Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Jwar Tales - Kitsune (part 3)

The small fox padded silently forward, her paws barely leaving imprints in the fine sand of the Takashi family's zen garden, those prints she did leave were gently brushed away  with a slow swish of her ruddy brown tail. Vulpine senses straining, the vixen scanned the inky black night air for any signs of Ryu guards.

Somewhere in the Takashi compound, her brother Kyuubi would be doing the same albeit in his humanoid form.  As a male Kitsune, Kyuubi was unable to fully transform into fox form and instead relied on his Ki to enhance his already phenomenal stealth. The Kitsune prayed to the Kamis to keep her brother's tread light and his blade sharp.

Kyuubi stalked through the gnarled trunks of the cherry trees that lined the pathway leading to the Takashi Manor House.  The perimeter guards had been half asleep and far too easy to bypass, no challenge to his supreme stealth.  How easy it would have been for him to slit the throats of all of them, he thought to himself.  He hoped the house guards would prove to be more fun!

Up ahead, a fat guard shifted his yari to a more comfortable position and gazed boredly out into the night, answering Kyuubi's question.  Unfortunately for the sentry he happened to be standing in the male kitsune's entry point to the property.

Reaching beneath his billowing cloak, Kyuubi plucked a razor sharp disc from a pouch and flung the deadly shuriken with fatal accuracy. With barely a sound the missile crunched into the soft bones of the guard's nose, the cruel, jagged points of the "throwing star" breaching the cartilage and tearing the delicate brain tissue behind.  The guard, dead before he  even perceived a threat, folded at the knees and fell sideways into a shadowy doorway.

Kyuubi's muzzle split into a toothy grin, revealing rows of needle like fangs. "Let the fun begin" he thought to himself.

movement trackers were used in the pre Kickstarter game to predict movement turns, but serve my purpose here...

The Kitsune slunk ever closer, padding softly up to a simple shoji screen door.  With a sharp claw, she slashed a small tear in the flimsy material and pushed her sensitive nose through the opening.  With no guards in the room, she carefully eased through the screen and into the Manor proper.

The Kitsune in fox form (FF) uses a stealth dice to open the shoji door (4+) required. Due to her stealth bonus in this form it becomes (2+). She then uses another stealth dice to roll against the number on the objective marker again adding her stealth bonus.

Glancing around the darkened private prayer room, sharp eyes piercing the shadows, she spotted her first opportunity.  With a quick push of her Ki, she semi transformed her paws into clever, furry fingers.  Reaching underneath the thin blue collar around her slender neck, she withdrew a small leather pouch. Taking a couple of the almost translucent red scales from the bag, she stuck them to the side of the wooden dais as if caused by the passage of a large serpentine body knocking the simple furniture.  Tucking the pouch away, she once again resumed her full fox form and headed toward the open doorway.  Little did she know that her canine lined smile matched that of her brother who at that time was standing over the prone body of a Takashi guard.  

The moon was high in the night sky, it was time to make mischief!

and reveals an objective!
The Kitsune's sensitive ears twitched as she heard the quiet mutters of the guards as they conferred in the further recesses of the house. So far she and her volatile sibling had been undiscovered.

at this point the guard player is on a very low level of alert (the scale at the top of the player board) and so they simply buy cards with their action points. Cards can be played to hinder ninjas or buff guards
The Kitsune made her way slowly into the main prayer room, gliding across the ceramic tiles without a single click of her sharp nails on the hard floor.  On the far side of the room, the silhouette of a Takashi guard stood unmoving, back lit by a small lamp in the corner, the tiniest snore coming from his throat as he dozed.

Hin swayed slightly as he woke with a start, he had fallen asleep at his post again! The Gunso (sergeant) would tear him to pieces if she found such dereliction of duty. Shaking his head, in an effort to clear it, he spotted  a small shadow detach itself from the deeper darkness of the private prayer room. The Takashi guard barely opened his mouth to yelp in surprise as the night exploded around him, the shadow dissipating in flash of bright Ki, before feeling the press of twin blades against his throat. A beautiful woman with reddish brown hair and sharp fox-like features appeared before him, her eyes tinged with regret as she swept the swords across his neck.

The Kitsune uses a movement point to transform to humanoid form (HF) and uses one of her force dice and her only stealth dice (in this form) to take out the guard quietly.  So far so good! no noise raised anywhere....
Reaching into her patterned kimono for the small leather pouch, she cursed as she dropped the bag to the floor with a slight thud, the noise carrying out the door and into the corridor beyond the prayer room.

disaster! as she fails to flip the objective (she is definitely not stealthy enough in this form). she creates a noise token and the objective isn't revealed.
 Kyuubi, pressed up against the outer door, counted the heavy steps of a guard as they paced the inner courtyard.  One of a pair of soldiers who guarded the well lit area, they had made several cardinal errors in their placement and it would cost them dearly.  Too far apart, they would be unable to support each other, unable to watch each others backs.  Not only that but they had placed a bright lantern in the middle of the courtyard, which they then faced! With no night vision and no support they were simple obstacles to deal with.

The volatile vulpine once again reached for a shuriken and spun swiftly around the corner, releasing the deadly missile in a single movement.  The guard, caught unaware, barely felt the passing of the razor sharp disc as they sliced through his carotid artery and toppled him into the shadowy recesses of the far corner of the courtyard.  With extraordinary grace, the male kitsune ghosted along the wall and into the small storage rooms that lined the building.

Like his sister, Kyuubi had a variety of items stored under his voluminous cloak that would incriminate the Ito Clan for this little raid.  With that in mind he dropped a little snake fetish, such as would be carried by a bushi, under a shelf in the corner of the small room.

Kyuubi (K) eliminates a guard with a shuriken and reveals a yellow objective (I forgot to photograph the event cards in the last photos when a successful objective is taken) and an event card that allows K to remove a door by the treasure room.

due to KH's noise token the alert level is raised as well as the turn marker (right hand side of the player board) the guard can also use the noise token as an action point and it gets added to their pool
 Hiroto tilted his head and strained his ears.  He had heard a noise coming from the storage rooms behind him, a soft scrape that was definitely not the background noises of the manor house.  Gripping his yari in both hands, he tentatively moved toward the open doorway, the blade of his weapon leading the way.  "Who goes there?" his voice barely more than a whisper, quavering with a modicum of superstitious fear, nonetheless carried into the room.

Absolute silence was his answer, unnatural silence in fact and Hiroto's hands began to sweat as they held his spear.  A shift of his foot and a tilt of his body allowed the soft light of the main house to weakly illuminate the tiny closet only to reveal a creature from the guard's deepest nightmares.  Bent in a slight stoop, cloaked in a billowing cape stood a being with the snarling face of a demonic fox.

Reflexively he thrust the heavy blade of his spear at the beast in an effort to ward it away, the sharp edge slicing into the furred arm of the creature and drawing a line of bright blood along it's length.

the black crescent around K's base is the detected token and means the ninja can now be attacked by the guards
which the guard promptly does and scores a wound on K

the wound goes on the ninja's board and covers up a dice space meaning K only has one force dice to use for the rest of the game

Kyuubi pulled back from the surprised guard, the wound on his arm throbbing with pain.  Planting his left foot, he snap kicked the human in the sternum driving his breath from his lungs with a quiet whoosh.  In a single movement, the vulpine assassin drew his katana and slashed the throat of the poor guard before returning the blade back to it's protective sheath.

Quickly he pulled the corpse into the room and threw it into the corner in a minimal attempt to hide it.  Grimacing at the slash that led from wrist to elbow, he licked it clean with his long tongue before wrapping it loosely with a rag.

note the blue crescent token on the guards base marked with a "!" this is an alert status and the guard is now aware something is wrong, even if they don't know what.  He will now find it easier to detect ninjas and harder to take by surprise
To the Kitsune's sensitive hearing, the fight that had erupted on the other side of the house was horrendously noisy, although in truth it had barely been above a whisper. Her brother, it seemed had been discovered somehow.  She wasn't worried, her sibling was more than capable but it did increase the risk of discovery by the household guards.

With a shrug, she shrunk down into her favourite form and once again stuck snake scales to the side of the dais. As she stepped back from the platform her foot brushed a loose tile, dislodging the ceramic and causing it to scrape gently across the floor.   Her phenomenal reflexes kicked in and she withdrew her foot before too much damage had been done but she glanced quickly around in a panic. She heard footsteps coming from the corridor running alongside the room and cursed again for making noise that sounded like a herd of goats clanking through the room to her sharp hearing.  However no alarms were being raised and she settled down a bit before slinking out into the corridor.

Ahead of her, the bulky form of a Takashi guard moved gently from foot to foot in the time honoured manner of the perpetually board sentry.  Shaking her head minutely at the ineptitude of the guard, she scampered into the small study that adjoined the main dojo and out of sight of the human.

FF flips the objective and gets a trap counter, rolling a dice it doesn't wound her but it does generate a noise token.  I interpreted this as a loose tile...

however her special ability allows her to exchange a stealth die to cancel the token and as she had one left I used it.

an overview of the action so far...the guards in their turn move a bit closer and the guard next to FF absolutely whiffs his detection roll and is blissfully unaware
to be continued....

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Jwar Tales - Kitsune (part 2)

Hi all

hope you enjoyed the prologue for this upcoming tale from the Jwar Isles.  For those of you who didn't read the previous tales of Master Akari and the tricksy Kitsune (shame on you!) you can find them on the newly made Bushido page of my blog, where I gathered all of my previous stories from the world of my favourite skirmish game - here

Go on, I'll wait....

All caught up? cool.  Let's proceed then.

The Kitsune, had ridden along with  Master Akari on his Ki journey in an attempt to thwart an alliance between The Prefecture of Ryu and Clan Ito that would disturb the Balance.  The Balance is an ethereal line between the dark and the light, night and day, death and life.  The Temple of Ro-Kan and it's allies seek to preserve it at all costs knowing that if the scales were to tip too far toward one or the other, then the Jwar Isles would fall.

Akari, embarked on a Ki journey to determine the best course of action that would disrupt the two clans from joining forces.  Each time the monks clashed with the Prefecture, the death toll of the monks was too high.  Too many young lives and innocent souls lost for no benefit.

In desperation, Akari delved deeper, looking for other methods.  Finally he turned to the Kitsune, believing that espionage might be more effective than outright war.  With her tricks and supreme stealth, she could succeed where the supreme fighting skills of the monks had failed.

The Kitsune, had a plan that would sow dissention among the two factions and turn them from their path but she knew that she couldn't do it alone.  Risking discovery by her secretive shadow clan, she sought her brother - Kyuubi.  As a male, he was unable to fully transform into fox form.  None the less, his stealth was unrivalled and his hatred of any threats to the Balance would be invaluable in her quest.  It would cost her though...

I really enjoyed playing the 3 Bushido games that led to the "Tales" and was intrigued by the story line that developed from them, particularly the subplot that "spun off".  I wanted to play this as more of an RPG type game and so decided to use the rules from "The Rise of the Kage" - the boardgame by GCT Studios (the makers of Bushido).  This stand alone game (with a single supplement) is set in the  Jwar Isles and pits the shadowy Kaze Kage ninjas against the ruling family - The Prefecture of Ryu.

This was perfect! RotK is played with the Prefecture guarding a Manor House (or dockyards or artisan district depending on which board you use) and the ninjas trying to infiltrate and complete a mission before escaping into the night, before the general alarm is raised.  The ninjas use a combination of stealth and force to achieve their objectives and rely on the shadows to keep them from the blades of the guards.

I simply replaced the ninjas with the Kitsune and Kyuubi and away I went.... 

Of course it wasn't that easy! I needed to make some simple adaptations. The game requires 3 ninjas and I had two Yokai, however one of those Yokai could assume two forms - whoop! whoop!

So I assigned each form to one of the ninja profiles in the game.  Although the Kitsune could only be in one form at any given time, she could freely choose between the forms by sacrificing a movement point.  The fox form would be the most stealthiest, taking on the Shizuki role and in the humanoid form much more fighty! so she would become Katsumi. Kyuubi would be somewhere in the middle - a balance of force and stealth and take on the Yuto role.

Now I needed to find a mission that suited the scenario that I wanted to play.  Our foxy friends would be sowing dissention and planting false flags.  As there was no such mission, I had to come up with my own.  So my vulpine virtuosos would need to collect objectives (the numbered triangular markers in the photo below) and have a set of 4 of one colour out of the 4  available colours.  In order to collect an objective, the kanny (yes I know) kitsunes would need to roll either force or stealth dice, matching the number shown on the top to reveal either a coloured marker or a trap, traps will not count as a set/colour but do count toward the number of objectives gained. Additionally they must collect the chest marker (Kyuubi's price) Once the required number and type of objectives have been gained they will need to roll against the mission number, which for this game will be (10).  This means that the nefarious ninjas need to roll a d6 and add the result to the number of objectives they have, if this total matches 10 then the Ro-Kan rogues will have completed the mission and must escape via the randomly drawn escape point.

In the photo below I've added (badly) some coloured circles around objects of interest.  Most importantly is the blue circle - the chest, forming part of the mission it is crucial to the ninja side winning! However it is in a room with multiple closed doors, one of which has a bell on it - green circle.  The yellow circle is a lamp and this increases the "area of influence" for the guards, allowing them to spot ninjas (kitsunes) from further distances.  The red circles are the barracks, these are where extra guards including more powerful guards will deploy from.

The ordinary guards have been deployed, there are ten of them and they are all "unalerted" at present.

The guards, all fat and lazy are unalerted

And unpainted - eugh!
 The pic below shows the stat line for the Kitsune in fox form.  Black stat line and black dice are her stealth dice and white her force, this shows her penchant for sneakiness.

Kyuubi's card shows his balance between stealth and force, I drew two random equipment cards and got shuriken, giving him a ranged attack and sacred sword, allowing him to ignore the special armour card should the guards draw it.

Kitsune in humanoid form is a lot more fighty and gets more force dice.  I also drew a Kusarigama card for her which will allow her to fight multiple opponents.

For this game I decided I wanted to use Lady Oka as the guard boss, as I had her painted up for my Prefecture Bushido faction and I love the miniature.  For the guards I chose Tesaki for yellow alert, Yoriki for amber alert and Lady Oka can only have Machi-bugyo for red alert.

She does get to activate Shinobu the Akita dog during amber alert.

With all the board laid out and the guards chosen I set up my two Kitsunes. with Kyuubi (K)deploying in the cherry trees at the front of the Manor House and Kitsune in Fox Form (FF) deploying in the zen garden at the side.

and that's where I'll leave it until next time.  The AAR will be written in my narrative style but with some rules being placed in the captions of photos, so as not to interrupt the flow of the story.

hope you enjoy

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Jwar Tales - Kitsune (part 1)

With the slightest rustling of the dry autumn leaves, the foliage parted .  A soft, black nose twitched as it pushed through the undergrowth, analysing the tiniest scents for hidden dangers. Finding none, the nose was followed by a slender, white muzzle topped with a reddish brown fur and flashing amber eyes that darted into every shadowy hiding place in the deep forest.  Satisfied that she was alone, the small vixen slunk into the clearing and darted toward the clear waters of the babbling brook that split the twisted trees of the old woods.  Quickly she dipped her sleek head and lapped at the cool, sweet liquid, closing her eyes momentarily at the relief provided by the spring water.

A brief flicker of shadow was the only warning she had, although it was all she really needed! Like lightning she bunched her haunches and sprang to the side as the razor sharp blade of a katana split the log she had been sat upon. Bowled over by the speed of the attack, the fox  rolled to her feet and bared her needle-like teeth in a threatening growl at her attacker, expecting another slash from the deadly weapon.  The figure before her was swathed in a billowing, yet threadbare cloak the colour of smoke.  Hood pulled low over it's face, her attacker stood in a slightly stooped posture, that masked it's true height.  The rest of it's clothing was just as ragged as it's cloak with drab brown trews and a woodland green tunic.  A barking laugh caused her to snort in frustration as she finally recognised her opponent...

Drawing on her Ki, the Kitsune grew quickly in size, standing upright on her rear legs until she fully transformed into her humanoid form.  Swift as a viper's tongue she drew her twin blades and leapt forward, pressing them against the ruddy brown furred neck of the male as he was drawing the hood back from his foxy face. 

"Easy sister, you are in my home remember" the male - Kyuubi snarled, drawing blackened lips over his sharp canine teeth.  

"and not invited either, I might add." he emphasised with an angry swipe of his heavier weapon. 

"In fact, I believe you were told, quite pointedly not to return under pain of death!"  He finished with a sudden dash at the female, his katana leading the way.

Unfazed, the Kitsune stood her ground, the tip of Kyuubi's sword a hair's breadth from parting her breast. 

"Enough of the theatrics brother!" she snapped.  "Save it for the elders, they love a good performance..."

With a shrug, the male Yokai slowly sheathed his weapon and eased back from the fiery female. Not willing to provoke his volatile sibling but not yet ready to concede defeat, he turned quickly, causing his cloak to billow out like a storm cloud, catching her sensitive nose with the edge of the coarse fabric.

The Kitsune bit her tongue to stifle the sharp retort that threatened to escape.  She needed her brother and his skills if she was going to help Akari and his monks restore the Balance.  Sighing loudly she stalked after Kyuubi, calling after the male before he disappeared into the woods.

"Peace brother" she pleaded, "The Balance is at risk, I need your aid"

Hidden in the recess of his hood, Kyuubi's fox-like muzzle split into a teeth filled grin as he pictured the coming storm, what mischief they would make once more. It would be just like old times!

hope you enjoy

Saturday, 1 September 2018

Placement Widgets

Hi all

Firstly my apologies for the lack of post this Wednesday, the usual RL excuses rear their ugly head with lots of late/night shifts that are just soooo draining...

Anyway, during the week I received a little package in the post from Ben Calvert-Lee, the owner/sculptor/caster/dogsbody of Master Crafted Miniatures and all round good egg. This package contained these little "placement widgets"

Ben has asked for them to be reviewed and I am more than happy to do so.

So first things first I guess is - What the heck is a "placement widget"?

Good question guys, good question! 

Well it turns out a placement widget is a cunning little device to help out the placement of models in Bushido.  Ben like myself is a big fan of the Oriental/Fantasy game by GCT Studios and organises the "Daimyo of the South" annual tournament down in Portsmouth. So it was natural that he produced a load of terrain pieces and accessories for the game.

3d printed in hard plastic the widget allows miniatures on the battlefield to be moved leaving the widget to mark their place.  This is ideal for factions that have characters that can use the bodyguard trait, meaning that models swap places with each other.  The atmosphere of most Bushido games is so relaxed that often precision isn't all that important and most players I've met have a very easy going attitude that would horrify "rules lawyer" type players who often haunt other systems.  That said in tournies or other official type scenarios these would be very useful and could avoid some conflict between players and for £1.50 for the pair is very easy on the wallet.  

So how does it work?

Well the widget has three different arcs that coincidentally fits the three base sizes of the miniature range.  Simply fit the appropriate arc to the edge of the base of each miniature and replace the figures. 

here The Rice Farmer (30mm) switches place with Master Ekusa (40mm)
Kenko and Rice Farmer - both 30mm
 Funnily enough the length of the widget is 2" which is the range of the bodyguard trait for most factions...

Overall I think its, pretty nifty. Its cheap, takes paint (if you want to), easy to assemble and use.  I'm not really sure it'll get a lot of use with me but I love these little tokens and accessories so I'm really happy with them.  I do highly recommend Ben's terrain pieces and accessories - I've got a load of his animals as they are cleanly cast and full of detail, so head on over to his website on the link below.

Master Ekusa approves of this product!

hopefully back to some normal scheduling next week
hope you enjoy

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Jwar Tales part 6

Mizuki Ito cursed the Prefecture fools again, rearing up on her powerful coils, she watched as the Dragon clan deployed for battle.  Why her would be allies had decided to betray her she could only guess.  The alliance would have allowed them to take the fight to the Jung pirates that had plagued the Islands over the last few months and put an end to their raids. It made no sense to her why the ruling clan would not want to put an end to the pirates? Regardless they had decided to not only dishonour the treatise, but to attack her retinue. The betrayal was doubly offensive and could only be repaid in blood.

Looking left to right, she watched her kin deploy with grim determination. The giant Hebi samurai - Taisei, with his No-Dachi would protect the smaller Hebi archer - Kaihime, her poisoned arrows would be vital in keeping the foe at bay. On the other flank, Yuui, the last of the Hebi samurai in her retinue and armed with twin swords, slithered around the base of the ancient statue and took up her position.  Either side of her stood the only bipedal members of her warband. Ji, the Temple Asp stood close by his priestess, the tight grip on his katana the only sign of nerves showing, his devout faith in her and Orachi would ensure his bravery in the coming fight.  Lastly, the mysterious Hebimiman - Akimoto the Red stood stock still, his glittering cobra eyes fixed on the approaching enemy. 

Arrayed before her, the Dragon clan retinue spread out.  The young lord Hiro Takashi led the delegation, flanked by the ward of the court - Iiju Makoto.  Two minor members of the Takashi family lurked in or around the two lords, clearly there to provide a bodyguard for the nobles. More astonishingly, the rumours were true - one of the legendary dragons had risen from their slumber to aid the Takashi family in consolidating their hold on the Prefecture, although Mizuchi was young by dragon standards, he still counted his age in centuries.

Under the watchful eyes of the colourful statue of the great wyrm Sui Riu, the Prefecture fools marched toward the Mother and her kin.

"My family, let us show these treacherous creatures Orachi's disfavour, let my husband's poison run through their veins and show them we are not to be betrayed!" she shrieked.

Kahime the archer bowed her head and slithered quickly forward, raising her bow and loosing a shaft in one quick motion.  The arrow flew true and lodged in the elbow guard of the male retainer's armour, with a yelp the man withdrew his arm and tugged at the willow shaft until it dropped free, a tiny drop of blood on it's point.  Grimly he marched on, heading toward the centre of the small garden where the two clans fought.

Taisei raised his huge No-Dachi and rushed forward to cover the more vulnerable Kahime from the melee orientated Prefecture, his massive presence a comfort to the smaller hebi as she forced the enemy to find cover from her arrows.  Akimoto the Red, focused on the steady advance of his prey, sprang forward and spat a length of bile green poison at the approaching Dragon clan.  Iiju Makoto, ward of the court and scion of the Hare clan ducked the deadly stream and continued his approach, breaking into a swift run just before crashing into the hebimiman with his armoured form.  The slighter, unarmoured Akimoto was bowled over by the young samurai, who followed up the attack with a slash from his two handed sword.  The heavy weapon tore through the thick neck of the snake man, decapitating the monstrous beast with a single blow.

Mizuki shrieked with dismay as she saw a loyal warrior fall to the big human.  Fixing Iiju with her burning gaze, she drew on her considerable Ki, transfixing the young man like a mouse under the control of a striking viper.  Dreamily, the ward lowered his weapon and slumped his shoulders as the Bride of Orachi sapped his will and implanted suggestions into his now receptive mind.

Unaware of this uneven battle of wills, the female retainer Bachiko Takashi strode up behind the transfixed young man, urging him to advance on the nearby Ito Bushi.  With a snarl, the ward spun on his heel and swung his sword one-handed at the slight female.  Taken by surprise, Bachiko barely had the wherewithal to parry the massive blade and narrowly avoided a grievous wound.  A series of attacks followed, pushing the retainer to the very edge of her skills in an effort to defend herself.  The glazed look in Makoto's eyes enough for her to consider him bewitched, she painstakingly avoided any retaliation.

Ji the Ito Temple Bushi, took advantage of the distracted samurai and lept into combat with the male Takashi guard.  Screaming prayers to his god, the acolyte of Orachi delivered a withering series of slashes and blows in an effort to get past the darting point of the guards yari, to no avail as the two combatants fought to a stalemate.

On the left flank Mizuchi the dragon launched himself into the air and darted over the towering form of Taisei, landing in between the two hebi-samurai.  With lightning flicks of his muscular tail, the great beast delivered stunning blows to the snake warriors.

On the other flank, Hiro charged forward, his katana held high above his right shoulder ready to deliver a killing blow to Yuui, the female hebi warrior.  With precision he swept the blade down and wide only to feel the clash of steel on steel as the snake woman parried the strike with her left hand blade. Drawing his own sword back he launched a series of swift strikes that kept the Ito warrior on the defensive, ringing her twin blades with a speed that belied his single weapon.  However, Yuui was able to deflect all of the blows with only minor scrapes to show for his effort.  With the speed of a striking serpent, the hebi samurai uncoiled her muscular body and wrapped her strong tail around the human, pinning one of his arms to his side while hacking with her blades.  Hiro struggled to keep up with the lightning fast attacks and only his heavy armour kept him from receiving a major injury.

Strategically placed between the two snake samurai, Mizuchi the dragon launched itself at the unguarded back of the archer, sinking it's dagger sized talons into her back and piercing her heart.  With a sigh, the archer slumped lifelessly to the floor.

Mizuki, the bride of Orachi once again exerted her will on the ward of the Ryu court in an attempt to keep up the attack on the female retainer. With a trembling hand, Iiju Makato reached for a fetish tied onto his armour with a red sash. The Ki laced parchment flashed a bright silvery light, before crumbling into dust.  However the insidious hold on the scion of the Hare clan was broken and he turned on the spot to face down the oncoming Temple Asp.  The Ito Bushi grimly drew his katana and fought bravely, if not well, but eventually he succumbed to a well placed thrust of Iiju's sword.

The ward turned to the others, raising his blade in victory only to see the grey/green pallor of the male retainer.  "Han, what is it?" the ward barely had time to ask before the soldier dropped his yari from fingers that no longer had the strength to hold it. The retainer looked confused as he bent over to vomit a stream of green tinged bile onto the floor, then crashed to the ground in a heap.  Iiju, confused by the turn of events rushed to Han's side when he spotted the putrifying flesh wound at the soldier's elbow... poison!

Mizuki, the young dragon whipped his tail again and again at the enraged Taisei, desperate to keep the giant snake samurai at bay.  Time and again though, the hebi met the tail with his giant No-Dachi, the blade glistening with acid green poison.  Small nicks covered the length of the adolescent creatures scaly form and the dragon began to visibly slow as each cut penetrated his natural armour.

Hiro, slashed and stabbed with his katana, desperate to break the tenuous hold of the snake-woman's grasp.  However, the hebi samurai refused to let go and eventually more and more of her coils wrapped around the young lord, squeezing his torso until his armour plates began to buckle.

Poison coursed through the veins of the young dragon, the neuro toxin slowing his reactions and weakening his blows. In response the giant hebi samurai gripped his No-Dachi in both hands and lifting his upper body high on his snake-like lower half he drove the massive blade clean through the beast.

Mizuchi, screeched in delight as she watched the symbol of the Takashi clan fall to the floor in two separate pieces.  Gathering her Ki, she once again settled her gaze on Iiju and with an effort of will forced the ward to flee the battlefield, his cheeks flaming red with the shame.  Flushed with success, she nearly missed the quiet approach of the Takashi female, barely managing to deflect the swift strikes of the retainer's katana.

Desperately, the bride of Orachi parried the blows from the fearsome female, slowly but surely being driven backward toward the struggling Hiro.  As she fought for her very life, her concentration slipped and the control that she exerted over the ward Iiju wavered allowing the ward to break her hold over him.

Desperate to regain his honour, he broke into a trot and ran back toward the engagement, a grim smile on his face as he pictured his revenge.

From beneath a low bush on the edges of the battleground, a soft black nose pushed out of the foliage, followed by the orange brown snout of a fox.  With glittering eyes the creature watched as the two retinues continued to spend their strength in futile combat. Finally, the crafty beast had seen enough and withdrew silently into the surrounding woods, slinking away.  It's mission had been a resounding success, the treaty would never be and the Balance was safe.....for now.

hope you enjoy