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Masumi's Days Off

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Masumi's Days Off

Post  Masumi on Sun May 06, 2012 5:33 pm

Location: countryside outside of Nagasaki

It had already been three days, a full day past what she thought would need. The basket she carried was brimming with a diverse array of plants. Most of her personal stock was refilled, and she had most of the ingredients she needed for the monk’s salve, with the exception of one item. A particular flower was especially elusive this season, and Masumi would prefer to not be forced to stretch ingredients out.
The smell of impending rain stung Masumi’s nose, and she pressed forward, hoping to take refuge in a village. With luck, someone would be able to help her locate the elusive plant, or identify a decent substitute amongst the local variety of botany. The rain came suddenly, and the pit-pat sound of sandals on dirt became sloshing in mud.

When she finally made it to the top of a hill, she did not see the village, but a cluster of buildings in disrepair. Darkened spots marked were buildings surely once stood before claimed by destruction. Masumi cautiously entered one of the standing buildings, clearly ransacked by squatters and missing part of one of its exterior walls. It still was enough for Masumi to take sanctuary from the wind and the rain.
As she shivered, waiting for the storm to end, she pondered on the previous inhabitants, more likely than not they were victims of the warfare. Her own parents met as fellow refugees in Kyoto when the rice fields they respectively lived on were destroyed in warfare. That’s where her family name, Yamamoto, came from. Her father’s family was farmers in the foothills. Somehow, her parents found a way to survive, even thrive for a time, by carving a niche in Kyoto as merchants.

But that would not last. “Yamamoto Kyoko,” she mouthed, as if she were saying the name of a ghost. Maybe she was a ghost. Maybe Yamamoto-san died the night Masumi was born? Then again, dwelling in the past was hardly productive.

The rain stopped as abruptly as it begun, and Masumi returned to the road in search of civilization.

TBC (A/N: Let me know if I need to clarify things)
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Re: Masumi's Days Off

Post  Thiago Lopes on Mon May 07, 2012 4:51 pm

"Ola Masumi, what brings you all the way out here?"
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Re: Masumi's Days Off

Post  Masumi on Mon May 07, 2012 6:02 pm

"Eh? Good afternoon Lopes-tono." Masumi greeted, though unable to hide her surprise. "How did you get here? We're half a day's walk from Nagasaki. Did you get here by horse?"

She then gestured toward her basket, brimming with leaves, roots, petals, berries, and other plant material. "I've been gathering herbs. Some of this is to return a favor I owe. The rest is for my personal use." Plucking out a purple and prickly-looking flower, Masumi continued, "I'm still short on this particular thistle."
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Re: Masumi's Days Off

Post  Thiago Lopes on Mon May 07, 2012 6:38 pm

"You weren't around for a while and I got worried. Sim, the horse is over there by the tree," Thiago picked up the thistle, "This is what you need? Let me see what I can do."
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Re: Masumi's Days Off

Post  Masumi on Tue May 08, 2012 2:31 am

"I apologize for being a burden, Tono. You are very kind," Masumi replied. "Still, there's no need to trouble yourself further for my sake." She twirled the thistle in her hand, mentally glaring at the plant for avoiding her harvest for as long as it had.
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Re: Masumi's Days Off

Post  Thiago Lopes on Tue May 08, 2012 8:09 am

"Things have been slow in the city as of late. Besides, you do such good work for us that I would like to return the favor."

In truth, he was concerned for her. Even if she wasn't a member of the order, she was still a valuable asset. If the Templars knew of this, they could use her as a hostage or worse.
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Re: Masumi's Days Off

Post  Masumi on Tue May 08, 2012 9:13 am

Lopes's behavior was rather strange to Masumi, defying the hierarchy she was more accustomed to. Still, she was grateful for the extra pair of eyes. "Ah. Thank you very much. I need a couple more handfuls before I am finished." She waded through the grass off the road, gently pulling apart the grass with calloused hands. "It's a rather low growing plant, which is part of why it's so hard to find. If I didn't find any soon, I planned on traveling to the next settlement to see of the locals knew anything." Luck was on her side, and she was able to locate one before long. "Here's one," Masumi called out, showing the aged Assassin the camouflaged flower.

Offhandedly as she worked, Masumi asked, "Tono, what are Tempura exactly?" Wait, tempura was a food. "Um, wait, I'm saying it wrong." After a minute of tongue tied muttering, Masumi managed to pronounce the word correctly, albeit elongated, "Why are the Templars your enemy?"
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Re: Masumi's Days Off

Post  Thiago Lopes on Tue May 08, 2012 10:04 am

As Thiago examined the plant, a million thoughts raced through his head. How could he begin explaining an enemy he had spent his entire life fighting? At first, he fought them because they were the enemy. At some point, he learned of their true intentions and even sympathized to an extent. Now, he fights them because they are the enemy.
"Their name sounds like the food sim {yes}, but this is just a coincidence. Os Templarios are the mortal enemies of os Assassinos because we share conflicting goals. In simplest terms, we fight to protects man's right to choose. Freedom is the goal to which we strive. They want man to be at peace. However, so long as man has free will, peace is difficult. So they seek to force our hands. That is our fight."
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Re: Masumi's Days Off

Post  Masumi on Tue May 08, 2012 10:54 am

She felt she was missing pieces of the whole, but wasn't sure what to ask for. Instead she silently digested the information for a minute. Somehow, the Templars were trying to fight for peace, while the Assassins were fighting for freedom. Masumi knew life without freedom.

Her brothel in Kyoto was a virtual prison, covered by the smiling faces of brightly decorated girls. Yamamoto Kyoko was one of those girls shortly before she ran, otherwise working as a servant away from the spot light. Yes, she owed the brothel, her source of food and shelter. She carried the burden of the money that helped her family* as her debt. But it was a hopeless place for her. She was sold older than most of the girls, and had not realistic change of advancement. The owner of the brothel, and unkind person, had control over every aspect of their lives, and the fates of their potential children. Abortion ended many unwanted pregnancies, and some of the women too, because the brothel owner refused to support another child. The few carried through were destined to be servants themselves. She couldn't bare the thought of bringing a child into the life of chains, so she abandoned Kyoko and all her obligations. Masumi was free, though utterly alone. Masumi still quietly feared the repercussions of her actions in the next life.

*Most end up in brothels because they are sold as indentured servants by their impoverished families.

Unbeknownst to the house keeper, her face vividly went from contemplative, to nostalgic, to uncharacteristically dark, before her eyes shinned slightly with fear. Finally, her eyebrows knitted in a sincerely puzzled look, and she voiced, "Tono, how are these goals contradictory? People can not be at peace if they are in chains."


Last edited by Masumi on Wed May 09, 2012 3:13 am; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Masumi's Days Off

Post  Thiago Lopes on Tue May 08, 2012 11:05 am

"Sim, and that is where the conflict rises. We see their vision as destructive and monstrous, while they see us and neglectful and childish. I sincerely believe that man will never know peace unless he chooses it."
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Re: Masumi's Days Off

Post  Masumi on Tue May 08, 2012 11:14 am

Masumi acknowledged her employer's response, and continued searching in silence. After about and hour, she only could come up with four additional thistles. Slowly straightening up, she called out, "Oi, Tono, any luck finding any more?"
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Re: Masumi's Days Off

Post  Thiago Lopes on Tue May 08, 2012 11:27 am

"Sim, but I only found three. You had me thinking about things. Say, we do not speak often. Tell me about yourself. Where do you come from?"
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Re: Masumi's Days Off

Post  Masumi on Tue May 08, 2012 11:41 am

Masumi paled a bit. If she could help it, her status as property was something she planned on keeping a tight seal on. "North," she replied vaguely, and bent back down as if to search for more thistle, but in reality was trying to hide her face. "I wasn't anyone important. Just the daughter of a merchant."
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Re: Masumi's Days Off

Post  Thiago Lopes on Tue May 08, 2012 1:15 pm

"Entendido (Understood). It sounds more peaceful than my life, but that is a story for another day. Do you need any more thistles?"
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Re: Masumi's Days Off

Post  Masumi on Tue May 08, 2012 2:00 pm

Between the two, they had enough thistles to make another decent sized handful. "This is enough to return my favor, but I'd still like to have another handful for the future." Glancing at the sun, she estimated they had about an hour before they started losing daylight. If they kept going like they had, she would have what she sought by nightfall, but even horseback couldn't stop the sun. If she were by herself, she'd just sleep in the grass again, but she was unsure what the Assassin had in mind.
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Re: Masumi's Days Off

Post  Thiago Lopes on Tue May 08, 2012 7:07 pm

Thiago cracked his back and knuckles, "Well, no point in wasting time. Before we get back to it, where do you plan on staying tonight? I heard word of a band of Oni traveling near Nagasaki."
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Re: Masumi's Days Off

Post  Masumi on Wed May 09, 2012 2:37 am

"O-Oni?" she stuttered, her facial expression communicating her serious interpretation of the folklore. She eyed her broom, which had so faithfully been used in driving off a number of human bandits, but beings of the spirit world? "How close exactly? Usually I sleep in the grass or trees." Any attempt at a poker face was failing miserably. She had not packed dried beans, or even salt. The amulet she owned for safe traveling may not stand up to the power of an oni on its own.

(A/N Oni are demons/trolls. Potential methods of driving them out include throwing soybeans during the Setsubun festival and monkey statues. Salt is used to purify an area.)
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Re: Masumi's Days Off

Post  Thiago Lopes on Wed May 09, 2012 5:25 am

"Heh. Do not worry. They are probably just bandits in masks, but that is assuming that they are around at all."
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Re: Masumi's Days Off

Post  Masumi on Wed May 09, 2012 4:56 pm

Masumi let out a small sigh, "Bandits are bad enough by themselves." Masumi chewed the inside of her cheek. She knew these were the risks when she set off, but the news made the danger seem more concrete. As far as the house keeper could tell, the night would be clear, and full moon was just a couple of nights away. It would make it easier to see, but harder to hide.

She glanced at the thistles and replied, "I'll have to be careful then, and hope the rumors are only rumors. You see Tono, the thistles may not look like much, but are a potent ingredient. In the right amounts, they are effective for treating fever. I don't want to run out." With a small smile, she stated, "I just need a little more time. I can easily return to Nagasaki by tomorrow night."
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Re: Masumi's Days Off

Post  Thiago Lopes on Thu May 10, 2012 7:37 am

"Well, I just spotted another," he plucked another thistle, "I hope you do not mind if I stand guard for you. If the rumors are true, then you'll need protection. We do not need to risk losing you."
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Re: Masumi's Days Off

Post  Masumi on Thu May 10, 2012 9:12 am

She shot the Master Assassin a queer look. It wasn't as if Nagasaki was short on would-be house keepers. All the same, she answered, "Another one? This is good progress. I do not mind if you want to stay, Tono." Quite the opposite, Masumi mused inwardly, bandits were bad news, "but I don't want to inconvenience you either."
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Re: Masumi's Days Off

Post  Thiago Lopes on Thu May 10, 2012 10:21 am

"As long as you still have those healing hands, a band of Shinobi would not be a problem."
He knew he was bragging, but history proved it true. His journeys had taught him much, and with each passing year, his job grew steadily easier. Even though he seemed to get a new scar every time he got into a major conflict, like the battle they had just a few weeks prior, the actual fights progressed more quickly.
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Re: Masumi's Days Off

Post  Masumi on Thu May 10, 2012 4:22 pm

"Thank you very much." Masumi kept searching for thistles as the sun dipped low in the horizon, and the landscape was tinted with gold. In the dim light of dusk, the traveler fished rice balls and pickled vegetables from her pack, offering some to her surprise companion. As the nearly full moon began to rise, Masumi stated, "You can see the rabbit pounding mochi pretty well tonight. Does the moon look the same in your homeland?"
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Re: Masumi's Days Off

Post  Thiago Lopes on Thu May 10, 2012 7:08 pm

"Sim, I suppose, but Nagasaki is my home. If you are asking about Portugal, I have not been there in. . . twenty years. Probably longer than you've been alive," he drew a heavy sigh as he tried to discern the image of a rabbit in the moon while he also tried not to think about Portugal, "I have never been one for astronomy. Would you care to teach me?"
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Re: Masumi's Days Off

Post  Masumi on Fri May 11, 2012 5:38 am

"Most of the constellations I know stories to aren't visible this time of year. Tsuzumi boshi (Orion) disappeared after winter, while Orihime (Vega) and Kengyuu (Altair) are best seen in the summer. Those stars where the emperor (Ursa Major) sits are important, because that brighter star never moves. It will always point north."

Masumi could see the rabbit in the moon quite readily, and did her best to describe the outlines of the animal.


"One story I heard was that an old man was begging for food. The monkey gathered fruit, the otter gathered fish, while the fox tricked other animals out of their food. The rabbit, who only knew of grass, didn't know what to gather for the man, so instead offered his body by throwing himself into the fire the man had previously built. However, the rabbit was not burnt, because the old man was in fact a deity. Moved by the rabbit's actions, the deity rewarded the rabbit by carving his likeness in the moon.*"

"Another story I've heard is that the rabbit is there because he is being punished. He is exiled to the moon, and can't leave until he makes hand made mochi (rice cakes) for all the world's children. There must be more children than he can keep up with."

"Is there anything else I can offer you, Tono, before I get some sleep?"

*Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moon_rabbit
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