The Destroyer War

Scenes set in the "Rokugan" universe.

The Destroyer War

Postby Warlord » Sat May 02, 2015 8:43 am

Mirumoto Ryujin ground his teeth silently, staring ahead as if the horizon was his dueling opponent of the day. It wasn't a look of anger, or disappointment, or even eagerness. It was the look of calculated violence. Ryujin's ancestor, the first Mirumoto, lived in his eyes and the look had unnerved even older and more experienced samurai in his adult life. "You're doing it again." Ryujin blinked and looked at the smiling shugenja in the cart by which Ryujin was riding. The recrimination had come from his long time, close friend: Tonbo Jubei. They were close enough that they even occasionally laid hand on one another in passing, had known each other while still children, and thus it was that his friend could speak to him in such a familiar way.

"Half a day into the festival, Jubei." Using his friend's first name, another sign of close familiarity and friendship in the culture of Rokugan. Even if it was on the tail end of a complaint. "We were a half day into a week long festival and we get ordered, of all places, to the Carpenter's Wall. What did you do? What did I do? Kei-sama wouldn't even see me. She just sent a messenger with a stack of orders as tall as my tanto is long." He shook his head at his own words. Ryujin, Jubei, and Jubei's yojimbo Tonbo Usagi had served with distinction in the War of Dark Fire. Even with the bit of recklessness Ryujin had displayed at first after... he shook his head gently at himself, avoiding the memory of his wife as completely as he could. She'd been at the towers when they fell, and though the two hadn't been particularly close it still felt sore to know she was gone.

Still, the Dragon Clan bushi had gotten himself together in short order and begun employing his unique take on all things tactical, exercised the powers of his friend in shaping the battlefield, and mitigated the unnatural nature of the Yobanjin deaths through clever planning. His men had taken it to heart and in the course of the battles he'd developed the habit of taking in stragglers from devastated and depleted units after battles, the swiftness of the enemy's advance keeping anybody from sending down orders to reassign those individuals, until he had twice the number he'd started out with. And then more. When it was all over he'd ended up with 83 nikutai and hohei under his command both officially and adopted. That had been mere days ago and so the string of troops behind and ahead of him on the road had become his for a lack of reassignment. He couldn't help but wonder if having so many (but not as many as the core units of his Clan's armies) had been the reason he'd been selected to respond to the reports of his Clan's allies, the Crab, of a disturbing increase in Shadowlands creatures coming toward the wall.

"Apparently she knows you," Jubei responded easily as he returned to reclining atop the baggage in the cart. The little man was more than capable of riding a horse but very much didn't care for the experience if he could find a satisfactory alternative. His smile could infuriate most anyone else in a matter of moments but Ryujin found his eternally sunny disposition an excellent counter point to his own, more serious and less gregarious personality. "You'd have been in the dojo at the embassy practicing the Thousand Years of Steel in an hour or two more. Besides, if she'd waited any longer you'd have soldiers puking off the sides of their horses."

Ryujin glanced over his shoulder at the bulk of his men and the forty ashigaru that marched behind that. More than a few looked grin around the edges as they attempted to come down from the 'celebrating' they'd been right on the cusp of overindulging in when he'd begun gathering them up to set on the march. That had resulted in a lot of men just barely sober enough to keep their opinions of the orders to themselves. An entertaining aside to the unpleasant need to inform them they had their marching orders. "Still would have liked the choice, ignoring a celebration in favor of self-improvement is vastly preferable to a long ride through Crane territory."

"Through Crane territory?! That's your grievance? Not that we are on the march itself, not that we are headed to the Kaiu Wall, but that we have to ride through the lands of the Crane Clan?" Jubei asked incredulously.

"Isn't that enough?"
".... yes... I suppose it is at that." Jubei rubbed his chin idly as he considered the question and his answer. Most of the Crane clans operated on a level of politeness that was just a smidge beyond his friend's ability to maintain interest. Not that Ryujin was a complete cad, he just didn't suffer the procrastination that came from high society lightly and that tended to rub the elites a bit wrong. His cousin, Kei, had long kept him out of the direct path of such things. Using Ryujin, rather, to deal with harsher and more practical people of rank. The Unicorn and Crab ambassadors, for instance, greatly favored the young warrior and Ryujin did a fine job of keeping them entertained for long stretches.

"You've completely forgotten what we were just talking about, haven't you." Ryujin said.

Jubei blinked and looked up, in that way he did when he'd fallen back into his own mind once again. The Crab and the Unicorn coming to visit the Dragon lands was a far cry from... whatever they'd been discussing... "Uh, where's Usagi?" Yes, distraction.

"You sent her looking for your luggage about half an hour ago, neglecting to look under yourself as that is where it all happens to be. Don't worry, she didn't notice either." Ryujin hadn't been anxious to inform her of the oversight, the two of them had a general policy of polite disinterest in one another. Ryujin saw her assignment as a bit of a slight toward his stewardship of Jubei and Usagi saw Ryujin as meddling in her duty. It kept Jubei perfectly safe, and more than a little entertained, but the two grated on one another in a quiet and casual sort of way. Ryujin turned in his saddle to address one of the samurai riding behind the wagon. "Ride back down the line, find Tonbo Usagi, and inform her that her charge has located the missing items."

"Yes my lord."

The man turned his horse out of the lines and rode toward the rear at a trot while Ryujin returned a discomforted expression forward. "That's going to take some getting used to."

"Kei's the family daimyo and the Clan Champion. She has no children and you're her only living relative until she does. You're the heir apparent, unless she makes the effort to saddle that on somebody else. Which, considering she tapped you to go represent the Dragon in responding to the disturbing reports from the Crab lands..." Jubei shrugged, his sound words just barely making it out before his eyes began to wander to the scenery once again. "I wish that woman would find my things already, I could be making some lovely drawings in my field notes."

"Your things are under you, Jubei."
"Oh... well, you're quite right, wonderful."

Ryujin merely shook his head to himself as his shugenja friend started digging through the pack in search of his desired materials.
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Re: The Destroyer War

Postby Warlord » Mon May 18, 2015 3:44 am

Ryujin hustled south, along the battle lines. He'd been summoned to the command tent of the Crab Clan Champion himself, and that alone told him there was something bad wrong with the events that had transpired over the last day or so. Not that things had been sunshine and rainbows for the two weeks before that. Ryujin had arrived last, but on the same day as the Lion Clan troops. The Lion had sent an entire field army, mostly Matsu with some serious Akodo officers on hand to keep things orderly. They'd immediately stretched out along the battle line, thousands strong, relieving bitterly embattled Crab troops. Ryujin had done the same, only dozens strong. He'd effectively relieve a single unit but they had been grateful to see the fresh but battle hardened Mirumoto step up.

Things had gone better after that. The Unicorn had been striking from the northern flank with their incredibly superior cavalry, shredding Shadowlands beasts so severely that many Crab soldiers had been ordered to move south along the wall. The Hiruma of the Crab and the Unicorn troops had effectively bottle-necked the incoming Shadowlands creatures into having no choice but to charge the massive wall. Which was a tactical advantage for the forces there on. But not enough of one to prevent the losses from mounting as the weeks had drawn on. The creatures were behaving oddly. Disorganized, despondent, coming on almost as they arrived. They were... desperate. It had triggered a memory in Ryujin and within two hours of arriving he had sent an intelligence missive to the head of the Crab forces along his section of wall.

He could only imagine that was why he was coming to a fair sized off site fortress, a stronghold built behind the wall to anchor it should the section of wall be lost. A point from which to retake it swiftly and to supply it while it was held. Ryujin walked through the open gates and up to the main building within. "Mirumoto Ryujin, answering a summons." He reported the statement to another gunso and the Crab samurai nodded before stepping into the largish building. It was likely hollow, a broad space filled with supplies, arms, and a map table. The Crab weren't frivolous, they used every square foot for something practical and immediate. The gunso appeared again and waved Ryujin in as he stepped aside.

Ryujin moved into what, as he had surmised, was more of a pavilion with walls than a castle. Within was no different. Weapons, supplies, resources, and in the center of it all a large table with the local geography painstakingly defined upon a large part of an even larger cloth screen. Nothing beyond the wall was defined, except the holdings of the Hiruma and the City of the Lost. Ryujin removed his helmet, then his mempo, and approached the lone figure standing there looking at the map. The man was massive, had his back to Ryujin, but the Dragon Clan samurai already knew who it was. "Lord Kuon, you summoned me."

"Don't bow, we don't have time." The voice was deep, gravelly, it sounded like two boulders rubbing against one another as they tumbled down a mountain. "Your missive was rendered partially unreadable by a bloody encounter during transit but the part I could read has troubled me for hours now. Explain." The Crab were practical people, their leader was attempting to set an example.

Ryujin attached his helmet to the back of his armor in a single swift motion, getting it out of the way and freeing his hands for just in case. They -were- on an active battlefield after all. "I noticed something... familiar in the way the Shadowlands creatures are attacking. It mirrors the behaviors of the Yobanjin raiders in the days leading up to the appearance of the Army of Dark Fire. They would attack in small groups, and at first we thought they were just feeling suicidal. The groups got larger, then smaller, and then finally stopped altogether only to be replaced by the thing they'd been running from. Their attempts to escape were so emphatic that we had perceived it as an attack. I have the suspicion that with all of your forces, including the Hiruma, here at the wall... there may very well be something out there."

Kuon didn't turn around, it would be an insult if Ryujin wasn't absolutely certain the man was engrossed in a portion of the map that Ryujin himself wouldn't be able to perceive. "Something else."

"Yes, my lord."
"Something strong enough, or terrifying enough, to drive the entirety of the Shadowlands before it."
"Not quite."

Kuon turned, then, and set his unflinching gaze on Ryujin, and Ryujin stared back. The look on Kuon's face implied a question. "We haven't seen any Lost, at least not that I'm aware of. Which doesn't bode well either, because either the 'something else' was powerful enough to smash the City of the Lost completely and instantly or reasonable enough to negotiate them into inactivity. Either way, bad." Ryujin wasn't going to sugar-coat it, and he wasn't saying it was a thing for sure because he didn't know. He merely suspected based on what he'd seen thus far and he'd learned to trust his gut on that sort of thing. Kuon didn't disbelieve him either, he just didn't want it to be true. He was a man who, if nothing else, understood siege warfare. He knew the state of his defenses better than anyone alive. And like all Crab bushi he was intimately familiar with what happened when pressure and heat were applied to any material.
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Re: The Destroyer War

Postby Warlord » Thu Jun 11, 2015 10:00 am

Hida Kuon grunted to himself and picked up a folded vest and a scroll, both in one massive hand, and tossed the two objects at him. Ryujin caught both at once, one in each hand. Glancing up, Ryujin caught Kuon watching him with a sharp eye. Only one, because the other was covered with the patch that hid his disfigurement from a battle long, long ago. Ryujin hadn't been hiding his dexterity so revealing it wasn't an imposition. Besides, after his review of the situation at hand he was fairly certain they were all going to be dead in the near future.

Kuon snorted lightly. "The blood of Mirumoto doesn't flow through any of you, but his talent appears to run strongly in your line all the same. Your cousin has sent you another hundred samurai, nearly three hundred ashigaru, and new horses. Hah..." Kiruda suddenly barked a laugh at the expression that was on Ryujin's face. "Don't worry, they'll listen to you. You've been promoted to chui, or so the gunso who brought the troops here informed me. All it takes is a bit apocalyptic trouble for the best and brightest to rise to the top, huh." It wasn't a question, even with the quizzical sound at the end.

"Hai, my lord." Ryujin realized the vest was for him, an emerald green affair. Black was for shireikan and higher. He took a moment to pull it on and then broke open the scroll in his hands, reading quickly, and finding that indeed he was promoted and the men were his to command. Lovely. He had some reorganizing to do. Silver lining was, the men who had been fighting were going to able to cycle into camp earlier than expected and get some rest. He'd move them in two shifts, give the new guys a chance to learn the tricks on the line before all the vets were snoring at the roof of their tents.

"Good, now that that's settled," continued Kuon. "How do I get the people off this wall without everyone having to commit seppuku?" It was a blunt question, a shrewd question, one of practicality and realism. Unlike most samurai, the Crab weren't bashful about such things. Unlike most samurai, Ryujin considered it a very important question to answer.

"Sun Tao."
"Sun Tao?"
"We face the enemy on the battlefield of your choosing, in order to ensure a victory that can no longer be had here. This force, if it appears, has the potential to be massive. That's the most logical way for it to have cleared out the entirety of the Shadowlands as it has."
"I am familiar with the passage, but I'm not following you to its conclusion."
"You and I, and any even remotely intelligent officer on the line, know full well that at this point if such a force appears before the next twenty-goblin winter all of us combined cannot stand against it here at the wall. We divide ourselves into three forces and withdraw east, north, and northeast. Lest the enemy want one or two of the other forces looping around behind it, the enemy will have to divide into three and face us on ground it didn't prepare for as thoroughly as it might have the wall."

Kuon followed the reasoning and nodded. "We have not retreated, we have chosen a tactic and redeployed in a more favorable formation. That could work."

Ryujin nodded sagely. "Send civilians and non-combatants ahead of the groups, fighting a rearguard for them -and- drawing the enemy into stringing out their formations in an attempt to catch up. Pacing the rate the foe can bring its superior numbers to bare on any of us. It's just sound tactical reasoning, supported by the Book of Sun Tao and, with a bit of research, perhaps Akodo's War as well. We cede ground to gain the empire a chance to prepare to join in our eventual victory."

"Well worded, Dragon."
"Thank you, Lord Crab."
"Withdraw your men from my wall, the beasts of the Shadowland already begin to falter. This other force won't be far behind. I want you to begin rounding up the non-essential civilians and the ambassadors from other clans. Begin moving them toward the capital. The Unicorn will draw north, the Lion east, and we will follow after you... if there are any of us left after the wall is lost."
"Might I make a suggestion, my lord?" Ryujin asked.
"Now's the time for it."
"Spit in their leader's eye for me."
"I like you. Now go," Kuon grinned as he turned back to his map.
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Re: The Destroyer War

Postby Warlord » Tue Sep 29, 2015 4:04 am

It all went well for about an hour. Ryujin sent runners to gather his men from the lines, the other hundred (the new guys) he set to packing the veterans' kits and saddling horses. The Dragon Embassy was packed and on the road in minutes, the Dragon Clan was a clan of practical people with esoteric attachments so there was little they couldn't walk away from. The Crane Clan embassy was empty of everything including the fine porcelain, a distant cloud of dust two days old the only sign of the ambassador's household as reported by a Lion scout. The Lion Clan was going to be withdrawing into southern Crane lands, they'd have a fun talk when they got there no doubt. That left only the Scorpion embassy for Ryujin to clear out, the Unicorn and Lion were handling the others.

That was when things started going wrong. First, the lines had been broken and there had been fighting at the embassy. The Scorpion rarely showed themselves as fighters, they didn't like direct conflict, but they'd acquitted themselves well there. The goblins and one ogre were dead but it had set them back in their preparations. Ryujin set his men to assisting them, because they weren't be impractical. Food, road necessities, all in a wagon. The ambassador's household was still there, the ambassador personally overseeing the efforts after personally assisting in the fight against the Shadowlands creatures. Ryujin liked the man already. He was just about to insist the man take his family, apparently a daughter and son, and leave when Jubei came running.

That was never good, the man never looked intense. "Ryujin! Something is happening!" And that was when the roar became everything. The world shook. The world.... SHOOK. Even the air became a physical force that vibrated against his skin, the sound made his bones rattle in their sockets, even his swords shivered in their sheaths. That was likely why he came back to the world on one knee and left hand gripping both of his primary saya tightly as he glared at the cracked paving stones ahead until his eyes focused them once again. Mirumoto Ryujin stood again and took stock of the situation. Jubei was pulling himself up and blinking toward the west wide eyed, but with that look of fascination that came when he saw something that interested him.

Again, never a good thing. Ryujin turned and followed the line of sight... right up to the giant cleft that had been ripped into the Kaiu Wall. "No, Jubei. You can't. Usagi!" The Dragonfly bushi, still rolling her neck to shake off the cobwebs, appeared out of the chaos by her charge. "Take Jubei, tie him to a horse, and start riding for the capital. We'll catch up very shortly." She nodded, caught hold of Jubei's arm as the man stared disappointingly at the giant no doubt magical point of ignition. Ryujin turned back toward the Scorpion embassy and assessed his next problem. The wall hadn't just vanished. There were two crushed horses, six dead samurai, two dead peasants, and a very large chunk had torn through the building itself.

"Gunso! This effort is over. Everybody is moving, now!" The sergeant was older than Ryujin but he'd never shown a grasp for anything but small unit control. However, -that- he was -very- good at. The gunso was yelling before he'd even turned, men were jumping at the sound of his voice. Well, men in Dragon armor were at least. Ryujin started for the shattered embassy and was halfway up the front steps when a panicked looking ambassador, Bayushi Kenjiro if Ryujin remembered correctly. Panicked was a gentle word, and Ryujin immediately forgave the man for grabbing him by his armor even as he gently removed the man's hands.

"My daughter is trapped in the house!"
"Calm yourself, where is she?"

Kenjiro looked at his own hands but turned with the question and led Ryujin through the structure. A lot of things were broken, but not the central support. Those things were so sturdy he'd seen them survive house fires well enough to be reused in constructing a replacement house. It had saved the girl's life. Mirumoto Ryujin dropped low to look between a set fallen supports and blinked. Woman, she was at least his age. Perhaps a year or two older, it was hard to tell with the tears of pain running down her face. Her leg was broken, clearly, and pinned under the center beam that had saved her life. The stone chunk of wall that had come through the roof had been deflected when it hit that beam.

Within the room were two servants and a Scorpion bushi in fine armor. Ryujin stood and kicked through the fallen support that kept him out of the room, then pushed his way through the debris. The Scorpion bushi was trying to lift the beam with all of his might but it was much too heavy. "Ambassador, join us." Ryujin dropped low, set his shoulder under the beam, and began to unfold underneath it to push it upward. It began to budge. No sooner had it moved than the girl groaned in relief. Her father dashed forward and, though no warrior, applied a healthy man's strength and the beam lifted even more. "Move her, quickly!" Ryujin commanded the two servant girls and they immediately pulled the ambassador's daughter away. She cried out again, but who could blame her at that point?

The three men dropped the beam on the floor and moved. "Bring her, put her in the back of the wagon. We'll brace her leg and then you all need to be away. The wall is breached." The bushi of her clan picked her up, her father stabilizing her let. Ryujin ushered out the two servants and making sure the place was clear of any others before heading out the door. He found them at the wagon fussing over how to fix her leg. Rand walked right up and, asking "What's your horse's name?" suddenly set her leg. She got out the w in what before her eyes went wide. Rand couldn't help but acknowledge, even through all the myriad of chaos around them, that she was a very beautiful woman. If the world hadn't been coming down around them... well, she was Scorpion. He'd have been terrified of her.

He grabbed a battle flag off the back of one of his men, tore the flag off the pole, snapped the pole in two, tore the flag, and had the splint tied off before she recovered enough to speak. "What is your name, samurai?" Ryujin, realizing his face was covered by his mempo and his head by his helmet, gave a short bow.

"Mirumoto Ryujin, m'lady. I apologize for the bumpy ride, but you most go quickly."
"Wait, my son will go with you." The elder man said, touching the Scorpion bushi on the shoulder. The younger nodded without hestiation. "He is Tien."
"Welcome to the cause, Tien, stay near me until we have a chance to sort you."

And with that everyone was on the move.
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