Sengoku Horizon

Look towards the Horizon

The Warring States Period: Fierce warlords fought for control of Japan, and many would perish. When a warrior falls, where does the passion they once held go? Possibly into something dear such as a favorite weapon or heirloom. These heirlooms have been labeled as “relics”, and those that carry them are labeled as “Scions." Recently more and more of these special relics have been activating, signaling the start of a great change as ancient power meets the modern world!

Now For The Local News, 11/01/2017 The dust has cleared after a fierce clash against the rebel Ikko Ikki monks. Now, as a tense period of calm spread over the island nation of Japan the students of Edo Bugei must figure out how to proceed in life after experience such intense conflicts and such deep loss.

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Aideen

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Nov 6 2017, 07:52 PM
There was so much Junko didn't understand about his place in the world. If he were to inherit the clan, he didn't know if he would be able to lead it properly. Certainly, a good amount of his upbringing wasn't exactly noble, disgraceful probably. His life was full of missteps and odd occurrences. No amount of lion slaying was going to make up for the tea ceremonies, dances, and dresses. So honor was already a tricky subject even before he took his first steps on the new path he saw ahead of him. A path of social work.


His time after the war and his missions into the so called suicide forest had opened his eyes to something truly shameful. It greatly affected him to see people left in such a state, forgotten and alone. Surely somebody cared for them somewhere. Surely there was some respite for the lost souls. He had been told that there were expeditions that went out once a year. From personal experience, he knew that it wasn't enough. The strings weren't enough. The number of people they sent out, the skills they carried with them, none of it was enough to really make a difference. Every lost soul in that forest was a stain on his country's honor. A stain he wanted to erase.

Trouble was, dealing with the dead wasn't very honorable either, especially with the taboo of suicide being a taint that stained everything hit touched. Likely that was why efforts in the forest were so pathetic, nobody wanted to be tainted and likely some families would rather never know than have the stain of dishonor touch their name. Disgusting and selfish, it made him sick. They had failed the family once and now failed them after they had died. He desperately wanted to do something about it all but, perhaps with good reason, he wanted to avoid the taint himself. Junko didn't want his behavior to bring any shame to his family name, especially since he would be doing good works, maybe even holy works.

Then Junko had an idea, he would go straight to the nearly top. Not the emperor, he had better things to do than give any attention to some kid, even if it was an Edo student. But the Shogun might be able to grant a special dispensation. Something that said that Junko could do this good and charitable work without loss of honor, maybe even gaining honor for his clan. But he had to frame his arguments right, he had to be passionate without sounding desperate. He had to present his argument with points and counterpoints. He needed examples from history to support him.

For this reason, Junko was in the library. He planned to spend all weekend there. So he'd not really bothered dressing up, or at all. He'd arrived bright and early in his pink and sea foam patterned silk pajamas, a blanket, and lots of notepaper. And since the library opened, he had been there in a corner on a soft chair skimming texts and making notes.
Nov 6 2017, 07:18 PM
Kire was sitting outside the smithy building and staring up at the sky. Or he might have been, it was hard to tell since he was wearing his sunglasses again. What was assured was that most anyone who approached him to ask for help with a project or fixing a weapon or sharpening a chipped blade was rudely dismissed before they could even finish speaking. Kire had decided that today he was going to relax. He had been given an assignment to make a tool from a broken blade. A pointless test of his abilities, something far more suited to somebody who needed testing on the differences of metal and the alteration of said metal.

It was insulting, Kire was easily insulted lately. He was a master now. Surely that meant something? He felt that there really should have been a big ceremony but he'd just filled out some paperwork, had his name added to a registry, and got some certificates and licenses. It felt, almost, like he had wasted his time. A license of mastery was not an automatic graduation, it wasn't even an automatic pass. All it seemed to be was an automatic sign that he could help other students with every little minor crafting issue. It was awful.

So it felt good to tell them no. To stare at the sky, uniform unkempt, long coat splayed out underneath him, and just outright deny his skills. That wasn't to say he'd done nothing. The special Aztec weapon had come even further, even if he was growing more distressed by it every day. Distressed might be the wrong word, afraid was better. He was afraid of his creation. It was nasty. It had tried to take his fingers several times already. If the reports he'd read were true, it could take off the head of a horse in a casual swing. He had, at first, believed that this was an exaggeration but his mind was slowly changing as it came closer to being.

It'd probably be done in a few more weeks, days if he bothered to devote himself to it. Then he'd have to decide on a new project. Kire closed his eyes. Maybe he'd find a globe or a map and throw a dart at it randomly. He probably still had a few left from his ill fated club attempt. Then he'd build a traditional legendary weapon from that country. Though knowing his luck, he'd end up somewhere stupid, like here. A sigh escaped his lips. That was what he needed, a new project to keep him occupied and his mind sharp. Not turning a knife into a screwdriver.
Nov 6 2017, 07:00 PM
Bu sat down on the bleachers next to the sparring ring and sighed with pure satisfaction. She reached over for her water bottle and took a sip before spraying it over her face. The cold felt really good in contrast against the hot bruises that were forming already. But even the sting of those were a pleasure of their own. Through crop top and work out shorts, her skin gave off a healthy glow, at least, the parts of it that weren't darkening with imminent bruising. But hey, that was why she even bothered in the ring.

It was getting harder to find people in her bracket to fight, not because she was good or anything, but because she tended to go a little wild. She enjoyed getting hit and enjoyed hitting back, it was less sparring and more actual fighting with her which meant that she didn't really want to go looking for people who were more skilled than she was either. The end goal was to share some bruises and have a laugh. Annoyingly, most people didn't want to laugh after a fight, more's the pity.

A little pain was the point after all. She sucked down a little more water. That was one reason she didn't practice with her artifact. She hadn't met anyone who could punch her consistently and make her feel it. That'd probably take a master or maybe another scion with super strength. There was that one little gang boy but he only managed like one punch in twenty. That wasn't enough to satisfy her. She really wanted to test her limits with her power, maybe unlock it's secret potential, and she wasn't going to get that sparring with normal people. In the meantime, she'd just take her hits like a regular soft person.

She set her water bottle down and picked up her hand towel, her hair comb slid onto the bleacher with a clink. She had probably done enough for today and she still wanted to run into town for some quick shopping. Bu began to towel her face, then her armpits, belly, and legs. Her gaze rose to watch some other kids sparring. She smiled, there really was nothing like a good fight. Shame they didn't really allow for big group fights. Ten on ten, five on one, could be fun just double teaming somebody, one to hold them down while the other pounded away. Her smile twisted into a smirk. Something a bit more realistic than the one on one swordplay the school liked to do. She wasn't very good with swords, give her a handful of razor blades or her bike chain any day.

Bu pulled the scrunch i.e. Off and let her hair cascade down her back. It was finally recovering after the nasty fight during the war. At least those were. Her upper arms from elbow to shoulder were still covered in burn scars. She removed the comb from the bench and slipped it up underneath her hair and twisted it into a long ponytail, clipping it in place. That was better, she still felt sore and that was good. It was one of the few ways she still could.
Oct 27 2017, 04:36 PM
Well, the blade had been finished, and then he hadn't handed it over. Kire hadn't kept it for anything so petty as attachment, though he did feel something for his creation. It was, after all, the most recent thing he'd made that hadn't attempted to remove his fingers. Not that he was bitter about that, blades just longed to do what they were born to do, some were a little more eager to shed blood than others, that was all. Maybe he was a little bitter though. It still was locked and wrapped up under his bed. But this small blade was innocent. It was yet unnamed and undelivered.

The main reason was timing. Kire felt pretty strongly that he couldn't just let the knife go without a word. Not to the blade, that would be silly and he'd already done that in private. No, he wanted to thank Honda Mizazuke in person. After all, without her help, he might not have gotten such a speedy review and he would not be where he was. Or maybe he would be but not for as long. Either way, he wanted to see her reaction so he wasn't about to just leave it in front of her door.

Unfortunately, he kept missing the girl. Maybe she was at class or out with friends or taking pictures of other stuff all the time. Then, when he finally thought that he had a chance, she'd gone off on some mission for the school. All that time, the blade languished without a name and not fulfilling its purpose. Then the whole attack happened and everything was in chaos. Regardless, he was going to deliver the damn knife.

Kire cleaned himself up and made sure the blade was polished and oiled properly. He would sit and wait bu the door if he had to but he would catch Honda and he would make sure that his debt was paid. He checked the hinge in the hilt and finally, satisfied that everything was as it should be, set out. He knew which room was hers, he'd been to it several times. A few of the passing girls knew he showed up often enough to tell him if she was around when they knew for sure. That was far better than when he started and they thought he was some weirdo thug creeping on the girl's side. He stopped in front of the door and took a deep breath before knocking. Fingers crossed, she would be home this time around.

Alida
Oct 20 2017, 06:45 PM
Salty sweat stung his eyes as he pushed the last log into place. He rested his body against it and the frame didn’t budge at all. He sucked in large gasps of air as his muscles ached and buzzed with exertion. A sour taste buzzed throughout his mouth and he staggered to one side, kicking aside a rock on the edge of the pit and spat. He dropped his hands to his knees and panted with his head hung low. Sweat slid down his nose and he could see his hair, shaggy and unkempt clumped together.

He inhaled deeply through his nose and stood up. Leaning back, he swept his hair back with one hand, dislodging the hair tie that had come loose. He closed his eyes and swept his hair back again before tying it back into a ponytail. He hadn’t been taking care of it, there were split ends, the roots didn’t match, and it was getting long, like the old days.

He took off his gloves and tossed them at the pack off to one side and considered his hands. They were raw, red, even with the gloves, it had been a lot of rough wood. He closed his fists slowly and felt them crack. He closed his eyes and breathed out slowly. When he opened them, it was time to get back to work. He knelt beside the ring of stones and replaced the one he’d knocked aside. Then he packed them in tightly with a layer of sand. The tarp was starting to peak up from the edges so he walked to the cart full of stones. He picked up the first and began carrying it to the make a second circle of stones.

____________________________________________________________


Junko had seen and experienced more death since receiving his letter than he could ever have prepared for. He’d arrived at the school just after the earthquake and it had been a city recovering from disaster, but it was not the only one. In a way, he was also recovering. Hachi was gone, killed while doing his job leaving Junko alone with his mother. But he’d left gifts, his sword set, though Junko could not bring himself to pull them out, and the acceptance letter to the academy. Here at the academy, Junko ha abandoned who he was before, a metaphorical death to go with the others.

It would not be the last. Going out into the world, he’d seen more dead, abandoned and forgotten, ignored by society before and cast aside after their death. It resonated inside him, like a bell that just kept growing. He sometimes closed his eyes and saw their faces, not as they were in life but now, long after time had ravaged their bodies. He compartmentalized them but the memories would not stay in their boxes. They would escape and beg for help as he stood helplessly before their half eaten bodies, seeing it in vivid detail and seeing every small insect and animal now using them for meal and shelter.

That would not be the end, he was left behind as friends and classmates charged into the unknown on missions for the school to deal with rebel disruptions around the country. He had nothing to offer, so he stayed behind. Soon enough, the rebels came to the city. He killed people, bad guys, that’s what they were. They had done terrible things, they didn’t feel remorse. People told him all these things but it didn’t make him feel any better. He sometimes saw them in his dreams as well, not like the corpses, but like they were as he shot them. Their red glow fading to nothing as they came at him.

At the time, he’d focused on treating them like any other animal to be hunted. It had worked at the time. They were wild and savage, a well placed arrow put them down. It was important to kill them quickly so they did not suffer. It was a mercy. And yet, they kept coming back to him. Lights winking out in what could only be seen as accusingly. Junko wanted to be there for his friends, they were hurting, but he wasn’t sure he could help them while he was having such trouble himself.


____________________________________________________________


The second circle was completed and he added more sand to hold it down. His shoulders were starting to ache. He walked over to his bag and leaned down to pull out a bottle of water. He took several long gulps and wiped his brow. His hair was coming loose again. He slid the tie off and poured water over his head and shoulders. It wasn’t cold, not anymore, but it was cool enough to provide some relief.

The pit had taken a while to dig and then refilling it partly over the tarp had been difficult too. Then there were the logs and bricks. Even away from the forests of home, his name had some clout, and he’d managed to get wood delivered and dropped off at the beach. Stone as well, but it wasn’t simple or easy. So much of it had been claimed for the rebuilding efforts. All he’d been eat with were scrap logs, not good for anything but burning. But that was fine, he would not begrudge anyone in need.

The bonfire was for everyone. He secretly hoped that a lot of people would come and be healed. But, in the end, he knew the bonfire was for him. It was selfish and childish. But he wasn’t sure that he could do anything else, not until the bonfire had been completed. He dropped the bottle on the sand again and ran his hands through his hair before rebanding it.

He couldn’t sit down, if he did, he might not be able to muster the strength to get up again as his muscles rebelled. He walked to the wooden tower he built. This was selfish, that’s why he had to do it alone. There were plenty of people who would probably have helped him. But he didn’t want to. It was his pride, he had to do it on his own if only to prove that he could. It wasn’t exactly machismo either. It was, also, a penance.


____________________________________________________________


Junko had received very little medical assistance after the big event. Partly because resources were stretched thin and partly because most of his wounds were superficial. He was banged up, his hearing was returning, but he was technically healthy. Certainly healthy enough to keep helping and so he did. The city demanded that he find new depths. It needed him to be the best he could be and use his talents in a new way.

In the past, Junko had used his vision for hunting. He didn’t have to worry about anything sneaking up on him and he didn’t have to worry about anything getting past him. But he had taken it for granted. He had not had much use for it except as a casual way to avoid foot traffic during conversations. Even less useful was his ability to create a talisman that he could see through. Junko had no idea how that would be of any use until the disaster. For the last week, Junko had spent day after day hunting for survivors. Sometimes it was enough to walk through the rubble, other times he had to get deeper.

The first time he’d put the talisman on a drill, he’d vomited instantly and felt sick for awhile after. From that point on, they put it on the part of the drill that didn’t spin. He had been able to help some people. Locating them under buried rubble and getting the crews digging in the right spot. But those moments of joy didn’t compare to the far more likely event of him seeing nothing. Seeing those hopeful people and being forced to tell them that nothing was alive in the rubble hurt so badly.

They said his power was wrong sometimes. He never knew it to fail but he hoped it was, what else could he do. But he had to move on. Sometimes he’d be monitoring somebody in the rubble and he’d see as the last fading light went out before the crews could get to them. One heartbreaking day, they’d been digging and were almost to the victim when the whole thing shifted and the bright light went out instantly. Day after day, and the red lights were growing fainter and he was finding fewer and fewer as time went on. But what could be done, there was only one of him.


____________________________________________________________


The wooden cabin was complete. Interwoven logs were stacked up high, slightly above his head. In the center of them all was the teepee of smaller logs. But above that and resting on the top of the box design was a pallet. On this, he set up the startings of the fire. The kindling and tinder would be placed there, then the fire would spread over the pallet and ignite the wood beneath. The small flame would turn into a raging inferno.

He took a small rock and set it on top of the pile of twigs to keep it from being blown away from any stray gusts of wind. The sun still was high in the sky, it wouldn’t be time to start the fire for another few hours. He wanted it blazing as the first shadows of night started creeping in. The fire would be a beacon. Hopefully it would call out the people of the city, give them a place to release their grief, to see their loved ones go into the fire.

But it was more than just the lost people. There were many missing, likely people who would never be found. There were bodies who would never be identified. People had lost friends, family, pets, jobs, livelihoods, histories, and memories. This fire might be a way to say goodbye, a funeral pyre for all that the city had lost to the rebels, the earthquakes, and whatever else happened in an unfair world.

Satisfied with his work so far, he collapsed by his bag and wrapped his arms around his knees. A bright light on the coast to draw people in. To attract them like a moth. But also to attract spirits. To draw the angry ghosts out from troubled minds and send them off to a peaceful final resting place as ash in the wind. After a few minutes of complete stillness, he reached into his bag and pulled out the buckets of paint and the brushes.

Lacking the physical objects to burn, he would let people make their own symbolic bodies to throw into the fire. There was a lot of left over pieces of wood and he’d also collected a large bag of flat chips. With brush and paint, people could write the name of what they had lost and give it to the fire for cremation. He’d also brought a sheath of papers but those might not be as easy to add to the bonfire. It would burn hot and throwing a wood chip in would be easier for sure.
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