Roleplay Forums > Parvpora > Zujiuchu Mountains > Jayou, The River City > The Fall of a Dragon [L:3]
Onimusha

Character Info
Name: Masashi Kaname
Age: Late 20s
Alignment: TG
Race: Human (?)
Gender: Male
Class: Former brigand
Silver: 40
"I'm sorry for making you wait for so long. It has been a few months, but I've finally managed to track Shohei down with the help of many good people. It won't be long before I meet him. Perhaps you'd think what I'll be doing next as foolish, but I need to hear those words from him straight. If not for you, then for myself. I'll be going now, Takara-san. Wish me luck." Bowing his head to his folded hands, he closed his eyes before the framed piece of parchment bearing a man's likeness. A small censer with incense sticks lit was before the ink drawing, embers dying down. The moment of silence over, Masashi stood to his feet and took his sword. It had been a long road coming to Jayou and learning the environment. The people at Hoteiya had been invaluable allies, teaching him the ropes of the river city's underworld and finding information on Hiryu's activities. The hardest part was practicing patience, especially when he knew Hiryu's forces were growing stronger by the day. But he couldn't rush in unprepared–that would mean certain death. Today would be the culmination of almost half a year's worth of effort to come up with a viable plan of attack.

He knew the names of Hiryu's most trusted underlings, what areas they controlled, how many people were in their command, and their backgrounds. He also knew some personal details that would aid him in working his way towards the Hiryu Clan's headquarters. Though Masashi had confidence in his combat ability, he would still need to act fast or risk being overwhelmed. There were those on the inside who were willing to help him, but not if it made them a target. It would be tightrope balancing act of speed, luck, and precision just to reach Shohei. And if he succeeded, then what? Hiryu had no tolerance for those who didn't see things his way. Once they met conflict was inevitable. And there was no way Hiryu was going to let him leave once he made his presence known. There was no guarantee that Masashi would even walk out of this alive. But he had to do it. 

Even the smiling priest-faced Omura had his reservations against what he was planning. "When you came to me I was willing to help you hoping it'd give you peace of mind. But what you're doing is walking into a lion's den. You've managed to live undetected for so long despite being so close; once you make yourself known there will be no turning back." It was all or nothing. Omura was right, once he took that first step he would have to keep going or die trying. The long-lobed man sat down across from him, circle-rimmed glasses halfway down his nose. "I never asked you this out of respect, but I feel it's time you gave me an answer. Why are you doing this, Masashi? Is it to avenge the death of your leader? To get revenge on a traitor who killed your brothers? For the sake of the Takara gang's honor?"

When the older man was finished, Masashi gave his solemn answer. "There are times when a man has to face things on his own, to hear and see things for himself. I am doing this for my own sake and for Gen Takara's. To honor the man who took us from nothing, and gave us everything. Until I face the man who cut down Takara in cold blood, his spirit and mine will never be at peace." There was silence between them. He knew Omura wasn't happy with his answer and the man let out a reluctant sigh. "I understand now. No matter what I say to you, it won't change your mind. As much as I'd hate to see a good man walk into a tiger's jaws, it's clear you've been thinking of this for a long time. I wont stop you, but please–be careful. In this world good men are growing harder to find." He left Hoteiya with a heavy heart and Omura's blessing, the man's warning at the forefront of his mind. As he walked the streets of Jayou he noticed a group of thugs roughly pull a familiar face aside and speak loudly. 

"Ey you, I swore I saw you hanging around this punk a few weeks back! Where is he?!" The person being harassed was none other than Usugi, who was trying to talk his way out of the situation. "I dunno what you're talking about sir, I mean lots of people come in and out during lunch hour. I can't memorize every face that comes in."  A sharp gasp of pain was heard as the brute shoved Usugi against the wall. "I-I'm not kidding! Really! I just work as a part-timer, my shifts have been all over the place this week!"  There was something about Usugi's tone that told Masashi he'd better stay out of sight, and he slipped away through the crowd while still staying within earshot.


'You may abandon your own body, but you must preserve your honor.'
Imugi

Character Info
Name: Seo-Hyang Ha
Age: Unknown
Alignment: TG
Race: Imugi
Gender: Female
Class: Former Assassin/Apothecary
Silver: 0
Jayou had changed a great deal since she left. Just like the rivers that ran through it, the shorelines and banks were always ever-shifting. In the old days it was an artisan's haven, where ambitious artists set to make a name for themselves away from the deeply established guilds and trade houses of other cities. Now the river city's boom in prosperity was held afloat by the luxurious barges that drifted by the piers, floating gambling houses which it was now famous for. The riverside stayed brightly lit even late into the evening with so many visitors from around the world flocking to test their luck. Wealth wasn't the only thing that had grown with time. The families of the underworld had gone through their seasons, the balance of power having changed hands many times over. The groups that were left had solidified their hold in the midst of the myriads of new gangs that were developing every day. The house of assassins she had once belonged to were now considered elites in the business and not just any family could call on their services.

The attitudes of the mafia and gangs had changed too. Before they would keep their conflicts out of the public eye and away from civilians, but now even the lowest of the low were harassing ordinary folk in broad daylight. They were bolder, more brazen, and more like common bandits. Such is the way of the underworld. When clans grow too large and too numerous, keeping subordinates in line begins to fall to the wayside. She no longer belonged in this city. The old Jayou she knew was gone. Honor and respect were things of the past. As much as it pained her, she had to act as if she didn't see the injustice happening right before her eyes. She wasn't sure of why such a boor of a man was threatening what appeared to be a simple worker, but getting involved would do her no good. Instead, she chose to use what she excelled in best–a concealed technique. With a well-trained flick of her arm, thin slivers of ice flew from her sleeve into the uncouth man's back.

The needles were quick to melt once they landed, but their presence was certainly felt. Their origin was from an ornate comb hidden by her robe's sleeve; the gesture she used to send them out so innocuous that only an assassin of her caliber would be capable of detecting it. At once the shouting ceased, and the thug began scanning the surrounding area in an attempt to single out who had the gall to do such a thing. She was already far out of his immediate vicinity when he stormed off, but not before he threatened terrible things to the man he had been accosting. However she had achieved her objectives: provide a reason to make the man leave while she remained a mere bystander. Seo-hyang willed herself to keep walking, not to turn back to ask if the man was alright. Keeping her distance would do them both more good than giving into her desire to inspect for possible injuries. It was one of the most difficult things one could do as an apothecary–to turn one's back on someone who was hurt.

After a half hour's walk, she was back before the two-storied entertainment house she once worked in. It was one of the many fronts the House of Flowers had as the assassins it trained were all women. The building felt like a relic from the past in comparison to the colorful newer structures, holding an almost regal aura as it remained in the midst of the tourist traps and lantern-lit shops. Seo-hyang was hesitant to go in; perhaps the person she had wanted to see was no longer here. A century was a long time and even those who were long-lived eventually passed on. Entering through the grand doors she asked the attendant who greeted her: "May I see Lady Lihua?"

Onimusha

Character Info
Name: Masashi Kaname
Age: Late 20s
Alignment: TG
Race: Human (?)
Gender: Male
Class: Former brigand
Silver: 40
Holding his breath, he listened for the end of Usugi's harassment. Suddenly there was a sharp grunt from the thug and the man touched the back of his neck, like someone threw something at him. Even if Masashi knew there was an assassin present, there was no way he could have seen who or what had interrupted a potential beating. Whatever had happened was enough to make the man drop Usugi while muttering threats to finish what he started the next time they crossed. When he was out of sight and a healthy distance away from them both, Masashi went over to check on his coworker. "Masashi? What're you doing here?" Usugi whispered hoarsely, nursing a nasty bruise. "Let's get you out of the street first, then we'll talk." He carried the younger man away from the alley and ducked inside an empty corner. Usugi asked him again why he was outside of Hoteiya and he told him what he was planning.

"Are you crazy?! Ow…" Usugi grimaced having agitated where he was hit. His face stopped smiling when it as clear Masashi was serious. "The old man's gonna ream you for that you know? You're sticking your neck out next to a razor. So that's why that goon roughed me up. Look, take it from me and just get out of Jayou. Stay out for like a decade or two, maybe more." Usugi's concern didn't fade when he told him that the 'old man' already knew. The younger man let out a slow whistle. "You're dead serious huh? Be careful, alright? I'd hate to lose a pal, especially a good one." It was then that they were back out in the streets, trying to move along as casually yet carefully as they could when a young girl holding a tied bundle bumped into them. Quick on his feet, Usugi called out: "Oy! What gives? Check your pockets–there might be something missing." They both checked if they had been pick-pocketed when to their surprise, they found they had gained something instead.

A note, written neatly with a quill read: 'North side of the market, wait until you see the red-lanterned boat with the carp banners. Come when night falls, don't be late.' "Are you gonna go?" Usugi leaned looking over. Masashi folded it up and tucked it away inside his robe. "I might. It's a risk I'll have to take. There was an inked seal at the bottom, and I think I recognize the shape." What he didn't say was that those carved symbols were the same ink seal one of Takara's trusted officers had when it came to business–specifically Tamura-san. Tamura was originally a trader who had fallen on hard times when he joined with Takara back in the day. When the gang robbed his caravan, Tamura's grit impressed Gen so much that he gave him the offer to be in charge of the gang's money. A serious man, analytical and cool-headed, yet capable of acts of mercy. "It could be a trap." Usugi reminded him. He responded with an affirming nod. "Yes, it could. But if this man really did send this message, then I can't turn it down. He's not like Hiryu." But Usugi had made a good point, and with plenty of time before the appointment now was a good time to confirm a few things with Omura back in Hoteiya.

He needed to know if Tamura was still trustworthy and if this invitation letter was the real deal. Omura furrowed his face over it, but at the end he said there was a good chance this letter was real. However even if it was, there might be trouble as Tamura could very well be on a short leash and under surveillance by Hiryu. Soon it was almost dusk, and Masashi left to head to the docks. Keeping out of sight and his eyes sharp, he arrived at the place safely and waited for the boats to pass. Right on time, a pleasure barge came downstream. The crimson light from the lanterns stained the surrounding area a faint hint of red and a bold red carp leaping from a wave fluttered on the cloth banners that hung beside the door. The barge pulled up slowly and came to a halt. Rapping a fist on the door, a small window slid open to reveal a pair of eyes. Masashi showed the letter, red-inked seal and all. The bolt unlatched and the door slid open allowing him on. 


'You may abandon your own body, but you must preserve your honor.'
Imugi

Character Info
Name: Seo-Hyang Ha
Age: Unknown
Alignment: TG
Race: Imugi
Gender: Female
Class: Former Assassin/Apothecary
Silver: 0
The attendant girl brought her to the office of the entertainment house's manager, who then turned to gasp in surprise. "Seo-hyang?" Seo-hyang mirrored the elf woman's sentiment. "Madari? You're the lady of this place?" The two sat down and chatted, with Madari filling her in on what she had missed after she left the House of Flowers. Madame Kitateha had passed, and now Lady Calinaga was the new Madame of the guild. Decades after the late Madame's passing, a fire ravaged the entertainment district at a great expense to the city. Though the weather had been rather hot weeks before the blaze, there were varying rumors on how the fire actually started. The second greatest loss the House of Flowers suffered barely twenty years after the Madame's death was the destruction of the Thousand Flower Pavilion. The damage was so great that it had to be dismantled entirely, and that was when the guild underwent a diaspora into the pleasure barges and tea houses like the one Madari was running. Madame Calinaga was still in good health, however she and the senior members of the House of Flowers had withdrawn from the public eye entirely. Experienced members were placed as outposts within the city under new identities and trained new initiates until they were sent to meet the House elders for the completion of their education. Communication had become much more complex as they were now decentralized and the atmosphere of the underworld was growing more and more hostile by the day.

Nearly all the names of the largest gangs were ones Seo-hyang wasn't familiar with. One that was especially causing Madari and the other branch captains trouble was a new upstart group known as the 'Hiryu Clan'. "So while you're here, there's a particular group in this area you need to watch out for." Madari began, exhaling a puff from her hookah. "They call themselves the Hiryu Clan and their gang symbol is a tattoo of a crimson dragon. You might see it as an inked mark on their bodies or on their clothes, the higher-ranked members have full-back art like in the old days. I heard the leader named the clan after himself and he has an Ataiyan dragon in red on his back to boot." She then went on to explain that they came into power within a few short years through brutal and violent means, cannibalizing other gangs until they grew to their current size. 

"Have they tried to challenge the syndicate families?" Seo-hyang asked. "No, surprisingly. It looks like they've started to slow down in their aggressive conquest, which is a smart move. Even if they are dominating the market district they don't have the same clout or manpower for an all-out war. That doesn't stop them from being literal pests to everyone else. Some of the Hiryu Clan greenhorns have been harassing the girls off work." Putting down the pipe, Madari shifted in her seat and there was a brief silence. "Madari, there's something else that's bothering you isn't there?" She was sensing it throughout their conversation. The elf sighed. "Yes, actually. I'd hate to impose on you, especially since you left the House of Flowers voluntarily but I've received a rather difficult request as of late." She slid a letter across the table. Seo-hyang's eyes traveled down the lines all the way down to the red dragon at the bottom of the stationery. "An assassination contract…from the Hiryu Clan?" Madari rubbed her temples and nodded. "It came from one of the higher-ups, the clan's treasurer. Contracts haven't been coming in over the past years and we've been barely getting by with our business front, but this isn't something that I can just accept."

"A request for the elimination of several individuals within the clan itself? Incredibly high risk for a contract." Seo-hyang mused. "This makes no sense." Taking the contract letter back, Madari took another puff from the hookah. "It doesn't really, if you look at it from the surface. But if the information we've been gathering is correct, there appears to be two factions within the Hiryu Clan. On one hand you have the older members from the gang prior to Hiryu's rise as leader. And on the other–you have a group of bloodthirsty vermin who will take any chance to do whatever they please. I'm sure you can guess which side has greater influence." Looking at all the pieces and the composition of the written request, it would appear the smaller faction was looking to undermine Hiryu and his supporters. If Madari's assessment was accurate, taking this contract would place her and the girls under her supervision in serious danger.

"Have you responded back to them?" She asked. "Not yet." Madari replied. "I told the messenger that I would need some time to consider the task and its potential repercussions. Whether or not I accept or decline, I'll be put in a bind." And not just her, but the House of Flowers. It now made sense. "In other words, you would like me to carry out the contract?" "I won't blame you if you say no. But if any of us do the job, we'll run the risk of being recognized and traced. Even if we left right away it wouldn't be easy to cover our tracks. You on the other hand are essentially an unknown. You haven't been in Jayou for a hundred years and you broke contact with us since then. It's a safe bet that any of your past clients have died off or don't remember. I won't ask for anything else, please." After all the years of effort she had spent to put her past behind her, Seo-hyang reluctantly decided. "I'll do it, Madari. When will I be meeting with him?"

Onimusha

Character Info
Name: Masashi Kaname
Age: Late 20s
Alignment: TG
Race: Human (?)
Gender: Male
Class: Former brigand
Silver: 40
The boat was empty save for the people who worked there. Whoever he would be meeting had reserved the entire ship just for this appointment. There was a part of him that was uneasy about the lack of customers; after all what if the employees here were Hiryu's men in disguise? Being ambushed on the water didn't give him many options and back on shore he could be surrounded. If he didn't come back from this, the only ones who would know what happened would be Omura and Usugi. A middle-aged server led him to the private room in the back. Rooms like these were typically set aside for large groups or banquets. Sliding the doors open, an older man was sitting behind the low table with a pot of tea simmering. He stepped in and bowed, addressing him. "…Tamura-san." Tamura was already in his late forties, about the same age Takara would have been had he survived. The man was impeccably dressed, his hair and beard exceptionally neat and trimmed even among most. He had the aura of a high ranking government officer, and no one would have guessed he was once a lowly trader. Despite the gray coming into his hair, he hadn't changed a bit. "Masashi, I am glad you came. Have a seat. There are many things I want to discuss with you." Sitting across from him, Masashi placed his hands on his knees while crossing his legs. Tamura was the first to speak. "I believe you know about the Hiryu Clan, or what was left from Takara's passing?" 

"Yes, I have. We lost many good men that day, what Shohei did was unforgivable." Tamura gave a slow nod. "Indeed. Yet in the time you have been away even more of our men have died, systematically being picked off at any given opportunity." Setting his cup down, he looked at him directly. "Masashi, the band of brotherhood that Gen built is almost gone. Only a handful of Gen's officers still remain. The lower levels have been almost completely replaced by dogs Hiryu has hand-picked. These aren't fresh-faced boys following blindly–these are the worst of the worst left over from the gangs Hiryu has annihilated. Those with no morality, no restraint, and an insatiable appetite for vice were given the opportunity to fill in the ranks. Any men with a speck of honor or loyalty towards their former heads were killed on the spot, by their own no less. This is the current state of the Hiryu Clan."

"Tamura-san, what do you want me to do?" He asked. Tamura didn't risk inviting him just to speak in private. "The reason why I have invited you here tonight is because I have something I must request of you. What I ask of you is a hard thing, but it must be done–the sooner the better." There was moment of silence before he said: "Masashi, as Takara's former right hand– I want you to take out Shohei Hiryu." 

He couldn't believe his ears. When he heard the words, his entire body went numb. It wasn't out of fear, but because it was something he had expected. If Tamura-san had taken this enormous risk just for this one request, then that meant the situation was truly desperate. None of the old officers including Tamura himself could do anything without making themselves a target, and none of them could make a move. And it would be only a matter of time before Hiryu decided he didn't need them anymore… 

Bowing his head, Masashi turned his gaze to the ground as his brow furrowed. "Forgive me for my rudeness sir, but if the situation is like so then it would be impossible for me to get close to him." There was no way he would be able to storm the clan's headquarters without putting Shohei on high alert. He was just one man, and even with his skill they had sheer numbers on their side. By the time he cut through the branch families Shohei would have fled. "You are right, which is why I made arrangements for assistance." Tamura said interrupting his train of thought. "I will be sending someone ahead of you to clear the way, giving you a better chance at finding Shohei before he can retaliate."


'You may abandon your own body, but you must preserve your honor.'
Imugi

Character Info
Name: Seo-Hyang Ha
Age: Unknown
Alignment: TG
Race: Imugi
Gender: Female
Class: Former Assassin/Apothecary
Silver: 0
At the appointed time, Seo-hyang was sent to wait in a room for the guest to arrive. She was lent clothes and a mask from Madari as according to the House of Flowers' protocol between client and assassin. It was an additional layer of protection for high-risk requests, as even though they were trained in the art of killing–they were still women. Times had changed and the rules had to adjust with them. The client was escorted in by the serving girls and they were left alone in the privacy of the room. It was a safe bet to assume that the room had several precautions incorporated into its structure for its occupants. She bowed to the man and he did the same, then took the seat opposite of her. "For accepting my request, you have my thanks. I apologize asking for something that requires more than what your services typically cover on such short notice. I am Keisuke Tamura, treasurer and officer of the Hiryu Clan." He was middle-aged, human, and much cleaner than Madari's earlier description of members from the gang. It was clear he was a man of high rank from his manner and speech. A far cry from the crass men she had heard of. Seo-hyang wondered how someone like him had managed to survive and climb the ranks of such a group.

"It is my pleasure to be of service to you sir. As for the details of your request, could you explain the particular reason why you wish to take out a contract on the men of your own clan? My deepest apologies if it seems as if I wish to pry–but in order to execute your request we must be fully-informed of these details." The man responded with great civility, "The upper ranks and lower ranks differ vastly in their ideology and conduct within the clan. The younger generation in particular, even though the Hiryu Clan is still green itself, has abandoned any sense of pride or honor. They are an ambitious, greedy lot–a splitting image of the clan's so-called patriarch." He had yet to say it, but she understood what he wanted. For the sake of the clan's name and honor, he wanted to rid it of individuals who were eating away at it from within. "I understand, Sir Tamura. However, why such urgency?" Was the man planning a purge of the clan's ranks? Such acts were not uncommon when the leaders believed the possibility of an insurrection, though such contracts were the most troublesome for assassins. They drew a great deal of attention and was more difficult to leave without being seen.

Tamura's answer to her question was rather unexpected: "There is someone I have high hopes for, a man who is capable of challenging the patriarch. But what is a man against a horde of ravenous wolves? I have faith that he can succeed in removing that man from power, but someone needs to lay the groundwork. And that is why I need you." 

For this man to hold this person in such high regard, the man who could dethrone the Hiryu Clan's head must be someone exceptional. Her task was twofold: eradicate as many clan members as possible within the span of a single night and ensure this individual's safety as he advanced through the gang's headquarters. The deal was struck, the contract finalized–and under the cover of darkness the Flower Serpent set foot in Jayou's underworld once again.

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