Perfection and Grace - A WC5 Story

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Perfection and Grace - A WC5 Story

Postby Kakita_Harun » Tue Feb 12, 2019 5:40 pm

A little story that is very Crane starring Doji Arami. I’ll start posting it here, hope you enjoy.

———

Kyuden Doji, Spring 1238

Doji Tsubaki sat in the tea house in the gardens at Kyuden Doji, preparing the tea implements. The kettle, the tea bowl, whisk, scoop, cloth…all of them decorated in one way or another with motifs of the Crane Clan. The young woman had dressed rather carefully, paying special attention to latest fashions and the seasons, from her obi right down to the kanzashi ornament that nested in her black hair.
This wasn’t her test for gempukku, that would be tomorrow. But she was treating this as if it was.
The appointed hour for tea arrived, Tsubaki rank the bell to summon her guest.
Through the low tea house door came the Imperial Treasurer Doji Arami. Perfectly attired with not one of his white hairs out of place. Tsubaki bowed low, as did Arami and as was customary both remained silent.
Tsubaki invited Arami to sit, sitting opposite him and presented wagashi cake, shaped like a Crane with its beak nesting under its wing. She laid out the tea implements for Arami’s inspection, cleaned them and then began the ritual of making the tea. Arami betrayed nothing in his face this went on, Tsubaki managed to keep her composure though inwardly her thoughts were far from that. Arami’s standards were stricter than what she had with her teachers, and she had every intention of meeting them—if not exceeding.
She presented the tea bowl to Arami with a bow, he turned it and began to drink.
When the bowl was empty, there was ritual small talk. Remarks about tea and the different artisans that created the tea implements.
Then Tsubaki began cleaning the implements to finish the ceremony, drying them with the cloth and placing them back in their box. She bowed, so did Arami. This was when her guest would take their leave, but Arami remained as he had promised to evaluate her. Tsubaki wanted for him to speak, eager to see if her performance met his approval, but Arami seemed in no hurry.
“You have a great many things that are before you after your gempukku tomorrow,” said Arami. “I would like to hear your thoughts on this.”
Tsubaki lowered her eyes. “I wish to do my duty as be fitting a daughter of the Crane.”
“So, I asked for your thoughts on say…a court position, serving the clan in a far court or…marriage, your thoughts would remain unchanged?” Arami asked.
“It would,” answered Tsubaki “I defer to the wisdom of others when it is decided how I should serve, or where or whom.”
“A perfectly acceptable answer,” said Arami with a nod of approval. “But I would present to you…something else. Your own happiness does have a role in your destiny, let me tell you a story…”
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Re: Perfection and Grace - A WC5 Story

Postby Kakita_Harun » Wed Feb 13, 2019 2:44 pm

Every summer, Kakita Kyoumi and Kousuda tried to spend a few weeks in their house by the seashore. The house was old and weathered, but built well and solid with a large porch facing the sea that could be completely opened to let the sea breeze into the house.
It was also less than a day’s ride from Otosan Uchi, so they were not completely cut off from the world.
Kakita Karasu rarely came, his duties as Emerald Champion often prevented it during campaign season. His children came though, enjoying the freedom the sea and sand offered away from the confines of the Emerald Champion’s Palace.
Doji Arami approached the house on horseback, accompanied only by a single attendant who rode beside him. The capital had been rather hot and the cool breeze form the ocean was refreshing. He smiled when he saw the children playing and laughing on the sand shore. The war, the famine and everything else was far from here. Which was as it should be, at least for the few days he would be here.
“Arami!” Kyoumi came to meet him, she wore a light summer kimono in a soft blue decorated with birds in flight. Her brown hair was being blown about by the breeze. She made a bow. “I didn’t expect you before this evening.”
“The road was good, Kyoumi-san,” said Arami, dismounting and returning her bow. “I do hope I have not inconvenienced you by this.”
Kyoumi laughed. “You never could,” she said, walking with him towards the house. “It’s only that Kousuda has gone fishing with Masarugi, but they should be back soon enough. How was the capital?”
“As it is,” answered Arami. “I have brought letters for you both, and Karasu had sent some for the children.”
“Good,” said Kyoumi. “Make yourself comfortable, I’ll make some tea and you can tell me all of your news.”

A short while later, Arami joined Kyoumi on the porch where she was serving tea. He felt a little exposed here, but the fresh air felt good. He breathed it in.
“I often forget how pleasant it is here,” said Arami as he picked up his teacup. “At least until I arrive.”
“I am often the same,” said Kyoumi, sipping her tea. She frowned “It does seem…ungrateful to relax here when there is so much pain and suffering going on.”
“It can be,” Arami agreed. “But we should let such feeling spur our actions, to what we can do to make things better. For us, for everyone…and for them.” He nodded to the children.
Kyoumi smiled. She watched Harun and his brother Takeaki kneel over a rockpool, looking for shells and sea creatures. Arahime then came over, her braids trailing behind her as she ran and then the three raced off together laughing.
“It will be all be over one day, if we work towards it,” Kyoumi said, absently touching her belly. “Hopefully soon, before they get much older.”
Arami nodded.
“How is Tsubaki?” Kyoumi asked. “Such a sweet little girl, we were all very worried last winter.”
“Much better, thankfully,” said Arami, a little pain in his voice. “We were worried for a while in the spring, but the warmer weather is doing well for her recovery. Tsukiyama doesn’t want to leave Otosan Uchi just now, so I suppose you won’t see them until you return.”
“Doesn’t take much of a wind to scatter us all these days,” said Kyoumi wistfully.
“Quite,” agreed Arami.
Up the beach two figures were nearing them, between them carrying something. Kyoumi stood.
“There’s Kousuda,” she said, calling the children inside.

The fish Kousuda and Masarugi caught became their evening meal. With that many children in the house, the meal was a little noisy. Masarugi related the story of the catch, with Kousuda coming in at intervals to temper his son’s exaggerations.
After, the mood was more subdued. The children went to bed, the adults sat outside so their conversation wouldn’t wake them. In the distance, they could hear the soft crash of waves onto the shore. The moon rose over the ocean, big and red.
Kousuda frowned over a letter. “What’s this? Seppun Ritusharu is retiring.” He looked up. “Well, I guess it is time. I wonder who they will get to replace her as Imperial Treasurer.”
“Likely the successor has been chosen,” said Kyoumi. She looked sideways at Arami and then back at Kousuda.
Kousuda raised an eyebrow. “Really? Is this true Arami? Why didn’t you say something before?”
Arami nodded. “Ritusharu-sama approached me just before I left the capital. She thanked me for my many years of service and offered it. It is an honour, and I do know that there are others just as worthy if not more.”
“I disagree,” said Kousuda loyally. “Congratulations, I can think of no one better.”
“Neither can I,” said Kyoumi. “I know you will serve well.”
“You are both very kind for saying so,” said Arami, giving a rare smile.
Kyoumi poured more tea for them then picked up her letter. “I have a letter from Haihime here,” she says. “She writes that she will be at the Imperial Court this winter. That should be…interesting.”
“Heh, interesting will be putting it mildly,” chuckled Kousuda. “Does she say why?”
Kyoumi shook her head.
“I think I might,” said Arami. “Now that she is done visiting the Great Clans, thoughts have turned to whom Haihime will marry. Especially among the Crane.”
“Really,” said Kousuda, stroking his beard. “She is still Kanpeki’s daughter.”
“But she has Hantei blood,” Arami reminded him. “And Hanteis have always married Dojis.”
Kousuda considered this.
“Well, I hope whoever is making these plans has taken into account Haihime’s character,” said Kyoumi. “I know for a fact she will not be anyone’s creature.”
“Indeed,” said Arami.

“Does not a marriage with our family mean they must take the Doji name and join our family?” Tsubaki asked.
“Usually, yes,” said Arami. “But this was far from usual, as we discovered that winter at the Imperial Court at Otosan Uchi…”
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Re: Perfection and Grace - A WC5 Story

Postby Kakita_Harun » Fri May 03, 2019 4:24 am

The autumn was especially busy for Doji Arami. There was much he had to familiarise himself with the duties he would be taking on as Imperial Treasurer. Thankfully, because Arami was a well-known and liked figure in the Ministry of Exchange, the transition was easier than it could have been.
There were other things to. Being measured for the new close that he would wear in his official capacity, with something particularly fine when he was presented to the Imperial Court. He also had to begin making arrangements for his household to be moved to the Treasurer’s official residence.
Adding to this were the additional duties he took on for the Doji family for which he was now seen as a leading figure of. Preparations were being made for the upcoming Winter Court in Otosan Uchi. These were always busy times for the Crane Clan, many alliance and agreement were made through the marriage brokered and facilitated at court.
Arami attended some of these meetings, mostly inquiries by a nakodo on a particular young man or woman the Crane were putting forward as a marriage candidate. One such meeting that autumn was particularly exceptional, not just because of what it was about but who was in attendance.
When Arami arrived, the Clan Champion Doji Ayumu was already there. He was younger than Arami by quite a few years, but had been Champion of the Crane Clan since he had come of age. His father, Doji Makoto, had been killed with Ayumu was still but a boy.
Also there was Doji Nashikyo, if not the most talented nakodo in the Crane Clan then certainly the most well-known. Next to her was Asahina Nagume, the Asahina family daimyo. She looked ageless in her elaborate coiffure and make up.
There was also a scribe, sitting behind them all and taking a minute of the proceedings and practically invisible.
Arami took a seat on a cushion opposite Ayumu, bowing low to the Champion. A servant poured tea as the weather, the state of the war and harvest and other trivialities were discussed. The air was filled with a pleasant smell of jasmine and honeysuckle from their steaming cups.
“This talk of the ending of the year puts me to mind of several things,” said Ayumu thoughtfully. “With the falling of the leaves, fledglings cast off their down and spread their wings to fly to new nests.” He nodded to Nashikyo. “Much effort has been made in their feathering.”
Nashikyo inclined her head from the Champion’s praise.
“Many of these were new alliances are new, would have been seen as unlikely to our ancestors but were necessary to the survival of Rokugan and the survival of the Crane,” Ayumu continued. “But today, I wish to speak of an old alliance, perhaps of the oldest there is to the Doji family. One that has been invoked for many years until now when we have the means to do so.” He took a careful look at the three gathered there. “For always must it be that a Hantei must marry a Doji.”
Arami of course knew what Ayumu was speaking of. Haijime, only daughter of Daigotsu Kanpeki and last of the Hantei line. He of course knew of the talk of her marriage but never expected to be directly involved.
“With such a match, the utmost care must be taken to assuage the temperament of both parties,” said Arami carefully.
“I quite agree,” said Ayumu. “And this is why I have asked for you to be here today, Doji Arami-san.”
“I am honoured that my opinion is to be sought after in such an important matter,” said Arami, inclining his head to Ayumu.
“Before sketching a rare bird, one must seek out those who have seen it for themselves,” said Ayumu. “You are one such person, Doji-san. What you say will add much to what has been said.”
“Well, I do hope I can be of use,” Arami said. “I can tell you that Lady Haihime is a most exceptional woman. Such an exceptional woman would need an exceptional partner for the match to be a success. Such a candidate may be difficult to find, but given the resources and experience of the Crane in such matters, I do not doubt that it can be done.”
“You speak with such confidence of the talents of my profession, Doji-sama,” said Nashikyo with approval.
“How can I not when it was the match that you yourself made has resulted in such happiness for myself?” Arami returned.
Nashikyo gave a small smile as she inclined her head.
“The search was quite extensive and took quite some time,” said Ayumu. “We took account of bloodline, character, temperament and Asahina-san here personally looked into the spiritual matters. This helped narrow the list considerably.”
“May I ask whom you have selected, Doji-no-kimi?” Arami inquired.
Nashikyo opened her fan as she began to speak. “The first is Doji Teruhisa, he is a Chui in Doji’s Fan, commended for his actions at Jukami Mura.” She fanned herself gently as she spoke. “He is an estimable young man, skilled with the sword as well as several arts. His father’s line traces back to Doji Ryobu who was Champion in the ninth century and his maternal grandmother was a Kenshinzen.”
“Commendable lineage,” said Arami with an approving nod.
“The second is Doji Sorei, he was second in his class at the Doji Academy. Since then he has made some modest success in the Ministry of Martial Levies, not a particularly noteworthy posting perhaps but it takes many smooth stones to make a road.”
“Very true,” Arami agreed.
“His family line goes back to Doji Utori who was Crane Champion at the beginning of the twelfth century,” Nashikyo continued.
“Is he not also your second cousin, Doji-san?” Ayumu asked Arami.
“Yes, we share a great grandmother on his mother’s side,” Arami said. “I saw him last spring, he was most interested in the progress we have made in jade augmented crops.”
“Yes, his tastes are known to run to the eclectic,” said Nashikyo.
“Now, we have two candidates, both would make advantageous matches,” said Ayumu. “The quandary is to narrow down two candidates to one.”
“Might I make a suggestion, Doji-no-kimi?” Arami asked.
“By all means, Doji-san,” said Ayumu with a nod.
“Allow both young men to present their suit to Lady Haihime,” said Arami. “She is a young woman who very much knows her own mind, and any attempt at coercion or influence would hinder rather than help. After all, it is the seed that grows in adversity that is stronger.”
“Your suggestion is most unusual, Doji-san,” said Asahina Nagume, speaking for the first time.
“Lady Haihime is a most unusual woman, Asahina-ue,” said Arami

“So…both young men are to be invited?” Kyoumi asked when Arami told her the whole story the next day.
Arami nodded. “I would say I favour my cousin, Sorei-san, but in this particular contest there can be no certainty.”
“I agree entirely,” said Kyoumi. “Any attempt to corner Haihime and she will strike like a tiger. I do not envy either of these young men if they are caught in her claws.”
“I have also considered,” Arami said thoughtfully. “That Lady Haihime may not be amenable to the idea of marriage at all.”
“I might be able to help with that,” Kyoumi said.
“I trust in your skills then, Kyoumi-san,” said Arami with an encouraging nod.
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Re: Perfection and Grace - A WC5 Story

Postby Kakita_Harun » Sun May 05, 2019 7:33 pm

Winter came and the delegations from the Great Clans as well as several Minor Clans gathered in Otosan Uchi for the Imperial Court. Imperial Chancellor Bayushi Koroyo presented Doji Arami to the court from the dais, outlining his accomplishments in her clear, emotionless voice before Arami addressed the court himself.
When court was finished for the day, Arami was beset with a number of petitioners with various requests. These were fielded by his secretary, who came to Arami with ones that were worthy of his valuable time. There were also important social occasions where he needed to be seen, though his elevated position now kept him apart from them. And thus the winter went on.
Gossip of course was both entertainment and currency at court, and this one was no exception. Reports came through of the two young men who sought to win the hand of Lady Haihime. It seemed that Doji Teruhisa had made the first move. Haihime’s flagrant rejection of his poetry had left to quite a few whispered words behind fans.
Of his cousin Doji Sorei, Arami heard nothing. Nothing at all Arami’s secretary handed him a note from Sorei requesting to call. Arami arranged to meet in the tea house in one of the gardens in Otosan Uchi.
The garden was quiet in winter. The branches of the trees were bare of leaves and absent of birds, coated with a patina of frost as the first snow had yet to fall. Arami met Sorei on the stone path that led towards the teahouse, they walked together, exchanging pleasant enquiries about their respective families before entering the teahouse.
Sorei was a tall man, his hair dyed white like most Doji, his eyes a pale blue. And yet, there was a smallness about him, a subtleness that seemed to push him into the background even if the attention was on him. It was not as if he never put his foot forward, it was that when he did it was not noticed. What impact he had on people he managed to have without drawing attention to himself. Such grace could not be taught, but was innate to his very being.
“I must say, my first time at court has not been entirely what I have expected it to be,” said Sorei as they sat down inside the teahouse. “My duties for Martial and Levies are small compared to my duty to the Crane.”
“And to your family,” added Arami.
Tea was served, it had delicate scents of lotus flowers and was accompanied by wagashi cakes shaped liked bundles of frosted leaves.
“Tell me truly, cousin, did you put forward my name for this?” Sorei asked.
“No, it was in fact your name that was suggested to me,” Arami said.
“So, I was wrong to assume to think you position gave me an unfair advantage in this,” said Sorei in a flat voice. “You were wondering about my inaction so far, I suppose.”
“I was, but please put such thoughts away in future,” Arami said. “I do think I would not be bold in saying this: I think you have an advantage as a candidate without my influence simply by the merits of your own character.”
“I am afraid that I do not know what it is you mean,” said Sorei.
“Well, no doubt you know how Teruhisa-san’s more conventional courtship is proceeding,” said Arami. “Knowing what I know of your character, cousin, I know you can adapt your conventions to suit your purpose.”
Sorei gave a little laugh. “I did not think that I would see the day, cousin, that I would see you speak against convention.”
“There is convention in what is necessary for the occasion,” said Arami. “I had remained rigid in what I expected of myself, there would be a great many things I would not have done. Necessary things. When the famine gripped Rokugan, I travelled extensively in Rokugan as part of my duties as Imperial Agriculturalists. Speaking to peasants, farmers about the conditions. Even walking with them into the fields holding my kimono in one had to see things for myself.”
“Now that is an image that will take a great deal of time to leave my mind,” said Sorei with a smile.
Arami could not help but smile in return.
“What do you suggest then?” Sorei asked. “Given Lady Haihime’s reaction to Teruhisa-san, I do wonder how my own attempts will be seen.”
“A careful cultivated flower cannot help but attract the attention of those that it was made to attract,” said Arami. “I would give her reason for her to seek you out. Lady Haihime is a woman who very much know her own mind and knows what she wants. You should attempt to make yourself one of these things.”
“I will consider your words most carefully,” Sorei assured him.
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Re: Perfection and Grace - A WC5 Story

Postby Kakita_Harun » Sun May 05, 2019 10:46 pm

“I do declare, husband, that you are more the nakodo in this than Doji Nashikyo-san is,” said Tsukiyama.
“You credit me far too much,” said Arami, though he could not help but smile at her.
The garden of their new residence was particularly fine. Bare of course now, but if one knew where to look, one could see the potential all there. Potential that, hope willing, would come in to its full when spring arrived.
“No, you give yourself far too few credit,” said Tsukiyama. “Your own actions is why Sorei will likely succeed in his suit. And…” She added, a sly smile crossing her face. “This may be what was intended all along.”
Arami looked at her. This woman, his wife. Such grace, such poise and elegance. But behind all of it was a very clever mind, one that progressed in leaps and bounds ahead of his. Seeing the path and where the opportunities and traps lay.
How stunned he had felt when he had been told by Doji Ayumu that he was going to marry. He knew this was coming, but had always put it off in his find as something to happen in the future. And then at the ‘first look’, that feeling had given way to a feeling that he rarely experienced: fear. A woman seemingly so perfect that just by looking at her Arami felt unworthy. She had a confidence about her that made him feel small and a wit and cleverness that made him feel inadequate.
But as a samurai, as a Doji and as a Crane, it was his duty to marry. To set an example for others and to ensure the continuation of traditions into future generations. So he had met with her, and to his surprise found this duty would be a pleasant one. He had had trepidation, but once in her company Arami found himself at ease. And he enjoyed it as well. Her qualities seemed to bring out the best ones in himself, and seemingly not with any effort.
And after they were married he discovered something else: her passionate honesty. Shown only in private when the two of them were alone, but so refreshing, especially when he spent so much time in the company of those who had hidden agendas and ambitions.
“So, tell me, my wife, what is their intention?” Arami asked.
“Teruhisa was never a serious prospect,” said she said. “Oh, he has all the markings of a perfectly adequate Crane suitor. And that is what precisely makes him wrong.”
Arami looked confused. “But they were presented to me as both on equal footing in terms of suitability. And then asked me…oh, I see it now.”
Tsukiyama nodded. “Yes, all three of you were expected to act according to your nature,” she said. “Teruhisa to ruin his prospects early by his brashness, Sorei to seem much more reasonable in comparison and for you to give them the means to do so. I am sorry my dear, but all of you were played.”
Arami frowned. “I am not sure if I like being a piece in someone else’s game.”
“None of us do, dear, and it hurts especially when we find out,” she said, gently touching his hand. “There are far worse schemes to fund oneself in the middle of, and this is one I am sure where both objective and method are entirely honourable.”
“But will it succeed?” Arami asked. “So much has been left to chance.”
“Of that we cannot be sure,” Tsukiyama said. “This was a match long in the making, let us hope that it does go through.”
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Re: Perfection and Grace - A WC5 Story

Postby Kakita_Harun » Tue May 07, 2019 8:22 pm

“Marriage to Tsukiyama was something I never expected to experience. A partner in every sense of the word, a duty to the Clan gladly done,” said Arami. “Of course, one needs to balance one’s own personal preferences to wthernthey serve the self or the greater good. Even with marriage.”
“Thatis all verybfune, but what has it to do with Lady Haihime?” Tsubaki asked. When Arami looked about to object, she added quickly. “You yourself have warned me against digression.”
“Yes, I have,” said Arami. “Now...of Sorei’s courtship, we heard surprisingly little. Even for those who made the effort to find out. They were seen together at court...but one can say that of anyone. The winter was drawing to a close, and we began to have doubts...”

It was the last offical event of court, a banquet where all the clans gathered before court drew to a close. Much the talk was over what had happened that season. The events, the scandals and of course the marriages.
And there was one that Arami was still waiting to hear about: Sorei and Haihime. He saw them both at the banquet, but they were not together. Haihime sat on one side of the room speaking to Kyoumi while Sorei was on the other side talking to some Lion bushi.
They made no attempt to speak to each other, had they quarrelled? One could not be sure. Then Haihime turned around to reach for the teapot, and Arami saw what was tucked into her obi. Pale blue against the white of her clothing. A fan.
Years of training prevented him from reacting, but he could not help but look across at Sorei. If Haihime did not know what such a gesture meant, then Sorei would have surely told her. Arami and Sorei met eyes, Sorei gave a slight nod and then looked away.
Further elaboration Arami was able to obtain later that evening when he and Sorei left the banquet.
“Am I to congratulate you?” Arami asked.
“Yes, and thank you,” said Sorei. “I have to tell you this: that you were right about a great number of things. Haihime is...different, but on a way that I can respect. All her life she has had people impose upon her, demand things from her, give her heir own expectations. Yet she has defied them all to forge a path of her own. And...I can help her with that.”
“You sound certain,” said Arami. “May I ask how you will do this?”
“Once the fog clears, the eagle can find a high place to nest and survey the land,” said Sorei. “Direction, purpose...that is what I can give her. And through that, I have direction and purpose myself.”
“I did not think those were qualities you lacked,” said Arami.
“No, but I needed to find the right ones,” said Sorei.

Two days later, Doji Sorei and Haihime, the Princess of Ashes, we’re married in a small private ceremony witnessed by people from the Crane and Spider Clans. A small reception followed where gifts were given to the newlywed couple. Sorei made a speech, thanking the gathering, but the bride herself looked a little distant and removed from the whole affair.

“The rest is easy to tell,” said Arami. “Sorei and Haihime lived in Zogeku for a number of years. They had a daughter, Isanko, and when they returned to Rokugan Isanko was betrothed to Prince Iweko Kiseki. Once Isanko comes if age, they will marry. Until then she lives here, at Kyuden Doji, with her father.”
“And what of Haihime?” Tsubaki asked.
”Haihime was part of the final battle against the last leader of the Onyx, Yuhimi,” Arami replied. “Whether she lived or died in that battle, I do not know. But she has not been seen since.”
”Thank you for the story, but there is still one question that I have,” said Tsubaki. “Why was Sorei chosen above other Doji? Could not another have fulfilled the same purpose?”
”Not necessarily,” Arami explained. “Each pieces on the go board matters just notnfrom it’s position, but the actions it can take from there. It is in our nature to act in a certain way, to decide one course of action or the other. While we will obey when compelled to do so, the result and the shaping of that result is not the same if instead we had chosen for ourselves.”
”So...it works better for us when we want to do something?” Tsubaki asked.
”It does indeed,” Arami agreed. “And when what we want is not for ourselves but for those that we serve...”
”It makes duty a pleasurable one,” finished Tsubaki.
”You have learned well,” said Arami. “And I will be proud to witness your gempukku tomorrow.”
Tsubaki smiled and bowed her head. “Thank you...father.”
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