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(Region 1 - Los Angeles, CA, USA; made public by L5R)

Toshi Ranbo wo Shien Shite Reigisaho, Imperial Lands

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Nezumi were not well known for their memories, except for the Rememberers whose task it was to recall the history of their tribes and their race. Despite that, Chirtk had a vague recollection of a Rememberer once telling him about a human warren called Otosan Uchi. It had been a great warren, the largest the humans had ever built, and it had many tunnels beneath it that the silly creatures did not even know existed. Many Nezumi had made their homes there when the humans were still in the warren, and now that the humans had gone, there were more Nezumi than there were humans.

Toshi Ranbo was the new human warren where their greatest chieftain, the Emperor, lived. It was full of many wondrous treasures and delicious foods. The humans didn't know that there were tunnels beneath this warren too, though. Two tribes, the Lion and Crane, had fought over this territory for so many years that countless of their big stone huts had collapsed, been rebuilt, collapsed again, and built over. The older parts of Toshi Ranbo had many narrow, winding tunnels. They were uncomfortable to crawl through, but Chirtk had learned long ago that the discomfort was worth the reward.

As the Nezumi thief contorted his body to crawl through a particularly tight corner, he heard a strange noise. He stopped and listened, cocking his head to the side to try and hear better. It was foolish, he knew. He thought one of the humans had seen him during his last entry into a temple only a short time ago, and they could still be looking at him. Still, as he sat and listened to the stranger murmuring, Chirtk's curiosity grew. Finally, the little thief crept toward the noise, in the opposite direction from the tiny chamber he called home.

In a few moments, Chirtk found himself overlooking a room hollowed out beneath a larger hut. There were several humans inside, and some of them were chanting. That was the sound Chirtk had heard. One human was tied up in the middle, and bore several wounds that had bloodied his clothing. He wore the green mark that showed his loyalty to the Emperor-chieftain. Another human stood over him, holding a large knife with a wavy blade. It was stained with blood, probably from the human that was tied up, but even so it was a brilliant, reflective shade of silver, probably made of something different than the normal knives humans used. Despite the danger, Chirtk was fascinated by the blade, and he involuntarily made the whispering, clicking sound he always made when he saw something he was planning to take.

The human with the knife turned around, glancing everywhere. He signaled for the others to hush, then he saw Chirtk's eyes looking at him between the crude boards the humans had put up to hold back the dirt. He snarled in rage and hurled a bolt of magical energy at Chirtk, who squeaked and drew back. The blast destroyed the boards, exposing Chirtk to the humans. He realized in an instant that if he tried to crawl down the tunnel he would die, so he did the only other thing he could.

The Nezumi thief rushed into the chamber, bowling over three of the robed humans as he darted across the room and up the stairs in a flash of fur and tail. He squealed in pain as another blast from the human with the knife singed his tail, but he did not slow down. Instead he burst out onto the crowded city street, causing many to shout in alarm. He ran down the street and into an alley, knowing some humans would be behind him. He also heard them shouting and running into the building, so maybe they would keep his pursuers busy for at least a few minutes.

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