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"In the Name of the Emerald Empire"

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Post by InteroVegas on 2015-08-06, 08:24

In the year 1202 the Crane sent their emissaries to do political conquest across all the provinces of the Emerald Empire. Due to the topics relating to weakening power of the empress the Crane clan wants to hold these discussions "subtly". Thus the emissaries were sent to meet delegates of great clan daimyo in many secretive locations normally unfitting for political discussion. Our group of envoys, a man of the Kakita lineage and a woman of the Doji, have been dispatched to meet in a small monastery south of Toshi Ranbo. Their task: To pique the interest of the scorpion in further negotiations and gauge their likelihood to cooperate with the Crane. The Crane daimyo have instructed their representatives to specifically stay as vague as possible about their clan's motivation while extracting as many details as they can about their potential ally.

-------------------------------- Cue Present -----------------------------

Now that they see courtyard statue up close the Crane envoys realize it is far more grotesque than anyone had let on. Certainly, at the previous few inns friendly merchants let on that Ishi-Ike monastery was a humble scorpion temple but no one hinted that it was so ... ugly. The revolting sculpture in front of the Crane bushi depicted a burned and horribly mutilated one-eyed samurai posed with his sword drawn and standing ready to strike. The only stretch of stone intentionally left undamaged is a proudly displayed scorpion crest engraved onto the dō of the bushi's armor. Besides the statue the remainder of the monastery appears plain. The temple is two stories tall and immediately behind the bushi statue. A long annex goes off towards the northwest and separated by a dozen meters to the north east is a stable. An oasis of sweet water fit for consumption lies at the center of the arc formed by the buildings. It's immediately apparent to the cultured eyes of the Crane emissaries that the stable and are recent additions compared to the temple proper. On their approach between the barren hills to south the Crane saw monks in the middle of morning training. Once the monks spotted the Crane party approaching they ceased their activities and scattered. Three monks remained beneath the Torii waiting for their guests. When asked what their reason for coming to the humble Ishi-Ike monastery was the Crane conveyed that they were invited to meet with a delegate of the daimyo Bayushi Ichirou. The monks nodded and asked their guests to patiently wait while they notified the scorpion party that the Crane had arrived.

The two honorable Crane now stand respectfully and patiently in the burning heat of the desert sun with their three servants.

[Post "No Action" in brackets if you want to move forwards.]


Last edited by Darkgenesis on 2015-08-06, 15:32; edited 2 times in total
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Post by Gwain von Griswald on 2015-08-06, 10:27

[No Action]
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Post by Jarrion Xanatov on 2015-08-06, 15:26

Teishin Doji flicks open her fan and cools herself in the hot desert air, subtly signifying her distaste at being left outside to wait instead of being brought into the cooler air (and shade) of the temple. Besides this, [No Action].
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Post by InteroVegas on 2015-08-06, 15:32

A quarter of an hour passes before a masked figure bearing the Soshuro crest steps out of the temple alongside the two monks from before. The figure approaches and takes a half bow.

"I apologize for the delay honored guests. Surely your travels must have been arduous beneath the desert sun. Please, join us inside for a meal. Have you eaten rice today?"

Now that he is closer you can make out the finer details of his mask. It is constructed from porcelain and utterly featureless save two holes for eyes. An artistic pattern of red, mahogany, white and black waves and stripes keeps the outside from appearing plain.
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Post by Jarrion Xanatov on 2015-08-06, 16:00

Teishin bows back the appropriate amount.  "The rice has been satisfying.  We have traveled quite far to meet with you.  I thank you for your invitation.  A meal and shade would be most welcome.  This is my husband, Kakita-san. Please, pardon his silence.  His voice was stolen by a spirit many moons ago. My name is Doji Teishin. Have you eaten rice today?"
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Post by InteroVegas on 2015-08-06, 16:42

The man responds in turn: "We are about to eat, charming Crane. Let us go in, I shall introduce myself and Bayushi-sama once we are properly seated."

The scorpion leads the way into the shrine. In the first room is a large rectangular sand lot that occupies the majority of the floor space. Here four monks are hunched over, carefully laying colored grains of sand to create a piece of art in epic proportions. On the walls are depictions of the Great Kami seated in the heavens and hordes of lesser kami gathering around to praise them. The paint is worn away in several areas, most notably around Lady Doji's face. The scorpion makes no remark about the first room. Instead he leads the envoys to a stairwell on the left. On the next floor is a small central room with six doors and tatami carpeting. In the center of this room is a low to the ground table and two more scorpion clan members sitting around it. They stand up at the sight of the Crane and bow. One of the two wears a mask that bears faint resemblance to the dragon of fire. The second wears a cloth wrap around the lower half of his face, revealing hazel-green eyes and hair as black as onyx. Both bear Bayushi clan crests.

He with the red dragon mask speaks: "Welcome esteemed members of the Doji and Kakita families. We are honored by your presence. I ... am Bayushi Motoki. The bushi to my side is Bayushi Junichi-san, a samurai in service to our lord. The man who brought you out from the heat is Soshuro Keeichi-san, my loyal and trusted advisor. Won't you join us for a meal? The food is about to be served."
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Post by Jarrion Xanatov on 2015-08-06, 18:29

"You honor me and my husband, Bayushi-sama.  I am Doji Teishin.  My husband here is Doji Sangyo-san. You may find him a bit quiet; as a child he was cursed by the spirits, and now finds his peace with quiet contemplation.  We thank you for your offer of a meal."


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Post by InteroVegas on 2015-08-06, 18:50

A male servant with a shaved head and simple midnight blue garb steps in with porcelain bowls of Nimono. The smell of tantalizing warm and spiced fish hangs in the air. A second female servant with dark brown hair reaching towards her waist walks in with small bowls of rice and a pitcher for tea. The food is arranged quickly and quietly by the servants while the Crane and Scorpion parties go through introductions. Finally, the food is ready and everyone is able to eat at their leisure.

As the group eats Motoki begins polite conversation: "Doji-san, I once traveled across Crane lands with my father as a child. I still remember the crisp colorful landscapes and regal bushi estates we were hosted in. Your clan showed my father and I such hospitality. Truly, your home is a blessed one."
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Post by Jarrion Xanatov on 2015-08-06, 19:11

First, a quick description of Teishin Doji. She is very small, only 4' 8" tall. Her legs are crippled, run over by a cart at a young age. This damage caused her to stay short, and gave her a poor constitution. She keeps her legs covered by a kimono at all times, and tries to focus attention on her undamaged upper half, speaking charmingly. She bleaches her hair to achieve the perfect Crane white, and overall looks something like this:

"In the Name of the Emerald Empire" Teishi11

She speaks, "Indeed Bayushi-sama, the Crane have quite beauteous lands. Still, they have nothing to compare to your proud Scorpion deserts. The land is so proud, so fierce! I am always impressed by the oases of beauty you manage to carve out in such a fearsome land. Perhaps we Crane can learn from your example."
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Post by InteroVegas on 2015-08-06, 19:27

"Your words would give a younger man cause to blush. For such an energetic beauty to endure a late spring heat wave to come and speak with us. Your motivations must have been great to see you all the way to this humble temple."
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Post by Gwain von Griswald on 2015-08-06, 20:35

Many bushi have puzzled over how to treat Doji Sangyō. By all appearances, Sangyō is no different than a typical Crane samurai. His heritage shows in his handsome features, exquisite poise, and intricate dress. However, any amount of interaction with this bushi of 23 harvests quickly reveals an unsettling truth. The way his eyes quickly flit from speaker to speaker, focusing more on their lips than their eyes, hint to what becomes immediately obvious as soon as anyone addresses Sangyō in conversation.

He does not respond, for a vengful yōkai stole his sound. This son of Kakita cannot speak, hear, or even make music, but a perceptive few can sense even through his samurai face a burning passion. For what, one cannot say, but it is clear from the intensity of Sangyō's gaze and vigor of step that he does nothing with half a heart. Perhaps this is how he has earned the trust of his lord despite bearing a curse from the spirits.

So now Sangyō finds himself after a hard journey enjoying a meal with Bayushi. He eats with due courtesy, but by any outward account does not engage with the pleasantries at hand. In reality, Sangyō uses the enhanced perception he has developed tirelessly after countless hours of study to follow the themes of the verbal exchange by decoding the precise motion of his wife's mouth.

Even as Sangyō takes in the food and conversation, he feels no need to participate. He trusts that Teishin-san will effectively fulfill the wishes of the Crane on her own. When the time is right, Sangyō will contribute in his own way.


Last edited by Tristan Sky on 2015-08-08, 15:31; edited 2 times in total
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Post by Jarrion Xanatov on 2015-08-06, 20:45

Teishin laughs disarmingly.  "Why I have never seen this part of the world, Bayushi-sama.  All of my 23 years have been spent in Crane lands, with their elegantly manicured lawns and ordered garden.  My lord granted Doji-san and I this trip as a wedding gift.  I've always wanted to explore more than just Crane holdings. There is something so delightfully savage about the desert.  A natural beauty, untamed by human hands.    So many clans these days fail to think of how one really ought to care for a garden.  Please, tell me about how you Scorpion manage to keep your land so pristine."


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Post by InteroVegas on 2015-08-07, 03:26

[Sincerity Check]
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Post by Jarrion Xanatov on 2015-08-07, 07:53

Teishin uses her masterful control of language to convince Bayushi-sama of the sincerity of her words (Rolling 9k6)
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Post by testuser on 2015-08-07, 07:53

The member 'Jarrion Xanatov' has done the following action : Dice Roll\'d

'CTech D10' : 2, 8, 2, 8, 7, 4, 9, 9, 3

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Post by InteroVegas on 2015-08-07, 08:55

Teishin's words flow smoothly, yet unconvincingly.

"It is as you say Doji-san. These few desert pockets that have yet to be successfully cultivated by hei-men hands are an embarrassment to the daimyo and bushi ... No matter about the hei-men. Newly wed are you? Doji-san and Kakita-san make a lovely pairing. Surely your families want to host you at their homes throughout the southeastern coast. In spite of that, your daimyo must truly cherish the scorpion and our lands to present you with a gift of travel outside their domain."
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Post by Jarrion Xanatov on 2015-08-07, 12:44

"Indeed, while we are recently married, our families have known each other for many years.  Doji-san, or Kakita-san as he was known then, and I played together as children.  Now we reenact our famous ancestors.  As for the gift of travel, my lord wished for us to see all of Rokugan!  It is good to be at peace now, after the latest troubling times.  We decided to come here, to the lands of the Scorpion first, to pay our respects to you all. We are most impressed by how exceptionally you managed to survive such a sad time in our nations history."


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Post by InteroVegas on 2015-08-07, 15:29

"Could we hear the story of your marriage? The similarities to the great Kakita-sama and Doji-sama cast a sign of the heaven's will at work in your bond."
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Post by Jarrion Xanatov on 2015-08-08, 08:18

Teishin's fan begins to flutter more rapidly, mirroring her beating heart as she recalls the recent wedding.

"I would be honored, Bayushi-sama. As I'm sure you can imagine, it is all still quite present in my thoughts. The ceremony itself was early spring, only a few weeks ago. We were married in Kyuden Doji, in a temple near the very flower gardens of Lady Doji herself. The cherry trees were just beginning to blossom. A few early petals had come loose, spiraling around the courtyard like leaves in a storm. But we were blessed by our ancestors, and any ill weather passed us by. As you say, I believe Doji-sama smiled upon me, and Kakita-sama smiled upon my husband, giving us a wonderful ceremony. The reception was lovely; so many representatives of other Clans are always at Kyuden Doji that we were able to have what felt like all of Rokugan attend! It is a blessed day when you can share your happiness with so many others; I've always found that is the best way to make new friends."

On Roll20, rolled a 53.
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Post by InteroVegas on 2015-08-08, 18:04

"A lovely tale. We would so enjoy to hear more of you and your husband but we do not want to delay you in your task. To travel so far to sit and eat rice with us must mean your daimyo has given you a most important matter to convey. Please, at your leisure, we are ready to hear it."
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Post by Jarrion Xanatov on 2015-08-08, 21:01

Teishin's fan flips around to cover her face.  She blushes, as if she is surprised that Bayushi has brought up business so directly.  Still, he is a high status, high glory individual, so he must know what he is talking about.  

"Well Bayushi-sama, you are quite perceptive."  She sips her tea, letting the fragrant aroma fill the silence for a second.  "At my wedding, I had conversations with very many people.  All at Kyuden Doji are trained in the ways of the court.  So many different styles and personalities.  The Crab, solid as Earth, steady in their convictions.  The Dragon, always questioning.  And of course, the Scorpion."

She adjusts her chopsticks, setting them together, leaning on the bowl in front of her. "You know, the Scorpion and the Crane are the only two clans who train their courtiers in the way of Air.  We teach our representatives to embrace all the details of the courts, to live the rhythms like a fish in water.  There are a great deal of similarities between our two clans.  My lord wished me to come here and explore these similarities in greater depth."
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Post by InteroVegas on 2015-08-08, 22:01

"Doji-san is quite learned in our traditions. Both our clans have venerated histories of artful negotiation. These badges of honor are seconded only to our clans impressive history of devotion to the throne. If you wish it, Soshuro-san would be most willing to enlighten you to our ways."
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Post by Jarrion Xanatov on 2015-08-09, 00:31

"Indeed, your loyalty to the Imperial family is legendary. The Empress, may the ancestors bless her has rewarded your clan highly for your exceptional diligence."

She laughs ruefully, "if only we Crane could say the same." Her fan begins fluttering a little faster now, as the situation becomes more tense. "The Empress, may she live forever, has led our nation through times more trying than any in living memory. Her strength has kept Rokugan safe from the perils that beset us upon all sides. Now she even extends our reach across the sea. The winds of change sweep across Rokugan. It is quite an exciting time to be alive."
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Post by InteroVegas on 2015-08-09, 07:56

"The winds of change blow strong. As you say, by the wisdom of the empress the emerald empire has endured true hardship. The monument erected out front is a testament to those times. Now through her guidance the emerald empire recovers and spreads fast like a weed." Motoki chuckles at his "sassy" remark.
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Post by Jarrion Xanatov on 2015-08-09, 22:06

"Indeed we have expanded further than I ever thought possible. Young as I am, I have witnessed the dramatic changes in our society. Have you ever been to those far off colonies, the lands beyond the sea? I certainly hope I shall be able to visit one day." Teishin leaves it up to the listener to decide whether she simply is interested in travel or if she worries that it will soon become impossible to visit the colonies due to rebellion.
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Post by InteroVegas on 2015-08-10, 13:29

I can't say I have Doji-san. Though the prospect of traveling certainly offers me a certain allure I can't give I am past the sweet age where I can act on whimsy. Ah, how grand an adventure that could be..."
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Post by Gwain von Griswald on 2015-08-10, 14:03

Seeing Teishin's subtle changes in expression and quick movements of her fan, Sangyō knows that there will be quite some time before the discussion concludes. In the gaps between Teishin's words, and seldom enough not to appear disrespectful of course, Sangyō scans the room for any kind of symbolic indication of Bayushi's political views. A map of the colonies as decor, a dearth of honors for the cult of the Empress, or the subject of the dinning room's artwork could all hint at Bayushi's true views, or at least those he is trying to project.

[rolls a 23 on an investigation check]
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Post by InteroVegas on 2015-08-10, 16:25

There is one painting towards the back of the room depicting stream gushing from between two mountains and down to a grassy plain. With every successive glance Sangyo realizes more and more that the stream resembles the elemental dragon of water. The remainder of the room is utterly bare. Sangyo recalls that monk temples are traditionally modest locations, perhaps Bayushi Motoki-sama has not brought any of his own decorum into this public space.
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Post by Jarrion Xanatov on 2015-08-10, 17:54

"I believe that part of the world will offer many brave bushi a great deal of glory in the coming years. However, I'm unsure as to whether it is a fitting place for the Crane. I've heard rumors of those natives, barely clinging to civilization after their fight against the Destroyer. It only goes to show the divine right of the Rokugani to overcome any obstacles in the way of their destiny."
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Post by InteroVegas on 2015-08-12, 08:32

"True words Doji-san. For the empress and the domain of the great clans we have overcome so much. Excuse me for not being humble when I say: Nothing could defeat us."
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Post by Jarrion Xanatov on 2015-08-12, 21:06

Teishin covers her smile with her fan. Bayushi-sama is quite bold today, she thinks to herself.

"It is confidence such as that which makes us so curious to spend more time with the Scorpion. I hope to see many more enjoyable talks such as these in our future, Lord Bayushi-sama."

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Post by InteroVegas on 2015-08-13, 05:25

"Let us then tomorrow. I do not mean to keep you from rest after such long travels. The monks have arranged an open room in the housing annex. We urge you to enjoy a stroll around the oasis, it is serene and calming view."
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Post by Jarrion Xanatov on 2015-08-14, 21:20

"Indeed you are quite gracious to offer us a chance to recover after our desert trek. We are honored to be present at such a pearl of loveliness."
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Post by InteroVegas on 2015-08-16, 07:00

The scorpion at the table nod and wait until Doji and Doji are led to the housing annex before the rise and leave to their quarters.

The monk silently takes the crane to a room closest to the temple. The floor has the dull sheen of regularly polished wood and two tatami mats of crane color laid out on the floor. A simple piece of calligraphy and a window are the only decorations on the walls. The piece of art reads "We can swim". The shaved monk asks "Doji-sama, is there any part of the room not to your liking?"
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Post by Jarrion Xanatov on 2015-08-16, 10:45

"Bayushi-sama is most generous. I thank you for your hospitality."

After the monk leaves, Doji explains to Doji exactly what went on in the recent conversation.
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Post by Gwain von Griswald on 2015-08-17, 03:29

Sangyō watches carefully as Teishin patiently talks through every detail of the discussion. He ponders for a moment, then slowly draws from his garments a small brush and a plain looking wooden tablet plastered on one side with a thin layer of parchment. Sangyō weaves gentle strokes with his dry brush across the writing surface as though he were painting characters, though none appear. Until, that is, he finishes his work and puts aside the brush. Three columns of characters burn into life simultaneously, then fade into nothing moments later. Like sound, the impermanent message carries meaning for those who observe its brief existence.

Summer warms the land
but cares not for her rulers
scorched by desert wind

Allowing Teishin a moment to consider his haiku, Sangyō eventually offers her a hand and gestures towards the exit, a sign that he would like to accept their host's suggestion of a walk about the oasis.
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Post by Jarrion Xanatov on 2015-08-17, 08:06

Teishin takes her husband's arm and walks with him out to the oasis, waiting to speak. Despite Bayushi's interpretation of her previous words, she is truly interested in seeing how the Scorpion have landscaped such a dry and inhospitable area. In addition, she would like to feel cooler breezes to refresh her from their long travel under the hot desert sun. She leaves her servant to set up all her belongings in their room.

Once they are deep into the oasis (and far away from any prying eyes and ears), Teishin turns to Sangyō. "Anata, I fear we have stepped into something bigger than we first thought. We must tread carefully to avoid sparking this gaijin-poweder keg any earlier than it will on its own."
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Post by Gwain von Griswald on 2015-08-17, 12:22

Sangyō simply nods in agreement and continues to guide his wife around the grounds. As they walk, he pays careful attention to the people of the temple. If appropriate, he would like to entice Teishin into casual conversation, hoping others might be more willing to give the answers they seek.
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Post by InteroVegas on 2015-08-18, 07:29

From Sangyo's canvasing of the temple he gleans all the monks are in the later years. In all likelihood these are respected and retired bushi of the scorpion clan. At first there is a strange feeling that eyes are trained on Sangyo wherever he walks, yet he cannot notice gazing upon him. By the time he completes the rounds he is certain his every move is being observed. Equally frustrating, every monk the couple walks towards turns away and leaves with a bucket or water or packages to be delivered before they can be spoken to (Since it is unbecoming of bushi to yell out for attention).
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Post by Jarrion Xanatov on 2015-08-18, 07:42

Instead of walking up to the monks, Teishin chooses to take a different approach. She sits under a tree, perhaps near the water in a comfortable area and begins to practice her divination. She throws her yarrow sticks and tries to determine her fate from their fall.

[Rolling 4k3 got a 30]
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Post by InteroVegas on 2015-08-19, 06:31

With expert precision Doji makes the stalks dance between her hands. The stalk is taken from hand to hand until the ritualistic exchange between right and left, yin and yang, has been completed. Doji sees five yarrow sticks laying in the bundle. Solid becomes broken.

Sangyo notices Soshuro-san standing at the back entrance of temple (that opens up to the sparkling oasis) motionlessly staring at Teishin and he.
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Post by Gwain von Griswald on 2015-08-19, 07:24

Sangyō tries to keep his gaze from lingering on Soshuro-san too long so instead he turns towards his wife and begins writing on his wooden template.

Timid are creatures
who await Dawn's crisp music
so the bird must sing
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Post by Jarrion Xanatov on 2015-08-19, 07:32

Teishin smiles slightly and takes Sangyō's advice to heart. She begins singing, softly at first, then growing to a normal volume. She sings an old Crane song, telling the story of two ill-fated lovers from separate clans, who eloped in spite of their foolish and shortsighted lords.

[Rolling 9k6 got a 47]
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Post by Gwain von Griswald on 2015-08-19, 07:58

Being in the presence of music is always bitter-sweet for Sangyō. From the way Teishin closes her eyes and moves with body and soul to the rhythm of the melody, the deaf bushi can tell she is singing beautifully. To be in the presence of such a song, especially his very on wife's, fills him with wonder, but the cold silence of Sangyō's life cruelly reminds him that he may never again hear the sound of music.
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Post by Jarrion Xanatov on 2015-08-19, 17:30

Teishin sees her husband's suffering, and her heart goes out to him. However, she does not stop. Her voice fills the oasis, and, through the movements of her fan and her sitting, she shows that the two Crane are available for conversation. Of course, Teishin would never do something so crass as to call out for attention.
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Post by InteroVegas on 2015-08-21, 12:11

Soshuro takes a seat on the small set of stairs separating the sandy oasis and the temple. An elderly monk marked by wrinkled skin and shaky hands stops for a moment right along side the crane couple. He closes his eyes and tilts his head up towards the sky as he takes in Teishin's melody.
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Post by Jarrion Xanatov on 2015-08-21, 22:39

Once Teishin's song finishes she pauses for a few moments, fluttering her fan. After a suitable amount of time she speaks to the monk.

"Greetings, Sōryo-san. Please, know me as Doji Teishin. Have you eaten rice today?"
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Post by Jarrion Xanatov on 2015-08-28, 19:20

Shocked by the monk's insolence, simply standing there without responding, her fan flutters furiously. She leans over to Sangyo and whispers behind the fan to him.

"These Scorpion certainly do not act as those living in the refined Imperial Court. Perhaps the harsh climate has changed them, much like the Crab."
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