DM: Ok, so last you were seen by the group, you dashed past on your way to the ship. After you dissappeared over the horizon, you went back to the Furishouhou which is sitting at anchor. Two awnings have been set up, fore and aft. Some crew rebraid ropes in front of the first while Ouritsou and Ningkyo sit on rope piles beneath the other. You dash up and after peppering you with questions and getting confusing and unclear answers, Ningkyo takes you to the cabin to see the charts. She pins down a piece of muslin and has you charcoal in what you remember of the routes and such. Assuming you have no time for chit-chat once this dutiy is discharged, you swan dive back over the side, Head back to the beach and start asking around for traces of ,,, ‘someone like me’?
DM: This fails instantly when talking to lizardfolk. As far as they’re concerned, you’re one of the infinite variety of mid-sized human-a-likes. Talking to humans gets you a bit more.
DM: You find one fish-hook maker, obviously of very little means with a mangled leg. He tells you that he was out along the far edge of the swamp looking for crabs when he saw someone dive off the edge of the pier. He waited for them to surface, out of idle curiousity, but they never did He kept an ear open but noone was missing, so he asked the Tengu
Ren: the Tengu?
DM: Giant raven-ish hengeyokai-types more towards raven than man, very connected to the spirit realms
Ren: hmm ok
DM: The tengu weren’t out that night. he said “it was strange, they had read the omens that it was going to be a very auspicious night to be in temple.” One of them said a strange thing He said – ‘and the higher that temple in a mountain, the better’ but he wouldn’t explain it. Thats all the old man knows.
Ren: Thank him and walk on then.
After Ouritsou pulls you out of the shop he leads you down the street to the dockside and pulls out a hinged case with a square of muslin in it. Theres a rough map charcoaled into it, one that looks very close to what you’ve just seen in Takeshis. “Ren just came back to the ship, said something about finding a map full of things, so she traced this onto the charts we have aboard. I figured it was relevant and you would want to know. Plus it lets me off to take a walk around.” Ouritsou grins. “Ningkyo drew the short straw over who gets to bring it to you.”
DM: Curtains Raise, Main Party. Leaving Takeshi sitting amidst the scroll-strewn wreckage of his shop, Toshi and Goro emerge into the daylight.
DM: After the dark of the shop, the contrast with the sunbleached streets is jarring and the heat haze makes the far ends of the docks and the ships at anchor blur and writhe.
DM: Goros grip on his katana’s scabbard tightens as his eyes adjust.
DM: Towards the bridge, yarimen, towards the far ends of the docks, more yarimen. Directly across the docks, another trio of yarimen, a pair of bowmen and sitting upon an up turned keg, a figure wearing the swords of a samurai and the fine clothes of a man of rank.
DM: Shogunate emblems are prominent throughout, Goro recognises the hatamoto from his time at the governors palace.
Goro: * Rumbles quietly in what might be a chuckle *
Toshi: ::glances over at Goro::
Goro: “Hatamoto!” :: Starts walking slowly towards to the Samurai :: “While your men seem to be everywhere you are a difficult man to find”
DM: The hatamoto remains seated and nods slightly. After a moments pause he nods again, slightly deeper. “Indeed, I thought, it could not be that an emissary of such respected and staunch traditionalists as the Stone Circle would come to a town and fail to make the due courtesies.”
DM: “To avoid misunderstandings, I thought, as I was coming to the docks I could do you the favour of making it easier.”
Goro: “A most generous gesture” :: Returns the nod ::
DM: Light words are somewhat belied by the tight grips and watchful stance of the yarimen.
Indeed. It is a fine day for a walk, the hatamoto says without blinking, “let us walk to the contemplation garden at the temple.”
Or if you have duties that are urgent…?
Goro: :: moves into step with the hatamoto ::
Toshi: ::follows along::
Goro: “Nothing could bring me greater pleasure:”
DM: The hatamoto nods. “I hope your journey here was swift, and that your efforts here rewarding?”
Goro: “The Furishou is a fine ship, although I must admit I am more at comfort in the mountains and forests”
My investigations here so far do seem to bear fruit
Goro: “At least we have word that the Sahuagin are concerned there may be Elven dealings, so I close in on my quarry”
:: Grins a toothy grin of pleasure at the thought ::
DM: The hatamoto looks sideways at Goro, then stops in the street.
DM: “The… but that cannot be.” His face creases into a scowl. “Samurai you mock me!”
DM: “Elves, sahuagin, these are things from ages past – is this what the Empire comes up with to justify their interventions here? There is piracy and raiding aplenty that has been left to long unattended without dredging up these legends!”
Goro: :: Anger flares across Goros expression before he carefully closes his eyes takes and takes a breath to contain his feral nature ::
Goro: “I am Goro, Samurai of the first pack of Stone Circle Lord Osamu Hayato, since birth I have hunted and killed what to you may seem Legend”
Goro: “I care nothing for your local politics, I am uninterested in Piracy”
Goro: “I will however, not tolerate being called a liar, for it not only insults myself and my clan but dishonours my Lord”
DM: The hatamoto narrows his eyes. “There may have been a misunderstanding.” Looking past the samurai, Toshi sees Han approaching slowly down the street.
DM: “I have been listening to hair-splitting legalities and trivia for weeks now as a guest of the mokudai.” The hatamoto frowns. “It may have blinded me to the truth when it rises in front of me.”
DM: “Please tell me of this hunt. Perhaps I can assist.”
DM: So you are watching from behind the yarimen towards the bridge
DM: The whole group is moving up towards where you and Ouritsou are standing
Han: eye up the guy they’re with. What do i make of ‘im?
DM: Noble, fine clothes, well used swords,.The hatamoto, a medium sized man wearing functional gray robes. His most noticeable feature is blue-gray hair that drifts around his head as if underwater. His swords are obviously well worn and cared for, the cloth wraps of the grips stained dark.
Han: Right. So, i’ll bow to them when they get within bowing range
DM: ok. They appear to have stopped just now
Han: Ill leave them to their discusion, but kep a wary eye on it. When the hatamoto guy raises his voice, I move for my sword, but wait… If Goro draws his, i’ll move in
DM: Ouritsou whispers in your ear “Captain, this look like we could use some help? Shall I get the crew?”
Han: “Not yet… None of this ties him to us, if it goes badly, we just set sail, and leave them in our wake”
DM: “Aye captain.”
Han: “Wait here” I walk over, slowly, like a man wary of getting kicked by a spooked horse
DM: The yarimen see Han approach. The sergeant scowls at the Captain as sweat runs from under his helmet. “What do you want?” he growls.
Han: “I had hoped for a pleasant conversation, but failing that I was just going to inform Goro that our other guest may have found something of interest. However, seeing as you are clearing in the midst of something, i shall leave you to it.”
::bowing deeply to both, and walk back to the ship::
DM: You come back to Ouritsou at the edge of a building “What next, Captain? Cut ’em loose and head for the horizon?”
Han: “no not yet… Seems Goro has the situation well in hand.”
DM: “What do we do if he decides we need to be taken in hand, captain?”
Han: “Can’t tell if it’s fear or respect, but that Hatamoto just barked at me like a seargent who’s commanding office just chewed him out.”
Han: “I wouldn’t worry about it, if he becomes a problem i’ll deal with it personally”
DM: Ouritsou nods
Goro: :: back talking to the hatamoto :: “and that is what we have found so far”
Toshi: ::looks from Goro to Han and back::
I think I’ll leave you to it as well.
::heads off after Han::
Han: ::to Toshi::
DM: Leaving Goro and the hatamoto, Toshi walks along the docks to where Han and Ouritsou are standing
Han: “What was that all about?”
Toshi: “I’m not entirely sure. Well, you know, other than the general sense that the Shogunate is muscling in here and wants its tidings as rulers. And it appears those two have met before. I’m still not sure if they like each other or not.”
Han: “yes…. He did sorta have that look of wanting to kill something that only a friendship with Goro seems to cultivate.”
Toshi: “In any case, that man has been a guest of the mokudai for some time, he’s bored, and doesn’t seem receptive to any information on what is causing the shipping disruptions.”
Han: “well… that could mean one of two things. Either he’s too busy to care, or we’re not telling him anything he didn’t already know”
Toshi: “Or he thinks Goro is crazy.”
Han: “Goro IS crazy. He’s been bred to be crazy, i think. That sorta of fanatical Devotion to a cause. It’s not… natural And i saw genuine fear in that man’s eyes. Crazy or not, he would not have risked lying to him lest Goro tear him in half. If he truly believe him crazy, he would have know that no even his legion of 50 men would have stopped him.”
Toshi: “True enough.”
DM: “And he’s going to stay here when we leave…?” Asked Ouritsou
Han: “I guess that’s raelly up to him”
Toshi: “You know…with the legions of men not being able to stop him and all.”
DM: Ouritsou looks unhappy.
Toshi: “Would you prefer he didn’t?”
DM: “Well… if he’s shouting at Shogunate nobles… what if he decides we need to storm Kyuden Taira?”
Toshi: “The noble shouted back.”
For all we know this is a normal conversation for them.
Ouritsou, trust me. It will not come to that. You have my word
DM: Ouritsou looks relieved. Down the cross alley, a street back from the docksides, there is a movement. Takena Toryo and a few men and lizardmen make their way towards their ship, avoiding the large armed contingent on the dockside
DM: They appear to be heading down the back alleys towards the swamps.
Toshi: ::glances at Han::
Shall I follow them quietly?
Han: “If you can.”
DM: You can just about see theres something happening way down along the docks but from this distance (towards the swamps) you’re not sure
Ren: casually saunter closer
DM: you see the group walking towards you – you also spot Han and Ouritsou standing just to one side of the docks
Ren: is the bigwig guy sitting under an awning?
DM: Not anymore, they’re all walking up, he was just sitting on a keg anyway
Ren: I’ll wander close enough to hear what’s going on. I think she’ll probably stay to keep an eye on Goro seeing as he’s been left alone. Once it looks like he’s not that much in trouble, I’ll wander off to go continue searching
Toshi: Following, with all due stealth
DM: Ok, it would be trickier given high sun and poor cover except they’re all trying to sneak past the shogunate not expecting to be followed
DM: They make good time down the streets, into the swamps it gets squelchy, but easier to be sneaky there
Toshi: More cover, I assume. Well, proper cover rather than disappearing into crowds.
DM: yes – there were few crowds on the streets at present
Toshi: Are they meeting with lizardmen?
DM: They go down to the tents around the house of Splendours where there is a concerted rousting out of miscellaneous crew
DM: There are harsh looks between them and others but they gather up and head for their boats
DM: While they’re getting everyone together you overhear Toryo and his first mate – they have another target, they’re going to intercept. He says something about ‘towing the boat out’
Toshi: Hmm. well, okay. I suppose I should head back and report.
DM: They hit the water edge and row out to the boats – you’re not going to follow easily anyway
Toshi: Do I hear/see anything else as I’m slowly, stealthily withdrawing?
DM: Once all the crashing humans are gone, you realise that there are in fact a whole bunch of crocodilians just lying about drifting in the shallows, nosed up to trees, being very, very invisible. One of them watches you with a single eye, grins. They don’t interfere, but it strikes that there probably is no such thing as a private conversation in the swamps here
Toshi: ::smiles back, nervously:: Hear anything good?
DM: There is a deep rumble, possibly a laugh, but no reply.
Toshi: ::heads off::
Goro: “And thats everything we know!”
DM: assuming of course, you do indeed tell him everything
Goro: skip on names of people who have told me things but all we really know is there is piracy and some of it is normal and some of it is…. clearly involved in the struggle for control of this area but that
DM: The hatamoto is all for taking the information you have and going down stabbing lizardfolk however, he does recognise that ‘no piracy’ achieved by scorched-swamps is not a way to run a feifdom. After hearing your information he’s willing to help you root out whatever the deep source of all this is, with one slight caveat he would prefer that whatever you do not be creditted to anyone, or to everyone – as in, entirely seperate from the arbitration
DM: What exactly do you want to put to him?
DM: (his pov – takeshi’s leaving town, therefore the problems gone away, neh? he goes hangs some lizardmen if they get out of line and its all sorted?)
Goro: eh? he thinks killing some people will wrap thing sup?
DM: more that the impetus has been drained and that there is a finite problem now; once an example has been made, more new pirates won’t pop up because their support is gone
Goro: No no no unacceptable – Piracy is the symptom and not the cause
DM: “Was the ‘cause’ not outside agitation through the fence and his backers? That’s gone now, so won’t it drain away?”
Goro: Is this guy an idiot? I KILL ELVES
DM: He is having trouble expanding back the wheels within the wheels. After the second time through he gets at least part of it. The fence/lizard pirates was just a chip on the board, there is a game going on he is not aware of – you want to upset the gameboard, neh?
Goro: I’m just a piece on the board, it’s not my place to upset to gameboard just to take the piece of been told to take. These Elves die by my hand – worth also mentioning my brothers
DM: He nods, looks pensive. This is apparently a lot to take in. He strikes as a conservative, this kind of out-there weird is not what he likes but he seems to be taking it in. He proposes that he continues to act as if it were a conventional piracy problem force the opposition to move covertly or act to replace what they’ve lost draw down their resources or maybe expose themselves
Goro: Does the Hatamoto know anything about whats been going on that hasn’t been mentioned so far – noticed any strange incidents?
DM: He was instructed to come here and take over in the name of the shogunate. The administration in place was failing to maintain order. He is near certain that the chaos here is being fed from the Empire, and by political faction fighting within the Delta Cities. He has no time for the River Reed faction in Delta Cities with their ‘innovations’ and adapting tradition’ He believes if there were any people likely to be under the sway of forbidden arts from the elves spit Its them, or their offshoot, the Spring Tide great clan within the shogunate
Goro: remind me of the other side of pirating, if I recall right the guys we met earlier were imperial right? working against what they believe are people working against them?
DM: They were a group from the North (not admitted, but probably Delta cities)
Goro: I’ll ask him about the ships they were talking about, the ones theyve been raiding, is the Shogunate involved in I’ll delicately rephrase smuggling to something like gifting supplies – also the ships with oil? If the Imperials arent involved and the Shogunate aren’t involved then its Pirates or Elves
DM: He does not know, but wouldn’t not expect to know either – this is way out of his field. Ships with oil does spark some sort of recognition, he rememberes hearing something but its vague
Goro: I would appreciate if he could investigate further
DM: He will look into it. He has one or two individuals on his staff whos purpose is to be informed, he will query them and see what they might know.
Goro: After this I think, if he is happy to stay out of our way in our duties then I am happy to stay out of the politics in controlling the city
Goro: If I am correct, attaining the Fan is a different politics correct? it is to be given to someones daughter in another city and so nicely is outside of this set of politicking?
DM: It is separate to this politicking but it would be politicking ‘against’ the shogunate
Goro: and I have made no other promises than I can recall that would conflict with this arragement? oh ofc, but its all in the details :)
DM: no, agreeing to live and let live with the hatamoto is compatible with everything else to date… the mokudai never explicitly said ‘you have to help us in the name of the Empire’
Goro: okay, I’m good with everything there so far, he didn’t know anything but was able to tell me some stuff. I didn’t give him any names but was able to explain the situation and the urgency of it along with my disinterest in everything else
DM: He is satisfied with this. As the conversation goes on his initial annoyance at having a pile of complications thrown on his patch reduces. He realises the good in seeing theres a knife out there rather than being happy in ignorance.
Goro: After all that wrap up, bowing etc and head back to the ship
DM: You don’t find a better source than the old man among the humans. Asking around a bit more you do get a suggestion to ask the Tengu. You find an old tengu, his beak worn clear in places sitting on a bar within the prayer gate that stands by the edge of the swamp. There was a creature, with a heart of water, a cousin of yours. But his heart was dark as the deeps, dark where the sun shines no longer. I would not seek this cousin of yours, sea child, for you might find him.
Ren: shiver Thank you oh wise one. I fear you may be right
DM: “Be wary as you swim, for the dwellers of the deeps are roused and a terrible rage is on them. Your cousin was just a harbinger, woe to those upon who their hand will truly fall in anger.”
Ren: “I had heard they were swimming again but had thought it merely old tales. I shall be more careful in future. Thank you for your warnings”
DM: “Be careful as you swim, though I fear less for you than those who have no feel for the currents. Go with fate, sister.”
Ren: “Many thanks.” bow deeply and head back to the ship
DM: It is mid afternoon and the Furishouhou rides easy at anchor
Toshi: ::jogs up to the boat::
DM: Han, Goro and Toshi have arrived at the quayside where it is tied
Goro: “The Hatamoto knew little of note, he has been more concerned with the shogunate dominance over this city”
It took me some time to impress upon him the severity of my hunt and my disinterest in his politics but I believe he eventually understood
Goro: “He has agreed to some discreet investigations in relation to those strange ships the, shall we say imperial loyalists, were attacking if they are not shogunate then they are Pirate or something of greater interest”
In exchange for staying out of our way I agreed to not influence myself in the politics of this city one way or another
Toshi: "A fair trade. Takena Toryo seem to be moving out. They have another target, and are going to intercept. And there was something about ‘towing the boat out,’ though… ::looks down:: “I’m not much of a sailor and I’m not sure what boat they were towing where.”
Toshi: “It might be fun to follow them and do some investigating of our own.”
Ren: ::Ren clambers up the side of the ship, dripping slightly::
I think, tonight, I shall sleep on the deck.
Ren: ::Ren proceeds to pull in the netting she had been sleeping in and string it along one of the sides of the ship::
DM: The rest of the ships crew are beginning to move around more as the days heat eases. Activity along the docks is picking up in preparation for twilight fishing.
DM: Ouritsou looks at Toshi and Goro, and then at Han. “So, we have supplies in hand for another run back to Jumana, but its always better to get fresh supplies if we’re going on a longer run. Not everyone loves biscuit and weevil.”
Goro: “Yeah, the biscuits weren’t great, good weevil though!”
DM: Ouritsou looks slightly worried. “…there are ‘bad’ weevils?”
Goro: “Now you mention it, I think they’ve all been good! But yeah, less biscuit next time”
Han: “Get whatever provisions you deem necessary”
DM: “Aye, Captain.”
Ren: ::Finishes re-making her bed and comes over:: “So did you talk to the busy man?”
Han: “Yeah… you could say that”
Ren: “good. He had met someone like me you know. Only I don’t think it was my brother or sister.”
Han: “What do you mean ‘Like You’? As in… a…”
Ren: "From the sea but I don’t think he meant like me
Han: “Hmm… well… Goro’s friend, that Hatamoto, looked…. like a sea dweller”
Ren: ::Ren purses her lips:: “No, that’s not who he meant I think. His stock is too watered down.”
Han: “His hair did that wavy, underwarer thing like yours”
Ren: :: Looks confused:: “My hair waves? I hadn’t known it communicated on its own. Anyway, I don’t think we want to meet who he meant.”
Toshi: “I’m confused. I think we found out he was visited by a sahuagin.”
Ren: ::looks stricken::
Toshi: “Does that mean he wasn’t visted by one of those, that it was instead someone like you?”
Ren: “shhh you shouldn’t speak of them”
Toshi: “Or that you are one of those?”
Ren: “I most certainly am not!!!”
Toshi: “Okay, that’s good.”
::still looking confused::
Ren: ::gets agitated:: Maybe, maybe I shouldn’t be here. Maybe I should be sleeping in the town tonight,
::starts packing up her netting again hurriedly::
Toshi: “Oh, I picked up his map. I wasn’t sure what you meant when you mentioned it…”
Ren: ::pauses, then keeps going:: “I just thought it might help you. I might be wrong. He had been working on it is all. I should go”
DM: Ouritsou looks at the map, then opens the scroll case he’s holding
Toshi: ::looks down at the map:: “How is this going to help? And why do you think it might?”
DM: Takes the map and holds the muslin from the case over the map. “Huh, they match.”
Ren: “You all are far more head smart than Ren is. You should figure it out. I have to go. Now.”
DM: Ningkyo looks at Ren’s packing “Is there something we should know?”
Toshi: “I am certainly feeling like I’m missing something.”
Han: “Almost certaintly”
Ren: “You called them down. I won’t be here when they come. Good day to you. I’ll be… I’ll be…” ::Ren looks around worriedly:: “I’ll be somewhere if you need me”
Toshi: ::still looking confused:: “Calling anything down takes a little work, in my experience.”
Ren: ::Takes her bundle of things and leaps overboard::
Han: “Good riddance”
DM: Ningkyo looks at Han. “… that was ominous, in the very literal meaning of the word.”
Han: “Yup… that girl is allergic to giving straight answers”
Goro: “I thought Takena was being silly when he said it, but if Ren believes it maybe there is something to it. But if I’m right then it might be best if only myself and Toshi stayed aboard tonight.”
Han: “…are you asking me to leave my ship?”
Goro: “It might be best, if you stay I think you will have to meet them”
Han: “This is my ship. I don’t care if the 7 Gods of thunder themselves show up… I shall be here to meet them.”
Goro: :: Grins ::
Goro: “That is reassuring, I would hate to have to explain to you what happened to your ship in the morning.”
DM: Ningkyo looks at the others. “If the Captains staying, so are we, right men?”
There is some slightly less than fully enthusiastic agreement
Han: “I appreciate your Sentiment, Ningkyo. However… I will force no man to face that which they do not wish to. you may stay or you may leave, either way you are still my crew and your beth will be waiting for you … if the ship still stands”
DM: There are a few worried looks around, but Ningkyo, Matsubou and Satsujin are staying and it steadies the rest of the crew. Those who might want to leave, can’t loose face now. Ouritsou whistles from the dockside where a cart and supplies has arrived, see all the expressions along the railings. “What? What happened?”
Han: “Ah… the Last supper has arrived”
DM: The crew breaks out the winches and hauls the supplies aboard. There are a few cages of chickens and a tasty piglet chief among them. Once everything is stowed, quick work is made of preparing food and the crew eats heartily. After finishing, many turn to checking the boarding irons. Ningkyo finds Han. “Should we bind the ship tighter to the docks? If the hull gets holed it might stop us sinking but it’ll prevent us making a run for it.”
Han: “No. Keep us seaworthy.”
DM: “Aye, captain.”
Goro: :: Goro spends the rest of the evening checking over his weaponry and approaches sunset in meditation on deck surrounded by a small arsenal of weaponry ::
DM: The crew goes through their usual port routine, perhaps a little quieter and more nervous than usual
DM: The sun begins to set and the mists steal into the harbour again, the light being replaced with the sounds of swamp creatures.
Ren: Ok so, keeping to VERY shallow water need to find somewhere else to stay
Ren: I’m gonna head to shore quickly I think and then look for… maybe some nice lizardmen who’ll put me up?
DM: Well you have lots of options there any particular flavour – and by that I mean social, the old hands, the young bravos, etc.
Ren: old hands probably and it’d be nice if they have a view of the harbour from where they are
DM: Yeah – you can find a decent spot along the swamp line. Roughly where Moju’s place is but at the waters edge but! – once darkness falls, then its going to be hard to tell whats going on
Ren: this is acceptable. She wants the comfort of knowing if she COULD see anything she could go help her friends but this way she cant so she’ll just sit and worry and pace a lot probably