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Decisions at the Lotus Petal Inn

Posted in: Play,Rokugan by Te Ka Mok on February 21, 2011

It was getting towards dusk when Gami-Gami entered the common room of the Inn. She had a big grin on her face and some mud. But what mattered to me was that she was here, before curfew. She ambled over to our table. “It is a big city, is it not, Mir’Itus, sir?” She bowed to him. “You are looking well, Mistress Rat.” She bowed to me and thumped down in a chair, pulling a plate of food towards her.

We had taken a table in the middle of the common room. While there were a few Nezumi and Hengeyokai staying at the Inn, we were only a handful of a crowded room. The Princess sat at a table near the fire, as is right. Princess sat at the head and Neiki, Tatsuoh and Shasuki sat with her. Nya stood near the stairs going up to the rooms. Her eyes roaming over the crowd.

I tried to relax. After all, we were safely at the Inn and no one made a big fuss about having non-humans mingling in the common room. For once the smell of the food overwhelmed the smell of unwashed humans. It was good food, though hotter than I generally care to have. I sat with the plate in front of me, waiting for the meat to cool. I must have been in just the right spot because I could hear the Princess’ table quite well.

They discussed the cavern map they’d gotten from the garrison commander. Mir’Itus had gotten one for us to study. He likes maps and such. I find them interesting, but not as good as books. He pulled it out. Gami-Gami and I leaned closer. Gami picked it up and held it close to her face. “There is no smell upon the map.” I raised my whiskers, in question and Mir’Itus nodded politely. Silence. “You having point, yes?” I asked. “Nezumi, you use your smell like sight. A Nezumi map should smell.” Mir’Itus laughed. “That is true! Very true.” He chuckled and lowered his head to the map again. I was not surprised to see Grandpa’s spirit leaning over examining the map, too. “Honorable shaman of the Third Whisker tribe, hear my words: I do not like this narrow passage where only one may walk at a time. Please ensure that my granddaughter has a healing potion with her. She should never be alone but in this cavern pass, she will be alone at times.” I nodded and sighed.

“What?” Mir’Itus looked up. I spoke in Nezumi. “Grandpa. He’s got an opinion about the map.”
Of course he does! He has an opinion about everything concerning his granddaughter. What does he say?” I flicked a piece of pepper off the table. The smell of humans was getting stronger. New people in the room, perhaps.
He’s worried about this area.”  I pointed to the cave-in areas where only one person could travel at a time. “He wants me to make sure everyone has healing potions.” A voice at my elbow spoke. “We should take extra bags, in case we found the fabled treasure of Kurasawa Yoki.” The smell was the first thing I noticed, even before registering that the child spoke almost flawless Nezumi. “Who you be, small human child-creature?” I covered the map with one hand.

I am called Hekari, honored shaman of the Third Whisker tribe.” The child bowed low, sweeping its unusual knife behind its back. “You are a smart…..” (“girl,” supplied Mir’Itus who is better at this sort of thing.) “Yes. Smart-smart human. Go away.” I turned away from her.

I am not going anywhere! Or, rather, I am going somewhere with you! I am your guide for the caverns.” I heard Tatsuoh’s voice — “Hekari! Here!” The child bowed to our table. “I have to go.”

I stood as well. I needed to deliver Grandpa’s pronouncement and better done sooner and be away from the gaze of Nya and the others. Whenever I approach the Princess, Nya stiffens – ready for battle. The Princess is warm and kind but these around her… Suspicion hangs on them like a smell. Not so with the Princess — she even touched my arm there in the midst of the battle with the yeti.
I took a deep breath. Be bold, I told myself. No fear.  At the foot of the table I thumped my staff on the floor. “Te’Ka’Mok would speak!” I tried not to think about how quiet the common room had become. “Princess,” I bowed lowed. “Honored Grandpa. He have message for you.” She nodded. “Please speak, honored shaman.”
“You Grandpa, he say that cavern map worry him. Me, um, I agree with he. Spot in cavern where only one may walk, that dangerous. Must have the potion of heal. Te’Ka’Mok cannot be in all places. And place where one may walk especial.” Neiki spoke up. “I can offer healing, too.”

I nodded. “Yes-yes. Of course, honored one.” I bowed to her. “I not know — but can spirit folk be in space with human?” Neiki looked puzzled. “Ah, not saying right. One person space, yes? Princess one person and you one person — yes? Or no?” I waited, proud of how well I’d used my bad English to convey a difficult concept. There were confused looks all around the table. “Um…. I am not sure that I understand…” Neiki began to speak when Hekari interrupted: “I speak good Nezumi! Hold on.” And she turned to me and asked what I meant. Ha! Perfect. Let this one speak for me. No more playing at English. She turned to the group. “What the honored shaman asks is can the spirit woman (she bowed to Neiki) move through solid objects. Like, can Neiki (again Hekari bowed for using the spirit woman’s name so casually) pass through the Princess and then heal her in a space that only really fits one person.”

Neiki laughed. “No, it doesn’t work that way. Unfortunately. And I agree with our revered shaman — we should all have healing potions. Caverns or no.” Tatusoh frowned. “The marketplace won’t open until the hour of the open petal. There goes our early start.”

“We should still retire to our beds now,” said the Princess. “And you (she pointed at Hekari) need to take a bath. Upstairs you go!”

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Shiro Kuni: The Big City

Posted in: Play,Rokugan by Te Ka Mok on February 16, 2011

As we approached the outskirts of the city, the smell of the human inhabitants hit my nose like a hammer. I leaned over to Mir’Itus. “You smell the human smell, yes? What are they eating, do you think?” He frowned at me. I twitched my whiskers. “What? We speak in Nezumi.” He shook his head. “That doesn’t matter. We are outsiders here and you would do to remember that.” I sighed. “Yes, Granny.” I said in English. Neiki smiled at my comment but made no move to speak.

We slowly climbed a hill. Our horses were tired from the journey. G’ dah’la shuffled along. Tired horsey. I patted her neck. “You eat soon. I brush you coat all shiny.”

As we reached to top of the hill we could see the city walls. Guards walked the battlements. Past the walls the city spread out. Smoke hung low and the smell was stronger. The wind blew in our faces. “Oh, tis’ ma’lal! That smell!” Nya rode near me. “Did you say something, Mistress Rat?”
“Oh I talk-talk on the view. Yes, how it speak in English? The vista. It is fine-fine.” I bowed slightly.
You need to watch your tongue, young one!” I rolled my eyes at Mir’ Itus. “Yes-yes. I hear your words, honored one.” And I did. He always watches out for me, Mir’ Itus. Gami-Gami watched all of this without comment.

As we got closer to the gates, a guard came out and inspected the papers that Nya offered. He looked at the papers closely and then looked at each of us. In a low voice he said to Tatsuoh, “We have a Nezumi population here. They are fine candle makers and, of course, garbage collectors. But they keep to themselves. These among you, they don’t have to stay in Nezumi-town, but you must vouch for them.”
I sighed to myself as the guard approached us. He bowed. “Nezumi! And Hengeyokai, of course (he mumbled), please listen to our laws! You will defer to a human in the streets! You will speak when you are spoken to! You will keep your eyes down. You will not be on the streets unescorted after dark.” We all bowed low and remained silent. He obviously felt he had done his duty and we were allowed to enter Shiro Kuni.

The Princess was discussing the plans with Tatsuoh. “I think we have to sell the wagon. Even I have heard of the narrow cavern passes.” Suddenly, as always, Grandpa was in my head. “Please tell my granddaughter that the horse monger on the Street of Green Leaf will offer a good trade. He was once known to me and his children will treat my children with honor.” I sighed, but spurred G’ dah’la forward. “My Princess. Te’ Ka’ Mok would speak.” I could see her suppress a smile. She nodded gravely. “Honored Grandpa, he say to me: Go to Green Leaf Lane, yes? Horse man there give good trading. Grandpa horse man knowing you grandpa and you get good-good deal.”
“Well. Thank you, Te’ Ka.” She turned to Tatsuoh. “Do you know where the Street of Green Leaf is? We should seek out this horse man.” Tatsuoh started to speak and then just nodded.

I rode back to Mir’ Itus and Gami-Gami. She was wide eyed, looking around the city. “You new to city life, yes?” Gami-omi nodded at me. I looked at Mir’ Itus. “What name of inn for us to stay? Tell Gami-Gami and she go explore city.” I got out a few coins.
“But I must protect you, Mistress Rat.” I shook my head. “You must live a little. Go. Shoo-shoo. But be at inn before nightfall! Remember guard’s words, yes?” She nodded but her eyes were already on the marketplace.

The Princess first stopped at the magistrate to report o the troubles in Midaki. We stayed outside, to keep the transaction simple. No Nezumi to discuss and fret over. It seemed to take forever but finally the Princess and Neiki came out and we headed to the marketplace. Mir’ Itus and I stopped at the edge of the market. It was busy with humans. They looked like ants swarming over. He looked at me and I looked at him. “We going to Nezumi-town, yes?”

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