Sunday, February 26, 2006

FF RPG Fiction. Tale of Byfree, Part I

Byfree, year 1000 AG

Nenaki woke early, before the sun even started to rise over the eastern mountains, and stretched out his tightly corded limbs. He rose from his sleeping mat and moved to the center of his small room clad only in his loincloth and dark grey fur. He stretched again, eyes closed, seeming to test each muscle individually before sitting on the floor softly and taking up the lotus position. He sat motionless for many minutes focusing his thoughts inward, scanning his chi for signs of flaws. Satisfied, he opened his eyes and stood, moved to a small chest at one end of the room and pulled forth a pair of thick baggy pants made from some light fabric. He pulled them on and wiggled his tail through a specially designed slot at the rear, then tied the top with a woven belt of the same material. He opened his window, letting the chill misty morning air clear his senses. He looked down, toward the ground three stories below him, the night fishermen had already come in, and the morning fishermen would have already gone out for the day, so the street below was empty, but he could still hear the sounds of dockworkers coming from the harbor. With a sudden movement he hopped over the sill and out the window, landing with feline grace in the deserted street below. Stretching and flexing once more he then turned and started jogging up the street away from the waterfront. He approached the edge of town at a quick pace, leaping the six foot high stone barricade with ease, not even slowing his pace as he headed into green fields bejeweled with thousands of dewdrops and shrouded in a white veil of fog. It was mornings like this that he didn't miss the stark grey mountain home of his Kermodei clan as much. He couldn't believe that it had been eight-teen years already since he had been home, it seemed like only yesterday he was just setting off on a life of adventure and treasure hunting. He continued to run east for a while, and then finally started to circle to the south heading up the only accessible route onto a large rocky knoll overlooking the entire valley. From the still foggy woods to the north, to the Highwind pass jutting out of the clouds between two great mountains to the east, to the gleaming waters of the outer sea crowned with tall masts of trading ships, Nenaki could see it all from this vantage point.

He sat on a large smooth boulder on top of the knoll overlooking the valley, watching Byfree awake. Its inhabitants, slow at first, soon began the frantic pace of life in a busy port town. Sailors swarmed over the docks and on the various merchant vessels making ready to weigh anchor and set sail across the Outer Sea to the many exotic islands or even to the strange continent even further west. Nenaki could identify, even from such a great distance, the recently christened Byfree fleet, a trio of high-sided, quad masted ships that were armed to the teeth with ballista and catapults. They had just been supplied by the merchant’s guild in Trovaire to protect the guild members from pirates that seemed to have free run of the Outer Seas coastal waters. It was a sign of how much influence Byfree had gained recently, Nenaki chuckled to himself, Humans, they moved about so fast, never stopping to enjoy the view, they were like the firecrackers brought by merchants from the east: small, loud, and seconds later, gone. Considering Byfree had only been around since Spencer Bingham founded it eight years ago with his merry band of adventurers, Nenaki was surprised that Humans hadn't taken control of the entire world centuries ago. This thought brought to mind recent reports of war in the far north, pretty much every merchant was talking about it, how it would be the war to end all wars, and that they wouldn't be surprised if it affected everyone even as far south as Byfree. Nenaki doubted it, humans always fought, their wars were quick and brutal just like their lives, but the next generation would always strike out in a different direction, more wars would follow, it was just the way with them, wise races knew to just leave them to their own devices and stay out of the way. That's why he liked it in Byfree so much, it was so far removed from the entire world, sticking out into the sea on a little spit of land, and the merchants didn't bring trouble, just the most recent news of it. The only thing that disturbed the peace was the occasional pirate raid, and then again it was always good fun to bash in pirates heads once in a while.

By now the sun was rising, its rays streaming through the pass and lighting up distant waves, the valley was still in shadow, but not for long. Nenaki had observed this process every morning without fail for nearly six years, the power of the sun still amazed him. Many of the Ronso in his Clan thought it odd that he was devoted to Ignus, Lord of the Sun, but Nenaki was always quick to point out that very little life could flourish without the power of the suns golden light, and indeed as he sat and watched it appeared as though a whole new world was awakened when the sun crested the mountains casting its light in fullness over the valley. His forehead horn was the very first thing to feel the warmth, then the sun, as it rose, warmed his fur and then the rocky knoll and then the entire valley. The fog burned away quickly revealing the thin line of a stream winding through the lush valley like a glittering jeweled necklace on the throat of the goddess Naos. Nenaki sat back to enjoy the show as a group of majestic griffins circled high in the sky over the valley, warming their wings in the suns light before heading out over the sea to fish. Other animals were stirring on the ground as well, but Nenaki's gaze was drawn to the trail leading from the Highwind pass, he saw something that was not a regular morning occurrence. It appeared to be some sort of rider, moving very fast toward Byfree, too fast, it was something he had to investigate. His mornings peace gone he started down the knoll with a fast loping stride. Jumping from boulder to rocky outcropping to boulder again Nenaki seemed to glide like a bird, the distance between some spots was just too great to be leapt naturally and he landed so effortlessly never pausing for a rest. Now the rider was much closer and Nenaki stopped to observe for a moment, it was a fluffy white Moogle in the saddle, or kind of in the saddle. It was riding a golden feathered chocobo which was moving so fast it appeared that it was all the Moogle could to hang on to the saddle horn, it had it's small leathery wings outspread and the rush of wind gave it some lift it could never hope to achieve on its own and its feet trailed in the air behind it. Nenaki started running again, parallel to the road the Moogle and chocobo were on, he was a little ahead of them but they were gaining fast. The Moogle hadn't noticed him, its eyes were squinted even behind a pair of protective goggles and it was focused fully on its destination, the chocobo was wearing blinders and so hadn't noticed him yet either. Nenaki angled toward the road as the pair passed, moving to within shouting range, the chocobo heard his approach and turned its head to get a look, seeing the Ronso it 'warked' in surprise and skidded off the road turning to face him, beak open and crest raised. The Moogle was nearly dumped off at this but quickly grabbed the reigns and reasserted control over his mount, looking curiously at Nenaki.

"You are Nenaki Kermodei, kupo?" It chirped cheerfully.

Nenaki looked over the Moogle surprised that it had known his name, then he noticed the Messenger Guilds emblem on one of the saddlebags. "This is Nenaki Kermodei you speak to." He said.

"Excellent! I have a letter for you, I do." It said rummaging through its saddlebags until it procured a rolled parchment sealed with white wax, and handed it to Nenaki.

Nenaki took it, inspected the seal, a bear’s paw in the mist, and thanked the Moogle. "I am grateful."

The Moogle smiled brightly, stood on his saddle and bowed low. "It was my pleasure, kupo!" He said, then he chirped to the chocobo who responded with a low warble and they headed off again toward the town. Nenaki watched them leave for a moment and then looked at the scroll in his hand, something was wrong.

It was midmorning when Nenaki made his way over to Spencer’s place, grim faced. Spencer had been his closest friend ever since he left his clans holdings to set off on a life of adventure. He was practical, for a human, and very charismatic, they had faced many obstacles on their journeys that would have caused lesser men to turn in defeat, but Spencer would just rally the group and lead the charge. When friends were lostSpencer did not resign himself to grief and despair, he struck out anew to honour their memory. Now at the ripe age of 49 years, he spent most of his time overseeing his town and telling grand tales of past glory in his favorite pub, his life as an adventurer was behind him. It made what Nenaki had to tell him all that much harder.

Spencer was not at home, so Nenaki tried the next place on his list, The Plump Quail Inn. Sure enough Spencer was there, leaning on the bar and waxing poetic on the glories and travesties of war. When Nenaki entered Spencer turned and looked at him, his face dropped, he shook his head and stomped his foot.

"Bloody heck. Look at your braids man, don't tell me you are going too?" He said, gesturing to the thick silvery braids falling over Nenaki's shoulders. "First my armada and now my best friend."

Nenaki looked slightly puzzled.

"The messenger came from the Merchants Guild with orders for my new fleet to sail back and join up with the United Almekian Navy, the war with the Krueganian Empire is taking its toll even here." Spencer explained.

Nenaki nodded. "Word came from Kermodei Clan High Chief, I too am called home to join in fighting, all Great Clans have bargained with Human Lords, we aid Almekians too. I must leave now, not much time to make the trip before the first war drums sound."

He clasped Spencer’s arm. "I will be back, this is a promise, ok?"

"Ok, but you have to tell this old man all about it when you return." He replied, raising his fist in a traditional Ronso pre-battle salute.

"Indeed. Glory in battle through the destruction of our enemies." He said, turning and leaving the inn to collect his belongings.

Spencer watched him leave sadly, wishing to be able to join the fight, but knowing he would never be able to keep up nor be accepted by the majority of Nenaki's people. He ordered up and downed a shot of whiskey in a silent salute to his friend. Krueganian bastards, he thought.

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Monday, February 20, 2006

Final Fantasy RPG going lickety split!

Well, everyone comes to a point in their lives where they just run out of hours in a day to do the things that they want to do. I am at such a point. Sure I have worked more these past two weeks and that is only temporary, but I still feel the mound of obligations growing past my ears. So, even though it saddens me greatly to say it, I must announce that I will be putting the story of Sasuke and his friends from Rokugan on a shelf for now. I may write the next two chapters if I have a bit of extra time, and I will still take notes on what happens each session just in case I wish to start up again, but for now Sasuke's time is ended. What has usurped this story you may ask, well, it's my own story in a way. I have been working on creating a RPG of my own for some time now, initially it started out as a premise for a videogame, but after playing D&D for the first time 2 years ago, and loving/hating it I decided, with help from a friend, to instead convert it to a pen and paper game, this I did and FFRPG was born. Now, after long years of work, it is nearing completion. The players have been gathered, the campaign is set in stone and everyone is eager to get off and running. Now I have had to commit much more time to get everything ready at the pace at which my players would like it, already they are chomping at the proverbial bit. But fear not oh Blog reader(s), I have been inspired to write some original work for my RPG, something to help get the players into the mood of the world I have created, and I will be posting it here soon. It is much easier for me to write actually, since it all comes from my head and I can do whatever I want with all the characters, and since it is easier to write I hope it is more enjoyable to read, but I'll let you be the judge of that. Thanks for the comments so far everyone and God Bless.

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Saturday, February 11, 2006

A Post for the Uninformed

Well again it comes to it. I had done this on my last blog and I feel the need to do it here again. This is a post for all people who are not familiar with either Rokugani or Feudal Japanese customs, I will go over some of the strange words that I often use in my story and explain them a little.

Usually placed after the persons family name these suffix's are a denotation of the level of respect shown by the speaker.
-San, the most common, indicates respect on a peer to peer level.
-Sama, is used mostly used to indicate great respect for a lord, or when anothers rank is unknown.
-Chan, rarely used, is indicative of a familial bond, normally between close siblings, though it may also used by a close friend of greater age, such as a Sensei or an uncle.

Caste System:
Sad but true, Rokugan is a caste system, but hey it's good to be on top...
-Emporer, basic, he's the head honcho, whatever he says is law. Most Rokugani look at their Emporer as a Son of Heaven, being near infallable, though most samurai realize he is just a man.
-Clan Champion, each of the Clans in Rokugan, Major or Minor, have a Champion. The Champion is the highest rank in that Clan and has the power to start or stop wars.
-Daimyo, each family in each clan has a Family Daimyo, the Daimyo from the most prominent family is usually also the Clan Champion.
-Samurai, all of the above ranks are also part of the samurai class, any samurai below those ranks either falls into the Bushi, or Shugenga class. Bushi are the traditional type of samurai, doing all the fighting and killing and such. Shugenga are the magic users of the empire, they commune with the kami to produce magical elemental effects. Other subclasses to the Samurai class are Courtier, Scout, Monk, and even Merchant.
-Peasant, most of Rokugan is made up of this class, they do the manual labour and give tribute to the Emporer and their local Daimyo, in turn they are protected by the samurai and area allowed to serve the Glorious Emporer.
-Eta, the lowest of the low, eta are considered filth even by the peasant class, they are responsible for hauling away refuse and disposing of corpses. Most samurai are of the mind that eta are less than human, this, as well as the fact that everyone is born into his or her class with little or no hope of advancement, and it is little surprise that eta would resent their superiors.

To determine status among ranks of samurai one has to be wily and educated, insulting a superior with the improper honourific could lead to death, here is how it is done.
-Family Name, each person in the samurai class has a proper name that is taken at Gempukku (the coming of age ceremony) as well as a Family Name. When the persons name is said the Family Name always comes first, so if I were to say Kyoji's name for example it would be like this: Bayushi Kyoji. This indicates what family he is a part of, in this case the Bayushi family, a samurai would also know from that what Clan the person belonged to, Bayushi being part of the Scorpion Clan.
-Mon, the Mon is a circular symbol similar in function to a coat of arms, each family has a unique Mon. A samurai has to know what each Family and Clans Mons look like, at least enough to be able to recognize them on sight, many pity the samurai who mistakens the mon of the Bayushi family, Scorpion, for that of the Hida family, Crab. Mons are also used for other things besides indicating families, they can also be used to indicate being trained by another clan, membership in a Legion or as a Magistrate, or a high rank such as Emerald or Amethyst Champion.
-Dress, this is the final way a samurai may tell the rank of any given person, though it may suit a higher ranking samurai to mascerade as a common samurai when travelling or conducting secret business, so it is best for a samurai to always assume the person he is talking to is of higher rank, just to be safe.

The life of a samurai, weapons symbolize rank and honour and are cared for with respect, well, most of the time.
-Katana, the 2nd most common, the katana is commonly known as a 'samurai sword', which is true to an extent. The katana features a curving single edged blade about 3.5 feet in length with a small round crossguard and a hilt fit for two hands. It is indeed most exclusively used by samurai.
-Wakizashi, the most common, it symbolizes the samurai's honour, even non-combatants like Shugenga or Courtiers will carry these. The Wakizashi is very similar to the Katana except in a smaller scale, the blade is only about 1 foot long, and the hilt is meant only for a hand and a half.
-Nagimaki, traditionally the weapon of choice for Yojimbo (bodyguards), the Nagamaki is also similar to the Katana, the main difference is that the blade usually has less of a curve and the handle is about 2 feet long giving the weapon more leverage at the expense of manueverability. The Nagamaki is carried unsheathed.
-Tetsubo, a weapon found throughout the Crab clan, the Tetsubo is a long studded wooden club. Upwards of 5 feet long including the handle, the Tetusubo can be driven with fantastic force into ones foes, crushing bones even through armour. Since it's mostly comprised of wood the Tetsubo is much cheaper to manufacture than the finely crafted Katana, and therefore more easily replacable in battle.
-Kusari-Gami, a strange weapon to be found in the hands of a samurai, the Kusari-Gami is actually a combination of two weapons, a Kama (a scythe type weapon derived from a farm implement) and a Flail (a handle and a chain with a heavy weight at the end also derived from a farm implement). The Kusari-Gami is basically a Kama with a Flail attached to the bottom of the handle. Since it is an off-shoot of a farm implement it is looked upon scornfully by most samurai. The Mantis Clan, however, will often use Kama as their primary weapon because they are cheap to replace and when fighting out on open water aboard ships one has the tendency to loose weapons.
-Yari, the basic infantry weapon given to most peasant militia. The Yari is a Spear, pure and simple, a wooden shaft and a metal head, good for throwing or hindering cavalry. Samurai will sometimes carry a few of these into battle as a type of lance when fighting while mounted.

oops. I forgot the quote of the post, so here it is:

"Alas for the wailing of the gulls! Did not the Lady tell me to beware of them?" Legolas Greenleaf


Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Chapter 4, A Tsuruchi's Death

Setting: Razor of Dawn Castle, Northern Crab lands
Time: 2 weeks after Chapter 3.

All was quiet as the strange furred creature scurried purposefully down the hallways of the large stone stronghold. Many of the samurai normaly garrisoned here were away on various assignments, rooting out any bloodspeaker presence near small unprotected villages. Or more likely were weeding out fiction from fact as one village leader took it into his head to report the neighbouring village's leader as a member of the despised cult. The creature sniffed the air casually when he neared his destination, his tail twitched in anticipation as he rounded the last corner and confronted the guards outside of Hida Tosa's planning room.

"Yoee'rik'tch, Tosa-sama awaits your presence inside." the guard on the left stated, smoothly pronouncing the difficult name.

"Yes-yes, I know." the Nezumi replied.

The guard opened the thick door and Yeo'rik'tk entered bowing slightly to Hida Tosa who stood within. The Crab captain regarded the Nezumi for a moment before motioning him over to a table filled with maps of various regions.

"We have reports of strange occurances in a small village south-east of here that may indicate bloodspeaker activity in the area. I want you to check it out." Tosa said.

At this Yoee'rik'tch's face looked troubled and he asked, "is it Yashi-pups village?"

"No, no, it is further east than that," Tosa assured, "it is called Pebble-Stream village, I want you to assemble a unit right away and investigate this, take whatever action you feel needed, and report back with your findings."

"Hai, Tosa-san." Yoee'rik'tch said, relieved.

Kitsune Sasuke had just settled into a meditative stance when the serenity of his morning ritual was rudely broken by the sharp snap of the shoji screen being opened with excessive force. Matsu Yuudai rushed into the room, quickly moving over to where his armour lay buffed and clean. During his stay in the temple, healing up from his encounter with a big stick, Yuudai had not much else to do besides take care of his armour. The amourers had done a good job patching it up and had even found some Matsu gold laquer so that it looked as good as new. Yuudai was hurriedly trying to attach all the pieces by himself as Hida Shinzo entered the room followed by two young servant boys, who quickly moved to assist the Lion. Sasuke looked over at Shinzo inquisitivly.

"We've been called to gather in the courtyard as soon as possible, Yoee'rik'tch has chosen us to acompany him on an assignment to root out some bloodspeakers." Shinzo said.

"Hai." Sasuke replied, trying to conceal the excitement in his voice.

He had wanted to talk with the resident Nezumi more since their first encounter the night the deeds of the Legion had been read, but he had never gotten up the courage. This Nezumi was nothing like what he had imagined from reading books on the ancient race. He had asked around hoping to find out if Yoee'rik'tch had any connection to the Rememberers or was familiar at all with Ratling name magic, but none of the few he spoke to knew the Ratling well enough to be able to tell for certain. Perhaps he would learn what he wished simply by observing, in any event it would at least be good to get Yukimura out for a little excersise.

"I hope I don't have to follow the Ratlings orders." Yuudai said bluntly as he donned his helmet and placed his diasho in hs saya.

"I believe Tosa-sama has put the Nezumi in command of this assignment, would you doubt the Captains wisdom Matsu-sama?" Bayushi Kyoji asked as he stepped into the room.

"I have heard that he has a strong dislike for the cultists, so I wouldn't worry that any orders he gives would be too difficult to follow." said Shinzo.

"Enough of this," Yuudai growled, "let's just get going already."

After travelling for a few hours south-east on a little used cart path the group, led by a trotting Yoee'rik'tch, arrived at Pebble-Stream village. It was small, the cart path barely widened out as it became the main road through the center of the village. Near the entrance there was a small magistrates office, too small to support more than a lone travelling magistrate, and one of those hadn't been seen here in a while or else they wouldn't have sent for the Legion. There were a few small shops to either side of the road and even a small smithy for repairing farming tools, one larger building further into town stood out and the group headed in that direction.

As they were dismounting Yoee'rik'tch asked one of the gawking peasants, "Where is elder in charge of village?"

The man looked confused for a moment as if wondering how to address this creature, then he bowed. "He is over in the shop across the street, sama." he said pointing to a small storefront.

Yoee'rik'tch motioned for the others to follow and headed into the small store. While the third samurai was crowding into the shop they heard a commotion from the street, followed by some wild yelling that soon resolved into coherent words.

"Come out here you cowardly rat! I know you're in there. Come and fight me!" The voice yelled.

The samurai all looked at Yoee'rik'tch in puzzlement and moved back outside. There they saw what appeared to be a Mantis samurai, emerald green kimono stained and torn, an empty quiver on his back, and a katana in his hands. His eyes were those of a madman, he was so enraged yet so focused as he glared at the Nezumi that stood across the street.

"Come here and I will kill you, end your pathetic existence with some shred of honour." The Mantis cried.

"What you doing here, we think you dead-dead, but this fate worse than death, you have lost your name." Yoee'rik'tch replied.

"You know nothing of my fate, I was abandoned, it is your fault, and I will kill you!" Yelled the Mantis.

"Who is this madman? Asked Yuudai, "he is obviously tainted, we must put an end to him."

"No, I fight him alone, you no interfere, I will deal with him." Replied Yoee'rik'tch.

"You will die by my blade!" the Mantis yelled as he raised his katana over his head and charged.

Yoee'rik'tch responded instantly, bringing his nagimaki up and moving forward to meet the attack. The blades clanged together and the warriors broke apart circling one another gauging their opponents weaknesses. Another charge, and this time no weapons joined, Yoee'rik'tch deftly dodged the Mantis's enraged swing and traced a bloody line across the madmans leg with his blade. The wound didn't seem to slow the samurai and he charged recklessly again and this time his opponent turned his katana and simultaneously used the longer reach of the nagamaki to skewer the other leg. Blood pouring freely from both wounds the Mantis stepped back to assess his opponent once more. Yoee'rik'tch determinedly returned the look and noticed that the Mantis was muttering something under his breath, it seemed as if he was saying 'kill me, kill me'. With a surge of unnatural enargy the bleeding Mantis sprang, his katana aimed for the kill, Yoee'rik'tch barely had time to parry the attack and the Mantis struck again and again, forcing the smaller Nezumi back. The Legionaires that stood watching tensed up and gripped their weapons tightly preparing for the worst if their leader should fall. But Yoee'rik'tch was not out of tricks, the Mantis's strokes were rythmic and predictable and as he raised his katana once again Yoee'rik'tch lashed out with his thick tail knocking out one of his opponents legs while striking quickly with his weapon at the swordarm. The katana flew out of the Mantis's grasp and clattered to the ground many feet away, he held his bleeding arm close to his chest.

"Restrain him." Yoee'rik'tch ordered, and Kyoji and Yuudai quickly rushed to subdue the disarmed madman.

"Tainted filth!" Yuudai muttered.

"I not so sure he have taint," Yoee'rik'tch said, looking over at Sasuke, "shugenga, you check him for taint."

Sasuke moved closer to where the two samurai had the Mantis pinned to the ground, sat down, closed his eyes and urged the water kami to search the prisioner for signs of the taint. How long he communed he did not know, but when he opened his eyes the samurai were all staring down at his expectantly.

"I do not believe he has the taint, there is something deeper within him that he is fighting against, something, not someone, that wshes to take total control, I do not know much of bloodspeakers magic save for what I have heard tell from other Legionaires, but it almost seems as if he is cursed, how I do not know. Kuni Hirokazu would know better than I." Said Sasuke.

"We should bring him back to the castle with us then, have Kuni-san determine his ailment." Kyoji remarked.

"Hirokazu is not at castle, he had assignment a few yesterdays ago, not expected to return for some time."

Yoee'rik'tch said. "We also must finish our assignment, if he not tainted then he is not what we are searching for. Bind his wounds and secure him in magistrate office, get villagers to help guard him, you guard too Shinzo. We go talk to elder."

Shinzo and Kyoji headed off to the magistrates office with the bound and wounded Mantis, threw him in the inner chamber and instructed two village militia armed with yari to guard the door. Kyoji forced a strange concoction mixed with rice down the Mantis's throat and then left Shinzo to go and talk to the elder. Sasuke, seeing that the ponies were on edge from the violent duel went over to calm their nerves. They had all crowded closer to Yukimura as if the proud horse offered some sort of protection. His mere presence seemed to ease the animals and he rubbed each of them down with a brush from his saddlebags. With the mounts calmed he looked around the area to see if there was anything amiss. The villagers were just getting back into routine and melting away back to whatever they had been doing before the commotion started. Yoee'rik'tch, Yuudai, and Kyoji were all in the largest building apparently talking with the village elder about the strange occurances that had prompted this visit. Then Sasuke looked over to where Shinzo casually leaned against the outside of the magistrates office, his large tetsubo across his shoulders, and headed in that direction.

Just then he heard a loud shout and a guttural roar and then more shouting and banging coming from the magistrates office. Shinzo jumped up and rushed through the door to find the two militia absent from their posts in the outer room, the door to the inner room was open a crack and he could hear laboured breathing coming from within. He burst through the door tetsubo raised, ready to strike and came face to face with the two trembling villagers. One was disarmed and staring at the wall in shock, his yari buried firmly in the prisioners chest, pinning him to the wall.

"He was going to escape and kill us!" The one cried.

"His arms are still tied together, how could he escape?" Asked Shinzo angrily.

"We heard a noise and we saw him coming to get us, he was going to kill us!" The other one stuttered.

"You!" Shinzo yelled, pointing to the vilager without a weapon. "Go get Kitsune Sasuke and bring him here!"

The man fled hurrying down the street toward where Sasuke was, panic in his eyes.

"What has happened?" Sasuke asked when the villager reached him.

The villager explained what he thought had happened and how he had nearly been killed by the green clad samurai, and Sasuke sent him on to fetch the others, Yoee'rik'tch would want to deal with this himself. Sasuke then moved quickly to the magistrates office and stepped inside, it was obvious at first glance that if the Mantis did indeed live he would not do so for much longer. There was so much blood on the walls and floor that Sasuke doubted any healer could save this man. But on closer inspection he found that he would not even be called apon to try, the samurai was very much dead. Soon Yoe'rik'tch arrived leading the others inside the office, and when he saw the Mantis samurai pinned to the wall with his arms still bound he was furious.

"Where is one who did this?!" He barked, yanking the yari free. The body slumped to the ground resting in the pool of blood.

"He was the one I sent to get you." Shinzo stated looking around for the villager.

"He must have slipped off before we got here," Kyoji said, "in any event we no longer have reason to stay in this village, we should follow the lead we have recieved and head to the village from which this Mantis came."

"Yes-yes." Yoee'rik'tch agreed looking at the village elder who was staring in shocked silence at the bloody corpse. "Have eta dispose of body. We go-go now to next village."

The samurai walked back down the street to where the mounts were tied while the villagers summoned the eta to clean up the mess. As they were preparing to ride out Kyoji explained the situation to the two samurai who had been absent from the meeting with the elder.

"Apparently, for the last week or so, strange samurai have been travelling through this village, what marked them as strange in the villagers eyes was how aggressive and on edge they were, they seemed hunted. The elder said that though they hadn't actually harmed anyone the occurance of the same uncharacteristic traits in many seperate instances prompted the message to the Imperial Legions. The elder also noted that most of these samurai had been travelling up the road from a small village east of here. We will go there to check it out." He said.

It was past mid-day when the samurai departed for the village to the east, the village elder had begged them to stay and protect them from more attacks, but the samurai had little time to spare if they wished to reach their destination before nightfall. The path had been more difficult than they had expected, often winding curcuitously around dense patches of forest, or narrowing greatly to pass through a copse of trees, sometimes forcing the riders to travel single file or even dismount and guide their ponies. Yoee'rik'tch was always out in front, scampering ahead scouting out the path and searching for foes. The group was quiet, reflecting on the events of the day and wondering about the strange Mantis that the Nezumi possibly knew.

It grew darker as they continued their journey, the high mountains on the borders of the crab lands and the dense foliage cutting off the light early. They were now forced to ride single file permanently, the woods showing no sign of allowing easy passage, all they could do was stick to the path and follow the shadowy form of the ratling in front of them. Suddenly Yoee'rik'tch signalled for a halt, motioning the others to stay put he crept of the side of the path into the trees. The samurai waited for a moment and then dismounted, something didn't feel right, Sasuke felt a chill going up his spine and he gripped his weapon tighty. Kyoji had started to venture down the path when Yoee'rik'tch returned.

"Four human things down path, feeding, they not notice us, we attack with surprise." He said.

The samurai nodded, unsheathed their weapons, and handed their mounts reins to Sasuke, then headed silently down the path after Yoee'rik'tch. Sasuke tied the ponies to a tree, grabbed his nagamaki and hurried after his companions, wondering what sort of abomination they would face this time. In the near darkness he could barely make out four human sized figures hunched over something in the middle of the path ahead. They had no apparent worries about being heard because they made the most hideous moaning slurping sound as they tore chucks of meat from the lump in the dirt. As they neared Sasuke noticed that these things were human, or had at least been so in life, some of their bones were exposed and each displayed various levels of decay. Sasuke's stomach lurched in his chest and he felt faint, they were hunched over what appeared to be a young child, whether it was a boy or girl could no longer be determined, the other samurai also saw this and charged as one into the unaware zombies. Yoee'rik'tch jumped out from the trees attacking the creatures flank with his blade.

"Destroy their heads!" Shinzo yelled as his tetsubo shattered the nearest zombies skull with a wet cracking thud.

The other samurai were not as well prepared, their fine blades were good a striking specific spots on living opponents, but against the dead flesh of zombies the crushing power of a blunt weapon was peerless. Yuudai realized this and switched over the the flail end of his kusari-gami, crushing another zombie with a mighty swing. The zombies tried to fight back but they were off balance and the samurai armour stood up to their unarmed hands. A deft stroke by Koji severed the head of another and its body crumpled to the ground in a heap, the last zombie was missing an arm and most of a leg when Shinzos massive stroke sent it's skull sailing through the air. The last of the corpses finished twitching, and the group looked around to see if the brief commotion had caught any unwanted attention. All was quiet and the samurai relaxed, looking over themselves to see if anyone had suffered injury from the festering nails of the undead. Everyone was fine, not a scratch to be seen, and as Sasuke rushed to fetch the mounts the others gazed down the path to the next hill over which they could see the glow of a small village, what awaited them there, they soon would find out.

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Sunday, February 05, 2006

While I can...

Well, it has been hard going trying to work out time these past weeks; I have 3 chapters in the works, I ran the first playtest for my RPG, got my laptop internet ready, and I have a friend who requested a piece of custom art for his cardbox. So this long pause has not been without reason, and I say Ha! to all you nay-sayers that claimed I couldn't last a month! Actually nobody said that, nobody really cared too much I guess, but I doubted whether it'd last too long. Anyway, I'll try to get chapter 4 up tonight, that is if the router doesn't go all bulunky on me and shut me out again. I also must stay away from the TV, I recently purchased a copy of Final Fantasy VIII, and I am addicted to Triple Triad. My last copy, for PC, was stolen by an evil LOTR TCG player named Dave, he's short and bald, and has sickle cell anemia (that's where your blood doesn't clot properly right? it's been ages since biology), so if you see him strong arm him into giving it back to me. But yeah, I guess that's why I have been delayed on chapter 4 for the most part, but it's so fun.

Regarding the first playtest of FFRPG, it wasn't a total bomb, the people who decided to show up liked it. It basically wasn't ready to be playtested yet, I had just pushed for that date cause a friend of mine who has assisted me with it in the past was back in town for a while and I wanted him to be a part of the playest. Long story short he couldn't make it and all the last minute prep I had done for the playtest session wasn't done properly to scale so had I not played the parts of the 2 absent characters and 2 NPCs the 3 person party would have been killed and eaten by 3 Killer Mantis's. I did however see great potential from the tick based initiative system, especially compared to the next weeks L5R session, but I couldn't get to much constructive feedback from the 3 newbie players, as Peter Jackson shows us with king kong, it's not the best thing to be your own final editor. Anyway I have scheduled a new session, this time to actualy start the campaign I have been working on for a while, we will just be creating characters this next time and going over rules and the like, but I still need one more player. So, if by chance you live in the Fraser Valley area and are prefferably a fan of the Final Fantasy series (I need allies to keep my ideas alive midst all these WoWsers), or just interested in the idea Lmk and we can arrange a meet, it'd be cool if there was a female player in our group, but guys are fine too.

Other news. I have finally aclimatized to my new surroundings, my room is tiny and cold, but it has light, more than I cansay for my old one. Roomates are not bad, cooking is a pain, but mommy gives me sweets all the time. I haven't yet gotten permission to bring my cat, Nemo, here, but tommorow I think I will purchase a pair of Bala Sharks to eat my last lonely White Cloud Tetra. But not from Petcetera, they have the worst fish, everything I have bought there has died, with the exception of my snail, which they overcharged me for. Jerks.

And now I will introduce a new part of this blog.............. the fun quote of the day/post.

Here it is: (wait for it each post with baited breath)

"Only a single monk to guard the shrine?" the ronin chuckled.

"A single monk," said the smiling old man, "and eight million spirits."

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