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Honda Shizuka

0 · 166 views · located in sengoku period, japan

a character in “The Ways of Samurai”, originally authored by Lady Ethereal, as played by RolePlayGateway

So begins...

Honda Shizuka's Story

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Haru Katsuro Character Portrait: Kohaku Souji-sama Character Portrait: Honda Shizuka Character Portrait: Kurosawa Ryūnosuke
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Souji had woken up to an empty house. Kana must have decided to visit the honorable lady Kobayashi early once more, she had been making a habit of it lately. It was a thoughtful thing for her to do, especially since Kana wasn't exactly her lady in waiting. But he would be lying if he said he didn't find it a bit lonely, despite the bustling of a city like Edo. He was forced to brush his own hair, eat breakfast alone, all things he would have otherwise done with Kana, it all added to the loneliness he felt. As his morning had passed quietly he had decided to get in some practice before he had to meet those who answered the ads he put out. Various signs and ads had been put up around town and at both entrances, he expected a good turn out. When it came time Souji washed up. Lady Kobayashi's parents had not only given he and Kana a house on their grounds to live in but was also allowing them the use of the dojo to hold the meeting. Without them a difficult matter could have been made much worse, he was grateful for them.

Souji arrived at the dojo, hearing quite a bit of chatter going on. He opened the door loudly and stepping inside, commanding attention to those who heard. He stepped out into the middle of the floor, which was cleared, people occupying floor space all around it. He waited until he had the attention of everyone in the room. "The task which you will be charged with is not an easy one. There is a chance we may not succeed, and if we do not, you have no way of getting paid... " Souji spoke in a clear and cold tone, focusing his eyes on no one in particular, but casually scanning the room. "This is not a body guard job I am hiring you for, nor a debt collection, nothing so trivial. I require ronin who are ready to kill in the name of the Kobayashi household's honor. If you stay you will see blood, there will be no avoiding it, if that is not something you have not bargained for you may leave now. But if you stay and we succeed, I can promise you two things. The first being riches, and the second being a position as a Samurai in service to the Kobayashi household, of you want it. That means a title as a nobleman, not something that is granted lightly these days." Souji's jaw twitched slightly as he saw many of the men leave. They had begun looking uncomfortable at the mention of the name 'Kobayashi'. It was known to some who followed that sort of information that the Kobayashi household had been all but massacred by a Warlord, their lands taken over by him. It didn't take much to figure that they were being hired to take back those lands, and exact revenge. There weren't many who were crazy enough for that task. In the end, only five ronin stayed. The weak willed ones had been weeded out, he had hoped for more, but he could make do.

"..." He regarded them, studying each in turn. "Now that we have gotten rid of those not suited for this task, allow me to explain further." His tone now was softer, more conversational. "My name is Kohaku Souji, I am royal retainer to the honorable Lady Kobayashi." He bowed in respect, even though etiquette did not dictate that he had to bow to masterless ronin, nevertheless he formally introducing himself. "Two years ago the Kobayashi household was usurped by the Warlord Yousuke, the honorable lady Kobayashi's husband and sons were all killed, along with everyone else who served them. I managed to get the honorable lady out, along with my daughter, who should be joining us shortly. Our task is to exact vengeance and slay the Daimyo Yousuke, to retake the lands that once belonged to the honorable lady Kobayashi and restore them in her name. Should we succeed your monetary reward will be hefty, as I mentioned before." He allowed pause for commentary and questioning.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Fumio Hajime Character Portrait: Kohaku Souji-sama Character Portrait: Alexander Ornstein III Character Portrait: Honda Shizuka Character Portrait: Kurosawa Ryūnosuke
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Everything was still and silent in her world. Shizuka stood in all the glory she could muster before a small store by the side of the road. Her eyes had an intense presence about them as she remained static resembling that of a carved rock statue as her interest was plainly placed on that small food shack in which some of its customers felt apprehension due to her attendance and unlikely quiet manner. Another thing which factored to such reception was her preference for dark-colored clothing often connected to somber meanings and the sword she carries on her waist. With one false move, this peaceful scenery would become bloody in a second. Though, it would be not be that far-off a prospect for her. It was all due to the low grumbling sound coming from her bottomless pits or accurately, her stomach.

She was hungry and when a person is hungry, they are susceptible to many decisions often dubbed as downright insane. She averted her eyes for a moment and took out a small pouch. It was completely light and when opened, there was not even a lint in sight within. This was actually her coin purse who had lost its purpose when she had blown away her earnings from her last job because of those buffet meals, especially, when she could hardly see any difference on her physique even when those meals had the advertising lines of giving a person big muscles. It was rather frustrating. She was actually inclined to slash the owner of that restaurant to pieces when given a chance.

Nevertheless, it was a thought she would put aside for now. She must find a way to feed herself. It was her priority at this very moment. She could find a job where she could get a payment advance, but those are rare. What a dilemma indeed. She kept her empty coin pouch and took a look at the small food shack once more. That was when a parchment of paper passed by her face. The one thing which took her attention was the words 'hefty amount of money'. She aimed to grab hold of the document but it escaped her fingertips. Still, fate was on her side as it landed on the nearby ground. This enabled her to move from her position to pick it up. However, the wheels were still in motion as a ruckus emanated inside the small store which was followed by the screaming word 'thief!'.

Paying it no mind, she lowered herself to the ground unaware of her current placement. The so-called thief who was running much like a headless chicken did not notice her as she was picking up the parcel. There was a collision where the said felon tripped over her bent form and fell flat on his face. She stood up unperturbed by the turn of events with her goal in her hand which was the paper. Her eyes looked at the blundering fool who tripped over her as men quickly gathered around. How careless truly. The perople hauled the felon away while the one who had created the shrieking scream approached her. "Oh thank you very much, kind sir! If weren't for you, the earnings of our store would be taken away." Taking a moment to look at the one speaking, she determined it to be an elderly male and apparently the owner of the store from the meaning of those words.

The man's identification of her as a 'Sir' did not strike her in a rude manner. It was an implication she welcomed as she had condoned her natural gender to another more acceptable for this era and for her life's purpose. What irritated her bit was the connotation; she was a person doing good deeds. It was not in her nature to give aid no matter what kind it might be without any sort of return. That is why her eyes narrowed to a slight degree which made the elderly man stepped away a bit and quickly continued his sentences. "As a token of my appreciation, let me treat you to a meal. It is on the house! Please, sir!" Hearing that, her face softened. It seemed that this day was not as unlucky as she had thought it to be initially. She gave a firm nod as the man lead the way inside to the store. This will be an opportunity she will not waste as she followed inside with the parchment still in her hand.
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After a few hours, Shizuka had finally arrived at the town proper of Edo. She had taken her time to read the parchment. It was for the recruitment of ronins. There was only the time and the place of meeting written. No other explanations. She was not certain what the job is exactly but to require such ads meant that whatever it could be shall be quite a herculean task or these people are desperate. It intrigued her though; the primary motivation is the money. In any case, she navigated herself through the streets of Edo and finally found the place. She had expected a lot of people, but they all appear to be leaving. Was the recruitment finished already? That would not do. Her eyes narrowed distinctively as she made her way through the throng of ronins departing.

One curious soul, took noticed of her as she felt a large hand placed on her shoulder stopping her advancement. "Oi! Bozu! Ya better steer clear of this one. It's the Kobayashi. It's a suicide mission! I tell ya!" Her eyes took a sharper degree as it hardened into steel daggers. She looked at the man as she slapped the hand away from her form. That reaction of hers took the older male by surprise. It might be a helpful advice from the clearly older ronin's perspective. However, she does not take lightly being called a boy or better yet being underestimated of something so quickly. "Tsk! Fine, don't say I didn't warn ya!" She turned her back on that man and went on her way. Her time would not be wasted towards cowards and moreover, the moment she heard Kobayashi, she now has a conclusion what this job could entail, it would entail her chance. There was no way she would not participate in it.

Entering the dojo, she took stock of the individuals present inside. There were quite a handful of people left, interesting in their own way as well. That was good, less competition for her. She had managed to hear the ending portion where the name Yousuke had been mentioned. Clearly, her face twisted in anger while her hands turned into fists as she clenched it tightly. The parchment which she still held was all but a crumpled mess. Even the mention of the hefty reward did not abolish her rage as one should expect. The pensive silence was broken by two, one who asked what would be done when it is all over, the other, the extent of the monetary compensation. As for her, she walked with a brisk and determined purpose, cutting across the others, towards the man who she believed is in charge of the recruitment. She does not need such answers nor to communicate any questions. This was the moment she had been waiting for so long, she will not let it slip away from her grasp.

Without a wasted motion, she removed her katana confined within its scabbard from her waist and presented it to the said man. She was not clearly acquainted with the manner of proper conduct a samurai should do when presenting one's service. Why would she? For one, she was never a samurai to begin with. This was the best gesture she could do along with those deep blue eyes of hers resembling that of cold molten blades. They were filled with an unyielding resolve and a flaming rage unhinged. This for one was definitely a personal matter to her. She was going to do this job even if it would be the last thing she does in her life. Her vengeance will be finally realized and that at this moment is her primary motivation.

Well, as it would appear, her day was truly a lucky one in various means.Image

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Haru Katsuro Character Portrait: Fumio Hajime Character Portrait: Kohaku Souji-sama Character Portrait: Alexander Ornstein III Character Portrait: Honda Shizuka Character Portrait: Kurosawa Ryūnosuke
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Haru Katsuro

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With a sudden gasp, Katsuro sat up in the pile of hides, blankets and cloths he called a bed in a hot sweat, panting lightly. After a minute of heavy breathing he finally calmed down and his breathing evened out. He stood up, pulled on the only set of clothes he could legally call his own as well as the remnants of his armor. He frowned, feeling something uncomfortable against his chest. After a moment of digging he pulled out a very wrinkled scrap of paper, an ad meant to recruit ronin such as himself. "Oh yeah... That was today. Hmph." Well if he was going to meet a lord he might as well attempt to look good. He turned to the broken piece of bronze he used as a mirror and did his best to comb the knots and dirt out of his hair. Unfortunately the comb was not up to the task, and snapped in half before the job was complete. Cursing his luck and his poverty, he completed the job to the best of his abilities with half of a comb and called it good. He then washed his face and neck in the cracked basin just below the mirror and stared into his distorted reflection. Almost fortunately, he'd always had problems growing facial hair so he appeared to be quite clean shaven, and his face was as clean as he could get it without soap and a clean rag. He nodded to his reflection, made his clothes look as presentable as possible, which still made him look homeless, but like a homeless man with some measure of dignity at least. Looking around the shack he'd called home for the past few months and the meager belongings therein, he quickly arrived at the conclusion that he would never be returning to this hovel. He gathered the few things he owned into a piece of hide; a now broken comb, a set of clean bandages, a pakage of dried meats, and a sealed envelope containing the only proof that he was indeed of noble birth. His only other belongings were the clothes and armor upon his back, his sword which he kept at his side, and the piece of hide in which his belongings were kept. With all his belongings in tow, he slipped out the door of his small shed and into the bustling streets of the slums where he'd taken residence.

The hard packed dirt of the slum streets kicked up dust with every step, and there were many people taking many steps, leaving a heavily condensed cloud of dust in the air at almost every moment. Most people moved quickly out of his way, anyone openly carrying a sword in the slums was a man most people wanted to avoid, and those who did not required only a glance to be cowed out of his way. They disgusted him, the hundreds of thugs who patrolled this area like vultures, all looking for a mouthful of the still rotting carcass of what was once part of the city. Many of them he'd encountered before, those men were wise enough to avoid a second confrontation, some still bore the wounds of said engagement. Others however eyed him with open contempt and an air of arrogance, others even openly laughing. "A one armed man, clinging to his broken pride as a Samurai! Ha!" He chose to ignore these snide remarks, he had more important business today than to beat some sense into a bunch of thugs and lowlifes.

After entering the city proper, he made his way into the grounds of the Kobayashi family and into the dojo. There were alot of men in here, likely seeking a quick shot into fame or wealth... many of them wouldn't survive an actual encounter with the warlord they were going against. Then again, he might not survive a second encounter himself. He chuckled and took a seat not far from the front, a few men made room for him, giving him odd looks.

His hunch proved to be correct, for as soon as the man in charge, his name was Kohaku Souji if he recalled, told the men his name, all but one other ronin left. They knew that the Daimyo Yousuke had attacked the Kohaku family, and that this would be a mission of revenge. Though just as they had left, three more stumbled in quite late. One man was nearly as wide as he was tall, appearing to be chiseled from stone as opposed to flesh. The second appeared to be not but a fair skinned boy with hair the color of straw, a foreigner obviously. The last was perhaps the strangest, most easily described as both beautiful and handsome. An interesting crowed had gathered here. He wondered how it would go.

The man who had been here longest, near the back of the room, inquired as to the Kobayashi family's intentions after the missions completion. Katsuro had also been curious on this matter, but quickly dismissed it. His priority lied in the dethroning of the warlord, if the Kobayashi family had dishonest intentions he would dispose of them afterwards.
Next, the large man inquired as to the size of their reward. While this was a great bonus for him, this was of little concern. His reward would be the head of one dead warlord.

The most surprising thing though, was the handsome man blatantly and boldly walking up to their host and, unsheathing his blade, presented it to the man. This certainly piqued his curiosty, for it showed the man was concerned with neither the reward nor the severity of their situation, only that they were a part of it. He couldn't help but grin at this point and had to fight back a chuckle.
"It seems you've gathered quite an interesting force to your cause, Kohaku-dono."
He turned and motioned to each member of the new rag-tag team of discarded warriors as he mentioned them.
"A calculating samurai, a mercenary for hire, a blonde haired foreigner and what is certainly one of the boldest ronin I've seen in a few years." At this point he let out a small chuckle as he allowed himself to relax, his muscles slowly untensing. He'd been unsure of how the situation was going to develop, but so far he saw no reason to keep his guard up so high. "I suppose you can add a one armed veteran to that roster as well. Haru Katsuro at your service. I look forward to our time working together."
After introducing himself, he straightened and looked straight ahead, the normally dull fire in his eyes now burned brightly, though he remained composed and dignified in the presence of the man he would now serve.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: [NPC] Bartender Character Portrait: Haru Katsuro Character Portrait: Fumio Hajime Character Portrait: Kohaku Souji-sama Character Portrait: Alexander Ornstein III Character Portrait: Honda Shizuka Character Portrait: Kurosawa Ryūnosuke
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It was disheartening to say the least that only five men stayed behind, interested in the job, but not unsurprising. This mission they were to embark on was no mere task, and suicidal, even given the reward. The men that stayed were either unaware of who Daimyo Yousuke was or particularly bold. Most did not seem bold, but one did, with the air of a trained and controlled individual, which was promising. He could, and would soon, settle for worse. That same ronin asked the first question.

Souji was taken aback by it, not expecting anyone to ask such a thing, what will the Kobayashi do when they rule again? Not the question of a man merely interested in money. Maybe even if for money this person did not wish to work for a tyrant. Souji didn't want to assume that the man was implying the Kobayashi were tyrants but the implication irked him slightly. He paused before answering, looking the ronin before him square in the eye. "It isn't my place to question such matters, but I am told Lady Kobayashi's parents will-" Souji's eyes widened slightly as he turned his head. He was interrupted rather rudely, but that wasn't what had surprised him. Some sort of foreigner, made obvious by his hair and garb, entered, or rather bounced, in with an older bushi.

Souji did not recognize this bushi in the slightest, though they had indeed met before, but didn’t intend to reward his rudeness either way. He turned back to finish speaking to the ronin who had asked the first question, “They are an honorable people, the province flourished in their reign and will do so again I expect. As for the reward...” Souji turned his head to the older bushi, “And the reward will be more than any here have been paid for any one task certainly, there are also titles and land you will be offered.”

A rather young looking ronin seemed to make up their mind at this. Souji could hear the familiar sound of a katana being unsheathed, it made him unconsciously place his hand on the hilt of his own, carefully and casually, not inviting conflict. He turned to view what looked to him like a young boy offering him his unsheathed sword, a look of passionate determination etched into every inch of their face, especially their eyes. He felt compelled to meet them with his full attention. “In the future, the way to present your sword in service is sheathed.” He coolly lowered their blade with two of his fingers, “But you are accepted none the less.” Not that refusing them would deter them, so he suspected. Did the offer of a family title mean so much to them?

A voice broke Souji away from their intense gaze, one of the ronin who stayed. The man had only one arm, but held himself with all the surety of someone that could hold their own regardless. “Interesting indeed.” He agreed. “Though I have only two confirmed. Is the foreigner just here for sight seeing?” Souji turned slightly, asking over his shoulder. Foreigners here for trade and exotic distractions didn’t belong entangled in political matters, he wouldn’t be surprised if the foreigner didn’t even speak their language. This other bushi was likely some sort of guide or translator for them and was about to drag them into a mess they didn’t ask for.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Haru Katsuro Character Portrait: Fumio Hajime Character Portrait: Kohaku Souji-sama Character Portrait: Honda Shizuka Character Portrait: Kurosawa Ryūnosuke
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Now that the youth was getting a look around the room he could notice the subtle details that reminded him, he truly was in a land far away. The mats beneath their feet were made of what appeared to be tightly knitted straw, woven into a floor which was both durable and infinitely reusable. There were minimal decorations strewn about as well, some wooden katana, and some real ones. This might have been a place to train soldiers. The garbs of all of those around the boy were mostly darker colors, and they looked rather rough. Yet, despite all of these unfamiliar trappings, the boy felt as if he had been here before. All of these had been parts of the stories the older man had told Alexander when he was a boy. The smells, albeit different than Alex Imagined, were mostly pleasant. No matter what country it was, chamber pots, or latrines were par for the course, but despite that the country air was cleaner than most cities around Europe, and the men here all seemed to have bathed which was a far cry different than what modern science spoke of back home.

Speaking of the men, they too were different than Alexander expected to see. Most were around his height, a few taller. They were all largely different from one another as well. Despite the long haircuts, and katanas at their sides. One man smelled like master, the smell was similar to gunpowder, but it was richer, it tickled the senses, and gave Alexander a feeling of weariness. But he was handsome enough. There was enough ruggedness to his features, that it looked as if he had seen combat. Yet, a softness, something rarely seen in Europeans. There was another, too, he was missing an arm, and seemed more grizzled. And yet a third offering their blade to the man in charge. While it might have been hard to see Alexander’s eyes were lighting up with Joy! He was in the center of another of his sensei’s stories, he could feel it. Alexander tugged on Fumio’s long, flowing, coat, to bug him about how true to his word he was. His master swatted his hand away. This shocked the young man, his master was so stoic, so stalwart… he was truly a samurai! Out of all the men in his room, Alexander guessed, no! He knew! His master was truly a man without equal.

Eventually, however the man in the center spoke directly about Alexander. His Japanese was perfect, his speech was exactly like that which Alexander had been dreaming of for so long. Oh! How he longed to speak such pretty sentences, and have the skills to utilize the weapon at this man’s side. The old man looked tough, and withered, a man who had seen a lifetimes worth of ordeals. When he addressed Alexander, he must have been uncertain of the young man's speaking capabilities. Alexander knew why he could be hesitant, but the the blonde had been trained by the best Japanese teacher any man could ask for. “I SPEAK JAPANESE! KOH-NI-CHI-WA! My name is Alexander Ornstein III, and I hail from the land of Austria. I come here to be with Master, and be Samurai!” Alexander was trying to hold his composure, amidst a group of such mighty warriors, he tried… he really did, yet his features betrayed his thoughts. He was happy! Extremely overjoyed to be in the presence of these fabled warriors. ”I will stay by Master Hajime Fumio’s side, until his task is done. Then maybe I will be Samurai? And I can hunt monsters and go home.” There was a small problem. Now that someone had given the young man the chance to speak Japanese, it would take quite a lot to shut him up.

”I promise, I won’t get in the way. I am a skilled hunter, and forest man.” If there was any place Alexander wanted to be most in this world, it was right here. He was trying his best to make certain that he would be staying by his master’s side till the very end of this mission.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Haru Katsuro Character Portrait: Fumio Hajime Character Portrait: Kohaku Souji-sama Character Portrait: Alexander Ornstein III Character Portrait: Honda Shizuka Character Portrait: Kurosawa Ryūnosuke
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Hah, that Kohaku guy was making inappropriate eyes at Hajime. Does he like what he sees?! Hajime would have to turn down his charm sooner than he planned; he doesn't swing that way, bastard.

Truth be told, Hajime was hoping that kid would get lost in the crowd, or get distracted by something shiny and wander off. He realized the chance was slim, but took some comfort in the chance being there. Yet, the comfort came to pass, and his good tidings failed him. It was irksome in a sort of inevitable way that Kohaku came to address the golden elephant that had toddled into the room.

It took damn near every kiloliter of sheer temperence to keep his spine rigid, his teeth locked together, and his eyes fastened shut. As if in meditation, he spared no reaction, no trace of a loss in composure he listened to Alexander rattle off in what was practically a language all of his own; not to say that his accent was unsalvagable, but the contents of which he spoke... It was like Hajime had dragged in a washed up stage comedian who was trying a new routine. In a foreign goddamn country. Hajime was going to let the comedian play his role, say what he wanted.

But they never discussed this "becoming samurai" part of the speech. "What are you going on about..." muttered Hajime under his breath, still avoiding eye contact. He couldn't say the kid was a full-on lunatic though; it was clear that he'd earnestly thought through what he wanted to say, though not necessarily how best to say it. After an extensive sigh and display of patience that rivalled Buddha, Hajime spoke. "Pay him no heed, I'll talk to him later. Personal matter, you understand."




Alexander listened as his master spoke. Deep down inside he knew that Samurai were supposed to be firm, and stoic. The young man realized this must be what Sensei Fumio wanted from him. Now the only problem would be to try to keep his eyes from welling from sheer joy. Well, baby steps.




That seemed to placate the boy, for some reason. At least he remembered how to be respectful when the adults were speaking. Now that that was over with...

Of those remaining in the room, he found it difficult to determine their cause for being there. Not that his own reasons were black and white, but it was a tricky situation--no one sane would want to be present. Two were fueled by personal vendetta, judging from their eager dispositions. One even drew his damn sword to illustrate a point. If Hajime tried that, people would think he was an asshole. The unfairness of it all. The other one... one... hmm. Well, he had one of something. Hajime would like to see how he fared in a fight. He cracked his neck, loudly, and slowly began what prefaced all his business transactions: negotiation.

"Listen, I grace this here dojo with my presence today 'cause the job sounds interesting. When you get to my age that's what keeps you alive, yeah?" He resisted the urge to agree with himself with a fuck yeah. Normally he had little restraint and self-censorship, but they were in a dojo. Hajime could stand to behave, if only a little. He visibly glanced around the room, corner to corner: "From the looks of it, royal retainer, it looks like you'll need all the people you can get. Warlord Yousuke, right? Bands upon bands of bastards and demons at his beck and call. Comes with bein' a warlord. Lotta shit to wade through. Lotta effort for... two people. Three, countin' you. Maybe four if you can get that handsome face over there to swear fealty, too."

"Now, me? I do this for a living, daily basis. Like to think I'm good at it. Ask anyone on the street and they can give you my success rate. You get me on board, you have a fighting chance even against demons. If you don't... technically you didn't lose a thing 'cause you never had me in the first place, eh? But I can't promise you'd be better off."

Then he leaned forward, his tensing, taut arms like tree trunks supporting the weight of his massive torso. The very air grew heavier. "You wanna make it really interesting, talk to your lady. From the sounds of it, money is no object to her. Forget the title and the land. Start up a base pay that increases with each key figure we butcher, and I can tell you now she'll be sitting pretty on a throne of a thousand heads."

He sat upright once more, as if suddenly disinterested, glancing at the door. "But that's just my suggestion. 'Course nobody ought to get paid if Yousuke ain't dead along with them, but if you want warriors, you gotta give 'em some incentive."

And then he let the dead dog lay in the street, as it were, and he would be indisposed until someone came to touch it first.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Haru Katsuro Character Portrait: Fumio Hajime Character Portrait: Kohaku Souji-sama Character Portrait: Alexander Ornstein III Character Portrait: Kohaku Kana Character Portrait: Honda Shizuka Character Portrait: Kurosawa Ryūnosuke
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At best the attempt made to speak ningen could be seen as endearing, and it was more than many of his kind even bothered to learn. Souji could see the honor in that, in the attempt and good intention. At worst the foreigner boy was rude and grossly presumptive. Becoming a Samurai was no hobby for a foreigner to take up or skill to obtain for temporary consumption and bragging rights. Being Samurai was a way to live one's life, and training began when one was much younger than the boy in front of him. Souji couldn't help but feel irked by the insult, but if the older ronin was his master he couldn't blame the boy for his rudeness or ignorance. In fact it would explain the behavior quite well. So Souji kept his expression even, listening politely as this Alexander O-renshtin three individual tumbled through an explanation of why he was here. At the very least the boy was a forest man, which could be useful in theory. What was that about monsters?

Souji wanted to smirk at the expression on the older ronin's face, as his student's voice was entirely his fault. It made having to hear Alexander speak worth it. He wanted to, but didn't, his face rarely made such expressions at all. Souji nodded when the older ronin said he would deal with the boy later, Alexander quelled himself, something that seemed to take quite a bit of willpower on his part.

The older ronin continued on in a speech that was much more eloquent in grammar but no less rude, how astounding. His points however, rang truthful. Going against a notorious warlord was a tall order, and with so few, the tactics to be successful would need to be creative to put it lightly. Demons however, youkai, did this old man really mean that, or was that a mataphor for the level of skill Yousuke's warriors held. Souji decided it was most likely the later. He continued to insist he would be the deciding factor of success, this man was as humble and he was gracious, and demand for a flat rate per head. Souji's eyes became darker when he referred to Lady Kobayashi as 'that lady', his cool openness turning to ice. He had to remind himself that it was for his mistress's sake he was here, and for her sake that he would not throw this man out immediately.

"The Honorable Lady Kobayashi's terms are not negotiable." He emphasized her proper title, his voice unfriendly and cold. "For those coming, we meet at the northeastern gate at dawn tomorrow. You have until then to get your affairs in order. You are all welcome to join this mission. I will assume that those who are not there are not interested, in which case I, Kohaku Souji, thank you for your time. Dismissed." Souji addressed everyone in the room with a clear voice, quickly ending the meeting, he found he no longer had the patience for the direction this meeting turned. He opened the sliding door indicating for people to leave, they had imposed upon the Kobayashi abode for longer than necessary in his opinion.



ImageKana hurried to the dojo, arriving just as people dwindled out, when she saw such small numbers she stopped, her look of hope leaving her face for a moment, she stopped. Oh. This hadn't gone so well. Neither had her own ventures to be honest, which was disheartening too. She mustered up a smile anyway, nodding a bow to a few as she passed, walking more slowly to her where her father stood. She got a strange feeling from one of the men, he was extremely tall, and familiar? She didn't know, but the hairs on the back of her neck stood up. She stared slightly as she passed him, looking away when she realized that she was being rude. How peculiar, she had felt the same way earlier today when she met that one vagabond.

She reached her father and stood at the base of the steps patiently, "Father, was that a foreigner? He had straw colored hair, I've never seen that before. And how strange his clothes are too, he's wearing a blanket on his shoulders." She could see her father was not happy with the way things had gone immediately, he was tense. Well, more tense than usual. They would get through this somehow, she didn't know how, but they had to. It was her father's duty as Samurai to take back the honor taken from the Lady Kobayashi. Kana could feel her heart tighten.



"Ah, Kana, I didn't see you this morning. Why don't we have lunch at that place you like and you can ask me all the questions you wish." The sight of his daughter was like a wave of warmth over the cold Souji, he even smiled.

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Character Portrait: Haru Katsuro Character Portrait: Fumio Hajime Character Portrait: Kohaku Souji-sama Character Portrait: Alexander Ornstein III Character Portrait: Kohaku Kana Character Portrait: Honda Shizuka Character Portrait: Kurosawa Ryūnosuke
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Admittedly, Ryūnosuke was not fully devoted to keeping track of all the discussion after his query was answered. He honestly cared little for the money, if only because he’d never seen the need for it, especially, and even less for the title promised in the event of their success, which would be more hindrance than help. It was already hard enough to explain to a small village full of people that he must just be terribly lucky not to age a day in ten years—he didn’t want to imagine trying to figure out how to explain it to a household or anything like that. While not every yōkai took it seriously, it was still incumbent upon them not to make the existence of their kind obvious to ningen.

The sound of a sword being drawn did demand his attention, but when it proved to be a seemingly-earnest gesture rather than a hostile one, he chose to keep his piece.

Being already placed near the back of the room, he seemed to mostly escape notice, minus a few cursory glances, usually just part of surveys of the general room, he supposed. He counted himself lucky that his appearance was not especially eye-catching; he’d had enough of that for more than one lifetime. As the conversation carried on, he folded his hands into his sleeves and took up a faintly meditative posture, fixing his eyes somewhat listlessly on a random spot on the floor in front of him. It looked like every other dojo floor he’d ever seen, but that was not what held his interest.

He let his thoughts occur as they would, not bothering to filter them yet, nor make judgements about their relative merits. That was for later. Or rather, if he ever got there; he was quite suddenly snapped from his reverie by the exuberant outburst of the yellow-haired man, a foreigner rather than a yōkai by the accent and the smell (when was the last time he’d bathed, anyway?). Ryūnosuke’s brows drew together slightly as he processed the oddly-inflected words, trying to remember which way European names were supposed to be understood. Was it family name first or given name? What was the ‘three’ supposed to mean? Was Austria even in Europe? He should have paid more attention to his lessons instead of constantly trying to escape them, perhaps.

He shook himself slightly as the exchange moved on, the older man stepping in seemingly… somewhat on the youth’s behalf, and Ryūnosuke went back to his practice of laying out all the available information and cataloging his own impressions of it. Such a decision was a delicate thing to make, and there were a number of important factors to be considered—

And it would seem that they had to make it by tomorrow. Tomorrow? As someone who was used to having weeks to think over something relatively trivial, like whether to settle the guests on the east or west side of the estate, the fact that he had a deadline that soon for a decision of this magnitude was decidedly off-putting. Then again… not everyone had an interminable number of years to live. Still, were even humans normally this hasty, or was time just that much of the essence?

Exhaling through his nose, but not sighing, he told himself, he stood and left the building with the others, ushered out by a host seemingly grown impatient with them. Perhaps he should have paid more attention to what was being said, and thus given himself some idea of why. On his way out, arms still folded together, he passed a young lady, more noticeable, honestly, because she smelled slightly out-of-season than for anything else. Actually, that… he discreetly sniffed. Ah. Well, that was unexpected.

He only turned his head in the right direction as they were about to pass, catching her eyes entirely by mistake, but inclining his head anyway. From the snippet of conversation he caught a few seconds later, she was Kohaku-sama’s daughter.

Pursing his lips and not-sighing again, he found himself standing in relative proximity of both the youth who had offered his sword unsheathed, and the man with but one arm. These two, he had gathered, were already committed to the cause. Perhaps, if he inquired of them, they would be willing to tell him why, something that might help his own decision.

“A most unusual set of circumstances,” he ventured, his voice pitched quietly, but not hesitantly. “I fear I know little of them. Had either of yourselves prior knowledge of this Yousuke-san?”

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Character Portrait: Haru Katsuro Character Portrait: Fumio Hajime Character Portrait: Kohaku Souji-sama Character Portrait: Alexander Ornstein III Character Portrait: Kohaku Kana Character Portrait: Honda Shizuka Character Portrait: Kurosawa Ryūnosuke
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Shizuka fought every natural reflex within her body that commanded her to look for the source of that booming yet humane sound. This was due to the laughter which echoed through the room. She was certain that she was not the only one rattled by such a sound of merriment and interest. Though, this did not deter her from the gesture of her resolve towards the man she believed to be the one in command. His answer in regards to the aftermath of this mission had no effect on her. Empires, regimes, and governments fall all the time. It will stay true no matter who are fighting on the opposing sides of the quadrants. That is simply how this world revolutionizes itself, how life enters a cycle. As for the physical reward, it did give a pleasant music to her ears. There was no need for title on her part, just the jiggling sound of coins would be enough. She did at first arrived to this recruitment for that purpose. But at this moment, it is considered a bonus. For her main reward, the opportunity to kill the infamous Warlord Haru Yousuke is what truly drives her to be a part of this dangerous enterprise.

No matter the case, her gesture was answered. Those deep blue eyes of hers were soon met by honey brown ones. She could see that this man was reflecting her seriousness at equal lengths. There was no humor in it. That made this person agreeable to her despite being corrected about presenting one's sword in regards to service. She did not find any offense on that as she does not have any idea of such conduct. Instead, she presented a look of slight apology with a shrug of her shoulders to imply her nonchalant ignorance of it. She then took a step back as if to say, it will not happen again. With her katana in hand, she proceeded in returning the ebony blade back into its scabbard. Her burst of rage had been extinguished by the conversations being thrown within the room. As far as she could tell, there are only two who had been enlisted to the cause who included her and the man who had expressed joviality of the people gathered here today.

Her eyes traveled to the said man who stood out due to what he is missing and that would be an arm. Most people would have wallowed in self-pity of being relieved of an arm or be consumed by fear. This one is of strong spirit. Well, it was the only compliment she would give in repayment for the man calling her 'boldest ronin'. Unfortunately, she will not be able to voice that. In any case, the attention inside the room shifted to another or more specifically, a foreigner. It was a boy with hair like that of wild wheat and the oddest set of clothes she had ever seen as of now. Curious as she is, her head tilted to the side. It was a habitual quirk of hers when something had caught her interest which is a rarity these days. Unknown to her, she did exude a minor childlike innocent demeanor, but for a minute amount. The boy was asked if he was a tourist. Yet, the question which could be answered by a simple yes or no was reciprocated with an enthusiastic chatter of the foreigner. There was no doubt in Shizuka's mind that the boy was enamored by the ideas of samurai and was it mentioned, monsters?

Apparently, the stories of people living beyond the seas are true. They are delusional when factors are considered. What did this gaijin expect to do in this country? This place is not for theatrical plays of the naive and incredibly foolish people, a prime example, the foreigner. But then again, it would probably be good to crush such annoying traits into bits. The world is not a playful hunt drummed by excitement. It is very cruel for everyone including her. In the end, they are nothing more but preys being consistently hunted whether what it could be, that entirely depends on the specific individual. She could tell from the start that interaction with the gaijin would be limited by her at a distance. Her dislike for naivety has been set in stone. Though, the ideas being spouted by the foreigner seemed to come from this master the boy spoke.

She believed that would be the older man nearby. Well, the man certainly radiates a presence of a seasoned warrior, expected from the age she could perceive him to be. At the same time, he is a person who had adapted well to the harsh wilderness that is of Nippon from the manner he speaks. She did not find anything offending in his suggestions though, the bit underlining of his words in which measuring her ability against that scum of a warlord without even being specific, irks her. This was reflected with her eyes narrowing to a noticeable degree. Her and this man will not get along. She could tell that much. Though, she does not mind earning an incentive through decapitated heads. That however was rebuked by their employer outright. How sad. She slightly shrugged her shoulders and then allowed her gaze to travel on the other side of the dojo where an individual described as calculating stood by.

Those eyes of hers quickly narrowed and her lips pressed together in contemplation. It would seem that this job had assembled men with skill and if she is mistaken, then a death wish perhaps. In any case, there was another thing which bothered her immensely. She was obviously the shortest of everyone here and not by a simple inch or two. All of these males towered her. Her complex about her height began to rear its ugly head on her confidence. It made her wonder if there is a drug that would make her taller overnight. She had already tried drinking milk. It had not served her well as much as she could tell. Furthermore, these giants will not be good for her neck as she would need to constantly look up when in conversation. Well, she could do away with that by keeping to herself which she had always done before.

Removing her eyes from the calculating man, her eyes returned to their employer. The man spoke of meeting at the northwestern gate by dawn tomorrow. She would have wanted to start now. It would mean she would have to worry about her living necessities for a while until then. This made her pursed her lips in thought with her arms cross over her chest. She would need to entertain herself a bit more. With that, she made herself to the exit where they were being pushed towards to. It was much she could tell from the one in-charge. She would not blame him for she would do the exact thing. No further actions on her part, she let herself out of the dojo without bothering with the others. Ronin like them had always been alone; they make acquaintances, purely professional links, nothing more.

It was still uncertain if all of them would be together for this job. So, she sees no need for any interactions from her part. Though, she did notice someone coming towards them. It was a girl and another stab to her complex, the female was still taller than her. Why does everyone just towered over her? Is she a midget by nature? This was really frustrating as she closed her eyes briefly at this. She would need to increase her intake of that milk. When she did open her eyes, she saw the girl bowing her head, a polite gesture. There was no doubt the girl was still young. It reminded her something or rather someone. She then looked over her shoulder following the female who went towards her employer. Not stopping from her stride, she had managed to hear the word father. So, that is the connection, family. There was a haze of sadness in those eyes of hers, but only for a moment.

Returning her eyes to the front, she noticed the one described earlier as calculating spoke of their situation as a set of unlikely matters. To an outsider and unfamiliar one, it would seem just as that. However for her, that bastard Yousuke he speaks of should see this coming. This was but preordained. People who enact bloodshed must be prepared to receive such equal payment, though she would not mind giving an incentive of additional blood in regards to the targeted warlord.

Stopping from her tracks, she was also able to halt her mind from creating very realistic images of torture for the warlord in question. For now, her attention was taken. Her eyes gauged the man at a closer proximity and she could already tell that a green-eyed monster was starting to have a grip on her. Why could she not look like him instead? Tall, handsome, and cool-looking, something one would expect of a samurai or ronin. That is it, this man is a rival, a threat. Her eyes narrowed as she took a step back to keep distance. Then, she rolled her eyes in a manner to imply that she believed him to be an idiot. Actually, she was actually feeling pretty good about herself. She knows something that this man does not. One point for her. Not wanting to waste her time and to flaunt her self-proclaimed victory, she glanced at the one-armed man. This one should be sociable enough to provide as a conversation partner.

With that, she dismissed her presence before them by making her way to the town. Whether they meet later or tomorrow, she does not care. For now, she would need to pass time in which she could secure a lodging for the night. And that is the only thing on her mind right now as she silently contemplated her choices, placing her sandogasa back on her head.
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Character Portrait: Haru Katsuro Character Portrait: Fumio Hajime Character Portrait: Kohaku Souji-sama Character Portrait: Alexander Ornstein III Character Portrait: Kohaku Kana Character Portrait: Honda Shizuka Character Portrait: Kurosawa Ryūnosuke
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Haru Katsuro


After he had made his introduction there was quite a lot of debate flying about the room, and soon attention was brought to the... well quite frankly the elephant in the room. The enthusiastic, blonde, squeaky elephant with horrible Japanese. Really, it was awful. An assault on their language would be an understatement. Despite the foreigner's horrid attempt at speech, he somehow managed to convey his reasons for being here, he could only assume that his master was the rather large, and extremely rude, man beside him. As for the part about becoming samurai... That was decidedly odd. True many foreigners were fascinated with their culture and the ways of Bushido, he'd had to deal with a few himself during his military service, but he'd never met any truly desiring to become samurai. It was both parts amusing and disturbing, especially how enthusiastic he was about it. There was also something in there about hunting monsters, which brought up some rather unpleasant memories.

He reached over and gently massaged his nub of a shoulder as the discussions continued, the majority of which simply sounded like empty bragging on the larger man's part, as well as the request for more pay. Well, he couldn't blame the man for such a request, they were going after one of the deadliest men in Japan, and possibly even on earth. To ask great compensation for such, while extremely rude in this case, was not particularly uncalled for. Still, this man irked him to no end, he could practically feel his ego swelling as he spoke. He refrained from saying anything, simply in order to avoid causing any more tension than was already in the room. However their host obviously felt that enough was enough, and who could blame him, denying the man's request and calling an end to their meeting. Any interested parties were to meet tomorrow at dawn by the northeastern gate.

Picking up his bundle and slinging it over his shoulder as he stood up, his brow furrowed for a moment. He had already decided he would not be returning to the shack in the slums which he had previously stayed in, so where would he go? Plagued by this oversight in his plans, he stepped out of the dojo, though before he left he turned and bowed to Kohaku.
Thank you for your hospitality. I shall see you tomorrow as ordained. Good day." And with that he left, though not before seeing a young lady running up to the dojo, straight towards Kohaku. He didn't catch much of their conversation as he was walking away, just next to the bold yet silent ronin from before, but he did catch "Father". Content for now to walk in silence while he determined where he would spend the coming night, when the pair was approached by the rather tall, actually extremely tall now that he sees the man standing, samurai who had sat towards the back of the room. Katsuro bowed his head in quiet greeting, hoping that the two of them could start out on the right foot, they would hopefully be comrades after all. He then inquired as to their knowledge of the warlord, claiming he had very little understanding of the subject. Katsuro very nearly cringed at the subject, but it was a fair question given the circumstances. The quiet man merely seemed to dismiss the two of them and wandered off into town, piquing his curiosity slightly. There was definitely a story to be told there, if the man would ever open his mouth.

After quietly debating how much he should tell the man, he decided there was no reason to hide anything, hiding things this early could sow distrust later.
"I do in fact know a bit of the man, on a bit of a personal level. The rumors about him are, unfortunately, not an exaggeration. If they were, I might still have an arm."
Even Katsuro couldn't completely mask the shame he felt at that moment, having lost not only the fight but his arm and a great deal of his honor in a single night. A deep breath and a small grunt brought him back to his norm and the conversation at hand.
"If you're seriously considering this venture, then I suggest you not underestimate this opponent, nor those he employs." Feeling he'd said all that needed saying, he bowed politely and turned to leave, but he suddenly felt an urge, no more like an instinct to turn his head and say "I'll see you tomorrow morning, stranger." before he walked off into town in search of an Inn that would take him in. He then realized he still had that coin-purse from yesterdays thugs. With a light grin, he picked up his step, visions of tempura and a soft bed dancing in his head.