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“I stumble into town, just like a sacred cow
Visions of swastikas in my head -
Plans for everyone…
It's in the white of my eyes!
My little China girl,
You shouldn't mess with me
I'll ruin everything you are…
You know -
I'll give you television
I'll give you eyes of blue!
I'll give you a man who wants to rule the world!
And when I get excited
My little China girl says:
‘Oh baby, just you shut your mouth!’
She says ‘sh-sh-shhh’…!”
David Bowie, ‘China Girl’
In the fields outside the city, the young pair fought and flirted, practising their fighting arts together.
“You must come at me with full fury, pretty blonde boy,” Mai teased. Her English really had improved greatly; like her mentor, she picked up languages easily.
“I’ll go easy on you,” the young man grinned. “Don’t wanna hurt a pretty lady, all delicate and fragile like them willow pattern plates…!”
“Appearances are deceitful,” she smirked. She circled him like a predator, and he adopted a defensive stance. He opened his palms from his usual boxing stance – he didn’t want to hit a girl with an open fist.
“Come on, gimme your worst,” Willard Bonnean grinned.
She came in fast and low; he caught her first few blows, but the last one hit him hard in the bread-basket, causing him to double up in pain.
“Looks like you don’t have any problems fightin’ dirty,” he wheezed. “Thought you people were supposed to be honourable and all…!”
“Ah, Pom-Pom, look at the poor little blonde boy,” she giggled to her little pet, a ball of white fur who sat on the grass watching the performance and yapping. “He is so small and fragile! Perhaps he should spar with you…?”
“I’m just getting my second wind,” Will grinned. “I’m a pugilist! We don’t mind takin’ a few shots to get in one of our own…!”
She was getting cocky, he though. She was lightning-swift and surprisingly strong for her slight frame. He guessed her mentor worked her hard. He didn’t look like the sort to suffer foolishness.
But like her, there was more to him than met the eye. He might be small, but he’d laid out Night Terrors with his punches.
“You asked for this,” he muttered as she moved in, a blur of motion.
He let her tag him a few times, slapping his face and whipping his head back. Then, as she left herself open, he ducked low and struck, driving the heel of his palm hard into her midriff. The shock of it launched her backwards, falling on the grass and gasping for breath.
“You like to dish it out but you can’t take it?” he grinned – only to feel immediately contrite as she gulped and swallowed, gripping her chest, convulsing on the ground.
“Hey, I -I’m sorry, I didn’t wanna hurt you…!” He ran over to her , leaning over her prostate form – only to see the gleam in her eyes at the last minute, as she grabbed his arm and flipped him over, bearing him to the ground and pinning him there. She dug her nails into his arm, and his body stiffened. She was light and he should have been easily able to throw her off… but he found he was paralysed, unable to twitch even a muscle.
“Okay, okay!” he whined. “I give up! Uncle, uncle!”
She laughed and let him go, as he rubbed his numb limb.
“You’re one dirty fighter,” he muttered.
“Why, thank you!” she chirruped. “Wasuke-san, he will be very pleased!”
The little dog licked his face. And then she leaned over and kissed him.
“You are a very brave warrior, Will. But one who is not always wise,” she smiled. And then she kissed him on the mouth. It felt good.
“Um, I… y’see, I kinda got a girlfriend, Silver…!” he stammered. What was it about this face that drives them to such passions? “It’s… complicated…!”
She giggled, and kissed him again. “You are a boy and I am a girl,” she giggled prettily. “There is nothing complex in that…!”
He sighed and yielded to her kisses. They tasted like cherry candy.
Sorry Silver, I tried! I really did…!
The three older men gathered in the taproom of the Goat Major, a tavern that still proudly proclaimed its Civil War loyalties in the rail-town of Lestina. The eldest of them had been a young man when hostilities ended, but old loyalties died hard.
“Raise you,” the white-whiskered man said gruffly, laying down his silver dollars with his cards. Like the others, Sherriff Lawson Lafferty, legendary lawman, was smartly-dressed in Sunday black. He wondered if the locals recognised a man who’d fought for the Union so long ago, or if they even cared now.
“I think I have this one,” smirked the youngest man, a dapper dandy with a slicked mustache and bowler hat. Jefferson was in his late forties, a professional huckster who knew his cards and how to get away with murder.
His dark eyes darted to the last figure at the table, grey-haired and maybe a decade his elder. “Come on, show and tell, piss or get off the pot,” he chided.
The third man smirked slowly as he revealed his cards, and laid down a winning hand.
“God damn,” the gambler grimaced. “Felt sure you were bluffing! Not even fair playing you poker – you slant-eyed fellows have a leg-up with those inscrutable faces…!” He scowled and rose. “Deal another round. I need a drink…!”
Beneath the short brim of his hat, the Wanderer smiled and gathered his coins.
“Brave fellow to cheek a man who wears a sword,” the sheriff observed wryly.
“He’s a fool,” Mister Wasuke said simply, and looked over Jefferson’s cards. “And a cheat…!”
“You know that, yet still game with him?” Lawson smiled.
“A reliably underhanded companion is as good a measure as a reliably decent one, like yourself,” the ronin nodded. “It’s the unpredictable people who are hard to read…”
Lawson watched him carefully – he had adapted to their life well since his arrival here over a year ago. He looked dapper in his clean shirt and charcoal grey waistcoat and trews, a coloured scarf at his neck. Small, round-rimmed spectacles adorned his sharp face, and his beard was neatly clipped and pointed. He still wore his hair long out of habit, tied neatly back in a ponytail.
“Still wondering at your story, though…” the sheriff mused, sipping his ale. “I know you like to be mysterious, but I’m sorry to see you leave. You’re a skilled hand, a benefit to any Posse you’d ride with…”
Wasuke nodded his thanks quietly.
“I have enjoyed my time here,” he admitted. “Sometimes I miss the beauty of my land, but your world of open plains and arid desert is not without its beauty either…” he said thoughtfully. “As to the why of it…?”
He shrugged. “You fought in your Civil War, just as I did,” he mused. “You were on the winning side, but did you ever wonder if it was worth it? The scars it leaves on all concerned…?”
“I think that a lot,” admitted the sheriff. “The years pass, but there’s still old hatreds burning somewhere…”
“And did you ever reach a stage where you couldn’t think of a single damn reason to do your duty any longer?”
“The Law’s always been in my blood,” Lawson admitted gruffly. “It’s not perfect… but if I don’t fight for it, it won’t ever get better…”
“Well, that’s where we differ,” Wasuke mused. “Of course, your law might be just, and not the hereditary dictates of a spoiled noble class…”
The ronin sniffed the whiskey in his glass and sipped it. “Mmm. Not bad. Better than that swill you call 'beer',” he admitted. Lawson smiled to himself. He heard the man taught the locals to make his fire-wine, an acquired taste made of rice wheat.
“Anyway, it wasn’t anything more complex than that,” he sniffed. “I was a samurai, what you’d call a ‘knight’, I suppose. Poor-born, but I’d saved the life of an important man, and he took me into his household. A gloried enforcer and soldier really, but the Dragon Empires like to obfuscate the mundane with flowery language and ritual. The old man was… he was all right, I suppose. But his son was another matter…”
He swallowed the last drops of whisky, and ordered another from a saloon girl.
“He was a jumped-up little tyrant, a spiteful little asshole who thought he was important,” Wasuke sniffed. “One day, I just… snapped, I suppose. I was tired of watching him bully everyone, force himself on the women, have his goons beat up anyone who disagreed with him or looked at him oddly.”
He shrugged. “So I told him what I was going to do to him. The colour and the look on his face was worth it. And then I killed him. And left him just like I said he was for the others to find. I cut off his ass and his head, and placed the one where the other was.”
Jefferson returned from the bar, laughing uneasily at the ronin’s anecdote.
“You did what…?” he chuckled uneasily.
“You heard me,” the ronin said flatly.
“Best not upset a man with a sword as tall as he is,” the sheriff chuckled darkly. It sounded like rough justice, but he didn’t doubt the Wanderer would kill a man without good reason. He’d seen the man was strictly honourable beneath his gruff façade.
“After that…. I just walked away from it all,” he shrugged. “I kept the armour and the sword. Didn’t seem much point in giving them back. You’re supposed to ritually cut yourself open after committing a deed like that. But that wasn’t my style…”
He took a new glass and pondered its depths.
“I fell in with a bunch of… brigands, I suppose. Bandits, rebels… Ex-soldiers, men who’d lost families in the wars… Some were women. Many of them had legitimate grievances. Some were just outlaws and killers. But we found ourselves with a common purpose.”
He looked reflective. “I found we were… agents of change. We went east, towards the sea… we cut a swathe through those who tried to stop us. We fought smartly, attacking by ambush, by night. We became… folk heroes of a sort, I suppose… though we had little reward from those we’d saved. If the local lord was deserving – and most were – we turned his court into an abattoir. Usually had to kill his guards, but we didn’t touch the courtiers, the women or children. For better or worse, we told them they were free. Maybe it helped some of them. Maybe it just replaced the life they knew with a new kind of tyranny. I don’t know if we even made a difference. It was just… something we had to do…”
He looked gloomily out at the rail-town. “In the end, we came to a town upon the coast. The worst we could dig up about the local ruler is that he’d made the villagers assemble to sing and give presents for his daughter’s birthday. I wasn’t about to kill a man for that. A few said they might, and I… convinced them otherwise. They saw my point. Or at least, the point of my blade. So we split up at last, I shook hands with most of them, wished them well. I left for the port city, and a boat to the New World. Heard you needed the help.”
“Mighty grateful we are too,” Lawson nodded, raising his glass in a toast. “I think we all learned something from having you with us. A lot less monsters in the world, at least…”
“And after all that, you’re heading back?” Jefferson snorted. “All the more fool you. You could make a pretty penny here, with your skills…”
“It’s not for me,” Wasuke said simply. He looked out, across to the green, where his protégé practised with the Sherriff’s young deputy.
Lawson nodded quietly. “I got a girl myself - young woman, now. Courting and everything. Wants to follow in my footsteps…”
“I hear there’s been changes since I’ve been away,” Wasuke mused. “The shogun and his court disappeared – the Imperial Palace locked its doors, and only strange noises are heard from within. The Temple of the Yamabushi was wreathed in fire. Monsters roam the lands, as they do here. The world of the living, and Forest of the Dead grow ever closer. Old enemies are said to walk again, whispers of ancient and dreaded names.”
He paused for thought. “They say the Shogun’s daughter Kumiko commands what little is left of her father’s forces from the Water Margins, in exile. They say she is just and honest, that she is a force for change, for modernising and justice.”
He sighed and shook his grey head. “I’m going to see if the rumours are true. And if they are… I’ll offer her my sword in making things right…”
“You seeking forgiveness in your old age?” Jefferson asked. “That’s a fool’s game…”
“It’s not for me,” Wasuke reiterated.
“Your girl… they’ll accept her?” Lawson murmured quietly.
“It’s a new era. A new century. A new shogun. Kumiko is the only heir. It’s unprecedented… but maybe it’s what we need. Sometimes female noblewomen would have onna-bugeisha… ‘handmaidens’, but more than that. These women were to a noblewoman what the samurai were to their menfolk. Guardians, protectors, confidantes, loyal servants and bodyguards. If… if the new ruler accepts my offer… if we can somehow tame the Dragon Empires to her rule once more… then maybe the girl can grow up as something other than an outcast, schooled by a traitor.”
“You care that much for her?” Jefferson scowled. “I tried that myself. Ungrateful little minx,” he snorted.
Wasuke was silent for a time.
“I have to try. Doesn’t matter what happens to me. Maybe I’ll make my fame and fortune. Maybe I’ll die and lie in an unmarked grave. History won’t care either way. But for her… it’s a chance to be a part of something better…”
The door opened, as it started to shower, and the girl shook her short, brown hair, looking a little tousled from her play-fighting. She looked almost sheepish.
“Wasuke-san…?” she murmured. “You… do not mind?”
“I was young once,” he sighed. “Enjoy it while you can. Within the week, we’re heading east.”
She looked at him sorrowfully. “But it has been so short a time, barely a year…!”
He nodded quietly. “Yes. But things have changed. Everything’s changed. And that’s where we’re needed now.”
He looked at her thoughtfully.
“We’re going home.”
“Walking on the Chinese Wall…
Watching for the coins to fall…
Butterfly, spread your painted wings
For an answer from the Ching
By the stream, stretching in the rocks
Tiger on the mountaintop…
Now the sun is rising in the east
Looking for my golden fleece
Ivory skin, scarlet colour deep
Lips that burn, but do not speak…
Three misty nights, waiting by the shore
May be that my lover comes no more…
Red chamber dream from the sky above
Ancient tales of hidden Chinese love…
Blue-red silk burning on my chest
Go to sleep but not to rest…
Stepping stones on the yellow sea
Dreaming she'll be there for me
Come down the clouds, to the sea of flames
From the mountain, hear the cry of pain!
Red chamber dream from the sky above
Ancient tales of hidden Chinese love…”
Phillip Bailey, ‘Walking on the Chinese Wall’
I'm Welsh (our flag is a red dragon) and yes, dragons get a bad press. Kelly Jones from the Stereophonics once said 'the English went and killed the only animal that smokes!'
The FoFo setting looks cool - it's like the Weird West, only it's, erm, the 'Weird East' I suppose. All kinds of wacky monsters like tongue demons and animated lanterns. Ninjas and foxwomen and ten foot sumo people.
Our group was always fascinated by the Rokugan setting, but didn't gel well with the social element and all the politics and having to kiss up to people you didn't like. It's hard for us Westerners to get our heads around that, and they just didn't want to play 'civil servants with swords'. This promises to be more wild like a martial arts film, more of a 'Wushu' kind of thing, I think.
In other news... happy birthday to someone'!
Watch out for your present shortly
Also; aww, thanks . And yay presents! Hugs for Marcy !
Thank you for sharing you're gorgeous artwork
And I secretly think Kachima lives in Southern Cal (the land of the well-endowed and realtered busts)...since none of the girls I've seen done have a breast size less than DD.
The Fallen Angels are the girls of the original six male Heroes - Laverne, Candy, Evangeline, Belle, Cheyenne and Camilla. Silver was sort of a den-mother to them, as she's not the daughter or sister of anyone famous.
I think Chanit's from Thailand? But huge boobs are popular in anime too
Doin' Jess nao.
Hey few thing I want to ask you I just add some of your D&D artwork I hope you will take a look around and the comment from Imperial question on your D&D girls.