|Specters: Unfinished Business III|
|Written By:||Shawn Carman|
|Story Year:||1155, c.1165|
Annotated Story Edit
Somewhere in Scorpion provinces, Present day, the sun is setting as Shosuro Aroru sits at a shrine to Lady Sun. The shrine has fallen into disuse since the ascension of Yakamo as Lord Sun, but Aroru had loved this place a a child and often begged his mother to take him here. Since her death he did not come as often, and the colors of the setting sun remind him too much of the blood of the men he has killed. Aroru is a murderer and no justification can change that, but he does not care anymore. A recent assassination has brought back painful memories, of Aroru when he had been a different a long time ago.
In 1155 Aroru is returning to his home, a comfortable but not too large estate. His few servants bow as he returns, and he enters the main chamber and places his daisho on their rack with great care. A shoji screen nearby slides open and Aroru's wife, Shosuro Teiriko, is bringing him some tea. Aroru tells her they have servants to do that for them, but she says she does not mind and was unaware she had married a pampered courtier. Aroru concedes and thanks her for the tea. She tells him she is glad he is home and asks him how long before he must leave again. Aroru does not know as they will send for him when he is needed, and Teiriko hopes it is not too soon as she missed him. He tells her he missed her to, and then notices that she has had visitors recently. She is surprised he noticed, and says her family visited. Aroru asks her why she would have the servants clear up so he did not know she had visitors. Teiriko says it was her cousin Iseko, and she did not wish for Aroru to think she was living in the past. Aroru understands and tells her that her famliy is welcome here, but he will often have to be away on duty. She understands and asks him if he wants more tea or perhaps sake. Maybe later he replies as he pulls her closer.
Three Days later, Aroru and Teiriko are eating a meal together. They had dismissed the servants for the evening and Teiriko cooked, as Aroru suspected she had done for her less than wealthy family before they were married. Suddenly Aroru senses they are not alone, and Teiriko notices he is distracted. He motions for her to continue as he pulls a knife from his obi and moves to the front door listening. In one swift movement he pulls open the door only to find Shosuro Toson, who greets Aroru. Aroru greets Toson, who then suggests they must talk in private and Aroru should send his wife away. Aroru tells him he cannot speak to her that way, but Toson apologizes and says it is necessary. Aroru tells Toson he cannot disrepsect his home even if he is the favored student of Yudoka. Toson apologizes again, but presses the issue of secrecy. Teiriko understands and leaves quitely. Aroru asks where he is needed, but Toson cannot talk here and turns to leave expecting Aroru to follow. Two minutes they walk in silence until Toson asks if Aroru was a Yogo before they married. Aroru confirms it and that they have been married for six months. Toson asks Aroru if he is concerned about the Yogo Curse, but Aroru claims she does not bear any blood relation to the original Yogo. Toson is not convinced but asks instead how long ago Aroru returned. Aroru says he returned three days ago having been gone a month. Toson asks if Aroru has heard about Akodo Kaneka, but he has not. Toson explains that six days ago Kaneka was presented in court in Ryoko Owari Toshi by the Lion Clan to be the son of Toturi and the geisha Hatsuko. Aroru is shocked and as Toson reveals that Kaneka is the oldest of Toturi children he asks what the succession will be. Toson reveals that Toturi has not responded to the claim, but because Kaneka is too young to be the son of Toturi he must be an impostor and killed. Toson orders Aroru to travel to Ryoko Owari and kill Kaneka, but Aroru reveals it has been years since he killed someone. Toson knows about why Aroru was taken off assassination duties by Yudoka, but he is ideally suited for this mission. Toson says they cannot force him and are only asking, but Aroru accepts the mission. Aroru asks why an agent in Ryoko Owari cannot be used, and Toson reveals that the first attempt failed and now all agents in Ryoko Owari are watched carefully. Toson hands Aroru a package containing a green Mantis kimono. Toson also hands him a vial of venom, found only in the Islands of Spice and Silk. Aroru asks when he must do this by and Toson says he must leave in the morning. There are travel papers in the kimono. Toson tells Aroru to give his regards to his wife before leaving. Aroru waits for a moment before leaving himself.
Sometime later, Aroru is in Ryoko Owari. It is only the third time he has been here, and he is currently travelling to the Lion estates disquised as an eta. He is not happy about acting as an eta, but has long since resigned himself to the fact that in his line of work he has to set aside his honor sometimes. The Lion estate is very heavily guarded, and Aroru is lucky he arrived as soon as he did as he learned Kaneka would leave for Otosan Uchi the next morning. Getting in will be easy, but leaving the city alive is the hard part. Joining another group of eta he gains entrance to the estate and easily slips away from the group. Aroru suspects he has less than a quarter of an hour before the Lion will notice he is missing, so Aroru makes his way quickly to Kaneka's quarters. There is a guard at the door, so Aroru finds a nearby window to climb out and around into Kaneka's room. There is very little in the room, and Aroru decides that too many poison needles will increase the chances of them being found. He slips one needle into the right hand glove of Kaneka's black armor. Aroru casts one look around the room to make sure he leaves no trace before leaving.
Sometime later, Aroru is arriving home in the evening. He is happy to be home, but a voice surpises him. It is Toson, who asks what happened. Aroru can sense Toson is on edge, but explains that the trap has been set and Kaneka should be dead. Toson reveals that Kaneka is not dead, but Aroru does not know how Kaneka can have avoided the needle. Toson hisses saying Aroru should have made sure or died in the attempt. Aroru know he has failed but asks if Kaneka reacted to the trap at all. Toson says there was no poison, and should have known better than to recommend Aroru for the mission. Toson implies that Teiriko was involved, and Aroru knows it is true but does not want to believe it. Toson says Yudoka suspects she had an ulterior motive for saving Kaneka, but Aroru requests seppuku as punishment. Toson says the Scorpion have invested too much in Aroru to waste him so easily. Aroru asks what he must do to redeem himself and Toson replies that he must kill the one who betrayed them.
Present day, at the shrine, Aroru thinks about the many unanswered questions. Who the visitors he had missed were and why she would save Kaneka when there was no reason to. Aroru understood that Kaneka would weaken the power of the Emperor and there could be only one reason for that. He senses the presence of someone and turns to see Shosuro Daimyo Shosuro Yudoka. Yudoka says they have business in the City of Remembrance. Aroru says he is ready and Yudoka asked him if he was praying for forgiveness. Aroru replies that he was praying for clarity, as there is no forgiveness.
Not Present, But Mentioned Edit
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