Charity, MHI style  This is a great idea.

If you guys do this, snap a picture and send it to me. I’ll stick it up here on the blog.

The Burning Throne, Episode 9: Traitors & Rice Merchants

Continued from: 

It is Friday, so time for another serial posting from the journasl of Writer Nerd Game Night. No fictions this time, just journals.  And Awesome is pronounced Awe Sow May.  :)

Eleventh Entry

From the journal of Hida Makoto, Crab Clan. 

I am very glad that I am not an investigator. The words of a song that I once heard sum up my feelings, There is so many hours wasted talking, talking, talking, and the twisted games they’re playing… I do not have the patience for investigations. I would prefer to be on the Wall. At least there you know who your friends are.

The war council this morning was concerned with two items of discussion, the spy ring’s secret messages, and the danger of the shame sword Penance falling into the hands of the Dark Oracle of Fire. Ide Todo and the daimyos were able to decipher the remaining messages. It was obvious that Shoshuro Masa was distorting the truth of what he read, and Akodo Foon was worried about calling him on it publically. Moto Chen wanted answers, and reasoned from the message that Ide Tong, Toda-sama’s cousin that we’ve been staying with, was the source of the messages. Moto Chen ordered Ide Tong to be arrested and tortured, except Ide Todo stepped in to urge a more cautious approach.

I worry about Ide Todo. He is a terribly earnest man. Even when it risks the displeasure of his clan champion, Todo would prefer to err on the side of truth. I fear that someday his dedication to honesty will be his death. We volunteered to check the Summer Flower warehouse indicated in the secret messages.

On the way there we were accosted by a pushy rice merchant, selling his wares. This seemed to annoy the others. I am used to the Yasuki, so I did not mind. Plus I got free rice cake samples. Yum.

Zukozuko took the back door of the warehouse should anyone flee. Tsuruchi Machio climbed to the roof in order to snipe with his bow. I banged on the front door with my tetsubo and demanded that they open up in the name of Magistrate Ide Todo! (I think he wants me to be more discrete in the future, but I don’t do discrete well) I was hoping to club someone, but instead the peasants working inside seemed honest enough.

It turned out that a man matching Ide Tong’s description had been coming here often, pretending to be a magistrate, and “inspecting” the goods. These goods were all from Scorpion lands. The times of his visits corresponded with the dates of the secret messages. The plot thickens.

Since his stall was right in front of the warehouse, and because he thought he could identify our mysterious fake magistrate, I drafted the pushy rice merchant and told him to come with us to the war council. On the way, he loudly proclaimed to all that would hear about how he was the chosen rice merchant of the great Ide Todo. I believe that this embarrassed Todo-sama. I do not know why… Free rice!  Then a competing rice merchant arrived and began to argue the superiority of his rice, and how our rice merchant’s wares were rancid and putrid.

I got many free samples. I found both brands to be flavorful. Ide Todo proposed a contest to be held in 3 months. (I hope I get to be a judge.) However, Ide Todo seemed flustered that his usual diplomacy was not working to settle down the merchants. So, being used to dealing with the pushy Yasuki whose stalls line the interior of the Wall and their high pressure sales, I put my arm around our rice merchant, and told him to shut his mouth for the remainder of our journey. I believe that Moto Khano threatened to give Shinsei’s smile to the other one. Problem solved.

Sure enough, the rice merchant identified Ide Tong as the man who had been frequenting the Summer Flower warehouse. I then told him to return to his stall for his safety before any official accusations would be made.

Ide Tong was doing a good job of defending himself, and it seemed as if he had convinced the war council as to his innocence. Ide Todo challenged his cousin. It was a contest of words, but Todo-sama’s evidence was damning. Since the Moto torturers had “accidentally” poisoned our last prisoner and been executed accordingly, I offered the services of the Crab torturers. Kenzan did not seem pleased at my impertinence, but oh well… I wonder how Kenzan’s jaw is healing?

Tong, knowing he was caught, attempted to put something in his mouth. Todo-sama noticed this and alerted me, so I tackled Tong to the ground. Iko retrieved the item, and we believe that it was poison. I pulled Tong before the Unicorn champion and asked if I could have him. Moto Chen granted my wish so I carried him off to be tortured in the Crab camp. If you want something done right, it should be done by a Crab.

The events that occurred in the war council next were related to me by my travelling companions later. Moto Chen commissioned Ide Todo to lead a mission to secure the shame sword. All of the other daimyos present (the Shoshuro was suspiciously absent) each donated some men to the mission. Hida Kenzan was more than happy to lend me to the cause… Brother can be petty at times. The real surprise was when Fosuta the Spider said that he would like to have Zukozuko be their representative.

I am very happy for my ronin friend. Sure, they are only a poor, minor clan, but Zukozuko has been accepted into a new family. I knew that surely someone would ask for his fealty after his courageous display against the fire oni.  Later that night, Zukozuko went to Fosuta and declared his fealty to the Spider. He took the name Fosuta Zuko. (an unexpected honor given to Isawa Fosuta for sure) There is something about Fosuta that I do not trust, but Zukozuko has improved his place in the celestial wheel, much as my grandfather did, and for that I will give thanks to the Fortune’s mercy in my prayers.

Ide Todo was honored by Moto Chen again for his exemplary service, and was granted a boon, anything he wished. In his wisdom, Todo-sama asked that our band be given official recognition as a roving magisterial unit. Since there were leaders present from four great Clans to agree, and no emperor on the throne or regent to disagree, this was a brave, but crafty maneuver. It will give our group much greater status, and should make our travels that much easier.

We have been granted a Mirumoto guide, the eight surviving Unicorn bushi and three monks from our earlier travels, Todo’s personal yojimbo Moto Khano and the former Dragon ronin Rei, as well as the exiled Doji girl that got Rei disgraced in the first place, who will serve as Todo’s scribe. In addition Tsuruchi Machio and Kitsuki Tsuze would also like to continue following Ide Todo. Between us and a handful of servants, twenty-five of us will leave for Dragon lands in the morning.

In the Crab camp, Kuni Awe-Some helped with the torturing. It is strange to see a samurai willing to get his hands dirty like that, but Kuni can be a little… off.  Ide Tong had surprising endurance and withstood many hours of torture while the cackling Kuni madman removed various appendages and much of Tong’s skin. I believe Tong finally told us everything he knew. He was working for the Scorpion, and he truly believed he was serving the best interests of the empire. He said that his group was trying to discover who was responsible for the death of the emperor.

Because I could respect Tong’s goals and his endurance under the Kuni’s knives, I freed Tong and provided him with a tanto. He committed seppuku and I served as his second. It was as honorable a death as could be hoped for in the situation. Though he betrayed his clan, I pray that Emma-O will be merciful to Tong’s soul when he arrives in Meido.

It was only as I was writing this now that I realized, despite the number of men that I’ve killed, this was the very first time that my katana has ever shed blood.

Unauthenticated Journals of Ide Todo

   It has been too long since I put thought to paper.  I could blame the events which I will describe shortly, but the reality is that I fear that voicing my inadequacies—whether verbally or on paper—will somehow cause me to lead those who follow me to destruction.

            Whoever reads this account will undoubtedly be familiar with the historical events of the time.  The war.  The battles.  All the deaths.  Amidst it all my companions have thrived.  They have each brought honor and glory to themselves and their clans.

            And somehow all the public praise is loaded upon my shoulders.

            The adulation and respect is heavy.  In the streets peasants and samurai alike strove for a mere glance at my person.  Since I last recorded my thoughts, I was honored with the title of Magistrate.  Inwardly I still find it shocking that a man such as me can come so far.  Outwardly I keep my face still.  I heard a saying when walking among the Spider Clan recently that struck a chord within me.  “With great power comes great responsibility.”  Wise words.

            And they were put to the test today.

            We finally deciphered the intercepted messages which [SECTION BURNED].  The messages also led us to a warehouse. The merchants within were honorable as far as peasants go, and though we were expecting to find evidence of espionage, we found something that to me was even more grievous.  A Unicorn who we later identified as Ide Tong—my kin—had posed as a Magistrate.

            History may know me as many things, but a liar is not one them.

            As my companions entered the war council with me, I witnessed Ide Tong at their front, bending his truths and hiding his lies like a veritable Scorpion.

            I have always believed that my affinity for the arts of the courtier have come from my ancestors.  I swear that at times they compel me, and lead me when my weaknesses would overwhelm.  In truth—something I have never lacked, perhaps to my detriment—I feel haunted by those ancestors.  As a child they were a cruel taskmaster.  Now, in my 42nd year, they drive me on as mercilessly.  In that moment right before sleep overtakes me, I can hear their voices.  They chastising me.  Congratulating me.  Counseling me.  I am at their mercy, though they have none.

            As I saw Ide Tong manipulate the very people who were trying to save our lands, my ancestors screamed in my mind.  As a Magistrate, and as a member of the Ide family I could do little but comply.  Is there honor and glory in honesty?  Of that I have no doubt.  I was shamed just watching Tong—I will not refer to him as a member of my family again—and my feet moved on their own accord.  I was soon standing before the masses.

            Their faces were etched in confusion.  Their stances spoke their thoughts even when their voices could not.  When I spoke, they all listened.

And then they believed.

Tong was caught in his lies through simple logic.  Most damning of all was his refusal to speak to his own defense.  Through his silence his lies were spoken.

The histories will show that this was the moment in which I truly became a Magistrate of my clan—not just in word, but in deed.  The weight of the appointment is heavy on my shoulders and my soul.  But for the first time in years I heard something shocking in the distant murmurs of my ancestors.  Approval.

I have found myself strangely wondering what the beautiful Asako Keiko would think of all of this.  Does she remember me?  Would she approve of my choices?  Perhaps I will write her…I’ve always been curious about the supposed ties she had with [SECTION BURNED]

For now further thoughts on such questions will have to wait.  We depart Shiro Shinjo at first light.  I have been tasked with traveling to the ruins of the High House of Light in an attempt to recover the Blade of Penance.  A Shamesword.  Just the thought of it frightens me beyond measure.  Yet a part of my mind is also fascinated by it.  Could it [SECTION BURNED] for example?

Oddly, the Spider Clan have chosen Zukozuko as their representative on the journey.  I have begun to wonder about the relationship there.  My fears from a few nights previous in the Spider camp seemed unfounded at the time, but now?  I will watch closely.

In honor of my catching Tong, I was given a boon to request.  But what does a courtier need that his voice and thoughts cannot provide?  Selfishness was never one of my shortcomings.  My worry for my companions, however, has nearly crippled me in the past.  I want to protect them as best as I can, and so I have decided to form an order.  This order will accept men and women from all clans and schools who have the goals of the Empire at heart.  We will be a network of information and soldiers throughout the land.  Whether it be in brightest day or in blackest night, no evil will escape our sight.

I have struggled with naming this order.  How best to convey our desire to help the Empire without threatening those prone to paranoia?  For now, it will simply be known as the Brotherhood.

Journals of Ide Todo

Authenticity Unconfirmed

Discovered in the Shadowlands 1175


Coming next Friday, we’ll introduce the Brotherhood of the Paper Lanterns. And a fiction where Ide Todo gets asked to arrange a marriage. 

More Geeky Hobbies

Earlier this year I decided I needed a hobby where I could unplug my brain and destress once in awhile. So I took up painting miniatures. I’ve been getting better at it. I did this one tonight for one of my daughter’s L5R characters. As usual the iPhone really doesn’t do it justice, especially for the shading or color detail. I’m going to build a light box, borrow my wife’s really nice camera and take all new photos before too long, but I was really pleased with this one and wanted to show it off.

I still need to base it. (using fake grass and gravel) and clear coat.

If you are curious, the character originated during this game:  And I’ve since gone on to run a campaign for my kids. I’d already made one for this particualr daughter, but that was when I was first learning, and her sister’s Moshi shugenja was way prettier, a situation which I was informed was completely unacceptable.

The mini is from Anima Tactics, but I had to make the ono (big ax) myself.




Monster Hunter Vendetta was one of the highest rated audiobooks of 2011 

It is all because of the awesome narration by Oliver Wyman. If there were an academy awards type show for audiobooks, Mr. Trashbags would be the hands down winner for best supporting actor-type-thing.

Regardless of what they told you in school, FDR sucked

Newt Gingrich once said that FDR was his favorite president of the twentieth century, and perhaps of all American history. Newt says he is conservative, so that be would like somebody saying they are Christian, but their favorite angel is Lucifer.

Even if I didn’t know anything else about his history that alone tells me everything I need to know about Newt.  Newt is a historian. He’s not stupid. He knows better.

EDIT: This was just pointed out to me, that the soundbyte I heard was Newt talking about “Most Effective Leader” as opposed to “Best”.  Fair enough. That said, FDR still sucked and the post stays. :)  Looking online for actual clip now.


Yep. Post stays. 

However most people don’t know any better. I hate when people who know jack squat about history tell me how awesome FDR was. I can see why though. Any high school history textbook has FDR down as Super President. All students know was that FDR was that nice old man in a wheelchair that had fireside chats, who then kicked Hitler’s ass.  Of course, academics are usually on the left, so why would they malign one of their folk heroes with pesky things like reality?

FDR was not a great president. The legacy he left behind was one of bloated nonsense that we are still suffering from today. Like our current president (FDX), he moved in on a crisis, and used it as an excuse to have the country take a massive left turn.

The Great part of the Great Depression was a result of his policies. Everyone else in the world came out of the depression before we did. The Weimar friggin’ Republic came out of it faster than we did. Remember the place with the wheelbarrows of Retenmarks to buy a loaf of bread? Yeah, that place pulled up faster than us. America’s government meddled too much in industry and finance to let a natural recovery happen.  We were too busy fixing prices, burning crops, and spending money on make-work projects. (you should have heard my grandpa go off on the W.P.A. It was many years before I learned that it didn’t actually stand for We Poke Along). 

FDR was so in favor of freedom, justice, and the American way, that when the Supreme Court began striking his socialist policies down as unconstitutional, he attempted to destroy the separation of powers by stacking the Supreme Court with more of his handpicked justices. The whole purpose of three branches of government was to keep one from becoming tyrannical. Think about that. FDR tried to destroy one of the fundamental elements of our constitutional government.

His foreign policy sucked. Period. FDR personally thought Mussolini was a swell guy. He handled Japan about as well as Obama is handling Iran.

On a personal level, FDR was such a loathsome human being that he couldn’t even keep a running mate, but he was fairly loyal to his mistresses. But on that count, I can’ t really blame him, because from all accounts his wife was a frigid ice queen that was “disgusted by the touch of a man”.

He was known for giving good speeches. Keep in mind that this was at the dawn of radio and he was the first president to ever take advantage of that medium. Americans were so excited by radio that FDR could have read out of a phone book for ten minutes and everyone still would have tuned in to listen.

I’ve written two books set in an alternative 1930s, so I’ve had to do a lot of research into that time period. The worst, most soul sucking, obnoxious part of that research has been listening to or reading anything by FDR. Knowing what we know now, and the results of his experiments in social engineering, make me grind my teeth.

When I mentioned my opinion of Newt’s pick for favorite president on a web forum earlier, someone pointed out that Newt specified that he liked FDR more in some periods than in others…  What, the early parts where his big government programs ruined the economy, or the middle part where his foreign policy didn’t do crap to prevent the biggest war in history, or the later part where he threw over a hundred thousand Americans into concentration camps?

Concentration camps.

But remember kids, it is Republicans that are racist and don’t care about civil liberties. Sure, the Democrat’s greatest hero took something like a hundred and forty thousand men, women, and children, ripped them from their homes with no due process or evidence of guilt, confiscated all their homes, property, and businesses, and then interred them in desolate camps in the desert for several years.

The same media that has an absolute come apart over civil liberties because the Bush administration water boarded a couple of terrorists, picks FDR as their Man of The Century.

 I used to live next to Topaz Mountain. The site of the old concentration camp is nothing but a barren patch of scrub desert now. It is cold there. Nasty, horrible biting cold. In the winter the wind rips right through you. I can’t even imagine living in a government supplied shack during a winter there. You stand in the middle of this barren patch of sand, and the realization hits you that our government imprisoned innocent Americans here, it punches you in the gut. We did this thing, and it was evil.  

If Newt was really a conservative, and he’s as educated and intelligent as he says he is, then there is no way that he would say FDR was a great, let alone the greatest, president. 

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a product of the philosophy of his time. The traditional American idea was that people own the government. FDR believed that the government owns the people. FDR’s fundamental beliefs are the antithesis of what made America great.  

Screw FDR.

Dead Six just got reviewed on Big Hollywood 

One of the only places where my constant offending of half the country with my right wing political rants is considered a plus!  Friggin’ sweet! :D

Mike Kupari finally gets to see a real copy of his first novel

My thriller novel, Dead Six, cowritten with Mike Kupari, has been out for a couple of months. This was Mike’s first published novel. However he has only recently been able to see one in person for the very first time.

Mike is currently stationed in southern Afghanistan. He was already deployed when the book came out. He is an EOD tech, as in one of those guys that goes out looking for IEDs.  That there is thriller writer street cred. :)

Dead Six would make an awesome Christmas present for anybody you know that likes military thrillers. There is a link over to the right where you can pick it up, or Uncle Hugos bookstore still has copies autographed by both of us. (we signed a bunch of bookplate stickers before he left)

Shipping from the Buy Stuff tab, UPDATE

We’re taking a big bunch of packages to the post office today, all orders except one that is going to Europe will be filled. (I didn’t have a box the right size, but that one just barely came in) I’ve been running behind by about a month, but as of today everything should be up to date.

Which is good, because I’ve gotten a deluge of orders over the last couple of days. I’m out of MHI patches. I’m out of some books. I’ll be getting more, but if you order now it WILL NOT make it in time for Christmas.

I ordered several cases of books direct from Simon & Schuster a couple of months ago, but they never arrived. I don’t know what the deal is, so to fill all the open book orders before Christmas I bought dozens of my own books on Amazon. :)   Luckily they are all in the “Buy 3, get 1 Free” special thingy, and I just signed up for the Prime with the free 2 day shipping. So hopefully I won’t run low on books again in the future.

Now back to work. I’ve got a lot to do still on Monster Hunter Legion, and my deadline date for the rough draft is getting closer. Up after that will probably be the collaboration with John Ringo, but that depends on his schedule also. Mike Kupari will be getting back from Afghanistan in the first part of the new year, which means we can get to work on Swords of Exodus, sequel to Dead Six.

Then I’ve got Warbound, the 3rd Grimnoir novel, and Monster Hunter Nemesis, which is the big book o’ Agent Franks.

The Burning Throne, Episode 8: An Early Lunch

Continued from: 

This is a little short story that takes place around the same time as the prior episode’s events. None of this was in the actual game. This is what happens when you get a bunch of dorky novelists together. The story itself isn’t enough, we’ve got to make up extra stories within stories. Which is pretty awesome. :)

An Early Lunch

“Ugh, what is this stuff?”

“Fermented mare’s milk. The Unicorn consider it a delicacy,” said one of the Crab warriors.

“Yeah, and they also eat goats and call them mountain tuna,” another of the large men replied as he took the drinking bag from his companion. “Or is that the Dragon? Never can keep them straight.” Grimacing, he took a swig, nearly retched, then wiped his mouth with one blue sleeve. His eyes were watering. “It’s disgusting, but it’s got a kick!”

The Scorpion seated at the next table sighed. He had been hoping for a quiet late morning meal after all of the night’s commotion around Shiro Shinjo. With so many samurai, budoka, and ashigaru from several great and a few minor clans in the city, every gambling den, brothel, geisha house, and eatery was busy. The Scorpion had thought that he’d found a quiet spot to eat in peace, but there was no such thing as quiet when Crab invade an establishment.

“Quit hoggin’ the horse juice, Ozske. After the day we’ve had, I wouldn’t mind getting good and drunk.”

“We’re back on guard duty tonight. If O-Hinku catches you not fit for duty, she’ll beat you to death,” cautioned the oldest of the bunch. “Trust me, young one. Take it easy with that hard stuff.”

“Why? Our illustrious leader sure isn’t.” The youngest Crab leaned in conspiratorially toward his friends. “Wait ‘till I tell you guys what we saw yesterday.”

Interesting. The Scorpion pretended not to listen as he sipped his sake. His sensei had often spoken of how valuable information could come from the most unlikely of sources. Though considering the volume of the Crab, it would have been impossible not to eavesdrop on their conversation. The group of six boisterous Crab warriors had stumbled into the sake house, taken over one corner of the room, and gone about making pests of themselves to the proprietor and harassing the serving girls. Judging by how much food they’d ordered, each of the large brutes could eat as much as three regular samurai, but they had koku, so they’d be put up with until they inevitably picked a fight or started breaking things, like Crab were sure to do, and someone would have to call the magistrates. The Scorpion was clever enough to slip out before that happened.

“So spit it out, Yamada. What’s your big secret?”

“You all know Makoto?” There were general grunts of acknowledgement. The Scorpion recognized the name of one of Ide Todo’s yojimbo, and since Todo was a rising star in Unicorn politics, this could be interesting. He remembered Makoto as the loud man who’d embarrassed himself at Three Pillars in an attempt to gain troops for the little Unicorn. The Scorpion had easily outmaneuvered him then, but Ide Todo’s group had gone on to impress the Shoshuro daimyo, and here they were, only a few weeks later, helping the barbaric Unicorn’s war effort. “Hida Kenzan challenged Makoto to a duel to the death!”

“Shut up,” the man called Oszke said. “We’re not supposed to talk about that.”

“Me and Oszke were on watch, heard the yelling, went in the tent, and saw the whole thing.”

“Kenzan sword fights oni for fun. If Kenzan challenged Makoto to a duel, then how come that eta spawned fool is still alive?” one of the others said. “Did Makoto run away like his daddy?”

The Scorpion was interested to note that only a few of the Crab laughed.

“Makoto won,” Oszke said. The laughter died. “And not how you think. He tried to keep Lord Kenzan from embarrassing himself further and when that didn’t work, beat him into the realm of dreams and had us put him to bed, and Makoto-san told us… Yamada, you idiot… to keep our mouths shut about it.”

There were some nervous murmurs, and a couple of the Crab also called Yamada names. “Hey, I’m not going to take orders from that eta swine—”

The impact noise was loud enough that it made the Scorpion jump. He turned in time to see the Crab named Yamada rolling across the cushions and onto the floor. Oszke was standing and his arm was still extended from the backhand that he’d delivered to the junior Crab. “Not another word!” Oszke ordered. Yamada put a hand to his bloody nose and bowed his head. The entire sake house was deadly silent and every head in the crowded establishment had turned to gawk at the Crab. “What are you looking at? Mind your own damned business,” Oszke snapped and all of the other patrons went back to their meals.

The Scorpion did so as well. He had fully expected lunch to end with the Crab hitting someone, just not each other. Now he was very curious. Oszke lowered his voice to a dangerous hiss, but the Scorpion’s ear was well trained, and he could still hear Oszke’s angry words. “You lot listen, and you listen good. You weren’t on the ridge with O-Hinku’s squad. I was. It was a slaughter. Hida Makoto fought like the Great Bear himself. He killed more Yobanjin than any of us and laughed as their fires rolled over him. The rest of us couldn’t even breathe through the smoke, but every time I looked over he was clubbing another one of those gaijin bastards. When O-Hinku ordered the wounded carried out, me included, Makoto and that one-eyed ronin kept on fighting the horde by themselves until we could clear out. He is a hero.”  


“But nothing, Yamada. I don’t care if his mother was a one-legged bog hag and his father was a nezumi. I would follow him into battle anytime.”

“I too was on the ridge. The fires were so hot that I could barely hold my katana. It is as Oszke says. As I carried a burned Tsuruchi down the hill, I witnessed Makoto, his sister, and the ugly one, leap across the ravine to murder many Yobanjin archers.”

“Thank you, Hiruma Sato. Ask anybody that was there that morning. We should be dead. Our whole squad should have been dead. Dead!” Oszke slammed his mug down on the table. “Dead. Dead! Dead! And without even having the dignity of getting killed by something from the Shadowlands like a good Crab should. You think I wanted to explain to the Fortune of Death how I managed to die by the hands of a bunch of gaijin horse lovers?” Oszke spit on the clean wooden floor. “Emma-O would laugh me out of Meido and I’d be reincarnated as a carp.” 

Yamada bowed his head. “I’m sorry, Oszke-sama. I just thought—”

“You thought you were better than him because of the station of his birth? When was your gempukku? Last summer? You haven’t even been on the Wall yet. How many Yobanjin have you killed while guarding the battle tent?”

“Same battle tent somebody managed to sneak into…” one of the other Crab muttered. Yamada had no reply. The Crab continued, “I heard from one of the Akodo spearmen that Makoto single handedly killed a blood speaker cult in Lion lands, and rescued that good looking Spider samurai-ko from a raging inferno, carried her right out of the flames, leaping over maddened fire kami and zombies the whole time.”

“No way!” 

“I swear.”

“I heard that Makoto killed a hundred pirates on his way here,” said another. “That little Unicorn of his is getting all the credit for it, but you know how those guys are. Courtiers, always bucking for magistrate. You know it was one of us Crab that did all the real work!”

“Yeah!” Several mugs were slammed down on the table and the bladder of fermented mare’s milk was passed about for another round. “Get back up here, Yamada, and drink like a man. To Hida Makoto! May his tetsubo crush a thousand skulls.”

“Hida Skull Crusher!” There were many groans and gags as the Crab sucked down the borderline poisonous swill. “Serving girl! No. Not you. Send the prettier one! Another round of your finest… whatever the hell this is, for my friends!”

The next Crab seemed eager to share his tale. “One of the Yasuki told me that his brother’s friend’s cousin is Lord Kenzan’s advisor… He said that Makoto has been secretly betrothed to a high ranking Imperial. She was supposed to marry Kenzan, but Benten smiled upon her, and she fell in love with Makoto instead. But her father won’t allow it until he’s famous. Makoto is just here until he can win the Emerald Championship.”

Oszke snorted. “I swear on Fu-Leng’s balls, that is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.”

“Yeah, I guess… You know how those Yasuki traders like to make stuff up…”

The Scorpion was fascinated. He would report this conversation to his superiors. He had observed this Makoto at Three Pillars, and had assumed that he was just another Crab; obtuse, uncultured, and boorish. However, Bayushi Ujiro had shown interest in Makoto. Perhaps, Ujiro had been aware of something that the other Scorpion had not. It would not have surprised him. Ujiro was a crafty one with many sources.

There was a sudden noise. Someone was blowing a horn. More horns joined in afterwards. It was a call to arms. There was shouting in the street. The Scorpion leapt to his feet and gathered up his daisho. The shouting… Dragon banners to the north! All of the Crab had also lumbered up at the first call for help, but the Scorpion made sure he kept his cloak closed so as to not reveal his clan mon as he hurried outside. It would probably be for the best if the if the drunken Crab were not made aware that they’d shared their fascinating tales with a Scorpion.

It was not so much because he believed these drunken Crab’s wild rumors, on the contrary, they sounded absolutely ridiculous. It was just that the Scorpion had never actually witnessed the birth of a legend before. It would be interesting to see if it would continue to grow.


To be continued next Friday with Rice Merchants and more Journals of Ide Todo

If you are doing any Christmas shopping on Amazon anyway…

Just a reminder, I’m set up now as an Amazon Sales affiliate, so if you click on any of the links to buy my books, even if you buy something else through that portal, I get a % for the refferal bonus. It doesn’t cost you any extra.

It is sort of like a tip jar. :)

On that note, Larry Correia novels make great Christmas presents. Uncle Hugo’s still has autographed hard covers of Spellbound.


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