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Thread: Way of the Bow:A Chosokabe AAR-(Updated Chapter XXXXII 30/9)

  1. #301

    Default Re: Way of the Bow:A Chosokabe AAR-(Updated Chapter XXXXII 30/9)

    Quote Originally Posted by Caillagh View Post
    You had me worried there for a bit, Merchant. I was almost sure Jirou was going to turn out to be a Really Bad Man. I am very relieved for Suzume that he is not. (I am a bit worried about Suzume's marriage - but at least not about Jirou betraying her to Chosokabe Motochika, or just killing her because he finds it entertaining.)

    Suzume's story just gets more and more compelling.
    No Jirou is a good guy (or is he.....????....????). Suzume's current arc is about to come to end (spoilers: I'm not killing her off, lay down those pitchforks). But as they say, death (or just ending an arc) is merely the opportunity for rebirth (or in other words new PoVs!)

    Quote Originally Posted by Alwyn View Post
    I agree with Caillagh, the way that Suzume and Jirou discover each other's secrets is compelling story-telling, indeed!
    Thanks Alwyn, both have a few secrets still yet to be shared (with them or indeed, you my friends )

  2. #302

    Default Re: Way of the Bow:A Chosokabe AAR-(Updated Chapter XXXXII 30/9)

    Chapter XXXXIII- Dangerous Only in the Best of Ways

    1559- Mid-summer

    Emura Akara

    Emura Akara relished in the danger of it all. It added that extra spark, the risk of one’s whole life crumbling down made him, made their meetings, all the more enticing. Yet she hated herself for enjoying it like that, like it made what she felt for him less real and less true, that it was merely an adrenaline rush. She loved him, she was sure of it. Surely it was love that tugged at the corners of her mouth to make her smile just by watching him sit there and talk.

    A fire roared behind him and he glowed not just from the light of it but from a pre and post-coital joy. He was sitting cross legged supporting her outstretched legs sprawled across him. She wriggled her toes and he lightly tickled them then crashed into her and took her lips in his. She only let him for a few seconds before she pushed him away. He retreated back to his former position like a defeated puppy, and she threw her legs back onto him triumphantly.

    “Be quiet.” She ordered him in response to the warning signs of a smile. Not only did he smile but he began telling her a story. It was a tale of when he was younger (she pointed out he was still young and he wisely didn’t argue that she was the same age ) and he was playing with his brothers in the forest and well he forgot a bit and then some more and then started all over again. Akara somehow figured out that it was about his brother, the older one Chikakata-san, saving Taketsune from a tanuki, an animal known to be incredibly non-dangerous to anyone not a waddling toddler. Towards the end of the story Akara’s mind wondered off thinking on the bad things, and there were many, that she'd heard of Chikakata-san.

    “My brother’s not a good man.” Taketsune mused more to himself. “But he’s my brother.”

    “He’s not as bad as some.” Akara offered meekly.

    “Nor nowhere near as good as others.” Taketsune replied.

    “I guess not.” Something seemed to fizzle out of the room. Taketsune went silent, his eyes lowered. She looked at him, deeply worried for him. There was something else there as well in his downturned eyes and sudden silence. She scolded herself for ever letting the conversation meander towards the pitfalls of family tales, especially for someone caught in a family who seemed to care more for war and power than truly for each other. She wanted to rescue him from them. I should lead him to bed, she mused internally and before she knew it, she found herself inching towards him. She sat on top of his crossed legs, arms wrapped around his neck like two vines, her head next to his, breathing on his neck.

    “Akara-san.” He sighed more than spoke. She could see his eyes rise to look at her. She let his head fall into her shoulder, mumbling something inaudible, maybe a prayer. She pulled one of her arms from behind him, the vine recoiling and placed a hand on his bare chest. His heartbeat was poetic, she’d decided cheerfully earlier when it was beating fast under the whip of desire, faster than she thought possible. Now it was slower but stronger, like it was beating against a cage. She’d fallen in love with this heart and every way it beat. She extracted her hand slowly and pulled her head away from his neck. His head rose from her shoulders, slowly like a sleeping bear. Their heads met halfway, their lips brushed and then Akara pushed herself off his legs, rose and wandered over to the fire.

    “You did amazing today.” He said, with the admiration he seemed to coat every word that he spoke to her with. She scoffed at him.

    “I did, didn’t I?” She gloated, throwing into doubt whether the modesty of the scoff was fake or if the arrogance and pride that succeeded it was. Either way, he was in awe of her. She was standing behind him so he couldn’t even see her yet he was fixated on her without even having to look, fixated on how she must have been standing or what she was looking at or when could he hear that angelic voice, measured yet unrestrained, floating out from the lonely notes of a melody sans accompagnement.

    “But why, my love?” She mouthed the words ‘my love’ and threw them into the fire. “You didn’t say anything about it last night, or this morning.” A vivid memory of the night before burst into her mind. She cursed him, he knew what he was doing. In love, she was sure, no one is innocent.

    “Council matters hardly concern me during our meetings, there are other more important things. Clearly they do for you.” He laughed rather than trying to protest. “I guess I just won’t sit idly through this war.”

    “Not even with me?” No one is innocent.

    “Maybe with you. But I’d much rather run away forever with you.” They both indulged in the idea, the idea of freedom, knowing all too well its impossibility. We often tease ourselves with the impossible and extraordinary to make the monotony of the possible and ordinary tolerable.

    Yet what Akara and Taketsune had was possible but it wasn’t ordinary, every second was enjoyed and the next awaited for the joys it would bring.

    “And under the fools who would run it,” she said bringing it back to the topic, “this city would suffer. Under me it will shine.” And at that moment, she wanted to grasp the fire in her hands and wield it like clay.

    “Dangerous thoughts.”

    “In the best of ways.” She shunned the fire and knelt behind him, her chin digging into his shoulder in what surely must have been a painful position for him. “You never warned me about this dangerous thing anyhow.” She teased.

    “You didn’t warn me either.”

    “I didn't care.” She moved her head over into his neck. “Here’s your warning; I need to be going.” Even in its playfulness it seemed to sap whatever joy it could from the son of Tawara Tomeshide.

    “You’re not staying?”

    “No, it’s too dangerous” He wanted to add ‘in the best of ways’ but he stopped himself. She pecked him on the neck and rose but he got up to follow her. “Taketsune-san, it’s too risky.” He pulled her by the hands towards him. He took in the sight that was Emura Akara, daughter of Emura Toshimasa, wife to the heir of the Chosokabe clan, and the most beautiful woman he would ever see. He would caress her cheeks as soft as snow or her hair as fine as silk but he was afraid he was not worthy enough. He looked a man desperate.

    “We could be killed.” She spoke softly, the first time either had admitted the very real possibility. “Or worse.”

    “I’d rather my life ended by their hate,” he declared in a whisper, “then it preserved and intact wanting of your love.” His eyes darted away from her and looked to anything, up, down, left, right, to his feat, to the fire forgotten. Her eyes remained on him, delivering loving curses while trying to settle on a decision. His eyes lit up in soft surprise when she kissed him, wanting to do so much more but settling for it. No one in love is innocent.

    “Kiss me, Taketsune-chan.” She sighed between kisses, an unneeded order. “Forever.”

    It was some evil hour of the morning when they stopped at last. Embers were all that remained of the great fire. Moonlight touched their skin, turning it a ghostly silver as they lay as one body sprawled on the bed. She woke, kissed him and disentangled herself without waking him. He mumbled something in his sleep and a giggle slipped out of her mouth.

    She wanted to wake him, let them continue where they stopped, but something undercut this desire, sabotaging its lusty promises and she found herself dressing instead. Mid-summer warmth seeped in from outside and she wondered why they had ever needed the fire, why they hadn't just slept and made love in the warmth outside. But the same could be said to why they didn't do that every night and why if they did that, why they didn’t just run away.

    She was wearing only her small clothes and a light kimono. It would be scandalous beyond imaginable if she was simply caught wearing only this. Whenever she left her quarters she was meant to be imprisoned in layer after layer of ceremonial, luxurious clothing, a symbol of her beauty and her position. Caught in only this, she would be labelled a prostitute, bringing the honour of the mighty Chosokabe clan into disrepute. They didn’t even need to sniff the trail back to Taketsune, this alone could bring her down.

    She wasn’t going to get caught, though.

    She paused all she was doing and thinking and walked over to the bed and knelt beside her sleeping lover. I could just curl up beside him and stay, she thought, an untamed thought quickly brought into line. She stared at the space next to him, that open space that beckoned her back with promises of safety. Yet nowhere near this room, or him, was ever safe, even if it was worth it.

    Watching him wrapped in sleep’s peaceful grasp, she remembered the way his face dropped when she announced that she had to leave. She couldn’t, they couldn’t, be caught. This was only their second night together anyway. These shallow justifications that had been armed by her brain to spew from her mouth were nothing against that look. They routed in the face of it, of that vulnerability and in the end, the face of a very real love.

    She had never thought of Taketsune as soft before that look. The first night he was strong and he was passionate and he was gentle but he wasn’t soft. She felt immense happiness at knowing this other side of him. To others he would simply be the son of Tawara Tomeshide or the brother of Tawara Chikakata or someone who was proficient in the art of killing. To the Akara of the night before he was someone who gave her deep pleasure and freed her. Now he was so much more.

    So before her lay this impossible creation and she should be sleeping beside him, body against body, skin on skin. Their chests rising up and down in unison, the sound of each other’s heartbeats lulling them to sleep.

    But she wasn’t lying next to him and she knew she wouldn’t again for that night.

    She got off her knees and resumed her preparations for leaving. It didn’t take much time, she had brought nothing to ensure she left nothing. She paced back and forth in nervous resoluteness and finally left, leaving but a parting whisper in his ear of her love and of farewell.

    She had, through certain means, procured the instructions for the night’s guard shift. She knew where the blindspots were and hoped this would ensure her no trouble. They weren’t particularly alert anyway, she guessed they didn’t have much of a reason to. Who was there and important enough to warrant a very risky assassination attempt? I will be eventually, thought Akara with equal pride and the right dose of fear that someone should have when thinking of a future where people will want you dead in your sleep.

    Grumbling guards and fidgeting mice broke the silence of the palace. She walked with purpose- it’s easy to when you have one- and was covering the distance between Taketsune’s quarters and her own quickly. She soon came across a courtyard and the sight of open, vulnerable ground to cross frightened her. It was in the plan, she reminded herself as she recalled how she had devised to cross it safely. A guard was patrolling the walkway on the other side of the courtyard and between her and him, grass and some flowering bushes. Not much cover. She could peer out from the wall safely to monitor where he was but that did little to aid her in getting to the other side. She noticed his movements were tired, unsurprisingly, and she waited until he inevitably turned her back on her. Go, yelled something in her mind and she slinked across the walkway like a guilty feline.

    “Strange to see you hear, hime.” A voice greeted her from behind once she’d made it across, like someone who’s trap had successfully fallen into place. “And so lightly dressed.” He added in delight. “Sorry, it’s Hitochiki-san.” The name was of no significance but she repeated it politely anyway, making it sound like she thought it belonging to the emperor.

    “Hitochiki-san.” She bowed but didn’t turn around. He was still behind her, so it looked as if she was bowing to no one. He plodded his way from behind to in front of her, relishing each conquering footstep.

    “It’s not my place,” he said ironically, knowing it wasn’t his place addressing her or hiding behind corners in the dead of night, “but I do wonder why such a beautiful, highborn, married lady is up at this time of the morning dressed in clothes that indicate a desire not to be dressed at all.”

    “Would you rather I be wearing more?” She asked. “Or maybe less.” He seemed taken aback, surprised at the easiness of it all.

    “The whore of the Chosokabe.” He laughed. She wanted to spit at him, watch him grovel for his life, watch his conquest turn to fear. She wanted, she realised, to kill him. It had only taken a few minutes- she had never seen him before- but she hated him like her husband. Except this man she could kill right there and no one would know.

    “Is that a no?” She teased.

    “Does it matter?” He retorted. Akara wondered, with spite, whether he had ever been or felt in such a position of power before.

    “No, tono.” She cast her eyes down in submission, playing the game and part perfectly.

    “Tono? How the whore grovels.” Her only concern was how loud he was being but she knew he can’t have been stupid enough to blow a chance like he had simply because of a disregard for volume.

    “What would you like me to call you?” He paused for a moment. She took a step forward and he went for his sword. Way out of his depth, Akara thought. “Hitochiki-sama? My lover? Would you like me to cry out Motochika-chan as you take me?” He recoiled.

    “Why would I want that?” He demanded in disgust.

    “Because you and my husband share so many qualities.” She smiled. Easy. He didn’t really though, this man’s rough beard was too shabby even for her darling husband. And this man was simply unattractive, his looks a mixture of cruel and brutish. He ended up shaking his head at the proposal.

    “No. Cry out my name so the whole palace knows.” She visibly tugged at her kimono and made sure he saw what he would think as an eagerness to undress. “Before though, you will tell me his name.”


    “Whoever you visited tonight.”

    “You mistake me, I simply enjoy to wander.”

    “The whore won’t speak his name.” She took pleasure at his desire to know.

    “No the whore won’t.”

    “Tell me.” He launched forward and grabbed her by the jaw. “Tell me!”

    “One night with me,” she said through a held jaw, “and you will forget all men and women.” She placed her left hand on his chest, feeling for his heart. “I promise.” With her right hand she began to open her kimono. She could see his hands rearing for her to open it. As she had practised many times before, she slid her hand through the small opening of the kimono, grabbed the knife that lay hidden there and stabbed at where she’d found his heart. Her left hand went to his sword to stop him from drawing it. She stabbed again and again, each stab more brutish, more vengeful, more primal than the last. “The whore won’t tell.” She spat as she lowered him to the ground, blood dripping from the knife in her hand.

    “You probably shouldn’t have done that.” Said a shadow, stepping out from the darkness behind her.

  3. #303
    Caillagh de Bodemloze's Avatar to rede I me delyte
    Content Director Citizen

    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    the British Isles

    Default Re: Way of the Bow:A Chosokabe AAR-(Updated Chapter XXXXII 30/9)

    Merchant, that's a brilliant chapter.

    The emotion, the drama, the elegantly-executed cliffhanger...

    You're good at this, my friend.
    Under the patronage of Shankbot de Bodemloze

  4. #304
    waveman's Avatar Decanus
    Join Date
    Jun 2014

    Default Re: Way of the Bow:A Chosokabe AAR-(Updated Chapter XXXXII 30/9)

    Another cliffhanger, the tension is so palpable! Now I just need to find out what happens next

    My AARs/writing: Link
    Letters for writing: ţ, đ ć Ć

  5. #305

    Default Re: Way of the Bow:A Chosokabe AAR-(Updated Chapter XXXXII 30/9)

    Quote Originally Posted by Caillagh View Post
    Merchant, that's a brilliant chapter.

    The emotion, the drama, the elegantly-executed cliffhanger...

    You're good at this, my friend.
    Quote Originally Posted by waveman View Post
    Another cliffhanger, the tension is so palpable! Now I just need to find out what happens next
    Proceeds to not write another Akara chapter for months......

  6. #306
    Lugotorix's Avatar non flectis non mutant
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    Mar 2005

    Default Re: Way of the Bow:A Chosokabe AAR-(Updated Chapter XXXXII 30/9)

    Beautifully written chapter

  7. #307
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
    Content Director Patrician Citizen

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    Feb 2014
    United Kingdom

    Default Re: Way of the Bow:A Chosokabe AAR-(Updated Chapter XXXXII 30/9)

    As Lugotorix said, this is beautiful writing! It seems that, while Emura Akara is a power-hungry schemer, she also genuinely cares for and longs for her lover - and wishes that she could be free and safe with him. The dramatic climax and cliffhanger are brilliant.

  8. #308

    Default Re: Way of the Bow:A Chosokabe AAR-(Updated Chapter XXXXII 30/9)

    Quote Originally Posted by Lugotorix View Post
    Beautifully written chapter
    Quote Originally Posted by Alwyn View Post
    As Lugotorix said, this is beautiful writing! It seems that, while Emura Akara is a power-hungry schemer, she also genuinely cares for and longs for her lover - and wishes that she could be free and safe with him. The dramatic climax and cliffhanger are brilliant.
    Thank you to both of you for your kind words. The next chapter ended up really long so I apologise if you're reading it and like when will this end.

  9. #309

    Default Re: Way of the Bow:A Chosokabe AAR-(Updated Chapter XXXXII 30/9)

    Chapter XXXXIV- An Eagle In Her Dreams and A Lion for a Host

    1559- Mid-summer


    Suzume could have cried when she first stepped within the walls of Kitsuki. She feared her knees would betray her and she’d crumble down just to make sure it was all real. She feared that this joy would be stripped from her as soon as she knew it, that Motochika’s agents would have caught up to her at the last moment. She feared this wasn’t the end.

    She held Jirou’s hand tightly as she fought off these inner demons. They were nobodies here, to anyone they were but travellers from the country, so she forgot about maintaining an appearance. They exchanged smiles that were poor messengers for the joy that both of them felt.

    Kitsuki smelled wonderful, salt that was brought on the sea breeze permeating everything, embraced by the inhabitants who themselves were celebrated seamen and sailors all the way up to their lord, Tsurunai Munetsune, kokujin of Kitsuga. The Tsurunai mon flapped around everywhere in that same sea breeze.

    “Perhaps there is a lord I can admire.” Jirou said. “A man not afraid to have fun. Oh the tales told of him.”

    “Half untrue and half embellished by drunks I would think.” Suzume replied.

    “But aren’t they the best stories?” Jirou asked without irony or fake sincerity.

    Before they were carried away by their joyful curiosity in the town, they led Shun and Jirou’s stallion (whom Suzume had successfully petitioned Jirou to call Ken) to the stables to be accommodated by the dead samurai’s coin. Suzume hesitated at first in leaving behind the old mare but she was sure Shun would understand.

    Not too long after, the two found a suitable inn, close to the ocean but far enough away from where the catches of the day were brought in that the stench of dead fish under a relentless sun didn't fill up and take residence in their nostrils. Nevertheless, it was this catch of the day they feasted upon for lunch, a hearty fish stew only adding to their good humour. They spent the afternoon chatting and lying around; they had reached their goal at last so why not relax?

    Before sunset they set out for the long, wooden piers that lined the harbour upon which the town and castle thrived. Children weaved their way through grumbling, tired fishermen; young men stood in packs eyeing groups of young ladies; old, cheery men sat telling tales and laughing over dice. Suzume and Jirou themselves sat on the edge of the pier, legs dangling idly off the edge as they tried to spot fish amongst the kelp forest that lay below the waves.

    “Do you ever get sick and tired of it all?” Suzume asked idly.

    “Sick of what? Until recently we have lived very different lives, Suzume-chan.”

    “I suppose we did.”

    “My life is free and wild and I hope, my own.”

    “And mine is ruled by the lord of Otomo.” She added. “I love my husband, I love Yuki-chan so much but I want something simpler.” Jirou burst out laughing.

    “You mean you want to farm and toil away for another person’s wealth?”

    “I guess not but-”

    “I don’t stay in the same place for long for a list of reasons. It’s not entirely great." Suzume looked at him and knew not to push it further. “But I find joy and fun in life.”

    “Primarily through women.”

    “Yes,” he conceded, “but I’m fairly sure they get something out of it as well. Maybe you need some women.” He teased, earning an elbow jab from Suzume. “Look at the young lady at the inn, for instance, you can’t deny her pleasure in our little stay.” Suzume stifled a giggle. “I’m sorry again about that.” Suzume let the laugh out, freed it to soar on the sea breeze. “And for that night.” He said after a bit.

    “Water under the bridge.”

    “Under the pier perhaps?” He beamed with pride at the pun and she looked ready to push him under that same pier, even placing a threatening hand on his back. “Don’t you dare,” he warned, “I think I saw an octopus before!”

    “You can’t swim!” She yelled in excitement at the revelation.

    “Yes I can.” He rebuked like a ten-year old trying to seem tough. “Just not in the ocean.” Suzume was truly astonished, having grown up with the sea as a playmate she took her liking of it for granted. Unsurprisingly, on their way back as the sun’s last rays skimmed the ocean surface, she constantly ambushed him with attempts at pushing him over the edge.

    Dinner was fish again, this time with noodles and a variety of surprisingly fresh vegetables. These was good as well, light and sharp, and they both went to their quarters with full stomachs and fuzzy heads. They had yet again booked only one room for the two of them for they knew the coin from the dead samurai would run out eventually. Moonlight entered their room through the same window that also brought in the crashing of the waves and that Suzume, shown to be a child of the sea, had missed dearly on her journey. On the tongue of both of them as they lay basking in that silvery light was: Where next?

    Jirou was the one to finally ask it, letting the words tumble out of his mouth.

    “To the land of sleep, Jirou-chan.” Suzume joked, fearful of also admitting the same unsureness of the future.

    “You know, Suzume-chan, that I would often drink to that.” Jirou sounded uncomfortable in the role of the serious one. “But don't you think the future warrants a bit of thought?”

    “I think we are safe and happy and comfortable at last.” Suzume said with a cool defensiveness. “And I think being away from a woman’s bed has poisoned your thought, made it more and more reasonable as the hours of absence pass.”

    “Possibly.” Jirou meekly agreed. They lay there in silence for a bit longer, neither able to successfully fall asleep.

    “Can we settle this tomorrow morning?” Suzume’s words began to take on a desperate edge to them.

    “Of course.” He relented and turned his head to her. “Good night. You deserve it.” His smile was betrayed by the moonlight.

    “You do too.”

    That night Suzume slept the best she had in a long time. The sun’s first rays woke her and she ignored them and fell back asleep. Again she woke slowly and again she slipped back into sleep. Then she dreamt of the same eagle that had visited her dreams before but this time she was strolling along the pier and she could see the eagle hovering above the ocean, gusts of wind keeping it from gravity’s reach. She watched in awe as the eagle dove and snatched a fish from the sea with its talons, a true monster of a fish. The eagle dropped it at the end of the pier before itself landing to claim its prize. Suzume looked on as it ignored the fish and eyed her. She felt a surge of strange attraction to the eagle just before it, like the first time, transformed instantly into a man. She strained to see who it was but the moon hid behind a cloud and darkness enveloped him and made him but a distant figure. Then she woke up to Jirou’s voice labelling her lazy and telling her she was about to sleep until night came again.

    Over breakfast, which had threatened to become lunch if Suzume slept for any longer, Suzume kept her promise and they decided on staying for at least a week before looking at options for going north. They both realised, from simple logical reasoning, that it was likely only small fishing boats were out at sea, anything larger dared not risk patrolling Mori warships or Mori traders who acted as if in command of warships. They thus reconciled themselves to a long journey north by horse and foot. A journey many times longer than the one they had just finished and that had sapped their energy. One that had no certain destination. Kitsuki was never going to not be there; the army and Yuki with them could very likely march west to the Mori lands and little news seemed to be filtering south. Without Yuki, they would be alone amongst a country much less safe than the Otomo heartlands. With this on their mind, they gave themselves a week to rest, relax and contemplate their next moves into the unknown.

    The day was again nice. They found Kitsuki to be relieved, courtesy of its position by the sea, of the harshest of the mid-summer heat. The city however, while not threatened or directly ravaged by the war, had been sapped of nearly all its most able bodied and lively men and it appeared ruled by their wives, children and the elderly. Not least in who actually ruled, which, in a spectacular, surprising and possibly offensive move, was the wife of their lord Tsurunai Munetsune. Nearly three years since her arrival, her name was still muttered with equal mixture of contempt, curiosity and a sprinkle of desire for all in the town knew of her beauty- their lord had not failed in parading her around with him as one European contemporary would note her kin would show off a peacock. Yet few, despite their desire to, would openly show her contempt for it was also well known that she was not merely a trifle for the kokujin of Kitsuga but was very deeply loved by him.

    But those that were in Kitsuki were abuzz with news that their lord currently held the castle of Kitsuki for the Chosokabe, as had been declared with jubilation by his wife. Spirits were lifted, pride was strong and a festival was held for three days. Munetsune was well loved in Kitsuki as his father had been, as his brothers also were and as his wife wanted so desperately to be. The festival had drawn to a close but a week before Suzume and Jirou arrived yet was still on the tongues of nearly everyone. Bored wives relished in the gossip that flowed from such a party, lovers who had come together glowed, forgetting the impossibility of their love and children were yet to forget the sounds and smells and atmosphere that the festival had brought to Kitsuki.

    Such a festival was not a rare event however in a town ruled by such a lord as Tsurunai Munetsune who, apart from an infamous penchant for fun, had amassed considerable wealth through his dealings with the gajin as well as local trade and the favour of his liege, Otomo Sorin. He was considered by his subjects, friends and enemies alike to be lucky and almost blessed. This luck was what often saved his wife from further dislike because in some way or another, everything, even this foreign women, turned out well for the kokujin of Kitsuga.

    They explored the city throughout the day, visiting the markets, walking down the streets and along the water and everywhere they went, not obviously but subtly, did they receive looks of questioning, distrust and disapproval. No one liked that they weren’t married or that she was married but she travelled not with her husband or that Jirou, clearly a fighting man, was enjoying the fruits of their husbands’ and sons’ sacrifices. They found solace in the indifference of children to all of this and from the owner of the inn they were staying in, who thought of himself as a pragmatist and who wasn’t bothered by much if there was coin in it. By sunset, Jirou had wandered off somewhere alone and left Suzume to eat by herself. With no one else to talk to she went to bed early.

    And again an eagle flew into her dreams and again a man walked out of them.

    That was before she was awoken however, by the not so quiet Jirou who had returned at some obscene hour of the morning. She cursed him but only had to look at him to understand where he'd been and why he was crawling into his bed at such a late time.

    “Trouble sleeping?" She teased. He just chuckled in reply.

    The next morning they were eating breakfast in the common room when a women, slightly younger than Suzume appeared and whisked Jirou away. Suzume marvelled at her command of him and guessed that had been where he had spent the majority of the night. She also guessed that she was married. She must not care that her husband is sacrificing himself for the war while Jirou enjoys her, she thought over her breakfast, now alone. She raised a cup of tea to the prayer of not having to leave earlier than intended because of Jirou’s dalliances.

    He arrived just before lunch, exchanged very few details concerning his latest woman, ate then left again with vague promises of brining her something she’d enjoy.

    Then, as she sat outside the inn enjoying the sun and the sea, two soldiers appeared.

    “Suzume-sama.” She turned leisurely, not immediately comprehending that someone had just used her name. Used her name in a town that she thought she was unknown in. “Could you please come with us.” The danger of it kicked in as the words filled her ears. She got up immediately and nodded, no words willing to come out of her mouth, and one of them began to lead the way as the other waited for her to start. They bore the Tsurunai mon though. That meant they couldn’t be Motochika's men directly. Suzume now grasped at anything Yuki had ever told her about the Tsurunai clan, trying to figure out whether they had close ties with the Chosokabe and specifically him. The head of the clan is Tsurunai Munetsune, she recalled like a student before a test.

    “Tsurunai Munetsune.” Yuki said in a faded memory. “Sorin says he’s a good man.” She found herself now recalling whether she had thought of Sorin, the old man she’d found in the wilderness before their lives were difficult and not theirs, as a good judge of character. I think he is and if he is and says he’s a good man well he wouldn’t be friendly with Chosokabe Motochika. Good men stay far away from him, she reasoned then cursed herself for her naive take on something so grey as court politics. She then cursed herself for never having paid proper attention to her husband when he talked of such things. She always had had a nagging feeling she should be, even if it was just to avoid hurting his feelings. She didn’t think that she’d seen any wanted poster but maybe only lords were told of the need to capture her, maybe he had just pulled some strings, not bothered to involve the general populace. Yet suddenly, the disapproving looks her and Jirou had been getting morphed into looks from people who wanted her dead, the sort of sinister and sardonic smile and twinkling of the eye that you exhibit when your prey is right where you want them.

    Then her fears turned to Jirou. What has he done now! Who has he slept with? These angry, burning questions demanded answers she could not give so they gnawed at her and raced around her mind, haunting her other thoughts. She told herself not to be so quick to blame Jirou, to not lose faith and trust in him so easily and without cause. So she turned this paranoia, fear and anger back onto herself.

    How have I been so stupid! So complacent, so relaxed. She held back tears with gargantuan effort and even as her cheeks began to wobble under the pressure she remained resolute. She wasn’t going to let this rattle her. This wasn’t the end, she could get herself out of it. He wouldn’t be there, surely. Maybe she could seek aid in Munetsune’s wife, a woman she didn’t know from a land she’d never seen and she hoped in that land they valued generosity and kindness more than they did in Japan. Or maybe she’d rot in a cell until he collected her.

    The walk to the castle was long and mostly uphill but after the journey she had gone through, it was nothing. The tenshu and palace loomed over her. On a different day under different circumstances she could have admired the palace for its beauty and decoration and elegance, the courtyard for how it burst into life under the summer sun and how it could have once lifted her spirits.

    She was too caught up to realise at first that instead of down to the dungeons and cells they were going up the tenshu and only after her legs began to pain at the effort of climbing stairs did she hesitantly begin to calm down, though only slightly. What’s happening, she thought with the anxious delight of being led away from the dungeon but still being entirely scared of what lay ahead.

    The guard in front of her stopped, conferred with another then slid a fusuma open. She walked slowly into the room, which appeared to be empty, then she heard the fusuma close. The room was well lit, the same sunlight she'd enjoyed down by the sea rushed into the room. It seemed a meeting room, one intended to negotiate with guests and to hold talks you didn’t want public. To Suzume, it was but a nice and decorated cell.

    Standing still and finally alone, her racing mind slowed and she managed to regain control of herself. Tears no longer threatened to escape and she breathed with regularity and composure. She had ruled out entirely him being there, she knew even to him, war was more important. Beyond that, she was still clueless. She tried to avoid despairing at how it had all come to this, knowing she would need to be composed for however long she was to be questioned or held. Then the fusuma slid open.

    “Suzume-sama,” began the most beautiful voice in the most strange, exotic and alluring Japanese she’d ever heard, “I do hope you have been treated well. It is so nice to see you at last.”

    As Suzume turned around, fearing the worst, she was met with the stunning, real figure of the wife of the kokujin of Kitsuga.

    “Hime.” Suzume bowed low in awe of Tsurunai Johanna, the lady from across the seas. Had Suzume ever seen a lion not carved from stone she would have surely seen a remarkable similarity between their mane and Johanna’s golden hair, curly and bouncing on her shoulders. The many months aboard her father’s ship or the time spent in Japan had not darkened her pale skin and Suzume swore that it almost shone. She looked resplendent in the kimono she wore, a large golden one yet there was something strange about the pairing of east and west.

    “Johanna-san is satisfactory.” She smiled as she walked towards Suzume. “I apologise if the manner in which you were brought here has caused your alarm or harm.” She had an immaculate grasp of Japanese yet still retained that foreign glamour that didn't fail to intrigue or attract.

    “Not at all, Johanna-san.” She answered, forgetting the actual alarm that had filled every part of her body on the way there. The two women stood opposite each other and there was a tension in the room, not of rivalry or enmity but unsureness at was next. At last, Johanna turned around and knelt down on the tatami mats and Suzume followed just as a servant brought them both tea.

    “I think it great we are able to meet at last.” Johanna said. “I thought it most rude of me to know you were in my city and not invite you, with our husbands such good friends.” How is Yuki friends with the lord of Kistuga, Suzume wondered as Johanna continued. “I fear my husband would most disapprove if he knew I had not extended you my hospitality.” Her smile was warm and Suzume couldn’t help but forget the paranoia of the past, couldn’t help but just believe her, instead of scrutinising her every word and look like one at court should. “And friendship.”

    “I am sorry Johanna-san, I have not received letters from my husband for many weeks now and,” she spoke with a frankness that she later felt completely embarrassed about, “I did not know our husbands were friends.”

    “They are my dear.” Johanna grabbed Suzume’s hands and clutched them in a manner she had developed and grown use to in Holland and had failed to shrug off. “I believe they are both in command of the garrison at Kozuke and hold it together. My husband writes much of Yuki-sama’s ability and intelligence.” Suzume blushed on behalf of her husband. “I am surprised though by your sudden appearance, Suzume-san.” Suzume panicked internally, fumbling at an excuse to use. “I thought you had stayed at court in Bungo.”

    “Welll…. Bungo was boring me so I thought it good to escape it for a bit.” Johanna looked at her quizzically for a moment.

    “So you chose to come to Kitsuki incognito. A strange choice but I absolutely love the audaciousness of it.”

    “Thank you.” Johanna rose and extended an arm.

    “Would you like to accompany me on a walk my dear?”

    “Of course.” Suzume rose and found herself linking arms with the most intimidating and interesting person she’d ever known and who, in fact, she’d only known for a matter of minutes.

    The guards parted for them at the exit of the room and the two women walked at a leisurely pace through the tenshu. Johanna recounted stories of the Tsurunai clan as if she’d grown up in awe of them and couldn’t believe that she was married to the head of such a clan. She told them with an interest and pride that surprised Suzume and eventually led her to understand that she had to remove any and all previous assumptions about this woman for she never failed to surprise or astonish. They made their way down the tenshu into the gardens that were in full bloom. The vibrance of the plants was, in fact, the result of the storms that had trapped Jirou and Suzume four days before and when Suzume made this connection she had to try her best to stifle a laugh. Eventually, the conversation turned toward Johanna’s homeland.

    “I think the gardeners and even kings of Europe could learn a thing or two from this land.” She remarked. “They may be grand in Europe but the gardens lack the detail, the dedication, the art that is seen here. Munetsune-sama had promised me that he will hire a man he knows is an expert in gardening to improve our humble wilderness.”

    “Would you care to tell me some more about your home, Johanna-san?” Suzume asked as a mixture of real fascination with this land beyond the seas and a desire to win Johanna’s favour.

    “I guess,” the European sighed in feigned torture but then had to flash Suzume a smile to convince her it really wasn’t a chore. “I jest, I would love to. Where do I start? Well everyone looks like me, I guess. Well not really, most aren’t as pretty.” She winked. “We speak a very different language. I guess everything is just, just different.” She paused not wanting to disappoint the other woman but not knowing how to continue; she was not one born to be an encyclopaedia. “I just wish I could show you, it would be so much easier. But don’t stress, I’ll tell you so many stories of it most surely throughout your stay. Yes, I think that is the best way.” They paused under a maple tree who’s leaves rustled gently in a gust from the sea. “I do hope we can be friends, Suzume-san.” Suzume, alien to the manners and subterfuges of court, couldn’t tell if she was sincere or not but she grabbed at the chance anyway hoping the wife of the kokujin of Kitsuga could offer protection even Jirou couldn’t.

    “I hope so too." Suzume replied and smiled.

    “Great! I have somewhere we should go.” Suzume didn’t bother asking, she just followed. It wasn't a short walk from the gardens to wherever Johanna had in mind but eventually they reached a wooden building and Suzume had an inkling of what it was. “It was built, I believe, by my husband’s grand-father and my husband and I absolutely love it. It’s a bathhouse just like the Romans had!” Suzume would have loved to inquire who these ‘Romans’ were and why they were famous for their bath houses but she decided that it wasn’t the time. “You have been to one before, Suzume-san?”

    “Once but it wasn’t a Roman one." Johanna burst out laughing, unable to contain herself while Suzume stood quietly proud of her little joke yet not sure exactly why it was funny. A messenger appeared and held Johanna back while Suzume went in, undressed, cleaned herself with a bucket and sponge then slowly tip-toed in. She was standing against the wall of the large pool, the warm, soothing water around her neck when Johanna reappeared and Suzume quickly comprehended the grip she had over her husband and the allure she had for so many men. Her breasts were round and large and she had all the right curves in all the right places. She was thin but her hips gave hope for bearing children and the same golden hair, to Suzume’s surprise, continued between her legs. She seemed to have been perfectly sculpted by an artist with a divine hand and eye. Yet still it was her exotic quality that gave her the edge over the other beauties at court. Her skin white as snow, her eyes wide and deep and blue as the sea, her hair, bright and blonde like rays of sunlight, as it tumbled down over her breasts. Freed from the kimono she’d been wearing, she shone. Suzume prayed that her husband, when he inevitably met her, didn’t fall for her. She handled herself with poise as she walked into the bath yet didn’t fail to show an innocent enjoyment or relief that the water brought her.

    “So good for washing away your worries.” She remarked.

    “Yeah.” Suzume agreed because her nervousness told her to.

    “Would you care if I told you the story of how my husband and I met?” Johanna asked, sinking further into the water. Suzume nodded. “It was just over three years ago. Our ship arrived at Bungo just after it was liberated from the Ouchi and so at that time many lords from the Chosokabe and Otomo were in the city. My father met first Otomo Sorin-tono then Chosokabe Kunichika-tono. He was giddy, sure this would open up many opportunities for him. I was sixteen and had become a woman grown on the ship. My father met with both and some more lords a second time and brought me along. An exhibit of European beauty I was.” She declared with pride and a hint of sarcastic bitterness. “None of them, even those with the most stunning wives, had seen a woman like me and now my father was even more confident of trade that would make him rich. And that night a young Japanese man came to the inn we were staying in and somehow got to my quarters and knocked. I opened the door to him and we stared at each other in complete silence until he leant in and whispered “Come with me,” in broken Dutch, my language, and I was so nervously excited. I’d never been with a man before. I’d kissed some boys back home but never had I run off in the middle of the night with a strange man. He lifted me up onto his horse and we rode out of Bingo to a small cove, absolutely no one in sight or sound. We talked only a little- he knew just a bit of Dutch from a trader he’d met and I knew nothing but greetings in your language. We laughed mainly. That universal language of laughter and happiness and excitement. To tell you the truth though I was almost falling asleep on the horse by the time we reached the cove- he’d interrupted me when I was sleeping! He'd brought some sake with him but I refused it and constantly this fear was rushing through my mind.” Suzume hid her astonishment at the intimacy which Johanna was showing her, had to hide the difficulty in reconciling this tale of a fearful girl with this woman with such an intimidating beauty and iron will. “This man wasn’t forceful or impatient as I tried to talk to him in a way he could understand. He barely even drank the sake! At last I felt his hand softly caress my own and I looked at him and smiled and saw a man who, though having the same desire as I knew all men and women did, was enthralled by my uniqueness, amazed by where I had come. I’m sure he would have asked my father to go with him if the younger me wasn’t more friendly to the idea of running away under the cover of darkness.” Suzume laughed and Johanna appreciated it. “But then I kissed him and by heaven, something awoke inside of me and I was consumed by this passion so quickly. His lips on mine, his hands exploring my body, a mattress of leaves under and a blanket of stars above us. I don’t have to spell it out for you, Suzume-san, but that night I think was transformative. And only at sunrise did he tell me, in slightly better Dutch than when we’d started, that he was a lord and would marry me. A few months later and after we’d learnt enough of both languages, I was lady of this castle.” Suzume didn’t fail to notice the pride and enjoyment Johanna took from retelling the story but she didn’t resent her for it at all- she too would love recounting how her and Yuki met. She almost had the desire to relive it all in her mind at that moment. "You must tell me later how you and Yuki-san met, I’ve heard its not an ordinary tale either. I remember though there is a man asking for you at the gates to the tenshu.”

    “Oh Jirou.” She muttered and Johanna chose not to follow it up. Suzume waded through the water and a servant rushed to her with a towel. “I really should see to him.” Suzume explained. “He’s my bodyguard.” She added hoping it would pass as an excuse.

    "Of course and I’ll have someone show you to your room.” Suzume bowed as she hurriedly dried herself and Johanna, neck deep in water, simply nodded. She dressed quickly and found herself running out of the bath house and then racing through the gardens. She finally saw Jirou at the doors to the tenshu, standing agitatedly and occasionally hurling an insult or threat at the stoic guards.

    “Jirou!” She yelled, running to him. She stopped however and made sure, through a warning look, that he wouldn’t embrace her or anything. She then cursed herself for not addressing him more formally.

    “Suzume-san.” He said with more poise and restraint than she had managed, even if the effort put into constraining himself showed on his face.

    “This way.” She ordered him in a whisper then led him to somewhere in the gardens more hidden.

    “What happened!” He demanded once they agreed they were far enough from prying ears and eyes.

    “All is well, Jirou-san.” She answered in a calm voice that had resulted from the realisation that everything may have just sorted itself out. “Tsurunai Johanna-sama-”

    “The gajin baita.” Suzume could see he was worked up, frustrated and deep down worried for her so she let the insult slide.

    “Someone who I feel can call friend, has offered me her hospitality.” Jirou gave no indication of being sated. “The guards were for protection only.” She found herself reasoning something that had so filled her with fear earlier.

    “Chikusho. They were there in case I was there and didn’t let them take you.”

    “Maybe it’s good you weren’t there.” She rebuked in a raised, tired voice that just wanted Jirou to accept so as not to give credibility to any suspicions that she might indeed have.

    “I was just worried for you.” He said at last.

    “I know and thank you.” She grabbed his hands. “But now, I think, we’re safe.” He offered a meek smile.

    “You know where to find me.” He said before attempting to leave.

    “Jirou-chan, it would make me feel a lot better if you stayed here. I’m sure you would be able to-”

    “I don’t think it’s-”

    “Please.” She could be undeniably cute and unable to deny anything to at times. When she wanted to. “Who knows you might be able to see, like me, that gajin baita naked.”

  10. #310
    waveman's Avatar Decanus
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    Default Re: Way of the Bow:A Chosokabe AAR-(Updated Chapter XXXXII 30/9)

    Quote Originally Posted by Merchant of Venice View Post
    Proceeds to not write another Akara chapter for months......

    Ah, you're too good to us! You've got some interesting dynamics going on between your characters, and their husbands and wives

    My AARs/writing: Link
    Letters for writing: ţ, đ ć Ć

  11. #311
    Caillagh de Bodemloze's Avatar to rede I me delyte
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    Default Re: Way of the Bow:A Chosokabe AAR-(Updated Chapter XXXXII 30/9)

    It doesn't matter if it's long, provided it keeps the reader's interest - and it does.

    (Sorry it's taken me a while to get here - I've been having Computer Trouble this week.)

    As waveman says, you've given us another great chapter. I'm amused by the idea that Jirou becomes poisoned by reasonableness if he is without a woman for too long. And I'm intrigued by the situation with Tsurunai Johanna. (Especially now Jirou's involved, too!)
    Under the patronage of Shankbot de Bodemloze

  12. #312
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: Way of the Bow:A Chosokabe AAR-(Updated Chapter XXXXII 30/9)

    As you wrote, Merchant, this is a long chapter - nevertheless, your excellent writing held my interest throughout. Like waveman and Caillagh, I am intrigued by the dynamics between Suzume, Jirou and Johanna (and I enjoyed finding out about some of Johanna's back-story). I like the hints about what is happening in the wider world - and I'm interested in the way that, in your AAR, the campaign has become a backdrop to the adventures and relationships between the characters, at least for now. As I see it, the warfare going on in the distance helps to create an atmosphere of uncertainty and tension: no-one knows how the fortunes of war will develop (or how the warfare and its consequences might sweep characters along, in unexpected directions).

  13. #313
    Tigellinus's Avatar Citizen
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    Default Re: Way of the Bow:A Chosokabe AAR-(Updated Chapter XXXXII 30/9)

    Merchant, is there ever a chance of you returning to this beautiful tale, my friend?

    Proudly under the patronage of McScottish

  14. #314

    Default Re: Way of the Bow:A Chosokabe AAR-(Updated Chapter XXXXII 30/9)

    Yo Merchant!

    It's been a heck of a long time, I know, and this is way overdue, but I finally have the time to sit down and read your AAR! I can't do it in one sitting unfortunately, the length and my attention span are at odds with one another, but I promise you I'll get it done After all, how could I not, especially after you reviewed the astray apprentice?

    So here's the chapter by chapter breakdown:

    Prologue to Chapter 7
    Prologue: Pretty interesting to see the general dynamics of the time. The bow is a coward's weapon, only true men fight with swords. Good to hear that our protagonist showed him who's boss in the end

    Chapter 1: Ahh, thank you photobucket for ruining Merchant's well edited screenies. Vivid descriptions of the castle and the town, and the letters were a nice touch.

    Chapter 2: And so it begins. Our protagonist starts to understand the true pains of war. The samurai bullying the ashigaru was nicely put, and the burning of the houses really shows their disdain for peasants. Interesting to see that despite being severely outmatched the farmers fought on. Good chapter!

    Chapter 3: So our protagonist is becoming an alcoholic, eh? XD Great bonding between Yuki and his friends, as well as an introduction to the Shoni. Joining the navy and hoping that the fight at sea would be easier is a troubling thought...

    Chapter 4: I'm loving the dialogue between the characters, especially Yuki and Aki, it has a very innocent and humble feel to it, exactly like how I'm imagining them speaking in my mind. Great screenshots too, I love those in an AAR and you definitely have done well with those! And so Yuki manages to kill a Samurai, impressive but the duel was a bit short. Nevertheless it is good to see him join the ranks of the samurai, hopefully he does not share their undesirable traits and remains the good boy that he is, unlikely as that is

    Chapter 5: Our protagonist has a love interest now? Hmm...where is Yuki now, and why is he injured? Questions, questions...

    Chapter 6: And so the daughter's father intervenes. Although not a good thing for Yuki, I believe the father did what he thought was right. Not just any man should be able to proclaim that he is a samurai, although this now makes me wonder how they identified themselves as one. Did they carry a clan token, or some sort of engraving? I think the most practical would be the armour they wear, perhaps forged only for a certain class of people. In any case, it was pretty funny seeing the lone samurai become a monk and find Yuki again. I wonder what he will do...

    Chapter 7: I'll be honest, I expected blood to be shed. I was denied!! But I'm even more surprised Yuki could sleep in the same place his former foe was now living in. He likes to live dangerously...and even more amazing is the fact that his former foe now trains him in archery. Hmph! Good to see Yuki getting a break from the horrors of war and enjoying some relative peace, but I wonder how his friends are doing without him and what has happened to the Chosokabe all this time.

    It is at this point I realise I have commented in 2013!!! Jeez I must have left this story halfway, my bad. But now I am going to do the same, at least for today. It was a great experience reading your AAR again, thanks for putting all the work into it! I also realise that many people have given you suggestions on how to improve formatting, picture editing and etc, and I'm sure you must have taken them to ehart because the formatting and pictures look great! Will come back and edit this post again once I have read more.

    Back again! (28/12/18)

    Chapter 8 to Chapter 14
    Chapter 8: Dude this could be a movie on its own - the nameless samurai defending the village from Wako raiders that had been plaguing it. Also the wako chief must be paranoid, sending 50 men to secure one hostage Didn't save him from a difficult and ultimately fatal duel with Yuki though! Great chapter!

    Chapter 9: Wedding! That escalated quickly. Though I suppose if you killed 50 men almost on your any father would swoon over you for saving his daughter. (At least in medieval times, I don't think killing 50 men now is as looked up to ) Very lovely descriptions of Suzume! I especially liked the "Suzume danced in the long, lushes grass, the sun her dance partner. She lapped up every golden ray. She seemed to run entirely on the sun’s warmth, like it was her only source of energy." Wonderfully written. Also WAR!!! Between the Shoni and Ouchi. They seem to do that all the time in my campaigns too. Can't wait to see how that will turn out.

    Chapter 10: Oh no, the horrors of war. Yuki's brother gone, Yuki's parents gone, and the Sagara taking the castle before the Ouchi could get there. Oh well. That's one thing I hate about the AI. A return to the amazing screenshots, I love how you edited them to look Japanese with the border but also very detailed and focused.

    Chapter 11: Politics, eh? Yuki's playing a dangerous game here, especially now that he seems to have made an enemy with Motochika. Hope the daimyo can control his son, otherwise things might turn out badly for him. The campaign map makes it look like you're taking a walk in the park Keep it up!

    Chapter 12: Damn Mori! I bet they forced your hand by attacking you. Allies were always unreasonable in Shogun 2, but I guess that makes for a good story. Also I hope Sorin's little endeavor succeeds.

    Chapter 13: Well, things escalated quickly. Why did Yuki stop the assassination! Damn! And the assassin being an unreliable piece of poop. Oh well. Interesting that you wrote it from Motochika's point of view, that caught me off guard.

    Chapter 14: The entire Chosokabe army did not see the Mori coming. I think the scouts were about as competent as the town guards in the previous chapter. Hah! Makes for a rather dramatic ending though. Great work!

    Will be back again soon!

    I'm back! (2/1/19) Oh and happy new year

    Chapter 15 to Chapter 20
    Chapter 15: That was one hell of a battle write up. Honestly, one of the best I've ever seen. As I was reading it I was trying to see if I could find anything to nitpick, but the way your writing flows is excellent. Normally when people write about battles, they write about an individual getting caught up in the heat of the battle, and lose the bigger picture. Not this time. This chapter had everything, fear, confusion, tactics (very important!) and an overarching recount of the battlefield. Really well done! The screenshots fit the battle very well, too. So I have to congratulate Yuki on becoming an Ashigaru commander. Thanks for the links in the footnote, they were very helpful.

    Chapter 16: Interesting point about survivor's guilt: Are they lucky or unlucky? Glad to see that explored somewhat in this chapter. Also it seems that Sorin has his flaws after all. Is he going to be another Motochika? Also Sorin didn't seem to take too kindly to Yuki, hope nothing happens between them.

    Chapter 17: Well from Kunichika's POV! I loved the little detail about how burning your tongue has a much bigger impact. It's the little details like this that help accentuate the feeling that there's more to an AAR than just story progression, and you do it very well. And then from Motochika! Nice, nice...though I hate the bugger. And now even more as he tries to scheme against Yuki. The nerve!

    Chapter 18: Lovely dynamics between Sorin and Chikakata. Will eagerly await to see how this plays out.

    Chapter 19: Oh, more politics! Yuki moving up in the ranks! What's not to love Sorin does seem to have lost a little of his leadership, Chikakata was way out of line, yet he did nothing significant.

    Chapter 20: This was a very long chapter. I love it! Motochika once again showing his craziness, but I can empathize with him...every time I want to board a fleeing enemy vessel in Shogun 2 they always surrender the moment my crew throw the lines over! Irascible! And then I don't get the ship to be added to my fleet Still, Motochika will DIE for his crimes. Also, interesting Akara scene. Kind of reminds me of Tywin cutting the stag in Game of Thrones, but you put it across nicely. Kind of weird relationship they have, going at it in the forest, but that's Motochika to me: Crazy and weird. Great stuff!

    Hello hello! (3/1/19)

    Chapter 21 to Chapter 44
    Chapter 21: Well that was unexpected. Never thought I'd see the friendship between Yuki and Aki fray. Quite noble of Yuki to try and keep Aki out of the politics.

    Map: That map was pretty good! Nice editing and all. Great job And I don't know what the rest are talking about, AAR getting too sexual? Lmao...its perfectly fine, you're not writing anything graphic so it's alright. Not even close.

    Chapter 22: Chikakata just keeps getting more and more ambitious, doesn't he? And by that I mean more annoying Intrigued to see how this affects the bigger picture. Five hundred against two hundred is risky, especially since they are the attackers. I could defend confidently with 200 against 500 in Medieval 2.

    Chapter 23: LOL C'mon Yuki! Stand up to Chikakata! Loved the dialogue between them, but a little disappointed Yuki didn't stand up for himself a little more. Villains can't get the last say! They can't! Also this smells of treachery on the highest levels...we need to know how he got that castle!

    Chapter 24: Alright, that's it. Motochika MUST DIE! AND HE MUST DIE NOW!!! The men demand it, the heavens demand it! I DEMAND IT!

    Chapter 25: Well that was a refreshing change of perspective. Can't say I like Akara, devious scummy woman she is, but I can see where she's coming from. Delusions of grandeur, I believe...

    Chapter 26: Oh dear...Suzume's gone! Nooo, that makes me sad. But perhaps Yuki will be even more sad when he realises that for himself. Interesting dialogue with the guards.

    Chapter 27: Yuki rising up even more. At this point I feel I should say I really love how you wove your scenes together, I love the dialogue and I love the way the people interact with each other. You are an amazing writer, Merchant!

    Chapter 28: Motochika being a bastard again. I feel that he should have been more angry when he discovered that Suzume wasn't there anymore, but I'll settle for his irritation.

    Chapter 29: Yes! She isn't gone after all. Great chapter, very atmospheric and descriptive, just the way I like it.

    Chapter 30: Wow...Akara is truly a snake. Her and Motochika are a perfect fit for one another. May their union last hell...

    Chapter 31: Another great chapter! Goes to show that you can write an amazing AAR and not have everything about war. I must ask, have you ever thought of publishing your writings?

    Chapter 32: A great intro to a chapter, didn't expect it to be a practice duel. Damn...Motochika won. You've really created a detestable character, my nostrils flare up every time I see his name. Don't know why a man who craves fighting and marching at the vanguard so much hasn't died yet. Soon...I must keep the faith.

    Chapter 33: Good to see Yuki dishing out some orders! You are correct, discipline is vital in an army and the lack of training can prove fatal when you meet your match. I'm all behind Yuki here!

    Chapter 34: Another peaceful chapter, another chapter about Suzume. Man, she's really going to get more screentime than Yuki at this rate Not that I'm complaining. A little sad that she broke the trust of her new friend, but oh well, secrecy and lies have their own price.

    Chapter 35: The conniving snake! Die Akara, die! There will be consequences for everyone associated with her when this treachery gets out, mark my words!

    Chapter 36: Aha, finally someone with the spine to stand up to Motochika. The 'On top of the cavalry' was a nice touch. Somehow Motochika just keeps on winning battles despite his reckless stratagems.

    Chapter 37: I didn't even realise this was a flashback until midway through the chapter. Solid writing!

    Chapter 38: A chapter full of speaking and talking, with much to show for. Once again you demonstrate your impeccable ability to conjure up seamless interactions between characters and make it feel like something out of a movie set. Amazing! Don't worry about having too much dialogue, if it's good, it's good, and this is good!

    Chapter 39: Wow, that was a change...Akara isn't a total snake after all. Sure, I still hate her, but a tad less than before. Damn you, Merchant! Don't make me start to like her! By the way, your chapter names are great too. Capture the essence of the chapters very nicely.

    Chapter 40: No...Suzume...what are you doing? I am beget with sadness

    Chapter 41: I am enjoying the flashbacks! Although I must say it might be overdoing it a little here, just for this portion of the story. Maybe 3 present chapters to 1 flashback chapter would be good, but it's your story after all! I just feel that it kind of breaks the narrative of the story, especially when it comes out of nowhere.

    Chapter 42: Damn...Suzume is getting closer to Jirou...I am resigned to the fate of your wonderful story telling

    Chapter 43: I am now convinced that you need to somehow sign with a producer and make this a TV show. It's too good! The tension, the excitement, the intrigue! And oh, the dialogue! That is the icing on the very large cake.

    Chapter 44: Where is the war? Where are the battles I came here to quench my bloodlust for? Where is the scene where Motochika dies, impaled upon an arrow by Yuki! Am only kidding, as much as I would like to see those, your story is enchantingly compelling enough to hold my interest throughout. I've spent close to 2 hours on this and I'm still reading! That's legendary! Though I have to stop soon.

    Chapter 45: Are you kidding me? There is no chapter 45! What blasphemy is this?

    Dude, I didn't ever think I would be able to read 20 chapters at once, but there you have done it, you have captured my imagination and held my attention for two full hours. That is some amazing writing you have here, and it is no wonder it won AARoty. I want to say what I like about this AAR, but there are just so many. Everything seems great and wonderfully fleshed out, so I think I will save my highest praise for the dialogue. It is eloquent, well written, and most of all, it is plausible. You can imagine characters saying this in a scene and it wouldn't be out of place at all. And that's another thing I want to tell you: Every time I read your chapters, I am transported into this virtual reality where I imagine this wonderful world you have created. Your descriptions are vivid and impactful, and I loved every moment of it.

    This is truly a masterpiece, Merchant, and if you ever decide to come back to it, I'll be here to read it. Bravo, man. Bravo.

    I only regret reading it now and not accompanying you on this incredible journey.

    Edit: Wow that was long and requires some formatting.
    Last edited by Swaeft; January 02, 2019 at 10:09 PM.

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