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|Blessings and Curses|
|Written By:||Rich Wulf|
Blessings and Curses is a fiction written by Rich Wulf.
Annotated Story Edit
It opens upon Toturi Miyako who rides out of a forest and catches her breath when she sees the palace before her. A voice nearby says it is one of the most beautiful places in all of Rokugan, and Miyako who had been riding alone is only mildly surprised by the presence of the Grand Master of the Elements Naka Tokei. Miyako has spent nearly two years as a student to Tokei and bows deeply to him from the saddle. Tokei mentions that the first, and last, time he saw Kyuden Kakita it was in ashes following the attack on it by Hida Tsuru during the Clan War. Miyako asks why Tokei is here, and after a little banter he says she reminds him of her father and that he is there for the same reason she is. Miyako asks if he is here becayse of Hoturi. Tokei is geniunely surprised at the name. Miyako explains that six days ago a vision of the Crane Thunder appeared at the gates of Kyuden Kakita and claimed he would return with a blessing to help the Crane through these dark times. Miyako had been sent here by Lady Tsudao to investigate. Tokei does not believe it was the spirit of Hoturi, but something darker. Miyako wonders what he means by that, and Tokei asks what she knows about a man named Dairya. Miyako says he was a ronin who faught alongside her father and Toturi during the Clan War. Tokei reveals that he was once Isawa Dairya, the son of the Master of Fire, but was cast out of the Phoenix for an unspeakable crime. Dairya was once a shugenja, but to replace the power he had lost he mastered the art of the sword and became a duelist. He devised his own techniques to rival those of the Mirumoto Swordmasters and Kakita Kenshinzen. The only man to ever defeat him was Kakita Toshimoko, the Master of the Kakita Dueling Academy. It was a chance meeting, but Toshimoko took one Dairya's eyes and Dairya never forgot the insult. Miyako does not understand how a man who she knew as a hero could be like that. Tokei explains that Toturi had a way of bringing out the best in people. Tokei asks Miyako what she knows of the War Against the Shadow. She replies that the Goju attempted to destroy the Empire and Spirit Realms, but Toturi stopped them. Tokei agrees that is a very concise explanation, but goes on to tell Miyako about how the Goju arranged for Dairya to face Toshimoko during the Battle of Oblivion's Gate. Dairya killed the Grey Crane and in a moment of rage and frustration he was consumed by the Goju. Dairya was dead but his spirit was chained to the mortal realm. Tokei believes that it is this spirit that has made its way to Kyuden Kakita. Miyako asks why and Tokei explains it could be for many reasons. The son of Toshimoko is on his deathbed, or the wife of Noritoshi, the current master of the Academy, is with child. There are many things that could bad and it falls to Toturi's Army to prevent it. Miyako points out that she was never a part of Toturi's army, but Tokei says she is close enough. He tasks her to seek out Dairya and prevent him from exacting his revenge. Tokei cannot come because of the longstanding animosity between the Naka and the Kakita, started by a previous Grand Master who cursed Kyuden Kakita. Miyako asks if it was the curse that destroyed Kyuden Kakita during the Clan War, and Tokei nods. He promises her however that he will be watching and supporting her from a distance.
Shortly after, Miyako is looking around at her surroundings in Kyuden Kakita. Miyako had grown up in the Vigilant Keep of the Monkey, and recently living in Kyuden Seppun which was Toturi Tsudao's base of operations. Miyako had thought Kyuden Seppun was opulent and luxorious compared to her home, but Kyuden Kakita was even more breathtaking. As she is admiring the artworks on the wall a handsome courtier approaches her. Naming her and her rank, Taisa of the First Imperial Legion, he introduces himself as Kakita Atoshi, the brother of Lord Noritoshi. He inquires why she is there without her superiors, and she thinks he sees it as an insult to send someone of her rank. He is quick to point out that is not the case, as her father's and her own valor is renowned. Miyako accepts, then proceeds tell Atoshi of a gift of Phoenix healing herbs from Tsudao to Lord Toshiken. She asks if she may take it to him. Atoshi's father is not well enough, so that will not be possible. Only Atoshi, his brother and Toshiken's bodyguard Reju are allowed. Miyako asks if Atoshi can take it to Toshiken, but Atoshi refuses twice before accepting. Atoshi is unimpressed with Miyako's blunt attempts at offering the gift, tells her that his brother will see her shortly, and stalks off. A young samurai nearby consoles Miyako on her blunder with the gift, and it takes a moment before she recognizes him as Yasuki Hachi, Emerald Champion. Miyako compliments Hachi, but he is not as relaxed as he would wish. She asks what the problem is and Hachi elaborates on the illness of Toshiken, appearance of Hoturi and the visiting Cranes who wish to see either or both. Hachi is not pleased with how they are behaving, including his former daimyo Daidoji Rekai. She had been arguing over Lady Doji's Tears, and Miyako asks what they are. Hachi explains that the tears were said to cure any illness or corruption, and although many were lost during the Clan War Rekai claimed to have found two. Also Noritoshi and Atoshi are in disagreements ever since Kakita Kaiten's death and Noritoshi being named the new Kakita Daimyo. Atoshi is using his skills as a courtier against his brother. In actuality they are cousins, but Noritoshi was raised alongside Atoshi after Toshiken adopted Noritoshi in 1133. Toshiken killed Noritoshi's father, Ichiro, shortly before the Battle of Oblivion's Gate for plotting to have their father Toshimoko killed. Miyako is not impressed with the family so far, but Hachi says it is merely the way of families that pursue excellence above all else. An Emerald Magistrate appears informing Hachi that Nagori has recieved word that Asahina Handen's travelling party have been attacked by bandits. Hachi sees this as an opportunity to escape the problems here for a while and decides to go after the bandits personally. He asks Miyako to join him, but she declines promising to keep the courtiers from killing eachother while he is away. She wished him luck as he leaves but he thinks she will need it more than him.
Sometime later, Miyako is being escorted into an audience chamber by Atoshi. He presents her to Noritoshi, the Kakita Daimyo. Miyako bows to Noritoshi who gestures for her to sit. Atoshi makes a joke before Noritoshi asks Miyako why she was surprised to see him. Miyako says it is because she did expect to meet him, but Noritoshi does not believe her. She concedes that she was surprised he was so young. Atoshi mentions that Noritoshi has the young face and innocent demeanor of his father. Noritoshi is not please with Atoshi, but thanks Miyako for the present she brought and to thank the Empress for it also. Atoshi attempts to point out to Noritoshi that he should thank the Phoenix also, but Noritoshi shoots him down for it. The issues between the two brothers are noticable. Miyako contemplates Atoshi and what if the spirit of Dairya was driving a wedge between the two. Atoshi asks Miyako how the lands of the Kakita compare to those of the Monkey Clan, but Miyako says she would wish to live out her life in her home. Noritoshi is intrigued and asks why. Miyako replies that it is because of her family, poignantly looking at Atoshi. Atoshi is not impressed however and insults Miyako's family's humble origins. Miyako defends her father, mother and uncle and Atoshi apologizes. Noritoshi asks to hear more about Miyako's family. Miyako tells them about her two brothers, Kyoji and Koto, and a story of when Kyoji stole her kimono right before her gempukku ceremony and she had to wear her mothers instead. Miyako continues how her father Toku told her why she should not act out against her brother. Atoshi is not impressed by the quote, but Miyako reveals that Toku had been told it by Toturi who had in turn been told it by Hoturi who had heard it from Toshimoko. Atoshi is lost for words. Suddenly Miyako hears the voice of Naka Tokei inside her head. Tokei warns her that Dairya is there, but Miyako is not so sure. Tokei is certain however, and suddenly a defiant battle cry can be heard throughout Kyuden Kakita.
Moments later, Atoshi, Noritoshi, and Miyako have made their way towards the sounds. They come upon two Kakita guards trying to bash down the door to Toshiken's chamber but with no success. Noritoshi slices the door open and they enter to find a woman wearing dark blue silk with a katana in one hand and a short club with a grinning skull on the end in the other. Her eyes were flat white, and she stood over the dead body of Toshiken, cut from hip to shoulder. Toshiken's guard, Reju, sat in a pool of blood cradling the stump of his right arm. The woman was about to decapitate Reju, but now turned her attention to the new arrivals. Noritoshi identies her as Megumi. Atoshi moves to stand beside his brother, but Noritoshi tells him to rally the troops and find Rekai. Atoshi is unwilling, but Noritoshi convinces him that Megumi, his finest student, will kill him easily. Atoshi leaves to rally the guards, but Miyoko remained. Noritoshi enters his dueling stance, mirroring that of Megumi. He asks her why she killed Toshiken. Megumi replies she did not think he was as sick as he appeared, but she had been wrong. The two strike at eachother, but barely hit. Noritoshi is scraped along the ribs and Megumi recieved a cut on the cheek. The blood runs black and Noritoshi realizes Megumi has been tainted. Noritoshi thinks she has been sent by Daigotsu, but a lightning strike in the distance illuminates the outline of something around Megumi. The shape of a large man wearing an eyepatch over his left eye, Dairya. As the two duelists are Miyako looks about the bedchamber and spots a small box bearing the Daidoji mon. The two duelists charge again, but this time Megumi prevails striking Noritoshi in the face. Noritoshi recoils, covering one of his eyes with his hand. Megumi mocks him, but as she does Miyako screams up from behind her. Megumi turns to see Miyako charging at her. In the last moment Miyako hurls one of the Jade Tears at Megumi. Megumi uses the club to deflect the Jade, but as she does so the spirit of Dairya vanishes. The skull on the end exploded, and Megumi scowls at Miyako. Miyako opens her hand and reveals another Jade Tear. Megumi is afraid, but laughs before leaping out of the nearby window. Miyako runs to the window, but can only see a vague blue-clad figure running across the plains. Miyako turns to aid Reju and Noritoshi by binding their wounds.Reju has lost his right hand and Noritoshi his left eye. Noritoshi is dismayed at loosing, and does not know how he can defeat her if she is tainted. Miyako hands him the remaining Jade Tear and tells him to have hope. Suddenly from a nearby room the sound of a newlyborn can be heard. Just then they hear the sounds of battle coming from outside. An army of soldiers in jet-black armor is laying siege to Kyuden Kakita, and on the distant hillside Miyako can see their commander. The mon on his sashimono is that of Doji Hoturi.
The following evening, Miyako, Tokei and Hachi are standing on the same hill she had seen Hoturi on the previous night. Atoshi is nearby discussing strategy with Rekai and other military nobles. Noritoshi is off to one side by himself, a bandage covering his eye which had been beyond saving with healing. Many troops are milling about, either Crane or Emerald Magistrates, guarding some in jet-black armor. The tale of Hoturi's return had been false. It had been the False Hoturi, who was believed dead during the Clan War. Tokei explains that the False Hoturi was never truly alive, and as such could not die either. It was a construct of dark magic used by Fu Leng against the Crane Clan. Noritoshi wants to know if Naka Tokei had known there would be an attack. Hachi reveals that Tokei had asked him to bring an additional legion of troops and hide them in the nearby forest. The troops commanded by the False Hoturi met more resistance than expected and were forced to retreat. Atoshi is concerned that they will be ready for the next assault. Noritoshi says they will, but Miyako is concerned for the man. Hachi reveals that Noritoshi's son was born while the gates were closed. The Kyuden Kakita Curse dictates that Noritoshi's son will never touch steel. Hachi bows and leaves and Miyako asks what will happen to Dairya's spirit. Tokei believes the spirit would have been too stubborn to merely leave for Yomi. Tokei suggests that it is possible Dairya will seek out a student in the Academy. Tokei turns to leave and Miyako mounts her pony before following.
- Toturi Miyako
- Naka Tokei
- Kakita Atoshi
- Yasuki Hachi
- Kakita Noritoshi
- Kakita Toshiken
- Doji Reju
- Daidoji Rekai
Not Present, But Mentioned Edit
- Hida Tsuru
- Miyako's father
- Lady Tsudao
- Dairya's Master of Fire Parent
- Kakita Toshimoko
- Toshimoko's son
- Noritoshi's Wife
- Doji Nagori
- Miyako's Mother
- Miyako's Mother's Brother
- The False Hoturi
- Fu Leng
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