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 Kakita_Harun » Mon Jul 09, 2018 8:35 am

Akodo Ryoichi was cremated with the full honours of the Lion Clan. His bones and daisho were taken back to be enshrined in the Hall of Ancestors. And things returned to normal at the siege camp, or tried to.
Karasu did his best to keep moving forward. There was still much to be done before they could begin the siege properly. And this was not helped by the constant rain, which delayed the arrival of the Crab Clan with their siege engines.
One wet evening, Doji Ayumu arrived at his tent. Yet from his tone and demeanour he had not simply come for tea and conversation. But his face was the perfect mask.
“I came this evening to tell you this, because I am responsible,” said Ayumu. “It is your niece, Kakita Arahime-san. She is dead.”
A chill went right through Karasu, he had to carefully put his tea cup down or he would drop it. It seemed as if the entire world around him was frozen and silent.
“How…did this happen?” Karasu asked, his voice deliberately even.
“I received this from the ambassador, Doji Mushari-san,” Ayumu said, pulling out a letter. “He took Arahime away from the Zogeki court, give the warlord a chance to sort out the scandals between her and his grandson.” He paused. “She…was thrown overboard, and with the wild animals…they could not find her body.”
The words felt hollow, meaningless to Karasu. The seemed to flow over his head, but he forced himself to absorb them, accept the facts. Accept this terrible tragedy.
Oh Kyoumi, how will you bear it…
“This…this cannot be coincidence,” Karasu said, his voice rising in anger, his hand forming a fist. “So soon after the scandal.”
Ayumu nodded, giving Karasu the chance to absorb it.
“Harun,” said Karasu. “I need to tell him. Senzo!”
The ronin came into the tent.
“Find my son,” said Karasu. “Bring him here.”
Senzo bowed and departed.
“Ayumu-san, I tell you this now, Arahime’s death is not just an outrage against my family and clan, but shows the utter contempt the Zogeki have for us,” Karasu said, his voice quiet but with the threat of steel. “The Crane will have the full weight of the Emerald Office should you require it.”
Ayumu nodded gravely.
The tent flap opened and Harun entered. He wore the purple and white cloak he had gotten from Unicorn lands, that, with the effects of the wind and rain on his hair and beard, made him look wild and untamed. He bowed to Karasu and Ayumu, though the latter quickly left with a nod to Harun.
Harun looked confused at Ayumu leaving. “Father, is there something wrong?”
Karasu sighed. I cannot be his commanding officer tonight, he thought, tonight, I must be his father.
“Sit down, Harun,” said Karasu, gesturing to the table. He felt tired.
“Is there something wrong?” Harun asked. “Is it…my mother.”
“No,” Karasu said, shaking his head. “It’s…Arahime.”
Harun turned pale.
“She was travelling on board a ship with the Crane ambassador,” Karasu said. “During the night, she fell overboard.”
Harun looked a little confused. “But…Arahime can swim,” he protested. “She couldn’t…”
Karasu shook his head again. “Even if she did manage to make it to shore, there’s no hope,” he said. “She would have been torn to pieces by wild animals. I’m sorry.”
Karasu then watched Harun collapse, he clasped his face with a low moan. Like a young tree, grown a little and able to battle the occasional storm. But not like this.
Karasu gently put a hand his son’s shoulder. It was as if Harun was a child again. He looked up at Karasu, his face begging for it not to be true. But it was staring at them in the face, they had to accept it.
Harun moaned again, he tore at his face, his hair, his clothes. Karasu grabbed his hands, putting his face right up to Harun’s. “Harun, we will find who did this and make them pay. The Crane have sworn.”
“Send me, father,” Harun pleaded through his tears. “Let my blade avenge Arahime’s death. Send me!”
“No,” Karasu said, shaking his head. “I know you want to; I know your heart burns with the rage of vengeance. But that is not your place, my son.”
Harun bowed his head, closing his eyes.
He stayed in Karasu’s tent until he felt he could face his platoon again. When he left, Karasu sat at his desk with his head in his hands.
You threw her away, Ayumu, one of our brightest stars, gone forever…
He put a brush to paper and began composing the hardest letter he had ever written.

To my cousin, Kyoumi,
I write to tell you the most gravest of news…
Last edited by Kakita_Harun on Tue Jul 17, 2018 5:16 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: L5R - The Duty of War - A Post Winter Court 5 story

Postby Kakita_Harun » Mon Jul 09, 2018 9:43 pm

Found this awesome picture of Shimekiri. It was done by the guy who made him.

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

Postby Kakita_Harun » Sun Jul 15, 2018 6:21 am

The blow of Arahime’s death had left a change with Harun. He carried on his duties as Gunso of Kyoujin Platoon, perhaps even with greater diligence, but he kept himself very much apart from the other soldiers. He was less inclined to join them for drinks and stories around the fire. He did not say while, but given this was not questioned Harun surmised that Utaku Kenji told them what happened.
Devotion to his duty kept Harun busy. Kept his thoughts from wandering as they often did when kept unchecked. How he would never see Arahime again. How he missed seeing her before she left by only a few days. And how he never told her how he truly felt about her, how much she had come to mean to him, and never tell her of the future he had planned for them after the war.
The autumn continued, the first chills arrived. More troops from the Great Clans began arriving at the siege camp. The Crab Clan with their massive siege engines, brought with the assistance of the Mantis Clan’s ships. Forces from the Dragon Clan also arrived. And—to the surprise of many—shugenja from the Phoenix Clan, travelling down with the Dragon from their mountains.
And then, finally, the Shogun Utaku Chikara rode in with the remainder of the Imperial Legions. With her were the forces of the Unicorn Clan led by the Khan, Moto Tengri.
The siege camp, already immense, grew bigger. A floating bridge of boats and rafts was constructed up river from Toshi Ranbo, connecting the two halves of the siege camp. After two days, walls had to be constructed and sentries posted to fend off the pot shots taken at people crossing by the Onyx.
And Toshiwara Row, transplanted where it had been back at Kyuden Kyotei, fairly ballooned in size and had several smaller copies that sprang up from who knew where. Harun didn’t go, he did like the quiet when the others went though.
The pace of the camp picked up as well. If there were not in combat near the wall, they were training and were using their horses less and less. They would begin to siege the city proper soon and would have little use for them in the streets of Toshi Rambo.
But in the evenings, when Harun was trying to sleep, his thoughts were harder to escape. He tried to push them away, but they followed him even into his dreams. He would dream of Arahime, smiling and reaching out to him, then pulled away by the crush of bodies, oni and tainted samurai. Harun usually woke suddenly from those dreams, gasping and sweating. This didn’t really get remarked upon by the soldiers in his platoon. Not that they didn’t notice, but Harun wasn’t the only one with such dreams.

In his tent, Karasu sat at his strategy table, expanded with a few more tables to accommodate all that would arrive. The table had the maps, reports as well as the tea and other refreshments that would be needed to conduct what would no doubt be a very long meeting.
The pieces were in place, the great game could finally begin. But it wasn’t a game, this was with people who would die before it was over. They needed to win for their sacrifice to be worth it.
They began to arrive, Karasu recognised them as they did. Representatives from all the Great Clans and in some cases the Champions themselves. But there were a few unusual ones, like Isawa Koyo.
Karasu had known him slightly from that fateful court at Shiro Mirumoto eighteen years before. Koyo had openly defied the directives given to him by the Elemental Council, exposing the actions of the Isawa in the binding of ryu to shield the Phoenix lands from the forces of the Onyx as well as the killing of the Dragon of Fire. The Emperor had declared the Council to be found to face the consequences for their crimes, leading to open rebellion by the Phoenix who stood by the elemental masters. This, combined with the Onyx forces being able to invade as well as Shiba Michio and his Black Hand exacting retribution, led to utter chaos in Phoenix lands that had only calmed down relatively recently.
And Koyo had come, with what people he had and the blessing of the council of sensei that managed day to day affairs for the Phoenix as well, in his capacity as a Jade Magistrate, as the blessing of Jade Champion, Tamori Hoshina
But there was one missing from their number: Akodo Ryoichi. The strategy they were about to carry out was both of theirs, and was the product of many long meetings over many months. For it all to happen without Ryoichi was almost too cruel. But it was also one more reason why they needed to succeed.
"Shall we begin?” Karasu said when they were all seated. Tea and refreshments were distributed, Karasu brought their attention to the large map of Toshi Ranbo itself. Many details had been added from the various intelligence they received.
“Given what we know of Shimekiri, his methods, his mentalities…we know he will expect certain things from us. Which we will give him, and more.” He nodded to the map. “We begin with the weakest point of Toshi Ranbo’s walls…here.” He pointed to Okura sub-district, in the north west portion of the city. “And here.” He indicated where the pleasure gardens used to be nearby, now all destroyed in the Onyx occupation. “The artificial lake in Okura has only made the walls weaker, Shimekiri will be expecting us to hit there with siege engines.”
Hida Tetsuyori, brother to the Crab Clan Champion, nodded. “We have our trebuchets, stone breakers as well as ballistae, fire breathers and the steel of the Crab to do our part.”
Karasu nodded to him and kept going. “To the south, the Lion with Legion forces will assault the main gates which had the main road that led straight through the city. This will be infantry with ladders to mount the walls and battering rams to break the gates.”
Akodo Ashida, Champion of the Lion Clan, nodded with approval. “The forces of the Lion Clan will serve.”
“The Dragon, the Unicorn will maintain the fight outside the walls,” Karasu continued. “No Onyx soldier or creature will know a moment’s rest when we begin. We have the forces to hit them on all sides, and again this is what they will expect.”
There were murmur and nods of agreement.
“Or course, this is all show, distractions while we attack the real weak point of Toshi Ranbo, which is the river itself.” He traced his hand over the path of the Drowned Merchant River that ran right through the city. “We control the river, we control the city, we split it in two and prevent any reinforcement being made from either side…or orders being given.” He looked up at Koyo. “The Phoenix will make the first move here, you say you can take out the bridges?”
Koyo nodded. “The walls, the bridges, and any Onyx along the river will be in the path of the ritual we cast. Any shugenja that can be spared are welcome to add to our numbers.”
“And once this is done, the path has been cleared,” Karasu continued. “The Mantis will float the Crane and Legion troops up river, right into to the middle of the city itself.” Yoritomo Yamako, Champion of the Mantis Clan, nodded in approval. “Are there any questions?”
Mirumoto Konishi, Champion of the Dragon Clan, spoke. “You spoke of Shimekiri, but are we expecting to face the leader of the Onyx, Yuhmi no Oni?”
“Our intelligence indicates this is unlikely,” Karasu said. “This may mean Yuhmi has fled, but it may be too much to hope for.”
Konishi nodded, satisfied with this.
“The plan is sound, daring,” said Utaku Chikara with approval. She and Karasu had agreed earlier to split their command to each side of Toshi Ranbo.
This was our plan, Ryoichi, thought Karasu, let us hope we were right…

Several days later, Harun stood outside his father’s tent. He wore his armour, as Senzo had indicated when he had found Harun that this was a summons from his commander, not an invitation from his father. Harun had been hoping for the latter for a few days, but with the Legion and the forces of the Great Clans preparing to begin the siege proper, his father simply had less time.
And of course, everything had changed since they had gotten the news of Arahime’s death.
Senzo stood silently outside the Champion’s tent, giving no indication to Harun just why he had brought him here. Then the ronin got a signal from within and opened the tent door to let out several Legion Chui that were inside. Harun gave a bow, as he was expected to, but the Chui gave him no more than a brief acknowledgement of Harun while the continued their conversation as they walked out of sight.
“You may go in now,” said Senzo.
Harun entered, sitting in seiza on the flow and bowing not only to his father but the Taisa of the First Legion, Katsura Hisato.
“Kakita Harun-gunso, you may rise,” said Karasu, his tone formal.
Harun rose, looking for some sort of sign of why he was here from either of them. Karasu, of course, gave no indication, his face blank, his on perfect. But Katsura…was that a smile Harun could see on her face?
“Gunso, I have been advised by Katsura-Taisa of your exceptional and dedicated devotion to your duties, which have not only continued in the light of your…personal tragedy, but have increased.”
“I do my duty,” Harun said simply, inkling his head.
“You have proven yourself capable of holding responsibility,” Karasu continued. “Katsura-Taisa has made a recommendation and, in the light of the Legion moving towards beginning the siege on the city, I am granting it.”
Harun looked up. Katsura Hisato smiled at him.
“Kakita Harun, you are hereby granted the rank of Chui with the privileges and responsibilities attached to it,” Hisato said. “You will take command of the newly created Takano Unit.”
Harun bowed low, a little stunned but mostly numb. He thought he should be feeling more about this, good or bad, but instead he felt strangely hollow.
“I will endeavour to serve and prove the trust that you have placed in me,” said Harun.
“I know you will, my son,” said Karasu, unable to keep the pride he felt out of his voice.
But later, when Karasu was alone, he played over the scene in his mind. Harun’s reaction to his promotion worried him a little. His son appeared distant, yet very conscious of the responsibility that he had been given.
Hisato’s recommendation had sat on Karasu’s desk for a few days before he acted on it. He trusted Hisato’s judgment, and they had made officers of others younger than Harun.
But he’s still so young…
He would do well, Karasu knew that, as Hitomi would say Harun had learned to lead from the best.
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Re: L5R - The Duty of War - A Post Winter Court 5 story

Postby KakitaKaori » Sat Jul 21, 2018 11:49 am

Still reading! I enjoyed the strategy in this piece.
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Re: L5R - The Duty of War - A Post Winter Court 5 story

Postby Kakita_Harun » Wed Jul 25, 2018 6:57 pm

Takaro Unit consisted of five squadrons of twenty samurai, ashigaru and shugenja. Kyoujin, of course, now led by Utaku Kenji, Ranshu, with Daidoji Akemi as Gunso as well as Kuroda, Suna and Ishiiki. The reorganisation helped to improve morale a little, some evenings from his tent, Harun could hear the soldiers talking, laughing and telling stories around the campfires as well as singing.
Harun didn’t join them, and he honestly felt like he was an imposter in his role of Chui of Takaro. Particularly when he was briefing them in his tent. Here Kenji, Akemi as well as his second Ikoma Yasutaka helped, their attitude and deference giving Harun the air of authority he felt he was lacking.
They were training and drilling constantly, Harun kept up a fast pace and expected more of himself.
And then, what they were all waiting for finally happened, they received the orders for the attack on Toshi Ranbo. The official briefing was outside Katsua Hisato’s tent, mainly because all of the Chui in the First Legion would not fit in it now. There were an assortment of colours, clans and backgrounds, both male and female, full-samurai and ronin, bushi and ashigaru as well as one Isawa Tensai.
Hisato went over the plan, providing written notes to supplement and answering questions. Harun also made extensive notes of his own.
Karasu was also present, more observer than participant. But when a question came up about Daigotsu Shimekiri, he answered it himself.
“Do not concern yourself with him, concentrate on the goal of taking the city,” he said. “We do have something in mind for him, rest assured.” He met Harun’s eye and smiled.
That afternoon, Harun took it to Takano Unit.
“We will be with the ships going into the Forbidden City itself,” Harun explained, showing them all on the map. “It’s difficult, but it’s doable if we keep our heads.”
“How much resistance are we talking about?” Kenji asked.
“Considerable, but by the time we arrive it will be reduced,” said Harun. “The Phoenix Clan are going to soften up the Onyx for us first.”
“How?” asked Mirumoto Jaiyu, gunso of Suna Squadron.
“I’m not sure,” said Harun. “But given we leave tomorrow to get to the ships down river, I am guessing its big and we need to stay out of the way.” He looked up. “If there’s no more questions, that’s all. Get some rest, we leave at first light.”
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Re: L5R - The Duty of War - A Post Winter Court 5 story

Postby Kakita_Harun » Thu Jul 26, 2018 3:07 am

Harun spent his evening re-strapping his armour, the mundane and repetitive task helped keep his mind and hands busy. There came a call from the door of his tend.
“Kakita-Chui, you have a visitor,” called out someone.
Harun looked up to see Doji Kouta standing there.
“Kouta!” Harun stood up and bowed in greeting.
“Harun…did I interrupt something?” Kouta asked with a mocking grin.
Harun was immediately conscious of how his task might look to the Doji and laughed. “No, no, I am almost done.” He quickly finished and then put his armour on the stand. “Can I get you some tea, or something stronger? Sake?”
“Tea will be fine, I want to keep a clear head,” said Kouta. He looked around for a place to sit and then sat down on the simple reed mat.
Harun felt a pang of embarrassment. His tent was simple, armour and daisho stand, futon, lidded wicker basket for his possessions. But this was how the Legion lived in camp, and it was a far cry from the niceties of the castles of the Crane clan.
“Everything is so very different here,” Kouta noticed. “Many clans and ranks here together. How do you manage it?”
“With a little difficulty, to be honest,” Harun admitted as he made the tea. “But out near the wall, when you’re fighting, all that matters is that the weapon of the one next to you fights with you, not against you. When you fight together, you don’t notice the rank. Just that they’re doing their bit.”
“I’ll have to trust you on that,” Kouta said, sipping the tea. “It’s just so different to what we were taught at the Academy.”
“Yes, but it works, and has for a while,” Harun says.
“And after?” Kouta asks.
Harun shrugs. “I try not to think about that. Not since…”
Kouta nods sadly. “Arahime.”
Harun let out a sigh. “I…haven’t talked to anyone about it, not even my father,” he admits. “I didn’t see it until I knew she was dead, but I sort of planned my whole future on being with her. And now she’s gone…” He placed his tea cup down, shaking his head. “I should have said something, I should have told her before I left for Unicorn lands.”
“That sounds like regret,” Kouta noticed.
“I know,” Harun says. “That’s why I don’t like to talk about it.”
There was a long silence.
“You know…we all noticed, growing up,” Kouta said. “I admit I wasn’t the only one who…liked her, but you were so close and so right for each other, I didn’t want to say anything.”
“Maybe you should have,” Harun said. “I might have said something sooner.”
“Maybe,” Kouta agrees reluctantly.
Another long silence.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t want to get things so down,” Kouta said. “I wanted to tell you I’m heading out in the morning with you on the boats.”
“You and Isamu-sama?” Harun asked.
Kouta nodded. “Yeah, the Crane are going to try and kill Shimekiri,” he said. “He’s just even more of an embarrassment now.”
“I hope you succeed,” said Harun earnestly. “The man…if he can be called that…is a menace. He needs to be put down.”
“Oh, I know,” Kouta agrees. “But you know how it is, has to be done the right way.”
Harun nodded, he knew very well what that meant. He had heard it often enough from Karasu growing up.
Kouta stopped, listening. “Is that…”
Harun nodded. They both listened to the sound of Takaro Unit singing. It was a soldiers’ song, usually heard in the difficult time before battle when they were waiting for signal to go forward. About Midori the Monk, and his long trek down from the mountains of the Dragon clan where he killed more men with every step he took.
Kouta smiled. “I think I am beginning to get why you are here, Harun.”
Harun just smiled in return.

Karasu walked through the siege camp, letting himself be seen by the soldiers was a boost to their morale. Particularly now, on the eve of battle. Again, he felt the pang of Ryoichi’s absence, but looking up at the walls of Toshi Ranbo was enough to strengthen his resolve. Soon, it would be theirs once more.
He stopped in his walking when he came to the banners of Takaro Unit, wondering if he should see Harun. But Karasu didn’t see Harun with the men and the tent flap was closed. Karasu continued on.
Things had been different between them since Harun’s promotion—no, since Arahime’s death. Since then, Harun had withdrawn more within himself, while at the same time pursing his duties as Chui of Takaro with increased vigour.
He’s just like Yamada, Karasu realised, giving everything while having nothing.
And not for the first time, Karasu wondered where Yamada was that night. If things had occurred differently, would she be here among the Unicorn? Would Harun? Possibly.
I’ll talk to Ayumu, Karasu thought as he walked, acknowledging the bows of those who noticed him almost absently, surely something can be found for him that will serve well until he can test as a kenshinzen.
He came to Shrine of Hikahime, one had been established shortly after the siege camp had been made around Toshi Ranbo. The nobori flag painted with her name was rough, made from the cloth of rice sacks, the characters done quickly. The prayer tablets hung on a wooden frame that was made from broken polearms. And the shrine itself? A repurposed crate tied to another broken polearm.
Somehow it was fitting for Hikahime that her shrine would be made up of things that once been someone else. In life, she had never been one to put on airs or rise beyond the station of peasant that she had born to.
Tonight, there were no shortage of devotees and offerings. Karasu apart them, not wanting to attract attention away from their devotion.
They were all gone now, the founders of the Legion. Moto Taigo and Mirumoto Tsuda, both retired as monks. Akodo Dairuko and Moto Chinua, both dead along with Hikahime. Even the others he had gathered to take their place had gone, Akodo Kibo the only one he still had contact with but he was also retired.
They had all talked about this day, when they would stand before the walls of Toshi Ranbo about to take it. To reclaim from the dishonour and deceit of its loss of thirty years ago. The last Onyx stronghold left to fall.
He looked up at the Nobori banner fluttering in the breeze, spreading the characters of Hikahime’s name. Was she here? Would she favour them the next day?
If she was here, she would probably tell me to stop brooding, Karasu thought with a grin. He kept walking.

It was only a tent in the middle of a vast siege camp, but Isawa Akiko had tied to recreate some semblance of their home in the mountains. But it was difficult, they had been able to bring very little with them in the way of personal items their journey from the lands of the Dragon Clan. But the servants had been able to acquire a few things since they arrived. Like the hanging scroll, fresh incense…these did help a little.
Fortunately, acquiring food was easy. All of the Isawa were tasked with filling a certain number of bags of rice per day with Inari’s Blessing. This not only fed them without requesting rations, but they were able to give the surplus to others in the siege camp as well.
This evening, Koyo was out in the camp, making sure everyone there was ready for tomorrow. Akiko was going over her own scrolls while she waited for him, the evening meal prepared and waiting. She looked up when he came in.
“Husband,” she said, smiling. “Please, will you sit and eat?”
“I still have much to go through before morning,” Koyo said stiffly. “And I’m still fasting.”
Akiko frowned gently. “No,” she said firmly. “Sit, you will need the strength.” She then added. “Besides, we have hardly talked at all since we have been here.”
Koyo considered this a moment and then sat down across from her. He had learned years ago it was best not to argue with Akiko when she was determined. His friendly Kami, Natsu, provided warmth and light as it wandered around the tent.
“I got a letter from Keiheki,” Akiko says as one of the servants filled their bowls with rice. The other poured the tea. “Things are going well, the children seem to be listening to her…but she has had to go speak to Nishi in the temple more than once.”
“She is strong, she will stand on her own in time,” said Koyo as the servant filled their tea cups.
“She is young, Koyo,” said Akiko. “And hardly ready for the responsibility.”
“Sometimes the Fortunes need us to be ready before we actually are,” said Koyo. “It is the way of the world we live in.” He looked up from his rice bowl at her. “They are safe, they all are in the mountains,” he said gently. “The war will never touch them.”
Akiko nodded. “I was with the wounded earlier,” she said. “Some of them were so young, barely more than children. And they fight in this war, and die.”
Koyo reached over and touched her hand reassuringly. “We are ending this, remember? That is why we are here, so no one else has to fight anymore.”
Akiko gave a weak smile. In her mind she was back at their home, the fresh cold mountain air filling the rooms where their children had grown and played. The stream below the house where she had shown them their first water kami. Peaceful, quiet, something to preserve.
Her reverie was broken by one of the servants speaking. “Master, there is someone to see you, a monk.”
A monk? The Isawas frowned. Koyo went to the tent door and sure enough a monk was there, bald and in the austere robes of the Brotherhood of Shinsei.
“Isawa Koyo-sama?” Asked the monk.
“Yes?” Koyo asked curtly. “What is your business?”
“I have an urgent message from the Phoenix sensei council,” said the monk. He showed Koyo the large cloth bundle he carried.
“Hmph,” said Koyo. He didn’t approve of Shinseist monks at the best of times. “I suppose you better come in,” he said reluctantly, going back inside the tent and letting the monk make his own way in.
“Please sit, will you have some tea?” Akiko asked warmly. “May we know your name?”
The servants got another cup and poured the tea.
“Thank you Isawa-sama, Isawa-sama,” said the monk, bowing low. “This one is called Tani, but I will not be staying long.”
“You have had a long journey, it will do you well to rest,” said Akiko.
“I have, thank you again,” said Tani.
The tea was poured and Koyo dismissed the servants.
“So tell us what brings you here,” said Koyo.
“I have brought a message from the council of sensei,” Tani repeated.
“Has a decision been made in regard to the leadership?” Akiko asked.
“No, the decision still stands that until the Soul of Shiba is found, no new Phoenix Champion will be chosen, and no Elemental Council,” said Tani.
Neither Akiko or Koyo said nothing about this, but it was hardly surprising.
“But I have been authorised to give you this,” said Tani. He offered Koyo the cloth bundle with a bow. “This is not a gift, this is an entrustment.”
Koyo accepts the bundle. “What is it?”
Tani put down his teacup. “This is where I must leave you,” he said. The message is for to interpret as you will.”
Koyo gave a nod, the monk bowed and left them. He examined the bundle closer. It was a little heavy, and rather bulky. He started unwrapping it, untying the cloth strips and unwinding the fabric.
It was armour, heavy armour of a burnished gold in colour in an old style common at the Dawn of the Empire but very well-maintained.
“It’s beautiful,” Akiko said admiringly. “He came all this way to give it to you.”
“Yes,” said Koyo, a little absently. He held up the do, the breastplate. On it was the mon for the element of Earth. “Oh,” he said flatly. “I think I know what this is. It is Ouno’s Heart.”
Akiko gasped.
Koyo examined the pieces. He had read about Isawa Ouno as a child. Ouno was Isawa’s own brother, a powerful earth shugenja and armour smith. He had created this armour, to pass down to those who followed him. And since then it had been worn by either the Elemental Council’s Master of Earth, or the Commander of the Avalanche Guard.
“This was last worn by Asako Kinane,” Koyo said aloud, mostly to himself. “She would have worn it when she fell at Gisei Toshi.” He put the breastplate down carefully.
Akiko picks it up again. “The monk said this was a message, and I think it is very clear,” she held the breastplate out to him, the earth mon facing up. “This is for you, Koyo, to wear into battle, tomorrow.”
“I don’t have the right to wear it,” Koyo said flatly.
“You have more right than anyone else,” said Akiko. “Think about what you have done. Without your leadership, the Clan of Shiba, the Clan of Isawa would never have had a chance. We would not have had the years we have had to rebuild and grow, and never have had a future.” She smiled at him. “You need to wear this, tomorrow, so everyone can see you and know that.”
Koyo smiles at her, it was like a statue moving. “There is nobody alive anymore I would entrust it to. So I may as well wear it to protect it.” He took the breastplate from her. “But I think I will still need some help with putting it on.”
Akiko laughed.
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Re: L5R - The Duty of War - A Post Winter Court 5 story

Postby Kakita_Harun » Sun Jul 29, 2018 7:21 am

Takano Unit was up before dawn, roused by the sound of the gong. Harun was awake after not much sleep but his head perfectly clear. He donned his armour with Ikoma Yasutaka’s assistance and then Harun helped Yasutaka into his.
Alone in his tent for a few moment, Harun kneeled before his daisho, praying to the fortunes, his ancestors…impressing upon himself the seriousness of the task. Then equipping his swords and leaving the tent. Takano Unit were standing on parade, armed and ready.
Yasutaka was waiting for him and bowed. “Kakita-Chui, Takano Unit awaits your word.”
Harun looked at him and then at the assembled soldiers.
I suppose they want me to say something, thought Harun, yet the words seemed to evade him. How does father manage to do it?
He found a box to stand on, hoping the extra height could add something. The soldiers let out a shout when they saw him up there. Harun grinned, holding out his hands and they quieted down.
“Well, I’m not one for speeches, so I’ll make it brief,” said Harun. There were a few laughs at this. “We are Takano Unit, we have come through a lot together in a short time. Trained, fought in battle before the wall…and now we join the fight on the city itself.” Harun grinned, getting caught up in the spirit of it all, spurred on by them all watching him. “I am proud of all of you, and there’s nowhere else I would rather be than fighting beside you!” They shouted in response. Harun raised his voice to be heard above them. “And we will show them! All of us! We will take back what is ours! We are Takano!”
There was a great shout from the soldiers that Harun joined in. Proud, defiant, ready for anything. Ready to fight. Ready to die.

The air was chilly and there was a slight drizzle as Takano Unit marched out of the camp. They kept up the pace, the gunsos beginning marching songs to keep everyone’s spirits up. And they were not the only soldiers leaving for the boats, quite a few were leaving and more lined the paths either side to watch them go.
At last, they came to the edge of the encampment, ahead was the way back to the Kitani River. Yet the sound of hooves made Harun look back. It was his father, Kakita Karasu the Emerald Champion, in full armour on a white horse with banner flying.
Just Karasu being there caused a joyful shout among the soldiers. He had come to see them off, inspire those who would be leading the attack in the middle of Toshi Ranbo, but that wasn’t all why he came. He signalled for Harun to come over.
Harun told Yasutaka to go on and went over to his father. He made a formal bow.
Karasu removed his mempo so his face could be seen. He looked down at Harun, so young an already fulfilling a duty and responsibility beyond his years.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this, Karasu thought, the war was supposed to end before he grew up, and now he fights for a peace that he has never known.
“Champion, Takano Unit and myself are ready and capable,” said Harun. His voice was formal and emotionless; a soldier addressing his commander. “Is there anything more you wish of us?”
“I merely wished to speak with you,” said Karasu. Wishing there was a way they could be alone.
“I do my duty, Champion,” said Harun.
There were words Karasu had wanted to say to him, ones that needed to be said now or at least before Harun left. Every time Harun had left for battle, Karasu thought that this could be his last, but this time…it might be true.
“I would expect nothing less from you,” said Karasu.
“You honour me,” Harun said, bowing again.
Harun’s unit were getting further away, Karasu knew he had to say something. “Harun…when you get back, when all of this is over, we’ll talk about your future.”
Harun nodded. “Of course, father,” he said.
Karasu watches him leave. This was the boy he had taught himself how to hold a sword, that same boy a young man who led the men under him into battle.
The dice are cast, Karasu thought, let them fall where they may.
Last edited by Kakita_Harun on Mon Jul 30, 2018 11:49 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: L5R - The Duty of War - A Post Winter Court 5 story

Postby KakitaKaori » Sun Jul 29, 2018 7:36 am

Yay! Great chapter! I love the lead up to the war. It really impresses on you the power, and danger, of it.
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Re: L5R - The Duty of War - A Post Winter Court 5 story

Postby Kakita_Harun » Wed Aug 01, 2018 5:12 am

The Phoenix camp usually had a communal atmosphere, centred around the clearing between the tents. This made sense of course as many of the Isawa had come from the Shinyoake Mura, but when other Isawa had joined them they had been welcomed to the fold.
But this morning was different, the atmosphere was frantic and worried. Meals were being eaten frantically, spell scrolls pored over, letters quickly written just in case the worst happened.
Yet all of them fell silent when Isawa Koyo emerged from his tent wearing the armour. Ouno’s Heart glistened like gold in the morning sun, and with the helmet and mempo on he was completely covered. The effect was uncanny, it was like he wasn’t there any more. He wasn’t a man, but more than that. A symbol, a beacon, and ready to lead them.
The Isawa bowed low and solemn as if in the presence of an Elemental Master.
Akiko appeared behind Koyo. Her face solemn, her expression set. She gave a nod. It was time.
Koyo led the Isawa out.

On the north side of the Firefly River, Hida Tetsuyori watched as the Kaiu siege engines were secured into position. They had been brought up from the south by road and by sea and had been assembled on the plains by night at considerable risk.
The Crab soldiers roared and shouted, shaking their weapons and banners with an eagerness for battle. Many of them had been forged in the darkest time of the Onyx Wall when Kyuden Hida had fallen and they lived on the Kaiu Wall itself fighting for their very survival. Tetsuyori and his brother Katashi had been among them. Fighting back the Onyx, taking back Kyuden Hida and rebuilding the wall.
Katashi was in the south, his duties as Champion of the Crab keeping him there. Tetsuyori had come north with the pick of the Crab legions. They had rebuilt the wall, they were now about to tear down another.
He gave the signal to fire the trebuchets.

South of the city at the main gates, columns of Lion bushi surrounded the battering rams that slammed against the gate, hoping to shatter it. Arrows flew through the air from the wall above, the soldiers beside the ram tried to protect the ones holding it, some of them falling to the wounds from the arrows but there were always more to replace them.
The gates then buckled and broke under the blows of the battering ram. The Lion let out a shout, moving the ram around to make the hole bigger and then pouring inside like a running stream.
Inside the city were more Onyx, they cut through these and still more came. Yet this didn’t stop the Lion either.

South-east of the city, Takano Unit stood waiting for their turn to get onto the boats. Somewhere else, Harun could see the sky-blue banners marking where the Crane were waiting. Here and there he could see flashes of the brilliant armour, the most splendid being the Kenshinzen.
Is Kouta over there? Harun wondered Is Isama-sama? The Kakita Daimyo? It was hard to tell at this distance.
He thought back to the talk he and Kouta had had the night before. The Crane’s plans to kill Shimekiri. The “proper way”, which meant following the rules. Answering the dishonour and shame Shimekiri had caused with honour and steel. Iaijutsu.
But could they actually kill him? Harun felt bad for even doubting them.
Perhaps, Harun thought, we can wear him down and then he’ll be easier to kill.
But somehow that seemed a vain hope.
The Mantis signalled them. Takano Unit boarded their boat.
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Re: L5R - The Duty of War - A Post Winter Court 5 story

Postby Kakita_Harun » Wed Aug 01, 2018 5:09 pm

On both sides of the banks of the Firefly River, Legion and Unicorn archers firing up at the Onyx on the wall with bushi and ashigaru guarding them. They were not just there to throw the Onyx off the walls, but to also draw their fire.
Behind them, further upriver, a low fog began to form, covering the pontoon bridge that spanned across the river. Inside the fog and were the Isawa, standing in a single line across the bridge with Isawa Koyo in the centre.
A horn sounded and the bushi near the wall scattered, getting out of the way. There was a long moment, as if everyone held their breath, was waiting to see what the Isawa were going to do. They then began to chant an incantation, moving their hands in unison in smooth fluid motions. And to those who could see them, water kami began to gather, cluster together in wobbly blobs. More and more coming together, getting bigger and bigger.
All was still and quiet, all the Isawa made a pushing motion with their hands. Then the fog lifted.
“Suitengu’s Fury,” murmured Koyo.
The river then rose in front of them, forming a wave rocking the pontoon bridge. The wave increased in speed and height as it moved towards Toshi Ranbo, foam and spray leaping off it as it went. Then, with a roar light a mighty dragon, the wave broke upon the walls of the city, hitting the sides with a sickening crack, taking out the Onyx there and much of the stonework.
The rush of water continued through the city, taking out Onyx soldiers on the shore, taking out buildings, taking out the bridges that spanned the river, wooden and stone. And on it went, through the city and then out the other side towards the sea.
But the Isawa weren’t done yet, as they pulled people out from where they had fallen into the water, Koyo was already preparing the second spell, reciting the incantations. This one stirred the water again, but it was a shaking that came from the earth itself as the earth kami vibrated. Then Koyo slammed downward with his fist.
“Murmur of the earth,” he said.
The earth exploded all around them, the vibrations going up to the walls itself. The pontoon bridge buckled and snapped with a shower of splinters, throwing the Isawa into the river. As Koyo disappeared beneath the water, he saw the walls of Toshi Ranbo tumbling down.

On their boat, Takono Unit stood close together, shoulder to shoulder, as it proceeded up the Kitani River at a steady pace. The captain, Yotitomo Mitsuko, gave orders to her crew to keep pace with the rest of the fleet and making sure that any soldiers stayed out of her way. In the bow of the ship, A Moshi shugenja sat in quiet meditation despite the activity.
The motion of the river didn’t agree with some of the soldiers, some of them making their way to the sides losing what little breakfast they had managed to have. Harun was fine, but did wonder why they couldn’t go any faster. Then, over the sounds of retching he heard a low rumble, like the thunder of hooves a great distance away.
Well, that doesn’t make any sense, he thought, looking around.
Utaku Kenji looked up from where he was at the railing. “Chui! Look! The city!” He pointed towards Toshi Ranbo.
Harun ran over to the side, just in time to see the enormous wall of water heading towards the city, heading through before being sucked out the other side. Beautiful and terrible, primordial and destructive.
“I hope that was ours,” Utaku Kenji said.
“I think it was,” said Harun. “The Phoenix were preparing something special.”
The captain Mitsuko looked at it through her spy glass. “That’s our signal,” she said. “Spread the sheets, it’s our time.”
The water, sedate before, started to get very rough and choppy. The water from the Isawa’s wave was bursting forward from upriver. Harun grabbed the railing tight, they were in for a wild ride.

To the north, the Kaiu trebuchets had large pieces of masonry loaded into them as they prepared another volley. Before the wall itself, the Crab bushi maintained the shouts of defiance, despite the arrows and spells that fell from the walls. Some managed to get through their armour, but this didn’t deaden the noise, it even increased it.
The huge stone pieced flew above their heads, impacting the walls of Toshi Ranbo with a mighty crack. A great cheer went up through the Crab as they all rushed at the wall, a surging tide of blue and steel

Outside his tent, Karasu watched the progress of the battle on the war table. Many coloured markers signified the various units of the Legion and the Great Clans, updated constantly from the reports of scouts.
A scout approached him, soaked to the bone. “Champion, I report the success of the Isawas’ spells,” he said, panting. “From the wave and the earthquake, the walls had significant damage.”
“Good, good,” Karasu said, making this apparent on his nap. “Where are they now?”
“They’re with the wounded, I just left them,” said the scout.
Karasu ground his teeth. “How many casualties?” He asked.
“Quite a few, I didn’t stay,” admitted the scout. “Some are well enough to assist with the wounded though.”
“Champion!” Another scout ran up. “From the north east, the Crab have breached the wall.”
“Excellent,” said Karasu. “How goes our ships?”
“Still approaching, Champion,” said Senzo who had Karasu’s spyglass. “Should not be long at all.”
Karasu made a quick, silent prayer. Harun, fortunes guide you…

As they approached the city through the wash of the Isawas’ wave, the boat wavered to and fro by the impact. Soon the amount of sick outnumbered the well, even Harun was starting to feel a bit queasy.
The city was in sight, and to their relief the waters started to calm. But then they started to hear a strange thunk of something coming into contact with the hull of the boat. It happened again. Thunk. Thunk.
“What is that?” Harun asked Mitsuko.
“The bodies,” she said. “Onyx and ours.”
Harun grimaced.
The walls of the Toshi Ranbo were just ahead, like a giant mouth about to swallow them up. The bodies of the Onyx and Rokugan soldiers floating side by side in the water, many even touching.
There was a whizzing sound like an angry hornet as an arrow struck the deck. Then more, raining on the boat as they neared the city, taking out Takano soldiers and some of the Mantis.
“Arrows, take cover!” Harun shouted, ducking below the side of the ship and angling his sode against them.
Mitsuko shouted to the Mantis marines to fire back.
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