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* Plot Information for Tacea

Tensions are rising in Tacea after the destruction of their Territory Court at the hands of its Queen. Unable to continue their traditional cycle of succession because of accusations of treason, Tacea must find a Queen capable of uniting the land while building bridges to the world outside its borders.
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Author Topic: small, simple, safe price  (Read 249 times)

Description: (zhihao) (territory court)

Offline Son Mi Moon

  • Character Account
    • rose2bo
    • bw
    • Role

      Blacksmith

    • Faction

      Ureshi-sa

    • Territory

      Tacea

    • Character Sheet

      [Link]

    • OOC

      Rated Em

    • Posts

      11

    • View Profile
small, simple, safe price
« on: Mar 10, 19, 07:54:43 PM »
With her return to the mainland, the conversation with her father and a letter to her sister behind her, Son Mi had turned her attention to Ureshi-sa. Once she had checked in with both Ryuuen and his sons (first Ryuki, as he was her favorite, and then Naoji, who was not her favorite but still adored), it was Zhihao that she sought out. That, of course, sent her right back to the Territory Court. There were things that Ryuuen had mentioned that they might want, now that she was back, but that it was best coming from Zhihao.

That got her curious.

Which was why she wasted no time searching out the Prince, finding him in a hallway just as he was about to enter a room. While Son Mi was fond of Ryuuen, it was Zhihao that she enjoyed the company of more. Not that she could say why. Perhaps it was his demeanor but it did not matter one way or another.

"Prince An!" called out Son Mi, breaking out into a sprint to catch him. When she did, she swept into a bow while smiling at him (perhaps a touch tiredly). Son Mi looked much the same as she had when they had seen her last only a few years ago. The only difference was that she looked a few pounds too thin but that was the price one paid when they had been staying on an island destroyed by a volcano.

Unlike with her father, but the same as when she had seen the geisha at Ureshi-sa, Son Mi shuffled forward but stayed a respectable distance away. "I hope you will not find it rude that I wish to hug you?"  The behavior was almost the exact same as she had carried out at Ureshi-sa. "As it has been so long and ..." She smiled sheepishly. "You likely thought me dead." Not anymore at least, as she knew word traveled quickly between Ryuuen and Zhihao (and Ryuki and Zhihao).

Offline Zhihao An

  • Character Account
    • te2ss
    • prince
    • Role

      Hinata's Dagger & Spymaster

    • Faction

      Kagen Clan

    • Territory

      Tacea

    • Character Sheet

      [Link]

    • OOC

      Leez

    • Posts

      107

    • View Profile
Re: small, simple, safe price
« Reply #1 on: Mar 10, 19, 08:56:40 PM »
Hearing his name, Zhihao paused, hand upon the frame of the sliding screen, and turned towards the caller. “Lady Moon!” he exclaimed, recognizing her in a heartbeat. Ryuuen had mentioned she was back, and Zhihao had been meaning to meet with her… it just happened that she’d found him first. Well, that worked for him.

He released his hold on the door and bowed politely to her - then pulled her into a paternal hug. She looked as young as ever, though he knew her to be some three decades his senior, and it was difficult not to treat Son Mi as an age-mate with Naoji and Ryuki and Yumi. He’d known her for many years and yet, as he’d grown older, the mechanic between them had ever so subtly shifted.

“I thought nothing of the sort,” he assured her, although it had crossed his mind more than a few times. “As though a volcano could kill a salamander such as yourself. You would never burn.”

He stepped aside, holding the door open for her, for he’d been about to head into the office he kept at Ureshi-sa. “You look lovely as ever,” he said, effusive. Privately, he thought she looked a bit underfed, and her hair was uneven but it often was. “Do you have a moment? There’s a matter I need to discuss with you in private. I was hoping I could secure your expertise for a problem I’m currently working for your father…”

Seung Corro’s involvement would tell Son Mi everything she needed to know about what kind of business this was.

Zhihao slid the office door shut behind them. “I apologize for my lack of preamble, but how soon can you accompany me to Nara?” he asked. “There is an artifact at the Izayoi court that I would like you to examine.”

Offline Son Mi Moon

  • Character Account
    • rose2bo
    • bw
    • Role

      Blacksmith

    • Faction

      Ureshi-sa

    • Territory

      Tacea

    • Character Sheet

      [Link]

    • OOC

      Rated Em

    • Posts

      11

    • View Profile
Re: small, simple, safe price
« Reply #2 on: Mar 11, 19, 01:41:06 AM »
"Salamander," chortled Son Mi with an amused smile. "Why Prince An, you know flattery is not necessary." Sometimes it was a wonder that the dynamic had changed over the years but then she had always been a touch more receptive of the more paternal touch that the Prince had than her own father at times. It was so odd, truly, as both Zhihao and Ryuuen were younger than her and yet the years had trekked by and she found herself swept under their wings. Certainly, all those years ago she had not thought she would have been a moth or attached to an okiya favored by the Kagen.

The smile was still on her face, though it gentled to one more pleased to be in the company of a good friend, as she stepped into the office. In her eyes was a glint that said: what did I just say about flattery. Except she kind of needed it, knowing that she likely looked a bit like a mangy stray. It would fade with time and meals that would actually meet the necessary caloric intake of a Blood Opal.

"I've as many as you need," replied Son Mi, eyebrows raising at the mention of Prince An working for her father. "Is he ..." Her lips pressed together. "I do not expect that he's aware of the particulars of my work for you but has he learned that I work for Ureshi-sa?" At least, she had. Ryuuen had given no indication that that was changing. It just had been a handful of years since she had made any weapons for the geisha (or anything for Zhihao, for that matter, but that was not always related to Ureshi-sa).

The only reason she even asked was because ... Well. Kagen. Though hopefully he had at least lightened somewhat. Oh well, if it was an issue, she would talk to her father about it. He needed to know she could be found around Ureshi-sa for the time being.

"I am available as soon as you wish to go," she answered. "Especially if there's promise of a meal involved at some point while we're in Nara." Her head tilted, curiosity finally getting the better of her. "I assume that the artifact is something of some importance?" It wasn't just anything that he would have her looking at. Especially with the connection to her father.

Offline Zhihao An

  • Character Account
    • te2ss
    • prince
    • Role

      Hinata's Dagger & Spymaster

    • Faction

      Kagen Clan

    • Territory

      Tacea

    • Character Sheet

      [Link]

    • OOC

      Leez

    • Posts

      107

    • View Profile
Re: small, simple, safe price
« Reply #3 on: Mar 11, 19, 10:55:11 AM »
“Oh, he’s not aware of your involvement at all,” Zhihao said breezily, “Only that I have need of a Black Widow familiar with spelled artifacts.” Which likely laid the math clear if one took the time to consider it, but he certainly wasn’t going to be the one to expose the identity of one of his favored agents to her own father. In the earlier years of Son Mi’s affiliation with Ureshi-sa, the okiya’s clan affiliation had been a point of contention… but he doubted it would be so anymore.

“Did you know your father’s alliance with Hinata-sama is born of more than mere convenience?” he asked, a smile alighting on his lips - if she had not heard yet, then he was pleased to be the first to tell her. “He has bonded to her. The matter is not common knowledge, however - he wishes to avoid any suggestion of favoritism in the search for the new Dragon Mother.”

Which was why, Zhihao thought, Xiong Teng was the ideal candidate - what better way to be impartial among the great clans than by selecting a Queen born of none of them?

Though they had just entered into his office, he turned and waved her out once more. “If you are able to set off immediately, then let us make haste. I have a caterpillar embedded in Lady Atsuko’s court, and I’m certain he’ll be able to accommodate us with very little notice.”

He said no more on the matter until they were settled into a coach. “Ishiyo no Izayoi was driven mad by a bespelled piece of jewelry,” Zhihao explained. “The Izayoi have it held in their vault at their clan seat. I need a woman of your talents to examine it and tell me what you can about who set the web, so that we may identify the responsible party and bring them to justice.”

And, he thought, it certainly helped that Son Mi knew nothing about the situation at hand or the players involved - she would be free of Zhihao’s own biases on the matter. He could not fully trust himself at this point - were the shingetsu truly at fault, or was he just determined to see them that way?

Zhihao had paid for a dark wind, and the flight to Nara was a short one. The carriage ride to the clan court was similarly short. “I will buy you lunch once our business here is concluded,” Zhihao assured Son Mi as a servant showed them into an antechamber. “I know a wonderful place for udon. Now, Amamiya-kun should be with us shortly…”

Offline Eiji Amamiya

  • Character Account
    • rose2opal
    • wp
    • Role

      Sword of the Queen

    • Faction

      Izayoi Clan Court

    • Territory

      Tacea

    • Character Sheet

      [Link]

    • OOC

      Reid

    • Posts

      36

    • View Profile
Re: small, simple, safe price
« Reply #4 on: Mar 11, 19, 02:26:09 PM »
Eiji was... calm. This wasn't actually a very common state for him, though he was sure that someone who didn't know him well would argue otherwise. His Caste and his Jewel (just over the line of Dark) lent him a preponderance of energy, and though he might stand still behind Atsuko's throne with a level expression on his face he was rarely, if ever, calm. Today, though, today he was calm. Still lake surface, dark and deep, betraying nothing of the further qualities of the water...

Who the fuck was he kidding?

Firstly, he'd had a rather protracted argument with Atsuko about the "Izayoi" "candidate," the Queen of Nara, who had recently become unpopular with the geisha of her home territory for reasons he didn't want to even think about, much less assign protracted attention to. If Atsuko intended--as she had previously stated she did--to back Kazusa Kayakawa, then she'd have to reckon with the fact that a full third of her Circles (including the First!) were contracted geisha. Though none of them would move against her, blood-bonded as they all were, they could still make life difficult within the purview of their roles. Yes, another Queen wouldn't have to worry about the upset of the flower district, but Atsuko had more than a little reliance upon the geisha that other Queens lacked.

Secondly... Well, it was a personal matter, and he was going to have to take a break from his duties for a week to make sure nothing went ways it oughtn't. He hadn't focused on a witch yet, and he didn't intend to start.

So anyway, he was actually glad that Zhihao sent a message ahead. It gave him a reason to be away from the Mistress of the Guard (whose presence was currently scraping on his nerves) and from Atsuko (who, he was starting to think, no amount of shared blood or contractual obligation would make him like). Atsuko knew who Zhihao was, and with a cautious hint, she sent him along with orders to suss out whether the Shingetsu candidate was pulling ahead of the Tang candidate. He didn't even have to ask Zhihao or make the excuse for himself. Atsuko reached her own conclusions about the budding mentoring relationship between one of Hinata's daggers--apparently her most favored--and her own Sword of the Queen.

He met Zhihao in the antechamber and quirked an eyebrow at the Black Widow that came along with him. She'd concealed her Caste, at least, and he half-wondered if there was more hidden than just that sharp element to her psychic scent. Either way, he only knew she was what she was because she was in Zhihao's company. Why would he bring someone uninvolved?

"Lady," he said, bowing. He greeted Zhihao somewhat less formally. "I assume this is about the work Lady Atsuko wanted done."

Offline Son Mi Moon

  • Character Account
    • rose2bo
    • bw
    • Role

      Blacksmith

    • Faction

      Ureshi-sa

    • Territory

      Tacea

    • Character Sheet

      [Link]

    • OOC

      Rated Em

    • Posts

      11

    • View Profile
Re: small, simple, safe price
« Reply #5 on: Mar 11, 19, 11:24:00 PM »
"Then let us be off," responded Son Mi, "and see your caterpillar." Though she had felt a bit haggard still, slipping into work put a bounce in her step that even blacksmithing sometimes could not do. Son Mi did have a particular sweet tooth, so to speak, for the kind of work that Zhihao brought to her.

Within the carriage, Son Mi was working a web between her fingers. By the time she was done, the web in place, no one would know her to be a Black Widow and her appearance would be altered just enough to not be the same person. Perhaps it was not necessary, perhaps she was being overly cautious, but the children of Seung Corro were known. It was for the best.

"It sounds like someone is playing a very dangerous game," said Son Mi, "and one that cost many lives." So, of course, she would help and see that justice was visited upon them. The entire incident at the Territory Court, that which had brought her father into play as he was now, had happened while she was gone. Her understanding was fresh, even the usual assumptions of the silent war between the Clans was not necessarily coming to mind.

"Ohh udon," she sighed at the thought. "Sounds perfect, Prince." Amamiya-kun was a rather adorable looking Warlord Prince though Son Mi did not say such. A geisha, she knew, by his name alone. It had been some time since she had visited the Amamiya house.

"Prince," she greeted, bowing in return. That quirk of his brow and the way his eyes passed over her said enough. He knew she was not just a witch but then that was expected of one of Zhihao's caterpillars. Son Mi's gaze flicked to Zhihao, as he was the one leading the charge here so to speak.

Offline Zhihao An

  • Character Account
    • te2ss
    • prince
    • Role

      Hinata's Dagger & Spymaster

    • Faction

      Kagen Clan

    • Territory

      Tacea

    • Character Sheet

      [Link]

    • OOC

      Leez

    • Posts

      107

    • View Profile
Re: small, simple, safe price
« Reply #6 on: Mar 12, 19, 10:43:23 AM »
It was unremarkable to Zhihao that Son Mi could conceal her caste and appearance so easily - after all, he often used the same cosmetic craft to effect even more drastic changes. He could not weave his own webs, but she’d made many for him over the years. He had anything he might need tucked safely inside his psychic cabinet. And speaking of caste webs…

He would speak to her later about the rings he needed made for Yumi and Futaba. One project at a time.

Son Mi was right, he thought, though he did not have a chance to reply to her. Someone was playing a dangerous game, but it was a game they were fated to lose. Zhihao was reasonably confident in who the perpetrator was, and Son Mi’s appraisal would snap the trap shut.

Eiji came along presently, and Zhihao offered him a bright expression - teacher to student. After all, he’d come here in the guise of the younger geisha’s tutor before, and it wasn’t strictly untrue. “Ah, Amamiya-kun,” he said, and waited until they had followed him out of the antechamber before introducing his companion. “Yes. It’s about precisely that. This is Lady Kim.”

It was a common enough Hanwa name, he thought. Son Mi had paled her skin and darkened her eyes, but there were still only so many Moons known to mainlanders - and given Zhihao wore his own true face and name, there was only one Moon in particular with a public affiliation with Ureshi-sa. One day, when Eiji had earned his netsuke, Zhihao would reveal the full extent of the deception to him.

But not today.

“Prince Amamiya understands our assignment and his lady’s wishes,” Zhihao said, “And he will lead the way.”

To Son Mi, he thought, I hope you forgive me for not telling you anything else in advance. I need your senses fresh and unadulterated by my biases.

Offline Eiji Amamiya

  • Character Account
    • rose2opal
    • wp
    • Role

      Sword of the Queen

    • Faction

      Izayoi Clan Court

    • Territory

      Tacea

    • Character Sheet

      [Link]

    • OOC

      Reid

    • Posts

      36

    • View Profile
Re: small, simple, safe price
« Reply #7 on: Mar 13, 19, 01:43:34 PM »
Unlike so many of the Clan Court complexes, the core of the Izayoi complex was built entirely of stone. Part of it was the unique location of the palace; it was constructed upon a bridge that surmounted the mouth of the Mogami river, wider than it was deep by far. By now, Eiji knew which shoji screens swelled in their tracks and stuck when the Court bore the cooled-sweat feeling that precluded rain or snow, as it did now. He avoided each of them as he wound his way to the treasure room.

Atsuko was not stupid. Eiji always felt needled by her; though she never managed to stymie him in his work with her restrictions and rules, his gut twisted whenever she got a particular knowing look in her dark eyes. Was she playing with him? Or was he simply as good at manipulating the women around him as he'd been trained to be? Not for the first time, Eiji considered the simple brilliance of recruiting geisha as spies. Zhihao couldn't have been the first to think of it, and yet he resolved--if he ever found his Queen and were in a position to serve her--that he would be very cautious of geisha from Ureshi-sa...

The treasure room was empty, as it had been last time, except for the treasures and neatly-bound chests of gold. Eiji's instincts told him to warn off the Black Widow, remind her that if she tried to take one of those chests he'd know who it was, but he manfully wrestled those down. This was no time to be possessive. It was never time to be possessive, yet the beast that every Warlord Prince possessed still roared in his chest the same. He could not allow himself to care for people (other than his students) and had no particular possessions of his own (and so he could not protect them) but that simply meant he displaced his need to protect to other things.

On its pedestal, the bracelet sat, malevolent as ever. He gestured to it, wordless, and stalked over to contemplate one of the other artifacts in the room.

Offline Son Mi Moon

  • Character Account
    • rose2bo
    • bw
    • Role

      Blacksmith

    • Faction

      Ureshi-sa

    • Territory

      Tacea

    • Character Sheet

      [Link]

    • OOC

      Rated Em

    • Posts

      11

    • View Profile
Re: small, simple, safe price
« Reply #8 on: Mar 14, 19, 11:06:45 PM »
Son Mi smiled sweetly, shifted into a bow as she was introduced, and played the role she was meant to play. At least that was the case to be until they reached the treasure room. Her eyes narrowed, looking not to the treasures or the neatly-bound chests of gold, but the walls and edges of the room. Son Mi's lips pressed together, head tilting in considering before her gaze swung towards the pedestal. For the best, reassured Son Mi to Zhihao, and understandable. If you want my truest response.

The bracelet was foul, Son Mi could pick it up from where she stood next to Zhihao. She stared at it, not really listening until the Warlord Prince gestured her forward. Her hand was held over the bracelet, not actually touching it, and she simply felt for it. It resonated something darker than she was, that much she could tell.

"Doesn't really seem fitting for an Izayoi," she murmured, mostly to herself. Platinum and topaz? Odd. There were better combinations to be had. Closer, the miasma of the bracelet was slimy against her senses. It almost felt as if something was sliding through her fingers, lacing them and tugging. "I'll need a few minutes," said Son Mi aloud, looking back towards the two, "but I already don't like it. I recognize this work, an Izayoi Black Widow; a fellow artisan."

Still, that did not add up, not with what she felt. Had that not been a Purple Dusk Black Widow? Son Mi called to hand a pair of gloves, not quite willing to actually touch her bare fingers to it. After sliding them on, gathering herself, she pressed her fingers to the bracelet.

What she found, what craft was weaved into the bracelet - the webs that were placed upon it - were insidious. Even now, without touching it to her skin, she felt the pull of the spellwork. A whisper against her mind, a lure to put it on, but she pushed it aside. Hers was a stronger will - the benefit of age, of what protected the core of her - but if she had actually touched it ... Things might have gone differently.

"What do you want to know, Zhihao?" Son Mi blinked at how breathless she sounded before she realized that it had been more than just a few minutes as she had looked the bracelet over.

Offline Zhihao An

  • Character Account
    • te2ss
    • prince
    • Role

      Hinata's Dagger & Spymaster

    • Faction

      Kagen Clan

    • Territory

      Tacea

    • Character Sheet

      [Link]

    • OOC

      Leez

    • Posts

      107

    • View Profile
Re: small, simple, safe price
« Reply #9 on: Mar 15, 19, 10:52:57 AM »
Zhihao had thought he recalled the path to the treasure room, but Eiji took them a different way through the court than he had last time. Why was that, the older geisha wondered - mere preference, or some attempt at preserving his lady’s security? The path was certainly winding.

Though the path was different, the bracelet hadn’t moved since Zhihao had last laid eyes on it. Eiji turned away, his role in this completed for the moment - though Zhihao suspected the geisha was keeping an ear out for whatever Son Mi uncovered. It was what he would have done and what he would have expected any of his moths to do.

“It is gaudy,” he agreed quietly as Son Mi considered the bracelet, “but there’s no accounting for taste. This was apparently a commissioned piece.”

He fell silent again, watching Son Mi work. Zhihao could not pretend he’d never been tempted by Black Widow craft’s usefulness, but it was too dangerous to pursue it. The feminine castes were best left to women, and with Widow training there was always the risk one would be thrown headfirst into the twisted kingdom for having the insolence to try…

And Son Mi Moon would outlive his entire enterprise, anyway.

“The Izayoi craftswoman is known to us, though she is missing,” he said. “We believe she may have been interfered with, but not that she laid the web that twisted Ishiyo-sama’s mind herself. Do you sense the touch of any other Black Widows upon it? Amamiya-kun says he feels a power darker than his Opal, but he’s not an expert on the subject.”

It was frustrating. They’d ruled out the bracelet’s creator as the source of the spell, and they’d ruled out Teiko Ueda by the same logic - so where had the infernal bit of work come from?

“Obviously I’d like a name, but I’ll settle for anything even remotely identifying.”

Offline Eiji Amamiya

  • Character Account
    • rose2opal
    • wp
    • Role

      Sword of the Queen

    • Faction

      Izayoi Clan Court

    • Territory

      Tacea

    • Character Sheet

      [Link]

    • OOC

      Reid

    • Posts

      36

    • View Profile
Re: small, simple, safe price
« Reply #10 on: Mar 16, 19, 04:06:22 AM »
Eiji wanted to lose himself in contemplation of the art object before him. As a geisha, he'd been trained in talking about each of the virtues, and he could discourse at length about painting, sculpting, and music. He was a fair singer himself and could play several instruments, though it was boring as fuck. He could draw, albeit a workmanlike kind of drawing. Mechanically perfect, but utterly soulless, and why shouldn't it be? No one hired an Opal Warlord Prince for his paintings, and Eiji didn't like painting anyway. Think of it as a battle against the canvas, Masaie had said, which was bullshit. Eiji was a social creature by instinct and by nature. He wanted to be around others, even if he didn't always want to talk to them.

Zhihao and the Black Widow were talking. Lady Kim spoke to Zhihao so casually; would Eiji someday do the same? He was Amamiya-kun to Zhihao now, in part because of their facade that Zhihao had taken an interest in his development as a geisha. Eiji still called the spymaster Prince An, though, a token of respect because Zhihao hadn't yet permitted him to use a more casual form of address. Maybe that would come later, when their relationship was less probationary.

Like most geisha, he'd thought about the power in the flower district that came with bearing a specialized Caste. Princes were the most useful, their natural skills being easily bent to geisha talents, but it was intoxicating to imagine, sometimes, living in a world like the monastery, cut off from women. He saw plenty of similarities there... and his agitation would've been more understood, maybe, more acceptable, less... aberrant.

He wanted to focus on the art, but instead his thoughts trended back to Motoko. Why had she let herself be roped into this? He wanted to believe she didn't have a choice, but she was a Queen, a Sapphire-Jeweled dual casted Queen, blessed by the Darkness. What the fuck did she think she was doing...?

Offline Son Mi Moon

  • Character Account
    • rose2bo
    • bw
    • Role

      Blacksmith

    • Faction

      Ureshi-sa

    • Territory

      Tacea

    • Character Sheet

      [Link]

    • OOC

      Rated Em

    • Posts

      11

    • View Profile
Re: small, simple, safe price
« Reply #11 on: Mar 21, 19, 03:34:28 AM »
"Yes," answered Son Mi, fingers pulled back from touching the cursed piece of jewelry. "There's another Black Widow upon it. The Izayoi one was ... Tiger Eye and Purple Dusk?" She searched her memories for the artisan but it was years ago, who the woman was then and who she had become were likely different people. Still, what she had known of her this was not her style. "What rests within this piece is Purple Dusk and Sapphire."

It was her familiarity with working with the Blood, with creating imbued blades, that enabled her to recognize the subtle shifts. To know the feel of Sapphire as it laid in wait until it was time to snap shut and catch its prey. "It's deeply rooted," she added, a moment later, "and hidden, the spellwork. The moment that this piece came into contact with Ishiyo no Izayoi her fate was written." Son Mi turned towards Zhihao, shaking her head. "It would spread like a contagion, warping and twisting her thoughts, pushing her to insanity." In this case, it looked to be paranoia, madness, a deliberate drive to the edge. "I've never seen anything like this, it's insidious, and ..." The look upon her face was grim. "I do not believe that the previous Dragon Mother was supposed to survive it."

Son Mi rubbed her hands together, trying to free them of the feeling the spellwork on the bracelet. It was not working, causing her to turn her attention back and stare at it. "I do not know if I can give you a name," she had given him the jewels, however, and that was more to go on, "but if I study the spellwork a little more I might be able to see if there are any particularly telling markers." Not that she was eager to look again. Her attention flicked from the bracelet to Zhihao and back again.

"You've suspects, I assume," she said. Son Mi was running thoughts over through her mind. If they had someone they knew did it, Zhihao would not have brought her in. "I would see if any of them have associated with a Black Widow that wears the jewels that created this spellwork."

Offline Zhihao An

  • Character Account
    • te2ss
    • prince
    • Role

      Hinata's Dagger & Spymaster

    • Faction

      Kagen Clan

    • Territory

      Tacea

    • Character Sheet

      [Link]

    • OOC

      Leez

    • Posts

      107

    • View Profile
Re: small, simple, safe price
« Reply #12 on: Mar 21, 19, 11:13:06 AM »
Zhihao nodded, and it chilled him to know that someone so powerful and insidious dwelled within Tacea’s borders. He’d expected the spell to be a piece of work, but if it discomforted even his expert witness… Well, that made him uncomfortable, to say the least.

He sighed. “I didn’t want to tell you my suspects for fear of coloring your perceptions,” he said, “but I suppose now that you’ve had a chance to look upon it and form an impression, you need to know. I have reason to suspect that a Black Widow named Teiko Ueda leads a conspiracy to see the Shingetsu take the throne before their rightful time. However, Lady Ueda wears a Rose to Purple Dusk, so the spellwork that caused Ishiyo no Izayoi’s madness cannot be of her doing.”

That was where the theory fell apart. Without a way to actually connect the bracelet to Lady Ueda, he had no proof that would be admissible in a court of law - only hearsay and rumor. Prince Amamiya had done his job well, but a spy’s observations were not enough to go by, especially if you intended to accuse a great clan of treason.

“At present, I have no way of implicating Lady Ueda in the enchantment, and therefore no way of implicating her in the crime. The Black Widow who crafted the piece is missing - I presume her dead at this juncture - and I cannot well secure testimony from a corpse. If the Black Widow who wove the enchantment is a member of Lady Ueda’s house, or else mercenary enough to confess her involvement in exchange for a lighter sentence… that would help me immensely. But I cannot do anything until I know who she is.”

A Purple Dusk and a Sapphire, however, gave him something to go off. While Son Mi tried her connections, Zhihao would try his. Perhaps Prince Corro might even know who wore those Jewels…

“This has helped me immensely,” he said. “Lady Kim, do you need any more time with the piece, or should I have Amamiya-kun take us back?”

Offline Son Mi Moon

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Re: small, simple, safe price
« Reply #13 on: Mar 26, 19, 07:18:07 PM »
Son Mi took a moment longer to look at the bracelet, to peer once more at the shifting, undulating spellwork that existed within. A shuddering breath was released as she shook herself afterward, as if she was trying to shed something from having been touching her.

Once Zhihao explained, Son Mi was frowning further. "This ... No, this is not the work of Teiko Ueda. It's strange," said the Black Widow, moving away from the item and towards Zhihao, "because it almost feels as if it wants to tear itself apart. The very spellwork itself, I mean." Not that knew why that particularly was, it simply felt that way to her. Just like she thought the way it wished to anchor itself within another mind was rather horrifying.

"I can check with my own connections," those she had in the Coven and otherwise, "and see if there is any Black Widow that is known with those jewels. I am sorry that I cannot do more, Prince An. There is something familiar about the spellwork but I cannot tell what that is without reflecting upon it for more time." A sigh was let out. "I need no other time, Prince An. Let us depart."

It was as they were about to leave the room that she paused, her head tilting and fixing upon something that caught her eye. As she blinked, she realized that her eyes couldn't quite focus on what she was looking at. Security webs, she thought, and likely in need of being renewed if she was noticing them. It was no matter and she thought of it no longer as her stomach finally rumbled.

Son Mi rolled her eyes. At herself.

Offline Zhihao An

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Re: small, simple, safe price
« Reply #14 on: Mar 26, 19, 09:32:52 PM »
Zhihao nodded, though he couldn’t hide his disappointment that Son Mi couldn’t give him a name. This would only drag the investigation out further. Outwardly, however, he tried not to show that. “Thank you,” he said. “All this does is convince me that Lady Ueda contracted the work out. Perhaps she thought we wouldn’t connect it back to her, even if we detected the web, and whichever one of your sisters from the coven did this was being set up to take the fall.”

But Lady Ueda hadn’t counted on her youngest son not being able to hold his liquor or resist the charms of a pretty geisha.

The sound of Son Mi’s stomach gurgling broke Zhihao from his reverie, and he fixed her with a paternal smile. “I do believe I promised you that we’d stop for Udon. Amamiya-kun, would you be so kind as to show us back to the front?”

The geisha dutifully led them back to the palace’s entry hall, and Zhihao did not prolong their parting - Eiji was clearly agitated by something, though Zhihao could not anticipate exactly what. However, he’d spent enough time around his own Warlord Prince to have reasonable suspicions. “It may be a week or more before I call on you again, Amamiya-kun,” he said, “though I suspect that will suit you just fine.”

He and the Black Widow left the palace, and Zhihao watched as the cosmetic craft covering his associate’s face faded away, her familiar features returning. “Ah,” he said. “There you are, Lady Moon. Would you like to join me for lunch? And no more talk of business. It has a way of spoiling the appetite.”