Tsuiraku - A Contest of Miseries

For in-universe game play. Journey through both familiar and foreign settings, explore lost ruins and forgotten cities, and try to bring light to the darkness of the world... or, you know, blow stuff up. Either way.

Re: Tsuiraku - A Contest of Miseries

Postby Alberich » September 22nd, 2013, 8:27 pm

Khoo's despair proved well justified. The magical screenings at the terminal were just as secure as he remembered them being -- small wonder; he himself had been troubleshooting them for the past month, with Anna-Lisa's overeager aid. Even the subtlest magical messenger would be detected, or so he was convinced. Moreover, the automatic safeguards and double-checks were in place, such that no corrupt security official (perish the thought!) could guarantee a hidden message getting slipped through. The search procedures were apparently random but pretty thorough, and Mr. Masaki had already assured him that these boys' effects had been thoroughly searched on more than one occasion, so that a simple paper message was highly unlikely. He'd hinted that closer means of surveillance would soon be used, to assure the Department that no ordinary mundane means were being employed. Some of the stolen data had been too complicated for these lads to have it memorized. Here indeed was a poser. And the time to see Choubei was all too close at hand.

* * *

Nika, meantime, satisfied that Drake was ready to "chase her 'til she caught him," floated along toward the next part of her mission, full of new confidence from her success so far.

Henseijin wasn't yet back from his latest assignment on behalf of his family's firm, so she was digging up information on the Farrelian suspect, Colin Norfall, ne'er-do-well nephew of Alaric Norfall, of the successful trading firm of Inskipp, Norfall, and Erlingwood. This firm's dealings with the Logan trading firm in Port Lorrel had cost it dearly in recent times -- but Mr. Masaki thought it very unlikely either that (1) the income from spying for the Veracians would seriously help their difficulties, or (2) that they'd trust young Colin to do it for them even if it would. None of this was of any concern to Nika. Other people could worry about motives and money, international trade and treaties, and all the rest of that men's business. Her job was to find someone to get hold of the boy himself, and keep a friendly female eye on him.

Of the three suspects, she already knew that Colin had been the most frequent visitor to Azaka's Exotic Experiences. Handsome in his thin, blonde way, though not very forceful...he also seemed the shyest about what he wanted done to him there, and the most likely to take a stiffener* before visiting even their friendliest of friendly houses. She thought she'd heard he even tipped a girl extra once not to tell anyone what they'd done together. Nika gave a thin-lipped smile at that one. Might as well pay bees not to make honey. She'd bought a few presents to ease the surrender of his deepest confidences, which she was already sure were the stuff of amusement among the right circles of friends. She was convinced she'd have his secrets before her shift even began.

Her investigations tonight would have profound -- or at least startling -- implications for Khoo, though he didn't know it yet. Whether they filled him with excitement, despair, or consternation...they would save him from all-nighters in Anna-Lisa's apartment, at least for a while they would, even if he didn't save himself.

__________________________
*I mean the alcoholic kind, which, I am reliably informed, probably ought to be called the opposite.
Alberich
Noble Knight Protector
 
Posts: 1892
Joined: October 5th, 2008, 9:58 am

Re: Tsuiraku - A Contest of Miseries

Postby Graybeard » September 25th, 2013, 10:52 am

A dejected Khoo made his way back to his apartment.

Anna-Lisa's crazy idea was looking as good as any he'd come up with, he thought, as he absently swatted away the pigeons that had taken up roosting on a ledge above his door. He'd learned enough forensic magic in the last couple of months that not only could he recognize all the inspection techniques that had been going on at the terminal, he could cast a quiet spell or two of his own and validate the methods. They weren't missing anything -- anything. The poor man who'd been trying to smuggle in a quantity of a certain "product of Farrelian free-market agriculture," as the euphemism went, woven in with a seemingly authentic carpet from the Northern Confederacy, was facing a significant fine, as well as some embarrassing questions from his employer. Khoo felt some sympathy; that Farrelian stash had been commonplace enough in some of the Sashi Mu parties, although he himself had never indulged, and the smuggler would be well enough compensated to take the edge off the fine. Point was, however, he'd still been caught, despite a concealment that Khoo himself had found it impossible to penetrate.

Well, maybe I'm missing something, he thought. The pigeons gave him an idea. Maybe it wasn't the passengers or their luggage that was carrying the messages, but the vermin that couldn't be kept totally off even the most scrupulously maintained airship. Given a little time, he might look into that. Unfortunately, he was running out of time, and it would be only a couple of hours before he had to see Chouuuu"AAAGH!" *CRASH*

"Oh, hi, I see you're home," came an all-too-familiar, if cheerful, voice as he picked himself up off the floor of the apartment. Anna-Lisa was looking at him, from the middle of a pile of odd-looking metal pieces (one of which he'd apparently stepped on), with a big smile on her face. "Nice job on that cylinder you just tripped over, it'll produce a good authentic dent that looks like the product of dwarven ages. Are you hurt?" That last seemed like an afterthought.

Khoo struggled to his feet, so startled that he wasn't noticing yet that he was, in fact, in a fair bit of pain, and that he couldn't put much weight on his right foot. "What are you doing here?" he sputtered.

Anna-Lisa's cheerful expression never wavered. "Moving in, of course, silly. Now let me look at that ankle you sprained."
----
Image
Because old is wise, does good, and above all, kicks ass.
User avatar
Graybeard
The Heretical Admin
 
Posts: 6878
Joined: August 20th, 2007, 8:26 am
Location: Nuevo Mexico y Colorado, Estados Unidos

Re: Tsuiraku - A Contest of Miseries

Postby Alberich » September 25th, 2013, 11:55 am

Nika, it being before her shift, had considered how best to take another Azaka girl's time during working hours. She decided the best thing was simply to pay a customer's fee herself and buy a massage. Her masseuse was Suryah, a dusky, dark-haired amazon from Farrel, and physically the strongest woman in the house.

After half an hour of the hardest handling she'd had since Uncle Iokim, during which she made many noises of delight, she called a halt for mercy, fished out a bottle of plum brandy, and spent the rest of the time she'd bought relaxing and socializing. Both girls stayed nude but there was no sexual chemistry between them, only good companionship and some very revealing talk. What she learned presented her with a knotty problem. Yet she felt she would have a solution before the sun rose.
Alberich
Noble Knight Protector
 
Posts: 1892
Joined: October 5th, 2008, 9:58 am

Re: Tsuiraku - A Contest of Miseries

Postby Graybeard » September 25th, 2013, 10:34 pm

"I ... well ... um ..." Khoo couldn't really think of anything to say, except "thank you" when Anna-Lisa finished healing his ankle; he had to admit, her healing magic was better than his own.

"I, uh, better get ready for my meeting with Choubei," he said, and went into his bedroom to change clothes ...

... There to discover that sitting on his bed, next to his pillow, was a plushie of a micro-tentacle monster.

I'm sleeping on the couch tonight.

[OOC: Fast forward to Choubei?]
----
Image
Because old is wise, does good, and above all, kicks ass.
User avatar
Graybeard
The Heretical Admin
 
Posts: 6878
Joined: August 20th, 2007, 8:26 am
Location: Nuevo Mexico y Colorado, Estados Unidos

Re: Tsuiraku - A Contest of Miseries

Postby Alberich » September 26th, 2013, 7:25 am

The "security area" at the terminal was better appointed than Choubei's office at Homeland Security. The office where they met was decorated in a historical style from the Mage-Priest War era, the scroll paintings depicted glorious moments from Tsuiraku's past, and the one changing magical picture showed vistas from the most beautiful parks in Tsuirakushiti. It was as if the decorator wanted the agents to remember just what they were defending.

Choubei's mood was unaffected by the surroundings. As Khoo would come to know, Choubei's mood was unaffected by just about anything. His head was cocked as he listened to this tale of vermin.

"So, they feed the message to a trained rat, infiltrate the rat onto the ship, then call him off with a whistle, cut it open, and fish it out of his belly? And I suppose our best bet to catch him is a mage with a pussycat familiar? Or are you up for building us a better mousetrap?"
Alberich
Noble Knight Protector
 
Posts: 1892
Joined: October 5th, 2008, 9:58 am

Re: Tsuiraku - A Contest of Miseries

Postby Graybeard » September 26th, 2013, 12:15 pm

"Hey, I didn't say it was a good idea, just the best I could come up with," Khoo said, feeling a bit defensive. "Truth is, I'm baffled." Bafflement was a pretty normal state for him at the moment, and he was just as baffled by the Anna-Lisa problem as by this one.

"So what now?"
----
Image
Because old is wise, does good, and above all, kicks ass.
User avatar
Graybeard
The Heretical Admin
 
Posts: 6878
Joined: August 20th, 2007, 8:26 am
Location: Nuevo Mexico y Colorado, Estados Unidos

Re: Tsuiraku - A Contest of Miseries

Postby Alberich » September 26th, 2013, 8:50 pm

"Now," said Choubei, "you go back to that bright young lady and help her out with this dwarf artifact project. Report to me here at noon, with a good written description of what you're making. Work on it all night with her if you have to. Just get it to me so I can understand it and run it past our mages if I have to." He pointed at the door with the gesture that said "dismissed."

Choubei didn't know it, but developments elsewhere that night would radically change his plans for Khoo, in ways he would not like in the least. He hadn't specified whether Khoo was to report alone or with Anna-Lisa, a decision that might be highly significant to Khoo's peace of mind. If, indeed, he really got to make the decision for himself at all.

* * *

“So, the king spent a day thinking only of one question, ‘How can I eliminate all unhappiness from my kingdom?’”

Nika gave a cute mock-voice to the king’s thought, not like the one she gave the king himself – a hearty jollity that could order a leg of mutton or an execution with the same enthusiasm. She’d copied this tone from Lord Arman Duravsky, but in her voice it was funnier and far less threatening. Some of the girls in the Plum Room enjoyed her strange tales. Some did not. But almost all enjoyed her voices.

“And the next day he told his chancellor to announce a contest throughout the kingdom, a contest of miseries! ‘Let all the unhappiest come to my palace grounds, and be prepared to tell their woes. He who tells me the greatest misery, that one shall receive a gift of land and gold, and my daughter’s hand as well. Proclaim it! And let the contest begin on the tenth day of spring!’

“And so the messengers rode up and down the length of the kingdom, proclaiming the contest and where it would be, and the promised reward for the happy winner. And there was much excitement and curiosity, as every man talked to his neighbor of his own complaints, and whether he might have a chance at the prize. But the wise old men of the kingdom said it was best to avoid the affairs of kings, and leave the contest to those too desperate to care. Some listened, some did not, and on the tenth day of spring there was a mighty crowd gathered at the palace.

“The field was hung about with white cloth streamers, and three thrones stood on one side. The king, his chancellor, and his daughter sat there, prepared to question the suppliants and judge the contest. And all wondered that His Majesty would take such an interest in his lowest subjects.

“Up in front there was a raucous crowd of beggars, the contestants of the first day, for so the Chancellor had decided. And men wondered how so many miseries could be heard, even if they took all spring. The king’s daughter was white as a sheet, for fear of being joined to one of these, but the king only smiled. She’d been sent back by her previous husband, a foreign prince, for disobedience, and was not in favor just then.

“The chancellor called for silence, the king’s guard drew their swords – and there was silence. The king invoked his household gods in prayer, that he might be shown the way to end unhappiness in his kingdom. Then he looked down to the crowd, and pointed at one of the foremost” – her arm shot out to point at one of her listeners, and she exaggerated the lowest register of her voice – “‘You! Step forward now, and tell us all your woes!’

“The beggar hobbled up” – she moved her body to imitate his rolling stagger – “and bowed” – she genuflected – “and said,” in a cracked comedy voice of Nika’s,

“‘Why, thankye, yer majesty, and sure it is my life is a sore affliction. I have no house to call my own, but whatever stable or ditch I can find to lie in, and all the days of my life, sick or well, I have to wander up and down the length of the kingdom, begging for a scrap to keep me alive, wet and dry, cold and hot, no rest for me! No family, no comfort, no knowing when I’ll eat next – that’s the life fate has wished on me, and, yer majesty’s pardon, I couldn’t ask for a worse.’

“‘A terrible life!’ said the king. ‘But you do manage to eat, I see, at least enough to keep alive.’

“‘Yes, yer majesty, but only what I can beg, and after a long walk from village to village, when they’re tired of me one place, I have to tramp off to another or starve, and sometimes I’ll go days without.’

“‘And you’ve got no lands, no flocks, and no family?’

“‘No, none, yer majesty, only my rags and sore feet.’

“‘So, you don’t have to rise in the morning and tend your flocks, or drive them to the fields or back, or worry over their sickness, or haggle their prices with butchers and merchants?’

“‘No, yer majesty, for I don’t have nothing,’

“‘And your lord never calls you out into battle against his enemies?’

“‘No, yer majesty, what would a lord’s retainers do with a poor body like mine? If a lord says anything to me, it’s, here’s a crust, now walk on over to someone else’s land.’

“‘And you’ve no wicked daughters to punish’ – he gave a look to own daughter, there at his left hand – ‘or good ones to reward, no need to find them good husbands, or good wives for your sons, or to struggle day and night to provide for them, or set them a good example?’

“‘No, yer majesty none, I have to tramp around the country and beg on the roadside just to feed myself.’

“‘You might say you’re footsore and fancy free.’

“And the crowd laughed at that. As well they’d better – a king’s jokes never fall flat. The king went on:

“‘But indeed it sounds terrible to have to walk up and down the roads every day all your life, as you’ve complained of doing, so I will relieve you of that affliction. Chancellor, gift this man with seventy-six strokes of the bastinado. Then he can crawl along the roads for a while, and decide for himself whether walking is really so bad.’

“The chancellor gave the orders at once, and the beggar was led off to be whipped on the soles. Then the king turned to the rest of the crowd and smiled happily. ‘Who will be next to tell me his miseries?’ But the beggars were crowding away hastily, hiding behind each other, pushing each other to get away. And some of the cripples with bandaged legs found their limbs were working just fine then. But the king still caught the eye of one man and pointed him out.”

Here again she stabbed her arm out, pointing right at one of her listeners, a nervous girl who jumped and squeaked at the attention. This drew giggles.

“‘You,’ he said,” – the exaggerated sternness, in her, was simply cute – “‘step forward and tell us your miseries!’

“‘Please, ah, please yer majesty,’ said the beggar, ‘I, ah ah, I’m, ah, not here to for joining in the contest at all! Ahhh, in fact, I’m the, ah, happiest man alive! Only here, ah ah, to watch, just to watch it, ah, please yer majesty, I got no complaints at all! Happy, happy, happy, that’s me! This feller over here on t’other hand…’ But the other man had already gone.

“‘Why,’ said the king, ‘these gentlemen of the road have hardly anything to offer! Find me some new candidates for tomorrow.’ And he closed the contest for the day. A few of the beggars who didn't get away were drafted by the chancellor to fill in the latrine ditches for the crowds that had gathered, but once that was done, there was not a beggar to be seen in the capital or the contest.

"But what happened on the second day…must wait for another day.”

There was applause. There was praise, sincere or not. There were hugs and touches and chatter of no consequence. Then the Society of the Plum Room broke up as each girl made her own way away. Nika's enthusiasm in the tale was born both of her style of storytelling -- enthusiasm and eye contact were part of how she did it -- and partly of knowing how to solve the latest problem in her side job. She'd made a decision and was at peace with it. She'd need some help, and Mr. Masaki wouldn't like that, but she was sure she'd get what she needed.

[OOC: From my point of view you can take Khoo to his noon meeting anytime you like; but I would enjoy seeing some of what passes between him and Anna-Lisa in the meantime. Nika's story was at dawn but she's not with Khoo so feel free to backtrack and leap forward as much as you like.]
Alberich
Noble Knight Protector
 
Posts: 1892
Joined: October 5th, 2008, 9:58 am

Re: Tsuiraku - A Contest of Miseries

Postby Graybeard » September 27th, 2013, 9:41 am

"Oh my god," Khoo said when he opened the door of his apartment. Anna-Lisa had been ... busy ...

What stood in front of him may or may not have been a dwarven food processor, but whatever it was, it bore about the same relationship to the human version as a Seeadler battlecruiser did to a personal sailboat. Unless dwarves were twenty feet tall, with appetites to match, this -- thing would do enough food processing to feed an entire army of them. And another thing: Khoo couldn't possibly understand why a food processor would need to be armed.

"V-very impressive," he finally got out, "but we're, ah, trying to run before we walk here. Choubei just wants u-- me to bring him a detailed plan for building this thing tomorrow." He didn't bother to pass along the man's hint that they should spend the night working on that plan together.

"Pfft," Anna-Lisa said with an airy wave of her hand. "Men. He doesn't want us to walk before we run. He wants us to crawl, even though we're already out there dancing with the moon and the stars. We won't give him the plans tomorrow. We'll just give him the artifact."

"But how are we ever going to get it out of here?" Khoo persisted. "It's way too big to fit through the door. In fact, Luminosita's nuts, it barely fits in this room."

"Oh, that," Anna-Lisa said casually, as though he'd pointed out a smudge on a mirrored surface to be erased. "Watch." She pressed a stud on a part whose function Khoo could not possibly begin to divine.

With a tremendous clatter of metal, the "artifact" disintegrated into pieces on the floor. Anna-Lisa snapped her fingers three times. The first time, an obvious Pocket Dimension opened in the middle of the pile. The second time, the pieces walked into the Pocket Dimension, two by two, as though going onto the mythical Veracian ark. The third time, the Pocket Dimension closed into a tidy little suitcase.

Khoo goggled at this sight. The Mesuinus had even more of an effect on her than I thought. That's ... scary beyond words. "Very impressive," he allowed.

"Pfft," the girl repeated, with the same airy wave of a hand. "Just something I whipped up. Now why don't we go to bed? You're probably tired from the day's exertions ... although I hope you're not too tired." The leer said it all.

Khoo clutched at a wall for support. "Uh, yes, um, I'm pretty tired. But I do still have some work to do. Why don't you, ah, turn in, and I'll stay out here and do homework, I'll sleep on the couch when I'm done."

"'Kay," Anna-Lisa said, surprising Khoo; he'd expected a scene. There wasn't one. "See you later," she said, and the bedroom door closed.

Khoo let out a big sigh of relief as he settled back on the couch. Fact was, he was tired, but not mainly from the day's exertions ... unless you counted trying to keep up with this hyperhyperhyperactive girl an "exertion." He took off his shirt, cast a quick Hygiene spell, and tried to settle down and get to sleep.

He had almost succeeded, but not quite, when he felt another body slipping onto the couch with him.

"I see why you're sleeping out here," a familiar voice said, dropped in tone almost to a whisper. "That bed just isn't comfortable at all ... at least without you in it."

The first touch made it clear that Anna-Lisa wasn't wearing anything, if not to his stunned brains, at least to his awakening glands and organs.

[OOC: And fade to black...]
----
Image
Because old is wise, does good, and above all, kicks ass.
User avatar
Graybeard
The Heretical Admin
 
Posts: 6878
Joined: August 20th, 2007, 8:26 am
Location: Nuevo Mexico y Colorado, Estados Unidos

Re: Tsuiraku - A Contest of Miseries

Postby Alberich » September 27th, 2013, 2:17 pm

Next noon, the two new lovers presented themselves at the patriotically-appointed terminal security room. Choubei Masaki was standing as they entered, and as he saw Anna-Lisa come in with the case, his face for just a moment registered surprise and...could it be...embarrassment? That was an emotion that seemed foreign to Choubei's nature, and it quickly disappeared.

He looked askance at the case, "Are the plans that weighty?" he asked. "Or are you telling me that's the mousetrap itself?" (Whatever the nature of this artifact might be, its codename was now established.) The things he had to say, but was not eager to say, could wait for this.
Alberich
Noble Knight Protector
 
Posts: 1892
Joined: October 5th, 2008, 9:58 am

Re: Tsuiraku - A Contest of Miseries

Postby Graybeard » September 28th, 2013, 9:56 am

He knows, Khoo thought miserably, correctly reading the look on Choubei's face. Well, with any kind of luck, what happened the night before would be a one-night aberration.

Right.

At least the man's interest in the "mousetrap" had engaged Anna-Lisa's full attention. On the way to the office, she'd been Khoo's own piece of personal jewelry, hanging from him like a 5'9" blonde pendant. That was embarrassing enough in the abstract, but worse, Daisuke and Kei had been on the same moving sidewalk and had noticed. Their leers had been almost a parody, and it hadn't helped that Khoo himself was blushing bright red. There's no way I'm going to be able to keep this a secret at Sashi Mu. Word will be all over before I get back there, people are going to talk, they're going to think we're a --

"-- telling me that's the mousetrap itself?"

CLATTER


Khoo wasn't sure whether it was Choubei's words that roused him out of his funk, or the sound of a number of pieces of metal being dumped on the floor as Anna-Lisa opened the Pocket Dimension.

"It's the mousetrap itself, or at least most of it," he heard himself saying.

And I'm the mouse.
----
Image
Because old is wise, does good, and above all, kicks ass.
User avatar
Graybeard
The Heretical Admin
 
Posts: 6878
Joined: August 20th, 2007, 8:26 am
Location: Nuevo Mexico y Colorado, Estados Unidos

PreviousNext

Return to On The Road

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest