Barasume Miwa
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Re: Barasume Miwa

Post by Winterhawk99 »

“When one has made a decision to kill a person, even if it will be very difficult to succeed by advancing straight ahead, it will not do to think about going at it in a long roundabout way. One’s heart may slacken, he may miss his chance, and by and large, there will be no success. The Way of the Samurai is one of immediacy, and it is best to dash in headlong.”

Yamamoto Tsunetomo

Miwa comes out of the house one morning to find a large circle cordoned off with a rope fence. There is a smallish thin man in the center of the corral. She wears court clothing and seems confused by this. Regardless she walks up to her father in her bare feet and bows. She is now 11 years old.

“Miwa.” He smiles. “It is time for you to learn Tanto-Jujitsu. This is an artform not taught to samurai men. Only the women. It is because many consider Onna-bugeisha weaker than Samurai and an easy target when not in armor. If you gain any amount of fame rival clans will send ninja and other nefarious outlaws to make sure you do not enter a battlefield. Therefore, all Onna-bugeisha are taught the art of knife fighting. It’s not only for close quarter fighting but also to uphold your honor as a woman. In most cases you will use this art in a kimono or court attire. Since court attire offers the most protection in its silken layers that you may use to cause misses from your opponent you will train in these.”

“What is an Eta even doing on our lands, Father? His kind is a stigma for they only take and never give for the greater community.”

“A wise observation my daughter. I now see that you are taking to my training. Realistically Eta have some skills that other classes cannot match. The art of Tanto-Jujitsu is a staple in the slums of the cities. There are many eta masters among the poor and untouchables. Jun, the man you see before you is just such a master of knife fighting. I have promised him gold, glory, and a raise of station if he teaches you his art.”

“I will do as you say, Father.”

“Good! Another thing, after your training I give you leave to go with Jun to the guest quarters. Bring some Sake and learn about how eta live. I want you to know about their aspirations, their dreams, and their life. I want you to know everything you can about them. So that you have a clear mind about the whole of society. You are only 11 so certain things should not happen but if he makes advances kill him. I will not have a soiled protégé. Do you understand?

“Yes, Father.”

For three months Miwa and Jun train together over the ever-watchful father to make sure that all contractual obligations are fulfilled. Miwa when meeting with Jun learns about the eta way of life. In turn Jun learns about the life of samurai daughters: their obligations, duties, and responsibilities along with their privileges. Miwa sometimes gets seriously cut up during training. Her father insists that instead of healing properly she should be stitched up and sent back into the ring. He states that in war one must know her defeats and bear the marks of them.

In three and ½ months Miwa has gone through a dozen or more sets of court clothing. Her previous clothes have been slashed and stabbed to rags. She shows up this morning in brand new silks. Her father is farther away from the fighting ring. As she bows to him, he speaks. “Jun has told me he has taught you all that he may, and you have taken to the training well. Thus, today is the day you will graduate if you can score a hit upon him. Are you ready, Miwa?”

Miwa looks dead in his eyes, “Yes father.”

“Good! For this test I will give you my own Tanto to fight with. You must score a hit upon him within 5 bouts to move on in your training.” He unsheathes his own Tanto and carefully offers it to her. “Do not let your hand slip from your grip, Miwa.”

Miwa takes the blade and examines it. There seems to be a very thin film of resin upon the blade’s surface if looked at closely. She looks up at her father in dismay.”

“Yes, my daughter the blade is poisoned. The Eta has outlived his usefulness. It is time for you to decide if you will be truly Onna-bugeisha or if you will be relegated to history as just another failure.”

Miwa’s eyes go soft which upsets her father, “you told me he would have glory, gold and a raise of station, father? Now you want me to kill him. What is this all about? He is my friend.”

“Do not question me, Miwa. I have given you an order. Do you wish to seppuku instead? If you cannot meet the task your father has given you I would rather you do that than dishonor my word. I have given my word that he will have these things and he will. Do as you are commanded and let my wisdom show you the way.”

Miwa looks at the ring. Jun waits patiently for her to come down. She then looks at the pole. Her father has her sisters once again gathered to watch the spectacle. She does an about face and slowly walks down into the ring. Jun is smiling. “You ready, Lady Miwa.”

She again looks down at the dagger and back up to him. He bows. She recognizes him. They get into stance and start to pace each other around the ring. Jun attacks. Miwa makes a defensive move blocking his blade and tripping him. He gets up smiling and comes at her again. Again, Miwa makes a defensive move and spins from his reach. They pace and fight for 2 minutes before Jun scores a hit across the outside of her arm.

They square off again. This time Miwa attacks but the attack is just slightly short. He counters she wraps wraps the folds of her dress around his arm and strips him of the knife. She stops to let him pick up his tanto. Jun comments. Was the perfect time to attack with my weapon stolen. “You need to remember knife fighting is all or nothing, Miwa.” She nods and goes into stance.

They pace one another again. Jun attacks. Miwa deftly moves out of the way and attacks her blade coming to within an inch of his nose but misses still the same. Jun slashes at her legs connecting through her folds tracing a line of blood that starts to drip down her shin.

The two fight and dance in the ring each time Miwa just missing the eta while the eta eventually scores all the marks. She looks to her father. He is infuriated. He comes down. They both bow to him. He grudgingly recognizes both. “A wonderful show of professionalism Jun. You are dismissed for the day. I wish to speak to my daughter. I have another guest this night could you stay in town. We will continue in a week. It looks like my daughter has had too much training too fast. She should have time to absorb the lesson.”

Jun gathers his things and walks down the road and out the gate from the family’s small ranch. Miwa stands at attention in front of him silently. Once Jun is over the hill her father grabs her by the hair and physically drags her to the pole. He throws her headfirst into it. She falls to the ground but immediately gets up and undresses, putting her arms up. This time her father whips her until she’s comatose. When she faints from the pain he looks to Izumi, “Water.”

Izumi gets a bucket and pours it over Miwa’s head. She wakes up and groans. Izumi backs up as her father comes to the pole. He grabs Miwa’s hair and cranks her neck back. She looks at him weakly. “Next time I tell you to kill someone You kill them! Understand.” She tries to nod but he’s still got her neck cranked back. He can still feel her muscles strain in compliance. “Good! Sango get the healer. She’ll need more than stitches this time. Izumi wash the blood off your sister before he gets here. Keep her wear she is until the healer is done. If she can’t move, she’ll heal better and faster until the leech has done his work.

Izumi enjoys Miwa’s trembles of pain as she washes her sister’s back. The healer is coming up the hill with a grim visage as she finishes. The healer gives the lashed girl a potion and applies a salve to her ripped up back. He whispers right upon her ear softly, so her sisters can’t hear., “Next time fake it. Strong as you are he’ll most likely kill you if he does this again.” She weakly nods to him. When he leaves Izumi picks up her clothing and gives some of them to Haruki, keeping some of the silks for herself. Haruki grins, “Souvenirs?” Izumi nods in agreement. “Souvenirs.” They conveniently leave Miwa tied to the pole.

Her father cuts her down at dusk. “Go straight to bed and think about what you have done. Loyalty Miwa. You must learn unquestioning loyalty.” Miwa must walk back home and past the few servants in shame.

The next morning Miwa wakes up, dresses, then sits at the edge of the bed in a half-lotus. The door panel slides open. Sango walks in and closes it back up. She runs to her sister and hugs her. Miwa accepts the hug but stares at the wall. Sango puts her head on her shoulder next to her ear. “Promise me, Miwa, you have to promise me you’ll never be like daddy.”

Tears stream down Miwa’s eyes as she nods. Sango breaks the hug and looks at her. She frantically tries to wipe the tears away from Miwa’s face. “Oh no. Oh no. Don’t cry. You’re not allowed to cry. I’ll cry for you Miwa. I’m allowed too. Miwa grabs her again and puts her in a tight hug saying nothing, just staring at the wall.

A week later Miwa finds herself again in the ring facing off against Jun. They bow to each other as usual. Miwa comes at him with the uncanny ferociousness of a mad weasel. Before he knows it, he has cuts in three places and can barely keep up with her. they square off again. Again, Miwa goes on the attack using not only moves he taught her but new moves she has made up herself. She strikes out for his neck. He manages to deflect it to his shoulder in a glancing strike a small streak of blood appears. Just a flesh wound but he knows he’s in trouble because she went for a death blow.

For the next three bouts he swears she’s trying to kill him. She comes in so fast high, low, right then sweeping left. She goes for his liver, corraded artery, appendix even for that sweet spot just underneath the third rib. He gets cut every time just managing to deflect a killing blow.

After all, five bouts. All to which she has won her father comes into the ring clapping. “The best display of Tanto-Jujitsu I have ever seen. A true master and mistress of the art. You both have done……” Jun’s eyes roll to the back of his head, and he falls to the ground. Sadao quickly motions to his men. The two come over and pick the body up. He and Miwa follow the men around the barn. There is a funeral pyre already set up. The men place the body reverently upon it.

Furious, Miwa turns to her father, “You lied to him, father! You promised him and you have broken your promise!”

“I did no such thing, daughter. I promised him glory. Thus, his name will be written in my books as a samurai of great skill and is he not being burned as proper for a samurai’s funeral? I promised him a change of station and thus I am sending him to the celestial host. There his soul will want for nothing, and his station has changed among them. Oh, I did forget something.” He steps up to the body and places a single gold coin in the man’s mouth. As he does, she swears she sees Jun blink. “And now my protégé Jun has his gold. Just as I promised.”

“Jun’s alive father! I know it! I saw him blink!”

Her father nods, “Just enough pufferfish poison on the blade to stay his limbs and voice but not his ears. Don’t worry, there should have been enough for him not to feel pain. At least that is what the apothecary told me. This is your greatest lesson so far. If you do not want to die like Jun then fight like its your last battle, your last day, your last breath, always.”

Deep down Miwa finds the resolve she needs to meet her father’s eyes. She stands at attention and bows keeping her feelings deep down within herself. Her father smiles. A man hands him a torch. He offers it to her. “It is you who should have the honors my warrior.”

Miwa holds back the tears as she lights the fire. Her father makes her stand with him until the body is consumed. As they walk back her sisters are decorating the home for a grand party all except Sango who excuses herself. It seems she has taken sick.

Miwa wakes up in a cold sweat and in tears. Her horse Sakura nuzzles her head. Miwa strokes her between the eyes and up to the mane. "It's ok. Just a nightmare. One all too real." She looks to the greying east, sighs and begins her routine.
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Re: Barasume Miwa

Post by Winterhawk99 »

Miwa awakens to much prancing about of feet, shouting and laughing. She occupies her own bedroom now. The other three are in a separate room. She hears them questioning her father. Sango can be heard laughing and saying, “Is this ok to wear Daddy?” She sits up on the bed wondering just what is going on.

Presently her father slides the door open and steps within the room. Miwa jumps to attention and bows. He recognizes her. “What is going on, Father?”

“My brother, your uncle has been called to Shogun Miyoshi Hojin’s court. We will be attending. I want you to bring all your armor. Dress in your light riding leathers. Bring all your weapons and your finest kimono. The crimson and gold one I think would be best.”

Miwa bows as her father does an about face out the door and closes hit respectfully. Miwa hastily packs. Puts on her leather armor but does not put her weapon harness on, being that she is not yet a warrior. Sango comes in already in makeup. “Do you need a mirror, Miwa?”

Miwa touches her face absently and shakes her head. The training of her father shows its marks upon her already. Her sisters are beauties like their mother. The few scars already on her face mar her appearance. There is no doubt what she is being trained for and she feels self-conscience about her appearance. “No but you can put my makeup on if you like, Sango. You’re much better at it.”

Miwa sits down in a chair while Sango sits in front of her. She starts by closing Miwa’s pours with a thin wax then applies makeup all over her face and neck made from rice flour. Now that Miwa has a pale while face Sango takes a paintbrush and paints each of her teeth black with a paint that will not be ruined by Miwa’s saliva. Sango then works on her eyes and eyebrows. She shaves Miwa’s eyebrows and carefully applies a dark crimson/brown paint to simulate newer thinner brows making Miwa’s eyes look longer and narrower. She stops for a moment. Gets up and walks out the door.

When she comes back in she says to Miwa, “Daddy wants red.” She takes makeup created from a base of red beans and applies it to Miwa’s eyes and lips, again she does it in a way to make Miwa’s eyes look narrower and longer.

Her father walks in. “Are you finished with her face, Sango?”

“I just need to pink up her cheeks, so she looks fuller, Daddy.”

“I’ll do her hair, Sango.”

As Sango finishes her face to make her cheeks look fuller with pink makeup and her nose look thinner. Her father meanwhile makes up her warrior’s bun. Instead of wrapping her hair around wooden hair sticks He takes out a pair of steel ones. “There may be a time if it ever happens you may be invited to the imperial court. When there you may only take your kaiken once you become a true Onna-bugeisha. It that time ever comes use steel hairpins. They are as deadly a weapon as your kaiken in the right hands. Your training already should have you wielding them with proficiency in but a few moments. Do you understand daughter?”

“Yes, Father.”


An hour before dawn they ride. She has all her weapons and armor packed. The warhorse she is on slightly neighs in protest of the weight. She rides beside her father and his warhorse. Izumi and Haruki are next upon sleek racers not meant for battle but have far greater speed. Sango takes up the rear on another racer.

They meet Shinto Osamu at a crossroads. He has with him ten samurai retainers and a wagon. Miwa and her father stop in front of the procession and all of their party bow. Osamu recognizes them. “Ah brother you are bringing your brood with you this time.”

“Hai, Osamu how are you?”

“Ah taxes. Every year I must go to Hojin’s court to pay our tribute. Why the whole of the family then?

“Izumi is ready for marriage. Shes 17 now and ripe for being a samurai’s wife, and then there is Miwa.”

Miwa is surprised by the comment but never shows it. Her father is pleased. “Ah, yes.” The Daimyo nods then turns to her, “Miwa never lower your eyes to me when paying respect or greeting. You are to be Onna-bugeisha the highest position a woman may attain without being in the imperial court. Eyes always on me as you bow.”

“Yes, Daimyo Shinto.” She bows again this time keeping her eyes locked upon him.”

The lord smiles, “Better. And remember I am not only your lord but your uncle too.” At that Miwa smiles. He comments with a smile himself, “There we go. That’s the beautiful smile I had forgotten. Let us make way then. We can catch up. Along the way.”

Lord Shinto’s retainers move aside as Her father takes position to the right of Osamu and Miwa to the left. The girls are now directly behind and to the center. The 10 samurai ride the outside stretch surrounding the women.

When they arrive at court, they are immediately beset upon but men in fancy Hakama pants and yellow high collar squared sleeved jackets called Haori. The leader bows and looks to Osamu and her father while appraising Izumi and Haruki. Her father turns to Miwa. “This is my daughter, Miwa, counselor.”

The man looks with surprise. “How old is she, my lords.”

Both men respond, “12.”

“We have not had a woman this young in generations. Are you sure?”

The two men nod, and the counselor walks over to Miwa’s horse. “I am counselor Myramata Kenshin. You will follow me.”

Miwa looks at lord Shinto and her father. They nod to her. She puts her warhorse into a slow trot following the counselor. He takes her deep inside right next to the small palace of the shogun to the private stables. She dismounts. Several women come out to greet them. Miwa doesn’t even have time to bow. The group takes all her things and rushes her into the palace. She finds herself in a private bedroom that is simple yet quaintly luxurious. There is a weapons rack there where the women place all her weapons in their proper places and several armor stands. They take her court clothing out to get rewashed and looked over in case enhancement is needed. When they are done the women leave and only the counselor Kenshin remains. She nervously goes to inspect both her heavy cavalry armor called Ō-yoroi and then her medium foot armor called Do-Maru.

The counselor speaks. You will go through a battery of testing tomorrow Shinto Miwa. We will determine if you are ready to take up the mantle. I will be your advocate. To get a good view of what I am working with and to make sure you have no Yakuza or Ninga affiliations several women will be here momentarily. I need you to undress behind the screen so they may check your body for tattoos and/or brands.

Miwa clasps the shirt of her riding leathers protectively. The counselor watches her reaction. “That is why the women will check you. It is a part of the testing you are about to go through. Seeing that she is slightly confused he simply states. We will talk more tomorrow morning.

“Where are my father and sisters, please minister?”

“They have other business with the court. Ah here they come.”

Several women rush it while he leaves. She is told to go behind the bath screen and disrobe. When she comes out the three ladies carefully inspect the front of her body and her hair. She is told to turn around. When she does, she hears all the women gasp. The one that seems to be the leader rushes out the door. When the leader of the women comes back in, she tells Miwa to stay turned around. A pair of footsteps walk in heavier.

She hears Kenshin’s voice. “Who did this to you, Miwa?”

“It is how my father trained me.”

“I want you to dress in a training gi. There are several behind the screen for you.” Miwa goes back behind the screen and finds one that fits. She comes back out. She faces the counselor.

“Miwa, I want you to do a full crane taikiken kata.” She nods and bows to him. Then she performs a kata in the Japanese style of tai-chi. A kata that is meant to exercise the back and leg areas. She performs it flawlessly. It is Kenshin’s turn to be surprised.

When she is done, she bows to him. He recognizes her with his own bow. “You will be up early in the morning. Rest while you can. Your testing starts tomorrow. You may have three failings more than that and you will have failed your Shogun.” He does an about face and leaves before she may answer back.

Miwa wakes up with a start. She looks up at the early morning sun then to the waterfall where she often showers daily. Today she takes the folds of her kimono and closes the outer garment close to her neck protectively. She sighs and takes out her notebook.

I went to dinner with the leader of the city of Steinkeis. I was surprised to see that the whole of the council was there with him. Lord Bargus met me with the proper etiquette of the west but was somewhat dismissive at first. The lord at the end of the table one Reyes Endaris openly mocked my makeup. It was a rough start but I have already started to see at least two personalities and who the main players in Lord Bargus’s court.

I offered a gift to the lord of a bottle of sake from my homeland. Endaris took the opportunity to devalue it being that it is alcohol by saying, “They will always find a way it seems.” However, Lord Adair and Lady Gwydion seemed to enjoy the exotic wine. Afterward I had many questions for them.

I started with the law and the law books I had been reading. I offered the idea that I saw that many different groups provide policing for the city and asked them how they organized such a monumental amount of different groups within such a complex system. I asked very nicely and got a general answer.

Endaris of course was the first to speak: bringing up the flames and how they patrol for “matters of faith”. Adair was the one who mentioned the magistrates. They must fall under his realm. He seemed quite proud of them.

Bargus at first mentioned it is a complicated question but in the end of the conversation he mentioned that it was quite simple. Meaning that in fact all these groups are not aligned with each other and often bicker over jurisdiction of various incidents. This I have seen with my own eyes and knew must get the council speaking on this. Lady Montaine was the one who mentioned the Kries knights and how they handle most problems. So, I would say the Kries knights must answer to her.

The way they answered the questions I posed on this issue and the way they looked at each other had many meanings I tried to interpret as best I could. There is some confusion among them. I hope that my words have gotten them thinking about the current situation. I also now know a bit about who has rectitude and jurisdiction if several groups in the city meet again each trying to take over an incident or investigation.

We drank sake. I only sipped a bit. And the conversation turned to the lumbering contracts of Lord Grauer. It seems his lumbering activities have attracted the ire of something they call the forest folk. They are fighting the logging efforts of kries. That is why he was currently away from the council to deal with the situation. I now have another opportunity perhaps to meet this lord Grauer. I plan to offer my services as a mediator between him and these so-called forest folk. I am a knight of the east and impartial to the needs of either party. I ran two farming villages and several thousand acres with my husband for our lord Daimyo. I should be able to do this.

Much like crops of rice, wheat and oats, wood is a renewable product. I am sure if both parties meet with an unbiased mediator that a peaceful solution may be made. I will write a letter to Lord Grauer offering these services.

One thing I did not like about this part of the conversation. Gwydion mentioned that the forest folk were killing keis men.

Bargus answered her by saying, “Quite the nuisance, yes.” This shows a lack of caring for the common people, even the soldiers that protect the logging operation. Does keis have an everlasting source of soldiers and men to log the forest? If one is to have the privilege of leading others, they should at least have some sentiment to the well-being of their people. This is their job above all else. To lose people and be complacent about it is to be a bad leader overall.

Lord Ruxfeld also jumped into the conversation in that he was wanting me to “martially” take care of the problem. I answered him very kindly saying that. I see it is a problem but with the council’s wisdom they will find a peaceful solution. And also said that I myself have a lord to which I must obey like any other knight. To gain my service my lord or what we call Daimyo would have to approve of such a thing.

We moved on after that to the plight of the poor in lowtown. I tried to be very diplomatic in my questions, but Lord Ruxfeld seemed somewhat offended by my opening. I think I quickly recovered however easing his spirit. Lord Bargus took it up by saying the poor are such because of the poor choices they made in life.

In the end Bargus stated, “The regent’s purse is not endless- We have had many wars of late, but Kreis stands strong. Perhaps in the coming days we may do more to ease hunger, but for now, we do well to ensure strong walls and sharp swords.”

I smiled and said, “I am a knight and understand this, Thank you.”

The direction turned to Hammersong and its forges. Ruxfeld and Gwydion got into a grand debate between opportunity and profit. Gwydion on the side of opportunity, Ruxfeld on profit. I played dumb and let them talk, feeding me with information on the problems of Hammersong.

Once I had enough information on the personalities of the two, I turned to the subject of religion. I asked (on purpose and with intent) if the church of Andaras was the official religion of the state and if all worship him?

I caught my fish.

Endaris said, “Most Do. And those who do not I think soon shall.”

The looks some gave Endaris could fill volumes. Bargus especially. He then stated that the city has no official religion, though the worship of Andarus is quite popular.

I then told them some on the worship of the 8 million in Kozakura. They seemed interested in this more than anything else I had said or asked. Bargus mentioned that it both easier and more complicated at the same time. And then mentioned to me that I thought their society was so complicated.

It was a compliment, and I took it as such. In the end I have an idea of some of the council members but not all.

Lord Bargus is aloof but not like a samurai who cares for his people. He is aloof in a way that he does not care for his people and cares not for their general welfare so long as he remains regent fat and happy.

Endaris only cares about the power he may acquire through the church and its influence. The fact that he wishes all in the city to worship his god and seems to have a plan to make that happen makes me take a step back and consider his true nature.
Lord Adair is a likeable fellow and someone who may be approachable in the future.

Lady Gwydion looks for opportunity. Whether she looks for that opportunity and risk for the betterment of the people remains to be seen. She may be approachable in the future also.

Lord Ruxfeld only cares about the profit he may make by various schemes. He would only be approachable if there is coin to be made in the future. That man is simple in his goals most likely manipulative and scheming in his ways.

Lady Montaine. She is a marshal type and would rather beat down something in her way with a sword rather than work it out peacefully. In marshal matters someone to go to. In peaceful matters it’s best to approach another. She is also clear thinking and direct.

Hopefully I will be able to use these notes later in my quest to subtly make the lives of Keis better. I do not plan to do this with my sword arm or shield. I plan to just ask questions, listen and only when invited to offer solutions such as the logging operation. If I may cause change to the disastrous direction, I see the city heading even if very small I will consider each a victory.

I am also aware of forces that may stand against me if they know what I will be trying to do. Lenio’s gang of yakuza being one of them. I am also testing one of the lowtown people. There is a woman in Lowtown that seems to be a champion for the people there. Her name is Bunny. That is what she calls herself.

She told me she is looking for where the leader of Lenoi’s yakuzas are. I have given her 75,000 in gold. I specifically told her to buy food, clothing, blankets and other things for the poor and needy there. I will go to lowtown and see if there is small change there. If the people seem just a bit happier and if there is food and other things a bit more plentiful. If there is not, I will know this Bunny is a fraud and is not to be trusted.
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Re: Barasume Miwa

Post by Winterhawk99 »

Today Miwa does a full work out routine. Despite the cold winter air, she sweats in the forest as she goes through several weapons forms with katana, two katana Florentine, Katana and wakizashi, katana and shield ever increasing her speed and effort. At last, she comes down to knife fighting with her kaiken. Here she mixes moves. Instead of the normal tanto-jujitsu moves that most Onna-bugeisha use she blends unarmed combat katas incorporating her knife fighting abilities within those exercises.

When she is done and has lost any fat reserves, she may have had for the last several days she wearily sits down, lights a lantern and opens her journal.

The day after the dinner with the council I decided to see if one of the Meeresbrise were at their showing of rare plants. I have gone there several times. Once with Seiji and another time alone. None of the family were there. I drank some wine and looked at the displays and left. This time Lady Meeresbrise herself was there.

The butler noticed me and walked over asking me if I would join the lady. I introduced myself. She seemed slightly offput from all the scars on my face, but I think that was a show of a feint in that she appeared for all intense of purpose like every other socialite of this city’s upper class. She at first guided me over to the smaller flowers. Where we talked about them. I asked her about their commercial viability and medicinal purposes, where she found them and other things. She told me that they serve little purpose but to make a pleasant tea. I asked her if she planned to cultivate and market the flower.

She told me that her interest in plants was but a hobby. We talked for quite a while until the maid brought tea. The maid seemed to fidget quite a bit around the glasses she was pouring which made me slightly suspicious. When she poured glasses for us, I insisted that she drink with us. She was very surprised and thanked me.

She did drink from the pot with us which alleviated my suspicions. The tea was mild and pleasant similar to our green tea in Kozakura in potency but with a very different flavor. The lady then guided me to the other rare plant that she had found on an island where there is a tribe of wild gnomes. She traded her scarf for several plants. The gnomes seemed to be enthralled with the cloth. This plant with larger flowers, she told me, has a host of medicinal and commercial properties. Almost every part of it can be used from strong rope with its fibers and roots to its flowers that have healing properties. The only problem is they cannot seem to get the plant to grow in Keis. The island that these gnomes live on is savagely hot and humid. I smiled because some of Kozakura is just that way.

While we were talking, I learned much about her. I found out that their family is of the smaller nobility and that they are seafarers. Lady Meeresbrise herself is a seasoned sailor. This made me wonder about the whole socialite thing. Sailors are known to be rough and candid people. This socialite façade did not suit what she explained. She loudly and openly praised the god Andarus many times while we talked.

I also asked her if she had been to my homeland, being that she goes out on a voyage for several months at a time. She knew where it was but said she had never been there. Then I made my play. I asked her, “You must be confident of the protection of the flames to have such an exhibition of rare plants in your courtyard for so long,”

She smiled and said that the knights of Kreis do diligent duty for the reagent. It did not take me by surprise, rather it seemed to reaffirm my instinct about her. We talked about her sailing and other things. Small talk really. But we each seemed to take measure of one another.

Just before nightfall She told me that she needed sleep and asked me if I would like to have tea with her another time. She must have either enjoyed our conversation or has some business she would like to go over with me. I see it as an opportunity. I think I may turn her and her families into allies if I am cautious, taking everything very slowly, perhaps even set up an exclusive contract with my clan in Kozakura. It would bring much honor and prestige to both the clan and myself. We will see. I am enthusiastic about continuing relations with her.

Miwa sets her journal down and goes to sleep.

Miwa is roughly awakened by a woman in court attire. “Get up! Get up girl. We must make you ready.” She’s rousted out of bed by five women and taken down the hall to a bath chamber. They thoroughly bathe every part of her body. She tries to do it herself and is roughly admonished. When that is done, they cloth and do up her hair, face and even her hands with rice powder and makeup. Bangles and other jewelry are affixed to her. They try to put shoes on her, and she gets into a fight with them. They leave upset a few with black eyes. Kenshin walks in after a few moments. “There is trouble?”

“I’m not allowed to wear shoes unless in armor. Only if my father allows it on very special occasions like maybe my wedding.”

Kenshin strokes his beard with his right-hand thinking. “Alright, a vow you have made. The court will accept that. Miwa you will be tested today in ten non-combatant areas to see if you should continue on with your training. As I have said before, throughout the days to come you will be tested. You may fail three times.”

“What if I fail more than three times?”

“You will never serve a Clan, Daimyo, Shogun or even the emperor himself as an Onna-bugeisha. You will never receive a kaiken.”

Kenshin expected to see anger in her eyes after telling her that. Instead, he sees fear for but a moment. She quickly recovers her poise. He thinks he knows why and truly hopes this young lady succeeds if not she may vanish from the her home never to be heard from again. He takes a momentary pause to assess her yet again from the time and conversations with her. “You will have one hour to prove your competence of every task, except for the last. Shall we get started? We will start off easy with things every samurai daughter should know. There are very few that have failed these task. Come along.”

Miwa comes to attention and bows to him. He recognizes her. They leave the room and go deeper into the castle Arriving at the grand ball room which this morning remains empty except for three women which look to be two geisha and one kabuki performer most likely concubines of the shogun.

Miwa bows to the and stands at attention. One of the women stands and recognizes her. Kenshin carefully monitors the whole scene. The woman speaks. “You will perform four dances for us Shinto Miwa. The first two, alone and without partner, will be the standard Kagura (A common ritualistic religious dance) and the Chakkirako (A folk dance to pray for good fishing and business.) If you pass these two Ran our kabuki artisian will be partnered with you to dance The Sado Okesa and the Nihun Buye. Do you have any questions?

Miwa shakes her head. The head woman claps her hands and musicians come in. Miwa goes into position. After the music starts, she begins her routine. Miwa dances to the best of her abilities while all watch her carefully. When she finishes the first two dances, she looks to the women. They show no emotion. The head woman simply states, “You may move on.” At that the Kabuki dancer rises and partners with her. Again she dances with her partner as if it were her husband at a party to the best of her ability. When the two finish the dances, her partner goes back to her chair. The three women scribble down notes and give it to Kenshin.

He looks over the papers a moment then to her. “We may move on now, Lady Miwa.” Taking her hand they walk together to a small office. There is an aged man there. He motions her to a desk while reading from a set of notes. She bows and does what he says. Kenshin goes to the corner of the room and observes. The elder introduces himself. “Lady……Ah here………Shinto Miwa. I am Yoshida Arata, the shogun’s minister of culture. There is paper and quill at your desk. I wish for you to write a personal letter to Shogun Miyoshi thanking him for being such a gracious host for your family these days. Do you understand?”

Miwa bobs her head slightly keeping her eyes to the man, “Yes”

“Go to it then.”

She writes her letter. It is short and too the point with only a few platitudes to the shogun and his family. When she is finished, she looks up to the man. He asks for her letter and carefully looks it over. Kenshin walks up to him. He hands the letter to him. Kenshin also carefully examines it. Miwa takes on a look of dispassion to show no emotion. He gives the letter back to the old man, who places it in an envelope and places a seal upon it. He gives the letter and his notes over to Kenshin. He then carefully looks over the notes then tells her while still examining it, “We may move on.”

Next Kenshin takes her to an office. There are at least ten women here each with a desk and working with ledgers, abacus and other tools of number counting. The woman at the back comes up to Kenshin, “I have not time for these trials now send the girl elsewhere!”

Miwa stays calm and observes the counselor’s reaction, “Might I remind you, Mayumi who is who within this castle. You will do as I say according to your station.”

She gives him an angry look then down at her. Miwa bows respectfully without passion or getting caught up in the woman’s emotions. “Fine sit at that empty desk and we will see how you know your numbers.”

Miwa does what she is told. The woman goes through several books and brings three to her. “This is your daimyos and father’s tax numbers according to them along with the shoguns assessment to their yield over the last year and all peasant council’s reviews. You have one hour to balance the three books.

Kenshin speaks up. “This is highly unusual.”

“This is MY office, Minister! My rules apply.”

Miwa doesn’t waste any time. She buries herself into the work using the abacus to calculate the numbers. It’s a monumental task. After one hour she is ¾ done. The woman is already there and tells her to put her quill down. She then roughly takes the papers and goes back to her desk.

She studies the books a long time over a ½ hour all the while taking notes. Miwa knows she did not complete the task and worries this is her first failure. When the woman is done, she hands several papers to Kenshin. He takes the notes in line buy line. “We may move on, Lady Shinto.”

Now she is led to the shrine of Okuninoshi. The major fertility god of Kozakura. There is a bald monk there. He bows to her. She recognizes him graciously. “Lady Shinto Miwa, today you must perform the ritual of fertility so that your future husband may have many sons and daughters with you. Do you know this ritual?”

“Yes, wise one.”

“All necessary things are provided for you on the stand. You may start when ready.”

She quietly and reverently preforms the ritual while the monk takes notes. When she finishes there is a stand of several different types of flowers. Beside her. she takes the water lilies walks back and offers them to the monk. He smiles and accepts the gift. Kenshin, observing the whole of the event, reads the notes. “We may move on, Lady Shinto.”

The next room Kenshin brings her too is a conference room. There are 8 samurai standing in the back. Kenshin motions her forward but he stays behind observing her interactions with them. She goes to the proper distance and bows. For the next hour she is questioned on the 8 principles of Bushido, each Samurai keying a different one. She answers their questions to the best of her understanding of the code and its deeper meanings. When done each writes notes about her performance. Kenshin walks up and takes them. He reads each of the notes slowly. When done he says, “We may move on, Lady Shinto. Without any passion in his voice.” She bows and they move on to the next place of testing.

They go to a smaller conference room. There is a young man with spectacles at the end standing over a podium. There is a podium opposite him. Kenshin motions her to the other place opposite the young man. She bows to the man and takes her place.

The scholar looks to her and introduces himself. She, in kind, does the same. He looks at his notes. “Shinto Miwa, what religion do you follow?”

Miwa takes stock of the young man before answering. When she is done with her observations she states plainly, “I follow both though I tend to side with the 8 million rather than the path of enlightenment for traditional purposes.”

The young man takes stock of what she said then simply states. “The 8 million is a traditional fantasy so that uneducated may have something that gives them hope.”

Miwa still in poise simply states, “That is a bold face lie on your part there are plenty of historical references to the 8 million and how they influenced the outcome of fate to the world we live in today”

“Fairytales of a bygone age. Prove me wrong, Shinto Miwa.”

The two of them battle on religious perspective for over an hour, long after the time to which was allotted for this test. At the end they come to a sort of a stalemate. Kenshin has to intercede. The scholar makes several notes to which he reads slowly and thoroughly. He takes the notes and looks to her. “We may move on, Lady Shinto.” The pair move to the next test hand in hand.

They wander for quite some time along the halls. Miwa looks at Kenshin and thinks to herself that whatever test they are about to do the judges are not ready, so he is delaying her. When they get to their destination, she sees several of her own clan there.

She bows and takes a seat in front of them. They question her for an hour on clan history, the hero’s and heroines of her past and her ancestors in particular. She answers as best she can. After an hour they give their notes to Kenshin. He reviews them all and simply states, “We may move on, Lady Shinto.”

They come to something of an amphitheater near the very heart of the castle. Kenshin leads her down to the stage seeing her off at the very center of the room. She looks to where the crowd would be to see a full 15 samurai along with 2 daimyos and over 30 peasants. She touches her face subconsciously and bows to the crowd. The first of rank a Damiyo stands up and recognizes her. The questions begin randomly from different ranks and social classes in the crowd. They ask her about her knowledge of Kozakurian law.

The questions go fast and to the point. Miwa has a hard time keeping up in that if the questions go unanswered with a few seconds another is posed to replace it. Some of them are repeated or the questionnaire asks why the last question was not answered straightway. Miwa does her best to both keep up and answer all questions. After a half an hour the questions stop. Kenshin quickly takes the notes of the head of all social classes and again the lead Daimyo stands.

“Shinto Miwa, we have tested you on the law of our homeland and found you capable. Thus we will ask you to judge several cases for one of the major duties of an Onna-bugeisha is to tend to her lands while her husband is away at war for months……..even years at a time. Are you ready?”

“I am”

A poor couple and a peasant comes upon the stage the Daimyo states. “The peasant stole from the family of a tanning operation simply because he felt superior to the Eta and could do whatever he wanted. What is your judgement?”

Miwa has to think a long time about this (several minutes) When she speaks, she speaks with rectitude according to her inner values. “The peasant’s hand should be removed for all under the celestial emperor are equal.”

The Daimyo nods and the actors are removed from the stage.

An Eta and a merchant enter the stage. The Daimyo next explains the case. “An Eta stole bread from the merchant you see before you. A confession was easily achieved. The eta was hungry to the point of starvation and thus stole to survive. What is your Judgement?”

Miwa with only her father’s training and slowly descending into his point of view comes to a crux for her own inner self says what the law deems is wrong but by what she said previously that all under the heavens are equal sets her into inner turmoil. In the end she has to give in to her father’s training. “As I have said all under the heavens are equal therefore he should lose a hand but I add that he should also become a debt slave to the baker for 200 times the loaf of bread that he stole so that after his debt is paid he may be of use to society as a whole under employment of a baker or becoming a baker himself.”

The actors leave and two people replace them, a peasant, and an artisan.

The Daimyo states. “It has been proven that this blacksmith of mediocrity raped this peasant woman. What is your judgement, Shinto Miwa?”

“The blacksmith should be castrated and become the debt slave of the woman’s family for the number of years that she is viable to produce children. If an offspring is born of this rape the blacksmith is further indentured until the time that offspring is of 20 years of age.”

The Daimyo nods to her and the next group comes on the stage. This time it is a Samurai and a general store operator. The Daimyo speaks. “The shopkeeper was raped by this Samurai. It has been proven in court and only awaits judgement. That is up to you, Shinto Miwa.”

“Since all are equal under the heavens the Samurai should be castrated and all bounds of my last judgement pertain. Since this man is a samurai, he should lose all rank and become a ronin without house to afford him dignity and rank. Furthermore should he seek employment of another clan there should be letters sent to deny him of such.”

The Daimyo takes everything into consideration and says, “Are you sure of your judgement, Shinto Miwa?”

“I am.”

“So be it.”

The Actors leave and a single woman come upon the stage. The Daimyo tells her of the case. “This married woman decided to forgo her sacred vow to her husband. She took on another lover and became impregnated by him. What is your finding on judgement?”

Miwa becomes slightly tortured by the available judgements. She centers herself but with only her father’s guidance to rely upon she comes to a hard conclusion. “The woman has broken her sacred vow to only have children by her husband. Therefore, she should be boiled to death. If the child in her womb were to survive it would automatically become an Eta. A life of poor living with no way to move on to greater achievement. Therefore, She and the child within her should be boiled alive. One for the indiscretion for breaching a sacred contract. The other for the mercy of living a life with no hope.”

Again the Daimyo asks, “Are you sure, Shinto Miwa?”

Miwa hesitates a moment then pronounces, “I am.”

The Daimyo utters, “So be it.”

The actor leaves the stage and Kenshin hustles her to the next test.

In the next room there are several men and woman. They ask Miwa about what she saw during her whole experience this day. Details like what other flowers where there when she performed the ritual of fertility. If she noticed a guard along the way was missing either his katana or wakizashi. She stumbled and stammered through most of the interview. She got many marshal questions right, however she missed several non-marshal questions wrong. Kenshin takes the slips from the judges looking every so slightly grim. Miwa knows she had failed this test of observation.

She wakes up suddenly in the dead of night rolls over and loses her dinner. She prays to the gods of the 8 million and to her husband. “Please let me not relive the next morning. I pray to you please do not let me relive the next day.”

Her prays will go unanswered.
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Re: Barasume Miwa

Post by Winterhawk99 »

Getting back to camp Miwa opens her journal.

For many months now I have known about a dragon creature that resides in the island jungles. I had been in the area several times observing the creature in wonder. For it did not care if I were there with him. A very peaceful creature. It was a grand and mighty lizard with wings. There were many times I even walked under its mass as It watched over its territory.

In Kozakura it would have been a god. Any mighty creature that guards a territory in natural wonder and is peaceful to humans is considered to be one of the 8 million. In my homeland it would receive offerings from the public to walk around the area and observe the natural beauty. Elvalith and I even went there together once. I questioned her about it. She told me she didn’t know why this particular dragon was always peaceful to people who came upon it. There are others on the jungle plateau that will attack a person on sight. She was glad that this one never attacked. I knew why. He is a guardian creature, one of the 8 million, and should be revered quietly. To which I did on that occasion and other times.

Which brings me to the day a group wanted to go to the wastes to explore a ruin. I came along being interested in the area. The group included Roland, Estelle, Drasta, Sika, and Tova. We went through the desert exploring ruins, old outposts and other things. We fought large beetles that held various elements within their bellies ready to blast us with them. We even killed one of the great sandworms.

We landed in a ruin where one of them contacted some form of spirit. I shied away and stood guard at the door not wanting to stir any dead ancestor. I was also worried about intrusion into the ruin. When they were finished, we moved on and into the jungle. The part of the jungle very familiar to me.

We were making our way back to civilization when Roland shouted an obscenity. We followed. I was in the rear so did not see everything that happened. When I came upon the group, they were fighting the same guardian I gave reference to too. He fought bravely. I shouted at them to stop! To turn and run. This creature is a peaceful creature. They did not care. It seemed the only thing on their mind was a trophy. I was appalled.

The rules of Bushido prevent me from taking arms against my own companions. I could not protect the dragon. I did everything I could to deter them from their goal. To get them to leave the dragon alone. Nothing in my power to do worked. They slayed or wounded it so badly it just lay on the ground.

I walked up to it and stroked its head. I ask the spirit of the guardian to forgive them. Westerners sometimes are barbaric people and know not what they do. I turned around and immediately left the group.

I later found Estelle and Sika at Elvalith’s. They denied everything I had seen with my own eyes. I ended up having to forgive them because I knew they did not start the fight. I also know the dragon would not have started the fight. It was Roland, I am sure. Even though I did not see the beginning of the ordeal I knew the dragon would not have attacked a human unless the human laid the first blow.

I do not know the vows of knights in the west, but I think truthfulness should be one. Estelle and Sika were not truthful. I cannot trust them. If ever I am a group that includes them, I will have to be suspicious of everything they say now and do. As far as Roland? I just don’t know how to deal with this. He struck what I consider a god. If he were in Kozakura, I would have pressed charges proven my case and slayed him or make him commit suicide for the dishonor of what he did. I am not in Kozakura and have no authority or claim to do justice here. I just don’t know what to do.

Miwa puts her journal away and falls to sleep.

Miwa is again wakened up rather rudely again washed and made up but without make up this time when shes dragged back into the room the women this time dress her in her Ō-yoroi armor. After she is fully armored with helm in hand the women take many of her weapons. Most for fighting on horseback. They tell her to get into her full weapons belt including her daisho (katana and wakizashi), tanto meanwhile two of the women take her spears, Shorter Yumi bow and her great Daikyu. Kenshin makes his entrance then.

“Good morning, Lady Miwa. Today we will test your mounted and mounted fighting abilities. You will be tested withing the grand courtyard. There will be a crowd. We will talk about what you need to do once you are presented to the Shogun.”

Miwa silently bows to him. He recognizes her. He had not given time for proper Honorifics. She wonders at this but makes sure she at least attempts to have proper etiquette. They walk side by side out to the courtyard where Shogun Miyoshi Hojin is holding his court. There are several ministers, dozens of retainers and a whole squad of samurai surrounding him. Her father waits, holding the bridle of her kisouma war horse she calls wasabi. Kenshin is walking to her right, her father and wasabi come in and walk to the left of her as they move out into the field and to the Shogun himself. When they get the proper distance all three bow keeping their eyes upon Hojin.

The shogun takes stock of Miwa and her father. He has a stack of papers in front of him already, it seems he has read. He looks down a moment then back up to them.

Shinto Miwa you are being tested to become an Onna-bugeisha of the Shinto Clan. You may have three failings. You have already accomplished ten of these tests. Let us see if you may continue testing or if you have failed. We will start as you have gone through testing carefully arranged by your counselor to show the best side of you. Arrangement of tests is very important to each individual. But first I must speak to your father. Shinto Sadao step forward.”

Her father steps forward and bows. The Shogun stands and flatly states, “On your knees.” Her father immediately goes to his knees, places the palms of his hands on his thighs and bows again keeping his eyes on shogun Miyoshi.

“The brutal ways you treat your peasants upon the property you keep for your Daimyo is well known and confirmed by many. I have had many complaints of your tenancy over your land. Now that you have a daughter going through trials, I find out that your ways of training are just as brutal and unbending as the way to which you govern. You test my limits. You may be within the law of the lands and with your family, but you are on the edge to being of my patience for your attitude to others.

One of the main tenants of Bushido is kindness. You lack any kindness in your service to your people. If I hear one more complaint. One more Sadao I shall make you Ronin! Do you understand?”

Her father stares at the shogun a moment, “May I speak, Honorable master?”

Speak your peace then. You have that right……At least currently as you remain a samurai tending to your Daimyo’s lands. “Yes, my ways can be seen as brutal. They are affective. My daughter is 12 years old and already tests to become Onna-bugeisha. I sacrificed some of her health for her flexibility and strength. You will find no stronger daughter of a samurai in these lands, nor will you find one with such flexibility in battle. Any weapon she puts her hand on she can deduce its effective use in minutes and become not only proficient with it but a mistress with it. You will find no woman more loyal than Shinto Miwa. I am proud of my daughter.”

Kenshin whispers in her ear in uncustomary low shou slang. “Your father just fucked your chances, Miwa. I hope that you are as good as he says otherwise now………you will fail.”

The shogun narrows his eyes at her father. “Then we will see if she is all that you have made her. You will stand to the front and the side of me throughout the next two days proceeding. If she fails……. YOU SADAO……. will make the ultimate sacrifice. As for your daughter I will give her to minister Kenshin as a concubine.”

Sadao loots at Hojin with calm eyes, “My daughter will not fail.”

“Rise and take your place.”

Her father rises and walks to the left front of the shogun’s seat. Two samurai guard come down positioning themselves to the left and right of him. The shogun sits down.

“Judges come down and state your findings.”

The first to come down is the young man she had a rousing debate over religion with. He takes position and bows.”

After proper honorifics the shogun asks, “What are your findings.”

Shinto Miwa is a find debater. She does, however, lack the ability to see beyond her black and white world as many samurai do. She sometimes lacks tact, however when she does not have knowledge of what she is saying she is truthful stating that she does not have knowledge of this subject or that. Overall, her grade is Good. A bit more training and she may be an excellent debater.

The shogun nods to him. The lead dancer comes down. The shogun nods to her. “Shinto Miwa has done well in dance. She knows her dances as all Onna-bugeisha should. Her moves are somewhat supple but her great strength shows in that some of the more limber moves she cannot perform flawlessly. Her grade is good. She will, however, be able to become a professional dancer because of her body’s inability to maneuver complex moves.

Next the angry woman comes down in front of the shogun. He listens. Miwa feels pending doom in what is she about to say. “Shinto Miwa is an excellent accountant. I gave her an impossible task, to which, she almost completed. Every number she went over and calculated was correct and balanced. Her grade is excellent. If Shinto Miwa fails in her trials, she will always have a place in the shogun’s office of coin. Her grade is excellent.

She not only bows to the shogun as she leaves. She bows to Miwa. Miwa quickly recognizes her. The next to come down is the old professor. He hands the Shogun the letter she wrote. He opens it and reads it. When he finishes, he looks first at her father with a stern stare then to her with a softer one almost a smile, “There is hope for you yet, Shinto Miwa.” His attention turns to the old man.

“Shinto Miwa’s calligraphy is not exceptional. She needs much training in her letters and how to cleanly apply quill to paper. She is acceptable.” Kenshin whispers to her. Acceptable means you passed by a nose hair. It is a passing score but not necessarily good. It is something you need to work on, Lady Miwa.”

“Miwa gives him the slightest of nods and whispers back, Yes I will do this.”

Next one of the 8 samurai that questioned her on bushido comes down. The Shogun asks, “What have you found brother?”

“Shinto Miwa has great knowledge of the code and understands some of the deeper meanings of each of the 8 principles. There is one, however, that eludes her understanding. It is kindness. Her grade is good and not excellent for lacking any deeper understanding of kindness she lacks a basic principle.”

The Shogun looks down on her father furious, “It is understandable in the way she was trained.”

Her uncle comes down and confronts the shogun next.

“Shinto Miwa knows the stories of Clan Shinto but does not understand many of the lessons to be learned from our legends, stories and ancestors. She needs much more training in how to comprehend all that she learns from years past. Her grade is acceptable.”

Miwa looks at her father. His eyes go dark with anger. She remains poised and turns her attention back to the shogun.

After a short time, the bald monk comes down and presents himself. The shogun at this point stands after recognizing the monk, walks down to him and presents him with water lilies. Miwa smiles. When the shogun is back in his seat the monk makes his judgement.

“Shinto Miwa flawlessly performed the ceremony of fertility with our shine. She is reverent to the god and has a deep inner connection to her faith. She chose the right flowers to gift me after the ceremony was completed. Her grade is Flawless for ritual and religion.”

The shogun looks at her with some measure of respect before sending the monk off.

No one comes to the stage next. The shogun speaks on word. “Etiquette?”

Kenshin leaves her side and stands in front of the Shogun. Hojin asks. “You are in no way tainted now by the previous proceedings of this court?”

“I am not honorable shogun.”

“State your findings.”

“Shinto Miwa draws deeply from Etiquette and principle. She remains poised in every situation; she shows little emotion in public as proper for a knight holding her emotions back. She plays the game well however she does offer respect sometimes to those beneath her station when she questions their position. Her grade is excellent but not flawless.”

The shogun nods and Kenshin walks back to her side.

A gentleman is with the group that asked her questions on what she has seen throughout the first part of her trials comes in front of the shogun. He gives the man a nod.

“Shinto Miwa lacks the basic skills of information gathering. She answered but half the questions correctly on military observations around the castle and only a ¼ of general observations as she has traveled from test to test. She has failed this test. And will need at least a year of pointed training to make up for this ineffectual display of ineptitude.

The shogun looks grim. Kenshin comments to her in whispers. “Consider, Lady Miwa, if you fail your trials, you will never come back to your family, nor will you ever be Onna-bugeisha but in my household you will have a better life kept as my third lady. I will properly bind you to me in a few years and you will want for nothing. It will be a far better life than that which you are accustomed so. I would never put my hand against one of my ladies. Consider your options.”

Miwa says nothing but makes a slight nod.

The man leaves and a Daimyo appears in front of the shogun. The shogun just looks at him.

“Shinto Miwa has a grand understanding of the law. She knows how to stand poised and answer the many questions we had regarding imperial and shogunate law in our lands. Her judgements were in the bounds of the law but were excessively cruel like many of her father’s judgments through the years he had overseen his village. Her grade is good not excellent. She has little or no empathy in her application of the law. There is hope, however, in one of her judgements that offered a shred of empathy to the accused. It is written in the notes. There is hope that she may become a good judge if she can reform her ways toward kindness. Furthermore, she does not take class in consideration of her judgements. In that she was flawless.

The shogun nods and all the actors are brought out on the stage. Miwa is surprised. The shogun looks to her. Your judgements are made. According to Kozakurian law the judge is the one to carry sentence. The field is yours Shinto Miwa.

Miwa had thought these were actors. She now realizes these were real cases. A small part of her inner self is appalled and reels back a moment. It is quickly crushed by her consciousness. She locks the feeling down and sets about the task.

A block is set up. And the two men that stole are dragged to it. Samurai tie their right hands to the block. She steps up and removes them with her katana. Their useless limbs are cauterized and bound tight, and they are removed from the field. The eta goes to his new master, the baker.

The blood is washed off the small block and the other two men are brought up. They remove the first one’s pants and underclothing. She takes her tanto out and goes about the task The crowd watching her for any hint of emotion. She remains poised. Once that task is done the man is bandages around the groin. The other is positioned.

The samurai’s pants and underclothing are removed. He speaks to her. “Lady Shinto Miwa. I wish to regain my honor. I admit guilt of a horrendous act in my lust.”

Miwa considers him a long time. It is up to her to decide whether this man should die with honor intact or not. The guards hold him. He stands erect and with poise meeting her eyes pleading with her. She looks to the guards and nods. He is walked over in front of the Shogun. The guards put him on his knees. She draws her wakizashi and hands it to him. She then goes to the side and draws her katana. Her head turned to the shogun.

The shogun gives her the nod. The samurai plunges her wakizashi into his belly, turns it and cuts through each side of his gut. He brings it back to the center and starts to cut up toward his heart. He dies before he gets there. She brings her katana down upon his neck the moment he stops. Taking back her weapon she cleans both with an oiled rag before placing them back in their sheaths bowing to the shogun.

Next a great cauldron with chains welded within is placed in front of the shogun. The adulterous woman is dragged onto the field. She is not calm. She rails against her guards screaming at the top of her lungs and trying to kick and bite them.

The small portion left of her consciences rails against what she must do now. Miwa has to fight down the urge to lose the contents of her stomach all the while remaining poised and aloof.

They chain the woman inside the cauldron and pour buckets of oil into it until it is full. They place coal and wood around it. She is handed a torch. As she walks up to the woman, she screams out obscenities, spits at her, curses her and pleads for her unborn child. It doesn’t matter. Sentence is handed out and now must be carried out. Miwa lights the fire.

Miwa stands and watches as she must for 5 hours until the screams of pain fade and the body somewhat floats in the giant pot. The shogun stands. “That is enough for today. Mounted testing will resume tomorrow morning. Everyone bows to him. The crowd disperses.

Back in her room the women take off her armor and dress her in a kimono for dinner. Her father walks in, goes up to her and slaps her hard. You miserable whore. You have scathed my honor and I nearly lost my own life for your miserable failures. The women run out the room and the beating begins in earnest. Miwa throws her hands up defensively but does not attack or respond in kind. It would be a grand mistake on her part as she already knows.

It does not take long for Kenshin to walk in with several guards. “STOP THIS NOW!”

Her father stops the beating, turns, and bows to Kenshin. “You are the lord of your household Shinto Sadao but here in the shoguns home we do not beat our women. Shinto Miwa is under the protection of the shogun himself. You are barred further contact with your daughter until such time as you leave these premises. Your Daimyo will be notified of this breach of etiquette, and I warn you if this happens again with either Miwa or one of your other daughters again there will be repercussions.”

Her father does a curt bow to him and leaves. Kenshin looks to her. Your dinner will be brought to you, Lady Miwa. Get some rest. Today was a hard day. Tomorrow………. we shall see.”

Miwa lays down weeping. Eventually dream succumbs her. When she wakes up in the middle of the night there is a tray of cold food and drink waiting for her.
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Re: Barasume Miwa

Post by Winterhawk99 »

Miwa reads the return letter from the Mayor of Hamley. She thinks to herself, ‘Lott is a capable man. They do not need me. It is good. My goals are too many already in striving to do my own duty to those that live around me in however small a way I may help them.’

She puts the letter among others she has received over her banishment from home and opens her journal.

Although I am no longer lost there seems to be a lull in my goals. My quest is at a curial crux. I only need one more step to complete it, but the step is a canyon set before me. Will I be able to complete it in time? I don’t know but will persist and strive too.

Two things come to mind. The first was in Hamley. Several adventurers, including myself, went up to Hamley to see the knights leave the area back to Steinkeis. We watched them leave. Sollis became tearful at watching the procession. It is understandable. Shortly after the group I was with talked to several of their outrider rangers and others. It seems the wells are drying, and the soil has turned bad. We were studying the problem when a mob of farmers came to see the mayor. Some were historical about their protection being gone.

Several of us tried quelling the crowd with soft voices and patient minds. We eventually won them over, however three strange women appeared. I learned they were Fey. A different people from my previous experiences other than pixies, sprites and butterfly dragons. These ones could not be hit by our weapons. I know because one of the marshal of us tried. They told the crowd that they had made a pact with the mayor’s grandfather for protection, good crops, and something else. I can’t remember. They wanted a child.

I asked a few questions of them and the mayor seeking to who had rectitude in this situation. At this time, I placed rectitude in the mayor’s point of view, however now after all that has happened, I am not so sure. The women disappeared and the crowd dispersed.

Even though a completely different situation occurred later that day I will continue on in my thoughts about Hamley.

During the time we were facing the mod I had promised to train the farmers to defend their home. I wrote a letter stating that I would live up to the promise and the things I needed to make a good fighting force from the farming community. It is something I did with my own villages when was the lady of lands. He did write back stating that Sollis has been training the people of Hamley already and he had no need for my services. Sollis is a capable fighter and knight. I thought about this for some time and decided it would be better to stay out because western and eastern ways of training and tactics are different.

Today I went back up there and listened further to the mayor and his woes. There was a woman there. A diplomat from Keis. She was opulent, clever, and someone I immediately did not like. She seemed to me like many of the nobles of keis who use their people to enrich themselves instead of caring for the people. I made some comments to her, but I was not speaking to her. I was speaking to another in my own group. I do not know if she caught the message of my words, but time will tell.

We saw the wounded. I could do little there. I am not a healer so even though I would have liked to help I mainly stayed out of the way for other more adept members to attend to them. Instead, I carefully inspected the types of wounds found on those in the makeshift infirmary. I was slightly puzzled. Finally, I heard the story of an outrider about a deer with the face of a skull. Tova called it the wild hunt and it was meant one of two things. Revenge upon a people for a slight (possibly these three fey woman) or for something else. I cannot remember her words here because I was focused on the first possibility.

Which leaves me thinking about an incident in the fields of Hamley before the front gate. I left after trading with their tower late at night crossing the fields before the front gate. A place to be wary of spiders. I saw something there. A misty form similar to an orc with glowing eyes. Was it a ghost? Was it something else. Some form of Orc hiding by magic or shadow. I could not say. It was not hostile, and it did not react to my presence. I moved on but noted it and the fact that it watched the hamlet of Hamley intently while not moving.

After the wounded were tended too and the story was laid out for all, the mayor took us to his office. It started off by discussing the wild hunt but quickly turned to the three fey women. I tried to get information from the mayor, but he became more and more frantic about these three women showing us his family tree and one named Braen. I am guessing the founder of the family. The more questions were asked; The more upset and manic he became. I tried to calm him and told him of his responsibility to his people.

He gave me quite the tongue lashing. I decided I could not work with a man in this state. Any decision he would make would be one of emotion not the cold hard facts. He was secretive in his flow of information not wanting to tell us everything about it. I politely bowed after his tirade and walked out. In my view this man is an emotional time bomb that should be relieved of his position. I wish him well and I wish his people well, but I have my doubts that he would help bringing sanity to Hamley’s delicate situation. It is more likely he will compound it.

The other major situation I was involved in was in Steinkeis. It seems it had been reported that grey dwarves were trying to tunnel under the city. A large group of us went outside near where Elvalith has her tower. We found a new tunnel in the area. Following it we encountered grey dwarves. They had in fact tunneled a large network under the city already and into the sewers. They were also setting large crystals everywhere. When the crystals were disturbed, it set of a loud booming sound and the whole of the sewers shook. There were also many traps the grey ones had laid down in the tunnels.

I took point since there was no one in the group adept at taking out traps and used my body to set them off so others would not feel the pain. It worked for a while then I fell, exhausted onto the floor. One of the healers helped me regain my Ki and we moved on.

We came upon a huge globe of energy. Elvalith after examining it discovered it was a cage to hold back an ancient undead. She along with other wu-jen destroyed the globe. I protected Elvalith with my shield in case any backlash of energy occurred. Once finished we continued on.

We finally came upon a grey dwarf with what we think was in that globe. A giant undead beholder was with him. He ran away, while ordering the beholder to attack us. Many of the beholder's eyestalks were useless. Many were not. We knights formed a shield wall while the casters started to attack. The beholder used eye stock after eye stock wearing the casters down. As we saw the battle stalemating and several casters taking grievous wounds the fighters split up and attacked on their own. I used my new hummingbird style of fighting to dodge and duck against the creature while looking for eye stocks to cut off. Sylph was on the opposite side of it doing the same. The casters brought a pillar down upon it wounding it severely. I managed to dodge the broken and scattered debris. Drasta was not so lucky. I went into a frenzy to kill the floating eye as quickly as possible getting high in the large sections of debris. We found a lucky edge Sylph jumped up to my level and we stuck all 4 of our swords into the main eye killing it. I fell on top of the creature. Sylph was thrown to the side. Exhausted both ki and strength I think I passed out.

The dwarf was long gone so we stopped our search and returned to town via the sewers. It has been a long 4 days. I hope my plans come to something while I am gone. For now, I must wait for both Bunny and Zainee and their commitments. I agreed to dance at Zainee’s party. I have not danced in many years. If that is what it takes to gain access to those, I wish to then I will perform. I will go no further though.

For now, I need sleep. I will go to camp in the morning to train. I had hoped that Hamley would accept my offer. I am sometimes lonely in camp but what is, is. I will continue in my quest whether alone or with others. I do not wish to die before giving a husband a child.
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Re: Barasume Miwa

Post by Winterhawk99 »

Miwa wakes up again angerly as the women attending to her rudely hustle her out of bed. They take no time in bathing her much to her chagrin being not used to others washing her. They strap her heavy armor on once again and take her to the courtyard field for her trials. Her horse is also washed saddle and has its full barding on. It also has flowers sewn into the parts of its mane that shows along with its tail. She mutters to herself, “good grief”, tired of all the attention paid to her.

She is given the reins and the pair walk up in front of the shogun. Miwa bows deeply keeping her eyes to his and waits. Miwa once again sees her father with two guards at his side to the left of Shogun Miyoshi. The crowd seems to be larger, nearly 300 Samurai, peasants and artists now are included in the crowd. Hojin stands with a scroll. He silently holds it out to her. She leaves the reins walking up to him, bows and takes the scroll. It is a horsemanship routine. She reads and looks at the drawings for some time then bows again going back and mounting her horse, Wasabi.

Miwa and Wasabi go through a harsh routine of trotting, galloping, sidestepping, turning and at last a full out charge. She wakes up fully after the first half and dives into it with abandoned zeal. When she is done, she again presents herself to the shogun. He stands and looks to his right. His minister of horse stands and bows to him then speaks one word. “Flawless!”

Miwa wants to scream out a war cry in exuberance but knows that she must remain poised and show a dispassionate face she looks to the shogun. He nods to her in respect, “Yumi.”

Miwa goes to the back of the field and is given her shorter longbow. A longbow with double curves where the archer shoots from off center of the bow. The bow is still 5-foot tip to tip. She knows and understands it well. A dozen targets are placed upon the field, one is just behind and too the side of a target dressed in a kimono. A hard shot for the best of mounted archers. After the field is set, she carefully judges the shots she must make. Then she does something unprecedented. She brings Wasabi to a full charge to negotiate the course. She scores hit-after-hit in the head and chest of her targets hitting the hidden one in the shoulder without nipping the civilian target. The last target she passes turns to her side and hits the target in the back of the head. When she trots to the Shogun He stands and claps not even asking his minister of archery. He simply states, “Flawless! Daikyu.”

Going to the back of the field she hands her yumi to one of the girls that attend her, and they hand her the other longbow. It is her Daikyu. This 7-foot monstrosity of a bow she can barely even pull back all the way due to her size. It is the most powerful bow ever made to this time even outstretching the western longbow by some measure. On the field the same targets are presented but this time instead of one target being shielded by a target with a kimono there are 5 now shielded. She considers her field.

This time because of the size of the bow, her small stature she must take on the targets at a trot. As she goes along the course, she hits all five open targets at various ranges. She clips a target with one of the kimonos, but the arrow goes through and hits the hidden one. One of the other hidden targets she misses by a hair’s breadth. The other three she has solid hits against. She comes back to the front, bows and waits for the Shogun.

Again, he stands and looks to his right. His master of archers stands. “Excellent!” Miwa breathes a sigh of relief.

The shogun again brings his attention to her. “Tuigan 5 layered composite bow!” Miwa looks mystified.

Kenshin runs onto the field, stands in front of Miwa and bows. “I most protest this test. The Tuigan bow, although good on the plains, is not a weapon trained on by our Samurai or Onna-bugeisha. How can one be proficient with a weapon never even seen by this woman before?”

Her father also protests loudly about the use of what he calls a subservient weapon only used by mongrels and dogs along the plains of the mainland. He also had choice words against a people that made their homes out of cattle chips. Miwa watches the fierce debate for several minutes before the shogun finally states, “I have heard enough! Shinto Sadao said that his daughter could pick up any weapon within minutes. She will now prove it!” He looks at her.

She takes a deep breath to center herself. “20 arrows. 20 and I will be ready.”

The shogun laughs, “You have not even seen the weapon yet and say you can hit all targets after 20 arrows?”

“I will honorable shogun Miyoshi.”

He snaps his fingers. The master of archer comes down onto the field. He presents her with a short thick bow with a sheath of arrows. It looks like a toy to her. She draws the string and feels its strength. It seems to be 60-70 lbs. she nods to herself. Nursing, Wasabi into a trot she lets arrows fly at targets. The first 5 miss as she adjusts to the new weapon. From the next 5, 4 hit noncritical areas and one missed. She rounds the field without shooting the next time. Thinking on the bow’s quality and use.

The next time she rounds the field she shoots 5 more arrows. 3 of them hit critical areas, 2 noncritical. She rounds the field without shooting again plotting her actions. The last time she rounds in practice she hits 4 critical areas on targets and 1 noncritical. She rides to the front and bows to the shogun. The archery master hands her another sheath. She goes to the back of the field.

This time the 5 dummy targets are removed. 10 samurai stand and make their way down to the field. They stand in front of the targets. Kenshin once again comes down to the field in front of the shogun to debate. Her father has a conniption fit about the state of the field. She is too far away to hear what they are saying but sees the shogun throw his arms out to the side and speak very roughly to the two. She sees a battle flag wave to start the test.

Miwa is not even sure how to do the test now. Her horse stomps as it feels her momentary indecision. She makes it and sets Wasabi into a gallop. She goes up the first line hitting 4 of the 5 targets while managing to miss the samurai. She rounds the turn and shoots again. Hitting 4 of the targets grazing the face of one of the samurai to get to the target behind. One the last target the samurai draws his katana and wakizashi attacking her to protect it. Instead of shooting the target she purposely shoots him in his sword arm shoulder. His katana falls out of his hand, and he limps back to target he protected leaning upon it while medics rush to the field to attend him.

She trots back before the shogun presenting herself to him. He stands and stares at her. She meets his gaze with the same dispassionate stare. His hand goes to his right outstretched pointing to the master of archery. There is a discussion going on between the master and his lieutenants. Miwa and the shogun wait. Miwa’s nerves almost give out before the archery master makes his statement. “Due to the unusual nature of this test we, I and my counsellors deem this test………. Flawless!”

Miwa now goes to other cavalry tests this time against opponents. She uses spear and Tedate, Katana and Tedate, Naginata, dual katana and katana and wakizashi. In each bout she must score first blood three times. Her scores are excellent, flawless, excellent, flawless and flawless it is a grand showing of the brutal marshal training her father put her though. After she uses her daisho she hopes to relax and comes in front of the shogun. She and her horse are now exhausted with only an hour left of sunlight. It must be the end.

The shogun stands and looks at her sternly. She stares back, confident in her performance. He says two words. “Obstacle course.” She looks at her horse exhausted from the days’ tests and then looks to herself also sweaty, tired and ready to collapse. Her hopes for near perfect scores this day collapse.

Kenshin again comes on the field to protest. Her father studies her. His eyes say you can do this. You have my life in your hands. She looks away and stares at Kenshin considering his offer. Then turns her head to the shogun. As Kenshin is still protesting the test, she gives him a bow and chits at her horse moving once again to the back of the field.

Barrels representing trees are set up. Movable fences are also put up along with fake shrubbery and other things. She studies the course after they are finished. She looks worriedly at Wasabi and puts her head down to his ear. “Just one more effort boy. I know you can do this. Just one more effort.”

With that said she raises her head and leads Wasabi into a charge.

Rounding the course, she knocks over two fences and wasabi kicks one barrel over. She presents herself in front of the shogun: cut up from previous tests, bleeding with soaked bandages plastered to her in places and completely exhausted. The shogun stands and looks to his minister of horse. He stands saying one word: “Good.”

Miwa collapses off her horse into the depths of the void.
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Re: Barasume Miwa

Post by Winterhawk99 »

Miwa wakes up exhausted from her dream. Her things are already packed. She rides to her training camp. Most of the day she concentrates on stretching exercises. Sakura is left to graze around the area: Miwa knowing now she has the horse’s loyalty.

Stretching is all the harder for her today. Her great strength and hard work over the last few days has left her body’s muscles and tendons stiff and sore. Miwa knows if she doesn’t take the time to get them limber again, she will lose the flex of her body and an important element of the styles of fighting she uses.

As the sun starts to draw down in the sky she switches and practices several sword dances trying to determine which would be most pleasing to westerners. She has promised Zainee that she would dance at the party. The reason being that it will help gain contact to the nobles that come. She doesn’t particularly like the idea, but Seijin seemed to think it was brilliant. So, Miwa has relented to an exhibition of the dance.

While dancing with her katana an idea forms in her mind. An idea that may vastly help the people of Lowtown while gaining her access to the political strength that she needs both in trade and in her goals. Once finished with her practicing she sits down and lights several lanterns placing them in branches of trees above her. She takes out paper and quill.

Dear Bunny,

I have questioned quite a few in your efforts regarding your support for the poor of Lowtown. It seems you already have an establishment. A soup kitchen. I am not sure what that is, but those I spoke to feel it is a great boon for the downtrodden in your quarter of the city. I no longer fear that the coin I gave you will be wasted and will go to that which I gave it to you. I have trust that you will do your best with it.

I have an idea that may get you more coin and help with both our goals for raising the people of Lowtown to a better living. At least one where they no longer have to worry about the basics of life if they work and are a benefit to the greater society of the city.

I am thinking of sending letters to each noble family of the city. Call it a funds raiser. I think those are the words. In the letter you ask for donations to help feed, clothe and house the poor of the city. For any noble family giving 10,000 coin or more a plaque will be placed near your door with those names stating their names and a general statement about what a wonderful contribution they made for the Lowtown city quarter.

This will do two things. First the Noble families which donate will bring much honor to themselves and among the populace especially those in your quarter. The second is that the people will know which nobles truly care about the direction of the city and its people, and which do not.

I am also thinking that to get your name on this plague a noble or noble family must agree to pay the people that work in their businesses a standard of coin to where at least they will not want for food, clothing and shelter. The basics of life. I am not sure about this part but think it a solid foundation for changing the thoughts of those that have workers.

If you would like, when I come down to see your operation, we may discuss this idea. That is if you think this a plausible way to gain more funding for your enterprise. If this affair is public, I may be able to speak to some of the contributing nobles or noble families that have joined the effort to make Steinkeis as a whole better for its working poor. Thus, both our goals will be met.

Thank you,
Barasume Miwa Onna-bugeisha in service to Lord Barasume.

Miwa puts her quill down and seals the letter she will deliver in the morning. She rolls up in her blankets and sleeps.

On the last day of her trials, she is presented in the courtyard to her Shogun. Her horse is nowhere in sight, her weapons rack is beside her father and his two guards. She is now wearing her medium footman’s armor called Do-Maru armor. She bows to the shogun.

Hojin Stands, “This is the last day of your trials, Shinto Miwa. Your non-combat skills are now known to be fair. Your horseman skills are known as extraordinary. Today you will participate in melee skills. You have one black mark on your record. You may receive only two more to become an Onna-bugeisha. Do you understand?”

“Yes, my shogun”

“Then let us begin. Jujitsu!”

A rather short lean samurai comes out also in Do-Maru armor. They perform hand to hand combat Miwa gets locked up but the other once and thrown another time giving him two points of the three he needed. Miwa in the meantime locks her opponent up twice and gives him a brutal kick on the inside knee making him collapse. When they are done, they bow to each other then the Shogun. The Shogun looks to his own jujitsu sensei. She stands, “Good!”

He nods and speaks. “Naginata, being this the primary weapon of the Onna-bugeisha the battle will be to five points.” He sits down.

A tall young woman of 18 or 19 comes down to the field. Miwa goes to her rack and picks up her Naginata. She stares at her father then at Kenshin. She sees the suspicion in her father’s yes and meets it with a passive face then turns to her opponent. Kenshin on the other hand remains passive but his eyes do take on a keen interest in the scene.

She goes to the center of the field and bows to her opponent. They square off. In this bout Miwa looks almost completely inept. The other woman quickly marks her five times about the face and arms leaving one wound deep above her right eye. Blood pours down the side of her face. She turns to the shogun when the match is done.

The shogun crosses his arms and rubs his chin with his right hand carefully considering her. Her father speaks out. “My daughter is better than that! She has dishonored the testing! I am appalled and have been dishonored by her display in this match!”

Miwa stares at her father. She sees a slight bit of fear in his eyes about what she has done. She then turns her head to Kenshin. Appraising the minister and samurai. Her head then slowly turns to the shogun with a passive stare.

The shogun takes in the scene and the theatrics. He turns to his general of ladies. She stands. “Fail!”

The shogun lends his attention back to Miwa. “You now have two failures. You may only have one more.

Miwa bows and waits. The shogun states, “Tanto-jujitsu!”

She goes to her weapons rack placing her naginata down and picking up her Tanto. She cannot use a kaiken yet for that would be offensive to any Onna-bugeisha to have seen her use one. She would be killed immediately for even picking one up thus she must use a tanto for now. As she is doing so, she hears her father speak softly. “Just wait until you get home, Miwa. There will be repercussions!”

“I could fail, and in that way, you will never see me again in your short life and even if I succeed if you physically punish me as a lady knight, I may press charges against you.”

“You are still my daughter and only 12 years old young lady. There are other ways of punishment besides the whip! Ways to which I may practice………as a father.”

Miwa turns around and walks to the center of the field. Her opponent is a lanky smallish Onna-bugeisha wielder her kaiken. They bow to each other. The match begins. Miwa goes low and in the space of 5 seconds has the girl locked up in a hold with her tantos tip on the woman’s neck she makes a small scratch. Just enough to show blood. They separate. The Shogun stands and in a furious voice, yells, “STOP!”

He looks at her father with revulsion, “Who taught this woman the skills of the Yakuza!”

Her father turns and bows to the Shogun. “I brought an eta from the pits of the city to train her. a renowned knife fighter from the pits of our slums. I did not know he was a yakuza. He is the one who trained her.”


“He is gone. When I saw how he was training her and the familiarly he showed to my daughter I feared the worse. They would spend time after their training together. I could not let it go on. I had him eliminated.”

The shogun stares down at him. “Good. Let us continue then.”

Again, Miwa squares off against her opponent. The fighting is all one sided within seconds Miwa disarms and locks up the other woman and gives her a light flick with her blade to show blood. The two turn to Hojin and bow. The shogun stands and looks to his left. Once again, his general of Onna-bugeisha stands. “Both flawless and fail. Flawless because of the speed and ferocity to which the subject delt with her opponent. Fail because she uses Yakuza methods of knife fighting.”

The shogun looks down on her. She lets go of an emotion the first since combat testing began. It is surprise he sees in the eyes of the young woman staring back at him. “You have three failings, Shinto Miwa. You can have no more. iaido!”

A samurai in a Gi comes down beside her she bows to him. He recognizes her. They then both turn and bow to the shogun. He nods. Miwa and the samurai stand side by side. He calls out commands. Both draw their swords and make attacks in tandem then sheath them back in their scabbards for the next command. Miwa puts on a flawless performance.

For the rest of the tests she returns to full combat bloodletting using single katana, Dashio (katana and wakizashi), spear and Tate. Duel katana, Odachi (Japanese great sword) and Kanabo a Japanese fighting club with iron spikes. Her scores are flawless, flawless, good, flawless, excellent and good.

After the fight with the Kanabo the shogun remains standing. “There is only one more test. It is unusual, however Sadao did say that his daughter could fight with any weapon imaginable. Therefore, we have made a special test for her. Katana and steel fan!”

Kenshin practically loses his shoes running onto the field. He curtly bows to the shogun. “Are we to believe in fairytales now! No one has used a steel fan in centuries. All those stories about the demon race that brought us bushido! This is ludicrous! Where would you even get a steel fan?”

Miwa looks at her father. Instead of staring her in the face she sees his eyes go down to the floor in resignation. She looks back at the debate between the shogun and Kenshin.

“You have been a good counsellor; Minister Kenshin blame her father.” He snaps his fingers and attendants show up on the field with a large box. They present it to her. Inside is an over large steel fan with razors along the edge. She takes the thing and opens it up. There is a mon (family badge) completely unfamiliar on the two sides of it.

One attendant whispers to her, “It was a rare find in an ancient ruin. Be careful with it.”

She nods, studying it. The fan looks part shield and part weapon. The razors along its edge are wickedly sharp. Fully unfurled, it can protect her entire torso. She thinks back to the sword dances she knows and how a fan is used in the beginning as of many dances as a mock shield. She even begins several dances getting a sense of the combat ability it may have. She looks at the veins and steel fabric material between having doubts that it will stand up to combat. Still, she must try.

A samurai comes down wielding his dashio. They bow and face off. Miwa uses the fan both as a weapon along with her katana while the samurai measures the situation also not familiar with this new thing. He attacks. She closes the fan using it to parry while attacking with her katana he blocks it. They circle each other again. She then attacks deceptively with her katana he blocks and she lashes out with the fan cutting him. She won the first point.

They circle and duel. It takes longer with each opponent unfamiliar with this new form of fighting. As she fights, she gains intuition on the fan mimicking many of the dances she learned. He gets the next point clipping her bicep through her armor. She gets the next. The crowd seems interested in the fight more than the others. in the next bout they both score on one another it is a draw each getting a point.

On the last point she manages to fold the fan over his katana and disarm him while his wakizashi gets past her katana and lands a cut across the side of her thigh. The match is over.

They come back to the shogun and bow. The shogun looks to his general of lady knights. She stands. Considering the battle for several minutes she says, “excellent.”

Miwa is now Onna-bugeisha all that remains is her ceremony and recognition by her clan. Her father breathes a sigh of relief.
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Re: Barasume Miwa

Post by Winterhawk99 »

Miwa gallops down to the crossroads to see if she has any mail from her lord. It has been some time since her first letter, so she checks occasionally. Eventually He will answer. There is a letter but from a different persons. It surprises her that it came back so fast. Many letters she has written previously have not been returned with query or answer to her questions. A great fault of western society in her opinion. This one was answered in a day. She is impressed. She reads it.

“Dear Miwa,

While I am dumbfounded and impressed by the amount and care you have put into this plan, I am inclined to disagree on the workability of this idea under the current circumstances which plague Low-Town and to a certain degree Steinkeis as a whole.

I would love to offer you a cup of tea at my table so that I may explain my path of thoughts to you.

Yours Truly,

(Instead of a signature, the letter ends with a bunny drawing)

Miwa rubs her face with her hands. Thinking to herself that Bunny must have much more information than her. she reads the letter again. There is hope here. She does have a plan and has invited her to share it. Miwa nods to herself and mumbles, “Ok all is not lost. There is still hope here to make a contribution. We’ll see what bunny has to say.”

Miwa rides back to her camp and begins her sword work for the day. She sets a hard pace and keeps it stopping every few hours to cook and eat a small meal. When night comes, she is once again exhausted and sleeps.

The women are dressing her in a high fashion kimono while Miwa fidgets. She does not like being dressed by others and feels ashamed and offended by the whole of the process. A woman twice her age comes in with a pair of geta. High heeled sandals made of wood.

As soon as she comes within range of Miwa’s hand, she slaps her and points her finger at the peasant, “NO! I will not have it!” The woman turns heel in tears and rushes out of the room knowing full well Miwa can turn into a cold-blooded killer at any time whether by order or whim.

Kenshin is not far behind making an entrance, “Lady Shinto you cannot just slap servants of the shogun. You need to understand temperance here. You are our guests. Think of it that way.”

“I have rectitude. I have already said I will not where shoes unless in armor.”

“Do you? How do you know I told all the staff that attends you about your self-imposed vows. How do you know this attendant is not a replacement for one sick. If so, do you still have rectitude. What is your sense of justice, Lady Shinto?”

Miwa thinks about what her counselor has said for a long time, “I have seen this attendant before she should have known. Did you set me up? I still have rectitude according to law?”

Kenshin looks at her entourage. “Give me 45 minutes ladies.” All of the women leave the room the last closing the door.

He continues. “Please sit on the bed Lady Shinto.”

Miwa sits down he sits down beside her. “If in fact you have rectitude, why did you not punish me instead of the attendant?”

“Master Kenshin you are the shogun’s minister of law or etiquette. I could not hope to correct one so far above my own station.”

“Yet it seems I would be the one at fault. The one that you have rectitude against. Does rank truly matter so much to you? Are you not a servant for all your people for the privilege that you hold?”

Miwa thinks taking a long time to answer him. “I……... I don’t know. I have never been forced to answer a question as such.”

“Ah, Miwa. Bold truth of your own miseducation and acknowledgement of that to which you do not know. There is hope for you. I wished that you had taken the Shogun’s and my own proposal. I would have turned you into an excellent lawyer. You have the talent; however, your father’s relentless training trumped our efforts. Be warned though your father cannot corporally reprimand you from the time you receive your kaiken there are other ways that he may until you are married.

The abuses while you are still in his household will be much worse because, I assume, they will be mental. Prepare yourself for them. I liked how you stood up to him during trials. You have Moxy, Miwa. You should be proud of that.”

“It does not matter. I will be under his authority until such time that I am married.”

“You have many opportunities now as a lady of the Shinto clan. You could become an excellent lawyer or accountant. Unfortunately, your marshal skills far outweigh your domestic abilities. Every high samurai in Shinto court even now salivates to put you under their care and training. You have many choices to make soon. At least in this you many find comfort away from your family for a short time. I hope you think about that while you remain within your father’s household.”

With that Kenshin stands up. Miwa stands up with him and bows. He recognizes her and leaves the room. Her entourage comes in within a few seconds to make her ready for the ceremony.

Miwa is presented to the Shogun’s court dressed as a full lady in elegance in full regalia, there are even lotus blossoms in her hair to add to her religious fervor. Her father comes up beside her and takes her hand. They walk up to Shogun Miyoshi and bow. He recognizes them. Her father lets go of her hand and walks to the side.

The shogun stands. “Lady Shinto Miwa. You have completed trials to become an Onna-bugeisha of the Shinto clan under my protection. There now number 27 lady knights within my court. You have passed trials at the youngest age allowed and therefore should be commented with a special honor. I hold out your Kaiken.”

Hojin holds out not only a kaiken in his two hands but a kaiken nowhere near the standard that an Onna-bugeisha usually holds as her status of station. Its sheath and handle are born from a single whale bone scrimshawed with symbols and engraved with wired gold filigree along with embossment of water lilies along the whole of the outside appearance. Miwa is stunned but holds her poise. She walks up bows to the shogun and holds up both of her hands. He lays the blade within them.

Now the blade in her possession she walks backward to a safe distance, bows and places it comfortably between her odi and kimono. The shogun states, “Lady Shinto’s acknowledgement party will begin directly on the third floor.” He bows and the court disperses.

Miwa wakes up crying.
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Re: Barasume Miwa

Post by Winterhawk99 »

Miwa packs her bags but instead of riding Sakura, she stables the Andalusian with the local stableman and goes to Trusty’s. There she buys a hammock, 50 tree spikes about 12 inches long rope and other gear. She then heads to the forest north of the city and around the druid grove. Past that there is a special shrine with a portal. She takes it, finding herself in the jungle.

She goes to work first going the nesting site of the archeaox a giant of a wyvern the size of a dragon. Most are hostile to humans or anything else out there. This one though is special. It is a peaceful denizen of the forest. Miwa herself thinks it is a guardian of the jungle and if you are not hostile to it, it in turn will tolerate your presence. That is what she is counting on. She greets it and makes in focus on her once more over and over as she did yesterday with Drasta present. When she is satisfied with that and done killing all the local raptors one by one, she sets up her camp.

First, she sets her hammock up high in the canopy. It is low enough for the dragon to keep an eye on her but high enough that the local tigers cannot get to her. She knows tigers can climb up trees a little bit but not far. This is leopard territory and the leopards of the jungle are quite peaceful to humans in this area. Next, she drives the spikes into all the trees around the hammock so that the raptors cannot perch and attack her while sleeping. That done she masks the whole of her squirrel nest so that others cannot blatantly pick her out. The last thing she does is hang oil lamps for the things she needs to do at night such as writing.

She has 10 days of hard tack and jerky along with some sashimi in a waterproof bag soaked in vinegar. Her meals will be meager for the next ten days but, in the end, will be worth the goal she has committed too. Taming and coaxing the archeaox to be her second steed. It may take months, that is why she has bargained with a hin called ginger (a provisioner and herbalist that lives in the ruins of Devonshire) to bring her one full elk every three days for the dragon. She will take it from his men and drag it to the creature to develop trust between it and herself.

She already knows she must wear her armor the whole of the time because of the dangers of the jungle. She will also sleep with kaiken in hand. Hopefully she won't stab herself with it in dream. But then again there were times when she was younger, she did just that slept in war camp kaiken in hand to fend off an enemy attack or the men in her own camp that get too drunk.

She studies her preparations and defenses extremely carefully. When satisfied she goes up to her nest and sits on the hammock opening her journal.

I came back from my training camp for two days. The first thing I did was to pick up a few bounties and hunt orcs using various technics on fighting. Later, on the first day I met with Elvalith and several others. Our bounty was the torturer in the labs. We had just enough to go all the way. I took my goggles with me, meaning to find a key.

This time we braved the mighty wraith to find keys or clues to the keys. In his abode of research rooms to which he patrols we went from office to office trying to avoid him. We mostly did but a few in our group were felled by the mighty undead. I used my armor that can shock someone back to consciousness and used seeds and scrolls to help others he left lying on the floor. Elvalith did the same. We came back with a lock of hair and a note. It seems one of the scientists had a son and we assumed it was a lock of his hair. We could not find anything else of significance, so we went further down into the depths of the lab, eventually defeating the mind mother with no losses.

Coming back to the surface we turned in the bounty, but I was perplexed about the hair and the note. I thought a long time about it, and something hit me. There is an old crone that sells items in a building at the top of the lab in a home on the surface. Margee, I think her name is. I seemed to remember she said something about having a son. Three of us went back and met her. I tried to sell her the hair. When she took it, she screamed out, “What have you done!” and we were teleported to a strange place. As we explored, we found wraith like shadows of her trapped in central caverns. We explored until we found a great tree instead of wraiths in one of the chambers. There we found one of the seven keys. It looked like a crystal cherry blossom.

We then left the place but one of our group decided she wanted to tackle the monster in the lake. I looked at her incredulously. After all It ate my Percheron a 1600 lb. warhorse. What chance did just the three of us have? Still, I decided it would be worth it to try.

This battle was horrendous. We fought and fought the beast. It took hours to wear it down. It slung me and the others time and time again. Eventually though we did defeat it. We found yet another key and they gave it to me. I now have 3 of the 7 keys to open the mysterious dome in the labs. I wonder what I and my companions will find once we have them all.

Elvalith during our time together fighting also questioned me about Hamley. She said that the group helping the village could have sorely used my blade. I had to be honest. With her and said that the mayor is a coward who would put himself before those he is supposed to protect and that if I was his lady, I would fire him immediately and have the village counsel find another who will take responsibility for their decisions. I told her I would not work with a man like that.

One of the people that was with us asked Elvalith to confirm my thoughts about this reprobate of a man. She told the person that what I said was in fact true but only recently. That may be true, but the man is completely unfit to be a leader now. He should in the least be fired.

The second day the grove called. Here I saw many people not usually at the grove. There was Orn, Elvalith a woman dressed in red with red dragon wings, Elliot was there along with Taran, and others. They were from all walks of life. I was somewhat happy that some I know were called. We talked for many hours before Taran got his message. We walked into a portal within the groves shrine of fire and found ourselves in the grey mountains. There is a major fire shrine there usually hidden that only druids may go. We found ourselves there.

The fire elementals were holding off red oozes much like we have seen before with walls of fire. Meanwhile in the center of our party the great fire and stone guardians fought in battle. We the group decided to take on the immediate threat first. Both I and Taran told the new people that the ooze solidifies with heat. So, they were ready. I led the way driving my sword deep within each creature I could find until the wu-jens and nature priests of the group could dispatch it with their elemental attacks. We slayed many finding a hunting party of dead orcs and deep holes in the ground around them.

The group discussed if we should even examine the holes more thoroughly. I got tired of the group discussion and stood over one of them. I sniffed near the edge. It smelled like melted rock, acid and something else. Something I could not put my finger on.

After this, others knowing it safe to examine the hold took their turn to try to identify the smell. None knew what it was, but we had seemed to smell this smell before. It may be a clue as to who is behind all this craziness with oozes and elementals. Dispatching all the creatures we went back to where the elemental guardians were railing against each other.

Again, everyone wanted to discuss what to do about them. Some of them pleaded with the elementals to stop. I rand between them and started to push the fire elemental back. I am now resistant to fire so knew though I may get slightly burned I would not roast. I used my strength to hold the two apart while a druid and Elliot did some kind of mind connection with the two. As they did, we all could look in on the vision.

I could not; however, being occupied with keeping the two beasts who could normally throw me off a cliff physically apart. Eventually They stopped and I opened my eyes to the shared vision. They both blamed each other for the assault on their sacred grounds. While it was true each of them attacked the shrines of the other, they were both under the influence of this dark ooze with rift pebbles within it.

As soon as they understood what happened I sheathed my sword and unbuckled my helmet. I have been placing lotus blossoms in my hair denoting my walk to rebirth in my main quest to become one with my sword. Every flower has a specific meaning in my country, this is called: Hanakotoba. In Kozakura the Lotus or Hasu means purity, transformation, renewal and rebirth.

I tossed my helm to the ground and pulled the two flowers from my hair. I then held them in palm up between the two. They still argued with each other for a while but finally a truce was made, and each took a flower signifying the fight was over.

I did my small part for the whole. I am satisfied that I did all that I could for peace between the two groups of elementals, and also thank all those who took greater part in having the elementals see the truth that each of them did attack the other, but they were corrupted and did not know what they did.

I will sleep now, kaiken in hand. I have a 4-month contract with Ginger and mean to tame and break this dragon within that time. If it takes longer, I will pay Ginger with 2 rubies and continue until the archeaox and I have an understanding between us. One of partnership.

Miwa sleeps.
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Re: Barasume Miwa

Post by Winterhawk99 »

Miwa finds herself the center of attention in the main hall of the shogun’s castle. There are tables set up along with a dance floor covering half the area. Musicians play to the side. Some gather around the tables to eat. Others dance to the musicians’ songs. She is not sure what to do. It doesn’t take long for multitudes of samurai, ministers and Onna-bugeisha to approach her one by one. Each hangs around until she’s done speaking to the one she’s with, then swoop in on her with another offer.

They all offer her a place in their offices or units not only to be a part of but for further training in their particular craft. She would be away for several months at a time between helping her father take care of their lands. Between talks she keeps an eye on her sisters to make sure they are in no harm. She doesn’t see her father in the crowd at all. It worries her.

There are two ministers and one Onna-bugeisha that are most insistent. The first approaches her as she sits down to have a bite to eat. It is the shogun’s minister of accounting, Mayumi. Mayumi practically begs her to work with her every other month in her offices of accounting. She looks at the minister then counts her sisters. Izumi dancing with every man she can hook onto the floor. Sango talking to several priests and priestess and Haruki sitting in a corner. Several men ask her to dance it seems, but she looks to be politely turning them away.

She turns her head back to Mayumi quickly and smiles. “I am sorry minister. I will have to think on this. There are many here that seem to want to garner my attention. Thank you.” She gets up and bows slightly to her. As soon as Mayumi recognizes her someone takes her hand and leads her to the dance floor. It is Shogun Miyoshi’s general of the cavalry, Onna-bugeisha Miyoshi Usagi.

Usagi takes her to the middle of the dancefloor and leads her in a dance her one hand holds Miwa’s the other rests upon her hip. Miwa feels immediately uncomfortable but still slides her other and around the woman’s middle back for etiquette purposes. While they dance Usagi opens the conversation.

“So….That was the best cavalry testing I have ever seen. Better than my own testing 8 years ago. I am not easily impressed.”

“I do have an advantage. Our village raises horses. It’s what we do.”

“Yes, of course. It is an advantage and you worked at it. You’re a natural Lady Shinto. You should work with me. You would not only make a good cavalry officer. You would make an outstanding second.”

“That is….quite an offer. What would it entail?”

“Well, until you are married you would be with me and the rest of the shogun’s cavalry training during the dry season. In the wet season you would of course be with your father or husband tending to your own lands. It requires more than other jobs but then as my second you would have shall we say fringe benefits when you’re a little older, 16 or 17.”

“I don’t understand?”

“My husband pampers me and lets me have my leave of certain indulgences. I have the paperwork. I’m sure your father or husband would gladly sign off as well. You could learn more than just horse tricks. Call it a second education in….ethics and relationships.” Usagi squeezes her hip.

“Umm, I don’t know what to say.”, Miwa says while trying to find a way to disengage and keep an eye on her sisters.

“Think about it, Miwa. Like I said you’re a natural and could be a legend with proper training.” She then laughs. “Do you know why you find women officers of cavalry in most shogun and daimyo courts?”

Miwa shakes her head while looking for her sisters in the crowd.

“It’s because women make better cavalry then samurai.”

“Why is that lady Miyoshi?”

“They enjoy the ride far better than a man.”

Miwa cant help but laugh. “I will think about it, Lady Miyoshi. There are so many that want me to come under their wing.”

“Just ask yourself. Where do you have the most talent and potential, Miwa. It’s with me by far. Not with these pretend samurai that haven’t been to battle in years. You are a warrior pure and simple, and I can be your guide to bring you to your true purpose.”

“Thank you, Lady Miyoshi. I will think hard on this.”

“I know you’ll make the right choice.” Usagi lets her go. Miwa politely makes and exit to the balcony feeling like she needs to take a shower.

On the balcony she looks down upon the shogun’s garden. Glow flies rise to the night in their quest to mate and bring new life into the world. Their blinking calls signal that they are ready to replenish their numbers and die when their quest is complete. It sets Miwa to a calm place. She forgets about her sisters, her father, and her suitors for a fleeting moment. Then a voice speaks from behind. “Pretty, aren’t they?”

Miwa spins around surprised and places her hand on her Kaiken then realizing her mistake she bows deeply. “My apologies, Shogun Miyoshi.”

The old man chuckles, “Quite alright. I expected the reaction. So young lady. This party is for you after all why aren’t you out there mingling? This is your chance to see everyone in my and my daimyos’ courts.”

Miwa counts her sisters before answering. Hojin notices with secret approval. “I am……I am not use to so much attention.”

“A common lowlander problem. If you were from the city you would most likely still be talking up the various heads of departments and ministers to see what best suits you. Do not worry so much. At least in my court. They are being watched by good men. You have my word, young Miwa. Let us instead turn our attentions back to the beauty in the garden. It wont be long before they stop. It’s getting too late.”

She reluctantly turns back to the garden. Hojin stands beside her. They watch the fireflies slowly rising and lighting up for potential mates for some time before Hojin continues. “I knew her, your mother.”

Miwa looks up surprised, “I lost her face. I only have her smile now.”

The shogun looks out to the garden. “Your mother, she was a tempering force for your father. She calmed him. Without her it seems he is back to his old ways. Miwa. Bushido is a simple code. It can be interpreted in many ways. Your father sadly only sees the words. He follows the letter. It never touched his soul. I see the same thing happening to you through your trials. Find your own path. Let it touch you and complete you. You need to let that happen.”


The Samurai, The Onna-bugeisha are symbols of courage, strength, and honor. We are trained in the art of combat and warfare, we are fearless in the face of battle, unyielding in our commitment to our lords and emperor and loyal to the code of bushido. Despite our reputation profound loneliness plagues us, all of us at least at some point. Loneliness is our greatest enemy.

Look around you at our empire of Kozakura, look at us. Our lives whether family or no is mostly solitary. We are required to dedicate ourselves entirely to our training and our lords. We have little time for personal lives or family life, though you as Onna-bugeisha may have a brood of your own. You may not be subject as much as a samurai. Our days are filled with intense training, meditation and the study of tactics and strategy. We are taught to suppress our emotions, to remain calm and composed even in the face of death.

On the battlefield, we are fearless. We charge into battle with the knowledge that we may not return, but we still do with honor and courage, driven by the unshakable belief in our duty to family, clan and lord. But it is the quiet moments, Miwa, when your adrenaline is worn out, and the reality of your loneliness sets in. that you will be at your weakest.

For we the warriors of Kozakura, our greatest fear is not death on the battlefield, but the fear of being alone. We all long for human connection and so will you. We long for someone to share our thoughts and emotions with but alas most are unable to find it. I hope you do. We are expected to be stoic and unemotional, to put duty and honor above all else even our own needs and desires. It is our way.

Loneliness will be your greatest strength and your greatest weakness. It allows you to focus on your training and dedicate yourself to us, your daimyo, shogun and emperor. But it also leaves you vulnerable to the demons that lurk in the shadows of your own mind. It is a burden that you, like your father, will carry with you throughout your life. A burden that only your fellow samurai and Onna-bugeisha ever hope to understand.

I hope this gives you better understanding of your father.”

“I think he does loves us…….it’s just that his quest to mold us to perfection is….somehow misguided.”

“Your mother was a great loss to him, Miwa. It made him a harder man than before they met and were married. I am both sorry for you and elated for you. It is because of this that you are now so good at such a tender age. He will never be able to punish you with a whip or club again now. Think about that.

Have you decided where you would like to be placed yet? You have many suiters to take you under their wing.”

Miwa again turns around checking on her sisters. Hojin takes note of it and sighs inwardly. “I would have liked to join the cavalry. But two things prevent me. I would have to be away from home to long and Usagi…….she” Miwa shivers.

Hojin chuckles, “I see well as far as Usagi she is Onna-bugeisha. Miwa when a samurai or Onna-bugeisha take an apprentice they expect certain benefits. You would be immune of course until you are 16 years old unless you were to become a war prize. Then well you will be immediately married into your new clan. However, with most non-samurai ministers like Mayumi that is off limits. Something to think about.

I take it based on your worries you will apprentice under your father. I see it. You have found your first demon already. To young in my opinion but you will bear it out until you are of age.”

“Thank you, Shogun Miyoshi.”

Miwa wakes up suddenly and almost falls out of her hammock. It’s early morning. She is soak and wet, insect bites cover her face, hands and any other exposed skin. She climbs out of the tree and confronts the Archeaox again keeping its attention on her for a half an hour or so while stretching. Then she notices something, “I stink! You stink! This whole area stinks. I’m going to clean this up, today after going to town. Tomorrow, you’re getting a bath. Ummm, I need one hell of a big broom. Your still getting a bath whether you try to eat me or not.”

As she is cleaning, Gingers men come with her elk. She helps them fight off the tigers and raptors takes the carcass herself from the wagon and drags it to the dragon. After that she takes the portal to near the grove, runs to the tackle, arranges a party and sends out invitations.

She invites the whole of the council including Lord Bargus, Vuldarniu Meeresbrise, Elvalith, Sephir, Zainee, Drasta, Lydia, Amber, Seth, Cassie, Seijin, Sollis, Arion, Taran and the many other people she knows.

As evening twilight shadows the crossroads she runs back to the portal and her newest companion with a large broom, bucket and lots of soap.
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