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The Emperor Edition's Spider Starter fiction is written by an unknown author of the Story Team. It was released in early 2012, at the start of Emperor Edition and could be found in the starter box of the Spider Clan. Transcription by Kai.
Annotated Story Edit
Otomo Machiko shifted her weight ever so slightly from one foot to the other, ignoring the annoyed glance from her older colleague. Not for the first time, she cursed herself for her impulsive behavior. It had been such a simple thing, a game of court, to flirt with the young man. How could she have known he would react so poorly? The man had become so infatuated that he had argued with his father, an important Otomo lord, and rather than punish his son, the lord had taken his irritation out on Machiko. Hence the horrible duty she fulfilled today. It was a difficult lesson, and one she would make sure she never had to repeat.
"He comes," the older man said. "Still your nerves, girl."
Machiko felt a surge of anger at being called a girl, but there were much worse things, and she was about to encounter one of the very worst. A black palanquin approached surrounded by a dozen Imperial guards. As it approached, she forced a smile and adopted what she desperately hoped was a welcoming posture.
The palanquin came to a stop and the curtains parted. A man stepped out, clad in violet and black. His attire was a strange mixture of traditional clothing and sohei wrappings. He favored a minimalist, highly-stylized mempo that consisted of a band of metal across his forehead from which two gleaming horns protruded. His eyes were brilliant and terrifying. "You are too young for this manner of duty," he said, his voice a low, rich tone. "Whom did you offend, to be relegated to such an unsavory task?"
"I will not be here for a week," Kapeki said firmly. "I will depart tomorrow at sunset."
Machiko blinked and wondered what to say, but her comrade stepped in. "The nature of your obligations are such that you must report to the Imperial City once each year, lord Kanpeki," he said with obvious disdain. "The meetings you have scheduled with the Imperial families over the next few days require..."
"My annual meeting with the Empress will take place upon my first morning of my return, as always," Kanpeki said. "Unless she finds fault with my purity or my person, I will conclude my business tomorrow. Any of your family who wish to speak with me can do so at my convenience following my meeting with the Empress."
"That is not the nature of the agreement," the other man began again.
"Your family is filled with nattering sycophants whose self importance is without limit," Kanpeki said. "Your approval is irrelevant. I am a Great Clan Champion, and I report to the Empress alone."
"You have obligations..."
Kanpeki took a step forward, causing a nervous rattling from the Imperial guards who had accompanied him. Machiko was sure that, like her, they were unsure how to intercede with a man such as this. "If you wish to speak the word 'obligation' to me once more, it will be something you deeply regret for the remainder of your life," he said, his tone remaining utterly calm and even. "My guide is this young woman here, and I do not wish to see or hear you again while I am within Toshi Ranbo." He turned back to Machiko. "What is your name, young lady?"
"It... uh... Otomo Machiko, my lord. I am at your service." She bowed again, mostly to hide the confused expression on her face.
"Thank you, Machiko-san," Kanpeki said. "I have been travelling for several weeks, and I would greatly appreciate being taken to whatever accommodations you have arranged. I am sure they will be adequate."
"I hope so, my lord, but if anything fails to meet with your approval, I will be happy to make alternate arrangements."
Kanpeki finally smiled, but it did not bring Machiko any comfort. It was the look of a predator, the look of an animal on the prowl. "You seem a canny woman. I trust your judgement will be sufficient. When I depart tomorrow, if you wish, there will be a place for you in my entourage."
Machiko stared at him, only her instinctive self-control preventing a slack-jawed expression. "I... thank you, my lord." She glanced at the scowling, intimidated courtier at her side and recalled the contemptuous attitude of the Otomo lord who had punished her with this duty. "I will certainly consider it. For now, if you would please follow me?"
- Daigotsu Kanpeki
- Otomo Machiko, Kanpeki's guide
- Unnamed Otomo, Machiko's older colleague
- Imperial guardsmen, accompanying Kanpeki
Not Present, But Mentioned Edit
- Iweko I
- Unnamed Otomo lord and his unnamed son
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