• Crusader Kings II Expansion Subscription

    Subscribe to the CK II Expansion and enjoy unlimited access to 13 major expansions and more!


  • Paradox Space Exploration Sale has arrived! Up to 75% off

    How's the space on your hard drive? Paradox wants to challenge your galaxy brain with a great selection of space exploration games - and they're all on sale for some very down-to-earth prices! The sale runs from May 4th until May 10th at 17:00 CEST / 08:00 PDT.


    May 4th - May 10th
  • Crusader Kings III Available Now!

    The realm rejoices as Paradox Interactive announces the launch of Crusader Kings III, the latest entry in the publisher’s grand strategy role-playing game franchise. Advisors may now jockey for positions of influence and adversaries should save their schemes for another day, because on this day Crusader Kings III can be purchased on Steam, the Paradox Store, and other major online retailers.


    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

unmerged(60719)

Captain
Sep 9, 2006
441
0
Secrets of the Inconsequential War


Chapter One

A Chance Selection in Shinjuku
Part One



The reader may agree that on occasion this particular thought may strike him or her as if it were an inspired revelation. It is something, he or she may note, that cannot be reached for and grasped like a cherry blossom-at least not very easily, but rather it is, without mutual acquiescence, planted like the aforementioned pink floral into his or her mind whilst they lazily or almost unthinkingly stare into the sea of faces that so often greets their eyes during the course of day to day activities. A beautiful young woman passing by may leave an impression upon the young man. Likewise, the image of the young handsome fellow who traverses the crowded streets might find its way into the mind of the passing young lady. Do not mistake my words; I write not referring to any sort of lustful fantasies that may be seized upon by the unscrupulous who sees the attractive face of a stranger. Rather, I am addressing the not uncommon reflection that may, on occasion, cause one to start with fresh sight when they realize-truly fathom-that the passersby on the rain-soaked street is more than an empty image to be treated with standard courtesy but a man, possessing his or her own life, whom we will never know except by that most unimportant of their characteristics: their appearance. Do not mistake me again, for I do suppose that more than what is external of a person can be gauged with the naked eye. I simply mean to say that it is the soul, not the body, which possesses the most unencrypted truth regarding a person. Granted, those truths may be entirely visible to one who passes by in the darkness of the night, but they are obscured among the bodily features and, I imagine, invisible in great part to all except for the most wise of men.

Let us then, if I may continue with my little introductory narrative, see if we can’t pierce the traditional mysteriousness that accompanies such strangers. For instance, might we endeavor to delve deeper into the life of that single interesting man standing just distant at the fish market, who would otherwise pass us by and vanish into the eternal kingdom, that realm under divine auspices where we may, only then, finally encounter him again? What of that young girl who seems aged beyond her years, with the strangely light hair of bistre coloration? Shall we examine her life more closely? Or perhaps the old war veteran who stares wearily at the new shipment of Wiis in the blindly opaque electronics store window? There’s undoubtedly a story or two there.

And I imagine such stories are everywhere within this crowded little vicinity of Tokyo. Even the tall colorful signs that adorn the buildings on either side of the street announce a bit. They hint at the state of this neighborhood’s soul, as do the people streaming past; different as they are, there is still a general “feeling” they give this place; if one takes the short time to notice. Of course, I stray from my initial reflection of it being quite difficult to tell a good deal about a stranger simply by viewing their respective outward appearances. There is more to be said, as I have already mentioned, for the external manifestation of the body and its relation to the soul. It is said that the eyes are the windows to the soul, and I confess to believing that to be the truth. In fact, I routinely gaze into my own eyes in the mirror’s plane, in order to make certain their crystalline nature has not degraded and warped through my sins. However, come to think of it, it may be true that the deeper one’s soul falls into corruption, the less keen their perception of its state becomes, which would perhaps render fruitless this little practice. But, I dare say, the principles behind it are sound in so far as one should always be on guard against the assails of those vices which bloom from the trees of pride. My hope, upon sweeping my gaze across this minute enclave of Shinjuku which encompasses just a single vibrant intersection and a quartet of short paved extensions jutting outward, is that these many magnificently dark-haired people know as much as that.

I would be greatly interested, besides learning much about one given stranger here, to see the lavish histories behind that man or woman or family whom I choose to investigate; and further to uncover perhaps a minor sprinkling of the ripples so generated by they or their ancestors, which touch, or have touched, or will touch the very distant corners of the world. I imagine that these ripples extend to fields no less far flung than one may reasonably imagine while holding position within the very final boundaries of realistic conjecture. Who, besides God, can truly surmise the influence of their movements and the curiously unique and differing individuals across the world who they’ve affected in their gentle advance for either good or ill-undoing? I should like to hope that the affect will be, more often than not, attributive of the former nature, though that may be asking too much, but it depends on the ultimate subject of my study. For now, let us both peer in contemplation at the intersection below us; there is much time in the day left for us as the sun is still very high among the clouds.

At length, I note a multitude of interesting faces. In time, I begin to realize that all are quite interesting from the beautiful to the ugly to the passive to the grotesque, the bashful, the unusual, the sinister, the disconcerting, the pale, the sorrowful, the carefree, the somber, the striking, the dark, the phlegmatic, the cheery, the bored, the fiendish, the despairing, the enraged, the pleasant, the painted, the choleric, the false, the wondrous, the eye-catching faces and persons to match. But, I know that to a man as unwise as I and as flawed in character, I cannot hope to see much more than these singular attributes. Granted, very many passers exude two or more qualities, but not nearly as much information disseminates through their facades and figures as I seek. But that is fully expected, and that is the reason a specific choice for study must soon be made. However, I find my-or should I say our-decision is growing difficult because of this continually growing plethora of options. I fear night may fall before I-I mean we, are able to select a subject for inquiry.

Let us peruse the barely dimming streets a bit more closely. Let us reinvigorate the efforts of our search. Ah! Look there! I spy a weary business man, that stocky disheveled bloke with the wild catastrophic hair leaning fatigued against the laundromat door. He looks as if he has taken the brunt of some recent personnel-related alterations at his firm. I feel sorry for the poor fellow…but wait! That limbless man! Fantastically original! See how he maneuvers his wheel chair with only that crude robotic arm! There, you see him crossing the street now. He’d be a most interesting subject, with my sympathies to his four lost appendages of course. Wait! See that most grievously mournful grandmother. She walks tenderly in front of the little Panasonic outlet, clutching what looks to be a lace-bordered picture frame. I wonder what loss has so afflicted her that she strolls along, completely unembarrassed of her streaking tears. Hmm, what else? Who else? Oh, there’s a youthful couple; looks to be a square native man with an American, a pretty purple-haired lass at his side. There’s nothing particularly arresting about them, yet there is something…I can’t quite say what it is, or even articulate it within the depths of my mind. Oh well, we shall go on with our search.

The evening falls tediously then sharply, all at once; and we two are still looking. If you the reader would be so kind as to make a selection or a suggestion at any rate, I would consider myself very greatly obliged.

Now the passers-by below are like a disorderly parade of dark goblins or shadowy specters that are wildly illuminated when moving under the rows of brilliant noble gaseous lights that proclaim loudly their emblazoned Japanese characters in shades of fiery aka, ao, shiro, kiiro and midori, which echo to the tawdry urban echoes of rap and pulsating beats from passing cars. We can nary see the people in any true sense now, as their forms are at once in shadow and then suddenly bathed in surrealistic light. I stare downward in minor meditation, listening to the wind gushes produced by every Mitsubishi, Toyota, and Lincoln as each flows swiftly across the asphalt, leaving the rumbling signatures of jarring rock music in their wake. Some indiscernible time later, my eye, having been looking past the nearby skyscrapers which were illuminated like cylindrical Christmas trees and at a full sallow moon which hung beyond, falls sleepily from its target and lands on the street below, on a black Lancer, polished and pristine, which races delicately toward the intersection. As it comes forward, the car bares the speckled markings of the colorful conventional, neon, and strobe lights; so much so that it half-resembles a giant delicately brushed Easter egg.

I must say the night is quite dark, the day exceedingly late. I am willing to venture into the unknown. To be clearer, I suggest we each throw our die into the dank city air. Let us choose this charging vehicle; or rather its occupant or occupants for our intellectual or perhaps simply our inquisitive purpose. Let us enter into the Lancer as it sweeps by. It would, under normal circumstances, leave us behind forever, so that we could, later on, only put forth terribly rudimentary guesses as to who was inside, as if the question would even matter to us. But now, we shall acquaint ourselves with whoever is inside. It is most intriguing, for we have made our choice without even having seen the external features of the selected.
 

Lord E

Non sufficit orbis
16 Badges
Jul 17, 2002
5.107
0
Visit site
  • Hearts of Iron Anthology
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Divine Wind
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis: Rome
  • Semper Fi
  • Rome: Vae Victis
  • 200k Club
  • 500k Club
  • Europa Universalis III: Collection
  • Europa Universalis: Rome Collectors Edition
  • Paradox Order
Intriguing and interesting start. Looking forward to more, shall be cool to see what happens :)
 

unmerged(60719)

Captain
Sep 9, 2006
441
0
Chapter One

A Chance Selection in Shinjuku
Part Two


shinjuku1xg6.jpg


Shortly, as our eyes become adjusted to the faded-leather, glass and steel bound-light, we recognize the presence of a trio inside the sleek gallivanting car. The first, which we will presently leave from our prime investigation, is a chauffeur. Distant and unattached from his two passengers, the tumbling illuminations of vivid Tokyo are spread before him, chaotically diffusing across the windshield as if the glass were the canvas of a grand movable fresco. The image temporarily ensnares his tiring gaze just briefly, before he is able to turn away from its visual thrust and concentrate his efforts on the perennially diminishing column that is the faintly visible road ahead.

Meanwhile, two men sit on either side of the backseat. Through the passage of some sizable number of blocks, they are silent. There seems a soft tension between them. On the right is positioned a middle-aged man of respectable and slightly elegant form, a perfect Japanese stoic, apparently bearing the dutiful outlook of a peaceful samurai. He wears a pressed pinstripe suit of esteemed grayish shades, while his unassumingly faultless black hair and arrowhead nose point forward in silent rumination of some unknown nature; though it is undoubtedly grasping for a benevolent end. To his left, there rests a much younger man a mere foot or two away. He is slipped low in his posture, wearing sunglasses, and stargazing at the many beautiful colors and shapes that dart past. His immediate thoughts strike the observer as utterly abstract. At present, there may be little occurring within the recesses of his intellect, but we note his strong passionate features, the features of one who might envision himself as a modern prophet set among his peers. His flamboyant attire announces no less, as does the solid little ring of tattoos just barely visible below his sliding left sleeve. The former gentleman finally speaks drawing the silent scowling face of this later slowly toward him:

“Takumi, itsu ka yoru asobi ni kite kudasai,” he delivers reverently at some length. “Soo da to ii to omoimasu,” he adds a moment later.

“Soo desu ka?” the younger whispers, accenting every syllable with a touch of cruel bitterness before breaking into a light chuckle. “Soo omoimasen.”

Their conversation thus ends, and muteness is abruptly draped over the cramped scene a second time as if this sudden silence is a veil meant to mask some hidden familial shame. The men, it seems, have been left in more pitiable though differing states because of what has just transpired; because of the apparent harsh words given from the young man to the older. But each assumes his previous posture and they act accordingly for the remainder of the trip which lasts, without incident, for another half-hour.

The end of that thirty-minute period sees the glorious Lancer roll to a stop, ostentatiously, in front of a worn weather-beaten stone building in the dull suburbs. Looking up through the crack in the left rear window, the moon is noticed to have dropped greatly during the journey, causing the heavens to become much darker; and the watch of the chauffer declares the dawning of the midnight hour. The chauffer proceeds to the right side where he pulls open the older man’s door, at which point that man places himself briskly onto the sidewalk, instinctively adjusting the minor flaws that have developed in his current wardrobe. His face is rather gaunt, as he is, I hazard, naturally tired to be out and about this late. The flashy youth’s door is opened promptly afterward. He takes his time in exiting, but eventually waves off the driver and closes the door himself. Very soon, he joins his elder who is standing perfectly still within the cool autumn air. The two then go inside together, the younger striding proudly, the elder marching humbly. They enter through the dusky building’s heavy double doors; on each of these is imprinted the fanlike image of a single violet chrysanthemum. Shall we follow them inside?

We entrants find ourselves standing atop a plush foyer carpet nearby the two men, who have each removed their shoes. They bow forward, having just presented their leader, their Oyabun, a smiling man of eerily grim impression, with a pair of little wrapped gifts. The Oyabun displays extreme warmth, so much so that it is quite touching and endearing, and shortly he calls the men further into what appears to be a peculiarly inviting home, despite the gloomy outer facade which, at first, had made the location seem very much otherwise. This new character traverses a span of rooms, until finally arriving in a brightly lit dining room of miniscule proportions, in which the large table seems to occupy at least eighty percent of the space and the half-dozen men already seated occupy nearly the whole of the remainder. The Oyabun points to a lone duo of empty chairs and then creeps along the wall before finally taking his place at the table’s head. Simultaneously, eight men are standing in unison, waiting for this towering figure to speak.

I note that his exterior is of unusual demeanor. On first glance, he had seemed, despite his subtle grimness of character, to be a civilized gentlemanly sort of fellow, although his face was a little ugly-a characteristic somewhat negated by a distinguished air about him. But now, his hefty robust form impressed upon me the form of an ancient barbarian, who was ridiculously stuffed into a fancy suit when it plainly seemed more appropriate that he should instead be dressed as Hun bowman or a Mongol archer, a powerful muscular man unacquainted with the courteous touch of what would commonly be called “civilization”. I suppose his ancestors were of such nomadic peoples who occupied segments of the near Asian mainland many centuries ago. But perhaps I err, for he certainly does have a great command of that noble virtue, even though I wonder whether it is sincere. Nevertheless, he undoubtedly has the heavy gaze of some wild and vigorous steppe origination.

Let us now turn to our two friends from the car. They are side by side, at full attention. The younger’s pride and carelessness has completely fallen away; well that is probably incorrect, for he in fact glows with pride; not for himself, but for this little society. Meanwhile his older companion seems appreciably uncomfortable even though there appears no obvious reason for his agitation, but he hides it well.

Before long, the leader speaks. He is still smiling like a painted doll. He bids his eight sons to sit down with that cheerful mouth, and begins a lengthy oration, part of which I will recollect below, beginning from a chance line in the later section of his address.

“Shizuka desu,” he announces in a playfully sardonic tone. “Shizuka desu,” he repeats with soft acidity as he sees that no one speaks and so the phrase still holds true. He pauses with that Hunnish glare, and pushes his face toward one stationary soul nearby. “Kyoo wa oisogashii desu ka?” And with these words, spoken like a gentle tease, he produces a handgun, and drops it on the table with a loud thud, and fiddles with it, spinning it like a top, letting the barrel rest against the chest of this man or that, while he continues in his stealth proclamations of contempt. “Watashi no iu koto ga wakarmasuu ka?” he asks of that same man.

“Wakarimasu,” the man replies indistinctly. The Oyabun responds with an even broader smile, a sadistic grin. He spins the gun once more and then slides it to the man, who hesitates in touching it.

“Korose!” the Oyabun screams like a demon. “Maeda-san sooshite Amerikajin! Hayaku shiro!” He frenetically signals at the weapon with his finger. He is, I fear, as one possessed. I am not alone in this thought for everyone else appears stricken with a subsurface terror, particularly the stoic gentleman from the car. His face is calm, without the least hint of movement, but sweat involuntarily drips from his brow. I see it fall in grotesque drops, and envision it scattering among the many microscopic threads as it collides with the carpet. I think that we will never see that little tear again; it vanishes with no elaboration, just as the passing face goes by and disappears until eternity with little fanfare of any sort, except for-in some cases-a vague impression that rapidly disintegrates. His young companion meanwhile sits with a self-induced glazing of the eyes. Perhaps he is afraid, but must mentally travel some distance from this place so that the boiling emotion will not spill over into visible hysterics of any degree. Naturally, his sunglasses have long since been removed, as he is in the respected presence of the Oyabun, and there is nothing but the glazing to cover his melancholically tenebrous pupils which stare blankly ahead.

Even after the venomous outburst of the hefty leader (whom I would later find to be a Konoe-San), the man to whom he has given the gun is motionless. He hasn’t even set as much as a finger on the black firearm that lies before him. Konoe’s anger has not subsided and, in fact, seems to be growing exponentially. His face, now with any joyous pretense utterly discarded, twists and shakes with reddening rage. He begins shouting obscenities and pounding his chest. But, the man sitting behind the gun is resolved in his purpose. Let us look into the face of this brave man. It is alive and panting with fear, yet it is firm; he will not do as the Oyabun asks. And further, he knows that digit-cutting will not be his penalty, but rather death by the hand of his master who is turned by anger into an immovable assassin, but he accepts this as the proper alternative to carrying out the brute’s sinister design. Konoe staggers out of the room, leaving his eight adopted sons totally frozen. He returns some time later, blood red in the face and wielding a giant katana; the span of the unfortunate but courageous man’s life is obviously numbered at only a few more seconds now. How I pity him, yet praise him! The monster, now a mighty Hun in battle frenzy, lifts the stained translucent blade high above him; the sinews of his muscles bulge under its weight, and because of his rage, veins and arteries press strongly against the skin. He is about to drop a terrifying, decapitating blow in the full company of his followers.

But then, as if anything could be more jaw dropping than this barbarity, the two gentleman from the car stand up as one, the older quickly with desperate grace, and the younger with simply desperate speed. “Yamere! Yamere!” they shout over and over again like fraught schoolgirls until Konoe’s body, weary from his prolonged fury, falls back on the wall, letting the sword drop and the much relieved man of courage keep his head.
 
Last edited:

unmerged(60719)

Captain
Sep 9, 2006
441
0
I guess I should offer some explanation since the opening hasn't real given any. ;) :D

This AAR will be based on my first EU3 game (aside from a few little trial runs; its also my first EU game period as you may be able to tell as this story comes along). To be more specific, it's based on a single war that happened in the late 15th century.

Country: Japan, 1453 GC, Difficulty: Normal

Excuse the relatively poor Japanese (to those who know the language). Also, at the risk of sounding like a broken record to those who've been following my other AAR, I do intend to continue it.

edit-I forgot to thank you for your comment Lord E, much apreciated.
 
Last edited:

stnylan

Compulsive CommentatAAR
124 Badges
Aug 1, 2002
36.935
3.436
  • 500k Club
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • March of the Eagles
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Victoria: Revolutions
  • Europa Universalis: Rome
  • Rome Gold
  • Semper Fi
  • Victoria 2
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Rome: Vae Victis
  • Hearts of Iron III Collection
  • Cities: Skylines
  • Europa Universalis III: Collection
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
  • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
  • Europa Universalis: Rome Collectors Edition
  • Mount & Blade: Warband
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
  • Cities: Skylines - After Dark
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cossacks
  • Stellaris: Necroids
  • Deus Vult
  • Hearts of Iron II: Armageddon
  • Cities in Motion
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Darkest Hour
  • Arsenal of Democracy
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III: Chronicles
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • For The Glory
  • For the Motherland
  • Hearts of Iron III
Very interesting start. The beginning piece was especially melodic.
 

unmerged(60719)

Captain
Sep 9, 2006
441
0
Chapter One

A Chance Selection in Shinjuku
Part Three



I see everyone else shooting furtive glances around the room, at the spared man, at the two gentlemen who have puzzlingly contradicted their master and saved the former through their desperate intervention, at their leader who gasps with exhaustion against the wall with his typical contrived smile slowly beginning to return to his pug face, and at his katana lying harmlessly on the floor nearby. They’re standing mildly aghast, in the sense that the near-execution terrified them though they don’t, on the whole, seem to have totally disagreed with its supposed necessity.

In a few minutes, Konoe is standing once more and exuding a very pleasant grin of almost boyish character. His face appears much the same as just before his belligerence-warm, paternal, compassionate-except for its much dampened and sweaty quality. The handgun is calmly taken into his large hands and briefly caressed as if it were a prized blossom; the purple fan-shaped chrysanthemum on each of the outer doors comes to my mind-it must be some sort of emblem for this society. His eyes, strangely seeming of dirty glass, then turn upward, imprisoning his audience within a look of benevolence. He mentally remonstrates them with an expression perfectly contrary to the feeling in his heart, yet, somehow, his inner passions wildly exude from that look as so much hot sewage poured generously onto the marbled ice of Fujiyama.


emblemmo9.gif

Emblem on each of the outer doors


The men’s spirits are quickly flooded with sorrowful emotion at the sight of his looks, and I wonder if they can see, as I do clearly, what is behind them; or do they simply see his exterior warmth? I venture that they indeed see a kind of mixture of the two opposing humors (the precise composition of which I can only guess) but the later alone, or in the greater part, is certainly enough to move such men to pitiable weeping. It is the look of a perfectly grieving father, wounded by the weakness of his sons. Surprisingly, even the victim of Konoe’s violent advances sheds a few somber drops; and they are not the result of his near demise, as far as I can tell, but rather they stem from guilt regarding his own disobedience and unwillingness to volunteer for his master’s proscribed task. Everyone is of a similar somberly impassioned state, with the exception of one man. It is the older gentleman from the Lancer, in the grayish pinstripe-suit. His eyes are distressed no doubt, but not for the same reason as the other fourteen are sodden. He is no longer a friend of the Oyabun Konoe, or most profoundly, no more a son; one rapid gaze into those pupils tells me-us-that he has cut that bond in just the last instant, with no hesitation. Now he waits for that moment when he shall openly revolt.

“Takumi!” the master shouts with sudden gravity, pulling the listless face of the younger gentleman from the Lancer toward him.

“Oyabun,” he replies, forcing his tone to firmness.

“Kobun desu ka?”

“Hai!”

“Ikimasu?”

“Hai!”

Konoe scrunches his face into a peculiarly contented form. His rough hands finally place the black weapon on the table and he slides it promptly to the young man who readily grasps it. Thereafter, he produces a photo of a young couple who appear strangely familiar to me, as though I had recently seen them, and gives this to the man as well; it is a portrait, set on a marina boardwalk, of a Japanese man with an attractive violet-haired American woman; both are smiling. The Oyabun then peers, with mock languor, down at his watch.

“Sore o suru jikan desu. Sanjikan motte imasu,” he pronounces sleepily, before raising a finger toward the older gray-clad gentleman, and with a blazingly devilish stare, wordlessly anoints him to join his younger companion in the upcoming endeavor. The aspiring Ronin finds himself overpowered by the master’s will and accepts with a soft “Hai soo desu,” and a wistfully resigned nod. The two then stand at their master’s commanding motion, and I see that the older man in grays leave a solitary tear upon the table during his upward movement and that his left pinky is bandaged in white cloth, while the younger’s spirit seems to be fluttering at a great distance from this little room in the Tokyo suburbs. Nonetheless, both are wonderfully still; men in the true sense, at least in regard to their physical demeanor, for I see that their stoic character reflects an inner desire, in both, for perfection and order much more than any passion born from fear of their master. Indeed, they have just ventured so far as to defy him in his attempt to summarily execute an uncooperative subordinate. I expect this is why they have now been selected, and despite Konoe’s choice, I suspect that his trust of the duo is quite faint at this point, like a nighttime star diminished under the artificial luminance of downtown Tokyo. Of course, I surmise that this is a poor example, for the Oyabun’s trust is not so nearly powerful a thing as even a distant star relative to a city in close proximity.

As they are ushered out of the room and onto the street, they pass through the chrysanthemum etched outer doors, and a fellow brother hands the younger a trio of violet-backed kabufuda cards once they arrive on the sidewalk outside. I take it by their looks, that the unusual act is either entirely harmless, or speaks of exceedingly poor wishes from their master. The younger eventually dispenses the stiff cards into his pocket (at which point, I notice his left pinky is bandaged also) and places the handgun under his leather coat with characteristic apathy and a hidden sense of remorse, before his callously motioning head calls for his older companion to reenter the car. The later does so heavily; his once faultless hair is greatly disheveled and his concern over his wardrobe now absent.

By the chauffer’s wristwatch, it is now two a.m. The moon has fallen below the horizon causing the locale to take on a particularly oblivious quality, as though the three men, now preparing to depart for some apparently sinister mission, are they only living beings in the world. Shortly, the black sedan comes to life as a meager accomplice in the sense that it, of course, lacks humanity and thus does nothing to dispel the intense forlorn air that is rapidly being drawn around its occupants. We see their three grave faces, immobile save for the driver’s gentle sways as he moves the black vehicle away from the curb and toward the direction from which they all had originally come; towards Shinjuku.

“Katsuo,” the younger says as he replaces his sunglasses, causing a little solid band of tattoos to again become briefly visible below his sliding sleeve. “Dewa konbon,” he pronounces with a flashed smile, leading the other to nod joyfully. The visible cheer lasts but a few moments, until silence overcomes it and the journey continues without further incident.
 

Lord E

Non sufficit orbis
16 Badges
Jul 17, 2002
5.107
0
Visit site
  • Hearts of Iron Anthology
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Divine Wind
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis: Rome
  • Semper Fi
  • Rome: Vae Victis
  • 200k Club
  • 500k Club
  • Europa Universalis III: Collection
  • Europa Universalis: Rome Collectors Edition
  • Paradox Order
As I don’t know Japanese your Japanese in the posts might be broken and possibly wrong, but I still think it is very nice that you actually try to use Japanese in the posts, it gives it a certain touch. Nice update :)
 

stnylan

Compulsive CommentatAAR
124 Badges
Aug 1, 2002
36.935
3.436
  • 500k Club
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • March of the Eagles
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Victoria: Revolutions
  • Europa Universalis: Rome
  • Rome Gold
  • Semper Fi
  • Victoria 2
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Rome: Vae Victis
  • Hearts of Iron III Collection
  • Cities: Skylines
  • Europa Universalis III: Collection
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
  • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
  • Europa Universalis: Rome Collectors Edition
  • Mount & Blade: Warband
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
  • Cities: Skylines - After Dark
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cossacks
  • Stellaris: Necroids
  • Deus Vult
  • Hearts of Iron II: Armageddon
  • Cities in Motion
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Darkest Hour
  • Arsenal of Democracy
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III: Chronicles
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • For The Glory
  • For the Motherland
  • Hearts of Iron III
Indeed. There is a mystical quality by the lack of understanding of what is actually said. Almost dream-like.
 

unmerged(60719)

Captain
Sep 9, 2006
441
0
Chapter Two

The Project Begins
Part One



Exactly fourteen days previously and some five and a half thousand miles away, a torrent of warm afternoon rain emanated from the pale sky above Little Tokyo- a district in central Los Angles-and the sound of so many little drops splashing against the cement sidewalks, paved streets, and tiled roofs was not unlike a grand orchestra of nature playing a somber yet inspiring tune. A young man named Steven Maeda, twenty something years old and the son of Japanese immigrants, happened to be strolling among this deluge on 1st Street somewhere between Central and San Pedro. His average-sized frame was rather poorly attired for the weather, being clad in only a polo shirt and long khaki pants, yet the harsh environs weren’t a burden but instead seemed only a mild thrill to him as he had lived within Southern California’s fairly dry climate all his life, and such wetness was consequently welcome and appealing. By the time he arrived in front of a petite restaurant bearing the name “Maeda’s Osaka Sushi” in large black calligraphy print on a faded yellowish sign above the front door, he was utterly drenched; his black hair blacker than before, crystalline beads streaming along his nose and cheeks.

The area of the restaurant directly adjacent the street was very narrow and slightly pushed back relative to the establishments on either flank, giving the building a much hidden away quality and the young man gently sighed for this reminded him of the scarcity of patrons that had always afflicted the restaurant since his uncle had first opened it several years earlier. Upon pushing open the single glass door in front, a little bell sounded announcing his arrival. He looked around the darkened interior; his eyes were not yet adjusted to the dimness for the dreary overcast outside was still much more illuminated than the sushi bar’s inside which looked, at first, like a great dark shadow with a hint of redness in the center and several faintly visible yellow shines which eventually presented themselves as little hanging glass lamps. But before the picture became entirely clear, he heard a young woman’s voice call with girlish excitement from somewhere amidst the great blur. She had shouted his name. He thus pointed his drenched face toward a spot between two of the lamps where he perceived a gently moving head. In moments, it was crowned with a violet shock of hair, something like a helmet with pig-tails, and bore a uniquely pretty smiling facade underneath.

“Lydia,” he said, consciously attempting to hold back any tone of enthusiasm, but failing rather miserably as his voice jingled with nervousness. “I thought you were going to come tomorrow.”

The young lady seated at the table looked up at him. She was a fellow classmate of his in a local college history class and his current thesis project partner. He moved a little closer to her table, slightly ill at ease under her abruptly blank gaze. Her smile was now gone and in a perfectly deadpan voice she said: “I think it’d be better if we started work on the paper as soon as possible. I don’t want to go into class on the 27th with absolutely nothing to hand in. I’ve had several half-ass partners before, who’ve made me do all the work and then take the all the merit I earn them without offering me so much as a thank you after the fact, and I don’t want that to happen again. I’m making sure you help me.”

Steven grinned with even greater discomfort, before finally deciding to sit down. His uncle came to the table at that moment, bearing drinks and warmly greeting both of them; Lydia offered another brief smile as he shook her hand. Shortly he departed for the kitchen saying, with a demonstrative stroke of his stubby gray beard, that he had to tend to the other customers (though none were visible).

“Um, I promise that I’ll do my share of the work,” Steven said right after his uncle had departed. “You don’t have to worry about that.”

His companion gave no reply, except to stare at him with a pair of passionless gray eyes which caused his own to retreat toward the table’s surface where he began anxiously counting the various layers in the finished wood. Shortly, he took up his pen and notebook, pretending to busy himself with some initial project work, though there was really nothing for him to do as neither he nor his partner, sitting across from him, had yet collected any data through research. Meanwhile, she continued to sit quietly until a few minutes after this ruse began, when her straw was heard collecting the last traces of soda from her glass with a sudden burbling sound and she began with somewhat intrepid inexpressiveness as was her usual custom:

“He’s a nice man.”

“Who?” Steven asked, a bit relieved that the uncomfortable silence had ceased.

“Your uncle.”

“Oh, yes. He’s a good guy…uh, yeah.”

“But I suppose business isn’t so good?”

“Not really. As you can see, pretty much no one is here except us, and we’re being served for free.”

Lydia thought for an instant. “I think I’ll order some sushi. Can you have your uncle bring us a menu?”

Steven thought he observed a great softening of the woman’s features at that moment; the gray eyes seemed more innocent, the nose more delicately constructed, the thick oddly-styled hair more attractive. He saw beyond the fairly indifferent and somewhat uncompassionate manner that he had initially viewed in her. But then, with a second pondering, it seemed that nothing had changed, as if those benevolent qualities had been present all along. And with that second revelation of sorts, he beat upon his own character for offering internal judgments of the woman regarding any aspects of hers which he could not see; there were many for he supposed himself to not be of that particular caliber of the aforementioned wise men.

“A menu? Certainly,” he said very pleasantly. He soon brought one to her and she began to examine it, eventually pointing out a dish -Uni Tama- and giving a second smile to Uncle Maeda as he received her request.

“Now let’s talk about our project,” she then said. “You mentioned that you want the subject of our paper to be some war between Japan and China that took place like three thousand year ago or something like that, right?”

“Well, it was during the late fifteenth century, the fourteen-nineties to be exact. I can’t say I even know what was happening in Japan three-thousand years ago,” he said merrily.

She rolled her eyes. “Alright whatever,” she said with a little newfound feeling, albeit negative. “Regardless, we have to find some info on this war. I for one am clueless. Of course, I suppose you know more about it than me?”

“Well, a little, but not nearly enough. In fact, I really want to uncover some of the deeply buried mysteries of the war, concerning which leaders are responsible for the final outcome and how things ended as they did, among a few other questions.”

“Do you have any sources?”

“No, it’s a pretty obscure conflict. I’ll have to look in a university library, maybe USC or Caltech or something. Or, I can try to contact someone who really knows a lot about it, a professor or historian; an archeologist maybe. I’ve tried Google, but the war itself isn’t even mentioned on any websites as far as I can tell.”

“Steven!” Lydia suddenly cried so passionately that the object of her exclamation couldn't help but smile widely again. “I can’t believe you picked this topic. Why couldn’t you choose a topic in which the research was easily accessible? I mean you’re talking about contacting historians and archeologists! I guarantee you that no one else in our class will be going that far for their papers. They were smart enough not to pick some utterly random topic, unlike you.”

An uncomfortable grin had instinctively formed and now remained on the young man’s face, though he was simultaneously comforted by his companion’s emotion deluge. “Relax,” he consoled. “I’ll gather all the research myself, and then we can get together, look over it and come up with some sort of thesis. You won’t have to worry about collecting the information at all. Besides, I think it’ll be much easier to get than you seem to think.”

“Let’s hope so.” She had reverted to her deadpan tone. “I plan to kick back until you get all the research materials. How long do you think it will take? We only have two and a half weeks, ya know.”

“I don’t know; probably about a week if I start looking today.”

“Well, you better start looking.”
 

unmerged(60719)

Captain
Sep 9, 2006
441
0
Lord E: I think that with the possible exception of perhaps three sentences/phrases, the Japanese is correct since I ripped off sentences and phrases from some Japanese book I have. As a result, the dialogue is fairly short and simplistic. Of course, this is probably good because I don't think it would be beneficial to have long complex dialogues when most readers won't understand it at all except for what the context tells them. Thank you also.

stnylan: Thank you. Similar updates will probably occur in the future but probably not soon.
 

Lord E

Non sufficit orbis
16 Badges
Jul 17, 2002
5.107
0
Visit site
  • Hearts of Iron Anthology
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Divine Wind
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis: Rome
  • Semper Fi
  • Rome: Vae Victis
  • 200k Club
  • 500k Club
  • Europa Universalis III: Collection
  • Europa Universalis: Rome Collectors Edition
  • Paradox Order
Well, well she sounds like the kind of girl he wouldn’t want to disappoint or let down so I guess he better start collect information. Maybe he will even use EUIII to get it ;)
 

stnylan

Compulsive CommentatAAR
124 Badges
Aug 1, 2002
36.935
3.436
  • 500k Club
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • March of the Eagles
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Victoria: Revolutions
  • Europa Universalis: Rome
  • Rome Gold
  • Semper Fi
  • Victoria 2
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Rome: Vae Victis
  • Hearts of Iron III Collection
  • Cities: Skylines
  • Europa Universalis III: Collection
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
  • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
  • Europa Universalis: Rome Collectors Edition
  • Mount & Blade: Warband
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
  • Cities: Skylines - After Dark
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cossacks
  • Stellaris: Necroids
  • Deus Vult
  • Hearts of Iron II: Armageddon
  • Cities in Motion
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Darkest Hour
  • Arsenal of Democracy
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III: Chronicles
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • For The Glory
  • For the Motherland
  • Hearts of Iron III
He certainly does have an incentive to make this work.

But I wonder what else drives him.
 

unmerged(60719)

Captain
Sep 9, 2006
441
0
Chapter Two

The Project Begins
Part Two


Her words were spoken in a tone of mild exasperation that was nestled among a primary indifference, but with a barely discernable touch of playfulness that lifted Steven’s thoughts to reminiscences of his mother. She, Mrs. Minako Maeda (or Maeda Minako-San as in her homeland), had died fourteen years earlier, followed shortly be his father: the deeply virtuous Maeda Kazuo-San. His head lowered, his eyes looked upon himself, upon his wet tanned arms with the deep dipping of his neck, while the image of her smiling face materialized before him, still in that same stationary yet moving form that he had always recalled. She was placed at the side of her husband; she sitting, he standing with an unassuming and labored hand upon her shoulder. They bore a refreshingly purified form; their bodies youthful with exuberance, their souls ancient with wisdom. This vision of them was accompanied by nothing except an inconspicuously blurred setting- a background of varying hues positioned just beyond their devout expressions. Sometimes it was colored light jade as the kitchen wallpaper in their old 2nd street home, or a lighter green resembling the bonsai garden Minako once kept in a sun window and tended in her delicate way. At other instances it was red or golden; their twin outlines eclipsing the rising or setting sun, which blazed from beyond the kitchen window as they looked lovingly upon their own son who, in turn, gazed back at them to find their faces quickly replaced by the singular one possessed by his school companion. She sat with an almost pitying brow until noticing that he had come out of his little reverie, at which point an army of straight features rose upward like a besieged host sallying forth.

“So?” she asked, drawing the word out caustically. “Will you start looking soon enough?”

“Yes, certainly.” His answer was slightly muted by an accompanying sigh. Immediately thereafter, he surmised that Lydia would probably wish to retreat from both he and the little failing restaurant since the initial matters of their project seemed to be settled. He finished off his drink, gulping it down quickly, and then stood up awkwardly as he noticed that she was staring peculiarly.

“What are you doing? I’m still waiting for my sushi. But perhaps you wish to leave me here alone?”

Steven flung himself back into the booth.

“Oh, I forgot,” he said.

“For all your quirks, I had at least imagined you as a gentleman,” she delivered dryly.

He unsuccessfully attempted to hold back a short smiling grimace before she continued.

“Of course, it wasn’t very…chivalrous of you to pick such a ridiculously obscure topic without consulting me first.”

“I’m sorry, but it’s too late to change it. Anyway, I’m sure we’ll…”

You’ll,” she interrupted. “You’re sure you’ll be able to find information about the war.”

“Indeed.” He felt his mood was in the beginning stages of a transfiguration to darkness.

“But since I’m waiting for my food, we might as well talk about it.”

“Talk about what?”

“How you’ll go about researching this stupid topic,” she responded with nary a movement of either inflection or feature save a raising of an eyebrow. “I think we’d have more luck doing our report on Vulcan mating habits. Pon farr anyone?”

“What?”

“It’s just another enigmatic topic in which there is hardly any relevant information available. How about requesting “The Virtues of Politicians” as a topic, or “The Deep Ruminations of the Couch Potato”? Both are more doable than yours, I think.”

“I told you that I would be able to find something. What’s the problem?”

Lydia bore slight traces of contentment about her mouth. Leaning back, and looking to her right, a bright vibrant grin emerged as if she was finally ready to drop her uncompassionate demeanor for good and announce gleefully that the entire persona had been a silly joke. She was quite pretty, Steven thought, in an odd way dissimilar to most attractive women. He was, however, somewhat disappointed to find that his uncle, bringing the Uni-Tama, was the object of her kind expression.

“Thank you very much Maeda-San,” she proclaimed as if he had just set a brilliant diamond in front of her.

“Thanks,” Steven offered the departing server with a veiled air of frustration.

Lydia stared down at her plate, finding several small faintly-speckled fried eggs surrounding a spiky yellow sphere “Hmm, looks unusual. Not what I was expecting.”

“It’s a sea urchin and four quail eggs. I’m sorry if you were expecting sushi; they actually serve plenty of things besides sushi here.”

The violet-locked woman ventured into her meal with exquisite gusto-relative to the foreignness of the dish-but soon found herself unable to adequately utilize the chopsticks she had been provided with. So she tossed them aside after a few eggs had accidentally dropped back onto her plate. In their place, she opened her little brown bag and removed a little silver fork that gleamed like a white fire as it caught the lamplight at a particular angle.

“You keep a fork in your purse?” Steven queried with amusement.

She said nothing, but gazed at him coolly for some seconds before launching a second assault against her meal. Meanwhile, his thoughts drifted back to the image of his mother and father, the former sitting, the later standing; both emblazoned in front of a powerfully luminous dusk or dawn sun. He saw that the celestial view was from his former home’s kitchen window, yet in this contemplative vision, the scenery outside was not of the drab gray Los Angles streets that, in reality, lay behind the glass, but instead of a warm green plain of emerald grasses terminating against the colored sky by means of a snaking horizon formed by distant shallow hills. Though he had never been there, he quickly came to believe that the landscape was in Japan, among the varying terrain of Honshu. Green plains are common there, aren’t they? “Yes” he thought; they were fields nearby his parent’s original home outside Osaka. He was somehow sure. But, it was their old Little Tokyo home that was sitting amidst the Honshu flats. “I suppose there’s some appropriateness in that,” he mused to himself. “…that our American home is connected with their original country.” Regardless of the external images which seemed of secondary importance, the reminding portrait of his parents was undoubtedly sufficient, at least in some measure, to this youth who was commonly seized with this fear or that dread or this secretively tolling vice.

“I think,” Lydia began straightly, helping end the brief meditation, “that my carrying a fork is a very intelligent thing. It shows foresight, preparedness; qualities that I imagine you lack.”

Steven looked at her, a bit vexed and considering what to say.

“Let’s just get back to the project.”

“Okay…Well, I don’t know if there’s really much more to discuss. Suffice it to say, your topic is absurdly murky, so much so that it might as well be a fictional event with no trekkie type fanboys attached- I mean you can’t even find it on Google! - but you’ll do all the research anyway. What else is left?”

“I guess nothing," Steven sighed with modesty. "except for you to finish that last egg. I’m surprised you ate the urchin with no fuss.”

“It was tasty, but I'm stuffed. Perhaps we should come here again, just for the food.”

“Yeah, maybe. I guess we can meet here after I’ve done all the research, or maybe earlier if necessary.”

“Well I suppose if you really need help researching, than you can ask me to assist. But, I really hope it won’t come to that.”

He nodded gently before standing up. Shortly, Lydia followed suit and he led her to the front door. He noticed it had stopped raining, though the sky was still gray. She parted without another word exchanged between them. He waited a pair of minutes, then ventured out onto the sidewalk himself, halting a few steps from the threshhold and peering at the dull wet shops and dusky monochromatic buildings that seemed a little more invigorated and austere after the precipitation's descent. Despite the dampness, everything was so familiar to him; how many times he had seen this section of the avenue before. It was virtually unchanged since his ninth year and utterly so since his uncle had first put up that yellow sign-“Maeda’s Osaka Sushi”- in calligraphy print above the glass swing door only a few years earlier.


111106fareastcafelittlecf7.jpg
 

unmerged(60719)

Captain
Sep 9, 2006
441
0
Lord E said:
Maybe he will even use EUIII to get it

A clever suggestion indeed! - however that won't be the case, sorry. But imagine basing your history paper on a paradox game! :D

stnylan said:
But I wonder what else drives him.

I guess we'll see. :D
 

stnylan

Compulsive CommentatAAR
124 Badges
Aug 1, 2002
36.935
3.436
  • 500k Club
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • March of the Eagles
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Victoria: Revolutions
  • Europa Universalis: Rome
  • Rome Gold
  • Semper Fi
  • Victoria 2
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Rome: Vae Victis
  • Hearts of Iron III Collection
  • Cities: Skylines
  • Europa Universalis III: Collection
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
  • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
  • Europa Universalis: Rome Collectors Edition
  • Mount & Blade: Warband
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
  • Cities: Skylines - After Dark
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cossacks
  • Stellaris: Necroids
  • Deus Vult
  • Hearts of Iron II: Armageddon
  • Cities in Motion
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Darkest Hour
  • Arsenal of Democracy
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III: Chronicles
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • For The Glory
  • For the Motherland
  • Hearts of Iron III
Some interesting byplay there. Nice detail with the fork. There is more to her than meets the eye.
 

unmerged(60719)

Captain
Sep 9, 2006
441
0
Although I have a long-term plan regarding the gameplay part of this AAR (and other aspects), I'm not really sure what will happen next. Nonetheless, there could be another update tomorrow.

Stnylan: Thanks very much.

There is more to her than meets the eye.

I imagine so; I'm not sure what though. :D
 

unmerged(60719)

Captain
Sep 9, 2006
441
0
Chapter Two

The Project Begins
Part Three


No sooner had the beginnings of a sort of nostalgic reverie begun to take root, when a car alarm started to blare from some unhidden though not distant block. Instantly, Steven’s mind was flung back, for a third time in so short a period, toward his lost parents and with much greater intensity than before. Indeed, the previous remembrances had felt like a floating ecstasy, an amalgamation of temporal melancholy and the minute beginnings of eternal bliss. And while the previous vision was calm, serene and touched with the beaming sun as a backdrop to Manako and Kazuo- who bore facades of total sanctity- the new one was quite grotesque in appearance and tone; a sedan lying fatally wounded in the darkness; hot steam silently erupting from beneath the accordioned hood; glass fragments abounding on the neighboring asphalt; two grievously wounded occupants…unconscious…encrusted heavily with gleaming claret…grasping hands in the front seat…

The alarm, permeating though the clear gentle sweeps of Little Tokyo’s undistributed damp, was reminiscent of the synthesis of a single trumpet and gong that repeated and repeated, as if it would go on forever. Had this been Ming China, Steven thought half-whimsically, such a sound would likely emanate from an oncoming horde of undisciplined infantry ranks, but as the cry was singular and relatively light in volume, the assailing force would be correspondingly small. Thus, to his own warped sight, the urban enclave around him transformed, with great suddeness, into barren, blue-tinged grassland that sloped continuously upward-in a gentle contour-toward the direction on which his eyes happened to fall. There was an obscuring haze hanging about; the more far-flung portions of the vicinity shrouded by this pallid mist, and everything below waist-height buried more thickly in the same so that his own feet were hardly apparent and thus the realness of his connection to this world was in a state of uneasy doubt. His focus then rolled away from the mist as a round spindle which leaves behind a delicately trailing thread. In contradiction to his initial determination of the landscape lacking flora, he spied a smattering of flowering trees strewn along the ground in front of him, most of them at great distances. Within their branches, which-in combination- coiled into perfect ovals when viewed from the horizontal, could be seen a multitude of white lilacs (of course, given the overall blue-tinge, the petals looked powder blue).

They were almost harbingers of good fortune, he felt. The only things preventing them from being so were the hundred lance-wielding figures that ran beneath their limbs. They shouted, shrieked, and generally fomented an escalation of fierce zeal among themselves. Steven instinctively drifted away, but his gaze was fastened on them. As they drew nearer, he distinguished fire-lances clutched in their dominant hands, and the remainder of their bodies largely obscured by vast rectangular shields which were clumsily painted as though their markings were the craftsmanship of young children. Ming banners, fastened to long bamboo poles, soared above some of them as stitched triangles of red and yellow silk. Finally he looked away; the expanse behind him seemed hopelessly vast, with no advantageous avenue for escape except for an enduring downhill sprint across the ground itself. But if he should run, where would he go? He was, however, somewhat brightened to see those same flowering trees, and with a strange comfort, he moved toward the one that was closest. One last glance was offered to the onrushing soldiers; their crimson plumes danced in the air and their faces spoke of grim lust for a prized head as they subtly grimaced under the weight of their respective equipment. Steven could imagine his own blood staining the blade of one particular man who peered at him, in his vigorous gait, with a stern face of wild gravity. The same man lowered his lance, holding it forward in his palm as if preparing to launch a loud salvo. But, the crack of sprung fire never came. The tree was reached, and the blue-tinged world fell away like a dream.

Yet the tree itself remained. Steven found himself at the base of it, in a quaint garden enclosed by tall surrounding gray buildings. He looked about curiously to see the periphery of this hidden plaza adorned with azaleas, magnolias, crabapple saplings, and apricot trees. The collection was both robust and modest at first glance, with the apricots resembling Jupiterian globes, but simultaneously standing distant from the other plants so as to not overwhelm them. The crabapples were like hot pulsing bunches of red dwarves, delicately dangling in submission to whatever hungry passerby may come along to pick them. The azaleas and magnolias shone bright blue, yellow and pink in vehement and beautiful contrast to everything else, yet they were bowed very low with their buds barely rising a foot above the dirt. And the tree was the centerpiece. Its flowers now glowed perfectly white and with more purity than the winter snows that grace Frasier Park every year. The trunk seemed to rise indiscernibly high from his position, but no higher than the buildings’ second story windows. Looking upward, the sharp spades of dignified sea green coalesced mystically with the abundance of purely reflected light bouncing from the flowers. He marveled before this vista at length, craning his neck upward until it grew weary. And just as he was about to turn toward the surrounding shrubs, having decided to seek temporary relief from the increasing discomfort, he felt a gentle tap on his left shoulder.

Turning, his inner passions floated ever higher as he recognized the captivating form of a young woman. He did not know her, but was immediately transfixed by her presence. She had very fair skin and long black hair which was pulled into a slightly disheveled pony-tail. Her eyes burned black with an endearing contentness, yet she clearly bore an innate servitude that spoke of her ceaseless desire to toil in the deserts of the east and endure the most extreme pains of agony for her friends. Steven stumbled backwards at this almost heavenly apparition. In response, she smiled. It was not an expression of merriment over his uneasiness, but rather a look to put him at total ease; a look that worked wondrously.

Without speaking but with a continuing pristine smile, she gently plucked a lilac from the tree and presented it to him, her immaculate arm charitably outstretched and covered with the soft sleeve of a lime green sweater. He smiled, yet his body was frozen. And even had it not been, he doubted if he could have accepted the gift; for some reason, he felt totally undeserving and was about to voice that sentiment when she intervened. Her gentle melodious words would long reverberate in his ears.

“Take it,” she said simply; not as a command; not as a plea, but as a sweet invocation.

The flower was placed in Steven’s opened hand. A few petals detached as his palm met the soft blooming bud.

“What’s your name?” he felt the sudden courage to ask.

“Aoi,” she replied as her cheeks blushed like radiant fire.

Steven was about to offer his own name, but he stopped. Somehow, he felt he didn’t have to. Indeed, looking into her eyes, she seemed to know him far better than he knew himself and thus he was humbly pleased that her gaze was filled with gold.

“What is this place? Where are we?” he then queried, his reservations collapsing but his captivation ever rising.

“An empty lot,” she responded harmoniously. Turning toward a narrow alleyway she added, with a nod “that leads out onto to 1st street.”

“Does it belong to anyone?”

“No one in particular, but such a bountiful place as this is open to anyone, yes.”

“And you come here often?” Steven asked, though he began to fear that he was becoming rather intrusive considering her unfamiliarity. But on second consideration, she seemed, perhaps, to be the most familiar face he had ever known.

“Quite often,” she glowed.

“I imagine this is such a wonderful place, especially since it is right here within the drab gray of Los Angeles.”

“Indeed,” Aoi answered tersely, but despite her brevity there was no doubt that her sincerity and grace were unsurpassed. She gazed, for a while, toward the lilac tree and then put forth a question herself.

“Why are you sad?” Even before he could respond, she seemed to absolutely know the answer, and her tender of sympathy made Steven wish to cry. She continued since the young man was suddenly overcome with a torrent of emotion.

“Your father and mother...you still suffer much in thoughts of their tragic death.”

Steven gathered himself.

“I don’t wish to burden you with my problems. I – I don’t see the usefulness of it. I shouldn’t feel sorry for myself.”

“There’s nothing wrong in seeking a friend’s help.”

“I suppose you’re right. Really, it’s not so bad though.”

“Not for them, no. But, I worry about you. You…”

“I know,” he responded as if suddenly filled with such inspiration that he knew the destination of her present thought. “I’ve given in to some bad things… I suppose I haven’t overcome some of them.” He lowered his head and began to despairingly trace the patterns in the grass with his eyes.

“Yet, the battle is not over,” she voiced with a triumph that echoed like a gentle kiss of the wind. “You’ve only seen the first foreshadowing of it.”

Steven stood erect and with a resigned martial air, batted his eyelids as if to say I did, since he remembered the soldiers who had chased him in his apparent daydream and imagined that that affair was what she was referring to.

“I don’t think I fully understand. What was that…that…that vision all about?”

“You will understand soon.” Aoi peered with ever surging compassion as she spoke even though every sung syllable seemed to be instilled with the pinnacle of that virtue.

“What now?” he asked. His pleading eyes were beginning to be infused with this stranger’s own immaculateness.

“The sword is in your hand for you to use it. You know how to wield it…Never despair…even if you stray from your objective.”

Aoi then danced, like a magnificent angel, to a spot beside a crabapple sapling. She lovingly pulled out a red bunch, and presented them to Steven as a parting presentation reflecting every good thing she embodied (which seemed to be every good thing). This time he accepted it readily and offered a heartfelt Thank you in return. That was really all there was of this singular meeting. He humbly bade one last look upon her beautiful face and then strode into the alleyway.

* * *​

The final glimpse, though it quickly dissipated from Steven’s memory, was a portrait of Aoi raising a single lilac to within an inch of her nose. In appearance, the particular flower, as he recalled, was a white four-leaf clover that he envisioned to nearly vanish as it was held before the milky backdrop of her pure skin. The movement was a parting salute; he eventually came to see; made as if the stem were the organic handle of a straight sword and the petals a glimmering blade of ivory or pearl. Such symbolic signage dictated an assigned mission, though he was not sure what it could be.
 

stnylan

Compulsive CommentatAAR
124 Badges
Aug 1, 2002
36.935
3.436
  • 500k Club
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • March of the Eagles
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Victoria: Revolutions
  • Europa Universalis: Rome
  • Rome Gold
  • Semper Fi
  • Victoria 2
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Rome: Vae Victis
  • Hearts of Iron III Collection
  • Cities: Skylines
  • Europa Universalis III: Collection
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
  • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
  • Europa Universalis: Rome Collectors Edition
  • Mount & Blade: Warband
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
  • Cities: Skylines - After Dark
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cossacks
  • Stellaris: Necroids
  • Deus Vult
  • Hearts of Iron II: Armageddon
  • Cities in Motion
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Darkest Hour
  • Arsenal of Democracy
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III: Chronicles
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • For The Glory
  • For the Motherland
  • Hearts of Iron III
Mmm, now that was moderately bizarre. Steven, it seems, almost has no need to research the past, he lives it inside his head. Where does imagination end and reality begin? Does the memory play tricks, or does it tell truth?

More!