the bridge as was tradition. But once he was onstage, Kanpeki immediately went into a fast -paced dance to the rapid drumbeat.
He turned on the spot, moving his arms so his long sleeves swayed and turned, he turned again, whipping his head around faster so his hair flew out from him. It was impressive dancing, some of the best Harun had seen. And yet, he found himself smiling with amusement.
“What?” Kouta asked, seeing Harun grinning. “What is so funny?”
“Imagine if that was the real Kanpeki,” Harun said, “and he really danced like that.”
Kouta found it hard to keep a straight face.
Harun looked along the crowd to where Isanko was sitting. She was watching the play with an unreadable expression, turning and asking Janisha and her father a question.
What does she think? Harun wondered. After all, that is her grandfather up there…
Kanpeki stopped in his dancing and stepped back onto the dais, sitting down on a stood that was brought by the stagehands. He began to sing of the Onyx Empire itself, his “image of perfection” and “triumph of Jigoku”. The chorus joined in with chants and wails, repeating some of his words.
Then, when the song ended and after a long silence, Nitoshi started forward. He began to dance, the chorus chanting and the drums beating loud and fast. Nitoshi extended his closed fan out. Stroking it with his other hand.
"He acts now with the poison...the poison..." chanted the chorus.
He then brought the fan up high as he closed in on Kanpeki, the drums beating faster and faster.
“This I do,” he said, “for the souls of the children of Bayushi.”
At a loud dramatic drumbeat, Kanpeki reached out and caught the fan. A shocked gasp ran through the audience, and it wasn’t just the Unicorn.
“No,” Kanpeki said, his deep voice clear and loud. “This is your failure, I knew you would betray me.”
With loud shouts and rapid drums, Kanpeki brought the fan down on Nitoshi. Nitoshi collapsed to his knees, raising his hands above his head so his long sleeves hid his face.
There was another drumbeat and shout and the lights were doused, plunging the stage into darkness. Kanpeki quickly left the stage, the stage hands carrying the dais close behind him.
When the lights were lit again, Nitoshi was standing in the middle of the stage. He looked down, his long fringe hiding much of his face. Kaiko rose from her kneeling position and approached her father.
Nitoshi threw out an arm, so his long sleeve hid his face.
“You cannot look upon me,” he said. “You know my failure. My failure that caused Kanpeki to turn on our clan. Many died for my failure, I do not wish that for you, my daughter.”
"But father, you did not fail," she said. There was a moment of silence the. She spoke again. "The poison, it did not kill Kanpeki, but it weakened him. It prepared the way for me to inherit your burden."
She moved her fan to her side to uncover her face. There was a long silence while they stood their frozen on the stage.
“Fortunes be praised I have such a daughter,” Nitoshi said.
He uncovered his face and moved his hand to one side, a stage hand put a spear into it. It was decorated with black, white and red tassels.
“My daughter, I bequeath this to you so you will succeed,” he sang, holding the spear high above his head. “The Spear of Emma-O.”
“The Spear of Emma-O,” the chorus echoed.
“The Spear of Emma-O,” repeated Nitoshi. “I bequeath to you, so you will succeed where I did not.”
Kaiko knelt and there was a loud shout and clash of drums as Nitoshi gave the spear to her. Kaiko held the spear out and bowed low with her forehead touching the floor. There was a final shout and the strike of a drum and the play was over.
It was traditional when the actors left the stage for them to be applauded with the appropriate restraint. The Unicorn showed no such restraint, applauding loudly and cheering heartily. Harun joined and, when he looked beside him, Kouta did too.

Once the play was finished, the crowd began to disperse. Some left to return to the camp, some stayed for the food and the music and dancing that was starting up.
Harun scanned the crowd for Majid. They were supposed to meet with Chinua afterwards. He came across Isanko though, standing with her father and Janisha. She saw Harun and waved to him, so he went to her.
“Did you like the play?” Harun asked. He nodded in greeting to Sorei and Janisha as they talked.
“I did,” Isanko said. “But why didn’t they show what really happened?”
Harun smiled. “They never do, Isanko-san,” he said. “They want to tell a good story.”
“Well, I don’t agree with it,” Isanko said. “Father was telling me that the playwright never lived to see it performed.”
“That’s very sad,” Harun said.
“Yes, it is,” said Janisha, suddenly joining their conversation. “Good to see you, Harun, but it is time we all retired for the evening.”
Harun bid them goodnight and they quickly left before he could ask any questions. Had Janisha looked a little worried there? Harun wasn’t sure, and he didn’t have much time to wonder before Majid found him.
“So, Niwa no Moto, do you like the play?” he said.
“I did, and I know the Unicorn did as well,” Harun laughed.
They walked into the tenshukaku together.

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Re: L5R - Chasing the Winds - A Winter Court 5 Sequel Fic

Postby Kakita_Harun » Sun Aug 20, 2017 8:43 pm

The Khan’s loft on the top floor of the tenshukaku afforded a beautiful view from the balcony. Below the great plains of the Field of the Winds in the moonlight, the many lights of the campfires glinting like little stars.
Moto Chinua’s chambers themselves were rather austere, the furnishings and décor were relatively simple compared to the gaudiness shown in the Great Hall. The walls had a few captured war banners, one of which Majid told him later was the Dark Moto Daigoro’s.
In pride of place on a pedestal draped in purple silk was an exotic-looking katana that had a hilt that resembled a Unicorn horn. This was Enginoshi, the Celestial Sword of the Unicorn, gifted to the first Moto Gaheris by Lord Sun. Majid told Harun afterwards, as well as the tradition that every Khan since the first Gaheris had eschewed using it in favour of a scimitar. Moto Naleesh, Majid told Harun, had given Engnoshi to Chinua before the crystal had completely encased her.
Chinua was dictating to a scribe when Majid and Harun arrived. The scribe was quickly dismissed.
“Harun, Majid, please,” Chinua said, inviting them to sit with him at the table.
Tea was brought with the customary bowl of jerky. Chinua pored it himself, holding his hands stiffly to hide how they shook.
“So, Harun,” said Chinua, taking some of the jerky. “What do you think of my court?”
“I think, the Unicorn put on a grand show, my lord,” said Harun. “And I think that those who have not experienced it will be deprived. I certainly will remember my time here.”
“Anything particularly?” Chinua asked.
“Well…” Memories danced before Harun’s eyes. Asuna dancing with her blade…the alien yet comforting sounds of the throat singers…the Moto wrestling bare-chested in the snow…”I think, perhaps what I will remember most is seeing such honesty and candour in celebration. The Crane aim for perfection and honour tradition, but the Unicorn…they are not afraid to be who they are.”
Majid nodded in agreement.
“Is this who you are Harun?” Chinua asked. “Do you wish to stay here? To join us in taking back our ancestral lands as your mother would have?”
Harun was silent a moment. He should have known such a question was coming. Chinua could even have gotten Majid to try and convince him to stay. He still hadn’t answered the question for himself yet, but what could he tell the Champion of the Unicorn?
“I know that that is not all of who I am,” Harun said carefully. “But I also know whichever way I choose, to stay here or to leave, there will always be a part of me that will regret not choosing the other.” He paused again. “That, my lord, is the only answer I can give you right now.”
Forever afterwards, Harun would wonder what Chinua was thinking then. Did Chinua accept what Harun had said? Did he accept Harun’s honesty? Harun wasn’t sure then and thought long about it afterwards.
They talked of other things then, Chinua was jovial and didn’t mention the subject at all. But Harun couldn’t feel that he had disappointed Chinua in some way. Disappointed him as his mother Yamada had done before him.
My mother had to do what she had to do, Harun thought, and so do I.

The night had turned cold when Harun was making his way back to his yurt. An icy wind fluttered the flags and walls of the tents. The warmth inside his own yurt was comforting. Harun removed his cloak and came face to face with Asuna.
He startled. “Asuna…I”
She put a single finger to his lips. With her hair in braids and her eyes wide and star-like she looked like a young girl.
“Harun, forgive me,” she said, her voice was soft and low.
“Of course,” he said.
She took his hand.

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Re: L5R - Chasing the Winds - A Winter Court 5 Sequel Fic

Postby Kakita_Harun » Tue Aug 22, 2017 8:03 pm

Harun woke the next morning in a daze. Had it really happened? Were her gentle kisses, her soft touch, her warm embrace a dream? He only had to turn to see Asuna there sleeping beside him, her naked shoulder just visible above the fur felts and woollen blankets. He smiled at her, not daring to move in case he woke her. She looked so innocent, so vulnerable as she slept.
The night before she had shown a different side to herself. A gentleness and tenderness he didn’t know she possessed. Things would change, of that much he was sure but of how he could only guess. Whether he stayed or left, he had tasted paradise, and nothing would be the same after that.
A thought, unbidden, came into his mind. What about Arahime? But he dismissed the thought, Arahime was far away from here.
Asuna turned, opening her eyes and smiling at Harun. She reached out a hand to gently touch his face.
“You surprise me, Asuna,” Harun teased. “I didn’t know battle maidens could be so gentle.”
She smiled again. “There is no war inside here, Harun. Just us. This where we can truly be ourselves wherever we are.” She looked longingly at him for a long moment. “This is the life I offer you.”
Harun looked at her, after last night he knew her in a way he had not known anyone else. “You’re proposing again? Even after all that I have said to you?”
Asuna nodded. “I didn’t think it would be right not to after we did.” She sat up, pulled the furs up to her chest. Her hair was a tangle of braids around her face. She looked so beautiful and wild. “I need to ask you something,” she said seriously. “I think I know why you have been so…hesitant. Is…is there someone else?”
Harun couldn’t lie to her. He nodded.
Asuna’s face was an expressionless mask. “Tell me about her.”
So Harun told Asuna about Arahime. Who she was, what it was like, what it was like to grow up at the Kakita Academy with her. Smiled as he spoke of her, described her, almost forgetting that Asuna was there.
“You love her,” said Asuna simply. Harun started to object but she shook her head. “You love her, Harun. You can’t let her go, that’s why you won’t say yes to me.” Her voice trailed off, wrought with emotion.
“Asuna…no…” Harun reached for her, but she turned away from him and pushed him back.
“I was hoping that you cared enough for me if not to forget her, but to at least look past her to what I was offering you.” She turned to him, her face cold with fury. “You know it’s not going to happen, Harun. She’s Crane and she’s kuge. She’s never going to marry you, she’s nothing more than a commodity to her clan. She is going to be traded away like a sack of rice.”
“I know,” said Harun, “and yet…”
“And yet, you continue in this foolishness,” said Asuna. She stood up and began to put on her clothes. “I am offering you life that is your own, Harun. A life free with the people of your blood. But that isn’t enough for you, is it?”
“Asuna, I’m sorry,” Harun said. “I can’t be any less than what I am.”
She scowled at him. “And while you are sitting here dithering, the rest of us have a war to fight.”
She left the yurt, cold with anger. Harun let her go.

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Re: L5R - Chasing the Winds - A Winter Court 5 Sequel Fic

Postby KakitaKaori » Wed Aug 23, 2017 5:08 am

Oh my!
Kakita Kaori
Kenshinzen of Golden Petal Village and overly prolific fiction writer
http://craneclan.weebly.com/
[Kakita Kyoumi/WC5]

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Re: L5R - Chasing the Winds - A Winter Court 5 Sequel Fic

Postby Kakita_Harun » Wed Aug 23, 2017 5:28 am

Several days passed which were fortunately busy so Harun didn’t have time to think too much about what had happened with him and Asuna. There was another feast under the stars, this time the dancing a lot more informal spontaneous. There was also a “poetry evening” in one of the chomchog tents that involved copious amounts of kave and hashish.
Several times, Harun saw Asuna, but she would walk away before he could get any closer. Of Chinua, he saw nor heard nothing.
With Majid there seemed to be no change, what thoughts he had he kept to himself.
Then one morning, just as the remaining days of court were getting into single figures, a letter arrived at Harun’s yurt. It was on purple paper with the mons of the Unicorn and Moto on it. Harun read it, dropped it in shock, then read it again.

The Unicorn Clan would be honoured to request the presence of Kakita Harun at the wedding of Moto Kaidu to Daigotsu Yukari.

There followed details of the ceremony to be at the Shrine of Hikahime three days from now with a celebration to follow.
This wasn’t a complete surprise to Harun, he had seen Moto Kaidu playing court to Yukari who had not been completely reluctant to receive him. But marriage? Was Yukari joining the Moto family?
Yukari’s own words on the night that he met her came back to him. If I were you and I’d have the chance to stay here, I’d take it.
If this was the case, then then it was strange to be marrying to another clan. Harun knew the Spider Clan rarely did this, they were not a big clan so people generally married in. He said as much to Majid when they went riding later that day.
“Yes, from what I heard of the negotiations this came up several times,” Majid said. “Kaidu is my mother’s brother, he told me that the Khan wants to strengthen the Unicorn’s ties with the Spider, so some Moto are going to marry into the Spider.” He perked up a little. “And, he’s asked me to officiate as well as help with the Capturing.”
Harun looked at Majid with alarm. The Moto laughed.
“It’s a Unicorn tradition going back to our days of wandering,” Majid explained. “A Unicorn captures his bride on horseback and then they ride to the shrine to be wed.”
Harun laughed as well. “The Utaku do this too?”
“No, with the Utaku is the other way around,” Majid said. “You know, they still talk at Shiro Mirumoto about your mother Yamada’s wedding? It would be hard to forget a cavalcade of Unicorn in full regalia riding down the mountain. The Khan rode with her as well.”
Harun smiled, though he wished he had known that when he had been at Shiro Mirumoto.
“So, will we be seeing something of the like?” Harun asked.
Majid nodded. “But much bigger, the Moto will be out in force but there aren’t that many Spider to give chase. So, you’ll have to help with that.”
“Give chase?” Harun asked.
Majid laughed again. “Surely, you don’t think she will give up without a fight?”

On the day of the wedding. Harun turned up at the guest camp in his formal attire, leading his horse. There was a festive mood around the camp. There were some drinks being served, people stood around in festive clothing. But the bride was nowhere to be seen.
Kousuda came over to greet Harun, the former Ide wore a purple obi with his Crane attire. Harun laughed to see it and Kousuda grinned back at me.
“I see you have dressed for the occasion,” said Harun. “Majid told me what to expect, but to me it sounds an awful lot like kidnapping.”
Kousuda laughed. “I was there when your mother “kidnapped” your father,” he said. “He went easily, I doubt Yukari will.”
“Did this happen at your wedding?” Harun asked, taking a drink.
Kousuda shook his head. “Kyoumi thought it rather shocking, Yamada and I had a laugh about it though.” He stroked his beard absently. “Not everyone shares the Unicorn’s sense of humour.”
At the sound of thundering hooves, they turned to look.
“I think,” said Kousuda, putting down his cup, “that this comedy is about to begin.”
The Moto rode into the camp in a mass, Kaidu in the lead with Moto Tengri beside him. Kaidu was dressed in a sleeveless leather deel that left his arms bare and revealed a lot of his chest. He wore a purple obi tied at one side patterned in gold with gaijin designs, attached to it was his scimitar.
He leapt from his horse and bounded towards the tents.
“I have come for the bride,” he announced.
Kousuda stepped into his path, holding his fan as one would a sword. Smiling widely with amusement. “What sort of uncivilised boor are you invading our camp with your unruly horde.” His tone was loud and mocking, he knew his part and he played it well. “Be gone with you, I say!” He brandished his fan like he was cutting with a blade.
The Moto laughed at Kousuda’s defiance, then laughed harder when Kaidu pushed Kousuda aside as if he was of no consequence. Kousuda landed hard in the snow, laughing as he got to his feet.
Kaidu looked from tent to tent as an invading brigand might. Then from one yurt, the flap moved and Yukari emerged. She wore a white kimono patterned with spider webs.
“You came for me?” Yukari spat, her voice loud and scornful. “What makes you think I will come with you willingly?” She turned with a sniff and went back into the yurt.
“Oh, no you don’t!” Kaidu bellowed, striding into the tent after her.
There were sounds of a scuffle, shouting and the breaking of china, then Kaidu came out with his arms firmly about his bride, pinning her arms firmly to her sides. She fought his grip, cursing and shouting as he half-dragged, half-carried her to his horse.
“Daigotsu’s black bones, you’re a real brute!” Yukari shouted.
“I’m sorry Yukari,” shouted Harun over the laughter. “We are just too overwhelmed by this vicious Moto horse!”
Kaidu let Yukari go and she turned around and punched him square in the eye. A great cheer went up through the crowd as Kaidu staggered back, stunned.
“This fair maiden is wild and untamed!” declared Kaidu. “A fine prize of war!” He grabbed Yukari and threw her over his shoulder.
“I’ll show you fair maiden!” Yukari shouted, kicking and punching him as he tried to keep hold of her.
Kaidu only laughed, putting her on the saddle and gently helping her put her feet in the stirrups. The Moto then started to move off and everyone else started to saddle up.
“We will not let this stand!” Kousuda shouted, shaking his fist in mock outrage. “You have stolen a rare and delicate flower from our midst and this will be answered for.”
Kaidu only laughed, turning his horse and leading the Moto horse off. Kousuda mounted his horse and led their group off in pursuit, Harun and all the rest following.
The Moto cut a full gallop once out on the open plains, Kousuda leading the group behind them. Harun rounded their group to get to the front to ride beside Kousuda. Kousuda glanced across at him, Harun grinned back. It was like when he and Kyoumi used to visit at the Kakita Academy. They would go riding, Kyoumi riding her horse sedately and carefully, Kousuda and Harun steadily racing until Arahime galloped ahead.
The rounded the walls of Shiro Moto, people were gathered up on the walls and waving to them as they passed. Gradually, as they rounded the final corner and approached the gate, the Moto slowed so that the two groups of riders intermingled. Making his way through the crowd, Harun could see Kaidu and Yukari riding ahead. He was whispering something in her ear, and she was laughing.

The ceremony in the shrine of Hikahime was surprisingly traditional. The only difference was that instead of cups of sake, Kaidu and Yukari passed cups of kumis between them. Majid presided over the ceremony, wearing the white robes of the Moto priests, with none of his usual jokes. Finally, as Majid was saying the final prayers, the Zogeku delegates who were Yukari’s attendants assisted her taking off the white outer kimono, revealing the red one underneath.
Majid then tied the red cord between them, symbolising their new union. Kaidu smiled down at his new wide, now Moto Yukari. Yukari gave a tight smile, half her gaze on the door to the shrine. She was happy, but was also looking towards the door as if she couldn’t wait for the ceremony to be over.
The newlyweds were then escorted on horseback back to the camp where the celebrations were beginning. Plenty of meat, music and kumis. Once the horses were put away, the party was in full swing. Kumis, sake and shochu were passed around, they danced around the fires to the beat of drums, moaning along with the throat singers.
Dizzy from the music and dancing, Harun even tried some of the meat from the grill. A lot of the evening was blurry, but there were a few things he remembered that day. Kouta, arm wrestling with the Moto. Zetsubou, under the influence shochu, explaining in elaborate detail why the Lion clans wear yellow. A very giggly and wobbly Yukari being escorted back to her tent by her new husband, who was back at the party a moment later for another round of drinking.
Harun found himself lying on a pile of cushions, looking up at the night sky. The next thing he knew it was morning. His hair and beard were covered with frost that had fallen during the night. The sun was shining, the sky was perfectly clear.

Majid intercepted Harun as she was staggering back to his tent for more sleep. The Moto was walking along with a smile on his face and a spring in his step. Harun glared at him. How could he look so sprightly now?
“Don’t worry, I’m not staying,” Majid said reassuringly. “But I’m telling you now that we will be leaving tomorrow to head west. Me, you and Zetsubou.”
“It’s time?” asked Harun.
Majid nodded. “At dawn, two days from now we will attempt to cleanse the land. And we hope that the heavens will favour us.”


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