Toshiro || Shepherds of the Wayward Suns || Toshiro

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amae wa, Toshiro san. I am from House Miyazaki and this is my story. My family were not always nobles of the land. We were originally farmers who tilled the fertile fields. My ancestors were proud to provide food for the people of Qorvi and others who travelled here. As with all lands, power struggles were not uncommon. Regardless, the people still thrived and the lands still provided. Until...
The reign of King Ferdinand would change Qorvi forever. Ferdinand and his family plotted an overthrow of the royal family. Promises of wealth lured several Generals to join in the plot. The goal was to place the teenaged Ferdinand to sit on the royal throne. With the Generals on board, their troops would follow whatever orders their commanders put forth. The fate of King Shinsoma and the royal family was sealed.
  After ascending to the throne, King Ferdinand initiated new policies that put suffering on the people. A new elaborate palace was built in his honour. Martial law was declared. Anyone suspected of defying his rule were eliminated. Food and goods were confiscated to use as trade. Ferdinand loved the finer things the world had to offer and would get it at the expense of the people. Hence began the famine and the deaths of many.
  With suffering and death of the people, several families met secretly and talk of rebellion were born. Food was rationed out to ease the burden of the people. The forges of the Qorvi blademasters burned, hidden away from spying eyes. Whispers spread word that hope and promise of a better future were at hand. As with all rebellions, some lives were lost due to betrayal. Those lives would not be wasted.
  In the winter of the First Age of Freedom, led by the famed Houses that still watch over the land today, the people of Qorvi fought for their freedom and their lives. Speed would be the key to victory. Any war of attrition would take too many lives and put victory in doubt. Normal deliveries to the castle had already been slowed. Ensuring the King and his men would not have an abundant storage of supplies.
  To draw the military out of the castle, an ambush had been planned in coordination with the annual Winter Festival. Rumours were spread that the Festival would be used to recruit people to rebel against the King. Using the King's paranoia and suspicion against him. A large contingent was dispatched from the castle to quell any thoughts of defying the King. All the revelers at the festival were disguised swordsmen, archers, and rogues. Unbeknowst to the forces that entered the festival, barricades and once hidden pits were revealed to impede any escape.
  As a proclamation was being read to the crowd, the revolt began. Archers hidden away, opened fire on the military column. In the chaos, rogues and swordsmen with their blue-hued blades glistening, overwhelmed the King's forces. Those that tried to escape found their way blocked or fell to their deaths in the piked pits. The armour of the dead was stripped and cleaned as best as possible and adorned by the people's forces. At nightfall, the "King's army" made it's way back to the castle. The gates opened for the returning army at which time the assault on the castle commenced. Hidden archers let loose a barrage. A small contingent had stealthily made their way inside the castle and set off smoke capsules throughout the halls of the castle. The head of the Tokugawa family had come up with much of the planning. A scholar himself, he used his vast knowledge of distant lands to give their cause the best chance of succeeding without wasting lives of the people. The rebellion was over as quickly as it began. Ferdinand would reign no more. He and his officers were executed for crimes against his own people. Martial law was over.
  After much discussion amongst the people, it was decided that the many families that led the rebellion would be charged with the protection and care of Qorvi and it's people. To the death, they would defend the land and its people from any despot or force that would try to enslave the people again. It was at this time Bushido was born. Sincerity, frugality, loyalty, martial arts mastery, and honour until death. The land provides, the people will fluorish, and the families will ensure it. I am honoured that my family is entrusted with this oath.
  You may wonder how I became ward to Rio. In days long ago, Zoya came to the shores of Qorvi for a meeting in secret with an unknown female Tiefling. The docks can be unruly at time with the different ships and sailors that pass through. It was there that I heard a commotion. Zoya was being harassed by visiting sailors, humans, primarily because of her race. To say I was not fond of the racism she was encountering was an understatement. And what kind of honourable person surrounds a lady traveller with numbers? With her help, we dispatched of the ugly lot. Over a meal, we had an enjoyable conversation. She tended to my minor wounds. It was then that I realized she was more than an ordinary Tiefling. I offered to escort her around the city until she was finished with her business. No more trouble found her and she was able to meet with her friend. We became good friends in that short time. I was able to see qualities of a Tiefling that dispelled many myths and rumours I had previously heard. Before she embarked on her return trip home, I said to her, "Zoya san, if you ever need something... anything. Send word to me and I will do what I can to help you." I did not see her again until her return with her daughter Rio. They both lived in Qorvi until Rio turned 10. It was then Zoya asked me to care for Rio. She could not explain anymore other than it was important and that she could not take Rio with her. Zoya has not returned in 7 years.
  My friend Masaru was from the Tokugawa family. Hai, the same Tokugawa namesake who helped overthrow the king and shape the new Qorvi. Masaru, epitomized everything Bushido. Being the oldest of each of our families, we were enrolled at the prestigious Niten Ichi-Ryu, "the school of the the strategy of two heavens as one", swordsmanship school. Masaru was becoming proficient in two sword fighting. His movements were elegant and lethal. I looked at him as more brother than friend and admired all that he encompassed.
  Myself, I was more comfortable wielding the family Odachi, "Hirano no Asahi, The Morning Sun of the Plains". A forty inch long blade forged by one of the Qorvi swordmasters. When measured with the tsuka, handle, it measures fifty-one inches. I did not learn to wield the katana as my family's had gone missing many years ago. It was said to have been stolen and sold. Kamaimasen. It doesn't matter. It is all but lost to the world.
  Masaru and I trained together daily. To be the best was to train with the best. If I wanted to be able to be looked as an equal of Masaru, I would train with him. Most days we trained with the bokken. A balanced wooden sword that mimicked our individual blades. I found a new technique, Jigen-Tamiya Ryu. A blending of two styles. An intimidating stance with the odachi held up high over my right shoulder with both hands. The tendency of the opponent is to look at the blade which lets me move my feet unnoticed. It emphasizes a powerful first strike where a second strike is not needed. *looks down for a moment* On this day, I rose the bokken and took my stance. Masaru, unwavering, never looked at the blade. With a little smirk, he moved forward at the same time I swung down as taught, "Ka!" He made a move to parry, the force of my bokken... it cleaved through his. And struck Masaru on the side of his head. As he started to fall to the tatami, I stood in shock as to what took place. *eyes start to water* I ran to him... there was so much blood. He did not move. I called out for help, "tasukete!" A couple of the elders came in to attend to Masaru. I held him, my friend and brother in my arms. But I knew... he was gone. *wipes his eyes and mutters* Da-me. *clears his voice and looks up to the sky* Da-me.
  Soon after I told Rio, that we should go and explore the west. It was a good time for her to learn more about the world. Learn how she fits into it and what she can bring to it. I did not tell her about Masaru. Family, friends, members of the school, and the Tokugawa family urged me to stay. That I was blameless and it was an accident. I debated for a long time. To carry on and... and. I could not. Missed my friend... I missed my brother.
  Rio keeps things lively to say the least. She takes in each moment with wonderment. All the new things she sees and experiences. I think it was a good decision to leave Qorvi. She would learn nothing of herself, or her people staying there. Her life is out here *gestures out with his left hand*. These Shepherds that we joined with when we arrived in Ghayri are a good lot. They help the lost and weak. Give them a chance for a new life. I have found some enlightening news as of late. Seems our bard and I are linked by promises made by others in the past. He is one of the Coven. Ones who protect the Tree of Life in Heggium. I am Aasimar. Protectors of the Coven. All was revealed by Shandri, Vargas' sister. Along with guiding Rio and the twins to the tree, I must fulfill my oath to Shandri. Help the Coven save the tree. If my life is what's needed to bring balance to the world and save the tree, sore ga okonawa remasu, it will be done. *smiles* Maybe I can see my old friend Masaru. Sayonara o iu jikan. *bows and leaves*

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