Awake. You are commanded. The voice was definitely male, but otherwise the man did not recognize it.
“Oof, my head. Where am I?” The man said in a gravelly, deep voice. Or perhaps he merely thought it. It was hard to tell. The shugenja thought his eyes were open, but all he could see was darkness.
A difficult question, a second, distinctly female voice replied, as technically you’re not anywhere in particular. I suppose you would call it the afterlife.
“You’re saying I’m dead? That doesn’t make any sense, I’d remember something like that.” The shugenja was completely confident in his logic, but he sensed that the second voice was both amused and perplexed.
Take it from me. You are most definitely dead, the first voice replied.
“If I’m dead, what am I doing here? Shouldn’t I be in Yomi? No, I’m pretty sure I’m just asleep or something. I’ll wake up any time now.” Now he got the sense of befuddlement from the first voice and muffled amusement from the second.
I didn’t think he’d be this clueless, the second voice said to the first one.
Hey, you wanted one who’d take the news better, the first replied. I guarantee it won’t phase this guy.
“I get the feeling I’m missing some context, here.” The shugenja was becoming less confident the voices were wrong. They seemed quite sure he was dead.
A great deal of context, actually. But no matter. I have a task for you, and to accomplish that task you shall be returned to life, of a sort, the second voice explained.
“Oh. So I’m going to be an ancestor?” The shugenja was vaguely pleased at the thought of being an ancestor, although he couldn’t remember for the life of him who he’d be an ancestor to. “Dispersing my wisdom and knowledge to those who came after? That sounds good. I must have been someone important to receive such an honor.”
Ah, not exactly- The first voice tried to interject, but the sorcerer was off and running with the thought.
“Say, how did I die, anyway? Was it in a great battle? I bet it was. That sounds right. Yeah, a great battle where I fought valiantly, but fell surrounded by the bodies of my enemies. And the people would say ‘Poor brave…uh…me’ …huh…what was my name, again?” The shugenja stopped, puzzled. He couldn’t remember his name at all.
You shall be Batosai, the Man-Slayer. The second voice replied.
Make that Moshi Batosai, The first voice added. And don’t worry about your previous life. Trust me, you’re better off not knowing.
“That sounds fair,” Batosai agreed. “Now what?”
The first voice replied, somewhat irritated, Now you do what I said the first time and…AWAKE.
And Moshi Batosai woke up.
“Well now, this be a fine predicament. ’Tis not every day I take me morning stroll on the beach and find a man sprawled on the sands like a landed fish. Who be ye, lad?” The man who spoke was older and wore Mantis clan colors. He wore fine, well-tailored robes and had an affable air about him, but for all that it was instantly obvious he was not a person to be trifled with.
“My name is Moshi Batosai, and…uh…I’m pretty sure I cast spells.” Batosai flicked one of his hands experimentally, and sure enough, a bolt of lightning lept from his fingertips, scorching an unoffending piece of driftwood.
“Jumpin’ mermaids, lad, watch where ye be shootin’ that stuff! Yer liable to hurt somebody!” The man in the robes jumped back, though he seemed more surprised than worried.
“That must be why they called me the Man-Slayer,” Batosai replied. “But I’m not planning to do any slaying today. I…uh…I’m not in the mood.” Batosai was pleased that he’d covered for his complete lack of anything approaching a plan. Or knowledge of what it was he was supposed to be doing.
“Aye, lad, well might it be that ye be planning on acquiring some clothing? As right at the moment, ye not be havin’ any. Also, ye seem a mite pale,” the old man said, one eyebrow cocked at an inquisitive angle.
Batosai had not realised until this moment that he had no clothes. Or possessions of any sort. It was odd. He didn’t feel cold. But old habits die hard, and he felt some alarm at the thought of walking around in this condition.
“Yeah, clothing sounds good. And as for the skin thing, it’s probably normal for people who’ve been raised from the dead. I think it’ll wear off.” Despite having no basis for such a pronouncement, Batosai was once again confident he was right.
“Hmm,” the old man seemed to consider him for a moment, then gave him a big, hearty smile. “Well lad, my name be Moshi Kurabu, and while I don’t be known as a great believer in charity, ye’ve appeared at the right time. As it happens, I just might have a deal for ye that’ll provide ye with clothes, and some weapons, too. Don’t worry lad, I’m sure we’ll find a way for ye to pay me back…”
Moshi Yoriko considered the two men in from of her and mentally groaned. When Kurabu had asked to present a new yojimbo, Yoriko should have known there was some kind of scam involved. It was Kurabu , after all. The man was incorrigible.
“And that be the tale of how I found this poor, lost member of our family, Yoriko-sama. So of course, I had to take him in.”
Kurabu finished his introduction, smiling with that wide, innocent eyed grin of his. Yoriko again cursed the day she’d been made Moshi family daimyo in New Rokugan. Dealing with Kurabu simply wasn’t worth it. Yoriko gave Kurabu a long look, glanced at Batosai, then back to Kurabu. Finally, she sighed. “Kurabu-san, is this man dead?”
“What? No, he’s just been indoors a lot lately.” Kurabu gave another smile.
“I’m probably an ancestor,” Batosai added helpfully.
“He’s probably an ancestor,” Kurabu agreed, changing tack on a dime.
“Enough. Look, just keep him away from the capital, alright? I don’t need the other clans asking why we’ve got a revenant member.” Yoriko put her head in her hands. “You’re dismissed, Batosai-san. Kurabu-san, you stay.”
Batosai walked out to wait in the hall, pleased he had done so well.
“Kurabu, what are you planning?” the daimyo asked in a tired voice.
“It really be this simple. There be events afoot in Darkwood Crossing that I think it be best to be keepin’ a weather eye on. This lad be useful, unknown, and if it comes to that, expendable. He be a perfect way to keep tabs on the place. Plus, I’ve seen his magic. He’s actually pretty good. Might even earn that nickname he keeps usin’,” Kurabu said, speaking frankly.
“I can’t deny that Fuchida-san’s reports have been…worrying.” Yoriko frowned, considering.
“Trust me on this one, Yoriko. It be the right move, and I’ll be takin’ responsibility for him.”
Yoriko leaned back and shrugged. “Alright, you have my permission. Just…try not to let things get out of hand, okay?”