Asagao Territory: Akizawa Castle
Four days ago...
Takeo Akizawa; Daimyo of the Akizawa family of the Asagao clan, was meeting with three of his most trusted advisers in the family's homestead early that morning. The men that were with him have known Takeo since his childhood. There was Haruto; head of Akizawa constabulary, Kaito; head of Akizawa military, and finally Riku; head of Akizawa economics and land management. Takeo learned early that if he was not going to be bogged down by managing the family's affairs that he needed to appoint allies that he trusted but more importantly were very capable. Aside from bi-weekly meetings with his inner circle he didn't need to do much else, these men pretty much managed everything under his rule. This provided with Takeo with a lot of time to pursue the "finer things" in life.
"After years of pursuing and pressuring the Asagao clan members who betrayed us at the Battle at Kanaki, we believe most of them either absolutely fear us or will be very wary to ever betray our family ever again," said Kaito. Takeo slowly taking a sip of his morning tea then replies, "We must continue on the pressure until we completely break them. Never again will our clan be defeated because of cowardice." He looks to Riku and asks, "How are preparations for this year's festival going?" As Riku was about to reply when a servant knock on the room and Takeo bids him to enter. "Sir there is a scroll with the Shogun Lotus seal and a bar of gold here for you," said the servant to the Daimyo. Normally, scrolls a take a few more day longer to arrive, but not scrolls from the Shogun. Takeo takes the scroll and reads it intently in silence as his advisers eagerly await the message hidden within the scroll.
"After years of pursuing and pressuring Asagao clan members who betrayed us at the Battle at Kanaki, we believe most of them either absolutely fear us or will be very wary to ever cross our family ever again," said Kaito. Takeo slowly drinking his morning tea then replies, "We must continue on the pressure until we completely break them. Never again will our clan be defeated because of cowardice." He looks to Riku and asks, "How are preparations for this year's festival going?" Riku was about to reply when a servant knock on the room and Takeo bids him to enter. "Sir there is a scroll with the Shogun Lotus seal and a bar of gold here for you," said the servant to the Daimyo. Takeo takes the scroll and reads it in silence as his advisers eagerly await the message hidden within the scroll.
"This honorific scroll is an invitation from the Shogun for a "mission," Takeo says sarcastically. Haruto quickly chimes in, "The Shogun that we fought against wants us to go on a mission for him? That's rich." They all laugh and smile at the notion. Takeo then says, "Although… I have always wanted to go deep into Lotus territory. Plus, we need to be strategic how we approach these things. We don’t want our family to stand out because we are unwilling to answer a call from the Shogun." Takeo takes another sip of his tea and continues, “I do love that there is a bar of gold with this scroll. What need to I have for a bar of gold? Maybe I can use it as pocket money to pay for leisurely activities when I’m at Odikawa.” Riku then asks, “Are you seriously considering going then, and if you are will you be leaving in the next few days?” Takeo smiles and says, “Didn’t you hear me say that I want to enjoy the leisurely activities Inoue & Odikawa has to offer. Tell the stable that I want my horse ready in an hour. I will leave immediately.” By then his advisers have become used to the Daimyo taking off to adventures whenever he felt like it. “Let it be so sire. Happy hunting then,” replied Riku.
Odikawa Port City
Three days ago...
After a day of riding from Akizawa Castle Takeo arrives at Odikawa with his favourite horse Kisa. Kisa was a beautiful white horse with a strong build and was trained for battle riding since he was born. Takeo seemed to match his horse with his white kimono on with the insignia of the Akizawa crest on the linings of it. Hanging on his right side was his daisho (katana & wakizashi) and on his left was his red hoate (mask).
Takeo and Kisa had already stopped at a couple of inns on the way for drinks before arriving at the city. The city is notably quieter compared to Inoue. He stops a man on the street and asks him, “Dear friend, where is the best place for a traveller to stay in the city?” Then the man directs him toward the massive Odikawa inn in the center of the city and says, “That is the best place in the entire city, but there is likely no place left because of the flower festival?” Takeo thanks the man and bids him bye as he rides off towards the inn.
Takeo walks in the inn and says, “I want your best room and all the top service you can offer.” The keeper looks coolly at him and smiles judgingly before saying, “Friend this place is fully booked because of the… ” but before the keeper could finish his thought, Takeo throws a bar of gold in the air, pulls out his wakizashi and slices it in half. While the bars were still falling in the air he grabs one with his left hand and quickly puts it in back in his kimono and with the side of his wakizashi balances the other bar and presents it the inn keeper. “I think this should serve me for a very long time, wouldn’t you say so?” The keeper stutters, “Ye.. yes sire, of course we will have everything ready for you in a few minutes. May I know your name sire?” Takeo looks, smiles at him and says, “You don’t need to know my name but I need yours.” The keeper promptly replies, “My name is Akihiko, and we will take care of all of your needs.” Akihiko runs off and starts yelling at his servants to get everything prepared.
For the next few days Takeo would develop a routine for his stay at the port city. His routine involved sleeping till mid-day, waking up and practicing with his daisho for an hour, then exploring the city until evening all through the night when he would enjoy the ”finer things”. By the day of the meeting Takeo already knew the location of all the inns, bars, restaurants, baths, and other institutions that provided “fun services” in the city. He also knew other information such as the city’s constabulary size, identified possible members of the Shinsengumi, the schedule of boats coming into the port, strategic points in the city, and people coming in and out of the city.
On the day of the meeting…
Takeo woke up early and went to a breakfast shop that overlooked the manor with the silver crescent emblem. He watch intently the whole day as people went in and out. He tried to remember the faces of everyone he saw. After having breakfast, which was Natto and a fried egg on rice with miso soup, he stayed until he had lunch too, which has Omurice (Omelette Rice). After feeling satisfied that he had gathered as much information as he could he started to walk towards the manor. He looked at his mask and whispered, “We might need to do some work pretty soon my dear friend.”