The conflict of the Awaki Mountain - Round 2

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The conflict of the Awaki Mountain - Round 2

The Prefecture or Ryu – The Fisherwomans Hut

 

It was already dusk when the rain ceased falling again allowing Daisuke to finally leave the small hut that had been their only roof for the last two nights. There was nothing bad about the hut in itself but it was hardly comfortable living for the six of them in addition to Momoko herself. On top of this there was the rather unnerving mood Hanso had taken to these last days. Daisuke just could not stand the gunsos company a second more than necessary where he was sitting in his corner. He had let his wounds be treated but apart from that Hanso had kept to himself. Last night Daisuke had raised the question among the soldiers without really getting a definitive answer out of them. Since he did not want to ask Hanso directly he had decided that it probably was part of the gunsos way of handling what had happened in the village a few evenings earlier. Daisuke passed by the shed where Momoko kept her dry wood for the fire and continued down the path toward the clearing where they had raised their tents. Seeing the tents reminded him how grateful he was for the fisherwomans offer to use her hut for the wounded. Treating them in the tents had been possible but everything became so much easier with a proper roof. Reaching the clearing he found Junichi and Fujitaka moving some of their equipment between two tents. The soldiers never really stopped working and this had not changed despite Hanso being in the mood he was. Their defeat in the village a few nights ago had been most humiliating for all of them but it was Hanso who carried the burden.

 

He had been looking at them for quite a while before he realized what he was looking at. The pair of white eyes watching him from the shadows under a fallen tree. His curiosity kindled Daisuke took a step forward but as another set of eyes appeared on top of the tree he stopped his movement. Then an eerie sound echoed from tree to tree tearing through the night and his fears seemed realized sending chills down his spine. Junichi and Fujitaka reacted instantly putting whatever they were carrying down in the wet grass and armed themselves. As Daisuke reached them they had also spotted the eyes watching them from the shadows and without a moment of doubt Junichi grabbed his horn and gave sound. As a reaction the eyes disappeared but the roar answering the horn from beyond the trees could only mean one thing. A Savage Wave raiding party. Daisuke's reaction was to run back to the hut but the soldiers didn't show any such intention. Weighting his options Daisuke had only just made up his mind to leave them when suddenly Hanso arrived with the rest of the soldiers. As he passed by them Daisuke caught a glimpse of the gunsos eyes. They were hard as steel, focused and without doubt. It was time for the soldiers of Ryu to regain their honor.

 

[The Prefecture or Ryu vs The Savage Wave] Seigyo

 

At Hanso's command the soldiers formed a line across the clearing with Hanso himself in the center. On the outskirts of the clearing high pitch laughter and roaring could be heard as the Savage Wave monsters started to arrive. Daisuke, not really sure where to go decided to trail Hanso as the soldiers started to advance. Then Daisuke understood why Hanso had decided to make this his battlefield. In front of them were three make-do barricades in a row and if they could somehow keep them from being destroyed they would effectively block the raiders off from the Momoko hut. It proved a daring, dangerous but efficient plan. On each flank the spearmen led the charge with Junichi supporting on the left and managed to reach the barricades before they had been overrun. With Hanso and Fujitaka heading for the center to meet the huge red oni making it's way into the clearing Daisuke felt safe behind the line of soldiers. Until suddenly when, with a screeching sound, a Giant Cave Bat lunged down from the treetops.

 

When Daisuke regained consciousness once again the battle was already over. Relieved that Daisuke was back among them Fujitaka, wounded but in good spirit, made an effort to fill in the blanks. Apparently Daisuke had been lucky and the Giant Cave Bat had only knocked him out before assaulting the left flank in the rear. Junichi and Tsuru had not been as lucky though and their forced retreat had left them severely wounded. While the left flank had been broken the right and center path had been held proving enough to safeguard the fisherwoman and her hut. One look at the battered Hanso lying in the bed next to him made Daisuke realize how close the battle had been though. It was apparent that his skills were needed and so, grunting and with the help of Fujitaka, Daisuke got up. With a head that felt like it was exploding he would do his duty as the soldiers had done theirs. As Daisuke started to treat the gunso's bruised head with a soothing salve Hanso gritted his teeth with pain. Something in the gunsos eyes had changed though. It was not just Momoko and her hut that had been successfully protected against these raiders. For Hanso was smiling.

 

[The Prefecture of Ryu 1 – 1 The Savage Wave. Tie breaker VP unclaimed. Prefecture wins on coin toss]

 

The Ito Clan - A meeting among officials

 

The man had taken several steps off the road before letting them pass choosing to drag his mule with him straight on to the field pretending, in vain, to actually have a reason other than fear. Sakura clearly noticed how he did his best not to stare at the scales and tails that were her companions. She ignored him and his stupid eyes following them as they passed by. Hitomi, all clad in shining, perfectly polished armor would normally have drawn looks but in the company of naga, a Golden Sentinel or two was quickly regarded as commonplace. The next group of travelers they met followed the first man’s example. And the following one as well. Sakura was used to it and soon ceased taking notice instead focusing on what was ahead of them. Then the village Shirahama came into view peacefully placed on the near side of the river, waterfront filled with small fishing boats tied up for the night and smoke rising from several cookeries preparing dinner for those soon returning from the fields. Sakura had not seen anyone bearing the message but she knew how words travel in the wind. The crowd that had gathered at the village gates to watch them arrive was no surprise to her.

 

As she approached she studied the villagers silently hoping there would be no problems entering the village. Some of the injuries sustained in the battle, now four days ago, still bothered her companions but a mere village guard would not be a challenge. She did not fancy the thought of forcing herself into the village but she would if she had to. What they needed was inside those walls. Luckily the crowd did not bother them and they passed into the village without trouble but most activities stopped temporarily as they moved along the street towards the paved village center. Sakura could hear mothers telling their children to stop asking questions, see men tightening their grips on tools and feel their eyes watching her scaled neck. She made sure not to give away a single thought nor let her eyes stray from the path in front of them. The stares and stupidity of ignorant commoners meant nothing to her, priestess and champion of the clan of the great snake. Nothing.

 

The Silvermoon Syndicate - A meeting among officials

 

The next couple of days had proved uneventful which suited Oda just fine. The butos could spend time healing their wounds from the battle, his eyes and ears got some time to collect the necessary information and he himself could spend some time trying his luck fishing in the stream next to the abandoned temple. Oda was no skillful fisher but it was one of those things he enjoyed that was not possible in the larger cities in which he spent most of his time. The fish, lured by the bait, like a warrior trying to lure his adversary to make that crucial mistake. Also, for once he could enjoy some time not being watched constantly by his bodyguards. They were reluctant to the idea at first but could not argue with the fact that nothing in this village could actually pose a credible threat to the small man.

 

Then came the fourth day and the both unexpected and very intriguing news that a party of snakes were heading towards the village. To Oda this was both a morsel and a threat he could not ignore. It raised questions. Ryu soldiers and now the presence of the secluded Ito clan, what did it mean? Luckily his eyes and ears informed him way before the rest of the town knew of the Ito's arrival and Oda therefore had ample time to arrange a well timed meeting with the village elder. Presenting himself as a trader wanting to discuss business they met for a lengthy but meaningless conversation. When so the Ito arrived the village elder apologized for the fact that he had to interrupt their conversation to greet these strangers and offered Oda to join him. An offer Oda graciously accepted. He was intrigued. Not only was there naga present in the Ito party but they also traveled with one of the Golden Sentinels, who, for some reason did most of the talking. When this Sentinel requested access the old abandoned temple he had used as shade for the sun earlier that very day he knew he had to act on it. He allowed himself to meet the eyes of the Ito Shisai that was clearly the true leader of the Ito party. Her eyes, cold as a viper, did not give away a single clue. When the Ito left he excused himself and retreated to his room at the tavern to plan his move.

 

The Ito Clan – Fighting in the Dark

 

Walking the halls towards the temple library Sakura concluded the temple did not offer much in the way of comfort but would make up for it in usefulness. All the old documents she needed where there. Many in terrible condition but it didn’t matter to her that some of them fell apart as she removed them from the dusty shelves. She only needed them once anyway. Hours later, long past sundown she was still sitting at the stable oak table of the temple main hall reading in candlelight. By now she was probably the only one awake letting the walls of the temple ground stand night watch. Scanning through the last records of visits and purchases of the temple in past times she felt confident that she had found the recordings she was looking for. In front of her, spread over the table was a complex system of interconnected texts that would enable her solve her problem.

 

Finally, she stood up, concluding she should not deny herself the opportunity to sleep when suddenly a loud sound echoed from the temple courtyard. Irritated she gathered her robes to see what the noise was all about. Arriving at the temple courtyard she saw that her companions had all scrambled from their beds and it pleased her to see that they were all ready for combat. The outer gates of the temple had been broken through and in the moonlight she could see the very short finely dressed man from earlier. She immediately found herself suspicious and as three enormous brutes followed the imp through the broken gates she called for Saburo. The imp was looking for this fight for a reason and she was not going to just dance to his tune.

 

[The Ito Clan vs The Silvermoon Syndicate] Depletion

 

The Ito spread out to cover the strategic points of the temple courtyard and with slightly higher mobility soon grasped an upper hand. To her right Saburo and Hitomi held well against one of the big brutes and to her left Kaihime had already landed a well placed arrow onto another. As Sakura moved towards the archer to lend her support she tried to survey the battlefield catching a glimpse of the small man. Realizing that leaving him unchecked shouting orders would be a strategical error she made the decision to try to send one of her companions past the wall of brutes. But who? Kaihime would have been optimal but to Sakura's dismay the archer soon allowed herself to be locked in melee with the brute she had previously targeted. Instead the task fell to Saburo who, receiving the command quickly disengaged leaving Hitomi to fend against the other two brutes. Saburo dashed over the crumbling rocks of the courtyard, reached the small man but could just not finish him off. Exhausted from his attempt one of the brutes came to the small mans rescue and as Saburo staggered and fell the tides of the battle shifted with him. With two focused attacks the Ito were pushed back into a position of disadvantage losing ground at every flank. Then the brutes suddenly stopped their advance and in that moment it hit her why they were standing where they were. Gritting her teeth she swung around and ran towards the temple library.

 

Sakura had been right in her suspicion. The attack was all just a clever distraction. As her companions drove the last of the brutes out through the temple gates she violently yanked her blade out of the neck of the dead thief. She had gotten to one but there had been at least two more moving in during the commotion and they had succeeded where this one had failed. All her records where gone. All of them. All her work had been for naught. She was still staring at the empty table when Kaihime slithered up by her side. Sakura, barely able to contain her fury only gave the naga one intensive look before leaving her confused wondering what had just happened. The stupid archer probably thought that battle had been won. Trying to recompose Sakura decided to find Kazuhiko. She hoped he was not already wounded from the battle because she needed to inflict some pain. Right now. Relieved by her session with Kazuhiko Sakura slept relatively well during the last hours of the night and when morning came she commanded her companions to prepare to leave. Things had not been going at all according to plan but she was not ready to give up just yet. Winning did not require the best of hands and she was going to play hers, no matter the odds.

 

[The Ito Clan 1 - 2 The Silvermoon Syndicate]

 

The Silvermoon Syndicate – More and less useful.

 

When he received word that the Ito had left the temple shortly after mid sun the next day, traveling north-west towards the Awaki Mountain, Oda finally stopped trying to make sense of the old temple documents his thieves had managed to gather. Why the Ito had wanted old lists of visits and purchases he just could not figure out. Instead he sent one of his better scouts to trail them hoping that maybe that would give him more answers. The nightly assault had not been for naught though. On the contrary, among the documents stolen was some sort of journal kept by the Ito Shisai which proved to be exactly what Oda needed. It seemed these Ito had actually encountered a Savage Wave raiding party just a few days south-west of the village and among the raiders had been one of these hulking onis he had heard so much about. In addition, the journal proved to hold quite a good description on where, how many and how well equipped this raiding part was. It was time to get the hunt started.

 

[End of round 2]

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