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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: The first night of the rest of your life  (Read 311 times)

Description: Zhihao

Offline Ryuki Kirijo

  • Character Account
    • white2rose
    • witch
    • Role

      Sword of the Queen

    • Faction

      Kagen Clan Court

    • Territory

      Tacea

    • Character Sheet

      [Link]

    • OOC

      Reid

    • Posts

      23

    • View Profile
The first night of the rest of your life
« on: Jan 05, 19, 04:22:21 AM »
Toshi hurried past him, shoving his finger-picks into their case. "Late again," asked Ryuki, leaning around the screen to watch him go. He skittered to a stop, panting, and clacked back towards him.

"There you are! Otou-san is looking for you, and Zhihao too," he said, "I think you got a contract! Like, a big one!"

Ryuki's heart leapt into his throat, made itself a nice little nest there. He tried to look unimpressed, like of course the likes of Ryuki Kirijo no Ureshi-sa ought to expect to get a contract rather than the usual nightly escort jobs that other geisha with his age and experience got. Toshi didn't know about Ryuki's real job, or even his real caste, and probably just thought it was a normal city court contract. It wouldn't do to be all that excited in front of him. "Sure," he said, smiling close-mouthed. "Let me finish up here."

Toshi finished trying to rearrange the picks, giving it up as a lost cause as he just slammed the thing shut. "No, I think they want you, like, now. Right now. Like maybe five minutes ago. I didn't think you'd be this hard to find and I'm gonna be late for my aniki-san if you don't hurry!"

He raised his hands, splaying his fingers out. All done! No, really! "Sure, sure," he said, apologetic. "Sorry, I didn't realize it couldn't wait. Go catch up with Hatsu, Toshi, I'm going." The half-Jewel zipped off, and he... sat down to put everything away properly. Pre-excursion jitters shivered up his arms, and he dropped his whetstone several times before managing to get it into its pocket. Once the weapon kit was packed away, he got up from his spot seated in the inner garden of Ureshi-sa and dusted dirt off his butt.

Finally! Finally, he'd figure out what the hell had Zhihao and Ryuuen so on edge. He couldn't fucking wait.

Ryuki uses masculine pronouns as Ryuki//Ryuki uses feminine pronouns as Futaba

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: The first night of the rest of your life
« Reply #1 on: Jan 05, 19, 11:09:03 AM »
Zhihao kept an office at Ureshi-sa. He did not store anything sensitive there, at least not where it would be easily found. Years ago, he had slipped secret compartments beneath the floorboards and layered security spells into the tatami mats… but on the surface, the room was unassuming, the part-time office of a man who spent much of his time elsewhere. There were some displayed scrolls on the wall - tokens of appreciation from well-heeled clients - and a wardrobe in the corner with a few choice kimonos kept in it. The desk was low to the ground - meant to be knelt at, as opposed to the more mainland-style furniture he kept in his office at the territory court.

Nothing out of place for a middle-aged geisha concerned with little more than balancing the accounts and keeping track of appointments. Really. Anyone who went rifling through his drawers would come away with the impression that Zhihao An was monumentally boring.

Zhihao himself knew better.

There was a tray of tea and light refreshments ready when Ryuki finally arrived, and Zhihao gestured for her to sit. With the door closed behind her, her composed mask slipped, and she made no effort to hide her excitement… but he would make her wait as he poured the tea and portioned out the steamed buns. He’d been in the mood for Tang-style pastry recently, for reasons he couldn’t quite sort out.

Finally, when they were both served, Zhihao allowed himself to return Ryuki’s smile. “No doubt you know you’re headed someplace special,” he said. “You’ve been to Kamuzawa before, haven’t you?”

Offline Ryuki Kirijo

  • Character Account
    • white2rose
    • witch
    • Role

      Sword of the Queen

    • Faction

      Kagen Clan Court

    • Territory

      Tacea

    • Character Sheet

      [Link]

    • OOC

      Reid

    • Posts

      23

    • View Profile
Re: The first night of the rest of your life
« Reply #2 on: Jan 05, 19, 04:10:36 PM »
Ryuki shut the door to Zhihao's office behind him with the quiet rustle of the screen sliding along its tracks and the click of wood frame meeting door frame. The room wasn't all that interesting to look at, but Ryuki knew the secret; Ryuki knew all the secrets. The moth netsuke with its red belly had adorned his obi belt since he was fifteen, after all. He dropped onto the cushion that he usually thought of as his and immediately offered his Uncle Zhi a bow, but he couldn't quite keep his grin off his face. Finally! All his efforts at finding out what they had in mind had dead-ended in unconfirmed contracts to an unnamed Court, but he knew it had to be big. Like, at least District big. First Circle in a District big.

He fidgeted as Zhihao took his time with the food and drink. He had no fucking idea what Zhihao's emotional state was, at least, not from the psychic scent. His physical nose picked up the understated cologne of a geisha at the end of his prime, the meat inside the steamed buns, the fragrance of the jasmine tea in the pot. And wasn't it interesting that Zhihao was pouring for both of them? This was definitely it. The thing Ryuuen and Zhihao had been hinting around about for six months now. The old man seemed pretty pleased with himself, like he'd come up with some kind of sincerely clever plan. That wasn't so out of the question, since Zhihao wasn't spymaster for Hinata no Kagen for no reason. Still. "Uncle Zhi," he groaned at the question. "You know I've been to Kamuzawa. You took me yourself."

If either of his fathers were to know about all of Ryuki's doings, it would definitely be Zhihao. Even though Ryuuen was Ryuki's actual blood relative--as depicted by their names, which shared a syllable in the greatest tradition of geisha lineage--it was Zhihao who'd trained him into being a spy, who picked out training contracts for half-Jewel Ryuki that had seen him finding all sorts of fun (and occasionally disgusting) information. Like, he didn't even know men could be into that, but he supposed... More power to them?...

"I know it's a Court contract," he said, sitting forward, ignoring his buns and his tea. "Which one?"

Ryuki uses masculine pronouns as Ryuki//Ryuki uses feminine pronouns as Futaba

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: The first night of the rest of your life
« Reply #3 on: Jan 05, 19, 04:51:54 PM »
Zhihao chuckled - Ryuki had a spark that many geisha his age lacked. He knew where that lightness came from - most men Ryuki’s age were concerned foremost with repaying their massive training debts. Debts that Ryuki, being the okiya father’s nephew, had never accrued. There were many paths to loyalty, in Zhihao’s experience. Money was a powerful motivator for many of his moths, but Ryuki was bound by filial affection.

“You recall Yumi no Kagen, don’t you?” he asked, watching Ryuki’s expression for the flash of recognition he was sure would come. Ryuki and Yumi had played together as toddlers, when Yumi was new to her grandmother’s care and Ryuuen was taking Ryuki with him to court every day. They’d run across each other a few times each year in the years since. Zhihao doubted they considered each other friends, but he didn’t need them to be. Not to begin with, anyway.

They’d get there.

“She rules the Kagen now,” he continued, though doubtless Ryuki was aware. “Most of her court, however, is inherited from her cousin Naruko and Hinata-sama and I are both… concerned about their loyalty. There are murmurs that some in her circles would rather see her cousin Toyani on the throne.”

That was the spy side of the assignment, anyway. Zhihao folded his hands together. “Arrangements are being made for you to enter into her first circle,” he explained. It wouldn’t be unusual for a geisha from their okiya to take a posting at the side of a Kagen Queen. “You’ll be there to root out any threats to her rule still positioned within her court… but also to provide companionship. She needs someone her own age by her side.”

He paused and let that suggestion settle for a moment before adding, “I know she only knows you as Ryuki… But it may be time she meet Futaba.”

More than time. A Queen could find many uses for a handmaiden who shared her height and Jewels.

Offline Ryuki Kirijo

  • Character Account
    • white2rose
    • witch
    • Role

      Sword of the Queen

    • Faction

      Kagen Clan Court

    • Territory

      Tacea

    • Character Sheet

      [Link]

    • OOC

      Reid

    • Posts

      23

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Re: The first night of the rest of your life
« Reply #4 on: Jan 05, 19, 04:56:18 PM »
Yeah, of course Ryuki remembered Yumi no Kagen. Who could forget? She'd been a lone Queen in the creche at the Territory Court. They'd pulled matching White Jewels at their Birthrights, which were on the same exact day. After that, Ryuki had gone to the okiya full-time, since he'd been made aware of just how he was different from the other boys and could protect himself. Yumi stayed at Court. She'd grown up to be a beauty the same way Ryuki had--as Futaba, anyway--and he'd sort of kept a half-hearted tab on her. He didn't know why Yumi mattered so much to Zhihao and Ryuuen, only that she did, so it seemed kind of important to keep an eye on her. That job only got easier when she got all fixated on Naoji, of course. Ryuki didn't even need to leave the house to get the latest news.

Zhihao was looking for recognition, but he got a roll of the eyes. Ryuki put his whole body into the gesture, lifting his shoulders as he looked up to the ceiling, dropping them and slumping when he looked back to the ground. Yeah, duh, said his overwrought gesture, and?

Luckily, Zhihao wasn't dawdling. Now that he'd bridged into the assignment, Ryuki was leaning forward again, keen as a hawk. Dissidents in the Court could be rooted out by a pretty face, and Ryuki had access to two of them. People who couldn't be won over as Ryuki would almost certainly fall all over themselves at attention from Futaba, and people who didn't like either of them, well. He had some really nice, tiny knives that he took excellent care of.

"Oh, so it's like a patronage thing," he said, leaning back now that he'd assessed his assignment. "I'm guessing she doesn't know I'm going to be going to her Court? 'Cause the 'arrangements being made' sounds like my contract's going to be a--" he made air quotes here "--'gift' from someone."

As for introducing Yumi to Futaba, Ryuki could do that. He squirmed a little, imagining the uses he'd put someone with his same height and Jewel strength to. All the contracts he could pick up because Futaba and Ryuki could be seen in the same place. Right now it was rather like one of those mainland caped crusader novels. No one had ever seen Futaba and Ryuki in the same place. "Is that part of the contract or just you wanting me to look out for her, Uncle Zhi?" He leaned his elbows on the low table, propped his chin atop his fists. "'Cause I'll do it either way, I just want to know how much wiggle room I got."

Ryuki uses masculine pronouns as Ryuki//Ryuki uses feminine pronouns as Futaba

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: The first night of the rest of your life
« Reply #5 on: Jan 05, 19, 04:56:40 PM »
There was that lightness again, the exuberance of unburdened youth. Ryuki’s sass went unremarked upon - Zhihao knew he knew better than to behave that way with clients. “You assume correctly,” he said, not wasting any time. “Your presence will be framed as a gift from her grandmother. Hinata-sama has long been a patron of our okiya, and we are honored that she has chosen to purchase an extended contract for you to serve her granddaughter.”

Which was true, though Zhihao and Ryuuen had been the ones to suggest to Hinata that the contract should be drawn up. It had not been difficult to convince her - any Queen could sympathize with the discomfort that came with being surrounded by a court not truly her own.

Ryuki leaned forward, and Zhihao sighed. Perhaps a line had been crossed. Perhaps he should have admonished him for being too bold. But he knew better. He really did. And Zhihao enjoyed having at least one young person in his life willing to treat him more like a fun uncle and less like an esteemed teacher. It wasn’t as though he couldn’t kick Ryuki’s ass in dance class on the morrow.

“The contract is for a geisha,” he said. “Officially. I’ll show you the text of it once it’s finalized so you know what’s expected of you. Unofficially… I do want you to look out for her. She needs protection, an ally in her court… but also a friend.”

He paused for a moment, eyes falling shut, and drew a careful breath. “Of course,” he said, “she shouldn’t know that I’ve put you up to befriending her or she’ll doubt the truth behind your intentions.”

Offline Ryuki Kirijo

  • Character Account
    • white2rose
    • witch
    • Role

      Sword of the Queen

    • Faction

      Kagen Clan Court

    • Territory

      Tacea

    • Character Sheet

      [Link]

    • OOC

      Reid

    • Posts

      23

    • View Profile
Re: The first night of the rest of your life
« Reply #6 on: Jan 05, 19, 04:56:55 PM »
Ryuki could handle being secretly ordered to befriend someone. He didn't remember Yumi being terribly annoying; she was pushy, because she was a Queen, but not onerously so. And if he was supposed to reveal his natal gender to her, he supposed it didn't matter if the contract made more standard allowances than his usual setup. He knew what to do with a partner, after all, as long as none of them wanted him to undress. The Widow's web on him concealed his natal gender, smoothed over his graceful soprano and dropped it to a lower, more masculine register, but even if it elided the curve of his (minimal) breasts, they could still be felt. And below the waist was just a lost cause. He could make it work in the dark, if he was particularly devoted. But he really wasn't.

He settled at those somber thoughts. Ryuuen had often hinted that Ryuki had a greater purpose than simply attending whatever one-night clients who came his way, and for a long time, he'd been pretty sure that being a spy was it. He'd trained to get information from people using all the weapons in his arsenal--a pretty face, a warm and welcoming mouth, flechette knives honed so sharp they didn't even feel the first cut--but protection, befriending someone for an unselfish purpose... Those weren't really in the manual. If he was being sent on this contract, then there had to be something behind it.

Well, he had nothing but time to investigate all the many angles of the contract before he would be confirmed in it. Ryuki wouldn't dare reject the contract from the Great Unifier, obviously. His fathers were bound to Hinata no Kagen and he was hardly going to dishonor them like that. But... it was a complicated proposition, and he felt a little daunted by it.

"Yeah, I'll keep it under my robes," said Ryuki, fiddling with the ring that contained one of two webs to conceal his natal gender. He could wear one or the other, the ring or the pendant. Maybe it was time to figure out a more permanent, less easily breakable solution. He'd heard something about tattooing webs into place, but his looks might be spoiled by a tattoo...

He fidgeted. "Will Futaba have standing in the Court, too? Or will I need to come up with a way to introduce Yumi-hime to her?"

Ryuki uses masculine pronouns as Ryuki//Ryuki uses feminine pronouns as Futaba

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: The first night of the rest of your life
« Reply #7 on: Jan 05, 19, 05:33:18 PM »
Zhihao frowned and shook his head. “No,” he said. “One of your largest advantages as Futaba is that there is no official record of your existence, and for you to appear on Yumi-hime’s court roster now would raise alarm. Futaba has no backstory, no family to claim her, and positioning you publicly as a handmaiden would raise questions I don’t want asked. However, Hinata-sama, Ryuuen, and I all see value in Yumi-hime knowing your true sex… as well as in her having access to a body double who no one knows exists. If you are Ryuki when you are not doubling for her, then it is more likely no one will ever detect the deceit.”

His gaze flittered to Ryuki’s fidgeting hands, the ring he twisted around his slim finger. Zhihao was seated close enough to him that he could feel his psychic scent oscillating as it rose past his first knuckle and then back down - from further away, the effect would be less pronounced.

“Son Mi will give you a new web to wear,” he said. “One that will allow you to imitate Yumi’s Queen caste. It is not the most dangerous piece of craft I have ever entrusted you with, but it is one of the most delicate. She will consult with you on its design, and once you have it, you must treat it very carefully.”

It went without saying that he would not have entrusted his apprentice with such a thing if he thought he would abuse it.

Were Yumi not horrifically upset with him at the moment, Zhihao would have orchestrated the revelation himself - but right now, with his involvement in the arrangement being kept from his daughter, it would be better if Yumi thought the whole plan was Hinata’s from start to finish. “You are correct in your assumption, however,” he concluded. “You will need to find the right moment to reveal Futaba to Yumi-hime.”

Hopefully she would take it well, he thought, and not see it as another deception carried out in front of her eyes. Zhihao tried not to feel apprehensive about this plan.

Offline Ryuki Kirijo

  • Character Account
    • white2rose
    • witch
    • Role

      Sword of the Queen

    • Faction

      Kagen Clan Court

    • Territory

      Tacea

    • Character Sheet

      [Link]

    • OOC

      Reid

    • Posts

      23

    • View Profile
Re: The first night of the rest of your life
« Reply #8 on: Jan 05, 19, 08:13:58 PM »
Your true sex. The words made Ryuki uncomfortable, as they ever did. What made Futaba any more true than Ryuki? If either of his faces were to be truer than another, surely it would be the one he wore every day, not the one he wore for business. Each of the people he could be was him, and he inhabited those psychic skins as fully as he lived in his real flesh, but even Zhihao seemed to think that Futaba was the 'real' person and Ryuki was pretend. Futaba was a tool, like a set of lockpicks. Like lockpicks, she opened doors that Ryuki would see slammed in his face. Everything about him didn't, couldn't, come down to the wetworks between his thighs... could it?

Someday he'd have to talk to his fathers about how he felt. He knew that. There was some day in the far-flung future where Ryuki would be outed as what he was or when it would no longer be tenable to uphold the charade that he was a young man and only that, and they deserved to know... But his feelings on it were so muddled, his thoughts so confused, that even he didn't really understand it sometimes. Zhihao hadn't meant any harm by what he said, and really, Ryuki was just as much a performance as Futaba.

Being raised as a spy was hell on one's identity development, Ryuki supposed. Was any of him real?

"I figured," he said, realizing he'd been quiet for far too long. "I'd like to be introduced to Yumi-hime before I settle on a design for the Queen web. That way I can model it after something she's usually seen with, or maybe figure out a new piece that she can pick up wearing." Ryuki flattened his palms against his thighs, still unsettled by the reference to Futaba. "That's the right way to do it, isn't it? If one Yumi wears this piece of jewelry and never does any Queen Craft, and the other never wears that one but does Queen Craft all the time, then that's going to be a dead giveaway."

He smiled at Zhihao through his unease, and finally took a bite of a steamed bun. "I won't let you down, Uncle Zhi," he said.

Ryuki uses masculine pronouns as Ryuki//Ryuki uses feminine pronouns as Futaba

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: The first night of the rest of your life
« Reply #9 on: Jan 08, 19, 11:18:27 AM »
Zhihao nodded. “Of course,” he said, pleased with Ryuki’s thoughtfulness. He expected such thoroughness from a spy he’d raised himself, but it was still nice to see it demonstrated. If he’d been allowed the same closeness with Yumi, how would his natural daughter have turned out? Would she have that same attention for detail, that same follow-through? He knew, intellectually, it was a foolish consideration… but he still allowed himself to consider it for a moment before pushing it aside. Yumi, sharp, a hidden blade - different from Ryuki, of course, they weren’t interchangeable, but…

“Once you’ve made Yumi aware of your purpose, I’ll arrange for you both to met with Son Mi. The setting will need to be to her taste, of course…”

He trailed off, sighing. The first of Ryuki’s male webs had been cast when he’d been too small to have any say in the design, either, and the ring was in a fairly generic style, something that would not look unusual on the manicured hands of a geisha. The courtesan class was allowed vanity, of course, but clients were not above asking to personally handle anything that looked too unique…

One day, he would commission Son Mi to make something just to Ryuki’s tastes, with no consideration for practicality - but knowing Ryuki, he would likely prefer a dagger than a piece of jewelry.

I won’t let you down, Uncle Zhi.

Zhihao fixed Ryuki with a warm, paternal smile, affection crinkling the corners of his eyes. “I know you won’t, Ryuki-kun. You never do.”