The Cursed Throne: From the Pillow Book of Mirumoto Kasumi – a Fated Meeting?

13 Serpent 1189

Well. Thanks to Father I was unable to travel with Ryouko and Hikari. I was annoyed at the time, but now I wonder if the spirits didn’t have a hand in that.

This afternoon I reached a checkpoint on the east-west road to Tsuma at the exact same moment as four of my fellow contestants, all of us coming from wildly different directions. Iuchi-san believes the spirits brought us together, and the events of the day do tend to reinforce that view.

Introductions went nearly as smoothly as one could hope. Even the Kakita seems like a decent enough sort for a courtier. After we had passed through the checkpoint he attempted to engage me in conversation about the weather. My remarks on the weather were as follows:

Mountains appear light
Fate hangs in air over plains
Journey to Tsuma

This elicited a chuckle from Hiruma-san. I can only assume he found some irony in the lightness of mountains. Kakita-san reply was passable, and he seems not at all like what I have heard of the Kakita. I do not expect to have to duel him, save perhaps in the Iajutsu tournament.

We elected to walk together the rest of the way to Tsuma to relieve the boredom of a long walk. There was some nastiness with a group of ronin*, but in the end no lasting harm was done, and as we waited to enter Tsuma we realized that we were all assigned to the same inn. Truly, Iuchi-san spoke with insight. We must have come together for some purpose of the kami. Father sometimes has insights of this sort as well; I wonder if this was something he anticipated?

Ryouko and Hikari were kind enough to reserve me a room between theirs at the Laughing Carp, and while Minori couldn’t make it I became acquainted with her fiancé over dinner that evening. I will have to remember to chide her for not telling me she was engaged, but Shiba Yuuji-san seems like he will be an excellent match and I wish them well.

After dinner, I managed to lose at Shogi to Ryouko, and win against Hikari. Truly, a topsy-turvy day. It has been a long day, though, and the grand melée begins the day tomorrow. I must be well-rested so I may acquit myself with honor.

(new page)
*Emerald Magistrate Kitsuki-sama has sworn us to secrecy on this matter, and so while I record the events on this page for my own memory, anyone discovered to have broken this seal and read the contents of this page before the appointed time shall feel the full wrath of the Mirumoto Niten.

The road to Tsuma wound near a riverbank at one point, and a commotion by the river caught our attention. A large group of ronin in red lacquer armor attacked an unmarked palanquin, and the palanquin guards were losing.

I dashed toward the melee, but within moments the last guards standing had fallen. Horror clenched my stomach as one of the two remaining ronin sliced through the palanquin, and even as far away as I was I could see the blood. Hiruma-san shot well, and Iuchi-san’s boulder nearly knocked one of the attackers senseless, but ultimately at least one of them got away.

One of the guards still lived! The palanquin had been traveling for Tsuma, as well, he said, and asked one of us to go get Magistrate Kitsuki-sama. I volunteered, and thanks to the help of Mirumoto-sama I was able to catch the horse without trouble and race to the city.

Oh, impatience, my old enemy. The situation was urgent, true, but it was all I could do not to dance from foot to foot as I convinced the Tsuma guard of my identity and the importance of my mission. Magistrate Kitsuki-sama, thankfully, needed no convincing once she heard the gist of my tale. Mere minutes later I was leading her and twenty other warriors back to the site of the attack, once more at a full run.

When we returned, I discovered that Hiruma-san and Iuchi-san had managed to keep the man in the palanquin alive, and Kakita-san had discovered some letters bearing a strange wolfs-head mon no one seemed to recognize. It was then that Magistrate Kitsuki-sama swore us to secrecy and sent us on our way.

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The Cursed Throne: Or, my gaming group tries something new

So, a couple months ago our regular Pathfinder group suffered two TPKs (total party kills, for the uninitiated) over the course of roughly a month. Both of these were for the same essential cause: bad dice rolling. This was around the time DH discovered Larry Correia‘s wonderful posts of the Legend of the Five Rings gaming group he’s part of. At the time DH was trying to convince me to run an occasional L5R campaign, but after TPK #2 we took a vote on what to do next and I happily urged L5R. (I had two main reasons for this. One, to give our d20s a break, since they had obviously decided to go on strike. And two, because I hate GMing.)

We began with five players, although one of them quickly determined he didn’t care for the system and dropped out for the duration of the game, and just this week we’ve added two more, who I will introduce properly after they show up.

Because we’re a bunch of newbies on this system, DH gave us a tutorial story arc by way of the Topaz Championship (hat tip to Mr. Correia for the idea, and much of the implementation, since he couldn’t find another resource for what actually goes on in said championship). That said, he’s also playing fast and loose with canon, so if you’re a fan of the game (especially the CCG), the characters I talk about are probably only loosely connected to their official counterparts – sometimes they may share no more than a name.

One of the things my DH is doing is awarding up to two extra experience each meeting for quality writing to fill in narrative gaps regarding the events of the meeting. I have been writing a journal for my character, and those will become a regular feature of this site. (I know, content of any sort comes across as a feature right now. I need to get better about posting.) One of our other players has also expressed interest in having his character writing posted, and I will make that available as well.

So. Our original party consisted of Kakita Satoshi, a Crane duelist; my character, Mirumoto Kasumi, a Dragon Niten practitioner; Iuchi Iwao, a Unicorn shugenja; Hiruma Tamotsu, a Crab scout; and Kitsune Hitoshi, a Mantis warrior from a family known for their shugenja. We approached the Topaz Championship in the “village” of Tsuma on five different roads, coming from five different directions, and all arrived at the same checkpoint at the same time.

Kasumi’s journals and letters will fill in most of the story from that point, but before I post the first entry I’ll give you a little background about my young Dragon.

To begin with, she is overconfident, idealistic, brash, and driven to prove the superiority of the Niten style of swordplay. Yes, these are all actual disadvantages in game play, and in a way they serve to turn one of her advantages into a disadvantage: she’s a clear thinker, which in practice means that she always has excellent reasons to justify her insanely dangerous plans. This has nearly gotten her killed more than once. It is also worth noting that the original Mirumoto, her ancestor, has taken up residence in her skull. Most people don’t realize he’s actually talking to her and guiding her almost constantly.

She didn’t always get on very well with her parents (her father is the clan champion, see previous paragraph and following note) and her sensei think she’s an arrogant b*tch (again, see previous paragraph, especially since Mirumoto has given her the insight to know when they’re wrong but not the wisdom to keep her mouth shut).

Tomorrow, I will post her first entry (or maybe two) from the Topaz Championship.

UPDATE: DH is not playing fast and loose with cannon, as I originally wrote. In the first place, they’re hard to get a hold of, and in the second place, that would likely run us out of house rather quickly. Also, I was mistaken in thinking that Mirumoto Hojatsu was the original Mirumoto, and the Ancestor advantage is the original Mirumoto.

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Long time, no see

Wish I could say I had a good excuse for being absent for so long, but really it was just life. Late November/early December was spent editing my novel and crocheting holiday gifts. January: more editing. In December I’d started reading it aloud to myself, chapter by chapter, and that takes a long time – especially when you decide to do two passes. In January I also created a personal Wiki on the project. (Wikidpad can be a really useful way to organize your notes, and it’s hard to beat free. Hat tip: I learned about the program ages ago listening to Writing Excuses. Neither of these groups know me from Eve.) February had an unexpected trip out to Portland for family stuff, which is now sorted. And March was largely catch-up. So, in the spirit of catching up, here are some quick notes about what I’ve been up to.

Costume Pics

Months and months ago, I promised you pics of how my Isabeau costume turned out. So, here you go.

Me, wearing my (still incomplete) Isabeau costume on Halloween

This is the part of the costume I made, plus one of DH’s swords

I don’t have the boots or the greaves yet, and my intention is to spray-paint one of those telescoping lightsabers for the final costume. The obi needs a little work, but I’ve got time to fine-tune it before GenCon rolls around again.

Food

Back in December I went to a local library sale, and one of the books I bought was Food Heritage of India by Vimla Patil. (Again, the author has no idea I exist. I just like the product.)

I am loving this cookbook. I haven’t contacted the author for permission, so I’m not going to share the recipes today, but suffice to say the only recipe that didn’t turn out fabulous was the one I burned. Even it seemed to taste good, the little bit that made it past my eyes. Unfortunately, burned pureed spinach looks like toxic sludge. Stuffed tomatoes: very good. Pork (or chicken) Vindaloo: excellent. Make it all the time now. Santara ni Basundi: amazing. It’s what orange creamsicles are supposed to taste like. DH, who’s ambivalent towards citrus and doesn’t like cardamom, has said he “wouldn’t mind” having it again. You can Google that one; the recipes I saw were very similar to the one in the book. Sadly, I was in a rush so I didn’t get to take a photo the night I made it.

Novel

So I think I’m finally about ready to start submitting my novel to various publishers, and possibly agents. But based on what I’ve been reading about the publishing industry lately, I know where I want to start (and it’s not with an agent). Don’t want to say too much and jinx myself or something, so I’ll leave it at that for now.

Linkage

What’s happening in Albuquerque right now is, quite literally, dreadfull.

On the opposite side of the emotional spectrum, this sounds like it came out of Hollywood. I’m just going to leave you this link and say it’s the most entertaining write-up I’ve seen of the story: http://monsterhunternation.com/2014/03/28/leland-yee-super-villain/

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An Open Letter to Congressional Republicans

Let me be clear. I believe your tactic of using the budget bill to defund Obamacare was a stupid one, with no chance of passing (as, obviously, it didn’t).  So long as Obama is President, I do not believe we will be able to rid ourselves of that monstrosity in its entirety. However. Now that we’re here. Now that the Federal government has shut down, I beg of you:

Weeping Angel photo credit to Mike Chernucha on FlickrDon’t blink. Under no circumstances – not even the risk of a federal default when the debt ceiling kicks in – should you surrender.

Let the people of the US discover exactly how little most of them rely on the federal government. I was thirteen at the time of the last government shutdown, and if it hadn’t been on the evening news I wouldn’t have known it happened. I’m betting most people my age would say the same.

Let Treasury divide the money it has between the interest payments on all our sovereign debt, even if the amount each debt gets is less than interest. Many of us have student loans which the cost of a college education, inflated by federal subsidies, made necessary for attendance. Because of the job market at the time we graduated (caused in large part by federal policies and redistributions), we have jobs with subsistence wages and we are on income-based repayment paying far less than interest every month – but making payments every month. Perhaps, if Capitol Hill is forced to do the same, it might learn some restraint.

Stand your ground. Now that we’ve reached this impasse, it’s the single best thing you can do.

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GenCon Begins

And thus I will be largely incommunicado for the next few days… not that I’ve been posting much anyway. My honey determined he wasn’t in good enough shape to cosplay the demi-fiend this year, which meant I got an extension on the Isabeau costume I’d been working on. I’ve nearly finished the jacket, and I’ll post what I did and photos of how it came out once I’ve finished sewing. My new goal is to have it ready for Halloween, although the weather this year might not allow for a summer-weight costume in October.

Speaking of photo posts, I also intend to post photos from GenCon sometime next week. Until then, I hope you have a good weekend. I’ll be filling my head with Writers Symposium panels and catching up with some of the people I met at Mo*Con last May.

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GenCon Sewing Challenge

So DH convinced me to dress up for one day at GenCon this coming August. After some hemming and hawing, we settled on Isabeau, the female Samurai from the upcoming Shin Megami Tensei IV. Which means that I have about 30 days to turn this:

Fabric, pattern, and ribbon for costume challenge

Poly charmeuse, undyed muslin, 36 feet of ribbon, and Vogue 1266.

into something approaching this.

Wish me luck. That’s a polyester crinkle charmeuse for the coat and muslin for the dress. I still don’t know how I’m going to handle the stockings/greaves/boots.

I really have to wonder who at Vogue thought it was a good idea to not include yardage on interfacing and lining fabric on the back of the pattern envelope. Now I either need to cover the shoulder pads and do French seams on the coat or go buy more fabric.

UPDATE, 8/6/13: As it turned out, I had enough of the charmeuse to self-line everything but the sleeves. I’ll do a fuller post when it’s all done, but the jacket is coming along nicely and I don’t expect any problems out of the tunic dress. Right now I’m hand stitching a line of ribbon around the shoulders.

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Happy Fourth of July!

I would love to post something profound today, but frankly spending time with my honey sounds better. Hope you all have a safe and fun Fourth of July.

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Thursday, 4 July 2013 · 11:20 am

This I believe…

…that Man (and I use the term in its old, gender-neutral sense) must live or die by the power of his own rational mind, and the stories we tell are our best way of conveying the truths of the world. Thence came the myths of old, from people telling stories to make sense of the world around them, and thence from the same impulse come stories from the authors of today.

I believe that the effort of one’s mind, and its rational process, are only hindered by the acceptance of the unearned and the interference of the welfare/nanny state. Recall, if you will, the fable of the ant and the grasshopper. If that grasshopper were a modern citizen of the US he would lack nothing material, and yet still be bereft of self-worth.

I swear, by my life and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine. – Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

I believe that this oath is the most life-affirming a Man can hold to. Having read Atlas ShruggedThe Fountainhead, and Anthem I will say that I believe the philosophy of Objectivism describes the workings of the world and the nature of Man most accurately. If you disagree with that statement, but agree with any of the beliefs that came before, I would ask you – why? Please understand that any and all ad hominem attacks will be deleted.

A young orange and tan tabby looks confidently out from his perch atop a cat tower.

Gilgamesh, of course, has no doubt that all things in the world are his.

If you’re still reading, and I didn’t just offend you horribly with my poor joke in the last line (my jokes are always poor, it seems), welcome! If you got the reference immediately, wonderful! This is the blog of a writer who majored in Journalism and who really, really likes making things – stories, meals, sketches, photos, things to sew and things to crochet. I hope you’ll find something of interest here, and maybe check out some of my other writing while you’re at it.

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