|A Hero's Death, Chapter Seven|
|Written By:||Rich Wulf|
Annotated Story Edit
Previously: A Hero's Death, Chapter Six.
Somewhere in the wilderness in Ox lands, Miya Shoin is surrounded by darkness. He has lost his weapon but defiantly talks to the attacker, warning it that he has sent word of minions of the Lying Darkness to Hantei Naseru. The attacker reveals that it is not a Goju, and Shoin is confused. The assassin says it intended for them to think it was a minion of Nothing, and that it's plan is near fruition. Shoin does not understand how that is the case, as there are only four of roughly sixty members of the Heroes of Rokugan who have been killed, and the assassin has failed to kill both Yasuki Kaneko and Rezan. The assassin reveals that they were a mere distraction to be able to get at Shoin. Shoin does not understand what a minion of the Shadow would want with him, and the assassin gets angry and repeats that it is not a minion of the Shadow. The assassin says that by killing great heroes he will be the greatest of them all. Shoin says he will be stopped, but the assassin does not think so. Shoin asks if the assassin was the killer of Toturi also, and the shadow congeals into the shape of a man. He knows Shoin is stalling, and says his friends are to busy with eachother to come to his aid. The assassin and stabs Shoin in the chest, twisting the knife. Shoin falls to the ground dead, and the assassin pauses for a moment before vanishing into the shadows.
Moments later, Rezan steps into the clearing and looks down at the motionless body of Shoin. Kijuro and Moshi Kakau are right behind him. Rezan tells them they may not want to see this, but Shoin asks why not as he steps into the campsite with his bow in his hands. The herald walks over to the body and looks at it. Agasha Chieh joins them, and says that it was one of her finest works of illusion. Kakau is astonished that Shoin is alive, and Rezan shows them that the dead body is merely a straw filled kimono with an illusion placed on it. Kakau compliments Chieh on her magic, and Chieh explains that the air kami creating the likeness of Shoin was the easy part. Asking the fire kami to animate it was the harder part, and she had to sacrifice her finest silk-obi to appease them. Shoin makes a joke about it, but Chieh counters that if not he would be dead. Toritaka Akemi and Utaku Yu-Pan arrive at the camp now, and Yu-Pan asks what has happened. Kijuro explains about the dummy and is upset they did not involve him in the plan. Chieh reveals that she did not know this would happen until after the two groups split. Shoin asks how Kijuro knew they would be ambushed, and Kijuro reveals that the killing of their horses showed him they were being delayed from meeting the others. Akemi asks if they had a chance to see the assassin's face, and Shoin says he did not recognize the man. Kakau says that is a shame, but Rezan reveals that he did recognize the man. Chieh cuts Rezan off before he can reveal who it is, saying it was Gusai. Yu-Pan thinks that is impossible, saying Kakau witnessed his murder. Chieh suggests Gusai's death was faked, and Kijuro suspects similar magic to that which Chieh performed tonight.
Kijuro understands and grabs Kakau by the throat. Drawing his weapon he holds it to Kakau's abdomen, and Shoin asks Kijuro what he is doing. Kijuro replies that he is saving Kakau's life, because if Kakau does not drop his weapon soon Yu-Pan will catch up to everyone else and kill him. Kakau throws his weapon to the ground, and Yu-Pan demands to know what is going on. Chieh reveals that Kakau is a traitor, and Shoin asks her for proof. Chieh explains the many reasons why he is the traitor. Only Gusai's murder was witnessed by anyone, and why would the killer not kill the only witness to Gusai's "murder"? Kijuro suggests that it would be done to create a false witness, and Chieh compliments the Ox on his analysis. Kijuro asks why anyone would do such a thing, and Rezan points out that many centuries to plan can make people think up that strangest plans. Kakau is remaining silent. Chieh continues by pointing out that at the encounter at Yasuki Kaneko's house Kakau stood by and did nothing. Yu-Pan suggests he was merely afraid, and Chieh concedes that could be the case. Chieh continues that while Gusai was talking to Shoin he revealed two pieces of information. That they were working for Naseru and that Chieh and Rezan had been involved together. Something only a member of the group could reveal, and only Kakau knew about Rezan and Chieh. Kijuro is impressed with Rezan, and Chieh scowls at the Ox before continuing. She asks Akemi and Kijuro if either were present at the time Yu-Pan's horse was attacked. Neither was, and Chieh asks where Kakau was. Yu-Pan says they were hunting together, but she was ahead scouting. Chieh notices Kakau is not carrying his knife, and suggests he disposed of it when Yu-Pan screamed as he killed the horse. Shoin thinks that it is not condemning evidence, but Kakau breaks down and confesses. After a moment of silence Yu-Pan asks why he did what he did. Kakau replies that Gusai was his lord. Shoin asks how Kakau could serve a murderer, and Kakau counters that Shoin would do the same if his father were still alive. Gusai had returned to find his name had been dragged through the mud for the past centuries. Gusai was banished from the Mantis Islands with a token honor guard as protection. Kakau's family was among that honor guard and Kakau was born into Gusai's service. Over the years most of the guard abandoned Gusai becoming ronin, leaving Kakau the only remaining servant. Rezan suggests Kakau should have become a ronin also, but Shoin presses the matter of what Gusai's true plan is. Gusai wished to kill the Steel Chrysanthemum, and other returned heroes to be acknowledged as the greatest among them. Gusai failed and received almost no recognition for his service. Shoin asks why Gusai would want to kill him, but Kakau does not know. Yu-Pan threatens to kill him, but Shoin stops her. Akemi convinces her that there are still questions that need answers, and Kakau must be sentanced as the law demands. Chieh asks where they will be going next, and Shoin is surprised she did not read it in his mind. Chieh says that they are reduced to guesswork now, and she does not excell at that. Kijuro suspects Gusai would want to kill Totuir, but he has already been killed by the Shadowlands. Kakau says Gusai would never kill Toturi. Shoin suggests Gusai may go after Toturi's children. Kakau insists Gusai has no intention of harming the Toturi family, but Shoin points out that Naseru bears the Hantei name and was a student of the man Gusai wanted to kill most of all. Realization dawns on Kakau and Shoin orders Kijuro to ride to Shiro Morito as fast as possible and get horses for them all. Kijuro rides off, and Akemi asks if they are going to Otosan Uchi next. Shoin nods and tells Yu-Pan and Rezan to ready the remaining horses. Chieh asks if this is necessary because Naseru is certain to be able to handle an assassination attempt. Shoin counters that it is still their mission to find the assassin. Shoin asks Chieh how she knew Gusai would come for him. Chieh points out that of all the magistrates in the Empire Naseru happened to choose the one that was half spirit. Shoin asks if he was merely bait. Chieh wonders if he will ask her how long she has known that, and Shoin replies that the world would be a boring place without mystery.
To Be Concluded in: A Hero's Death, Chapter Eight.
Not Present, But Mentioned Edit
- Hantei Naseru
- Yasuki Kaneko
- Miya Dosonu
- Four Dead Heroes of Rokugan: Gusai, Mirumoto Tokeru, Isawa Ijime and Kakita Rensei.
- Steel Chrysanthemum
- Two Hantei "killed" by Toturi. Hantei XXXVIII and Hantei XVI (sort of)
- Yoritomo Aramasu
- Gusai Rioshida
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