L5R - The Duty of War - A Post Winter Court 5 story

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Re: L5R - The Duty of War - A Post Winter Court 5 story

Postby KakitaKaori » Thu Apr 05, 2018 7:53 am

Coming along!
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Re: L5R - The Duty of War - A Post Winter Court 5 story

Postby Kakita_Harun » Sun Apr 15, 2018 3:03 am

They headed northwest, through the lands of the Kakita and into the lands of the Doji family. The weather was pleasant and they made good progress, staying in villages and temples when they passed them. And when they didn’t the green and gold jinmaku tent was pitched and they unrolled their sleeping mats.
Their party attracted attention as they travelled., peasants coming out of their homes or looking up from the fields. Bowing when they realised who it was. Samurai and peasants they met on the road pulling to onside to let them through, bowing and falling to their knees as the Emerald Champion passed.
Travelling again felt good for Harun, he welcomed the possibilities each new day on the road would bring. But travelling with his father, that was even better. It was different from when he was younger, sometimes Harun and his siblings would accompany Karasu on a visit to Otosan Uchi or one of the castles of the Great Clans. But those trips were short, and there were far more people around. On this trip there were just the magistrates and legionnaires that usually accompanied the Emerald Champion.
And on the road, Karasu had more time for him than at home. They would train in the evenings, side by side, father and son. Harun also had lots of questions about the Legion. He had grown up around it, but now it was before him he wanted more details. Karasu answered them, sometimes with Akodo Ryoichi adding his own remarks. Ryoichi also took the time one evening to scratch out a strategy on paper for Harun, showing the young man how the Battle for the Second Seal had gone.
“Was it always like this?” Haruna asked one evening as their journey neared its end. “What you’ve told me about the Legion, its different to what I have read about war at the academy and what I was part of when I was in Unicorn lands.”
“It is different to a traditional army,” Karasu admitted. “And it is different because it had to be.” When Harun looked a little confused, Karasu explained more. “The Legion was started in a very dark time for Rokugan, much of the land had been taken by the forces of the Onyx, peasants had been driven from the lands and the ones that stayed were raided and found it hard to grow food with the spread of the Taint.” Karasu gave a sad smile. “Many of us tried to help as much as we could, your mother Yamada was one of them. She told me of the raids she would go on against the Onyx, and how they would train the villagers to resist the Onyx if they returned.”
“But…didn’t we fight?” Harun asked. “The Clan Legions? The Imperial Legions?”
“Yes, but…there wasn’t a lot of success, at least at first,” Karasu explained. “Moto Taigo told me that he and Mirumoto Tsuda, he was Emerald Champion then, disagreed about how to go about it. Taigo left and formed the Last Legion and welcomed anyone who came there wishing to fight. Clan samurai, peasant, ronin…they all got a home, and a cause, and then they started winning.”
“What about Akodo Kano?” Harun asked, thinking back to his talk with Akodo Kibo not long ago.
“Kano was…” Karasu thought back, looking a little uncomfortable. “Well, he was having a lot of success and there were some who thought he should be put in charge of the Legion. And there were a few who were…worried.”
“I read some of my mother’s papers,” said Harun. “I think some were draft of the Legion treaties, all the restrictions that were put on him. There were a lot.”
“Well, they couldn’t change the Legion from what it was,” Karasu said. “What Taigo started, everything he and the other generals put in place, were a large part of the success. That treaty, that was one way to continue the Legion as it was. And…I was another.”
Harun stared at him. “What do you mean, father?”
“The Legion needed someone to stand up for what it was,” Karasu explained. “Someone that would work with it, and the leadership in place to make sure the success would continue with the full support of the Empire. Yamada, she explained all this to me and she introduced me to Hikahime-no-fortune who began my lessons on strategy.”
Harun stared at his father through the firelight. “Father…I…I met Hikahime-no-fortune, that night that Zetsubou-shryo-died. She came through the arch after my father Nakura did, she wore the armour of the Blessed Guard.”
Karasu stared at his son for a long moment. “Did she speak to you?”
Harun nodded.
“What did she say?” Karasu asked,
“Well, she said something about my mother not following her advice,” said Harun. “But she also said that I would join the Legion, and take Toshi Ranbo.”
“By yourself?” Karasu asked, raising a sceptical eyebrow.
“She didn’t say,” said Harun with a grin. “It didn’t quite seem right to ask more of her.”
“Fair enough,” said Karasu.

The next day, they rode up the hills that surrounded the Kintani valley. At the top they made a stop, below in the valley they could see the vast encampment surrounding Kyuden Kyotei in the valley below.
“The headquarters of the First and Second Imperial Legions,” Karasu said. He took a spyglass, old by the look of it, looking through it down the valley and then offered it to Harun.
Harun held it in his hands for a moment. “How did you get this? Majid told me they’re even rare among the Unicorn.”
“From an old friend,” said Karasu. And that was all he would say about it.
Harun held it up to his eye. Through the spyglass he could see the rows of tents surrounding he castle, even the columns of soldiers as they trained.
“Now look up, further away, to the west,” said Karasu from beside him. “Can you see it?”
“Toshi Ranbo,” said Harun breathlessly. “It looks so near!”
“We should be there soon,” said Karasu. “And we all need to be ready.”
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Re: L5R - The Duty of War - A Post Winter Court 5 story

Postby Kakita_Harun » Wed Apr 25, 2018 6:44 am

That afternoon, they rode into the encampment. The emerald green and gold banners had clearly been seen from a distance, as there were soldiers either side of them cheering and waving as they rode through. Harun grinned, but Karasu was ahead of him so Harun couldn’t see his reaction.
Harun thought they would be going to the castle, that made sense. But instead they turned before they entered and stopped near a rather modest tent. The castle, Harun learned later, was for the accommodation and treatment of the wounded and medical staff. Also there were the stables as well as where supplies and weapons were stored and distributed.
A woman came out of the tent, she looked to be in her thirties. Her hair was cut short and rather ragged, her clothing a dull brown aside from the Imperial Legion jinabori jacket which she wore. But she wore the daisho of a samurai.
She’s a ronin, Harun realised as they dismounted, and high ranking from that jacket.
The horses were taken away to the council, the ronin woman stood there almost defiantly then made a bow.
Not as low as a ronin usually would make even to a Clan samurai, thought Harun.
“You and yours are most welcome, Champion Kakita,” she said. “You have chosen a good time to return. Most of those who left us for the winter have now returned, and we have a number of new recruits.”
“And I have one more for you,” said Karasu. “This is my son Harun, he will be joining the Legion. Harun, this is Katsua Hisato, Taisa of the First Imperial Legion.”
Harun made a bow as he was expected to. Hisato looked him up and down, from his armour, to his daisho, to his fresh eager face.
“Impressive looking, but has he experience?” Hisato asked.
“I do...Taisa,” said Harun, remembering at the last moment. “I was Topaz Champion of my year at the Kakita Academy, I won my first duel at Kaeru Toshi and I saw combat while I was in the lands of the Unicorn Clan last summer.”
Hisato raised her eyebrows. “So, you have been blooded?” Her voice softened a little, but it still had the air of authority. “We will see what sort of hohei we can make you into. Report to recruitment, you’ll be assigned kit and barracks.”
She then turned away and started talking with Karasu, both of them walking away and leaving him there for a few moments before Harun realised what had happened. He had been given an order, by a ronin. So he left to find recruitment
Karasu looked over his shoulder, watching Harun leave. He would find out sooner or later what was expected of him here.

Fortunately, it didn’t take much to find recruitment. Harun was then told to stand on one of the rows of new recruits. He stood between two peasants who looked a little uncomfortable with him there.
Down the row were clerks with writing tablets, checking and securing people’s papers that had their experience of combat as well as permission from superiors to volunteer themselves for service.
Karasu had marked Harun’s with his own chop, this did cause the clerk to take a second glance at Harun before moving on. Harun waited after they passed him, looking around to see who else was there. A lot of ronin and peasants, but he saw a few clan samurai. Many of them Crane or Phoenix, a few Dragon and one in Unicorn colours. And a good number from Minor Clans that he couldn’t recognise.
Then in groups of about twenty they were told to move off, heading to the castle where they were to be kitted out.
“Is this where we get weapons?” asked a woman behind him asked. Harun looked behind at her. She wore the threadbare clothes of peasant and smelled as if she needed cleaning.
“I don’t think so,” Harun said politely, trying not to breathe in too much. “I think those are distributed later unless you have one already.” He absently patted his daisho.
The woman looked annoyed and didn’t say anything.
It came for Harun’s turn and he was issued a wicker backpack heavy with the soldier’s kit that was given to everyone who joined the legion, samurai and peasant. Mess kit, rations as well as writing supplies, candles, flint and a whetstone and silk cloth for keeping weapons sharp and clean. Tied on top was a rolled tatami sleeping mat and blanket, so when Harun slid the pack onto his back it was rather heavy and cumbersome. He left the supply room at the back of the column, walking as quickly as he could in spite of the load.
He followed them down the lines of jinmaku walls which had been set up. Walls that would give them privacy and shield the wind, but not yet the roof that made up the tent.
Harun put down his pack. Are we supposed to set it up ourselves? he wondered.
Apparently, they were.
Harun had no idea what to do, even when he had been travelling with his father there had been other people to do things like this. The camp was always made ready for them if they needed it. But this wasn’t the case here.
Fortunately, there were people there who knew what to do. Shimo, the peasant woman who had spoken to him earlier, started taking charge. This was a bit…confronting at first for Harun, but seeing as the others went along with he did as well without complaint. Though he thought it a bit much when he was set to digging a trench alongside the Badger Clan samurai Ichiro Sadake,
“I guess they found something we can do, eh Kakita-san?” he said with a grin.
Harun didn’t answer him, grunting in irritation when dirt got into his scandals.
When that was done, Harun went back to his pack for something to eat. A bag of rice, konbu, dried fish flakes, dried plums…nothing very substantial. At least, nothing he could eat right now.
Shimo came over, an amused expression on her face. “I guess you don’t really know what to do with all that?”
Harun shook his head.
She picked up the pot and the bag of rice. “Come on, Mikote,” she said kindly. “Let me show you the ways of the world.”
Over that meal that Harun helped prepare, he got to know the other people in his unit.
Shimo, he learned while she showed him how to mould the rice balls, had been on the retinue of an Emerald Magistrate until he had died the previous summer.
“The Legion seemed like the best move,” she said. “The Taisa has risen through the ranks, made a name for herself. I don’t see why I can’t. And,” she added, “there was Hikahime-no-Fortune.”
Harun smiled and said nothing. There were some things that were too hard to explain.
Ichiro Sadake had grown up in the hub villages that surrounded Otosan Uchi where what remained of the Badger Clan.
There was Kawa and Toshi, brother and sister who had come from a village in Mantis lands along with Yoritomo Oyama. Shiba Nishina, who wore armour of a much earlier vintage though he seemed hardly much older than Harun. Mirumoto Itami, whose go board provided some amusement later. And there was Yonezu, who talked to hardly anyone and when the meal was over sat in a dark corner with only his pipe for company.
“Harun, you haven’t told us much about yourself,” observed Shimo.
She’s rather forward, Harun thought. Aloud he said modestly, “Well, there isn’t a lot to tell. I have wanted to serve in the Legion for as long as I known what it was. I tried the Kakita Academy…”
“Very find background for soldiering,” observed Ichiro Sadake dryly.
Harun grinned. “I was Topaz Champion of my year, and then I went to Unicorn lands and was there when Shiro Moto was taken.”
“You have seen battle?” Kawa asked,
Harun nodded.
“What was it like?”
Harun thought a moment. “Confusing,” said Harun. “But that was with the Unicorn, things are a bit different here or so my father said.”
“Your father?” Shiba Nishina asked. “Was he a Moto that married into the Kakita?”
Mirumoto Itami laughed. “No,” he said. “I think I saw you earlier riding in, Kakita-san. Your father is Kakita Karasu-ue, the Emerald Champion.”
Harun was quiet a moment. He had wanted to fit in more, this meant not telling people who his father was. At least not just yet. Then he nodded.
They all looked at him in surprise and shock.
“You could have gone anywhere, but you came here,” said Yoritomo Itami. “Why?”
“Because I wanted to serve,” answered Harun simply.
“I think its good,” said Shimo, backing Harun up. “We all are here to serve, and to prove ourselves.”
Harun smiled, he was starting to like this place.

Training began in earnest the next day. The trumpets blew before dawn, and they were on the training field before anyone had a chance to eat. They were issued bamboo poles and an instructor led them through a series of drills. The pace set was gruelling and even Harun found it hard to keep up, but he knew this wasn’t about combat but endurance and discipline. Something that wasn’t always valued by the Kakita.
Onyx won’t stop after the first strike, he told himself every morning when his arms would start to ache, and he would keep going.
After drills and the morning meal, it was time for combat training in earnest. Spears, bows and—for those who were samurai—swords.
Most afternoons it was back to endurance training. Drills again, or running around carrying packs filled with rocks until they were told to stop.
The training was harder than anything Harun had gone through and most nights he fell asleep as soon as he lay on his sleeping matt. But it was also rewarding, not just when he improved but when he was able to commiserate with the ones he shared barracks with. It drew them together as a group, and he learned new skills.
He was proud of the day he formed rice balls by himself, despite scalding his hands.
Sometimes Harun saw his father on the training field. Watching the new recruits, talking with the instructors. But if he saw Harun he didn’t approach him.
Days turned into weeks, training was intense and it left only little time for leisure in the evenings. And it was on one of those evenings that Harun received a letter from Arahime. He wanted until later that night and read it by the light of a candle.


Dear Harun,

I am writing to let you know I made it safely to Second City. I only just arrived, and this is the last boat back to the Empire before summer begins and all the ships stop.
I’m sorry that I was angry that you were late. I am sure you had good reasons for it. You never go back on your word, ever, and I know you tried your best.
I wish I could have waited, but when Lord Ayumu gives an order, it is my place, just as it is yours, to serve as best we can.
This city looks so strange and wonderful. I am sure it is full of adventure. I will have so many good stories to tell you when I get home. And you can tell me of the life with the Unicorn. Of what it is like to ride freely across the plains.
I cannot wait to share all these stories with you some day. That would be enough for me.

Fondly,
Kakita Arahime

He smiled and read it three more times, then folded it carefully and secured it safely with the letter from his mother Yamada. And most nights, if he managed to keep his eyes open, he would get either one of them out and read them again.
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Re: L5R - The Duty of War - A Post Winter Court 5 story

Postby Kakita_Harun » Sat Apr 28, 2018 7:33 am

Training in the cold light of the spring dawn was one thing, was something else entirely. And very unpleasant.
Even with a straw cloak over his training clothes, Harun found it hard to keep dry. Water would get through, getting next to his skin while they ran drills on the training field.
There was the trouble of getting dry wood for the fires. Sometimes it was hard to find a shugenja who could help them out and they were faced with a cold meal and cold camp for the night.
And then there was the trouble of keeping their camp dry, which became a problem after about a solid week of rain. The trench Haurn and Sesuke had dug to drain water away wasn’t deep enough to do the job. So they had to go out, at night, in the pouring rain and dig it deeper.
It was all Harun could do to not grumble about the weather. Morale was lower than usual, but some too it better than others. Yoritomo Oyama functioned no differently to when the weather is fine, Shimo and Kawa just put on their conical straw hats and showed benign indifference. And the ronin Yonezu looked no different than what he did from day to day.
It seemed petty, but Harun did find it a little difficult to get up some mornings when he could hear the sound of the rain. You wanted this, he reminded himself, you were told it wouldn’t be easy.
The rain finally passed, they were able to get dry wood and have a hot meal for the first time in days. When this was done Harun retired to his sleeping mat, intending to read his letters before sleeping, except he couldn’t find them. They weren’t in his pack, his inro box or with his armour. He knew he could not have misplaced them, the letters were far too precious. Clearly, someone had taken them.
This is just like back at the dojo, Harun thought. The other students, they had called him “dirty” and “gaijin”, they had hidden his socks and messed up his bed. He closed his hand into a fist. He walked towards the campfire.
“Which one of you did it?” Harun demanded, looking at all of them in turn. “One of you went through my possessions and took something, I want it back.”
Shimo frowned at him. “There is a better way to do this, you know,” she protested.
Oyama shook his head. “This is serious, of one of us is guilty of this theft then how can we trust each other in combat?”
Yonezu made a derisive noise. “This is all rot,” he said. “How do we know you are not just making trouble? You are just complaining as this grubby camp offends your Crane sensibilities.”
Harun stared him down. “Are you accusing me of lying?” Harun challenged.
“Hardly,” spat Yonezu. “That would mean crediting you with actual intelligence.”
Harun pushed him back and they started to scuffle. Quickly, everyone else got up and pulled them apart. Harun resisted them, Yoritomo Oyama gently pushed him to the ground.
“Don’t let baka like him get the better of you son,” said Oyama.
Harun stopped resisting, but said nothing.
They all searched the tent and everyone’s possessions, but there was no sign of the letters. Harun sat down, his heart sinking. It wasn’t until he was getting ready for sleep again when something fell out of his clothing. He picked them up, it was his letters.
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Re: L5R - The Duty of War - A Post Winter Court 5 story

Postby Kakita_Harun » Sat May 12, 2018 8:28 am

Kakita Karasu’s tent was modest in size, hardly what one would expect for the Emerald Champion. But it did make up for it with the few personal touches he had brought in over the years. Every summer he was based with the Legion he worked out of this tent, not just Legion business but the numerous duties he had as Emerald Champion. In a way, it was a second home.
Along the back wall, partially concealed by a painted shoji screen, was a tatami sleeping mat and bedding, no different to the ones issued to the soldiers. Personal items were held in a small chest beside the bed that also had some candles and scrolls on top as well as a bamboo flute. Perpendicular to it, next to the entrance, was Karasu’s desk as well as daisho stand and armour stand which held the Emerald Armour when he wasn’t wearing it. On the opposite wall was a cabinet that held documents and maps as well as some personal items. In front of that was a wide low table surrounded with zabuton cushions, this had been used for many meals as well as planning battles and receiving guests.
Karasu was at the table this evening, going over reports and various correspondence as well the ongoing battle plan for Toshi Ranbo. But that evening he was lost in thoughts, the tea he had been drinking left to go cold as he ran over one thought in his mind. The new recruits were about to complete their training, and Harun with them.
Karasu had been watching the recruits a little, but deliberately kept his distance. He had talked with the training gunso and had heard how thoroughly Harun had been devoting himself to the training and the hardships that had come with it. And he had seen Harun’s test for the cavalry, coming out with the best of them.
And now Harun would be facing combat. That fact almost made Karasu reassign him elsewhere, it was within his power, to place Harun in an out of the way posting that would never see combat. Protect him from harm, as he had promised Yamada.
He had sent so many young men to their deaths, some of them not much older than Harun.
As Harun’s father, he would have picked up that brush, written that transfer, but as his commanding officer…
“Senzo,” Karasu called, the man who attended the tents came in and bowed. “Find my son, bring him here.”
Senzo gave another bow and left.
Karasu cleared the table and poured out the cold tea, putting some more hot water on to boil.
If anything happened to him…how would I explain it to Yamada? Karasu wondered.
Harun entered the tent and Karasu could only marvel at the change that had come over him in only a few weeks. He looked taller, either he had grown or he stood more erect and confident from the drills and standing on parade they had done in training. He was thinner, tanner from the time spent outside, his teenage beard grown beyond its careful trimming.
But there was one other thing that had not changed. That eagerness, that drive to prove himself. Only there for a moment before the blank on resumed over his face, but still there.
Harun made a bow. “You sent for me, father,” he said.
Karasu nodded. “Sit down,” he said, his tone friendly as they went to the table and he poured the tea. “I have been watching your progress, but it’s a while since we spoke. How are you finding it all?”
“Challenging, like you said,” said Harun, sipping his tea. “But there have been a lot of new things, and I don’t think I’ve done too badly.”
“Too badly?” Karasu raised an eyebrow. “I watched your cavalry test, not everyone can get selected for mounted infantry straight out of training.”
“Did you…speak with them?” Harun asked.
“I didn’t have to,” said Karasu. “Your skills and experience showed for themselves.”
Harun looked down, his cheeks hot with embarrassment. Karasu shook his head.
“Never be less than who you are Harun, or what you are capable of,” said Karasu.
“I won’t, father,” said Harun.

The next morning, the former new recruits were all given their assignments and sent to outfitting. Those that needed weapons were issued with them, as well as fresh supplies and rations. Finally, each soldier was given the sashimono flag that would attach to their backs in combat, it showed their unit painted large in black on green with their platoon and rank smaller below.
Most were assigned to Togawa unit, on Harun’s the Kyojin Platoon was painted below, but didn’t see anyone else with this. Still, he walked with the others to another part of the encampment where the Togawa unit’s nobori flag was sunk into the ground to mark where they resided when not in combat. At least five hundred strong in the tents that lined the row.
“From what I heard, they had significant losses last summer when the Onyx pulled back,” said Ichiro Sesuke to Harun. “And here we are, replacing them.”
Harun nodded, they walked down the rows to find their barracks which were on either side. The Chui, Shiba Dankaro, had a small tent at the end where he slept, and as Harun neared it the others with him started to peel off until he was alone outside Kyoujin Platoon’s tents, marked outside by a flag.
He stopped, putting his backpack on the floor but they all seemed to be occupied with eating, talking and some playing a few games of strategy. Only one looked up, a young man a few years older than Harun who wore the purple of the Unicorn Clan. He gave a smile.
“Welcome, I am Utaku Kenji,” he said, bowing.
“Kakita Harun, I have just been assigned,” he said, holding out his hand for Kenji to take.
Kenji took it to shake with pleasant surprise. “Gunso Koharu told me to expect to, she is in the field,” he said. “Leave your possessions here, she wants to see you saddled up. Everything else can wait.”
Harun nodded, leaving his backpack in the tent and then following Kenji.
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Re: L5R - The Duty of War - A Post Winter Court 5 story

Postby Kakita_Harun » Thu May 24, 2018 6:35 pm

Kenji took Harun to one of the training yards where the cavalry was. It was big field, with a rope line in spikes all around, where some of the various cavalry units drilled and trained. It was mostly light cavalry, but Harun did see some heavily armoured ones as well. Koharu was at the far end, in the company of several horses and bushi, shouting at them as they drilled. Riding back and forward under her scrutiny.
Koharu looked Harun up and down, hands defiantly on her hips. She was a short woman in her thirties, her hair was cropped short about her ears and she had a scar on her chin. “Kakita Harun?”
Harun nodded.
Koharu frowned at him and frowned at his armour some more. “You look too pretty to be useful,” she declared. “Are you sure you haven’t wandered into the wrong place?”
“I can ride and I can fight,” Harun said. “I also have seen battle, at Shiro Moto.”
She examined him again, less critically this time. “You’ll do.” She then blinked and then stared at him. “Kakita Harun? That armour…dark skin like a Moto…you’re Denko’s son…”
This confused Harun. “Denko? No…I’m…”
“I know who you are,” Koharu barked. She nodded to one of the others around. “Get this prince a mount.”
Harun stood there awkwardly while a horse was brought out. A well-formed gelding, brown in colour, light and bred for speed from probably Unicorn bloodlines.
“I know his paces, lets out you through yours,” said Koharu. “And mind you don’t be rough with him. You are replaceable, a horse not so much.”
“Yes gunso,” Harun said.
If Koharu expected Harun to mount straight away, she did not show any surprise when Harun did not.
Uncle Kousuda would kill me if I messed this up… Harun thought.
He approached the horse gently, slowly, holding his hands out to show the horse he was not a threat. He held out one hand, palm up, fingers angled down so the horse could down so the horse could sniff it. With the other hand, he fished half a piece of bread out of a pocket that was from his rations. Suddenly, the horse was a lot more interested in him. Harun smiled.
“What is his name?” Harun asked.
Koharu’s eyebrow went up. “Hayate,” she answered.
“Hayate,” Harun repeated. He stroked Hayate’s nose, allowing the horse to sniff his arms and shoulders, then ran his hand up the horse’s neck just as Kousuda had taught him as a boy. Then, when he was certain the horse was relaxed, Harun mounted in an easy, practiced motion.
The horse snorted, Harun used the reins to move the horse in a few circles.
“Taking your time?” Koharu asked, a little impatiently.
“Some things cannot be rushed,” answered Harun.
She nodded in agreement. Harun took Hayate through a few more paces before coming to a stop before Koharu.
“Ready,” he said.
“Take it a hundred paces, return and dismount,” Koharu said curtly.
Harun took off, making a brisk pace that wouldn’t tax Hayate too much, aware that the gunso’s eyes and a good number of the platoon’s were on him. He made the turn without slowing down too much, then started back. He could feel himself tense, the dismount was what he was worried about, and if he did it wrong, say caught his foot on the stirrup he could fall flat on his face.
Fortunately, that didn’t happen. Harun fairly slid down off the horse, needing only one hand to balance. The other was on his sword hilt, drawing it as he descended with the blade unsheathed before his feet had touched the ground.
Harun smiled, Koharu didn’t.
“Do it again,” she said.

They did it “again” so many times that Harun lost count. When Koharu was done watching Harun do it by himself, some more from the platoon did it with him. Back and forward, dismount and draw. And it was only when the sun was getting low that she dismissed him.
“You don’t wish to see me use my sword, gunso?” Harun asked her.
“If I wanted to see a flashy display of art, I’d go see a kabuki play,” Koharu said bluntly. “You are more than competent with that, or you wouldn’t be here. What I wanted to see how was how you could get in and out quickly, and I am satisfied you have.”
They then went back to the camp, Harun’s muscles aching from all the riding.
What was that name they called father? Denko? Lightning? I guess someone saw his strike…I could use a bath.
He said the latter to Kenji, asking where that could be gotten. Usually they washed with a bucket of water heated by the fire.
“Well, Tonashi Row has a few,” Kenji said.
Harun’s face was blank at this.
“Don’t tell me you haven’t been,” Kenji said.
“I haven’t,” said Harun.
Kenji laughed. “Lets get that armour off you. You are in for a treat.”
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Re: L5R - The Duty of War - A Post Winter Court 5 story

Postby Kakita_Harun » Fri May 25, 2018 6:58 am

Toshiwara Row was several rows of tents, houses and shacks, situated between where the barracks of two units and only accessible from the main entrance at one ends. No weapons were permitted within other than the jitte that the patrolling yoriki carried. And almost anything from within Rokugan—and beyond, to a small extent—could be found within its confines. Food and drink to augment one’s rations, exotic goods, entertainment, women—and men is one desired—as well as more mundane things such as getting one’s laundry done or getting a letter written and dispatched. And, to Harun’s relief, a bath house.
It was but a small shack with various booths where one changed and bathed. The place could have been cleaner, but the hot water was good, there was a time limit though and Harun would have liked to have stayed longer. But it did do a lot to relieve soreness in his muscles.
Afterwards, Kenji took him down to see other places. Several sake houses, a few stalls set up by traders, a geisha house that had some lurid paintings of girls on a flag outside…and a small tent with a dragon flag outside where they went inside.
“Nawa!” Kenji said as he pulled the tent flap back.
“No noise!” shouted back a voice. “Not until I am done here.”
Harun blinked in the dimlight, inside it was dark and there was the smell of ink and charcoal. He heard a woman’s low moan, then as his eyes adjusted he saw the woman, sitting on the floor with her back bare, her covering her modesty in front with her hands. Behind her was a man, bald and also naked to the waist.
What have I walked into here? Harun wondered. Then he saw the tattoo on the floor next to them. So, he’s a henshi, a tattooist…
They sat down against the far wall while the tattooist finished with the woman. It did not take very long, she was shown the results by angling two mirrors then put her clothes back on and left.
The tattooist then approached them and Harun could see him more clearly. He wore patched pants of a Dragon green and had a Dragon tattoo that coiled around his chest and arms, ending on his face with his own eye the dragon’s eye.
“Ah, Kenji,” said the tattooist. “I assume you have come for some more shading? I hope you haven’t ruined the work I have done with that recklessness I keep hearing about.”
“It is still intact, Nawa,” laughed Kenji. “But I have brought you someone new. Just out of training and wanting to make his mark. Harun, this is Mirumoto Nawa.”
“A pleasure to meet you, Mirumoto-san,” Harun said, taking a bow from the seated position.
“Bah, your Crane manners are hardly needed in this tent,” said Nawa, spitting into a bucket. “But there’s so much green in you, I’d wonder you weren’t from my clan.”
“I’m not green,” Harun insisted. “I was at Shiro Moto.”
“Not bad, not bad,” Nawa nodded. “But from the look of you, you look as if you arrived there by palanquin and watched from a distance.”
Kenji laughed and Harun joined in.
“You came here to watch or be marked?” Nawa asked.
“I didn’t know I was coming here,” said Harun.
“Well, if you make up your mind, look at the scroll on the wall,” said Nawa. He nodded to Kenji. “You there, you know what to do.”
Kenji stripped off his shirt and sat still on the floor, Nawa picked up his tools and set to work. Harun went and had a look at scroll, he wasn’t sure if he wanted a tattoo. Most of what was there were animals, the totems for the Great Clans but there were also some samurai with swords swinging and shapely geisha. But when he saw the horse and the Crane, so well-drawn and alive looking, he knew he had to get both of those.
Both parts of me, together…
Kenji finished, carefully putting his shirt back on.
“You made up your mind?” Nawa asked.
“Yes,” Harun said. “The crane and the horse, can you do them close together? On my left shoulder blade?”
It took a bit of time with the sketching with ink on Harun’s shoulder and the mirror, but Nawa would not begin until Harun was completely satisfied with it.
“It will be on your body for the rest of this life,” he told Harun. “You need to get it right or not at all.”
When the sketch was complete, Nawa dipped the steel point of the needle in the ink.
“This will hurt,” Nawa says. “But no more than a dozen or so nicks with a sword will do. Keep still, you don’t want me drawing ragged.”
“I am ready,” Harun said, bracing himself.

It did hurt, much more than Harun thought it would or care to admit, almost as bad as the wound he had suffered in Unicorn lands. But it did look good, Nawa had shown him the finished outline in the mirror before they had left, but not before a stern warning not to “ruin his work” and to return once the skin healed.
Kenji suggested they go to the sake house, it would help numb the pain and he figured some of their unit should be there right now.
Calling it a “sake house” was rather exaggerating. It was a grass shingled roof where one sat on the floor and used boxes as small tables. Harun was a bit hesitant to go in, but Kenji assured him it was good sake.
They were noticed the moment they entered the place, at least Kenji was. A group waved them over and then made room for them to sit down.
“Harun, I don’t think you know everyone, so I’ll go around,” he said, pointing to people as he addressed them. “Shinjo Sayaka, Isawa Kanbei, Yoritomo Osu, Tsubaru, Daidoji Akemi…” The names blended after a while, but Harun did try to remember them.
The first round came and Harun felt more relaxed. They asked him questions, traded stories and told Harun about themselves. Shinjo Sayaka, almost the mother of the group, had been there the longest, joining when Moto Taigo was still in charge. Isawa Kanbei was an exile from the Phoenix Clan, quite polite but more willing to talk once sake loosened her tongue. Yortiomo Osu had joined the legion three years previously, quite jovial, but Kenji told Harun later that his entire close family had been wiped out when the Mantis islands fell. Tsubaru, a pleasant-faced ronin who was just as boisterous as Osu. And Daidoji Akemi who was—despite her repeated denials—the best sniper in the unit.
“A sniper?” Harun asked. “Do you use a bow or a crossbow?”
“Neither,” Akemi told Harun. “I use a Tanegashima, with gaijin pepper.”
Harun was a little shocked at this. He knew the Legion and yes, even his own clan, used weapons like this. But he didn’t like them, there was something…dirty.
But somehow those felt less important, at least right now.

When they left the sake house, Harun could feel his feet wavering a little. As if they did not know how to get in contact with the ground very well. Kenji took one look at him and suggested they head back to the barracks. Harun stumbled, brushing against someone as he passed.
“Hey watch it,” they snarled.
“So sorry,” said Harun, his words slurring a little.
“Hey…Yonezu,” said another. ”Is that that Crane you said killed your father.”
“That whelp?” Yonezu laughed. “It was his mother.”
This stopped Harun in his tracks. “What?”
“You heard me,” Yonezu spat. “Those letters you had, your mother was Utaku Yamada. She killed my father, her and the Black Hand she is with. You’re the son of a traitor.”
Harun heard voices behind him calling his name, but he didn’t pay them attention. And all he saw was red… He could hear people shouting at him, pulling him away…
“Harun! Harun!” Kenji shouted, slapping his face.
Harun brushed something off his face, blood. Then looked around. What had happened? Then he saw Yonezu, his face was bloody as well.
“What happened?” Harun asked, allowing them to help him to his feet. “I wasn’t thinking.”
“No shit,” said Kenji. “Lets get you out of here.”
Harun allowed himself to be led. Did I just make an enemy?
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Re: L5R - The Duty of War - A Post Winter Court 5 story

Postby Kakita_Harun » Wed May 30, 2018 9:17 pm

Why does everything hurt? Was Harun’s first conscious thought. Then it all came flooding back. Nawa…the tattoo…the sake house…Yonezu… He said my mother was a traitor… He burned with shame at what had happened. He had lost his head, and drinking wasn’t an excuse.
“Harun, roll call,” called out a voice.
“Hai!” With a sheer force of will, Harun pulled himself into a sitting position. Somehow, he managed to get his clothes on and stagger out.
They assembled in columns on the parade ground between the two wings off the barracks, the gunso calling names and each hohei calling out “Hai” when his or her name was called. The Chui of Togawa Unit, Shiba Dankaro, stood on the platform outside his tent. A solid-built man of about thirty, he wore hakama and juban or a rather muddy orange. His second in command, Shiba Jiyuna, stood beside him.
When the gunsos were finished roll call, Dankaro stepped forward.
“Togawa Unit, you stand before me and I am proud of all of you,” he said. “To lead you into battle, to fight beside you and if it came to it, to die beside you. And I know you will all do the same, we serve the Emperor and his Champion with Pride, we fight as one.” He paused, looking over all of them. “Which is why when one of you shames this unit by their actions, they shame all of you.”
Harun felt butterflies in his stomach. He was eight years old again, about to be called into Kakita Kenshin-sensei’s study.
“Kakita Harun and Yonezu,” said Dankaro. “Step forward.”
Harun moved forward, walking between the columns of soldiers. He could feel all eye on him as he mounted the platform. Hs knew what was coming, but that didn’t deter him from bowing as appropriate.
Whereas Harun felt appropriately penitent, Yonezu showed no such traces. He stood beside Harun defiantly, sulkily. This just made Harun despise him more.
“Both of you stand accused of conduct unbefitting a member of the Emerald Legion,” said Dankaro. “Do you have anything to say?”
Harun shook his head.
“Actually, I object to this,” said Yonezu in a rather saucy voice.
Dumbfounded, all eyes went to Yonezu.
“You object?” Dankaro asked incredulously.
“I do,” continued Yonezu. “It was that one that threw the first punch. I was defending myself. It is him you should be punishing, not me.”
Harun stared at him, aghast at his audacity. “I was defending the honour of my family that you insulted!”
“Then defend it with steel!” snarled Yonezu. “Not with fists like the Moto gaijin you really are.”
Harun would have been on him had Dankaro not pulled him back.
“I will not have disputes in Togawa Unit,” declared Dankaro. “You will settle this like samurai, the first blood. The loser will be reassigned. Is this acceptable?”
Harun and Yonezu nodded. Harun thought he saw Yonezu smile.
“You will be given ten strokes and confined to barracks for five days,” said Dankaro. “At the end of this, it will be settled.”
He then nodded to Jiyuna who came forward holding a bamboo switch.
Harun took off his shirt and bowed. He didn’t flinch.

The switch did without breaking the skin, just like the beatings he had had at the Kakita Dojo. Discipline, not punishment. It still hurt, but Harun did his best to not show that it got to him.
He used the time in barracks to train, of which he had been slipping a little recently. Fortunately, it did not take long until he was back at a satisfactory level.
Yonezu trained as well. The ronin’s style was just as quick, though far less cleaner. Still, Harun wondered if he had studied at a dojo.
The day of the duel came and it was the subject of some interest to the unit. Many of the soldiers, samurai and peasant, made a ring around where the duelling circle was to be set up talking excitedly. Not everyone took an interest, Koharu the gunso of Kyoujin Platoon thought it an utter waste of time but couldn’t do anything about it.
Harun wore his Crane blue Hhkama with the matching kataginu, the mons of the Kakita Academy and the Kakita Dojo on each side of his chest. He tamed his kinky hair into a topknot, looking every bit proper as he should.
Yonezu wore the standard everyday garments one could get in supplies. Serviceable and brown, but not fancy. But to this he added an obi of faded red, and another cloth of the same hue on the lower half of his face. Yonezu’s hair was long and black, cascading down his back and floating over his face with the wind.
Shiba Jiyuna stepped forward, she carried a fan. Behind her, Shiba Dankaro watched silently.
Jiyuna raised the fan and called for silence. “This will settle the dispute between you,” she says. “The victor will remain, the loser transferred. Let fate fall as it will.”
Yonezu and Harun bowed, taking up positions.
Taking a deep breath, Harun immersed himself in the void. All was clear, all was calm. He looked at Yonezu and saw his weaknesses.
Jiyuna brought her fan down.
A flurry of movement, a rasp of steel, and a gasp of surprise from those who had sharp enough eyes to see what had happened. Harun and Yonezu stood eye to eye, each having the other’s sword on their neck.
There was complete silence as everyone held their breath. Jiyuna stood frozen for a moment, then quickly consulted with Dankaro.
“Fate has decided,” she declared. “Both will remain.”
Harun and Yonezu bowed then the crowd began to disperse noisily. Harun stood still a moment, watching the Chui go back into his tent with Jiyuna.
Utaku Kenji came up with Yoritomo Osu. Both were grinning like idiots.
“Well, I don’t know how you did it, but you managed to solve this the perfect way,” says Kenji.
“Perfection in all ways,” said Harun loftily. The he laughed.
“Come on,” said Osu, nudging them both. “I need a drink.”
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Re: L5R - The Duty of War - A Post Winter Court 5 story

Postby KakitaKaori » Thu May 31, 2018 11:24 am

Nice chapter! Even if you don't get feedback, I"m sure people are still reading.
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Re: L5R - The Duty of War - A Post Winter Court 5 story

Postby Kakita_Harun » Sat Jun 09, 2018 6:09 am

Some weeks later, Kakita Karasu sat at his war table. After what was a rough start, the reports about Harun had improved. He had now seen combat with his platoon in engaging Onyx stragglers that raided the borders of the Lion Clan lands. He had fought bravely beside his comrades. And, perhaps most importantly, he had returned.
But all of this was but a mere rehearsal for the main game that would be played at Toshi Ranbo. A game that seemed to have almost too many players by the way all the Great Clans were promising troops and materials with a hope of sharing in the glory and spoils.
But it was still too early for that. A hit at the former imperial capital had to firm and decisive with no rom for failure. Toshi Ranbo had to truly be an island, cut off completely from any support from the Onyx yet. And it wasn’t, not yet but it would be soon.
As the meeting drew to a close, someone entered the tent. At first Karasu thought it was just Akodo Ryoichi returning with more water for the kettle. But it wasn’t. It was Karasu’s wife Kakita Hitomi. She was dressed in plain and comfortable travel clothes wet from the rain.
Karasu smiled. This was not the first time she had surprised him as such, nor would it likely be the last.
“Mina-sam,” he said to his officer. “I think that is everything, thank you.”
They left quickly, bowing to Hitomi as they did.
“You never cease to surprise me, my wife,” said Karasu, crossing the room and clasping her hand gently.
Hitomi smiled quietly. There was and had always been a significant difference in the affection they felt for each other. However, years of marriage had formed a middle ground between this. A bond of friendship, one with established boundaries as well as frequent absences from each other.
Yet they were together on many things, their devotion in their service to Rokugan and parenting their adopted children.
“Please, get your wet things off, I’ll make some tea,” said Karasu. He found the full teapot where Ryoichi had left it by the tent door. “Are you staying long this time? You never do, but I always ask.”
“I will need to leave in the morning,” said Hitomi. She removed her clothing to dry by the porcelain heater and borrowed one of Karasu’s yukatas. She sat down at the table, her hair hung long and loose about her shoulders, damp with rain. “I will see Harun before I go. How is he?”
“Doing well, at least now,” said Karasu. He put the water on to boil and started clearing the table. Hitomi started to help but he prevented it. “No, you sit there,” he said gently. “You have had a long journey.”
“Harun has been having problems?” Hitomi asked.
“Managed to get himself into a fight and a duel in the first two days out of training,” said Karasu. “But you know Harun, he handled it.” Karasu started to make the tea and passed Hitomi her cup.
“I had hoped to see him when he came home, but I was delayed,” said Hitomi taking her cup. “Has he changed at all from his time in Unicorn lands?”
Karasu searched through a chest and brought out some dried plums for them to share “Not exactly,” said Karasu. “He has become more like himself, you could say.” He paused a moment, looking down into his cup. “There was a time last year when I thought he wouldn’t come back.”
“You put too little faith in yourself,” said Hitomi. “Of course Harun would come back. He has always wanted to be like you, that’s why he is here now.”
Karasu blushed a little and drank his tea.
Hitomi drank her tea and put down her cup. “I came tonight because I have news for you,” said Hitomi. “I have some word from Toshi Ranbo.”
“You do?” Karasu said with surprise. He had given up asking where Hitomi got her intelligence and he wasn’t sure he wanted to know. But word from Toshi Ranbo was welcome, as all they had were from records or the observation of their own scouts.
Hitomi nodded. “I have a few things, we can talk about them later,” she said, pouring more tea for both of them. “But there is something I must tell you now. In command of the defence of the city is Daigotsu Shimekiri.”
Karasu felt cold to his very bones. Shimekiri, the Fallen Crane, the Black Kakita. So notorious that many thought he wasn’t real, just a tale to frighten children. Yet every child that passed through the Kakita Academy knew of him.
He had once been a promising duellist of the Kakita but his arrogance and cruelty had had him barred from ever becoming a Kenshinzen—the best duellists in the Crane Clan. He had joined the Spider Clan, embraced the Taint of Jigiku and taken his revenge on the Kakita family. Including Kyoumi’s parents.
“Of course he’s not dead,” Karasu said, his voice cold with anger. “He can’t be killed, and he’s been around for enough lifetimes to surpass the skill of any Kenshinzen.”
“He will die in that city, Karasu,” said Hitomi. “He needs to.”
“I’ll make sure of it,” said Karasu. “Even if I have to do it myself.”
Hitomi nodded and said nothing, for now.

Later, Hitomi slept in his bed and Karasu laid out cushions for himself. But he couldn’t sleep. He practiced with a bokken. He was a blur as he did strikes, guards, katas. Faster, and faster still. He had once hoped to be a Kenshinzen himself, to walk out with the Crane army in the bright winged raiment. But fate had decided something very different for him.
But still, to kill Shimekiri, to purge this blight from the Crane Clan had a certain satisfaction about it.
He went into another kata, Standing on the Heavens, he was ready.
Scribe and Adopted Crane


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