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 Post subject: You Never Had A Friend Like Me (LM - D10)
PostPosted: Sat Dec 02, 2017 3:36 am 
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Anzai had sent word that he had wished to speak with her late in the morning, before the Ball. Dressed in his set of gaijin clothes, the Scorpion approached the Hacienda. Don Juan had given him much to think about, as well as a list of names that would be best to contact.

Being from polite society, he of course wished to speak to Berena first.



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 Post subject: Re: You Never Had A Friend Like Me (LM - D10)
PostPosted: Sat Dec 02, 2017 6:06 am 
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Anzai waited in the entrance of the hacienda for several minutes before a Bellena with still damp hair arrived down the steps, “Ah, Shosuro-san. Sorry to keep you waiting. I had a bit of an eventful morning and needed to clean up before I could entertain a guest.”



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 Post subject: Re: You Never Had A Friend Like Me (LM - D10)
PostPosted: Sat Dec 02, 2017 7:03 am 
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He would bow to her as she descended, before rising, watching the foreign born woman with appreciative intent. "You do not need to apologize to me, Muhaki-sama." His voice was low, polite and warm. His mismatched eyes seemed to brighten in the lighting of the Hacienda.

"I hope nothing too distressing to take up your time this morning. Thank you for making the time to speak with me."



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 Post subject: Re: You Never Had A Friend Like Me (LM - D10)
PostPosted: Sat Dec 02, 2017 7:07 am 
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She smiled and shook her head, “It’s no trouble at all my friend. I understand that you have become good friends with my boss. I couldn’t treat one of his friends callously. Why don’t you come up to my room so we can talk?”



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 Post subject: Re: You Never Had A Friend Like Me (LM - D10)
PostPosted: Sat Dec 02, 2017 7:14 am 
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Anzai nodded. "I would be honored." He would walk with her upon her invitation, keeping pace. "I'm glad to be referred to as his friend, I see him as one, as well. To learn more about Merenae from him has been quite fulfilling." He was hushed as he spoke, not wishing to disrupt the sanctity of her abode.

"And that is actually what I wanted to speak with you about. I plan on making my way to Merenae. Don Juan has informed me of some of the... issues that are at hand there. Given that you have insight into both cultures, I was hoping to glean any information I could from you. And rest assured, my plans for when I arrive there are to support the causes of our mutual friend, and what is best for both of our people to thrive."



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 Post subject: Re: You Never Had A Friend Like Me (LM - D10)
PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2017 2:20 am 
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Bellena listened as he spoke and nodded. They arrived at her door just as he finished speaking. She said nothing at first just smiling and opening the door for both of them to enter. She prepared a seat for him and gestured for him to sit before going over to her desk to bring a tray with fresh coffee prepared.

"Well then... Where shall we start my friend? There is much that is going on in Merenae. What has the governor told you?" She asked as she poured him a cup. "Coffee?"



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 Post subject: Re: You Never Had A Friend Like Me (LM - D10)
PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2017 7:27 am 
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"Coffee would be excellent. I've grown quite fond of it since our arrival here." He bowed as the cup was offered, smiling at the Tortoise woman. He found that the seat was quite comfortable, an excellent reflection of the company. "He has informed me that things are not, shall we say, quite stable concerning the ruling class. The King is nervous, and much of it has to do with, well, us. The Expedition from Rokugan has raised some concerns. And naturally, a nervous ruler makes others nervous." He wouldn't mask his intent or his thoughts with her, simply out of respect for Berena.

"That there is rumor of civil war, based on only word of our expedition. Is this true?"



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 Post subject: Re: You Never Had A Friend Like Me (LM - D10)
PostPosted: Mon Dec 04, 2017 2:54 am 
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She slid over the coffee with some cream and sugar on a plate. "It is true. The King is afraid of a conspiracy against him... and has unwittingly created one that did not exist before."

She poured herself a cup as well, "Did the governor speak to you about a group called the Xantellados?"



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 Post subject: Re: You Never Had A Friend Like Me (LM - D10)
PostPosted: Mon Dec 04, 2017 7:12 am 
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He would add cream to his coffee, but found he enjoyed not adding any sweetener. He held the cup in both hands, as one would for tea, and listened as Berena spoke. He would shake his head, at the mention of the group.

"He did not. He mentioned Aberri bandits, but that name is not familiar to me. Should they be? What are they?"



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 Post subject: Re: You Never Had A Friend Like Me (LM - D10)
PostPosted: Mon Dec 04, 2017 7:36 am 
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“There was a band of powerful individuals in Merenae 50 years ago who attempted to save the Kingdom from its present course. Merenae is in decline my friend... it lacks allies and its kings have wasted its wealth and people on opulence. It requires connections with powerful nations in the world to secure its fate. The Xantellados attempted to forge a bond between the Hantei line and the noble lines of Merenae... el Xantei... llados. It was their goal to help protect Merenae from destruction and provide greater strength and prosperity for the Empire. It was spearheaded by Teodoro Cornejo, Hantei Muhaki, and the Emperor Retsuhime.” She said as she stirred her coffee.

“Unfortunately the Merenaese king at the time discovered the plot and killed the child who was to marry the Hantei. He took the lands of Teodoro Cornejo and gave them to his sole ally, the Brego family. The forces who had supported Cornejo decided not to tear apart the country by civil war... a wise and noble choice by my estimation. But it seems now that the new king is concerned by the movement of this generation's Hantei Prince. He has moved to imprison and punish certain families he feels are at risk of joining the Hantei. And has unwittingly forced them into a conspiracy against him. The governor, Captain Zabieru, Muhaki Saionji and myself all find ourselves in this new generation of Xantellados by no intent of our own.” She took a sip.

“But the fact does remain... that without a tie to a powerful ally... and under the rule of a paranoid king... Merenae is doomed for destruction at the hand of the Tarkhanate within the next 5 years. We are honor bound to seek for a solution that will bring about the survival of our people, and the progress of the Empire. With the forces at our families' disposal... we should be able to remove the king... the question then is who rises to take his place and secure the future of Merenae?”



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 Post subject: Re: You Never Had A Friend Like Me (LM - D10)
PostPosted: Mon Dec 04, 2017 11:28 pm 
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Anzai remained silent for a moment, having taken in the story. The pieces began to fall into place, especially with the insight that had started with the Governor, and now confirmed by Berena. It also paints more richly the task that Zabieru had set him out to do. He was still surprised by the fact that his rumors hadn't taken hold.

He slowly drank from his coffee, his eyes closed for a moment, as he contemplated her words. "This calls back to the question you asked me at the Haddock Paddock. What I believed the point of the expedition was..." He slowly set the coffee down. "While I believe that sovreign lands should be allowed to rule as they seem fit, I care for Merenae. The stories I've heard of her lands, and her people, I believe, it is very important that she remains." He opened his mismatched eyes, focusing them on Berena's own.

"I do not know if tying them to a Hantei is the way to go. After all, it simply looks like a foreign power attempting to usurp control. But we must also stop this path of destruction. With diplomacy, if we can. Both from within, and without." He wet his lips as he paused again, the visual sign of his thinking deepening. "The first point that must fall is the Brego family. You cut away the ally, the King loses temporal power. Next, is to secure a new ruler. But if all the families that participated seek to put their own in place, they would destroy each other, and we have the same issue."

A longer sip from his coffee, as he allowed the thought a moment to breath. "You would need someone that the people could rally behind, and is amicable enough to those allied in this endeavor to have no objection, either due to benevolence of that person, or the fact that this person presents a strong front against an incoming invasion."



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 Post subject: Re: You Never Had A Friend Like Me (LM - D10)
PostPosted: Mon Dec 04, 2017 11:49 pm 
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She nodded, "That is exactly right my friend. Infighting and bickering between the families responsible for this change would lead to a weaker Merenae... one that is not fully capable of defending itself. That is why I feel an agreement between the interested parties should take place now, rather than after. I believe there is an option which is best suited for the times ahead... and one that would tie our worlds together in meaningful ways. Hopefully to the benefit of both Merenae and the Empire."

She sighed slightly, "I don't wish to have this come out as favoritism... I really don't. The Almerias and the Albertzales are both crucial members of Merenae and I do not wish to say they are unfit to lead, because they are fit... I merely wish to express how the option I am considering is more fit for this specific situation."

She continued, "The last Xantellados attempted to marry a member of their line into the Quijano family... my family. The reasons for this are fairly simple. The Quijano are a powerful family that the Kingdom depends on for its survival, and they tend to be one of the more centrist families of the hidalgo. We have often been the peacemakers in our realm over the years... and have a strong connection with our people and their needs. This current incarnation of Xantellados has one thing in common among all of them... they have strong ties with the Tortoise, and it's sovereign lord Muhaki Saionji. Muhaki Saionji is a Don in Merenae, and has spent a great deal of time there over the years. He is also close friends with all of the major power players in the Tarkhanate. His presence in a position of power would work as a powerful deterrent to those who would seek to plunder and destroy Merenae amongst the Unicorn... his connections would buy the Kingdom time."

She took a sip of her drink, "As of last night, Muhaki Saionji and myself have pledged ourselves to each other and will be marrying at the completion of the Temple of Sadahako. Ours is a union not of political convenience... but of sincere love and respect that we have created over nearly a decade of traveling together. But it seems that fate has given us a golden opportunity. The pull of my family... and it's strong desire to preserve peace and stability in Merenae, and the power and influence of Saionji abroad form a powerful symbiosis that could help protect the Kingdom more so than any other option in my estimation. Saionji has asked the Admiral for permission to pursue this aim, and has been granted his approval. It is our ultimate desire to strengthen the bonds between Merenae and the Emerald Empire to the point that perhaps one day Merenae may become an important and influential member of the Empire on par with the other great clans... this of course is in accordance with the Emperor's decree to expand the Empire's influence across the world. This is not a simple endeavor by any means... It will take time to create a system where Merenae may avoid destruction and contribute to the Empire in meaningful ways... but I personally feel that is worth the effort."



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 Post subject: Re: You Never Had A Friend Like Me (LM - D10)
PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 7:25 pm 
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He tilted his head for a moment. Were she any other woman, Anzai would assume that this truly was just a reach for power for herself. But from what he could see, that was not the case. "Felicitaciones on your nupitals. I hope you are both happy and blessed in your union." He smiled as he said the words, with a sense of deep respect and reverence for the news. "But will you be able to convince the other families that it is not merely a power grab? I have yet to meet Don Muhaki Saionji, but based on you, I can only assume he is an honorable and just man."

"Would Merenae simply want to be an extension of the Empire? Truthfully, I would want to see her strong in her own right, and not just a contributor. I truly believe the world is a better place with distinct cultures and a union of both, rather than a place for Rokugan to conquer all. Perhaps I am out of touch with the majority of Rokugani, I do not know. But in an effort to save Merenae from destruction, and to see the lost clan return home, please... consider me a friend and ally in that."



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 Post subject: Re: You Never Had A Friend Like Me (LM - D10)
PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 10:53 pm 
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She nodded, "As for my qualifications and Saionji's I would say yes... We are not ambitious power-seekers, and many know this to be true. I have forsaken any power that I could have assumed back in Merenae in order to serve as a crewman on a Tortoise trade ship. The Quijano are known for their benevolence and quest for virtue... We are trusted by many, and accordingly have been the peacemakers of our country for generations."

Then continued, "Your second question is a difficult one Shosuro-san and one I am glad you are thinking about earnestly. The obvious problem is that a Merenae by itself is not likely to stand against the might of the Unicorn. This will soon become known to much of the world... but I will inform you of a secret which has been kept by the Hantei and the Tortoise for some 50 years.... It is the Emperor's will to have the Unicorn return to the Empire; upon reflection it was decided that the most capable means of doing this was by sea. The Tortoise, by command of the Emperor and in conjunction with the Unicorn leadership have constructed a fleet capable of carrying large numbers of people across the ocean back to their ancestral homeland.... While this fleet was built to serve one purpose it can be readily utilized for another in the future."

She paused, "Merenae has been safe from the various powers of the mainland for many generations by virtue of its location on an island. The Yodotai, Senpet, and Unicorn have not been able to cross that divide... until now. And there is a significant portion of the Unicorn, headed by one of their Khans that would like nothing more than to pillage and destroy Merenae. In the past, a Merenae which was completely independent and moved freely about the world was possible... but in this age where the powers are now amassing vast fleets and advanced weaponry... those days may not be able to continue exactly in the same manner as they have in the past. The reason why Saionji is such a good option for the here and now is precisely because he sits squarely in the mix of these different worlds. He is well respected in Merenae and could help unify its people. He can give the Kingdom time to shift in the ways it will need to in order to preserve its own valuable essence. This is not a wholesale change of culture and loss of autonomy over night, Merenae will continue to be Merenae and we will have power to adjudicate our affairs as we see fit, much as each of the great clans do over their affairs. This path allows us to see the events that will unfold in the coming days and adjust properly to make sure that Merenae does in fact survive."

She took a sip of her cup, "Whether or not Merenae is integrated into the Empire is still very much in the air. Jama has supported Saionji's claim... but Hohiro would likely act against any such expansion. There is a conflict on the horizon between the two of them... It is related to what we are doing here. It is related to the return of the Unicorn... and it's final result is not yet decided. Saionji's rule would put Merenae in position to be protected from the Unicorn whether or not Hohiro takes the throne... If Hohiro were to reject Saionji's rule of Merenae, then we can continue to protect the Kingdom's interests and still have protection from the Unicorn through Saionji's ties. On the other hand, if Jama succeeds, then we can consider long-term integration and expansion... for that is what the Hantei has ordered. Whatever our personal feelings may be... if we consider ourselves loyal to the Emperor we must find a way to make sure his will is followed. Loyalty is what qualifies one as a member of Rokugan in my estimation. And I would prefer to find a means that Merenae can strengthen the virtues which make it great, and become a positive force in the Empire, than leave it to fend for itself against the world. Cultural interaction is always a negotiation... you get some things and you lose some things. Merenae will experience great change... but it will also affect great change in the Empire."



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 Post subject: Re: You Never Had A Friend Like Me (LM - D10)
PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 11:24 pm 
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Perhaps there is change that needs to happen in the Empire... Anzai's thoughts were his own. He knew he had caused consternation amongst the fleet. Seemingly integrating so quickly with the local populace, taking to their fashions.

Falling for one of the Unicorn.

His eyes had widened upon the secret. The Empire wished for the Unicorn to return. To have that happen... that would allow him so much more opportunity. Not to mention how it would validate his own feelings. Ones that if not validated, would expel him from the Celestial Order.

The threat of a civil war, to see his own homeland torn apart. The very thought shuddered him to his soul. How would the Scorpion fare? How would his sister? Where would the conflicts be drawn across the clans? Would he even recognize the place if he returned after something like that happened? He hoped it would not happen.

He finished his cup of coffee as he listened to her, taking in all the information. "How could we bring the other families in agreement with this? Not from here, obviously. And being as I intend to continue on this expedition, perhaps that is something that we can have happen there. But start the foundation here. We speak with the Governor, bring together with Muhaki Zabieru-Taicho, Miya Edogawa-Taicho, and ourselves. Start that foundation."



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 Post subject: Re: You Never Had A Friend Like Me (LM - D10)
PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 11:40 pm 
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She nodded, "I will speak with Miya Edogawa-sama this afternoon and hope to receive his support. I had heard that you were continuing on as an ambassador and knew you to be a friend of the governor so I have spoken to you as well. I plan on speaking with Muhaki Zabieru-sama after the ball tonight... or perhaps on the morrow. Both he and the governor will be potentially more difficult to convince at this moment... Juan is a good man as you well know... and he and I get along well. But he is not the head of his family, and I doubt he will make any definitive decisions without conferring with his elder brother first, as is perfectly understandable. I wish to give him that freedom because I believe it will help convince him of the truth that we are not trying to coerce our way to the top. We must persuade, rather than coerce during this transition. Or else we will be no better than the man whom we are deposing."

She continued, "Zabieru-sama as well... he aspires to greatness... and most likely will see this as an opportunity to gain power and influence for himself. His people have been mistreated by others in the past; namely the current king and his father... So it may be difficult to convince him that we will keep our promises; he has every right to doubt anyone who would promise him things. But I assure you... we will. He and I have had our exchanges in the past, the Merenaese blood runs strong in each of us, but I think there is room for compromise. Undoubtedly part of the lands that have been seized by the king will be redistributed to those that take part in this plan. I believe it may be possible to appease them by giving them a significant portion of the gains... but I would refrain from any system that sought to put him in as King of Merenae... it is his desire to destroy the Unicorn... and I fear he would lead the country into a more antagonistic and dangerous path. We need his family... but more importantly we want them to be an important part of the kingdom as well, but I do fear what would happen if he were to take control. You rode on his vessel here did you not? Are you a friend of Zabieru-sama?"



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 Post subject: Re: You Never Had A Friend Like Me (LM - D10)
PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 7:15 am 
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"I would hope to consider myself a friend to Zabieru-taicho. I find him affable and pleasant. I do see him as someone who aspires for more, which is in and of itself, not a bad thing. I do know he hates the Tarkhanate, and I for one, do not wish to see the Unicorn destroyed. But to see his family honored in Merenae is something I would like to help with. Much of what I know about the country is from him." He mused, bringing his forefinger and thumb to stroke his chin for a moment, as he thought and spoke.

"Yes, persuasion is certainly the way to do it. Coercion only gets temporary results, and often leaves one in a worse position later on. I'm glad to know that you feel the same way on that." He smiled as he continued, his eyes flicking to the redhead.

"A bit of advice. Do not seek to appeal to Zabieru-taicho's honor. You may find that a bit of a dead end. Duty, perhaps, would be the best way to appeal to him. Duty to the Empire, and to his homeland. But you didn't hear that from me." He smiled, tapping the side of his nose with a wink.



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 Post subject: Re: You Never Had A Friend Like Me (LM - D10)
PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 4:01 pm 
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Bellena smiled and nodded, "I will take that advice and see what I can do. I am truly pleased to have found accord with you on these issues. I must admit that there have been times that I haven't had great confidence in the ability of some of the members of this expedition, but I am greatly relieved that there are men like yourself here as well. It helps give me hope that things will be manageable in the days ahead, even when conditions get far more difficult."



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