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|Written By:||Nancy Sauer|
|Edited By:||Fred Wan|
Annotated Story Edit
Kuni Umibe relaxes for a moment after having readied a cirle and warded it for his purpose. He walks into the centre of the circle and for a moment he contemplates the bleak Hiruma lands stretching out around him. They had been overrun by the Shadowlands many centuries ago along with Kuni lands. The Kuni lands had been retaken quickly, but were spritually destroyed in the process. Only one generation ago had the Hiruma lands been retaken, and the Kuni had begun cleansing the taint there in the same way they had their own lands centuries ago. Umibe kneels in the cirle and attempts to listen to the kami, beginning to chant slowly. At first he feels nothing, but slowly pain increases and he must focus to continue his chanting. After a while he lies numb and is gasping for air, and below him he can hear kami investigating a new patch of land they had not sensed before. He closes his eyes and cherishes the small victory for a moment. As he lies there he hears an unfamiliar sound and opens his eyes to see a large, dark-haired, greenish-skinned man. The Naga is holding a large, golden pearl, and Umibe cannot help but gawk at the sight. After a few moment the Naga lowers his head to the ground, at the same height as Umibe's, and introduces himself as Zamalesh. It asks if Umibe is a Kuni, and Umibe nods finally asking what the Naga is doing here. Zamalesh shows Umibe the pearl and reveals it is hunting the Jerish.
Hida Fubatsu kneels before Hiruma Daimyo Hiruma Todori petitioning to be admited to the Hiruma School. Todori refuses, but Fubatsu angrily asks why. His great-grandfather was a Hiruma and his father had marched beside Hida Yakamo to retake Shiro Hiruma. Todori points out there are many who have Hiruma ancestors among the Crab, and many who had relatives who aided in retaking Shiro Hiruma. Since the lost techniques of the Hiruma School were found there has been a flood of petitions to train here, and there isn't even a dojo yet. Fubatsu understands, but believes his combat prowess indicates he would bring nothing but glory to the school. Todori concedes the point, and reveals the praise he has heard from Hida Yagimaki about Fubatsu. However, because Fubatsu is so willing to leave his current school for a new one, throwing away their teachings so easily, he cannot allow Fubatsu to enter this school. Fubatsu reveals that he is searching for something and he cannot find it at the Hida school. Todori will still not be convinced, and Fubatsu understands and leaves. As Fubatsu walks through the castle he hears the voice of Hiruma Aya calling out to him. For a moment he is angry that she has been allowed entrance to the school when he has not, but he pushes those thoughts aside and stops to wait for her. She arrives and asks why he did not stop sooner. He says she should have run to catch up with him, but she thinks it would be rude to run. She asks if he is on duty, but he is not. He wishes to be left alone, but she is aware that he had been to see Todori today and asks him to follow her. He is not in the mood for company, but Aya steps in his way and reveals that Hiruma Tama is getting the drink and Aya will have to make Fubatsu co-operate. Fubatsu's mood lightens, and she begins walking telling him to follow.
Shortly after, Fubatsu finds himself in a secure room in one of the inner courtyards with Aya and Tama. Tama opens a bottle of Imo Hana Mura Five Star, drinks and passes it to Aya. Aya sips, chocking at the strength, and chides Tama for getting this instead of shochu. She hands the bottle to Fubatsu who cautiously takes a drink, burning it's way down. He takes a second longer drink and passes the bottle to Tama. He asks her how many bottles she has brought. She replies she has brought two, but he does not think that will be enough. Tama thinks it will, since Aya is a cheap drunk. Aya suggests that since she is not yet drunk she will still be capable of beating her up. Aya takes another sip as Tama laughs. Tama tells Fubatsu he should have seen Aya at the Spicy Carp with Daidoji Kojima. Tama suggests that Aya could petition to not be sent to the Yasuki provinces, but Aya points out that she has been ordered to join the forces fighting against the Crane. She cannot question her lord's judgement, but she is obviously not happy about going. Fubatsu takes a drink from the bottle then passes it to Tama, before revealing he has heard a rumor there is a Kuni and a Naga in the castle. Tama reveals she saw them earlier this morning in the kitchens. Umibe had been telling the Naga that none of the cooks could be a Jerish, but the Naga had shoved his pearl in eavh of their faces none-the-less. Fubatsu points out that it is shugenja business, and he much prefers something to hit. The two Hiruma agree, and the conversation passes on to other things.
Elsewhere, Umibe is struggling with assisting Zamalesh. It is nearing evening and Umibe is worried that Zamalesh will figure out that the food is prepared by another set of cooks. Suddenly Zamalesh hisses loudly before speeding up down the hallway. Umibe curses and chases after the Naga. Rounding a corner he sees Zamalesh with a Hida up against a wall and two Hiruma watching. One of the Hiruma sees Umibe and asks if there is a problem. The Hida seems to think there is, and Zamalesh reveals that it has found the Jerish. Umibe asks if it is sure, and Zamalesh reveals that the pearl now flows a bright green. Umibe asks the Hida to come with him.
Later, Todori is asking Zamalesh if Fubatsu really is the Jerish. The Naga confirms this, and Fubatsu breaks in asking what a Jerish is. Zamalesh reveals that the Jerish was a warrior of the Naga and terror of the Ashalan. The Jerish entered the Great Sleep, but was killed in Nirukti during it's destruction by Hantei XI. Fubatsu does not understand what it has to do with him, and Umibe finally explains that Fubatsu has the soul of the Jerish. Fubatsu does not believe it, but Umibe points out that that is how the Wheel of reincarnation works. Fubatsu points out that the Akasha prevents Naga from reincarnating as people, but Zamalesh reveals that the Jerish is missing from the Akasha. A Naga named the Qolsa had determined that Jerish and perhaps others had been reincarnated as humans. Todori asks what will happen next, and Zamalesh reveals that Fubatsu must come with him to Shinomen Mori. He will be needed to help guard the other Naga, and the Qolsa wishes to study him. Fubatsu is outraged, but before he can speak Todori orders Umibe to draft a report to Crab Clan Champion Hida Kuon. Todori ask Zamalesh to aid Umibe, and as soon as the two have left Fubatsu explodes. He does not wish to go to the Shinomen Forest, but to stay on the Kaiu Kabe or join the Yasuki War. Todori expects Fubatsu to aid the Naga, and while he is there to make notes of Unicorn and Scorpion troop movements. Fubatsu is silent for a moment, then he asks if he may be admitted to the Hiruma School if he does this. Todori says no once again, and tells Fubatsu to start packing immediately. Fubatsu leaves, and pauses when he is out in the corridor. He takes a moment to breathe, and contemplate what he has just learned. He thinks he is in for a challenge of a life time, and perhaps just what he had been looking for.
Not Present, But Mentioned Edit
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