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  #16  
Old 04-25-2017, 08:13 AM
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Liu Fang gives the coquettish Ume a polite Eitoan bow before turning to follow his now furious for some reason mistress.

In the right light you might just say there is the shadow of a smile on his lips.

Last edited by davide15; 04-25-2017 at 08:15 AM.
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  #17  
Old 04-28-2017, 09:47 PM
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Akahoshi Hiro - 1st of Lotumens, 31st year of the rule of Emperor Xuan, Xu Seng Sa, Xu Province

Hiro nodded, "Yes, far from home." He then takes the offered orange and bites into it, enjoying the flavour, but also to mask his confusion. Does he think we didn't have oranges? In the jungle? It's the meals here that amaze me... the combinations are staggering!

"Thank you. Orange is... quite good." he says, as they arrive at the inn. Giving a wave as Su Xiu leaves, Hiro enters the Ruby Hare.

"I need camp." he said entering the room, an armored savage, clad in fur, with a demonic mask affixed to his shoulder, glaring about the room for someone who would accommodate his request.
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Old 04-30-2017, 05:33 PM
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~~~Lu Tian & Lin Liu~~~

The flirtatious young woman's behaviors certainly seemed to be drawing a great deal of attention. The red flush on his ears showed that Lu Tian was not entirely immune to her charms, but the man seemed more intrigued by the words the beggar had spoken. The crippled man made an agreeable sound as he swallowed a bite of his meal.

"Of course," he said with a nod. "There are always fights and contests held during the festival. Of course, the greatest of these is the Grand Tournament on the sixth day, but there are fights held every day leading up to it, held for most of the daylight. Anyone can join the smaller fights but the Grand Tournament is invitation only. Mostly just the lords or their champions and the army officers, but they always a handful of extra spots left over for those who distinguish themselves enough to catch the eye of somebody important."

The cripple gestured down the street, where Lu Tian could just barely still see the tale end of the caravan pushing its way through the crowd.

"It's not hard to find the tournament grounds. Just follow the crowd. They're set up not far from where they're holding the boat races today."

~~~Hiro~~~
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Hiro and Su Xiu traveled at a relaxed pace as they made their way towards the inn they'd been directed towards. The crowded nature of the street made moving any faster a difficulty, even if most of the other festival goers seemed inclined to give them a wide birth. While the natives of Xu were nowhere near as bad as in Ying, the Khahar still had a fearsome reputation and of course there was Hiro beside him. So to most they must have looked a pair of savages walking down the street.

Eventually though the found the inn, and Su Xiu waved goodbye as he carried on towards the old town and the governor's manse to attend to his main duty.

With the Khahar gone, Hiro took a moment to observe the building before him. It was a two-story building, larger than most of the other buildings around it. Like the rest of the city it had been decorated for the festival; lanterns hung from the awnings and trappings of bright red and gold were strung from the windows. Above the door, a sign had the characters spelling out the name of the inn beside a stylized drawing of a hare, painted red.

The inside of the building was a lively and colorful as the outside. Most of the tables were taken by customers, and the air was filled the sounds of friendly conversation and laughter, and several young serving girls weaved their way through the room carrying trays to and from the kitchen. A whole host of pleasant smells wafted into the room from the kitchen. Behind the counter, a small, wiry man with a receding hairline and a thin face stood, surveying the room as the servers darted in and out of the kitchen bringing the food to the customers. He turned when Hiro entered and promptly fell of his stool in surprise falling to the ground in a clatter of flailing limps and yelping curses.

After he had clambered back up to his feet, the little man bustled around the counter to great his newest customer. Despite his imposing presence, Hiro was actually only of average height, but the innkeeper barely came up to his chin.

"Ah yes, hello sir," the man said, wringing his hands as he nervously took in the animals pelts, oni mask and giant tetsubo Hiro was wearing. His nose wrinkled in displeasure. "I am very pleased to welcome you to this fine establishment, but I don't think... Ah... Unfortunately we just don't have enough room left for another customer at this time."

"Very sorry!" The little man very pointed did not look towards the corner of the room were several obviously unused and free cots had been stacked. But as Hiro turned away to seek different camping grounds, the jingling of metal in the coinpouch he had been bringing out could be heard. The little man briefly looked stricken for a moment, eyes darting left and right before he came to a decision. "But, ah, if it pleases you sir, I do believe we have some room in the stables! I would hate to know I let such a fine upstanding young man sleep on the street."

~~~Ume~~~

The interaction with the Xu noble lady and her escort had been short, and soon the two of them were off back towards the city proper. A few onlookers from the crowd watched them bustle off in a huff. Or at least the girl was, while Liu Fang hurried to catch up with his ward before she vanished. Once they were gone however, Ume found herself alone again, free to explore the festival at her leisure. A great cheer erupted from the crowd nearby, and the crowd soon lost interest in the affairs of the upper classes. It seemed another race had just begun.

As the sun slowly began to inch its way across the sky and the day dragged on into afternoon, Ume noticed that the crowd of race spectators was thinning slightly as people began heading towards different parts of the festival. A fairly large crowd of them seemed to headed off in the same direction. Though it was difficult to make out exactly what was over there, the tall banners visible over the stalls and buildings seemed to indicate that it was a fairly large gathering.

On the breeze she could just barely hear the sound of cheers erupting from that direction as well.

~~~Liu Fang & Su Xiu~~~
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The pace back to the governor's residence was considerably less leisurely than the pleasant stroll they had taken earlier to the races. La Hei Su's cheeks burned, though whether from anger, jealousy or lingering embarrassment was difficult to place. It seemed the young lady had lost her desire to experience the sights and sensations of the festival and simply wished to return home as swiftly as possible.

Liu Fang followed dutifully, ever watchful for any signs of danger that might threaten the girl. Fortunately, few of the crowd pay much attention to them and fewer still attempt to approach, perhaps chased away by her sour disposition. It seemed the young lady was not as good at masking her displeasure as she might have hoped.

As they neared the governor's manse they found a rather unusual sight waiting for them. A lone Khahar horseman standing in the gate - his horse blocking the entrance - looking up at the massive building.

It had not been as hard for Su Xiu to find the governor's residence as he might have feared. Find the oldest fanciest part of the city, and then find the biggest, fanciest house therein. And there had been plenty of people around to ask for directions when he got lost in the confusing tight-knit network of roads. The Khahar had nomadic roots, and though there were a few permanent settlements even those tended to be open and simple with large roads wide enough for the horses and few buildings taller than a single story.

Still he had found his way. Eventually. Now he just had to hope he could get a meeting with the governor.

As he pondered his next steps, Su Xiu noticed the sound of footsteps approaching. Coming up to the gate was a young lady, obviously a noble from the fine silk dress she wore. With her was a man, in well cut garments, in not so rich as those of the lady.
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  #19  
Old 05-01-2017, 08:42 AM
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"Thank you, brother," Lu Tian replied with a respectful bow directed at the cripple. He was about to leave, but the undeniable presence of the beautiful girl next to him seemed to all but demand his presence.

"Hmm... Miss Lin Liu, perhaps you are also looking for a place to rest up and wash the dirt of the road off of you?" Unbidden images of the young lady bathing, cloth draping across her creamy skin, entered Lu Tian's mind, and he quickly directed his attention on the caravan retreating into the distance to distract himself. Was it really so long since he had known the caress of a woman, that even the slightest bit of attention from one set his imagination racing? He was male and she was beautiful, certainly. Still, he was supposed to be better than that. He admonished himself silently as he focused on his next words.

"If so, then perhaps The Ruby Hare is the next destination for you as well? I should be happy to walk with you. I need lodgings, and then I think I will sign up for the fights. If I could win a spot in the Grand Tournament, that would be... glorious."

He flexed the fingers on his right hand, running through the first initial movements of Thrushes Among the Branches, and enjoying the sensation of power that ran up through his arm as whipcord muscles responded quickly and smoothly. Insisting on training every evening before turning in for the night had kept him supple and ready to act at a moments notice.

Lu Tian was not forgetting his original purpose in the city. Laughing Ping had last been seen here, and while there was always a chance he had moved on, every lead needed to be checked. But when there was a chance to promote the name of the Jade Fox Society, how could Lu Tian stand back? It worked on more levels than just aiming for fame - because fame brought recognition, and a bounty hunter recognized as a formidable foe was less likely to have to fight. And that, in turn, made it easier to bring in bounties. It was one of those strange ways of the world that urged a skilled man to keep improving lest he be gobbled up by others.

Lu Tian nodded to himself. Lodgings first, and then he would sign up for the tournament. There were spots in the Grand Tournament for those that distinguished themselves? Well, then Lu Tian would make sure to be among those talented few.
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Last edited by Thorsten; 05-01-2017 at 08:46 AM.
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  #20  
Old 05-01-2017, 03:26 PM
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Su XiuSu Xiu sat atop his horse in the middle of the gate as he figured out what to do next. His horse was antsy as ever, perhaps a close reflection of Su Xiu's inner mind. The young Kahar just pat and stroked Jun's chestnut mane to keep him still.

Shoudl he speak only to the governor? What should he say? What if he says the wrong things? How would he know if he was being played? These were the things Su Xiu wondered and worried about while at the gates. The monstrous size of the governor's manse had a foreboding silhouette about it. Until today, he thought the stories of Jin palaces were all exaggerated. He was wrong, for better or for worse. His father's residence was modest as a monk's room compared to this! To think of all the kung fu that went into making this palace and this city...

Su Xiu snapped out of his trance as his ears picked up footsteps approaching his direction. His face immediately snapped from contemplative to cheerful, but a careful observer would see this was just a mask.

The lone Kahar turns him and his horse around to face them. He didn't fit the typical appearance of short and stocky with a chip on his shoulder. No, this one looked more like typical Jinese, the only thing giving his ethnicity right away being the Kahar gear and his horse breed. He had a smile on too.

Su Xiu's eyes widen upon catching sight of La Hei Su. Wow! She must be nobility - and she's real pretty too! His cheeks flush red as he makes the first step to introduce himself.

"I'm Su Xiu from Xin province, and I'm here to speak to governor La Deng! You must live or work here I'm guessing? This mansion is so big, I don't even know where to start!"

The man next to her catches Su Xiu's eyes. He must be some sort of official or maybe some sort of household servant judging by his clothes and professional appearance. A butler? What a luxury!
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  #21  
Old 05-02-2017, 02:24 PM
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Once again Ume was lost in thought. It happened a lot these days.

What a curious encounter she'd had earlier. In the nearly year she'd been in Xu Seng Sa, she had never had a run in with the local nobility before. It had reminded her of an another time and in the moment she had shown more excitement than she ought; she was usually much more wary about accepting such invitations from strangers. In a way she would have liked to meet Liu Fang later that night, but wondered if she'd made the right decision in accepting the offer so eagerly. She knew nothing of the man and as such was reconsidering whether she would end up being near the water later that night after all.

Ume felt the sharp summer sun burning on her skin as the day rolled into the afternoon. "No wonder the young girl had had a parasol", she thought as she looked around to a thinning crowd. The most exciting dragon boat races of the day had been scheduled earlier in the day and she knew things would be calmer here until the nightly activities started. A vibrant opening to the Festival that was bound to keep spectators occupied until the afternoon fights started no doubt.

Ume had considered going to watch the fights in the days prior to the start of the Festival. She had loved watching her father spar with his pupils and the buzz surrounding the Grand Tournament was quite strong. Her old self would have been ecstatic to be privy to such an event. The best of the best. Yet, in some ways she felt that since her father had passed, her interest in fighting had as well and she had avoided any sort of event featuring fighting since she'd left home. She had ultimately decided to stay away.

"There's no reason to stay here." Ume thought as she got up from her spot by the water. "It's far too hot to be out directly in the sun in the afternoon, I might as well see what else the Kamikaze Festival has to offer." Ume flowed with the crowd as she stopped at merchant posts along the way. There were beautiful pieces of jewelry, clothes and accessories she would have certainly worn could she afford them. Merchants selling exquisite weapons and armor were also plentiful, though she didn't stop at those.

Before she realized it she had found herself in the vicinity of the fights. She smelled the sweat first, then heard the grunts of the fighters and the clangs of their weapons. That was all it took. Despite her pain and resolution to stay away, Ume quickly found her way to the front of the crowd where she stayed staring at the fighting men with unblinking eyes.

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  #22  
Old 05-05-2017, 01:43 PM
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Akahoshi Hiro - 1st of Lotumens, 31st year of the rule of Emperor Xuan, Xu Seng Sa, Xu Province
Akahoshi nodded sagely at the innkeeper's words. "I do not want to camp in street. Too busy. I camp in your... stables. Take me there." he said.

Once he is led into the stables, sequestered apart from the main building, he grins. The innkeeper thought he was a total idiot. Akahoshi had not stayed at an inn before, but he'd eaten at many taverns in his journey, ones that would let him trade game for cooked meals, and some had rooms. He never stayed there, as he was worried about antsy villagers harming him in his sleep, but he knew enough to recognize a cot. They wanted him outside? Fine by him.

Inside, he felt confined, the walls closing in on him, especially with so many people, and while the stable wasn't totally open, it was outside enough he felt comfortable, he could just think of the stalls as... a large lean-to.

He arranges his gear in a vacant stall, moving some straw around for comfort. The place smelled heavily of horse, but it wasn't the worst smell to him. Animal smells were honest, authentic, they did not wrap themselves in scent to change who they were.

He noted an unusual occupant in the stalls. There had not been horses in the wilds, and the tribe did not use them, preferring other options. So he hadn't been familiar with them, but he was very familiar with animals as a whole, and since coming to the civilized world, he'd met enough horses and interacted with them often enough to get an eye for it, and the all-white horse in one of the stalls stood out from the more common, run-of-the mill horses housed in the other stalls.

He approached it carefully and looked it over. It looked very well groomed and cared for, and definitely seemed of better stock than the ones that surrounded it.

He rooted in his bag through his food supplies, and found an apple. This will do. he approached the horse gently, calmly, without showing fear, but without spooking it, and held the apple out to the horse. "Here. You can have this." he said kindly, in Eitogo, which he was more comfortable with. For animals, often the words didn't matter as much as the tone. But the horse seemed to perk up.

Holding it out, the horse bit into the apple delicately. As she ate, he reached a hand out and rubbed the side of her head. "Good girl."

He left the rest of the apple with the horse and finished setting up his own stall. Having met the roommates, he set out into the city to find the smith the merchant had spoke of. He'd learned much from village smiths as he went, but very few made weapons, or armor. To find someone who made them for the best... coming here had been a good decision.

Now... he needed to find the tournament grounds. He sniffed the air deeply, the strongest smell of human was coming from farther in... that direction. Hiro assumed the largest concentration of people would likely be the tournament grounds, and he set off. It was time to find Kang Zhihao.

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Old 05-06-2017, 05:35 AM
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Liu FangThe walk back from the dragon boat races was cold and quiet. No more games from his lady and the pace she set was nearly uncomfortably fast. Still, the pace and her direct route left Liu Fang feeling better about her security, not that he dropped his guard for even a moment, his eyes scanning every corner where someone might hide and each festival goer with a smile on their face. For the most part they seemed to stay out of the way of the briskly moving noble lady.

In the back of his mind Fang is going over the numbers for the rice shortage in Gongla, wondering if there was enough surplus in the provincial stores to send them the needed supplies directly along with orders to Yuo for a minor resupply. It would cut down the time needed to get the supplies there...but it all hinged on whether Ye had already started negotiations or if a deal could be struck with Gongla. Fang made a note in his head to try and get the trade reports from the Ministry of Commerce and Trade, and if possible to tap his connections in the Ministry of Security to see if they had any reports of secret negotiations between Ye and Gongla, not that he expected any, but it is always good to have a full picture of the problem before making any rash decisions.

Finally, an opportunity to get back to work!

That is when he saw the horse and rider before the gate. It was very odd to find someone riding within the city limits, especially here. Usually the privilege was reserved only for members of the nobility. Clearly the man is Kahar, and they say that seperating a Kahar from his horse is like separating a man from his...well it couldn’t really be true, neh? Liu continues to appraise the oddly dressed rider as he approaches, although he is clad in skins and furs it is clear the clothing is of high quality, though quite travel stained. He must be a messenger...odd that he wouldn’t take the moment to cleanse himself before coming here, perhaps the message is quite important, though who knows with Kahar what their customs of cleanliness are, after all they live so closely with their horses.

Then the man turned, and Liu Fang could see his eyes go directly to the governor’s daughter.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Su Xiu
"I'm Su Xiu from Xin province, and I'm here to speak to governor La Deng! You must live or work here I'm guessing? This mansion is so big, I don't even know where to start!"
The name sparked some small recognition in Liu Fang’s head, but he could not place where. Probably the son of some minor noble in the Kahar hinterlands. Still with unfailing courtesy, his face an unreadable mask, Fang addresses the horseman formally. “Salutations, my lord.” He says, with a formal Kahar salute. Fang’s Kahar is near flawless, but there is a slight Jinese lilt to the way he forms his words that takes out some of the traditional harshness. ”Of course, you must be tired, after such a long journey. Please, if you will come in, you can refresh yourself and we will see if the Governor can schedule an appointment.”

Fang signals to the guards on the door who had been watching the heavily armed man cautiously from beneath their helmets to open the gate. ”Your horse will be held in the Governor’s stables along with his other animals, and it will be fed and watered for your return, if you wish it.” He says smoothly, signaling again to a stableboy nearby to come over and take the horse. ”You will understand that visiting dignitaries are requested to surrender their weapons upon entry to the Governor’s Residence.” This will require no signal, as the guards understand that no armed outsiders are allowed on within.

Fang transitions back to Jinese, ”I must escort my mistress back to her quarters. But I will return momentarily, to settle the schedule for you.” The bureaucrat steps aside, head low, to make room for La Hei Su to enter the mansion, prepared to follow after her.
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Old 05-06-2017, 04:53 PM
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Su Xiu

Su Xiu had been listening for Jinese, not Kahar to escape from the man's lips! His face flashes with surprise but it just as quickly leaves. Su Xiu couldn't help but keep an amused smile afterwards though.

The Jinese always looked down on the Kahar when it came to their culture and society. Most Jinese would rather learn Eitoan or some obscure Jinese dialect than Kahar. Such was life as a Kahar in the Jinese Empire.

So not only was Su Xiu surprised, he was also honored that a Jinese would bother to learn the Kahar tongue, and this man was fluent too!


He was also not used to being called lord. It wasn't common even with other Kahar, save for formal circumstances. They had other names for him though, however unpleasant it was.


Su Xiu returns the salute with a casual flair and, to return the respect of learning the Kahar tongue, speaks to the butler like he would a fellow Kahar. His speech is rapid fire with little pretense, which is the normal pace which he speaks.

“Yes, greetings. I'm on an important mission, so as soon as possible would be best. I also can't say no to refreshments.” He dismounts from Jun and unfurls a blanket in his saddle that was concealing his weapons.

There is the Kahar bow, quiver and arrows, as beautifully crafted as one would expect along with a spear and a lance. Those who studied Kahar culture would realize that this Kahar wasn't equipped with the Kahar scimitar, almost as quintessential for Kahar warriors as the horse and the bow. Having the scimitar was a rite of passage and a sign that this Kahar was a true warrior. Evidently, this one did not have his... yet.

He hands over his weapons to the guard with a slight reluctance and delicateness, as if expecting the Jin guardsman to clumsily drop or otherwise handle his prized bow haphazardly.

He fetches his fancy court clothes from one of his saddlebags to change into after his bath.

Upon seeing the stable boy approaching, Su Xiu leans in and whispers something to Jun to soothe him. The horse's eyes go wide for a second before a serenity washes over him. Jun doesn't like anyone but his owner handling him.

To the stable boy he says “Careful with Jun. He's a proud, stubborn one. Treat him well.”

As the well dressed butler turns to leave, Su Xiu calls after him. “Before you go, what's your name? Your Kahar is good! If you don't mind, I'd like to take a moment to enjoy the view.”

Left to his devices, Su Xiu makes himself at home, a habit developed from years of Kahar hospitality. He ascends up the stairs to the walls of the palace much to the guard's displeasure. All he wanted to do was get a good view at the grand city of Xu Seng Sa from below!

Su Xiu enjoys the view, the bustle of thousands of people as they go about their business. The soft summer breeze keeps the intense heat from the sun in check, and he can smell the cuisines wafting in from a nearby restaurant. He leans on the wall with his elbows and rests his hand against his cheek.

“Ah.. This is the good life isn't it?”

He settled himself for a few more minutes - hours it seems like - before showing himself inside.
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Old 05-07-2017, 03:36 PM
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~~~Lu Tian & Lin Liu~~~

The crippled man returns the bow as best he can, offering one last thanks for the food. With information and a new objective in hand, Lu Tian had a plan for his time in the city. But first he needed to secure lodgings. Since the young lady appeared to be in the same boat as him, he offered to accompany her, at least as far as the inn. She accepted with a grateful smile, and they headed off down the street in the direction the caravan had been heading the last they had seen of it.

The festival goers made navigating the crowded street a slow process, but soon enough Lu Tian spotted thier destination up ahead. The Ruby Hare was a two-story building, larger than most of the other buildings around it making it easy to pick out. Like the rest of the city it had been decorated for the festival; lanterns hung from the awnings and trappings of bright red and gold were strung from the windows. Above the door, a sign had the characters spelling out the name of the inn beside a stylized drawing of a hare, painted red.

As they approached the building, a familiar figure emerged from out behind the building. Both of the travelers recognized Hiro, the taciturn, savage-looking man who Fen Tong had picked up along the way. Even if he hadn't talked much, it was hard to miss him. They saw him sniff at the air a few times like some kind of animal, before turning and heading elsewhere into the city.

The inside of the building was a lively and colorful as the outside. Most of the tables were taken by customers, and the air was filled the sounds of friendly conversation and laughter, and several young serving girls weaved their way through the room carrying trays to and from the kitchen. A whole host of pleasant smells wafted into the room from the kitchen. Behind the counter, a small, wiry man with a receding hairline and a thin face stood. he seemed to be arguing with one of the serving girls.

"...be fine with the horses," the man appeared to be trying to assuage the girl over something.

"But what if he eats one of them?" she countered, causing the man to roll his eyes.

"That's preposterous." He noticed the new arrivals and quickly shooed the serving girl away, before turning to greet Lu Tian and Lin Liu with a broad smile. "Ah! Good sir and madam! I am Shí Yun, and I am most pleased to welcome you! Are you looking for accommodations? We would be more than happy to have such fine guests as yourself!"

~~~Hiro~~~
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Even without the use of his nose to guide him, it would not have been hard to find his way to where he wanted to go. Most of the crowd seemed to be moving in that direction. As usual, most who caught sight of him gave Hiro a wide berth, but even so he was able to pick up bits and pieces of the many conversations going on all around him. Most were about the dragon boat races, but it seemed the tournament grounds had been set up not far away from where the races were being held. And according to the merchant from earlier, the blacksmith he was searching for had a stall set up near the fights.

Hiro spotted the tall banners marking out the location long before he reached them. They rose high into the air, so as to be visible above the stalls and buildings surrounding the area. While most of the crowd appeared to be headed down towards the water, quite a few people where heading in the direction of the the banners, and Hiro could hear the faint sounds of cheering. Taking another sniff at the air, his nose was filled the smells he had come to expect from the festival: cooked food, the acrid smell of firecrackers and the almost overwhelming scent of so many people in the hot summer sun pressed close together. But on the breeze he noticed the faint traces of another scent that he had becoming more accustomed to: metal.

The tournament grounds were large and open, though for the festival much of that open space had been filled with shops and stalls of various sorts. At one end of the grounds Hiro could see where some stands had been erected, presumably so that spectators could view the fights. Most of the people were gathered around there, but Hiro was far more focused on the stalls. Most of the shops here tended towards more martial pursuits, and a great many smiths had brought their wares to display, no doubt hoping to catch the eyes of any prospective warriors who had come to fight in the tournaments. There were weapons of all types to be seen, anything Hiro could have asked for. There were even a few Eitoan swordsmiths who had made the long journey.

The people around here seemed braver, and were not as reluctant to talk to Hiro. Perhaps because most of them seemed to be fighters and carried weapons of their own. A few words and Hiro was able to find someone who was able to point him towards Kang Zhihao. He found the smith - an older bearded man with broad shoulder and skin tanned from working a forge - at his stall, sharpening a long Jinese-styled jian.

The stall was rather small and unassuming. Where several of the other merchants had put a great deal of effort into making their wares stand out, and had a great many products to display, Kang Zhihao had comparatively little. But while the presentation may have been somewhat lacking, the same could not be said of his skill. Even though Hiro was not yet very experienced, he could recognize the fine craftsmanship of the swords just by looking at them.

While Hiro admired the weapons, Kang Zhihao hadn't even bothered to look up from his task. Hiro was beginning to wonder if the man had even noticed him when he spoke up. "What do you want?"

~~~Su Xiu & Liu Fang~~~
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La Hei Su looked somewhat taken aback at being suddenly addressed by a strange Khahar. Before she could try to form a reply however, Liu Fang had stepped in. no doubt her father would not have been pleased to learn the young lady had spoken directly to someone she didn't even know, no matter what business the young man might have had in the city. He might have been a commoner for all they knew, though Liu Fang got the impression that wasn't the case. The Khahar's name tickled at his mind. He may have heard it before, but he couldn't quite place it, though he did note that it sounded more Jinese than traditionally Khahar. After centuries of more-or-less peaceful co-existence, many Khahar clans had begun adopting Jinese some customs. And since the governor's dealings amongst the Khahar tended to be with those more Imperial-inclined clans, that itself was probably not all that surprising.

While the two men conversed, Hei Su looked on looking a little put out. The girl struggled with her language lessons, and Liu Fang knew her grasp of Khahar was rough. She was probably struggling to understand half of what was being said. Fang signaled to the guards, and a nearby stable boy to take the man's horse. The boy bows in acknowledgement at Su Xiu's words, and takes the reigns and look of slight awe in his eyes as he lead the horse away. No doubt he rarely got a chance to see a true Khahar horse up close.

With Su Xiu taken care of - for the moment - Liu Fang moves aside to follow La Hei Su into the house. Once he had returned her to her chambers he'd be free to attend to the new business at hand. The girl cast a final look at the young Khahar before moving past Fang into the manse. The trip through the house was quick and familiar, it was a journey they had made many times. Even though it was familiar and probably the safest place in the city, Liu Fang didn't lower his guard. And indeed as he moved through the halls he noticed that something did in fact seem off. More than once he caught sight of guard hastily moving down the halls, and several of the servants seemed tense, almost on edge.

By the time they had reached the girl's room her spirits had improved enough to thank Liu Fang for escorting her, though she still seemed a bit dejected as she disappeared into her room. With that taken care of, Liu Fang turned to head back towards the entry hall where he had told Su Xiu to wait for him.

Meanwhile, back at the entry hall, Su Xiu had let himself in. Or at least the guards had let him in. Since Liu Fang had sounded like he might be a while, Su Xiu had taken his time to enjoy the sights, but once he had gotten inside all he could do was stare in wonder. If the house had looked impressive from the outside, the inside was even more so. From the tapestries, to the fine porcelain vases, and the rich wood used in construction, every part of the mansion seemed to scream 'wealth and power'.

"And who might you be?" He had been so busy ogling the decor that Su Xiu had not even noticed the sound of footsteps approaching, until a smooth, melodic voice prompted Su Xiu to turn around. He found a beautiful woman staring at him curiously, a slight smile tugging at her lips.

"Those clothes..." she said, her dark eyes took in Su Xiu's appearance. "You must be Khahar. I did not know that my lord was expecting a visitor from Xin."
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Old 05-07-2017, 10:37 PM
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Su XiuSu Xiu put his arms on his hips and leaned back as he whistled to himself. The decor, the design, everything was simply spectacular! He had never seen so much wealth concentrated into any one room, let alone the whole palace. And this was just the entry hall, so who knows how much more lavish the governor's court room might be? Is this what Jinese prosperity looks like? He could live a thousand lifetimes and not be able to accumulate this much wealth on his own.

The way Jinese and Kahar show their wealth was so black and white. The Khans would never spend so much wealth on frivoulous ornaments. The only things used for decoration were instruments of war. Masterwork bows, scimitars... they had an aesthetic of their own, but should an assassin try to attack his father in his home those pieces of decor would have immediate use.

He eyes the tapestries that spans from corner to corner, walking alongside the beautiful expression of art as he marvels at the level of detail the artisans put into them. He is so engrossed in the artistry laid out in the entry hall that he doesn't notice someone approach him from behind. He whips around, half-startled half-emabarassed from being caught unawares.

It seems that governor La Deng's exquisite tastes was not limited to just architecture and decor. The young Kahar quickly composes himself and gives the lady a bow. For all he knew, this raven-haired beauty might be La Deng's wife... or concubine? He doesn't know how often Jinese have concubines but in either case, someone is lucky! Of course the Kahar women are attractive too, but they are hard headed amazons in comparison.

Su Xiu keeps his head at a half-nod as he responds, "My lady! I am Su Xiu of the Nergui tribe, son of Tang Qu An." Her remark at his clothes made him fluster and blink, as he was suddenly conscious of how unkempt he must be right now in lieu of his appointment to be bathed and refreshed. Where was the butler? He really should've mentioned there'd be women this gorgeous walking around!

"It - it is an unexpected visit, but an urgent one. If I had known about the governor's tastes for aesthetics before today I would have been here every day - er- sooner, that is - er...nevermind. I'm waiting for the butler to come back, the...one that looks very prim and proper. He said he would settle my schedule for me. I, um, was also told I would be given a chance to bathe and refresh myself." His bundle of fancy clothing was still in his hand, just waiting to be put on and woo the ladies with.

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Old 05-08-2017, 10:53 AM
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Akahoshi Hiro - 1st of Lotumens, 31st year of the rule of Emperor Xuan, Xu Seng Sa, Xu Province

Akahoshi moved through the streets in a bubble. Even in the densely packed streets, where people jostled, elbow to elbow, shoulder to shoulder, no one seemed to have any interest in jostling the savage-looking armored man, covered in furs, with a demon mask hanging off his shoulder, wielding a six foot long club. There seemed to always be space around him, the crowd preferring to push other, softer looking targets out of the way rather than move closer to him. So, his walk to the fairgrounds was largely unimpeded.

His sense of smell hadn't failed him, he found the fairgrounds without issue, though even without it, he likely could have followed the crowd, everyone seemed moving in the same direction, like the sheep the humans themselves raised. Akahoshi didn't care for sheep, the stupid things wouldn't survive ten minutes in the wild, they would fall prey to a predator in an instant.

As he neared the fairgrounds, he noticed two things. First, the distance afforded him was no longer the distance between sheep and wolf, it was the distance between tigers. In other words, those around him now did not avoid him out of fear, but because they recognized him as a warrior as well, and when meeting an armed man you did not know, you kept at a distance, so as to be prepared for anything. Akahoshi did likewise, there were many armed men here, warriors by their bearing. His blood rose in challenge, it was instinctual to want to prove one's strength, test the strength of others, establish dominance and hierarchy, but he tamped down the urge. This was not his purpose here.

A second urge rose up, and he struggled much harder to put it down: the smell of food in his nostrils. So many stands selling so much delicious smelling food... it was overwhelming. He nearly forgot his mission entirely, and began drifting towards the vendors before he slammed his feet into the ground, as if resisting a magnetic pull. Rearing back a fist he punched himself directly in the forehead to bring himself back to his senses.

Focus. Kang Zhihao. A weaponsmith, at long last. Nothing else is more important. The food will be there later. I hope. he told himself.

He followed the tantalizing smell of metal and heat, the sound of hammers. Most of the smiths here were not using full forges, they couldn't be set up anywhere after all, but rather smaller, portable forges. They were mostly good for repairs, heating the metal enough to be shaped, pounding out dents and the like, but not enough to smelt metal, or make blanks. Nonetheless, they worked, to be a blacksmith was to work, pounding the metal with your hammer, losing yourself in the clanging rhythm.

Akahoshi's progress through the craftsmen was slow, there was much to see and observe. Many of these smiths were better than him, and several times he stopped himself from asking one to teach him. For the first time, he needed to be selective with the teacher, he was seeking a master.

Finally, in an unassuming stall, he found the name he was seeking. The man had not put much effort into displaying his wares. They seemed merely to be placed out with an attitude that said buy them, or move on. However, one thing Akahoshi had noticed in his time here, was that there were two sorts of merchants in this world: those who spoke for their merchandise, and those who let their merchandise speak for itself.

Kang Zhihao was clearly the latter, and his work spoke volumes: a veritable testament to the man's skill. Akahoshi spent some considerable time merely examining the weapons. The swords were like razors, and strong, but without being brittle. A hard sword could take punishment, or shatter, a soft one would lose its edge constantly, or just break on impact, it took considerable skill to strike the balance between a sword that could hold an edge and resist a blow but without being so rigid it cracked. Akahoshi didn't think he'd ever seen any so fine.

When the man spoke to him, Akahoshi nearly jumped, so lost he'd been in his examination.

Akahoshi composed himself and unlimbered his tetsubo, and then kneeled on the hard-packed dusty street of the fairground. He reached out and placed the tetsubo before the man, the enormous club was nearly six feet long and weighed twenty pounds, and for a person without Akahoshi's strength, wielding it would be an enormous challenge. Further, to one without the eye for it, it was merely a simple club, befitting a savage, but to a blacksmith... a blacksmith could see the care placed into the weapon, it may have been simple, but it was a fine example of its sort. The metal sheathing on the end was polished, the studs polished and properly placed, the weapon finely balanced, the wood well-chosen, and carved.

Akahoshi had placed his heart and soul into his weapon. The tribe used simple weapons: clubs, stone spears, a very few had metal weapons they had raided. These weapons denoted prestige and power, and were often fought over. Akahoshi had not had one. He'd mostly used a large club, mostly a tree branch with the limbs stripped off, and it was this club he'd brought when he entered civilization.

Creating the TetsuboHe remembered it clearly. He'd been a year into his journey, in central Eito. As he learned more and more of blacksmithing he began to dislike his club more and more, it was so crude, so inefficient, it could be so much better. He had swung it around, envisioning it to be a mighty greatsword cleaving his foes in twain, but it was uneven and ungainly, that he could barely maintain the vision in his head. Perhaps he should have abandoned it and bought or even tried his hand at forging a sword, or axe, or something from scratch, even without the training, but it also felt wrong to abandon something that had carried him so far.

As luck would have it, the blacksmith of the village was not only a metalworker, but a woodworker. He came across Akahoshi swinging his club in the field, and could see the youth's dissatisfaction. Though not a weaponsmith, the blacksmith knew wood. The club, he said, was very fine wood, tough, but light, but it hadn't been worked, its weight distribution was all over the place.

Together they worked, shaving it down here and there, sanding it smooth, placing a proper grip on the end, and soon it became a proper weapon, not just a tree branch. The blacksmith had said to him then, "I have seen a weapon, not often used due to its size, but one of your strength can likely wield it: a tetsubo."

The two had worked day and night. The blacksmith had only seen the weapon a few times, but it was simple in concept. Metal studs to increase its power, running along its upper length, tapering to a grip at the bottom. They could be made of wood, with the studs set in, or of solid metal. The two decided to compromise, rather than replace the club Akahoshi had carried for so long, or risk it splintering, they would instead sheathe it in metal.

Akahoshi stated he would watch the blacksmith work, and would entrust him with the weapon, but the blacksmith had shaken his head. "This weapon is yours. It is for you to do."

And for those weeks, whenever Akahoshi was not working on other work for the blacksmith's customers, he had worked. The blacksmith assisted and guided, directing, but Akahoshi wielded the hammer, worked the forge, and before long, had completed the sheathing, binding it to the wood, riveting it into place with the studs, and the tetsubo was complete. His weapon, his first masterwork. It had been the proudest moment of his life. It was a symbol of his growth as a smith, and of how far he'd come on his journey.


So his feelings could be felt in the weapon as he delicately, almost reverently, placed it at the smith's feet for inspection.

He placed his hands upon his knees and bowed his head slightly, keeping his eyes down. "Sorry. Jinese is bad." he said, in his heavily accented Jinese, which was an oddity itself, as Akahoshi had clearly Jinese features. "Please. Teach me smithing. Weapons. Armor. I walk far, to learn. Many do not know forging of swords, shaping of armor. I learn from them, I work forge, I make tools, horseshoes, nails, barrels, but must learn weapons, armor. This my weapon, only weapon I make. Name is Akahoshi Hiro. Please, Master Zhihao. Teach me."

The scene is an unusual one: a young man with Jinese features who barely speaks Jinese, with an Eitoan name, dressed like a barbarian, kneeling in a street before a smith, placing a six foot club on the ground for inspection, begging to be taught smithing. It no doubt drew more than a few stares, but Akahoshi was immune, he had his goal, and it drove him forward. Nothing would stop him from learning the secrets of smithing. Not even delicious food.

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Old 05-10-2017, 11:10 AM
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Lin Liu - Traveling entertainer
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She slowly finish eating with grace, without dropping one bit on her clothes by accident. - " May I have a cup of water good sir? " The guy at the stand quickly serve the young lady with reverence. Her beauty is only matched by her manners, she obviously knows how to pull people strings.

Liu notices the way Tian is looking at her, she doesn't mind or intimidated that he clearly might imagine her without clothes on her back. She would actually worry if it wasn't the case at her age. Liu is entering the prime of her beauty and she intends to make the most of it before she gets anchored by a wedding and children in the next couple of years. A woman only has so much power until she reaches her thirties and gets undermine by younger women. Men are lucky since their appearance and youth is not really relevant to achieve any goals they may have. From the world she is coming from, nobody would dare to speak to her in such a familiar way, this is pleasant to enjoy the company and she is pleased by the entertainment of a young muscular male that can pull off some charm without speaking as if he has a stick in the butt like at court.

After they finish their lunch, she follows the warrior on the street. - " A place to refresh and relax would be lovely. You are thoughtful I'm in great need of a bath, all this dust and dirt make my itchy. " She dares to ask a naive question. - " I... never went to an inn like that, do they have a private section for ladies? Please lead the way. " She looks behind one last time at the homeless lad. - " Is there a lot of beggar in the city? " She appears curious about that experience she witnessed a few minutes ago. - " I wonder why nobody is taking care of that poor lad. "

- " Ah! So you are into fights and glory? I attended many times this tournament, broken bones and a lot of testosterone is fine entertainment. Martial art is an important part of our culture and this kind of event promote it. It also helps to distract the people from the day to day problems they may have. I just hope nobody gets killed by accident this time, such a waste of life otherwise. " She makes an amused facial expression. - " What will you do with all that fame if you win? Any plan about what's next? I will probably root for you unless something else come up. "

~~~
The Ruby Hare
Xu Seng Sa, Xu Province


Arriving at the Ruby Hare, she gives the opportunity for Tian to answer first, she knows that it would be strange for a woman to speak first. It's unlikely they will think they are a couple, her hair cut and the way she dresses is not like a married woman. She removes her conical hat and a long forest of black silk fall down behind her head. After they took care of her companion needs, she wonders how to behave in this kind of place without standing out too much. Liu would normally have access to a bath large like a pool with her own bathing female servants to take care of everything, a ridiculous amount of time and resources is wasted to make her look perfect at all time. - " I will need... my own room and a warm bath, please. What kind of selection of oil and soap do you offer? I would appreciate if you could use flowers petal in the water for the perfume. "

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Old 05-10-2017, 05:24 PM
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The trip through the halls is winding but comfortingly familiar and along the way Liu Fang feels the familiar rhythm that has existed between him and Hei Su return. They have known each other for a long time, and though servant and master, shared experience is a powerful bond. Oddly that return to normalcy only makes the troubling atmosphere all the more unconfortable for him, surreptitiously he checks the weapons he has hidden on him again, making a mental note to find out what is going on once he has finished his work with this Su Xiu.

Fortunately Hei Su doesn’t seem to be paying close attention to the agitation around her, and by the time they reached her chambers she seemed to be back in good spirits. ”You honor me, my lady. Thank you for urging me to see the festival...it was most certainly worth experiencing in person.” He says slightly awkwardly, bowing to his mistress. Though his training is excellent, he doesn’t really have the easy charm that some men have. He bows to her formally and waits for her to close the door behind her before heading towards his own office.
Every step he takes down the hall increases the odd sense of disquiet he feels, seeming to emanate from the walls around him. He even goes so far as to drop into his spirit sensing stance. While he has never sensed a spirit before, the ability to use his sense of smell to detect people has been invaluable in avoiding ambushes in the past...though he has never felt the need to use it within the manor before. He sees some guards hurrying in the distance and servants moving quickly and furtively through the halls, but no one comes very near him. Then rounding a corner he sees a guard who he has been friendly with for some time looking out a window into the courtyard.

”Chin, what’s happened here?” Fang calls out from down the hallway, his status as Third Chamberlain gives him the right to order any guard but the watch captains to do as he wishes, though he tries not to abuse that authority over much. The grizzled guardsman looks over his shoulder at Fang, there is an odd look in his eyes that Fang cannot identify. Before Fang can get any closer, Chin turns off down a hallway and disappears, leaving Fang standing astonished at the lack of manners.

A small frown creases the bureaucrat’s face as he mentally makes a note to write a report for the watch commander regarding Chin’s disobedience. For a moment he is tempted to follow the man but he reminds himself that he has other business to attend to and makes his way the rest of the way to his small office.

Though the office itself is quite small it is impeccably tidy, every object seems to be put in the most opportune place. Neat brushes and ink bottles stand ready on the neat black lacquered writing desk with a bowl of clean white drying sand. Codices and scrolls fill the bookshelves that stand against the far wall a small cabinet has several small pieces of artwork atop it, mostly little gifts from the Governor’s children.

On the wall behind his desk a beautiful ink painting of the a waterfall hangs. This is a gift from his old friend, tutor and family retainer, Hochiro Takeda a master of the art. Fang himself is a fairly accomplished artist even if he has not yet reached the level this painting represents; friends have noted that his work would certainly sell and that if he ever felt the need to give up the bureaucracy he could certainly open a studio that would support himself, perhaps in time a family. For now, it was just a pleasant pastime, and an important part of his training.

Sitting down at his desk Fang begins to compose a short note.

” “Revered First,

A guest by the name of Su Xiu of Xin has arrived requesting an immediate audience with the governor. I have not yet been able to identify his lineage, but the name rings true in my memory and I believe him to be a noble son of the Kahar clans.

I understand that his Eminence is quite busy today, so if you would like me to turn him away for now please send a message. Otherwise, please send a note informing when the Governor might be able to meet with this young man.

I have invited him in so he can refresh himself, he should be waiting in the guests entry now. I will wait with him for the time being until I receive further instruction.

Yours Humbly,
Liu Fang


He presses his official stamp into the ink and makes his mark on the piece of paper to verify it’s authenticity before locking the chop back into it’s strongbox. Though Fang can’t place the boy, likely the First will remember, he had long been in his position and has achieved a level of knowledge that Fang hopes he too will one day have earned. He is only slightly embarassed to admit that he does not know the provenance of young Lord Su.

Once the ink has dried over his masterful calligraphy, Fang signals to a passing page. The young boy, not older than 11 or 12 also has a fearful look about him, but knows not to disobey a direct order from someone as highly ranked as Fang. ”Take this directly to the First. Then find me in the guests’ entry with his reply. And be quick about it!” Fang orders him.

”Y-yes, Third.” The boy stammers as he takes the soft folded parchment from Fang’s hands and takes off running down the hall as fast as his legs will carry him. Fang, not usually one prone to open displays of annoyance, takes a deep breath to steady himself. It is just the festival, everyone is under a great deal of pressure to make sure everything goes right, he thinks to himself. Before stepping out of his office and closing the door behind him.

Liu Fang heads back towards the guests’ entry where he supposes Su Xiu is still waiting. The trip is quick and quiet and he does not encounter any more particularly odd behavior. Still he can’t shake the feeling that something isn’t quite right. Before exiting the servants corridor into the guests’ entry Fang takes a moment to compose his face into its usual emotionless mask.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mystery Woman
"Those clothes..You must be Khahar. I did not know that my lord was expecting a visitor from Xin."
A moment of surprise shocks Fang like he had been doused in freezing water. What’s she doing here? He wonders slightly worried. After a moment he shakes himself out of his reverie and schools his features to stillness. Opening the small servant's door Fang steps out into the room and waits unobtrusively along the wall, not hiding, but also not interrupting his superious; just waiting in case the Lady or the young Lord from Xin found they had need of anything.
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Old 05-12-2017, 08:18 AM
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A noncommital shrug was all Lu Tian could offer as means of reply to Lin Liu's question. He had never been to a city as large as Xu Seng Sa and so had no idea what the inns and tavern here might offer its customers.

"We shall have to see when we get there."

He began leading the way in the direction given him by the cripple. As he walked he took the time to consider her other words and formulate a reply to them.

"Heavenly Luoyang once told me that a warrior learns of the spiritual realm by dwelling on the cutting edge of the sword, standing at the edge of the fire pit, venturing right up to the edge of starvation if necessary. Vibrant and intense living is the warrior's form of worship.” Lu Tian closed his eyes reverently and gave a sage nod as he recited his teacher's learnings. Then he moved forward, eyes open and aware once more. "In that way, tournament grounds are a center of worship for the enlightened warrior, and each fight upon them is a show of obeisance. I cannot not join, when such an opportunity to explore the limits of my abilities presents itself."


*****


Arriving at the Ruby Hare, Lu Tian looked questioningly at the young woman, before ordering accommodations for himself when she remained silent. He wasn't looking for anything fancy - just a place to rest and wash up, and meals to go with it that his purse could afford.

When that was done he said his goodbyes to Lin Liu, leaving the girl to her bath while he went off in search of the tournaments.



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