(Region 27 – Miranda de Ebro, Spain made public by L5R)
Musume Mura, Crane Lands
Doji Tsukiro sipped his tea anxiously. Outwardly, he was the perfect picture of calm, but inwardly he was struggling to contain the blossoming energy that had raged within him for days. He had never been fully inducted into the Bloodspeakers, had never experienced the rituals that would bind him fully to the cell, but apparently what few rites he had participated in had marked him forever. The whispers in the back of his mind were almost unbearable. He needed to escape Musume Mura before he succumbed, turning into one of the ravening madmen that the others had become. Even now they roamed the hills surrounding the village, slaughtering anything they encountered. His mentor, Hiriko, had been the wisest woman he had ever known. Now she was little more than an animal. Tsukiro had to escape.
His reverie was broken when another man slid into the seat across from him. “I must apologize,” the man said with a casual smile. “I am a bit late. I was caught up in something.”
“I have no time for pleasantries,” Tsukiro said, glancing nervously at the doorway. “Who is the man who came in with you?”
Yasuki Naosuke glanced at the door. “Just someone I hired to serve as a yojimbo for the evening. Protection, you understand.”
“You were supposed to come alone!” Tsukiro hissed angrily.
“Oh, I don’t think so,” Naosuke said, one eyebrow rising. “You contacted me to purchase information on the movement of Imperial Legions through the Crane lands. Did you honestly think I wouldn’t know why?”
Tsukiro’s eyes narrowed dangerously, but Naosuke only laughed. “Easy, friend. Business is business. I have what you wanted.” He placed a scroll on the table. “I assume you have my payment?”
Tsukiro nodded and tossed a small bag of koku on the table. He took the scroll and left with only a cursory glance over his shoulder. Naosuke smiled and poured a cup of tea, placing the koku in his obi as he did so. “He should lead you to what you seek,” he said after a few moments.
“You are a disgrace,” the man at the door said, disgust obvious in his voice.
“You are not the first to tell me that,” Naosuke admitted. “But you have what you want. He will lead you to the others, and you in turn will lead the Legion to his comrades.”
“What makes you think he will return to the others?” The yojimbo was removing his drab clothing, revealing a purple kimono beneath it. A magistrate’s badge of office adorned his robe.
“You might say he’s a sentimental sort.”
“You are a disgrace,” Shinjo Yushiro repeated. “You sicken me.”
“Your prey is leaving,” Naosuke said flatly. “What will you do?”
Yushiro’s hand fell on his blade. “Punish them all,” he said.