Sakurai Hidemasa

"Isn't it a bit unnerving that doctors call what they do 'practice'" ~George Carlin

0 · 230 views · located in Japan: Sengoku Era

a character in “Ways of The Samurai: Revenge”, as played by Cheru-Chu


Sakurai Hidemasa
I do not practice medicine for my own sake or the sake of others. I do it for the sake of the one I have lost.


Rugged and sturdy are the first two words that come to mind when you lay eyes on Hidemasa. When he is not hunched over, he stands at 6’ 3”, towering over the general population and intimidating most of his opponents. He is not a lithe man; his body is composed of sizeable, dense muscles to match his enormous strength and when combined with his height he is, for all intentions, a goliath. His skin has obviously seen better days. Despite being a rather well bathed man who values cleanliness, it almost always has the appearance of being coated in dirt much to his chagrin. His uncharacteristically dark skin reflects the large amount of time he spends outdoors. The many scars he carries also accurately suggests that he has seen many battles. His most prominent scars are the ones that crisscross across his chest, the single scar on his forehead, and the large one that run nearly all the way down his right arm.

His face could be considered attractive to some if he took more care to make himself seem that way, but he doesn’t so he is most certainly not an exceptionally handsome man. Hardly clean-shaven, his strong jaw, chin, and upper lip are obscured by coarse, uneven stubble. His nose is long and shows some minor signs of having been broken more than a few times in the course of his life. Chocolate orbs, which expose experience and insight, peer out of narrow eye sockets and are curtained by dark, heavy eyebrow. His hair, though usually tied up, is approximately shoulder length and an extremely dark, almost black, brown. Usually he wears a blue yukata with a black obi and frayed geta (sandals). Taking in his appearance, one would immediately assume he is both homeless and penniless. His face is very honest though, and reflects most of his thoughts pretty clearly, but as a general rule, he usually wears a grin that gives the impression that he is mocking you. Which is highly insulting considering his appearance.

Women: It is no secret that Hidemasa is fond of the company of beautiful women. When searching for him the best and first place one should look would be the nearest brothel. Notice also that ‘women’ is plural. He has no interest in being committed to one woman, not anymore.

Healing: It isn’t so much curing someone of an ailment that he enjoys, rather it is the look on their face when they realize that such a large, intimidating, haggard man possesses a high degree of medical expertise. Although, there is some degree of a sense of satisfaction that comes when he successfully treats a disease or injury.

A Breeze on a Sunny Day: His favorite pastime usually involves finding a nicely shaded area on a comfortably breezy day and taking a nap. To Hidemasa, there is something calming about the breeze, as if the air is taking away all his discomforts as it drifts by.

Kiseru: A Japanese smoking pipe. Hidemasa thoroughly enjoys smoking his pipe, especially in the company of other smokers since he feels it gives one the opportunity to have either an in depth conversation or just enjoy some silent company.

Gyudon Donburi: A bowl of plain cooked rice with stewed beef on top. Rice is a staple of Japanese cuisine and it is relatively cheap. For someone who is on a rather tight budget the opportunity to layer something delicious on top of his regular meal is welcomed.

Studying the Human Anatomy: He doesn’t cut people open and study their intestines or do anything extremely harmful, that’s not something he enjoys; however, he loves studying pressure points and the way in which they affect the body. One has to be careful when coming to him for care because, when they least expect it, he’ll start poking at their many pressure points.

Cold Weather: His yukata is not suited to the cold weather, so when it rolls in he is usually quite miserable and spends most of his time indoors, which is not something he particularly enjoys either.

Flowers: Hidemasa is allergic to almost every flower there is, so he seriously hates them and their smell. His least favorite flower is a Sakura blossom, but those that know him know that his hatred of the Sakura has nothing to do with his allergy.

Poison: To a doctor poison is his bane. While his skill can cure most poisons with work, he finds them to be the tool of a coward. He believes that the only reason a warrior would need to use a poison is because he is incapable of defeating his opponent without its use and is unwilling to train himself to rectify that fault.

Cowards: This does not include everyone who walks away from a fight. He himself has been known to leave a battle when he recognizes that there is no way to survive. To Hidemasa a coward is someone who would put somebody else in harms way in order to ensure his own survival.

Recklessness: Those that do not put thought into their actions deserve whatever happens to them. To Hidemasa they deserve a lot worse. He especially hates to see this quality in his fellow Samurai. They have been given the responsibility of a weapon, and to wield it carelessly is to dishonor themselves, the weapon, and their teachers.

Describing Hidemasa can be a very complex task. The easiest way to do it would be to describe him in layers. When you first meet him you’ll uncover the outermost layer. This tier reveals a loud, vibrant, chatty sort of man whose company you’ll either really enjoy or really abhor. He loves people and is excessively sociable; there are very few individuals he won’t like upon first meeting them and this is due to the fact he never judges a person before he knows them. Though a very bad habit, he tends to assume the best in people. Aside from being friendly he is also quite flirtatious. As mentioned before he loves women and he leaves no question in any woman’s mind that they aren’t excused from this. Of course, he does not consider all females ‘women’. There is a fine line between girl and woman; if you fall short he lets you know in the jesting manner that most that are familiar with him expect.

The level beneath that one you only come to know after having an extended interaction with him. Those that become friends with him would experience this part of his personality. Underneath his flamboyant exterior is an extremely prudent and levelheaded man. He has seen a lot of good and bad things in his many years, both as a doctor and as a samurai. He understands the nature of the world and the people that live in it and he knows how to properly deal with it. While he doesn’t actively seek out people to whom he can give advice, if you come to him he will provide you with it. Working as a doctor means that he a lot of experience in comforting people with little hope. Whether or not he enjoys doing it is doubtful, however, he does a lot of things he doesn’t specifically enjoy. Being a doctor is one of those things. To be perfectly honest, Hidemasa would rather not be offering assistance to people, but he does so anyway.

To explain this behavior you’d have dig a little deeper and observe his attitude on the battlefield. While he seems very kind and merciful in his normal interactions, the moment he lifts his weapon to face a man there is a shift in his very nature. He becomes a ruthless monster. The reason behind his choice of weapons can accurately depict this. He prefers his hanbō to a sword because the weapon lets him easily keep his opponents alive longer if he so desires it and this lets him continue to beat them. However, more than beating his opponents, he seeks the thrill of being on the edge of his own death. It used to be that this was how he always was, on and off the battleground. However, his wife changed this about him. When he fell in love with her he sought to be worthy of the kindness she bestowed upon him. He wanted her to be proud of the man he was and this is something he always thinks of even though she’s gone. Even now, he desperately seeks her approval of the man he is.

It is hard to tell what Hidemasa would consider good or bad. He lets a lot of things that most would consider morally evil slide, but there are some times he won’t let those very same things go. No one could really say how he decides, and that includes him. For the most part, he will react if he believes his wife would have wanted him to, but sometimes he reacts only for the sake of amusing himself. Hidemasa is not an evil man. He doesn’t do bad things he just doesn’t always stop it and he certainly doesn’t generally seek revenge.


Usami Kaede: His younger sister by four years. He is very protective of her and still visits her from time to time. When they are together it is easy to tell that they are close through their incessant nagging. However, when they are apart he never mentions her for the sake of keeping her and her family safe.

Usami Harukata: His sister’s son of eighteen. Despite knowing that he has technically grown into a man, Hidemasa amuses himself through the continued treatment of the man as a little kid. Harukata complains to his Uncle regularly, but the two get along splendidly despite that.

Sakurai Nariko: Hidemasa’s deceased wife. While she is no longer living it is important to mention her. He doesn’t speak her name anymore, and it is best not to mention her to him since the topic is a sensitive one that will send him down a reckless, self-destructive path. Even now she continues to be the center of his life and his heart has no room for any other. Every winter, on the anniversary of her death, he visits her gravesite.

Hanbō: This is his weapon of choice, and though it does not have a cutting edge he is more than capable of defeating a katana with it. His particular hanbō is made of hardwood and is equivalent in length to the height of his hip. Usually he uses it as a walking cane, which makes it seem very much unlike a weapon.

Tantō: His least favorite weapon and the one that he only carries with him when he needs a sharp edge. Generally, he never draws it unless both his other weapons are useless as well as his fists.

Kusari-Fundo: This is a 14 inch chain with two rectangular weights on each end. The weights weigh approximately 87.5 grams. This is not his weapon of choice since it doesn’t provide him the ability to accurately hit pressure points. But it is a very a effective weapon when he wishes to incapacitate but not kill an enemy.

Advanced Knowledge of Combat Techniques: Hidemasa spent the majority of his youth learning several different school of combat. Due to this he is fully capable of switching his technique in the middle of battle making it much harder to predict his next move. His knowledge also makes him capable of analyzing and comprehending others techniques.

Upper-Body Strength: All it takes is one look to know that Hidemasa is a very powerful man. He finds it relatively easy to overpower most of his fellow samurai; while not always the case, the average warrior would find it difficult to match his strength.

Speed: Looking at Hidemasa you would never be able to predict that he is as fast as he is. Despite his bulk he is capable of moving at great speed which is necessary in his art of wielding his hanbō.

Knowledge of the Human Anatomy: As a doctor, Hidemasa has a superior knowledge of the human body. He is fully aware of most pressure points on the body and how to best utilize them as well as where the muscle attachments, major arteries, and weak point of the bone are located. All this knowledge makes him fully capable of dispatching his opponents with one strike.

Experience: Hidemasa is not a youth anymore and he has seen his fair share of battles. He has been in many unique situations and has survived them. Due to all this experience, he is also capable of steeling his nerves and making decisions that others may be unable to make because of their own fears or instincts.

Medicine: Unbelievably, this rugged man is a practicing doctor. He is fully capable of treating injuries, ailments, and poisons. He uses both classic techniques as well as some western techniques. He believes that as long as it works then it should be a perfectly acceptable form of healing.

Arm Injury: Despite being a doctor there are some ailments that cannot be permanently cured. One such injury is one he received in his early thirties. During a battle he sustained an awful wound to his right arm and while it is generally fine, if he uses it too extensively it can start to give him problems.

Women: He doesn’t just love them. The fact is he absolutely refuses to injure one. If you were to ask him to fight one he’d probably end up laughing at you. While he may defend himself from a woman’s attack, he would never strike the attacker. This could be considered his greatest weakness.

No Cooperation: To say that he does not get along well with people would be inaccurate. Generally he likes people. However, on the battlefield his fighting style tends to clash with his allies. Either they interfere with him or he somehow interferes with them.

Low Stamina: Hidemasa has been living as a doctor for a while now and hasn’t been entirely consistent in keeping up with his physical state. While he is still technically in great shape, his stamina is not on the same level as many of the younger bushi.

No Sense of Direction: Perhaps not the most important or deadly weakness but the fact is that this man could get lost in his own house. It is almost a guarantee that if you see him wandering about it is because he is lost.

He lives as a doctor in a humble home located in the Owari province.

The Sakurai household, a family renown for the long line of brilliant physicians that have been the instigators behind many advances in eastern medicine, brought forth another son to carry the family line thirty-nine years ago. That son was Hidemasa. It was an unfortunate occurrence that the boy had little interest in studying medicine. While, he was raised in the closed quarters of a physician’s workshop, he couldn’t deny the draw he felt to the freedom of the battlefield. However, he was to uphold the family lineage, he was to be a doctor so he was denied that freedom. The Sakurai household never realized that the dissatisfaction they instilled in him would foster a violent heart.

He studied the ways of a physician with much false enthusiasm, he fooled his family into believing he joyously wished that he would one day be a doctor. Or rather he thought he did. While he played the part perfectly in the company of his family he was never quite so successful in the open air of the town. Whenever he could he would escape the confines of his home and seek out others with a similarly violent nature. He bonded with them not through dreams of a violent future but with vicious fists. The cuts and bruises he returned home with did not the eyes of his father, how could they? Desperately his father attempted to dispel his ferocious nature to no avail.

Opportunity knocked when a skilled ronin wandered into town. The samurai took great interest in Hidemasa, he saw in the child a remarkable aptitude for the ways of combat. The samurai filled the young Hidemasa’s mind with vision of magnificent, gory battles of honor and skill. The youth knew, this was what he was meant to be and nothing would stand in his way.

With a lot of convincing his father finally allowed him to leave and study to become a samurai. His dream would finally come to fruition; he would learn the art of killing in the place of the art of curing. He learned quickly and soon found that he could combine his medicinal knowledge with his combat skills to become an even more effective murderer. A murderer was what he was becoming. As he learned and fought he grew more and more obsessed with the battle, blood, and screams. He was obsessed with victory, with continuously coming back from the brink of death, and watching the life leave the eyes of his opponent.

He was a monster. He became famous as a monster. Wherever he went he was feared. Few did not know of him and few did not want his knowledge of combat and skill for themselves.

This all drastically changed halfway through his thirty-second year of life. He fell in love with the daughter of another family of physicians. Their meeting was coincidence and had it been under any other circumstances he would never have loved her. He made a reckless decision and received an extremely severe injury to his right arm. Unconscious and bleeding she found him. Nariko. A kind heart by nature she could not leave him so she brought him back to her home where he was nursed back to health. Disdain for her and her practice of medicine gradually grew into affection. A feeling he long though he was incapable of. To earn her love he gave up his blind violence and resumed his family’s practice. Though he continued his training he no longer did it with the intention of murder but with the intention of protecting the woman he came to love. They married a year later.

Nariko’s favorite flower was the sakura of the Japanese cherry blossom tree so Hidemasa planted the tree by their home. A gift to her, a gift he would nurture in the same way he planned on cherishing her. A symbol of his affection the tree grew as his love for Nariko did. He was happy and peaceful; he was satisfied with that happiness and that peacefulness.

While she lived he once again grew famous, not as a monster but as a doctor capable of curing almost any disease and wound.

Nariko died three years later in childbirth.

Hidemasa never forgave himself for being unable to save her and his child; a few weeks after her death their tree died as well. He currently lives alone next to a flowerless sakura tree, he largely works as a doctor for the general community but he has on occasion taken up residence with any daimyo that could afford his skill either as a samurai or a doctor. Those that remember him either remember the monster or the physician; a few remember him as both. These people are usually very disappointed when they first meet the man he seems to have become.


So begins...

Sakurai Hidemasa's Story

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Character Portrait: Sakurai Hidemasa

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Lady Chinatsu had been eerily quiet, a crazed calm tingling under her skin, visible in her half lidded eyes. She allowed Kana to comb her hair, her head leaning this way or that with the gentle strokes. This activity kept her calmer these days. The morning was spent this way until the honorable lady spoke. "Bring me his head Kana-chan, won't you? His head." She sounded like a little girl almost, the request so simple and innocent, as though she were simply asking Kana to go to the store and get her some sweets. It almost made Kana wince.

"Of course Chinatsu-dono." came her reply, her voice strained with the force of sounding chipper, her smile offset by the worried furrow of her brow. She did not like what the Lady had become, but it was not her place to judge. "Today I am meeting a few men- Ah. My father is meeting a few men who will accompany us." Kana finished Lady Chinatsu's hair.

"Tsk tsk kana, you're doing something your father doesn't know about aren't you." It was a statement, not a question, an amused one. "You were always so very willful, but well meaning. It's going to get you into trouble... but not from me." She raised a finger to her mouth childishly, smiling at her new secret. This left Kana to smile and excuse herself, the Lady Chinatsu was laughing her out, finding something else she had thought of entirely hilarious. The laughter was loud and unabashed, unrestrained, unlike the Lady Chinatsu from three years ago.

"What mood is she in today?" Lady Chinatsu's mother asked as she passed by Kana in the hall.

"She has reverted to a little girl again I think. So she might throw a tantrum today but otherwise she won't get angry." This was one of Lady Chinatsu's better moods. Other days she would be in a rage all day, over the smallest things.

With a sigh Lady Chinatsu's mother turned away from Kana, off to see her daughter, "Do yourself a favor and find yourself a husband dear, one that will take you away from here and this nonsense. And if you'd stop playing with swords and put your hair up properly you'd find one much quicker..."

Kana silently watched her leave for a moment before continuing on her way out. She had been getting up early to come over and do Lady Chinatsu's hair every morning, to establish a pattern of behavior that her father could expect from her. He wouldn't be expecting her for another while since she was always sure to stay until a little after noon. And this particular day is when her father would be recruiting ronin for their trip. She would take this time to visit a couple of promising ronin that her various contacts had been recommending to her. She wanted to hand pick a few very strong ones to show to her father, to surprise him with her initiative. She wanted him to take her role in this seriously. Kana had her suspicions that although he would allow her to come along he wouldn't allow her to participate in any way. She knew she could prove to him otherwise, he'd have to see.

"Kana-chan!" Kana whirled around, her friend Maka had been the one to tell her about a one Sakurai Hidemasa, who was in Edo to treat the presiding Daimyo. Maka was one of the ladies of the Daimyo's wife and she heard talk of how the Daimyo had known Sakurai's family when he was a lad, and knew he had grown up to be a powerful bushi. "I'm so lucky I found you, please come quickly, he's was about to leave, but I convinced him to stay." Maka hurried Kana along. "He likes pretty women so you're in luck! You're beautiful friend was able to convince him to wait around for a bit." Kana laughed at her friend's ruthless flirtations as they hurried along, arriving slightly winded and flushed. They were just in time, the cart was about finished being loaded. "Sakurai-san, this is the girl I told you about, who wanted to meet you. Kohaku-chan." Maka brought kana over to Hidemasa.

Kana flashed a bright smile and bowed, "Sakurai-sama, I actually wonder if we could speak over tea. I am told you are a doctor now..." She gave a nod to Maka who excused herself to enter the Daimyo's house, back to her mistress. Her voice became quieter, she looked around to make sure no one was watching. "But I am interested in your other talents."

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Character Portrait: Kohaku Kana, Daughter of a Samurai Character Portrait: Sakurai Hidemasa

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A childish breeze came curiously to the home of a man in the company of his own thoughts. Displaying its youthful enthusiasm it gently weaved itself in the branches of a lifeless sakura urging it into a silent dance and casting fond shadows on the face of the man who sat gazing up at it. The breeze then timidly chose to leave the swaying limbs to play with the unruly hair of the calm male; his eyes fluttered to a close. The wind moved on, taking with it the innocent zest it had brought, only a fleeting visitor to the lone samurai. In those final moments the man breathed out the smoke of his kiseru, his gaze still focused on the back of his lids.

Hidemasa’s eyes snapped open to peer at the young woman who had called out to him. She was decently attractive he supposed, at least enough to distract him from the task of loading his cart in preparation for the highly anticipated journey home. The woman was obviously a servant of the house, to which he presently was a highly esteemed guest, and suspiciously flirtatious. To say that he minded the attention, however, would be a decidedly inaccurate statement no matter how questionable her intentions. Hidemasa was, after all, infatuated with the finer specimens of the opposite sex and the unmistakable grin displayed his jovial acceptance of her company.

If he had had the good sense to listen to her request before speaking he might have been able to politely deny it rather than being left wondering why it was she was now leaving in such a flurry and he was bound to a spot by the cart. What he had gathered from his interaction with the cheery woman was that she had been easy on the eyes and that she would eventually be returning with yet another woman. Perhaps he could merely leave, no matter how dishonest it was to the girl whom had left under the impression he would remain, but the prospect of yet another female companion was enough to keep his feet firmly planted on the ground and a smile plastered to his face. Watching the woman disappear into the distance, Hidemasa leaned against the cart, brushed back any rebellious locks, and closed his eyes.

The sound of grass crunching underneath gracefully light footsteps caused the still bushi to turn his gaze from the back of his eyelids to the woman now approaching his residence. As he scrutinized his new company, he removed his pipe from his mouth and knit his brows together in a firm grimace. It was rare indeed for the presence of a woman to instill such dissatisfaction in the normally endearing man, but this particular woman never came that trouble did not follow her. The question that came from the male’s mouth was not one of identity but purpose, “Why have you come, woman?”

“That is no way to speak to your younger sister. Especially not after I’ve come all this way.”

”You have obviously come all this way with what you believe to be an important purpose, Kaede, I am merely displaying efficiency.” Hidemasa replaced the Japanese pipe and returned his gaze to the spectral tree as it began yet another quiet duet with the wind.

The young woman exhaled a sigh allowing any grievance she may hold against his words to exit with the breath before calmly voicing her response; “I have come with a direct request from an old family friend.” The samurai eyed the woman. He should have known that was the case; Kaede was as unmoving as a maple tree, only a request from a longtime friend could have brought her to his doorstep. Closing his eyes yet again the bothered man rubbed his temples as he thought through his limited options, assuming he actually had any.

Sakurai’s eyes flew open once more at the sound of the young lady’s voice. ”Sakurai-san, this is the girl I told you about, who wanted to meet you. Kohaku-chan.” The tall man peered down at the servant girl, sure enough in her company was yet another woman, who stood with an air of refinement despite being a foot shorter than him. It was quite evident to Hidemasa that she was not merely a servant girl and that she clearly was not here with the intention of simply keeping him company. It was a disappointing insight to be sure.

The bushi observed as the first woman left, leaving he and this Kohaku-chan in each other’s company. The older man turned to the younger woman as she spoke, "Sakurai-sama, I actually wonder if we could speak over tea. I am told you are a doctor now..." A friendly smile adorned Hidemasa’s face as he waited for her to elaborated on the ‘but’ that was clearly coming. When he watched her carefully observe her surroundings, obviously fearful that someone would overhear them, he felt his curiosity peak and a single eyebrow lift itself. ”But I am interested in your other talents.”

A rather loud jovial laugh rang out, its source being the extremely large physician. ”Young lady, Kohaku-san was it, for a man who is fond of the company of women, such as myself, that is a rather misleading statement.” When finally his laughter died down he turned towards his cart and placed a few stray items inside of it. After a moment he resumed speaking, ”Fortunately, I am aware of what it is you meant to refer. I do find it curious that despite being aware of my current choice of employment a respectable girl such as yourself would still seek out the samurai.”

Finishing whatever menial task he was distracting himself with, Hidemasa finally turned away from the cart to look back at the woman. A friendly grin still embellished his face as he bent down to meet the young woman's gaze at her own level, ”We will speak as you wish, if only because I am unable to deny myself the company of such a handsome lady.”

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Character Portrait: Sakurai Hidemasa

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Kana jumped a little, wide eyed and startled at the sudden booming laugh that came from the man twice her size. What was so funny about inquiring for a Samurai turned physician's skill? She realized her mistaken wording once he pointed it out however, and blushed heavily in response but laughed too, the point of the tessen in her hand touching her lips, "Oh that isn't what was meant at all!" This man was one of good humor, but also one who treated her with a level of respect. He could have very well cracked a crude joke and teased her. Kana decided instantly that she liked this man. He had a warm feeling about him that reminded her of her father. She stood taller as he mentioned that her inquiry was peculiar, she nodded. Kana didn't want to seem too eager, betraying her inexperience with handling important matters, so she was sure to keep her mouth shut from useless prattling, stopping herself from fidgeting, waiting patiently for him to finish tying the rope his hands were busy with. He agreed to speak with her! Now came the hard part, winning him over. She flashed her best smile.

"Thank you Sakurai-san, both for your time and the compliment. Apparently I look a lot like my mother, and my father says she was the most beautiful person in all of Japan. I'm not sure I can boast such a thing though!" Kana half laughed, leading Sakurai away to the tea shop nearest them. "But for people in love I suppose they would find each other to be the most beautiful wouldn't they? What was that phrase? Love is blind?" They arrived, Kana scanned the room quickly and picked the table furthest away from others. "But I suppose love isn't really what I have to speak with you about." They sat down, Kana ordered tea and waited for the server to be out of earshot, her tessen resting on her lap. "Rather it's love lost, taken from you. and naturally when such an atrocity is done you seek revenge." She said, her voice becoming solemn with a hint of sadness, "My father is a Samurai, royal retainer to the honorable lady Kobayashi Chinatsu-dono. It was not two years ago that her entire family was murdered and we were forced to flee. Her sons, boys I used to play with, gone. All of it, gone. She has since gone mad from grief, and she is surely to remain so unless we can set her mind at ease by exacting the revenge she so rightly deserves. But my father is just one man, he's set out to hire a sizable team to accomplish this task, and hopefully regain the lands our lady lost in the process. As much as I wish to right this wrong done to the honorable lady I can not help but fear for my father Sakurai-san. Someone like you, both a physician and a samurai, you can see why having you on this team would be advantageous." Their tea arrived. Kana poured him some, continuing. "Even though I am going in order to protect him, I would feel better knowing there was someone else looking out for him too."

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Character Portrait: Kohaku Kana, Daughter of a Samurai Character Portrait: Sakurai Hidemasa

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She was cute when she blushed, or so Hidemasa had decided. Of course, that was beside the point and a topic of little importance in a situation such of as this. Standing back up to his full height, albeit still a little hunched over, he listened to Kohaku-san speak of her mother. Though he would never voice such an opinion for fear of offending the young lady, he held his doubts that her mother was, in fact, the most dazzling woman in all of Japan. Perhaps to her father and even other men she was, but not to every person to have laid eyes on her. As the saying goes, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. What one deems to be beautiful may very well be considered ordinary in another’s eyes. The physician nodded in approval at the statement made by the young lady concerning blind love as he followed her into a nearby teashop; she herself possessed some degree of wisdom on the matter as well.

They took a seat in the back of the room where the seclusion from the other patrons offered them some discretion. By reflex, Hidemasa sat facing the doorway while the young woman sat across from him. Patiently and attentively, he waited for her to finish ordering their tea as well as feel comfortable enough to continue with the order of business that she had brought him here for.

When she finally opened his mouth to speak Hidemasa crossed his arms and closed his eyes, his thoughts hung on every word that rolled of her tongue. He weighed them against each other, pieced together the details that she presented into a familiar picture of grief, anger, and worry. When finally she referred back to him he opened his eyes and observed her judiciously, he did not wear the same grin as he had earlier for this was no smiling matter. He quietly appraised her as she poured him his tea, displaying the well-taught actions of a woman raised in a noble home. Once full, the samurai tastefully lifted his cup to his lips, savoring both the steam and the liquid in a deliberate and thoughtful manner.

This young woman, a samurai’s daughter as it would happen, wished him to join their quest for revenge. A questionable intention to say the least. Sakurai Hidemasa was not one that sought vengeance as he has seen it accomplish little but self-destruction. A prolonged silence fell on the pair; Hidemasa’s eyes once again closed as he sampled his drink. Kohaku-san’s thoughts were muddled with emotions, or so it seemed to Hidemasa. She desired retribution for this Kobayashi-dono, but she feared for her father as well. He found her desires understandable, but he questioned whether she was aware of the consequences that would result from her vindictive actions. Then there was the fact that she had carelessly failed to mention the identity of the one they would be taking vengeance against.

Finally, once the silence was no longer bearable, Hidemasa returned his cup to the table and met the girl’s eyes. ”Kohaku-san, grief of such burden cannot be cured by an act of rage. Perhaps it can conceal it for a time, but bloodshed will not heal a broken mind. Violence brings in its wake only more rage and madness, it is a never ending cycle, and a disease.” Leaning forward the physician’s face turned stern as he questioned her, ”Are you sure you wish to proceed down a path such as this?” Leaning back and resting his arms on his knees, Hidemasa allowed the gravity of his words to fall upon her before continuing in a far more tranquil manner, ”You also failed to mention who the target of your vengeance is, which is of particular importance and highly distrustful since I would imagine it is someone who possesses much power.”

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kohaku Kana, Daughter of a Samurai Character Portrait: Sakurai Hidemasa

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ImageAs people grew older, their faces became more interesting, or so it was in Kana's opinon. The little lines in their foreheads, near their eyes, their mouths, it painted a picture of how much they worry, how much they smile or frowned. While Sakurai's was silent and she had her say, she studied these lines. She was not aware of what these lines meant, but they did paint a picture. Kana appreciated it while she waited, anxious for what he might say. When he offered her his wisdom a small puff of air blew out of her nose in defeat, a silent 'ha'. She looked down at her hands, her smile was bitter this time, the fake one she wore when Chinatsu-dono said something disturbing. Was she sure she wanted to procede down a path like this? Didn't he understand? She had no choice.

His last inquirery as to whom the specific target of this quest was confused her, "Wait. Distrustful? Where do you live that you do not know of the fall of the Daimyo Kobayashi at the hands of Warlord Yousuke?" Her head snapped up, incredulous. She couldn't recall a time when she had ever been called distrustful. Her voice was perhaps louder than she had meant it to be, they were after all sitting secluded for a reason.

ImageHidemasa observed the girl’s face as she listened to the advice he gave her, the acrimonious smile, a façade that he was familiar with, was more than enough to answer his query. This girl did not revel in the notion of revenge. It caused her great pain. She had lost a great many things and experienced far too many hardships for one so young. He pitied her.

His eyes widened in surprise at her outburst, admittedly he hadn’t thought of how offensive his words had undoubtedly sounded when he said them. The physician had meant no harm and certainly had not meant to directly refer to her as suspicious. As she continued, however, his shocked expression was quickly dispelled and he looked away. It was true, he was ignorant of the events that had been unfolding around him in these past few years. Choosing instead to focus all his attentions on a cherry blossom tree far beyond saving, so far out of his reach he could only chase helplessly after her spectral shadow. Even now, he wished to follow after her, to take the only path that could sooth his own ire and end his own torment, but then she would never forgive him, she would never again blossom for him.

Returning his gaze to the young girl that sat in front of him, Hidemasa forced the corners his mouth to curve tenderly upwards. “I do apologize if I offended you, Kohaku-san, it was unintended. I will confess to my own ignorance, I admit I have taken little interest in my surrounding these past years, choosing instead to seclude myself; you must forgive me.” Quickly reverting the topic back to the issue, however, Hidemasa continued, “I know little of Warlord Yousuke, but what I have heard is certainly not of benefit to your quest. You are right to fear for your father. The mission he is undertaking is treacherous even with the proper precautions, and to put it bluntly, without those provisions it is suicide.”

ImageSo he had been secluding himself? She wondered why, was it disinterest in the world? Was it something more important to him than everything? It was odd to imagine this man living as a hermit, he seemed friendly. Kana had little time to wonder this. She nodded in understanding, accepting this apology and moving on, more serious matters taking her attention. "Even if it were suicide my father would still do it. You know Samurai, they are bound to serve their sworn master first and foremost. Even if their master has gone mad with grief and rage they must carry out their wishes." She looked away, slightly shameful, "Sometimes I think it a good thing that no others survived but us, had any of the others survived that were sworn to Lady Chinatsu's late husband they would have been honor bound to commit seppuku. My father was lucky in that he was sworn to Lady Chinatsu and not her husband. And..." Kana stared at her cup now, "You're right, I don't think this will make Lady Chinatsu feel any better. I don't think violence ever healed anyone, how could it?" She looked up, her eyes hard now, "But seeing as how my father has no choice but to carry this out I will do what I can to help him survive. And this Yousuke, he goes about killing people and then decides to stop in my former home? For what? He has been there doing nothing for some time now, hasn't moved, but what if he decides to again? I don't think it good for a man like that to be left with so much power, the power of a Daimyo in the hands of a Warlord. My father is no fool, he won't go about this without finding out what we're dealing with and how best to beat him. If it were anyone but my father attempting this I would say it was no better than suicide too, but if we can gather the right people I think we do have a chance. I know for certain I am willing to give it my all." Kana really did believe this, though it might sound like the speech of a dreamer. She stared Hidemasa in the eye, daring him to tell her any different.

ImageHidemasa understood; honor was the core of the samurai’s code. Though called a monster during his time as a swordsman, he knew and remembered the weight of the chains that enslaved an honor bound samurai to the one he called master. He was fortunate to have been so easily released from his service; no, fortune was not the culprit behind his release. It was his family ties and his knowledge in the art of healing that had granted him the key to his shackles. Lifting his tea to his lips once more he listened as she exposed the darker corners of her heart; she was a kind and merciful girl, not someone that would be able to take the life of another with ease. Though, he would never wish that upon her.

“I don't think violence ever healed anyone, how could it?" The large man stared at the girl that sat in front of him. He could have sworn that he had heard her voice; had she not said something like this before? Turning his attention to the cup in his hand he allowed the trembling liquid to coax him into closing his eyes.

“You’re injured! You mustn’t act so recklessly or you’re arm will never recover!” Small dainty hands struggled against the shoulders of a bear-like man as a small young woman fought to keep him lying on a futon. However, the monstrous man would not yield to the insistence of the woman and he roared in defiance.

“Damn it woman, get your fucking hands off me! I do not need your care! All I want is to beat the shit out of the asshole who di-“ The man’s statement was never completed as a firm slap echoed throughout the room. Frozen, with his beastly gaze on the girl who had just struck him, the man was at a complete loss for words. Never before had anyone, a woman no less, dared to strike his face so fearlessly. Yet here she stood, towering over his seated form, eyes narrow and defiant and mouth in a firmly set line, as she held her reddening hand.

“No amount of violence will heal that arm! It is sheer foolishness to believe it could.” Turning her back to face him she stomped towards the entrance of his room, before leaving however she turned back towards him, “You can do whatever you wish once you have left, but for as long as you are my patient you will abide by the rules I set for you, which means that you will not take part in any acts of a vehement nature. Is that understood?” Not even the monster dared challenge the steadfast glare that was set upon her features; it was all he could do to nod. The icy scowl that once adorned her face thawed instantly into the warmest grin at his acquiescence, “Alright then. Now that that’s settled I’ll go ahead and bring your dinner.”

Once the man was alone he finally managed to relax his stiffened body. How was it no warrior could ever instill any degree of fear in his soul and yet this woman healer could do so with a single look. His shoulders drooped as he sat looking much like a dejected child and he allowed a mutter to pass from his lips, “what manner of woman is she?”

Hidemasa’s eyes reopened as he looked at Kohaku. He somehow imagined that had his child survived, she would have been very much like the girl that sat before him. A compassionate idealist who loved her father and mother with so much fervor that it could be deemed a fault. Yet beneath that gentle exterior lies a hidden strength. Yes, he quite liked this girl. Setting his now empty cup of tea down on the table, Hidemasa gracefully stood up. “Well then,” he looked at Kohaku wearing a face from which no thoughts could be observed, “Since we are going to be working together in the foreseeable future, I suppose now is the time for you to introduce me to this father of yours.”

The physician grinned, he wasn’t really sure whether or not this could be considered a wise decision, nor was he sure she would approve; however, somehow Hidemasa could swear he felt two small hands on his shoulders pushing him in Kohaku-san’s direction.

ImageHer heart dropped when he stood up, panic setting in, if she couldn't sway this man who could she sway? Was the quest really too crazy? Hidemasa's words, took her a second to process. She had done it, she had swayed someone to her cause?! Kana's heart lept, she couldn't contain a victorious smile, her heart warmed considerably. "The two of you will get along very well I know it!" She popped up, something of a light skip in her step as she hurried to the front to pay for the tea. Once outside she explained further. "Right about now my father should be talking to some other ronin at the household of Lady Chinatsu's parents, the Mizuki family. It's not too far from here." Kana lead Hidemasa away, keeping a pace that was a bit quick.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kohaku Kana, Daughter of a Samurai Character Portrait: Kurosawa Ryuunosuke Character Portrait: Takeshi Masamura Character Portrait: Kohaku Souji Character Portrait: Kinayama Maeko Character Portrait: Sakurai Hidemasa Character Portrait: Koide Uchimori

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Souji was well aware that the situation was an unorthodox one, using ronin to take on a warlord and regain honor for your master's house would not be looked upon kindly unless it were a success, much like in the 47 ronin, a kabuki play he had seen many times. Only these ronin were not forbidden by the emperor to take revenge, nor were they bound to take revenge by anything other than money. Still, success would make this feat a legend. It would be no easy thing to pull off, but Souji was confident that he could find a weakness, a way in, if he could just gain access to Yousuke he would be able to behead the bastard dog. There was no getting around it, they would need an element of surprise, five could not take on an army. But that was something to think about later, for now he just wanted to secure the four before him. The fact that they stayed even when he iterated what kind of danger they would be facing meant they were no push-overs, these four where skilled, a set look in their eyes that spoke of experience with the blade. This was pleasing.

The feminine but confident looking ronin stood up and asked only one question, a question that confirmed they were in. "We leave tomorrow if everyone can be ready by then, we must make ourselves scarce quickly. I would rather take caution and keep ourselves hidden than risk Yousuke catching wind of us and deciding to stop us before we can get there. While on the journey we will only visit villages when necessary for supplies, and not all at once. We will use different names, throw any trackers off of our trail." Souji looked to the rest, "Can you all be ready by-" Souji stopped abruptly, looking to the door, hearing his daughter's familiar voice before she neared the door. She was speaking with someone, this made an eyebrow raise in suspicion.

ImageKana had continued to make light talk with Hidemasa, it came rather easily, as both parties were social creatures. They spoke of nothing and everything all at once, whatever came easiest. It was nice to speak of unimportant things after their solemn meeting. "Oh we've arrived, he's right in here." Her hand reached for the door but stopped. Eyes widening, she hesitated, her hand drawing back slightly. For a moment her heart jumped with such a strange feeling, but she passed it off as simply being excited and shook it off. How strange, but it was probably nothing. Kana slid open the door to the dojo, her method of opening the door notably much more gentle and quiet than her father's. She peaked in, zeroing in on her father and smiling warmly at him. "Guess what father! You're not the only one successful today, I have found another for our quest. Please meet Sakurai-san." Kana pushed on Sakurai's back, ushering him toward her father. When their eyes were no longer on her she gleefully flitted away like a bird, off to continue her work, pleased with her progress thus far.

Souji's stern face softened when his daughter smiled at him, but became outright surprised, or at least surprised for Souji, when she introduced a ronin she had recruited on her own. A young girl meeting with a grown man all on her own, and behind her father's back, only Kana would dare. But he took it in stride, paying Sakurai the same humble respect he payed the others. He bowed in greeting, keeping himself professional. "I apologize if my daughter troubled you Sakurai-san, she can be slightly out of touch with propriety. Which I will be discussing with her later.-" He looked past Sakurai to give Kana a stern look, no Kana to be seen. She had given him the slip. Of course. "Exactly how much did she inform you of what we will be taking on Sakurai-san? I was just informing the others here that we should hopefully leave tomorrow, as the sun rises." Souji would have to find Kana later and get to the bottom of what exactly she thought she was doing.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kohaku Kana, Daughter of a Samurai Character Portrait: Kurosawa Ryuunosuke Character Portrait: Takeshi Masamura Character Portrait: Kohaku Souji Character Portrait: Kinayama Maeko Character Portrait: Sakurai Hidemasa Character Portrait: Koide Uchimori

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Uchimori was admittedly dumbfounded and exasperated with this group. It took all of her power to keep herself from palming her face and continue to sit there in an unmoving and dignified manner when the would-be employer finished talking and one could have heard a pin drop. How they could remain so quiet was confounding her. The only explanation that she could develop was that they all possessed a complete lack of curiosity. The young ronin furrowed her brow; narrowing eyes glanced down at the weapon in front of her as she considered the situation in the short-lived silence.

There were other explanations, but for one such as herself who would kill to be able to voice her many questions she simply couldn’t stand nor understand their silence beyond that.

Her eyes widened in disbelief when the other some-what feminine ronin finally spoke; his inquiry was shocking to say the least. Of all the imperative questions that could have been asked he chooses to ask when the task would begin. Despite her desire to remain straight-laced Uchimori’s bafflement and irritation was starting to burst through her practiced façade with the twitching of her right eye and not to subtle leering. Forcefully she looked away and closed her eyes, set her jaw firmly, and wished she could growl but chose to compromise by simply sighing silently instead.

When Kohaku-sama continued by answering the ronin’s question, Uchimori kept her eyes closed. Only when he stopped himself midway and she heard the opening of a door did she finally allow her violet windows to peer out from behind their blinds once again. Uchimori felt her eyebrow rise in curiosity as a young girl and older man entered the dojo. The girl was of little concern to Uchimori and easily ignored by the female ronin, but the man was different. He gave off an air of experience and well controlled blood lust. He was a ronin, and not one Uchimori would wish to fight. She wasn’t sure that she could escape such an encounter unscathed.

The girl pushed the man into the dojo rather unceremoniously and, though some would find that quite disagreeable, he seemed to be enjoying himself. Yet, though seemingly acting careless the way he analyzed his surroundings and company did not go unnoticed. Especially not when his eyes landed upon her own form and a look of surprise followed by amusement gleamed in his eyes. Uchimori flinched slightly but then simply frowned and averted her gaze.

Image Hidemasa found the company of the young girl quite enjoyable even as he trailed after her. The idle chatter they amused themselves with did much to ensure that the trip was not a long one. When they finally approached an estate and dojo, the older man felt a light pang of disappointment. He was enjoying the conversation with the young lady so much that he thought it an unfortunate circumstance that their discussion would soon be cut short. Kohaku-san soon escorted him into the dojo where others had been gathered. Sakurai did his best to withhold his light chuckles as the exited young lady literally pushed him up to what he assumed to be her father.

As he made the trip however, the physician was sure to analyze the company, it would make sense to do so seeing as how he likely was to spend quite a bit of time with them. His eyes glanced over the taller gentlemen first. One sat with an air of dignified restraint that seemed painfully practiced and tempted Hidemasa with the thought of patting him on the back and telling him to loosen up. Perhaps at a later date the physician would do exactly that. The other tall one sat quietly in one of the corners of the room, he seemed relaxed, like he had just woken from a short nap.

Finally his eyes moved over to the other two more feminine ronin. Hidemasa was only marginally surprised to see such petite men serving as sword wielders. With his experience in battle he had seen warriors of all shapes and sizes. No, what got him was the wave of dissatisfaction that washed over him when he observed that the very lovely and obviously proud Kanabo-wielding ronin was a man. It was a disgrace that such delicate girlishness would be wasted on a male.

Then the ronin’s eyes moved to the next indignity. Another feminine man. Sakurai’s eyes widened. Rather, he would be prone to believe that she was a he due to the way she was dressed, but somehow, Hidemasa had the sinking suspicion that were he to make an attempt at touching ‘him’ in any manner that would be deemed inappropriate if he were a woman, he would make quite the shocking discovery about this so-called man. That would be something he would most certainly have to try later.

Turning away from his observations he faced Kana’s father, Kohaku Souji. The man was quite polite in his greeting, and Sakurai was sure to return the gesture, bowing when bowed to and responding to Kohaku-sama’s words, “She was no trouble at all Kohaku-sama, contrary I enjoyed her company very much. It is clear she has been well nurtured.” Directing his words back to serious matters, Hidemasa continued, “As for what I’ve been informed of, I am aware that this is a quest for revenge against Warlord Yousuke. I know not how much you know of me but allow me to introduce myself. As your daughter said, I am Sakurai Hidemasa, I currently serve as a physician, however, I have worked the majority of my life as ronin. Your daughter sought me out so that I may offer my skills in both fields to this task.” Smiling in his normally friendly manner Hidemasa questioned Souji, “If I may ask, however, going after a warlord is no easy task, especially with so few men, how much progress have you made in your strategy and how much information have you gathered about our enemy? I do hope I have not overstepped my bounds, but I believe it is imperative that we all know where we stand.”