L5R: Intrigue at Kyuden Suzume

Prologue: Ren and Togusa!

Character introduction

The sun sank into the western hills, shafts of light piercing through the foliage of the forest surrounding Kyuden Suzume, playing upon the white and grey clothing of the monks training there. Michio glared at his students, “If you cannot kill you opponent you are weak, if you cannot stop your opponent from killing you, you are weaker still!” The monks practiced in pairs, attacking and defending in the Order of the Spider’s unique and savage martial art. The monk sensei marched through the assembly, knocking unaware combatants to the ground, or striking under preforming students to remind them that disciple was key, disciple led to strength. Finally he approached Ren and Togusa, observing the two closely.


One of the students, a young woman, barely more than a girl, was in the midst of her bout. Standing just out of striking distance, in a defensive posture, Ren was waiting for her opponent to move, watching him with a detached curiosity.

Here amongst her fellow spider, she made no effort to hide her rich, blood red eyes, and let her short silver hair hang loose. Wearing ragged, worn armor over a sohei’s fighting robes, in muted black and gray, she was drab, save for the bright splash of color in her eyes. She carried no weapon, training as she was with her fists.

If she noticed her senior come to watch; she gave no sign, saving her attention for her opponent.

Prologue: Ren and Togusa!

Opposite the young student, Togusa stood with arms held out in an aggressive stance, the barest hint of a grin on his exposed face as he sized up his opponent. His armor was similar to the gear worn by his opponent, though perhaps a bit cleaner, worn over a white robe with black trim. Rather than stand still, Togusa circled, staying light on his feet yet tensing his body in anticipation of a strike.

(OOC: Should we be rolling for initiative? >.>)

Prologue: Ren and Togusa!

(OOC: If you plan on striking each other, yes.)

Prologue: Ren and Togusa!

Togusa’s fists clench imperceptibly and his body tenses. To a well-trained eye, it’s clear that he is preparing to attack.

[Init = 21, http://invisiblecastle.com/roller/view/3109058/]

Prologue: Ren and Togusa!

(http://invisiblecastle.com/roller/view/3109338/ init=15 Full defense stance)
(+8/9 armor TN, depending on rounding up or down http://invisiblecastle.com/roller/view/3109338/)
(TN to hit 34/35)

Her stripped down, shoddy armor seemed unlikely to offer much resistance, but the girl wasn’t flinching.

She remained poised, eye’s fixed upon her opponent, waiting for him to move; waiting for any opening.

Prologue: Ren and Togusa!

Finally lunging forward on the attack, Togusa throws a kick at Ren’s midsection that she neatly dodges.

(Attack stance, 19 is a clean miss, http://invisiblecastle.com/roller/view/3109907/)

Prologue: Ren and Togusa!

Stepping lightly out of the way, she maintained her posture, still waiting for an opening, her demeanor still neutral; almost detached.

(FD stance)

Prologue: Ren and Togusa!

Togusa spun to face Ren once more, his annoyance clear by his expression. Unwilling to let up, however, he pressed his attack with a punch that was slower than he would have liked.

(Attack stance, 16 to hit [http://invisiblecastle.com/roller/view/3110027/] ATN is 37.)

Prologue: Ren and Togusa!

(Rules question. Does heavy armor give -5 to attack roles?)

(Full attack to initiate grapple=37vsTN27 hit http://invisiblecastle.com/roller/view/3110183/)

With a sudden smile, Ren slipped into the attack, Togusa’s fist passing mere inches from her suddenly feral grin. Her hand slid almost sensuously down his arm, locking around his wrist and twisted, using his momentum and her own to twist it and send him off balance.

Draw in the strike…

Her hold did not relent as she caught him with her other hand; stopping his momentum cold, and getting a better grip on him.

(In grapple; moving to your initiative, strength to maintain control. =20 http://invisiblecastle.com/roller/view/3110186/)

Prologue: Ren and Togusa!

{Switching to Defense stance, ATN = 39. Opposed strength = 27 [http://invisiblecastle.com/roller/view/3114999/]. Choosing to break the grapple.)

Togusa cursed himself aloud for falling for such a simple counterattack. In a rush of adrenaline he manages to wrench himself free of her grip. [i]Be more careful, idiot.[/i] He braces himself, in case an attack is incoming after his moment of weakness.

Prologue: Ren and Togusa!

Losing her grip; and losing her touch…

(http://invisiblecastle.com/roller/view/3114999/ = 27 vs 29 Full attack stance)

With a snarl of rage, Ren passed by the sohei, her second grapple missing by bare inches, her hands failing to close on his wrists, sliding off his armor.

Leaving her open to counterattack, unfortunately.

Armor TN 15.

Prologue: Ren and Togusa!

(For reasons unknown to man it copied from my previous clipboard. Correct link.)

Prologue: Ren and Togusa!

(http://invisiblecastle.com/roller/view/3115456/ 20 to hit, http://invisiblecastle.com/roller/view/3115459/ Damaage = 2)

Taking advantage of the situation, Togusa aims a savage kick at Ren’s midsection. The blow connects, but her armor easily stops it.

Prologue: Ren and Togusa!

(Don’t forget -5 to hit from heavy armor.)

(http://invisiblecastle.com/roller/view/3115497/ Heavens 45 vs 27 hits: In grapple.
(Strength to hold. : http://invisiblecastle.com/roller/view/3115498/ : 16)

Grabbing the foot, Ren pulled the other monk forwards, hands moving forwards to better grappling positions, though she didn’t have the best grip yet…

Prologue: Ren and Togusa!

(Opposed strength = 9, http://invisiblecastle.com/roller/view/3115510/)

Togusa growled angrily as he wrestled with Ren, though this time he couldn’t manage to gain any leverage over her.

Prologue: Ren and Togusa!

Twisting, she threw him off balance, and as he staggered back, it seemed, for a moment, that she might strike his exposed face or throat with a vicious series of blows, raining punishment upon the other monk, but then her hands had darted forwards and found new points of leverage, and Togusa was flying through the air to land on his back.

Stepping away, the feral smile slowly drained away, until she was impassive again. She looked to the senior monk for the first time, waiting for direction.

(Thrown prone. Attack stance.)

Prologue: Ren and Togusa!

Togusa’s head thumped against the ground where he landed, and he lay there sprawled on his back for a moment, staring at the ceiling. Finally he picked himself up and stood facing his opponent, bracing himself for the scolding he expected from their master.

Prologue: Ren and Togusa!

Michio turns his head from Ren to Togusa, and then back to Ren. “Ren-san, you show your school honor by controlling your emotions, and better yet have shown your superiority in combat by disgracing your opponent. Breaking the will breaks the warrior. Togusa, present yourself.” Michio continues to look straight at Ren as he waits.

Prologue: Ren and Togusa!

Togusa approached his sensei, though his anger was clear on his face. “My will is not broken, Master,” he growled. “If I was mistaken and the fight is not over, I would be happy to continue.”

Prologue: Ren and Togusa!

Still focused on Ren’s face, Michio intones, “You were not told to speak. Ren-san, victory teaches many things, but it does not teach us the most valuable lesson, that victory is like an illusion. You may feel you have triumphed, but what have you really attained aside from a fleeting moment of glory. You must be intimate with defeat, and know how to overcome your personal failings, to push forward toward perfection not because it is a trophy or for the glory, but because there is only one path and at the end of that path is perfection. And the only way to reach perfection is through your will. Your Taint may give you great blessings, make you stronger than an ordinary person, but the Shadowlands erodes the will, making you a puppet to its desire.” He points to Ren’s chest. “Your desire must dwell in her,” he points to her head, “your will must be strong here. Your obstacle is greatest of all, you must bear upon your shoulders the weight of Jigoku itself, and until you are the master of Jigoku, you will never truly be strong.” He now looks at Togusa, “From this point forward, Togusa and Ren will be extensions of the same person, you will be the catalyst by which two whole people will someday emerge. I will no longer teach you, you will have to find your own way now.” He turns his back on both of you.

Prologue: Ren and Togusa!

Ren made no outward expression during the speech, but inside, she ran an emotional gamut. Her only response was a bow and an acknowledgement of her sensei’s words.

Concern… how much did he know of her, really? Satisfaction… it had gone well for her; her opponent was ill-matched to her style of fighting. Worry… how would he react to the speech and the rebuke?

Confusion. It sounded as if they were being married off, from a first thought. Though, after a moment, it would be better to say they were being partnered. Interesting; and ultimately… well. Time would tell.

As Michio turned away, Ren glanced at Togusa, trying to gauge his feelings. Her face was still carefully impassive; revealing none of the scorn, fear, anger… amusement… curiosity.

Prologue: Ren and Togusa!

Togusa’s glare deepened at Michio’s chiding remark, but he dared not speak out. He knew full well that, if he chose too, Michio could break him in half without breaking a sweat. His expression changed from anger to surprise, however, as Michio related their new assignment. [i]Us, working together? We hardly know each other,[/i] was his first thought, as he looked from Michio to Ren. She was impassive as ever, while Togusa could be read like an open book, if one cared to look closely, his expression a mixture of curiosity and mild anxiety. Since he had not been given permission to speak, Togusa simply bowed toward Michio to acknowledge that he’d heard. [i]At least that bastard won’t be looking over my shoulder anymore,[/i] he thought.

Prologue: Ren and Togusa!

(lol I really need to stop using BB code here. I keep forgetting that it’s html instead.)

Prologue: Ren and Togusa!

… and now what?

Ren, for the moment lacking direction, glanced up at the sky barely visible through the foliage. The day was still young.

She waited, a moment longer, to see if her senior had anything more to say, before turning to Togusa.

“Well, my other half, I think my own path is going to begin with lunch. Care to join me back at Kyuden Suzume?”

It seemed as good an idea as any, and she didn’t particularly enjoy remaining around the other monks too long; it was like a scab you didn’t want to scratch…

Prologue: Ren and Togusa!

(I use the hotkeys, like ctrl+I to make a selection italic.)

Prologue: Ren and Togusa!

(OCC: It’s the early evening.)

Prologue: Ren and Togusa!

(Dinner then.)

Prologue: Ren and Togusa!

Togusa hadn’t realized how hungry he was until Ren had said something. “That sounds like a wonderful idea,” he said. He might have squirmed a bit when Ren had said the words other half. “On the way you can explain to me how you managed to throw me the way you did. I didn’t think I was that light.” There was no anger in his tone, just mild curiosity.

Prologue: Ren and Togusa!

(Quick experiment: Testing?)

Prologue: Ren and Togusa!

(Well that’ll make things a lot simpler. :P)

Prologue: Ren and Togusa!

Ren didn’t miss his discomfort, and she actually smiled a little bit as she started walking away towards the former sparrow capitol.

“Well, my unfinished friend, you aren’t that light, especially in that armor. It’s a matter of…” She waved her hands vaguely, searching for the words. “… Balance. Making the weight move around you; instead of trying to lift it.”

With a noncommittal shrug, she kept walking.

Prologue: Ren and Togusa!

Togusa seemed to mull that over for a moment, frowning as they made their way to the castle. Finally he shook his head. “Sounds like something I should be shown rather than told,” he said. He looked up to take in the sight of Kyuden Suzume. It had a menacing look to it in the gloom of the evening. “I don’t remember anything like that in my training here,” he said. “Where did you learn how to do fight that way, if you don’t mind my asking?”

Prologue: Ren and Togusa!

“I learned to do a lot of things: to make it here today.” There was a momentary hardness over her features, and then it was serene again. “Necessity is the mother of invention.”

That sardonic smile.

“That particular stunt, however, I learned thanks to the tutoring provided by my patron. A dragon monk taught it to me; so I could defend myself; my master’s home was in a dangerous part of the city.”

Something about the statement seemed to be amusing, because Ren chuckled a bit.

With a sudden change of tone, becoming quite serious, she asked. “What are you going to order when we get there? As my superior half; I expect you to cover my expenses, of course; I prefer poultry, where possible.”

The deadpan expression on her face betrayed no hint of whether she was serious or joking.

Prologue: Ren and Togusa!

Togusa’s eyes narrowed. “I’d prefer read meat, but I doubt these Sparrows keep anything of that nature.” He shrugged. “Fish and rice will have to do; hopefully they’ll be willing to at least fry the fish.” He turned his head to face her as they ascended the step to the castle gate, and his eyes narrowed. “As for which one of us is superior, I thought our master quite clearly pointed out which of us that was a moment ago, and it certainly wasn’t me.”

Prologue: Ren and Togusa!

Ren chuckled.

“That was then. Now, you have the money, so you are clearly superior.” She smiled. “At least, I hope you do.”

A small shrug, and then her face grew more serious.

“I wouldn’t take a single bout and use it as an excuse to say that I am better than you, Togusa-san. I have many flaws, as our sensei pointed out. Why you are now my better half, only he knows, but we’ll just have to make do.”

Her tone never betrayed how much she jested or scorned. It was still quietly monotone; as if all emotion had been ironed out flat; her voice somewhat deep for a woman.

Prologue: Ren and Togusa!

“This time you may be right,” Togusa said with a smirk. “But I wouldn’t get used to free meals if I were you, my other half; I’m not what you would call a rich man.”

(I’m wondering if we should proceed straight to eating, or if we should wait for a GM post? I’m not sure what he has in mind.)

Prologue: Ren and Togusa!

(Me neither)

A small nod.

“I’m not exactly a rich woman either. Perhaps we shall have to do street performances to raise money.”

An obscure joke about ancient tales of ronin on the brink of starvation; resorting to displays of their skill for charity.

“Regardless, I’m hungry, so let’s see what there is to eat.”


Prologue: Ren and Togusa!

(Not sure what to say/do here)

Prologue: Ren and Togusa!

(Perhaps you both should just proceed to the tunnels, where you will encounter the rest of the group, and the Sparrow Samurai corpses.)

Prologue: Ren and Togusa!

Entering the Sparrow halls, Ren couldn’t resist ducking her head and avoiding the eyes of the sparrow samurai. Old habits died hard; she ordered a meal consisting of copious amounts of chicken and rice, and absolutely no healthy and nourishing seaweed or delicious seafood. Nope. Rice and meat. Delightful.

Then she left for the tunnels.

It was more comfortable out of sight.

Old habits die hard.

(Exit to tunnels)

Prologue: Ren and Togusa!

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