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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: Strong fences, good neighbors  (Read 431 times)

Description: Toshihiro

Offline Seung Corro

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Strong fences, good neighbors
« on: Jul 29, 18, 01:23:20 AM »
Summer 193 ap, before the decimation of Dena Nehele

A dozen years or more since he'd spoken more than a few words to the Ariake Clan Queen. Felicitations for their Red Birthright Healer, the girl who had gone off to Shalador with Yuki no Natsuhana, but the girl was second-branch at best until her future husband made good on the betrothal... which would be soon, if she made her Descent. If they did not permit her the time she'd need to heal from her enslavement in Dena Nehele, which Seung was heavily considering mandating as a condition of his silent assistance, his trade of his daughter for theirs. Perhaps he could be more delicate with the matter and request Hinata make her wishes clear. Ji Yoon intimated that Yua would have no desire to return, but it would be a foolish action for Toyani no Kagen to permit the Healer to remain where she was. Both for the contract they'd signed and the well-being of the Healer, who would be remembered for her enslavement in the Territory of Dena Nehele for at least a decade.

Here, all of that would be wiped away. No one would ever have to speak of Yua no Ariake's shame, provided no child came from it, which seemed unlikely. She could return to the path that the wheel of life had maintained for her, twenty years ago when she'd entered the world screaming, as all infants did. It would certainly be less exciting to be the Court Healer of a Clan Queen, but by all accounts Yua no Ariake was uncannily devoted to her mentor. He'd seen it himself in the short-lived and ill-fated Ariake Dragon Court. No doubt she would find satisfaction there.

He thought now on the Ariake because a scion of their line was coming to visit him. Toshihiro no Ariake, the last child of his family's branch of the Ariake. His mother had been... Ah, it'd been during one of his long silences. Ji Yoon had been young then, a little girl just past her Birthright. He remembered sending his felicitations to Koyomi's niece for the birth of her child, a girl named Yuriko. And then later to Yuriko, on the birth of her son. As Steward, he'd heard much of the Warlord Prince's mastery of his arts; Yuriko's reports as a guard were glowing, and the martial school had nothing but good things to say of his devotion. It seemed a simple decision to make.

The problem would be literacy. The Ariake hewed traditional, despite their unorthodox selection of a branch's branch Queen when they had Nariko among them. Seung doubted the man that the Ariake soldiers called Kengou could read Common. If Toshihiro had been honest when he volunteered to take a role in the Guard, then Seung would have to ensure he became literate quickly. Yet Seung had no time to teach him.

"Don't borrow trouble," he told the glittering blue-and-gold river that wound its way through Ito, several hundred feet below him. A knock at the door, and Seung turned away from his view and dropped the Green pendant that he'd been fiddling with as he thought. "Come in, Prince Ariake," he called. "We've got much to talk about."

Offline Toshihiro no Ariake

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      Commander of the Thousand Swords

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Re: Strong fences, good neighbors
« Reply #1 on: Aug 23, 18, 03:24:46 PM »
Yuriko no Ariake and her immediately family had enjoyed much success in their lives.  Toshihiro was considered Kengou now, and his Father had long instructed the Ariake Spearman of his region.  This allowed them the luxury of a small and elegant teahouse in their garden.  It was a place of quiet and relaxation, a place where the Heir to Yuriko’s Ariake blade enjoyed a bit of tea in solitude.  He was busy organizing his thoughts, and debating with himself about the meeting that was coming later that very morning.  Toshihiro was always up early, but he managed his time as precisely as he did his sword.  He sipped at his tea, his hands cupping the saucer, which prevented his fingers from twitching for want of a quill and parchment to, once again, try his hand at poetry.  No, it was no time for his attempts at haiku.  He had to decide how much he would tell the Regent, how much of his personal iconoclastic beliefs should be revealed.

It was true that Seung Corro was already bucking tradition, some would say he had thoroughly broken it, and while Toshihiro might even agree; that did not mean he was terribly interested in having others do the same.  Change was healthy, but even the Ariake Warlord Prince understood that controlled change was better than a wildfire.  How many traditions and mores was Prince Corro willing to challenge, how many was he willing to break?  There was no way to know for sure.  Toshihiro was more than capable of behaving in a fashion that supported Protocol and associated good manners, but he was not a politician.  Most of his solutions involved his katana, and what his katana could not solve, his empty hands, or Craft could.  A household retainer politely rapped on the frame of a sliding door that contained a beautiful watercolor he had been staring at without truly appreciating.  The Kengou breathed a soft sigh, growled slightly in frustration, and rose to his feet.

”Thank you.  I will be in shortly, please continue preparations.”  The retainer softly uttered an affirmative, while Toshihiro finished his tea, and then went into the main part of his home to get ready for his appointment with the Regent.  He chose noble attire that spoke of his Clan and his social position, and had his ancestral blade through his obi.  He looked every inch the classical Ariake warrior, with an impassive, serious expression.  Toshihiro still had not decided what to tell Prince Corro, or what to avoid revealing, but just as in war, where no plan survives contact with the enemy, the Warlord Prince decided he would just have to improvise.  When he was conducted into the Regent’s presence, he bowed appropriately, but only as Protocol and the Regent’s position demanded.  It was a subtle thing, lost on most foreigners.  ”I must agree that we do, Prince Corro.”  He waited politely to be shown where to kneel, and when he did so, his back was straight as an arrow, his hands resting gently on his thighs, the peace-knotted blade slid into a position at his back.

Offline Seung Corro

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Re: Strong fences, good neighbors
« Reply #2 on: Oct 07, 18, 03:22:58 PM »
The desk at which Seung usually worked was mainland-style, but there was a small sitting area in the traditional Tacean mode. It was there that he indicated Toshihiro should sit, though the Dragon Father--as popular sentiment named him--remained by the window, steady and still. He hadn't always been so calm, so still, so quiet. When he had been Toshihiro's age, his parents had often struggled to remind him to sit, to rest. The energies of a Dark Jeweled Warlord Prince were difficult to corral, even for a Gray Priestess and a Red Warlord. He had learned peace eventually, but slowly and at great personal cost.

His momentary glance at the Ariake kengou had shown him more than he strictly needed to make an initial judgement. The formal kimono and hakama said that this was a young man--young? By the standards of the short-lived, he was middle-aged--who took the appointment seriously. The presence of the ancestral blade spoke of a warrior who was ready for anything. Toshihiro's bow had been subtly correct, with not a hair more deference than politeness required. By Caste and Jewel, Seung was outranked. Yet social position, Court rank, and age granted him primacy in this meeting. He was unsure if he should take this very specific correctness as insult or compliment; the finesse could say that Toshihiro respected him enough to know that he'd see the careful distinctions, or that he thought Seung undeserving of his position.

Through their conversation, Seung would make that determination. Disrespect for Seung personally was a warning sign that the Ariake might attempt to undercut the Interregnum before its purpose was fulfilled. Respect for the role he held was only smart.

"You asked that you be considered for a role in the Territory Guard," he said. Thousand Swords was a name selected by Haruka no Shirogane, and he didn't exactly approve of it. It sounded as fanciful as his popular title. "Your qualifications, as I know them, would suit for the command of the border guard; but before I can make any formal determination, there are things I must know.

"Firstly: Are you comfortable working with representatives of other Clans? Your fellow commanders represent the best of the Izayoi, Kagen, Tang, and Shingetsu. If you are not comfortable, then our conversation ends now.

"Secondly: Have you often worked in concert with other leaders? Lady Shirogane and Lady Hê are talented, but much younger than you are; you would not be expected to yield to their expertise due to your gender, but they would not be expect to yield to your expertise due to your age, either.

"And finally: Are you literate? If not, it is no barrier, but I will have to see lessons arranged for you in Common."

Offline Toshihiro no Ariake

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Re: Strong fences, good neighbors
« Reply #3 on: Nov 21, 18, 10:05:32 AM »
Tacea was a place of precision.  Everything was martial arts, if one took the time to look at it from a certain perspective.  It was not enough to strike, any brute can do that, one should know when to strike, how to strike, and where to strike for the most effect.  This was true of words.  This was true in art, and it was true in battle.  It was also true in social situations, and politics, where the art of the thrust and parry was entirely present, albeit absent the use of steel.  Toshihiro understood and believed in that precision, in being exact.  He would give maximum effort for the most effect.  He could have been effusive in his greeting, but that would have been false.  He could have fallen short, to make clear that he considered himself more powerful, but that too would have been false.  He would not ignore Prince Corro’s place in the world, but neither would he behave as though that place were not new, uncertain, and potentially temporary.

He sat and waited, willing to dedicate whatever amount of time Prince Corro wished for this to take.  He listened to the Dragon Father, as he was coming to be known, and only nodded at his opening statement.  Toshihiro nodded again when he claimed that there were three more things he had to know.  The swordsman of the Ariake would have thought his qualifications obvious.  What else would Prince Corro need to know?  What could disqualify one of the finest swordsman of his Clan from service to the Territory?  He found out not long after those thoughts occurred to him.

”I have been a duelist, Prince, but I hold no particular enmity for any of the other Families.  Competition, perhaps, but not enmity.  It should not be a problem.”  For the second, Toshihiro actually smiled, recalling his Mother fondly.  ”I once worked with my Mother.  We had much the same arrangement, though I do not mind confessing that she was right more often than I was.”  The last qualifier gave him pause.  He took a long, slow breath, before his expression became very serious and he was very silent for a moment or two longer than might have been expected.  Finally, he answered, ”Yes. More than I should be.  I would welcome any opportunity to learn more of the skill.”  There, he had said it.  In truth, he was firmly on the side of the Dragon in his view for change in Tacea, he just was not certain how heavily he should be seen to be.

Offline Seung Corro

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Re: Strong fences, good neighbors
« Reply #4 on: Dec 19, 18, 05:37:08 PM »
Seung didn't nod along to each of Toshihiro's responses, but only because that would be dismissive. There had never been a question of the Ariake kengou joining the Thousand Swords; the question had been one of rank and placement. An illiterate man could not cooperate with the women of the other branches effectively, not without requiring a scribe. That was a layer of effort that he was willing to go to, but it would cause an issue if the scribe got a different idea into her head. A literate Commander was, therefore, a necessity; and to Seung Corro, a male Commander was just as necessary. The need to work with younger Commanders went without saying.

Haruka no Shirogane acquitted herself well as a manager of city-level disturbance, and that was the sort of work he needed for her role as commander for internal security. Feiyan He, her missing memories aside, worked well with Queens and was familiar to a handful of them; she also represented the minority tribes among the new military Seung was building. Neither of them was qualified to take on a border guard, to establish defenses for embassies without overstepping their bounds and upsetting the host Territories. He needed someone with those skills, and on the surface, Toshihiro provided them. The questions he'd asked determined whether he could offer the role without equivocation.

Toshihiro's literacy, his willingness to work with younger commanders as equals, and lack of animosity towards the other Great Clans eased Seung's concerns quite capably.

"My own son is literate," he said. A tacit admission of understanding for the work that Toshihiro's mother had done, teaching him and giving him that extra space to grow stronger. He hoped that, someday, Haneul found his path as Toshihiro must have done. "Though I don't think it's widely known. You'll often be away from your counterparts, but will still be responsible for coordinating with them. I'll arrange a meeting with Lady Shirogane and Lady He; your specific divisions of responsibility should be decided between the three of you, and these divisions should be reported to me within the month with your signatures on them."

He folded his hands before him. "As the commander of our border guard, the defense of our embassies and our people abroad will fall under your auspices. You will be responsible for selecting and training Tacean security, and ensuring that our people are ready in the case of some sort of violence between our people and the host Territory. Do you feel up to this task, Prince Ariake?"

Offline Toshihiro no Ariake

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Re: Strong fences, good neighbors
« Reply #5 on: Mar 01, 19, 02:55:19 PM »
Toshihiro was not a man given to obfuscating his ambitions.  He did so to protect himself, and perhaps in greater portion, to protect the reputation of his Mother.  He hoped he did not have to worry about that with the Regent, whose very existence and position bucked the traditions of Tacea.  He ruled, and it did not matter to the Sapphire Warlord Prince that he was of mixed blood, or that he would live many more times his own years.  What mattered to Toshihiro was what they might accomplish, what they might change if they were to join forces, even in this small a way.  His Mother should not have to hide the fact that she wanted the best for her son, because her son could be more, if he was given the chance.  It was a frustrating facet of their society, though he truly did love Tacea, in this one thing they were very wrong.

He did not quite sigh in relief at the Regent’s confession about his own son, but he came very close.  It made him far more certain that he had made the right decision.  He did not interrupt the Regent, but he gave a slight, sharp nod that he understood what was meant by the revelation.  Toshihiro lifted his eyes to meet Seung’s for just a moment as he finished detailing his expectation.  It seemed that had been the right answer, and it was also clear that he now had the position he had come for.  He bowed his head, placing both hands on the mat, and bowing over them, before he straightened.  ”I will see to it that you have this documentation before the end of this month.”

Toshihiro listened to the rest of the description of his new postion, and inclined his head again.  ”I am prepared for this task, Prince Regent.  I have trained men for most of my life, and have prepared for this kind of responsibility.”  He pulled the ancestral blade from his sash, still in its lacquered scabbard, and laid it on the floor between them.  ”My sword is yours, Prince Regent.  I will protect Tacea, and Tacea abroad in her embassies, the land and her people.  You have honored me with this appointment, and I shan’t shirk from this burden.”

Offline Seung Corro

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Re: Strong fences, good neighbors
« Reply #6 on: Mar 08, 19, 08:45:19 PM »
One did not use Craft on another man's blade, and so Seung knelt to lift up Toshihiro's blade and offer it back to him, as a liege lord to a new vassal. It was an old ritual, but Seung was an old man as the Taceans reckoned with time. He remembered the moment of this ritual's inception, centuries ago. "I have confidence in you," he said. Those were not the ritual words, but then, he was not truly the ruler of Tacea. Only the man keeping the seat warm until he knew the identity of the Queen who belonged at the helm of the Territory for the next twenty-four years.

Toshihiro no Ariake had the aura of a man with many talents. Hopefully he would not reveal himself to have the strange reputation of his cousin Makoto, or the ill fate of Yua. The Ariake had been the Clan which Seung dealt most closely in his time, and it was strange to him that out of the whole family the one that seemed closest to the line he remembered was a male of the second branch. Theoretically, Toshihiro ought to be the least worthy of the Ariake name of any member of the Clan, and yet he seemed to embody the spirit of the long-ago Healer Queen in a way that few of the Ariake Queens did.

"You'll do honor to your predecessors, I'm sure," he said, and then lapsed into silence. What else was there to say? Perhaps that he trusted Toshihiro to guide the younger Commanders, but he trusted each of them on their own, as well. "Let me know what decision you make with regards to your hierarchy. Tacea needs its strength now, and I know you're the man to help provide it."

Tacit dismissal. Seung had little else to say.

Offline Toshihiro no Ariake

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Re: Strong fences, good neighbors
« Reply #7 on: Apr 12, 19, 01:03:11 PM »
Of all people, Seung Corro should know the old forms.  Despite his disruption of what most would see as tradition, he was also much older than he appeared, and surely older than Toshihiro.  The Ariake swordsman was a skill warrior and instructor, respected for those skills,  his experience, and his Caste.  By all accounts, he was only a fraction of the Regent’s age.  He returned Toshihiro’s sword to him in the appropriate fashion, and with all due ceremony, the kengou slid the scabbard and blade back through his obi, and straightened his back.  ”Thank you, Prince Regent.”

Toshihiro nodded slightly at the compliment, and turned partly still sitting on his heels.  ”As soon as matters are settle, you will be the first to know outside of the Swords themselves.”  He gave another nod, completed his turn, and rose smoothly to his feet.  The Sapphire swordsman slid the the partition open, stepped outside of the Prince Regent’s space, and then turned to slide the partition closed, his eyes not reengaging Seung after his quiet dismissal.

Once clear of the Regent’s presence, he straightened, adjusted his clothing, and marched away. He had quite a bit of work to do, and quite a lot of responsibility to shoulder.  There was no time like the present.  He was sure that the Regent had already informed the necessary people about Toshihiro’s appointment.  He would have known the the swordsman could not have refused without embarrassment, both personally for for Clan Ariake.  It was the culmination of not only all of his work, but all of his Mother’s faith in him as well.  He would not only protect Tacea, he would carry that protection and his Ariake Heirloom blade into other Territories to protect Taceans—and he would show people that a literate Male was not only proper, it was necessary.

/end