|From:||Paul J. Adam Shadowtk@********.demon.co.uk|
|Subject:||In High Places #2|
|Date:||Sun, 23 May 1999 16:12:33 +0100|
>>>>>[This is how it went. Interesting, no?
The metallic blue Westwind pulls up smoothly, and Easy gets out. As usual
in for her in daylight (even the dying glow of a midsummer evening), she's
swathed from head to toe: though in lighter garb than usual. Her long,
black leather coat flutters slightly in the breeze, as she leans back into the
car to collect her swords: arranging them carefully at her waist, before
closing the door.
The scarred Japanese man waits, politely, for her to turn his attention to
him before bowing and saying, "Greetings, Easy-sama. I am Kenzo
Nobura." He waits for her to return the bow, before continuing "Lord
Kimura requests the pleasure of your company, and suggests the
summerhouse would be congenial? I understand it offers excellent shade."
"Kimura-san is most thoughtful. Thank you." The Elven razorgirl falls into
step beside Kenzo, through the house's simple flat lawn: no elaborate
landscaping or sculpting, just smooth short grass crossed by a few gravel
paths, denying any intruder concealment. Only at the back of the house is
there any more ornamentation: a small, beautiful rock garden and a
glazed summerhouse whose windows are currently dialed to darkness.
Kenzo pauses by the summerhouse door, opening it for her: Easy barely
hesitating before stepping inside. The microcamera takes a few seconds
to adjust to the much lower light levels inside, catching Easy as she
removes her boots and places them on the rack provided. Her coat, she
hangs on a peg: and, thoughtfully, there is an empty stand on which she
carefully places both her blades, _Kurosio_ and the nameless _wakizashi_.
Those formalities complete, she turns back to the room.
It's a small, two-tatami area. The walls are mostly glass, heavily polarised
at the moment: the furniture consists only of a table and two cushions.
Dim light leaks in from the windows, but most comes from a lamp above
Standing, across her from the small table, is a grey-haired Japanese man
in his fifties, wearing a blue kimono patterned with a simple, angular
design. He bows to her, she returns it.
+++++engage autotranslate: Japanese -> English
<I am honoured by your attention, Lady Easy.> Kimura says. <Please,
may I invite you to sit?>
<Thank you, Lord Kimura.> Easy settles onto the cushion, facing the
<Might I offer you refreshment?> He indicates the teapot, the tray of
small, exquisitely-arranged morsels.
<You are most kind. I could not impose thus. Yes, I will follow you in some
<I could not follow you, Lady, you should be served first, as befits such an
honoured guest.> Kimura replies.
<You are my host and an _oyabun_ of great repute. I am merely samurai,
nothing more. But if you wish that I precede you, then I shall gladly obey.>
Easy allows herself to be persuaded, sips her tea from the porcelain bowl
once it's been poured. <Quite superb.>
<I find it sufficient. Was your journey pleasant?>
<Very. You have chosen a most attractive place in which to live. I
particularly admired your gardens. Efficient, and yet still beautiful.>
Kimura nods. <A peak often attempted but rarely scaled. Few things
achieve such grace. A fine sword, for instance. May I?>
<Naturally.> Easy nods, and Kimura rises to examine _Kurosio_, sliding a
few inches of blade out of the lacquered steel sheath.
<Exquisite. Late eighteenth century, I believe?>
<Exactly correct. A Yedo blade, forged by Toshu Yakai. Its name is 'Dark
Easy shrugs. <It is a fine blade, but it has little history. It was forged for
Nomura Taegawa, but he was invited to go Beyond shortly after he
acquired it, and for much of its life the weapon languished in the Imperial
arsenals. A traitor's blade, in its day, not suitable to be a gift or acquire
repute. But it serves me superbly.>
<Whereas now it belongs to a warrior whose skill gives it a chance to earn
honour. Your reputation is quite fearsome.> Kimura picks up a complex
morsel of rice, fish and pickled vegetable, eats it.
<Necessary, in the circles in which I move. I cannot avoid having enemies.
I can only make them fear me. So far, I have succeeded.> Easy, too.
takes one of the small parcels.
<Admirably so. Eric Descabiere, for instance.>
<Ah, yes. He has proposed an alliance. Or at least, peaceful co-existence,
in exchange for my neutrality in his war with Bartolo.>
<That war was won, I thought?> Kimura refills his teacup.
<As did I. It seems that Luigi has slipped away, as have a surprisingly large
number of his men. Rumour suggests that he has lost thirty or forty men,
whereas I can find proof of less than a dozen killed. Strange, that. But not
my problem.> Easy shrugs again, sips her tea.
<And you look forward to the prospect?>
<Descabiere and his late master are not known for their trustworthy
natures.> Easy muses. <But, since I find them on my borders, I suppose I
must find a way to make it tolerable.>
<You would prefer other neighbours?>
<I liked and worked well with Don Bartolo. His replacements are less...
understanding. I prefer to deal with friends, or with civilised businessmen
like yourself, than with mere gangsters.> Easy sets her empty cup down
<What do you seek?> Kimura probes delicately.
<Independence, safety and prosperity. For myself and my people.> the
Elven razorgirl replies with simple directness.
<I understand completely. I recall your conduct towards my treacherous
subordinate, Abe Heihachi. You were loyal, profitable customer, whose
trust he betrayed: and he paid for that betrayal with his head, at great
cost to me. Had you not killed him, I would have done so.>
<Truly?> There is just a hint of sarcasm in Easy's voice.
<Truly. Since the damage had been done and you were dead, I had
intended to allow the Butler Chemical deal to be concluded. Then, though,
when Heihachi presented himself to me expecting to be rewarded, I would
have ordered him to commit seppuku.>
Kimura shakes his head. <The fool did not understand that, in businesses
as delicate as ours, your word must be trustworthy. We both deal in trust:
it is well known that both you and I will honour our obligations and pay our
debts. And we both expect the same in return, and ruthlessly crush those
who betray us. He would have earned me a small profit, but I am still
paying the costs of his treachery. My subordinates are still not fully
trusted: many, many customers recall Heihachi's stupidity and demand
surety, guarantees, insurance. Intolerable, and yet only time will cure it.>
The oyabun sighs deeply, and there is a long moment of silence.
<What are you proposing, Kimura-san?>
<It has been suggested that we take advantage of Descabiere's
entanglement with Don Bartolo. I, and others, intend to strike and strike
hard against them. Your assistance - your alliance - would be of great
<And I would be an ally? Not a vassal?>
<I do not see you being comfortable as vassal. And your fief has many
special circumstances that make it... uncomfortable for my masters. No,
I believe alliance is the answer.>
Easy speaks very carefully, as if walking through a minefield. <And if I
<If you refuse, and we both live, then we shall remain friends, and do
business together as we do now, and say no more of this matter. I would
value your aid, but such an alliance would set you at odds with the Italians
and cause you difficulties. I can only offer you the choice. I cannot make
your decision for you.>
<I must consider this carefully. Must I answer now?>
<No. I would rather you do not. Speak with your confidants and advisers,
think carefully, and then we shall discuss the matter again.>
Deep. There's a _lot_ of subtext there.
My wearing the swords in traditional style to that meeting is a _big_
statement to them. I claim samurai status, with all that implies. That's
why all the manners and the etiquette and the Japanese language - if I'm
making the claim, they'll damn well test it out before they honour it.
Looks like they took it fairly well, though. Especially considering I'm not
only barbarian, but Elven - there are some of the harder-core Jap
bastards who'd have tried to kill me for my presumption. But then,
Kimura's spent half his life in Seattle, he's pretty cosmopolitan.
He's also willing to treat me as something approximating to an equal.
Again, it cuts both ways, having staked a claim and defended it, I get to
I think the kicker was knowing _Kurosio's_ provenance and history - these
days, most yaks carrying katanas have modern factory blades, and it's
quite a big deal to just _own_ a blade with some years on it. That I don't
just use it as a meatcleaver, but studied its history, learned to use it
properly, means a lot to him, I think.
And full-out alliance... that's serious, from his gumi. They don't usually do
that, they reel you into the organisation so they own you, and you both
know it's happening. I guess he figures our help is worth a lot.
Or maybe he's genuine, and he meant what he said, and our business is
worth a lot but too tricky for them to run themselves. Yaks seem to
understand that a lot better than most others, for some reason.
Anyway... I'm too far north to get back tonight. I'll see you guys in hte
morning and we'll talk it over then.
What a wonderful set of problems to have to deal with right now...]<<<<<
-- Easy <16:10:35/06-23-60>
>>>>>[Didn't know you knew so much about the Japs,
-- Vincenzo <16:12:41/06-23-60>
>>>>>[I started studying a couple of years back, when I realised I was
going to have to deal with the Yaks so often. Lilith's the expert, not me.
She was the one who gave me the sword, too. Wonder how much of this
-- Easy <16:15:14/06-23-60>